It's always something with the U.S. national soccer team.
Used to be, the team had trouble organizing the midfield. That problem appears to be solved, at least for the moment. In its stead, another weakness has emerged: the team's inability to score.
That leads to results such as Sunday's, a 0-0 tie against Bolivia. It was the kind of score that drives prospective fans away, but the 9,578 at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium saw an entertaining, if not ultimately satisfying, game.
The disarray in the U.S. midfield apparently has been remedied. Now, the team moves upfield and sustains crisp passing and ball movement. The newfound ability to control the ball should allow more possession time for the U.S. players to create scoring chances--in theory. In fact, the United States has either failed to create scoring chances or, as in Sunday's game, fails to convert. The Americans had nine shots on goal to Bolivia's three. Two saves were made.
The U.S. team is 1-4-8 in full international matches this year, and the team's inability to score is rapidly becoming a matter of concern.
"A lot of time when we get the ball, we have a tendency to play the ball back," said Timo Liekoski, U.S. assistant. "That gives the defense a chance to adjust. We must move the ball forward."
The United States' only serious scoring opportunity came in the first half, when Bruce Murray sent a left cross to the onrushing Chris Henderson. Henderson's open shot sailed over the crossbar.
The United States plays Peru on Wednesday night at Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo and can expect to see a style similar to Bolivia's.
An interested observer Sunday was goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who recently finished the season with Millwall, in the English first division. Keller, who was the backup goalkeeper on the United States' 1990 World Cup team, said he has been contacted by the U.S. soccer federation, but has no immediate plans to join the team.
Earlier, the L.A. Salsa beat Chivas of Guadalajara, 2-0.