Archive for September, 2012

USA 1, Jamaica 0: TSG’s Top Ten List

Dolo & The States, best foot forward…

Some quick takes courtesy the TSG DVR and laptop. Oh and for all those that slammed: Missed only one on the starters, JFT instead of Terrence Boyd.

Go:

10• Winning the numbers game. Thankfully.

Our USA-Jamaica Game One review called out the Klinsmann coaching staff for failing to put the right numbers and configuration in the US midfield in Kingston. It was a more-than-fair assessment.

Klinsmann’s side rectified that on Tuesday with at least five players assigned to battle three in the Jamaican midfield.

However it was even more numbers on many occasions and how they materialized was the key.

Klinsmann–as we asked the question of “how far he would go” in the Game 1 Jamaican preview–sent Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo forward on their square or diagonal passes into Torres, Dempsey and Zusi respectfully. That was the license and it was the fullback motion that pinned backed Jamaica’s fullbacks from helping further open the space ahead of them.

Michael Bradley must’ve been smiling some from Roma where the strategy was very similar to the one his club team employs.

9• Foot-No Gas Syndrome

TSG contributor Alex Olshansky adds:

Before the goal: USA was 410/467 passing (88%), JAM was 77/137 (56%)

After the goal: USA was 144/186 (77%) and JAM was 129/170 (76%). US also went from 7.5 passes complete a minute to 4.1.

Regression.

Jamaica might have had cause to now push the game after the States score, but the US needed to keep the urgency.

8• Geoff Cameron’s Laundry List

I can just imagine a scene in the locker room afterward where US equipment director Jesse Bignami is inventorying the kits and Ryan Johnson falls out of Geoff Cameron’s shorts’s change pocket. (Yes, I know there are no change pockets in anyone’s shorts, save RVP’s or maybe Tevez’s, but whatever.)

Geoff Cameron flat-out dominated Johnson in this one.

Johnson went for headers and Cameron out-leapt him. Johnson looked to receive a ball over-the-top and Cameron swallowed. Johnson got frustrated, fouled and lost focus–and the two players set to run off his hold up play (Luton Shelton and Omar Cummings) suffered from it, failing to sniff the box almost all night.

If your Stoke City–and with the acquisitions of Maurice Edu, Steven N’Zonzi and Charlie Adam–don’t you have to just sneak a look at Cameron at centerback? Johnson may not be as skilled but he is a hulking 6’1”, 175lbs or so.

Good to see some swagger from D-Will.

7• Who in the name of Yann M’Vila was playing in the central holding smack down role?

It’s amazing what a little familiarity and comfort does.

Danny Williams probably doesn’t speak a lot of English. And up until the last scraps of Jamaica Williams had been asked to be deployed in more of a shuttler and cover protector role. In fact this was our commentary on Williams in advance of the USA-Mexico friendly:

Welcome back into the fold Danny Williams. Once again, you’ve got the soccer role version of “clean the latrine!” See Castillo behind you? He needs cover, so you get to play out of position and have US fans scorn your abilities despite never being played in your natural role.

Enjoy the Azteca, try not to get a urine shower. At least, you don’t speak Spanish so you can’t understand what they’re saying about your mom.

Not today TSG!

Williams looked downright cozy in the holding role with the major team advantage of allowing Steve Cherundolo and especially Fabian Johnson to gallop forward. With the US pressing it was Williams with only Cameron or Bocanegra behind him on many occasions.

Johnson’s stat line: 8 recoveries, 3 interceptions, 66 of 69 passes completed (yowzas!) and perhaps most importantly….some swagger.

Williams looked the part, often demanding the ball with a hand raised from his teammates and, after getting smacked in the head by an errant Je-Vaughn Watson elbow late in the game (and without the command of the English language) still sent some body language Watson’s way.

A drop of nasty. Might there be more in store down the line? That’s the first time US fans have seen Danny Williams personality shine through.

6• Look, just a few wet blankets, okay?

An astounding effort by the States and the vital home win. The end justifies the means.

That said a shaper team. A team with more discipline in executing would seemed like instructions to press more in the second half perhaps closes the night with a draw on some of the Yanks’ lack of focus.

There were also a few areas of housekeeping that need attending. The first being the most pressing.

» The States are vulnerable on quick restarts or turnovers.

Jamaica was well-schooled Rodolph Austin gathered a loose ball and took a quick shot on Tim Howard that had to be parried and as the minutes waned Jamaica’s final two corner kicks were knocked-on before the States had a chance to gather itself. Luckily the States had resolve, but a sharper team would have punished them.

» Jermaine Jones needs to end the simulation and face-grabbing.

There was a moment at the end of the second half where Jones was legitimately fouled–and he was a number of times on the evening–however Jones incessant complaining to the refs as well as his penchant to stay down on the play goes a step beyond–it would seem–Klinsmann’s mantra after the Brazil game to dirty-up the game within the game. Jones should have gotten that call, but he likely didn’t because the ref was just tired of dealing with him.

5• Herculez Gomez is here ________________________ the rest of the depth chart is here.

Gomez leading the line ahead of Dempsey.

With the US playing a near Roma style attack, it was the right configuration up top and it worked because Herculez Gomez understands the match.

Beyond his tremendous set piece delivery tonight and of course, the game winner, it was Gomez’s engine that again manufactured chances.

(Note: It should be annotated that Herc’s best goal scoring season ever–17 with the Los Angeles Galaxy in–saw a majority of his goals scored from outside the box. (Herc loves to remind us of that one and I reminded him of it tonight.)

Gomez was consistently showing up in the right places through effort on Tuesday. In fact, late in the second half after he and Jermaine Jones were arguing a call, Jones trotted back to his position, Gomez damn near sprinted. And this was a Gomez who battling illness all week.

Gomez–right now–is, consider this, may be, pound-for-pound the best poacher in CONCACAF? (Yes Chicharito scored one tonight to get off the snide, yes the Little Pea plays at Manchester United., but Gomez–like he did in tying Chicharito for the Clausura scoring title in 2010 before the World Cup–may be on as good form right now.)

[Insert typical TSG-Gomez disclaimer here.]

4• No soup for you

If there any player more frustrating, infuriating than Freddy Adu Jozy Altidore? When the line-up was announced–and before the DVR delayed review–my very first thought in terms of “those missing” was, “Oh thank goodness, all eleven players are going to play defense.”

I don’t care that Jozy Altidore missed a back heal; I don’t care all that much that he gave away the ball in the corner when the States’ were trying to ice the game.

But I very much do care that Altidore lacked a lot of hustle on both his own turnovers and on closedowns as a fresh sub.

If you look at Altidore’s club goals they’re often with a player clearing space around him. On this US team, Altidore will not be the focal point some time and must play defense. The perennial question, will he ever step up the defensive part of his game?

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USA vs. Jamaica: Live Commentary

Jones vindicated this evening?

The very-near-must-win in Columbus is about to down.

Crew Stadium should be a shaking. Will Frankie Hedjuk be pounding beers?

Line-ups shortly. Enjoy.

Orange Slices: USA vs. Jamaica

Orange Slices! USA vs. Jamaica

The triumphant return! Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before and day of the match.
———

It’s the “must-win” it always was, but with higher stakes. Does that make sense? No, but then again neither did the US lost in Jamaica or some of the tactics.

The US takes to Crew Stadium in the land where the Abercrombie & Fitch man roams free tonight to battle the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica less than a week after Jamaica hung a 2-1 victory on the Yanks.

The USA (1-1-1, 4 points) dropped into a tie for second place with Guatemala in Group A following Friday’s loss to Jamaica (2-0-1, 7 points).

Broadcast:

Once again, ESPN has the English coverage. The game is available on ESPN 2, ESPN 3 with the coverage beginning at 8pm ET.

Galavision has the Spanish coverage.

PSA: SEPTEMBER 11th TRIBUTE IF YOU ARE ATTENDING TONIGHT’s MATCH

Around the web:

Talismanic tonight?

Reading material: (lots of good stuff on this one.)

» The MLS Analyst, Matt Doyle, drops some great toilet-bowl reading material with, “What is American Soccer?,” an excellent feature on the tactics and formations of the US over the past 20 years. Must-read.

» Be sure to check out Steve Fenn’s article below looking simply at Tim Howard and shots-on comparing the Prem to Kingston.

» Our friends at the Free Beer Movement have some lighter, fluffier fare with some tongue-in-cheek analysis that you may or may not hear from Jurgen Klinsmann.

» We love this Reggae Boyz forum. They aggregate links from around the web, most are typically objective on their team and they are welcoming to new folks. If you post, be respectful.

» The Yanks Are Coming folks are back and they are wondering whether all that Klinsmann bravado in his opening remarks is just mumbo-jumbo.

» Noah Davis for Grantland says the “golden sheen on Jurgen Klinsmann is less shiny” going into tonight.

» Steve Davis describes the pressure the team is under tonight and the scenarios that play out.

Weather forecast:

It will still be a balmy 75 degree or so with clear skies when the States take the field at 8pm ET.

Surf forecast:

You can’t surf in Columbus, Ohio, but did you know that it’s not a mistake on the lake to surf in Cleveland!

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USA vs. Jamaica Primer: Kingston’s Chalkboard Confessional

Steve Fenn writes for TSG & BigDSoccer (a fantastic publication on FC Dallas).

Be sure to check out TSG’s Game Day Catch-all post, Orange Slices: USA v. Jamaica

Like most US soccer fans, I spent the last couple day grousing about Klinsmann’s Kingston catastrophe, letting my fear of qualification failure lead to anger, anger lead to hate, and hate lead to suffering (of those closest to me, who had to tiptoe around during the dark side of my ravings). Today I sought understanding and perspective in the cold, hard facts of the match in the Opta Chalkboard. This exercise reminded me of one of the team’s achievements on the day I had lost sight of during my weekend doldrums.

Over the course of the game the US defense did an excellent job of limiting the Jamaicans to very speculative opportunities. Here is the Opta Chalkboard’s map of every shot taken by the hosts:

Based on the scale of this graphic the closest attempt was slightly over 30 yards from goal. Also, on closer inspection Opta states that only 9 of the 13 came in the run of play.

For perspective, I consulted the 2011-2012 EPL Opta statistics, provided through the MCFC Analytics initiative from Manchester City’s head of performance analysis, Gavin Fleig. Side note: if you have any interest in studying soccer statistics, follow this link, check out their terms and conditions, and download the data and play with it yourself.

From this data I was able to break down shots faced and outcomes both inside and outside the box, as well as the subset of direct free kicks. I did so for both the full league and Everton, for whom Tim Howard played every available minute, also breaking the data into save percentage and goals per 13 shots, the number Jamaica took.

Not surprisingly, shots inside the box were much more effective, but it is informative to see just how much more. Direct free kicks were a little more likely to score than other shots outside the box, and when I dug deeper I found that only once last season did a Premier League side score twice on direct free kicks in a single match (Manchester United’s 8-2 slaughter of Arsenal on 8/28/11). Klinsmann’s greatest defensive adjustment for Tuesday may be regression to the mean. If they keep Jamaica out of the box again, the odds of a shutout are pretty good.

All of this analysis is done from a bird’s eye view, and since stagnation equals death there we can expect at least a couple of small-scale tweaks in the defensive approach.

For example, as noted in the comments of the last post, the US wall seemed to be ignorant to indicators within Jamaica free kick takers’ run-ups to the likelihood that jumping was the right or wrong approach. At least one personnel change is guaranteed, since Clarence Goodson will be suspended for yellow card accumulation, and Klinsmann stated today that Carlos Bocanegra will take his place and captain the team. Whoever lines up in the back tomorrow night, we should all hope they are as successful as Friday night’s crew in limiting the quality of Jamaican shots.

Inventive and important adjustments look to be much more necessary further up the field, though.

(Editor’s note: Well said on that last statement Steve. :>)

Jamaica 2, USA 1: The States Now Must Spliff The Difference

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Look everyone has a rough day at The Office now and then. (Ouch…)

With Jamaica riding two free kicks to victory Friday night in the Caribbean, it’s up to the USA to author their own Redemption Song Tuesday in Columbus. The arrangement tonight was sour for the States to the tune of a 2-1 loss to the Reggae Boyz who celebrated their country’s national independence by liberating Jamaica from its winless streak against the visitors.

Okay, poor word play out of the way, let’s get to the real punchline.

The US lost on the road in CONCACAF Friday not because they were the inferior team talent-wise, not because they were missing two of their best players (though that certainly contributed) and not even because they made a few poor fouls….

The US lost in Jamaica because Tappa Whitmore outcoached Jurgen Klinsmann. The US coach pretty much turned everything he touched to a dull, scratchy pewter instead of gold.

Let’s me just get the stream of consciousness out in the open:

» Lies, Statistics…and just plain freaking counting!

The US beat Jamaica at the 2011 Gold Cup because they outmanned them in the midfield 5-2 ruthlessly cut up the Jamaican defense.

This time the battle was again in the midfield with Jamaica holding a 4-3 advantage there–for the US Dempsey played more of an advanced role and the Jamaicans had support from three forwards ahead of them instead of one or two.

This may or may not be Rodolph Austin in this picture….

The unheralded Reggae Boy Rodolph Austin ran the show.

You’ve never heard of him because most times the Jamaicans wish they had someone better. Merely a matter of numbers here led to Austin being the night’s symphonic conductor.

Well that and the US’s failure to adjust. Moving on….

» Not-so-deep thoughts on a deep line.

Jamaica adjusted its formation to a 3-4-3.

Meanwhile, the US (vs. France, vs. Mexico, vs. Scotland) authored healthy doses of high pressure injections on opponents over the past year.

This game begged for more high pressure from the States on Jamaica’s weakest ball handlers. Where was the that?

The US decided to play a deep line fearing the speed of Jamaica over the top more than their ability to suffocate Jamaica’s defenders.

How many times did Jamaica win the battle over the top with the States? Just once, an effort that Tim Howard cleaned up (and also paid for).

Now, given that the US didn’t play a tight, high pressure game, it made little sense that the best US organizer at the back, Carlos Bocanegra was left on the bench. Was Klinsmann that fearful of Jamaica’s speed as to drop the line and bench his now-former captain? It makes no sense.

This strategy–to drop the line with a more inexperienced pairing–had three damning effects.

“Does anyone have any idea what we’re supposed to be doing out here now that we’ve scored?”

» » First, it exposed Kyle Beckerman as a lone holder. Beckerman does just fine (see Mexico at the Azteca) when the line is high and he’s funneling into an awaiting Jamison Olave at RSL or Bocanegra for that matter. With time in space, Jamaica exposed the not-the-fleetest-of-feet Beckerman. The centerbacks behind him were slow to step up. Cameron through inexperience; Goodson through, well it’s not quite clear.

Jamaica had more than three open shots from the top of the key, thankfully for the States they were skeet-shooting on the night.

» » Second, it asked Beckerman to do an offensive role that he is neither accustomed to nor is his strong suit. Ball carriage.

Beckerman is best when he circulates the ball simply or makes forward passes under duress. This match gave him acres of space with the States’ deep line. So, hello?

» » Third, it trapped Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones–who were either overburdened or without their roles clearly defined–into keeping an eye on the space around Beckerman,. This dropped both from them from their own marks and, voila, space in the middle of the pitch. Lovely.

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USA vs. Jamaica: Live Commentary

(Note: Apologies we haven’t been able to get to the Orange Slices posts in awhile. We’ll get to it next week.)

June 16, 2001 – US battles Jamaica at The Office to a 0-0 draw. Steve Cherundolo featured that day. Here were the rest of the starters for the States:  …… 1-Kasey Keller; 6-David Regis, 12-Jeff Agoos, 16-Carlos Llamosa, 2-Steve Cherundolo; 14-Clint Armas, 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.), 8-Earnie Stewart, 22-Tony Sanneh (11-Ante Razov, 79); 9-Joe-Max Moore (19-Jovan Kirovski, 58), 20-Brian McBride (17-John O’Brien, 69).

The USA heads to The Office in Jamaica tonight to fend off a World Cup qualifying challenge from the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica.

Kickoff is slated for 8:00PM ET (we think) and here’s your viewing information:

beIN SPORT is available on the following service providers:

  • DIRECTV Channel 620 in HD
  • DISH Channel 408
  • Comcast Xfinity TV providers on a market-by-market basis

More coverage:

TSG’s Official USA vs. Jamaica Preview: Just Another Day At The Office?

Here’s some more background listening and reading in advance of the match-up:

 ♒ Jeff Carlisle will great insights into the decision to represent the US by Terrence Boyd

 The MLS Analyst Matt Doyle & I disagree on Jamaica’s ability to possess the ball and break down the States on this week’s March To The Match

 ♒ Clint Dempsey gets candid on sweating out the transfer window in this SI interview.

 ♒ Will Parchman–who we’ve guilted into writing another retro diary on Tuesday–with a handful of things to look for in this qualifier.

 TSG chats US Soccer media and Sean Johnson-Bill Hamid in this podcast with MLS Reserves.

 

Just Another Day At The Office? TSG’s USA vs. Jamaica World Cup Qualifer Preview

Jermaine Jones and the USA tangle with Jamaica again…

(Note: We so wanted to go with “The Beckerman Bowl” as our preview title. Alas, after careful consideration and line-up review, we stepped back from that headline)

Jamaica’s Independence Stadium…also known as “The Office.”

The United States takes to The Office Friday in the first game of a home and away series against the Belgium of CONCACAF, Jamaica.

Like Belgium, Jamaica would appear to have a massive amount of individual talent.

Names like Luton Shelton of Turkish side Karabükspor ….  now Burnley-bound MLS vet Dane Richards, and Whitecaps future pride Darren Mattocks. Yet, like Belgium, the sum of the parts doesn’t often add up and Jamaica fall prey to a collection of parts working ever so individualistically to try and attain the goal.

Less because they are not team-oriented, more because the parts are all very similar.

Jamaica’s speed forte can and does work, especially in games that are toe-to-toe punch and counter-punch. Jamaica faced down a Guatemalan side–one that gave the US’s A team fits in June–slugging it out with La Bicolor on the way to a 2-1 victory that looked like twenty players on the pitch were doing shuttle run training.

However, and predictably, it can lead to Jamaica playing down to their competition. A 0-0 draw against group rearguard Antigua & Barbuda attests to that notion. (*Remember this point; we’ll come back to it.)

Thus Jamaica enters the turn of this qualifying round in a similar position as the US–in fact probably a stronger one: one win against the second best squad in pocket to zero for the States and playing at home with a right to control their destiny and then look for the draw on the road next week in the US.

The States though should handle this match on foreign soil despite previously not being victorious in the land of Marley, Tosh, Toots & Cliff.

Alas this is a year of firsts (Italy, Mexico at the Azteca) for a Jurgen Klinsmann side that seems to be coagulating into a defensive force with just enough offensive knife-work to etch the right scoreline.

While the opponent might be a new one for the coaching staff, the squads faced off just last year in Washinton D.C. in the knockout rounds of the 2011 Gold Cup.  With Bob Bradley at the helm, the Yanks authored a blueprint on how to flummox the would-be Jamaican attack and put down the CONCACAF foe.

Kljestan was a key player on the other side of the ball last time the two teams met….

Bob Bradley overloaded the midfield moving from his hallmark 4-2-2-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1, pushing an extremely effective Sacha Kljestan in a free Trequartista role into dangerous pockets between Jamaica’s midfield shield and it’s backline.

With Jamaica deploying in what for all intents and purposes was a 5-2-3, the US controlled the run of play and possession eventually wearing down the Reggae Boyz who failed to adjust and eventually met their demise. 2-0 was the final.

This time though Jamaica has made some personnel adjustments and the US has a new coach and slew of players on the disabled list. Jamaica’s doing work in their home stadium as well. It will be a tight match.

Without further Freddy Adu, let’s get to our customary preview.

As usual it goes:

TSG What We’re Looking For

Commenter’s Corner (New edition!)

11 At The Whistle

About the Opponent: Jamaica

TSG What We’re Looking For

The Space-Time Continuum.

If the States are to go on the road here in the first match and wrangle all the points out of the trip, they’re going to do so with a different game plan than the one Bradley employed in June 2011.

Under Bradley, of course, the US was never truly afraid to concede space within their defense, betting on the fitness of their best athletes in central midfield to outrun, out hustle, outlast that of their counterparts. The results were often mixed.

In the Gold Cup battle, Bradley sought to keep Jamaica spaced and hammer the central midfield for scoring opportunities.

Once his squad adjusted to the 4-2-3-1, incisions became gaps in the Reggae Boyz defense and with Michael Bradley as the midfield maestro–he attempted an astounding 90 passes on the afternoon and completed them an 87% clip for 78 connections–the US dropped Jamaica like a fighter felling his opposite after too many jabs to the solar plexus.

With Klinsmann, the States, especially on the road, won’t play that open (unless they’re forced to with high presses as Guatemala proved able to do.). The States will be more than happy with a 1-0 result off a late game header by someone like a Terrence Boyd or Clarence Goodson. The US will look to possess to keep pressure off their defense. Defensive possession.

Whereas Bradley’s game had space in the midfield that his team eventually exploited over time, Klinsmann’s team will look to suffocate their foes and turn errant passes out of Jamaica’s deep midfield into scoring opportunities.

The key for the States when pressing will be to keep that tight shape and not allow Jamaica’s flankers to get the ball on the run and fly unchecked down the touchline.

Flankenstein.

Here’s an area of the field to watch.

Fab, pivotal as always…

The question of getting the US’s Bundesliga-based fullbacks up the pitch is an important one.

Whereas an advancing Fabian Johnson been instrumental in 2012 to generating chances, the two years previous it was getting right backer Steve Cherundolo overlapping Landon Donovan that was key.

The US will probably play with a single holder in this one–likely Maurice Edu–and Jamaica’s forward wingers are there most dangerous players.

Just how much attacking verve Klinsmann’s team has shouldn’t be judged by the personnel deployment in this one so much as how much license to go forward Klinsmann allows his fullbacks, especially Johnson. That’s your marker on the States going for three points.

Injurious.

No Landon Donovan, no Michael Bradley, no problem? Good question. While Donovan has been pedestrian the for the national team since Klinsmann’s introduction, Bradley has been the opposite, raising his game in the face of the new manager starting the midfielder out on the bench early in his reign.

The US managed a victory in Mexico without Bradley, Dempsey and with a mundane Donovan and Jose Francisco Torres, but this is qualifying. Should fans be concerned?

Will Spurrious Efforts Give Way?

When last we saw Mr. Nacho Delicious against the Reggae Boyz….

Anyone watching the Yanks can see that Jose Francisco Torres has not done well with the numerous chances he’s been given on the pitch.

For our money, Klinsmann’s continued trotting out of JFT is not without some merit. Torres can possess the ball and make clean passes; maybe it’s just going to take some repetitions for him.

That said, Torres’s lack of assertiveness in whatever role he’s been assigned and lack of imagination when placed further up the pitch, has the US screaming for someone who can chuck passes into willing receivers ready to run on to them.

Bet that Klinsmann will use Clint Dempsey in the role that Torres inhabited against Mexico, the would-be attacking catalyst.

Dempsey is certainly not at full fitness and what you do with a player with his creativity is place them up the field where they can help you and not hurt you with a missed defensive assignment.

Can Clint Dempsey provide a #10-tinged forward effort or will he meander deep as he tends to do and actually crowd the midfield?

Miscellaneous:

» Steve Cherundolo has gotten exposed on US duty against speedy wingers–Franck Ribery for France and Jefferson Montero for Ecuador. This time he likely has Jamaica’s best offensive weapon to neutralize, Luton Shelton, in his kitchen. Watch that match-up.

» Where is Jozy Altidore on the depth chart? As he has done the past two seasons now, he started out the club season hot only to quickly come back down to earth. Meanwhile, Terrence Boyd continues to produce and would appear the understudy currently to Herculez Gomez.

» Once more here on Dempsey.

The US’s sniper is prone to doing a little too much on the ball on occasion especially when teammates stagnate around him and he’s also prone going for goal from odd and far-off angles. Just like in basketball when a three-ball is launched, there are large caroms and/or errant rebounds, this can present a fast break/counter attack opportunity in a unique way the defensive is not prepped for. If Jamaica scores in this one, it’s a good bet that a wild show or deflect pass was the US culprit up the field.

Commenter’s Corner:

Joe Davis is a USMNT fan and TSG reader from Tampa Bay, FL:

Donovan is getting older, seems to be losing interest in soccer all together, and starting to become injury prone… So why do we keep calling on Danny Williams?

It is becoming more and more apparent that the USMNT needs to start looking for the “next Donovan”, or at least a right winger. Gone are the days of Dolo and Donovan linking up and creating opportunity after opportunity for the likes of Altidore and Dempsey. Could Gatt be that answer? Perhaps.

US fan whipping boy…

But at the moment it seems that Danny Williams has a pretty secure grip as Donovans back-up, which doesn’t bode well for the attacking soccer JK wants. He pretty much eliminates our threat from the right side, and puts all the pressure on the left to create. In every game that Donovan has missed this year, our goals have come from the left. Is there not a better RM than a player who has logged only 44 total minutes of club soccer this year?

TSG: Great question and observation Joseph.

First, I think the attacking, flowing soccer that Jurgen Klinsmann wanted when he took the US job was either a clever bit of personal marketing for himself or maybe just some misdirection.

The German way.

The Klinsmann way is insure defensive integrity, cohesion and, above all, discipline. What you have with Danny Williams on the right flank is a player who will cover over an aging Steve Cherundolo and who will help the midfield when it’s pushed up and attacking on the left. Danny Williams is more a solution for attacking on the left rather than the reason the ball goes to the other flank.

If Klinsmann had a player he felt who could attack effectively and intelligently in the open field on the right while providing defensive cover, Williams would likely drop a peg on the depth chart. That said, it’s not clear who that is.

It’s not Josh Gatt, at least not yet. He’s a very raw talent and entrusting a player like Gatt with that nuanced role is not a good short-term line-up recipe. (Gatt is likely better served coming on as a RB once the US has a settled RCB situation). It’s not Graham Zusi who’s not as strong a defender, though doesn’t lack in effort.

Fans saw DaMarcus Beasley at left mid in a similar role against Mexico, but his lack of defensive discipline nearly cost the States the game.

If there was a time to try a different player in that role it could be this Jamaica game where Jamaica will be challenged in getting the ball north to their forwards. Could Klinsmann trot out Joe Corona there? Possibly.

A possible deployment for the USMNT predicated on a pressing game plan and Klinsmann’s history….

11 At The Whistle:

G: Tim Howard

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