USA versus Scotland – SNAP JUDGMENTS

USMNT celebrating first half goal

Wow. When was the last time a US men’s soccer match provided so many positive talking points?  The win over Spain at the 2009 Confederations Cup?

Congratulations US fans. You just witnessed the red and white stripes romp over a not-that-bad Scotland team. Here are some of the top stories to take from the recently-concluded match in Jacksonville:

Still thirsty for success

Take a bow, Mr. Donovan. Take a bow.  In a week when Donovan was making headlines, though not necessarily “for all the wrong reasons,” the US’s all-time leading scorer stole the show Saturday night.

Donovan this week was talking about the end of his career even though it is obvious to anyone watching that he has several years left at the near-top of his game.

Donovan showed his still-dangerous speed on the break, his vision and incisive passing and the killer instinct that led to 46 international goals prior to tonight.

I think it is likely that LD returns to the LA Galaxy with a little more fire in his belly than recent months. Though, there are now more than whispers that even Donovan himself is thinking that a move away from LA may be best for all concerned.

General Bradley.  Donovan gets the headlines, but another player was arguably just as dominant as Donovan.

Bradley just finished a banner season in Serie A and showed why even the mighty Internazionale Milano are being linked with the young star.

Basically all criticisms of a young, immature Bradley have been erased by his steady progression on the field. Bradley earns the most praise these days for addressing his weaknesses and turning them into strengths.

Bradley showed his intelligence and soft first touch in the middle of the field. He only went to ground when the play dictated so. He exhibited his abilities in the final third, both on his screaming volley into the upper 90 and the direct assist to Donovan.

Think about this, the US’s best three players in South Africa were arguably Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley. Right now, they may all be playing even better in their own respects.

Jurgen turning that frown upside down after great US display.

System overload. The first four months under Juergen Klinsmann were not the most pleasant for US fans. A 1-4 record and a total of one goal scored was the immediate reward for a change of coaching regimes.

Now, to follow up a 1-0 defeat of Italy, the US just blasted Scotland 5-1. It can’t be a culmination of Klinsmann’s new system since players like Altidore and Dempsey were not even on the field, but it is the result of nine months of scheming, teaching and learning by everyone in the USMNT.

First and foremost was, not Donovan, but the three central midfielders’ performances. Bradley, Edu and Jones played in a way that previously only existed in the dreams of US fans since Jones made the switch from Germany.

All three floated across the field, cutting down Scotland’s attacks and then racing forward on the break. Jones’ long strides could be seen galloping down upon the Scottish defense on numerous occasions.

Bradley, Edu and Jones dominated the center of the park, but Scotland was assaulted by pressure coming from all over the field. Donovan, Torres and Boyd were unrelenting. Cherundolo and especially Fabian Johnson provided yet another wave of attacking verve in the final third.

An added long-term benefit is that the US player pool is poised to heap depth upon an already lethal lineup. Shea, Gatt, Gyau, Corona, Lichaj and still possibly Timothy Chandler are among a number of USMNT prospects still coming up through the ranks with varying amounts of international experience.

HOME field advantage. Often times, a US home game has looked disappointingly similar to a road match. Not Saturday night in Jacksonville.

A record southeastern crowd of 44,000+ cheered the US on to victory. The support the team has received in Nashville, Florida, Philadelphia, etc. has provided more and more evidence that this isn’t your….older brother’s US team.

Donovan with Gatorade, Dempsey with Nike, Bradley in Serie A, five different club captains in the squad and larger pro-US crowds are all evidence pointing to a higher profile US team than ever before.

I don’t know if I would go as far as others in calling this team fully “mainstream,” but better home crowds could provide the US an extra boost in this cycle of World Cup qualifying.

Can the USMNT replicate their form from tonight against Neymar and crew?

World Cup destination.  And that is the ultimate goal: qualifying for the World Cup. With the way the US performed against Italy and Scotland, it is tough to imagine the US having difficult qualifying for Brazil 2014, but qualifiers are a totally different beast.

US fans have felt the pain of seeing the US men shredded in the final 70 minutes of the 2011 Gold Cup final, the US Under-20 national team fail to qualify for the World Cup and, most recently, witnessing the heartbreaking loss by the Olympic team in the group stages of the qualifying tournament.

The US senior team was able to shake up that recent string of disappointment with Saturday’s thrashing of Scotland. In 13 days, the US will be back to playing “games that matter” and begin the process of trying to avoid “disaster.”

Qualifying is not a short process, and definitely not an easy one. Klinsmann’s approach is aimed at avoiding complacency. The US will have to have a short memory with games like Saturday’s and learn from the disappointments that always come. Then of course, if they qualify, expectations will mount once again.

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83 responses to this post.

  1. Great write up! I’d like to note that Dempsey and Bradley improved under JK during the last year challenging them to improve, become one of the best players on their teams and overall attitude about the game from nutrition to playing games for club team.

    A great way to start. I like the defensive movement of the team… its great to see.

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  2. Posted by narkid on 2012/05/27 at 5:23 AM

    coach klinsmann observed that old usa teams were giving up goals right up the middle of the pitch, and he corrected this by injecting more defensive midfielders into the fold. jones, edu and bradley are all ball hawks and their size really makes this usa team look imposing. it was also clear last night that torres has improved his defense, and that will make him a huge asset.

    im not even sure id play dempsey in the brasil game. beckerman did his job last night as well, blocking every shot the scots tried in his area, and gooch looks very hungry. please stay healthy big man. everyone needs to stay healthy.

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  3. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/27 at 5:45 AM

    Wow. This squad looks to be in ascendancy from accepting Klinsi’s ideology to believing it can carry it off to what is shaping up to be a really solid international squad.

    From the top- Boyd looks like exactly what we’ve needed for a very long time. Not the finished product by a long shot but tremendous energy, soccer sense and DESIRE in the hold up play and around the box.

    Mike/Edu/Torres/Jones- Wow. Simply wow. Smothered everything through the middle and Mike (he’s not Mikey or MB90 anymore!)needs his own paragraph. This is the player that so many of us (who were called haters) for so long have been hoping he could be. Klinsi has to get credit for his handling of Mike who seemed to need some tough love and a reset button after his Dad’s departure. JK gave him both and the resulting maturity and discipline in his play have turned a raw prodigy into the makings of an intl stud. He bossed the pitch tonight against Brown and others who can hold their own and continually drove the front 7 forward.
    Loved the Rangers/Celtic backstory that gave the match a little buzz…nice unexpected litl

    Jones continues to thrill and puzzle within moments of each but he Mike and Edu seem to have found their roles and belief in one another. Although Edu continues to give away the ball far too much for my liking….

    Fabian Johnson will make Chandler disappointment an afterthought very soon. He has quality and speed that will make both sides of the US attack a little frightening.
    Stevie’s still here and refuses to read the obits of his career.

    Whatever we don’t love about Boca’s game, that shoulder into Brown is EXACTLY why you have to love him out there through qualifying. Perfect captain’s play to send a message that you’re not going to be f-ing with my boys. I laughed out loud…oh and it’s amazing how he has settled into a ground first distribution mode now that he has options on both sides and next to him …Cameron….
    apart from giving Miller a bit too much space I don’t think you can fault him for the OG. And I was impressed at his distribution out of the back and he’s very solid in the air from what I saw. Hopefully he gets arun out v Brazil to see about his marking against high powered O.

    Landon is Landon and cannot wait to see he and Deuce at full flight on Wed.

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    • “Klinsi has to get credit for his handling of Mike who seemed to need some tough love and a reset button after his Dad’s departure. JK gave him both and the resulting maturity and discipline in his play have turned a raw prodigy into the makings of an intl stud.”

      I beg to differ. I think you give JK a little too much credit at least as it relates to MB.
      MB has always been an intense driven hard nosed player. USMNT fans hate him because he insulted them after the Confederations Cup and because of the nepotism issue. He was going to be unhappy with his dad’s firing regardless of who took over.
      From everything I’ve been able to read what JK deserves the most credit for as it relates to Bradley is having patience and sensitivity; knowing enough to give MB time to get himself sorted out and then come around to the USMNT when he was ready.

      But more important, and entirely unrelated to JK and the USMNT, MB’s club situation was deteriorating with his soap opera at BMG and the Villa fiasco.

      Unlike you I believe it was the off the field lessons he learned from this humbling period and the on the field lessons he learned from being the main man at Chievo. JK did not get him the move to Chievo and he did not make him the kind of man who immediately learns Italian to blend in better with his team.

      I’m a little tired of everyone not giving Bradley the credit he deserves for making himself a slightly above average Serie A midfielder and a useful international midfielder, no small feat.

      Also, Boyd was fine but he is still raw. If Deuce is healthy Wednesday , the lineup stays the same except for Clint replacing Boyd. If Clint can’t go I see Jozy replacing Boyd.

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      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/27 at 9:00 AM

        I think Bradley has been treated very fairly by the TSG community. In the last few games for the US, he has been very very good, and people have come out and said as much, myself included.

        But when he has a so-so game (like any other player), people say that too. But the problem is that “Bradley fans” don’t like any criticism, wether it is fair or not. I have most definitely been critical of him in the past, and have never seen what other people have seen, because his form has been a little up and down. Just because somebody critiques his performance, doesn’t mean that it is permanent – it is for that game.

        He is playing regularly, and it shows. He has that sharpness and awareness about him that players have when playing week in week out. And match sharpness can be one of the first things to diminish when you’re not playing.

        I think most people on here give credit when it is due, and also criticise when it is fair. Whereas, some people have a major hard-on for Bradley no matter how he performs.

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        • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 10:46 AM

          I agree with you about Bradley fans. MB is, as I said, a slightly above average Serie A midfielder and is now a useful international player.

          What makes him above average , in any of his endeavors ,is what the Europeans call, his ” mentality”.

          A modestly skilled and modestly talented player, however far he goes, it will be that “mentality” that takes him there.

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          • Posted by JohnnyF on 2012/05/27 at 2:22 PM

            hmmm…sorry my BS alarm goes off when I hear phrases like “useful” and “slightly above average”. this is the kind of faint praise jaded european reporters have used for years to diminish the qualities of obviously exceptional american players.

            if bradley’s a “useful” international player then let’s call the italian midfield useless because he bossed that game. additionally Roma and Inter don’t usually seek out “above average” midfielders.

            are us bradley “fans” blind in our assessment of him? who knows, some probably are – just like dempsey fans or altidore fans or rooney fans.

            speaking for myself, in the past I’ve rushed to his defense not because I thought he was paul scholes incarnate but because of the idiotic nepotism thing. if he played poorly it was because he was the coach’s son and shouldn’t have been on the pitch in the first place. at 20 or 22 years old, of course bradley had his faults but who was the midfield rock on the US bench he was keeping out of the game? sure he was reckless at times and his touch could be chunky, but unlike others in our midfield he never played afraid and damned if he wasn’t the one scoring goals in big games. is bradley an elite international midfielder? not yet, but how many are at 24?

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            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/27 at 8:47 PM

              “Faint praise jaded European reporters have used to diminish the obvious exceptional American players” — dramatic and very insecure / paranoid, no? Oui…

            • Johnnyf,

              If you are telling me MB will boss the midfield for Roma or Inter sometime soon, fine, I hope it happens.As I said, his mentality will be what takes him as far as he gets. That is what separates the men from the boys.

              But until he actually does this, I’ll stick with my original assessment of MB.

            • George Do you not agree that there has been a bias in Europe toward US players? No doubt most of the “lads that have crossed the pond” we’re not as seasoned as those who grow up in footballing countries. But don’t you think the average European player starts a peck or two higher up the ratings board over the American with the same skills? Maybe that is to account for game IQ or whatever.. I’m really Curious to hear your take

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/28 at 12:33 PM

              I can only give you my personal opinion. Also I do not speak / read Spanish, German, French or Italian, so have no clue as to how their press thinks.

              I think there is a bias against players in England, but American players don’t have the monopoly on it. I think most English fans want to see more English players in their team. But they also want to see the best players too. But obviously, the best players are definitely not English. Also, English players cost more than a non-English player of the same quality.

              With specific reference to American players, I am really not sure that there really is a bias these days, but I guess that will depend on who you talk to. The first American players who I had real contact with were Roy Wegerle and John Harkes – talk about two players who were at different ends of the skill scale, and obviously Kasey Keller when he was at Millwall (Crystal Palace’s south London rivals). I think back then, the landscape was a lot different due to the work permit / employment restrictions, so the rationale was that these non-English players had better be good and better than what we have locally.

              Also, re. tacit bias, I think that really stems from American commentary and parents on the side line. How many times do you hear “nice hustle” rather than something a little more “educated”? How many times do American fans talk about Donovan’s “natural ability” vs. Dempsey’s “grit and determination”? But if a non-American says this, it’s “faint praise?”

              I have been living here for 8.5 years, and I have seen a lot of growth in the game, domestically and internationally. I think the bias argument is somewhere in between – Americans think there is negative bias towards their players , but I think Americans think that unproven US players think are better than they are, and give praise prematurely. Classic examples are Jonathan Spector when he was at Man Utd or Jozy Altidore at Villareal, or even Oguchi Onyewu at AC Milan. Obviously it is US fans being extremely excited that an American player is at a top club. But in each of these cases, they didn’t do a thing, for whatever reason and have moved to a ‘lesser’ club.

              I personally think that to most intelligent fans, ability trumps nationality. Would i like Crystal Palace to field a team where every player has come through the academy and was born locally? Of course I would, i think we all have that romantic emotional connection to “one of us”. But would I accept this over getting in better players who happened to be American? No. I would take USMNTers any day of the week. I am not stupid.

              The PL has the highest percentage of foreign players out of the 5 major leagues within UEFA, and is the most likely destination for Americans, right [with the exception of the German-Americans]?

          • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/05/28 at 8:48 AM

            Adding my dos centavos, there is a tacit bias against American Players in many foreign countries/leagues whether that applies to MB currently is open to discussion. But there is definitely a belief that American players lack a certain knowledge or technique so they have go far & above these muted expectations to get faint praise or a look-see. Of course there are abberations to this broad sweeping gneralization but still it does have to be looked at as a factor in personell decisions and news descriptions. Ex. Goal has a stand alone article on Rooney when he scores a hat trick but Deuce shares an article with other Americans when he scores a hat trick. Now depending on the journal/blog and its origin, is a determinant in its focus. There still is a slight under-reporting/praise for American players hence tacit code words are used like “Uitilarian, workman like, etc”.. now these descriptions are given to many different players but in many cases these words limit the perception of American players by readers/fans whereas the samee comparitive play by a home grown player is described more positively ex “tidy in play, having vision etc.
            I am not familiar with all the countries and their press but England is notoriously jingoistic when it comes to players & coaches. Although work permits might be a factor also in some countries. But the American player of today is not the “booter” of old. We have to overcome these limiting descriptions.

            Reply

            • Posted by narkid on 2012/05/28 at 8:57 AM

              i swear clint dempsey hit some game winners this season and did not even get two bonus points in fantasy. how the heck is that even possible? of course, the other clint, clint mathis is the poster boy for euro bias, with his time at hannover. on the other hand, foreign born players do have to exhibit exceptional skills to even be in another countries top league, and thats a fair point also, that should not be overlooked.

      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/27 at 10:07 AM

        Fair points. My main point is that many Mike-ophiles howled when Klinsmann left Mike out of the ensuing camp and matches after Bob’s departure about how dumb JK was and how this was political/a shot at Bob/etc. I think it was a wise coaching move to allow Mike that time and also to let him see that his inclusion wasn’t automatic. My belief has been that Mike didn’t display the consistent disciplined play needed at CDM or DMF or shuttler under Bob and that tended to weaken the MF play of him and make it harder for those next to and behind him.

        The degree of composure of not just him but those around him indicates that those tough, but necessary, decisions have helped to expedite Mike’s growth in the last yr or so as both a player and a leader on the squad. Yes, Italy has been great for his composure but you don’t generally making quantum leaps in skill without a motivating influence. I think that was Klinsi’s brilliance. Mike has of course done the heavy lifting required to improve his game and he and his mgmt seemed to have made a perfect choice for him in Chievo. Looking forward to more of the same.

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        • MB did not make a” quantum leap in skill” in Italy. I’ve seen him do these sorts of things before.

          What is different now about MB is his focus, his consistency, all that stuff that tends to come to the fore when you understand you are about to be fired and you have to straighten yourself out and save your career. The kid has grown up.

          He was told by the footballing community that if he was not succesful at Chievo, his chances for continuing his dream of being paid to play at the higher levels of football was in jeopardy.

          It seems to me the end of his career at the higher levels of European football and the subsequent loss of revenue and future career options is a pretty “motivating influence”. My guess is that it is even more motivating than the potential end of a nonpaying USMNT career.

          All of this was in play regardless of who was in charge of the USMNT.

          MB was either going to improve or he was going to make a lot less money and have far more limited career options.

          Where Klinsmann deserves credit , and it is something I expected from him, is in knowing to stay out of the way until MB decided he was ready.

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          • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/27 at 10:54 AM

            OK. So Klinsi had no part in Mike’s growth in the last year and Mike HAS NOT made signficant (let alone quantum) growth in how he applies his fantastic skills to his game. And Klinsmann is not part of “the footballing community” that told Mike he needed to get consistent playing time etc.
            Is this Bob Bradley’s alias? ))) You’re twisting yourself into knots to deny Klinsmann’s actions last year have anything to do with Mike’s growth. And I think you’re wrong..but appreciate the commentary and the thoughts.

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            • Posted by narkid on 2012/05/27 at 11:13 AM

              i think if we are really being honest, it is the talent around bradley that is maybe the main thing that has made him such a strong player. maybe bradley had to cover for a weak bornstein in the past, now he has johnson. and junior was partnered with players from teams like staebaek, now its schalke. big difference.

              michael bradley has always been a strong player, its just he is what, 24. he will be even better at 27.

            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 11:37 AM

              Let me put it this way. Of course Klinsmann had an effect on MB.

              I’m merely saying that effect was not as major as you seem to think.

              Where you and I differ is you think threat that MB might not play for the US was the major motivation for MB’s improvement.

              I think the threat to his ability to make a living as a soccer player was a greater influence. The man doe shave a career outside the USMNT you know.

              There are people who actually pay him money so he can play soccer and they are not the USSF. JK did not have anything to do with the soap opera at BMG and JK did not arrange MB’s move to Villa and also had no role in the subsequent fiasco. And JK did not get MB a job at Chievo.

              You portray MB as some wayward kid who needed a strong father figure to tell him to straighten up and fly right who then has JK step in and give him the direction he needs at just the right moment.

              In the first place, MB already has a dad.

              In the second place, you are talking about a kid who moved to Holland as a teenager, lived alone and learned Dutch, and later, German and Italan to further his career. In other words a big boy and a pretty tough cookie.

              My guess is MB was well aware he was at a crossroads and had to make a lot of changes if he wanted to continue his pursuit of his dreams. You seem to not want to give him credit for being an adult.

            • Posted by mbw on 2012/05/27 at 1:29 PM

              Two cents: I think Bradley’s really marked improvement has less to do with “threats” to his club career or his national team spot and more to do with having landed himself in a good position club-wise. He was always a driven and talented player. Shouldering a lot of responsibility in a highly tactical league has allowed him to learn the things he needed to learn — when to play the ball, which pass to pick out, how to balance his natural ability to make the late run with positional discipline, etc.

            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 11:11 PM

              mbw,

              If you have watched MB for most of his career as I have, then you will realize that MB could do all the things you describe before he got his Italian Job.. He did not learn how to do them in Italy. What seems to have happened in Italy is he found himself a stable situation with a good club that believes in him. That, in turn gave him the PT he needed to regain the consistency and confidence in his game. Hopefully, this will continue for him.

  4. Posted by Tyler on 2012/05/27 at 6:08 AM

    My favorite thing about MB’s goal was that he never smiled or laughed after he scored. Everyone is celebrating and he has this look on his face of “that’s right i did that. And I’m about to dominate this game.”I loved it.

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  5. All the comments have been spot on in my opinion. I would just like to agree with Kickin concerning the three dmids and add that they closed on the ball immediately all night long.. Edu in particular was dominant at shutting down attacks and/or funneling the ball into his teammates for the turnover. He is a careless passer at times. Beckerman is better with the ball but the speed of Edu along with MB and JJ was eye catching. I loved the hunger with which the US attacked goal for the first 75 min.

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  6. Posted by ernj on 2012/05/27 at 6:49 AM

    Not particularly insightful, but interesting that Klinsmann ditched his “old style” numbering. Bradley wore his usualy #4 and Bocanegra #3, etc. Betting Jozy is sporting #17.

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    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 8:54 AM

      Well JK did say he would treat this as a tournament and that these guys were the best available right now so I suppose it was a reward and an acknowledgment that this is what they will wear if and when they make the World Cup.

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  7. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/27 at 7:22 AM

    Donovan will get the headlines for his hat trick, but Jones and Bradley were immense – individually and as a pair. The latter is particularly pleasing to see.

    Solid performance, only blemish was the very lucky goal Scotland scored. They were truly outclassed in every department.

    Also thought it was amusing that Klinsmann only subbed Howard at 5-1, when game was well and truly over!

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  8. Posted by twewlife on 2012/05/27 at 8:11 AM

    Here are my thoughts on the game last night:

    1) Both Cherundolo and F. Johnson need to do a better job of pushing forward. Specifically, there were a multitude of times when a play would build from the left side, gradually move through the center, and stall out because Cherundolo had not pressed forward. While Johnson did a better job of this than dolo, I thought there were also a few times when he could and should have been more aggressive in providing support to the offensive breaks. Unless Chandler comes back into the fold, I would be interested to see Brek try out the right back position to give our counter-attack a little more pop.

    2) Two of the three central midfielders, Edu, and Jones are getting too much praise. Yes they did a stellar job controlling the play in the middle. Yes, Jones scored a goal. Nonetheless, their ability to orchestrate the offense and pull the strings seemed suspect to me. One out of every three possessions found Edu and/or Jones playing negative balls for no other reason save for the fact that they were not sure where to make the pass to. Furthermore, the positive passess that they did make were usually somewhat inaccurate – Yes, they found the open man, but the didn’t hit their man in stride. I think we’d have better luck if Torres or Shea is swapped for Edu. (Dempsey should be in the spot Torres’ occupied last night against Scotland.)

    3) Boyd isn’t there yet. By all rights Boyd should have found the back of the net at least once last night. He did a fantastic job in his runs, but he was unable to finish when it mattered most. Furthermore, he wasted several quality chances by laying the ball off to team mates instead of taking the shot himself. I think Boyd has the potential to be our striker, and may even pass Altidore on the depth charts before 2014 falls from the sky, but he needs to start finding the back of the net.

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    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 8:46 AM

      twewlife,

      When you are in the lead after the third or fourth minute and it is clear Scotland are a counterattacking team, and when you have a newbie centerback, I find it very hard to fault Dolo and Johnson for being conservative about pushing forward, congesting the midfield and possibly leaving the US open to Scotland’s strength, the counter, especially with a guy Kenny Miller around.

      Especially, when there was no need to push forward, with the offense working so well.

      There is nothing wrong with “negative“ balls. They keep possession. Jones and Edu are asked to play that way.Like most USD fans you are too concerned with nitpicking about a pass here or there that could have been better.

      The whole thing about last night is there is not one person who pulls the strings in the offense. The US does not have a consistently dominant threat, a Zidane, to rely on.
      Instead ,the whole team plays a certain way, sets the tone and allows different people, first Donovan, then Jones, then Bradley, then Torres and so on to make a play that leads to something good.

      JK has been preaching this for months now and maybe now that he has a concrete example to point to people will get what he is talking about.

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      • Posted by twewlife on 2012/05/27 at 9:50 AM

        Schmutzdeck,

        In response to your comments:

        I didn’t spot Dolo make a single counter attack last night. Did you? In my book that is unacceptable.

        You are absolutely correct that negative balls are not per se bad. However, they are bad when there are “positive” options that are passed over in favor of the negative option. And in my mind I’m not nitpicking about a pass or two. I’m asking for consistent quality service, which neither Edu nor Jones delivered. Which is not to say they played poorly. Both Jones and Edu played well last night. I simply think that the U.S. team is capable of playing better.

        I’m not asking nor am I expecting a Zidane. Nonetheless, I think we can have more purposeful attacking play with the quality of players that we have.

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        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/27 at 10:15 AM

          I tend to agree with Schmutzie that they are still feeling there way into this system and determining when to go, when to stay and when to cover and the game situation called for a bit less bravado out wide . I think that as the backs get more comfortable with the CMF play and cover and the CB situation gets sorted out you’ll see both Steve and Fab get forward more.

          I too thought that Edu was bit too negative but that also is his role here as the DMF/destroyer. What I did find they did very well was know when to go and when to stay which has been a bit of a weakness especially between Jones and Mike. I thought that caught Scotland out quite often that they didn’t always know who to follow and who to shuttle through to the CB’s.

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          • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/27 at 10:23 AM

            BTW- bravo to TSG for calling the Fabian Johnson at left back situation in the runup. Alot of handwringing at Chandler’s refusal and Lichaj’s rejection by Klinsi and you made a strong point that LB was Johnsons and he has been very quietly professional out wide and become part of the strength of this squad.

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        • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 11:01 AM

          Twewlife,

          It’s hard to counter attack when Scotland does not attack, mostly because we had the ball so much. I think I did see Dolo on a counter in the second half but with these silver numbers and everyone being about the same size and general appearance, I’m not sure.

          This is new for these guys. With new systems it is normal to be conservative with attacking efforts, especially when everything is already working pretty well.

          You are too harsh on a first time effort. You want the wingbacks to be greedy and that may not be appropriate right now.

          They will grow into this and I expect if we played Scotland right after Guatemala and everyone was healthy, we would do better.

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          • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/27 at 11:13 AM

            Twelife,

            By the way is it your understanding that there is some sort of rule that a right back must go on a counterattack at least once a game? Unacceptable is a very strong word and inappropriate in this context.

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            • Posted by twewlife on 2012/05/28 at 2:44 PM

              Schmutzdeck,

              Chill out dude.

              Clearly its not a rule that the right back must counter attack once per game. But, as I said above, there were multiple occasions when the attack stalled because Dolo didn’t make timely runs up the right side of the pitch.

              The team played very well. In fact, I’d say its the best 90 minutes of soccer I’ve seen from the senior national team in maybe…..ever? At least since the Gold Cup.

              TSG and commentator’s galore did a good job giving props where props are due. I was just trying to point out areas which I thought could be improved on.

              Since you think my comments are off base, I’d like to hear where/how the U.S. team can improve on their performance last night.

              Specifically, what do they with the intro of Dempsey / Altidore / Gouche?

              Have a good memorial day.

            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/05/28 at 8:50 PM

              Just one more thing about the attack stalling. I don’t mean to be condescending but over all these years of watching it seems to me most attacks stall.

              And by that I mean when team A goes forward with the ball and they do not get off a good shot on goal ( good meaning on target) or get a corner kick, then as far as I’m concerned, the attack has stalled.

              Goal scoring is so hard. Remember that when Spain won this last World Cup , of the seven games they played one was a 1-0 loss, one was a 2-0 win ( I think) and the rest were 1-0 victories.

              I don’t know if anyone keeps stats on what I just described but my experience is that even the best teams when they are playing well, the greater percentage of their attacks stall.

              So in my view, if that is what you saw in the Scotland game, I don’t think it was anything to be overly concerned with.

              As for Dempsey Altidore and Gooch in the Brazil game, assuming everyone is healthy, I think we keep the same lineup except you sub out Cameron for Gooch ( Gooch is the first choice starter) , you sit Jozy since he just got in camp and is rusty, and you sub out Boyd for Dempsey.

              The three headed monster stays as do Landon and JFT. They all do their jobs better than Clint and Clint scores better than Boyd does.

        • Posted by mathmatics on 2012/05/27 at 11:13 AM

          It’s possible the gameplan called for Dolo to do less attacking. We know JK doesn’t shy away from asymmetrical formations and tactics. Johnson is the more qualified of the two fullbacks to push forward, and Torres is more likely to drift inside than Donovan.

          As for Edu and Jones… you can either play slick one-touch football, or you can pass forward every time. You can’t do both. Given that this was the best, most fluid attacking performance the US has put together in a loooong time, I think it’s fair to say we found a healthy balance.

          There’s always room for improvement, but if you watched this game and the negatives are what stood out, you might not really enjoy soccer afterall.

          Reply

    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/05/27 at 10:44 AM

      My man, you are nitpicking way too much. Cherundolo and Johnson did a fantastic job getting forward, and the personnel we had out there playing so centrally, they almost had no choice. Noone should have anything but good things to say about Johnson in particular, he completely dominated the left flank, mainly because with Torres pinching in so much on his side, he would have been at fault if he DIDN’T occupy that space. If you watch the two fullbacks average positioning throughout the match it was Cherundolo who spent less time crashing the box, rightfully so, because the unbalanced formation had Landon playing just off Boyd and on the touchline, occupying space that Cherundolo could have been in. And Shea at RB would the equivalent of putting Jozy on the wing . ??

      IYou contradicted yourself when you said that Edu and Jones are getting too much praise, yet they did a stellar job controlling play AND score a goal.. And again the nitpicking. People don’t play “negative passes for the sole reason that they weren’t sure where else to pass it to. And not every positive pass has to be accurate or hit someone in stride. Shea is in a funk right now, he shouldn’t be in the conversation at this moment IMO.

      Of Course Boyd isn’t there yet, but he doesn’t need to start finding the net. He just needs to play like he did last night and with confidence. The goals will come because as evidenced by last night he can create his own chances, even if they are half-chances. If I’m not mistaken I think he had the most shots last night, doesn’t seem at all unselfish to me.

      Rant over

      Reply

  9. Posted by dth on 2012/05/27 at 8:52 AM

    It’s hard for me to believe we’ve ever had a central midfielder better than Bradley.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/05/27 at 8:53 AM

      Meant to have in there. Apparently wordpress doesn’t accept joke HTML tags.

      Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/27 at 9:09 AM

      I would say that Reyna was a better player. But, if Bradley carries on playing like that, and continues to improve, I think I would have to agree with you. Especially against better opposition. USA played great last night, but even the most avid American fan would have to concede that Scotland were extremely poor.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/05/27 at 9:40 AM

        Of course. Given opposition and venue, Bradley’s Italy performance was much more impressive.

        He has to keep it up, but Bradley’s hunger and work ethic will make that proposition achievable.

        Reply

        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/05/27 at 10:40 AM

          I didn’t watch him much in Seire A but I am amazed by him much more calm and composed he is on the ball relative to say the GC. His passes and touches now have purpose and aren’t entirely predictable. I felt like its the old Rio at Man U nugget.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2012/05/27 at 11:04 AM

            For me the issue with Bradley wasn’t how calm and composed he was on the ball, it was always tempo and pass selection.

            So while his passes completed statistics would look impressive, when you watched the game you’d always be able to pick out moments in which he should’ve passed a bit sooner, weighted different, or to someone different, etc.

            The other impressive aspect of both performances (i.e. Italy, Scotland) was how complete it was. He not only provided defensive bite, but also telling passes and a goal scored. He’s always shown the ability to do some of these some of the time, but rarely all at once. He’s the model of a modern (box-to-box) major general.

            Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/05/27 at 9:46 AM

        One more thought. While people have been quick to say, “It’s only Scotland”, what needs to be taken into account is that the U.S.–at whatever level–has often struggled to thoroughly dominate the Scotlands of the world. Just ask Caleb Porter about that.

        If Klinsmann’s only legacy is that the U.S. will proactively dominate the Scotlands of the world while not affecting the performance level of the U.S. against other level teams, it will be a tremendously positive one.

        Reply

        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/05/27 at 10:36 AM

          Amen. If we can consistently dominate the Scotland’s and still pull off the occasional Spain/Italy upset that would move us a whole tier above where we were when bob left.

          Reply

        • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/05/27 at 4:08 PM

          True, but the more important caveat is that this was only a friendly. It’s hard to know how motivated Scotland really were.

          The Klinsmann era really begins with the Guatemala qualifier. It will be interesting to see if we can overturn four cycles worth of underachieving in Guatemala City and dominate to the level that the talent gap dictates – rocks thrown at buses, batteries, bags of urine and substandard pitch quality aside.

          Reply

        • Posted by gino744 on 2012/05/27 at 4:20 PM

          When was the last time the Nats won three in a row against European teams? JK definitely has the US on the upswing.

          Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/29 at 11:47 PM

      I still think John O’Brien is the best outfield talent the US has ever produced. Roy Wegerle was fantastic as well, but injuries curtailed his career. Bradley is in the conversation. For me, he needs to do more at a higher level to be considered the best.

      Reply

  10. Posted by FellaninisFro on 2012/05/27 at 9:39 AM

    Insightful comments all around. Let me add my 2 cents.

    Regarding Klinsi and Bradley. Reset is the perfect word. Bradley absolutely earned the criticism of being a black hole where attacks went to die. Remember the Gold Cup where he would dribble endlessly forward and have the ball stripped from him? But the last two games and definitely in last night’s game he earned the praise he is receiving. Now did Bradley do it all on his own? No. Was it Klinsi who made him who is today? No. But dollar to donuts Klinsi had an impact on him that Bradley Senior did not over the last few years.

    Regarding the game. There seemed to be real chemistry, a game plan that was carried out exceptionally and more importantly the right players in the right spots for this game. Training, game planning, execution and personnel led to this victory. Give credit to everyone and especially Klinsi and his staff for this wonderful feeling I have this morning about our National team. Something I can’t say I have had since Donavon’s goal against Serbia in the World Cup.

    If Klinsi and his staff can do all of this against Brazil on Wednesday I will be one happy soccer dad.

    Reply

    • Posted by gino744 on 2012/05/27 at 11:09 PM

      Ditto on all points. Bradley’s game has grown wonderfully in the past year. He appears to have taken the next step. His experience at Chievo combined with Klinsmann’s handling and Mike’s ongoing maturity have elevated his importance to the team. As I stated above, MB seems destined to ascend to the captain’s armband.

      This game showed a cohesiveness and a level of maturity not often seen against this calibre of competition. Yeah, I know Scotland isn’t an upper echelon team but following the Nats’ performance in Italy, one can’t help but get excited about the future. The players were passing with composure and an attacking verve usually only seen against the likes of Barbados and Cuba. They played fast defensively and closed down on the ball the way European teams usually do against us. Klinsmann is convincing our guys that we can take the game to quality opponents and be successful. The days of defending in the box and chasing the ball are no longer the norm.

      Reply

  11. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/27 at 9:53 AM

    It’s fantastic to have MNT games to follow again and even better that we are getting a product on the field that is balanced and growing in a positive direction.

    Many thanks to TSG for maintaining the best site for always thoughtful and occasionally brilliant commentary. And not to be overlooked is Matt’s steady hand on the comments blog that keeps this as a valued and enjoyable place to visit and comment without being dragged into name calling.

    Look forward to more….

    Reply

    • Well said Kickin’ – I bounce around a lot and look at other blogs/sources of info about the game. But usually, I learn something when I come here. That can not be said for most other sites. Kudo’s to all who make this a “sweet spot” for the USMNT fan.

      If I might add one suggestion, it would be to say that not one of us is a soccer/futbal guru. As far as I’ve read in the last 2 years, we don’t have any ex professional coaches or internationals posting, yet. So it might help the spirit of the conversation to stay appropriate and positive, if we didn’t assert our opinions as facts. The very nature of being a fan(short for fanatic) is passion and enthusiasm, but remember there are others who are just like you, passionate and enthusiastic.

      Thanks again. I am really looking forward to the next 3 weeks.

      Reply

  12. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/05/27 at 11:15 AM

    What really is impressive is all this MB Love not here not enamating from DikRanovich!
    Where is he? Step up young man, youre deserving of a pulpit today.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/27 at 11:30 AM

      That’s the thing though, Dikranovich would suggest that Bradley was world class every game, even if his performance was below par. Having an opinion and stubbornly sticking to it, no matter what the evidence suggests really weakens one’s credibility and football IQ.

      Reply

  13. Posted by narkid on 2012/05/27 at 4:28 PM

    its really all about the players. the daily times of glasgow had a nice article and the commentary as well from the scottish perspective. the scots were impressed with the usa, and scotland was aware that the usa was not playing with all of her best players. the most striking thing i got from this article and commentary was that the scot fans blame themselves and they see that the celtic/rangers is dividing the country. scotland is longing for some unity within their ranks and it is clear from their opinions.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Union on 2012/05/28 at 6:56 PM

    Just because I love stirring the pot with this kind of thing (and I’ve been high on T Boyd for awhile): In Jurgen’s system (where hold up play is very important), should Jozy be starting over Boyd? Note that I’m not saying Jurgen WILL start Boyd over Jozy, I’m not saying that Boyd is BETTER than Jozy, and I’m not saying that Boyd is more deserving than Jozy. I’m just saying, based upon Boyd’s ability to hold up the ball and relentlessly track back, is he not better equipped to get the majority of the minutes in Jurgen’s system as it is currently set up?

    Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2012/05/28 at 7:03 PM

      Hold up play but also high pressure defending and smart runs to open up space for the midfielders. It’s still gotta be Jozy, but I totally agree with you that Boyd’s very well suited to the system. Suspect this will get interesting as Boyd continues to develop.

      Reply

      • Posted by Union on 2012/05/28 at 7:34 PM

        Probably will be Jozy until 60/70 minute mark depending on score. But it seems to me that Boyd’s strengths (relentless hustle, a nose for the goal, fearless, good hold up, etc.), syncs well with what Jurgen appreciates in Forwards (and players in general). Not saying Jozy doesn’t have a nose for the goal, and you definitely can’t say Jozy plays scared (he’s one of the more physical players on the pitch), but I think its fair to say that he plays with a different type of energy than Boyd. He doesn’t track back as well as he should and his hold up play has always been suspect.

        I admit I’ve never been a huge Jozy fan and thus I might understate his talent from time to time. So thats a disclaimer to this. But I think the first player to “lose his spot” as a starter on JKs roster will be Jozy.

        Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/05/28 at 7:43 PM

      Jozy holds the ball up and passes much better than Boyd at this point. Not even a fair comparison, to be honest. Boyd makes better, more unselfish runs, but he’s not much as a passer or hold-up guy.

      That said, you won’t see much of Jozy on Wednesday, I don’t think. He looked pretty rusty in practice today.

      Reply

      • Posted by narkid on 2012/05/28 at 10:09 PM

        if you are going to go based on todays practice, then you would have to put hercules gomez in the starting lineup.

        Reply

      • Posted by Union on 2012/05/29 at 3:26 PM

        DTH, passing for sure. When Jozy is in the box, he distributes pretty well. He knows when do lay it off and when to take a shot. I just don’t buy the hold up play. He doesn’t track back well enough in my opinion. Despite his size and strength, I just don’t see him as a legit target strikers in a formation like the one Jurgen utilizes. Boyd is raw and possibly immature, but his energy is off the charts. Look at the players Jurgen likes on the field. Beckerman, Edu, Torres, Bradley, Jones….say what you will about them, but they are relentless when it comes to winning back the ball. I think Boyd has those qualities as well. Or at the very least, he does it better than Jozy. But I imagine the same could be said for Herc.

        Reply

    • Union,

      How about this, given the success of the three headed monster ( And JK just came out and said it worked because Mo gave the other two license to get forward. So he stays) and of JFT and Landon do you not drop Boyd for Dempsey?

      I don’t see Clint doing JFT’s or Landon’s job better than them.

      So that leaves you with Boyd or Clint.
      Nice problem to have I think.

      Reply

  15. Posted by Josh on 2012/05/28 at 9:04 PM

    The truth is every American soccer fan heart felt such passion and pride about that non-stop onslaught.

    Reply

  16. Posted by Josh on 2012/05/28 at 9:11 PM

    JK say and I have always agreed: it’s a simple game!

    Attack attack attack. Run the other side off the pitch by sheer speed, passion and hate.

    JK understands inherently how great American football can be. And it begins and ends with pure passion and wanting to the very best in the world and never compromising until you are the best.

    This is why I love JK: he wants to win and is doing everything to achieve a surprise ’14 victory.

    Reply

  17. Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2012/05/28 at 11:15 PM

    I disagree with the point that he could do all those things prior to going to Italy. Those things make your team successful…why wasn’t he doing all the little things before with nats. I think his success is due to his drive to meet the challenge of playing in Serie A. Defense is an art form to the Italians, the discipline and tactical awareness necessary was a big step up. Basically, if you ever want to get playing time, this is the approach that is absolutely required. He’s had two jaw dropping games in a row after being incredibly streaky in prior games…He’s razor sharp now – I think he picked up a few things over there.

    Reply

  18. Posted by EFG on 2012/05/29 at 4:24 AM

    Notes from yesterday’s open practice at the University of Maryland:
    1) Focus seemed to be quickly switching the field of play in attack. Klinsmann got on a few players for not moving quickly enough (Dempsey, Beckerman in particular).
    2) Castillo looked sharp, for what it’s worth.
    3) Herculez Gomez looked very good in the small sided games and was by far the best of the strikers in the post-practice strikers training. Wondolowski was second best in the training. Altidore, Dempsey, Boyd, and Corona also participated.
    4) Boyd looked frustrated for most of the training and didn’t have a great time out there. Interestingly, any one-on-one instruction was given to him in German but he does know how to curse in English. He let out a few choice words after misses. He also worked on shooting after practice had ended.
    5) Looks like a handful of guys ended practice by trying to loft the ball from about 35 yards out and land it on the top of the goal. I think Torres won this “competition.”

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/05/29 at 4:54 AM

      I’ve seen interviews with Boyd; he speaks perfectly fluent English. But if two people share the same first language, they are naturally going to use it when speaking between themselves. Nothing wrong with that.

      Reply

      • Posted by EFG on 2012/05/29 at 6:03 AM

        Never meant to imply anything wrong with his instruction being given in German, I just thought it was interesting.

        Also forgot to mention that Dempsey’s hamstring looks good to go tomorrow and I tried to uphold the fine journalistic values of TSG by asking Guzan where he was playing next year. He chuckled and said “I don’t know, man.” I’ll be on the look out for my Pulitzer.

        Reply

        • Did you manage to observe if Dolo , Bradley, or Landon ever speak with Jones, Johnson, Williams and Boyd in German?

          Is Williams, who I thought I saw sitting next to Clint during the Scotland game, still hanging around?

          I remember Jones last year giving Donovan a hard time ( jokingly , I presume) in front of the media about speaking to him (Jones) in German and slowing down his learning of English.

          And does Spanish get spoken a lot? Just curious.

          Reply

          • Posted by EFG on 2012/05/29 at 7:47 AM

            The only time I heard anything but English being spoken was between Andreas Herzog and Terrence Boyd in German. Klinsmann was giving direction to Boyd in English and the communication between players was all in English (from what I heard). The only “Spanish” I heard was players calling Torres “Paco.”

            Reply

  19. The difference with Bradley is simple: The speed of his decision making is much faster, making him a much better player.

    This was true of the entire team against Scotland.

    As good as Bradley was, Torres was just as good on his return. There’s the player I’ve been seeing his potential to be for a few years now. Nice to see those two working very well together and opening up Scotland with quick incisive passing.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/05/29 at 10:21 AM

      Torres was very good, but the Scots didn’t exactly test his weakness–he has big issues when pressed and forced to make decisions at a pace not to his liking. It’s probably a weakness carried over from the Mexican league

      Reply

      • “Torres was very good, but the Scots didn’t exactly test his weakness–he has big issues when pressed and forced to make decisions at a pace not to his liking. It’s probably a weakness carried over from the Mexican league”

        That is point, if I’ve been reading JK’s quotes correctly these past few months.

        Everyone has weaknesses but if we dictate the tempo, the pace, then they can’t press us as effectively.

        Simple in concept, not so easy to execute in practice.

        Reply

  20. Posted by LarryMontanez on 2012/05/29 at 11:02 AM

    One thing i noticed that was for all the talk about USMNT being so fit under Bradley, now everyone seems more fit under Klinsman. I remember Jones, Torres and even MB looking very tired early.

    Another thing i noticed is that we defended so well in midfield because we defended more as a team. we kept them out of the midfield without making tackles on the ball, but by holding them up and taking away passing lanes. so even tho we kept pressuring them up high, you didn’t see bradley and jones going to ground to make tackles. i never liked the idea of running right up to the ball carrier, because it not only tires you out, if you miss you it takes you too much time to get back into position; it’s kids stuff. we defended much better not being a tough tackling team.

    I know brazil will be a different story. but remember our U17s manhandled their U17s back in December.

    Reply

  21. I’m three days late to this party (spent Sunday/Monday traveling to and from a funeral) but hopefully my dos centavos are still of merit. The stream I had was a little fuzzy and the silver? numbers didn’t help matters in terms of distinguishing individual players, so these may be a little off.

    Individual performance notes:
    -somebody on Twitter, I think @churchofsoccer, retweeted an observation about Boyd that I really liked: he initiates contact. The dude looks to bang bodies and seal people off – and he’s good at it. While I think he only got one shot on frame (another one was deflected), he bullied the centerbacks and displayed some very nice field awareness when he tried to head that ball down to Landon. There were a few time when he could have done more with the ball, but on at least one occasion he was running a defender off and the ball shouldn’t have gone to him anyways. Actively pursued the ball and coupled with the midfielders putting on a hockey forechecking clinic, did a good job of forcing Scotland to work to even start to play the ball forward.
    -Landon, it’s great to have you back. If you want to have a career crisis every week, that’s alright by me.
    -Torres did quite well, though I would point out that Scotland didn’t exactly attack his weaknesses. His passing was efficient and probing, and I did note him tracking back to help out when Scotland actually got the ball forward. And that quick-snap free kick was both a great idea and six inches from being a genius moment.
    -I would argue this game wasn’t as great for Bradley as the one against Italy, but that’s more a on degree of difficulty scale than anything else. In terms of physical talents, I agree that he hasn’t made any great leap – but the combination of him getting regular playing time in a very strong league and JK’s emphasis on pressing and getting forward has done him a world of good. And the goal…woof.
    -Jermaine Jones is pre-Brawl at the Palace Ron Artest. I’m not saying he’s gonna go all Cantona on a fan, but he’s both incredibly physically gifted and never more than three minutes away from being sent off. Both he and Bradley left tire tracks all over the midfield, getting forward in attack and shutting down the Scots before they ever got anything going up the middle.
    -If Mo Edu is gonna have a role on this team, we saw it plain and clear in this game. He’s athletic enough to support both the other two midfielders and protect the backline. Did he have an amazing game? No, but in all fairness he wasn’t tested that often.
    -I’m quite alright with Fabian Johnson playing leftback for the next eight years. Again, tire tracks everywhere. The only thing that worries me is when he goes dancing through the middle (which he does quite well), there needs to be awareness behind him to cover that flank, because if Boca’s playing LCB, he’s gonna get run around without help.
    -Dolo stayed back more than I’m used to seeing, but that makes sense given JK’s penchant for asymmetrical formations – Fabian gets forward and Stevie C stays home a bit more.
    -Boca – thank you for getting a foot in. I see you, Steve Rodgers, I see you.
    -Geoff Cameron…try to put your head in the way next time. Or square up more. OGs happen, I get that, but that doesn’t make me any less pleased when the defender is more unfortunate that unskilled.
    -As for the subs – welcome to the big leagues, Joe Corona. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Edgar. Way to get after it, Herc.
    -I don’t think I’ve ever seen Timmy Howard have less to do in a game. Did he touch the ball with his hands more than twice?

    As for team notes – I don’t know how much we can draw about our team’s ceiling from this game, given that Scotland looked a bit like a pub league team in terms of effort. But we went Showtime Lakers/Miami Heat on them whenever they managed to push the ball forward and the pressure we exerted on their back four and central midfield would have been impressive and effective against much stronger sides.

    Reply

    • Also, the way that the 3 central midfielders cycled for us early on seemed incredibly effective – there was a triangle that kept rotating about over the back four. After awhile Edu settled into the spot, but the movement seemed to allow all three players a little more freedom to get about the pitch.

      Reply

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