Some excellent points in the comments section in our previous review piece on Sunday…so we’ll republish them here and ignite more dialogue:
• TSG contributor Bob asks, “After watching the team practice in camp, were there any players that you believed should have played or should have been given more playing time?”
Well, here are a few:
» Contrary to some other words out there, Goodson paired Gonzalez in camp and Conrad paired Marshall. TSG should have seen the Marshall, Conrad pairing coming. We erred.
» Alejandro Bedoya who we thought played confidently–though sloppy on a few occasions–was part of the 1st team when we watched the scrimmage when Robbie Rogers was out. We probably should have picked up on that too. What we saw Saturday was a confident and stronger on the ball Bedoya. I also note that Bedoya was communicating a lot and even directing players–that is the mark of a player who knows his ability and is trying to create on the pitch.
Bedoya is on standby for South Africa at this point in our minds and may be–as we surmised beforehand–the short-term surprise of camp.
» I know Geoff Cameron is a popular name, but with Cameron playing on the right midfield when we saw him, his touch and speed were off. Perhaps Bob had him in the wrong position. At best, we could have seen Cameron in the 18, but we’re not dismayed by him watching Saturday in street clothes.
» “Pearce looked a little clumsy in first touch reception on tougher passes and had, what they call at the NFL combines, ‘tight hips.’”
That was our comment from camp and it was appropriate. Heath Pearce’s playing time was just about right Saturda. He’s just not agile enough though his game is very smart. It’s a shame because he has a feel for the game, but his physical ability doesn’t necessarily match it. Case in point? A handball on a little bit difficult ball reception.
» Conor Casey–we’ll get back to him–looks the exact same in practice as he does on the field.
» In hindsight, we witnessed Sacha playing on the right wing. He didn’t establish himself in practice either.
» Nick Rimando clearly deserved to be the back-up from our brief look into camp.
» Brad Davis is one of those players that we though did everything well, but nothing great. Sort of like a Antawn Jamison.He was solid and without error in our reviews. Completely surprised by his impact on the game on Saturday. It was above and beyond. He had the right tempo in the game and was a major factor in creating late game chances. Probably not enough to fly standby right now, but certainly improved his standing with his game play.
• Conor Casey, Conor Casey….what to think?
TSG is pretty sure Conor Casey is who he is. A beast of a body in the middle who can receive passes and sometimes distribute effectively. Occasionally, he’ll surprise with flair (Honduras, San Pedro Sula), but twice as many times his touch and straight-ahead speed will fail him (Honduras, Chicago…..Costa Rica, D.C.).
The reality is that Casey is on the plane. The USMNT beyond Jozy, does not have a big body to bang around in the middle. I’m not sure why Brian Ching isn’t still in the fold…given that Casey has really not outshined.
The USMNT, in our opinion, need a post-up guy beyond Jozy. Our best option is Casey. Any better ideas? From TSG, not at this time….unfortunately.
• On Sacha Kljestan:
From Tuesday and Matt Mathai in the review piece:
Tuesday: “Sacha Kljestan is a player who is now very far from cutting it at any level higher than MLS. He is not in poor form, he just isn’t very good and never was. How many times does he have to prove it? The hat trick was one of those freak things that happens in footie sometimes. It won’t happen again. Let’s put it in some perspective: Sweden is not going to the world cup and has plummeted from being ranked in the low teens to the 40s over the last four years. Added to that, Sweden’s line-up was every bit as experimental as our 2009 Gold Cup Squad . Excepting that match, in 2009 we lost every match against non-CONCACAF opposition in which Kljestan appeared and were 1-1-1 within CONCACAF. In 2008, Kljestan had a 16 minute appearance in the 0-0 draw vs. Argentina but otherwise didn’t appear against non-CONCACAF opposition: his “run of form” came against the likes of Cuba, T&T, Barbados & Guatemala. The only wins against non-CONCACAF opposition in which Klejstan has appeared came against China, South Africa and Sweden (x2).”
Matt Mathai: Klejstan (sp?) was terrible. He had almost no influence on the game, besides a negative one. He did a lot of standing around, and a fair amount of aimless running into heavily defended areas. It was almost like he was trying to play his way off the team. I think he’ll have the rest of the friendlies to show he belongs. Things don’t look that good for him, but I’m guessing he gets taken along anyway.
Tuesday, I think there are some meritorious comments here for sure. That being said, we should use the Dempsey axiom on Kljestan in my opinion. Kljestan is not designed for the US system….he’s the exact inverse of Stu Holden. Kljestan is not a down the line and cross player on the wing and he’s not a motoring central midfielder who combines one touch passing with recovery defense.
He’s not made for the current USMNT system. Kljestan is at his best in the run of play in the midfield in an open game or trailing from behind on an attack. I can see him–and he’s not at that level–work best in a Tottenham like midfield. I.e a midfield that is used to mostly vertical movement on offense.
On Saturday, Sacha wasn’t the part on the right wing.
He’s tantalizing because he does have the tools in this writer’s perspective, but he’s not world class, yet…and may never be. His free kick attempt on Saturday was an abomination. Combine that with a system that doesn’t play to his skills and he’s going to have a hard time making it on the safari.
Following up on our Kljestan interview, Sacha was kind to the refs on Saturday, but he also wasn’t amped up and active in the game. So we are cautiously optimistic here on his pitch behavior heading further in 2010.
• More on Bob Bradley
From Oliver in the last piece: “The best word to describe how they looked is UNPREPARED. As usual, Bradley looks like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I still don’t expect the team to make it past the group stages in the World Cup, no matter who’s healthy.”
TSG usually backs Bradley and of course he put in a difficult situation last evening, but you had to question both his starting eleven as well as his in-game adjustments. Bradley’s got great coaching decisions in Honduras (Casey, sticking with Spector, Holden out wide) and at the Azteca (insertion of Feilhaber and Holden concurrently). He also has had some stinkers: Trinidad & Tobago (Going over the top without Ching, lack of clarity on possession in the midfield).
From the 1st half it was clear the USMNT in their current configuration was not going to threaten with four across the middle. It was just too much of a traffic jam. Which reminds me, one time in the first half Kljestan and Feilhaber actually ran into one another.
So what does the USMNT start the second half with: 4-4-1. When did the US start threatening (sure the Honduran defenders were tired at this point)…when they went to more of a 4-3-2 with Casey and Findley up top?
TSG is not saying go for the win, but what was being evaluated in the 4-4-1 when Rogers was left in at lefthalf/leftback?
Also, you cannot…and we still maintain it was a dicey red–you cannot give the Captain’s armband to someone who leaves in the 17th minute. You just can’t do that. Worse, Conrad was your defensive quarterback…not Marshall.
The book on Bob Bradley like he said in our last piece will remain the same. Good tactician, good teamwork, good prepartion. Poor in-game adjustments.
So in short, we think Bradley is prepared, but he takes too long to make the right adjustment sometimes. Then again, this is a friendly….so give it that discount.
• More from Tuesday: With Beckerman, Conrad, Wynne, why does Bob think these guys keep deserving more chances to prove themselves? Don’t we know exactly what they offer at this point? Didn’t we answer all these questions already?
Could not agree more Tuesday. Beckerman and Conrad in the least should be practice field fillers, not friendly selections. Does Beckerman has a shot at South Africa? Not before last night and certainly not afterward. He’s just not on that level.
With Conrad, if you’re going to bring an elder defender for leadership, then he should be smarter than putting himself at risk of a sending off.
Why play them? Couldn’t agree more. While TSG is extolling the play of Bedoya, how would he have looked against a fresh group of Honduran defenders when the game was not in hand yet? We don’t know and we should.
Mark will be along with a Jimmy Conrad interview this week as well as a look at the fan perspective on Saturday night.