If you missed our official review piece, go here.
ESPN3, greatest invention since running water.
Finally, got a chance to sit down and rewatch the “Sprint At Rustenburg.” I believe our review yesterday hit on most of the key points, but here’s some other nuggets we pulled out of the tape review.
• No dropping the rating for Mr. Steve Cherundolo
Once Wright Phillips came on for a loping James Milner, Bob Bradley knew his speed flank wouldn’t be able to get loose quite as easily on Dolo’s side. Bradley switched Donovan to the left for most of the rest of the game and left Cherundolo to fend for himself against SWP and Ashley Cole. Clint Dempsey–who put in a fine track-back performance–was also pulled to the middle frequently leaving Dolo’s flank further exposed.
• The Yanks will rue–and need to do better–on their set pieces
Is there a better player right now on serving up set pieces than Landon Donovan. In the world. This is a US-based publication, but I don’t think that hyperbole. Donovan’s service on the day was perfectly angled and weighted…but the Yanks wasted some surefire opportunities.
• If I’m Matjaž Kek, Slovenia’s head coach, I’m politely walking over to Friday’s referee and letting him know about Jay DeMerit’s grab-and-grope jobs. DeMerit needs to rein in the reach-out just a little bit. And he’s already got a yellow citation as well.
• Jozy Is Teetering….
I think I was right in expecting more out of Altidore in yesterday’s write-up. That said–and I’m not talking about Jozy wave-goodbye move on Jamie Carragher–Altidore was called on for many if not all throw-in plays in the offensive end. If he can do more in those tight situations, watch out.
• …but the States’ strikers need more creativity
A lot of straight corner runs for the Yanks strikers–Altidore threw a fade in there on one–but if Findley and Altidore can be a little more creative with their movement off the opponent’s backline, you’ll see more free opportunities for Dempsey and Donovan.
And speaking of strikers, how about Edson Buddle gaining possession and going for glory at the 85th min. Had Terry not blocked that shot it would have tested Robert Green.
• Four Lions
Terry, Emile Heskey, Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard were the States’ best opponents today. Of the lot, Glen Johnson’s act–defensively deficient only once by my count was the most surprising.
• Central midfield buddies
Upon rewind I was even more impressed with Michael Bradley’s performance. He got juked once each by both Gerrard and Lampard, but Bradley actually did the work of two. Rico Clark was almost exclusively assigned to Wayne Rooney and Bradley policed even more pitch than he usually does.
On Clark’s Roo-ins assignment, check out the 72nd minute of the game. Lampard is about to go vertical with the ball right beyond the halfline. Clark looks to him, takes a step, then remembers that #10 for the Lions is his special assignment and quickly tracks back to Rooney.
Speaking of Clark’s 4.5 rating yesterday, it remains unchanged. There is only one camera angle on ESPN3 and I caught at least four other opportunities, to the earlyier gaffe, by Clark of ball watching–or clipping his nails–or whatever he was doing rather than getting on the play. (19, 25, 34, 84 minutes)
Oh and more on Bradley’s attention to every detail. Many time in this game the Yanks staggered their midfield line. I’m not talking a 4-2-2, I’m talking about once England had possession and was attempting to attack. Often Clark or Bradley would be set deep in the middle. This did two things: 1) it sucked in the Lions and made the space they needed to exploit smaller and 2) by dropping Rico or Bradley it put one of the two Yanks top central defenders closer to helping out the flanks. Good move.
• So this Capello fellow is a world beater?
Stubbornly slow to attack, react, and adapt. That’s how I would explain England on the day. Three areas of weakness in the US defense were evident, see our preview, before the game. It took until the…
….71st minute or so for Capello to start thrusting his outside fullbacks up the pitch continuously to generate offense.
….79th minute for Peter Crouch to arrive on the scene and test the DeMerit-Cherundolo aerial show.
….82nd minute to draw out Oguchi Onyewu–who had a lot of trouble coming forward and play off Gooch’s challenge’s in one-on-one play in isolation. Aaron Lennon served in Emile Heskey earlier in the half, but it wasn’t until there was five minutes left that Wayne Rooney kept planting himself right in the middle right in front of Gooch and looking for opportunities.
Onyewu acquitted himself well on the evening but multiple times he gave up breaks when up the pitch in the run of play.
-Oh, and I think Joe Cole could have helped out the bad guys on the day too.
» Robbie Findley was fouled on his breakaway in the 70th minute. If you re-watch, you’ll see Carragher move immediately to the right–and not in a direct line to the ball as is required–to bang into Findley. I think if Findley runs through that instead of his mini-flop, he might have got the call.
» What, no Adam Johnson? I’ve read a lot of game reviews today and I’m surprised that the media darling that is Adam Johnson wasn’t brought up…anywhere. Why? 75th minute Shaun Wright Phillips is played in on the left flank by Wayne Rooney. That is Shaun “Wright Footed” Phillips. Airmail delivered directly to Tim Howard on that attempt. Not a lefty like Adam Johnson in that situation. (Okay this one’s a little out there…and yes I know SWP is considered to have “two feet,” but I’ve never seen him take a free kick with his left.)
» If I’m Adidas, I’m putting in a little note to FIFA on the US-broadcast and reminded them the dollars I forked over to be the sponsor. How many “in the moment” shots of players with Nike cleats do we need to see fixing their boots. Shameless.
» The US was claimed to be the “home” side for the affair because more tickets were purchased for the match in the States than in England. Uhm, a lot of English ex-pats currently residing in South Africa these days.
On to Slovenia…..we’ll update you on Tim Howard’s injury when any news is out.