The USMNT’s Final Walkthrough

In the final warm-up before the Yanks take on the Three Kitties, the United States walked to a 3-1 win over Australia in a game played at two-thirds World Cup speed.

I thought Dempsey looked strong today--missed the mark--but otherwise strong (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

Crowds in the United States on a glimpse of ESPN’s coverage with Martin Tyler as well as the rural setting of the South African high plains.

But the real scene that Yanks’ fans–and MLS execs–must have liked was the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Edson Buddle treating Australia like another league opponent.

Two goals by Buddle, one on a strike of a Findley-created turnover and one an unmarked header, showed that the pride of New Rochelle, NY belongs and deserves playing time down in South Africa. As we mentioned on Wednesday and earlier in May, Buddle is an exciting player combining physique with speed and a good final ball. He’s a TSG candidate to start next Saturday with Robbie Findley in relief.

Australia’s lone tally came courtesy of Tim Cahill on a cross that was not dealt with by all involved: US defenders going to the ball, Clint Dempsey on the mark and Steve Cherundolo on the post.

Herculez Gomez finalized the scoring with a textbook finish on a Landon Donovan-grounded corner near the final whistle.

TSG will eschew out typical review in favor of some quick bullet point thoughts in this one:

• Remember that narrow pitch. The States looked a little shoddy in midfield defense and that was with less square footage that there will be next week. In the back, Carlos Bocanegra held his own today, but he’ll be dealing with more real estate and more pace on the 12th.

• Clarence Goodson started in back for the Yanks pairing Jay DeMerit. You won’t see Onyewu against the Three Lions. If Gooch was going to play, you would have liked to see him get at least 60 to 70 minutes of run for the Yanks to improve his fitness. Didn’t happen.

• I don’t know if it’s the Jabulani, but the ball is clearly flying at altitude. On many occasions, the keepers or defenders shorted the ball expecting it to come down as it carried.

That pesky final ball (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

• The Robbie Findley story remains the same. Strong physique, good first move, trouble with the final ball. I did like today how Findley challenged the backline as well as varied his moves–Findley didn’t always try to beat him man initially to the outside today.

Yes Findley needs to improve, but let’s remember that Davies had some trouble with the final ball as well (against Trinidad & Tobago and Honduras)

• I think you’ll see the Yanks keep Donovan on the right side, using Landon Donovan with Steve Cherundolo in support as the speed or counterattack flank. The left flank will be more possession oriented with Deuce and Jozy Altidore who is expected to be fit.

• Another game another bad foul from Ricardo Clark. It looks like he is your starter against the Three Lions, better from Clark today, but I wouldn’t say he was extremely strong.

'Dolo on the money....(courtesy, Matt Mathai)

• Steve Cherundolo is on form. Cherundolo looked confident, strong in possession and quick today. I think he’s earned the nod next week.

• Clint Dempsey is in World Cup form also. While Dempsey dropped his man on the lone Socceroos’ goal, Dempsey was obviously intent on attacking today and looked a step ahead of the Australian defenders.

• With the exception of a very dangerous square ball that led to an Aussie break, better from Jonathan Bornstein today. Better, not great, but better.

• Marcus Hahnemann, as the announcers scolded, should have warn a hat. He also should have marshalled his backline better–that’s for sure.

• Jay DeMerit played strong stand-up defense, but he needs to clean-up his distribution for next week.

• No Stu, Torres or Edu today suggests–since you would have seen them acclimatize today–that they come off the bench next week.

• Michael Bradley took his foot of the gas pedal today–that’s a good thing–his distribution still needs to be a little more precise.

• I really would like to see Bob Bradley lose the Pajamas by Nike.

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72 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by maxq on 2010/06/05 at 7:56 AM

    The ESPN.com guys were talking about how bad DeMerit looked today. I thought he looked like his typical blue-collar self in the middle. No amazing plays, but solid. What’s your take?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/05 at 8:03 AM

      Well, I think the US was a little porous through the middle. I think the book on DeMerit is always the same — strong stand-up defending and challenged in possession.

      It wasn’t DeMerit strongest day, but he categorically did not look bag.

      You saw all players attempt to adjust to the sun, altitude effect on themselves and the ball and the narrow pitch.

      All in all, a 6 for DeMerit today is I were to rate him.

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      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/05 at 9:41 AM

        I feel that you’re being too generous. Australia failed to capitalise on DeMerit’s errors; one glaring miss by Kennedy and Hahnemann bailed him out from his weak defensive header, that led to a shot on goal. Then there were the cheap fouls he gave away. I just hope for your sake that this was just a bad day at the office.

        The US looked very vunerable defensively when the ball was crossed in the box. Where was the aerial strength that I have heard for months? But it was a tune up game…

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        • Posted by Paul on 2010/06/05 at 9:52 AM

          Is it me, but does DeMerit look better when Gooch is beside him? I think I’ll take a Gooch starting 45 mins against England with a Goodsen sub at half, rather than subbing Gooch in later. Let DeMerit get comfortable, then bring in Goodsen–and Torres, whose positional sense can help cap any extra confusions between the two

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        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/05 at 10:05 AM

          George – Going to disagree with you there on the Yanks. They looked average on the crosses.

          If you notice on the first cross, both sides watched as the ball soared past them. Clint should have marked his man, but that is easily correctable.

          The 2nd half saw a different goalie who wasn’t particularly assertive who didn’t command players.

          I think you’re way off here. Not a strenth, average today, but not terrible.

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        • Paul,
          The problem with subbing in Goodson is that we will need all of our subs to get Torres, Holden, a sub out whoever isn’t playing well. We can’t go in with a plan of subbing out Onyewu. So we have to start with who we think is better to go the full 90. If right now that is Goodson then go with him. We could bring in someone of off the bench but we can’t plan on it. Also the back line needs to be stable as possible.

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        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/05 at 4:55 PM

          If Australia had Crouch and he punished you, you would not be calling your defence “average”. I am almost certain on that.

          I wonder what Baldini’s take-away from the game was. Interesting to see if Capello goes with his trusted Rooney-Heskey partnership, or whether he thinks he can take advantage by playing Crouch?

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        • I think the sun was giving both teams trouble. There were a ton of balls that flew straight through the box with nobody touching them. That’s either due to the weird trajectory of the Jabulani ball, or else the sunlight. I would expect aerial prowess to be regained by Saturday.

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      • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/05 at 12:01 PM

        DeMerit lost his footing on that Kennedy miss, but I’d chalk that up to the crappy pitch.

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      • I agree w/ George on this. I lost count of the number of times crosses hit the ground in the box. That’s a cardinal sin for a defense, and a less profligate attack (like England) will make us pay dearly for slack defending like that. It was an uncharacteristically poor day for our central defense

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        • Posted by Jon C on 2010/06/05 at 12:50 PM

          I concur, it seemed to me like we did not clear a corner out from the air until late in the second half. Every other corner and a decent amount of crosses from the run of play either bounced straight through or lingered in the box for awhile. Even Goodson who has been a beast in the air up to this point looked lost on a couple of them. Kennedy missed two simple chances and had either gone in everyone would be moaning about the marking inadequacies we showed today.

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        • Crosses were flying beyond the expectations of both teams. Both teams are Nike so are they training with the match ball or what? Just pay Adidas for the balls to train with, Nike.

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  2. Edu needs to start over Clark period. He gives us better possession, better attacking and better defense. I still feel BB is holding his cards a little and will start Edu. Also how minor of a strain did Clark get in his gluts at the end? I don’t think Clark is really injured just saying. I know I may be hoping but we need Edu. Other wise I agree with what you said above.

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    • Posted by Ian on 2010/06/05 at 8:20 AM

      Rico gave the ball away several times. I’m not entirely sure why he got the start in the first place.

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      • Posted by pckilgore on 2010/06/05 at 8:56 AM

        Agreed. It seemed most of the turnovers he “created” were based off Aussie errors, not on any strong tackling or anticipation on his part.

        Almost completely absent going forward, and in distribution. His MO after receiving the ball was to lay it off to Bradley or out to the wing. You’d like to see a ball winner 1) win balls and 2) be able to turn upfield more. I don’t think he ran with the grain once.

        Anyways, those are some quick observations on Rico.

        I think Bradley played exceptionally well today, but that probably had to do with the narrowness of the pitch.

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        • Posted by okocha on 2010/06/05 at 3:53 PM

          also, too many times i saw clark and bradley moving flat; they should be staggered. if one moves up, the other should drift behind, to create angles. that’s how they got burned against turkey. and clark seemed a split-second slow on the ball. i saw a more than a few times he seemed to actually think what to do with the ball, probably because he was told not to always try the long ball like he did against turkey. i thot he played a little better than last game, but he’s not a good pairing with bradley

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    • Rico wasn’t perfect, but this was certainly a much better performance. He and Bradley showed a lot of the “see-saw” sort of positioning which should be in evidence from the central midfield pair in this system. I still think that Edu is a better option but I agree with Matt that we’ll see Clark against England, if nothing for his speed to get out and help Boca with Lennon on the left. Big USA v England preview coming up so say tuned.

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  3. DeMerit’s issues today, in my eyes, were the silly fouls. With the new ball and suspect defense on set pieces (plus Steven Gerrard), they cannot give away fouls 30 yards from net. He has to cut that out against England. In fairness, the Australians were crumpling under very little weight, but still.

    Only other thing I would disagree with is Gooch. If I were Bradley, I’d rather work him hard in training to get him fit than test his knee on that horrible pitch. Still think we see him.

    Thanks for doing the live chat–fun stuff.

    I put my inconsequential thoughts up: http://wp.me/pWfo0-19

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  4. Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/05 at 8:13 AM

    Ricardo Clark looked terrible. If he starts against England it will be a huge mistake.

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  5. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/05 at 8:15 AM

    I think folks are too tough on Clark. I do think Edu is a better option in the middle.

    I think you saw the starting midfield for the Yanks today. You would have wanted–in my opinion–for Edu to get a full 90 minutes for fitness today as nearly the other’s did.

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    • Am I getting too worked up about Bradley’s sub patterns today? I can’t tell….

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    • Posted by John on 2010/06/05 at 8:21 AM

      I would like to have seen something from Clark in two games now to think he could start against England. He just flat out disappeared in the game.

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    • Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/05 at 8:25 AM

      Maybe I am being too tough on him, I mean if he plays I want him to succeed, but in my opinion Clark is just not a smooth player. It seems like he is always doing one of the following: losing possession, being indecisive, or making vertical passes harder to recieve than necessary. Sure, he makes some defensive plays every once and a while and completes the easy passes out of the back, but he contributes nothing creatively. Maybe you could argue that he is not supposed to, but if that is the case what is the point of going with him over a player that is a much better passer and more smooth in possession?

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      • Posted by dude on 2010/06/05 at 8:38 AM

        Edu earned the starting spot with his performance against Holland, when he stabilized the midfield and made everything channel the other direction.

        Torres then provided a virtuoso display of offensive orchestration against Turkey, making us look like world beaters.

        When they pass to a player, the ball is weighted so the receiver can turn it into something first touch.

        Clark is a blunt frickin’ instrument. When he passes, you can see the ball bouncing off the recipients foot, and they have to control it or pass back. He does not work well with Bradley, downright sucks in possession, and his hustle is actually an attempt to make up in athleticism what he lacks in positioning and, well, quality.

        In short, if Edu’s tired, he’s a defensive sub. This is apparent to everyone but Bob Bradley and some people who really should be watching Rugby.

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        • I think you guys are getting a little heated. I don’t think clark is terrible but Edu should start. I agree to the point above that Clark doesn’t provide much creative passing going forward and this concerns me as it limits our counterattack and stifles our overall efforts going forward. The main problem though is Clark and Bradley both go towards the player with the ball at the same time far to often. They occupy the same space and leave wide openings. As others have said they play too similar to pair really well. Saying that Clark is good defensively and pairs ok with Bradley. i just think Edu/MB is better option.

          either way I am excited for the next game.

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      • Posted by okocha on 2010/06/05 at 3:55 PM

        good point about the passes not easy to receive. there was one in the first half he tried to link up with the forward, but he hit it so hard right at him and in the air (not sure who it was), that he couldn’t trap it.

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  6. Posted by KMac on 2010/06/05 at 8:38 AM

    Here are my initial gut reactions to the game. Overall several factors influenced the game, and gave us the good, the not so good, the bad, and the WTF?

    Factors influencing the game:
    - desire to avoid injury
    - field quality bad and degraded and led to limited risk taking
    - altitude and the ball?
    - pace of the game was ¾ tempo, probably as a result of all three of the above

    The Good:
    - Some attractive inter-passing early and late in the game
    - Good output from Buddle and Gomez
    - Findley’s runs on the ball to goal
    - Tactically saw the game out, after a rought 20 minutes in the mid of the second half
    - Better play from

    Not so Good:
    - poor marking and read of the cross
    - Findley’s 2 missed sitters
    - Shaky play in the back including man marking and attacking the ball in the box
    - midfield lacked support of the defense at times
    - desire to avoid injury took some bite out of our midfield’s strength IMHO
    - no start for Gooch – was it the pitch, Gooch, or both?

    The Bad
    - ESPN’s desire to interject human interest shots for minutes at a time totally disrupting the flow and beauty of the game – I expect better

    WTF
    - Dempsey’s scuffle resulting in two cards
    - Why was that goal disallowed?

    It was interesting that when the play started turning toward the Aussies after about minute 58 in the second half, that no midfield substitution was made for fresh legs (Torres, Edu, or Holden) to see the game out. Was this more fitness/acclimitization for potential starters?

    I will watch the game again and refine my remarks.
    Interested to hear what others saw, thought, hypothysized…

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    • I think Edu, Torres and Holden all sat out because the coaching staff was wary of injuries with the field and the minor gut check of Altidore’s sprain in training.

      That said here’s another thought: going into the match maybe Holden, Edu , or Torres were planned to see some time later in the match if the situation was right. But we were leading so no need for Torres. Holden didn’t go in because the decision was made that he had significant time the other match where as Beasley hadn’t had some time in a while (plus would you rather risk Holden or DMB with garbage minutes?)
      Edu didn’t go in because BB wanted to see Clark get a full match in (he hasn’t had many 90 min straight in a long time). Also BB could be testing Clark. He gave Edu a full test already. Additionally with a lead maybe BB wanted to keep the Rico/MB combo in to see if they could salt it away. I still (maybe I am just hoping) see Edu starting. Ideally the starters today would be your starters but BB isn’t always a conventional guy and maybe he just decided due to field conditions, game conditions, or mental chess with Capello, to just shut it down a little in the second half and not sub in a ton. We won’t know for 1 week.

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      • Posted by KMac on 2010/06/05 at 9:45 AM

        All good points…well said

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      • Posted by Matt B on 2010/06/05 at 1:57 PM

        I know Rico didn’t have a great game, and I don’t really want him to start next week, but I would have liked to see Bradley subbed out for Edu at some point today. First, Bradley has played the full 90 in both of the last 2 games, and there’s no reason to tire him out. Second, maybe we should at least test a combination without him, in the event of if (when) he has to miss a game due to red card or yellow card accumulation.

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      • Posted by Stephen on 2010/06/06 at 7:26 AM

        Hopefully you are right. We were going at about 60% and the roos were going at about 80% speed. I think with all the injuries coming in these huge waves Coach Sweatpants/Nike Pajamas Ninja was holding back a couple of key players on the bench. I really want to see more of Holden and Torres. We will see. Not long now.
        steve

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    • Posted by Jef_Costello on 2010/06/05 at 9:39 AM

      I think ESPN is carrying the world video feed from here on out, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

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    • KMac: I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you in Philly. I agree with your points. The Dempsey “goal” was disallowed because Findley got up and tried to play the ball instead of lying on the ground uselessly. It was the correct decision.

      I think the players who got 90 minutes are the ones who Bob felt needed it because they’ll be asked to play 90 minutes at some point in the group stage, either against England or in subsequent matches. Clark actually had a good match. Personally I would prefer him to Edu but I think Bob has a reason not to, specifically because he’ll ask him to help out with Lennon’s speed on the right wing.

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  7. Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/06/05 at 10:24 AM

    I think the most positive thing you can take away is that BB has to be confusing Capello just as much as the rest of us. I don’t know if you can read that much into Clark playing. If he can’t see that Edu does everything Clark is tasked with better and with more composure on the ball then we’re kind of doomed from a personnel standpoint. That would mean that J Bornstein still needed one more look see to see if maybe he has just had an unlucky 2 yr string of comedic LB play and is one start away from snapping out of it. However bad Spector has been he won’t jump head the ball back into his box or just misread assignments again and again.
    I look forward to Tuesdays insight as to CM positioning (Again!) that allowed Aus to penetrate the middle third nearly at will with 30 yd balls to feet. Those two just cannot play together. They magnify and mirror each others defensive and possession/distribution weaknesses far too much.
    I hope the commenter above is correct about Torres, Holden being held out to keep them ready and play a little mind game. Would love for Cappello to prep for Bradley/Clark and get Edu/Torres instead. But I’m a dreamer…
    The interesting point coming out of this is that Buddle actually seems to function better as a true target man than Altidore does. He wins balls in the air and has sufficient compusure to hold up for the mids. And he’s scoring goals wherever he plays. Something to be said for that…

    Reply

    • Posted by okocha on 2010/06/05 at 4:02 PM

      agree about buddle. there was a ball to the sideline that buddle got to with a defender on his back, he ended up drawing the foul. the same ball for altidore against turkey, and he lost the ball. jozy is built like a target man, but he doesn’t play like one. but i still think he can beat his man w/o the ball

      Reply

  8. Posted by Bob on 2010/06/05 at 10:58 AM

    It seemed to me that both teams were wary of injuries and played at 3/4 speed. It was a weird game to watch – a little like an adult pick-up game on a late Saturday afternoon.

    Does anyone else think that Buddle has looked more in-form than Jozy? It will be real interesting to see who starts this Sat. at forward and cm as I have a feeling that BB is going to surprise us all.

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  9. Posted by uncle dude on 2010/06/05 at 11:14 AM

    “It was a weird game to watch – a little like an adult pick-up game on a late Saturday afternoon. ”

    Yup. Pretty strange game to watch. And I also agree with your point about BB surprising us on Saturday. I don’t think there was anything here today that is applicable to the England game. I think that MAYBE this was a “peek” at how BB will approach our games against Algeria and Slovenia.

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  10. Posted by chad on 2010/06/05 at 11:23 AM

    guys, haven’t seen anyone mention this but Edu is not going to start as he is an emergency backup for both defensive mid and centerback. his versatility is actually going to keep him on the bench

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    • I agree but wouldn’t the CB versatility be better utilized if he was already on the pitch and could just slide back there?
      Also if Edu starts Rico would be backup defensive mid.

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  11. Posted by The Goche on 2010/06/05 at 11:26 AM

    I have to say I’m pretty dumbfounded by Bob’s selections throughout today.

    I mean, it took a while, but Bob found a good starting lineup for a while. But things have changed (i.e. Edu and Torres coming on, Holden emerging) and it seems like Bob hasn’t.

    I haven’t enjoyed large portions of Bob’s tenure, have been critical quite a few times, and I hope he’s done after this cycle, but I still think he could figure it out, maybe he already has, but today wasn’t encouraging.

    On certain other blogs (cough…SBI) the Bobpologists (just coined that one) like to say “He’s the coach and you aren’t, he knows more than you,” which drives me nuts. He’s right because he’s in charge, brilliant.

    If he goes as he is heading, I’m going to be really disappointed, just because I think this team needs to get the difference makers on the field and I think that Edu, Torres and Holden are all difference makers.

    I would LOVE to see a 4-5-1 just because it lets you get Stu on the field and you don’t have to depend on Dempsey to play D. I would also have liked it if Dempsey would have landed at F, but that didn’t seem to work.

    I am cool with sticking with the 4-4-2, even if it puts Stu on the bench, but not if you start Rico over Edu.

    I also am just scared of the inexperienced forwards. I hope they pull through, but I think we’ve been burned so many times by believing in players that do well in the MLS and against mediocre teams in friendlies, who can’t handle the best teams at the highest pressure. I believe that at least one of the new forwards can contribute, but I am still pretty wary of it.

    However, given that we aren’t going 4-5-1, I hope we see Edu starting in the middle, with probably Buddle up top, and I hope we see lots of Holden off the bench.

    I honestly think Holden could be the breakout player of this cup given the chance. I think he’s one of the most complete players on our roster and he brings that attitude of “I’m going to go win this game,” not the old, “I hope we can hold on.”

    I am honestly not feeling too confident for England, though I do feel good for the group, but I do think that if we bring our best (which we haven’t seen in a while) we definitely can beat England.

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    • Posted by The Goche on 2010/06/05 at 11:35 AM

      And BTW, I think it’s hard not to read a lot into Clark playing 90 today. It really looked at all other positions that Bob put what he thought was his best roster out there. I mean, I can come up with reasons why he didn’t start Edu other than that he prefers Clark, but when you come up with those excuses do you really believe them? I wish I could, but I don’t. I think Clark starts unless Bob just watches this film and realizes something he hasn’t for the last 3 weeks.

      I think Clark has been good, or at least OK for us at times, and used to be the best choice, but I think Edu brings a much deeper skillset, and England is going to be tough enough even if we do get our best team out there.

      And for all the Bobpologists, I would love nothing more than for Bob to be proven right and me wrong, I just don’t see what he is doing just yet.

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  12. Posted by Phlub on 2010/06/05 at 11:55 AM

    I think Edu does start over Rico against England. One of the few good Harkes comments mentioned how Rico needed more minutes. Edu had a pretty full fitness season with Rangers, and a few friendly appearances. Rico needs to be fit and ready to step in, but I think Edu starts, and England doesn’t see it coming.

    Buddle would be a huge surprise, (the biggest surprise) if he starts at forward. Great match today though.

    Onyewu has to start against England. The only way Goodson gets time is if Onyewu is noticeably limping. If the US get 4 points by the second match, maybe Goodson plays the third. If the US beats England, Goodson might play the second to get Gooch a bit more rest. Good to have the option. I also kind of think Boca is the #1 center back back-up in Bob’s mind… not Goodson. Who’d replace at left back though?… scary thoughts.

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  13. The Buddle-Findley partnership was way more threatening today than anything I’ve seen since Joz-Davies were clicking (including Jozy-Findley). I guess I’ll be the first to say it, but if Bob-o insists on a target man and a speedster, right now I’d prefer Buddle-Findley. I was very impressed with the two of them. On another day, Findley could have easily been flirting with a hat trick himself (1 missed empty net, 1 crossbar that resulted in Dempsey’s disallowed goal, and the scuffed 2-on-0 by Gomez). I’m just not drinking the Jozy cool-aid I guess. I watched probably a dozen of his games at Hull and he just isn’t enough of a threat to score for me. You can say that as the target man thats not his job. I completely disagree. He’s a striker, thats EXACTLY his job. I know there are a lot of Joz fans here so this probably won’t be well received, but I think Buddle is better than Jozy right now.

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    • Posted by Swa on 2010/06/05 at 12:39 PM

      Buddle is more polished as a striker, is in incredible form recently and his performances since his call-up show that he is not at all uncomfortable on the international stage, although the Cup is a different animal. It’s an interesting debate to have with respect to the England match, because we do not want either a takedown from a sluggish Carragher or a headhunting Terry to knock Jozy out of the two matches where he’ll be expected to put a few away. It’s blasphemous but maybe he should come off the bench or sit it out entirely. Of course his performances in training this week will tell all.

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    • Posted by Jon C on 2010/06/05 at 1:04 PM

      I agree that Buddle-Findley looked good, but I’m not sure how much to attribute that to Australia playing pretty bad today. All credit to Buddle for a great strike, but that really was a shocking giveaway by Grella that lead to the goal. And Australia was content to stand and raise their arms in the air every time Findley took off instead of tracking him.

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  14. Posted by s44 on 2010/06/05 at 12:09 PM

    I told you it would be Buddle-Findley. ;)

    I think the lineup for England will be today’s starters plus Edu for Clark and, if fit, Alti for Buddle. (Alti for Findley would be interesting, but he hasn’t been tried in that role.) If Dempsey and Donovan weren’t going to start in a 4-4-2 midfield, we wouldn’t have seen Donovan on the right all day. Edu for Clark won’t change the tactical shape.

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  15. I think the condition of the field had a lot to do with the selection and substitution of players. You could see turf and sand flying whenever a player planted a foot, and it was clear that the turf was only loosely attached to the harder ground underneath. This plays into a bunch of stuff later.

    Dempsey and Donovan are ready for the tournament. They played solid, attacking ball, with Dempsey showing some real fire. I was happy to see him headbutt the opponent, but Bradley has to caution him to keep that under wraps when the games count. I think I saw Donovan get caught in possession for the first time in a long time. I’m surprised they weren’t pulled after 60 minutes. I was really afraid either would pull up with some kind of strain or get injured in a tackle.

    Howard looked fine. He’s not a concern of mine. Hahnemann didn’t look great on crosses. I don’t recall ever seeing him flap for crosses as much before. He’s a brave keeper, though, and he stoned a couple of point-blank shots.

    Clark is a mystery to me. He’s capable of doing some lovely things in midfield, and of cracking some cannon shots, but he’s also capable of making some mind-blowingly bad plays. I’ll be very surprised if he starts. I think the starting central mid pairing will be Bradley and Edu. I’m guessing Edu was held out because of the turf, but who know, he might have picked up a slight knock in training. Clark came off the field with what looked like a hamstring pull, so that might settle the issue right there.

    Our central defense looked poor, IMO. They were constantly in the wrong position on their men (very often not goalside of them), missed headers, let crosses hit the ground, and generally allowed Australia too many chances. Now some of that comes from the poor turf. If you don’t trust your footing, you can’t commit to tackles. You try and skate along on the surface and you can’t keep up with people. If this is the state of the heart of our defense next Saturday, we’re dead.

    Gooch was limping. I’m glad he got minutes in the second half, but if he doesn’t progress, I don’t want him on the field vs. England.

    For as much grief as I give Bornstein, I thought he did OK today. He tracked back well, made himself a nuisance, and cleared some balls to give our defense some breathing room.

    Cherundolo is now the unquestioned RB for the team. He defended confidently and chose his runs forward very well. His crossing was superb.

    Buddle did well holding up the ball. Scoring two goals is just a bonus. If Altidore is as shaky physically as I suspect he is, I can live with Buddle doing a shift up top..

    Findley wasted a couple of opportunities, but he was very confident. He took on defenders, beat them with speed, and generally made himself a concern for the defenders. I’ll say it here – if he continues to improve as he has in the last six months, Charlie Davies is going to have trouble getting his spot back.

    This game was all about working some final combinations, as well as not getting injured. The quality of the surface didn’t do us any favors. I’m hoping the ‘real’ stadia are in better shape.

    Reply

    • I agree with almost all of this Mr Mathai.

      Bornstein had a terrible first 10 minutes or so and then seemed to settle – overly aggressive, the usual ball to no one in central midfield to spring and Aussie counter. After that he seemed to settle in and make a more positive contribution. I still expect Boca to go the full 90 at LB against England since we look so much more solid when he’s there.

      I was disappointed with Australia today (wearing my Aussie flag thongs as I type this) but I’m still hoping they’ll get out of Group D and we’re just a bloody good attacking team. Donovan and Dempsey both look like players that are ready to make an impact at the Champions League level, from their best positions. Dempsey’s best position is an attacking left midfield position, not up top, where he was often deployed for Fulham in the late stages of the Europa League since Zamora wasn’t fully fit. The fact that he was repeatedly subjected to late tackles simply meant he was too bloody quick for Australia (a solid defensive side) to deal with. That is certainly a good sign.

      As for conditions. I think the open stadium had as much impact as the ball and altitude. Everyone from both teams was consistently surprised by the flight of the ball and the quality of the pitch was plainly poor. The ball was moving in ways none of the 22 players expected today and since they’re both Nike teams, I truly wonder if they’re training with this ball. Nike or Adidas or not, they should be training with this ball this week after today’s match.

      I still think Specs is better suited to deal with England’s threat on the left, but I think Dolo has earned the start.

      Buddle was immense. I mean, he was Ching^2 today. He won tons of ball as well as scoring. Findley is great at taking down the ball and with continued improvement (ie. developing the final ball and increased confidence) he is certainly a Davies replacement. His running – the important thing that Davies did last summer since he only netted once – was excellent and he brings the ball down better than anyone else in our striking corps.

      When you’re third and fourth choice strikers are scoring goals against a side that has a legitimate chance of getting to the knock-out rounds, then all is rosy. Gomez’s running in and around the box is really top-class. He will score some important goals in the next month, I think.

      I honestly think Buddle, Findley, Gomez and Torres will all be looking at the prospect of European transfers after this cup while Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley are looking at moves to Champion’s League clubs. Edu could move to the premiership while Holden and Clark will become key players at their clubs. Spector has plateaued so just, let’s develop some defenders please. Someone like Robbie Rogers should take up left back if he wants into the 23.

      As I said in my last piece, I think this team is better than anyone thinks it is even after last summer’s heroics. With our draw semifinals are certainly a real possibility with Argentina being the only real terror. We’re at the cusp of the top 10 and 2014 sees us as dark-horse contenders.

      Reply

      • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/06/05 at 8:46 PM

        Love your enthusiasm Tuesday…its great. I don’t agree with it per say (since there is nothing yet to back it up) but I certainly hope for your sake that the US get out of the group (which they should). The US have a habit of taking games way too lightly. I can see them having an amazing game against England, getting over confident and then losing to Slovenia and Algeria.

        You’re already talking about the potential of semis and the US hasn’t really proved anything yet in the international stage. Yes they made the finals of the confed squandering a two goal lead but they lost to Italy and Brazil in group stages. These recent friendlies don’t mean anything so it would be foolish to count out teams like France, Germany, Serbia, Ghana, England and Uruguay not too mention the other two teams in their group.

        Reply

        • Sean, the fact that I’ve got you wound up says enough. Anyways, all the teams you list are beatable teams. I also expect my Aussies to get out of Group D. The gap between Uefa and Conmebol and the rest is coming down. That’ll bethe story of this World Cup.

          Reply

        • I see England v USA as something like Liverpool v Fulham so that should give you an idea. What I’m saying is we get out of the group and a couple good matches mean semis are possible,not likely. It’s a new soccer world mate.

          Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/06/05 at 9:44 PM

          Not wound up Tuesday but facts are facts. I don’t think England will do to well either but considering no team outside of UEFA or Conmebol has come close to winning a world cup says something.

          I just want to know what you’re basing your predictions on as what has the US done that has shown they can prove they can beat the teams I have mentioned consistently? With the US you never know what your going to get game in game out. Great for 3 halves a summer ago. Not inspiring as they qualified for the WC and then good for a half against a team not going to the WC. The US are a good team don’t get me wrong but they also make SO many mistakes that better teams than Turkey will easily punish.

          You say all these players are going to be champions league players but no one has once mentioned them going anywhere. Dempsey maybe but Donovan while had a great three months at Everton was also useless during his two earlier spells in Germany. He needs to prove himself for more than three months and i seriously hope he does.

          Australia are in a really tough group. I hope they get out but that’s a crap shoot.

          Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/06/05 at 9:53 PM

          That analogy confuses me but I think i see where you are going. I do agree that its a different soccer world and I do think there is more parity (which is fantastic) but i think you count out those teams at your own peril.

          At the last WC who would have thought that two traditionaly strong but at the time fading soccer powers would have made finals? Both were poor leading up too and in the beginning of the world cup.

          Out of curiosity how did you feel about the way Australia played today? I was hoping for a lot more and really enjoyed watching them in Germany and was heart broken when they lost.

          Obviously they are better then today but say US meets them in a game that matters…who wins?

          Reply

        • As I said, I was conflicted about this one being a bit each. I’m worried about the Aussie’s depth. Don’t know as much about them as I grew up in the states. I think a result was more important to the US until the 2nd 45 when the Socceroos were chasing the game. No sense reading too much into these friendlies except where confidence is concerned. I’ve also spent most of my adult life in England so, well, who knows what will happen in a weeks time. What I’m saying is there’s a chance.

          Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/06/05 at 10:20 PM

          Well I’m hoping Australia can improve on last time. I thought they were very unlucky and really enjoyed their performance. As blasphemous as this sounds (being a liverpool fan) I REALLY like Cahill. A pleasure to watch!

          Reply

  16. Posted by Wilson on 2010/06/05 at 2:12 PM

    Rank the 5 mids (Edu, Bradley, Benny, Torres, Clark)

    5 4 3 2 1
    Athleticism – Edu, Bradley, Clark, Torres, Benny

    Ball Skill – Benny, Torres, Edu, Bradley, Clark

    Passing – Torres, Benny, Edu, Bradley, Clark

    Attacking – Bradley, Edu, Benny, Torres, Clark

    Defense – Edu, Clark, Bradley, Benny, Torres

    Pts per ranking:
    Edu – 20
    Bradley – 16
    Benny – 15
    Torres – 14
    Clark – 10

    Please Bob play Maurice Edu!!!

    Reply

  17. Posted by Ian on 2010/06/05 at 2:14 PM

    Herculez deserves some playing time, if you ask me. He’s clearly a threat off the bench, he’s scored in both his friendly appearances. England would burn if they were beaten by Herculez Gomez.

    Reply

  18. Posted by Shane_K83 on 2010/06/05 at 3:04 PM

    Is it just me or does Robbie Findley play with a massive chip on his shoulder… He is out to prove something… I almost feel bad for talking him down when BB picked him.. He showed some skill each game he has played.. poor shot on a wide open net, and a couple poor passes, but overall showed something special could develope in his game..

    Edson Buddle- Enough said..

    Gomez = Impact Sub.. Has a sense for Goal..

    I like Ricardo Clark, plays with his heart on his sleeve, but I think Torres or Edu should start, both with different skills respectfully… Look to see Edu against England..

    Deuce showed up.. Thought he was going to open a can of woop ass on ‘ol boy.. Texas style..

    Overall, I think the only thing we lacked today, (and only for about 25 minutes in the second) was creativity in the midfield..

    Hats off to Hahnamann (sp)

    Reply

  19. Food for thought from Steve Goff:

    “FIFA announced that referee Carlos Simon of Brazil will work the USA-England match. Simon worked three games in 2006: Italy-Ghana (five cautions), Spain-Tunisia (eight) and Germany-Sweden (five, plus a red).”

    Should Rico or Edu to start in that game, hmmm…….
    Also Demerit better be told to not make hard challenges on a streaking Rooney 25 yards out (i.e. he’ll see yellow otherwise).

    Reply

  20. Posted by Bob on 2010/06/05 at 7:34 PM

    If both teams were playing with concerns for injuries, they had another good reason as Robben may be gone for the WC with a hamstring injury. Inexplicably, Robben was still playing in a game in which Holland was up by 5 over Hungary.

    Reply

    • Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/05 at 8:10 PM

      WOW. Dude is made of glass. They should have wrapped him in styrofoam and locked him in his hotel room until the Cup started, not had him in a friendly up 5-0.

      Reply

  21. By the way, us Aussies drink a lot of sherry so apologies for rudeness, fawning.

    Reply

  22. Posted by cameronjones17 on 2010/06/05 at 8:31 PM

    Just wondering, if Goodson’s assured to start next Saturday, why play Gooch at all? I can’t imagine those 20 minutes could make that much of a difference for Gooch, but Goodson could use every minute of playing time he’s going to get before next weekend.

    Reply

  23. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/06/05 at 10:24 PM

    And yet ANOTHER world class injury. Arjen Robben injured himself in the 6-1 Dutch win over Hungary. tried a back heel in the 86′ and his foot/leg caught the ground awkwardly

    Reply

  24. Posted by Wilson on 2010/06/06 at 12:59 AM

    I also heard about Drogba’s broken arm against Korea Republic. Now Robben is done with a hammy. Are those teams stuck on the roster or can they be dropped for healthy player.

    Reply

  25. Posted by John on 2010/06/06 at 3:52 AM

    Palacios and Skrtel supposedly injured as well now.

    Reply

  26. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/06 at 10:39 AM

    I didn’t get to watch the game until late last night… I’m glad I didn’t wake up at 5:30 for it =)
    I can see why Matt went with bullets instead of player ratings. That was kind of a garbage game, and half speed more than 2/3 or 3/4 speed IMO. I’m glad Deuce got his act together in the 2nd half, because he really got dragged into baiting with the yellow card altercation. Come time for the WC, that’s the sort of thing he’ll see a straight red and the opposition will get nothing for. Anyway, the Aussies beat up on him a lot and deserved a couple of additional cards for some 2nd half tackels.
    I’m trying to see positives from the game besides the scoreline, but mostly I’m hoping a lot of what I saw could be blamed on the poor pitch condition and light angle in the 2nd half.
    I continue to feel our CM combo of Bradley and Clark spreads bad possession and touches to even the technically sound players on our team like a virus. Have we ever met a match we don’t like to follow the ball around for? OK, maybe against the CONCACAF minnows, but really, Australia just don’t have a great deal of talent on the team and we managed to chase their possession around the field for most of the game.
    Sorry to be so negative, but I totally felt all 3 (or 4) goals were big time Ole defense, and Oz could have scored a few more themselves, for example, if Kennedy had any ability to say, touch the ball when passed to him. Anyway, it’s pretty impossible to take a lot from this tuneup. I don’t think DeMerit was so bad, it looked their was a lot of unpredictability in the pitch, and while he did make some unneccessary fouls, I think the Australians spent and awful lot of the game trying to sell fouls and hope for set pieces (and succeeded quite a bit).

    Reply

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