With the results of the USMNT post-Azteca battle and forthcoming qualifier buzz, the debate fury on the happenings of the USMNT–on the web, in bars, just about anywhere–and what the team leadership should and should not do has been running rampant.
We here at TSG thought we’d provide you a little guidance in navigating some of the commentary that you’ve seen or you’re sure to see.
1) Number one on our list is formations and now is not the time to experiment.
We all like to talk about alternate formations and this formation will do this and that formation will cover that. Lots of them actually make a lot of sense.
Let’s get one thing clear though the US has two “formations” going into South Africa:
– huddle in the back and pray and kick the ball over the top. Just kidding….I think….okay really just kidding.
The US has two formations: 4-4-2 and some modification of a 4-5-1 when they are attempting to lay back in defense. That’s it.
The US will not be trying any other formations, not now or not in RSA, until after 2010.
How does TSG know this beyond the obvious? Take a look at the US starting line-up for their Brazil Confederation’s Cup championship match a few weeks back. Now look at the formation employed by club team of the 11 starters. At least 90%* and quite possibly 100% of the players in the USMNT starting XI come from a 4-4-2 club formation. I’m giving a * disclaimer to Aarhus, Benny Feilhaber’s team, because I am not certain they employ the 4-4-2.
Familiarity with position can speed the cohesiveness challenges of the USMNT who come together only sporadically for the next 9 months.
Asking the US to switch formations or attempts new ones when there are probably less than 10 total matches left for the USMNT before World Cup 2010, is not just not smart, it’s grounds for firing the coach.
2) Let’s forget about fringe players at this point. You’ve seen everyone this summer who has a chance to start with only 3 exceptions: Jermaine Jones and to a much lesser extent, Maurice Edu and Edgar Castillo.
If you haven’t seen ‘em, they are almost 100% unlikely to start at this point.
The USMNT needs consistency to develop a rhythm with those on the pitch. In short, they need competitive games together and to build up the understanding of where each individual is as a group.
3) Bob Bradley is not getting fired, replaced or asked to sit in the corner of the room.
All Captain Bob has done at this point is take two completely different teams to two different championship games in two different tournaments. Not only that, but he came about 10 minutes short of earning the 2nd tie ever in Mexico City with his #1 star having the swine flu. The players love playing for him and they love playing for him for a reason that we, the fans, sometimes don’t. He sticks with them. He doesn’t judge their performance on one game. He gives them room to make mistakes and prove their meddle. (Note here*: I’m totally discounting this whole Torres situation–something’s weird there.)
Bob’s hear to stay. Is he the right man for the job? Right now, yes.
In case you need more here, USSF Sunil Gulati at an August 11th presser on the Azteca match: “Bob Bradley will be our coach through qualifying, Bob Bradley will be our coach at the World Cup if we qualify, and I am confident that we will.”
So sequentially, you have to see Gulati fired first in all likelihood since he’s not backing away from that quote now.
If you remember these three axioms, you’re message board filtering will be X-men-like and your reading and debate enjoyment will increase we promise you. And let’s start some more educated debate that takes these factors into account like:
Jermaine Jones forces which middie to the bench?
Who’s the most challenging team the US can face in the 1st round?
Should Chad Marshall challenge for a starting role next year?