TAMPA, Fla. -- There are very few times when a 3-1 victory is considered a poor result but it was clear that the United States expected more in its World Cup qualification opener.
Facing an Antigua and Barbuda side that primarily has semi-professionals on its roster, the U.S. struggled to put away several easy chances. The team had over 70 percent of possession and shot the ball 19 times but struggled to score goals from open play. Two of the U.S.'s goals were on rebounds and one was from a penalty. The U.S. converted only 16 percent of its chances.
The team was very tentative, especially once it got into the box, where several players passed on easy opportunities looking to set up others instead. One of the culprits was Landon Donovan, who, after scoring a hat trick against Scotland two weeks ago, prioritized orchestration more than shooting. The forward even elected to pass on a chance to get his 50th goal for the U.S., allowing Clint Dempsey to score against Molvin James from the spot kick instead.
U.S. forward Herculez Gomez believes that, considering Donovan's talent, the LA Galaxy captain should be more selfish.
"He wants to be a good teammate. He's trying to do the best thing for the team," said Gomez. "Maybe the best thing for the team is for a guy like Landon to take more shots."
Gomez admits that Donovan wasn't the only guilty party. He believes that several players were being too unselfish during the game.
"I don't think he's the only one. There were times tonight where I should have been a bit more attack-oriented instead," he said. "My job here is a lot different from my club team. It's a lot more about doing the things that people don't see."
Gomez explained that in a effort to play the high pressing style that the U.S. employs, he is involved in more little things like harassing defenders to create chances. In the future, he'd like to see the front line take more advantage of opportunities.
Dempsey agrees with Gomez's assessment.
"At times maybe we took too many touches," Dempsey said. "We were hesitant to pull the trigger in the first half."
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted that he expected the U.S. to score more but credited Antigua and Barbuda's defense for making things difficult.
"I said at half time, you’ve got to shoot more often. When you have a little open space pull the trigger. Clint said, 'I was trying but we have three or four bodies in front of me.'"
Still, Dempsey believes that not much should be read into the U.S. result in its first World Cup qualifier.
"It’s tough here, because if you do win, like we did tonight, but you don’t do it in a better manner than what we did, we still get a little bit of flack. So it’s like a no-win situation," he said.
"The only way we could’ve won tonight was if we’d have won 5-0. But having the 3-1, it’s kind of like, ‘yeah, it’s ok.’ It’s bittersweet, because we didn’t get the clean sheet."
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