TSG Presents: You Make the Call: Honduras

Anyone remember and miss those IBM TV ads that use to run during the  first quarter of Monday Night Football games? You know, the ones when MNF was on free TV and MacGyver defused a bomb with a cooking mitt in the hour beforehand. Dating myself now.

Hashed and re-hashed that is where we are on USMNT in San Pedro Sula. Now we just need your opinion. So have at it and add your commentary below.

Who wins this Saturday? The home town so-close Honduran side or the visiting Dempsey-less Yanks?

Will Coach USA walk away with a plane ticket or a headache?

Will Coach USA need to phone South African Airways or dial up an answer on Wednesday?

You already know the subplots, especially:

...or TSG pick Holden?

...or TSG pick Holden?

...or Benny Ballhandler....

...or Benny Ballhandler....

Will the start go to Paco...

Will the start go to Paco...

• Who fills Dempsey’s cleats? Is it a member of the Benny! & Stu show? Is it Feilhaber who has worked his way into the good graces again of Bradley (you’ve never been out of mine BF…you hear me!)? Is it Stu Holden who has been consistently impressive upon his call-up to the senior sqaud and wants to emulate Eric Cantona (3:14 min)? Or is it Paco Torres, everyone’s favorite Mexican leaguer who only gets air time south of the border? TSG needs more Torres coverage — coming up after this round of qualifiers.

• Will it be Stevie C, who was were last time….in 2001 as a 21-year-old or will it be Jonathan Spector, all of 23 who played the first game against La H?

Will 'Dolo start and remain unbeaten in Honduras?

Will 'Dolo start and remain unbeaten in Honduras?

• With Coach B worried about yellow card accumulation, which potential starter may be shelved at Estadio Olimpico? TSG says if you’re already worried about yellow card accumulation and worse, if you’re speaking about it in public, it sends the wrong message. Just don’t talk about it. Go get the win.

JZA: Coach, me yellow? I play forward.

JZA: Coach, me yellow? I play forward.

Let’s go U.S…..I’ll see you all after the clash, however I will be updating TSG after during and after the match. Big game here, even if TSG is one of the few pubs that think so.

*Note, in BB’s presser yesterday he suggests that it’s between Benny and Stu for the starting nod and that yellow cards will play a material role in his team selection.

My brother will be going kicking off the customary Orange Wedges running commentary / game day post later this afternoon.

14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark T on 2009/10/08 at 8:53 PM

    Check out these highlights of the 2001 tilt with ‘Dolo at RB. It was a long-bomb fest as Earnie Stewart’s 30-yarder surprised just about everyone including the announcers when it found the back of the net.

    As is now expected of US Soccer they made accessing the video difficult, so here’s how.

    1. Click here: http://www.ussoccer.com/Multimedia/Media-Center.aspx#/id=b810a577-1b9e-4e6e-b89c-169606e84cd9

    2. It will pop-up the video player with Boca in the background. Hit Play

    3. Take your cursor and move to the bottom right of the video player. Click on the “Channel” button that is shaped like a television.

    4. A menu will load over the video player. Click on the fourth bar / video for the near five minute clip.

    5. Enjoy


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/08 at 10:00 PM

    Highly possible that the Honduran goalkeep was blind….then again Brad Friedel looks like he can’t jump over a telephone book on the Honduran goal.

    Great blast from the past Armas, Razov (thought that guy was going to be much bigger) and Dolo out there.


  3. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/10/08 at 11:35 PM

    awesome post. I like how the polls are imbedded into the post. nice little wrinkle you added there.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/09 at 12:16 PM

      Thanks Antonio — next up is hijacking some web site and putting the USA-Hon feed in there. We would if we could.


  4. Posted by Brad on 2009/10/09 at 8:28 AM

    Earnie Stewart rules. The crazy thing to me is how that’s only eight years ago, and yet there is exactly ONE guy in that game who is still on the team for us. Honduras on the other hand has a lot of the same players. That blind goalie is still their #1… maybe he’ll have a relapse and let in a few of those uncontested bombs again!


  5. I’m thinking this 4-3-3 (or asymetric 4-2-2-2, if you must) gives us the best shot. Honduras kept a very tight shape against Mexico so I think we should just vacate the area in front of the center backs and play from wide areas to force their defensive midfielders to choose between getting pulled out of shape and marking air.

    Hopefully Bob’s been watching his Barca because this is the poor-man’s version. Donovan can pretend to be Messi, Altidore method acts Ibra while Davies immerses himself in the role of a young Henry. Our midfield 3 is more conservative with Clark and Bradley like a pairing of Keita and Yaya Toure. Only one of them can venture more than 20 yards from one of the centre-backs while Feilhaber gets to choose whether he does a better impression of Xavi or Iniesta. Honduras will struggle to defend as well with their shape as they did against Mexico if we take this more fluid, direct approach. Mexico are fluid, but they’re slow and methodical in the build up so they had trouble breaking a tight Honduras down.

    Defensively, Donovan’s job along with Feilhaber is to pressure the central midfield as they try to bring the ball into our half until the pressure is broken. In the next defensive stage, Feilhaber drops into the center of a 3-man midfield and defends positionally with Bradley and Clark as the tacklers. The 4-3-3 leaves you vulnerable to a switch of play so Donovan should position himself on the side opposite possession ready to cut out a long cross-field pass and counterattack. Our fullbacks aren’t quick or savvy enough to stay high up the pitch on the opposite side, ready to cut out this ball so we’d just leave ourselves exposed if we tried applying Barca’s solution to this problem. If the switch takes two or more passes that should give our midfield sufficient time to shift across.

    This more conventional 4-4-2 would also work. I like the directness of Bradley, Holden and Altidore together on one side with the trickery of Feilhaber, Donovan and Davies together on the other. Davies and Altidore should be trying to get into the box when the balls on the right, while Holden should be trying to join Altidore at the far post when it’s on the left. However, I think we end up playing into their defensive strength in the center of midfield with this shape.

    And not to nitpick gentleman but your first poll questions asks USA v. Honduras, who is the Victor? Possible responses are win, lose, draw and other. The responses be USA, Honduras, Neither or the question should be rephrased.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/09 at 11:03 AM

      I was just fixing the poll issue. Give me a few minutes to respond to your strategy here and think about what I am going to do with that Altidore Ibrahimovic comment that will leave you open for a roundhouse right.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/09 at 11:41 AM

      Alright Tuesday — here’s my feedback.

      Your 1st paragraph — absolutely agree. In the June 6th game, Red Card Mastroeni just kept pumping out little lead passes to Donovan and Dempsey who were 1-on-1 and then able to break down their wide fulls forcing Honduras to lose shape. So agreed.

      On the formation, can we agree that the U.S. is 4-4-2 when in a defensive posture — with Donovan and Demps (or the other wide mid) provide cover for the corners — both those guys remain high until possession is maintained by the offenders and they have to work out of their end. Offensively I can agree on a modified 4-2-2-2. I don’t think the U.S.’s shape or attacking style is every really a 4-3-3 unless they categorically employ that.

      I remember the China game in San Jose a few years ago. That *was* a 4-3-3 and the U.S. played much differently.

      Your defensive posture that you point out with Benny and Donovan in that modified formation is right on target as well. The U.S. suffered from Honduras linking small passes in the middle (because USMNT played too wide). The way they countered it on June 6th was actually to bring Clark and Bradley AND Gooch and Boca up high. That left the U.S. susceptible to the wide cross runs or through-ball runs, however the U.S. was able to defend those a number of times with Spector and Bornstein shutting the lanes (not sure that is the best strategy).

      I think you strategy of keeping two mids drawn in and pressing up the pitch is better. (I can’t believe I agreeing with you as I write this :>,) for a host of reasons: attempting to win the mid field, forcing the game outside for Honduras where they are weaker, keeping the U.S. best offenders further up the pitch.

      On your 4-4-2 comments….

      The U.S. will certainly play Rico and Bradley out of the gates tomorrow. In that case, I keep the grouping of Davies, Donovan and Rico on Bornstein’s side if possible and then Bradley, Altidore, Holden on the other. On the first grouping, Rico would know to get rid of the ball quickly (as we did to create the counterattack head round the world in South Africa). Would I favor Benny there? Absolutely.

      On the other side, I see Holden really being the key and driving up the pitch. I’m curious to see Altidore’s positioning tomorrow, because even as BB pointed out yesterday, Altidore is not a true target striker (though that’s what he is physically be suited for), we likes to roam.

      My concern is that Altidore will/might roam into the areas that Holden is best to attack. But let’s see how it plays out.

      On Mike B, I’m going to be looking pretty closely at him too. I don’t think he knows his role on the U.S. right now (do I come up?, do I sit for the square pass? is Rico going up?). He’s hestitant to get involved in the attack and when he does he usually overcompensates. Against El Salvador and Mexico, he was kicking field goals from midcourt and I was like: Did we sign Kim Kallstrom or John Arne Riise? Not his strength.

      And dare I add one thing here — if you wanted to play a target man, say the Big Aloha here and he could dish off the pass to a streaking Holden or trailling Bradley, that makes some sense. We’ll have our McBride-Ching conversation tomorrow.

      I’ve meandered around my comments and decided not to address your Yaya Toure and Ibra comments — if you can get me thinking that the USMNT is even comparative to them that’s a positive.

      The real question you and I both have is: how does Bob B construct and deploy the midfield vs. a very centrally located Honduran midfield and offense? And how do we adapt that strategy as the game goes on?


      • Posted by Kevin on 2009/10/10 at 7:31 AM

        hmm I would rather have Rico on the same side as Holden because they do seem to have a good understanding of eachother at club level.
        If you’re looking for a true target striker, Ching is your best bet on the USMNT, but I personally don’t like having a target striker with the way we play right now. I also don’t think BB would start three people from the same club. If I had my choice I would say play the 4-4-2 with either Holden and Rico central, or the more obvious Bradley with Benny and Holden on the outside. I HATE two defensive mids. I personally don’t blame Bradley for ever not understanding his role on the team right now because I don’t even think BB knows what he really wants with the team. Not only that, but back to the defensive mid situation It’s just wierd having two people, primarily responsible for defending, so it gets confusing as for who pushes up the help with the attack.


  6. Don’t worry, there’s no love for Ibra from over here – we can cast Altidore in the role of Etoo if you’d prefer. He’s not really like neither of them, but the point is that he runs the channels while Donovan can pop up wherever and Davies is coming inside from deeper/wider. If a team is well-drilled at defending with their shape as Honduras are, the trick is to make the shape a detriment.


  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/09 at 11:58 AM

    By the way, USMNT fans will probably get a lot of Torres is Holden tires. I would imagine Paco is the #1 back-up with Benny coming on for Ricardo per usual in the 60th minute, about 60 minutes later than he should.

    Also, I think you’ll Bornstein go the distance, but I wonder if it’s Hedjuk or Spector if he falters.
    My guess is actually Spector on the left, but I think Bornstein will be in there all day and I’m hoping he tries to stake his claim.


  8. Please, can we call Bob Bradley and have him sit Jonathan Bornstein? I don’t want to pay $20 to watch him get smoked time and time again. I hope Spector plays left back, but I don’t see it happening.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/09 at 1:19 PM

      I’m in Bornstein’s corner — as in he’s the best we have. As I commented above, West Hammers are worried about Spector on the left and I think Bornstein has the goods.

      That being said the weakest position on the U.S. is LB. We also have no depth there.

      Ideally, would like to see the depth chart of:

      RB: Spector/Dolo
      LB: New guy that looks/acts/plays like Alves or Ashley Cole/J Bornstein

      I’ll be more upset for $20 on Saturday if Ricardo Clark is charged with creating offense.


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