So how does the USMNT counter the England attack?
We continue our series on the Rumble at Rustenburg looking at the US offensive strategy .
Part IV, The States’ Offense and Neutralization
USA’s Main Offensive Strategy by GeorgeCross
* Keeping shape is vital
I feel that England are ‘expected’ to win this match, and as such, a lot of the onus will be on England to take the initiative and break the USA down – a 0-0 result is ‘better’ for the USA than it is for England. I am not saying that the USA won’t attack but it will be very disciplined. I think that the longer it stays at 0-0, the more frustrated and inpatient England will become, which could provide areas for the USA to counter-attack as England begin to lose their own shape.
* Landon Donovan (left wing)
I think a key match-up for England’s defence will be how Landon Donovan flips the tables on Glen Johnson’s offensive runs.
The biggest difference between the Walcott vs. Bocanegra match-up, is that I can see Bocanegra not posing too much of an offensive threat because he would be worried about the threat of Walcott exploiting the space left behind.
Bradley Sr. will tell him to stay tight and compact with the back-four, especially with the score at 0-0; I believe this whole side of the pitch is crucial.
In addition, we documented yesterday that Johnson’s forward runs can leave the space behind him vulnerable. Fig. 8 looks at this. The green shaded area looks at the region that Donovan can exploit should there be a quick turn-over of possession. Bradley Sr. will be watching tapes of Johnson to see when he likes to get forward.
In addition, even if Johnson’s marking Donovan, I still feel that Johnson is not the best to cut crosses out. This is especially dangerous because of Dempsey’s ability to arrive in the box at the right time, not to mention he is a good finisher, together with England’s goalkeeping frailties.
Lastly, Donovan is two footed, so he can go either way around Johnson. If he cuts in, then he’s going to be on Johnson’s wrong foot and could potentially draw a foul (see Fig. 4 for same logic).
* Charlie Davies
As with Donovan, Davies will be looking for ways to use his speed. I think the best way for Davies to do this is explained in Fig. 10.
John Terry’s positioning is generally very good; however, we also know that he lacks a little pace especially when changing direction. So, I can see Davies coming short to pick up the ball and then using his pace to turn Terry and head for goal.
From Tuesday the US’s main challenge in attack:
Without a fit Davies, can the US maintain the attacking threat to keep England honest?
It’ll take an approach along 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1, maybe even 4-3-2-1 without him. Altidore has shown he is capable of troubling the world’s best defenders and could give either of England’s center-backs a torrid time leading the line with Dempsey playing behind him.
As mentioned in previous posts, Dempsey could play an important role defensively by dropping into midfield out of possession while being quick to support Altidore in attack.
The US could go for a more solid shape with Holden starting at right midfield, ready to tuck in and help out centrally, with Donovan playing on his “wrong” side in a 4-4-1-1, or start Beasley on the left and Donovan on the right to support Altidore and Dempsey in a formation that would almost match England’s 4-2-3-1. Beasley’s speed and ability to provide defensive support adds flexibility on the left flank at the expense of strength in central midfield.
A big thank you to “GeorgeCross” and “Tuesday” for all their efforts here and curbing their vitriol in my direction as I made a mess of their pieces as I diced them up into many posts.