The United States Men's National Team and Trinidad and Tobago played to a dull scoreless draw on Tuesday night. Some nil-nil's are praised for their exciting display of technique and intensity. This was not one of those. While the U.S. had a few chances to break the deadlock, the crossbar was unkind to them and were forced to share the points at the end of the day.
Despite playing away from home in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier, this was a winnable match for the Yanks. It'll be a frustrating flight home for the squad and Klinsmann. There are several talking points to delve into as we dissect this disappointing draw. Here is what we learned:
1. Klinsmann's starting lineups make no sense
When's the last time the U.S. played three consecutive matches with the same back line? What about even two? It's insane to think a team can bond together and create any type of chemistry when the lineup is constantly tinkered with no matter what. Klinsmann had an entire year to experiment with different formations, tactics, and players. Yet here we are when the matches actually matter and he's still tinkering.
It's ridiculous to expect players to gain any sort of confidence if they don't know where they stand on a particular day. Competition for spots is one thing. Tinkering for the sake of tinkering is a completely different animal.
2. Gyasi Zardes isn't good enough
Gyasi Zardes has had a few good performances for the USMNT this year. There is no denying this. However, his poor performances drastically outweigh the good ones. American soccer fans want so much for him to be good. It's time to realize that he's not a prospect anymore. This is all he's ever going to be. An extremely athletic player with sub-par technical ability and average instincts around goal.
There are plenty of younger and more talented forwards in the pool who deserve a look. Zardes has 19 caps this year, tying the all-time USMNT record for a first-year player. That's a more than large enough sample size to judge him with. He should not be starter for this team and it's debatable if he should even make the reserves.
3. Michael Bradley is human
The joke around the American soccer community for the last eight years has been that Michael Bradley is a cyborg. Someone who runs non-stop and never makes mistakes. This wasn't too far off when he was in the Serie A and in the best form of his life with the USMNT. However, those days are behind us. "MB90" hasn't been at that level since returning to Major League Soccer.
His performances have dipped over the last calendar year, starting with the World Cup in Brazil. His match against T&T left a lot to be desired as well. Sloppy turnovers are the most glaring problems for him currently. He was once the most reliable player in the pool with the ball at his feet. That is no longer the case anymore and it's very worrisome.
4. Darlington Nagbe needs to start
Bradley was poor for the first hour of the match. Things starting improving when Darlington Nagbe joined the fray. The two again started combining in the middle of the field and a light switched on for the U.S. captain. He started playing more alertly and direct. Nagbe has changed both of these qualifiers as soon as he's entered the match. It's time to give him the chance to begin it on the field and see how he affects it.
5. Away qualifiers are still tough
The U.S. should've won this match. I don't think you'd find anyone who would deny this. T&T had a few nice spells of play, but for the most part the Yanks had the better of the chances. Field conditions were less than ideal, just like they are during any away qualifier in CONCACAF. At the end of the day, one point will do just fine for the overall picture, but that doesn't mean we should be satisfied with it.