The American Way, The Hard Way

This is Part II of our review on the USA-Slovenia draw. (Part I)

Challenged

In our first part of our review, we discussed the tactical issues that combined to leave the United States in a “decent” positioning to get out of the group next Wednesday.

Now we’ll continue with our customary review.

Awards

Best Play Of The Game – Donovan’s Roof Job

With apologies Maurice Edu’s go ahead score and the Jozy knock-on to a charging Michael Bradley for the poke to even it it up, Landon Donovan earns this one for goal number one.

Donovan was played down the right.  After an error by Slovenia’s rightback, Donovan walked in all alone on the keeper waiting for a pass to cutback. None materialized and as the defenders start to bear down, Landon went right past Handovic’s ear to put the Yanks back in the game.

Shades of Luis Fabiano’s early score in the same stadium last year, not in physical similarity, but in effect. The tally put the Yanks on the prowl.

Most Unheralded Play Of The Game

We’ve got two for you.

Unheralded Play #1

> First, goes to Jay DeMerit who trotted over to the sideline after Michael Bradley’s equalizer to gain instruction from Big Bradley on how to play the central defense. His whole team was celebrating and DeMerit was there focused on the next task at hand.

> Michael Bradley, 88th minute. Slovenia counters and Steve Cherundolo was getting broken down on the attack. Bradley–and you could see in his facial expression he was exhausted–put on the jets and willed himself to help defense.

I castigate Bradley often for poor tackles–and one led to a counterattack today–but that was a moment worth mentioning.

Golden Shinguard  – Landon Donovan

Sure Donovan played much better in the 2nd half, but he was constantly looking to attack the entire game. We mentioned in the preview that Donovan needed to own this game. He didn’t quite do that, but I just felt he was more involved in this game than any I can remember. Whether he was shouting instructions on a cross to Cherundolo, discussing Torres free kick, or his post-action–resolve and determination more than celebration–on the goal, Donovan gets the nod from TSG today.

Player Ratings

Tim Howard: 5.5

Not your typical Howard. Got beaten on the first goal by a perfectly weighted shot that caught him a few steps from his line.  Understandable, but still caught out.

TSG goalkeeper friend Jon Kart who gave us the great insight on Robert Green’s gaffe had this to say, “Tim doesn’t look comfortable back there at all. He looks like reaching for anything over his head hurts him also.”

Carlos Bocanegra: 4.5 5.5

Virtually non-existent in the attack so much so that Donovan had an onrushing Bocanegra coming up the flank for an open overlap in the first half….and looked him off.

Be very worried is Bocanegra starts against a speedy Algerian side that loves to test the flanks. Slow to close down, but no glaring mistakes on re-watch.

Not his finest hour in a US kit...

Oguchi Onyewu: 3.5

Answer me this question. If Oguchi Onyewu is perfect fit, then was he always this hesitant? The central defense is clearly suffering from lack of reps. That’s two games and three goals conceded the Onyewu unfortunately played a part in.

It’s time for a reliever, see Bocanegra comments, speed, Algeria, trouble.

Jay DeMerit: 5.5 6.5

Beat by Novakovic in the air on multiple occassions, but often gave of his body and made the necessary tackles. Communication with Onyewu was off.

Steve Cherundolo: 6

Looked lost without Donovan in front of him in the first half. Challenged in possession–which was a knock on him before his current fine form. Solid one-on-one defending most times though.

Landon Donovan: 7

You have to like that Donovan first half and second was continually looking to take the game to the Dragons. You had to not like his lack of sliding-in on a Dempsey cross to try and get a goal before halftime.

Made up for that by going Fabiano to start the 2nd half as well as constantly haranguing his teammates to get in the game.

Jose Torres: 4.5

I wrote the following in the commentary in the last piece and I’ll put it in here:

“It is very hard in my opinion, to introduce a new central midfield pairing….who haven’t played more than 90 meaningful game minutes together…at the World Cup…against a stout defense…and then expect them to own possession.

I know folks were clamoring for Torres, but I just thought that was a terrible move that misjudged the Slovenian midfield WHEN AT FULL STRENGTH.

Torres against a slower defense in the 4-4-1-1 might have shined.”

Wicked free kick attempt though, but not his day.

Sublime

Michael Bradley: 7

Many were clamoring for Bradley for man-of-the-match. You can’t bet the farm on a tackle that leaves Slovenia with a counterattack (and score) and win man-of-the-match. Can’t do it.

Covered for more than two people as usual and never stopped. Toe poke past Handanovic for the equalizer was a slice of The Beautiful Game.

Lucky he didn’t get T’d up by Old Blindeyes with his late in-your-face job on the ref.

Clint Dempsey: 5

Absolutely atrocious on the ball defense from Clint for most of the day. Start competing and went playground on a few tussles in the 2nd half.

Needed to net today.

Robbie Findley:  4.5

To be fair, the gameplan of Findley and Altidore staying even and testing the Slovenian offsides line was flawed.

Overworked to get himself in position. Typical final ball challenges. Same book on Findley. On to…

Jozy Altidore: First half – 4, Second half – 8

Doesn’t play well unless inspired to do so. It’s once again obvious that he was the gift.

If Altidore can find consistency, the complexion of the offense changes immensely.

Subs

Maurice Edu – 6 5.5

Hawked effectively and–something that few will point out–was able to win the ball and turn upfield with it. Very critical in catching Slovenians defense off guard.

Great goal.

Revised downward for two giveaways in possession as well as slow to track back once.

Benny Feilhaber – 4.5

In to provide calm on the ball an tuck in and find runs. Didn’t do much in possession. Failed to close-down a shooter that almost led to a third Slovenian goal. Went for an ill-advised leg whip that could have earned him a straight red, but it didn’t connect.

Herculez Gomez – INC.

Cleared out on the Bradley score, but what do you rate him?

Your thoughts?

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73 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dude on 2010/06/18 at 3:40 PM

    Jut hoping that Torres isn’t totally in the pen now. Still think he’s our most effective sub to create more offense, just against a more tired team. Feilhaber is more physical, but bad form and lousy decisions.

    Edu should be starting. He showed some rust, but shook it off by the end of the match, and emphatically proved why he’s better on both sides of the ball than Clark.

    Hopefully, Onyewu is playing his way back, and not tiring himself out. Either way, is Goodson really a choice?

    And Finally, Jozy with some fire+Buddle should be there and should be fun.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 3:44 PM

      I think that Gooch is there to stay.

      I think Torres was put in a no win situation. I don’t think he’s in the pen at all. But his defense wasn’t up to snuff either.

      I’d be shocked if Edu doesn’t start against Algeria.

      Reply

    • Torres should ABSOLUTELY be in the pen. The CBs couldn’t connect with him because he rarely made himself available for the outlet, and when he DID, he gave the ball up FAR too easily on cute little seam passes that never worked.

      Torres = Bornstein…we’re just deeper at Torres’s position.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 4:05 PM

        Disagree on Torres – he certainly wasn’t prepared for how quickly he got closed down, but the off-ball movement…the overall game plan…was terrible.

        I think he was trying too hard the 1st 10 minutes and after that he pressed as well.

        Tough game to bring him in as a starter for.

        Reply

        • But wasn’t the overall gameplan to maintain possession through a ‘possession midfield’ with Torres and Bradley? The gameplan went THROUGH Torres, and he was completely ineffectual. Perhaps he should have been the more forward of the pair, and MB play the rear…but in that case, play someone else in that spot because Bradley is a box-to-box player who can concentrate on the destroyer role (he had to do that today ANYWAY to cover for Paco) then make it forward for brilliant strikes like he had.

          The Edu-Feilhaber substitution was a stroke of genius on Bob’s part because of the post-draw flexibility.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 4:33 PM

            I think the main thing in the 2nd half –as I wrote in the first piece-was the better “action” going to a 4-4-1-1 …the better action on the 1-1 there…it started to move around the Slovenian defense.

            In the first half, Findley an Altidore toeing the same line had the Slovenian relaxed because they could only really run vertically (lack of creativity as we pointed out in our preview piece would be a problem)

            The game plan was possession and linking and I thought it was the wrong one early on. Slovenian did essentially what Trinidad & Tobago did in the 1-0 win down there during qualifying. They put three guys near the ball in the middle (with Lubakovic (spl?)) drifting back. Thus Donovan and Dempsey were useless for the most part on the wings because Torres and Bradley couldn’t move the ball, making them sitting ducks for a tackle unless they want to go backwards.

            After halftime, either way, the game would have opened up. A better option once Slovenia deployed that way (which the Yanks started doing around the 30 min mark) was to forget going up the middle and try link play through the outside fullbacks who were wide…the Yanks did this and then the middle opened up.

            Perhaps MB90 and Torres, were told this but didn’t execute, but I thought they were sitting ducks in there tasked with too much. I felt the same thing in the Turkey game in te 1st half. There the Yanks went over the top but asked Rico and Bradley to boss the middle of the pitch with too many players.

            Since Bradley had deployed Altidore and Findley up top he couldn’t have Deuce drift inward yet, but as you saw, something that helped was when Altidore started drifting back–a la Wayne Rooney–to provide another option in the middle of the field.

            The question is — did the team not execute the game plan and adapt to the Slovenian deployment or were they executing a flawed game plan.

            And that’s why I think you don’t chance it with a new central midfield pairing ESPECIALLY if you’ve moved Donovan and Dempsey up the pitch on the outsides.

            Reply

      • I think calling Torres Bornstein is a bit harsh. Today was not his day and we wasn’t used in a situation in which he could be the most effective. Bornstein is always having a “not his day” game.

        Reply

      • Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/18 at 7:40 PM

        Torres = Bornstein? Haha, get real man.

        Reply

  2. Posted by s44 on 2010/06/18 at 3:44 PM

    We win fast and we lose slow. Maybe in another 10 years it’ll change, but it hasn’t yet. Arena (accidentally) found this out in 2002, and seemed to forget by 2006, turning the Donovan-led fast team that had ripped through qualifying into another toothless round of Reynaball. We were reminded of it again today, as our defense took the tempo as an excuse not to close down space and the forwards as an excuse not to go for goal. In a way I’m almost sorry England didn’t win, because knowing we’d have to win by 2 would have made us come out hungry against Algeria.

    Other people have noted that Herc made a good run to open Bradley’s space on the goal. There he is on the left of the picture!

    Boca was, in fact, so poor that I wondered (very very briefly) if Bob might have to try Bornstein. Putting Beasley at left midfield might necessary for the next game.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 3:45 PM

      Excellent commentary all-around here — especially your first paragraph.

      Reply

    • Posted by Gino on 2010/06/18 at 4:10 PM

      Sorry but NO WAY does Bornstein replace Bocanegra. He’s the 23rd player on this roster and should only make the pitch if our entire backline is crippled with the stomach flu. Yes, Carlos has had better games but Spector would be a far more effective replacement than Johnny B. But has Spector shaken the blahs from his game?

      BTW s44, I totally agree with everything else you said.

      Reply

    • Posted by KMac on 2010/06/18 at 5:07 PM

      S44 –
      I would summarize this game as “Red, White, and Screwed” if I were writing for one of those crap English papers.
      Don’t ever think ANYTHING Arena did was accidental. You may not have liked him, his tactics or whatever, but slagging one of the pioneers that move this game forward has little to do with the three tales of today.
      Tale 1. Red – we were in the red in the first half by coming out in park instead of top gear tactically and technically.
      Tale 2. White hot – Great grit and comeback. If we could put together two solid second halfs instead of the rist nad second half performances we got. It would be gread
      Tale 3. Screwed – We are the Yanks, we will get most bad calls most times. We know this and have to accept this, but this travesty of officiating ruined perhaps one of the most entertaining games of the cup. Shame, the officating except for today, has been pretty amazing I must say for the 20 or so games I have watched.

      Next color, Green – how do we deal with Les Fenecs and their speed in light of our first two game experiences. Let’s hope drawing the Three Kitties will have wreaked a little havoc on their overall fitness and recovery. They looked frankly good.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Smitty on 2010/06/18 at 3:49 PM

    Before the Slovenia game, I said Goodson should start for Onyewu, and Edu should start for Clark. I thought Findley deserved another start. Findley has settled his question with his (unfair) accumulation of yellows. Buddle to take his spot. And I stand by the other two changes – Goodson and Edu. Yes, I really think that Goodson is really a much better choice at this point. We haven’t exactly been overmatched defensively, we just need to be in position, make reads and close down open attackers. Goodson can do this while Onyewu is not getting it done. I’ll defer on the Bocanegra criticisms. I can’t say I saw what you saw – but maybe I am too focused on Onyewu’s play.

    Reply

    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/18 at 3:53 PM

      Goodson trades one issue for another — his air defense isn’t nearly as good. He may take better positions than Gooch on the ground, but that may be negated by the lack of chemistry with Demerit.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 3:55 PM

        I agree on the chemsitry point, but Goodson is phenomenal in either box in the air. He goes with abandom. He gets caught out a few times, but then again so have Onyewu.

        Reply

        • Posted by Richard on 2010/06/18 at 6:40 PM

          I saw to many instances in the pre-WC friendlies where Goodson just ball-watched while a ball sailed though the US box in a dangerous position to have confidence in him; and yes, his chemistry with DeMerit is lacking.

          Reply

  4. Posted by bknocks on 2010/06/18 at 3:52 PM

    Completely disagree on gomez not having enough time to make an impact..watch the replay of bradleys goal.gomez made the run away from where altidore headed it and opened up space for bradley..if he doesn’t do that its a 50/50 ball @ best with gomez and his marker

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 3:53 PM

      Fair point – I’ll just make it incomplete. Hard to give him a rating. Certainly made a good run.

      What rating should he get….?

      Reply

      • Posted by CJ on 2010/06/18 at 7:09 PM

        Rate him for his role. Come in, get chances, make things happen, be altogether an experienced forward able to fluidly connect with the other guys who’ve played 80 minutes together. I say he gets an 8. Didn’t he sail his first touch from the left of the box wide and high? I remember saying at the bar, 1st touch it’s okay 1st touch lol. Good job by the poacher overall.

        Reply

      • Posted by Johninho on 2010/06/18 at 8:53 PM

        I’m with CJ. He was more effective in his time than Findley was the entire match. Junior doesn’t even GET that beauty of a toe-poke if Gomez doesn’t lay down the diagonal run to clear the area. We’re flying home after Wednesday if Gomez doesn’t come in when he did.

        Reply

  5. Posted by Hercules3076 on 2010/06/18 at 3:52 PM

    I think Gomez needs to get some credit for running off the CB to leave MB open for his goal.

    Concerning Boca: Yes, he gets burned at times b/c of pace. But do we really trust Bornstein to not give up a goal? I’d say no.

    Concerning Gooch: We thought that he worked off all of his rust v. England. That is obviously not the case. Do we trust the Goodson-DeMerit combo? Or Boca-DeMerit with Bornstein on the left? If anything, I think that we would have to go Goodson-DeMerit, but I don’t know how well their communication was in the friendlies.

    And this is why Bob Bradley is the Manager, not us, but it is fun to try.

    Reply

    • Posted by Hercules3076 on 2010/06/18 at 3:56 PM

      Ok, so a bunch of people said the same things as I did…but faster…

      Reply

    • Posted by Hercules3076 on 2010/06/18 at 4:06 PM

      Ok, I just saw MB’s goal again.

      I think that maybe Altidore’s header is mis-hit. I think he meant to go to Gomez in the direction that he was running. And then MB ran onto the mis-hit header. Still nice by all three.

      Reply

      • Posted by Brad on 2010/06/18 at 5:32 PM

        Not so sure. You can see MB pointing to the space in front of him (and presumably also yelling at Jozy to put it there) I say, it’s a brilliant display of communication and teamwork!

        Reply

  6. Posted by John on 2010/06/18 at 4:05 PM

    I don’t know that Goodsen is the answer, but I wouldn’t be surprised or upset to see it happen.

    Reply

  7. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/18 at 4:06 PM

    Aww. I didn’t see this and just posted on the England/Algeria post.
    I haven’t looked as closely for this game, but I think Boca is also on explicity Gooch duty. Boca spends a lot more time inside than Dolo and I think it’s as much to be ready to pick up Gooch slack as to lessen the effects of getting burned on the wing. He definitely fared more poorly on this game than v England, though… pretty much everyone did.
    For all the moaning about the Jabulani, Donovan sure has made it his bitch. His free kicks are startling. Poor gringo almost had his way with it, too.

    Reply

    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/18 at 4:37 PM

      “For all the moaning about the Jabulani, Donovan sure has made it his bitch.”

      Our secret weapon: MLS

      Reply

    • Posted by Fireball on 2010/06/18 at 10:12 PM

      It looked like Gooch was also given an assignment to manmark Koren or the upfront striker. Couldn’t figure it out all game… a few times the brotha followed his man all the way out to the coaches box, right next to the moon. So Boca better be ready to cover, because a trip to the moon takes a while. Why doesn’t Edu get that manmark assignment, or Torres if he’s going to lie deep?

      Reply

  8. Posted by section eight on 2010/06/18 at 4:19 PM

    my first post here and let me say that this is a fantastic resource for all American soccer fans. I’m new to learning about the sport, so thanks for all the analysis.

    This is my two cents:
    Bocanegra might have his issues, but Bornstein is a huge liability, and playing Spector is not really an option either, given that it would be playing him out of position in addition to his shaky form. Who else would you put there?

    Altidore is still yet to reach his full potential. We can easily forget he’s only 20. Hopefully he’ll keep maturing.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Gino on 2010/06/18 at 4:23 PM

    Onyewu froze up on Slovenia’s second goal, but only because Demerit had stepped up too far and left him out to dry. Gooch shouldn’t shoulder the blame alone.

    Matthew, I gotta disagree with Mike Bradley’s rating, or it should at least be split in halves like you did with Jozy. Mikey had a poor first half. Maybe the game plan was for him to play further up the pitch, but that first goal was on him. He stepped up way too far and practically gave Birsa a plot of land from which to launch that rocket. Plus, I saw him jogging behind Slovenia’s attack far too many times in that first half. He must have gotten an earful at the half because he finally did step up his game.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 4:24 PM

      Let me rewatch those – My initial review sits in the first piece.

      Bradley I don’t think was responsible on the first goal, but I may be wrong.

      Reply

      • Posted by CJ on 2010/06/18 at 7:14 PM

        When I saw the first goal replayed there were two clear 4-4 lines… and about 15 yards between them. The slovenia forward (I believe from memory) dropped back from the D line about 10 yards received the pass. He saw the Midfield line react to him, did a U-turn immediately, saw miles of room between him and the D, stepped up and ripped it.

        Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2010/06/18 at 7:13 PM

      I wasn’t able to focus completely on the game this morning, but when I saw the first goal, I thought that was MB who was at fault. I asked if that wasn’t the case in the TSG commentary and figured I must’ve seen it wrong since no one else seemed to have seen it that way.
      As far as the 2nd goes, I believe it was when the US was pressing forward, and a rather classic counterattack. Both Gooch and DeMerit were caught quite far up, but Gooch had literally days to draw his man offsides. It was painful to come back to the tv as that play was happening, it seemed so long it felt like I was watching a replay =)

      Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/06/19 at 6:27 AM

        I was going to spare the MB Ole D rant due to his marvelous goal but the point begs to be made. I totally agree that his rating should be for each half.
        First goal- he sits in the hole behind Torres marking NO ONE 25 yds out. Slow to step up to the MF he does nothing to deny the entry pass, Birsa gets 2 full touches. Gooch is out to sea on this and second goal but if you rewatch, MB’s lack of defensive initiative and intuition are what leaves the US central MF open.
        Second goal- The attack starts because MB RUNS BY a screen by the Slov in the center circle and cedes possession WITH NO EFFORT EXPENDED. If you watch again, he makes an airplane turn after running by and starts to jog back. That MF slots the starter ball with no opposition that leaves the US back 4 out of position and at sea.

        I also thought that he confused Torres quite often by his “in between” soft zone marking on D.

        Second half was a completely diff player because EDU was planted behind him and MB was tasked with playing true box to box WHERE HE EXCELS.

        Just to be clear, I think this kid has huge upside in his game if his dad will stop allowing him to do whatever the H he wants on the field.

        Great 2nd half and I agree that the Gooch decision is a tough one. He has directly influenced or conceded every goal so far with poor decision making.

        Reply

  10. Posted by Mark T on 2010/06/18 at 4:41 PM

    Someone may have commented on this in one of the other posts, but….

    Am I wrong or was Torres playing a holding role the first half which seemed like the wrong deployment for him. It reminded me of Matthew’s analysis of the Azteca heartbreaker when Feilhaber was inserted and released pressure from the backline by staying back and being an outlet for the defense that was absent when Rico was in there.

    It seems to me that Torres is at his best directing the offense further up the pitch rather than starting the attack from in front of the defense. If Torres and Bradley had their roles switched in the first half, I think the US attack would have found more early success.

    By the way, count me in for Goodson. I never thought Gooch should have started in SA, but then again I’m not in training or inside Bob’s head. With the US needing a W, I think getting Goodson’s noggin on the pitch is worth whatever risk in starting him ahead of Gooch…if there is one.

    Reply

    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/18 at 4:49 PM

      Torres ahead of Bradley was never going to happen — they’d literally never played that way before for us. Torres played behind Bradley in Philly.

      Goodson (surprisingly, given his individual skillset) got beaten in the air in Hartford and against the Aussies, so if we’re talking noggins I’d rather have Gooch (who easily passed the aerial tests even today). Frankly, our central defenders have always been better in the air than on the ground, which is why the very first job of the CMs has to be cutting out play through that space. Torres made this impossible.

      Reply

      • Posted by Mark T on 2010/06/18 at 4:53 PM

        I guess I have a selective memory, I was thinking back to Torres cameo versus Costa Rica in October that got him back in the good graces of Bradley.

        I should have clarified that I was referring to Goodson’s potential on set pieces in the offensive area since the US needs goals on Wednesday. Also, I am not as confident in the re-emergence of Gooch’s return-to-sender head as you are.

        Reply

  11. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/06/18 at 4:43 PM

    I know I’m going to get killed on this, but the only thing I think is wrong with Robbie Findley is that he lacks any killer instinct. Example: Put him in Chuck Deezy’s position for the 1st goal at azteca, and he starts looking around for someone going far post or overlapping, and as a result takes one too many dribbles and gets closed down.

    He has a VERY nice touch, and made some nice runs, but I liken him to Shannon Brown of the Lakers: dude has ridiculous (athletic) ability, but his decision making and in-game IQ are just terrible, and that’s what’s keeping him back from being THE back-up and maybe even pushing old man D-Fish for a starting spot(just kidding).

    Reply

    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/06/18 at 4:49 PM

      Antonio…the truth will set you free…not get you killed.

      Findley certainly lacks something on the final touch. I don’t know if he is nervous, lacks confidence in his own ability, thinks too much or, as you say, lacks a killer instinct. Whatever it is he is tantalizing with his potential, but consistently fails at the moment of truth. Perhaps he is just too inexperienced at this level.

      A concern going forward is whether his teammates continue to look for him / have confidence in him in the attacking third. Altidore certainly seemed frustrated on his miscue in the box.

      Reply

    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/06/18 at 4:59 PM

      Mark, I can think of many situations (fiction/nonfiction) in which he who spoke the truth was destroyed :P.

      The confidence/final touch you speak of is certainly a by product of having a killer instict. But I don’t think inexperience is an excuse. If you’re talking about inexperience at the World Cup, then Michael Bradley & Jozy are foils to that argument. If you want to go wider & talk about inexperience at the National Level in general, then Buddle & Herc are foils to that argument as well.

      Concluding, idk what it is, but maybe he just doesn’t have it. Hopefully he sticks close to Lando’s side during the rest of our time here because if we progress far then we will certainly need his speed & touch.

      Reply

  12. I’m still proud to be repping my now-very-smelly Torres jersey. He’s still too naiive to boss a game from a tight midfield but, he would’ve killed in that second half. Bob should’ve given him 10 more minutes. You can’t make incisive passes when there’s no movement in front of you and we were too narrow in the first half. Thought he was beginning to catch up to the game and get over the nerves in the last few minutes. He’s a kid starting his first World Cup match!!! Still, Matt’s right, he’s a game-changing sub, not a starter yet.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 4:54 PM

      And that’s where Bradley erred — imagine Edu or Clark constantly harassing Koren and Lubjakovic in the middle and wearing them down further.

      Then you have Torres who can move with the ball or just hub in the 2nd.

      I’ll say this — at least Bradley is corrective — Fabio Capello just looks peeved and ready to jump ship.

      You hold that Torres jersey high Tuesday — Coach Bradley threw him to the Dragons today.

      Reply

      • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/18 at 5:04 PM

        To be (un)fair to Capello, Bradley picked a squad that gave him tactical options. Capello did his best not to.

        Fabio looks like a man who’s never led a national team through a tournament. England may have enough talent for him to learn on the fly, but I’m glad we have a guy who already did it.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 5:08 PM

          Capello’s wing selections were atrocious–

          Adam Johnson is sitting at home right now wondering why he’s not challenging Higuain for the Golden Boot.

          No sense of urgency today and lack of creativity through the midfield for the Lions.

          Back to the Yanks–extremely aggressive play by Bradley– he’s not leaving this World Cup wondering “What if?”

          Reply

  13. Posted by Gino on 2010/06/18 at 5:13 PM

    Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but who are our starters against Algeria and what’s Bob’s strategy?

    Today Algeria started a big backline and a small but quick midfield. Does anybody think Clark starts again because of this? And will Bob try Buddle with Jozy up top or will he try something else like starting Gomez or pushing Dempsey to forward and inserting Holden at outside mid?

    I’m sure TSG will have a thorough preview in a couple days but I’m just hoping to get some early thoughts.

    Reply

    • I’m kinda partial to the second half lineup, with Holden in for Feilhaber

      Jozy
      Dempsey Bradley Holden Donovan
      Edu
      Boca Gooch DeMerit Dolo
      Rob Green

      Kind of a hybrid 4-3-3/4-4-2/4-5-1. Both Dempsey and Donovan can switch to pair with Jozy, leaving the other to play wide.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/18 at 5:28 PM

      I need to review.

      General book on Algeria is they are susceptible to service in the box, thrust their flankers forward with abandon and are not technically sound.

      I only saw parts of today’s England game (which I will watch tonight) but from the little I saw it looked like England allowed Algeria entirely too much time on the ball.

      Algeria up until May or so was playing a 3-man backline, but went to a 4. If they play the 3-man it might be best for the Yanks to keep the 4-4-2.

      I think you’ll either see a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1. I don’t see how Holden (or DMB, not Benny) doesn’t start on the wing as Dempsey will not be fit to handle Ziani if on his side.

      My guess right now is Altidore with a retracted Dempsey – you might see a Gomez as Bradley doesn’t seem to favor Buddle.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tom M on 2010/06/18 at 5:37 PM

        Algeria also seemed very casual at the back at times. They seem to prefer dribbling or passing out of the back even under pressure. It nearly cost them a few times turning the ball over in dangerous areas. Today they played for a result and while having some decent possession never really threatened England’s goal. Against you with think they would have to open up and bit more needing to win. Maybe they can be stretched and caught out having to go for it a bit more. That really to me is where a Torres at this stage of his career can be at his most effective. I hope we haven’t lost him for the rest of the tournament. Algeria also seemed a bit gassed toward the end of the game.

        Reply

      • Posted by Gino on 2010/06/18 at 5:40 PM

        Thanks for the pre-preview. Good insight on Buddle’s invisible man impersonation. I’d hoped he would be the USA’s 2010 version of Tony Sanneh.

        Reply

      • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/18 at 5:45 PM

        I think Bradley favors Gomez *in the sub role* for an obvious reason. No reason Buddle won’t get a start, though I think the need to keep Clint from getting burned may keep that from happening here.

        I would honestly start him over Altidore.

        Reply

  14. Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/18 at 5:18 PM

    LANDON DONOVAN

    Reply

  15. Posted by Jake Claro on 2010/06/18 at 5:19 PM

    I think an interesting line-up at some point for Algeria would have Edu-CM, Holden out wide, with Dempsey positioned behind Altidore. I’m not sure this is a starting line-up, because moving Dempsey up late in games gives the US tactical flexibility, but I felt that Jozy played with more urgency when he was the lone wolf up front. If you can get 70-75 solid minutes from Jozy, Buddle is a good relief move. The more I think about it, it may be interesting to have Jozy-Gomez upfront, with Holden coming in and Dempsey moving forward around the 60th minute, then the Buddle for Jozy swap a little later. Of course it all depends on what has happend the previous half but I see that approach giving the US a balance moving forward and defending on the wing with Holden early in the 2nd. I’ve thought Edu has looked far superior in every game he’s played for the US recently. He does everything you ask out of Clark, but with better tactical awareness and, though he wasn’t crisp today, far better distribution out of the back. He links the defense with the midfield very well, and then the US speed takes over in the final third. Just watching him, I noticed his positioning while tracking back was always excellent.

    I thought the DeMerit rating was a tad low…The guy was an absolute beast in the 2nd half, imposing himself quite well in the air and making exceptional tackles on the ground–there was one out wide at some point that had me really impressed. Oneyewu for me was OK, but his distribution was horrid–inviting a few screams for me for just throwing the ball away without any intent…also, he seems very tentative when he’s the last man back in one-on-one foot races. He did this in the England game as well–when he gets in that situation, even when he has clearly reached the ball with space–he has booted the ball to the sideline instead of making a composed and simple backpass to Howard.

    Anyway, frustrating that the ref fabricated that call in the box…inexplicable–Perhaps there’s a Euro conspiracy afoot. Excited for the Algeria game cause the whole group is playing for something…should see some high-charged soccer.

    Reply

  16. Posted by Gino on 2010/06/18 at 5:32 PM

    I copied this from another website, for those of you who hadn’t seen it yet :

    USA advances with:
    (a) Win versus Algeria on Wednesday
    (b) Tie and Slovenia-England tie IF England does not outscore USA by 2+ goals
    (c) Tie and England loss

    Slovenia advances with:
    (a) Win or tie versus England
    (b) Loss AND USA tie vs Algeria
    (c) Loss and Algeria win as long as Algeria doesn’t make up tiebreakers*

    England advances with:
    (a) Win versus Slovenia
    (b) Tie AND USA-Algeria tie AND outscore USA by 3 goals

    Algeria advances with:
    (a) Win versus USA AND Slovenia win/tie versus England
    (b) Win versus USA AND Slovenia loss versus England AND makes up tiebreakers on Slovenia

    Note: If the U.S. draws with Algeria and England draws with Slovenia, and England scores exactly two more goals than the U.S., the U.S. and England would be even on all tiebreakers for second place. The tie would be broken by drawing lots … aka, a coin flip.

    * Tiebreaker order: (1) Goal differential in all group matches (Algeria is -1, Slovenia is +1); (2) greatest number of goals scored (Slovenia has 3 goals, Algeria none); (3) greatest number of points obtained in group matches between the teams concerned; (4) goal differential resulting from group matches between the teams concerned; (5) greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned.

    (Only way both USA and England advance is if both win.)

    Reply

  17. Posted by John on 2010/06/18 at 6:10 PM

    Ref to have review may be suspended for rest of world cup

    Reply

  18. Wow… Will do screen shots but Dono seriously erred on the first goal as well as Onyewu.

    Reply

  19. Posted by The Goche on 2010/06/18 at 6:53 PM

    Important factor with any huge game with a very decisive moment.

    You have to have a way to describe it instantly that everyone who was alive and watching soccer will know what you mean and instantly feel emotion (in this case, anger).

    What will the call be known as in history. I think just The Phantom Foul is a good choice. I mean, you could call any bad foul call a phantom foul, but I think it fits this one especially since like against Ghana Gooch was called for a phantom foul, in this one, apparently a phantom actually committed this foul.

    I think the whole circumstance of not knowing, and probably never knowing who he claims the foul is on, makes this especially phantasmic. But it only works if it catches on, but I think when you get screwed in such a spectacular manner, it should be immortalized.

    Reply

    • Posted by The Goche on 2010/06/18 at 7:31 PM

      BTW, do you think that FIFA will completely be silent on the call? Or will they come out and defend it?

      I know a lot of times in most any sport when there is a horrible call the ref and the governing body have a little conference where they watch the bad call, and come up with the most believable version of what the call was and then announce and say “See that makes sense. Right?”

      I feel like that would be better than us getting the silent treatment or some general OK for the refereeing. The nice thing about the bogus explanation is that it’s like a tacit acknowledgment that it was a screw up. You can actually watch and directly say “No, player A did not foul anyone.” I feel like it’s more concrete and easier to prove than the also perfectly correct statement of “No one fouled anyone.”

      I like when you get screwed and the governing body at least has to come out and look like idiots defending it.

      Reply

      • Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/18 at 7:51 PM

        I’m just as furious as everyone else about the USA getting a goal stolen from them, but the ref in the Germany-Serbia game was much worse on the whole. Ze Germans should be up in arms as well. If that ref isn’t under scrutiny as well, I feel like this suspension talk by FIFA is just paying fans lip service, probably not gonna happen.

        Reply

        • Posted by The Goche on 2010/06/18 at 8:42 PM

          I’d bet Australia will still be fuming tomorrow playing without Tim Cahill. That red was a bad call and I can’t see them standing a chance tomorrow without him.

          I’d say GER-SER, USA-SVN, and GER-AUS were the worst ref jobs of the tournament in terms of bad calls, specifically ones that affected results and/or future games.

          I also think that the MEX-FRA was pretty badly managed just in terms of it was really really choppy. There are probably other examples of that though.

          Also, I didn’t see the GER-SER game, and I believe that was bad, but I doubt he was worse, or at least not “much worse.” I mean, he was bad from start to finish. It was much more than just the goal. It was the card on Findley. It was not carding Dempsey, who probably deserved at least a yellow for the elbow in 1′. It was Slovenia holding the entire match, and not even trying to be stealthy about it.

          I’m not saying the Germans don’t have every right to be annoyed, but I just mean, that ref must have been really really terrible to beat the performance turned in from the Mali Magician (can create a foul out of nothing, while making 4 other fouls and a goal disappear) today.

          Reply

  20. I’m not seeing much discussion of Feilhaber’s non-game on the wing, he just didn’t have much an impact in attack or defense. He’s on the squad for this creativity, but he just isn’t a winger. I feel like Holden would’ve been a much better choice and contributed a lot more on both sides of the ball.

    Reply

  21. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/18 at 10:52 PM

    I watched most of the first half over again. It almost seemed like the US made so much out of the chess match pre-planning that they didn’t notice that Slovenia weren’t playing a chess match. I felt pretty harshly towards Torres’ performance when I was half watching the game real-time, but in retrospect, he wasn’t terrible, he just didn’t create space for himself like I would’ve expected.
    I think the Slovenia game against England will be very interesting. A lot of credit was given to Slovenia for their 1st half play style, but I suspect the truth of the matter is just that we made them look a lot better than they are. Besides the free kick where Novakovic looked close to connecting (but wasn’t there an offsides or foul whistle on the play anyway?), really Slovenia’s chances were pretty unconvincing except for the 2 handed to them on a silver platter. By all means they took those 2 chances perfectly, (a skill many players lack), but my point is that while England are in the funk they’re in, and will resort to their 3rd choice CB, they still really ought to be able to beat Slovenia.
    There’s always the english goaltending, but otherwise, I don’t see Slovenia being able to make decent scoring opportunities without the shockers the US presented them. It’s really up to England to determine if they care more than the French team apparently does whether or not they go home.
    Otoh, maybe Slovenia are a chameleon team, and an entirely different one will show up for next Wednesday.

    Reply

    • “I watched most of the first half over again. It almost seemed like the US made so much out of the chess match pre-planning that they didn’t notice that Slovenia weren’t playing a chess match.”

      I think you’ve hit that spot on. Bradley definitely over-thought this one.

      Reply

  22. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/18 at 11:09 PM

    @ Matthew:
    I was wondering if you might find time to write about the viewership numbers. Actual versus projected, 2010 vs 2006, US vs Mexico games, etc.
    I’m a little dumbfounded tlately o hear comments from non-sports types asking if they were the only person not watching the WC. In 2002, it felt like I was the only one [american] who cared… and to hear complaints that the tables have been turned is music to my ears.
    P.S. Any good “Ratings Numbers for Dummies” info out there? I recall seeing the viewing numbers for the top 10 US metro markets after the US/England game and saw San Diego was first with “11.something” closely followed by SF with “11.something else”. I was surprised to not see LA and NY anywhere on the list. These numbers must have a per capita component, I assume?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/21 at 10:27 AM

      Kaya — Will try to here — I’ve been trying to get some time with ESPN, but no avail right now.

      Reply

  23. Posted by Zo on 2010/06/19 at 4:32 AM

    Can’t understate the importance of the near post run by Gomez. In the first half there was a similar attack up the left where Jeezy failed to make that run and it cost us a goal – in fact we didn’t even get a good chance out of it. There are lots of little things like that, even in the second half, where the big J just doesn’t see his role off the ball properly.

    Reply

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