Two games, one win, one loss from October Camp.
And now the US will embark for Europe in early-mid November for friendlies against France and Slovenia. Though Slovenia was presumably only chosen because other European nations had commitments, the US finds itself challenged by two vastly different systems and talent levels.
France run a similar 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 if you prefer set to the new States deployment while Slovenia features the tried-but-true 4-4-2, using their top two forwards to both check back and create space for their central midfielders.
An easy turn at this month’s depth chart before those November friendlies. We go, per usual:
• The Depth Chart
• A Tale of Two Disciplines
It’s funny to actually look at a Klinsman line-up and strategy and say the following, “I remember when Bob Bradley used to do that.”
If you take at look at last year’s Send Off Series before the World Cup–matches versus Turkey and the Czech Republic–you saw the Yanks go with Clint Dempsey as a withdrawn forward with Jozy Altidore fore of him. In that set-up, Dempsey would usually be found wide of Altidore on the strong side (the US right flank).
The US looked to pound the ball into the living room of the opponent’s leftback. (Against the Czech Republic, it was Edson Buddle up top with none other than Eddie Johnson behind him playing a central forward-striker role).
The US pushed up the field in both games hoping that they could box in the other team and use the possession chops of Altidore and Dempsey to create opportunities and push the opponent back.
If the ball got reversed quickly, Landon Donovan (Turkey) or DaMarcus Beasley (Czech Republic) would be there for an open field-green field quick attack from the weak side. The US played a high line with Clarence Goodson pushing near midfield against the Czechs. It was Jay DeMerit in Philly against Turkey. (No need to rehash the first goal in that game.)
Fast forward to October 2011 and–courtesy the screenshot from the Atlantic Magazine on the right–what should appear? Jurgen Klinsmann’s formation mirrors Bradley’s; inverted to the left side however.
Whereas in this camp, Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore would be up top and the ball would be pushed into the opponent’s rightback position.
Danny Williams is playing the Beasley-Donovan role in this one. (In fact, if you went back to our reviews we scolded Klinsmann for Edu not helping out in the Ecuador match. Turns out that may not have been Edu’s role. You have to tell us about these things in advance, Jurgy! Though we still think you left too much space there for linking passes.)
Both Bradley and Klinsmann used the formation as a defensive strategy in different ways.
For the former, this was an attempt to protect the Yanks weak left flank–the side where concrete-cleated Carlos Bocanegra would man the leftback slot (oh my did he still play well into the box against Aaron Lennon) and the recovering Oguchi Onyewu would be on the left.
For the later, it appeared Klinsmann did used this strategy to beat back Antonio Valencia and Cuchu Benitez in the Ecuador game (the diagram on the right if the set-up versus Honduras), however the Yanks attempted to move the ball through interactions between Danny Williams and Steve Cherundolo on the right…which may signal…
• Speaking of the right side, is that where Donovan fits in.
…Landon Donovan in that spot.
Anyone else think that Williams looked awkward away from the center of the pitch where he is more used to linking and destroying?
Good, glad we got that cleared up.
That interplay seems like the role that Donovan will slot into when he returns. Acres of space and the familiar Cherundolo to work off of.
The next data point in this question? November call-ins.
• Six of one & half dozen of the other, + Bradley, + Beckerman, + Orozo-Fiscal
Loaded and confusing bullet title here, but we’ll press on.
And first beat a decaying horse horse.
Biggest difference of the Klinsmann Era deployment wise has been stacking the midfield with three players instead of two like his predecessor did. Though Klinsmann has also pushed two of those AM’s up the pitch. For Ecuador it was Edu and Dempsey.
As with his predecessor, Jurgen Klinsmann’s midfield (and the defense behind it) still has work to do in order to more effectively protect counterattacks and keep the opponent penned in. Take that last statement away as the important one from this segment.
For Bob Bradley, it was a deployment of Michael Bradley in essentially the push or “contain” role with Jermaine Jones providing the big stick behind it. Let’s call this the “Funnel & Smack” type play in the central midfield. It’s not unlike a linebacker cleaning up a blocker and routing a RB for the strong safety to come up and make the tackle in American football, if that analogy makes it more more clear.
(And oh by the way, this terminology shouldn’t really be truly called “a bucket” central midfield as is commonly a misnomer about Bradley’s reign. Bradley was typically fore of Jermaine Jones, not parallel with him in defense.)
The challenge with Bradley’s midfield were dualfold. First, too often Jermaine Jones would go walkabout or be caught up on the attack, removing the “stick” part of that equation. And secondly, for all Michael Bradley’s positive CM attributes; his biggest weakness was perhaps thinking he could accomplish too much. Often Bradley would either be too sharp with his angle or attempt to make the stick himself and the weakside would be left open after a less than ideal angle was taken.