At first glance, you would think a 6-1 victory in a competitive match would signify a new beginning for the United States after a rough year. But when you realize that win was against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a country that could have fit half its population into Busch Stadium, it becomes clear that this team can't be judged until Tuesday, when they face Trinidad & Tobago in a much tougher contest.
6-1 was a fairly predictable scoreline given the immense contrast in talent. St. Vincent sat very deep the entire game, playing what, at times, looked like something of a 7-2-1 formation. This made it easy for the home side to make an extraordinary amount of passes: 916, to be exact.
Even with all the bunkering of SVG, the Yanks still managed to break them down, over and over again. While it should be noted that three of the goals came on set pieces, which, contrary to popular opinion, is a good thing, the Americans still created chance after chance. If not for a few very nice saves from goalkeeper Winslow McDowall, the score could have been much higher.
On that note, I would like to acknowledge McDowall's very, very good performance. He was left out to dry by either deflections or his defense (or both) on all six goals. He did what he could, but unfortunately for him, it wasn't very much.
Despite the domination of the clearly inferior opponent, the US can still make some improvements for the T&T match:
1. Fullback remains a problematic position
Now that DaMarcus Beasley appears to be permanently out of the USMNT cycle in favor of younger talent, the question about who will play his position looms even larger.
Jurgen Klinsmann finally played DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson in their chosen positions–right-back for Yedlin and left-mid for Johnson–but it's still hard to know about the outside backs. The Sunderland defender played well on the offensive end, picking up an assist on the first goal, but a little shaky in the one real defensive opportunity he had.
Yedlin faced a one-on-one situation with Oalex Anderson, who was by far the best player on the field for St. Vincent aside from McDowall, and let Anderson shred him to pieces, resulting in the first goal of the game.
On the left, Tim Ream didn't have a ton of activity. He looked capable going forward, but never got to show what he can do on the international stage. He seems to be the default left-back currently now that Beasley is out of the picture and Johnson has found a home in midfield.
It's a safe bet that this is how things will remain on Tuesday.
2. 4-4-2 is not the long term answer
There's a reason why the 4-4-2 formation is slowly falling out of favor with managers everywhere: It doesn't provide you with a true defensive midfielder, even if you play the diamond version of it.
With only two players in central midfield, in this case it was Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, it's impossible to play a true number-six. It is not like they needed one or anything in this particular game, but in the future, having a midfielder sitting in front the backline permanently is important.
Bradley has too much offensive ability to be chained to a position like that, while Jones is both old and without a work-rate. Kyle Beckerman falls victim to the same traits as Jones, meaning it's time Klinsmann pull out a defensive midfielder. There are plenty of options: