Preview: The USMNT’s Amsterdam Litmus Test

Boy, do we have a treat for you this Monday morning.

Amsterdam, forever known as John O'Brien Land....

TSG was able to convince contributor “Tuesday,” who hails from D.C. and is a virtual wikipedia of soccer knowledge to contribute our Netherlands preview piece.

A nice break from the typical at TSG and a big thanks to Tuesday on a Monday for letting the editors over here sit back, grab our java and get a good read to start the week. Thank you.

Without further adu, Tuesday with the customary TSG preview:

As always, we’ll follow the following format:

TSG’s “What We’re Looking For”
11 at the Whistle
*Disclaimers

TSG’s “What We’re Looking For

• Can the USA hold it’s own against the #3 ranked team in the world?

Coach USA is serious about this friendly...but will he wear a tie?

The Netherlands have frequently raised expectations at the group stage of major tournaments before ultimately underachieving.

A series of experimental friendlies have left USA fans frustrated and hungry for positive results, but the Yanks face an uphill battle.

The Dutch are not El Salvador.  This isn’t the same US team that needed an injury time winner to defeat their familiar CONCACAF foe. Bob Bradley has named a 20-player roster that’s lean, mean and mostly European.

Only four players that took part in the El Salvador friendly make the trip to Amsterdam and fit first-team players return to international action. Auditions for minor roles at the World Cup are limited in number, an indication that Bradley is taking this match more seriously than other recent friendlies.

• What to expect from the class of Europe’s northwest?

The Netherlands’ may be without Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie but are otherwise at full strength with a roster that looks very much like the passenger manifest for their flight South Africa.

Lining up in their traditional 4-3-3, the Dutch back line consists of ageless captain Gio van Bronckhorst, now of Feyenoord, along with clear first-choice center-back pairing of Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV) and André Ooijer (PSV). Everton’s John Heitinga and Ajax’s emerging Gregory van der Wiel will battle it out to be Bert van Marwijk’s first choice at right back.

Sneijder holds down the midfield fort for the Special One also...

The 3-man midfield fuses the silky talents of Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder with the steal of midfield anchormen Nigel de Jong (Man City) and Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax). Fresh off leading AZ Alkmaar to their 2nd Eredivisie title last season, De Zeeuw was enlisted in former Tottenham manager Martin Jol’s rebuilding project at Ajax. He has been in fine form scoring 5 goals in 15 appearances this season for his new club. The pair will look to win the ball and find Sneijder to spring dangerous counterattacks up the flanks.

Up top, Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt are slated to provide service from the flanks to AC Milan’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the middle. Forced out at Real Madrid with the Galactico revival, Robben has been scintillating for his new club when he’s been fit, scoring 8 times in 14 appearances, a rate any striker would envy.

• ….and the following will give Bob Bradley and company fits….

TSG will be taking note of the Netherlands’ tactical approach to this friendly. The USA may have tipped its hand at last summers Confederation’s Cup and put the world’s top teams on notice that they’re one of the handful of mid-tier sides capable of claiming any scalp on their day. Will the Netherlands dominate possession, as might be expected, or will they choose the tactic of defending deeper to give us less space to run behind their back four, concede some possession, let the US set tempo and invite our best efforts to break them down before hitting on the counterattack?

The Netherlands will present two key tactical challenges for Bob Bradley’s side – defending the counterattack and dealing with speed on the wings.

Can't do a preview on the Dutch without an image of Robben...

How will we cope with the guile of Robben and the tireless running of Kuyt? Our outside defenders have often struggled against pacy wingers, getting pulled out of shape and leaving space in the box to be exploited. Without Dempsey, might Bradley sacrifice a wide midfielder for cover, asking him to tuck inside the fullback for defensive support?

—–

11 at the whistle

With limited training, Bradley will go with the familiar, which is the same thing he’d do after a month-long training camp.

G: Tim Howard

Welcome back, Jay!

DEF: Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein

The skinny: The back four will likely pair DeMerit with Bocanegra in the center. Bornstein likely gets the start on the left while Spector is tasked with trying to contain Robben on the right.

MID: Stu Holden, Mo Edu, Mike Bradley, Landon Donovan

The skinny: In midfield we’ll see Bob go with the “two destroyers” he tends prefer in the center of midfield against better sides. That likely means Edu, fresh off his injury time winner in the Old Firm, paired with Sweatpants, Jr. in the center of midfield. Donovan will shift over from the flank he occupies at Everton to start on the left of midfield with Holden, fresh off a good defensive effort in his Premier League debut for Bolton, tasked with helping to contain the threat of Robben on the right.

STR: Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson

The skinny: Up top we’ll see Altidore paired with Eddie Johnson in his return from the international wilderness. Johnson will be looking to make a statement with his second strike against a non-CONCACAF opponent, his first since netting a consolation goal in the 4-1 loss to Argentina at the 2007 Copa America. After sampling the best attacking wares of MLS, an EJ that has grown as a player to possess something beyond his physical gifts could be the best attacking option available.

Subs:

Bob Bradley is still undecided about which of the wide players he’ll bring to South Africa and his search for the elusive patent medicine known to TSG readers as Charlie-in-a-bottle continues. That means we should expect substitutions early and often, at least in the attacking half.

JFT: Still a man without a role when donning red stripes...

Favorites to be among the first off the bench are Beasley and Torres perhaps as early as halftime. Look Altidore’s strike partner to be relieved around 60 minutes, with Findley getting a run out against top level opposition.

Disclaimers

This friendly presents a test of the old adage “when you’re starting in the Premier League, you’re starting for the Yanks.” In his Premier League debut, Stu Holden held his own in the center of the Bolton midfield in their victory over fellow relegation strugglers Wolves. Might Bob Bradley pair Junior with The Iceman in the middle of the park?

The danger of the Netherlands’ counter-attack might call for an organizing presence to help keep possession in midfield. I don’t think Bob trusts Torres much on the defensive side and may not be inclined to be so adventurous against a top side. Still, given the injury of Feilhaber, might we see him paired with Bradley in central midfield?

Bob slots a true wide player (Beasley or Bedoya) on the wing, to emulate the counterattacking 4-2-2-2 that had such success at the Confederations Cup.

Robbie Findley gets the start over Eddie Johnson.

Heath Pearce gets a chance to stake a claim to the left-back position against competition of the highest level.

Bocanegra slides out left to deal with Kuyt’s physicality while Goodson and DeMerit patrol the center of the park.

Bradley goes all Arena and trots out a 4-5-1, with Altidore leading the line, Donovan and Beasley wide and 3 of Junior, Edu, Holden and Torres patrolling the center of the park.

Stay tuned…

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27 responses to this post.

  1. Just to note, the EJ strike against Argentina opened the scoring so I wouldn’t call it a consolation goal. It was also a pk

    Reply

    • You’re absolutely right, I glossed the details… I guess I called it a consolation goal because it only held up for 2 minutes and the longer it stayed level in that match the more it felt like we were defying gravity.

      Reply

      • Maybe it wouldn’t have been just a consolation if Bradley brought the A team to that tournament, although then EJ probably wouldn’t have been on the field at all

        Reply

  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 5:05 AM

    I’m also going to be looking for which striker plays above Landon….this should be interesting…

    Reply

  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 10:44 AM

    Tuesday – first off, what a great piece, I really enjoyed reading it!

    I think everything you said was spot on, especially the comment about the match up between the Netherlands’ wide men against USA’s full backs, and keeping the defensive shape. And this match is not just a good rehearsal for the England game – I believe that most of the better teams play with width and pace, so it’s a good exercise all around IMO.

    Furthermore, I know some key players are missing from the USA, but it wil also interesting to see how your offense copes with the Dutch defence – I think they had one of the meanest defences during WCQ in the UEFA zone.

    Also you gave me some insight on the squad players that I am a little ignorant and still learning about – so thanks!

    Reply

    • Thanks George

      I don’t think I ever made that clear but I’m in complete agreement that the Dutch are definitely a good rehearsal for England’s attacking, with their emphasis on width in attack and their strength in the counter. Most sides aren’t as stubbornly intent on playing within the width of the 18 yard box as Spain was last summer. Teams that have played a more expansive style have generally found spaces to exploit in the channels. I would like to see Bradley make the necessary tactical adjustment, but I’m not holding my breath.

      The Dutch defense is very solid. They haven’t conceded in 5 matches since England scored 2 on August 12. They also haven’t scored in their last 3 matches (against Australia, Italy and Paraguay) so their offensive efforts can be frustrated. I would just as soon save a result for a couple months, as long as the performance is solid.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 11:52 AM

        I think the important thing for you is to keep your shape and keep the ball in front of you (not meaning to state the obvious). I am not necessarily encouraging playing extremely defensively, but pressing the Dutch well.

        The other thing I will look at is how the US (defence) use the ball when they have it – will somebody take responsibilty and want the ball, will they be patient or will it get lumped forward long ball style in vain expecting your offensive to latch on to it (read: turning over possession again)?

        Also, how the US react if they go a goal down early? What changes to tactics / formation and personnel will Bradley make?

        It will be an interesting test to benchmark yourselves against a legit contender in the summer.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 11:54 AM

          I think your second point is the most apt one here.

          While the USMNT didn’t have our corners set in Denmark, service from the defense to the mids was…well atrocious would be a compliment.

          Against the Netherlands pressing wingers? Very critical component of the game…

          Reply

    • I think it should be noted, when talking about the Netherlands defense being so great in qualifying, that the second best team in the group was either Scotland or Norway. USA could have done just as well in that group.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 12:24 PM

        I’m not so certain Evan….both teams field credible line-ups.

        Scotland with James McFadden and Kenny Miller

        Norway with John Carew (who would give the US trouble on set pieces) and Morten Gamst Peterson, John Arne Riise and Eric Nevland…

        Neither would have been a cakewalk for the US….

        Reply

        • If you compare the Netherlands’ group to the hexagonal it looks like this (in order of finish)

          Netherlands 24 points USA 20 points
          Norway 10 points Mexico 19 points
          Scotland 10 points Honduras 16 points
          Macedonia 7 points Costa Rica 16 points
          Iceland 5 points El Salvador 8 points
          Trinidad and Tobago 6 points

          When you first look you will notice how the hexagonal is much more competitive group perhaps due to the Netherlands dominance, but lets be honest with ourselves. I’m fairly confident that either USA or Mexico would qualify from the Netherlands group, not with a perfect record maybe, but a 6-9 point margin between them and the second place team wouldn’t be out of the question. I am also pretty sure that Honduras and Costa Rica would qualify as well. I mean the second best team in this group (either Scotland or Norway) not only hasn’t made an appearance at a major tournament since 1998, which could be understandable in UEFA, but both teams dropped points to Iceland and Macedonia? Yes allowing 2 goals is impressive, but I don’t think it is the feat everyone made it out to be. And as for all the players that matt mentioned, they combined for a grand total of 4 goals between all of them. I’m sorry if I believe that USA has an outside chance of picking up 24 points in this group, but to me finishing with 20 points in the hexagonal is much more impressive

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/03 at 7:30 AM

          I also believe that if the US were in the UEFA WCQ, they would not be a top seed (most likely a No. 2 seed in the group). Do you think the USA would win the group, because it’s only the winners that go through automatically? Then there is the playoffs, and this year we had Russia, Portugal, France, Ireland, Greece….

          That is a more realistic debate, not whether they would beat Scotland or Norway.

          Reply

        • When the groups were drawn for 2010 Qualifiers, here’s what everything looked like:

          Pot A Rank
          Italy 3
          Spain 4
          Germany 5
          Czech Republic 6
          France 7
          Portugal 8
          Netherlands 9
          Croatia 10
          Greece 11

          Pot B Rank
          England 12
          Romania 13
          Scotland 14
          Turkey 16
          Bulgaria 18
          Russia 22
          Poland 23
          Sweden 24
          Israel 26

          The US were ranked 19th at the time, thus placing them into Pot B with England. Here’s how they qualified:

          Auto Qual Pot
          Denmark C
          Switzerland C
          Slovakia D
          Germany A
          Spain A
          England B
          Serbia C
          Italy A
          Netherlands A

          Playoffs Pot
          Rep Ireland C
          France A
          Ukraine C
          Bosnia D
          Russia B
          Portugal A
          Greece A
          Slovenia E

          Obviously adding the US to the UEFA region would radically change the groupings, and force a change in how the playoffs were structured, but given the way things panned out I wouldn’t bet against the US taking second place at the very least, granted Europe is much harder than CONCACAF when looking at the middle tier of teams, but some of the top and second seeds failed to live up to any kind of potential and the US has improved since the WC Qualifying draw was made for UEFA. Two “top seeds” didn’t even make the playoffs and 7 of the 9 teams in Pot B didn’t make the playoffs either.

          It should also be noted that the Netherlands Qualifying Group did not include a team from Pot F, the true minnows.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/03 at 10:31 AM

          Nick, thanks for the metrics!

          My point was / is that the US will always qualify for the WC because they are by far the best team in the CONECAF region (and still conceded as many goals as you did). If they were hypothetically placed in UEFA’s WCQ, I would expect the US to hold their own but qualification would not be such a *forgone*conclusion – as your metrics summarise. Then you will slip down the rankings in to Pot C… (see RoI and Scotland).

          You also have to take into account that the former USSR and Yugoslavian Republics. They are doing very well but have only been an independent state for less than 20 years, and are slowly but surely gaining. Remember USSR got to the Final of Euro88, and Yugoslavia were one of the favourites for Euro92 (before being disqualified because of civil war). In Europe, watch out for these Republics (Sebia, Croatia and Russia in particular) in years to come. Securing one of UEFA WCQ spots is going to get harder and harder.

          Regarding Pot F, that really only came into the equation for the 2nd placed teams going into the play-offs (I believe that the results against the bottom placed team of a six country group was discounted).

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/03 at 7:16 PM

          The 18th-ranked U.S. has lost its last five matches in Europe and is 4-19-3 on soccer’s most powerful continent since April 1998. World Cup Qualification form, for sure…

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 12:32 PM

        That is a very fair point Evan, but they still only conceded 2 goals in WCQ – how many did the USA concede during qualifying against the likes of Honduras, El Salvador and T&T et al (countries that similarly didn’t qualify for the WC)?

        Reply

        • It is this type of discussion that has part of me always wanting to see the entire global qualification system shaken up and teams from every confederation would play against each other for the right to go. While I think each federation’s current method of qualification is decent enough, there are some fatal flaws that we endure (seeded teams in UEFA are guaranteed a spot in the WC if they perform at least to their B squad’s potential, same in CONCACAF, etc.).

          What if we got rid of the geographical limitations, and removed seeding altogether for one qualifying cycle. England could end up with Brazil, the US, and Iran in the groups or something similarly quirky. Who would end up in the final 32 spots if all 198 (I think) FIFA Countries were drawn randomly into 24 groups? Would the European “powers” be pushed to the limits by non-UEFA minnows? Would the quality of the world powers and up-and-comers (Mexico, US, etc.) stagnate because each group would likely have weaker teams in it that our U-17’s could take care of? Does playing Lichtenstein twice a cycle help or hinder the likes of Germany, France, England, Portugal? Do we, in the US, really envy the UEFA setup (where there’s at least two gimmie matches); or does CONCACAF ensure more meaningful matches in the latter stages of qualification?

          Reply

  4. Posted by KMac on 2010/03/01 at 12:39 PM

    In anticipation of Wednesday’s event, and pieces like this one ( which is excellent Matthew by the way), I did a little intel on our Orange friends. As a tangent of my “SWOT” analysis approach mentioned in other posts, I will present my key points. In reviewing the Dutch 2010 WC qualifcation highlights on YouTube and rifling through as much google-data as I could read, I agree with many of your points. Threats/Weaknesses: I saw three main tactics demonstrated in the WC qual games of the Oranje. First, in addition to the width of play, I would add the threat of “depth” of play or pushing the attack deep outside with two consequences – Robbens et al seem t to push wide as well as deep superbly , stretching defensive shape for the cross. The second consequence of the wide and deep play was keeping the opposing wing backs “honest” with the wide deep threat, and subsequently cutting into channels as an alternative to going wide and deep. Keeps a defender guessing, eh? This tactic also tended to create open field above the 18 yard mark for the ball to be pulled back to Van der Vaart/Van Bommel/Sneijder et all if given more than a yard or two of space to collect and strike, or strike first time, or for a shot. The third troubling area looked to be good dead ball service (corners and free kicks) and successful arial header attacks. We all know about the speed/positioning issues in the back 4 on our side, so they will need to keep shape and not get caught exposed. It will be interesting to see how some of our players who are prone to early yellow/red cards will play against this challenge. We all know how it is to play a man down at least one too many times. Strengths/Opportunities: beyond relying only the quick counter, I am looking for a breakout game from Michael Bradely and Edu in the middle of the park, and counting on LD and Iceman to frustrate, press, and counter the Dutch wingers/wide mids on “D” and link with Jozy and Forward x (EJ? Findley) in smart ways. How well we fight for and controll the ball will be the simple harbinger on what kind of a day we are in for on Wed.

    X-Factors – Their (Netherlands) last three friendlies were all 0-0 ties with Paraguay, Italy, and Australia. Hmmm. However, in qualifiers they scored at least 2-4 goals at home v competition (albeit the 4 was v Macedonia). It will be interesting to see how they approach this, as a “friendly”, or more qualifier-like! And we are playing at Amsterdam. Can the US play above the typical performances away in Europe now that a majority of our guys are all playing in these types environments? That’s all for now, and probably too much. : )

    It will be interesting to see how the offensive/defensive dynamic of both squads will interact over the run of play.
    Initially (1st 5 -15 minuntes), will they sit back initially and counter, or hold the ball and test us for openings over time? Or attack out of the gate (US).
    Interesting comments by Ooijer on fifa’s site – “expect compact defense…looking for ways to win, even when not playing well”

    http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/newsid=1161512.html#ooijer+dutch+attitude+crucial

    I think a lot will depend which face and attitude our guys show (Confed Cup ala Egypt/Spain/Brazil games – strong, smart pressure with fair to good possession, or, the more passive Confed Cup half one look).
    So, at a minimum I hope for (1. No early goals, or worse Reds or double yellows. 2. hustle and some possession, along with some attacking mentality 3. Hold the shape in the back four. 4. Close space in the defensive third for the inevitable shots from the top of the 18-25yrds out.

    Reply

  5. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 4:28 PM

    Believe me, nobody in UEFA wants to go Kazakhstan (sorry Borat), as like you say, it’s a gimme. But what are you supposed to do? They deserve a chance to participate – I truly believe that. I think that there should be a qualifying round in UEFA for the minnows to earn the right to play in WCQ proper. It might sound harsh, but it is making international football farsical. What happens if former USSR member Turkmenistan breaks up into another 6 countries?

    A global WCQ won’t happen. The clubs hold too much power and it’s not feasible logistically IMO – not with the amount of games that clubs play these days.

    Reply

    • Totally agree that it’s not logical, especially the travel portion. Could you imagine playing your club ball in England, having to travel to Costa Rica for one game, New Zealand the next, and possibly some far reaches of Eastern Asia. The distance travelled is only part of the equation too. Some of the smaller countries in CONCACAF, and I’m assuming all of the rest of the zones, don’t have a big enough international airport to make travel to and from an easy thing to do.

      I agree that Africa, Asia, and especially UEFA need to tweak their formats a bit, if only to make it more competitive for the tougher teams. However, the counterpoint to our argument George is that the Faroe Islands may be a minnow on the World Stage, but in the last qualifier against France they showed they could hang with the big boys for about 15 minutes. If they aren’t given a chance, by the current qualification system, to compete with the likes of France every couple of years would they have even gotten to be this good?

      Look at Barbados, we trounced them 9-1 (or was it 9–0) on aggregate in second or third round of qualifiers (which lead to us making one of the three semi-final groups, and then finally to the hexagonal, blah, blah, blah). Their team basically makes it that far every cycle, and will continue to do so because they’ll be paired up with the likes of the US, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago at that stage and the bigger CONCACAF teams will always win. Though, we’d like to see it play out differently, I think the current setup in UEFA at least gives the minnows a chance to develop somewhat by getting two guaranteed games against the bigger countries every two years (the qualification for the Euros is similar to that for the WC, right?).

      Reply

  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 5:47 PM

    As a football fan and not a politician, I want to see the best 32 teams at the World Cup, and if only 2 were European, then so be it. My point is that you have the likes of New Zealand at the WC, but no Russia, Croatia or Czech Republic. My point is not that I want to see more European teams, but just want the best teams to participate at the WC Finals.

    If FIFA wants to give the minnows a chance in the long term, then they should help the said minnows FAs financially to sort out their footballing infrastructure, and educationally with their grassroots football. A bit like teaching somebody to fish rather than giving them a fish…

    Reply

  7. Posted by kaya on 2010/03/01 at 5:59 PM

    Oh noes… not this discussion again. I thought we already learned that life isn’t fair and neither is sawcker.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 9:18 PM

      US education is so superior. I never knew that life isn’t fair. That wasn’t on our curriculum.

      Reply

  8. Great piece, really enjoyed the read.

    As a Dynamo and USMNT fan one of the intriguing subplots for me is to see what Stuart Holden develops into over the next few seasons, a winger or a CAM. He’s played primarily on the wing for the Nats, as we all know, but with the wealth of good young wingers at Bolton (Weiss, Wilshere, Lee Chung-yong) he may find himself in the middle of the pitch more often than not. For the US the need is most likely on the wing at this point, but I can definitely see him becoming our true midfield playmaker over the next few years. Where that would leave our other maturing young center mids I don’t know.

    I’m definitely intrigued to see how with deal with the Dutch width, if we’re able to do that while maintaining some sort of attacking presence it could make for an interesting match. I’m really afraid that we may end up in a more defense posture, however, leaving Jozy and whoever slots in at the other striker spot out to dry with no service.

    Also quite the interesting matchup potential if LD moves to the left, at least as far as familiarity, advantage or disadvantage for him to be attacking against Everton teammate Heitinga on the wing?

    Reply

  9. Posted by Gino on 2010/03/02 at 12:14 AM

    Methinks that this friendly might be a preview of what we can expect from our boys in S. Africa. As mentioned above, the hope is that the US can hold their own in possession as opposed to merely settle for bunkering in and playing Fortressball. With six substitutions at his disposal, I’d like to see Bob try out as many players as possible. That means Torres playing more than just the last twenty minutes against a team protecting the lead. I’d also like to see how Edu does in the US jersey for what, the first time in over a year? Most of all, since Bob seems hell bent on starting Bornstein at LB, let’s see how he fares against the dangerous Dutch. Although Jonathan started the first three games at the Confed Cup, I don’t particularly remember him having having any impressive performances.

    Reply

  10. […] For TSG’s full preview see: The USMNT’s Amsterdam Litmus Test […]

    Reply

  11. Posted by KMac on 2010/03/02 at 12:49 PM

    In anticipation of Wednesday’s event, and pieces like this one ( which is excellent Matthew by the way), I did a little intel on our Orange friends. As a tangent of my “SWOT” analysis approach mentioned in other posts, I will present my key points. In reviewing the Dutch 2010 WC qualifcation highlights on YouTube and rifling through as much google-data as I could read, I agree with many of your points. Threats/Weaknesses: I saw three main tactics demonstrated in the WC qual games of the Oranje. First, in addition to the width of play, I would add the threat of “depth” of play or pushing the attack deep outside with two consequences – Robbens et al seem t to push wide as well as deep superbly , stretching defensive shape for the cross. The second consequence of the wide and deep play was keeping the opposing wing backs “honest” with the wide deep threat, and subsequently cutting into channels as an alternative to going wide and deep. Keeps a defender guessing, eh? This tactic also tended to create open field above the 18 yard mark for the ball to be pulled back to Van der Vaart/Van Bommel/Sneijder et all if given more than a yard or two of space to collect and strike, or strike first time, or for a shot. The third troubling area looked to be good dead ball service (corners and free kicks) and successful arial header attacks. We all know about the speed/positioning issues in the back 4 on our side, so they will need to keep shape and not get caught exposed. It will be interesting to see how some of our players who are prone to early yellow/red cards will play against this challenge. We all know how it is to play a man down at least one too many times. Strengths/Opportunities: beyond relying only the quick counter, I am looking for a breakout game from Michael Bradely and Edu in the middle of the park, and counting on LD and Iceman to frustrate, press, and counter the Dutch wingers/wide mids on “D” and link with Jozy and Forward x (EJ? Findley) in smart ways. How well we fight for and controll the ball will be the simple harbinger on what kind of a day we are in for on Wed.

    X-Factors – Their (Netherlands) last three friendlies were all 0-0 ties with Paraguay, Italy, and Australia. Hmmm. However, in qualifiers they scored at least 2-4 goals at home v competition (albeit the 4 was v Macedonia). It will be interesting to see how they approach this, as a “friendly”, or more qualifier-like! And we are playing at Amsterdam. Can the US play above the typical performances away in Europe now that a majority of our guys are all playing in these types environments? That’s all for now, and probably too much. : )

    It will be interesting to see how the offensive/defensive dynamic of both squads will interact over the run of play.
    Initially (1st 5 -15 minuntes), will they sit back initially and counter, or hold the ball and test us for openings over time? Or attack out of the gate (US).
    Interesting comments by Ooijer on fifa’s site – “expect compact defense…looking for ways to win, even when not playing well”

    http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/newsid=1161512.html#ooijer+dutch+attitude+crucial

    I think a lot will depend which face and attitude our guys show (Confed Cup ala Egypt/Spain/Brazil games – strong, smart pressure with fair to good possession, or, the more passive Confed Cup half one look).
    So, at a minimum I hope for (1. No early goals, or worse Reds or double yellows. 2. hustle and some possession, along with some attacking mentality 3. Hold the shape in the back four. 4. Close space in the defensive third for the inevitable shots from the top of the 18-25yrds out.

    Reply

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