Saturday, May 28, 2016

In Last Pre-Copa Friendly, USMNT Handles Bolivia 4-0 in Kansas City

The thoughts and ramblings shown below are reflective of nothing but the electrical impulses from my brain to my hands and nothing else. The 8,894 fans in attendance (as well as anyone else, to be honest) are welcome to agree or disagree with anything I say.


One of the few things that didn't impress me about Saturday's match at Children's Mercy Park was the attendance. The announced attendance of 8,894 was actually below the average of the four home friendlies the team has played in 2016.

I'm sure there were a few reasons for the ticket sales being so poor. Some of the contributing factors probably included the Royals being in town, the fact it's Memorial Day Weekend and the play the team's shown the last several months, but one of the most common complaints I saw was the price of the tickets.

When the tickets are, as one tweet said, double the price to get into a Sporting KC game, you can't expect people to pay that for a friendly. A World Cup qualifier or a Gold Cup doubleheader, sure, but not for a tune-up against a team they're supposed to beat. If US Soccer is serious about wanting to sell as many tickets to these friendlies as they can, what they need to do is look at lowering the prices. Sure, they'll make a little less per ticket, but they'll sell more of them, making up the difference, as they say in retail, on the volume of the sales.


One of the things that did impress me about this match was the play of Sporting KC's Matt Besler. Anybody who knows me well knows that I love Matt Besler to death as a human being, especially his dislike of talking about himself, rare among professional athletes.

While Besler was played out of his natural position at center back (something of a pattern with Jurgen Klinsmann), I thought it worked well. He got up and down the left side really well, had several overlapping runs, played in some nice crosses from the left and even had a moment of magic in heavy traffic.
That's right, Matt Besler, the steady captain of his hometown club, showed us he still has a couple clubs in his bag that he doesn't use very often, but he should. My chin's still a little sore from where it hit the floor when Besler nutmegged that poor Bolivian.


Now, while the match didn't mean quite as much as some the USMNT have played here since the stadium opened in 2011, don't tell that to the American Outlaws. Most of the South Stand was covered (more thickly in the middle than on the sides) with fans wearing the red white and blue. They were loud and did not stop singing.

There was one bewildering decision by one of the capos in the thickest group of Outlaws that made you wonder just how much they were paying attention to what was going on around them. If you've been to a US match at CMP, you've probably heard the call and response chant "United!" "States!". Well, some goofball down there thought it would be a good idea to start that chant while pointing at the Member Stand. That might have worked if the Member Stand, normal home of the Cauldron, hadn't been virtually empty. How empty? If there were 100 people on that end of the stadium, you may have had to count some people more than once to get that high.


Something else impressive about the match was the field itself. Less than 24 hours after Sporting KC fell to DC United during a torrential rainstorm, the field looked good. How good?
Not only could you not tell a match had been played here Friday night, you honestly couldn't tell how hard it had rained. The drainage on this field is something else and the grounds crew at CMP is the best in MLS with good reason.


Next up for the USMNT is their Copa America opener at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, against Colombia. Mistakes they could get away with making against Bolivia will be punished mercilessly by the Colombians, who the USMNT have a 3-10-4 record against.

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