The US males’s nationwide group made it the World Cup knockout stage regardless of scoring simply two targets in its three group stage video games, tied for the fewest targets scored by a group that superior the Spherical of 16 (Poland additionally scored two). Of the 2 targets it scored within the group stage, zero got here from a striker.
The one purpose scored by a U.S. striker got here within the People’ 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on Friday. Christian Pulisic crossed the ball into the field and it rolled throughout Haji Wight’s foot and into the online. It resembled a deflection greater than a purpose.
“If he did that 1,000 times and tried to, he wouldn’t do it once,” U.S. Soccer legend Landon Donovan stated on Saturday’s episode of Alexi Lalas’ “State of the Union” podcast. “I can’t tell you how impossible that goal was — I don’t know how that made it in.”
Watch: USA’s Haji Wright scores vs. Netherlands
Scoring targets is tough; it is even tougher on the World Cup; however what makes it practically unattainable is the absence of a real goal-scoring menace on the No. 9 place. Donovan, the U.S. males’s group’s joint all-time main goalscorer, defined what his former group must do to beat its struggles in entrance of purpose.
“It’s a hard position for a lot of teams to find,” Donovan stated. “And the modern game has changed a lot to where there’s a lot more intricate passing and developing the play into positions — No. 9s or strikers are used a little bit less except in front of the goal and in the box. The problem with our team in this tournament was, while we created some chances through other guys, we didn’t create enough chances where a No. 9 would be impactful.
“What we completely do not have is somebody who can take the ball, spin somebody, roll them within the field, dribble via somebody after which rating a purpose. Christian can from deeper, Gio [Reyna] can from deeper at occasions, Brenden Aaronson can from deeper, [Tim] Weah can, however we do not have a No. 9 that may simply take the ball. I noticed Belgium play Croatia; now, [Romelu] Lukaku had a tricky recreation that evening, however he simply created possibilities by simply being in the proper spot. To be sincere, we’re not even near that proper now.”
[Related: Christian Pulisic’s greatness shouldn’t be expected to patch USA’s most glaring hole]
The good news for the U.S. is that it has four years to find that player, and it can do so without the stress of qualifying for the World Cup — the Americans will automatically qualify as a co-host of the tournament. It also has a promising young striker in 19-year-old Ricardo Pepi, who was left off the 26-man World Cup roster despite a good run of form in the lead-up to the tournament. The search won’t be without its hiccups, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor for a team that has talent at every other position.
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