Clint Dempsey should start at forward cries seems to have subsided to a degree just as the teeter has tottered now in favor or Robbie Findley or should I say Robbie Findley!.
So TSG doesn’t look like we’re jumping an any bandwagon, we’ll refer you here where we mentioned that Findley had the lead for a spot going into camp. Since we just tooted….our horn, we’ll also stuff a foot in our mouth, Herculez Gomez proved us wrong by sticking around. And we’d like to see more of him too.
The line-up and permutations will abound through this Saturday’s final tune-up with the ‘Roos and up until the hour before the whistle June 12th.
Let’s take a deeper look at what Bob Bradley needs to figure out–up front–before June 12th.
• Can Jozy Altidore mature quickly, hold, distribute, and be dangerous with the ball?
Those listening intently picked up on Bradley’s subtle and no so veiled comment on the forwards, Altidore and Dempsey, needing to do better, “be sharper” in the post-game presser after Saturday’s win with Turkey.
The US strategy was over-the-top and press-hard. Both midfielders, up the pitch. As a note, Robbie Findley would have not have been nearly as successful if going for jump balls against fresh legs.
No, Bradley was looking and relying on a few things. Altidore to hold the ball and be a threat (like he needs him to be against Terry, King and/or Ferdinand on the 12th), Dempsey to possess and provide support and Donovan to create off of what transpired in front of them.
None of this happened.
The US wanted to control and maintain possession and physically suffocate the Turkey team. Again, didn’t happen. Well maybe a little, if you consider the fact that the strategy wore down the Turks for the 2nd half–or maybe that was all their running on the counterattack.
The question remains. Can Jozy do better when the ball is served to him?
I’ll throw it out here–and this is where not being in camp hurts this review–but Edson Buddle performed admirably in that hold-up role against the Czechs. Outside shot in my book that he is up top as one of the strikers against Australia. The big question on Buddle and Gomez by the way is “have they picked up the defensive scheme and understand, and play, their role in it?”
• Who is Herculez Gomez?
He won a spot, but will he factor draped in the #9 jersey. Gomez proved his mettle with an encouraging performance against the Czechs and a goal to cap it.
Just how good and ready he is? I’m not talking about starting or how where to deploy him, but whether you consider him a “poacher” or not, he is the only other forward capable of “streaking” towards the goal. It’s Findley and then a somewhat distant Gomez.
Here’s the thing. If you start Findley then who is your speed reinforcement off the bench. England, for example, will likely have Jermain Defoe or, in the odd chance he starts, at least Shaun Wright-Phillips now to provide some speed.
The States? Holden as a winger, but that’s about it if you deploy Findley early.
The Algeria game by the way is the one I think Gomez gets in (all pending of course) as he’s tailor-made to hop, skip, “poach” on some of the mistakes the Desert Foxes will make in the back.
• Where does Clint go?
In many way, Bob Bradley has been wrestling with this for sometime. In Bradley’s system of tough defense, pressure, and tracking back after a turnover, Dempsey is not a Bradley-type.
But the Coach has been, say, logical in that Dempsey needs to be on the field.
Through most of qualifying Clint was in the midfield and routinely chided for his defensive integrity–many times rightfully so.
It’s clear that Clint’s best position is somewhere in the middle of the pitch–he doesn’t gain the corner well and cross and he’s not going to round anyone and issue a cutback pass.
With all this in mind–and maybe we should wait for our preview until Friday–but who might the US start up top against Australia?
Here are some options you may see:
The Turkey: 2 to 1 odds
STR: Jozy Altidore
FW: Clint Dempsey
MID: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Stu Holden
Redress: Same as the parts on Saturday, only this time Donovan who had trouble working in enclosed areas moves back to the left where there is more open space and provides cover over Carlos Bocanegra. Holden starts, as he did against the Czechs, and the US still work the front right of the attack as much as Saturday.
Maurice Edu is up the pitch offering half-pressure and Michael Bradley slightly more reserved on the left and the distributor from the back.
The Battering Ram: 10 to 1 odds
STR: Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle
MID: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Clint Dempsey
Redress: Look familiar? A certain someone with the initials T.S.G. had something similar a few weeks ago (only last name on the jersey was Ching, not Buddle).
Edson Buddle was deployed on the top right against the Czechs and did an admirable job. As we mentioned, we’re having handicapped as we can’t see practice. Maybe Oguchi Onyewu is having his way with Buddle on jump balls in practice. Who knows?
In this line-up Jozy sits to the left-center and Buddle is your target forward on the right.
Similar spots for Mo Edu and Bradley as “the Turkey” above.
The reason I love Buddle in this permutation, is if Australia plays a high line on defense, Buddle still has a knee speed to skirt free if the Yanks play a “chase” ball over the top.
The challenge here? Exerting enough defensive pressure high enough on the pitch.
Speed Kills: 5 to 1 odds
STR: Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley
MID: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan
Redress: Somewhat close to the 2nd half line-up against Turkey. The States use Altidore as the target forward in the general center of the pitch and then have Findley make incisive runs off of him. I don’t see this working to start against England and I doubt it’s employed because the Lions’ defense will be fresh and then the US counter with precisely what later in the game. Basically, you’re going to Gomez in the 2nd half there in the #9 jersey.
Getting back to the opening frame, Mo Edu is half-pressing up the pitch, but Michael Bradley is sitting deeper in the role that Torres played.
Something thing that leads me to believe this line-up isn’t an opener (right now), is Torres profited from Cherundolo supporting up the pitch and driving Turkey’s left flank back–I’m not so sure that Dolo can keep up that energy for a full 90 minutes against the best.
• Note: You will see that I don’t have Torres starting just yet here. He, as Donovan stated, brought a good ability of calmness on the ball, I’m just not sure he’s ready to hold up for 90 against what’s looking to be a Gerrard-Lampard tandem in the middle. He won’t be able to go to ground and gain the ball as frequently–that’s for sure. Nice holding play though Saturday.
(Note on how England strategy impacts the line-ups below: I think what the US wants to do is pummel Ashley Cole’s side and make his weary, physically, and wary, mentally of going forward, so they pound the ball there for the first half (like Turkey/Czech) and then through
As for Glen Johnson, Bob Bradley dares him to come up the pitch, hoping he gets caught out once or twice and the US can exploit that on a counter. More England next week….)