Snap Judgements: Mexico Roars Back, Knocks Out US, 4-2

A busy day for Tim Howard and the Yanks in the back...

The United States came out like the real banditos Saturday night, but left instead as their victims.

Guns blazing, with the pride of Nike Soccer (Freddy Adu, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey) all taking turns leading the line, the States took it Mexico with their best of-ball movement yet of the Gold Cup tournament early in the first half.

Twenty minutes in it was 2-0 Yanks with Michael Bradley skipping a header off his bald pate on a Freddy Adu corner and Landon Donovan slicing horizontal across the goal face to deposit an Adu-Dempsey 1-2 set up dish. The pro-Mexico Rose Bowl crowd? Muffled.

Little did Bob Bradley know that the States fate was sealed before their second goal. Rock steady Steve Cherundolo went down with an ankle injury and Bradley made a critical decision on his replacement that he probably wishes he could take back.

Bradley reached into the hat and pulled out Jonathan Bornstein. He wasn’t the same rabbit that Freddy Adu was against Panama.

With Bornstein inserted, youthful Eric Lichaj was moved over the right flank and the United States went with two players at new positions the rest of the way in the Final; three actually if you count that Carlos Bocanegra started the Gold Cup at left fullback.

With the US backline disorganized, Mexico quickly turned the tables and struck for two goals to even up the match.

New sub Jonathan Bornstein was culpable on the first playing too narrow and giving up a lead pass to Pablo Barrera who mowed the grass pass Tim Howard on the left.

Moments later Andrew Guardado lit the lamp as Gio Dos Santos drove in and fired across the goal. Eric Lichaj made the block, but looked like he was trying to tap back for a Tim Howard clearance. Instead the marble found Andrew Guardado and Mexico had clawed their way back. The half would end deadlocked in a thriller at 2-2.

The drama soon became a tragedy for the Yanks in the second.

The US central midfield got stretched frequently in the first half and the leak became a full blown incident in the second stanza. First, Giovanni Dos Santos–who had an electrifying match–dinked in a lead pass for Barrera who sliced a gorgeous ball past a diving Howard and into the right corner pocket, 3-2 Mexico on Barrera’s second.

El Tri stretched it to 4-2 in the 70th decade as a dancing Gio Dos Santos controlled and retreated against Tim Howard who had come out of goal. Howard’s backline failed to contest Dos Santos and he fluttered a gorgeous chip into the top left corner.

The US would have their chances in the second–a Clint Dempsey bender off the bar and a Clarence Goodson toe poke–but it wasn’t to be as the States skidded out of the Gold Cup tournament and lost an invitation to avenge their Confederation’s Cup final meltdown of 2011 in Brazil in 2013.

Your snap judgements:

The US, confused in the back...

Lack of true depth–and a questionable call by the manager–does in the US backline.

Hard not emphasize Bob Bradley’s selection of Jonathan Bornstein at leftback twelve minutes in when steady Steve Cherundolo went down–and not just because of the personnel choice.

To understand the peculiar decision, the past month’s history needs to be investigated. As the US roster came out for the Gold Cup, the name of nascent Timmy Chandler was left off the roster. It was felt by Bob Bradley that bringing in Chandler–arguably the Yanks most promising prospect for Cherundolo’s successor–was not a dire necessity as Chandler’s club team, FC Nurnberg, protested the call-up due to the youngster’s heavy 2011 workload.

The US would enter the tourney with Jonathan Spector , Jonathan Bornstein and Eric Lichaj instead as their flank back-ups.

Once Tim Ream proved too unseasoned for a permanent role centrally, Carlos Bocanegra slid to the middle. In his stead went Eric Lichaj, who spent the last quarter of his club time at Leeds playing the left back role. With a backline of Cherundolo-Goodson-Bocanegra-Lichaj, the States reeled off three straight shutouts to enter the final Saturday in Pasadena. The US backline appeared stout.

With Cherundolo coming out Saturday, Bradley summoned Jonathan Bornstein–arguably the more experienced to Jonathan Spector with two World Cup starts under his belt–to come in on the left. Lichaj would move to the right.

The decision proved catastrophic. With Bornstein showing well behind game speed and Lichaj disoriented on the right the States couldn’t work together in the back. The chances for El Tri started coming in abundance. With US midfielders either hustling to get back in position late or failing to pressure on Mexico’s servicemen, the US backline was bombarded and could not withstand the onslaught.

Instead of being a force as it was the past three matches, the back four for the States were reactive and slow. Getting forward in the attack? Rarely consuming their minds.

Getting back to Bradley’s decision, it was an exceedingly curious one in that in flew in the face of a conventional coaching axiom of, “Solving Peter’s problem by creating one for Paul,” so to speak.

The US manager had a young Lichaj on the left getting very comfortable with his position.

He moved the youngster across the field to a role he had not played previously for the Yanks in the tournament. As Lichaj told TSG previously, defending on the left versus the right is very different at fullback.

Second, Lichaj had proved adept at closing down attackers on the left in the tourney, even if he was trailing them and especially if they dribbled horizontally across the top of the box. With Mexico’s Dos Santos adept at cutting in on his stronger left foot from the right, it would be thought that having Lichaj’s strong right foot to deal with that an advantage.

Bornstein as well was an interesting call. The former Tigris player had played little for his club in 2011 and had not featured for the Yanks since March, however back-up rightback  Jonathan Spector at least played a few weeks earlier against a team of similar (or more impressive) speed in Spain.

Bradley, it would show, weakened both positions.

With Bornstein unfamiliar with his teammates on the pitch and Lichaj unfamiliar in his role, the US backline seemed unsure about whether they should come up and press Mexican’s attackers–risking a run behind from Chicharito–or sit deep and compact. The confusion both personally and as a whole wreaked havoc on the Yanks shape and the States paid dearly.

A younger US central midfield did not pressure their elder counterparts.

A brief signal of strength from Bradley on the day...

After a grueling path to the finals for both teams, it was the thought the United States would have an advantage in central midfield where Michael Bradley (23 years old) and Jermaine Jones (29) were matched up with El Tri’s Israel Castro (30) and Gerardo Torrado (32).

The question TSG posed in the preview: Can the USMNT central midfield tandem of Michael Bradley-Jermaine Jones hold up for one more game and find the hold-up player?

The answer? A resounding no.

After an early goal by Michael Bradley signaled differently, both he and Jones had a rough evening. Their play exascerbated more by the fact the tandem was supposed to outperform their opposite numbers.

Both players were sluggish on defense, Jones resorting to his early tourney defensive lapses both centrally and in helping to cover for the inserted Bornstein.

Bradley showed signs of fatigue early and had himself a stinker after having several solid performances throughout the lead-up games. The coach’s son was guilty in giving away possession on multiple occasions, frequently trailed the play, and was left ball-watching on goal number two as his mark Guardado swept a ball away from Howard.

The signs, to this writer, were of a player who had not been given adequate rest to perform against a team that played at a higher speed.

The duo of Jones and Bradley failed to boss their zone and left gaps that a backline already challenged in synchronicity didn’t need.

Advantage, Mexico.

The Yanks mixtures of forwards with no true strikes showcased their best off-ball movement and attack….with an asterisk.

The States best offball movement and offensive harmony of Gold Cup 2011 came in the first twenty minutes on Saturday.

With Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan interchanging and Freddy Adu holding up the ball in a very Rafael Van Der Vaart way on the fight flank, the United States manufactured a host of early chances against Mexico.

With that said, the lack of a true striker–one that is distinctly a target man or distinctly challenges the opponents back four–left much more on the table both Saturday and during the tournament for the States.

The Yanks are at their best when Donovan and Dempsey are given space centrally to attack the goal. On Saturday, a striker to drag central defenders to the flank–as Chicharito did ad nauseum with US captain Carlos Bocanegra–would have proved invaluable in making the flow of opportunities a steady one.

Instead the Yanks tried Donovan up top to little success in a striker role and then tried Clint Dempsey but his teammates couldn’t provide him service. US teenager Juan Agudelo would enter halfway through the 2nd half, but looked more–to use a baseball analogy–like a pitcher aiming his pitches instead of “just throwing.”

The US early movement is to be commended, but beyond regressing to protect its defense, the Yanks stagnated without a true striker doing work ahead of its forwards.

The silver lining: Is the “comeback” for Freddy Adu complete?

Nothing short of amazing the work that Freddy Adu in this game. It was Adu–who looks bigger physically than last time he sported the Yanks jersey in 2009–that held up the ball or challenged a defender as the match dictated better than any other attacker for the Yanks.

What makes this impressive is that this was only Adu’s second game on the pitch during the Gold Cup and he was playing the fastest team in the tournament. Adu at times looked almost nonchalantly with how well he held or moved the ball.

If Saturday’s match had any glimmer of excitement when over for US fans, it was the re-emergence of US soccer’s prodigal son Freddy Adu as a possible long-term difference maker.

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222 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by FulhamPete on 2011/06/26 at 12:55 AM

    I’d like to raise the idea of what might have been if our REAL 23 roster could have been accessed.

    Instead of names like Rogers, Bornstein & Wondolowski, we could have seen names like Chandler, Holden, & Davies.

    I’m not so naive as to think that we are that much better than Mexico. However I AM saying that at full strength, we are a far sight better than we were during this tournament.

    Imagine if you will, a new USMNT, not one of 2010, or 2011, but of your

    Altidore-Davies (Agudelo, Mwanga)
    Dempsey-Bradley-Holden-Donovan (Bedoya, Adu, Jones, Edu)
    Lichaj-Ream-Goodson-Chandler (Boca, Dolo, Gonzales, Onyewu)
    Howard (Hahnemann, Hamid)

    Just suggesting. And I KNOW I’m missing some other young talent that arguably could be on the roster. (AJ DeLaGarza, Franklin, Mixx, Tracy, etc)

    These gentlemen are plenty young, and I would prefer that starting lineup, by the spring of 2014, to whatever the Mexicans are throwing at us.

    Reply

    • Posted by FulhamPete on 2011/06/26 at 12:57 AM

      Oh,and the chip by Dos Santos was one of the most sublime plays I’ve seen in my 13 years of following soccer.

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      • Posted by jose on 2011/06/26 at 10:35 AM

        good job man you know good futbol

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        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/26 at 11:23 AM

          It was an exceptional finish, no argument there. Have to question how the US had so many players in the box but still prevented Dos Santos from getting a shot off…

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          • Posted by JohnnyF on 2011/06/26 at 6:54 PM

            exactly. have a look at jones on the GDS goal just standing, then only walking as dos santos dance around right in front of him! at one point he’s actually running AWAY from gio as gio dribbles towards him. finally he half-heartedly sticks a leg out on the shot. terrible effort, terrible defending.

            by the way, a spurs friend says at white heart lane giovanni dos santos is referred to as: Johnny Two Saints. love that.

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    • Posted by mikemiller on 2011/06/26 at 1:32 AM

      Quit making excuses the USMNT lost a defender Mex lost two better defenders then the defender the U.S. lost Mex had a 3rd string goal keeper in as well while the U.S. had the star goal keeper. Bring on who ever you think will make you better truth is this is a new generation of MEX players and there not slow or old like the U.S. is use to playing against. see you in Brazil 2014 if they make it

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      • Posted by Jeff on 2011/06/26 at 7:39 AM

        I agree that excuses should not be made, but Mexico did not lose two better defenders. If you think Marquez is better than Cherundolo, you’re out of your mind.

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        • Posted by AJ on 2011/06/26 at 12:44 PM

          Then I’m out of my mind :)

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          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 7:16 PM

            Yeah, agreed. Cherundolo is the best of the bunch. That said, the total value of defensive players was greater for Mexico. Tons of credit to the Mexican team to overcome that obstacle.

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        • Posted by wides on 2011/06/29 at 9:00 AM

          It’s not just about who lost the better player, it’s about where they lost that player.

          IMO Cherundolo is the best of that bunch anyways, but he was also our best defender, replaced by arguably our worst (Bob’s mistake, though I probably would’ve done the same after watching Bornstein make some very serviceable appearances in the WC).

          Exacerbated by that, is the fact that now our weakest position happens to come at a place of one of Mexico’s greatest strengths, their speedy wingers. Mexico lost two defenders, but the fact that the US doesn’t have a strong target forward, or super speedy guy like Davies (2009 version), meant that Mexico was in a much better position to handle those losses, so it had less of an impact.

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      • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/26 at 10:17 AM

        You need to learn the difference between excuses and explanations. In your defense, you’re not the only one.

        Mexico was, and is currently, better. The author above details the reasons why.

        There are no excuses offered in the above piece.

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    • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/26 at 1:35 AM

      Davies- injured when rosters were selected… and also not quite back to form.
      Holden- injured.
      Chandler- club didn’t let him go.

      Those are the breaks, you have to go with the roster you’ve got and I think it’s a moot point after the tournament to argue what the roster should have looked like.

      The inexcusable move to put Bornstein into the game makes for a terrible ending to an otherwise well-coach tournament by Coach Sweats. You can question his approach in friendlies, and you can question his roster selections, but you can’t question the tactics used in the knockout phase of this cup. People need to stop hating on Bob and get behind him already. As long as he never lets Bornstein close enough to even smell the field again.

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    • Posted by The Soccer Times. on 2011/06/26 at 12:16 PM

      What about Mexico? They were missing three key defenders. Maza Rodriguez, Marquez got hurt, along with Salcido, Mexico used 3 23 year olds (Juarez, Moreno, and Torres Nilo) and Reynoso who just got onto the team about a week ago. Mexico is a young team and will be a tandem to be reckoned with over the next two world cups. Let’s face it, Mexico has taken the next step and started creating young, talented, quick players and sent them off to Europe to be sculpted into top notch players. You’ll see these young players the the Copa America. a 4-2 victory with 4 unanswered goals in a final is something you rarely hear of. Especially when playing a game to see who’s the best in the CONCACAF.

      Reply

  2. Posted by mikemiller on 2011/06/26 at 1:25 AM

    there are no U.S. players better then any Mexico players so bring on who ever you want this is not the sam old slow and old mex team from before this is a new and better squad so if you think bringing young talent would have helped that is wishful thinking and you know it

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    • I’d ignore the trolling, but this begs a response. Holden has shown far more quality than any of the Mexican midfielders. Dempsey and Donovan would both start if they played for Mexico. Howard is a better keeper than anyone that Mexico has produced in a long time. ‘Dolo is the captain of a top-flight German team. There are glaring weaknesses in the United States’s game, but don’t act like Mexico is the equivalent of Spain or Argentina. You guys aren’t an elite side any more than we are.

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    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 3:46 PM

      All credit to Mexico for putting on a great display but this Mexican squad would have had trouble in the World Cup. They will have to upgrade their defensive philosophy.

      You can get away with that all out bucaneering style when facing Guatemala, Honduras or a US team with a makeshift offense that put two past them and should have put more in.

      But when they face a Spain, Holland,Germany,Uruguay,Argentina or, for goodness sake,Brazil, teams with solid defenses and potent fluid attacks in a competitive (non exhibition)game, it will be a whole different ball game.

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  3. Posted by carlos s. on 2011/06/26 at 1:30 AM

    next time around we’ll also have speedy wingers/strikers (Gatt,Gyau,Wood,other young kids/chandler/holden). hopefully a LB and quicker, younger CBs. we need CM that can actually possess the damn ball against opposition like mexico. not destroyers like jones and bradley maybe ones fine but not two…. *sigh*

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    • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/30 at 3:56 AM

      We have a solid left back in Lichaj. Now we just need a backup left back not named Bornstein.

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  4. Posted by lonm13 on 2011/06/26 at 1:42 AM

    Gios chip was world Call, and Tim Howard is a quality keeper. Reminds me of His last goal he scored for Barcelona when he scored a hat trick.(but better!)

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  5. Posted by Dan on 2011/06/26 at 1:43 AM

    Did anybody else think Timmy had one of his weaker games in a long while?

    Frozen stiff on the first goal. Slow to react on the second goal as it bounced towards him. Third goal went right under him. (And I think too much credit and fanfare is being given to that goal, it was a mediocre hit to me.) And he got caught chasing in no man’s land before Dos Santos hit that perfectly weighted chip.

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    • Posted by Dan on 2011/06/26 at 1:44 AM

      And yes we were outplayed all around, just a talking point for discussion.

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    • I thought the same thing but was shot down quickly on Twitter.

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/26 at 6:19 AM

        Actually I believe discussion on Twitter was if Timmy was blame-worthy. Not the strongest game for Howard esp. on that first goal. But he also held his line very well–the time he came out I think that it was a decent decision and Dos Santos just was on.

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        • Posted by daniel on 2011/06/26 at 6:27 AM

          Reminded me of some of his games with Everton… You can only count on your keeper to single-handedly keep you in it every so often. We maxed out that credit card a few games ago.

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          • Honestly, we maxed it out a few years ago. Hopefully paying it off now means we don’t pay as much later.

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          • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 3:56 PM

            The hype on Howard is way overblown. He is a very good keeper. If he starts out on a roll like he did in the Argentina game then he can become impassable. But, occasionaly he makes mistakes and tends to get rattled when he does.

            Mexico put a lot of pressure on keepers but if he was the God-like World Class keeper everyone says he is he would have done better.

            I keep hearing about how his defense let him down but the fact is he is a big part of that defense. We don’t know how the US back four organizes things but, with a patchwork back four and newer players, one would think they would rely heavily on their veteran keeper.

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            • Posted by CJ on 2011/06/27 at 4:59 PM

              Howard is one of the top goalies in all of soccer, no questions asked. All of the other “best goalies” typically play for top clubs and country and have exceptional defensive players around them. Are they counted on to make an amazing save and come through once in awhile? Yes. Are their skills off the charts? Yes. Are they consistent and deserve credit for how good they are? Yes.

              Howard plays behind a bunker defense National Team with HUGE cracks in the concrete. Our team motto is apparently Indivisible but we’re broken down consistently and leave our goalie to make HUGE saves ALL the time. Not just 1 or 2 every other game, or every 3rd game. Basically if you are the USMNT’s goalie you stand between those posts knowing you are going to have to have your best game, every game, or else the team doesn’t stand a chance.

              Do you think Spain’s goalie has that same sense?

              How about the Netherlands?

              Or Germany?

              Those goalies perform admirably in really tough games occasionally but it’s just not the same for Howard. He’s got 90 minutes of organizing a lesser talented defensive squad that lacks consistency in player selections, and that’s on top of having to be poised to act when Dos Santos is left to dance in the 18 like he’s Wayne Gretzky.

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 6:31 PM

              CJ,

              Everything you say has some merit but if Howard were truly “one of the top goalies in all of soccer, no questions asked.” he would have done better. He needed to come up big in this game and say what you want about the defense he did not come up big. If he was “one of the top goalies in all of soccer” he would have done better on Mexico’s first and would not have butchered that third goal. Do I “blame him for the goals? No, but then lets not speak about Howard as if he were an all time great. Freidel was and may still be better.

              Howard is a fine keeper but is not at the very top of the line.

              All you can ever ask of any keeper is that he save the shots he can save. The best keepers in the game tend to actually be boring. Their positional sense and “reading“ of the game is so good that attackers seem to always be shooting right at them. Acrobatic saves are all well and good but many times, if the keeper were positioned better in the first place, he wouldn’t have to get all acrobatic.

              Howard does have something of a pass with his inferior US defenders but that doesn’t explain away misjudgments on long shots like that long range shot that Slovenia took or the bad positioning he took up on Boateng’s savable near post shot in the Ghana game (by the way don’t blame Clark alone for that, if you have to blame any defender Demerit did an awful job on Boateng).

              Howard is one of those untouchable US players like Holden or Davies. They are demigods beyond criticism. For me Howard was better when Keller was around to push him.

              Goal keeper replacement is a low priority on the team, comparatively speaking, but it would be a lot better if someone came around to push Howard.

  6. Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 2:01 AM

    Adu looked…amazing? Like…amazingly bad? That kind of amazing? I don’t want to be snide, but I’m mostly watching the same Adu stuff out there–nice trick to beat his guy, who decides to just knock him over. I also saw a lot of Adu dribbling down blind alleys, etc. I mean, maybe…

    It’s also worth noting that the bad defense under Bradley has been a persistent feature. No matter what personnel he has, he just cannot put together a good defense despite having one of the best goalkeepers in the world as insurance. Today he decided to keep his defensive line high, because that’s generally what you decide to do when you’re facing a fast team.

    To tie the previous two points together: what, exactly, happened to all our athletes again? Weren’t we supposed to be the athletic team? Because Mexico seems to have faster players with better balance than we do–you can’t tell me Guardado or Barrera are much bigger than Adu, but physical challenges dissuade them much less.

    Mexico does look a lot better, and they’ve clearly undergone a philosophical change. Some people will talk about the attacking players, and that’s part of it. The big difference for Mexico isn’t the offensive players, it’s the pressing. Not a big feature of the Primera Division, generally–because of the heat, I presume. So why the change? Is it more players moving to Europe? Or is it de la Torre insisting on it? At any rate, we used to be able to catch Mexico with our faster speed of play and they’ve adapted by going even faster. It’s something that will require a similar tectonic change to counter and I don’t believe Bradley is the guy to preside over such a change.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 2:22 AM

      I’m exaggerating a little bit on Adu…I’d give him like 4 or so.

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/26 at 6:20 AM

        Disagree on Adu — often times Mex sent two players two him and there was literally not support or only support behind the play.

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        • Posted by daniel on 2011/06/26 at 6:45 AM

          Yeah, what? Adu was the playmaker in the second US goal, the best team goal of the game.

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        • Adu actually looked to be double teamed anytime he got the ball on the flank and got past both of them on more than one occasion.

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    • Posted by Alex on 2011/06/26 at 5:59 AM

      Nice observation, that. Mexico pressed us like crazy, especially when the ball found its way to Bradly or Jones. This was a completely different Mexico team that I saw out there, and I think it’s absolutely down to 1. de la Torre finally being able to take control of their national team and 2. Mexican players getting out of the comfort zone of the MFL and having to adapt to new playing styles, while needing to prove themselves outside of the country.

      I agree, as well, that a seismic shift similar to Mexico’s will need to happen for the USA to be able to compete in this new CONCACAF, because we are either stagnant or seriously falling behind the times. The central American teams are getting better, Mexico is dominant, and even teams like Canada and Jamaica are resurgent. I really don’t think 2014 qualifying will be a cake walk.

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      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:25 AM

        Are the central American teams getting better? To me they basically look the same–I just think Bradley hasn’t been able to get cohesive performances out of the team and therefore it looks worse than it actually is. Realistically, the talent on hand for the team was better than it ever was before and that’s before high-profile people who couldn’t make it. So if the talent can’t quite gel right, the natural place to look in my opinion is the coaching.

        That said, I want to be very specific about what I mean by “best talent ever available”: we’re mostly getting slightly better versions of what we already have. So Jermaine Jones is a good player in general, but he’s really just a better Ricardo Clark or Pablo Mastroeni. That’s good and all, but doesn’t allow us to make a quantum leap in how we play. Sending Mexican players to Europe has produced that quantum leap in pressing and speed of play; sending American players to Europe has polished a lot of guys but hasn’t quite revolutionized them (except for Clint Dempsey and Stuart Holden.)

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        • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 4:48 PM

          dth,

          “Sending Mexican players to Europe has produced that quantum leap in pressing and speed of play; sending American players to Europe has polished a lot of guys but hasn’t quite revolutionized them (except for Clint Dempsey and Stuart Holden.)”

          I wouldn’t say Dempsey and Holden were “revolutionized”.

          Improved greatly certainly but Clint was a “tweener” when he went to Fulham and so he remains.

          Holden’s evolution at Bolton was the logical extension of what he had been doing at Houston where he transitioned to the center from the wing once DeRo left.

          Holden benefited greatly from having a good situation (clearly defined role, manager who believes in him, decent teammates, good cultural acclimatization) and that, more than anything, is what is most vital for any US player seeking to move abroad.

          Speed of play is really about speed of thought (or rather, you should not think, it should be instinctive muscle memory as to what to you do).

          What de la Torre has done for Mexico is find a style of play that is instinctive and comfortable for them to play. Since Mexico has a stable of attacking types (Chicharito, Gio, Guardado, Barrera, etc.) that’s what they do. It remains to be seen how it will hold up against sterner competition. Think of the Phoenix Suns a few years ago.

          What the US has in terms of a “stable”, on the other hand, is an abundance of mostly dour midfield types. Fleshing that out into a coherent overall style is more of a challenge.

          If the talent pool continues to get better as it seems like it might in the next year or two, then I think the US has a good shot at being a more balanced side than Mexico.

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          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/27 at 11:11 PM

            Interesting thoughts, but I disagree–I think the Mexican players have become much more balanced. Don’t know what the final cause was, but they were pressing with a vengeance Saturday. That’s a change in mentality and ability from them; previously we were the team that unsettled them with our pressing.

            Mexico’s defense in general looked much sounder than ours, and I attribute that to their ability to lean on and off the gas pedal, pressing-wise. It was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, few of the teams had the talent and the tactical werewithal to hit Mexico where it might hurt–the service and distribution from the deep-lying middle, i.e. Marquez/Moreno/Castro/Torrado. Guatemala had the tactics but not the talent; the U.S. had the talent but not the tactics. The main mistake Bradley made was not committing to one strategy or another. On one hand, he allowed the defensive line to wander fairly high, a sign that he wanted to cut off distribution. On the other hand, he started Freddy Adu in the hole. Now, if you’re going to start someone in the hole, you need offense. But if your strategy is to cut off distribution, the man in the hole must do defensive work. Dempsey would have been a better candidate for that work–he did that same work admirably against Ghana. That would’ve moved Donovan to the left flank, which would’ve given better support to that flank. Presumably, that puts Agudelo in up top–Agudelo has an excellent work rate and has shown a great willingness to play defensively.

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    • Posted by Standard_Deviance on 2011/06/26 at 8:00 AM

      Your comments are normally very perceptive dth, but Adu was the best US player on the pitch last night. Everyone else was pretty terrible, so that’s not saying too much, but I think your knee-jerk dislike of him is blinding you to a quite respectable showing.

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    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/26 at 8:14 AM

      Not sure I understand your comment about high line. Surely if you have Goodson and Bocanegra in the middle – two players who aren’t that quick – you would want to minimise the space for Mexico to exploit between your keeper and back four. That was the first thing I noticed [even when Cherundolo was on the pitch] because Mexico seemed to get behind via a simple throughball time after time. Where was the pressure in midfield?

      Not sure why Bradley did not change things are you were [fortunately] up 2-0. Game was far too open. Not saying put 10 men behind the ball and try and close put for 65 minutes, but there are many degrees inbetween.

      Yes, Bornstein was poor, and the Cherundolo injury unfortunate and probably a turning point and bad decision in hindsight. But the US presented Mexico with too many gift-wrapped opportunities. This has happened before, but Howard or bad finishing has bailed you out. Reality is it really could have been more than four.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:27 AM

        Yeah, I wish I had behind the ball views–Univision was using crazy camera angles, etc. etc.–to be able to tell. The line looked high but mainly you’re right–I think the lines got stretched. This is what happens when a 4-4-2 gets stretched (and why Arrigo Sacchi stressed keeping a short distance between your three lines in a 4-4-2.)

        Reply

    • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/26 at 10:20 AM

      Every post I’ve seen from you indicates you have zero objectivity on Adu. You’ve made up your mind about him, and nothing is going to change it.

      Enjoy being in the minority on Adu’s performance in this tournament.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:34 AM

        I have no problem whatsoever with being in the minority. But thanks though. If Adu has a nice professional season in a decent league next year, I’ll change my opinion just as I changed my opinion of Sacha Kljestan. But I doubt that’ll happen for the reasons I’ve repeated often.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jake C on 2011/06/26 at 12:06 PM

          Haven’t seen enough of Adu lately to give an informed opinion looking forward, but to me it’s impressive that he performed as capably as he has after playing in the second division in Turkey. I think if he were placed under a good coach in a tougher league he could continue to develop into an excellent player.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 12:16 PM

            It’s certainly possible. For me the issue isn’t defense or whatever, it’s that Adu’s offensive skills are negated by two athleticism issues: a) he’s fast, but not fast enough on the top end to absolutely destroy people; b) he’s small, and doesn’t have great balance, so an Eric Lichaj-style hip check will clean him out. The combination of those two things means that he spends a lot of time beating guys but then getting beaten in turn. The thing is about it that it looks good, Adu beating guys, but since he either has to beat guys twice or avoid getting sent sprawling, it doesn’t amount to much, productively.

            Adu probably can get better tactically, and a good coach could help him with these issues. Nevertheless just as you can’t coach speed (or athleticism) you can’t coach lack of same.

            Reply

            • Posted by Jake C. on 2011/06/26 at 4:01 PM

              I think a good bit can also be chalked up to him having his head down when dribbling. He can beat defenders one on one, but has to take time to get his head up–and that’s when he gets checked off the ball. If that can get coached out of him, should be a much better overall player.

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 4:11 PM

      Adu was basically a different take on what Agudelo had been doing for the US, a forward who could serve as an outlet, hold the ball for a while and occasionally get it to someone in a dangerous position and maybe be dangerous himself. I thought he did a fine job and was just as dangerous as Agudelo has been, if not more so.

      Had he scored on that shot and given the US a 3-0 lead, that would have changed everything.

      Mexico’s beep-beep style is entertaining and, (this is not an excuse for the US) it works when your opponent can’t make you pay for being so wide open. A makeshift US attack put two past them and should have put more.

      What are Mexico going to do when they meet a team (like any of the big buys)that can make them pay?

      Mexico can blitz CONCACAF with this lineup and style; I have reservations about any other tournament.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Seybold on 2011/06/26 at 4:14 AM

    Our defensive line was often high, without adequate pressure on whoever had the ball for Mexico. This allowed for long through balls behind the defense–a basic tactical error. The Mexicans saw this right away, to their credit. It was gutsy to play a high line, but with our slow defenders and their fast attackers, it was always a big risk, especially after Cherundulo went out.

    I suspect if Jose Mourinho was managing the USA after it went 2-0, he would have parked the bus, and canceled the relatively open game plan we played. Gutsy of BB to play that way, especially since only Costa Rica had attempted it in the Gold Cup, and ended up 4 down at the half.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Jim from NC on 2011/06/26 at 4:25 AM

    I have read here and other places about how bad Bradley messed up by putting in Bornstein in the game but I don’t believe people are considering the options. The other option for outside back would have been Spector but he did not make the game day roster. Spector also would have been a major liability due to his pace (or lack thereof) against a very quick Mexican offense. Tim Ream was the only other defensive option and if he had been inserted in the game, the defense would also have to change its organization or as Matthew put it “Solving Peter’s problem by creating one for Paul”. Additionally, while I think Ream has a great future, he is not ready for Mexico yet. We all saw how poor the organization was during the 1st two Gold Cup group matches and Dos Santos and Hernandez would have helped beat us by more than a 4-2 score had Ream been thrown in. I think Bornstein was the best option that Bradley had during the Gold Cup, but it did not work out.

    I do feel that Bradley made poor decisions on his tournament roster selections. Selecting Bornstein, Onyewu, and Spector did nothing to help improve the defense. Bronstein hardly saw the pitch with his club team. Onyewu’s form has been poor ever since his injury and even Bradley showed his doubts about him because I don’t believe he made a game day roster. Spector did not play much for his club and when he did it was in a midfield position. He left Chandler off of his roster and he really could have helped not just in this game but in the earlier ones as well. Another player to consider for left back would be Bobby Convey. I know he and Bradley have their differences, but at least he is playing in good form. Bradley’s original non-selection of Bedoya over Robbie Rogers seems strange especially with the minutes each player earned in the Gold Cup, but I really don’t want to get into that.

    We all knew after this last World Cup that the defense would have to been rebuilt and Mexico did an excellent job of showing that to us last night. Bradley did try to work on rebuilding early in the tournament with Ream but it he pulled the plug on it after two games. I did like the fact that he tried Lichaj at left back and it seemed to work. I am really worried that Bradley is going to keep trotting out our “long in the tooth” defense during the next qualifying cycle when things get critical and we might pay for it.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2011/06/26 at 6:02 AM

      It’s the problem of the second term coach. Bradley cannot get over the tried-and-true, but also cannot find and blood new players properly or build depth or replacements through the ranks.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jim from NC on 2011/06/26 at 7:50 AM

        That’s exactly why I did not think it was a good choice to keep Bradley for a 2nd term.

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:31 AM

        It isn’t finding new players or trying them out that’s a problem–the starting lineup and subs had several new players from the World Cup–it’s that Bradley seems to be unable to integrate them properly or come up with cohesive new ideas on a consistent basis.

        Reply

    • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/26 at 10:23 AM

      I saw Spector listed as one of the available subs on one of the sites.

      I agree with the person whose comment went something to the effect of “If Bob wasn’t going to play Spector in this situation, why on earth was he active?”

      Reply

    • Posted by Russell P on 2011/06/26 at 1:16 PM

      Spector is my choice at RB for several reasons and due to his non inclusion this decision was made pregame:
      1.On a relegated team or not playing MF or not Spector sees that speed of play way more than JB. And has EPL starts at RB.
      2. JB has not been playing
      3. Before the injury I thought it was clear Mex was targeting LB. To that point Lichaj had held it well. Insert Spector and Mex either continues being stymied or they have to switch mentality. Both are better than suddenly a new weaker defender where you’re already targeting.
      4. Changing from LB to RB midgame by fire does take adjustment.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/30 at 4:06 AM

      The problem with comparing Bornstein and Spector when it comes to pace is that Spector doesn’t have any and Bornstein wastes his because his first step is always in the wrong direction. I would have gone with Spector because at least that way you are only changing one position and not 2.

      Reply

  9. Posted by William Twumasi on 2011/06/26 at 4:33 AM

    It takes two equally good players like Freddy Adu for him to be a great player. Lionnel Messi and Ronaldo’s performance for club and country attest. Because at club level they have excellent support but at country non and abysmal performance. Let’s build USA team around Freddy Adu, with a good coach and see how USA will go far.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2011/06/26 at 6:06 AM

      Sorry to ruin the party, but Freddy was getting bullied all over the field, was getting constantly isolated at the touchline and losing possession, and was gassed around 60′. He’s good if you stick him in the center of the field with a lot of movement around him and not pressure, but other than that, his play leaves much to be desire. I think Kljestan should have com in earlier in fact. If we start building the team around Adu, I think that we will be in trouble. He is an old-school #10, playing with his foot on the ball, and the entire soccer world (outside of MLS) is moving away from that because with the arrival of the holding midfielder, that play is going the way of the dinosaur, and you could see it last night when Adu, after a while, was getting completely bullied off the ball or funneled into wide areas.

      Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/26 at 8:40 AM

        While these boards tend to be very rationale it feels like Freddy Adu has created a number of rash comments. Yes Freddy was a revelation and provided the offense with something that I don’t ever remember seeing in a US jersey.

        That said, he shouldn’t be the focal point of our team. Even though he was getting bumped off the ball towards the end 1) this ref seemed to allow a lot of contact, he called it even but there was a lot of contact, and 2) even in the corners he was able to make things happen in a way that even Donovan and Dempsey can’t from the corners.

        Reply

  10. Posted by Jim from NC on 2011/06/26 at 4:38 AM

    I was misinformed about Spector; he did make the game day roster. Seeing that, I do think Bradley should have made that switch for Cherundolo. However, I don’t think he would have been much better and I still believe the bigger issue is creating a new defense for the next WC qualifying cycle.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Sean on 2011/06/26 at 5:03 AM

    Bornstein got absolutely torched for the first three goals. I can see Bradleys logic of the experience the World Cup provided him, but that was the mistake. He was caught too far up field, and left Boca to deal with Hernandez and Barrera.

    MB 90 was way fatigued, as evident by him getting caught in possession numerous times. Jones was left to try and cover too big of an area, and we payed the price dearly. That said, we did have our moments, and Adu was excellent in my opinion. He did great work off the ball, and was comfortable on it. He looks like he has finally grown up.

    Bring on the qualifiers. I’m ready to see us with a full strength squad.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2011/06/26 at 6:12 AM

      I have never seen a central midfielder make turns into space when receiving the ball facing our goal as slowly as Bradley. His looping, slow turns cost us possession multiple times and also even old guys like Castro and Torrado time to press us in central midfield. I look at a player like Wilshere receive the ball, turn quickly, and explode into space, and he can pick up 10 yards in an instant. Bradley has the turning radius of an 18-wheeler and was completely lackadaisical with possession in the center of the field. Maybe his center of gravity is too high or something.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 12:04 PM

        I think it’s on mentality. Bradley was very quick in distribution in the group games and slowed down a touch in the Jamaica game. But he slowed down dramatically in the Panama game and it was a problem. I don’t know why, but it has to improve.

        Reply

        • I’m wondering how much Bradley’s situation with being rejected by Aston Villa has gotten to him.

          In a similar vein can we now find out what is up with Donovan? I honestly doubt there was any injury, seemed like a mentally depressed or some other mindset issue.

          Reply

        • Posted by Sean on 2011/06/26 at 3:45 PM

          Not all of it can be blamed on Bradley. Movement ahead of him was pretty stagnant, and the press that Mexico and Panama used was quite impressive. Regardless, he needs to move the ball faster, and other players need to move into space with more quickness to provide an outlet.

          Reply

  12. Posted by jb on 2011/06/26 at 5:35 AM

    The difference in depth is what stood out to me. Mexico had to change five roster spots, had two starters leave the final for injury and…they didn’t miss a beat. We lose our best defender…and the bottom falls out. And I don’t think putting a pace-challenged Specter would have made the outcome any different.

    As bad as our back line was, I thought we lost the game in the cener midfield. Where were Bradley and Jones?!? As the defense was getting overrun they were nowhere to be found. And Bradley’s distribution sorely cost us as we were unable to maintain any kind of possession. I’m afraid its going to be a long three years.

    Reply

    • Posted by Owen Coyle on 2011/06/26 at 7:24 AM

      Couldn’t disagree more with the casting of blame on the CM. Pinpointing 3 of the the goals against, Bornstein caught ball watching while out of position, Aston Villa lad playing pong with the ball at his feet forcing Howard to dig for clams, Boca uber cheaply coughing it up from the corner. That’s on Jones? Seriously?

      Thought insertion of Bornstein was the lodgical one at the time. What was debatable in hindsight, was forcing Aston Villa lad to right side. That proved to be flawed.

      I tip my sombero to Mexican pressing, which predictably forced a skittish Goodson to turn it over. If you watch it again, their plan was painfully clear, run him and he’ll panic. The pressure on the back 4 and quick release of the outlet pass many times put Jones and Bradley in a bad spot with little to no time to settle and find solid linking play. Jeers for quality back 4 balls played out of pressure. Kudos to MNT for delivering their game plan.

      Reply

      • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/26 at 4:04 PM

        Highlights are here: http://www.ussoccer.com/Multimedia/Media-Center.aspx#/id=ecdd9977-0c7c-4953-96ce-fc765fa54487. I’d call your attention to:

        1:00, where Chicharito missed a pretty easier header on a ball that Jones should have snuffed out;

        1:11, where Chicharito hit the post after Jones missed another tackle (in the same spot);

        2:21, where Bradley fails to challenge Chicharito’s ball through to Barrera;

        3:04, where Bradley, Jones, and I think Donovan all miss tackles on the ball out to Gio that lead to Guardado’s goal;

        3:39, where Bradley couldn’t contest a through ball that Gio could have put away;

        3:53, where Guardado beats Bradley to a 50-50 ball, leading to Barrera’s second goal.

        Defenders were also culpable on each of these plays, of course; everything you write is true. But the point is, the US needed a big game from its CDMs, and it didn’t get one.

        Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 4:55 PM

          It needed a big game from Howard, from Boca, from Dempsey, from Donovan and so on down the line and it did not get it from any of them.

          Reply

  13. Posted by SuperChivo on 2011/06/26 at 5:41 AM

    Our boys need to start eating more Mexican chicken!

    Reply

  14. Posted by Rich on 2011/06/26 at 6:25 AM

    I wish I could have seen the game. I can’t believe a game of national interest that sells out the Rose Bowl doesn’t deserve national TV coverage.

    Overall, it seems both the US and Mexico have improved over the last several years, which is a good thing. Right now it seems Mexico has a few more top quality players, but hopefully a few more US players will bloom before 2014. We will need them to since all the consistently good, proven players we have right now will be over 30 by then. On the hopeful side:

    -Nice to hear Adu may finally amount to something.
    -Nice that we may have a real quality prospect at left back in Lichaj.
    -Nice that we may have a real quality prospect at right back in Chandler. If Goodson and Ream can develop into a solid center-back pair, the back line could actually be a strength going into WC qualifying.

    It seems unlikely we will discover a top-quality striker any time soon in the US, but given our already decent midfield and a potentially solid back line, we could do pretty well without a brilliant striker. Instead, a reliable and physical forward who can win balls and hold possession (a la Brian McBride in years past) might be enough for us to win a lot of 1-0 or 2-1 matches.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2011/06/26 at 6:46 AM

      http://www.concacaf.com streamed all the games for free, dude.

      Reply

      • That’s still not National TV coverage. The game was accessible (FSC, Univision, COCACAF.com), but not on the top-tier for broadcasting. National TV means in every home and accessible to casual eyes.

        Would’ve been a great move for Fox to decide to move this match (given the ratings from the semis) to the parent channel. Could’ve helped a lot to remind casual fans that the USMNT plays more than once every four years.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/30 at 4:10 AM

          Not sure that Fox would have had good ratings. Most of the people who were interested in the game probably watched it on Univision. You’re dreaming if you think Fox is going to move something like that to the big network. They only show the CL final on the big network because of the deal they had to strike with UEFA to take it from ESPN.

          Reply

  15. Posted by Jake C on 2011/06/26 at 6:51 AM

    My observations on the game:

    1) JB entered the game at literally the worst possible time. 2-0 up against a Mexican side determined to win the game, and with an attack that potent…tough stuff. Bornstein got torched, and was well behind the speed of play. He did grow into the game slightly in the second half, but still suffered from positioning problems. That said,

    2) my problem isn’t so much with Bornstein as it is with BB. Specifically, I’m upset that BB made NO adjustments at halftime despite the fact that Mexico had the clear advantage going in and was demolishing our defense. To me, that showed that a) Bob either couldn’t or wouldn’t deviate from his original gameplan, and b) that he considered JB as at least a similar type of player to Lichaj. That ended up dooming the US.

    3) The game was crying out for Kjlestan’s speed in the midfield. Agree with TSG that he should have come in earlier, and not on the flank, either. Perhaps not the best option in the middle after his shaky performance against Panama (though he was playing out of position), but it’s not like Jones or MB90 were any better.

    4) Finally, this game was great to watch. It gave me all the heart-attack moments that a game should, and further solidified my passion for US soccer. My silver lining going forward: a) Adu once again seems a bright prospect, b) Chandler will hopefully be there next time for Cherundolo, and c) my beef with the game was due mainly to coaching. Once that problem’s fixed, I can breathe a good bit easier.

    Reply

    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/26 at 8:45 AM

      I think we all agree that bringing someone on at the 85th minute down by two goals is not good coaching.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/30 at 4:12 AM

      4) This game just proved that Bob should have fought for Chandler to be included. Who would you rather see coming off the bench, Chandler or Bornstein? Promises could have been made to the amount of playing time so at least Chandler would have been in camp.

      Reply

  16. Posted by rockerm1 on 2011/06/26 at 7:09 AM

    I am really bitter this morning after last night’s lost. I cannot understand why Bornstein was subbed in. I said at the time that I would have put in Ream and moved Boca to the outside. I see the arguments that Ream would have had a hard time against Chicoritio . My counter argument to that is how is that different than Bornstein getting blown away for three goals? Ream actually played in the tournament and overall is a better defender. You are suppose to make the change that will give you the best chance to win and Bornstein has proven that he is not the man to do that.

    People say this all the time but Bob needs to go. He took us as far as he could but it’s now time for a change. It’s not only Bob though. Changes need to be made throughout US Soccer. We have missed at least 3 opportunities to lure in more fans. I feel that every time there is hype around this team, we are let down. For us who write on these blogs and follow religiously, we will keep coming back. The casual fan on the other hand just thinks it is the typical US Soccer team failing. How is the sport suppose to grow when we can’t get our best athletes to play the game. If you think about it by pure numbers, soccer is the one sport with the best opportunity to go pro in. Baseball, football, hockey, and basketball are limited in leagues around the world. Soccer in many countries have 3 or 4 leagues in one country.

    All I am saying there has to be some drastic changes in US Soccer to get where we want to be.

    Reply

  17. Posted by kobe24Bryant on 2011/06/26 at 7:18 AM

    As it stands the USA got beat by a better younger team, no excuses, its time for the USA to rebuild their team how is it possibble they struggled so much this tournament? Even lost to panama, while mexico was slaughtering every team? USA needs to learn from this don’t start making the same mistake mexico did for a decade thinking older players could beat younger USA player that’s why we got killed, I hope USA raises their bar its good for both teams makes them stronger,by the way I give Bradley props for stayingand congratulate mexico that’s pure class, Mexico #1 once more.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2011/06/26 at 7:28 AM

      Thee good thing is that we have 2 years of mostly meaningless games to do it (rebuilding), barring the tough qualifiers.

      Reply

    • Exactly, keep in mind that this Mexico team is 7+ years in the brewing, since even before the sub-17 that they famously won. This victory got European scouts to take a look at Mexico and put Mexican players in quality programs like Barcelona and West Ham for them to develop. Back in Mexico, domestic player development efforts were stepped up and Mexican teams forced to rely more upon Mexican players and less on South Americans. Mexico had their wake-up moment and, to their credit, turned their program around.
      Now, the U.S. needs to get more serious about player development and reevaluate Bradenton and it’s relationship with the MLS and other players in U.S. soccer. The good news is that it has already started, the bad news is more changes need made and that it is going to take some time to come to fruit.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/26 at 12:57 PM

        Their U17s topped Group A with 3 wins out of 3.

        USA will more than likely play Germany [winner of Group E] for failure to top a group consisting of Uzbekistan, New Zealand and Czech Rep.].

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        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 1:05 PM

          Well, it’s interesting–I’ve seen all six games, and while Mexico is a touch better, it’s not that much better. I’d argue it’s a reflection of two factors: a) home field advantage for Mexico (and particularly anti-home field advantage for the U.S.–the crowd has lustily booed the U.S. kids) and b) some flukey stuff. The U.S. against Uzbekistan should have been a draw but the ref refused to call a clear PK for the U.S. then called a highly dodgy PK for Uzbekistan. Against New Zealand you had poor finishing and good goalkeeping to stop the U.S. from scoring–I’m not sure that finishing is an overall issue for them or a one-time thing. Unfortunately, the U.S. will be missing Marc Pelosi against Germany, which is a shame–he’s a really good player but prone to making silly fouls.

          Meanwhile Mexico has had benefited from 3 red cards in the group stage and 97 minutes up at least one man (13 up two). They’re not that good, in essence.

          Reply

  18. Posted by Owen Coyle on 2011/06/26 at 7:45 AM

    Evidently our development program is based on US military personnel stationed in Germany. Send in more troops….and less condoms.

    Reply

  19. Posted by Freegle on 2011/06/26 at 8:14 AM

    It amazing… just when I start to come around on Bob Bradley and his ability to manage this squad, he makes a poor tactical AND personel decision that lead to the implosion of the defense.

    The insertion of Bornstein was the traditional Bob Bradley “I have some adversity so I have to grab my blanky” moment. The excuse of “he had more experience from the world cup last year” or “we simply don’t have enough depth (for a variety of reasons)” don’t cut it. The bottom line is that JB is not good enough and that he was not the best choice available to Bob at that point (and in my opinion not the second or third best option either).

    The lack of the adjustment at halftime was also concerning. One of the reasons JB was able to be successful in South Africa was because of the consciousness of Donovan on the left side to play a little deeper and aid with defensive responsibilities. Without that protection, Bornstein was, well, Bornstein (overmatched, out of his depth, found wanting, choose your favortive football phrase for ineptitude). I don’t know if Bob Bradley forgot about that, or decided that JB’s 291 min of field experience in 2011 (68 min since 2/12/11) would compensate for it.

    Regardless, JB should not have been subbed in, and when it was clear he was over his head, a tactical adjustment should have been made to protect him. Bob falied twice. And just when I was almost trusting him.

    Reply

    • Posted by Owen Coyle on 2011/06/26 at 8:45 AM

      Curious as to what better options were available on the bench? You state there were better/many options. Please dazzle us.

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      • Posted by rockerm1 on 2011/06/26 at 8:58 AM

        Move Boca to the outside and put in Ream at CB. Spector was on the bench. You could have even put Edu at CB and moved Boca to the outside. The fact is Bornstein has never nor will he ever be a national team caliber player.

        Reply

        • Posted by Owen Coyle on 2011/06/26 at 10:03 AM

          Slow for slower….so not seeing it. Like drag racin’ with a Prius….up hill. Three slow CB was not the answer.There was a reason Ream (exposed)was on the bench and Boca (exposed on outside)was in the middle. I’m sure Edu would have loved that baptism by fire. Can you imagine Gooson pairing with Edu and parking the planes? You must have had money on the spread….lol.

          Reply

          • Posted by rockerm1 on 2011/06/26 at 10:32 AM

            After the Canada game, everyone was talking about how Ream and Goodson were the new CB pairing. The following game he gets beat on one play and doesn’t see the field for the rest of the tournament. Given the circumstances Ream and Goodson in the middle would have been the most logical move or you play Spector, who by the way plays in the EPL (JB can’t say the same,) could have came in and played. JB has been horrible time and time again. He shouldn’t have been on the team never mind in the game. This obviously is more of a player selection issue which again comes down to BB.

            Oh and by the way, they had Edu playing CB before. It worked one game and not so much the other. If you watch the game they were attacking the flanks even before Stevie got injured. You don’t stick one of the worst players on the roster to take the brunt of the attack!

            Reply

            • Posted by Owen Coyle on 2011/06/26 at 11:19 AM

              Hey Rocket-Clearly school is in session and BTW, Spector played ( notice the past tense) a midfield role last season with West Pig. No really, look it up. Why you ask….lack of speed. Speed on the flanks is king. Of all avaiable choices, Bornstein was the quickest. Right, worng or indifferent. But don’t loose sight or explain why Boca gave Torado an awesome pass to set up Dos Santos….or how about that Aston Villa lad playing pong in the six yard box with Howard. Bornstein had good company in the finger pointing line-up also known as the back four that gave up four.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/26 at 11:29 AM

              I have agree with Owen regarding the 2nd Mexico goal. Yeah, maybe Bornstein could have done a better job closing down to prevent the original cross-shot, but then again, Lichaj should have done better with the clearance too.

            • My issue with the second goal, has to do with Dos Santos getting inside of the box. JB is supposed to force him wide, and make him cross it. It any sport you have to keep the ball away from the middle, basketball, soccer, team handball, tennis, … Too many options to cover in the mddle. Obviously you guys know this. But JB let him come way inside, across his face as we say on the BB court. Now the angles are all different, and troublesome. Just my thoughts. But most of you guys know a lot more than I do. Am I wrong on this one??

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 6:44 PM

              Byrdman,

              Despite the fact you all think JB is a moron, he is a professional defender and does know what to do.

              All I can say is, it is one thing to know what you must do and quite another to actually do it.

              If it is at all possible you really might consider that Gio does that to better defenders than Bornstein. I’m always curious as to why US fans seem so reluctant to give credit to opposing players.

      • Posted by Tabare on 2011/06/26 at 10:03 AM

        An indirect answer:

        We all know Convey and Coach Sweats are not fast friends. But, really, how is Jonathan Bornstein in the squad over Convey at all? And doesn’t this decision reflect rather poorly on the coach?

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 12:02 PM

          Bornstein is on the roster because he is a better player than Convey. The smartest PR move Convey ever made was claiming Bob Bradley hated him. For certain people that’s an endorsement…but it doesn’t change the fact that Convey is a very mediocre winger pretending to be a left back.

          Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 6:57 PM

          Tabare,

          “And doesn’t this decision reflect rather poorly on the coach?”

          So you think Convey would have shut Gio down? What do you base this on?

          BB may have made mistakes but this wasn’t one of them. It’s interesting how so many fans use an MLS background selectively against certain players.

          Wondo top scorer in MLS? Well it’s only MLS.

          Convey playing a good left back in MLS? Well, we need a good left back!

          Convey left Reading because he wasn’t as good anymore after his knee injury. Holden fans take note, knee injuries are not to be taken lightly. Convey’s a couple of years older now and playing in an inferior league and when he played left back for the US he wasn’t that great.

          I’ve seen him only a few times for SJ but haven’t been overwhelmed.

          Use that perfect hindsight to look elsewhere for things to slate BB on.

          Reply

      • Better options instead of Bornstein:

        1) Spector to RB
        2) Dolo stays in for longer in first half then switch later if necessary (how hobbled was he?)
        3) Ream to LB
        4) Jones to LB, Kljestan to CB or maybe Edu
        5) Ream to CB, Boca to LB
        6) If Dolo plays through first half and we concede 1 or 2 goals, then go 3-1-4-2, Goodson out, back three Ream – Boca – Lichaj with deep lying Jones. Kljestjan/Bradley ahead
        7) JB to LB, woefully runs an arc on the first goal, gets caught way to high up the field at the wrong times (once in the 18 box as the other team is countering), backpedals at every challenge, puts a few crosses in, stands redundantly next to other defenders or in the box without a mark, invites the attacks over to him like a black hole, and the team concedes 4 goals

        Is the loss solely Bornstein’s fault. Absolutely not, but putting him in this situation should have never happened. While we still would have had some backline problems, the CMs and CBs were directly stretched/ put under duress because of JB.

        Reasoning:
        – Boca bossing the backline and shadowing the little pea was important. Staying central makes sense.
        – Yes lack of speed kills, but lack of positioning, utter failure to challenge, and poor form is way more lethal. A deep lying Ream or Jones in a wide open match emergency like this one makes way more sense.
        – Using the “JB has experience card” should be outlawed. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. LB depth will never be brought onto the team let alone play if BB keeps using this logic. Yes JB had a few good showings in the WC. But the totality of his “experience” is very poor. There is no reason an out of form Bornstein should be used here. I get him being on the team due to Lichaj just being trialed but this match was lost to poor coaching in-game decisions.
        – Ultimately subs were too late to help and there was no reaction to our backline/CM getting torched repeatedly. JB was not in form, untrusted by teammates who came to defend his man while he sat back and rarely challenged.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:59 AM

          As poor a game as Bornstein had, Spector would’ve been worse at RB. Every time he’s played teams have picked on exclusively and generally won most of the duels.

          Tim Ream has never played left back at a professional level–in fact, the reason he was drafted so low was that he played LB in the MLS combine and looked awful. Yes, sometimes the experience card can be overplayed but not in this instance.

          Bradley maybe should’ve thought of a three-man backline–maybe with Lichaj and Bedoya as the wingbacks. That’s an interesting suggestion, actually.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 12:06 PM

            I should add that Spector does especially poorly when players dribble at him with speed. That’s an excellent description of what Barrera, Guardado and dos Santos are able to do.

            Reply

          • No good choices.

            I think on balance Spector’s insertion would have been because of Lichaj staying at LB. The sum of the two I believe beats the alternative, but who knows. At the very least I’m guessing that Spector would have challenged slightly more aggressively than Bornstein. But who knows.

            Get the Ream deficits but maybe his ability to make that pass would have helped relieve some pressure off of a poorly distributing MB. Thinking more of the pluses that Ream could bring in an offensive sense than the negatives but you are probably right.

            Really wanted to see Dolo stay in the match. I just don’t know enough about the injury so have to assume he had to come out, but my guess was watching him that he could have gone longer. Obviously BB would have been criticized for leaving an injured player in too long. I get that. Being coach is not easy. It may not seem apparent due to my rant above, but my main issue with coach Bradley was the hesitancy to sub. Especially waiting until the 85 min on the last one. Heck Kljestan maybe should have come in for MB earlier. Something was needed to change the complexion of the match.

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 12:20 PM

              Well, I suppose agree to disagree. The last game Bornstein played was against Paraguay, in which he was fine defensively but very weak going forward. Spector has been very flammable defensively whenever he has set foot on the field post-World Cup. So I have a tough time giving Bradley a hard time for that. The real mistake was made with the roster, as was pointed out in the original post.

            • Posted by Jen on 2011/06/26 at 1:21 PM

              I’ve rewatched the first 10 minutes to see about ‘Dolo’s injury. He gets hurt in the 3rd minute and it took him sometime to get back on D. The only time I saw him limp a little was after he won the corner the got us the first goal. I wonder if it was his decision or BB’s. Univision never showed Stevie coming off the field, so I don’t know what his body language was like. Ives said he looked unhappy. If Stevie said he could go, I think BB has to leave him in for a little while longer. He’s been one of your most consistent players all tournament and you can’t afford to lose him.

          • At half I was actually wondering if replacing Bornstein with Ream and going 3-1-4-2 would have helped. (Ream, Boca, Goodson; Jones deep, Lichaj RM, Bedoya LM, Bradley/Dempsey, Donovan and Adu)

            Just seemed kind of radical. Would probably have worked out better if Kljestan was in.

            Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 7:00 PM

          Intersting how so many of you question Dolo’s injury. The feed I saw showed him sitting on the bench having a lot of work done to his ankle. It looked like a severe sprain to me.

          Obviously you think Dolo is some sort of limp weenie. I have a hard time believing that of Dolo.

          Reply

    • Posted by Dougs on 2011/06/26 at 1:14 PM

      Everyone taking shots at Bradley needs to explain what decision they would have made and explain in detail how it would have resulted in any different outcome. This post is just one of many that fails to explain how Bradley missed the key player off the bench that could have withstood this Mexico teams attacking prowess.

      Reply

  20. Posted by Chad on 2011/06/26 at 8:54 AM

    No one else wanted to see Edu’s speed on the field?

    Also, was it better to play an open game and take our lumps or would folks prefer that we bunker in in 1st half and open it up a little in the second half?

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 7:04 PM

      Usain Bolt is fast. That doesn’t make him a good soccer player.

      Actually I wanted to put ten men behind the ball in the 30th minute but I’m not the manager. Bob had this weird notion about taking the attack to the Mexicans. What’s the old cliche?

      Live by the sword die by the sword.

      Reply

  21. Posted by Freegle on 2011/06/26 at 9:02 AM

    My top choice would be have been Spector on the right and leaving Lichaj on the left, as mentioned above.

    Second choice is Ream to the center, Boca to the left and Lichaj to the right. Yes I understand the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” notion but I consider this option a smaller step down in every position. Ream was rested at this point and a more legitimate CB than Bornstein is a LB.

    Third, If we are going to be moving people around and disrupting things, put your best players on the field. Maurice Edu come on down!

    Reply

  22. Posted by APS on 2011/06/26 at 9:56 AM

    The USA will never really compete with the elite teams of the world without someone in an attacking role who possesses transcendental talent. Mexico won because they have Dos Santos and Hernandez. Line-up and tactics can only do so much against players like that—players who are good precisely because of their creative ability.

    Freddy Adu showed flashes of that kind of ability yesterday. He posed a legitimate threat whenever he was on the ball. Even when double-teamed and cornered he managed to find ways to improve the USA’s attacking posture.

    I didn’t follow American soccer very closely until last year, so maybe my observations are way off base, but Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have always underwhelmed. They seem to be good players with better-than-average ability to take advantage of scoring opportunities. But from what I’ve seen of their play, they aren’t going to consistently break down defenses or create those opportunities. Dempsey was particularly disappointing last night. His first touch was relatively poor and as a result he was generally unable to hold the ball at the top of the box or achieve any threatening penetration of Mexico’s defense. He seemed more concerned with drawing fouls than actually beating his man. Neither Dempsey nor Donovan can receive a ball in traffic in the final third and consistently find the space to shoot or play a devastating pass. Though Altidore can occasionally turn his man, he doesn’t have the touch to consistently be in that position, or the discretion to maintain possession rather than press an unlikely attack.

    Reply

    • Posted by Sean on 2011/06/26 at 3:54 PM

      Disagree with the last third of what you have wrote. Dempsey’s pass to Donovan was class, and his finish was fantastic. I think at that time, they should have let off the gas and absorbed some of the pressure Mexico exerted.

      Reply

  23. Posted by Tabare on 2011/06/26 at 10:21 AM

    1. Mexico deserved to win. Dos Santos was lights out. That goal? One of those moments where even as you as you scream “no”, the beauty of skill is spell-binding.

    2. Bradley deserves the heat. Bornstein is what he is and just answers the call. But Bornstein should have been replaced at half time. In fact, Bornstein should not have seen the field at all. Yes, a slow footed Spector would have been preferable. Yes, the banished Bobby Convey would have been preferable.

    3. Credit to Bradley on Adu. Truly inspired.

    4. Yes, Holden and Chandler would have helped. But the more interesting question is when and how we develop players and a team capable of possessing the ball. Last night our central midfielders gave the ball away cheaply and often. We have no way to weather the storms by keeping keep the ball and let it do the work. (In my view, Michael Bradley — for all his many admirable qualities — is really limited in this regard.)

    5. In big matches, Bradley’s gaffes in squad selection have been so glaring. Don’t think Bradley is going to really advance the team tactically. Play a few friendlies against the England’s and Argentina’s of the world. Use the revenue to fund the salary of a top coach.

    Reply

    • Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/26 at 1:51 PM

      like who? I hear Capello will be looking for a job next summer.

      Seriously though, Bradley led this team to the Gold Cup Final against (and lost to) a more talented and inspired Mexico side. Even before Dolo was injured Mexico had a couple threatening opportunities. I’d say save the revenue for advancing the youth so we possibly could have a stronger and deeper field to choose from.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 2:56 PM

        Capello wants a club job and lots and lots of money. Can’t see him going American. The proper unrealistic Italian might be Carlo Ancelotti, maybe? He is getting paid by Abramovich regardless of job, so maybe that’s a possibility?

        Of course that’s being unrealistic. More realistically, in terms of foreign coaching options, perhaps Klinsmann or Pekerman. No one seems to mention domestic coaches much, but I think they’re worth thinking about. Ask yourself this: how good an MLS manager was Bob Bradley, really? Won the double with Chicago, but there’s not exactly a lot of other club trophies in the cabinet aside from that. If we put our mind to getting a really good MLS coach, that coach might well be better than Bradley.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 3:04 PM

          Oh, yeah, I forgot: Marcelo Bielsa doesn’t have a job.

          Reply

          • Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/26 at 4:13 PM

            Klinsmann ..realistic?…after two failed attempts. Don’t see it. Don’t see any of them bringing the best out of an average, at best, US side. You know who has Bradley.

            I understand the complaints, but am not buying any alternatives. First, while coaching is coaching….. good club coaching does not equal good national team coaching. Capello is the most recent example of this. Completely different ballgame. Klinsmann hasn’t exactly built Toronto as a powerhouse in MLS. He did well as the German national team manager, but then again he is German…which leads me to…

            The failed attempts of having a foreign coach far outweigh the successes. Sven-Goran comes to mind. Led England to second round of knockouts. Failed with Mexico. Failed with the Ivory Coast. African teams- who have much raw talent- and awesome individual successes …..repeatedly underachieve on the national team- perhaps part of this is due to the lack of African managers. In short I find it hard to see the US players rallying behind an international coach. There usually seems to be something lost in these relationships.

            Why do you believe any of the ones you mentioned do a much better job as the *US* national team coach…? What specifically would they bring that would make this team perform above their level?

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 4:39 PM

              1) Do African teams have much raw talent? Or is it just lazy stereotyping of Africans in general? I think they have a number of good players but rarely the depth necessary to mount a sustained challenge. At any rate, foreign coaches have served the most successful African team of this decade–Ghana–quite well.

              2) Sven-Goran is the most successful coach of England’s team in the past decade in terms of tournament results; Capello still has the highest winning percentage of any England coach. If hiring foreign coaches brings the U.S. these kinds of results, I’ll be happy to foot the bill myself. In addition, your examples lack any sort of comprehensive reckoning with the successes and failures of foreign coaches. Australia, Japan, and South Korea have achieved with foreign coaches and Japan, in particular, is doing it while developing better talent and is poised to break into the top-15 or top-10 of world sides, if they aren’t already (They also started taking soccer seriously at approximately the same time we did, so…)

              3) While good club coaching may not equal good national team coaching, it’s a good start. And I’d rather hire a good club coach than a mediocre one. Surely these two premises are pretty inoffensive. And if you accept these two, then you do have to look skeptically at Bradley, who is not even a particularly exceptional MLS coach.

              4) More to the point, the U.S. has more talent than ever before. It has more players in top European leagues, more players in European leagues, and its MLS players are playing in a more difficult, higher quality league than ever before. It even has better players who just missed the roster than ever before. That Bradley cannot achieve better results with this group is an indictment of his coaching.

              5) Why do I expect these coaches to do better? Look, I’m just listing candidates. I’m not enamored of Klinsmann and would prefer he not be hired. But why Bielsa? Bielsa has an excellent record which speaks for itself–he has done national teams, and has done them well; he has done club teams, and has done them well; he has done youth development, and has done that well. I would be happy to give Bielsa technical director + head coaching jobs for, say, $2 million/year (which is what we were willing to give Klinsmann.)

              5)

            • Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/26 at 9:25 PM

              Thanks DTH for your comments, I by far am not an authority…I’m sitting in my armchair like many of us. I didn’t start following football until Euro 08, with vague recollections as a kid of watching a bearded and locked Lalas. I haven’t followed your comments up to this point, but I take it yours is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Gold Cup. Right? The Mexico loss- though painful- was not unexpected. Their talent clearly was above ours. In my view we made the Gold Cup Final, Dolo’s loss- who was one of the most consistently good players injured- before ’10 was a blow. For an inconsistent backline deadly.

              1) I will admit that many of my comments are largely lazy and naive. So please take my comments with at least some form of a grain of salt. “African teams” as a whole is a stereotype, but would you agree that these teams (specifically Ivory Coast and Cameroon who have several stars in the top leagues – and by stars- I mean dwarf any albeit Ghana underachieved?

              2) A Bradley led US topped a group with Capello’s England with obviously a lesser talented (individually) team. I would not take Capello… he had a tremendous new manager boost – crushing my heart with Croatia – but since then hasn’t done much.
              With England’s talent pool – and Capello’s managerial skills anyone would expect more. I think you’d be better betting that money blind in Vegas ( and maybe getting Klinsmann..he he.

              3) Bradley may not have been a good MLS coach, but he has achieved pretty well with the US, including this Gold Cup.. An excellent Confederations cup. A good showing at the World Cup. To the level at the Gold Cup – the Final.

              4) I agree the US players are progressing. I would say our performances largely are more on them than the coach – though – I may very well be wrong. Players are getting better – though club success does not equal national team success. Messi is the prime example. Though within the past day or so Donovan and Dempsey both paled in comparison to Adu’s performance. I don’t know how much you’d put on Bradley’s head vs the players vs. bad luck. Consistency is something needed and is lacked. I love Torres…. to me he is Modric-lite but was sad to see his short and not very good World Cup performance. Consistency is important and apparently lacking.

              5) I love Argentines…and have had a few friends from there…and they were just like Benecio Del Toro’s depection of Che. Such passion. Don’t know enough about him, but if an Argentine can coach a Chilean team…who knows?

              The point is that as anyone….I pull my hair out with Bob’s decisions and wonder how many American Outlaws ran to the bathroom when they say Bornstein subbed in. Yet, I know I am beeing needy, but I haven’t seen an argument for a good replacement. I’ve seen name drops but no specifics as to how they would fit in – knowing the American way of things- and what they could do to better. In the end we could all name managers better than Bradley but are they feasible? Thanks dth for your comments.

            • Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/26 at 10:36 PM

              sorry a little clarification. too many thoughts in our discussion at once

              …“African teams” as a whole is a stereotype, but would you agree that these teams (specifically Ivory Coast and Cameroon who have several stars in the top leagues) – whose quality dwarfs that of the US…

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:09 PM

              Cameroon, who’s third in their qualification group, is definitely underachieving at the moment. And Samuel Eto’o is a top ten forward in the world. On the other hand, they also also started a player against Russia from a team that just got relegated from Ligue 2; a player whose league or team I can’t ascertain readily, etc. At the World Cup they were drawn into a tough group, though they did bring 15 players from top five leagues. So, yes, they’re underachieving. Is it the fact that they’re hiring foreign coaches…or is it that they’re simply hiring the wrong foreign coaches?

              Cote d’Ivoire also had 15 players from top five leagues…but was also drawn into a tough group, had a tough schedule, and to boot had the Drogba injury crisis before the tournament. They’re already qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, so it’s hard for me to conclude they’re underachieving at the moment.

              Treating “foreign coaches” as a singular group is foolish. Just like domestic coaches, they have a range of experiences, qualities and competencies. I suspect African countries are particularly prone to hiring big-name coaches for the effect rather than out of a deep assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the national team.

              Overall I think it’s fair to say that the very best domestic coaches are, at best, above average by international standards, leaving quite a bit of room for improvement. In addition, our best coaches all seem to coach in a particular style with Americans–and the ones who are capable of coaxing a cohesive team together in MLS seem to rely quite a bit on foreign attacking talent to do so. (In this sense I have some skepticism of Jason Kreis, who in classic great MLS team style relies on foreigners for the attacking stuff and Americans for the defense, the hard work, and the steady distribution. We are getting good at producing Kyle Beckermans… Luis Gil will be an interesting test of Jason Kreis’s abilities in many different ways.) Pivoting from Luis Gil–none of them have shown an ability to develop a world-class player–the closest things to it who were American-eligible left the U.S. just about as quickly as they could. So I think some judicious acquisitions of foreign coaching talent at all levels of the U.S. soccer hierarchy would be a salutary thing for us.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:20 PM

              One last note on Africa: things are changing across the continent, but there are still many issues with corruption, poverty, and economic growth. In that sense it’s not surprising foreign coaches of national teams haven’t had success–the infrastructure isn’t there. Given that, the fact that Ghana appears to be making a move up makes quite a bit of sense–they’re doing well in the good governance and economic growth categories (as well as having one of the more motivated, patriotic diasporas out there). Their foreign coaches get the right boost up.

              So I don’t think Africa is the best example for our experience. A better example might be Japan, who decided early on to import good foreign coaches and now have a young generation that’s one of the best in the world.

            • Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/27 at 1:22 AM

              Thanks dth again for the comments…I do not disagree with the comments you’ve made….I just haven’t heard good reasoning to drop Bradley in favor of any coach out there (I was aiming more towards the successes or lack there of of African teams against international ones). I don’t disagree either regarding bringing internationals in to overhaul the training of youths and even the senior level squads (actually I believe I may have said earlier that at the youth level this is what may be best).

              I guess my point wasn’t that international coaches alone won’t work…it’s the basic argument that a coach (international or domestic) had success at another international team or level will simply translate over with no other explanation given. How exactly would they help? This is completely missing from the discussion and really removes any substance from discussing a replacement.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 7:03 AM

              The key thing to me is that we need to make a decision rather quickly (not in days or weeks) as if we want the next coach to be successful we need to give him a couple of friendlies and camps to implement his system and learn the personnel prior to the start of qualifying. Otherwise we are setting the coach up for failure if we try to make a switch during qualifying. So while I am for getting rid of Bob it seems to me that come next June he needs to stay through the WC barring some sort of disaster (which given the group stage at the Gold Cup is not out of the question).

          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 7:22 AM

            A question for dth or anyone that has a handle on our youth programs…

            Given the recent performance of our U20 and what is looking like a round of 32 exit for our U17 team… How is our youth system producing?

            I always here that it is skills/technique/tactics over results at the youth level and by all reports our youth teams are playing prettier football then in the past but I have a hard time telling if we are really getting better with players like Gatt and Gayu or if that is just the US hype machine.

            Would a player be better served to be playing in a lower league like Mixx or in the reserves for a better team? Are any of these clubs factories like Ajax of Benfica?

            Reply

            • Our youth national teams and development are perplexing. I’ve caught all of the group stage matches of the U-17 World Cup (for the US, and a smattering of others) and I grow more and more concerned with what I see.

              *Speaking of the U-17’s only* There are some kids at the U-17 World Cup would show potential to be good professionals and possibly good Internationals for us. Guido’s control of tempo and ability to pick a pass are not something you see in a lot of American players. Pelossi’s rash challenges aside he has shown an ability to dribble at speed and make some great decisions with the ball that I haven’t seen consistently in a US Shirt outside of Donovan, and only when he’s on his A-game. Our outside backs are attacking and defending with purpose. However, this team appears to suffer from the same fatal flaws that every single iteration of the US National (men’s) Team I’ve ever seen – the inability to finish when it matters, and a propensity to come out mentally and physically flat (playing down to opponents and not closing games out with any authority). It seems that American soccer players don’t have the ability to mentally and physically raise their games a la Hristo Stoichkov (Barca vs. Real) or third-world nations playing against us (Saudi Arabia vs. US in the 98 WC) unless we’re the underdogs and even then it’s not consistent.

              The inability to finish is insane for the US and I don’t think I need to expound on that any further. The mental toughness of our boys is a serious issue that needs to be addressed – their 3-0 win against the Czechs saw us completely under seige in the last 15-20 minutes of that game (a better team or performance and we draw or lose that game), the Uzbek game was just flat all over and if our finishing was better we might have drawn or even won that game, but just like if we’d won the Gold Cup it would’ve unfortunately covered some warts that I personally would rather have exposed so we can learn from them. The New Zealand game was promising and frustrating; it seemed that everyone but the forwards came to play, and our final balls were just not there when they really needed to be.

              I’d rather focus on the development of the players instead of their results, but the results do bear the fruit of the development. We are developing more players that are players instead of athletes playing, but we are still missing the key components that make truly good/great internationals and professionals. Someone said it above, the Mexicans won the U-17 WC in 2005 and look what that did for them, opened scouts’ eyes to the talent and brought more of their players to clubs outside of Mexico, which has only helped them increase their level of play and adaptibility.

              As for the US Youth Development Academy, it’s not an academy but a league with a somewhat rigid set of rules that puts practice/development and qualilty of competition over the sheer number of games, but it’s still an expensive league with lots of inter-state travel which gets back to the pay-to-play mantra that has permeated US Youth Soccer for some time now. And, it’s been set up to get our scouts to see more kids by not having them trek through hill-and-dale to see some awesome team pound a bottom feeder. The premise is good, but I fear the execution is just an extension of the problems we see with ODP teams. And don’t even get me started on Bradenton.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/27 at 9:45 AM

              Are we getting better with the youth teams? It’s hard to say for certain, but I think the good changes are very gradual. As I’ve said before, I think the 2011 u-20 cycle missing out on the u-20 world cup is basically a fluke. If you compare this squad to the 2009 squad, it’s dramatically better; if you compare this squad to the 2007 squad, the comparison is interesting and probably more indicative of the kind of changes we’re making:

              1) On one hand, you have no superstar youth players: the 2007 squad featured three players with either extensive professional senior experience or impressive achievements: Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley. Adu and Bradley were particularly impressive from the senior appearances perspective–Adu had appeared in 100+ MLS games and Bradley had something like 65 appearances between MLS and the Eredivisie. No one will have that kind of experience by the end of 2011 for our young players.

              2) On the other hand, our youth players are much deeper–whereas the 2007 squad featured many college players and more than a few stiffs, the 2011 squad featured almost no one in college and fewer stiffs. Of the players who didn’t have any professional experience, they were in professional learning environments. Indeed, many of the players who would’ve just missed out on the team were better than many of the players on the 2007 squad. That’s certainly a good thing.

              We have to do both 1) and 2), in my opinion, but it’s 1)-type players are more likely to be valuable for the USMNT: we don’t necessarily need more depth (IMO–most of the depth issues in this tournament were self-inflicted rather than actual problems in the pool), but we do need players to–at a minimum–replace Donovan and Dempsey. In fact, we want to do better than Donovan and Dempsey.

              I wouldn’t say anyone on the 2011 squad has wonderful odds of doing either–certainly a chance–because if you think about the really-good-to-great players of the world, generally they start kicking ass the moment they become senior players. Can’t necessarily say the same things about the 2011 crew. The 2013 bunch…is a maybe.

              (re: u-17. Nick’s points are well-taken, but the team is a quantum leap over the previous regime’s efforts. The current team may be complacent but they are decently skilled; past teams were neither.)

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/27 at 12:35 PM

              I’ll add one last note: there is a category 1) player in MLS with potential for us:
              Mwanga. I wouldn’t count on him because I don’t count on anyone, citizenship-wise.

  24. Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/26 at 10:32 AM

    My takeaways from last night:

    1) We’re at a turning point in the storied history of this rivalry. The last decade was defined mostly by Mexico refusing to recognize that we were a much better soccer-playing force, and they paid for it dearly with many painful losses.

    But that’s changed. Someone else pointed out that players like Chocharito and Dos Santos have grown up seeing the US as the superior side. And they have burned and burned and burned with a desire to surpass us. All that effort was on display tonight.

    Conversely, players like Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu have not grown up suffering from the disrespect of El Tri. They’ve grown up with us as the superior side, but our vets are aging quickly.

    Which leads me to point 2:

    2) Complacency, complacency, complacency. I’m not a Bob Bradley hater. I think the pressed more right buttons than wrong ones in this tournament. I think the maintains a solid handle on the team and managing it.

    (Stephen A. Smith)”Howevahh”, when you retain a manager after a World Cup cycle, you are announcing to your entire organization: “Good enough.”

    And are we good enough? Really?

    Tonight says, no, we’re not.

    We’re not deep enough, skilled enough, or hungry enough to defeat Mexico right now.

    And that last part is what bothers me most as a fan.

    I feel like tonight was the realization of Mexico’s hard work and deep desire to best us once again.

    I feel like we’ve grown a little too fat and happy for our own good.

    3) We need new blood.

    We need new blood in the coaching ranks, new blood in the playing ranks…new blood.

    We need to recalibrate our standards and goals, and we need to get the next wave of US soccer players ready.

    Mexico suffered while they kept running Cuahtemoc Blanco and Oswaldo Sanchez out against us, thinking maybe this time, maybe this time. And Mexico got over the hump when they found their next wave of players and got on with them.

    I hope we won’t make the same mistake.

    4) All was not lost in this Gold Cup.

    Despite the bitter suckitude of losing to the Jotos, some things were accomplished in this Gold Cup, important things actually.

    a. We found a LB.
    b. We re-energized a creative, attacking, uniquely skilled player in our pool
    c. We discovered some quality depth in a few places
    d. We came to grips with a few players who probably don’t need to suit up again for us

    June 2013 will be exponentially more lame than I wanted it to be, but I also see tonight as an opportunity to recognize the raised level of competition from our rival Mexico and accept the challenge to once again become better than them.

    That’s going to take effort and willingness on our part. Hopefully the sting of being 2nd-best again can fuel it.

    In summary, fire Bob Bradley. Not because he’s a bad guy or does a bad job. But because we simply need to start over. We need new.

    Reply

  25. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/26 at 11:14 AM

    After the SF game, there were many comments about how many consecutive clean sheets were made. Then you play a decent team and you ship four.

    Was it a bad day at the office, or were those clean sheets obtained against really weak opponents that glossed over the obvious?

    Reply

    • Posted by Jake C on 2011/06/26 at 11:24 AM

      I would answer both those questions in the affirmative. There’s a problem with the setup in the midfield and defense; bornstein was the most glaring problem to me last night, but the pairing of JJ and MB90 in the center presents an issue that I’ve been critical of for a while now.

      The space in that midfield was ridiculous. Against a team with that kind of speed running at you, any defense would crumble. That needs to stop in the midfield, and that means a) having a midfield tandem that can cover the midfield with speed, and b) that pairing cannot give cheap balls away. To boss the midfield the way we need to, we can only play JJ or MB90, not both.

      Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/26 at 12:09 PM

      I said after the SF game that I thought everything had gone right at once for the US defense: they enjoyed favorable tactical matchups (esp. against Jamaica, a team that otherwise had the raw attacking talent to challenge them) and had played teams that were not able to exploit Boca’s physical limitations. Personnel-wise, the US showed they were not going to get beat for speed on the outside and certainly weren’t going to get beat aerially in the center. It was unclear what would happen when they faced teams that could threaten in other ways.

      The Mexico game had an element of bad luck, and I don’t think people should be too quick to write that off. But basically I think last night’s game showed that this is still essentially the same US defense that gave up all those goals in South Africa last summer. We all said after the World Cup that the team’s most pressing needs were to develop a striker and to shore up the defense. That’s still the case. The US needs Lichaj and Chandler to mature and build confidence, but above all it needs a new generation of center backs. I still don’t have the faintest idea where they’ll come from.

      Reply

      • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/26 at 4:09 PM

        Incidentally, Boss didn’t get into the game for Djurgården today — second weekend running. . . .

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 8:28 PM

          Boss probably has the highest ceiling of any of the centerbacks, but he lost so much time and his decisionmaking isn’t up too snuff that I wouldn’t count on him at all.

          The thing is about our centerback prospects is that there are many of them, but each of them has a fatal flaw. George John is really good but as an ’87 belongs to the Clint Dempsey Club Of–Wish You’d Turned Pro Sooner along with current MLS Attacking Chair Chris Pontius. Ike Opara can’t pass and doesn’t get time with the Earthquakes. Perry Kitchen needs to hit the weight room. Ethan White has his own, ah, physical style of defense and cannot pass as well. Omar Gonzalez passes better than before but has slow feet. Tim Ream has lapses of concentration and is terrible aerially. Am I forgetting anyone? Oh, Mobi Fehr is too young to count on for 2014 (but seems a very good prospect, if only u-17).

          Reply

          • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/26 at 11:32 PM

            Thoughts on Geoff Cameron?

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:50 PM

              He was interesting, but Kinnear doesn’t seem interested in playing him at center back (unless there’s injuries or something). In that position Cameron is a good central midfielder for MLS but missing something for the USMNT even without Holden.

          • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/27 at 7:02 AM

            Honestly I hold out more hope for Rico Clark than I do for any of the MLS guys. The mere thought of playing him in a position where he can’t lose concentration is enough to take months off my life, but he does bring the pace and athleticism the US so sorely lacks. (For the moment — he’s not exactly young. Plus he needs a club.)

            Reply

            • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/27 at 4:11 PM

              Today’s San Jose/DC United trade should at least pave the way for more playing time for Opara.

              And it may mean Kitchen plays in his more natural position as well.

              Is Okugo more of a CB or a DM?

            • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/27 at 4:38 PM

              Okugo’s a CDM — was doing darn well for Philly and the U-20s, but he’s been hurt for a month or so.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/06/27 at 11:15 PM

              Okugo just got back–he played 30 minutes midweek but didn’t play on the weekend. Hopefully he gets back to playing frequently–he offers a lot to Philadelphia, and they seem willing to let him work through some of his problems (e.g. inexperience, but also needs work on his balls switching the point of attack: his vision for them is average, but his execution is poor. Both could improve. If both do, he’ll be a long way towards meeting his ceiling: mutant cross of Maurice Edu and Ricardo Clark.)

  26. Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 11:43 AM

    One last note: this is the second time in the Bob Bradley Era the U.S. has blown a first-half 2-0 lead in a final.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/26 at 11:50 AM

      Didn’t you know – a two goal lead is the most dangerous lead you can have!

      Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 5:56 PM

      The intersting thing about that was that both 2-0 leads were taken quite early in the game, the 27th minute in South Africa and the 23rd minute in Pasadena.

      Say what you want about the infamous 2-0 lead but what was interesting about both games was that Bradley chose to keep on attacking;something you can call either foolish and stupid or courageous. It would have been very interesting to see what would have happened had the US gotten that third goal.

      Personally, I would have put ten men behind the ball in the thirtieth minute of both games.

      Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 6:59 PM

        I am torn by this… I totally understand the put 10 men behind the ball thoughts. I really want to criticize Bob for this but I have also criticized Bob for not attacking good teams and sitting in a shell (Argentina). I can’t have it both ways…

        That said, if there is a was a time to park the bus up 2-0 in a final sure makes more sense to me than 0-0 in a meaningless friendly.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/27 at 7:06 PM

          I was screaming at him to make a change and play a low risk game at 2-0. Like I said previously, there are many degrees inbetween to the game that the US played and park-the-bus… An ugly win is better than a pretty loss, after all.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2011/06/27 at 11:17 PM

            I think the proper strategy would’ve been after making the Bornstein change to flip Donovan and Dempsey. Donovan would’ve provided better defensive cover for Bornstein.

            Reply

        • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/30 at 4:45 AM

          There is parking the bus and then there is playing a little more defensively. MB90 kept pushing far up the field leaving space in midfield for the Mexicans to exploit which allowed them to have a full head of steam when running at our slow central defenders forcing them to drop deeper which made even more of a gap. I think the right move would have been to pull MB90 back a bit but still allow the guys ahead of the midfield 2 a pretty free rein. That way you aren’t playing bunker ball but you’re not still going gung ho at a team with pace. Mexico was allowed to counterattack with speed which should never happen when you’re 2-0 up.

          Reply

  27. Posted by Russell P on 2011/06/26 at 12:54 PM

    Oh silver linings. This game was is a pothole to be sure.

    I have to hope and have faith that the best outcome of this tournament is that “the States” as Stu Holden puts it, now knows it’s best 18. An 18 that is waay different than v Spain and Canada

    And as a result the team can finally continue the upswing in improvement.

    Reply

  28. Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/26 at 1:57 PM

    I am probably in the minority in this but I’m in an armchair just like everyone else. Calling for Bradley’s head? Really. Haven’t read one good feasible replacement in these comments.

    It is evident the US squad is descent but shallow. I do not see how a new coach will lead this team much further than it has gone. A few injuries here and there and the US is a very weak team. I may and probably am wrong though…

    Reply

    • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/27 at 8:16 AM

      I’m intrigued by the idea of Jason Kreis.

      Reply

      • Posted by Christopher on 2011/06/27 at 11:11 AM

        Of the names…that is the best I’ve heard.

        Reply

      • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 5:39 PM

        Texas,

        If the US changes managers, it better be for a significant upgrade. Take a real hard look at Kreis and tell me what in his resume tells you he will be an improvement on BB other than the fact he isn’t BB?

        Kreis is a fine manager and may indeed eventually be a better manager than BB for the USMNT but I see nothing on his resume that tells me he would be anything other than another young, inexpensive important though that may be), “potentially” good US manager.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/27 at 11:18 PM

          Right. The youth is one thing. The other thing is: be wary of hot MLS managers. They show a pattern of relying on veteran foreign playmaking talent that substitutes for the lack of American playing and coaching experience in effective offense. Kreis may not be that guy, which is why the development of Luis Gil should be watched very carefully.

          Reply

          • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/27 at 11:50 PM

            I’m not entirely sold on Kreis, which is why I’m intrigued.

            I am entirely sold that the US Mens’ team needs an injection of new thought, new energy, new approach.

            I’m not convinced that the foreign managers discussed have a strong enough understanding of the American landscape, though I’d take my chances with Bielsa.

            Nothing in Kreis’ resume says he’s hands-down a better coach than Bradley in a theoretical vacuum. But his resume does suggest he’s a strong managerial candidate, and he meets my number one criteria for what the US side needs right now: new.

            Obviously, anyone other than Bradley would be new. Of the American candidates, Kreis seems most promising. Of the foreign names, Bielsa.

            More than anything, what I think the US team needs right now is a message from the highest levels: We’re not satisfied with where we are. We want better.

            Reply

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/28 at 4:53 PM

              Don’t you think if Kreis were to be hired and then had to address the team he had better have something better to say than:

              “Things are going to be better now because I’m new!”

              Doesn’t sound very inspirational to me.

              What you are really saying is he is new to you.

              And therefore you can imagine all the things he might be that BB was not; until he proves otherwise.

              Then you can burn him at the stake too.

              National team managers do not develop talent; they manage what is already there.

              Bradley did not develop Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, Michael Bradley, Holden, Lichaj, Chandler, Bedoya or Dolo. He did nothing for Adu other than tell him he needed to get his act together. All these guys developed at their clubs and when they were good enough, BB picked them.

              De la Torre has managed Mexico since 2010 for 11 games. That probably tells you Mexico already had most of the moving parts in place. De la Torre comes in sees what he has and lets them play in a style the best suits them. This style happens to be a high pressure attacking one since he is lucky enough to have a good number of speedy, talented attacking forwards.

              What does the US have a good number of? Holding midfielders.

              Having good players is one thing; having them in the right position maybe even more important. Our leaders are Donovan and Dempsey.

              Who were Mexico’s leaders? Chicharito who stars for Man U. and Rafa who was a regular with Barca and won lots of medals with them. And notice how one is a striker and one is a defender. And also notice how the US has no one, other than Rossi and Subotic, like them. And notice how they seem to have more competent sidekicks than our dynamic duo does.

              Now which team would you rather take over if you had a short time frame to win something? Switch Bradley and De La Torre and see what happens. Have you heard the expression moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic? That is what most of these Gold Cup final post mortems sound like to me. You can fire BB if you wish. I think it’s more or less irrelevant in terms of how the USMNT will do going forward.

              What is more important is how the overall talent pool is developing.

              And Bradley or his replacement will have next to nothing to do with that.

              For me the number one priority is the US has to somehow get more players playing regularly on Champions league teams or at least regularly at a higher level than they are at currently. Guys like Mix will have to play at a much higher level than the # 26 ranked Norwegian league and Edu will have to get himself a stiffer challenge than the limp SPL. Agudelo better figure out what his next best move should be.

  29. Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/06/26 at 1:59 PM

    I have a lot to say about this game, still brewing a bit from last night. Overall, an entertaining game. I think it hurts a bit more at this point because it we will have to wait awhile before a chance at redemption. Also, a lot of Mexico fan-boys are going to be gloating and claiming that the teams are worlds apart, but I just don’t buy it. Dempsey hits the bar, Goodson comes oh so close, and for some reason Bradley hits a ball that actually has movement on it and skirts away from goal. The Kljestan substitution was absolutely too late. Adu played admirably and did precisely what you want him to do, essentially creating each of the two goals, but the game called for fresh legs, particularly when the US had a tactical edge on substitutes considering that Mexico burned two on injured defenders. If Chandler is on the bench, I really don’t see Mexico running rampant the way they did. As TSG astutely noted, Lichaj switching sides is a huge adjustment, particularly when you’ve been seeing things from the left side of the field the whole tournament.

    Which, brings me to…drum roll please…Bornstein. Now, I wouldn’t wish that scenario on anyone, tough spot to be in, but I most definitely wouldn’t wish it upon Bornstein. Deer in the headlights the whole game, which is quite normal for him. He seems like a really nice guy and everything, but he really is terrible at this level. I’ve always thought that and nothing changed after last night. Seeing him get up for the substitution gave me the same feeling I got when I saw Clark in the line-up vs Ghana. The “what the eff is Bornstein doing in this game” feeling. And Mexico immediately began to pick on him and run everything through that left side. It would have been comical if I wasn’t a US fan. You are only as good as your weakest link, and the weakest link was egregiously apparent last night.

    Moving on from Bornstein, and I really hope I can put his name to rest for eternity now that his level of play is so transparently below international play, I think the value of Stu Holden is becoming more and more evident by the day. I’m not trying to make excuses here, and do a run of counter-factuals about if only we had player x to do x, y, z. Rather, this loss ultimately doesn’t bother me and the distance between the two side is not that wide in my mind knowing that Holden was not on the roster. If he stays healthy (knock on wood) the guy is going to be a stud in the middle of the field, and will give this team the class it needs in the middle of the park. Not only does he cover a ton of ground, and is evolving into the the box-to-box player, but his composure on the ball is so much better than our current options. Jones is a good player, but I think age and injury have crept up on him to the point that his physical play isn’t as precise and devastating as it was in his prime at Schalke. Bradley is tough to read, just like his father, but I think his relative youth gives him an edge over Jones going forward, and if he can continue to develop at the club level he can perhaps gain greater field awareness that was spotty during this tourney. I must say, he did look oddly lethargic at times against Mexico, like are you awake lethargic. Perhaps fatigue and overall fitness were an issue, I’m not sure, but lets hope its an aberration rather than the norm.

    Lastly, perhaps Altidore makes a difference in this game. His physical play and willingness to run at the defense may have given the Mexican backline some problems that our other forwards didn’t provide. And this brings up the final point. The Mexican defense is not good at all, and really counterbalance the weapons they have upfront. It is imperative that the US figures out their CB situation, and with youth will hopefully come a little more pace–but I do feel comfortable about our fullbacks…Lichaj and Chandler could be the most dynamic pairing we’ve ever had if they play up to potential. If we are defensively superior in the back, with the a Holden-Bradley CM, I think we can ultimately neutralize Mexico’s forward players, and have the advantage against their backline. So there you have it, my two cents and perhaps a little more. Can’t wait for qualifying to begin…

    Reply

    • Posted by Seybold on 2011/06/26 at 5:16 PM

      I like your suggestion for Holden playing in the defensive midfield line. Against top-quality opponents his composure on the ball would help immesurably. He was one of the leading tacklers in England until his injury, so he can handle that part of the game.

      Now that Adu, Bedoya and Kljestan are showing ability to play in the attacking midfield positions, I don’t think Holden is needed here.

      Reply

  30. Posted by FulhamPete on 2011/06/26 at 5:47 PM

    Nice summation. I’m with you the whole way. With an addition.

    Holden brings another aspect to the game that was SORELY missed until Adu was fielded. His set piece and corner kick acumen surpasses that of Donovan. There’s a significant effect here. Holden taking setpieces frees Donovan to patrol the 18, picking up stragglers as he did at the end of the Algeria game. (Granted, not a set piece, but that’s the general idea). I don’t think this should be ignored, and I think would have resulted in 3-4 more goals in the tournament.

    Reply

  31. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/26 at 6:31 PM

    This is going to sound odd but last night’s game reinforced what I already suspected:

    1) While players like Donovan and Dempsey are very good players they don’t have the ability to change the game on their own. Neither of them is ever having a Dos Santos game for the US. And this is coming from a huge Dempsey fan.

    2) While we are getting more depth.across the 23 man roster we still have areas with excess depth and areas where the cover is bear.

    We have at least 6 viable MFs at this point (Holden, MB90, Jones, Dempsey, Donovan, Bedoya) and a couple more that are in the potential stage (Adu, Klejstan, Feilhaber, Edu). That gives us 10 MFs that I feel comfortable starting in qualifying. This leaves out all of the “younger” guys.

    On the other hand we have 0 viable forwards at this point and only 3 I would consider in the potential stage (Altidore, Agudelo, Bunburry).

    3) Our defense is in transition. We knew this coming out of the World Cup. While our guys are young we have what I consider to be a bright future. Lichaj really impressed me at LB, and I have faith in Chandler at RB after Dolo. More impressively we finally had outside backs that could get forward and assist in the offense. Our CBs are still a work in progress as we need to transition from Gooch and Demerit to the next pairing. Goodson did well enough, obviously needs to improve but its a start. We also shouldnt have expected Ream to be a finished project yet.

    4) Now that we can’t complain about LB I expect to see a ton of posts over the next two years about our lack of a viable forward. Particularly as our young forward prospects pick up new positions with their club team closer to goal. Remember Spector was a U17 forward.

    5) I am still unsure that Bradley is the right coach for this team. We tend to give him credit for things like switching to a 4-2-3-1 for Jamaica but I feel like on these boards people have been calling for a 4-2-3-1 since it worked in South Africa. Not sure if he deserves credit for the change or discredit for it taking him a Panama loss and a lackluster outing against Guadaloupe to decide.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 7:20 PM

      Not sure I agree with the “potential” designation for Feilhaber and Edu. Both gentlemen are pretty old for young players; guys only make fairly minor upgrades as this point of the career, in general. Not to say they’re useless or anything, but they are what they pretty much are at this point.

      Diskerud is probably the best of the upcoming creative midfielders without extensive caps,* and Amobi Okugo has the most potential from a defensive central midfield question.

      * max ceiling = Luis Gil, who’s been getting quite a bit of PT and apparently has performed well, according to fans, Jason Kreis, and RSL’s official twitter feed.

      Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 6:42 AM

        Potential was a poor word choice on my behalf. I meant potential as more in having a regular starting spot. Edu is not currently a starter nor do I really think that he deserves to be played over Bradley or Jones at this point. To me he is clearly the third man and a downgrade (not a Bornstein level downgrade but I would have been very nervous if Bradley had started him in Jones place against Panama when it looked like Jones had a knock). If Edu was to leave the Rangers for a better league (not even necessarily a better team I could see him making the leap.

        Similar for Feilhaber he could become a guy worthy of a starting spot or someone that I feel very comfortable starting

        I will defer to you on the younger players. I tend to watch EPL and La Liga and not much MLS or other leagues. I do not have even the least bit of knowledge to make an intelligent comment about Okugo or Gil.

        Reply

        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 8:10 AM

          One clarification… I am trying to draw a distinction between starting against someone like T&T (where I am more than happy to have Edu in the line-up) and WC final knockout level opponent (where I am very nervous about starting Edu). With Feilhaber moving back to the MLS I don’t see him making the leap, with Edu I think getting some PT in a top 5 league maybe all it would take (he has the skills just not the speed which may just be the fact that he plays in a league which outside of two teams is MLS quality).

          This tourney Bedoya graduated to the later group as I felt very comfortable with him starting against Mexico. Lichaj graduated to the later group someone by default because he is a competent LB and despite not having a great game versus Mexico we saw the alternative in Bornstein.

          Reply

      • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/28 at 12:00 PM

        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/28 at 12:19 PM

          What Kreis says–and I saw on a replay of the game–about Gil’s pace is true. He is surprisingly fast. That’s not a bad thing for a central midfielder–you want them to do one move, hit a burst of pace, and then have plenty of time and space.

          More to the point it’s a testament of what better young-age selection strategies could do–make the USMNT more athletic. No one thought Luis Gil was a good athlete as a fourteen-year-old, but it turns out his athleticism has been upped considerably as he matures. Everyone says the U.S. is an athletic team, but that’s only sort of true, and certainly not true Saturday. The problem is that many U.S. players were selected on the basis of high-level athleticism as early teens, but high-level athleticism doesn’t tend to sustain as well as high-level skill. Hence the U.S. doesn’t really get either to a high degree (though I suspect Bradley isn’t picking the best athletes available to him–mostly because they’re the Eddie Johnsons and Marvell Wynnes of the player pool.)

          Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 5:24 PM

      BernierB,

      “I am still unsure that Bradley is the right coach for this team. We tend to give him credit for things like switching to a 4-2-3-1 for Jamaica but I feel like on these boards people have been calling for a 4-2-3-1 since it worked in South Africa. Not sure if he deserves credit for the change or discredit for it taking him a Panama loss and a lackluster outing against Guadaloupe to decide.”

      Are you saying the posters on this blog shold be given credit for the 4-2-3-1? I’m very skeptical about Bradley relying on TSG for coaching tips.

      The first time he came out with it after the World Cup was back in 2010 in the Poland Game at Chicago and he has experimented with it off and on ever since.

      And when he first came out with out everyone blasted him for doing so.

      One thing you can count on leading up to the Gold Cup; if the US played a 4-4-2 everyone blasted them for being out of touch with the modern game and if they played 4-2-3-1 everyone blasted them for using a formation that doesn’t work.

      Look it up.

      Reply

  32. Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 7:30 PM

    By the way, the wrong Tim Howard comments have been getting attention. Not the ones about speaking English–that just sounds like frustration to me–but these ones:

    “And even though Howard knows the US were beaten by the better team on the night, and were completely disrespected during the postgame medal ceremony to boot, he’s still confident of one thing:

    “We’re still the dominant team in this region,” he concluded. “We showed that. Unfortunately we didn’t do it for 90 minutes.””

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/goldcup/news/article/2011/06/26/gold-cup-howard-cant-explain-us-collapse-vs-el-tri

    I’ll be charitable to Howard and assume he means “one of the dominant teams.” That’s closer to being true, except the form of the USMNT throughout the tournament–more scrapping through than anything else–did not exactly resemble domination in any sense. That’s especially true in that the teams that finished third and fourth in the Hex in 2009–Honduras and Costa Rica–completely missed us, so we might have had the easier schedule. Considering Donovan’s so-so form throughout the tournament, you could argue muddling through is more impressive than it seems, but muddling through is many things but not dominant. I wonder whether complacency is setting into the team? You hear quotations like Howard’s, or players talking about “learning lessons” (which we’ve heard in so many instances post-World Cup and rarely seen those lessons learned) and really have to wonder what it’s up in the mentality of the team.

    Reply

    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 6:45 AM

      Does some of this mentality issue lie with the coach? Shouldn’t Bradley Sr be as they like to say in England giving them the blow drier treatment. Shouldn’t Bradley be telling them in private that they had the easy draw, that they struggled, and then got their asses kicked?

      Reply

      • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 5:10 PM

        “Shouldn’t Bradley be telling them in private that they had the easy draw, that they struggled, and then got their asses kicked?”

        How do you know he didn’t?

        Reply

        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 5:20 PM

          You are right. I have no idea that he didn’t. What I can say is that if he is… it doesn’t appear to be sinking in. How many lessons learned quotes have we heard from Donovan et al for mistakes that were previously “lessons learned.”

          Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2011/06/27 at 8:01 AM

      I would translate the subtext of Howard’s quote as follows: “Before tonight, I’d never lost to Mexico outside of Mexico. During that time, we won the Gold Cup, made the final of a major international tournament, and came in first in qualifying. Mexico has good attacking talent, but the press exaggerates the talent gap between our two teams. We had the players and the mentality to win. We took some shots early but played good counterattacking soccer; the 2-0 lead might have gone against the run of play, but it was not a fluke. I’m disappointed that we squandered it, and I realize that, had I played to the top of my abilities, the outcome might have been different. We’re going to come back strong and get them in qualifying.”

      As you point out, it’s not actually true that the US is still the “dominant” team in CONCACAF. But I see where Howard’s frustration is coming from.

      Related, it’s odd how ticked off the US players seem to be about the pro-Mexico crowd. Boca’s also made some comments about US fans “braving the environment” in the Rose Bowl.

      Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 9:03 AM

        I didn’t take Boca’s tweet as ticked off but more as thankful for the fans that did show. I am sure that at least some people donning the USMNT jersey in the crowd had a tough night from fans of el Tri.

        Reply

        • As someone who was donning a USMNT jersey at the Rose Bowl I will vouch that we had a tough night from Mexico’s fans.

          I read Boca’s tweet like you, BernieBernier – as appreciative of the USA fans, not so much pissed off about the overwhelming Mexico support.

          Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 9:07 AM

        I totally understand Howard’s subtext and as a player I want him thinking that way. As a fan I want the coach to be knocking the players down a peg, motivating them to work harder, etc.

        Reply

    • Posted by Texas 1836 on 2011/06/27 at 4:46 PM

      That comment sounds like El Tri circa 1999-2008.

      Reply

  33. Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/06/26 at 8:11 PM

    Bernie,

    I’m with you all the way on each of your points.

    dth,

    I’m hearing what your saying about mentality. To me it comes down to Bernie’s 5th point: Coaching. I think Bob has honestly done all he can do with this group. These guys need a new perspective. Coaching moves like this are made all the time in every sport, and though it often means letting a coach with a good record go, a lot of teams end up responding to such a change. Even more so because you have a team in transition that has an older group of guys that is now so entrenched in its ways with Bob, that I don’t think he himself can coax a new perspective from them. The last option that the Federation has, in other words, is to demonstrate to the team that their play has consequences at some level, even outside of themselves.

    I say this as someone who has usually supported Bob, knowing that it is an extremely difficult position to be in and please everyone. However, strategic moves need to be made at times that aren’t necessarily fare to the individual but right for the ultimate direction of the team and US soccer as a whole. I think we are getting close to the tipping point.

    I like what Howard is saying, that confidence is good, but now we need a coach he sees how to put truth to those words, and as Bernie suggests, I don’t feel that Bob makes those types of decisions, or when he does its a few steps too late in the process. I also think it would put pressure on MB that I personally don’t think is always there for him knowing that his dad is the coach. It’s impossible to be completely objective when you have such a close personal relationship with one of the players, and deep down I think both of them know that. But there is surely enough room for debate at this point about Bob’s future with the team. The question becomes, during qualifying, how quickly does the Federation pull the trigger if the team stumbles out of the blocks? Or, what type of pressure is there to perform in friendlies approaching the qualifying stages?

    Aside from that, it seems that a lot of people can agree that we need new blood at CB, and a striker/forward to emerge that has dynamism that the current group has not shown consistently. I personally have always liked and rooted for Altidore, and if he would just realize that he is physically superior to everyone and that that superiority is going to result in some knocks from time to time, I think he would be close to living up to his potential. Too often it seems that he is surprised that people hack at him and make contact with him, as if it insults him rather than makes him realize that its because he has a distinct advantage on most defenders. It’s all mental for Altidore for me. And I think this is part of the reason he is also not as good in hold-up play as his frame suggests he should be. Clearly, however, these are the two glaring weaknesses of the current team, but one thing to keep in mind–how many people knew about Lichaj and Chandler a year, year and a half ago?

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/26 at 8:17 PM

      You know, Jozy was having a very good tournament. Two goals in group stage, should’ve had three assists–very productive. Didn’t have the kind of work rate I’d like, but he was certainly bringing the numbers to the table. That Altidore injury was pretty unfortunate.

      In terms of his mentality: Jozy is more well-rounded than he was since he left New York, but his confidence has dipped. I hope the hot start to the tournament has perked up his confidence, and he makes a more permanent move this summer–I’m liking the idea of a move to the Eredivisie, which has been mooted.

      Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 6:53 AM

        I am not sure how much of Jozy’s issues are mental. I am becoming more and more convinced that he is not and can not be a target forward. That does not mean that he could not be a very good forward in a different system but I just don’t see him as being able to develop into a lone forward.

        Reply

        • I’ve been convinced since the beginning of Jozy that he simply doesn’t know how to use his size. I feel like training in Spain taught him to go down instead of win shoulder to shoulder challenges against smaller defenders. A target needs to be able to impose himself, and for the size that Jozy has, he simply doesn’t do it.

          Reply

      • Posted by Hensley on 2011/06/27 at 5:23 PM

        Anyone see jozy’s tweet about learning Dutch?

        Reply

  34. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/27 at 6:18 AM

    Great comments here. Don’t know if it’s been said–and I waited on it–but a team that plays possession “covers” the Dolo injury much better.

    Reply

    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 6:48 AM

      100% agree but that is on coach for his rope a dope strategy. If you don’t normally play possession you can’t expect to play possession in your biggest game in over a year successfully.

      Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/27 at 8:46 AM

      Very true. But, quite frankly, you don’t have the talent to play like that. It would be suicidal to attempt that with *this* squad.

      Reply

      • It’d be suicidal to attempt to play a possession game with the current US squad? I think it would be suicidal to try to mirror Spain’s possession game, but I think our current pool is capable of more (if only slightly) controlled possession than what we witnessed throughout the Gold Cup.

        Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 9:05 AM

        Not sure about the fact that we don’t have the talent. I think that a possession game is somewhat about talent and somewhat about mindset. The mindset can’t be switched on a dime with good results expected. The talent is what it is.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/27 at 9:48 AM

          I did not say that there are no individuals with talent. My implication is that as a team I cannot ever see the US playing a more controlled game with the existing squad. Yeah, you might do against some CONCACAF teams, but not against a top 16 side.

          Reply

          • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/06/27 at 11:03 AM

            My statement was simply a possession game isn’t something that you can just decide to do. It needs to ingrained in the team. No matter how talented a group of players if they don’t play a possession style of game together they will struggle.

            Reply

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/27 at 4:58 PM

              I agree to a certain extent. But my point is that although it looks easy to play that type of football [because many of the passes are so short], it’s not. Having speed of thought, spacial awareness, pass anticpation, good first touch, two good feet, ability to play in tight spaces, and remaining calm under pressure [ie not booting upfield when the slightest bit of pressing is applied] are all necessary – but what is more important is that you need the whole team to be able to apply this philosophy to make it work and be effective.

              Whether it is desirable to try to play like this is another question…

  35. is anyone going to talk about what jermaine jones just tweeted??? something weird going on there, i hope he got hacked….

    Reply

  36. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/27 at 6:28 AM

    And it’s sister question? How often have you seen Xavi in foot races all day long?

    Reply

    • Posted by Tabare on 2011/06/27 at 8:27 AM

      I agree — see my comment above.

      A team that cannot maintain possession is half-way crippled. We have no way to weather storms by keeping the ball and letting it do some of the work. Instead, against good teams, we must defend against wave after wave of attack.

      We’ve got problems passing the ball out of the back — though clearly the hope had been that Tim Ream would remedy that.

      And we have a very limited central midfield. Bradley and Jones give the ball away very cheaply. Jones is a slightly better passer. But fundamentally both players are runners and tacklers and hustlers. Neither are organizers of an offense. And this is why some of us wish a player like Jose Francisco Torres would be given a more extended look.

      Yes, Torres is small. Yes, his 45 minutes against Slovenia were nothing to remember [though Onyewu was at fault for both goals]. Still that Bob Bradley brought Robbie Rogers and Jonathan Spector and even Sasha Kljestan over Torres…this does not add up to me.

      Reply

      • Hadn’t thought about Torres in a while (at least since rosters for the Gold Cup were announced) – definitely would like to see him get another chance with the USA in upcoming friendlies.

        Reply

  37. […] The Shin Guardian analyzes the loss. […]

    Reply

  38. Posted by mbw on 2011/06/27 at 7:20 AM

    Looking forward: the next two months — the transfer window — will be huge for this cycle. Really important that the guys who’ll make up the core of the 2014 team — Lichaj, Jozy, Bradley, Bedoya, Guzan, Adu, et al. — get themselves in good club situations. Those guys need to develop the consistency that comes from training and playing against the highest level of competition day in and day out. Basically, as we move out of the Donovan/Boca/Cherundolo era into whatever comes next, we need more stories like Stu Holden’s. The second point of interest will be the development of younger players like Agudelo, Gil, Okugo, and Mwanga in MLS and, come August, the status of the U-20 cohort — Lletget, Doyle, Wood, Gyau — with their club teams.

    Reply

  39. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/27 at 8:23 AM

    I think one of the key points to be made re the loss is the failure to recognize a few things and respond tactically:
    1) Mex was getting significant chances and looked dangerous for most of the first 10-15 mins. The D as constructed was able to withstand that but just barely
    2) Up 2-0 on your 2 prime chances at 20 mins in, the tactical changes should have been along the lines of defensive composure/possession and NOT speed on the flank. Bornstein just makes no sense in that space but even less sense considering how stretched the game remained. Bunkering at that point makes complete sense and the flank speed issue becomes less vital. Spector, though slow, IMO is the no brainer based on options there rather than making 2 changes and weakening both areas. Keep Bedoya back on Specs side and you have Lichaj as a strengh on the LB side.Clog the MF with 5-6 and counter.

    3) Mikey’s overuse (MB90) throughout the tournament was mostly to blame for his form. A guy who isn’t in game shape coming in shouldn’t be left out there for 90 every game simply because he wants to be. His attacking role as usual was where his energy came from but defensively and distribution suffered from his fitness/form IMO. That’s on the coach in a critical role.

    4) I’ve been from Missouri on Freddy Adu for a long time but his showing in these last two scream for inclusion going forward. He was what the Dr ordered for the attack and was possibly more impressed at his defensive commitment. His gotten bigger and at 22 still has potential to grow.

    I think Bob’s management of the side and program leaves much to be desired going forward. I don’t think he’s awful but the same issues keep showing at critical times.

    Great review BTW as usual.

    3)

    Reply

  40. Any chance Bob is let go?? I know Sunil & the board don’t do anything quickly, how long would it take to make such a decision?

    Reply

  41. Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/06/27 at 9:33 AM

    I agree about the possession issue, though I’m partial to that style of play. Counter-attaching is effective, but its essentially a minnows strategy. If we want to remain minnows and on the occassion shock really good teams we will play a counter-attacking game. However, if we want to be a team that can rely on composure on the ball to keep teams at bay, rather than simply occupying the opponents attacking space, then an emphasis on possession needs to be made.

    Americans love hitting home runs, but it becomes ineffective when you are only batting .200, and other teams no exactly what your looking to do. Can this team in particular do it. I think as I said earlier, I believe they can to a greater degree with Holden as the primary CM. Though I do think that the US at speed is very dangerous, so playing more possession does not necessarily mean that the US must restrain from quick counters but rather become better at identifying the game situations that it is appropriate to initiate. When you are up 2-0, I think that’s a good time to slow the game down and limit your opponents opportunities by denying them the ball altogether.

    On Jozy: I think he needs consistent playing time, and I do think a lot of his inconsistency is mental. However, I don’t think he is a traditional target guy either, which is actually a good thing, as I’d rather have an attacking forward who can do as he has in recent games and get to the wings to distribute in the box. As dth mentioned, he had a handful of assists and should have had more, and this is a part of his game that I think is overlooked in favor of criticizing his poor hold-up play. Which by the way I don’t understand why he can’t turn the corner there–its a matter of being more patient in advancing the ball, and initiating additional attackers into the last third. That’s why I’m hoping consistent play and good coaching can remedy the problems or improve them to a point where we can be more tactically dynamic depending on the opponent.

    Reply

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/06/27 at 11:25 AM

      I would say it’s overlooked. If Jozy is the 1 in a 4-2-3-1 the he needs to be a target forward. If he is a forward in a 4-4-2 (or some variant) or a 4-3-3 then he does not need to be a target forward Given everything we have seen to date the best formation for the US appears to be a 4-2-3-1. It’s not fair of us to criticize Jozy but he is also not good enough to cause us to switch formations to accommodate him.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/27 at 4:46 PM

        Minnows? Careful. As much as I enjoy watching Spain play, I do realise that it may not be desirbale to copy if you don’t have the necessary talent. Plus there is more than one way to skin a cat. See Greece Euro2004, Inter CL2010.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/06/27 at 10:52 PM

          Ah George, yes, you caught me here in a place that I was expecting someone to jump upon. But lets at least admit that Greece coming into that tournament, and based on performance since, can be considered minnows of Europe. Would you argue otherwise? And that’s just it, minnows in soccer can accomplish great things. I remember once reading an article about which sports were statistically the most exciting, and soccer came out on top or near the top because more often than in other sports the minnow pulls off the upset.

          But if you read my comment fully, you’ll see that what I’m getting at is for the US to be able to adopt either style of play depending upon the context of the game. In games where the US plays highly possessional teams, a quick, athletic, countering game can be very effective. But when that style is effective in terms of delivering goals, I think good teams can more consciously slow the pace of the game down and possess the ball to limit their opponents attacking chances. A team like Inter was very effective on the counter, but consider that their bunkering to the extreme came against Barcelona–a team that is so possession heavy, and advances its fullbacks considerably, that luring them into a game of quick counters is a very effective strategic game plan. I would say it’s difficult to argue that that is how Inter played throughout the 2010 CL, though I would have to look a little closer at how they played throughout and in the final vs Bayern.

          I agree, as you note earlier, that adopting possession is not like turning on a light switch, and requires a great deal of player development and on-field awareness. But, what I would argue is that counter attacking is a more natural attacking style of play, one that does not require overt coaching more so than simple tactical awareness of the strength of your team vs the opponents. That is, if you play a team that likes possession, it is likely that you can lure them into a position where they are susceptible to quick counter play in which they are seriously exposed defensively–which is what the US have done quite well for some time now. But what I’m saying is that to step up to the next level, US soccer needs to realize that strong play in possession can be an equally effective defensive tool, and that playing in this style does more to advance the skill of US players than simply requiring them to use their speed and athleticism to chase long balls. Too often, when we get leads, we continue to play a go for broke style of play, keeping the game open and often handing possession back to the opposition. The more our players become comfortable on the ball, the less likely that the more natural counter attacking instincts control our style of play, and hand over possession to the opponent.

          Greece on the other hand, played extremely compact and essentially scored the majority of their important goals from set pieces…that is, they weren’t even playing a go for broke counter, but relied upon static set-pieces to gain an advantage. They had no problem playing for a 0-0 game, and then being opportunistic on set-plays, which is precisely the way minnows play–and Greece is actually a nice extreme example of this. Prophylactic play is fine, and can deliver results, but over the long haul I think it stunts the development of any national team*. I feel as if we are caught in an awkward position now, where our players are so locked into one approach per game, that they don’t respond appropriately to actual game situations. So sure, we can possess against a team like Jamaica, an opponent that we are expected to dominate at least in terms of possession, but against an equal or slightly superior side, our players resort to counter play that fails to dictate the tempo of play even when we are in the lead.

          *Perhaps a case can be made for Italy, as a generally prophylactic team style of play that has had long term success. But I would argue that Italian soccer has typically had very skilled and efficient forwards to play their defensive style, and that part of their defensive play is implemented through slowing the game down by playing a very calm prodding offensive style.

          Reply

  42. Posted by arjan on 2011/06/27 at 11:23 AM

    please sign my petition to get gulati to resign

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/usmnt/signatures

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 5:05 PM

      arjan,

      You are wasting everyone’s time.

      Gulati is a figurehead. If it were up to him Klinsmann would have been the manager at the Gold Cup.

      Talk to the other 14 voting USSF members.

      Reply

  43. Posted by Joe on 2011/06/27 at 11:30 AM

    As much as it pains me to say anything positive about Mexico which I will regret within two seconds of typing it, our future is not even remotely as bright as Mexico. With the exception of Bradley and Holden (superstar), we are screwed. How much are we going to hype up these guys to have them fall flat on their face? You can see a superstar from the moment he steps on the field…. I HATE MEXICO MORE THAN I HATE OSAMA but Chicarito is a STUD. There is no denying greatness and all I see with the US team in the future is mediocrity. Someone needs to do something or that upward climb into soccer elite will turn into a nose dive.

    Jermaine Jones and Bornstein are the worst players I have ever seen. Jones kills Mikey Bradley every time + NO DEFENSE and Bornstein, no words can explain his worthlessness.

    Reply

  44. Posted by Jim S on 2011/06/27 at 11:54 AM

    Now that i’ve had time to cool down here’s how i see it:

    BB completely went against everything he’s done the past 5 years by putting in Bornstein. He would have been better off moving a speedy middie to the RB and then making donovan sit a little deep to help out. still would have left dempsey, adu and a striker to work magic up top, without sacrificing our defense. For all the rabbits that bob has pulled out of his hat, the past years, this day was bound to happen sooner or later. Don’t blame it on lack of depth, unless of course you are talking about the coach. I have tried and just can’t wrap my head around bob’s decisions.

    P.S. Stop talking about GDS as if he played the game of the century. His goal was beautiful to watch, but give anyone with his skill that much time and room and they are bound to produce goals. Why would our defenders not step up on him? They just kept backing up and backing up. Grow a set already guys.

    Reply

    • Posted by jb on 2011/06/27 at 1:00 PM

      The lack of physicality from our defenders was another tragedy. It’s a simple formula that applies to nearly all contact sports – if you’re getting repeatedly burned by small, fast, skilled player – you knock them on their ass! Put a little something extra into the shoulder tackle. Take a foul. It frustrates the hell out of the attacker, and repeated hits take their toll. This is defender 101. Ask Demerit or old Gooch. This is something that has been a given with the US defense as long as I can remember. Now in this Gold Cup we have appeared both slow and soft in defense.

      Reply

      • I believe the term you’re looking for is flaccid.

        Maybe Pfizer will come up with a little blue pill for US defenders.

        Reply

      • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 5:00 PM

        jb,

        Ever hear of red cards?

        A fast attacker, if he’s smart, knows how to stay away from the kind of hits you are talking about. And consider that Mexico are too quick and dangerous to risk headhunting.

        Reply

        • Posted by jb on 2011/06/28 at 5:46 AM

          Headhunting is too strong a word. Really I’m talking more about being physical within the legal limits of the game, with a ‘professional foul’ or two if necessary. A defender who gets beat outside the box in a dangerous area should bump the attacker to throw off his rhythm. Yes this is a foul, sometimes its called sometimes not. Savvy defenders can use their bodies so that it doesnt appear to be a foul. Sure you risk getting called for the foul, card, or if in the box, a pk. If the alternative is getting embarrassed in front of 90k and national audiences then I’d rather go down being aggressive. I would have much preferred one of our FIVE defenders make a hard challenge on the ball in the box than letting Dos Santos dribble around for an eternity before placing that goal that would posterize our team for the next two years.

          Reply

          • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/28 at 3:28 PM

            If you are implying that the US defenders don’t understand exactly what you are talking about or don’t know how to do it then I would say you are being a very naive.

            Most of them play professionally in Europe where, maybe you don’t believe me, but defenders are far more cynical and tactical than you are.

            And I’m pretty sure Chicharito, who played with Paul Scholes , master of the dark arts, knows a thing or two about physical defenders.

            Knowing what to do is one thing; being able to do it to your opponent is another. If being physical in the manner you describe was enough to stop Mexico then everyone would do it.

            Reply

  45. Posted by Paula on 2011/06/27 at 3:36 PM

    Ok, so, off-topic per this thread, but Howard is getting some mainstream heat for his comments — ill-judged at best and downright offensive at worst.

    On the one hand, USA-MEX rivalry is filled with some pretty nasty incidents, of which this would barely merit a 6 out of 10. OTOH, USSF now has that “Respect” campaign and is also trying to make inroads into youth development in Latino communities. Does he/should he get some kind of reprimand from either USSF or CONCACAF for unsportsmanlike behavior?

    On a personal note, this was a disappointing comment coming from Howard, but people make mistakes.

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/27 at 4:57 PM

      My only response to Howard would be if you had won then I’ll bet the ceremonies would have been in English.

      Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2011/06/28 at 12:55 PM

      I thought he was channeling his inner Drogba… a bit late.
      Was he wrong, or what? Wahl tweeted something about the ceremonies being bilingual on Unvision (I didn’t watch post-game and the entire game was muted where I watched.)
      If they were entirely in Spanish, is it really so politically incorrect to expect some english?

      Reply

  46. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 3:48 PM

    Serious question… based someone on TSG’s twitter outburst this afternoon and Grant Wahl’s response to what I would assume was the same article via twitter:

    How important was qualifying for the Confederations Cup?

    Obviously it is a dress rehearsal that allows you to play in some stadiums in advance of the actual tournament.
    It provides 3 (maybe as many as 5) good quality games in 2013 to work on your team a year out from the world cup.
    Others?

    This is not to defend the Simmon’s article (as the only change along that theme I would have made would have been Bunbury over Wondo), its more of a curiosity because I don’t expect the hear that the winner of the Copa America or the Euro 12 will get an invitation to the Confederations Cup the same way I heard it played up at the Gold Cup.

    It seems like the US can always schedule quality games. In the run up to the Gold Cup we got to play Argentina, Paraguay, Spain. Don’t see why we can’t get similar teams in late 2013 – early 2014.

    If anything for our development I would have thought getting are U-23 into the Copa America would have been a huge win – getting top playing time for people on the bubble like Shea, Adu, Jozy, Agudelo, Omar G, Bunbury, etc.

    Reply

    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 4:00 PM

      By the way this post might be evidence that I am still working my way through the 7 stages of grieving.

      Reply

    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/06/27 at 4:46 PM

      Just saw the tweet Matt. I this steps on your Op-Ed in any way please feel free to delete the comments.

      Reply

    • Posted by Dave on 2011/06/27 at 9:20 PM

      While the Confeds Cup probably helped the US, it’s also true that only one of the 4 semifinalists in WC 2010 had played in Confeds 2009–and Uruguay had to have a playoff against Costa Rica to even make the WC field.
      Sure it’s useful to set up logistics and have useful competition, but not the end of the world not to go. Not going might even reduce the wear and tear on some of the players, since soccer doesn’t have much of an offseason, especially playing for club and country.

      Reply

    • I have to wonder if revenue/drumming up interest from mainstream USA sports fans is a big reason why so much emphasis is placed on the Confederations Cup…because as you point out, in terms of actually getting the team together to play against quality opposition, we don’t necessarily need to be at the Confederations Cup.

      Reply

  47. Why did the US insist on playing a suicidally high defensive line? They let a Mexico side that struggled against organized sides that sat deeper get in behind all day long.

    The US had no idea how to cope when Mexico overloaded a flank. That’s poor preparation from the manager. Having his DMs rushing out to pressure the flank, losing shape and leaving huge gaps centrally is poor tactics. Against a quick, fluid team, it’s far more important to keep shape than to pressure. The US really did neither.

    The US was just too slow with the ball to beat the Mexican press frequently enough. You beat the press with one and two touch passing and getting the ball quickly into space on the opposite flank. They were too slow to do this and the ball in behind was rarely an option given the front 3. Too infrequently the US played quickly, but when they did they created chances.

    Letting the Dolo injury disrupt two positions along the back four was a mistake. Not only was Bornstein a disaster, Lichaj wasn’t nearly as effective on the right as he had been on the left.

    The US scored two early goals, but they were against the run of play. Discounting the goals, the US started just as poorly as they went on. Mexico was always going to score, it was a question of how many.

    Bottom Line: The US had success playing a more possession-oriented attacking style until they met a team that was better at playing that way. Bradley got away from his usual stodgy “beat Mexico” tactics and was punished for it.

    Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2011/06/28 at 11:24 AM

      The US just wasn’t as good, period. That said, we obviously made Mexico look better than Honduras and Guatemala did. Those crazy-ass Univision camera angles were nauseating, but the disconnect between the back 4 and the midfield was amazing from what I was able to make out (the few times the cameras on the ground were deemed useful.) It looked to me like Jones and Bradley were getting sloshed around in the Mexican midfield and Bedoya/Deuce/Donovan were non factors when the US was out of possession.
      Is what I’ve heard about the scene in the stands @ the Rose Bowl true? I almost bought tickets for the final a couple of months ago and one of the factors in my decision not to was my concern about being a lone couple of US supporters and possible negative reaction to it. The LA sports scene feels more intense than it is in the SF area.

      Reply

  48. Posted by dth on 2011/06/28 at 2:03 PM

    Hmmm…..Sunil Gulati says, re: Bradley, “We’ll have something to say later this week.”

    http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/in-bob-we-trust/?smid=tw-nytimesgoal&seid=auto

    If Bradley enjoyed absolute confidence from Gulati, why not just come out and say so?

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/06/28 at 3:10 PM

      Bradley’s future is not entirely dependent on Gulati, assuming you believe everything Klinsmann has said in print.

      If you recall Gulati entered into negotations with Klinsmann after the World Cup and, according to JK, had a deal but was rebuffed on it by the 14 other voting members of the USSF. Gulati may be President but he only has one vote.

      Gulati probably thought he had the votes and the fact that he didn’t tells me that he’s not all that influential.

      My guess would be that the High Council has to convene in their Star Chamber before passing sentence on BB.

      Reply

  49. […] Snap Judgements: Mexico Roars Back, Vanquishes Yanks, 4-2 […]

    Reply

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