Camp Redemption: Opening Clipboard

Okay, we’ll be using the moniker “Camp Redemption,” but only if it sticks….

Now that most of the physicals are done, here are some things that will be on the USSF coaching staff’s radar this week as the US begins preparations for Rustenburg and beyond.

Will Beas be high-fiving in South Africa?

• Whither DaMarcus Beasley?

Much has been made–on this publication and others–that DaMarcus Beasley has played very few minutes since the States’ March 3rd friendly. For Beasley’s part, he is usually very forthcoming on Twitter if he has a knock.

Given that Walter Smith didn’t give him a run-out in his final Rangers game, I’m guessing–if you consider the majority of his consecutive pitch time came in January–that Beasley was never in the intended Rangers plans this year and the turn of the New Year field minutes were just an attempt to showcase him for a transfer.

Is Beasley fresh and ready to perform? What’s his fitness?

The March friendly showed that Beasley still can play internationally if given the opportunity. Sure South Africa was not kind to him during the Confederation Cup run, but you’re currently looking at only six other potential outfield players with World Cup experience (Bocanegra, Gooch, Landon, Deuce, Ching, EJ). Compare that to a team, like, England with over 10.

Beasley will face direct competition from Alejandro Bedoya and Robbie Rogers for a spot, but also indirectly from interior guys that have spent some time out on the flanks, Sacha Kljestan (Honduras, January 10th) and Jose Torres (El Salvador, T&T, September 2009).

• Is the Clint Dempsey machine in tip-top form?

I’ll just throw this out there to start this one. I don’t see, right now, that it’s a foregone conclusion that Clint Dempsey starts up top against England. Right now, I’m leaning towards Coach USA selecting Dynamo man Brian Ching for a few reasons:

Brian Ching

1) Let me use the analogy of the New York Giants. Their offense is predicated on Brandon Jacobs plowing his way into the defensive line and linebackers for one half of football. Then the New York teams brings in the likes of a scatback Ahmad Bradshaw once the opponents defense is fixated on being “strong,” but also worn down from repeated hits.

The USMNT’s “Jacobs” is Brian Ching and he softens up holes for Deuce to find later.

2) In Clint Dempsey’s last seven games since he came back from his second injury of 2010–an undisclosed wrist injury–he’s went 90 minutes only twice. That’s right–only twice. In three of those games, he came on in the 2nd half.

Clint, as we know, wears down. Probably the last thing you’re going to want to do with Deuce when he starts against England is put him up to be battered by Ferdinand and Terry when their fresh in the first half. Let Ching be the Jacobs.

3) Experience. As we mentioned above with DMB, experience counts for Bob Bradley.

Stu Holden has earned the right to start. He started March 3rd in Clint’s spot up in the Netherlands. That said, I think Bob brings him off the bench in against England in his first World Cup game. Against Slovenia and Algeria are other matters.

Got offtrack there. The underlying question? How fresh is Dempsey?

• The Gooch needs a game…and what does that mean for others

Last competitive affair for Oguchi Onyewu? Over 7 months ago. The USMNT will learn somewhat quickly just how agile and ready the Milan man is. However, with recovery the theme for Bocanegra as well, eight defenders will assuredly travel to South Africa.

The readyness and worries of Onyewu and Bocanegra will determine if that eighth player is indeed another centerback, not a wide player. The chances of both Clarence Goodson and Chad Marshall going are slim, but the health of the two aforementioned veterans might change that.

Just how physical was Herculez last few months...

• Can a man named Herculez take a hit?

Just how physical is the former Galaxy and Wizards winger? Does he get knocked off the ball internationally like Jeff Cunningham did? Can his game “translate” from much of the “Ole!” defense played in Mexico?

TSG is on record saying that Gomez’s strikes in the Primera are a pinch suspect, with shoddy defense on many. Let’s hope that Gomez made that defense shoddy.

• Who is Edson Buddle?

I’ve long been a fan of Edson Buddle and a proponent of his ability to play at the next level. I forsook Edson last year in my inaugural Davies striker column….and now I’m paying dearly for it.

As I wrote last week, Buddle is the fulcrum point:

Where does he specifically fit?

Can he start?….The follow-up becomes can he and Jozy co-exist and create opportunities even though they both like to meander in the offensive third. Are either of these players skilled enough to be the target striker?

Can he relieve as a speed option? This–to me–is the biggest striker-driven question of camp. If you look at the three USMNT group stage opponents. Heck, even look at their potential quarterfinalist opponents, no team truly presses their backline high up the pitch.

Pardon the interruption here for the savvy, but for those new to game tactics, when a team presses their backline, it means moving their defensive line up typically near the halfline and allowing quite a bit of space between goalkeeper and defense. Arguably the common way to challenge such that convention is for a speedster to play on the line and make runs knocked onto over-the-top or through-balls.

Think of Robbie Findley trying to get loose behind the Netherlands defense on March 3rd in the first half. (As we know, it didn’t happen much.)

Does Buddle possess enough speed for this or will the Yanks absolutely need aHerculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson or Robbie Findley attacking that scheme?

Can he relieve as the defensive option? No more Conor Casey–this we know. Pause, take a look at the Confederation Cup and through qualifying. That late game defensive option was Conor Casey. If you look at the team now–as we discussed in the Dempsey section above–you likely have Brian Ching starting against England and maybe others. Can Buddle play–if necessary–the late game Brian Ching? This is a lower priority question in that the US will often scoot Clint up top in a 4-4-1-1.

Edson Buddle…the one I will be watching most as camp unfolds.

Bits & Bytes

• Eddie Johnson was diagnosed by US soccer with a Grade 1 hamstring sprain. Grade 1 is the most mild sprain that you can have.

• Captain Carlos Bocanegra attends camp, but he is hoping that an undistinguished stomach issue doesn’t follow him there.

• With Pachuco out of the Mexican League playoffs, Jose Torres is on his way to the Garden State as is Benny Feilhaber who entered at the 57 minute mark of Aarhus’ loss to Odense. That leaves Alejandro Bedoya who has game Monday to arrive at the land of the tiger on Tuesday.

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65 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kaya on 2010/05/16 at 8:32 PM

    “Ole!” defense… I like it.
    Q: Oy, hijo de p*#!, did you see that golazo?!?
    A: No man, that wasn’t golazo, that was ole defense.
    On another note, it seems like it’s been a long time since Benny’s been “Benny!”

    Reply

    • Posted by Tom M on 2010/05/17 at 12:09 PM

      Speaking of Benny, he has had a rough couple of weeks. Lost his starting job, didn’t play at all last week, and his team got relegated.

      Reply

  2. Posted by kaya on 2010/05/16 at 8:34 PM

    Btw, I really hope you’re wrong about Ching being the best option and that a can of magic spray will carry Clint the full 90.

    Reply

    • Posted by Shane_K83 on 2010/05/16 at 10:40 PM

      After hearing the commentary on Ching it starts to make sense… I can see why you like Ching to start..

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 5:26 AM

        Well, to be precise, I believe Bradley will start Ching.

        Bradley is a creature of habit. One thing he’s focused on this entire time is trying to build up familiarity on the field. It’s another reason I believe that Jonathan Spector won’t start at leftback.

        I’m not sure why people think that about Spector (as an aside)…you really need someone to overlap Donovan on the left…as Landon goes to his right angling in from the flank…that’s not Spector because he likes to do the same on his right foot…..

        …I might look terrible for this comment if Specs start there June 12th, but I don’t see it.

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  3. Posted by dude on 2010/05/16 at 8:55 PM

    For me, the most important feature for Jozy’s partner is danger, pure and simple. Findley has the speed, none of the skill or smarts. Ching has strength and effort, but I don’t see anything else except a half decent head. He lost me in Mexico City, where he was incapable of even holding up the ball. All that work many of his supporters credit him for, any other player would appear to be struggling.

    Hopefully, Gomez and or Buddle are ready to step up. But I would choose Dempsey up top from the beginning.

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    • Posted by munkyman on 2010/05/16 at 9:06 PM

      I would choose Dempsey up top as well. Mainly because, well, we don’t have many strong options at this point. Obviously, we could learn differently in this upcoming camp, but as it stands now, i’m not hopeful that either Buddle or Gomez will flourish in this jump to the international level. Hopefully I’m wrong.

      Reply

    • I just sort of write off any Azteca matches for player evaluations because it’s such an odd circumstance in general, very out of the norm compared to most of our matches. Though if considered as an odd circumstance because World Cup matches are a bit out of the ordinary then it may be a valid point.

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  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/16 at 9:14 PM

    @Dude:

    Absolutely correct…Ching didn’t do the best job at the Azteca…this is only my guess right now on what Bob Bradley does. Dempsey up top in a 4-4-1-1 is clearly a plausible option. I just don’t think that’s set in stone right now,

    The real question your asking…since Deuce plays more a forward anyway in the Yanks’ effective 4-2-2-2 is do you want another striker up top or not to pair Altidore. My opinion right now.? Yes because if not the opponent is going to press you up the pitch and it’s going to make it very difficult to get out of yoru own end.

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  5. Posted by markvisax on 2010/05/16 at 9:39 PM

    I’m sure people will disagree with me, but I still think that Beasely could be a really important sub in- case Donovan gets hurt or red carded. If you take out Donovan, the USMNT has no experienced play-maker or team leader, everything goes through him, he is our achilles heel. The only guy that I have seen step up to that role somewhat is DeMarcus Beasely. Did you notice that Bradley took Donovan out of the Netherlands match and Beasely was the guy taking free kicks, making runs, doing the stuff Donovan is responsible for doing? Holden might be the next LD but he is not capped enough to have that kind of pressure on him. Beasely is a MNT veteran, played in top leagues, and has scored goals.
    He may be out of favor for Rangers, but he is healthy and right now he is probably dying to show his stuff on the international stage because he needs to find a team.
    I know everyone is excited about the young guys, Holden and Bedoya etc., but these guys are rookies on this WC stage, we need experience out there too!

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/16 at 9:45 PM

      MarkVisax:

      I’m completely inline with your thinking actually. I think, if fit, Beasley is a tremendous asset as the Yanks didn’t really use him in qualifying at all.

      He’s also a lefty….not a lot of those on the roster.

      Reply

    • Posted by Matt B on 2010/05/17 at 7:29 AM

      I would be shocked if Beasley didn’t make the roster. If nothing else, I can see him being used the same way Cobi Jones was in 2002: coming in late to hold a lead (or tie) with his speed up and down the wing, and hopefully making smart decisions. He’ll obviously be very motivated as he’s playing for a job next year.

      Reply

    • Posted by tnnelson on 2010/05/17 at 9:56 AM

      i completely agree with you on that one. i for one an am advocate for bedoya and holden and others, but you have definitely swayed me a little bit. beasley’s still got it, at least when he’s with the USMNT and he has some pretty damn good WC experience. i would love to see him have a good WC. he was my hero when i was 12

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  6. Posted by markvisax on 2010/05/16 at 9:58 PM

    One more thing, I think Altidore is capable, but what I don’t like is that Bradley has given him this automatic spot. He only scored two goals for his club, and Bradley was relying on him in qualification when he wasn’t even playing for his club.

    I think Altidore may just think he doesn’t have to work as hard to prove anything, now that Bradley has picked him as one of the guys. One thing about him, he doesn’t run! The only game I saw him put that extra effort in was the game after Charlie got hurt, he seemed like he was inspired to chase balls and show some speed.

    If I was Bradley, I’d tell these guys up top if you’re not running and putting that type of McBride effort in to it than your not getting a spot. We need real strikers, not 4 Chings that hold the ball and stand close to the goal (target forwards). I wish we had someone that could be the play-maker, while Donovan was up top like in 2002, but we don’t have that person, like Cluadio Reyna.

    I think the USMNT is still lacking in that playing style, we still play conservatively, relying so much on set pieces, it can be too safe and boring sometimes, we need a Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo or original Ronaldo. Dempsey is good, but doesn’t run like that, and Donovan has changed his position. Davies could have brought something special. The USSF has to start developing strikers that are individually creative and take chances, running at defenders instead of crossing or passing back. We need a new playing philosophy, if we want to take it to the next step.

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    • Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/05/17 at 6:22 AM

      Finding one of those best of his generation type players should be no problem. Sign them up!

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    • Posted by KL on 2010/05/17 at 1:06 PM

      I couldn’t disagree more. While I don’t necessarily like the fact that anyone feels like they are an automatic, contending that Jozy doesn’t run or try hard is, IMO, just wrong. The Netherlands friendly should be proof of that. He single-handedly propped up any attacking threat in the first half. Findley was useless, Donovan was shut down, and Holden got injured. Jozy was constantly marked by 2 defenders and at one point took both of them on in the corner. He was able to body up, nutmeg, turn, and release himself in an extremely dangerous attacking position. In fact, the only reason the play didn’t end with a SOG was because nobody had made runs to support.

      IMO, you can’t discount the presence and work ethic of Jozy. He has something to prove and I look forward to seeing him do it in less than a month.

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 1:19 PM

        I’ve been waiting to use this line with Jozy forever….and I’m dropping it now.

        Allen Iverson was a horrendous practice player (and had much more disdain for it as we know through a certain popular press conference).

        I’m not suggesting that Jozy has bad practice habits, but many players show better in games than in practice.

        I think the media has authored a starting spot to Altidore, but I’m not certain that Bob Bradley has.

        It was only 6 months ago that Altidore didn’t play in the Honduras friendly over questions of his fitness and readyness. Many admonished Bradley during the starting line-up for the Conor Casey call but he got that one right.

        What I am saying is that Bradley will put players out there based upon merit and merit alone and maybe Landon is the only one who gets a little of a free pass (H1N1 at the Azteca).

        Dempsey’s even seen his number called early to retire to the bench.

        So if Altidore is not committed–and I would have a problem if I were Hull at his most recent comments–he’s not going out there.

        That said, he’s your starter June 12th. :>

        Reply

        • Posted by Bob on 2010/05/17 at 1:37 PM

          I hate the Iverson quote. One of my players used it on me this past winter. My reply to him: “How many championships did Iverson win over his career?” To me, practice is essential to get the details down and to build cohesion.

          If I remember right, Jozy did not start at the Azteca either and only became a regular starter for BB after the CR game.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 1:43 PM

            I knew many wouldn’t like it. Just wanted to throw it out there for fun. My apologies…seriously.

            Consider this though. Iverson took a bunch of spare parts to the championship game against the Lakers. If Jozy gets us to the World Cup Finals…well…I’m in heaven. :>

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        • Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/05/17 at 2:28 PM

          Funny Jr doesn’t even get a mention.

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  7. Posted by Gino on 2010/05/16 at 10:18 PM

    On the DaMarcus question, let’s see if he can still play his way onto the roster. As noted before by TSG, Bob likes experienced players. Problem is, Beas hasn’t gotten much PT since the turn of the year. Still, I think he might have the edge over Bedoya and Rogers. I’m not saying he merits selection over the others, but he’s played in two World Cups and that’ll probably count for a lot in Bradley’s mind.

    On the Dempsey question, let’s hope that his tank is full by June 12th. Aside from Tim Howard, Clint’s play in S. Africa might be the most crucial to our chances. I like the analogy of the bruising running back pounding away at Terry and Ferdinand so as to soften them up for a 2nd half scatback named Deuce. Personally I hope Buddle shows he belongs on the int’l stage. I like The Big Aloha, but I think the combo of Edson and Jozy starting up top would be more worrisome for England. They’re both big enough to bang but quick enough to threaten their backline from pressing up too far. Of course, first Buddle’s gotta show he can do it in camp and against the Czechs and Turks.

    If Gooch isn’t fit or sharp come June, then Goodson or Marshall better step up their games. I think we’ll need at least one tall defender to fend off the likes of Crouch and Novakovic. I’d like to see Gooch start against the Czech Rep., then maybe see Clarence and Chad share minutes against Turkey while the training staff evaluate Onyewu’s fitness.

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  8. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/16 at 11:11 PM

    One thing people have to remember is that Bob’s playing style/tactics are completely different from Bruce’s. Bruce always used a diamond midfield with a CAM, CDM. Whereas Bob uses 2 box-to-box/ball winning/defensive midfielders side-to-side in the base of the midfield. This essential difference is what’s responsible for our lack of creativity. If Bruce was coaching today Landon would be up top with Ching or Jozy. Run DMB and Clint would be on the right and Benny/JFT would be in front of Bradley jr.

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    • This is spot-on, HOF-type stuff.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 1:41 PM

      Agreed Antonio….that’s essentially happened in 2006. However our lack of creativity doesn’t completely start and end with two CDMs.

      Landon has always done better on the wing. 2002 worked because of the skill around Landon of course, but also because he could receive balls and initiate space on the run on the wing. Landon was misused as a forward in Arena’s scheme in 2006.

      Arena was too stubborn to adjust his formula, but also didn’t really have another forward threat either. Dempsey wasn’t estalished as that forward yet–and he was also our best player playing from the wing.

      The creativity in Bob’s system suffers because neither Mike Bradley or Rico Clark are a threat in possession or with the pass. Clark less so. It’s always ping-pong out of the back to a winger who ma or may not be in position to receive and “do work” with the ball.

      One of the grand questions for 2010 will be if the cover provided by two CDMs…(Bradley isn’t a CDM by trade but employed as one) makes the Yanks stronger defensively.

      I wrote this–sniffle–column a few months ago. I’m not forlorn for Jones, but a player of ilk would improve our creativity immensely: http://theshinguardian.com/2009/12/08/the-vitalness-of-the-jermaine-jones-caboose/

      Reply

      • Surely, Edu is a far more dynamic player than Clark and far enough towards the Jermaine Jones end of the DM spectrum not to mourn JJ’s absence too much…

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        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 2:07 PM

          I’m not mourning it anymore…but I’m also guessing that Rico–because of his pure speed–starts in June…wow, I’m getting off topic here.

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        • Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/05/17 at 2:32 PM

          You’re killing my spirit today. Basically you expect the line up that would have started the Confed Cup match v Italy had Ching been fit. I guess it’s conceivable that Bob learned nothing in the past year but I’ve got higher hopes for him.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 2:34 PM

            I’ve met with the higher-ups at TSG.

            They’ve scolded me, but also told me I should come out with a column (the one I dread because EVERY publication does it) with:

            1) What I think Bob does 2) What I would do

            I just need one person to say go for it and I will…well…go for it….I told the higher-ups to expect some blowback.

            That being said, congratulations TSG, May is the first month over 100,000 people will read us….nice job everyone.

            Reply

      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/17 at 7:09 PM

        Well I mean… I rewatched the 2006 Italy match over the weekend and saw Donovan destroying, and Dempsey using some flash I actually haven’t seen from him in a while(which also brings to mind another note that Starting him at RM for the first 70 minutes like Bob has done recently is an excellent idea because you can’t throw the fastball the whole time).

        One thing that might give us a litttttttle bit more of an edge is if Bob does indeed employ a diamond mid-field…and put MB in the CAM role. I know, it’s blasphemous, it’s revolutionary. Blah Blah. But think about it like this:

        1)we still have two defensive(or ball winning, w.e fits your fancy) mid fielders in there

        2)This would give MB more freedom to do what he was attempting to in the Holland match, often times a saw him running with space but he started off a too far back to get some quick play action going, thus ended up running about 20 acres only to find space closed down later.

        3)Knowing MB, he’ll still be trying to kill people in his “CAM” area, which is awesome because it’s that much closer to the opposing back line. Ching and Jozy and Duece will(hopefully it’s in Bob’s tactics) press a lot(again with the hopefully) and MB’s killer instinct (which is btw not possessed by our smaller/less aggressive CAMs like Benny/JFT will imo cause some serious damage.

        Reply

  9. Posted by Freegle on 2010/05/17 at 5:42 AM

    Jonathan Spector voted “Worst Hammer of the Year” by the East London fans…

    http://www.kumb.com/awards.php

    …and I STILL trust him more than Bornstein or Pearce.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 5:44 AM

      Yikes…but you knew that was coming….thanks for linking that…I think…

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    • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/17 at 6:13 AM

      you think his nationality had anything to do with the fans voting? you know…to try and break his confidence for June 12….

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 6:23 AM

        Hammer fans have been killing Specs all season…but yes I most certainly do because every Hammer blog I read refers to him as “The American.”

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        • On a somewhat humorous side note, under the “Previous Winners” there are two players who won the award twice. One of them is Iain Dowie (back to back).

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  10. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/17 at 6:11 AM

    Dempsey’s minutes. He came back from injury April 22.

    April 22: 39 minutes v Hamburg (subbed in)
    April 25: 90 minutes v Everton
    April 29: 34 minutes v Hamburg (subbed in)
    May 2 : 86 minutes v West Ham (started)
    May 5: 90 minutes v Stoke
    May 9: 66 minutes v Arsenal (started: down 3-0 when subbed out)
    May 12: 66 minutes v Atletico Madrid (subbed in: match went 120 minutes)

    Thats 471 minutes plus 7 matches worth of stoppage time in the final 21 days of the season. Never with more than 4 days between matches. I dont think you could find another midfielder in the premier league to play 471 minutes in the final 21 days of the season. It was the most of any midfielder/forward on Fulham. I have no doubts that he will go 90 against England.

    I think youre right tho…throwing Holden into his first WC game as a starter with Ashley Cole responsibilities is a lot to ask.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 6:25 AM

      Colin: Good sleuthing there. Was it the most of any midfielder?

      Did you include Gera?

      Thanks for the info though.

      I know he’ll go 90, but I just don’t want him getting beat up in the beginning.

      Lots to do with how the other strikers perform.

      Excellent point regarding Cole.

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    • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/17 at 6:34 AM

      yup, included Gera, Davies, Murphy, Duff, and Etuhu, and Zamora. All of them basically played 90, then took a game off, then 90, then 0…etc except for Zamora due to injury.

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 11:31 PM

        I went back and checked….and you’re right…though, if fit Simon Davies would have beat him…he sat out 3 game and still had 440 minutes.

        And Jonathan Greening had the least minutes and still had too many…but that’s a hole other ball of wax….

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  11. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/17 at 6:49 AM

    One comment on Ching…I used to think he was the laziest man on the squad and it was almost a joke about how he never runs for more than 10 yards. But honestly….since I got in that mindset of expecting very little from him, he has actually exceeded expectations and looked pretty good. Meaning, he has gone out and worked hard and got possession and made some good passes and was overall a threat on goal.

    I dont know if he is really all that improved lately, or that he just appears improved because my expectations have dropped. At any rate, I think he does a lot more for the team than he gets credit for.

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    • I thought Ching’s last USMNT appearance (v El Salvador) was his best in a US kit, just worked his butt off and scrapped and got a goal and an assist (and just missed on another). He’s also, having seem him up close in person, a BIG guy, definitely capable of being a very physical force. The idea of him with an improved and more physical Jozy wearing down Rio Ferdinand and John Terry (and with Ferdinand prone to lashing out) could be interesting if BB goes that way.

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  12. RE: Ching. Just No. Please No. I really hope your Bob Bradley mind simulation machine is seriously broken down on this one, Matt. Bob couldn’t come up with tactics that play more to the strength of the English Defense. You think Ching is going to have any luck doing his thing against John Terry? Ching is probably a 75th minutes substitute when we’re closing out a lead and need some hold-up prowess up top so we can get out of our half. Ching would be eaten by Terry. Eaten.

    We need to be far more dynamic up top to trouble England – mobility, speed and strength to pull those CBs out of shape. Dempsey would not be playing “up top” as a second striker but behind the lone striker “between the lines” of the English CBs and DMs with free reign to pop up wherever he wants. Alternatively, Donovan could play behind the striker, whether that’s Buddle or Jozy, and Dempsey could play LM with Holden on the right. Demps and Donovan could even do the Rooney/Gerrard thing where they switch positions. Holden simply needs to start at RM against England in my opinion. I’m afraid Donovan and Beasley on the wings would simply get over-run. You really want Donovan tasked with tracking runs from Gerrard and Cole?

    I do agree with the rationale, behind your thinking though – that’s essentially what Hodgson had been doing in the Europa league. Have the unfit Zamora do his thing, push the defense to defend a bit deeper before having Dempsey come on for him, to take advantage of the space he’d created by playing as a false 9. This also can pull the CBs out of shape to create space for the wide players to make slashing runs into. Worked a treat against Hamburg. Against Atletico, the defense immediately played a much higher line, so Dempsey had to try to lead the line like Zamora, before Nevland came on. It just wasn’t as effective.

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    • Didn’t finish my thought… the problem with Ching as Zamora is that John Terry won’t even notice he’s there. You’re talking about a guy that couldn’t win ball against Mexican CBs going up against JT.

      Experience is only so important. In, 2002 5 guys who beat Portugal had never played in a World Cup match before. Who cares if Holden hasn’t started a World Cup match before? He won’t until he does. He’s good enough to start in the premiership, then he’s good enough to start for the US against England in the World Cup or on any other day. Period.

      Besides, finding space to exploit, the whole point of football tactics are to set up individual battles that your players have the best chance of winning. To me, that sets up Terry vs. Ching, Gerrard/A. Cole vs. Donovan/Spector and Dempsey/Boca vs. Lennon/Johnson, Bradley and Edu vs. Lampard, Barry** and Rooney. I’m not sure about our chances of winning those match-ups.

      Donovan would need to get beyond A. Cole, or need a striker getting behind him to create space to operate. The first necessitates Donovan playing quite high up the pitch providing little defensive help. Conversely, Holden doesn’t need to get beyond A. Cole to create danger the same way. In fact, he’s probably more dangerous starting from a deeper position. Given that Holden’s final ball must be respected while Spector can also provide a dangerous ball into the box, that means either Cole will need help from Gerrard defending the flank to prevent England from being pulled out of shape or Spector will have all day to deliver crosses from deep.

      ** or his replacement.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/17 at 9:50 AM

        I have read the battering-ram approach against England, and I agree that I don’t think it’s the way forward for the US to get a result. The EPL is a pretty physical league, so that strategy won’t bother Terry or Ferdinand in the slightest. I’d definitely consider it against the Algerians though. And I agree the way to get at Terry is to exploit his weakness – lack of pace and changing direction (I think we covered this in our prior piece?) and the way to do that is to drop deep, *especially* as Barry is injured. Although Carrick has CL experience, he has been on the bench, and Parker and Huddlestone are untried at the highest level.

        Reply

    • I would just like to nominate “I Like Tuesday and GeorgeCross” for TSG HOF nominee posts above.

      I think their posts are spot on in this case. Having Dempsey in the withdrawn role in a 4-4-1-1 would actually wear down England’s defense more and lead to better chances throughout the game. It would open more space for the other players on our team. We have to be competitive throughout the England game for a chance at winning. We can’t wait until the 2nd half. It is preferrable to start with our best option as this allows us to respond to unpredictable circumstances later in the game. Start Dempsey up top, Holden on the side and hopefully Bradley responds to in game situations appropriately.

      I know Ching’s good at holding, but if he is in, England’s defense will not be as threatened and as a team they will be able to contain our attack easily and shut down lanes more effectively. To use the NY giants analogy Ching is a “poor man’s” Brandon Jacobs. He doesn’t worry/bend the defense as much, and because he is as one dimensional, the defense can manage the the “yardage” he offers. We may get 1 maybe 2 “first-downs” i.e. hold the ball to advance down the field, but we won’t threaten them and they can handle us in a “preventative defense”. Ultimately this will mean they shut the lanes down easier and our offense “is on the field less” meaning we are stuck on defense more….meaning Rooney gets more chances.

      Reply

  13. Posted by primoone on 2010/05/17 at 7:56 AM

    Shotty defense….suspect….

    Riiiiiiigt….get off the” MLS is better than your league-hating- tip” and give credit where it’s due.

    Reply

  14. I agree with the contention that BB may not start Dempsey up top (and have said this for a while now), while I realize it’s the overwhelming preference BB IS a creature of habit and we haven’t seen this happen yet. My best guess at this point would be that we’ll see Jozy start with Ching or Buddle, then later in the match shift Dempsey up top and bring in Holden on the wing.

    On the wing I lean towards taking Bedoya and Beasley and leaving Torres at home. I hate to because I love Torres as a player but I just don’t know where he slots in right now, I also think our depth on the wings is more of a concern than in the central midfield. I’d be ok with having Holden, Beasley, and Bedoya backing up Dempsey and Donovan and I think the extra backup might be warranted with the distinct possibility of either Landon or Clint playing up top at some point.

    I’d really like to see us go into a bit more of a diamond formation with Edu playing the destroyer role and Bradley Jr pushing up as more of a CAM, I agree (as mentioned in the Holland wrap-up) that he’s a lot more dangerous in an attacking role.

    Reply

    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/17 at 7:23 PM

      haha. just read your comment cfig. You and I are on the same page regarding the Bradley at CAM. See my comment up there^ for a decent explanation

      Reply

      • Good stuff, I’m not as familar with Arena’s squads (was watching but not as much a student of the game then) but the thinking makes sense. It’d actually be quite intriguing to look at the USMNT from the perspective of where different coaches would play our personnel, both current/past USA coaches as well as some international ones.

        Reply

  15. If Bob’s thinking players shouldn’t start based on not having previously played in the World Cup match, we’re going to have a surprise inclusion in the 23 just so we can start the match against England with 7 players: Beasley, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Dempsey, Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Onyewu.

    So by the looks of things we’re going to have a minimum of 4 players starting the first match that have never played in the World Cup before, very likely more. If Holden has earned the right to start (and I very much think he has) then he should be one of those 4 starting players earning their first Big Cup minutes against England, along with Howard, Junior, etc…

    Reply

  16. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/17 at 10:02 AM

    In a perfect world, Bradley’s** first XI would all have WC playing experience, and be playing their club football at the highest level. But the reality is that that is not the case. All he can do is pick the best players available to him, and if they don’t have WC playing experience then so be it.

    **same can be said of any National manager.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/17 at 11:08 AM

    Just looked at a calendar…

    8 days til USA v Czech Republic
    12 days til USA v Turkey
    19 days til USA v Australia
    25 days til USA v England

    Speaking of camp redemtion…who feels like 3-0 win over the czech republic would be a perfect start to this run of matches? Im thinking Brian Ching bangs in a header from a Dempsey cross into the 6 yard box in the 5th minute.

    Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/17 at 2:31 PM

      CZ is a shell of its former self, so I wouldn’t be getting overly excited about that kind of result. But I am getting tingles just thinking about how close we really are.

      Reply

    • Posted by uncle dude on 2010/05/17 at 3:30 PM

      “”Posted by Colin on 2010/05/17 at 6:11 AM
      Dempsey’s minutes. He came back from injury April 22.””

      Great work there Colin.
      Sure would think he’d go 90 against England and we’d see more of Ching in the remaining two matches.

      Reply

  18. Posted by Sam on 2010/05/17 at 11:09 AM

    We pretty much have to bring back Brian McBride from retirement.

    Dude’s still sick.

    I think he’s probably better than Ching… like right now.

    And if you really wanted someone to go and take some licks from a pumped up English squad for the first half, he’d be my pick over Chingy too.

    Reply

  19. Posted by scweeb on 2010/05/17 at 11:22 AM

    I really just can’t wait for these friendly’s cause dang its is going to be sweet seeing the different striker options at work!

    So here is a question What are BB’s biggest problems he has to figure out first?
    Like does he first look to see if Clint and Jozy paring up top works? So if that works then he moves to who fits in Clint’s slot?

    Reply

  20. Posted by djtigerdave on 2010/05/17 at 11:33 AM

    Good points about Ching and Dempsey, and it appears like the Czech game may be make or break for Edson Buddle with Bradley saying today he hopes to name his 23 after the Czech friendly.

    Also, Cherundolo is another field player with WC experience

    Reply

  21. Posted by kaya on 2010/05/17 at 5:47 PM

    Those are good stats from Colin. I assumed Deuce wasn’t yet up to full game fit since I only got to watch part of the europa league matches. Seems like Holden’s fitness is likely to be more of a concern. I appreciate the attempt to get inside BB’s head, but I hope he simply starts our best team against England. I still feel Buddle’s goals are more “ole defense” than golazo, and wholeheartedly agree with everyone above who says Ching will not even be noticed by England’s defense. Let’s play tactics against Slovakia and Algeria and put everything we can out to start against Engerland.
    To me there’s no question about who *should* be starting on the attacking end… it’s who’s really fit to defend against Rooney I’m worried about. That can only be known by those in training camp.

    Reply

    • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/18 at 6:04 AM

      They “only” have to defend Rooney for 55 minutes…then hes going to the bench to rest. But then Defoe comes in and its a whole new problem haha.

      Reply

  22. Posted by markvisax on 2010/05/17 at 7:53 PM

    I would like to see Holden start with Dempsey behind Altidore or Buddle in one of these send-off games. I think Holden would do well if fit, I’m just not sure Dempsey has the speed we need up top. But Duece does score goals, Captain Clutch.

    I just miss the days when Landon was a forward, itching to take shots and running his heart out.

    (On a side note: let it be said that if Kaka was injured or red-carded Brazil could sorely need
    Ronaldinho as the sub play-maker?) I think Dunga is a bit over confident relying on “his guys”, especially Kaka, and poo-pooing the creativity and experience of Dinho, at least as an important sub.

    Here’s an interesting question do you think Landon Donovan will make the next WC? who will be out for sure? Bocanegra, Ching, Cherundulo…How about Howard, will he make the next WC? Will Chuck D be around or will we discover that he lost his mojo when creamed in that accident?

    My magic eight ball predicts that the 2014 USMNT will revolve around the as yet untapped brilliance of a Mr. Adu , Freddy Adu……………………..(good night everybody, tip your waiters, and try the veal)

    Reply

  23. Posted by Wilson on 2010/05/17 at 11:08 PM

    With the 4-2-3-1 forming, USA doesn’t have the Maicon or even a Glen Johnson quality Fullback. We do have a strong Jozy to be a battering ram (aka Brandon Jacobs) and Playmaker behind lone man up top in Deuce. We have setup men of likes of Landon Donovan and Stu Holden. Bradley and Edu are big, athletic box to box players. Gooch is a Goliath with the Captain and the Porter helping keep the balls out of the net.
    Simple Strategy Are the US going to use their mids to provide a chance in the box, or they going to hang back and play the wing game and find a hole in the defense.
    Bradley and Edu can prove very effective winning volleys in the box but opens a counter attack for a baby to convert. Unless we have fullbacks that commit to shutting down the flanks and not provide an attacking run.
    If we play the Wing Game, the way we played with with Bruce Arenas, It is going to rely on Bradley and Edu to stay back and we can turn the ball over.
    Since we don’t have a Maicon or any fullback capable of being a midfielder and run back to defend a flank, the Wing Game is not suitable for USA. So playing with setup men like Donovan, Holden, Beasley, Feilhaber, Torres, Kljestein, and Bedoya are looked at for creating goals. They make the pass and make the extra effort to put a ball in goal.

    Reply

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