We’ll spare most of the buildup to the game. It’s been hashed and rehashed over blogs, emails, television, radio, locker rooms, outhouses, penthouses, henhouses, etc. etc. for awhile.
It’s the USA away, Mexico home…and the game is a fulcrum point one year away from the (Project 2010) World Cup.
Are the U.S. for real after their revelation against Spain or are they Even Steven, showing bouts of ineptitude vs. flashes of brilliance?
Let’s get right to the tale of the tape then. Let’s get it on!
As usual, we’ll follow the TSG format:
TSG “What We’re Looking For”
11 at the Whistle
Ding, ding ding.
TSG ” What We’re Looking For”
- Clint Dempsey to be active, enthused and present a threat.
Fan Chris R says, “Can someone please tell me which formation can mitigate the risk of Dempsey over-dribbling / turning the ball over in the middle of the field?
Coming off a strong Confederations Cup for Landon Donovan, there is small sense of, “Okay, whew, he started playing like we knew he could.” Dempsey, for his part, was effective as well, tallying 3 goals in the tourney. (By the way, the case of “Dempsey being in the right place and right time *is* a talent, not luck. Guess who had the best shooting percentage in the EPL last year. That’s right, Deuceman.)
Apologies for the digression, but we need Dempsey to be a threat. With Donovan coming on, the U.S. having a strike force, we’re really missing that one-on-one breakdown your defender and then maybe more that Dempsey can provide. For the US, he’s looked sluggish or perhaps he’s coming out with a sequel to his 2007 rap hit.
Let’s see the return of Clint in this game so the questions about if or where he should start subside.
- The US to show a veteran presence coming out of the locker room and that starts just after Tim Howard with Gooch and Jay DeMerit (and then correspondingly with the wingfulls)
The backline needs to control the tempo in the beginning of both halves in unison with outside middies. Specifically, Spector and Boca (or whoever else) need to be at the top of their game so Dempsey and Donovan don’t drift back and have the US huddled campfire-style around their 18.
And the centerbacks….most importantly….need to focus on the 15 minutes out of halftime no matter the score. That’s when the US has proved vulnerable and with the expected fan volume Howard is not going to be able to scream loud enough for direction.
- Jonathan Bornstein will return to form and somehow factor in this game.
Bornstein, if on his game, is a perfect defender against quick striking, ball possession teams like Mexico, Spain and Argentina. It may be Boca in trouble or a late game play. Call it a feeling.
- Speaking of which, Bob Bradley to use a quick hook, especially on Jozy Altidore if he’s in the clouds or whichever wingback is opening up the d.
I know Bob is steady and resists change. I mean how long did it take Charlie Davies to get off the pine. BB has to realize two things here *if they materialize. One, if Spector or Boca are getting beat–then they’re going to get beaten all day. You’re going to have Hedjuk, Cherundolo or as we commented above, Bornstein ready to play. Let’s use them.
Secondly Jozy will be a man for USMNT one day, but right now he’s only on the cusp. Assuming he starts, Jozy will have to be active causing trouble all day long up the pitch. BB will have a tireless and on-game Brian Ching at the ready if not and he should certainly use him if Altidore is out of unleaded.
11 at the Whistle
G: Tim Howard
D: Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Oneywu, Carlos Bocanegro
M: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey
S: Brian Ching, Jozy Altidore
Bench: Brad Guzan, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Bornstein, Benny Feilhaber, Stu Holden
Last spots: Conor Casey, Jose Francisco Torres, Chad Marshall
- Charlie Davies to partner Jozy the Tiger up top
I literally just changed my mind here. Originally I was considering Ching and Davies up top. But the more I think about that argument (see: thrown-away commentary below) the more it makes more sense to start Jozy and Ching upfront as a likely scenario over Ching-Davies. My new reasoning: U.S. needs some firepower off the bench. You’ve got Davies who will give the defense fits with his speed in the 2nd half. You’ve got Jozy who as we mentioned is focused on Saturday at Chelsea–better to run him out there in the beginning and see where his mind is than bring him in later when you definitely need a contribution.
That being said Bob Bradley is a steady-as-she-goes sort of captain. Altidore and Davies had success in South Africa so they may get the nod. Remember, the only on here in true game shape is Brian Ching who’s been playing multiple games per week. Davies just got his first start of the season on Saturday and Altidore has yet to begin his season as we know.
- Steve Cherundolo to spell Jonathan Spector on the right rear flank
Spector has been solid if not a revelation for the U.S. team, but Bob B might choose to go with experience and a player who is arguably in better game shape here (Cherundolo’s season has begun in Germany; Spector gets his first nod this weekend in England). We don’t see it, but it’s possible.
- Ricardo Clark to give way to Benny Feilhaber in the starting 11.
Fan Matthew N says, “Feilhaber can be this player, but he really brings so much to the game that he should be starting.”
We think so too, but we think it will be Clark. We’d like to see Benny out there at the top of the diamond moving around and possessing the ball. We know Bob will play conservatively though and bring on Benny for needed offense or 2nd half possession, that is if he goes to a 1 striker formation.
- Jonathan Bornstein to start at left back if Captain Carlos is in the middle
Yeah, I know, we’re on a bit of a Bornstein kick. And no we won’t mention the time that he and Lionel….but if Boca plays center back you can be damn sure that Bornstein will get the nod at left.
Ok, as we mentioned, we’ll update the rosters tomorrow when they come out.
Tell us what you think. Who do you have on your scorecard at the final bell? Or will it be a knockout early?
(Note on the boxing pic: If it wasn’t immediately clear, the boxing pic is from the January 1994 fight between American Frankie Randall and perhaps the most famous Mexican-born boxer, Julio Cesar Chavez. Randall registered a stunning defeat of Chavez which was Chavez’s first loss of his professional career. In the fight, Chavez got knocked down as well for the first time ever as a professional.)