Looking In The Mirror: USA vs. Paraguay Preview

Around TSG we love to use Paraguay as a comparatively equal team to the States.

The Yanks have Tim Howard to thank for the good juju coming in to Tuesday...

From their deployment–normally two defensive midfielders coupled with two striker-forwards up top and usually in a 4-4-2–to their game planning–defensive pressure–all the way to how they score–for the past two World Cups they have more goals scored from the striker role than the US. That number is “1.”

Paraguay, 24th in the FIFA rankings to the US’s 19th. Fair to say however that the States have more offensive firepower in this one.

After fortressing themselves in against Argentina in the early going Saturday, the Yanks will look to do a little TCB, Elvis-style, in his home state of Tennessee against a team that embarrassed themselves against Mexico to the tune of 3-1 in Oakland, CA over the weekend.

Despite the loss and lagging form,  Paraguay, a World Cup quarterfinalist, should provide an equitable opponent and one who USMNT coach Bob Bradley can measure some new players against after Argentina saw Bradley’s short term “A” team fully deployed.

Expect some new faces in the starting line-up, a multitude of subs and…hopefully some warmer weather.

To our customary preview, we go. Per usual:

TSG What We’re Looking At

11 At The Whistle

Disclaimers

About The Opponent

———-

TSG What We’re Looking At

• Agudelicious

Can Juan continue to fly high?

It’s almost cliche to bring up the 18-year-old as a “key observation” at this point, but we do nonetheless.

Saturday saw the third relief appearance for Agudelo who has shone brightly during his slighly more than 90 minutes for the States. His two goals already for the senior team? Even up with such notable roster counterparts as Benny Feilhaber, Edson Buddle and Jonathan Bornstein.

With Chicharito scorching the Paraguayan left flank on Saturday, Tuesday’s affair gives us a window into how quickly Bradley will allow the New York Red Bull striker to become a major part of the attack. If Bradley was watching tape, he had to be salivating at the opportunity to deploy Agudelo similarly to the Little Pea.

Bradley, never one to bend, will still find it awful hard not to succumb to the pressure of playing arguably the Yanks’ top striker right now, because until Charlie Davies shows consistency during the run of play, there are really no other speed options.

Should he start the youngster or should he continue to handle him with oven mitts and meter out his time over more caps.

Last time Altidore cruised this region, he bucketed three....

• Just how aggressive will Bob Bradley be.

Paraguay’s coach Gerardo Martino called out his side for resting on their laurels Saturday…and the loss showed some of Paraguay’s real weaknesses. An aging and decidedly average set of centerbacks, lack of a true game breaker, and a glaring weakness at striker.

Don’t expect Bradley to employ the same clog the midfield and sit-deep defensive strategy that he did against Argentina.

I expect to see a much higher line from the US defense. I expect to see the US looking to boss and control the game a little bit more.

• And Stu Holden’s replacement–sniffle–is?

Perhaps a minor point here, but, in Stu Holden, Coach Bradley had a versatile midfielder who he could count on for solid defense every time out. Further, it was clear that Bradley favored Holden’s know-how to determine when to help out internally with that defense and when to advance on the flank.

Beyond this, Holden could be counted on to be precise with his crosses and maintain possession.

Who is Holden’s replacement for the Gold Cup? Could it possible be Sacha Kljestan in consideration? Maybe even Mix Diskerud who played the right wing down in South Africa? Is it still Benny Feilhaber?

• Can the US string together two strong performances in a row?

Evident during 2011 qualifying, the US has challenges in keeping consistency for the back-end of two-game sets. A decent effort against El Salvador in September 2009 back-ended by a stinker–though a win–against Trinidad & Tobago. The Honduras clincher followed by eeking out a draw at RFK against Costa Rica (that one was understandable.)

Even in the World Cup, a strong England effort followed by going down two against Slovenia. A well-played Algeria match preceded the Ghana ouster.

No doubt that the players were highly focused on insuring a good effort in prime-time against Argentina.

Over 75,000 in attendance for that one; just 20,000 or so expected in Nashville. Argentina versus a slumping Paraguay team.

Back-to-back solid games speaks to focus and team depth…and a good performance where Team USA is victorious and dictates the tempo would draw the plaudits across the board as the March friendly series ends.

• Will Tim Ream end the trend of US centerbacks yelling “Fore….”

….before getting their knickers in a bunch and hucking the ball up the pitch.

I expect Ream to start and be heavily involved in the distribution out of the back.

11 At The Whistle

*Remember, this is what I project Coach Bradley will do Tuesday night; not what I would perhaps do.

Bob’s strategy:

Too similarly attacking sides, here. Paraguay loves to flood the flanks and play on the counter.

The part that makes projecting what Bob will do here tough, is if he wants to get into an up-down track meet after Saturday’s game. If that’s the case then Juan Agudelo likely trots out to help shape a 4-4-2. If it’s not the case, then I see a 4-4-1-1 with Jozy and another forward (Dempsey or Diskerud) helping out up top.
Read on:

G: Tim Howard

The skinny:

With some new faces likely in front of him, Tim Howard will be called on–for at least half–to keep it clean in the back.

He’ll give way to either David Yelldell or Marcus Hahneman in the second frame.

DEF: Eric Lichaj, Oguchi Onyewu, Tim Ream, Carlos Bocanegra

The skinny: Unsure the selections here. With Bradley getting a look at Chandler in competition against a quality side and Spector as well, he’ll give the young Aston Villa back a shot here to claim a back-up role to the almighty Steve Cherundolo in the Gold Cup.

Centrally, Onyewu gets deployed again, should his knee be okay, to control the skies (Paraguay’s weakest department) while Tim Ream is introduced into the side for his first true test to show his mettle against a quality outfit.

On the left, unless the captain is deactivated, he gets the start. I could see Jonathan Bornstein starting here, but I think you’d want to see two veterans book-ending Ream if he is out there.

Will Sacha be allowed to show he belongs?

MID: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan (Benny Feilhaber if hammy better?)

The skinny: Nearly impossible to keep Michael Bradley off the team sheet. Elsewhere, Jermaine Jones gets another look as Paraguay loves to push their fullbacks into attack and Jones gets a chance to show that his poor passing Saturday night was an aberration. (I’m not sure it was.) Jones only went 45′ so he’s still fresh. He’ll be needed to ignite the counter.

Landon Donovan always starts. Well because he is Landon Donovan and he’s the face of US Soccer.

And on the left, Sacha Kljestan gets the nod attempting to the play the role of Stu Holden fill-in for the Gold Cup.

FW: Mix Diskerud, STR: Jozy Altidore

The skinny: Remember that Chris Wondolowski-Mix pairing you saw during the Chile game? Well Bradley tries it out again here to see if Diskerud can play up the pitch.

As has been customary for Bradley–on occasion–Clint Dempsey (Colombia, Slovakia friendlies) takes a breather in the 1st half. Clint could easily start, but I think Bob might rest him.

I’m not sure that Agudelo starts–and I’m sure to hear crickets in the comment section–if only because with Edson Buddle Fahrvergnügen-ing his way back to Germany, there’s no offensive reliever off the bench. Should the Yanks slip up early and concede, who’s the attacking fastball that Bradley calls on?

I’ll just take the unpopular tact here in the preview piece for fun.

Your USMNT projected deployment:

Attacking, Nashville-style...

——-

Disclaimers

» Everything: Does Bradley thing his depth can handle a stumbling Paraguay side? What’s his motivation for this one? How much rest does he give club players that have played a lot of minutes lately like Maurice Edu and Clint Dempsey?

Odds: N/A

Likely?

» Juan Agudelo for Mix Diskerud moving to a 4-4-2: Probably will happen. I’ve got this niggling that Bradley doesn’t want to start Agudelo yet though.

Odds: 65%

» Timmy Chandler for Eric Lichaj at RB: Going to be awfully compelling for Bradley to keep Chandler on the field after his Argentina performance.

Odds: 60%

» Clint Dempsey for Sacha Kljestan or Mix Diskerud: It’s been done before, that is resting the Deuce, but how do you keep Clint Dempsey on the bench?

Odds: 50%

» Jonathan Bornstein for Carlos Bocanegra: Bob Bradley’s true prodigal son returns to the starting line-up.

Odds: 45%

About The Opponent: (Paraguay)

(Note a few less observations of Paraguay for TSG, plus Parguay manager Gerardo Martino changes his line-up frequently….read with caution)

Paraguay easily is the least flashiest, most defensive team in CONMEBOL.

After a World Cup that saw a wonder run to the Final Eight (that didn’t work), Paraguay looks decidedly boring and ambivalent here in 2011.

Their centerbacks ( and ) have looked old (they are). In fact their backline is comprised of three centerbacks, one who splits out to the right.

Their midfield is aging as well and has the Herculean task of covering rearguard and being integral in the attack.

Santa Cruz, considered overrated by TSG, but kind of needed by the visitors...

And their strikers.

Where once Roque Santa Cruz cared, roamed high and pulled down everything in site, now Paraguay is deploying merely speed. Santa Cruz is of course not traveling with the team (after a decidedly awful World Cup in our eyes) and somewhat incredulously Ligue One’s Toulouse striker Federico Santander (6’2”) didn’t make the cut here.

So bye-bye long ball over the top to a target men and manager Martino is asking forwards Lucio Barrios (Borussia Dortmund) and Edgar Benitez to check back and hold up the ball–Benitez by the way plays with Paco Torres and Herc Gomez at Pachuca. The two should interplay well, but back to the basket is not what you want them doing all match long.

Paraguay will who don’t defend the flanks all that well will have two offensive strategies, flipping a counterattack up a flank with both strikers joining in and flooding a side. The marble is the often laid off for a trailing midfielder in Vera or Cristian Riveros to take a shot on goal (this the Yanks need to protect against). Both Riveros and Vera can smack it.

The other option sounds positively Yanks-esque. Set pieces. Despite lacking the aerial threat in the box, Alcaraz and Paula Da Silva  often join the party in the box on service off a ball stoppage. (Therefore I expect to see Gooch pairing Ream here.)

A major disclaimer here as Martino’s side had a terrible showing on Saturday and manager might switch around the side. On my diagram, I have substituted in Cristian Riveros brother Marcos for Enrique Vera, 32, who friends told me looked slow and disappointed against Mexico.

Your garden variety left flank flood...

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57 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jim on 2011/03/28 at 1:07 PM

    Slight nitpick: Agudelo has been capped thrice, but scored twice, as opposed to three times.

    Reply

  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/28 at 1:09 PM

    Thanks for the catch. Updated.

    Reply

  3. Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:11 PM

    Barrios is pretty good for Dortmund. Worried about him.

    Knowing Bob Bradley–who, like the legal system, requires all reasonable doubts to be extinguished before settling on something–we will see a 4-2-3-1. Not sure who will be in it or how aggressive it will be, but I’d be surprised if we saw anything other than a 4-2-3-1 and I’d be surprised if Agudelo started.

    Other factor: the last time we did the two friendlies thing, there was some rotation of guys for tiredness issues. This increases uncertainty.

    A guess (assumes rotation): Yelldell; Bornstein, Ream, Onyewu, Lichaj/Chandler (one half for one, one for the other); Jones, Bradley; Donovan/Dempsey, Edu, Kljestan/Diskerud (one half for one, one for the other); Altidore. Guessing when Agudelo comes on it’s a switch to a 4-4-2.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/28 at 1:18 PM

      Agreed on no Agudelo. I think it will be a 4-4-1-1 like the Chile game, but that’s splitting hairs (4-2-3-1 acceptable terminology)

      Think of it this way. Imagine you change your system and it revolves around Agudelo and he a) loses form b) picks up a knock.

      Is….gulp…Eddie Johnson ready? maybe cd9, but not yet.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:28 PM

        Eddie Johnson is not ready.

        You know who might be able to play a decent speed forward role? Teal Bunbury. He can hold up and beat the offside trap.

        Reply

      • Matt,
        Yes but…imagine you mold your system around Altidore for a few years and he only modestly improves during that time, then gets loaned several times, then rarely plays striker for his club team…

        Just saying that you choose your best option currently; can not make your decision thinking about “what if”. You can always go back to Jozy or insert Bunbury in the current system. It is not like the USMNT plays more often than every few months. The transition of playing players must be faster than at the club level.

        Get the idea of maturing a formation but in the 4-4-1-1 right now I think I would trust Agudelo over Jozy up top (even though he doesn’t fit the typical mold).

        Reply

        • Matt,
          reread your post again (slower this time). I understand what you are saying: not going back to 4-4-2 in order to get Agudelo involved. I agree along those lines, but I do think that even in a 4-4-1-1 Agudelo may holdup better than Altidore (and should be given the chance if for no other reason than we know what Jozy brings.)

          Sorry if my previous post was confusing/off topic a bit

          Reply

      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/28 at 4:20 PM

        To me the difference in a 4-4-1-1 (which is really a variation of a 4-4-2)and a 4-2-3-1 is the natural positon of the second forward/guy in the middle of the 3. If its Dempsey call it whichever one floats your boat. If its Agudelo its more of a 4-4-1-1 (as he is really a second forward and plays like one). If its someone like say MB90 then its a 4-2-3-1 (as the mid 3 guy is a MF). I am not sure tactically we can expect a MF to play as a forward or a forward to play as a MF just because that is the formation we want to play. I am all for putting the best players in their best position and let the formation be what it ends up as.

        I really hope we never see a 4-2-3-1 without Dempsey, Donovan or a forward in the middle of the 3 again. Please no MB90, Edu, Jones, etc. Our offense and possession isn’t good enough for that. 7 defensive minded players is too much.

        Reply

  4. Posted by Dony Tanza-Army on 2011/03/28 at 1:12 PM

    “After a World Cup that saw a wonder run to the Final Four, Paraguay looks decidedly boring and ambivalent here in 2011.”

    …Quarterfinals. Otherwise, agreed. Good stuff as always!

    Reply

  5. Posted by tnnelson on 2011/03/28 at 1:21 PM

    hate to be a stickler, but Paraguay most certainly did not make it to the final four at the World Cup. final 8, yes, but since you said it twice, i can’t not correct it

    Reply

  6. Posted by Ryan on 2011/03/28 at 1:35 PM

    I’d be surprised if both Jozy and Agudelo start. Going without a true striker available on the bench just doesn’t seem likely so Agudelo to the bench is a good bet. I’m excited to see Mix for two reasons. 1) He’s obviously very skillful and among all of our players is best suited to be the “playmaker.” 2) I don’t think Bob knows where, position-wise, Mix fits in at the international level. Is it wide? Centrally? Further up the pitch? As interesting as watching where Mix finds a home is trying to figure out what Bob is thinking based on how he uses him.

    Reply

  7. Posted by kaya on 2011/03/28 at 1:36 PM

    you know what they say… all ‘guays look alike.
    The most exciting thing about the Para(guay) team at the WC was Larissa Riquelme and I don’t even think she’s been called for this friendly.

    Reply

  8. Posted by alexalex on 2011/03/28 at 1:40 PM

    You’re getting your Guays mixed up, but that’s been said.

    I still don’t understand why we don’t try play a 4-3-3 a la Chelsea with Jones-Bradley-Edu in the Obi Jon Mikel / Essien roles (you pick who plays where), Dempsey / Donovan on the flanks, Altidore up top, and Kljestan or Diskeruud in the center. We could also see Agudelo on the flank and Dempsey at the top of the central triangle. With Chandler and Lichaj emerging as viable quick attacking wingbacks, we could play this. I think the Achilles heel would be Altidore as a lone striker, but maybe with Landon, Dempsey, Agudelo pushed up we could see him get involved in play more.

    Reply

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/28 at 4:23 PM

      I think that would play a lot like the 4-2-3-1 that we have been trying. The real issue is that after watching Altidore live this week (you see a lot of stuff live that you miss on tv and vice versa) I am convinced that he can not be a sole striker supported just by Dempsey and Donovan. He isn’t great at holding the ball up and did his best work running on the wings.

      If we were to try a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 I would be interested to try Altidore on a wing and see what happens.

      Reply

      • Posted by Berg on 2011/03/29 at 8:29 AM

        Jozy’s been “winging” it for his club lately, hasn’t he? Why not give it a go?

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/29 at 8:55 AM

          Well, he’s been the wing forward in a 4-3-3 in the games I’ve seen, with a lot of freedom to roam.

          Reply

  9. I agree with most of the predictions, but I think BB will choose a lineup that is much closer to his ideal lineup against this type of opponent/formation more so than he has in the past. He is in “pre-WC type BB mindset mode” (except this time it is Pre-Gold cup).
    Right now the thought most running through BB’s head probably is “trial my best lineup variations before the Spain match. Get guys who need time to develop together the minutes.” Argentina he went safe (old reliables), don’t think you see that here completely but also not all young guns. So…

    More likely to see…
    Demps than Mix to start (if 4-4-1-1)
    Agudelo more likely to start than Altidore (if 4-4-1-1). I do believe this (though yes it is a partial wish). But who better to attack the left than Agudelo making room for Donovan?
    In a surprise I think Onyewu might sit; Demerit & Ream trialled. Yes no big hulking CB but better management. BB must relise that banking on a CB that isn’t getting time there with his club and still has some deficits to be an automatic starter at the Gold Cup is unwise. Necessary to trial a different combination.
    Agree on Jones starting.

    2 interesting questions:
    1) If Lichaj starts at RB would BB have the cajones to trial Chandler at RM? (yes more likely to see Kljestan get more time but is that really helpful? If Kljestan starts I will lose all respect for the assisant coaches for not telling BB that is unwise. He can get relief min.)

    2) Will (at any point during the game) MB be subbed out? Testing Jones & Edu combo late in the game would at the very least be prudent if MB gets injured/isn’t in game shape for the Gold Cup. Not at alll saying MB shouldn’t start but if there was ever a time he should be taken out before 90 min, it is this game.

    What about this lineup (would BB try it)?

    —–Agudelo——————
    ————Demps————-
    Donovan—Jones—MB—Chandler
    Boca—Ream—Demerit—Lichaj
    ———Howard—————

    Reply

    • Also I would rather see Spector tried at RM then I would Kljestan tried at LM. Donovan opposite.

      Mix should get some time but I think he is more of a later sub than a starter (I know you acknowledged this above.)

      Reply

  10. Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:45 PM

    By the by, England u21s just lost to Iceland u21’s 2-1. They were pretty awful; the only interesting players were Albrighton, McEachran, and Joe Bennett. There’s apparently a debate in England over whether Jack Wilshere should be allowed to play for the u21s in the European Championship this summer, with some very sensible comments about overwork versus getting more experience being exchanged…but honestly, I can’t see the point of allowing Wilshere to play for such a sorry coach as Stuart Pearce, unless you want Wilshere to gain experience on how to play for a crummy English coach.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:46 PM

      I should add that I suspect the U.S. u-20s would beat England’s u-21s, assuming Agudelo’s out for the U.S. and Wilshere’s out for England.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/28 at 2:47 PM

        I saw most of the game. It was pretty stagnant to be honest.
        I thought we started OK, moved the ball quite well, but there really wasn’t any final product. Marc Albrighton played well and his delivery is getting better and better, Josh McEachran did so so, mainly because Jack Cork didn’t look comfortable in the holding role. James Tompkins did well next to a shaky Nathan Baker.

        What basis do you ‘suspect’ you’d beat England’s U21s? This was many of the squad players rather than the U21s’ “1st Team”.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 2:57 PM

          Well, I saw their other performance against Denmark, in which they didn’t look too hot either. That was Pearce’s version of the first team, and I wasn’t particularly impressed with them either.

          “would” is perhaps too strong, especially when thinking about the age difference, but I think the U.S.’s tactics would be better and some of the players are pretty good.

          Reply

  11. Matt – I’d say your roster is very likely, though I can think of a few variations (that you acknowledge): Gooch out and Demerit in; Chandler starting with Lichaj subbing on after 45; Dempsey being worked in somewhere instead of rested. If Bradley goes for your roster, I’d be stoked to see how it works.

    I’m really hoping Diskerud gets at least 45 minutes in this game. I’m not sure if he can assume the creative playmaker role intended for Holden, but this would be a great chance to see if he could. Or, if we can integrate him in as a winger, that could potentially free up Dempsey or Donovan to play more up top.

    I think Bob the tactician will take a less prominent role in this match. There was so much hype around Argentina: 80,000 tickets, Messi, first real test for the A-team since South Africa, etc. I think the pressure’s off a bit for this match, and look forward to a little more tinkering/experimentation from the USA. And a whole lot more offensive possession.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 3:15 PM

      Diskerud is better-suited skills-wise than Holden is for the #10 role. Holden is obviously the better player, but he plays a linking role for Bolton rather than a creative one.

      Reply

  12. [...] Shin Guardian has its official preview up and some good tidbits from Sunil Gulati’s “fan forum” prior to the Argentina [...]

    Reply

  13. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/28 at 4:23 PM

    I want to see Tim Ream. I believe he is the real deal and he needs experience versus quality competition. I wish he could have gotten time vs. Argentina.

    I talked to a friend from Brazil who saw the game. They said they thought the US did pretty well- everyone chases Argentina around, especially Messi. He said, though, that the US defenders distribution was horrible. He said you can’t win when your defenders give up the ball like they did. I replied that’s what I have been saying. When I watched the game on TV it confirmed the horrible rushed clearances or clueless passes up field Onyewu and Bocanegra repeatedly made. Tim Ream is needed!

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/28 at 4:50 PM

      I agree playing out of the back is the way forward, but it was not as if the midfield wanted the ball. Plus, the way Argentina pressed in the first half didn’t give anybody from the back too many passing options.

      The alarmists need to put things into perspective, as you won’t be playing against teams as good as Argentina all the time. And in all fairness, Argentina would give most teams out there the run-around.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 5:19 PM

        The alarmists are being aspirational. You can’t win the World Cup without beating teams like Argentina. I don’t necessarily blame them for this.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/29 at 3:48 AM

          The alarmists need to be realistic. In 2010, pre-tournament, most people were happy to advance from the group stage.

          Reply

      • Posted by LarryMontanez on 2011/03/29 at 7:09 AM

        You can’t blame gooch and bocanegra for their “clueless” passes upfield when no midfielders showed for the ball. They had no other option. It’s not always the passer that makes a bad pass, a lot of times it’s the receiver.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/29 at 8:23 AM

          True. But Onyewu and Bocanegra have had distribution issues against most teams, so it’s not like this is a new issue. They’re just not very good with the ball at their feet.

          Reply

          • Posted by Crow on 2011/03/29 at 10:48 AM

            exactly. It is true that Argentina is one of the best teams in the world at pressing and that the midfielders didn’t show for the ball, but this has long been a problem of Gooch, Bocanegra, Spector, and other US defenders.

            Reply

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/03/29 at 10:49 AM

              You could tell Howard was furious from some of the “clearances” upfield. He was really yelling at Boca and Gooch several times because of it.

        • Posted by Berg on 2011/03/29 at 8:35 AM

          I don’t mind hoofing it out on the occasion when your defense is back on its heels just to catch a break.

          It just seemed that knocking it long became the 1st choice every time for certain defenders.

          Reply

          • Posted by LarryMontanez on 2011/03/29 at 8:58 AM

            True. maybe it’s like how the team didn’t sprint up to help Jozy, because they didn’t expect him to turn and look for help. maybe the midfielders didn’t show for the defenders because they weren’t expecting them to pass the ball. but i did see at the game that boca was visibly po’d when he drifted to his left with the ball, and eventually got boxed into the sideline by 2 argentines, and there wasn’t anyone within 30 yards of him. and nobody was even jogging toward him. that’s the danger of just packing it in on defense. off-the-ball players forget what to do when the team gets the ball back.

            Reply

  14. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/28 at 5:23 PM

    As I did write on Twitter, no one…not Spain, pressures the ball with their forwards better than Argentina.

    They are that good and that’s often a “magic” part of Lionel Messi. When he sets the tone (after doing so much on the offensive end) it’s hard for the rest of the players not to follow suit.

    I really have to stop these Twitter insertions…

    4:35 on Twitter:

    4:40:

    Anywho…carry on…

    Reply

  15. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/03/28 at 5:31 PM

    I think Chandler starts and Lichaj plays the second half. Chandler seems to be ahead of Lichaj in the pecking order and he needs more experience. What better time than now?

    As for Agudelo, I think he made a case for starting with his showing against Argentina. He’s being fast-tracked for a key role with this team. He needs more minutes.

    I agree that substitution could be an issue though. Can Juan go 90 without getting gassed? If not, who do we bring in to replace him? That’s definitely a problem, but I think we can bring in Dempsey or slide him up top if he’s already in the game. Then we can put Diskerud or Feilhaber in midfield.

    I agree that we’ll see Ream. I think that he’ll probably start.

    Tough to predict a lineup. It really depends on whether Bob is treating this like a must-win or as an opportunity to see some of the fringe players in action. I’d guess somewhere in between. I think we’ll see something like this:

    ———–Altidore—-Agudelo————–
    Feilhaber–Jones——-Bradley——-Donovan
    Bornstein–De Merit—-Ream———Chandler
    —————–Howard———————

    Likely subs:

    Lichaj for Chandler
    Kljestan for Jones or Feilhaber
    Dempsey for Feilhaber or Agudelo
    Edu for Bradley or Jones
    A goalie for Howard

    I’m curious to see Bob’s midfielder pecking order. I really have no clue how he rates Feilhaber, Kljestan, and Diskerud right now. This game could provide hints on where they stand and how we might use them.

    Reply

    • Posted by wild goat on 2011/03/30 at 4:18 AM

      minus bradley.
      he’s the glut that’s keeping the midfield from performing.

      Reply

  16. On the “fill-in” winger for Stu Holden at the Gold Cup…

    I do not think we have someone who can fill that role as well as Holden did (besides obviously Demps and Donovan)

    But if you are talking about the next best option, Spector, Feilhaber, or Jones (and potentially Chandler) come to mind before Kljestan. Don’t trust that Kljestan fits the bill of having the “know-how to determine when to help out internally with defense and when to advance.”

    Reply

  17. Posted by Carlos on 2011/03/28 at 10:11 PM

    We must keep in mind the we have only 180 minutes left to evaluate who & how we are going to deploy for the all important Gold Cup. And with the short turn around after the Spain game; we probably only have 135 minutes of game time. So there is no time to significantly experiment by tweeking the lineups &/or formations. Bradley has a very limited time to get it right b/4 the real fun begins on June 7th.

    Reply

    • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/03/29 at 8:06 AM

      I think this overstates what the early games of the Gold cup will be like. We should beat barbados playing a 4-5-1 with Gooch in the #10 role. These are great games to settle new players and solidify the system.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/03/29 at 9:26 AM

        Unfortunately, Barbados didn’t qualify for the Gold Cup, and our first game is against Canada. I know a lot people want to write them off, but they could very well present a real challenge for us.

        Reply

  18. [...] Paraguay lost to Mexico 1-3 on Saturday and in the opinion of The Shin Guardian, offer a look in the mirror for the US [...]

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  19. [...] Shin Guardian’s USA v. Paraguay preview. It’s extensive, it’s informative, and you can tell Bob Bradley didn’t write it because there aren’t three defensive paragraphs lined up together in the middle. [...]

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  20. [...] Haven’t got your fix: TSG’s Official USA vs. Paraguay Preview [...]

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  21. Posted by dth on 2011/03/29 at 9:22 AM

    Bielsa as US Technical Director still a possibility? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/soccer-insider/post/tuesday-kickaround-usa-paraguay-usa-spain-marcelo-bielsa-jeff-agoos-chad-ochocinco-tv-listings/2011/03/29/AFV0YguB_blog.html

    Thought it was interesting that Dan Flynn confirmed instead of Sunil Gulati.

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2011/03/29 at 10:46 AM

      Gulati never mentioned Bielsa by name but it seemed to me that was who he was talking about when he mentioned a specific individual talking to Bob and himself. He did say how many people have been contacted. Gulati seems to really like the idea (he defended having one), so I think it will only be a matter of time until someone is hired for that position. He also said- interesting- that he thinks that it would help to get someone who has “international experience” fill the technical director position.

      Reply

  22. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/03/29 at 9:32 AM

    Don’t know if it’s been said, I’d be interested to see Lichaj at RB, Chandler at RM, Dempsey centrally, Jeezy up top, LD on the left. The 4-5-1 but with a creator in the middle not a holding mid. The thought here: If we can’t make this work with our most creative player in the middle, let’s shelve this idea till the right player comes along.

    Then in one of Bob’s “I value flexibility to get the most out of my subs” moves: Agudelo for Lichaj, Chandler to RB, Clint out right. And the two striker 4-4-2 we saw in the second half.

    Reply

  23. Posted by wild goat on 2011/03/30 at 3:45 AM

    Oh yes, the yesterday man. As far as I’m concerned, this guy doesn’t belong there, nor does his spoiled son.
    Bradley is terrible for US soccer for soooooooo many reasons.

    At best an average college soccer coach, at worst, a small biased man with an agenda to use US soccer for his own personal gain. And, the gain of his son. For gods sake, the kid can’t even hold a playing spot down in Europe, while other US players are making names for themselves both abroad and at MLS.

    I want my US national team back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WE WANT REYNA!!
    WE WANT REYNA!!
    WE WANT REYNA!!
    CLAUDIO, CLAUDIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

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