It was a bad week for Bob Bradley and his squad. Facing two respectable, yet seemingly beatable opponents, Bradley's men came away with nothing to show.
In the first match, the 1-0 scoreline was understandable. The U.S. passes out a soft penalty and Slovakia spent the rest of the game packed in on defense and looking to spring the counter. The tactic used so often by the U.S. to topple bigger squads was turned against them and a lack of quality on the front line proved to be too much to overcome. Not really much of a surprise in the outcome. A 1-0 in Slovakia on a torn up pitch against a team that clearly was there to get a result with any means necessary was nothing to hang the heads about.
Then came Wednesday's showing. After taking a lead in the first half against the run of play it was my expectation that the U.S. would do exactly what Slovakia had done to them. But Denmark had different plans.
The home side walked onto the pitch in the second frame and shelled the U.S. with three quick goals that put the tie out of reach.
So what is there to learn from this if you're a fan of U.S. soccer?
1. The U.S. team lacks depth.
The starting eleven can be dangerous, but as much as Bob Bradley has tried to look at multiple options, beyond the top 12 or 13 players in the pool the U.S. lacks high quality talent.
The prospects for the future, as always, include some bright spots. Unfortunately, the future is coming up quickly. The health of Bradley's top squad will be essential if there is any hope of a run in South Africa.
2. North American leagues need to care about international dates.
Seriously, the FMF and MLS need to have a look at moving some schedules around on international dates. It would've been nice to see a full compliment of MLS players on the pitch, and having Edgar Castillo for more than a token run-out was something the U.S. desperately needed. It's understandable that players pull out of these matches, but for leagues to have matches scheduled during international breaks is absurd.
Take the week off. I honestly don't care if it is during the playoffs.
3. Jozy Altidore is not quite ready to be the top striker.
I think this was already pretty well known, but for those who thought he was ready to take over and become a dominant striker, sorry, that's not going to happen in the near future.
Without a partner who can hold the ball, and at times even when there is one, Altidore has looked mediocre. Finding a partner for him up front who knows how to find gaps and work in tight spaces should be priority number one heading into next summer.
4. Robbie Rodgers may have earned a trip to South Africa.
Going back to my last point, the two best options to partner Altidore seem to be Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, leaving an extra spot open on one of the wings. Rogers played well in both games, and while he would still seem to be a touch behind Benny Feilhaber and Stuart Holden on the depth chart, Rogers showed that he could compete, and even be effective, against World Cup quality sides.
5. The USA is not ready for the World Cup.
Luckily there's still a bit of time to figure some things out, but as it stands today this team isn't ready to be competitive at the World Cup without the help of a friendly group draw.
Allen Ramsey is an associate editor of Goal.com. The Short List runs every Wednesday on Goal.com USA.
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