USA 1, Jamaica 0: The Deuceface, Herc Jerk Retro Diary

No pain?! No pain! No pain?! No pain!

Will Parchman with a massively fantastic missive.

Guys. I want to apologize for assaulting your fine literary senses here, but there will be caps lock tonight. The mood is heightened. Cockles are raised. Fine hairs are on edge. Jermaine Jones is still a person who plays soccer. So yeah. I’m sorry in advance, but tonight is not a night for feather dusters and foot-overs and happy winks. Tonight is a night for sledgehammers and biceps exploding from extra tight Affliction T-shirts and glass shards and metal studs aerating unsuspecting cheeks. Tonight is the night when the big bad giant steps on David’s head and eats his slingshot.

Style points are extinct as far as I’m concerned. It’s time for old fashioned American footy. Out-run ‘em, beat ‘em up and score ugly, high-percentage goals. Let’s get it.

 6:59 p.m. – Steve Fenn of Big D Soccer tweets this from Columbus: “In the American Outlaws section tonight. Everyone’s spirited, but it feels like some of the energy is coming from desperation.”

THANKS FOR THE CONFIDENCE BOOST STEVIE. Desperation you say? Guatemala is leading A&B 1-0 at halftime you say? This game is edging ever closer to must win, you say? I don’t even know if I’d want to be there. I feel like I’d do something stupid, like yell at a child or drop-kick a bench. Frankie Hejduk (HEYDUDE) is leading cheers on the sideline? WELL NOW I FEEL MUCH BETTER.

American lineup is out.

Howard; Cherundolo, Cameron, Bocanegra, Johnson; Williams; Zusi, Jones, Torres; Dempsey, Gomez

4-1-3-2, at least nominally. Five changes in the lineup tonight from the 2-1 loss in Kingston. Dolo and Boca are back, which is nice. Danny Williams holds in midfield, which is fine, his natural role anyway (nice to see him off the wing, yes?). Torres is on the left wing, which burns me everlasting. I have (famously!) given up on Torres but have hope that he’s remembered to bring his legs with him tonight. Graham Zusi is on the right and somewhere an angel loses its wings. The two issues from last week were a lack of width and no link-up in the middle. I don’t see any fix for those issues here, but I find it hard to blame Klinsmann because this injury-depleted roster hasn’t been all that kind to him.

PACKED house in Columbus. That’s nice to see, and touching that it coincides with such an emotional day. But even Ian Darke’s buttery English-y voice and all those U-S-A chants caroming around the concrete barriers of Crew Stadium can’t allay the feeling of oddness about this fixture. Columbus has the good juju though. Darke calls it a “happy hunting ground.”

Twellman: “Tonight is easily (Klinsmann’s) biggest game in charge of the United States.” Er. Yeah. I’d say. Kickoff time. Leggo.

’1 – The US is already looking to play slicker, more poised footy. I can’t describe how glad I am that Boca is back to facilitate that. He’s beyond calm.

Twellman: “This may be Torres’ last straw.” How is he not out of straws at this point? How is he not completely strawless? Utterly devoid of sipping devices?

’4 – Dolo is so good on the right side. You beautiful Hannoverian (don’t judge me) right back. Feeding in crosses like a parent feeding an incontinent baby strained peas. Did I just call Herc Gomez an incontinent baby? Whatever. Maybe.

’5 – Happy with how solidly the formation is sitting. Danny Williams and Jones showing good poise as Jones sort of stacks high on top of Williams. How did anyone think Williams was a winger? Hurts the soul. He’s been good so far though.

’6 – ZUSI BAR. CROSSBAR. Did Twellman just call that a hockey deik? I don’t care. Zusi, my fellow American. I’ll take back everything I’ve ever said about you if score tonight. Maybe not everything. Actually nothing at all. But I’ll be happy.

’8 – Just mixed myself a Jack & Coke. Going to take a healthy rip every time Darke says something about a DANGEROUS JAMAICA COUNTERATTACK. Seen nothing of the sort, really. Just a couple of free kicks.

’9 – Dempsey is the bellwether. He generally settles wherever service is best, and he’s drifting waaaay right toward Zusi and Dolo and away from… you guessed it, my man Torres. He’s being phased out already. I’M SURPRISED. Wait, no I’m not at all.

’12 – Steve Cherundolo. Can you be my dad? Incredible leading cross gets Herc in at 15 yards and it’s only Herc’s slightly clunky chest touch that lets Nosworthy break it up. Herc is always in the right place, just a matter of finishing touches. Seventh start in a row for the man who deserves it more than Jozy. Just my way of thinking.

’14 – Jones draws a weak free kick, a bail-out call really, but it gets the US the chance at a kick. Herc’s pretty in-swinger hits Jones RIGHT IN THE FACE and he does nothing with it. Jones failed on that possession, got bailed out by the ref on the free kick and then flubbed the hell out of a header freer than Chuck Norris waving American flags on a red, white & blue unicorn farting the National Anthem. I am rapidly souring on Jermaine Jones.

’18 – Herc challenges Miller on another free kick. Twellman actually makes a good point (!) on Herc and Dempsey, neither of whom are doing much to stretch the back line. Both look more like midfielders playing striker than strikers in the mood. This dominant spell of possession is cool and all, but like I said at the top, GOALS, BRA.

’20 – BLARGGGGGGGGG MILLER WHAT A SAVE. Williams with a beautiful pass splayed out for Dolo, who rocketed in a ball that Miller pushed onto the post somehow.

Dempsey was upending Jamaica all night…

Seconds later the goal almost comes again from Dempsey’s feed to Fabian Johnson. Goals. WHERE ARE YOU. Darke: “Have to say, USA unlucky not to be ahead.” HahahI KNOW IAN.

’23 – Zusi follows up a bouncing ball with a sliced volley that rips over the crossbar by a foot. This is kind of like a cat pawing at a piece of yarn that’s tumbled under the couch. It’s kind of sad to watch, but you have to think that given persistence the cat will get that damn bundle of fabric. Notice I’ve given the yarn no chance of catching the cat. Not possible.

Saw Miller’s save again on Dolo’s ball in that was deflected. What a damn save. Finger-tipped it against the post. Jamaica looks absolutely flooded.

’27 – Danny Williams is what Kyle Beckerman would be if Kyle Beckerman was better (and I like Beckerman). Very, very impressed with the Williams tonight. Jamaica just earned a corner. Lolwut?

Twellman just said to Jermaine Jones, by proxy of television, “Don’t get caught up in any of the baby games.” Needed that little laugh. THANKS TAYS.

’30 – WHAT IS HAPPENING. Danny Williams just rattled the post again. Apoplectic. A 30-yard WONDERstrike from Williams just pinged the post, and that screamer just blasted the inside shade of the woodwork. YOU DIDN’T SACRIFICE THAT GOAT LIKE I TOLD YOU, DID YOU. Thank you for confirming my suspicions that you are awesome, Danny. Goal next time though.

’33 – Herc was onside you meat clowns. He didn’t finish anyway, but whatevs.

88th minute and Guatemala is still up 1-0. A&B won’t score. That’s three points for the Quetzalcoatlians.

’35 – US has a 79-21 possession edge. Three of the Americans’ six shots have hit the woodwork. In other news, the capricious soccer gods are ripping the heads off their USA voodoo dolls with venom.

’39 – Okay, so I can give credit where it’s due, and Zusi’s been good tonight. Shown some spots going forward that’ve surprised me. I have no confidence that this is a consistent thing, but he’s made the right side a nightmare for the Boyz tonight. Dolo. My man. Been a beast on the overlap, too.

Guatemala wins. Blechshpalshshhshs.

HALFTIME.

Have you ever done something really well and not gotten due credit? On the other end, have you ever done something really terribly but gotten praise heaped on you for it? That last bit is Jamaica right now. Let me tell you a little real life parable. In the fourth grade, I took a typing class. Back in those days (mid-90s) the internet was just coming on and computer programs were pretty, well… bad. Our typing teacher was a program called Mario Teaches Typing.

The system worked like this: you did your typing (it moved Mario through his virtual world), wrote down your words per minute and took it to the teacher after each class period. Me being a little dirtbag, I cheated. My real words per minute was around 15. By the end of the year I’d lied my way up to around 45. I hadn’t done any real work, but hey, I got a certificate as the most improved in the class. That’s Jamaica right now. Lying little cretins. They’re not 0-0 good. Goals. GIVE ME GOALS YOU DIRTY AMERICANS.

’46 – Klinsmann says we need goals. Thanks Jurgis. You’re the best.

’48 – Bad giveaway from Dempsey leads in a Jamaican for a clear goal opportunity before he skies it. Going to be dealing with some of this as the US commits so many forward. Darke is going to lose his mind mentioning all these counters. “JAMAICA, THEY’RE SO COUNTEREY.”

’50 – Jose Torres update. He still sucks.

’52 – Can somebody please make a “DOLO YOLO” T-shirt? Please?

Done Will! Reader Marissa Villegas with the fantastic contribution. Thanks Melissa.

US passing accuracy is 91 percent right now. They’ve hit the post three times. Possession is hovering around 80 percent. There are no goals. THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE.

’55 – HERC JERK!!!!!!!!! IN THE FAAAAAAACE!!!!!!!!!

This is me. This is my lunchpail. Suck it!

’55.1 – Suck on that free kick. Justice. Not brilliant but well-placed. Funny that THAT’S the goal that Miller fails to save. Should have had it by all rights after a litany of incredible saves. By what I’ve seen from Jamaica it will take a Herc-ulean (EH??? EH???) effort to overturn this. Just fruits.

’57 – Ian Darke wonders if Miller is hurt because he’s not taking kicks anymore. It’s his pride, Ian. He hurt his pride.

’59 – Why don’t I feel any more settled now? A little more buoyant, maybe, but Jamaica have suddenly added a bit of venom to their effort going forward. Omar Cummings rifles a shot just wide of Howard’s near post. That’s the first time I’ve mentioned Tim Howard tonight. Let’s keep it that way. Is this like survivor’s guilt? No? Nothing at all like survivor’s guilt? Touche.

’63 – Foot is off the gas. Where’s the urgency? The goal differential isn’t close enough that this makes sense. Lest we forget the counterey countermasters are lurking. This is where the midfield needs to start exerting pressure. This is where we miss Bradley’s calming influence. Jones is all elbows and knees and BREK SHEA SIGHTING.

’67 – Brek Shea comes on for Torres, who DID NOT HAVE A GOOD NIGHT TAYLOR. Just because Lindsay Lohan didn’t crash her car into an orphanage one Saturday night of the year doesn’t mean she wasn’t driving hammered on Cool Breezes that evening.

’70 – Ryan Johnson almost got in on a header. Dolo was there. Again, feel free to become my legal father, Steve. Feel free.

’72 – Edu on for Zusi. Good sub, I think. Midfield will sag back with Edu, Jones and Williams forming a rotating triangle dependent on who gets forward. It always keeps at least two back and effectively closes down the right forward flank for American business. Expect to see all the wide play, or whatever of it there is, go through Brek on the left.

’77 – Finish. Good heavens you scoundrels, finish this game.

’80 – JOZY TIME YOU CRAZIES. Great shift from the Herc Jerk. Clobberin’ time for the drop-back Jozy.

’83 – Howard finally being asked to do things. Defense being tested. Don’t like. Don’t like. There is a nervousness here. Don’t like.

’87 – This has been a meh final 15. Very unimpressed by the rhythm late, but it’s about three points. Style. Doesn’t. Matter. Tonight.

’90 – Jozy???? Back heel fail. I know that it’s WHAT IS MILLER DOING. Dempsey fail! How are you dispossessed by the keeper 45 yards from his back line?? This has become strange. Very, very strange.

FINAL – 1-0. I’m good luck? I’m good luck.

Thoughts?

Siege warfare is unbecoming of this group, so it was nice to see the (deserved) breakthrough come. I always knew this would be a workmanlike game. Exploding biceps and hammers and the like. So I’m okay with dominating proceedings and taking a 1-0 win despite a relatively whatever final 15 minutes. It was deserved, if a little wobbly. Boca and Dolo (my man of the match) were invaluable. This was as good as I’ve seen Herc in the stripes, but Danny Williams was my story of the night. Emerged as a force tonight. Very tidy, very clean, razor-wire sharp. Again, I’m not harping on style points. I’m harping on real points, and those came. Spain only beat Georgia 1-0 tonight on an 86th minute goal. It happens. Top of the group? Top of the group.

Just realized I haven’t had dinner yet. Butler! A KING’S FEAST.

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42 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Biggy on 2012/09/11 at 11:40 PM

    Miller was injured because if you watch right after he cannot handle the power of Herc’s incredibly sexy and delightful free kick, he then decides kicking the post is a good option. Followed immediately by a limp. Love the typing class reference. Torres did play well, he was spot on with the ball, linked well and didn’t cough up possession. If only the same could be said for Edu when he came on. Dude has to make better decisions.

    WE’RE STILL ALIVE.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Carlos on 2012/09/11 at 11:49 PM

    Emotions, emotions…Proud (1st 45min), feeling cheated (post pinging), grateful (Herc got lucky), edgy & having a premonition of gloom whenever Jamaica came close to goal in the last 20min, and finally relieved.

    A couple of comments, Torres had a good game not sure what deficiency you saw. Williams yes all good, but Jamaica really wasn’t interested in attacking during the 1st half, so I will reserve judgement, but I too liked what I saw from this Defensive Mid Stud.

    Disappointed with Altidore, I swear he was loafing 3 minutes in. I think next time we are holding a lead in the final 20min, energetic Boyd is a better Sub.

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    • Posted by Alex on 2012/09/12 at 12:40 AM

      I think the biggest gripe with Torres is that he waits too long on the ball in the final 3rd. Can’t remember specific moments but I do remember a few times when Herc was making a run or Fabian was overlapping and he just held it and laid it off. Overall not a bad performance though, especially when compared to the match we had in Jamaica. Must say though both coaches were far too tentative in their respective away matches and let their at home opponents dictate the game. Would’ve been more exciting if both Juergen and his counterpart was ballsier away from home.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/12 at 6:45 AM

      It’s not a good sign when Jozy looks like he’s played the full 90 when he’s only been on for 5 minutes. What’s his excuse this time (last time it was that he’d been on the beach with his teammates at the end of a long season)? Is he just not interested in playing for the US right now?

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  3. Looking back was probably a bit harsh on Torres. He didn’t play awful. Emotions and such. But I do maintain that people are probably grading him on a different scale. He’s put the bar so low in recent outings that I dare say seeing him complete a few rudimentary passes and generally stay out of the way (which is more or less the sum of his movement from Tuesday) constitutes a successful outing for him. And for that I say good on him. He was not as bad as he was against Mexico by any stretch. Still didnt curry my favor, but whatevskis.

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    • Posted by SamT on 2012/09/12 at 7:54 AM

      Nice work above.

      On Torres, we had nearly 80% possession last night, imposed our game plan, and (most importantly) won — something we have done all too rarely with Paco on the field. He contributed to that, and I’m hoping it is a turning point. We will see.

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  4. I agree about Torres playing well. Not sure what you saw today. He was very efficient on the ball. Moved it well in possession. Always in a position to receive the ball and provide options to the player with the ball. Provided a few dangerous balls into dempsey near the top of the D. Nice through ball to Zusi or Dolo. Good shot the went just over the bar. He only lost possession 3 times in his time on the field. Kept us in possession a few times when was given the ball in very tight situation. He’s good at circulating the ball and keeping possession. I thought he did that well today.
    US looked good. Look forward to Bradley and Donovan getting back, and Dempsey getting back into form.
    Williams looked really good. Interested to see him in the #6 position with Bradley in the #8. Still work to do in qualifying although great game by the US. Could have scored a few more if not for the great saves by Miller and hitting the post a few times.
    US has developed good depth over the last year. Zusi looked really good today and Cameron is looking very solid as a CB. Gatt, Corona, Parkhurst, etc. are all providing good options and depth for the US. Boca and Dolo are still playing well and are not giving up their spots just yet. Solid performances and leadership by both of them.
    Still work to qualify, although we’re back in control with a home game against Guetemala and away to A&B.

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  5. Posted by jontitchener on 2012/09/12 at 12:24 AM

    I agree about Torres playing well. He was very efficient on the ball. Moved it well in possession. Always in a position to receive the ball and provide options to the player with the ball. Provided a few dangerous balls into dempsey near the top of the D. Nice through ball to Zusi or Dolo. Good shot that went just over the bar. He only lost possession 3 times in his time on the field. Kept us in possession a few times when was given the ball in very tight situation. He’s good at circulating the ball and keeping possession. I thought he did that really well today and I believe he’s capable of much more for the US.
    US looked good. Look forward to Bradley and Donovan getting back, and Dempsey getting back into form.
    Williams looked really good. Interested to see him in the #6 position with Bradley in the #8. Still work to do in qualifying although great game by the US. Could have scored a few more if not for the great saves by Miller and hitting the post a few times.
    US has developed good depth over the last year. Zusi looked really good today and Cameron is looking very solid as a CB. Gatt, Corona, Parkhurst, etc. are all providing good options and depth for the US. Boca and Dolo are still playing well and are not giving up their spots just yet. Solid performances and leadership by both of them.
    Still work to qualify, although we’re back in control with a home game against Guetemala and away to A&B.

    Reply

  6. Posted by tgp on 2012/09/12 at 12:31 AM

    On torres i think you are still being somewhat harsh. he moved the ball well enough and didnt have any bad giveaways. he tracked back and made some good forward passes. that is a performance that edu and jones rarely manage to pull off. While he wasnt the heart of the playmaking he didnt actively hurt the team and was a net positive.

    Still, I think JAM really got it wrong on the first 45 tactics. Went way too defensive. the way to beat the US is high pressure on the midfield and fore us into long balls and turn overs.

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  7. Posted by Alex on 2012/09/12 at 12:45 AM

    Danny Williams was excellent. Like a combo of Beckerman’s ability to keep the ball moving and the passing tempo up, with the speed and physical ability of Edu. He arguably might have a better touch than either. Safe and smart with possession while able to force a few good balls forward. I wonder what he could do in that role against a higher level/higher pressing opponent but it was a very encouraging game.

    And anyone else think that FJ has become one of the best one v one dribblers on this team. Second probably to Dempsey but he is exciting to watch when he’s going at a back. Very agile with sharp decisive cuts. I hope that he gets more opportunities as a winger/attacking mid with someone else at LB. But regardless of what position he is, he’s become a very important piece in our attack.

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  8. Posted by Damon on 2012/09/12 at 4:17 AM

    I think you definitely have some confirmation bias going on with Torres. You’ll remember the plays that reinforce your beliefs about the guy and will see good things he does as an aberration. He was solid on the left side tonight and considering we really have no idea how Brek would have handled it that was a good performance from him.

    The US created a bunch of chances. There were some great saves and some shots were just a bit off. I really don’t see how the lineup can be criticized.

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  9. So relieved!! Enough said about that.

    As for Torres, I have always been in his corner. I thought Bob was unfair to him, especially in Costa Rica. But tonight I saw him as being a very slow mover of the ball. He reminded me of Bradley last year. Accuracy? yes Good touch? yes. Incisiveness? not so much. I think he is good to have on the bench, for depth or to come on late for a forward to help maintain possession with a lead. But I don’t really want him to start anymore.

    I love how we now have a STUD at LB. But the greedy little me sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear, “He would be great in the midfield!!!” The argument rages inside. Pray for me. Have a great day, and enjoy the game!

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    • Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2012/09/14 at 8:01 PM

      Totally agree regarding Torres. I think it would have helped if Demps didn’t keep dropping so deep into midfield. It wasn’t necessary and took away another option to play to up high…he tried to do too much 1 v 1 which slowed down the attack and created a lot of bad turnovers.

      I feel the same way about Johnson…we probably need him at LB for this cycle…but have no doubt he would be one of our best attackers if played at mid…his game is so well rounded , he could play anywhere on the field.

      I was impressed again with Cameron…he didn’t put a foot wrong on defense all game…ridiculously solid…his emergence at CB is massive.

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  10. I haven’t even gotten past the first paragraph and this is what I’m thinking…

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  11. Its good to see us put together a midfield that can pass the ball= 91% passing accuracy… but lets not get ahead of ourselves and say Zusi, Torres or any other midfielder had to do much to keep the ball on Jamaica’s side of the field because they were in a shell. I still am not sure Zusi can defend very well (my biggest concern with him), Torres can continue to push up field (just doesn’t have that offensive attitude but did attempt a shot so we’ll see if he’s coming out of that pass only mentality) and for as much as I think we say our future defensiver center mid in Danny Williams, he too was not truly pressured.

    2nd half after the score, Jamaica began to push forward and we couldn’t hold the ball much. This was more of the same in getting the ball to the midfield to move it forward regardless of the player. As much as I can get frustrated with Jermaine Jones, he did so well taking the ball away from opponents in this game. Again, taking not defending. He has that defensive move that I don’t see many others use on our team when he gets his leg/foot into the ball and then turns his body to where his back is to the opponent and the opponent is now on defense trying to get the ball back. He did this 2-3 times and in at least 2 of those times he got fouled.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/12 at 7:12 AM

      Williams was definitely not fully pressured but do you really think that Edu would have finished with 66 of 69 passing? I feel like Edu could be on the field by himself and still manage to pass to the opposition more than that.

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    • Posted by jesran on 2012/09/13 at 1:41 PM

      Adrian, Jones is using a great defensive move that I notice quite a bit from Germans, German-Turks and plain old Turks. I study this because my in-laws are Turkish football fans and it is quite effective. Jones is creating a shield with his body when the ball comes even slightly loose from an opponents touch. It is a great defensive move because if you can pull it off your opponent usually fouls you and pushes the ball away from himself at the same time. Double advantage. Some players are so good at it that they can track back and perform it from behind. You see mid-fielders doing this a lot. I teach it to my kids and I didn’t know what to call it, so I dubbed it “The Can Opener”. Reason being your using your opponents body to pry the ball away from him the same way you use a can to open itself. And it’s tricky like using a can opener but becomes natural. It is just a trick of quickly getting your foot-knee-hip (in that sequence) into the space between the opponent and ball quick enough to be in possession (according to the ref) when the inevitable collision happens gaining the ball and a foul if you happen to lose possession of it. Love that move!

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      • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/09/13 at 5:04 PM

        Ok can opener, I call it our American instinct. I think this play or similar is commin to Americans, I use the football swim move that lineman use whereby you put your arm acrosst their body and step in front of them, getting your body between them and the ball, they usually have to foul you to get,but be prepared to get a nice knock sometimes too, you need upper body strength & a charles barkley box-out ass power.
        I think this a natural to Americans who grow up playing football or box out in basketball whereby you learn to play the body.
        The bad part is that although this a natural instinct to Americans, we need to develop the more attacking techniques and instincts, otherwise we wil remain the typcial american stereotype of good physical defenders with limited technique.

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  12. Posted by RNG on 2012/09/12 at 7:15 AM

    The middle ground on Torres: He was just OK. Made a few good passes, but his speed of thought seemed really slow. It was Klinsmann himself who said a few weeks ago that Torres needs to stop being so timid, and start asserting himself… and that’s still true.

    That typing thing was upsetting. Truth, justice, and the American way? Then again, I’m starting to like Jones writhing around on the ground just like every other Concacaf team. Maybe there is now a place in the US repertoire for dissimulation.

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  13. Posted by Ryan on 2012/09/12 at 7:16 AM

    I love this reto diary thing. I want you to come follow me around one day and write about me. Oh, and GO USA!

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  14. Jared… Make sure you re-read my comment… “For as much as I think we say (saw) our future defensive center mid”. I like everything Danny Williams does and believe he’s is a much better passer than Edu.

    What is interesting is coming to a new coach, we had question marks at LB, forward and even left midfield positions. For the most part, those have more than 1 option now with Johnson/Castillo at LB for next 6-8 years, Boyd another option up top with Altidore as options for next 8-10 years, and Torres/Shea for next 6-8 years.

    We as Americans want things now… why has Adu, Klestjan, Gatt, Diskerud, Gyau or others not been called up? Personally, I think JK is looking at what he has now for 2014 to work with (experience at high level, playing time with club team, playing well and brings something the team doesn’t have already). I believe after 2014 WC, we’ll begin to see more of these players. Its already been noted by JK in an interview that in January he may bring in more of the U23 and others (U18/20) that will make up the future 2018 WC team than the veteran USMNT. Sorry… just ranting now.

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  15. Carlisle was clearly not watching the same game I was if he gave Torres a 7.5 and Deuce a 4. While Dempsey was clearly a little off last night, he did a great job of linking and distributing while still looking really dangerous in the first half. And Torres was, all things considered, more or less invisible for large chunks of the game. Not something you want to hear about a guy who’s supposed to be unlocking a defense.

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    • And while I wouldn’t argue with Jozy’s rating, I think Shea’s is a little harsh, and Edu shouldn’t have broken a 4. I counted at least three times he went to rashly went to ground in front of our box and twice when he turned the ball over in midfield on poorly played balls.

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  16. Posted by jb on 2012/09/12 at 8:15 AM

    As someone who hasnt had a chance to catch the USMNT live in several years, I wanted to remark on how awesome the fan support was last night. Seeing 25k people cheering on the red white and blue was wonderfully startling compared to prior experiences when we sometimes seemed outnumbered by opposing fans in our own country. The tailgating was sweet too, beginning to approach the level of bigtime college football. I’m sure this isnt news to those of you lucky enough to be able to travel to catch the US play more often, but it was new to me. Shows the growth of the game here more than any play on the field. Took my 4 yr boy (his first major sporting event) and he had an absolute blast! Although he may be paying for the late night today in preschool :)

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  17. Posted by Soccertes on 2012/09/12 at 10:37 AM

    First off, let me give the obligatory “long time reader, first time commenter.” It’s actually my second or third time, but same idea. The quality of the commentary and especially the tactical analysis on this site, which often approaches savant-like levels that cause me to hang my head in shame of my soccer ignorance, make it one of the very best of its kind.

    That out of the way, I come to post two observations on Torres:

    1) The footie illuminati are offering differing opinions of his performance last night, but I thought he was at least serviceable in what he did with the ball. He generally kept possession, was smart with his passing, if not particularly creative, and seemed to be well-positioned off the ball. On the other hand, he wasn’t particularly creative. nor did he ever come up with that one “big pass” in the attacking third – that last, incisive pass that culminates from a build-up or the passer foreseeing a run through the area before it happens. But here’s the thing: it seemed as though placing him into the lineup facilitated the other personnel moves (Zusi, Williams) that transformed the team into a completely different animal than the roadkill that showed up in Kingston. (This, of course, was the product of a rippled effect; the insertion of Williams and particularly Zusi created linking and overlapping with the independely excellent Dolo, and placing Williams at his natural position allowed him to shine and even press forward with Jones able to clean up in his absence). So while JFT didn’t dazzle on the ball, his presence on the pitch overall was Vice-Presidential in that he “did no harm” while simultaneously and more importantly permitting a more advantageous tactical lineup and unlocking the powers of other, more useful players. I realize that this proposition should not make sense, but it does. I’m going to go ahead and call this the Torres Paradox. A player that really didn’t add much value with his individual skills somehow added tremendous value to the team as a whole. It is for this reason, and the other tenet of the Torres Paradox – his “do no harm” presence – that I did not think he should have been subbed off. Our MF configuration seemed to be the most important factor in the pace and structure of the game. Torres wasn’t gassed, so I thought he should have stayed. (If anyone should have come off, I thought it was Jones – the last thing we needed was his hot head gifting the Jamaicans a free kick close to goal, plus Edu would have been a tit-for-tat replacement defensively, where defensive composure was a priority in closing out the game).

    2) People continue to ask the question why Klinsi appears to favor Torres despite his preceived deficiencies. In this I’m reminded of a terrific book I read a few years back about the chef Mario Batelli called “Heat.” It’s a great read that chronicles a NYT writer’s time spent with the portly and gregarious restaurateur working in his kitchens and experiencing the life of the nutjobs in the NYC restaurant biz. Batali is hysetrical, the writing is enteraining as Hell, and I highly recommend it. Anyway, there’s a part in the book that talks about Batali’s bias for hiring pretty much anyone with a pulse who has ever spent time cooking in Italy. Didn’t matter what you did – making soup in a 3-table deli in the Tuscan back country would suffice as “cooking in Italy” – so long as you legitimately worked for a food establishment in the Old Country, you qualified. Other workers started to complain when Mario hired a young kid whose only “qualification” was having worked in Italy. That experience pretty much consisted of making soup in a 3-table joint in the Italian countryside. When people pointed this out to Batali, he’d respond with something like “it doesn’t matter – he’s worked in Italy. He get’s it.” Batali would persist with this mantra in the face of all signs pointing to the kid’s incompetence in the kitchen.

    Well, maybe it’s s imilar situation with Klinsi and Torres. You say JFT holds the ball too long, lacks creativity, turns the ball over too much, can’t pass, can’t defend, and is sometimes prone to leaving the pitch for extended periods to drink juice boxes/cath his breath/get a manicure? “It doesn’t matter – he plays in Latin America – he gets it.” Maybe Torres is Klinsmann’s Italian Kitchen Boy. This might be forgiveable if the only risk were the failure to make soup broth containing perfectly cubed carrots (which is pretty much what the kid in “Heat” effed up). But it’s a different story when WC qualification is at stake.

    That said, after last night, I am less troubled by the possible Torres/Italian Kitchen Boy rationale because of the apparent success of the Torres Paradox.

    On to October? Now what to do with Bradley and Donovan?

    Reply

    • Posted by SamT on 2012/09/12 at 11:13 AM

      Nice. And BTW, if you liked that one from Bill Buford, you’re going to have to give Among the Thugs a read.

      Reply

    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/12 at 11:15 AM

      Donovan and bradley are easy. Donovan in Torres’s spot and Bradley in Jones’s. Done.

      Reply

    • Bradley for Jones – that’s a pretty easy sub. If you can put Zusi or Donovan out left and the other out right…I’m okay with that set up.

      *caveat*

      I really, REALLY liked what I saw from Zusi, and from Williams. But I want to see more before I’m a believer. That said…I’m okay with that being in WCQ qualifying. We finally (finally!) saw Williams in his natural position and while he was going up against a side that looked to bunker from the get go, damn he looked good. And if Zusi plays like this most of the time, he leaps ahead of Shea and Torres for me as a winger.

      Reply

  18. Posted by union on 2012/09/12 at 1:35 PM

    I honestly think the best players last night were Zusi, Williams and Cameron – 2 players (Zusi and Cameron), I’ve been pretty suspect of. Cameron specifically has really impressed me since he moved out of the MLS. He is very smooth on the ball and can pass out of the back. He is essentially a combination of everything we like about Tim Ream, and everything we like about Gooch.

    Zusi did very well operating in limited space, not the type of game he is accusomted to in the MLS, but a game he is apparently well equipped to play. Williams has always been heralded as a very good holding midfielder. He is at times a little stiff on the ball, but he makes accurate, forward passes – something that Beckerman and Edu really struggle with. And he is a great tackler and a big physical presence (a controlled physical presence too I might add).

    I’m not as down on Jones as others. I don’t think he plays his best football on the USMT for whatever reason, but he goes hard the entire game. His missed header was bad, that can’t happen in important games. A few of his passes were absolutely perfect – but that is always countered with him being dispossessed in bad spots. His workrate is why he is in the squad. I agree that he probably gets dropped for Bradley, but remember that Bradley really prefers the holding role to the more advanced role the US needs him to play. But since he is playing that role for Roma, I guess you never know.

    Biggest disappointments for me were Torres, Shea and Jozy. Shea gets very timid in important games (look back to Olympic qualifying). Maybe the US sideline told him to be cautious in taking people on because the goal w/ the lead is to maintain possession, not take defenders on. But i find that hard to believe bc thats an uncomfortable style for Shea to play and it led to poor results. Defenders were giving him about 10 yards and instead of dribbling at them on the break he looked like a deer in headlights. I like him coming in for Torres, but he needs to mature as a player before he gets big moments in the limelight. The nice thing about Torres is that he never looks as though he lacks confidence, which is nice. The bad news is that he is poor in defense and still doesn’t seem to be on the same page creatively with the rest of the time. Fabian made great runs down the sideline that Torres missed. He had his moments no doubt, I just think the US needs to develop a better option. Though, I will admit, it was the right call in so far as creating width. Torres’ natura inclination is to come inside which allows Fabian space to get up the wing. But as the game showed, the person who is MOST CAPABLE of cutting inside, is Fabian Johnson. He literally should be the winger. Too bad we have no left back. Jozy was just the usual Jozy. As has probably been discussed at nauseum, its tough to tell what is between his ears. He does himself no favors by turning the ball over like he did. I know it takes awhile for him to get into the game, but he is just so bad in JK’s system. Boyd, Boyd, Boyd. He should be second choice if Herc is designated starter.

    Reply

    • I can distinctly remember Shea having the ball on the left side and screaming at him to run at me (I was sitting on the endline by that corner flag). I mean, yes, you can potentially turn the ball over but that’s really the best spot on the field to lose the ball from a defending perspective. And if you can get to the corner, you can shield and try to force the defender to knock it out of bounds for a throw or a corner. When that finally happened, Shea did exactly what he should do and walked away. Jamaica didn’t take kindly to that.

      Reply

    • Posted by Zack G. on 2012/09/12 at 2:48 PM

      Great post. I’m not entirely sold on the Torres, Shea, and Jozy analysis, but all the points you raise are nevertheless thought-provoking.

      A few thoughts from me:

      -I’m also not as down on Jones as others are. He’s a frustrating player to have in a side because of all of the negatives (the bad decisions, the rash tackles, the attitude, and the proclivity for lackadaisical behavior on the ball are all things we could do away with), but the reality is that he’s a hardman with serious technical ability. You don’t find that a lot — and he’s the kind of guy who can keep you in big games. A lot of the players who we’re hot on at the moment — Zusi, Cameron, etc. — have all performed brilliantly in the past month, but I’m not so sure that form carries their performances to the next level up. I’m not so sure their physicality and technical ability can really thrive in a game with bigger and faster bodies, with players who are positioned better throughout the match and will stick away their chances. With Jones, we already know that what you see here is what you get at the next level up. [FWIW, I think a guy like Geoff will do just fine and be able to hold his own with the best of them in two years' time, but, like Gooch in the '06 cycle, he might need to get beat up a few times before then by talented opposition. The learning curve in international play often requires those setbacks before one can grow into themselves as a centre-half.] That all seems a bit obfuscated on paper, but without being too reductive about it… Jones is a player I am confident in if I have to throw him into a World Cup quarterfinal against superior opposition. For all of the frustration he gives us, he’s a helluva tackler and can put a lazer on a winger’s foot from 40 yards away (look no further than last night’s pass to Cherundolo, c/o a Zusi dummy). He’s got serious skill — it just needs to be moulded properly and he needs to be kept in check BY HIS OWN TEAMMATES. One reason I’m so happy with Bocanegra as a captain is that he’s a brilliant manager of emotion for this team. Really keeps everyone together and on the same page. That’s what you need from the guy with the armband.

      -The Shea project is an interesting one. I think we’ve got to be playing him game-in and game-out — and preferably from the bench actually. His physical attributes and skill set are tremendous… and the international stage is really where those talents can be nurtured since he’s still stuck in the mire that is Frisco. I think by now we can agree that Shea is much more effective for us coming off the bench… and I think it offers him a unique ability to make a more concentrated impact at the end of a match. Those trenchant runs are that much harder to stop if the defender’s got tired legs in the 70th minute. I don’t think we lose anything by having him on the pitch when we have a lead to protect — and we most certainly get an attacking boost when he’s sent on.

      -The Jozy issue. Ohhhhh the Jozy issue. I honestly think Clint and Herc, if allowed to mature together and not broken apart so frequently by JK’s lineup changes, can become a modified version of the Jozy-CD9 connection. They really do complement each other in a way that we haven’t seen between our strikeforce since the Confederations Cup in 2009. Like Charlie and Jozy, the runs they make clear space for each other (usually one checking-in, one going over the top), and they are both so dangerous inside the 18. I love what I’m seeing between them… and I think now Jozy’s going to have to wait. I hope his club form continues to soar, but for now I see no reason to throw him a bone and get him some extra minutes… especially after that last performance.

      -On Torres, briefly. I think Paco is best in matches where he’s got ambitious, tireless runners ahead of him. All of his best performances for the national team have come when he’s had a forward/winger corps that are extremely energetic in terms of running into space and carving the backline apart to create openings. Whether it’s the pre-World Cup Turkey friendly where he was electric, or the 5-1 against Scotland, Torres has found a way to make his skills work… but it’s taken a relatively wide-open match to do it where we’re playing a faster tempo and being extremely pro-active off-the-ball.

      To a certain extent, I think part of the problem with Torres is that we’re holding him to the wrong standard. I still don’t think Klinsmann understands what kind of a player he IS as much as he understands what kind of a player he WANTS him to be. JF is technically-gifted, yes, but not supremely so. His vision is good, yes, but it’s not excellent. I’ve seen nothing that makes me believe that he is the most creative player in the pool though he’s often billed it (FWIW: I still think Landon is by a mile, as far as “vision” and “soccer IQ” go). I think, if anything, Stu Holden showed signs of being that player for us, not Torres (but who knows now after the injury).

      That doesn’t mean Torres can’t ultimately be our creative force in the midfield — but it does mean that we’ll have to tailor our style of play to him. I think Klinsmann’s ideas are right in theory — IF we learn how to play quicker one- and two-touch through the midfield, and IF we begin to be more energetic off the ball in so doing — perhaps we’ll open up the play a bit more. Torres does not have Xavi-like vision or passing ability… but he is EXCELLENT when the field opens up for him and he sees bodies moving into large, green spaces ahead of him.

      Reply

      • Posted by union on 2012/09/12 at 4:10 PM

        Well said. Especially on Cameron, Torres, Jones. As I said in my original post, I was never a huge Cameron guy, but these past few games have changed my mind. If he can get his positioning down and get up to speed with marking some of the more skilled international players (something he’ll learn at Stoke if he gets regular mintues), he has a chance to be our center back for a long time. I hope he keeps getting better bc yesterday’s game was night and day from the own goal against Scotland (or whatever team they played).

        Have my doubts on the ability of Herc/Clint to be a long term partnership as strikers. I know Herc gets a lot of love on here and Matt’s a big fan. And in fairness, his ability to get on the ball and be in threatening positions is eclipsed by no one in the player pool other than Clint and Landon. I like him over Jozy. Problem is, he just doesn’t have the explosive athleticism that we need. He’s great against most of CONCACAF, but I’m still a little suspcious of how he holds up against better opposition. He disappeared in the Mexico game.

        I think if you give Boyd enough minutes, he’ll start scoring goals. But even w/ Boyd, what the US REALLY needs is speed. We can’t rely solely on set pieces (which is where most of our goals have come from in the past few games). Bring on Gyau and Gatt.

        Reply

  19. Posted by Zack G. on 2012/09/12 at 3:56 PM

    Also, can we please start doing this after Herc tallies one? Thanks.

    Reply

  20. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/09/12 at 7:41 PM

    I wanted to add my support of JJ (Jones). I think he is a classy player (ok maybe classy might not be the right description) But he is a champion’s league quality player. I believe his problem yesterday was also that he was gassed, he needed to be subbed out earlier, he started getting more than his usual sloppy, hyper-agressive self probably due to fatigue and trying to do too much. I think on Schalke he is surrounded by more technique/talent ( or he perceives it that way) and he does not attempt too much, plus the players there all play together and know their roles, which is absent with the limited time together/frequent line-up changes with the USMNT.
    Although he did what Klinsi wants in his players to be able to do,”grinding it out while gassed”.
    But can we talk about the Clint “GasFACE” think he listened to 3rd Bass in Nagodoches?

    Reply

  21. Don’t get me wrong, Jones is a great player, but his skills are declining and for the role he plays—Bradley can equal and then some.

    Really happy to see D-Will get run in a position he actually plays. He fits the role perfectly, and has the right combination of athleticism and technical ability.

    Not sold entirely on Zusi, more with regards to him adding much against elite competition, but I do think he’s promising on the right wing with Donovan on the right. Unlike Torres—another central player playing out wide—Zusi was much more aggressive in the attacking third. He transitioned well, from being in the middle of the pitch and controlling and moving the ball, and overlapping with Stevie when necessary, to taking players on and getting to the corner. Torres on the other hand stagnates in the final third, and would noticably wait for Fabian to make a run or take the opportunity to attack the flank.

    I agree with another who pointed out that Herc, while excellent, may ultimately lack athleticism against bigger opponents to make a difference. I thought later in the game, granted that he had given everything, we were lack a physical presence up top that someone like Boyd could offer—and yes, Jozy as well…I think Jozy was eager to impress rather than grind the game to an end (still maturing).

    Reply

  22. http://espn.go.com/espnw/8336849/why-hope-solo-abby-wambach-back-magicjack-owner-dan-borislow-espn-magazine

    Since we don’t have a catch-all right now. I am putting this here. This is a must-read for anyone who follows the United States Women’s Team.

    Reply

    • Posted by Zack G. on 2012/09/14 at 6:32 PM

      “It is not okay to treat women like crap and abuse them. For some reason, many people think that is all right. The women to a large degree have accepted this treatment.”

      The most dramatically ironic statement of all-time? Perhaps. The hypocrisy is so thick I can taste it.

      We can get into the merits and the demerits of Borislow’s involvement with the women’s game from a financial or strategic perspective — but the conversation should never even get there. The man’s behavior is inexcusable, it is egoistic, and it is insulting to women and harmful to sport in general. He shouldn’t be allowed near the game for that reason — end of story. No matter how much of a savior he thinks he is — and no matter how much the stars will forgive his behavior and insist on defending him — there is no amount of investment or financial assistance that can make up for his behavior. As long as he is affiliated with the sport at its highest level, it will be an absolute joke. Classic bullying from a classic bully.

      I just hope we can get one thing straight… all of this talk of Borislow’s ‘investment’ in the league is misguided and nonsensical. Borislow’s ‘investment’ was nothing more than reckless spending aimed at making a point (albeit a valid one) that these women are not being paid what they ideally should be. But, if we’re being honest, NONE of Borislow’s moves during that campaign were actually aimed at making the league stronger or helping the pay structure across the board in any tangible manner. Fair play to the article though for pointing out that WPS made their own bed in this regard by completely rolling over for the man.

      I believe that the discussion surrounding the next iteration of top-flight women’s soccer has been pretty myopic for a while — and as long as the name ‘Borislow’ is mentioned, it’s not going to get any better.

      So, let him take his stars on the road with him. Leave him out of the equation that really matters — figuring out how to build a bigger, better, more sustainable league for these women who deserve our support as fans. That’s what matters… not building a version of the Silver Bullets to go play exhibitions.

      For those who missed a fantastic W-League season this year, I encourage you to tune in next year. Just my quick response and $ .02 Thanks for listening.

      Reply

  23. Excellent writeup. I laughed, I cried (from laughter). A lot of solid efforts for the US, but I love seeing the continued emergence of Cameron on the back line.

    Reply

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