Thursday Camp Talk & More…

#WorldCupFever! Three weeks to Redemption, South Africa!


•  A lot of centerback chatter yesterday. Should you read between the lines? TSG advises not yet. But here’s what’s been “reported.”

Steve Goff, who’s been on top of everything thus far, suggests that Eddie Johnson and Chad Marshall may be slashed from the 30 as they’ve barely got any practice. He also suggests that March 3rd pairing Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra will be the starters–cue Peter Crouch.

Then again Goff comments that Heath Pearce faces the longest odds. The challenge with that juxtaposition is if Boca goes middle, you have Bornstein on the wing and then precisely who as the back-up (Jonathan Spector, DaMarcus Beasley?). Does the USMNT go with just seven defenders (if Marshall is ailing) with a few (DeMerit, Boca, and Gooch) not being at full strength. That might be difficult.

• Meanwhile, after playing security expert yesterday, Grant Wahl is playing doctor today and suggesting that Oguchi Onyewu appears to be slightly favoring one leg in practice. That wouldn’t be a good thing, but hopefully the speculation will lead to more commentary.

Great update here from Steve Goff.

TSG is going to await the official diagnosis here.

Yesterday’s US Soccer presser:

54 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matt B on 2010/05/20 at 11:39 AM

    After reading Goff, it’s not clear whether he is implying Boca will start in the middle or on the left, just that he’ll probably start somewhere. I’ve gotta agree with you that if Boca starts in the middle you almost have to take Pearce as another left back option. But if he’s on the left, and Gooch and DeMerit are both healthy, I can see only taking 7 defenders, using Edu as a CB in an emergency.


    • Posted by Bob on 2010/05/20 at 12:45 PM

      I was thinking Edu as well. He himself said he would play CB. BB also mentioned the possibility in his Nike Town press conference referencing Edu’s time at CB during the Olympics.

      Also, I think that it is interesting that Goff posted his doubts about Pearce following Tuesday’s workout. He admitted he has not seen anything that suggests it, but that it is only hunch that Pearce will be gone by this weekend. If Pearce is gone, I hope Goff gives full details as to why he had that “hunch” in the first place.


  2. The Onyewu limp is troubling, but since there’s zero danger that he won’t make the roster, he has three weeks to heal.

    So far as the back line goes, I’d put Spector and Cherundolo on the wings and have Demerit and Bocanegra in the middle. To be more precise, that’s what I think Bradley would do if Gooch weren’t available. I wouldn’t mind seeing Goodson get a shot in the middle. I like his composure and his playing style. That said, the England game is not one in which to blood a new player.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/20 at 11:56 AM

      I don’t think it’s great–especially after media reports around the Davies injury–to read into Grant Wahl’s tweet.

      Let’s wait for an official report.

      That said, even if the knee is sound, is Onyewu sharp enough to play against England.
      Unclear until we see a few friendlies.

      We may be looking at Specs, DeMerit, Boca, and Bornstein..but WAY too early for that.
      It is troubling with all the injuries the US is suffering at what was thought to be a position of strength.

      Reading into it Goodson is the only one at 100%…even Marshall is not there.


    • Posted by Shay on 2010/05/20 at 5:06 PM

      I think if Gooch can’t make it, USA has to start Pearce over Bornstein on the left….But again it is probably way to early for that.


  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/20 at 11:56 AM

  4. Posted by Tom M on 2010/05/20 at 12:44 PM
    the article from the MNT blog talks about how much goes into the roommate pairings and asks people to guess the pairings. Didn’t know so much went into the roommate pairings.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/20 at 1:54 PM

      With the resources that the USSF has, you would have thought that each player gets their own room!


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/20 at 2:01 PM

        And that George is why England is a team of individuals.

        USSF wrote that they paired Jonathan Spector with Herculez Gomez. New guy with experienced guy so that the new guy didn’t feel like they were on the outside looking in and ask questions as well.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/20 at 2:57 PM

          What evidence do you have that England is a team of individuals? Having a little privacy and down time is essential, no? The experienced internationals can help the inexperienced one fine without actually having to share a room. As long as it’s very inclusive and there are no cliques, I don’t see an issue personally. The last group game is 23rd June , Last 16 game is on 27th. And if you get to the QFs, 3rd July. It’s a long time to be sharing a room with somebody. That’s all I am saying (and I would say the same thing if it was Italy, Germany etc).


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/20 at 3:08 PM

            Now George — if you offer a ribbing, you need to receive one.

            Remember, Altidore is not on a red card….


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/20 at 3:26 PM

          I am being 100% honest. Can you not look past the fact that I am English, and see what I am actually saying, rather than turn the tables?

          I know we all like a little bit of banter, and things are getting a little tense with only 3 weeks to go, but I still feel I make valid points.


        • Posted by John on 2010/05/20 at 3:34 PM

          John Terry always has roommates. .

          They just aren’t teammates…..
          They are their wives.


        • OK, George, I’ll give you a serious answer. There’s a tradition in the US of teammates sharing rooms on the road or during tournaments. It’s felt that it fosters teamwork and allows for mentoring. It’s during the down time (not in training, lectures, or team activities) that most of the bonding occurs, i.e. when players are just hanging around trying to kill time.

          i believe this works especially well for teams like the US – teams that survive and thrive on teamwork more than individual brilliance. It sounds as though it isn’t a tradition for English teams to do that.


        • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/20 at 5:37 PM

          I’m sure the day will come when the players will demand separate accomodations and USSF won’t have much choice if we want to play our best teams. For now, we don’t have any big stars with primadonna maintenance requirements and WAG entourages. They’re there to work, not to relax in suites and I hope it’s the same situation in SA.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/20 at 8:48 PM

          Tradition and the US football team? Sharing rooms used to be the way – as far as I can remember, at least til Italy90, players shared rooms. But what’s wrong with players being allowed to relax in their down time?

          Kaya: Please stop with the fishing expeditions – I am not stupid.


        • No, George, I said tradition in the US of teammates sharing rooms on the road. I didn’t restrict it to the US Mens National Soccer team. There are many roommate combinations that have lasted a long time, which says that they’ve become friends. Given that, why wouldn’t you relax if you were around friends?


        • To me, England seems like the team that the Bad News Bears always play in the final game. They’ve got superior players but don’t seem to have a true team first mentality or even really like each other very much.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 8:05 AM

          CFIG – I feel that best describes Spain during Franco’s reign…


        • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/21 at 9:25 AM

          George, if I were going on fishing expeditionS (plural, wtf???), I’d go post that on an english football blog. Last time I checked, this was about the US team. Primadonnas and WAG parties apply to pretty much all the “big teams” (not just engerland) and the lack of them I find to be an endearing trait of my US boys. As I said, I’m sure it won’t last forever, but I like the work ethic that shared lodging implies. My sis had 3 roommates during 5 months of marine officer basic training and again has a roommate now that she’s doing her FBI basic training (another 5 months.) There’s a mentality of service and teamwork that is built during that time that I believe translates well to the service of representing your country in the WC.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 12:06 PM

          Wow – the resident Grammar Nazi! I do find it kind of ironic that you call me out but then do not capitalise the e on English. Just saying.

          I thought the TSG was about “22 men, 1 ball, high quality commentary” Did not realise that this was solely about Team USA…

          Maybe when the USA think that they will progress a little further in the tournament, the USSF might change this view. Maybe not.


        • George, valid point on the Spanish teams. I think given England’s recent shortcomings in International play that the tag could apply there as well, I suppose we’ll see in a few weeks.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 12:46 PM

          Only if you define “recent” as 44 years!

          I have always said that England fans are like pre-2004 Red Sox fans, and suffer from massive-itus… (we think we’re bigger and better than we actually are).


        • Recent as in my lifetime plus several years? :)

          And spot on with the second comment. I think it’s also interesting to note, at least in my online interaction with English fans, that they almost resent the fact that in the World Cup they have to support players they normally strongly dislike in Premiership play.

          American players and fans, in contrast, seem to most always value country above club.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 3:37 PM

          I’ll make a comment on that – some English fans of the big clubs feel that way, but most of my mates support England above all else. And what I used to see at Wembley, were fans of the smaller teams rather than the prawn-sandwich brigade of the so-called bigger teams.

          And to be fair, the USA doesn’t really have too many teams sports that play internationals, right? Like everybody else, the Olympics comes and goes. And nobody give a shit about the Baseball ‘World Cup’… It’s not like you participant in the Rugby WC or Cricket WC, is it? Then as I have mentioned previously, many Americans tend to support the team of their immigrant great-great-grandparents.


        • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/21 at 4:42 PM

          One of my favourite-ist English (british spelling and proper noun, check) insults ever is to accuse some one of eating prawn sandwiches. I’ve never had one but they sound delicious.
          (btw, I’m flattered you remember my post about vein vs vain from months ago, but not so much being scolded for posting my opinion. it wasn’t intended for your benefit.)


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 6:49 PM

          The Prawn Sandwich Brigade is a term aimed at corporate customers and the nouveau fans who attend games (and sport in general) to say they went but don’t necessarily take too much interest in the game. It’s more for an opportunity to name drop later. Or in 2010, to update Facebook status or FourSquare etc etc.


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/20 at 2:19 PM



  5. Posted by Bob on 2010/05/20 at 12:53 PM

    Matthew, Sorry to nitpick, but the update on Gooch is by Goff not Wahl.


  6. this is the best probably the best Nike ad i have ever seen


  7. LOL sorry noticed after i posted, and cant delete, its good though ;)


  8. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/20 at 9:48 PM

    We are going to terrorise your LB. Fact.


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/20 at 11:07 PM

      Your Goalie is going to terrorize your backline. Fact


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/20 at 11:14 PM

        I’m sorry George…this is a TSG Hall of Fame Nominee…I really do apologize…


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 5:55 AM

        Touche Antonio. That is hilarious! Well played Sir.


      • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/21 at 9:38 AM

        Very nice, Antonio =)
        The defending and GK’ing just seem pretty horrendous in general, IMO (Ole defense?), and yeah, it’s mostly 11 v 10. I think this is a good game for England to focus on and spend all their time reviewing.and basing their training on ;)


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/21 at 10:19 AM

        thank you all! I had a feeling i was going to hit the jackpt with that one. HA

        But on another note, George I have a question for you:

        Which LB would you be happiest NOT to face on the 12th, and why?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 11:57 AM

          To be honest, Bocanegra is probably your best LB over all, especially if you’re talking about the main duties of defending and being in alignment with the back 4. I think the main thing for the USA is to not let Walcott or Lennon get in a situation where there’s a one-on-one, and space to exploit behind. The LM and the DMs will have to put a shift in and double up.

          I think the main reason why Bocanegra is the best choice is because I feel he is less likely to give silly fouls away (and you know certain England players will go down if there’s contact). Or be caught out of position / holding the line etc. My opinion on Bocanegra might be outdated because I have not seen too much Ligue 1 this year.


        • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/21 at 12:27 PM

          totally agreed. I was just hoping for you to say “Heath Pearce” because of his 1v1 ability he showed against El Sal recently -___-


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/21 at 12:31 PM

            I might add there though that Heath Pearce dealt himself into the original leftback equation by having an admirable game at Wembley.


        • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/21 at 2:00 PM

          would be nice if I could rewatch that one…somewhere


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/21 at 12:18 AM

      by the way I actually watched the video. Tim Howard would have saved the 1st 2. Any keeper with the smarts of Howard would now that when someone’s in that position, they’re going across goal.


  9. Posted by Tom on 2010/05/21 at 6:46 AM

    ” He also suggests that March 3rd pairing”

    What does this mean?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/21 at 11:46 AM

      The March 3rd friendly against Holland…DeMerit and Bocanegra were the centerback combination.


  10. George: The left back isn’t “terrorized” in any way on any of these goals.

    1. No build-up. A deflected clearance bounced to Walcott. Goal. Sometimes you get the bounces.
    2. Joey Cole cuts in from the left, DM collapses into the back line, Cole finds Lamps, DM comes flying back out leaving a gap that Heskey runs into, Lamps passes to Heskey and the LB has to come inside to cover. Heskey finds Rooney who finds Walcott in space. Goal.
    3. Heskey’s pressing (cutting off the pass back to the Goalkeeper/CB) forces Croatia’s RB tries to beat Ashley Cole, who takes the ball off him. Heskey pulls back to Roo. Goal.
    4. The last was a counter that resulted from Croatia taking the risk to try to score. Pure speed. You risk goals like this when you’re down 2 and pushing to score.

    A lot of this results from Croatia playing 1 DM and being outnumbered just in front of the back four. This is the situation that our tactics must be designed to prevent. These goals all result from England being allowed to play too easily from left to right through this area. It just won’t happen with this ease as we’re set up. All you have to do with Walcott is drop way off him and let him try to beat you with the ball (not a strength) or deliver a final ball, just don’t let him beat you with speed. Lennon is a much more complete player, so a bit more of a challenge.

    Croatia gets pulled way out to their right flank when all the players on England’s left plan to do is cut inside. They have both their fullback and wide midfield player defending to the touchline which of course means 3 defensive players get beat with one pass, like in the second goal. As I’ve described the LM should stay quite narrow, ready to support fullback on the cut in and letting him deal with Cole if he overlaps while tracking the runner inside. This is the same job Holden did vs the Netherlands so it’s what I would expect to see. I think Holden will do it very well and prevent England from having such an easy time playing through this space.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/21 at 8:02 AM

      I just wanted to put that clip in. It fires me up.

      You also forgot to mention that Crotia played almost all of the 2nd half with 10 men. I think we were only 1-0 up before the red card. With Walcott’s first two goals, there is no way he should have been afforded so much space. Seriously. I think the biggest challenge facing the USA is for the CBs not to get dragged out, leaving holes as Rooney drops deep. Keeping shape and discipline is going to be key.


  11. Posted by Nathan on 2010/05/21 at 11:34 AM


    TSG Word of the Week.


  12. Posted by Alex on 2010/05/22 at 7:43 AM

    If Blackpool wins this playoff game, they would be a PERFECT team for Jozy. They won’t sit back and play d the whole game


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/22 at 9:01 AM

      I bet every Police Constabulary – especially the Metropolitan Police – in England is hoping that Cardiff doesn’t get promoted. Could you imagine Cardiff’s Firm relishing visits to / from the likes of Chelsea and West Ham?

      Let’s keep the velcro glove wearing Welsh out of the Premier League!


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