Been lurking this forum way too long, need to add my 2 (3? 4? 10?) cents on a frustrating night which left me with a lot to think about. Be warned this becomes more and more of a rant, especially the Borjan consipiracy theory part. Tl;dr stuff is in bold.
The biggest issue really was Davies in a back 4, and you just have to compare last night to the October game at BMO and Der Klassiker last weekend to see why. When he plays for Canada Davies is our most talented player and needs to get the ball in dangerous spots for him and us to be at our best. In October he dropped back or pressed at times to help in defense but he had essentially free reign to get on the ball and go at the US any chance he got. He was magnificent. When he plays for Bayern he's surrounded by world class players, including world class defenders and his role is a lot simpler. Against Dortmund (and from what I've read to a certain extent in all his Bayern starts) he only occasionally pushed up for attacking support or pressing and his main job was to stay back and neutralize/eliminate his opponents' threat on the right wing, as he did last week taking Sancho and Hakimi out of the game. In short concentrate on 1-vs-1 defending. He was magnificent.
Last night he was tasked with being ready to stop the US attack with limited support from the rest of his defenders (I know they were out of position but cmon going from Alaba and Martinez and a converted CB in Pavard to Vitoria and Henry and a converted midfielder in Laryea is a colossal leap) while also getting on the ball and pushing forward as much as possible; in short DAVIES WAS ASKED TO DO EVERYTHING, WHICH IS AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK. Herdman's post-match Davies-is-our-best-LB quote is terrifying - this match should be proof beyond doubt that Davies has to play in attack for us. There will be rare situations where having him at LWB or LB with a much more defensive RB could work, but an away game in the US isn't one of them. That said Davies made a lot of poor decisions, especially the totally unnecessary giveaway before the first goal plus the juggling back pass (more on that later) and was partially to blame for at least two of the goals, if not all of them due to his positioning.
This brings me to the rest of the back 4. The U.S. is still the second-best team in Concacaf on talent and when they're at home they tend to play like it. Why did we have two attacking fullbacks leaving only Vitoria/Henry/Piette back to put out fires? Cornelius should have started, not necessarily because he's better than Vitoria or Henry, but for continuity. A lot have mentioned the Vitoria-Cornelius partnership but that was really only one game. Henry-Cornelius was a partnership we saw throughout the Gold Cup and at times with the Caps. Either of those would have been better than Henry-Vitoria, which I don't think we've ever seen for Canada, at least not recently and they never looked comfortable playing together. Vitoria went from worst player in the first half to solid in the second which may have had something to do with the forced Henry-Cornelius switch.
And yes, I'm not big on Henry but I thought Vitoria was a culprit on all three goals. First one everyone especially David was asleep but Henry at least did his job and closed down the ball, Vitoria and Davies just stood there and let Morris run free. Second one was an awful attempt at a header, though to be fair to him he was off-balance partly due to his position; Henry could have maybe stayed with Zardes' run better but he was kind of let out to dry by his GK and CB partner there. Third goal both CB's were equally at fault imho - marking the same area and neither of them dealt with it - and again overall poor set piece defending which reflects badly on all the players and especially on the coaching staff. Vitoria was rewarded for a much better second half with a goal.
Now let's look at our GK, who is always, ALWAYS guaranteed to lose his mind at least once every game. Borjan often isn't punished but today he had two brainfarts and paid for both. For the second goal from what I saw it was a bad decision but I could see the logic behind it. He started coming out when he didn't need to, realized exactly that, and then thought he was at a point where he had to commit, so he went all out to close Morris down. I may be harsh but I have more of an issue with his role, including almost being sent off, in the Davies back-pass - and to be clear this is all an educated guess since the only thing we know for sure is it was Davies who passed it back illegally, something he has to take responsibility for as well. I'd need to wait for the replay to be available to try to read Milan's lips and which I don't really want to do after spending so much time writing this post. But I don't think that back-pass happens without Borjan being in Davies' ear to give it back to him. (monday edit: based on this clip https://www.clippituser.tv/c/genmea Borjan doesn't actually seem to say anything so take everything I said here with a barrel of salt) If Borjan says that then it's tough for an outfield player with the ball so close to goal to go against his keeper's word, so I can see why Davies makes the one second decision to play it back. After the call Davies seems to kind of accept it but Borjan goes absolutely mad. He reacted like someone who had no idea what the rule was, gave his defender bad instructions, and lashed out as a defense mechanism to knowing he'd done something wrong. This isn't the first time he's reacted like this either - see Haiti's first goal in the gold cup where him and Godinho both screwed around but which ended with Godinho getting verbally lacerated by Borjan. And look I used to play keeper and I think GK's should be expected to lead and even yell at their defenders, especially someone with Borjan's relative experience. But Borjan is, and I swear this is largely a compliment to him, like a poor man's Barthez in a way - capable of standing on his head and saving us on his day but regularly prone to huge gaffes. At his age, he's also likely to have just started declining. Crepeau needs at least a look in 2020 because on current trajectory I think either he or Carducci could replace Borjan as our #1 as early as 2021.
The keeper and back four, especially Davies, were kind of the main difference. We weren't lacking effort and we actually won a lot of 50/50s in the first half, but we made too many mistakes defending and the Americans finished well. Credit to the USA for a very professional win and credit to Berhalter (!) for a good tactical setup. I thought Piette was excellent again in the first half winning almost everything and actually being solid on the ball, but he faded in the second and him and Cornelius and Davies were at fault for the fourth goal. Our attacking players were increasingly poor as the game went on and the Americans dropped back - Davies and Osorio each went on a jinking run in the box late in the game but had nowhere to go and no movement to give them options. Hoilett added some guile which sparked us for a few minutes and got us a goal but this was also a really poor attacking performance.
A final point - Herdman's subs. He clearly got the original gameplan wrong but should have corrected it at half time. I would have replaced Cavallini (who was lucky he wasn't sent off tbh and who had the worst game I've seen him play) for one of Cornelius/Miller/Adekugbe to play LB and push Davies up. I might even have considered swapping one of our midfielders for Hoilett since the Americans were countering our box midfield pretty well. And that would have still left a second of the defensive sub trio I just mentioned to replace an injured Henry. Instead for a reason I still can't for the life of me accept Herdman made the Kaye for Eustaquio sub.
Let's start with Kaye - he's the best player on our roster at hitting through-balls and a huge defensive presence. I get he may not have been 100% and probably wasn't expected to play the whole game but he was one of our better players last night and created a few threatening looks in the first half. For what it's worth, he didn't look gassed or unfit in the second half - I reckon he could have played the full 90 if he had to. But I'm an observer and the coaching staff should know better so fair enough if I'm wrong.
Now Eustaquio - he was good last night. Don't remember him putting a foot wrong. I'm glad he's beyond doubt a part of the program now and think he's got a great future. But he really shouldn't have played, even if he was at or near full match fitness. His sub didn't change the fundamental problem which was that we played a back four with two wing-backs for an entire away game. I can't find for sure if he ever filed a one-time switch, but he's played for Portugal's U21s so I think he did and in all likelihood is already cap-tied. But even if he wasn't this is a player who from everything he's said is committed to Canada and more importantly doesn't have a clear path back into the Portuguese NT in the near future. He's barely played in a year. From a Portuguese standpoint he's just been banished from a team in another league, nay, in another continent. He would have to find a club at a high enough level and preferably closer to home (let's face it, Liga MX is a high level, but due to familiarity bias Europeans likely wouldn't see it as being as good as similar European leagues - like the Portuguese league) and become a starter or at least important contributor there. Our next official game will almost certainly be in September for the non-hex WCQ, unless the US somehoe outdo the T&T performance and fail to beat Cuba. Portugal are one of the top 10 or so NT's in the world - I think it's extremely unlikely Eustaquio would work his way up to being on their radar, and even then it's not a guarantee he would be interested...and even then, I'm pretty sure he's been cap-tied to us for months anyway.
Just poor setup and game management by Herdman. He deserves a lot of credit for the win against the USA - one of, if not the best performance from the MNT this century - but also deserves scutiny for last night and for Haiti. But it's nowhere near all on him - our players have been really inconsistent in their performances over the last year and that's not a huge surprise given their age.
I'll end it with this quote which I think sums everything up.
Thanks for coming to my TED-Talk everyone