A brief reaction to USA-T&T

After a young team lost tonight to Trinidad & Tobago on the road, I thought our positions on youth and away qualifiers needed a little clarification.

Some will use this result to draw two conclusions: 1. Using young/inexperienced palyers in qualifiers is risky and is usually a bad idea; 2. This (along with Mexico’s loss in Jamaica) proves that road qualifiers in CONCACAF are really hard!  Here’s my take:

1. I don’t know of anyone who suggested that tonight’s lineup was the lineup we should have used all along–I haven’t heard many calls for Califf, Guzan, Hejduk, Kljestan, or Torres to be first choices for their positions.  I believe the point that most fans calling for more youth were trying to make is that some of our players are good enough to contribute right now. I maintain that Altidore, Cooper, and Adu are good enough to be called up for any qualifier. Should they all start?  Not necessarily. But I could identify three players in most 23-man rosters that they could do better than.

2. I still think too much is made of road qualifiers in CONCACAF, and I stand by all of my statisitics identified in the Road WCQs article.  For example, in the 2006 cycle, the home team won about 49% of the time.  In MLS this season (as of two weeks ago), the home team won 51% of the time.  Why aren’t we talking more about the extreme difficulty of away MLS matches?  Yes, it’s harder to play on the road, but is anyone really denying the existence of home-field advantage?  Yeah, there were people who overreacted to 1-0 results, but I think, for the most part, American fans were just calling ugly performances what they were.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

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