Preview: Bafana, Bafana vs The Kids, The Kids

Nice to see some fresh faces for the USA in the Blue, White and NikeGrey huh?


In two days in Cape Town, the United States takes on South Africa in perhaps the least anticipated match in South Africa in 2010. The coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Galavision.

Actually, over 36,00 tickets already sold for the affair at Green Point Stadium. That’s like, what, 49 times what showed up for the last US friendly outside of Philadelphia?

We’ll do a little lighter treatment at TSG on this friendly. Don’t worry, we’ve got the preview here, Orange Slices forthcoming on game day, and a review. Just maybe a little bit lighter weight. Sugar-free TSG perhaps.

To the preview for this friendly that sees Coach Sweats call up the kids.

As usual, our customary preview goes: TSG What We’re Looking At, 11 At The Whistle, & Disclaimers.

TSG: What We’re Looking At

Bornstein's back! And he's likely the captain....

• There’s speed…maybe…speed on ‘dem flanks.

I’d like to see Jonathan Bornstein on the left flank. I’d like to see Eric Lichaj on the right flank.

I’d like to see the Yanks actively use a defender not named Cherundolo to put some pressure on the opponent offensively.

• My what an interesting midfield you have.

TSG’s Jason Price and I had this exchange in the comments upon the roster announcement:

Jason: Very little muscle in that midfield, no?

Matthew: Actually, I think quite a bit of physicality and muscle when you consider that Bedoya, Rogers, Diskerud all go 6’0′ or bigger with Pause as the CDM.

Linking and technical acumen…I think you have a case there.

Jason: Height, but muscle? Dunno. When I think of Bedoya and Rogers, I don’t think of presence or tackling. I mean Holden and Dax McCarty, though not tall, have presence. Excited to see Diskerud, as I’ve never seen him play…


I’ve got to believe that Mix will get the start as there is little carriage in that midfield without him.

And in a nod to another TSG correspondent, that’s a pretty “big” …physically-speaking…midfield. If you check this column, TSG’s Tuesday senses a theme, a German one (see Playing To Stereotypes subsection).

Agudelo here against Santos FC. Anyone think he may be ready for Newcastle as well? Okay, let's not get that far ahead of ourselves...

• Is the new Charlie-In-A-Bottle a man named Agudelo.

I’ve been trying to temper my enthusiasm to witness Juan Agudelo and I can’t. Saw him firsthand in San Jose and then watched as he completely disrupted the San Jose defense back at Red Bull Arena.

What I am most impressed with Agudelo is his technical ability, little things that he does effortlessly. Like opening his hip and continually moving the ball just enough to open up his cross for Juan Pablo Angel to smack home for the Red Bulls lone goal last week.

I’ll be keen to see his technical ability on display against a different type of defender. But, TSG is tickled, yes tickled at the prospects of this youngster.

And should he show well, might the Yanks have that proficient forward to place in front of Landon on the counterattack. Brimming….

See Charlie-In-A-Bottle definition here.

11 At The Whistle:

Note, with 18 folks and a long average 12-hour journey for most, look for Bradley to empty the bench in this one and get everyone into the game.

G: Brad Guzan

The skinny: Duh. Gargantuan man Dominic Cervi (6’6”, 210lbs) enters somewhere in the 2nd for the Yanks.

Will Lichaj get a deserved start?

DEF: Jonathan Bornstein, Jonathan Spector, Clarence Goodson, Eric Lichaj

The skinny: First, I’ll throw down cash on both Goodson and Spector starting. The two guys that got no run at World Cup 2010 are honored for their efforts by Bradley with a start. It’s the least he can do.

The question on Spector is position. Specs started for the Yanks against Denmark this time last November and should be looked at in the middle. (Look below for our “disclaimer backline”).

A fit Lichaj mans the right as Specs slides inside.

MID: Robbie Rogers, Logan Pause, Mikkel Diskerud, Ale Bedoya

The skinny: Robbie Rogers and Ale Bedoya, both rewarded for the camp work in May and issued starts. Logan Pause provides some defensive stability. Mix Diskerud gets a chance to run with the Yanks’ “first team” here in South Africa while he’s still match fit.

Mix Diskerud, the Sacha Kljestan Bob Bradley never had.

STR: Juan Agudelo, Robbie Findley

The skinny: Agudelo mans the left, Findley the right. 4 to 1 odds that Agudelo scores. Even money that Robbie Findley dribbles it over the endline at least thrice in the match….

….making it all the more impressive that some low-lying Scottish Premier League team like St. Mirren or Aberdeen might take a chance on him come January.

Man that Setanta deal really hurt the SPL, huh?


• Backline: Spector, Goodson, Ream, Bornstein

Odds: 49%

The skinny: Our “other backline.” Bob Bradley finally gets a backline with it perfectly aligned for their dominant foot (Borny and Ream are lefties).

As with Omar Gonzalez in August, Bob Bradley takes a look at Tim Ream with the starters while he is still match fit.

• Middie: Eddie Gaven for Mix Diskerud

Odds: 20%

The skinny: Incredulously, can’t see Diskerud not getting the start, but Gaven’s been in camp before and can mesh on one side with Robbie Rogers.

21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by JasonPrice on 2010/11/15 at 12:06 PM

    Great soccer -blog writing:

    The skinny: Agudelo mans the left, Findley the right. 4 to 1 odds that Agudelo scores. Even money that Robbie Findley dribbles it over the endline at least thrice in the match….

    ….making it all the more impressive that some low-lying Scottish Premier League team like St. Mirren or Aberdeen might take a chance on him come January.

    I’d like to nominate for the hall of fame.


  2. Posted by Jake C. on 2010/11/15 at 12:07 PM

    I agree that BB will probably start Specs, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Would much rather see Ream and Lichaj in there simultaneously. Still excited to see all the youth out there anyway. I’m with you; Agudelo really impressed me. He and Ream are the two I’m most pumped about.


  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/11/15 at 1:03 PM

    Your continued man-crush on Jonathan Bornstein is outrageous.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/15 at 1:07 PM


      What did I write this time that was outrageous?

      I’m waiting for Ponce toman the left.

      And I should note I never got on the edgar castillo bandwagon like some other well known reporters.


    • Posted by dth on 2010/11/15 at 2:05 PM

      I wish everyone would just accept that a) while Jonathan Bornstein manifestly sucks b) he is the best left-back the U.S. has and c) Bob Bradley fully appreciates both a) and b), given his odd experiments at left-back that all Bradley-haters conveniently choose to ignore.

      Re: Miguel Angel Ponce. I’ve never seen him play, so I hope it isn’t just USMNT fan’s messiah complex coming out again (the messiah complex especially manifests itself for players who are dual-nationals who are particularly unlikely to suit up for the U.S., which as of this moment Ponce very much is.)


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/15 at 2:18 PM

        Don’t worry DTH…you have friends here at TSG. We’re off the same mindset on JB.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/11/15 at 3:05 PM

        See, this is where I disagree. I feel that even though Bradley pretty much has to dismantle his back 4 for the 2014 World Cup, he still has the matter of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup to navigate. Remember, the winner of the tournament will qualify for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. I think dismantling the back 4 prematurely would be a mistake. And saying that Bornstein ‘is the best left-back the U.S. has’ is not accurate in my humble opinion. I still believe that Bocanegra is the best option at left back, even at 31.

        And if I remember correctly, Bornstein was crap against Netherlands earlier in the year. Yes, he’s not going to face somebody like Arjen Robben on a weekly basis, but he was completely embarrassed. And remember, with more of a trend for tricky / pacey wingers, inverted wingers, inside forwards in 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formations, do you want somebody who is as tactically unaware as Bornstein manning that berth? Would you be comfortable with the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Ribery, Silva, Arshavin running full pelt at him?

        I’d play Carlos Bocanegra at least until the 2011 Gold Cup, and then beyond that take it year by year. What ever happened to Edgar Castillo? I do understand that there’s not much talent for the U.S. left back pool, but Jonathan Bornstein is a “break glass in case of emergency” – nothing more. He is not the long term answer for the U.S. left back spot.


        • Posted by away goals on 2010/11/16 at 10:03 AM

          @GeorgeCross – Bornstein isn’t now and may never be an outstanding left back. But name a defender in the history of american soccer who you would be comfortable with defending the likes of messi, ronaldo, ribery, silva or arshavin.

          For that matter, name any defender playing anywhere. The guys on that list are considered some of the best players in the world for a reason. Nobody stops them on a consistent basis.

          Bornstein may always be seconds away from a defensive trainwreck, but if you have to bust out multiple ballon d’or candidates to prove it, your case isn’t as strong as you might think.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/11/16 at 11:54 AM

          You make a good point. But take the Netherlands game as a case study. Was Robben really that good on that particular night or did Bornstein just make it too easy for him? This is more my point was that this was a fairly typical Bornstein display of getting caught out of position.

          Bocanegra still has life in him, and if he takes care of himself and has a bit of luck on the injury front then why replace him with Bornstein prematurely – this is the crux of my post. He may not offer much offensively in open play, but against those types of players, you don’t want your full back going walk about.

          BTW, Ashley Cole consistently gets the better of the mentioned players to the point that their managers have them playing on the other flank…


        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/16 at 12:55 PM

          So the U.S.’s problem is that it doesn’t have the best left-back in the world. Glad that’s been clarified.

          Anyway, the problem with Bocanegra is that he’s deathly slow. Good positioning, but deathly slow and offers no width going forward. Bornstein’s positioning is admittedly poor, but his athleticism and occasional forays forward are very valuable–especially valuable for a team like the U.S., which likes to play narrow. (This is why Heath Pearce might not work either, despite possibly being the most responsible defensively of the lot: he never even tries to go forward.)

          While we continue to piss and moan about whether or not Ponce plays American (rumor has it he’s the starting LB for Mexico’s Copa America u23 roster), there is one American option playing in the MLS Cup coming up: Anthony Wallace. He intrigues me.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/11/16 at 1:05 PM

          True. But when Bradley had his 23 to choose from in the first game of the WC against England, he went for the “slow and steady” Bocanegra, rather than the “athletic” Bornstein when facing Lennon. Even Bradley got that one right!

          What about the youngster who plays in Portugal? For the life of me I cannot remember his his name or which team… Help?


        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/16 at 1:23 PM

          Greg Garza, plays with a second-division side. He’s shown kind of OK in u20 matches–kind of like Heath Pearce: responsible, not very adventurous. Some chatter that Chivas USA’s new homegrown player, Bryan de la Fuente, might take his starting spot at LB. de la Fuente shows a lot of zest coming forward but needs polishing; in some ways, therefore, a more interesting prospect.


    • Posted by Nelson on 2010/11/15 at 3:57 PM

      I’d have to agree George. Even though it’s not totally a man crush. I think I’d try Ream out left if he’s left footed. then maybe pair gonzalez and goodson in the middle. Bornstein is just not up to par for international games.


  4. Posted by dth on 2010/11/15 at 2:07 PM

    The most interesting question of this match, to me, is not who starts but when the subs come in. How many subs are allowed in this match? Because it would seem kind of odd for Bradley to call these guys thousands of miles and lord knows how much jetlag in order to chill out for a match.

    By the by, as good as Agudelo is–Boss might just be that good too.


    • Posted by dth on 2010/11/15 at 2:29 PM

      Re: Agudelo. Apparently the U.S. is not allowed to have exciting young strikers (only manically depressing young strikers like Jozy); otherwise fate will cast them down. WATCH OUT FOR BIRDS, JUAN:


  5. Posted by Kevin on 2010/11/15 at 5:33 PM

    backline: spector, ream/boss, goodson, lichaj. It doesn’t matter in which order you read it as long as lichaj and spector are on the flanks. I want to see what both can do on both flanks, so a switch somewhere in the game seems nice. Then some bornstein, and some dolo who might get the start.
    mid: Rogers, Gaven, Diskerud, Bedoya
    fwd: Agudelo, Findley.


  6. Posted by darrellm on 2010/11/16 at 12:14 PM

    Now guys I’m just as excited about seeing bob taking the kids to africa for recess but let’s not forget the most important thing about this game. This is the last time we have to hear those godawful vuvuzelas, now that is something we can all buzz about.


  7. Gentlemen. My Vuvuzela is primed and ready.

    As the poet said, “do not miss your chance to blow.”


  8. […] For TSG’s full preview see: Preview: Bafana, Bafana vs. The Kids, The Kids […]


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