USA vs. Belgium Mini-Preview: Tune-Up Saison

Will the Belgium champ do damage against his league's vacationing natties? It's a bigger moment than that for Sacha.

Will the Belgium champ do damage against his league’s vacationing natties? It’s a bigger moment than that for Sacha.

The United States hopes to get thuggish, ruggish and to the bone as it takes on Belgium in a high-powered of friendly of sorts in Cleveland, Ohio a few days before the first of da month and the first of three critical World Cup Qualifiers.

The series is not unlike last year when the US easily faced down Scotland and then stumbled over Brazil and Canada in a friendly tune-up series on its way to a 1-0-1 record in the earlier round of qualifying against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

For the United States, little questions in terms of overall planning will likely be solved in Wednesday’s match-up. Michael Bradley is still on his way from Rome while occasional starters Maurice Edu and Brek Shea have been ruled out. Add in the trio to a roster that already didn’t include the names of Steve Cherundolo, Timothy Chandler and Kyle Beckerman for various reasons and the US is probably looking at its match-up against the Red Devils as a kick the tires on a few players and gauging point for others.

That said, beyond the individual evaluations it is getting pretty close to the time that the US must figure out how to create some good scoring chances, less even finding the frame.

The US has three shots on goal through the first three games of qualifying–two resulting in goals. That’s simply not good enough as the US begins to take on better competition and hopes that it can make a run in South America about a year from now.

Bob Bradley’s system might have called on his defenders to make emergency defending rote in the hopes of keeping a clean sheet, but at least Bradley’s high paced vertical tempo afforded the US some easy looks on goal. Jurgen Klinsmann’s system–while providing more pragmatic and, yes, better defensive protection–has demanded defensive positioning loyalty which in term has neutered any attack and made the US impotent in the final third.

The US, under the direction one of the best German strikers of all-time, has picked its spots to “drop shape” and attempt to sneak chances. Faced with high-caliber attacks or with a single defensive miscue, the US will likely struggle to find an equalizer or winner going forward against quality competition. This should keep Klinsmann and Martin Vasquez up at nights.

An improvement in forward movement and chance creation is a must Wednesday–or at least an attempt at it–if the US wants to continue to grow into a 2014 group stage challenger.

The States will face a diversely talented Belgium team where any one player has the ability to surgically force the US defense to provide cover and neglect attacking. The States–friendly or not–need to be better than that.

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our mini-preview:

It goes:

About the Opponent: Belgium

What Are We Looking For

11 At The Whistle

About the Opponent: Belgium

Play  roulette with a deck of previews and the odds are still heavy that the general theme will be, “Belgium is a massively talented team–a candidate to be the next Spain–that just can’t seem to have the sum of its parts equal or exceed its whole.”

And that very much is a good narrative heading into that one. A good parallel for Belgium at this stage would be US CONCACAF nemesis Mexico. Like Mexico, Belgium is flush with youthful talent. And like El Tri, the Red Devils seem to be fumbling a bit over player selection and definite role definition in getting out their way and moving forward to international glory.

That said, unlike Mexico, Belgium is still scoring and whereas Mexico has two goals in the Hex, both on Chicharito headers and neither in the run of play–the US of course, sits on two tallies as well. Belgium hasn’t been shutout since 2011 and one look at their roster clearly shows why.

This time Fellaini looks to play the foil....

This time Fellaini looks to play the foil….

The front six reads like a Daily Mail’s columnist transfer season link bait dream roster. Names like Benteke, Lukakua, De Bruyne, Mirallas, Mertins, Hazard and more line the score sheet. Each player capable of beating his man in possession and finding netting. Aft of the front four grouping are service providers in Marounne Fellaini, Moussa Dembele and Nurnberg’s Timothy Simons deputizing for Zenit St. Pete’s Alex Witsel whose in Russia.

Behind the front six, manager Marc Wilmots (playing nickname: “Warpig”) has four near-World Class centerbacks to choose from. He’ll deploy two–Vincent Kompany of Manchester City and captain Daniel Van Buyten of Bayern Munich in the middle. Forward wandering Arsenal man Thomas Vertongen–who never met a 20-yarder he didn’t want to try and find the top corner with–will move wide to left. Incredulously, Tottenham Hotspur standout Jan Vertongen may find himself on the bench at the start of this one. US fans would froth at the opportunity to get the mobile Vertongen anywhere in the US backline. Split out right will likely be Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld, another flanker who challenged the States defense in 2012.

Belgium clearly possesses more on ball skill and robust resumes at nearly every position. However as the section opener alluded, the Red Devils haven’t been able to spin all that talent into results gold. What Belgium need to do–it would appear–is turn the keys over to a single midfielder and a single forward as the go-to guys. Too often Belgium’s game looks like three baseball players converging on a simple foul ball that’s well within reach, only to see it fall–harmfully–in between them all. All are terrific at catching the ball, yet all are not assertive enough to not defer.

The keys for the US to go for a win here–which may not be the metric Klinsmann is looking for–nevertheless go as follows:

» Belgium can be wont to go for stretches of lackluster play. The US must seize these pockets of opportunity and convert chances. Even at home, it’s a good chance that the US may not possess the ball for long stretches. The stretches where they do need to be productive.

» Manage the back flanks. Belgium will look to get their fullbacks into attacking positions after their wingers have drawn the US FBs to them. Organization in the middle (Besler, Jones being the likely quarterbacks of their respective lines) is imperative on Red Devil forward rushes.

» Frustrate Fellaini. Don’t allow Dembele to break down the defense centrally. Easier said then done here but physical play and continue harassment has seen the Everton man sometimes disappear from games. That’s the recipe for the US on the Moroccan. As for Dembele–he’s dangerous when he’s getting forward and carrying the ball into open pockets. Simply face-up defending is the tonic here.

Likely Belgium starters:

G: Mignolet

DEF: Alderweireld, Kompany, Van Buyten, Vertongen

CM-Bucket: Simons, Dembele

MF: Mertins, Fellaini, De Bruyne (De Bruyne ended the year for Werder on a tear)

STR: Benteke

What Are We Are Looking For:

• “I’m looking at the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways….”

The genius of Michael Jackson dropping our first point question of knowledge here and it’s a simple one. A quick  look at Belgium and the US is staring at a side that plays a lot like the US wants to play in terms of its tactical roll out and attacking game play. Belgium leads with a single striker up top, flanked by two would-be piercing wingers and then has a three-man midfield posse backed by two forward-pushing fullbacks.

In short, this friendly is a man-up battle of execution–which team merely outplay its counterpart. The US has struggled in these affairs. They have played superiorly at home, imposing their might on weaker opponents, while looking to stay defensively compact on the road and ride out draws.

The US is at home against a like opponent with better overall talent–can the States control the game?

Confounded by the configurations.

Jurgen Klinsmann took a play out of the Euro and South America playbook when he named at least three starters in a new conference on Tuesday. Let’s start there.

Sacha Kljestan–oh fair Belgium be as patsy as Sweden–and Jermaine Jones will man the middle. If deployed correctly here–Kljestan as the deep-lying player maker, Jones as the forward destroyer with more box-to-box and ball-winning responsibilities–this pairing may be successful. However, States fans have seen Klinsman defer to the German Jones in situations like these to command more of the ball and distribute deeper.

Given Jones erratic play–and the necessity to keep a marauding Dembele in check–this may not be the wisest of choices. The US will likely start out as such though.

Will the Klinsmann start Clint Dempsey? If so, it says here that Graham Zusi tucking in from a wing should be the better “#10 option” while Dempsey works off of Jozy Altidore or Terrence Boyd ahead of him. Dempsey though likely starts in the  playmaker role–one that any coach or fan can see Dempsey is capable of playing though it cannibalizes his true forward strengths. Regardless of role, this is a friendly and the US’s attacking play demands that focus–through tactical means or player selection means–should be put on creating chances.

RB or CB?

RB or CB?

What is Geoff Cameron really giving you? This publication has long been a proponent of Cameron in central defense–with a Besler pairing–despite the Stoke City man’s lack of reps centrally for the Potters. Cameron sees the ball well in the middle and is much better at maintaining possession or carrying the ball forward if the defense dictates such than he is gallivanting up the wing. With Cherundolo going Bavarians and brats though, Klinsmann has entrusted in the right fullback role to Cameron.

It’s a role he playsat Stoke–however Stoke demand and more prudent, homeboand player in that role. How is Klinsmann positioning Cameron for a role going forward and will he use Cameron as more of a stay at home guy on the right with the uncertainty around Steve Cherundolo and Tim Chandler.

• Miscellaneous

» Will Terrence Boyd make an impact this cycle? Domestically, both Chivas USA & the New England Revolution have flourished with Juan Agudelo in the target role. It’s time for Klinsmann to find out if Boyd’s 17 goals for Rapid Vienna will translate.

» Why is a player who went deep in Champion’s League and had a tough Bundesliga campaign–Jermaine Jones–starting in this one? It was a year ago that US players ran out of gas in the second half in Guatemala leading to a draw in previous qualifying round. And Jones is over the 30-year-old hump too.

11 At The Whistle:

The skinny: Fitness gauging for vets? Probably. Runouts for a few players who can maybe make a final qualifying round push? Definitely. That’s the extent of the player evaluation likely on Wednesday.

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: Klinsmann will likely give Howard the start–if he wants to signal as he has in the media–that Howard is his  number. Says here that it should be an open competition with Brad Guzan now.

You get no trophy for 100 caps, DMB...but at least your career isn't heading into an urn anymore...

You get no trophy for 100 caps, DMB…but at least your career isn’t heading into an urn anymore…

DEF: Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley

The skinny: Beasley gets his 100th cap just hop from his Fort Wayne, Indiana hometown. Cameron will have to prove the equal–defensively–of Cherundolo and Chandler by shutting down De Bruyne or Mertins. The centerback will be tested by likely summer transfer man Benteke.

CM: Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan

The skinny: Will Kljestan actually get the license to show his passing prowess? Good question. Will the announcers attempt to force comparisons between Jermaine Jones’s afro and Maroune Fellaini’s far superior quaff? Yes, and it will get old.

CAM: Clint Dempsey

The skinny: Stay forward young man. Dropping deep will only confuse the German and give the Red Devils less space to defend. Dempsey needs, should work off the target man more.

RW, LW: Graham Zusi, Stu Holden

The skinny: Zusi should pull narrow while Klinsmann gives Holden the shot. Originally had Fab Johnson here, my bad).

STR: Jozy Altidore

The skinny: The Eredivisie goal leader has never been a favorite of this publication or been cast correctly in the Klinsmann system. In fact, the right role–support and wide-pulling forward–in Klinsmann’s system for Altidore doesn’t exist. It’s a continued audition for Altidore to prove his holdout player and dedication to defense.

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33 responses to this post.

  1. Is Johnson even available? Per other articles I read, he’s not with the team yet. If not him, guessing Gomez on the left to start.

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  2. Posted by Jared on 2013/05/29 at 9:29 AM

    I am not excited to see Jozy start up top by himself again. We all know how this plays out. He’s going to struggle and get little service. He’s just not a target striker at this point in his career and at this point it’s not even a matter of effort.

    Will be interesting to see how the center backs deal with the pace/strength of Benteke/Lukaku. Those two are both beasts.

    Do you really think that Hazard won’t start? It seems unlikely that he’s making the trip stateside to sit on the bench.

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    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/05/29 at 10:06 AM

      Hazard is back in Europe due to a slight injury that is being rested ahead of their qualifier.

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      • Posted by Jared on 2013/05/29 at 11:15 AM

        Thanks. Hadn’t heard that and he was still listed on the roster on the US Soccer website today.

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  3. Gomez and Zusi will need to track back to help LB and RB as they’ve done in previous games. Sasha can’t ask for a better game to step in considering he knows many of these players and their style of play. I’m not a big Sasha Kljestan fan but I want him to show me something more than he’s done so far and this will be his best opportunity with no Bradley in this game.

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  4. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/05/29 at 10:05 AM

    I am excited to see Kljestan play as the deep holder. While defense is nice at this position I would prefer to see someone who can provide useful possession.

    This is my very complicated line of thinking: Bradley is the best CM on the team. Jones is probably the second best (even though I don’t like him). It has become clear that with Jones starting Bradley needs to be holding. But if someone else could become a good holding CM, Bradley gets to be the box to box midfielder and Jones goes to the Bench. Thus is Kljestan (Holden? Torres? Williams? Definately NOT Edu) can prove to be a solid holding option we could see a line up better suited to maximizing Bradley.

    Given Belgium is going to be in a 4-2-3-1 I would like to see us try something odd at some point in the game to get a feel for if I could work with our personnel

    —————-Altidore——————
    —Dempsey—————-Zusi——-
    Beasley–Jones—Kljestan–Corona
    —Besler—Gonzalez—Cameron—
    ————–Howard——————–

    Why 3 v 1 at the back? Well, because our personnel just fit it.

    How to you get it to work? Be brave.
    -Have gonzalez man mark the striker alone and besler and cameron play zonally.
    -Corona and Beasley are tracking/pressing the fullbacks.
    -Besler Jones Kljestan and Cameron are responsible for the line of 3. Kljestan is marked up on the withdrawn forward/attacking mid, Besler and Cameron on the outside mids and jones is the spare man.
    -Dempsey and Zusi the line of 2.
    -Altidore is responsible for bugging the centerbacks.

    A 4-2-3-1 can really mean a 4-3-3, this 3-4-2-1 can create a situation where we have 4 to their 3 in the middle of the field. Or even potentially 6 to their 5. Or if we play it wrong we have 4 to their 5… and 4 players (besler, cameron, dempsey, zusi) completely out of position and doing nothing.

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    • Posted by Carlos on 2013/05/29 at 11:02 AM

      Sorry but three in the back would be disastrous on so many levels…no outside speed, against world class attackers… I don’t think so. Also we need to approach this game with an eye to help us gauge certain players/team positioning, etc. We can’t do that if we throw out completely what has been working for us in the past. Because if something goes wrong there would be too many variables to blame (was it the player, was it new formation, etc.) We need to tweak here & there (don’t ask me exactly it’s above my pay grade) so we can analyze the good & the bad & work to incorporate in the near future.

      Reply

      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/05/29 at 12:08 PM

        My dilemma with why I want to see the three man backline:
        Are the world class attackers dangerous because of their speed? Or is it because of their ability to come inside on the dribble? Does the US get beat by crosses into the box or by balls played over the top of the defense from the midfield? By playing “4” across the back with attacking fullbacks are we really playing with 2 at the back? Is that asking too much of our CB’s? Is our personnel well suited to a three man back-line?

        Other thoughts on why I think wingbacks instead of fullbacks: Fabian Johnson and Chandler are both playing regularly in the midfield for their clubs.

        Also a lot of the traditional three-man backlines worked with two man markers (one for each striker) and an extra sweeper. I advocate for one man marker for the Single striker and two zonal players to force the play to the outside and give the team time to recover.

        Anyway, Could it be really bad? Yes.

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        • Posted by Cornelius on 2013/05/29 at 1:35 PM

          This is all very interesting, and I really wouldn’t mind seeing it. Do I think we’ll see it from Klinsmann? No.

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    • Posted by Jake on 2013/05/29 at 11:13 AM

      “This is my very complicated line of thinking: Bradley is the best CM on the team. Jones is probably the second best (even though I don’t like him). It has become clear that with Jones starting Bradley needs to be holding. But if someone else could become a good holding CM, Bradley gets to be the box to box midfielder and Jones goes to the Bench. Thus is Kljestan (Holden? Torres? Williams? Definately NOT Edu) can prove to be a solid holding option we could see a line up better suited to maximizing Bradley.”

      This is what I have thought for a long time. Before Holden went down I really wanted to see a Holden/Bradley pairing with the roles assigned as above. I think Bradley’s best asset is his ability to pop up in very advantageous attacking places at the right time (see Slovenia WC 2010). And Holden’s game (at least his old game…) fits that deep lying midfielder well in my opinion. So rather than force Bradley into a role that he can play, but doesn’t usually flourish in, I would like to see him in a role that allows his best pieces to come forward.

      On a similar note, as the article states, while Dempsey can play at the playmaker, his best role is to be the guy getting on the end of someone else’s creativity. That sounds like a knock on him, but really I mean it as a positive, he has a nose for goal and when he is free to react and find his moments he is much better than when we force the ball into him all the time.

      The problem is that is hard to allow both Bradley and Dempsey to play their best roles at the same time. Someone has to be the creative spark…OR we need to play with better width to allow the two of them to time their moments.

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      • Posted by seamusbklyn on 2013/05/29 at 11:52 AM

        One possibility is the 4-3-3 that was promised but that we don’t seem to actually play. Four at the back (pick ‘em), up front Altidore, Dempsey nominally at left wing but cruising into the center at will, and a true wing on the right for width. Gomez is supersub. That leaves three spots for midfielder: Bradley as box-to-box, a deep-lying midfielder and the trequartista we need to make this work who does yet have a US passport. Donovan is the closest, I think, but he doesn’t seem to excel in the middle of the field in traffic.

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      • Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/29 at 12:52 PM

        Just do not leave Jozy up front alone. If that is the “plan”, just leave him on the bench so everyone will not p#ss and moan about how ineffectual he is with the national team because clearly that is not a position he was born to play.
        Give him a partner or leave him on the bench. It is really that simple.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2013/05/29 at 12:54 PM

          At this point if Jozy starts up top by himself the only pissing and moaning I do is about Klinsmann not having the ability to utilize talent/recognize that Jozy isn’t a target man.

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          • Posted by seamusbklyn on 2013/05/29 at 1:22 PM

            I agree. It’s a waste to just maroon him up there, but I don’t care whether he has a second striker or closer midfield/wing support. For instance as much as I like Gomez I don’t think he’s the answer for breaking out Altidore. From what I have seen of the AZ replays, he seems to score best from dynamic positions where he’s sprung with a smart through ball, and to his credit it looks like he’s getting into positions and making clever runs that open those lanes. For me the Altidore problem doesn’t have anything to do with Altidore; it’s the midfield, where we’re either outnumbered or outplayed. There’s linkage and no way to play through it, leading to Rte. 1 stuff with a single striker back to goal usually and no support.

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  5. Posted by Steve on 2013/05/29 at 3:06 PM

    While winning is always nice, this game is about getting warmed up for the qualifiers, as is Sunday’s match against a German side completely devoid of all Bayern, Dortmund, and Madrid players (not like that impeded them against Ecuador today). Its always exciting to see a new lineup and how it standd up against the best, and Belgium certainly qualify. Although Courtois isn’t in for Belgium, holy crap do they have a lot of attacking prowess. All these guys like Lukaku, De Bruyne, Hazard, Mirallas, and now Benteke have been hot topics on the transfer market in these past few years and this past season we have seen all of them in person and just how good they all are. They can score on anyone and its a big test for Gonzalez and Besler at CB. There just aren’t players this strong in the MLS or Liga MX. When it comes to the outside backs, I cannot wait for Fabian Johnson to return. Beasley was outstanding in Snowmaggedon and Azteca, but hes not a long term solution at LB. Jermaine Jones at CM is great but I’m excited to see what Klestjan can do. He’s a clever player. Its nice to see Klinsmann faced with some real selection headaches, that’s something Bob Bradley didn’t have to deal with. I can’t wait for tonight.

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  6. Posted by dth on 2013/05/29 at 5:57 PM

    Backline has been pretty bad so far.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2013/05/30 at 5:46 AM

      Just a really bad decision by Jurgen to start both Goodson and Gonzalez against Lukaku. He’s too good at making runs that neither of those guys would ever be able to track.

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  7. Posted by Union on 2013/05/29 at 6:21 PM

    God I hate the offensive structure. Jozy gets 0 service and then subbed in for Johnson.

    Btw, a few things I want to rant about

    1) Steve Davis and other US Soccer commentators need to get off Jones’ back. Regardless of his misplaced passes, he is one of the best passing midfielders we have and the only player who starts regularly on a CL team that we have in our pool. These people have no idea what they are talking about because they are the same people who rate Davis, Johnson and Besler as international caliber players, but drone about Jermaine Jones being a liability.

    -If Fabian Johnson isn’t starting as a left winger when he gets to camp, it will be a crime.

    -0 chance Johnson should be getting minutes as central striker over Boyd. He’s not.that.good.

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    • Posted by daniel on 2013/05/29 at 8:58 PM

      Jozy didn’t get zero service. I counted at least three times in the first half that he planted his feet and tried to play off the shoulder rather than with his back to the goal. He’s simply unwilling to make himself available, expecting perfectly weighted and threaded passes he can charge onto and smash on target. He doesn’t even drag his CBs around to make space for Deuce.

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  8. Posted by Union on 2013/05/29 at 6:45 PM

    Like what is this lineup? Its just terrible. 0 offensive threat. Your wingers need to provide depth. Evans!?! Argh.

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  9. Iceman on. Ten minute comeback?

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  10. Posted by dth on 2013/05/29 at 8:44 PM

    Chelis fired? Jesus, that club. Destroy their sole entertaining/redeeming feature, why don’t you?

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  11. Posted by Ufficio on 2013/05/30 at 9:48 AM

    It’s getting frustrating watching the US get outplayed by everyone at every level. What even goes on in our academies?

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    • Posted by CJ on 2013/05/30 at 10:27 AM

      I don’t think we got outplayed as badly as you think. I agree our depth is wayyy behind the world’s but they’ve been playing this sport at its highest level for 50+ years whereas we are just now in the last 10 beginning to even have a local league worth watching. My first point was that we had Brad Davis playing against speed on the left covered by Beasley, a rather laid back Jones performance (likely half due to fatigue/half due to injury prevention), and Klejstan playing midfield lol. Add in Bradley, Donovan, Holden and swap Altidore for Johnson and we’re a more competitive team. The Belgians have an amazing team of individual talent and we have maybe 3-4 guys like that, 2 not playing. I forgot ti mention that the Gonzalez-Goodson pairing was a chance to test that duo again since thr last time it was in the snow. Oh and what about Dolo? We played a hodge podge lineup vs one of the best teams in the world. If the Belgians lost it would have been because they didn’t show up to play. This gane wasn’t meant to be a lets eatch the US beat a top european team. This was a game to litmus test individual players under duresss and show some guys they aren’t ready for the primetime yet. Jurgen forced them to play in an uncomfortable game because of how talented the opposition was. No worries, we’re better than we looked with our true A team.

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      • Posted by CJ on 2013/05/30 at 10:31 AM

        And yes that’s E. Johnson I referred to. Every game I’ve watched him in the last year or so he has impressed me. Always dangerous, becoming clever, big body, great pace, can hold up play better than any on our team so far, and most importantly he has chemistry with Deuce. He is not the EJ of old. Conpletely different player maturity, talent, and execytion wise.

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    • Posted by dth on 2013/05/30 at 3:08 PM

      To be fair, we’re seeing the results of the academies 5-10 years ago on the field right now. On the other hand, I don’t exactly think we’re making huge strides with the current generation. Baby steps, at best.

      It’s still a wonder that a country like Japan figured this stuff out so quickly, while we’re still at the “DURRR, WHAT?” stage.

      I thought the current incentives would be enough to prod MLS teams into doing a better job, but it’s clear nudges aren’t enough — we’ll have to do something like the Mexican league did, a while back, and require they give (what was it?) 1000 minutes to players under 21 years of age. Then, when the sky magically doesn’t fall in, the appropriate cultural changes might happen.

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  12. Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/05/31 at 6:56 AM

    Wow. Just rewatched most of it but haven’t gotten to the Stu Holden appearance yet. How did he look?

    Overall I thought Jones and DMB were the two best players on the US side. I thought Beas did a very nice job on Lukaku although there were some positioning issues between he and Goodson throughout the night. Jones was sometimes erratic but often showed more class with his mistakes then Klestjan showed all night. Very unimpressive by Klestjan IMO. Not awful but def didn’t stamp his name on the roster sheet.

    WTF with Klinsi running Gonzalez and Goodson out there again! He continues to inflict near fatal wounds on this squad before the whistle even blows. Pick a central pairing and let the back get comfy with them for at least 2 or 3 games in a row.

    Cameron and Gonzalez just jogging after the play on Mirallas goal and also on the Gonzalez giveaway. Ian D used the word “naïve” on more than one occasion and it was a very generous description of their play throughout the night. It was like once their mark or the play was past them they just gave up and waited for Timmy to rescue them or pick the ball out of the net. Mistakes happen and are to be expected but lack of effort is what will kill you at this level. That’s the most alarming thing I took away from the “defending” last night.

    The Zusi as Donovan replacement discussion gets settled with each game he plays. Not enough class to make a difference at this level IMO. And he and Davis on the field together compress the pitch and as many have stated here ad nauseum the complete lack of any width is a crusher especially for a team that thrives on set pieces and crosses for its offense.

    For all the talk of Jozy not getting service etc, he is wasteful with far too many at his feet opportunities IMO. He had 2-3 balls at his feet inside the box in the first half and did zero with them. That’s not even mentioning his stock move of making one vertical run away from the teammate with the ball and then giving up if it’s not played to him. No dragging runs to carry defenders away EVER and Kompany made him his bitch anytime he attempted to hold up or shield the ball from him. Demps seemed to spend the evening trying to motivate him to do something besides the lazy g-damn outside of the foot hopeful touches to no one in particular that mark a guy who just doesn’t want to do the hard work required of a hold up forward.

    Headed to DC on Sunday but not very hopeful of seeing much after this showing.

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  13. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/05/31 at 8:00 AM

    This game was very interesting tactically. Honestly we were pretty good except for a few errors. The difference is individual talent level was on clear display. Lukaku taking a 40 yard long ball out of the air with a perfect touch? What US striker has done that recently.

    Goodson to me was the worst player. He was clearly not covering for Gonzalez on the first two goals. Gonzalez made mistakes on those two goals for sure, but Goodson was totally out to lunch. In my opinion Goodson made the bigger mistakes there. Cameron was not really my favorite but did ok. Beasley continues to be an acceptable emergency left back, but I wouldn’t chose him there over a natural LB.

    The tactical point to make here was that we are consistently out numbered in the midfield. This game showed that again. We were playing a 4-4-2 against a side playing a 4-2-3-1. We were often caught with 3 v 1 in the middle. Jones facing up to three players. Even after they switched to a 4-4-2 we were constantly 2 vs 1. Kljestan, davis and zusi constantly out of position for defense.

    Jones played ok, but he is not a holding midfielder. While the out of control running around might be annoying it is what he is best at, trying to play simple and controlled is not his game. A feature of the German league, they play a more powerful running game (not as crazy of the EPL but still nothing like the controlled game of Italy).

    Those thoughts out there here is my plan for Germany to get one last look at experimentation

    True 4-3-3

    Beasley———Altidore—————-Zusi
    ——–Dempsey———-Jones————
    ——————-Bradley———————
    FJohnson–Besler–Gonzalez–Cameron
    ——————-Howard———————

    Plan: Start as above. At Half sub Beasley with E Johnson and Zusi with Gomez. At 60 sub Altidore with Boyd, Cameron with Parkhurst and Jones with Holden. Stay in the above formation the whole game. (maybe sub dempsey with Davis depending on desire to keep Clint fresh for WCQ)

    Reply

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