Review: The Last Of The 30

Who won?

Run DMB was effective...

In a tune-up test where the USMNT succumbed 4-2 to the Czech Republic, this may have been the first affair where I didn’t mind the score or maybe the final tally didn’t register with me.

The USMNT came out with a “developmental” roster against their 2006 group stage foils and, as we mentioned in the preview, were looking to prove two things….either that they were fit (Gooch, Stu) or that they belonged (Goodson, Torres).

It was the customary US playbook as the Yanks’ thrust the attack up the right side when they had the momentum and covered over the left flank.

How major a  focus was this?

At one point, for about 2 minutes (9th min or so) I watched DaMarcus Beasley run up-and-down the field…in the central midfield!

At the turn of the half and upon a 1-1 deadlock, the USMNT switched up the pieces and started to find some joy in the attack, but as players digressed to unfamiliar plots on the field–Edu to the central defense and Stu Holden inside–the US broke down and eventually found themselves without answers to Czech attacking questions.

Maurice Edu puts the Yanks ahead.

Let’s get to our customary review:

TSG: What We Were Looking For…

Awards

Players Ratings

TSG: What We Were Looking For…

• How’s Gooch?

First, as per usual, we’ll invoke the now-famous TSG axiom: “You can’t look at observations in isolation. You have to look at the whole body of work.”

Well, none of us have seen Gooch’s body of work this year, limited as it may be.

Here’s a few telling things about this game. Bob Bradley put Onyewu on the left side, away from the pressure and away from where the US was generating that attack. In essence, since this was a friendly, Coach USA kept the kids gloves on.

Second, Gooch looked tentative attacking attackers and pursuing them as well. I think everyone saw this.

Third, the primary season you need the Milan big man in South Africa? Set pieces. Onyewu was beat for one that directly led to the 1st Czech goal and a 2nd that indirectly–a few bounces removed–led to the 3rd Czech goal.

However…

The label on this game for Gooch is still out based upon how he performs against Turkey and Australia. If Gooch bounces back against Turkey, then the label on this games is “Just getting used to full speed.” If Onyewu shows weakly in the next two then the label is, “Not ready yet.”

—————

Interlude: I’ve been having a spirited debate with our goalkeeper on our club team, who obviously as a goalie has a contrasting point-of-view on the first goal against the US that I’ll add in here:

“Watch the replay.  I’m not saying Gooch made a great play. He didn’t, but it was a tough play.

He’s backpeddling, Sivok’s coming forward full speed, and he get’s beat. But it wasn’t exactly a brilliant strike

and Onyewu’s presence had something to do with that.

Watch #22 (Stu Holden).  The ball goes over the top.  He turns.  Watches it sail by.  Stands still.

Stands more. Watches. <Says something I’m not typing in here>

Then watches the ball scoot just inside the left post.

<In capital letters> The (expletive) post he should have gone to the second the ball switches field over his head.

My response: You’re a goalie. Isn’t that Guzan’s fault. Wasn’t he guarding someone?

Still valid contention.

—————–

• Who’s going where on the backline?

This is the question that I was left with this evening. First, I’ll address Heath Pearce’s play in the “Player Ratings” section.

As of this evening, I can see Bob Bradley–even with Onyewu et all still ailing–taking only seven true defenders in the back.

I think the reason you saw Jonathan Bornstein on the left side was to give him more reps. If you legitimately thought Heath Pearce had a shot, well then he would have been your starter this evening.

Right now, you’re looking at a core, fit group of Boca (we think), DeMerit (we think), Dolo, Spector, Goodson and, yes, Bornstein. Beyond that you’ve got Specs and Edu able to move to the middle in an emergency and maybe Rogers to the back left.

Pachuca was well represented by Torres and Gomez tonight...

•  Am I a winger, a central mid, both, or does it matter?

Well, it turns out this wasn’t the needed question. What did we learn in the midfield tonight?

» Stu Holden is class, but needs some reps to get all his fitness back

» Beasley flashed his speed…and will be flashing his passport.

» Edu is effective going forward in addition to his stout defense

» Torres has risen to the challenge; he’s on the plane.

» Sacha Kljestan most likely is not. Robbie Rogers I’ll reserve judgment on and Ale Bedoya didn’t get the chance we hoped for (is that good or bad?)

•  The 4-4-2 might means you, Mr. Gomez….or you Mr. Buddle….but really probably means Robbie Findley.

The most fascinating game review tonight was, of course, up top. TSG’s main camp question of where Edson Buddle is thought to play was finally answered.

Buddle started up on the top right where the States’ kept stuffing the attack and performed very well. There was one particular moment at I believe the 14th minute where Buddle had the speed to challenge for a ball and the heft not to get knocked over by the better positioned wing defender. That play–even though the States lost the ball out of bounds was important to me.

Buddle was effective in movement and seemed to, well, remember his Bradley playbook as the half went on. Further, on at least two occasions and perhaps outside that playbook, Buddle tracked back and made two critical clearances of balls played into the defensive third.

Eddie Johnson didn’t fare nearly as well but in fairness he was on the little-used left side. The crowd did get treated to the customary “Oh no he’s offsides EJ call.”

In the 2nd, we saw a rejuvenated Brian Ching who with yet another precise pass–a cheeky backheel to Gomez–displayed his breadth of ability as a target man.

…and that brings us to Magic Gomez. Gomez carries himself the way every player you hope does. He’s passionate, invigorated and you can see the focus in his eyes. However, contrary to Alexi Lalas’ proclamations, two things I picked up on suggest he’s not a lock just yet.

1st, Gomez got knocked off the ball with his back to the goal. That’s okay since it’s not his forte, but you would have liked to see him show a little bit of strength there.

Second, in a one-on-one situation midway through the 2nd, Gomez lacked any sense of creativity and tried unsuccessfully to get some space on his dominant right foot.

I think he’s going to be a 3am decision Wednesday morning for Bob between Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez for the speed striker role.

Awards

•  Best Play Of The Game:

(Holden to Goodson to Gomez). On a Holden cross, I’ll let Shaun describe the rest:

66:00 – GOOOOOOAL GOMEZ – From a deep corner, Goodson gets up high and sends a header across the goal that Gomez easily heads in. That was a a nice of goal of another set piece. Czech Republic 2 – US 2

Thanks Shaun. A goal that lends itself to a little bit of background. Last year’s story, Stu Holden, puts it in play to the revelation of the Gold Cup, Clarence Goodson, who deposits it over the top to this year’s feel-good story, Herculez Gomez, who earns his keep. Well done.

All the way from the Gold Cup...

•  Most Unheralded Play Of The Game

(Clarence Goodson, 35th minute or so…)

Clarence Goodson may have been whistled on the play, but when a threatening ball was played deep into the left corner beyond an advanced Bornstein and a beaten Onyewu, it was the IK Start starter who galloped over from his left central home base to stand up the attacker on an island. Goodson got flagged, but clearly shouldn’t have on the play.

•  Golden Shinguard

(Clarence Goodson)

With lite apologies to Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez and heavy apologies to Maurice Edu and Steve Cherundolo, it was Clarence Goodson to was singled out by Bob Bradley immediately at the close of the game for stellar play.

You know what…I’ll just copy our game review from the match against Honduras last year in the Gold Cup on Goodson:

D: Clarence Goodson – 8

Quickly dealing himself into discussion in the US’s now crowded center back pecking order. Absolutely unfailing in his technical game, Goodson showed himself a threat on set pieces by scoring the first goal on a Stu Holden cross to end the 1st half. Dare I say the U.S. is best served sending Boca out wide with the depth we might have in the middle.

Sure, Goodson could have done a tad better on the third CR goal–and frankly scrums at this feet are known weakness of his–but behind that Goodson was stalwart in defense, proactively moving up the pitch when the offense was on his side as well as covering over the other half of the field and a true, non-hyperbolic monster in the box.

One fun fact that entered my mind in the game, take a look at Boca’s goal against Holland on March 3rd and right behind in the still frame as Boca exploded on the ball….is Clarence Goodson, waiting to do the same.

Player Ratings

Brad Guzan – 6

I was surprised that Hahnemann didn’t get the start here today or even some relief in the 2nd half. If there is no Hahnemann appearance in Philly, well then #2 works for Guzan.

Guzan really couldn’t be blamed on any of the goals. Calmer than Howard, Guzan came out on a cross in the first to make a fabulous punch save, but in the 2nd maybe could have directed traffic in front of him a little bit better.

Steve Cherundolo – 7

Got beat once all day on a nifty nutmeg in the 2nd half. Cherundolo showed fresh legs in the first and was extremely active on offensive. In the 2nd Dolo–probably due to a little fatigue–was a little reluctant to come forward, but still had some solid forays.

Dolo was the captain of course and it’s great to see him in that role.

Clarence Goodson – 7.5

We discussed Goodson above. Technically sound and extremely strong going forward. While the experienced starters have some knocks and might be causing some headaches, Goodson seems more than capable to fill in and may merit factoring into the starter discussion.

Oguchi Onyewu – 4

Gooch’s strength was his weakness tonight. I’m not sure what I expected from Onyewu on the evening. Two more performances of getting beaten in the air and showing tentativeness in 1-on-1 defending and I’ll be worried. Let’s hope for a better showing Saturday.

Jonathan Bornstein – 5

Conversely, Jonathan Bornstein is as fit as a fiddle. Bornstein still seems to hesitate, more than slightly, in his decision-making and then he puts himself in the position of recovering instead of defending. Didn’t really have the opportunity to go forward in the 1st half–that would have been nice to see.

A back-up and back-up alone right now.

Crunching tackle...hair still perfect...

Stu Holden – 6

Stu’s class. And I’ll say this, I don’t think I’ve seen as calm an American on the ball since Claudio Reyna when he was on form. I am never, no matter where Holden is, worried when the ball is at his feet.

Holden’s going to play the role of tucked in right midfielder to the tee in South Africa. And his fitness will return shortly.

Maurice Edu – 7, Jose Franciso Torres 6.75

I’m coupling the starting midfielder ratings this evening.

Dare I say the Hartford duo looked “seasoned” together. Bob Bradley brought Edu up the pitch into the offense and allowed Torres to play weakside holder and distribution hub. Torres’ positioning was vastly improved from Holland and he is capable in defense.

Edu was energetic on offense and defense. And of course undeniable in the box I’ll say it again….wait hold this thought until….

DaMarcus Beasley – 6.5

….I love players out of the SPL. That’s a league where defense below the kneecaps is just nasty. It’s a tough league. And both Edu and Beasley are better for it.

Not much was asked of Beasley tonight, but he flashed some speed, some creativity, and even tracked back. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Beasley was used in the Landon Donovan role this evening. That’s his role in South Africa.

Edson Buddle – 6.75

I liked Buddle more than others. I think folks have to remember that Buddle plays a lone striker role with the Galaxy. He’s customary to roaming where he likes and not fitting into a two-striker set. Buddle’s was deployed in the holding role, but like we’ve said before, made himself available and moved to create space on the pitch. I liked his game a lot tonight.

Showed some toughness taking a knock to the lip on the 1st US goal and coming back and playing just as strong. He’s ready for John Terry….maybe…

Eddie Johnson – Inc

Next

Subs

Herculez “Magic” Gomez – 6.75

I loved the way Gomez–who I had not seen in live action in some time–carried himself on the pitch.

He was energetic and positive (we’ll talk about the antithesis shortly) and moved on the free side very well. My two criticism above remain and that is taking a hit and one-on-one creativity. Other than that netted a goal and made himself available. Findley vs. Gomez to the wire?

Brian Ching – 6.5

World Cup experience to go with industry, distribution know-how and workmanship up top. Well played.

Sacha Kljestan – 3.5

Did not represent the US well tonight. Acted like the decision on his next game (@DC United) was already made. Lost his man who scored on the rebound on the 3rd goal.

Robbie Rogers – 5

Dear Mr. Rogers:

At the top level, you have a great first step, but not a great 2nd and 3rd. Dish the ball!

Sincerely

Everyone at TSG except Antonio

A typical Robbie Rogers game, blasted a shot that was well saved or just missed (see Honduras, HDC, January), had some good moves, but didn’t finish because he tried to do so much.

As of this evening though, and with leftback unsettled, he’s still in the mix until tomorrow.

Heath Pearce – 3

Now we saw the other side of Pearce. The Yanks’ king of inconsistency. A stellar El Sal performance was followed by average March mop-up duty in Amsterdamn and then a complete clunker tonight. Two horrendous mental mistakes on defense.

One of Bob Bradley’s favorite things to watch is how a player attempts to win back a ball after he’s lost it. I’m sure right after that on Bob Bradley’s observation points is how a player carries himself

Quite simpley, Pearce has terrible body language–and seems to get in his own head–when he’s not functioning well. He needs a mentor to help him through this middle part of his career.

He’s got the skill; he just needs a more bellyfire and positivity.

I don’t make these contentions lightly. I saw it firsthand from the stands behind him at HDC in January and here watch this clip at the 4.26 mark.

You just don’t know what you’re going to get with Pearce when he takes the pitch at the international level…

Alejandro Bedoya – Inc.

And unfortunately, we still don’t know what we have with Bedoya. I do know that every time he gets on the pitch for the Yanks, the energy level goes up as does the aggression. Maybe Bob was checking him out as the late game sparkplus tonight. I don’t know.

….

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42 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on 2010/05/25 at 9:37 PM

    Great analysis as always. I am excited to see how Buddle and co. function with Donovan and the other starters that were held out

    Reply

  2. Posted by Hercules on 2010/05/25 at 9:45 PM

    Great recap. I’m thinking of the possibility of a “dolo/specter-goodson-demerit-boca’ backline.

    Also, one point of contention is Findley. I just think that he would have played today if he truly was in contention.

    Also, as much as I would love to see Bedoya in SA, I just don’t see how the numbers balance out for a spot to be available. Sadly, I see him as number 24 on a roster of 23.

    Another point of contention is only bringing 7 defenders. I just don’t see that happening, especially with the injuries. I know that Pearce did not impress tonight, but the only way that he does not make it is if either Onweyu was truly just rusty (dependent on what happened in camp) as well as if BB is confident enough in Goodson to slot him into the center to allow Bocanegra to move out to LB. Sadly, the myth of Edu as a CB got busted tonight in my opinion, not only did he get beat one-on-one for the 4th goal, but on the 3rd, he was no where to be seen.

    So, the 3 goalies,
    (8) Boca, Dolo, Specter, Onweyu, Demerit, Goodson, Bornstein, Pearce
    (8) Dempsey, Donovan, Holden, JFT, Edu, Bradley, Beasley, Clark, Feilhaber
    (4) Altidore, Gomez, Buddle, Ching

    So, if Onweyu is still truly hurt, then we pray that we don’t need 8 in the back and insert Bedoya in the midfield.

    Reply

    • Posted by Supporter on 2010/05/25 at 10:50 PM

      Excellent team selection, but I do not believe Pearce will make it. Beasley could cover as a 3rd choice left back and Edu finished the game in central defense. Therefore with Edu, Dempsey, and Beasley’s versatility I believe there will be one more midfielder – Bedoya.

      Reply

    • You have 9 in the midfield. Meaning 24 players overall.
      That means in my opinion either Pearce comes off the list (best option). Or unfortunately Buddle is out. Or I guess one of the midfielders (which would probably be Torres out of that list).

      I would have exactly your same list though minus Pearce. Good evaluation.

      Reply

      • Why do people keep saying Beasley can cover at LB? I thought that idea was died when he did it FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE against T&T and did not impress. Please, let’s just nip this in the bud; Beasley is not an option at left back except as a “Break Glass In Case of Emergency” situation.

        Reply

        • Posted by DanPA on 2010/05/26 at 8:08 AM

          Is Beasley any worse than Bornstein or Pearce at left back? Whatever you think the answer is, it isn’t very settling.

          I think it is a bad idea to have Beasley as a left back option, but it is really any worse than the other 2nd/3rd choices Bradley has called in?

          Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/27 at 9:22 PM

          Sorry guys — just getting time here to reply to comments.

          I do in fact believe that Beasley–*if disciplined, big if–can be cover at leftback.

          When we last saw Beas he was out of form and injured.

          Love the Break Class comment, but if Walcott is tearing the US down on June 12th–Bornstein or Beasley on the left in the 2nd half is a legit question.

          Reply

  3. Posted by Shane_K83 on 2010/05/25 at 9:45 PM

    Gomez V. Findlay? Hands down Gomez.. dont even think there is a debate here…

    Reply

  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/25 at 9:51 PM

    I’ll have a “mini-post” up yet with the prospective 23.

    Reply

  5. Posted by dude on 2010/05/25 at 9:53 PM

    Pearce did his best to see an extra midfielder in the fold.

    That being said, we don’t know if Dempsey is a forward or a midfielder.

    If he’s a midfielder, than it seems possible that Jozy, Buddle, Ching and Gomez could all make the plane.

    If, however, he’s one of the forwards, probably means Buddle is gone and someone, hopefully Bedoya, is in.

    By the way, this is the most cogent analysis after a match I’ve read in a while.

    Reply

  6. Posted by kaya on 2010/05/25 at 10:35 PM

    Why is Findley a lock again? Is he holding back his secret weaponry? I admittedly only saw him with the US team during the US/El Sal pub team friendly in February, but it was enough to have me considering taking up prayer in hopes of it helping bring back Charlie.
    I’d take Gomez and Ching (can’t believe I just wrote that) well before Findley. I didn’t have such a positive feeling about Buddle, but I did like how he helped out on tracking back. Gomez seems to have picked up whatever they have there in Mexico that makes you shoot straight at the keeper.
    I think the rating on Holden is too low. He was everywhere and very energetic.
    I know Gooch is always pretty stoic, but his expression looked sad to me today. I think either Bob postpones putting together the list of 23 to give him another chance or Gooch isn’t on it.

    Reply

  7. Posted by kaya on 2010/05/25 at 10:38 PM

    Btw, I really liked Ching today… it’s just that I whimper at the thought of him being such a lock on a forward spot.

    Reply

    • Ching looked quite good last night… Paired with Gomez they looked quite threatening.

      Gomez has excellent running – that’s why he was finding acres of space to score all those goals, not simply Ole defending which we put on a second half clinic in. He is not slight of frame either. I think Findley is out of the running and it’ll be 3 of the 4 strikers that played last night plus Altidore.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Phlub on 2010/05/25 at 11:13 PM

    Just returned back to NYC from the match.

    From a corner view, I think the following:

    Forwards:

    Buddle – good hustle, decent touches, good holding, dangerous in the box, solid clearance help at the top of the opposing box, active throughout the pitch (wanderer)

    EJ – threatening speed, didn’t really come into play. i like that he could play the speedy forward and have good size and holding ability, but i don’t think he got to prove that well enough tonight. he never really has in recent MNT callups.

    Gomez – finds ways to score, he seems to have that nag for it, had a rather unspectacular shot right at the keeper that could have changed the pace of the match before his goal, looks fit and confident

    Ching – seemed to lack fitness a bit, i don’t think he held the ball that well as he used to, did draw some signature fouls a few times, helped defensively a few times, struggled to find help on that 1 on 1 run, and came away with a deflection for a corner

    Mids:

    Holden – did well on set pieces, good passing, but didn’t see any pressing really, seemed like he had opportunities to run, but hesitations got him or others in trouble

    Rogers – i think the TSG rating of his game was pretty tough. he was the only US player to break though the Czech fullbacks multiple times over. his crosses weren’t spot on, but they caused the Czech back 4 to wake up, and his strong shot on goal was what we needed more of from the pressing mids. it was also his cross, i believe, that JB headed in to tie the Costa Rica match. i hope he makes it to SA.

    Bedoya – i like him, but i think he needs some more caps, maybe a solid gold cup tourney or two to be where we need him. glad he’s in the 30 though.

    Edu – he’s good. rangers has him fit and ready.

    Torres – made some nice passes, had a good mind for pressing forward, not sure about his d.

    SK – what TSG said

    Beasley – hesitation was killer a few times, made too many dangerous short passes into traffic, could not get past the Czech fullbacks on the sides like Rogers did, though he made many attempts and showed his speed. defensively, he seems to be happier with the wing responsibility, covered alright a few times in the back.

    D:

    Onyewu – I think TSG was too harsh here as well. Gooch seemed to control the push forward from the back very well. Stepped into the central defensive midfield role, and keeps the ball at the other side of the pitch nicely. Probably too slow on his markers a few times, but I think it was a mediocre to positive performance overall.

    Goodson – Very very nice. Could have had a foot on that 2nd Czech goal, though it wasn’t his man that scored. Maybe could have helped better on the 3rd as well, that was scrappy anyhow.

    JB – Seems like a nice guy, has gotten a lot of reps at left back now, but he got burned a lot, and couldn’t recover well either. also a lot of hesitance on short troubling crowded passes in midfield similar to Beasley. stuff i hate seeing. not sure he should be in SA, despite his experience at a spot where the US needs help. let Boca hold it down.

    Pierce – kinda rough, yeah

    Dolo – liked his pace up the pitch, had trouble controlling the feisty Czech wings, but recovered well most of the time, and when he was in front of the ball defending, he was aggressive.

    Guzan – set pieces were pretty well defended. counter attacks seemed to be an issue with getting the back 4 on duty. overall, we know he’s capable, but he seems to never have a great cap experience. though probably because he’s always paired with the experimental B squads.

    (3) GK
    (7) D – Boca, Dolo, Specter, Onweyu, Demerit, Goodson, Pearce
    (5) CMF – Edu, Bradley, Beasley, Clark, Feilhaber, Torres
    (4) AMF – Dempsey, Donovan, Holden, Rogers
    (4) F – Altidore, Gomez/Findley (depending on Turkey results), Buddle, Ching

    Reply

  9. Posted by BW on 2010/05/25 at 11:31 PM

    Hate to think of Gooch as being out, but he certainly looked weak tonight. Maybe Coach inserts Goodson for no other reason than to create confusion between him and Crouch. Maybe Goodson gets a few passes from Rooney by accident?!

    Reply

  10. I almost feel slightly redeemed by my questioning of Edu as a centerback a few weeks ago. Great match from him in the midfield, but hopefully he’s our last resort centerback sub that we never see there.

    Thought Ching played well and created some great chances around him, also showed some good hustle and was there to pounce on several rebounds if Cech had let one slip. At this point i’d rake Gomez over Buddle, the guy is just an opportunist and gets himself into the right spots.

    Torres really impressed me tonight and I think booked himself a ticket as did Goodson (who was already pretty secure). Thought Bornstein played a bit of an ugly game and Gooch definitely showed some rust. I was really hoping to see more of Bedoya, agree with Hercules that he may be unfortunate #24.

    Beasley, well played my friend. We’re sticking you in an aisle seat but you’re definitely making the trip. Robbie Rogers will be occupying that seat in 2014.

    Reply

    • I second that thought on Edu. I’m sure you can quote me as one of the people lobbying for Edu at CB, but he looked way out of position there last night. He had to rely heavily on his quickness to maintain any kind of position, and he looked very nervous about fouling in the box; he lacked his regular toughness in tackling on the last goal (or maybe it was the third goal?). Just like with Beasley at LB, “Break Glass ONLY In Case of Emergency.”

      Definitely Beasley’s last World Cup, Robbie Rodgers can do all the things he does and won’t get pushed off every ball that comes near him. (I love you Bease, just bein’ honest)

      Reply

    • Edu as CB is more a late-game tactical change. If we’re chasing a game we need to win, we sub off DeMerit and push him back since his passing is vastly better.

      I honestly don’t know that Beasley showed enough last night. He was excellent defensively, covering up Bornstein’s mistakes, but just not enough going forward. It may be that’s all Bob wants from him though.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Gino on 2010/05/26 at 12:32 AM

    Gotta say I was not impressed by USA’s performance. Granted, it was a “B” team, but they were playing a Czech “B” team as well. I honestly think the player ratings were a bit generous for most of our players.

    I hope Gooch’s performance was all rust and no injury. As of now, I have to wonder if Goodson doesn’t start instead of him. If Boca’s hernia is all healed up by June 12 then he’s our starting LB. That is unless Bob decides to play Spector there. Cherundolo showed he’s still good enough to start at RB but then we’ll be shallow on the right if Spector starts on the left. Can Pearce really play RB? That might be his only ticket to S. Africa, as the 3rd stringer at both outside back positions.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Sam on 2010/05/26 at 5:25 AM

    To butcher a Dodgeball quote:

    Globo gym guy: “… and your best player thinks he’s a pirate.”

    Vince Vaughan: “That’s impossible to know if he’s our best player, we’ve only had one game… it could be any one of us.”

    I wish we won. What about you guys?

    I think all the experimentation over the past year has driven me completely insane… can’t wait to see our mythical A team at some point, maybe in the next decade or so.

    I think most countries have selected and are at least starting with 90% of their players who will be featuring in the World Cup in the send-off friendlies. i.e. Rooney played against Mexico, etc. I hope over the course of TWO GAMES we can breed a good working relationship between the guys who are comfortable locks to make the plane and guys who have had to earn it in these crazy scenarios.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to put guys who are “trying out” to be seen in the context of our “actual” team?

    Reply

  13. Posted by Tom on 2010/05/26 at 5:29 AM

    A few quick reactions:
    – Not impressed with Torres and to be honest never really have been. Not sure what he gives us in the midfield that we don’t already have in depth with Clark and Edu.
    – Gomez looked good and I can’t stand Findley so that should be an easy decision for Sweats.
    – Buddle also acquitted himself nicely, though he didn’t look as fast as I hoped/thought.
    – Ching continues to impress. On paper it’s easy to overlook him, but he just keeps doing everything right.
    – The fact that Johnson even got called into camp reminds me how dreadfully shallow our striker pool is. He was basically invisible, aside from the obligatory offsides.
    – Pearce did have a shocker but might still make it, especially given that the last defender would probably be our last outfield player to see the pitch in SA.

    Go USA

    Reply

    • Disagree about Torres. He rarely makes a bad pass, can run at defenders, shoot from distance (only slightly threatening, but still), has great hold up play, and WON’T get any cards at the World Cup.

      That last point gives JFT like a 10% point increase in contrast to Edu/Clark, who I guarantee (seriously, any one want to bet?) will lead the team in cards and will be sent off.

      Please, someone bet me that either or Edu or Clark gets sent off at the WC… anyone?

      Reply

      • Posted by Tom on 2010/05/26 at 7:46 AM

        I guess I just like our guys more in the prime Maestroeni mold — sure, be a tad reckless, but don’t take any guff and get forward opportunistically. Torres just seems timid and conservative to me. I really do hope Bedoya makes it over him.

        Reply

        • Posted by DanPA on 2010/05/26 at 8:14 AM

          Strongly agree with the Gol Post here, Torres’ passing and mov’t into spaces to receive the ball has been lacking since Reyna (not saying he should be as established as Reyna).

          Many will disagree with this philosophy, but:
          I contend that for every opposing attack a Mastroeni-type player disrupts with a solid tackle, a Torres-type player avoids by keeping/not giving up possession.

          Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/26 at 8:19 AM

        I’ll add into the comments here. I think you saw something a little bit more interesting from Bob Bradley here.

        Maurice Edu pushing way up the pitch to win balls and suffocate the offense. I really like the use of Torres as a cover in player alone (through positioning Torres is effective on defense in this set, he doesn’t have to be a ball winner).

        Then when possession is gained–Torres is the middle becomes the hub for distribution. The USMNT is consistently lamented for the inability to move the ball out of their defensive third. Torres did a great job here tonight and usually Bradley playes with a Bradley-Rico or Bradley-Edu combo that are just not as adept at this.

        I thought this was a good piece of coaching and tactics by Bob Bradley.

        Now, in RSA we probably go with the more dynamic players, but I did like this move on the evening….

        Reply

  14. Posted by DanPA on 2010/05/26 at 5:48 AM

    I’ll add a few points on the players who were trying to earn their boarding passes:

    1. Findley: I agree with the poster that questions if he is even on standby… If he gets choosen, he must be doing something amazing in training. I see his 0 minutes as evidence that he is going back west.

    2. Edu and Torres: their spacing, passing, and possession was better than I have seen from a USMNT central midfield in a while. They weren’t highly pressured, but the Czech’s weren’t giving them acres of space wither. I think that they provided a little defense via possession: the other team can’t score (or at least run circles around your left back), if they don’t have the ball.

    That said, I would have liked to see a little more incisive passing and movement forward.

    3. 1st half forwards: neither Buddle or Johnson did poorly or extremely well. They both played mostly negative passes when they received the ball (did decently receiving the ball with their backs to the goal), and too often all the way back to defenders.

    4. 2nd half forwards: Ching and Gomez both had more attacking chances through the run of play… I think a lot of that came from Kjlesten being in the midfield and the Czechs seeing much more of ball and getting forward more, thus leaving more space for counter attacks. Again, neither did amazing or poorly. Gomez could have ran over and collected his boarding pass if he had put one in from the run of play (like his shot from the top of the box). His nose for goal has to count for something among a group of forwards (ching, ej, buddle, gomez, findley) who have had little time or showed little ability to score against better international competition.

    5. outside mids: I see Holden > Beasley == Rogers ??Bedoya. Beasley was essentially a 3rd central midfielder when the ball was on the other side of the pitch, as was Holden, to a lesser extent. I think that opened up too much space for the Czech outside midfielder and resulted in a lot of pressure on the left backs when Beasley was caught in the middle… I wonder if this was Bob’s plan?
    … and Bedoya: I have no clue whether his playing time means he already has his boarding pass, or if Bob was throwing him one last chance to do something to prove he should make it.???

    6. Coach Sweats: I am very critical of Bradley, but I thought he did everything he should of last night. Kudos to him. I wouldn’t want to be making his decisions about what forwards to take.

    Reply

  15. Posted by Freegle on 2010/05/26 at 7:41 AM

    Great analysis as aways. The major things that were evident from the stands last night…

    1) Excellent crowd considering the circumstances. SA and AO were there usual vocal selves but there were some other areas of the stadium, especially behind the opposite goal, that carried the noise for parts of the match. Great to see/hear.

    2) As others have said, Gooch is not healthy. I don’t care how many times he says he is 100%, he’s not. Despite this, I actually thought he acquitted him self well in the first half. But, as fatigue set in, his physical limitations showed through. Gooch has always been big and strong but tonight is the first time I’ve seen him look oafy/clumsy and it scares me. Having rehabbed several of these injuries in the past, I can tell you a few important things… 1) his knee range of motion did not look to be full (admittedly difficult to tell in dynamic situations but we’ll say he was not using what is considered “normal” knee range) and it is affecting the length of his running stride. 2) His right leg muscles have lost both mass and definition. It was obvious from the stands that his legs are two different sizes. With that type of atrophy, it is impossible for him to be at full strength. 3) His proprioception is off, which means he cannot cut, change direction or jump with full efficiency, causing him to look (at least) one step slow and limp noticeably. I don’t think any of these things were responsible for the first goal but they bode poorly forhim contributing in 3 weeks. He is not currently capable of defending Wayne Rooney or Peter Crouch. That begs the question… do you bring him to SA?

    3) Our ONLY left back options are Bocanegra and Spector. Thanks for playing JB and Pearce, now go sit down.

    4) I thought all of the wing MFs showed good work rate. Beasley played well. Rogers looked confident and was aggressive, but he lacks the final decision too much (one touch to many, getting too deep and limiting his own options). Holden was a little rusty but I was impressed with his 90 minutes, especially moving into CM when Bedoya came on. Even tired, he continued to be more effective in the center than Sacha, who vacillated between invisible and terrible. Bedoya put in his usual shift, worked hard, but did nothing to stand out. I like him a lot, but I dont think theres room for him in this group. In 2014? Stud.

    5) Good bye Eddie Johnson. Each of the other forwards made a decent case for inclusion. None will be dominant, but they all did enough to make it a tough decision for BB. Gomez and Ching had some good touches and held possession and Buddle had good work rate and connected well with his midfield. If we are assuming Findley and Jozy are locks, of the four who played tonight, I take Ching and Gomez over Buddle, if not, include Buddle over Findley (by the “what have you done for me lately?” corollary… AKA, “form”)

    6) Clarence Goodsen is legit. I am more than comfortable with him getting meaningful minutes in June and (hopefully) July.

    When I watch the replay of the game tomorrow, I may change my mind on some things but those were my first impressions.

    Reply

  16. Gentlemen,

    Haven’t re-watched the match yet but some initial comments.

    Torres is the best technical player on this team by a long, long ways. In the warm-ups, while Eddie Johnson knocks every ball between 10 and 20 yards off target, and the rest hit-and-miss while Torres smashed them all into the net except for once assaulting the crossbar and once denting the post. Guzan’s body language said “oh, not him again”. He was just as good in the match – always showing for the ball, switching fields. He was also much improved defensively. The difference between this match and Netherlands was that he was used consistently rather than bypassed by Bradley. He was really a beast in the first half and 90 minutes of him and Edu would’ve seen us comfortable winners.

    Kljestan was truly appalling – he literally hides in midfield, drifting too far forward to receive the ball from the backline or anyone. He effectively severs the link between midfield and attack. The only possible explanation is that there is political pressure on US Soccer to select MLS players.

    Goodson Good, Gooch not so good.

    Bornstein was really bad. He did his “grab the player that just burned you” routine again, luckily outside the box this time. His problem is simply that time and again he over-commits against players of this level. Dempsey got burned trying to slide tackle CR9 in one of his first Fulham matches, but quickly learned his lesson. Bornstein isn’t learning the lesson – he expects international players to be as easily tackled as MLS players. He also did his “telegraph the pass to the CM which is intercepted and leaves your CBs exposed on the counter” routine but Goodson mopped up. He was the worst player on the backline in the first half and was bailed out by the defensive covering of Beasley and excellent display from Goodson.

    Beasley didn’t offer anything going forward but was always there to sort out Bornstein’s mistakes at LB. I think you owe him a couple points of JB’s rating.

    Reply

    • “He was also much improved defensively.”

      I think this is a key point and I very much agree. Torres is NOT a big guy (I take credit in being bigger than two USMNT members, him and Beasley) but he doesn’t get pushed around out there and did a really good job tracking back. I’d like to see him at least get some minutes in SA and I can see him as a key midfield playmaker in 2014.

      Reply

      • Torres could star in La Liga. He’s that good. His shooting is absolutely nasty. When I say he was hitting the target, I mean, he was beating Guzan and burying swerving shots in the corners and side netting. By comparison, some of our other starting strikers looked like high-schoolers having a kick around. And I think he’s driven. His defending is really improved. I think he should start against Slovenia.

        Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/05/27 at 6:29 AM

        I agree with a few posters that Torres/Edu combo was the reason the first half was possession oriented and positive. Good central midfield combos are like good offensive lineman-if they are doing their jobs you don’t hear their name very much. Completed passes, effective positioning and composure on the ball was what I saw last night from them. Compare that to a normal MB/Clark adventure of dispossession, unforced errors and wild recovery tackles (resulting in cards). Maybe Edu settles Bradley down some….but BB LOVES him some Rico. Oh well.

        Gooch- this is not a guy who is ready for any meaningful minutes against top class comp. You can’t be limping through 70 mins less than 3 wks from game on. And that goal was completely his fear of jumping and landing awkwardly. Good thing that Goodson showed that he can handle the air and frankly plays the ball from the back better than Gooch. Hopefully Demerit can command the box vocally and handle the man marking effectively. Have to start Goodson/Demerit on Sat v Turkey after this showing by Gooch.

        Re Bornstein- It is really sad that this guy continues to get a run at this level. Overmatched tactically and his vaunted speed and skill are wasted due to his lack of a soccer brain. I just cannot believe that BB is this desperate at RB that he continues to treat him as a viable option. Heath Pearce as hard as it is to say, at least can receive a pass and send one forward without looking like a Jerry Lewis character. Oh well…JB is on the plane….

        Also agree that with only 3 friendlies together, this was a complete waste. If he didn’t know that Ching, Pearce, etc weren’t on your squad before this than what were they doing for the last year. Shouldn’t be holding tryouts at this late stage.

        Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/26 at 9:54 AM

      Tuesday – I still think you’re being far too generous in your Bornstein summary…

      I said during the match that there were at least a couple of times that Czech No. 7 was wide open (Bornstein was far too narrow), and the only reason why Bornstein wasn’t further embarrassed was because the Czechs didn’t play the ball to him. I understand that there’s an element of “coulda, shoulda”, but a better team would have played the ball wide and they would have been bearing in on goal with Bornstein trying to recover.

      Reply

      • I was just being generous to our host, who persists in a Bornstein man-crush. If anything Bornstein was worse than Pearce, he just wasn’t punished for it because of other players-Beasley, Torres, Edu, Gooch and Goodson-tracking back.

        To take the next step, Bornstein needs to play in a league where his simple athleticism cannot overcome defensive mistakes. That just doesn’t happen at this level when you make SO MANY of them. It’s nearly every time down the pitch. A disaster.

        Reply

  17. Beasley’s ineffectiveness going forward was the main reason the left side was so “little used” but Beasley’s ineffectiveness going forward was partially due to Johnson’s running not really being up to snuff. Buddle + Gomez might’ve revealed a more effective Beasley or he might simply be a late game defensive tactical substitution.

    Reply

    • Posted by DanPA on 2010/05/26 at 9:31 AM

      I noticed several times that Beasley was nearly on top of the central midfielders. I think he would have been more effective if he stayed out wider to receive the ball. Edu and Torres were doing a decent job of distribution and I don’t think he need to play so narrow. As it was, he had much more congestion in front of him when he received the ball.

      Reply

      • Beasley: “Can I give you a hug?”
        Touchline: “Of course you can.”
        Beasley: “I just want to stay out here forever”
        Touchline: “Me too. Promise you’ll never let me go…”

        Reply

  18. Posted by Joe on 2010/05/26 at 9:18 AM

    kljestan and Pearce, Thanks for making the final cut easier. We appreciate your awfulness.

    Reply

  19. Posted by Applesauce on 2010/05/26 at 2:37 PM

    Buddle showed he doesn’t deserve to be on the flight to Jo’burg. Don’t know what game the author was watching.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/26 at 2:42 PM

      I just happened to look at the comments.

      First, on Buddle, he’s got the physique, speed and skills to be both a target forward and a lone striker. You can’t say that about any of the other players out there. Not even Jozy.

      That said the book on Buddle for years has been injury and commitment, not ability. Everyone who you speak with that played, coached or broadcasted a game with him says the same thing.

      Last night in Buddle, he didn’t get blown off the ball–Ching didn’t either–he made some excellent threatening runs (that unfortunately Brian Ching doesn’t make), he showed he can play in a 2-striker system and he cleared two balls on defense after suffering a nasty cut to the lip.

      I’m sure that Buddle showed more in camp, but there is a reason that the Galaxy are flying this season.

      Reply

  20. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/26 at 10:47 PM

    El Pistolero was class last night. If there’s one thing the MNT is lacking, iot’s selfish players (i.e. Duece). In this context, selfish is a good thing. And he’s really comfortable on the ball, almost as comfortable as Iceman. The future is bright, but it just sucks that he has that “it” factor (a combination of youth and….”it”) that we might need for the last 15 minutes. Kind of like the same thing that keeps Blanco on the field for Mexi

    Reply

  21. Posted by CJ on 2010/05/27 at 1:48 PM

    So I was at the game Tues nite… Anyone get the vibe in regards to Holden that he was left to work with Cherundolo to get the ball upfield? I like Cherundolo’s desire to move up (IDK the term, wingback? fullback?) but he doesn’t have that flair for creativity. He’s kinda like an old dog new tricks… I’d see Holden look for someone to play off him and the 2 guys he’d always be working with (I was a lil blurry eyed ya’meen? Don’t have names) were always off, timing wise. So, I don’t read into that too much because it will be Bradley, Donovan, or Dempsey in the Cup right? Don’t have to worry about their spark or indecisiveness.

    In regards to Dolo there was one specific play where Holden and him were in the upper third, with 3 guys on them, and Holden tried to play a tight give and go that Dolo just couldn’t handle. I’m thinking wow great positioning for the play but no foot skills…

    Reply

  22. Posted by CJ on 2010/05/27 at 1:55 PM

    Other thing of note… When a team is trying out with fresh players those guys typically are going to be more rigid due to feeling the “eyes”. They need to relax, stop thinking, just get used to doing what the coach asks naturally. I saw a lot of thinking going on with Tuesday’s team. Guys would see the ball coming, the play developing, then would check out for a few secs to double check positioning and instead of moving fluidly with it didn’t want to leave the “set” formation. Play would then crap out right after that. It’s like, damn!!! Just take two strides to the right and we maintain possession!!

    Reply

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