The U.S. men’s national team’s 4-0 victory against Guyana on Tuesday at Allianz Field was a comfortable win against a side with a serious talent deficit. It also revealed the United States’ biggest weakness — the center forward position.
With regular starting striker Jozy Altidore resting, the U.S. turned to Gyasi Zardes at forward, and Zardes did not have a good game. The Columbus Crew striker repeatedly lost the ball or failed to control passes. By the second half, coach Gregg Berhalter was throwing up his hands in exasperation with every mistake. Zardes did score, but in an embarrassing way — a defender’s clearance hit him square in the face and rebounded into the net.
The U.S. needs a better second option — former Minnesota and current LAFC striker Christian Ramirez, anyone? — and a longer-term solution, too.
Confusingly, the heir apparent is nowhere to be found this summer. Werder Bremen striker Josh Sargent was left off the U-20 World Cup roster but then confusingly left off the Gold Cup roster, too. The 19-year-old had a rough season with Bremen, but as a teenager that can happen. Why Berhalter ignored him this summer is a mystery.
Until the U.S. can figure out the striker position, it’s Altidore or bust.
• A subplot within the U.S. women’s team has been Carli Lloyd’s discontent with her lack of playing time. Lloyd, whose 2015 World Cup performance was one of the best major-tournament performances in soccer history, has been openly unhappy that she’s not regularly starting this year. It might be injury that returns her to the starting lineup. Striker Alex Morgan left the game against Sweden at halftime, though coach Jill Ellis said the substitution was “precautionary.”
• San Diego is a strange hole in the U.S. soccer map, given that the area is soccer-mad but doesn’t have an American team to call its own. U.S. Soccer great Landon Donovan is trying to change that. Along with Sacramento Republic founder Warren Smith, Donovan is launching a San Diego team in the second-division USL Championship. It’ll be a challenge to get San Diego to unite behind a lower-division team, and doubting Donovan has never been a good move.
World Cup: France vs. Brazil, 2 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 9. Brazil is an exception in South American women’s soccer — a team that can play with the world’s best. But it’s been a rough year for Marta and company. Leading up to the World Cup, Brazil lost nine consecutive games, including a 3-1 friendly vs. France. But the French still need to prove they can deal with pressure in the later stages of a World Cup. Brazil should apply plenty of that.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org