(Monday, June 22, 2008) -- The United States men, coming into the away leg of the two-match CONCACAF second-round World Cup qualifying series with Barbados with an eight-goal cushion after the easy victory June 14 at The Home Depot Center, had little trouble finishing off their Caribbean foe with a 1-0 decision at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
Yesterday's game was played merely as a formality and the statistics supported a lack of motivation. . The U.S. had one shot on goal, Eddie Lewis' nice tally, while Barbados had none. It was a warm, humid afternoon and the Americans did what they had to do while expending as little energy as possible.
Freddy Adu and DaMarcus Beasley were nominally listed as the U.S. strikers. Coach Bob Bradley essentially went with a no-forward offense with both in the midfield of something resembling a 4-6-0 formation. Despite playing on a huge field laid out on the cricket oval, Barbados tried to play through the middle of the clogged midfield to little avail.
The U.S. attack, as it has been in any number of matches this year, was made up of players slotting through balls to teammates running out of the midfield. That is how the Americans scored the only goal when Adu laid a ball in front of Eddie Lewis for a neat conversion by the veteran left midfielder in the 21st minute. .
Barbados was more active in the second half. Against a tiring U.S. midfield, Rommell Burgess drilled a shot off the crossbar in the 57th minute after running onto a ball chested into his path by forward Mark McCammon. In the 85th minute, McCammon jarred the ball loose from goalkeeper Brad Guzan as he went high in the air and the loose ball was put in by John Parris, a tally negated when McCammon was ruled offside.
Barbados, with a week of training together, was better organized then it was last week, and with Wigan (England) central defender Emerson Boyce in the side - he was absent last week at the Home Depot Center - the Barbadian defense was a lot more solid then a week ago. Just as the clogged midfield gave the Barbadians few ways through, it also prevented the U.S. from creating many chances.
To a large extent, Bob Bradley put the heart of the U.S. Summer Olympics squad on the field. Midfielders, such as Adu, Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela, Sacha Kljestan, will likely be in Beijing in August.
From the group that walloped Barbados 8-0 in Carson, Landon Donovan, Brian Ching, Maurice Edu, Frankie Hejduk, Matt Reis and Pablo Mastroeni were allowed to return to their Major League Soccer clubs, Clint Dempsey and Steve Cherundolo were allowed to start their brief summer vacations. Goalkeeper Tim Howard is recovering from a sore back, while Eddie Johnson was sent home because of an unspecified illness.
Now the U.S. moves onto the CONCACAF qualifying semifinals in a group with Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba. The top two finishers in the six-match, round-robin competition will advance to six-nation final round.
U.S. player ratings
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan - 6: Two shutouts against Barbados and he didn't break much of a sweat in either match although he was put under some pressure late yesterday. Deserves plaudits for cleaning up what came his way from crosses and corners.
Defender Heath Pearce - 6.5: Had another interesting dual with Paul Ifill of England's Crystal Palace and gave up little. He was also able to push forward often. Another good appearance.
Defender Danny Califf - 6: He teamed well with Jay DeMerit and, except once late in the match, handled anything the came his way.
Defender Jay DeMerit - 6: For the most part, handled McCammon well and was solid in the back.
Defender Drew Moor - 6.5: Showed he might be a handy backup. Played well especially when he blocked a wide-open close-in attempt by Jonathan Nurse just before halftime.
Midfielder Danny Szetela - 5.5: For him, this was a very big chance to show he belongs in China at the Olympics and he made the best of things.
Midfielder Michael Bradley - 5: Did what he had to do, but expended little effort in doing it.
Midfielder Eddie Lewis - 6.5: The veteran spent a lot of time in the middle of the field and was active defensively. Made a well-timed run with a clinical finish for the only goal of the match.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan - 5: Probably expended more energy then any other U.S. player, but had little to show for it.
Forward Freddy Adu - 5.5: Did his best, but was almost always double-marked in the clogged midfield. Switched feet to make the nifty pass to Lewis on the goal.
Forward DaMarcus Beasley - 4: Played 79 minutes, but had little impact on the match.
Midfielder Chris Rolfe (66th minute for Szetela) - 5.5: First of three players to play from Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire called in after their Thursday match. Was not as active as the man he replaced, but made few errors. A decent appearance.
Midfielder John Thorrington (79th minute for Beasley) - 5.5: Dropped into the midfield to add to the defense. His experience showed.
Forward Chad Barrett (86th minute for Donovan) - no rating: A token appearance.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Eddie Lewis.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
Do you have a comment on this story or something to say about soccer in general? Send us a letter.