Center back Tim Parker (right) made his internatonal debut against Ireland. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Well, you can’t win them all.
After the United States’ 3-0 win over the Bolivia B team — no, I mean C, well, actually, it might have been its D team — Wednesday night, the Americans played a real fulltime squad Saturday and discovered what a real opposition is all about.
The Red, White and Blue has never won in Dublin, with 0-6 mark there. The Americans have scored in each of their losses, dating back to a 3-1 defeat in 1924.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s match.
Coming back down to earth
If you thought Wednesday’s win was a bellwether for the future, you were dead wrong. It was like a night and day difference between the two games. The visitors were fortunate to take a 1-0 lead against the run of play before the Irish rebounded with two second-half goals. We all got a reminder of how much the kids have to get more experience and raise their level of play against a solid side. They’ll get another reminder against France in that country’s send-off match in Lyon next Saturday. Still, this is the type of experience any young player and/or needs, whether they win, lose or draw.
Still not convinced Hamid is the USA goalkeeper of the present of the future for the USMNT. He was caught out of position a few times and paid dearly on Ireland’s goal by Graham Burke in the 57th minute. After being spoiled by the likes of Tony Meola, Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard over the past 30 years, it is difficult to live with rather ordinary goalkeeping at the international level. You can’t blame Hamid for the game-winner for Alan Judge in the 90th minute. Judge beat U.S. defender Matt Miazga and powered a shot off Hamid’s arm. Columbus Crew SC keeper Zach Steffen, who backstopped the 1-0 win over Paraguay March 27, could be the man who steps to the forefront and makes the team his for the next decade or so. It wouldn’t be the same and would be disastrous for the USA if not doesn’t have a strong presence in the back.
After seemingly waiting forever to get a call-up, Red Bull center Tim Parker finally got it. And in the 61st minute, Parker earned his first cap for the USA, replacing Cameron Carter-Vickers. He appeared to acquit himself well but would love to see him in the lineup for 90 minutes to get himself further acclimated. Other U.S. debutants as second-half subs were Shaquell Moore for DeAndre Yedlin in the 70th minute and Luca De La Tore for Rubio Rubin in the 77th.
Bobby Wood might have endured a miserable campaign with Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga, but he has felt right at home with the U.S. in his last two appearances. He scored off a set piece a minute into first-half stoppage time off Miazga’s header. The goal was against the run of play, but the Americans will take anything, especially when they’re on the road. He also tallied in victory over Paraguay. Yeah, that one was a penalty kick, but they all count the same. Let’s see if he can rediscover his scoring touch and club confidence for the 2018-19 season. The more the better for whomever will be the new U.S. head coach from which to choose.
There’s nothing like playing in Europe, where teams’ fans are passionate to the umpteenth level. Wednesday’s game had 11,882 in Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. While the supporters who showed up should get a pat on the back for being there, it was disappointing that the U.S. could not fill up an MLS stadium for an international. Yes, yes, you don’t have to remind me about the young home team and the visiting side. The atmosphere should be the same, if not better next Saturday, June 9, when the Americans meet the French in their send-off game before flying to Russia for the World Cup. The U.S. team? The players will return home or to their respective MLS squads before the next big call-ups in September.