With the Crew (and myself) on a bit of vacation, attention turned to the National Team’s win against El Salvador. There was nothing terribly shocking to the game. Jonathan Bornstein gave up a horrible giveaway that El Salvador turned into a goal. Clint Dempsey was wasteful in front of goal until scoring on a header. Landon Donovan once again confirmed he is the best player on the team. Lastly, one again, the team has a shocking inability to close out a game.
With all of the talking points out of the way, I turn to the part that really did interest me. Chad Marshall got the start and went 90 minutes in a World Cup Qualifier. He did not have a poor game, but he did not distinguish himself either. He had a couple early problems with the speedy opposition forwards. The uneven officiating only seemed to shake Marshall in the early going.
Coach Bob Bradley played an offensive game, so right back Jonathan Spector pushed forward at every chance. Michael Bradley pushed forward as well, leaving Marshall with Carlos Bocanegra to manage the counterattack. Bocanegra and Marshall are not fast so leaving them isolated made for some dicey open chances for the Salvadorans.
While not shining on the defensive end, Marshall did highlight some of his finer skills though. He got forward on set pieces, but was unable connect on any of them, but him more than any other back was willing to shift the point of attack by passing down field. There were some aimless passes, but most were on target and opened up El Salvador. It was a subtle addition to the U.S. offense.
Considering it was his first cap in a qualifier, it was a pretty solid performance that he can build upon. He matches up well with the big rugged forwards from Trinidad and Tobago, so he may return to the lineup to be paired with Oguchi Onyewu, allowing Bocanegra to shift back outside. He certainly did nothing to damages his chances to get more call ups with the team coming into a World Cup year.