Kickstarting Our USA vs. Slovenia Coverage

This is photo is indicative of how the team plays....very "Yanks or team-like"

(This is Part I of IV of our Slovenia preview coverage)

Bob Bradley, “My overall assessment is that the pure speed and physicality of last night’s game (England)….that is probably on the very high end and the Slovenia game in some ways may be more of chess match.”

Take a deeper look at the tactics, teamwork and precision of the Slovenia team and Bob Bradley’s comments are unerring.

Here’s a few storylines to get us started as we march down to the Slovenia match:

• From Slovakia With Love

You’ll hear something very similar to the following from broadcasters over the next few days, “Slovenia shouldn’t be underestimated. They beat Guus Hiddink’s Russia in a playoff to get here.”

While the Russia win was quality, it did come against a Russian side that was down a man for nearly 40 minutes and down two men for stoppage time.

A better measuring stick that broadcasters should be keying on is the Green Dragons match that transpired the night the States clinched a World Cup trip in Honduras. Slovenia away at Slovakia.

Koren should Sunday he's still got it....

Slovenia calmly went into Slovakia’s den–that’s right the same Slovakia who beat the U.S. 1-nil in November–and walked away with an impressive 2-0 win over a full-strength Slovakian team. The Slovenia attack, led by Robert Koren and Milivoje Novakovic, outplayed the classy triumvirate of Martin Sestak, Marek Hamsik and Vladamir “Jonathan Bornstein is in my pocket” Weiss.”

If you’ve been watching a lot of World Cup, then those last three names are quite household.

In that game, Slovenia scored on a hell of a boombasa (see here) for their first goal and–roll tape below–took a page from the Yankee playbook with a gorgeous counterattack goal. Make sure to press play and watch because TSG will be talking more about the counterattack shortly.

• Milivoje Novakovic is legit

Novakovic, who does his club work at Cologne, is a true goal scorer. He’s a striker in the mold of John Carew, able to score if given space to strike and he’s a clear threat in the air.

Novakovic has netted 16 times in 38 games for his national side. At 31, Novakovic seems to be now coming into his own. He’s goes into the Cup with five  tallies in qualifying to lead the team.

Oguchi Onyewu will be tested…again.

• The defense can’t be heralded enough

What do you get when you combine an average front 6 goals through their World Cup seeking run. You get a defense that is downright stingy.

Bostjan Cesar: Slovenia's Gooch

Do yourself a favor, waltz on over to ESPN3 to watch the Algeria game. One of the things that impresses me most about Slovenia is how they move collectively as a team on the backline–a page the Yanks should frankly borrow. It’s absolutely amazing to watch how each player knows their role.

For Slovenia, Grenoble’s Bostjan Cesar is Slovenia’s “Onyewu” to Marko Suler’s “Jay DeMerit.” If you do watch the game, it’s, well beautiful, how Suler always tracks to the faster attacker while Cesar fills. Just beautiful technical defense.

For the Yanks to get through, they’ll need the creativity–as we discussed in Sunday Rewind–that was lacking in the front.

With a cohesive back four and plastic man keeper Samir Handanovic– think a more nimble Heurelho Gomes but without the head case–this is not a team you want to fall behind.

If the Yanks’ pull “an England,” allowing Slovenia to stack the box, it could be a very frustrating day for them.

Up next: Tactical Preview with Tuesday.


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19 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by s44 on 2010/06/14 at 9:53 PM

    Creativity is exactly what Slovenia *didn’t* show against Algeria. Is “wait for us to allow a 3 on 1″ (embedded video) a strategy?

    I guess that “chess match” comment foreshadows a predicted Torres start? I would agree. But don’t let me get you ahead of yourself…

    Reply

  2. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/14 at 10:22 PM

    I didn’t think as much of the Slovenian defense, but I didn’t watch the ALG v SLV game with much intent except to watch for Koren and Handanovic. Gosh, I don’t know if i could put myself watching it again.
    I’m waiting to see what you expect sweatpants to go with tactics wise… you did a great job channeling his strategy before the england match.
    I really hope your crystal ball doesn’t predict another Clark/Bradley start. Besides the high ratings for MB irking me (he had a solid defensive game), it surprised me no one seems concerned that the US had the 2nd lowest % pass complete in WC games since they started compiling the stat in 1966.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Gino on 2010/06/14 at 10:28 PM

    After reading some comments since the England vs USA match, I’m already sensing overconfidence from USA supporters. I refuse to fall into that trap and I’m sure Bob won’t allow the team to do the same. Just because the Slovenes didn’t impress in their opener doesn’t mean they’ll fail to flatter in their second game. A lot of folks are placing too much stock in the early results. Write off Slovenia, and for that matter Serbia at your own risk. By the same token, it’s still too early to ink Germany into the knockout rounds. It seems to me that all of the teams have to play three games in the Group Stage, not one. And in case some people have forgotten, Slovenia sits atop Group C right now, two points ahead of us.

    Reply

    • Posted by Matt B on 2010/06/15 at 6:40 AM

      Good point about the first result. After all, in 2006 Czech Republic looked like world beaters, and they ended up not getting out of the group. And France looked like garbage, then went to the final.

      Reply

  4. Posted by BW on 2010/06/14 at 11:01 PM

    i don’t want overconfidence, but I hope the team has enough confidence to come out it’s shell a bit and approach with an aggressive, attacking, mindset.

    Reply

  5. [...] World Cup 2010 « Kickstarting Our USA vs. Slovenia Coverage [...]

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  6. Posted by MJ on 2010/06/14 at 11:20 PM

    While rereading one of TSG’s older pieces I found this from Kmac:

    My biggest fear is that the US will fend up some probing attacks in the first ten mins, gain extended possession, do some kind of lame turnover from Rico Clark or something and get blitzed by a solid counterattack. After we’re down one, I can see our boys just wilt.

    It pains me that months later this is very nearly script for our opening goal against England (though Rico blew his marking duties more than getting blitzed imo but just the same) though I am pleased our boys have shown the grit to keep from wilting. I think Bradley/the veterans have instilled a good sense of determination in the team. And unlike some of those fans who are writing Slovenia off, I like that all the team interviews reflect the sentiment that this game is important. It shows they have their head on straight, especially LD’s comment that a win against England but not getting out of the group would be a failure. Too true. Here’s to Algeria putting one in the net past the Queen on friday and putting in a good performance ourselves. The Confed Cup was great but let’s not make it a habit of leaving it to somebody else’s third game to decide if we go through or not. The US is good enough to start advancing on its own merit, winning the games it “should” win while also showing respect to the opposition.

    Reply

    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/15 at 12:09 AM

      Shouldn’t Michael get some of the credit for the US’s unquestionable grit this cycle? This sure isn’t Claudio Reyna’s team.

      Reply

      • Posted by Matthew on 2010/06/15 at 7:03 AM

        I agree. Michael has an Eminem quality about him. As one of my platoon sergeants would say, “he has some punk in his heart.” and that is a complete. He plays with hard edged intensity, and it seems as though he has tempered that attitude enough to keep out of the book. Knock on wood.

        Reply

  7. I watched the game again on espn3 last night, and I was much more impressed with MB90 than I was on the initial watching. He was solid and tough on defense, but he also showed poise on the ball and some good passing in the offense. Rico also had some very good defensive moments along with his well-chronicled ball-watching episodes. He blocked a couple of shots, and I saw him covering some of those same runs later. But I would rather see Torres’s creativity and ball security against Slovenia.

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  8. What’s up with that 2nd goal from the Slovenia/Slovakia game? The pass right before the pass that sets up the goal seems to be extremely offside? I’m hoping that there’s another defender missing from the picture who is keeping that guy onside because wow, that’s just terrible.

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  9. Posted by blairj on 2010/06/15 at 10:02 AM

    From FIFA’s “Laws of the Game”

    A player is not in an offside position if:
    • he is in his own half of the field of play or
    • he is level with the second-last opponent or
    • he is level with the last two opponents

    so you can’t be offside if you are on your own “defensive” side when the ball is played

    Reply

  10. [...] World Cup '10. Leave a Comment (This is Part II of IV of our USA vs. Slovenia Preview) (Part I) (Part [...]

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  11. Posted by sidereal on 2010/06/15 at 3:01 PM

    What’s up was horrifying Slovakian defense. Pushing so far up that you only have one defender back and he’s 10 yards further up than the last attacker is probably a bad idea. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to learn from that video clip, other than that Onyewu shouldn’t have the worst defensive game of his career, otherwise Slovenia might score on a counter.

    Reply

  12. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/15 at 6:06 PM

    The Slovenia goal @ Slovakia is what happens when you’re into 2nd half stoppage time, down 1-0 and pressing for an equalizer. It’s not horrifying defense, it’s a calculated risk they lost on.

    Reply

    • True, but I also think we can go ahead and forget about that goal if this was the case. It had nothing to do with Slovenia’s quality and everything to do with Slovakia pushing for a goal. I award Slovenia no credit and may God have mercy on their soul.

      Reply

  13. [...] (Part I) (Part II) (Part III) [...]

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