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That’s On Point – “Go Back To Russia” (USMNT-Russia Review)

By Mike Cardillo / That's On Point

Russia 2, United States 2.

So the American script under Jurgen Klinsmann survives to live another day and make the long winter before the qualifier against Honduras in February a little more palatable.

This game was the United States, as it stands currently in a nutshell.

Sloppy play in your own half to give up a goal? Check.

Minimal creativity from the midfield? Check.

Tim Howard standing on his head to make a bunch of athletic saves? Check.

Listless, nothing performance for most of the night? Check.

Finding a way to pull out a completely improbable result? Check.

The U.S. truly is infuriating.

Why the team, continually, finds a way to play its best with it's back against the wall doesn't make sense. Maybe this is being too harsh after — twice — coming back from down a goal to get a draw at Russia, yet this type of performance happens time and time again.

It is the best and worst quality of this team rolled into one.

They're never out of a match until the full time whistle … but they seem to always make it too damn hard for themselves. Repeatedly.

I don't get it. Doubt anyone does.

Full credit to Michael Bradley for spearheading the comeback with an absolute beauty of a goal to make it 1-1. On the volley, off the post. Just brilliant stuff. If there's one thing almost all U.S. fans can agree on — which is harder than it sounds — build the squad around the Roma midfielder, then fill in the rest of the pieces.

Bradley, too, set up the eventual tying goal in stoppage time after Russia had gone ahead in the 85th thanks to a careless penalty given up by Clarence Goodson. Bradley fired the ball in, Terrance Boyd knocked it down and Mix Diskerud was in the right place to deflect his shot into the net.

Not pretty and the result flatters the overall performance, but hey, it's never good to lose to Russia if only for dated 1980s Cold War-era cinema references.

(RIP Patrick Swayze.)

Other Stuff:

* Guess we have to talk about Jozy Altidore, right? Do we have to? Can we all simply agree scoring goals in Holland and international soccer are two different Vehn diagrams? It's one thing not to score, it's another to be unable to complete a pass. Any wonder both U.S. goals were set up on knockdowns by subs Juan Agudelo and Boyd?

* The less said about Jermaine Jones, the better. Again, this is nothing personal but he must have a Svengali-like mind meld with Klinsmann for the German coach to keep playing him. And why the U.S. players all defer to him is mind boggling. And yes, he played much of the second half as a left wing.

* As bad as the giveaway was by Danny Williams to set up Russia's first goal, there's still more promise in him than Jones.

* Suffice to say, Klinsmann's love of the three-man defensive minder midfield could come back to haunt the U.S. in games that matter in 2013.

* Josh Gatt? Promising, but let's not go overboard. He's an option out wide at this point, beyond that? Solid debut for the Molde man overall.

* Howard better sleep in an oxygen tent between now and 2014 because the Americans are sunk without him. Does any other keeper make such an impact internationally, game-in, game-out as he does? Or is that a little bit of Ian Darke-level hyperbole?

* Taylor Twellman actually said, before the Diskerud goal that a 2-1 loss would be better than a 1-1 draw for the U.S. on the ESPN broadcast. Well then.

* If this all sounds overtly negative, let's end on praising Michael Bradley once again. He's really really good.

About Mike

Mike Cardillo writes a blog. Follow him on Twitter @thatsonpoint.

Tags: That’s On Point, USMNT

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