Archive for October, 2009

All Over the Pitch: Monday Musings

Just wanted to get some commentary out there this morning after going through the headlines, reviews and considering our pieces from Sunday evening.

♦ US U-17 is in action today against Spain on ESPN 360 (11am PST) and if I get a chance I’m going to check it out. Two of the three players I wanted

All eyes to be on Jack

All eyes to be on Jack

to watch aren’t in the squad, Charles Renken and West Ham United academy attendee Sebastian Lletget. That leaves me focused on  Jack McInerney who apparently doesn’t have all the physical tools, but still is considered a great prospect. Some in the commentary on TSG have suggested he’s the next Wayne Rooney — is that aggressive? For a preview of the US in the tourney, head over to Match Fit USA.

♦ Following up on our review of Fernando Torres performance right now and considering him a legend in the making. Is he not the best striker right now? Who else is up there with him? Maybe David Villa, Zlatan, perhaps Drogba (if he remains consistent). Rooney, Eto and others are clearly a step below.

Confirming the U.S. friendly in Bratislava against Slovakia on November 14th. That’s three planned friendlies against three quality teams: Slovakia (Fifa ranking #33), Denmark (#27) and the Netherlands (#3).

More on Jonathan Spector. Despite the visual rating here, commentary from West Ham fans suggest the US rightback played admirably against Arsenal.

Decent game review of the Fulham – Manchester City clash here. The point that USMNT fans should take note of? The importance of Jonathan Greening maintaining possession in the midfield that allowed Fulham to go toe-to-toe with the Citizens and finally draw. A good read.

Weekend Redux: Reds Fire, Rapids Expire

A wonderful weekend of soccer just concluded. I happen to have the time to catch the marquee match-up at Anfield, Rapids-RSL and some of the West Ham vs. Arsenal.

Let’s jump right in.

• Liverpool knocks over Manchester United, 2-0

» You can’t start commentary here without talking about the play of Fernando Torres. He consistently threatened the Man U’s backline all day long, testing the offsides barriers and commanding possession. He gave Nemanja Vidic fits, so much so that Vidic “earned” his third straight red against Benitez’s side.

Torres to Ferdinand: Take a seat and I'll beat up Johnny Evans

Torres to Ferdinand: If you're done being embarrassed, take a seat and I'll start busting up Johnny Evans

But that’s not it, Torres went toe-to-toe with Vidic–at 25 mins of the first half winning corner that had Vidic just flabbergasted–and won on strength and then literally danced around Man U’s left center and left flank (more on that later). The Spaniard also tracked back on defense and with a little more than 20 minutes left parried a dangerous free kick that would have challenged Reina.

I’m not old enough to make this claim, but for his shear combination of strength, finesse and precision, Torres is, in my book, one of the greatest to play the game.

» What in the world has happened to the left side of Manchester United’s defense which was leaking like a sieve all day long. Rio Ferdinand is just a slim shadow of the player he used to be and Patrice Evra so disinterested that he thinks it’s a privilege that Sir Alex is allowed to play him. TSG never makes these statements in isolation and today again both Evra and Ferdinand looked marginal to average at best.

Case in point, about 55 mins in a horrible play by Evra gifts the ball to Benayoun who rumbles to goal. Evra is seen just jogging back into the play; somewhat incredulous.

As for Ferdinand, Fernando Torres abusive run against him on the game winner about 60 mins in was indicative of how the oft-injured Ferdinand has lost a step and lost strength. You know how you know when a player is slowly losing it? He starts to complain to the ref incessantly. Ferdinand used to be average at best in his ref discussions, now it looks like he is looking for some sort of courtesy from the zebras. Your time has gone Ferdinand.

» Speaking of losing it, the Paul Scholes is very quickly heading to the over-35 req league — fast. Scholes often trailed the play and was a non-factor today. Going forward Scholes will be dubbed at TSG, “The fading Paul Scholes”

» In other news, Dimitar Berbatov has earned the nickname “The very average Dimitar Berbatov”

» Wrapping these points up, without Gerrard the Anfielders had the depth to take it to the Traffords. The game, in my opinion, was really won with Benitez’s line-up selection.  Aurelio, Benayoun, Torres and Kuyt capably backed by a resurgent Lucas and industrious Macherano. Fergie’s backline played high and was at risk from the through ball and counter all day. The central midfield of Giggs, Scholes and Carrick couldn’t link anything and the last 20 minutes of the game saw long ball after long ball USMNT style in an attempt to get some offense going.

Real Salt Lake defeats the Colorado Rapids

(Note: tried to watch Galaxy – Earthquakes, but it didn’t make the tele — if someone has a report, would love to hear it.)

» The best USMNT striker on the field Saturday night was clearly Robbie Findley over Conor Casey. Casey had a sloppy game and didn’t seem in sync with his club. Meanwhile, Robbie Findley netted a brace and showed excellent offensive runs and command of the ball. After a 15th  minute header, Findley had a highlight real goal just before the half as we gathered in a long lead pass in time to juggle it over the Rapid’s goalie and then slot it into the bottom right.

Coming off that brace, Findley moved the ball excellently in the 2nd. We still lacks some strength, but he’ll see another call-up from Coach B.

See Findley’s highlight goal at the 2:15 mark.

» Did Colorado already quit on their coach? I found their lack of effort and execution appalling. It was clear that the Rapids were eager for the oft-season.

» Former USMNT hopeful Drew Moor looked slow as his hips were turned twice on the 3rd RSL goal.

West Ham battled back against Arsenal for a 2-2 draw

» Yank’s Johnny Spector was in the right full position and was matched up alternately against the likes of Arshavin and Van Persie and did a very admirable job. Good job in Specs getting the start and making use of it. Specs had other player responsibilities for the two Emirates goals.

• Other bullets:

Amr Zaki who?

Amr Zaki who?

» Fulham battled back to tie Man City, 2-2. Remarkable given that Fulham find the back of the net less than DaMarcus Beasley. Clint had his typical seeing-eye header that bounced and then dodged the valiant effort by Shay Given.

P.S. If you want to see the lamest goal celebration ever, check out Lescott’s score where Adebayor tried to get the credit. Beyond lame.

We changed our minds, it’s better than an Amr Zaki start. Twice this year, we’ve commented to look out for Hugo Rodallega. The Colombian national, fresh of a transfer from Necaxa of the Mexican league, is making DW Stadium forget all about Zaki who came out roaring last year for the home side, but then fizzled after a bout with I’m-too-good-itis. Rodallega netted a brace against Burnley on Saturday. Look for the 26-year-old to put his national team back on the map in the coming years–he’s that good.

» If the Slovakia friendly November 10th does happen for the US, you may see star Marek Hamsik (who we discussed Friday) come in as a future member of Chelsea. Rumor has it he is the guy for the Blues come the January transfer window.

» Just another piece of evidence that superstar Lionel Messi is not too fond of Diego Maradona skippering his national side.

Jozy Out Today for Arriving Late

You can imagine our surprise at not seeing Jozy Altidore even on the line-up sheet when Hull City announced their line-up selection.

Uh...hold on...I'm coming..

Uh...hold on...I'm coming..

Per the BBC Live Stream media player and Hull City message boards, JZA arrived late and after line-up cards were submitted. (You cannot be listed in the line-up card if you are not present.)

Hopefully, this is just an odd circumstance and JZA is not heavily disciplined…and we all see him back on the pitch soon.

…and hopefully it wasn’t because he was playing FIFA ’10 again.

(Update: Apparently, here is Twitter post from Jozy which he has since taken town (via Hull City message board): “Apologize to the all of you. I showed up late. Made a big mistake I’m very very sorry.”)

Two pieces of commentary here quickly from TSG.

» First, despite this instance, nothing that we’ve seen out of Alitdore suggests he’s anything less than a model citizen and teammate. We’re consistently impressed with his statements in the media.

» The Hull City folk (I’ve been following their message boards all season), for the most part love JZA and want him to start. That’s a good thing.

Positive spin if you can try it on this morning’s incident. C’mon JZA, you need pitch time.

—–

Hull City Message Boards

USMNTing Into the Weekend

• A friendly coming against Slovakia. You bet. Coinciding with the USMNT’s November 18th Denmark date is an uncomfirmed November 14th match against World Cup qualifier Slovakia.

It's possible...

It's possible...

The match most likely will be played at the national stadium in Bratislava. Will we perhaps see an invite for Johann Smith who is all of 5 hours down the road playing for Croatian side HNK Rijeka?

Slovakia boast a very stout defense led by Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel. In the attacking third, Slovakia is led by Stanislav Sestak–who tallied 6 goals in qualifying–and Serie A and rumored Manchester United target Marek Hamsik. The 22-year-old Napoli first teamer has 5 goals and 1 assist in the Italian campaign to date and is garnering quite a bit of press.

Another good test for the States.

• Going back in time, if you missed the US Cup clincher in Honduras, you can now watch it online…for about $5. Just go to copatvoline.com

• And Charlie Davies is making more progress, sitting up in bed, getting out of bed, taking some steps and starting some physical therapy. Count us in the minority group of those not counting Charlie out for next year–if only to root him on further. CD9 in 2010: “Yes We Can.”

Globe Trotting: Reds vs. Red Devils and more

….and we’re back on track with our weekend preview pieces. Unfortunately, our Gooch Watch has been suspended indefinitely….and actually now longer than we thought, putting his World Cup campaign in jeopardy.

Look! A bright idea!

Look! A bright idea!

While TSG has conceded that we have some depth here (Marshall, Goodson, even Parkhurst and Spector in a pinch though not Califf please), losing Gooch is like losing the 3rd guy in a pitching rotation that eats up innings. You know he’ll be mostly solid with an off day here and there, but you’ve got that place in the rotation covered and you can worry about other things.

A speedy recovery to Onyewu who was the defense in our Cup trip-clinching game in Honduras.

Before we start, a quick interjection here. After my brother criticized my photo selection last week saying, “This is soccer, not NASA, old man,” I’ve decided to feature the most wonderous (or cheesy if you prefer) “soccer globe” picture in this column each week. Feel free to send me suggestions and I’ll post them on Mark’s Facebook wall.

English Premier League

We start of course in the EPL, where the very top of the table is starting to look a lot like last season. Liverpool challenged to compete early on, Chelsea hitting a speed bump on their flying start and Manchester United starting to round into form just a little earlier than last year.

• In terms of Chelsea, where last year opponents started solved their offensive scheme of throwing Bosingwa and Cole up the pitch and shut the Blues down, this year teams are learning that if you focus on shutting down the strike tandem, their offense is stymied. And this is where Carlo Ancelotti has proven himself more than the equal of Phil Scholari. To create some more offense up the pitch last Saturday, Ancelotti deployed Deco immediately behind Anelka-Drogba to solid results–look for more of that this week and a big victory as Chelsea host Blackburn Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Oh and a footnote on Scolari. Seems the Brazilian manager is set to get canned again this year. Something tells me it’s the players from Brazil, not the coaches who make the magic beautiful game happen.

• Lest we forget, it’s Villa again on the S-Pen. ESPN after a barn burner last week between Chelsea and Villa have the Villians on the early schedule again. Only this time it’s against lowly Wolverhampton. No need to get to bed early for that one.

We predict a Brad Friedel start and a Friedel shut down. To put Friedel’s dominance in perspective, the elder US statesman has helped lead Martin O’Neill’s club to their best EPL start ever and the best defensive start of this year’s EPL campaign with just seven goals conceded. That’s all the more amazing considering the Villians have already faced Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

C’mon Brad at least consider coming out of retirement for a Natties player-coach role? We’ll give you a voodoo Kasey Keller doll.

• Looking for a start for Jozy? Well you may actually get your wish Saturday as Hull, fresh off their Fulham loss, invite Portsmouth to

JZA: "Great match, but listen I just took Sweden to the World Cup in FIFA '10 with the offsides on! Zlatan had like 57 goals."

JZA: "Great match, but listen I just took Sweden to the World Cup final in FIFA '10 with the offsides on! Zlatan had like 57 goals."

their cage. Hull couldn’t get anything done against Fulham’s tight defense on Monday, but JZA did have some chances later in the game. Enough to earn a start? We’d actually say yes.

If not, JZA will be doing most of his play and goal celebrations online.

• As we’ve been saying in a few columns, you’re going to want to watch Stoke City a few times before November 18th. Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson is, in our opinion, one of the best and also likely to be starting for Denmark when the USMNT takes the pitch in November. This week Stoke battles top four squad Tottenham who even without the red-carded Jermaine Defoe, (I mean, if England isn’t seriously considering Defoe in their starting squad, they should) pack quite an offensive punch in Keane, Crouch and Lennon.

Let’s go out on a limb and predict the following offensive line for Tottenham against Sorenson: 13 shots, 7 on goal, 1 (max 2) score(s) and 3 phenomenal saves from Sorenson.

• If it has to rain this weekend, well then pick Sunday, because that day hosts your two “premiere” English games: Manchester City vs. Fulham and the big one: Liverpool hosting Manchester United.

• We’ll start with the undercard, the Citizens vs. the Dempseys, also the Small Bar sleeper match.

»Manchester City have put themselves in quite a position this year to make that hyperbolic run at the top-4. With 2 victories, 2 draws and only one defeat (at the last minute (of afterward) against Manchester United), Man City is really doing the hard work to challenge for a Champion’s Cup berth. That’s quite a bit of consistency for a team that was assembled over the summer.

» Despite a horrible travel record, Fulham aren’t fretting. Fresh off a near historic win over Roma in the Europa Cup, Texan Brede Hangeland was certain in his commentary that “no one, no team gives him sleepless nights” as the Cottagers travel to offensive juggernaut City. Will that bulletin board fodder charge up the Citizens or will Hangeland back up his words?

In fact, look at that specific match-up to be the fulcrum of the game. How do Fulham’s back four of Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky and Pantsil deal with the continual onslaught and forechecking of Tevez, Adebayor and Bellamy. Focus on that.

Both teams are in form, so at this point, no prediction for me. Last time I predicted a Fulham win they barely sniffed the goal at home against Arsenal.

» Fulham, who were absent fellow Texan Clint Dempsey against Roma, should see the Deuce return for this one. The USMNTer is on record previously stating that he and Fulham are fully focused on the EPL campaign not the Europa Cup. (Note, I wish I could find the quote, I know it happened. Trust me.)

• In the title bout and Small Bar feature match, the Reds takes on the Red Devils and and a whole host of storylines here.

» Foremostly, the Reds will be without injured skipper Steven Gerrard, who seems to always pick up knocks in the beginning of the campaign so he’s fresh towards the end. Only this year, the ‘Pools are a little lower in the table than they’d like to be. The Devils are likely without Wayne Rooney, who have come of age as the focal point role of Fergie’s attack. While both players will be missed, and despite the headlines to the contrary especially on the Reds side, both teams have the depth to still stand toe-to-toe with each other.

» Watch Fernando Torres. Torres, who got swallowed up a few weeks ago by the Chelsea defense, is going to hear from a few folks (including

Torres & Vidic: Entangled again come Sunday

Torres & Vidic: Entangled again come Sunday

yours truly) if he doesn’t factor in the middle in this one against Vidic and company. In fairness, the Spaniard is coming back from an injury. That being said, it’s games like this where superstars step up.

» For our part, I’d like to see Torres bookended by the underrated Dirk Kuyt on one side and David Ngog on the other to open up the middle. While many would probably favor the more talented but uneven play from Ryan Babel, I just don’t trust the Dutch forward to be game for the task when introduced early on. Ngog may not be the right answer, but there is your depth question for Liverpool.

»The difference makers in this one beyond Vidic-Torres match-up? I’d like to see Benayoun and Riera on the wings in the second line with Benayoun slashing inside and Riera taking it up the wings. On Man U’s side, I think in Rooney’s absence, you really need to see Berbatov start earning his payday and also let’s go with Patrice Evra at leftback. Can Evra contain Glen Johnson who should be fit and providing fits of overlapping up the wing and can he, in turn, counterattack effectively against GJ’s runs and make Liverpool pay.

Disclaimer — I’m not sure Riera starts for the Reds.

» Oh, and there is also the little matter of prodigal son Michael Owen’s return in the hated AIG jersey. Might we see a replication of the Man City winner from the oft-injured striker?

Serie A

Sadly, my first Rosseneri preview comes after Gooch is out of the 18. Any coincidence on Wednesday that Milan knocked in three and won away at Real Madrid with Felipe Inzaghi off the pitch? I don’t think so. With Inzaghi on the pitch, the opposite team is usually forced to lay back just a little bit for Inzaghi’s tempt-the-offsides-official runs. In his absense, Milan can counter more strategically rather than Pippo just running down balls against big defenders–I think that’s how you saw Pato sneak in for his 88th min goal. Seedorf playing well didn’t hurt either.

Milan take on mid-table Chievo Verona on Sunday — let’s see if they continue their dominant play and put together a run of victories.

As we talked about some weeks back, this is the year that Pato joins the talk of world’s best footballers, apologies, soccer players.

MLS

I don’t usually do too much commentary on the MLS, but I must admit hearing the fans here on their MLS teams has gotten me into it in

A new apple of the eye for the USMNT?

A new apple of the eye for the USMNT?

advance of their playoffs. I won’t do any game breakdowns, because I don’t feel I’m well versed yet, but I’m going to be watching the LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes game. I’ve actually seen the Galaxy play the Quakes a number of times up here in the Bay Area and they always play them tough at home.

Sadly I will be watching to see for these three reasons:

To see what David “Dennis Rodman” Beckham does next. Is this guy with his beards and aggressive yellow cards not just crying out for attention?

To see if my 2007 campaign to get Edson Buddle a look at the national team level has completely fallen by the wayside. Cue the laughter and insults coming my way.

And finally to spend a little bit more time looking at Omar Gonzalez, or at least enough to give up my sorrows over Brede Hangeland. Plus, we need someone who we can nickname “Gonzo” on the USMNT.

A community note: Andrew Laing from the Bay Area will be in attendance at the San Jose-LA game.  Why is this important? Laing emailed us to let us know…well we’ll let him tell you:

“I’m trying to start up a San Francisco/Bay Area chapter of the American Outlaws, and was wondering if you could slip it into your site somewhere (in a post, comment, what not) since I’ve noticed that there are quite a few readers from the area. If you can, tell them to email andrew.john.laing@gmail.com for more info, I’m just collecting names right now and only started today but we’re up to almost 20, and I’d like to submit our application for chapter-dom by the end of next week.”

You got it Andrew. Enjoy the game.

Other random notes

Can we get a new name for the CONCACAF Champion’s League. There is only one Champion’s League, right?

More notes to follow….

Part II: Who Strikes? What’s the Formation?

Just an unbelievable dialogue on our “Charlie Davies in Repair, Who Strikes?” piece. Honestly, it is/was one of the best community dialogues I’ve seen on the USMNT online; astute, creative, and non-emotional comments. If you haven’t read the fan commentary section, it’s worth a read before this piece.

Keys position players, no matter the formation

Keys position players, no matter the formation

Thank you to our readers, whose additions forced many considerations that TSG had not thought of.

So in the spirit of debate, let’s call this “Who Strikes? Part II — What’s the Formation?” and focus on and maintain the lively debate around the USMNT alternating their formation instead of their personnel in the absence of the CD9 dynamic on the pitch.

The prevailing sentiment from many in that piece?

That Coach USA should experiment with formations in advance of World Cup 2010 given CD9′s injuries, our dearth of World Cup quality strikers, and the current talent pool at the coach’s disposal.

TSG, or rather I, was in the minority in being categorically against a formation change. I wrote about this in August actually here and my arguments I believe still carry quite a bit of merit (though admittedly reader comments here have softened my stance).

The points in the summer were:

• With so few games left (and as of November 1, 2009) only, maybe…what…12 friendlies on the docket until Cup time, it would be ludicrous to suggest the US players could master a new system in a short time and for it prove effective.

• Concurrently, as I pointed out in that article, none of the US starters against Brazil in the Confederation’s Cup final currently play in anything other than a 4-4-2 formation. In other words, cane we legitimately expect them to gain real-time experience, even in a different environment in advance of South Africa.

I’m going to add a few more pieces of commentary presenting for the most part the “cons” of entering into a new alignment. I’ll let the commentary after the piece refute these and present the “pros” and then TSG will sum up everything in a third and final piece.

Okay, go!

The 3-5-2: Antiquated

Referencing a suggested 3-5-2 formation, let’s just throw this one out. The US possesses neither the possession maintenance or speed at outside fullback to even consider this one.While the Ticos employed this at RFK, this formation is currently somewhat difficult to master in short order for a team that relies on the counter attack and long ball rather than precision passing.

The 4-5-1: Too conservative to sustain victory on the world stage and not the right personnel

• The US record in the Confederation’s Cup when deploying a 4-5-1 alignment? 0-2, 5 goals against, 1 goal for (penalty) kick. In both the Italy and Brazil games during group play, Coach B game out with a 4-5-1 with Jozy up top and 5 middies behind him. The result: virtually no offense and tons of pressure on the States’ defense.

Fast forward to the knockout rounds with a 4-4-2 (and Charlie Davies over Landon Donovan) and we all know the result. Positive.

McB: Left to shoulder the entire burden under Arena

McB: Left to shoulder the entire burden under Arena

• Maybe not as strong an argument, but what about 2006. Sure everything was different. The coach, team selection, strategy. But the formation then 4-5-1, the result 1 goal scored offensively (the Italy goal was an own goal) in 3 games. 10 total shots on goal, with 5 of them coming in the wide open final game to Ghana. Yuck!

I believe this points, if weakly, for the ability of good teams to take advantage of the USMNT’s 4-5-1.

• In a 4-5-1 in 2010, who is your lone striker? The only player capable of playing this is a precocious 19-year-old who is currently subbing for about 10 minutes a game on a relegation-bound EPL team. That’s right, the USMNT would be betting their formation and Cup experience on Jozy Altidore. Not a terrible bet, but also not a necessary bet when you have seasoned vets like Landon and Clint. Maybe in 2014.

In moving Jozy up top by his lonesome (where he started in the Confed cup mind you), not only do you force him to receive and maintain possession (not his strength), but you shackle him to that responsibility and put him further from the goal. Beyond Donovan and maybe Dempsey, who else do we really want attacking and shooting?

• Beyond TSG’s two favorites (Stu and Benny!) and one Jose Francisco Torres, only one of whom has been starting lately, the players in the middle of the pitch that Bob Bradley typically starts, do not possess the ability to link passes up the field and move the offense up. Can you really see the likes of Mike Bradley and Rico moving the ball out of the back. In watching those two against Trinidad and Tobago most recently, I do not have that confidence.

The 4-3-2-1: I’m starting to come around, but…

• A lot of good comments in the Davies piece specifically from “Tuesday” and Antonio (hopefully I’ve captured them accurately). Both of these readers have been promoting the formation for awhile.

Rationale: The formation frees up Dempsey and Donovan to be attackers and not have to double back as far on defense. Secondly, by employing a floating 3 halfback concoction, the US encourages the switch field cross and, in effect, can only, in theory, be beaten in defense on a more difficult offensive play.

More on the the 4-3-2-1 by Tuesday on his blog.

These comments have merit and I’m sure the comments section below will add to this pro. For my part…..

• The negative. In the 4-3-2-1, you really leave the center open to quick linking strike (akin to what you would see from an Italy or a Brazil). Unless the USMNT has a disciplined and effective destroyer back likes Jermaine Jones, the team is susceptible to an attack up the middle with one less defender. Sure the outsides in the formation can collapse, but that’s relying on them to do that quickly and effectively. With the current USMNT personnel, I’m not sure the US can employ this. Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley are just too undisciplined and stray too far from the midfield to hack this formation. (See Mike Bradley, 2nd goal against, Costa Rica, RFK)

In my opinion it’s Jermaine Jones or at worst a fit Maurice Edu or bust in the 4-3-2-1 — can the US get the formation ready in time given neither of these players are healthy? If Bob Bradley actually willing to sit his son (who played the 3rd most minutes for the US during qualifying) or play his son out on a wing?

• Next, crosses and corners. Both have been a big part of the US attack. Whether it’s been Altidore from a standstill (El Salvador), Boca risking his skull (Honduras, home) or Donovan deftly coralling and controlling an errant long ball…you know a quick note here, on Bradley’s goal against the Ticos not nearly enough has been made of Donovan’s composure and patience on the ball in putting a worthy shot back on frame. That comes from experience and confidence; a world class play.

Apologies, back to our commentary. The cross in is a large part of the US game. With a 4-3-2-1, can the US get wide enough to maintain this? If Stu, for example, is on the wing in the mid 3, will he be able to make that run up the pitch?

• Finally, I think there is a consideration here that only arose over the past 48 hours. That is that Carlos Bocanegra, hardly as agile in defense

Will any Boca pairing be ready with two covering?

Will any Boca pairing be ready with two covering?

as he once was, is our lone experienced central defender at this moment. For November 18th in the least, he’s going to be coupled with either Danny Califf, Chad Marshall, or Clarence Goodson. While TSG is a huge fan of both Marshall and Goodson, we also remember the damage done on the counter against their interior defense in the Gold Cup, a 5-0 result. TSG is categorically not a fan of Califf as we believe we have better younger options and he’s not disciplined enough in the role.

Why am I telling you this? Because it impacts the 4-3-2-1. Should the US play a narrow 4-3-2-1 the middle help defenders (the center mid and one or more of the wings) can help out on the inexperienced central defense. However, this leaves our outside fullbacks vulnerable to 1-on-1 attacks (think: Vela, Robinho, Torres & Ashley Young to name a few). If the US goes wide in support, we leave our inexperienced central pairing at risk. A surmountable task, yes, but if we had say Gooch and DeMerit in the middle, having a one less defender specifically assigned to the middle would not matter as much.

Summary:

So in closing, temporarily, TSG’s initial comments on the formation, I’d like to thank our readers for forcing us to reconsider and draft this piece. I have no doubt that we’ll continue the stirring debate that marked the first piece.

Mind you, I’m not against a new formation. My sentiment is such that the US cannot master new positioning in time to prove effective at the World Cup 2010.

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