No Jozy, No Cry: USA Rolls Jamaica, 2-0

The result they've been looking for...

Bob Bradley shook up the line-up–removing the US all-time goal leader–and the formation–going 4-2-3-1– at the outset of today’s Gold Cup quarterfinal at RFK stadium, but it’s the squad’s unshakeable and positionally-sound game that has it hopping into the semifinal on a better foot than they arrived here.

Big moments today from the big kid...

Landon Donovan donned a pinny and found himself a substitute in a US shirt for the first time since 2007, and both Sacha Kljestan and Alejandro Bedoya were inserted into the starting line as the States looked to quell an upstart Jamaican team.

The first half saw the US control the bulk of the tempo and pound the ball down the right side, beating back Jamaica’s typically high-flying left flank. More importantly for the Yanks in the half–and on the day–was their impeccable defensive integrity that saw smart and calculated forward runs without losing shape.

The only blemish beyond another slow start for Jermaine Jones, was lone striker Jozy Altidore hiccuping on a forward run and having to be subbed out with an apparent hamstring injury.

While the half arrived deadlocked at nil-nil, the US had the better of the play.

The second half saw more of the same from the States while Jamaica’s team shape continued to deteriorate. It would be the aforementioned Jones who would be a key player early on. A one-time volley on a rebound found paydirt after a deflection and it was 1-0 to Bob Bradley’s crew.

After being played forward midway through the half, Jones pulled a Charlie Davies was clipped on a tackle from behind and Jamaica would have to come from behind one man down.

The US purchased some insurance shortly thereafter as  Juan Agudelo, Altidore’s replacement, streaked on to a through ball and slotted across goal for a rushing Clint Dempsey who hitched left with Jamaican keeper Donovan Ricketts bearing down. Dempsey pulled off the sidestep, took a step, and dribbled the ball in.

Final scoreline, 2-0 to the Red and Blue. Jamaica’s tournament is done. The US moves on to the semis and will rematch Panama.

Key observations

• Bob Bradley’s team moved well as one

Some gutsy calls here by Bob Bradley. First, going 4-2-3-1. And then, removing Landon Donovan from the line-up. Late flight arrival or not, that decision certainly would have been second-guessed had Bradley’s team lost.

Most impressive from the States was their defensive shape, refusing to leave themselves open to a speedy counter from the Reggae Boyz.

At one point in the first half, Michael Bradley–seeing the team’s offensive shape pinched up–actually dribbled backwards to draw out the defense.

The Yanks still stagnated too much off the ball and the Jermaine Jones-Michael Bradley partnership still needs work, but a good day notwithstanding.

Oh and lest we  forget, nearly two years after Bob Bradley and Clint Dempsey had a come-to-Jesus conversation at the Confederation’s Cup regarding Dempsey’s role in the offense, now Bradley is showing a pattern of giving Dempsey the freedom, both positionally and tactically, to dominate the game the way he can. Never thought I would have written that last paragraph.

• The effect of Eric Lichaj at left back is, currently, massive.

Things are looking up at left back...

An excellent game from the rightback-come-leftback.

After a tactical move by Bob Bradley authorized Lichaj to push up and deny service to Dane Richards, Jamaica saw nearly no joy down Lichaj’s flank.

US fans have come to expect that type of performance from Steve Cherundolo, but not Lichaj or anyone else on the left flank.

Beyond hardcore defense, Lichaj was more than useful in the attack, staying wide when  necessary and making prudent forward runs.

Further, Lichaj’s presence enabled Carlos Bocanegra to play truer to his central defense role and also freed Bocanegra from any distribution responsibilities on the left.

• Can JJ make himself dyn-o-mite?

We once referred to it as the Jermaine Jones Caboose Effect. As Jermaine Jones, so go the Yanks it appears.

Better from Jones today, who still had stretches of average play.

To this writer, it appears Jones is wrestling with the notion that he’s at least a hair under the player he used to be. You can see it when he got beat on two tackles today and begged the ref for a call. The Jones of two, three years ago makes those tackles outright.

For the Yanks to win the Gold Cup, Jones will need to be at or near his present day best over the next two matches.

The Golden Shinguard

With apologies to Clint Dempsey and Eric Lichaj, young Juan Agudelo deserves this one.

After Jozy Altidore limped off with an injury early in the first half, Agudelo showed he was up to the task with a tremendous match. Agudelo ran well, was responsible with the marble, and found a few of the moves that got the press around him raving a few months ago.

And of course there was the sublime  square pass to Clint Dempsey who then netted the insurance score.

Well done.

———-

———-

Player Ratings

Tim Howard: 7

A solid  effort from Howard, complete with the customary one or two goal saving plays.

Steve Cherundolo: 6.5

Cherundolo again controlled his side. Got ahead in the attack and lashed some strong crosses. A shoulder knock seemed to slow his game down, but he did the job.

Clarence Goodson: 5

Not Goodson’s best game. He did very well in a few 1-vs-1 situations and stepped up well on oncoming attackers (something the Yanks have struggled with early in this tournament), but his  distribution was troubling.

That and he had a slightly “deer in the headlights” look about him today. Watch that going forward.

Carlos Bocanegra: 6.5

Yeoman-like and well-positioned.

Eric Lichaj: 7.5

A revelation on the left flank. Before the tournament, there was concern about Lichaj’s penchant to give the ball away on his weaker, left foot. He didn’t do that today. The rest we covered above.

Jermaine Jones: 6

Once again, uneven. The quality is there as are some of the nasty tackles. Now needs consistency.

Michael Bradley: 6.5

I liked Bradley’s game today for the most part. Finished runs and tackles. Bradley as distributor still has some challenges. Some poor giveaways and ill-conceived switch fields, but beyond that very strong.

Clint  Dempsey: 7

Proving masterful when undermatched (is that a word?) against CONCACAF competition. He needs a giant “F-U” match in the next two to elevate to the top of  the casual US soccer fan universe with Landon Donovan.

Sacha Kljestan: 7

Brilliant, simply brilliant from the Anderlecht man. Proved more adept than I thought at receiving with his back to the basket and turning. Kept moving in the attack without the ball when the Yanks were sedentary in the first half.

Has been guilty of being too unselfish now a few times at the Gold Cup. US fans should take that as Kljestan has matured overseas into a more complete player and clearly reduced the selfish ways that led to an “overrated” label.

Alejandro Bedoya: 6.5

Tirelessly raced the right flank in the first. Used his body well a few times to shield defenders. His runs were of an aggressive, attack-minded nature.

He just needed to finish one or two of his chances today.

Jozy Altidore: INC.

SUBS:

Juan Agudelo: 7.5

Was prepared for the game and worked his socks off. Never gave up on a play on both offense and defense. An assist and a well-deserved pat on the back.

Landon Donovan: 6

More energy today from Donovan and lots more running in a shortened half.

Maurice Edu: INC

Entered with Jamaica down a man and the result already in the bag.

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139 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by MJ on 2011/06/19 at 11:22 PM

    Felt good to finally see the team cohesion producing results. Really glad when I read this on the CONCACAF website:

    “I just wanted to pay back the U.S. team for letting me go to my sisters’ wedding and come out with a good performance and not let the travel be an excuse, rather it be motivation to come out and to fight harder,” he said. “I was able to chip in today and help the team win.” – Dempsey

    It shows a great attitude and awareness of the team, made me puff up with pride.

    Feel like we’re a little too casual at the top of our box from time to time, resulting in those heart stopping moments when the opposition gets a solid whack at the marble. I’m having a hard time making up my mind about JJ’s “dive.” Watched a lot of slow mo and it appears he was hit, not with the boot but the other players upper leg. Agree it seems weird, though he is already halfway through his stride when the hit occurs, but it makes no sense to dive there. Why would you? On a break away 1-on-1 with the keeper, not even for a penalty? Donovan seemed to be walking a bit still, I get he’s tired, but it’s a recent pattern. I think you can see him at the top of the box walking while Agudelo and Dempsey make the second goal. But other than that, great game.

    Question: Can somebody explain how Donovan and Dempsey were offsides on there one-two breakaway where Ricketts came out? Maybe I’m being stupid but I couldn’t understand the call.

    Great piece as always TSG.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/19 at 11:26 PM

      A player is in an offside position if he is closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender.

      Only one defender was between Landon and the goal.

      Reply

    • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/20 at 2:13 AM

      Matthew answered this well, but just to solidify the point for you on the offside rule… it’s a common misconception that offside means being behind the last defender (because more often than not, there’s a goalie behind that defender as well). But since it’s actually the second-to-last defender that counts, Ricketts came into play today for the offsides rule, which is more rarely seen. Although Donovan still had a defender between him and goal, he was now beyond Ricketts when the ball was played, Ricketts now being the second-to-last defender in this situation.

      I think it was a textbook example of how the rule works, and I’d bet my bottom dollar they use that play as an example in reffing classes everywhere… I know we watched many clips explaining the rare scenarios for offsides when I was trained years ago. Well called by the linesman.

      Reply

      • Donovan’s reaction was a little embarrassing. He should know the rule, and clearly his dumbfoundedness wasn’t because he thought he was shoulder to shoulder with his man. He clearly didn’t realize the goalie was the second to last defender. A rare situation and not a huge deal, but pretty awkward from our most experienced player.

        Reply

        • I agree about Donovan – it was an unusual situation, so it’s understandable where he ended up. But he still didn’t seem to get it.

          I liked Agudelo explaining it to him but nodding his head and holding up two fingers.

          Reply

          • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 9:16 AM

            I kind of wish they’d change that rule from “second-to-last defender” to “last non-keeper defender”. Make it easier to reap the benefits of forcing the keeper off his line.

            Reply

          • Tuesday – it’s an unusual situation, but this is the second example within the space of 12 months. It happened to Mexico in the World Cup and caused quite a stir amongst the pundits and the interwebs.

            During the heat of the moment I can understand some confusion, but as soon as Deuce made that pass, I knew it would be called offsides.

            Reply

            • I threw my hands up as the play developed and screamed “Donovan you’re offsides!”

              I remember the play during the world cup, and cited that example as I was explaining to my people what happened – including my 5-year-old son at his first USA match.

            • So we all knew it, but he didn’t “get” it? Makes one wonder…

            • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/20 at 11:59 AM

              I’d say he didn’t “get” it for a few reasons:

              a) Landy cakes didn’t have the benefit of the high, cross-field angle that we saw the game from. From overhead at the broadcast angle, things are much easier to see than at field level.

              b) Unless you’re offside by a country mile and put up your hands to show you know you’re offsides and aren’t going to play the ball, you always assume you’re onside and will fight to the death over it. Any close play as a forward, I always think I’m onside and get pissed off beyond belief at the ref for calling me off. But when it happens to another player on the field, I can clearly look over and say “hey man, he’s right you were off,” as Agudelo did. It’s just one of those things I guess, when it’s your play you always assume you’re on.

            • Dan – it’s not the fighting for your call thing; it’s that he seemed absolutely bewildered by the call and you could see him mouthing the word “How?”

            • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/21 at 6:10 AM

              Hmm, I’ll have to re-watch that play today. Either way, I’m glad everyone knows the rule here and understands that he was offside.

              Would have loved to see someone hit that at goal from 25 yards out with Ricketts out of the net. The defender would have had little defense of the goal other than a Uruguay-esque handball to keep it out.

            • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/21 at 6:12 AM

              And if Donovan really mouthed “how?” and doesn’t understand, it just reminds me of a few years ago when Donovan McNabb didn’t realize a regular season NFL game could tie. Embarrassing when a leader on the field doesn’t know all the rules.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/21 at 6:21 AM

              Just a FYI: they are not rules [of the game], they are laws [of the game]… common error.

    • Posted by John Henry on 2011/06/20 at 5:07 AM

      great quote from Dempsey.

      Man, I’d love to see him make a move to a big club and do well. I really like Chicharito, but it would be great to have the USA-Mexico rivalry play out on the club stage too.

      Reply

      • When my 5-year-old asks who is the best player on the US, there’s no doubt. I love Chicharito, he’s a fantastic player, but he’s no Clint Dempsey.

        Reply

  2. Posted by Gino on 2011/06/19 at 11:42 PM

    No arguments from me about your analysis, which is typically spot on. One could try to make a case for Dempsey or Bedoya for the Golden Shinguard but there’s really no wrong choice. Hell, even Kljestan was impressive. The backline were solid (it was Bradley who kept Jamaica onside on that 4th minute Yikes! moment). The midfield dominated. TSG fave Bedoya was dynamic. Landon’s wedding trip surely won’t turn him into a Wally Pipp, but his eventual retirement won’t spell doom for the USA at right mid. Jozy’s probable Cup ending hammy was tempered by Agudelo’s performance. A complete turnaround from their last two games.

    I’ve got to hand it to Bob Sr. Just as in the Confederations Cup two years ago when the US were on the verge of flaming out of the tournament, he pulls a rabbit out of his hat. These are just two examples of Bob revealing that he’s no slouch as a tactician and motivator. Granted, the players seemed mostly at fault for the Panama and Guadaloupe clunkers, but he was behind the turnaround in this last game. I’ve gone from thinking the USMNT were in serious trouble to believing they can start another streak against Mexico. Provided they don’t trip against Panama.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 1:11 AM

      I fully expect another US-Mexico final, but if you told me exactly one team would be upset in the semis, I would guess Mexico. All the factors point to a US victory: confidence built from Jamaica game, but no cockiness due to the group stage defeat; Panama playing on short rest after going 120 minutes, while our star player will be well-rested; Perez suspended (which hurts them more than missing Altidore hurts us).

      If Guatemala can give Mexico a game, there’s no reason to believe Honduras can’t do the same.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 1:16 AM

        Honduras also went 120. Guatemala has lower overall team quality than Honduras, but does have two dangerous offensive players in Ruiz and Pappa. Honduras? I think Andy Najar might be their most dangerous offensive player.

        Reply

        • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 8:21 AM

          Yeah, I forgot about that, but Honduras do have an extra day to recuperate, and maybe they’ll do something shocking and start their best player (who only went 30 minutes on Saturday). I’m not sure Pappa/Ruiz are that much more dangerous than Costly/Bengtson (Costly has four career goals against Mexico).

          Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/20 at 3:31 PM

          Did they call Andy up? I thought he wasn’t called up?

          Reply

    • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/20 at 2:23 AM

      I agree with your analysis on Coach Sweats. This was the first game I’ve watched in a long time where I just sat back after the final whistle and said, “By God, that was a well coached game.” Our game plan completely neutralized Jamaica’s speed and counter attack. We frustrated their defense and midfield into spraying balls all over the place, missing their targets nearly every time. Bob may have just made a believer out of me for the 4-3-2-1 (4-5-1 if you want to call it), which I never thought we would make work. And quite frankly, I think we use this formation again to deal with Panama’s speed in the semi’s. It seems to be an easy decision anyway at this point if Altidore is out, it’s not like you’re going to play Wondo and Agudelo for 90 each up top in a 4-4-2 (though Dempsey would likely also run up top).

      I’m looking forward to this redemption game, and if we can carry the confidence without cockiness into Wednesday, I think we have no trouble getting by Panama into the finals. Still need some work finishing, and still need to avoid huge errors in the first five minutes; a team like Mexico won’t let those mistakes go unpunished like Guadeloupe and Jamaica did. A more confident finisher in Dempsey should be taking the field Wednesday than what we saw in the final group game, so I think we finish more chances in this one.

      “Just when I think Bob Bradley couldn’t possibly be any dumber, he goes and does something like this… and totally redeems himself!” – Dumb and Dumber. But seriously, although it’s only one game, I really was impressed with his preparation for this one. His critics can’t have too much to hate on for that match.

      Reply

      • Posted by chavftw on 2011/06/20 at 7:30 AM

        Agree. Does Panama play 3 at the back? If they don’t, I still think 4-4-2 with a healthy Donovan is still our best formation. I will be interesting to see what Panama does without Perez up top.

        Reply

  3. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/06/19 at 11:43 PM

    When was the last 7+ review at left back?

    Reply

  4. Posted by dth on 2011/06/19 at 11:47 PM

    In other news US u-17s paid the Czechs back for 2006, 3-0.

    The highlights: http://www.fifa.com/u17worldcup/highlights/video/video=1455436/index.html

    Reply

  5. Posted by Dan on 2011/06/20 at 4:38 AM

    Agree with most everything, except the jones dive. There may have been some embellishment from him, but he had his foot clipped by the defender while running full out, and it looked like it was enough to, at the very least, cause a stumble. Since it was the last defender and it was a foul, it’s a good red even if jones made it look slightly worse than it was.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 6:00 AM

      Not sure I agree with you, SIr. IMO, it was a yellow card because it was not a “clear goal scoring opportunity” – No. 12 is technically defined as a recovering player – the ref got this call wrong [see Law 12]. Yes, Jones did get caught, *indirectly*, but only decided to go down once he realised he wasn’t going to get to the loose ball.. Look, sometimes these are given, sometimes not. I have seen these given for a lot less – but to say it was a straight red makes mw want to question the author’s impartiality, as they should be reporting the facts.

      The USA got a huge slice of luck today. Deflected first goal, and the second came about when Jamaica were chasing the game with 10 men [see above]. What the US badly missed today was creativity in the final third, which was why there were so many long range pot shots that didn’t trouble Ricketts. Although I did like the move that involved Bradley’s pass and Lichaj’s overlap.

      I thought Bradley was OK in spots, but he was lucky not to be punished for giving the ball away – Jamaica should have scored – and this is probably what Villa saw that made them not want to buy him. If that was in the Prem, I’d bet my left nut that the opposing team would have scored [unless it was Darren Bent who had the opportunity]. And that wasn’t the only time he gave the ball away in a dangerous position so casually. His decision making regarding when to release the ball is lacking, andhe still gets caught unnecesarily. Just because the USA weren’t punished, doesn’t mean one should gloss over this.

      Reply

      • Posted by Tyler on 2011/06/20 at 6:39 AM

        Quick play forward + tackle from behind + “last-man” foul + embellishment = red card. I’m not sure there’s much of an argument. In fact there wasn’t an argument from the player committing the foul.

        Whats more of an issue for me is that the referee wasn’t in position to make the proper call. If you watch the youtube replays of the red card incident, the referee is nowhere near the play.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 7:33 AM

          Player no. 12 could technically be defined as the last man, therefore by definition it wasn’t “denying a clear goalscoring opportunity” [again, please refer to FIFA Law 12].

          Tangential FYI – a tackle from behind is not an offense if you get the ball before inertia carries you through [otherwise all slide tackles would be a foul, no?]. It’s onlya foul if you get the ball after going through the player.

          Like I said, the US got a huge slice of luck. These things happen. But to deny it is crazy.

          Reply

          • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/06/20 at 7:47 AM

            While it may not be in the laws as technically a red card, I think any time there is a tackle like that and the play goes to ground it will always be a straight red. Maybe not in the MLS, but in any other league I think 100% of the time it will be a red card.

            That said, it was still a dive and Jones may have been better served staying up. But people have been looking for our team to play a more European style and that is it.

            Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 10:26 AM

            The specific circumstances in which the U.S. scored and got a man sent off were lucky, true, but the U.S. created many more chances and many more good ones. Howard only had to make, what, one save (which we were unlucky to have to make–they were clearly offside) of consequence?

            Pressure bursts pipes or something like that.

            Reply

            • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 10:28 AM

              Agree with your main point, but Bradley actually kept the Jamaican onside on that first chance.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 10:41 AM

              Still looks offside to me though I’ll concede it’s close.

          • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/21 at 12:52 AM

            If it was such a blatant dive as many argue, why was there no argument from the Jamaicans? Taylor saw the red card shown to him, and immediately trotted off the field, keeping his mouth shut. There was some slight contact, and yes it was embellished by Jones, but Taylor knew what he did. It’s not always about the amount of contact, it’s about positioning. Making such a clear slide tackle from behind with no chance at the ball solely to deny the player from getting through is what the offense is here. It makes very little difference how much contact there was. You can’t slide in from behind like that, and as a player, the Jamaican knew as soon as he went to ground for that tackle that he was going to be sent off. As a defender, you just wish you get a good piece of the forward so your red card-worthy challenge feels more worthwhile. For me, that’s an absolutely necessary red card and I’m behind the call 100%. But that doesn’t mean I was a fan of Jones’s theatrics (yes, it’s easy in slow motion to make him look like an even bigger actor, but frankly the use of slow motion isn’t fair). I don’t want divers and injury fakers on my team, this is not Europe this is America. And rolling around like a little bitch is the only thing I hate about Dempsey.

            Reply

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/21 at 6:09 AM

              ” this is not Europe this is America”- nice stereotype, son!
              Perhaps the USSF should not snake their fingers up family-trees *searching* for players who are ‘eligible’ to represent the US but develop grass roots here?!?!

              Last time I will reply to this topic, as I guess it is a moot point now – you got the decision and that’s that. I think you guys are missing my point. The foul itself was not “serious foul play”, it was not “denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity” because he wasn’t the last defender, therefore, by definition, it was not a [stright] red card offense.

              At least the writers at SI seem to agree with what I am saying [and apply the Law correctly].

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/21 at 3:17 PM

              You guys haven’t seen anything. In the 2002 World Cup Rivaldo was standing at the corner flag and Unsal of Turkey kicked the ball to him. It hit Rivaldo on the knee. Rivaldo grabbed his face like he had been shot and rolled around and got the Turk sent off.

              The Jones incident is flea on the ass of an elephant in comparison.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/21 at 3:24 PM

              I remember that. I also remember Slaven Bilic getting Lauren Blanc sent off in the 98 SF, therefore missing the final. I am not even French, but that pissed me off – but not as much as Blanc’s replacement, Frank LeBeouf lording it telling all and sundry that he was a World Cup winner….

      • Posted by Cory on 2011/06/20 at 9:32 AM

        George, I wouldn’t say USA got a “huge” slice of luck, rather they got what they deserved after thoroughly dominating the game. A goal was coming and the pressure Jamaica was under was going to pay off at some point. They created numerous quality opportunities that they were either unable to finish or denied by a good save from Rickett’s. That’s just how the game goes sometimes and on another day the scoreline would have read 4-0.

        With regard to the red card, you may have an argument that No. 12 wasn’t the last man and therefore didn’t deny a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but I don’t think it is particularly convincing. The Jamaican made an attempt at a ball he could not win from behind and brought Jones down after he was clean through (although Jones’ embellishment certainly did him no favors).

        Spot on with your assessment of Bradley, he sometimes makes head-scratching decisions and gives the ball away with such carelessness that you wonder if he understands what his responsibilities. I don’t think the problem is his technique, rather that he has lapses of concentration and positional awareness.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 10:06 AM

          Regarding “domination”, the US had a lot of possession in the middle third, but they didn’t create that much in the final third – it was hard when Jamaica had 9 or 10 man behind the ball. Not saying the US weren’t good for their lead when you look at the balance of play, but my comment is more aimed at the manner. The best team went through to the SF, but I would be more cautious if I was a US fan. This win over a poor Jamaica merely papered over the cracks.

          Reply

          • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 10:32 AM

            Maybe you should watch the highlights again. Plenty of chances were created. The finishing was lacking again.

            Reply

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 10:49 AM

              Not talking about speculative shooting from outside the area.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 11:06 AM

              Here’s US Soccer highlights:

              There’s more than just long-range shooting, and I think the only really speculative long-range shot is Jones’s (funny coincidence, that.) Agudelo’s long-range shot, for example, isn’t speculative in my book though feel free to disagree.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 11:35 AM

              Maybe you’re right about JA’s shot. But what about the many others – to me that shows lack of crativity in the final third? How many times was Ricketts really in trouble [prior to the sending off]?

            • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 12:45 PM

              Not talking about speculative shooting from outside the area.

              Neither was I.

            • @georgecross I think if you count in the highlight piece from US Soccer listed above, there are at least 6 or 7 quality chances inside or close to the box. If you consider Klestian’s shot “speculative” I would have to disagree, as it took Rickett’s best to parry it wide. Bedoya’s header, Dempsey’s bicycle, etc.. Not all chances ended it great shots, but quality chances none the less.

              That being said, creativity in the final third has never been a strength of the US MNT.

              Thanks to all for the give and take, I have learned a great deal over the last year.

          • Posted by Cory on 2011/06/21 at 10:26 PM

            Again, I don’t think we have much disagreement. I agree that the win, given the quality of the opponent, should not cause anyone to be overly enthusiastic. This was Jamaica after all, and for a team that has aspirations beyond the round of 16 in the World Cup, the continued lack of a cutting edge in the final third is cause for concern.

            Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/20 at 6:33 AM

      Jones play wasn’t technically a dive because he was clipped. He definitely embellished it in a way that Busquets would have been proud of.

      Bradley was poor with distribution a few times. He also was responsible for lollygagging on defense which kept the entire Jamaican team onside on their opportunity in the 4th or 5th minute.

      Have Villa officially decided not to buy Bradley?

      Reply

      • Let’s be honest here, Busquests would have grabbed his face and pretended to be grievously injured. Jones at least had the common decency to get back up right away.

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      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 10:16 AM

        Last I heard Villa and ‘Gladbach are negotiating. Of course, with MacLeish as new manager, I’d prefer Bradley stayed far away from Birmingham (the same goes for Lichaj, whom I don’t think the club rate anyway–do you send players you rate on a stupid 7-on-7 tournament in Hong Kong? Guzan can stay if he’s the starter.)

        Reply

  6. Posted by John Henry on 2011/06/20 at 5:03 AM

    Agree that the benefit of Lichaj’s presence cannot be overstated. As you said, both because he’s our best left back, and also because Bocanegra (it appears) is still our best centerback. There’s been a huge upgrade at two positions as a result.

    For the first time in a while, I rate Bradley lower than you and others. He had two dreadful turnovers deep in D territory that could have led to goals. One of them should have, but Jamaica flubbed the chance. And, as pointed out by Gino above, he also kept Jamaica onside on the play that absolutely should have been a goal.

    On Kljestan: it’s remarkable to say, but I think he’s bringing a certain class to the team. Maybe not in technical skill, though he’s been good there, but definitely in tactical and creative awareness – what the Brits (greeks) call “nous” I think. Add Donovan and Deuce, and you’ve got a potent offense capable of making smart runs and not-obvious-and-telegraphed passes.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Bode on 2011/06/20 at 5:11 AM

    Zonal Marking would be proud of Bob for going with one striker up top against the back three of Jamaica. Something to watch out for, but it might be a lot less effective if he sticks with it against Panama.

    Another interesting dilemma for Bradley is how to replace Altidore? I could see him starting Agudelo and Deuce up top, bringing in Bedoya on the right and Donovan on the left.

    A radical solution that will never happen but is fun to talk about is the possibility of going to a Roma-esque 4-6-0 (someone has mentioned that before on this site). Deuce would be the “nominal” striker with license to drop deep, Bedoya and Donovan on the wings and Sasha playing the AM role “behind” Deuce and all four of them being given license to roam, switch, and pop up anywhere in attack. There were a lot of moments against Jamaica yesterday (esp. in the second half) where it seemed the US was doing something not dissimilar from this strategy, especially when Agudelo would drift into wide positions.

    Reply

    • Agu’s holdup play is class, and when we go with him alone up top we tend to work more in the attack as a team. Anytime we go 4-4-2 our two banks of four just sit in our own half and watch for Jozy + whomever to pull of a miracle. I’m fine with Agu setting up goals for Dempsey or any other MF arriving into space in the danger area. More of this, please.

      Reply

    • Posted by Mingjai on 2011/06/20 at 8:23 AM

      “Zonal Marking would be proud of Bob for going with one striker up top against the back three of Jamaica.”

      Yep, they sure are.

      http://www.zonalmarking.net/2011/06/19/united-states-2-0-jamaica-gold-cup/

      “The problems of having 3 v 1 at the back have been discussed many times on ZM before, but this was an interesting game because the US wide players played narrow, as ‘interiores’, in Spanish terms (see Villarreal). This gave the Jamaica wing-backs considerable difficulties, and created a huge overload in the centre of midfield.”

      Reply

  8. Posted by Lou on 2011/06/20 at 5:31 AM

    It’s curious that you would have Bradley rated higher than Jones. I’m not sure an objective observer would come to the same conclusion. Bradley almost single-handedly gave up a goal in the fourth minute and had countless other giveaways, some in dangerous positions. Jones meanwhile was all over the field, broke up numerous plays, put in some hard tackles, scored a goal and got a Jamaican player sent off – he was clipped on his back left heel in what was a clear red card situation. Maybe you need to watch that play, and probably the entire match, again. Jones was MOTM, certainly more deserving than Agudelo.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/20 at 6:38 AM

      I agree. I thought Jones ran the midfield for the US and was MOTM for me as well. I guess though that if the writer thinks that’s a dive it would affect the rating.

      Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 7:26 AM

        Not sure what all the ?’s are re red card. As stated above, the defender’s reaction will always tell the story. He attempted an open field tackle from behind and disrupted the players stride. Jones tried to stay up and then went down. Defender got up saw the card and turned and walked off the field without an argument.

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        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 7:36 AM

          So if the Jamaicans surrounded the ref it would have been less of an offense? Nice logic.

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          • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/20 at 7:46 AM

            No, but when was the last time you saw a player accept an incorrect decision without any kind of response? It just doesn’t happen.

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          • The Jamaican defender clearly made no attempt to play the ball. He simply tried to scythe down Jones to stop him getting in 1v1 with the keeper. He clipped Jones toe when he was running full tilt. Jones lost his balance and went down when that foot next hit the ground. It was a textbook red card for the last defender fouling to deny a goal-scoring opportunity, as from my vantage point, none of the other Jamaican players had an angle to make a recovering run that would deny Jones the shooting opportunity. The camera angle made it look like that may have been possible, but it wasn’t – Jones was in.

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          • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 7:57 AM

            Come now George, you’ve played and watched the game enough to understand my point. The logic is pretty sound. Wasn’t referring to the Barca ref baiting or Jamaicans surrounding the ref, but simply the guy who was just sent off. He stood up and turned and walked off as if he was waiting for the card. To any objective observer that’s pretty good indication that he believes he’s guilty as charged.

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          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 8:08 AM

            Tuesday – I think you are sensationalising what happened. Jones’ trailing foot was caught after he planted it on the ground and as it was on its way up. Hardly warrants the use of “skythe”.

            All – be honest, if this was the other way around, you’d all be saying what I am saying, but because it’s the US, you cannot see it through your American-tinted glasses.

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            • Posted by John Henry on 2011/06/20 at 8:14 AM

              George, not sure why you’re hitting this so hard. You sound angry about it… ?

              But yeah, I agree. To me it was a (very) soft red that in effect ended the game for Jamaica. No doubt it was a bit of luck in favor of the stars and stripes. I don’t think, though, that it was a travesty of a call. There is definitely justification for it even if a yellow would have been the better call (IMO).

              That said, hard to say anything other than the game was never looking to go Jamaica’s way aside from the pure gaffe in the 4th minute.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 8:38 AM

              Not angry – had no vested interest in either team, just wanted to see a good game as a neutral. That incident killed the game.

            • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 9:00 AM

              Eh, Jamaica was lucky the ref didn’t see the earlier elbow to Jones’s face – they could have already been down a man. They were never getting back into that game even if Taylor had seen yellow rather than red.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/20 at 10:54 AM

              All it would have taken is another sloppy turnover from Michael Bradley and for Jamaica to actually taken their chance.

  9. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 5:49 AM

    Very solid performance by our boys.

    Jones/Bradley seems to work best when they stay organized with Jones at the back side and Bradley more forward. Mikey made a few of his customary def third possession gaffs that could have cost against a better side. When he had the ball turned toward goal he looked confident and even a little dangerous throughout.
    Love the Lichaj play mostly in that you have a solid possession option out left. It was painful watching guys look out there and question their passing decision for the last few yrs knowing it could cost them. Even when he makes a mistake his recovery speed, strength and soccer intelligence are worlds above the other LB options. Looking forward to seeing him grow into the role and kudos to Bob for putting him out there.
    And how great is it to say that, even though it’s Jamaica, TACTICS won this game almost from the tap. After the first five (again) (YIKES!) Jamaica just seemed confused and lacking in options.

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  10. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 5:57 AM

    And speaking of gaining light years in just a few weeks…let’s keep measuring Goodson against his competition and not our mythical idea of a CB. Compare his distribution against Gooch’s and you’re talking light years. Yes, a little shaky a few times but still breaking in his USMNT boots. I am much more comfortable watching him receive and move the ball than Gooch ever inspired. And Boca BTW rarely booted it yesterday because he had a trustworthy option in front of him in Lichaj. I don’t think that can be overstated.

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  11. Posted by timmer on 2011/06/20 at 6:34 AM

    Great game from Lichaj! Just wanted to say that..

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  12. Posted by Johninho on 2011/06/20 at 6:38 AM

    Hilarious clip you got there from Eurosport. My Russian’s minimal, but did he really say Jermaine Taylor and Patrick Dempsey?

    And I badly need to see that semi. Something tells me the Nats are going to destroy Panama.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Nick Powers on 2011/06/20 at 6:47 AM

    Does anyone have a story/link about this “come-to-Jesus conversation at the Confederation’s Cup?” I’d like to know more about that.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/20 at 7:06 AM

      It’s in Filip Bondy’s book–asked him about in an interview last year.

      Reply

      • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/06/20 at 9:12 AM

        I looked thru the interview and didn’t see the question in question. It’s possible my infant sleep deprived eyes just didn’t see it.

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  14. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/06/20 at 7:41 AM

    Lichaj definately needs to get a better left foot before 2014, but I agree with the general happiness with his performance. He doesn’t need to be a wunderkind with the left, but being able to make a decent cross with it will make him super dangerous over there.

    Also I am happy agudelo got to come into the game and play as a single striker. While he isn’t a physical as Altidore, his play as a hold up man is much better. Altidore’s instinct is to turn towards goal whenever he gets the ball. Agudelo wants to control the ball. He is comfortable with his back to the goal. He looks to bring the other players into the play. Altidore almost plays like my rec team: Just kick it to him and he’ll run at the goal and shoot. Works really well against poor teams, but against good defensive teams you need more than just one or two attackers.

    All that said, I was sad to see Altidore get injuried. I think he could make a great wide forward for us and hope he comes back strong after this tourny. I also hope that Bradley doesn’t play him again. ANY hamstring pull needs at LEAST 2 weeks to recover. If you play before that you can serious pull it again and then be looking at between 6 months and never the same.

    Reply

    • Lichaj has a serviceable left foot – I’d say his left-footed deliveries are already better than Bornstein’s. One cross late in the first half did reveal it’s his weaker side, and he does cut back fairly frequently, but he’s good enough to keep the fullback guessing. His ability to go inside or outside on either foot actually causes problems in the same way that Lahm does for Germany.

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      • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/06/20 at 9:14 AM

        The lichaj comment wasn’t impling that he hasn’t already been better than our current left back options, just that if he improves his left foot he could be truely world class on that side of the field, which will make the US a much better team.

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  15. Posted by EFG on 2011/06/20 at 8:11 AM

    Anyone have a link to the Jones “dive”? I couldn’t see from where I was sitting (I was almost too close to the field, #humblebrag) and I haven’t been able to see what happened. Thanks.

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  16. Posted by Colin on 2011/06/20 at 8:19 AM

    Anyone know the severity of Jozy’s injury?

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    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/06/20 at 9:20 AM

      Dunno, but this makes Bob’s decision to carry three forwards look that much worse – especially since Adu and Rogers are basically just dead weight, and a player like Herc Gomez could’ve actually contributed in this tournament.

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    • Posted by Colin on 2011/06/20 at 9:45 AM

      yup for sure, especially since he was starting 2 strikers for all the matches prior to yesterday. Its puzzling why he would only bring 3 strikers if he planned on starting 2 strikers in the tournament.

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    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 10:29 AM

      I don’t know, but Jozy’s twitter feed includes a comment about “rehab,” so I’m guessing no more Jozy for us.

      Might it have been a good idea to have Herculez Gomez or Teal Bunbury or even Buddle with us? Hmm….

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    • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/21 at 1:04 AM

      I have said since the minute the rosters came out, you don’t carry only three forwards on a tournament roster. It’s a death wish for offensive play. Injuries happen, bad form happens, card suspensions happen. How could he possibly justify carrying 3 forwards and 9 mids (who are largely dead weight) when he planned on using 2 forwards a game? Agudelo doesn’t normally go 90 minutes. And then Wondo just plain can’t play at this level. I wanted to see Hercules Gomez and even the off-form Teal Bunbury at least on the roster. You don’t start them- fine. But boy would it come in handy now with Jozy out. Our two remaining forwards are an 18 year old kid (who I love, but the experience is still lacking obviously) and a 28 year old new call-up who will never be more than an MLS level guy. You can’t like our chances there without anyway aside from those 2 on the whole roster. Dempsey is going to need to ride the confidence of his last goal to keep finding the back of the net for us, because he’s our best offensive weapon right now. Especially if Agudelo can do his job of holding the ball up top until Dempsey can get into a goal scoring position for a feed.

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      • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/21 at 3:07 PM

        Try not to jump off a bridge.

        “Dempsey is going to need to ride the confidence of his last goal to keep finding the back of the net for us, because he’s our best offensive weapon right now. ”

        Newsflash, he has been our best offensive weapon for a few years now and will be for the foreseeable future.

        I love Gomez and would have preferred him over Rogers but otherwise have no problem with 3 forwards since Bedoya, Donovan and Dempsey can all play forward,certainly better than an off form Bunbury and Buddle.

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  17. The 4-2-3-1 requires more movement in the attack and makes us so much less static and predictable than when we’re in standard 4-4-2 mode. So much quicker with the ball yesterday – a lot of good one and two touch play in the second half. This must continue.

    With the exception of the free kick he took after the red card, Kljestan was great – good movement to find space between the lines, good touch, confident enough to want the ball in tight spaces. He worked really well with Dempsey. Bedoya’s diagonal runs into the box caused Jamaica all sorts of problems. His directness in the attack from the right adds an element that is missing out there with Donovan’s pass-first mentality. We normally only see Dempsey get into the box, but with Lichaj on the left and Bedoya making these runs, it means there’s danger from both flanks. In all seriousness, Donovan’s starting spot should now be under threat.

    I thought Bradley’s vision was really good but he doesn’t always have the pass to do what he sees. He had a couple of his usual let-offs. Jones speed of thought and range of passing are probably just a little bit better, and really he had a slightly better game than Bradley, outside of scoring. His reading of the game means he’s a little better at choosing when to take risks. Between the two of them, they set the tone and really bossed the game from midfield.

    Bocanegra’s move inside has made this team much better defensively by shrinking the space between the center backs with better positioning. Could still be a little better defensively.

    Nice to see this team improving and working so much better together. On this form, they certainly can beat Mexico.

    Reply

    • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/06/20 at 9:10 AM

      To me this team lost a lot when Bedoya came off the field. That Width was what was killing Jamaca. Yes, Bedoya isn’t as good of a player as Donavon, but he brings speed and attacking menatality to the wide right that Donavon doesn’t.

      One of the real problems for the US team is that Donavon and Dempsey are clearly our best attacking players, but both like to drift centrally. How do you scheme a team around them? As good as Jones played this last game I would still put him on the bench. Kljestan and Bradley are good together. I would see them Start as the central Midfield pairing. Kljestan won’t Tackle like Jones, but we don’t need two tacklers out there when we have Bedoya and Donavon and Dempsey all Tracking back. Then I would play Dempsey, Donavon, Bedoya in front of them; then Agudelo. Dempsey and Donavon can switch back and forth left and center and Bedoya can keep driving up and down the Right flank.

      On a side note, I am starting to wonder how many different formations I have advacated for over the past month… Which brings me to the fact that its not the “formation” as much as it is each player’s natural tendancy to occupy a space on the field. When the coach chooses a “formation” that works he really is just putting the players on the field where they feel comfortable and putting players out there to occupy the spots that work best for each other.

      Reply

      • I advocated Bradley/Kljestan after Panama but I’m not sure about Kljestan playing that deep. His natural tendency is to take more risks with the ball than you’d really want him to in that spot.

        Last paragraph is absolutely spot-on. It’s the manager’s job to deploy a formation that takes best advantage of the natural tendencies of his players. Bob Bradley doesn’t do that often enough, instead trying to shoe-horn players into positions in a system they aren’t particularly well suited to. But he did that yesterday, and deserves tons of credit for it. It was brave, but yesterday this team was better without Donovan.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/20 at 11:08 AM

          Jones outplayed MB90 by a large margin in this last game. No chance he goes to the bench. I don’t have the confidence that Klejstan/Bradley are disciplined enough to not make the bad passes that cost us goals.

          I’d leave Donovan out again. That 3 of Klejstan/Dempsey/Bedoya was dangerous and very fluid. It worked very well and shouldn’t be tinkered with. Unfortunately, I think LD gets the start because of the fact that he’s LD and I don’t think Bob has the guts to drop him without having the excuse of jet lag.

          I will be very disappointed if we go back to a 4-4-2. I’ll be equally disappointed if we start with Wondo out there instead of Agudelo.

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          • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/20 at 2:50 PM

            I think Jones should go to the bench for the Panama game just to make sure he doesn’t miss the final. A bit of rest won’t hurt either. If he comes out for the final fresh and unencumbered by card accumulation he’ll be a holy terror.

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  18. Posted by chris on 2011/06/20 at 8:40 AM

    i hate to say i told you so, but i have been gushing about lichaj since he played 90 for villa against my spurs.
    it was actually exciting to see bale get shut down that day by the american..
    anyway, this is SO exciting, its almost liek we are starting to get a taste of the future of this team. and they can hold their own! sometimes….

    Reply

  19. Posted by John Henry on 2011/06/20 at 8:49 AM

    Rewatching the highlights, Dempsey was a beast. So many impressive displays of skill. He could have had 3. Really nice game from him.

    Reply

    • Let’s be honest here…both the rip he took earlier on in the game and the bicycle kick (a prime example of Deuce saying “I am the best player on this field, and I will attempt whatever I damn well please”) were not incredibly challenging shots. Ricketts doesn’t handle the ball well, which is part of the reason we got so many corners. You put a shot on frame, odds are the ball is squirting away from him.

      Still…yes, he could have had three. Lichaj could’ve had one. JJ could’ve had two if he’d stayed on his feet. Woulda-shoulda-coulda doesn’t do you any good after the game ends, though…but I’ll take the two we got, and hope that Dempsey’s finishing is even more exquisite for the semis.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/20 at 12:38 PM

      Haven’t weighed in on the finishing yet. By and large, I discount finishing in a game. My mark of success for a team is number of scoring chances created.

      Finishing is an attribute–to me–more than a skill. Either you have it or you don’t. Sure focus comes in to play as well as a host of other things.

      But unless we’re talking Spain, Brazil, even Germany, I expect finishing to be average at best across national teams, better for some players on it (Donovan, Dempsey).

      Non-sequiter — just thought I would add it.

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  20. Posted by Scott on 2011/06/20 at 9:28 AM

    Definitely disagree with you on this one TSG. Agudelo was solid but nothing special. Certainly not worthy of the golden shinguard. Jones on the other hand was better than Bradley todayaa who made several silly turn overs that could have hurt the US much more than they did. I usually rate Bradley better than Jones, but that was not the case in this game. Jones covered a lot of ground, made several important tackles and was very good except for his silly yellow card and dive (which I don’t hate him for or think is the end of the world). I think you were way off on this one

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  21. Great match all around to build confidence. Now hope they up their game and bring intensity against Panama.

    Good to see Lichaj and Agudelo have great games. It seems like I have been pushing for them to be trialed and started in this formation for forever. Good to see BB mix it up and trust in the 4-5-1.

    Would love to see us pounce on Panama early and really put them away. Dolo, Boca, Demps, and a few others could really use some rest, if we can afford it. Too bad we cant rely as much as we would like on JB or Spector. Seems like Jones should sit to start the next match. Groin needs to rest and we will need him against Mexico, if we can get there. I think we could get by against Panama with MB and Kljestan together. Bedoya and Donovan on the wings, and Agudelo up top with Demps in the hole. Of course BB might put Edu in there but who knows he could surprise us. Heres hoping Donovan is rejuvinated and doesnt have something horrible like lyme disease or has been cursed by Voodoo witchcraft.

    So here’s a question, can we rest anybody against Panama. I think Jones could but is he too crucial to our setup? Hope his groin is minorly tweaked. Could any other starters come off the bench?

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    • Posted by Jake C. on 2011/06/20 at 11:02 AM

      One thing with Edu is that his closing speed is ridiculous. Could really be an asset if Panama rely on that quick-hitting counterattack again, and taking Jones’ injury into account he may well get the start.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/20 at 11:06 AM

      Not a bad place to start the preview here.

      Part of the problem–beyond a flawed tactical plan that Bob Bradley will likely learn from–is that the US got caught out repeatedly against Panama.

      I think the US–like it did against a disorganized Jamaica side–needs to be very smart with their forwards run. Multiple times during the US-Panama game, the US got caught with Landon, Jozy, Juan, and Clint all behind the play–leading to Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones having to fend off 4 vs. 2 and 3 vs 2 in the midfield.

      If I’m Bob Bradley–I’m likely going 4-5-1 this game and using Kljestan ahead of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones.

      I really enjoyed the tactical interplay of the group stage match here. This one–with the history–will be interesting.

      Reply

      • I agree that is our best lineup. I was wondering more whether we could get JJ some rest and play with not quite our best lineup. Not trying to overlook Panama at all, just considering the endgame of this tournament, a healthy rested Jones with bite could really help us disrupt Mexico’s service.

        I can see how a deep lying Edu doesnt really work out too well, but maybe he provides enough lying slightly ahead of MB. Obviously that is a risk, so I can see how it would be very hard to not bring a key player like Jones into this match. Hopefully if he starts we can get a lead and rest guys early.

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        • Posted by FulhamPete on 2011/06/20 at 1:06 PM

          I’d love to see something like a 4-2-3-1 morphing with a 4-3-3.

          —–Agudelo—-
          LD————–Deuce
          —Bedoya-Klejstan-
          ———MB90———
          Lichaj-Boca- CG-Dolo

          Give JJ the rest/yellow preservation. Bring on Edu for …whoever needs a break, and adjust. There’s a LOT of flexibility in that midfield.

          Reply

        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 2:51 PM

          I think it’s no accident that Mikey has been more effective overall when playing above the CDM (JJ) in the final 2/3s. He really is not a good on ball defender in the final third and his questionable decisions with his back to goal too often put the D under pressure. Let alone the mental lapse jogging back and playing a guy on sides. I think Jones is able to “force” him up the pitch positionally where Edu/Clark etc don’t have the pedigree or personality to do so. Just my opinion as to why the JJ/mb combo seems to be working better than the others. Not perfect but better.

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  22. Posted by s44 on 2011/06/20 at 10:00 AM

    Kljestan was fine in the first half, but in the latter part of the game he was repeatedly where US attacks went to die. I think low expectations are getting him overrated on this occasion.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/20 at 11:59 AM

      Fair criticism in the second stanza of Kljestan. However, I think people expect to see Kljestan reel off at least one highlight pass after he did that in MLS (and amazingly got a commercial).

      That he was contained and continually selfless was great to see. Robbie Rogers could learn from him.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 1:12 PM

        I think Kljestan may have overshot the mark a teeny bit though–certainly there were times where I wanted him to shoot but he passed instead. Overall, his game was very good and a nice balance between creativity and responsibility.

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      • Posted by Isaac on 2011/06/20 at 2:04 PM

        I think that as the game wore on the amount of iffy moments increased, but the amount of “wow” or “nice play” moments didn’t change at all. He was delivering some nice passes to hold possession and unlock a Jamaican defense that was sitting relatively deep in the first half.

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  23. Posted by Joe Ramirez on 2011/06/20 at 10:15 AM

    Each time someone plays left back and its not bornstein or Bocanegra they focus on the positivas and not the flaws of the player they are not objective.It happened with Zach Loyd in January. Now Eric Lichaj. He plays better as a right back. Against Spain his mistakes were notorious especially defensively when they attack him he lacks lateral movements and at times in using his left leg on 1st touches and positioning. In the 1st half of Guadalupe and Jamaica games some of the goal chances of the opposition were created thanks to Lichaj mistakes. He has some potencial as right back but it takes time to become a better player.

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  24. Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 10:39 AM

    An additional point which can’t be underestimated: how many times in the Landon Donovan Era has the U.S. looked even acceptable without him playing at a good level? How many times has the U.S. looked good without him totally? I can’t recall a single instance of either…when you combine that with the loss of Jozy early in the game and it’s really remarkable that the USMNT was able to dominate the run of play as they did.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 11:20 AM

      I don’t think this is a general indictment of Donovan but simply the reality of his fitness/health/form over the last month or so. Clint looked ready to take on the BMOC role and I think that, as many here have noted accurately, Bedoya provides the width that this team needs in place of Donovan.

      For whatever Agudelo lacks in experience, he has the energy and enthusiasm for the “forward fundamentals” that Jozy seems to have forgotten or lost interest in. Running off the ball, playing with your back to goal and smart possession are the keys to good forward play and Agudelo seems to be fitting that role better each time he shows up.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 11:23 AM

        Not an indictment at all; Landon’s been so critical to our team throughout his reign. It’s just a note that if you’d told me a week ago that in our knockout stage game we’d be missing Jozy due to injury and Donovan would be benched, I would assume the worst. If you’d told me we won, I’d expect it to be a close-run thing. That we dominated them is a pretty impressive achievement.

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        • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/20 at 3:01 PM

          So — was the Jamaica game a model for a new USMNT attack, with Dempsey as the key offensive player, width on the right, an aggressive left wingback, decent passers at CDM, a hardworking striker, and a creative presence at CAM? Or did Jamaica just play a stupid formation that allowed the US a huge manpower advantage in the midfield?

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          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/20 at 4:53 PM

            It’s hard to say–Jamaica’s 3-man defense ceded the advantage to the US midfield. Can the U.S. pass through an opponent without such a huge advantage in numbers in the midfield? Hard to say.

            Certainly should be tried.

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  25. +2 points on Dempsey’s grade for the dirtiest celebration in USMNT history.

    Jog down the middle of the field. Nobody picks me up. Oh hey thanks for the ball Agudelo. Side step Ricketts. Tap…. B*TCHES CAN’T SEE ME!!!!!!

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  26. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/20 at 12:40 PM

    where is the semifinal being televised on Wed 6/22? Checked Fox and others but no luck.

    Reply

  27. Posted by Isaac on 2011/06/20 at 2:19 PM

    I think we should go with this for Panama:

    http://this11.com/topics/show/5528/my-usa-lineup-vs-panama-semi-finals

    Dempsey and Donovan seemed to be in roles that suited them pretty well yesterday. Dempsey started from narrow on the left, where he usually likes, and made direct runs at goal that had him looking like Agudelo’s strike partner at times. Donovan started from deeper and wider to give typical width, and drifted into central playmaking positions. Kljestan’s drifts to either flank had him switching positions with Landon and Clint, making the USA very fluid in attack.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/20 at 3:07 PM

      If you guys don’t mind, I’d prefer to links to this11.com in the commentary. I have my reasons.

      Thanks kindly.

      Reply

  28. Posted by Crow on 2011/06/20 at 4:34 PM

    Just wanted to mention a few observations I have from attending the game yesterday.

    Wow, all of El Salvador was at the game. I couldn’t believe the parking lots when I arrived. It was awesome, though. Practically, all of the El Salvadorian fans were cheering for the USA. It was so loud at RFK- even louder than the Charlie Davies game. Now I know what it’ll feel/sound like when the US has 60,000 fans in a stadium. When I got home I watched the FSC broadcast and I couldn’t believe what a poor job they did with cameras (people constantly blocking the main broadcast camera!) and on sound. You really couldn’t tell on TV how loud it was at RFK.

    I will really miss RFK even though the place is a dump. The best atmosphere- and the security is nice. They allowed other AO members down into the sideline area and then when El Salvador was up they let their hardcore fans down.

    I was happy to cheer for El Salvador in the 2nd game and was disappointed they did not win. I do not have much respect for Panama.

    I’m looking forward to the Eric Lichaj-Timothy Chandler connection on the right for years to come hopefully, but until then I’ll be happy to see Lichaj on the left every game. He isn’t perfect, but he is actually a threat to do SOMETHING when he goes forward unlike Bornstein, and I think he is much more solid defensively.

    Reply

  29. Posted by Crow on 2011/06/20 at 4:45 PM

    I guess I missed Klejstan’s solid performance or I was just too focused on his poor finishing- whether it was failing to take a shot or missing badly on the final pass in attack.

    Reply

  30. Posted by berniebernier on 2011/06/20 at 6:32 PM

    I will be very angry if we don’t see a 4-2-3-1 on Wed. To me the biggest question is who plays on the 3. One has to assume that Donovan is back in the line-up (although the yanks played well enough to justify the same line-up). One obvious choice would be to take Bedoya out. Not sure that’s the best strategy given that leaves all of the 3s moving centrally (plus Donovan’s propesnity to play deeper than we want the 3 band playing). Personally, I would keep sit Sasha and move Dempsey in the middle. That gives you two in the middle and Bedoya keeping width. Don’t see Bob doing that but…

    Amazing how much better a 4-2-3-1 works when you have 3 offensive players in the 3.

    FWIW I think that Holden plays in the 2 with either Jones or Bradley not in the 3. Just figure someone will repsond to the post with how great a Dempsey-Holden-Donovan 3 would be.

    Matt love the site and wanted to thank you for the twitter shout out. It was greatly appreciated.

    Reply

  31. Posted by sy on 2011/06/20 at 7:03 PM

    If there was any doubt:

    Clear red.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/21 at 6:59 AM

      Clearly clips the back heel in mid stride, which changed his stride and when he realized that would keep him from reaching the ball he went down. Just noticed in that replay that his captain is right there first and turns and ushers him off the field with a pat on the back with no argument to the ref.
      Can we put the cheesy dive talk to rest now? If he continues to stay up and stumble run he doesn’t reach the ball OR get the call. Neither defender has an angle or is close enough to reach him. Straight red and an excellent call by our celebrity guest official, Eddie Munster.

      Reply

  32. Posted by sy on 2011/06/20 at 7:13 PM

    Whoops. Just pasted the link. Didn’t mean to embed the video. Can’t fix it from here. Sorry.

    Reply

  33. Posted by CJ on 2011/06/21 at 8:39 AM

    I was fortunate enough to get to watch the game from the stands. A few things I noted… we have one of the most stagnant attacking possessions in soccer. It’s like the whole team goes flat instead of gaining momentum when we take possession. Without LD pushing the counter or having the vision for the precise long through pass on the field we’re left with a hesitant slow paced attack. Eventually by putting the other team to sleep an opportunity here or there would present itself but even then often our ball carrier would be too hesitant to try a high risk high reward play 25 yds out.

    Also I concur with a few of the other commentors that JJ showed cclass above MB and was the player of the match. His intensity and Dennis Rodman like presence was a neat attribute to our team. I look forward to seeing more from him. I even supported his yellow because him and jamaica’s #9 had a personal 1v1 the whole game. JJ was playing a mind game and winning it.

    Reply

  34. Posted by Jim S on 2011/06/21 at 12:01 PM

    George, I agree with you that another player was 1 step closer to goal, but that doesn not factor in to the equation here. The FIFA law, yes you are correct george they are laws not rules (i correct people all the time), on page 35 states: “denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick” is listed ad a sending off offense. Also on page 32 it states: “a direct free kick is awarded if a player trips or attempts to trip an opponent (implying that contact isn’t needed)”, so even if he “dove”, the attempt to tackled a player from behind with a goal scoring opportunity is a red card offense. Unfortunately FIFA allows the ref to punish law infractions same as a court judge by permitting them to “reduce” the puninshment to a yellow card if they feel it was done without malice. Hence, why most of the time this may end up being a yellow card. So i agree but disagree. Was the red harsh, yes, but is is backed by the laws of the game, yes. Do i believe he could have stayed on his feet, yes, but according to the laws, that doesn’t matter because taylor did it with intent and he would have definitely argued if he felt wronged, but he didn’t even blink when presented the card. Also, it’s the responsibility of the linesmen to notify the ref that he was not the last defender at the time of the foul.

    Reply

    • Posted by sy on 2011/06/21 at 1:34 PM

      Very much agree, Jim. And, it really takes very little to knock you over when you’re totally upright and running at top speed. Even a little clip can send you flying when you’re going full out. Plus, JJ isn’t exactly Messi with the center of gravity of a bowling ball. So I read the fall as being plausible.

      Also, there is no mention of “last man” or “last defender” in the FIFA laws regarding sending off for goal scoring opportunity. Among the several things to be “considered” are the “location and number of defenders.” Objectively, JJ was clear through on that play. The defender (No. 12) was a half step ahead of JJ but 10-15 meters to the side. No way he gets to him unless commits the same kind of foul No. 6 did.

      I’ll grant anyone the operatic embellishments once JJ knows he’s going down, but I don’t see how anyone doesn’t grant that the right call was made. Instead of blaming the ref for being overzealous, I’d simply say it was a professional foul, it was flagrant, it probably stopped a goal (with a 4 on 2 break) and he paid the right price for that. Frequently they don’t.

      Reply

      • Posted by CJ on 2011/06/21 at 4:06 PM

        I agree. JJ falling was just making it impossible for the ref to ignore the flagrant albeit professional foul. I feel like if a Ref can choose to play “advantage” and let a play continue even though a foul was committed, a player should be able to force the ref to make the call if they feel continuing in possession after being fouled would lead to their team being at a disadvantage. Should JJ have stayed on his feet and actually made a feeble attempt at goal, the Defender would have gotten away with a crime. The Ref likely wouldn’t have awarded a Red at that point, just a yellow, the shot JJ would have taken would have been off balance and at a full tilt, and the goalie would have been helped by the foul entirely.

        Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/22 at 7:05 PM

      If you openly admit “another player was 1 step closer to goal” then how can it be “denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick” is listed ad a sending off offense? It’s clearly not an *obvious* goalscoring opportunity. Do you see what I’m getting at?

      Reply

  35. Posted by sy on 2011/06/23 at 6:40 AM

    George, semantics aside, a cursory review of the tape and the application of some simple geometry will show that JJ was closest to the goal, clear of all defenders and had an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The defender was far to the side. Not sure how you can see otherwise. I think maybe your initial misstatement of the FIFA law may be causing your confusion. Who is closest to the goal line here is irrelevant. The call was correct and warranted. There are plenty of cases where the US has gotten undeservedly lucky; this isn’t one of them.

    Reply

  36. […] to the semifinals off an assist from Agudelo. As Matt Tomaszewicz from The Shin Guardian noted, it was one of Bob Bradley’s better coaching jobs: Some gutsy calls here by Bob Bradley. […]

    Reply

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