Midfielder Michael Bradley stressed the need to play better on the road.
“You go to different places on the road and you have to know how — even on tough days and in difficult conditions — to come away with points,” he said. “Whether it’s on the turf in Saprissa [Costa Rica], or the altitude, heat and smog in Azteca [Mexico City], or the difficult field in Jamaica. There’s so little room for error and from the start we’ll have to be committed to doing whatever we have to do to get the job done. That changes every game depending on the opponent or where the game is played but we have to be committed to getting points and doing whatever it takes.”
Goalie Tim Howard still believes, despite Mexico’s recent success, that the U.S. team has what it takes to rule the region: “We feel like we’re the best team in the region. Mexico feels like they are. In order to prove that, we’ve got to go out there and do it every game. You can’t have off games. We have to be better at putting together good performances more consistently.”
The next round begins in February. Buckle your seat belts!
Meanwhile, in South America, there are seven games left of World Cup qualifying, and this much we have learned:
Lionel Messi can, indeed, play well while wearing his Argentine national team jersey. For a long time, the playmaker was spectacular for his club in Spain, but less so when he was playing for his country. Not anymore. He and Gonzalo Higuain are the top scorers in their region, and Messi is a big reason Argentina is atop the standings.
Uruguay is in a funk. Remember back in 2010, when Diego Forlan and Uruguay reached the World Cup semifinals? Remember when they won the Copa America? Those days are over. Uruguay lost 4-0 to Colombia, 3-0 to Argentina and 4-1 to Bolivia in World Cup qualifiers. Coach Oscar Tabarez must find a way to regroup in a hurry.
• Strikers update: Abe Thompson, who is tied for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers’ all-time scoring lead with 18 goals, has retired. The 30-year-old accepted a job with the United Soccer Leagues working in youth league development. … Midfielder Walter Restrepo and Mark Anderson were named to the NASL Best 11. … Brazilian midfielder Wellington “Pecka” Paeckart was re-signed for 2013.