Jordan Morris is just a college kid. He scored a goal. Juan Agudelo is just playing again for the first time in nine months. He scored a goal.
The United States didn’t just beat Mexico, 2-0, bringing on the familiar chant of “dos a cero.” It saw its pool of useful strikers expand. Again.
One of its biggest problem positions, the position with the biggest spotlight, just keeps getting better and better and better for the U.S. Its options keep growing and growing. Everything, it seems, is going swimmingly.
To a degree, as far as the forwards go, everything is. Jozy Altidore is still a solid, dependable striker who gets the job done. They have a clear Option A. And Aron Johannsson is still around, while Terrence Boyd is getting fit again. Rubio Rubin has shown he’s a promising young player, as has Gyasi Zardes. Now Morris and Agudelo are in the mix, too? And that’s without getting into the likes of Chris Wondolowski.
Klinsmann is spoiled for choice. Kind of.
While the Americans’ forward pool has grown, in another way the team is still extraordinary thin up front. The U.S. was dealt a huge blow at last summer’s World Cup when Altidore was hurt because there wasn’t another option to replace him. And some argued that the problem was Klinsmann’s roster choice, having opted against bringing along another target man, but the reality was there just wasn’t another good striker available. There certainly wasn’t another who was equipped to play in a World Cup. The U.S. had one striker it could truly depend on that stage, and that remains the case today.
Johannsson hasn’t been fit enough to really find his form, and while he’s shined in the Eredivisie, he’s looked no better than a fine complimentary part for the U.S. Boyd hasn’t ever looked the part of a lead striker; his knee problems haven’t helped. Rubin hasn’t even finished his first professional season and, while talented, looks like a teenager at times. Zardes’ work rate and speed are still his best attributes, but he needs to develop the other parts of his game. Tonight’s scorers also have caveats: Morris is still in college, while Agudelo hasn’t played two consecutive months of soccer in nearly a year.
Forget trying to find competition for Altidore or anyone better than Altidore. There isn’t a single good striker in that bunch. At least, not yet. They’re all players who can be that one day, but they aren’t there yet, and if Altidore got hurt now, the U.S. wouldn’t be any better off than it was at the World Cup.
It was wonderful to see Morris score against Mexico. And it was great to see Agudelo spark the “dos a cero” chants. The ever-expanding forward pool can only help. To have so many promising young players who could potentially make the jump to great strikers is incredible, especially when every striker non-Altidore, non-Wondolowski player in that mix is 24 years old or younger.
But that’s just hope and options right now. As good as things could be, they’re not there yet. Hopefully soon they will be.