Archive for June, 2013

Klinsmann Calls In Experienced 2014 Gold Cup Roster

El Capitan?

El Capitan? (photo courtesy the awesome Matt Mathai)

Klinsmann names his squad to go for the Gold Cup in July. They are:

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (8) : Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg)

MIDFIELDERS (7) : Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsinborg), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Joshua Gatt (Molde FK), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jose Torres (Tigres)

FORWARDS (5) : Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

The skinny:

• Highly encouraged to see a pairing at some point of Will Bruin and Jack McInerney. McInerney is one of the few in the player pool who can hang off a CB’s shoulder and challenge a line and Bruin has sorely missed a partner in crime who can do just that this year in Houston.

• Some question on Josh Gatt’s conviction/dedication right now. He needs a good camp. Not one where he shows his blinding speed or series of cutbacks, but one where he shows he comprehends the game and is playing it better cerebrally.

• Players I would’ve like to have seen on the final roster (regardless of whether they made the preliminary): Juan Agudelo, Dax McCarty, Chris Klute, Kofi Sarkodie.

• Stu Holden will get playing time. If he’s fit, he should easily start over Jose Francisco Torres–although Klinsmann probably doesn’t see it that way.

• I think you’ll see Alejandro Bedoya playing a little bit in central midfield and even deeper than he’s typically played for the US. He’s good in possession, can slot passes and tackle. His speed on the outside is a bit of a question mark.

DeuceStep: Clint Dempsey NCAA’ing

USA v. Honduras: Live Commentary

Lots of fabrication (truth) on the Honduras line-up ou there.

Expecting Castillo and Jones in the line-up for DMB and Cameron. Hoping Cameron gets a trot out at CB–kid deserves to play.

Go time soon.

Great unis, great came. The backend of the Honduras series last time put the US into the World Cup. They win this one and it's just about as close. Go time....

Great unis, great came. The backend of the Honduras series last time put the US into the World Cup. They win this one and it’s just about as close. Go time….

Assault Lake City: TSG’s Official USA vs. Honduras Preview

It's a redemption shot for the USMNT and certainly Fab J.

It’s a redemption shot for the USMNT and certainly Fab J.

The USMNT finds itself in Sandy, Utah this week looking to affix a three-point dollop of whip cream-and-cherries on top of the 6-point ice cream sundae it crafted at the expense of Panama and Jamaica over the past week. Sure would be nice with expected temps at game time hovering around the nineties.

The States have manufactured four goals during this Hex stretch in four distinct ways, a salvo that has resulted in two victories and put the Yanks close to punching that coveted 2014 World Cup ticket.

The Honduras fulcrum game here is one that loomed large and pivotal on the qualifying calendar upon announcement but even more so after the US tripped over itself and coughed up a 1-0 lead–and its gumption–to the Honduran squad in February’s opening round of the Hex campaign.

Now, though, the US is dining from a position of strength atop the qualifying table and Los Catrachos are the ones powered down for the return match.

Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figureroa, Boniek Garcia and Jerry Bengston among others all set to miss the Sandy city clash on Tuesday for the visitors. Additionally, while Honduras pummeled the Jamaican speed bag on Friday–a 2-0 win that sent Reggae Boyz skipper Tappa Whitmore to the Jamaican Fed guillotine–the lead-up to the match saw Los Catrachos go scoreless through the two previous road qualifiers against Panama and Costa Rica.

Against a States team that has been rippling the nets, going scoreless probably doesn’t get Honduras the draw and single vital point in this match-up that they seek.

Scoops up!

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our (near) customary preview.

It goes:

TSG What Are We Looking For?

About The Opponent: Honduras

11 At The Whistle

(Photo courtesy American Outlaws Salt Lake City)

(Photo courtesy American Outlaws Salt Lake City)

TSG What Are We Looking For?

» Middle management

This game will may “will likely” be won again in the midfield.

Here are the numbers in February from the central midfield battle between Los Caratchos and the Yanks:

Honduras: 107 of 127 passing (84.25%), 5 tackles won, 4 interceptions, 15 recoveries

United States: 114 of 139 passing (84%), 5 tackles won, 1 interception, 13 recoveries.

("You'd want the one on the left")

(You want to have the chart on the left. The one on the right looks like some incubating virus or something.)

Seems rather even, yes?

One more datapoint to add.

That Honduran CMF stat line was accomplished with two field positions (and two players, Luis Garrido and the indefaiguable Roger Espinoza) while the US line was accomplished with three field positions (and five players Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones/Graham Zusi and Danny Williams/Maurice Edu.)

Those numbers are astounding. Let it be noted that most of the damage was done by former Sporting KC johnny-on-the-spot Espinoza–no boots to the face in the match though (yes, that’s Ike Opara, Sam Cronin and Cody Arnoux in that video also).

Honduras flat-out bossed the midfield. It took Los Caratchos three fewer players and they defiantly shoved the line of confrontation into the US’s defensive half. By the way, subtract Danny Williams’s contribution from the numbers and the difference in the stat line of Bradley-Jones versus Espinoza-Garrido is staggering. Bossed.

Things have a funny way of changing of course and the roles here seem reversed; Honduras’s depleted troops and Los Caratchos being on the road may make the US midfield selection more complex actually.

After Tuesday’s man of the match performance, many will want to see Stoke City utility man and TSG fave Geoff Cameron in central midfield.

However Honduras may elect to press the midfield–given their success with that strategy last time–much more than Panama. In something few pundits incredulously pointed out, while Cameron excelled on Tuesday, he did so with very little pressure on him on-ball and in possession–think of a running back whose blockers have lined-up defenders and so the back doesn’t need to elude but instead can take his time and pick his holes.

That was Cameron on Tuesday who gave an excellent performance against a weak opponent with a perplexingly passive defensive effort. It may be different if the Roger Espinoza terrier is unleashed.–as it was in the series opener–to push high and shut down the deep US attack supply line.

Not his best day to be ... nice.

Not his best day to be … nice.

Jermaine Jones has proven he has the steel and ability to run with the ball and deliver passes with a man on his hip already. So maybe the decision in favor of Jones is rote?

However, Honduras may, in fact, look to sit deep and protect their second-string centerbacks. Does Klinsmann then opt to keep Cameron on the field–while either granting more rest to Jones or even Bradley–because he did well in tracking space and spraying passes against a similar defense?

Then again, if Honduras is consistent with its two previous road deployments, it will likely put out three central midfielders, one more than February. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. So Jones is the pick?

The bet here is that Klinsmann goes back to Jones-Bradley in the middle and uses the former’s harried on-ball defending to push the line of confrontation to around the halfline. Both Jones and Bradley are adept if Honduras starts pressing and putting them both on the field likely dissuades Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez from thinking he can gain an advantage by pressing.

(Note A: A big theme in the February match-up was the inability of US fullbacks–Fabian Johnson and Tim Chandler–to get ahead in the attack or even provide width and–while that is true–it’s damn near impossible to get ahead in the attack if your midfield is losing the turf war centrally in your defensive end.)

(Note B: There’s some prevailing notion out there that central midfield is Cameron’s best position–hard to say that. He’s a very good stand-up defender on the interior and he’s good at surveying the field from the middle, but his best skill is not turning in traffic with a defender on his hip. Centerback is likely where Cameron ends up on the club and national team level and where he ultimately excels.)

» Backswap

A look back at the Panama game plan suggests that Klinsmann and staff expected Panama to have more bite in their  central midfield.

Last week, Klinsmann schemed to get Jozy Altidore going in the Germany friendly with early balls in stride to his feet through Brad Evans. Tuesday, Klinsmann game-planned to get DaMarcus Beasley and Matt Besler active earlier in possession and providing supply up to Fabian Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore–because pressure was expected in central midfield and because Panama’s Leonal Parris tends to put himself in positions that even Lindsey Lohan would find shocking.

Anyway.

The US left rear pairing had the second (Besler, 72) and third (Beasley, 70) most pass attempts on the evening after Michael Bradley’s team-high 87.

All *incomplete* passes by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Besler was given license to drop more long balls up the field, 2 to 1.

All *incomplete* passes by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Besler was given license to ping more long balls up the field, 2 to 1. Gonzo’s long balls were typically clearances as well.

Many expect musical chairs to ensue and for Fab Johnson to be moved to the backline with Brad Davis or Eddie Johnson moved ahead of him, but that seems poorly conceived if it transpires.

First Fab Johnson is giving the States some much-needed width on the left through his ability to hold the ball and break down defenders. Davis would give the States width, but give very little going forward. Eddie Johnson would offer width, but little cover for a new leftback.

The logical choice to deputize is Edgar Castillo who has the ability to distribute appropriately from the back and defend on the break.

Castillo hasn’t many supporters this camp, but he’s versed in Honduras’s style and he’s got a way of playing big when he’s truly needed.

(Castillo was called on after having gone through morning training already for a Canada friendly in May 2012; he was one of the best players on the field. In the US’s first victory at the Azteca in an August 2012 friendly, Castillo played pristine positional and on-ball defense as DaMarcus Beasley failed to track back on multiple occasions.)

» Good circulation

Given that Honduras probably retreats some in this one looking to clip a draw or 1-0 win, how does the States elect to break down the bunkered defense.

The schematic seems simple and is one that anyone hanging around Kansas City in October of last year probably is familiar with. October 2012 saw the US shellack Guatemala at Sporting Park 3-1. The Guatemalan side they faced that day  looked a lot like the US opponent Tuesday; Guatemala was beset by injuries, especially to its backline resulting in a novice centerback pairing.

In the October 2012 match, the US aggressively pushed the ball up the flanks to create space centrally, both in possession (Eddie Johnson on the left) and through passing sequences (Graham Zusi on the right). As they worked on the fullbacks for Los Chapines, the young Guatemalan centerback pairing was called in for support.

That cued space in the middle, something that Clint Dempsey knows exactly how to make use of. With Herculez Gomez running the channels, Clint Dempsey playing hide-and-seek and Michael Bradley making his Late Box Runs, Los Chapines were overwhelmed and succumbed.

The key of course to this attack, like most, is quick ball circulation. Below is Danny Williams passing chart for that match. 82 of 88 passes completed on the day, nearly all of them laterally. Don’t play Hot Potato with that man; he’ll be still standing.

Danny Williams, horizontal shuttler, USA vs. Guatemala (3-1 US, October 2012)

Danny Williams, horizontal shuttler, USA vs. Guatemala (3-1 US, October 2012)

The faster you move the ball, the more out of position the support defense is and the easier the opponent’s defense breaks down. With two of Fabian Johnson, Eddie Johnson and-or Graham Zusi on the wings Tuesday, this will hopefully be the same tale for the States on Tuesday.

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No Sleep Thru Pioneer: 33 Hours With The USMNT in Rain City

'Merica!

‘Merica!s

This is story all about how my life got turned right upside down… no, never mind, just a brief recap of a lovely midweek trip, or a stream of consciousness, or something. I’ve been awake for 32 of the last 36 hours, for freedom and liberty. If you don’t want to shoot me by the end of this great, I won’t blame you if you do.

Just a normal Monday in San Francisco, sitting at work waiting desperately for 5pm so I can head for the airport to Seattle. So not a normal Monday at all.

Text from Southwest Airlines ‘Your flight has been delayed.’ Great, that means I’m going to be even later to the AO party, which means I will probably have to DD for my host. Eff you Southwest.

Hour later, another text from SWA ‘Your flight has been partially undelayed.’ Okay, that hasn’t happened before.

Accidentally wore my San Francisco Warriors shirt to Oakland Airport. Feel like it did not go over well.

Oh, the only seat is a middle seat in the back third of the plane surrounded by children? Perfect. That is exactly what I wanted. Can I order a crying baby here as well please, flight attendant?

As we approach Seattle, dad behind me points out the lights and says ‘Look a Mariners game’ to his daughter, pauses and says ‘they are probably losing anyway.’

Off the plane, onto light rail, but not before someone asks me how the light rail ticket thing works. Clearly I look like a public transit expert, not sure how that reflects on me.

....

….

Light rail finally makes it downtown, I grab a cab and head for Golazo HQ where the AO party is, with bold intentions. Intentions to drink rapidly, since it’s past 10 and to not lose any of my belongings. Aim high kids.

My good friend/AO Seattle president meets me at the door with a drink while Alexi Lalas stands outside, chatting with people. One point for the good team.

Find the always gracious and charming Free Beer Movement Dan and harass him about the silly brown scarf he is wearing.

Meet Matt from AO Vegas and Mike from Seattle who I kick with for an extended period of time + take a shot of fireball with before learning Dan is announcing the raffle. There were raffle tickets?! Thanks Southwest, not like I wanted to be a part of that.

Heckle Dan as he calls numbers, no one near us wins anything.

Dan gives up the mic, immediately Matt wins the backpack he wanted (and apparently was counting on since he brought no carry on luggage)

Catch a KickTv shirt at the same time that someone else does, we decide to pick a winner the only fair way outside of a proper duel, so rock paper scissors to the death. Scissors scissors every time bitches. I now have a souvenir. Makes me feel better I didn’t win one of the sweet authentic jerseys. Okay, no it doesn’t.

The rest of my SF crew gets to the party, we take pictures with the large flag.

Cobi Jones is there, I attempt not to embarrass myself like last time I saw someone famous in Seattle. ‘Stu! I follow you on twitter!’ Yes, that really happened, and no, I still can’t live it down. Bullet dodged, didn’t say anything incredibly stupid.

Party winds down, cruise out. Can taste victory tomorrow. Or is that the fireball?

 —

8:30am game day. I am awakened from my air mattress by a voice that keeps telling me it will leave me here. Drag my ass out of bed.

Negotiate to borrow the car to drop my bags off at my airbnb spot. Lose. Get dropped off at AO pregame bar while Shawn goes to make the tifo happen. Too bad it’s 9:15 am and even if I was dumb enough to start drinking, I can’t. They aren’t open.

Paseos and sightseeing with the SF crew tides me over. Except it’s raining now. WTF weather, don’t do me like this man.

We begin the trek toward the stadium. First stop, a bar! Hooray beer.

Beer down, let’s get to Fuel. Suddenly it is warm. And sunny. Cool game mother nature, you are winning for sure.

Outside terrace/parking lot/street party/tons of Americans is hoppin. Have an hour and a half to the march which means drinnnnnkkkkkkkkk.

I highly don’t recommend the mango finlandia shot + no equal ECS beer, also known as the AO special. Shots in a test tube however were the chef’s special I do believe.

Impressed with the numbers at this place. It keeps getting more crowded. Somehow I’m getting sunburnt. Nature 2 Me 0. Meet up with more friends from the Bay Area. Overhear guys behind me say they are from Mississippi. Awesome. See a lone Panama fan enter the beer garden. Lost much?

Hiyo, it’s march time. We miss all the pomp and circumstance and rush out from the bar when we see the masses moving. Jump in and start chanting. Solid mass of people winds all the way to the stadium, where maybe 50 Panama fans are singing. Kinda.

Scarves in June....

Scarves in June….

Go in with immediate concern of acquiring the game scarf. Decide to be a good brother and get another to bring back. Manage to get one from the future, aka US Honduras. In Salt Lake City. Oooooops US Soccer, that box shouldn’t be here.

Acquire ourselves some lovely seats in section 123ish, then more beer. On field DJ from Mad Decent? Wow, we really have upgraded huh?

National anthem = full body chills. LETS DO THIS AMERICUH.

Under the tifo, more chills. We manned Dempsey and Jurgen heads and jumped in with all the glorious chanting. Nice work Kevin and Christine. Made friends with the people next to us, who were from Portland, and they told me about the all you can eat popcorn.

Jozy scores, all hell breaks lose, including a glorious popcorn shower. AO is going crazy. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Or nightmares, if you are Panama. The USA ain’t nothin to f*ck with chant is loud and strong. Capos and entire crowd doing a great job.

JOOOOOOOOO....

JOOOOOOOOO….


.......LAZZZZZZZZZZ.....

…….LAZZZZZZZZZZ…..


....OOOOOOOOOO!

….OOOOOOOOOO!

Halftime. Try and dodge the bathroom crowd by going at the end of the half, fail so miserably. Walk back down the aisle to my seat right toward Eddie Johnson breaking on goal. Oh, 2-0 you say? I like.

In about the 70th go into voice preservation mode. Literally lasted maybe 2 minutes. Who needs to be able to talk anyway? Between ‘We split your country in twooooo’ and ‘He’s big he’s quickkk’ it was impossible to stay quiet. Nice lil Team America action too.

The amount of jealous text messages I am getting is awesome. Come with next time you bums! BEASLEYYYYYYYYY oh, that would have ended us all. Full pandemonium was on the menu if the post hadn’t rudely interjected. Hey, Panama finally got a card for diving? Somehow we have like six cards. Ugh.

It’s over. All three points are coming back home with me to SF, and you can’t do shit about it. Get a Seattle dog before Christine eats us all. Cream cheese, onions and hot sauce? Not bad. It’s no dirty SF dog with health department bacon, but I would do it again. Grabbed beers with S and K. Lovely people. Sat outside, at least half the people that walked by gave the US some love. You could tell everyone was stoked. Finally head home, run into two guys on the street from Huntington Beach that were headed for the titty bar. Now that is how you celebrate America baby.

Americaheads (& fellow FC Black Sox)

Americaheads (& fellow FC Black Sox)

Hello 4:45 am alarm clock. I hate everything. Get to the airport, through security. Oh how nice, they are calling our names on the speaker. Now I get to be that guy running through the airport. Half full flight back to SF, at least 50% of the plane in US gear.

Rock the scarf to work, no one says anything. I figure it’s solid marketing at the worst.

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TSG’s Official USA vs. Panama Preview: Must Be The Better Men

Deuce doin' work last time...

Deuce doin’ work last time…

The US comes off their thrilling three-point smash-and-grab job in Jamaica and travels cross continent to take on a sneaky CONCACAF foe, Panama, on the to the grass-layered turf of Seattle–the same turf that Friday’s hero “Brad F*cking Evans” calls home. (Game winner video — solid Phil Schoen call.)

After fumbling out of the gate in Honduras in February, the US righted the ship–after this forgotten article spurred controversy–by scaling Costa Rica in the Rockies, drawing in Mexico and then going-Algeria on Jamaica. The States is sitting pretty here with three of its five Hexagonal road games out of the way in qualifying and a manageable four points to show for them.

It’s a quick four-day turnaround and US coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to contend with losing two of his starting ten outfield rotation, a Panama team that has been the stingiest in the group and this guy in the stands.

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our customary preview.

As usual, it goes:

About The Opponent: Panama

TSG What Are We Looking For

11 At The Whistle

Tuesday’s match may be as much an offensive yawner as the Panama-Mexico 0-0 draw Friday.

About The Opponent: Panama

Ask Juan Agudelo about Panama…

Very quietly Panama has put together a fairly respectable bid for the third ticket to Brazil by way of a difficult defense to solve. Three home games have seen the Panamanians take five out of a possible nine points, but it’s one peel behind those numbers where the truth lies. (Panama drew 1-1 at Jamaica in their single away game to date.)

Panama played Costa Rica well in February’s WCQ opener where only a moment of brilliance from Bryan Ruiz saved a point for the visitors. They then hammered Honduras 2-0. On Tuesday, La Marea Roja scratched their way to a nil-nil draw against the resurgent El Tri. No small feat considering, Panama looked lethargic in their 2-1 friendly tune-up against Peru. Yes, it was a home game, but it’s also Mexico.

For Panama, it all starts off-the-field with arguably the best coach in the region by this publication’s account, Julio Dely Valdes–a dead look-a-like for MMA man Anderson Silva.

Dely Valdez may have not been as accomplished a player as his US foil Jurgen Klinsmann, but he similarly trapsed around the globe in search of the best club opportunity. The former attacker’s career beginnings led him to the Argentinian and the Uruguayan domestic leagues. As his ability started blossoming, there was a hop over the pond to PSG, Real Ovieda and then Malaga–yes that PSG and that Malaga. For his national team he tallied 22 times in 32 games as a player. Respectable.

It is rather odd than given Dely Valdes travels to more-attacking sides that his Panamanian side has been marked by a desire to instill a disciplined defense in a Central American side. That’s like asking Stoke City to go Tiki-taka with Charlie Adam employed as the Scottish Xavi. (Sorry Barry Bannan, you’re not quite there yet.)

It’s been Dely Valdes ability to enforce a defensive scheme that has led La Marea Roja this far, but also the team’s tendency to lose focus within that scheme for blocks of game time that has led to opponent tallies and some head-banging frustrations.

It was a momentary slip-up against the States of course at the Gold Cup back in 2011 that saw Bob Bradley steward his Yanks through Panama’s straits to the GC final in Pasadena. A famous Freddy Adu pass the loan breach in a game where both sides worked feverishly–and anti-instinctually it appeared at times–to keep shape.

It says a lot–about the coach and the team–that the US respected Panama’s integrity as to play a game of “Who blinks first” rather than “I’ll make you blink” in the elimination match in 2011.

(Two excellent tactical reviews of that match can be found here and here).

Bradley employed that strategy of course because his team had capitulated in the group stage, losing 2-1 to a Dely Valdes side that overran ran a stretched midfield–Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones played catch-up more than shut-down for the better part of ninety minutes that day.

The second goal in that match, an infamous penalty after the squirrelly–can 6’1” strikers be squirrelly?–Blas Perez duped Tim Ream into a penalty at the edge of the box. One minute before that play was the current apex of Tim Ream’s national team career–somewhere Andrew Jean Baptiste and many others cringe and Perez’s eyes twinkle.

The four charts above show represent the defensive engagement of Panama--the two on top are the Panama Gold Cup games against the States; the two charts below are Panama's two most recent qualifiers. No secrets; defend and counter.

The four charts above show represent the defensive engagement of Panama–the two on top are the Panama Gold Cup games against the States; the two charts below are Panama’s two most recent qualifiers. No secrets; defend deep and counter.

With their standard and deep two banks of four on defense, their double pivot with two wingers squishing in and great interplay between their two forwards, it would be spot-on to consider Panama the Slovenia of CONCACAF. A team that must be respected on the counter and probed at carefully on defense to break down.

Baloy for Panama

“Curtains”

On the field, the starting point for Panama is Felipe “Pepe” Baloy.

The Santos Laguna strongman and Panama captain should just be called “Curtains,” because if he has you locked up in a 1-v-1 situation, your attack it over.

Ask Juan Agudelo who was brimming with confidence in that second 2011 Gold Cup elimination game–coming of a solid game against Jamaica–and who Baloy put in his place in the food chain.

Here’s what Agudelo had to say about his Baloy 2011 encounter after his Revs’ game this Saturday: (The “drug” comment made tongue-in-cheek out of respect, not accusation.)

“It wasn’t really fun playing against him. He’s strong. Like…he needs to get tested for some drugs, I don’t know. But, he’s really strong, and he’s fast. I think if you’re quick and you really don’t try to get into a physical battle with him, it’ll work.”

(This fantastic quote courtesy of Steve Stoehr of killer New England Rev’s blog, The Bent Musket.)

That just about paints it. (Any quick forwards out there for the States? Davies? Gyau? Barrett?).

Baloy enables the Panama defense to be stout in the box on set pieces, but it’s track down speed that is necessary on the frequent counters to Panama’s own counterattack.

Behind Baloy is veteran backstop Jaime Pineda, a solid shot stopper who enables Panama’s counter as well with his scampering-out ability on over-the-top balls. Pineda always seems to play strong against the States. The three men that Baloy marshals are Carlos Rodríguez, Román Torres and Leonel Parris. Torres plays in the Colombia league and is more a chaser than stand-up defender. The vet Parris takes up the right side–he is an unknown to TSG–while former erstwhile FC Dallas defender Carlos Rodriguez is the main stay on the left.

Panama unfurling on the counter.

Panama unfurling on the counter.

(Panama uses it’s front five to get into the attack. Gomez typically shields but can come forward. Occasionally, Parris will get ahead on the right, but Rodriguez has been apt to stay home, especially against stronger sides. More here….)

Ahead in the midfield in the 4-4-2 set, Panama has their own double pivot/their own Jones-Bradley pairing of Amílcar Henríquez and former Union man Gabriel Gómez. The pairing took up residency there in 2010, so the understanding is solid.

Henriquez plays the higher of the two, typically looking for penetrating balls to Blas Perez*; Gomez is the clean-up man of the center aisle and typically moves right and aft to a pure CDM role when La Marea Roja attack.

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The USA v. Jamaica Retro Diary: 2-1 USA WHAAAAAT!

Who is this Brad Evans you speak of?

Who is this Brad Evans you speak of?

Will Parchman (Twitter), folks.

I am at a buddy’s house and I have a beer in my hand and I look toward the television and Juan Arango is half-yelling into a blue microphone and sweating. Badly.

Phil Schoen looks vaguely concerned, as though Arango’s sweat is carrying with it all the fears of failed qualification. Welcome to Jamaica, home of pungent clouds of smoke in massive pockets and oppressive bricks of heat that fall on your forehead like sweaty towels made of Kyle Beckerman’s inner-most dreadlocks. And then soak those in fear.

Tony Meola and Cobi Jones are in studio and it’s hard to believe they put up the graphic that Cobi is our most-capped player. Wait, I meant the exact opposite of that. It’s like BeInSport is a little kid at a USMNT practice and WHOA HEY CLINT DEMPSEY CAN YOU SIGN MY GOOCH BECAUSE YOU ARE MY LITERAL DEITY.

Defense numbers are whatever. DaMarcus Beasley has 101 caps now and Clarence Goodson has 36 and WHO honestly expects that to mean anything at all. Goodson is a blind, deaf, frightened baby giraffe who is forced to spend his entire existence walking over vast fields of sentient marbles. So many damned marbles. Marbles with eyeballs.

Lineup.

US lineup: Howard; Beasley, Besler, Gonzalez, Evans; F. Johnson, Bradley, Jones, Zusi; Dempsey, Altidore #usmnt

This is, if I’m not mistaken, the first time Klinsmann has ever repeated a lineup. I’m almost scared by sameness now thanks to Klinsicakes. If things are the same I get strobing flashbacks to a Vietnam War I was not in. I can’t handle stability. SOMEBODY GIVE ME PARKHURST AND PUT BRAD GUZAN AT STRIKER OR I’M GOING TO PUNCH THIS NUN OVER HERE.

I’m not going to look at the Jamaica lineup. I’m not going to do it. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. This game should be 3-0. I JUST LOOKED.

Jamaica: Ricketts; Powell, Mariappa, Gordon, Woodbine; McCleary, Austin, Elliott, Hue; J. Johnson, R. Johnson.

Donovan Ricketts (or, based on Andres Cantor’s broadcast on Tuesday, “DONUHBAHN RAQUETS!!!”) is either a wall or a stiff breeze. Here’s hoping the trade winds are blowing gently across Kingston tonight. The rest is whatever. It’s fun and strangely comforting in its regularity to watch Jamaican attacks end in abject failure and utter, unbelievably vivid self-loathing. Jamaica in the final third is me if I saw a feral dinosaur running at me. WHADUHFRIX GO AWAY.

There was a moment against Mexico on Tuesday, in the 91st minute, when the Jamaicans earned a throw-in in Mexico’s final third. Like, even with the six-yard box. AND THEY TIME-WASTED THEMSELVES. The idiot asked for another ball. “Oi bruh, toss me dat ball ovah deyre. I GOT NUTHA TA DO.” This game will not be a walkover. But holy funky buttloving, you guys, make good on your chances and you win by three goals.

Dreds. Caribbean. Twerking. Jerk. Major Lazer. Boomayaye. Game time.

‘1 – I was just struck by the fact that we are without the Taylor Twellman pocket square. It’s not the same. It’s just not.

‘2 – OOOOH POST BRADLEY YOU ARE A BALDHEADED GANDHI. Gandhi was bald, wasn’t he? Sorry guys. So damn close.

‘3 – Ricketts is down. Ricketts is down. Wait what is Klinsmann wearing? Was that a heather half-button down breast pocket T-shirt with stars on a blue field? Dude. What.

‘4 – Fabian Johnson just did three step-overs as he cut into the box and rifled in a boring shot. He’s already better than every left winger in US history. Combined.

‘6 – Jamaica looks awful early. Like, awful. Guys falling over. Vuvuzelas are even flat. But they are blowing like a wind that breaks open your eardrums.

...

‘9 – Cobi Jones.

’11 – Jozy is too deep, and he doesn’t need to be. This is how crap attacking games start. He falls too far back (unless he’s like 15 yards offside) and tries to build and recycle too deep. You can already see the kernel of good attacking is there for the U.S. boys, it just requires patience. Mexico from Tuesday says “Josimer, relax and stay high. You’ll get there. Patience my dude.”

’16 – Phil Schoen makes a “Johnson, Johnson and Johnson” joke and a friend hates. Angrily.

’17 – Hay BeInSport! Thanks for cutting to another game IN-GAME while Jamaica has their best chance. Love it. Thank you. I’m clapping with my Dorito-stained forearms /Patton Oswalt

’21 – This game is obnoxiously physical. Almost entirely on Jamaica’s side. In the absence of fitness (after Tuesday) and touch (after being Jamaican soccer players) they’ve taken to kicking and smashing. JERMAINE JONES ROBO FIST ACTIVATE.

...

’26 – NOTHING. WASTELAND. SHRUB OTHER CORMAC MCCARTHY THINGS.

’28 – My guess is this game completely devolves in the second half. Heat and sweat and the like. Four goals. 3-1 USA. I’m also drinking beer so hashtag optimism.

Who are you?

Who are you?

’30 – JOSMER J. ALTINGTON MCTWEEEDY ALTIDORE. Header. Zusi is ON FIYAHHHHHH. Great ball in, and Zusi has now provided Jozy with his second goal on his second assist in as many games. My word. 1-0. Burn Jamaica. Burn.

’32 – BeIn Sport was minutes away from cutting away from Altidore’s goal with highlights from Modesto Johnny’s U6 youth game. Klinsmann’s shirt. Saw it again. It is awful. Like, 50-year-old-Abercrombie-model-who-can’t-let-go-of-the-dream awful.

’39 – JAMAICA POST. Holy lucky, Batman. Good thing Jamaica is like me trying to finish on FIFA 13. With China. On all manual controls. Against Spain. This back line is so mortal. Very mortal.

’44 – Jozy scored that goal and apparently he’s rewatching the Red Wedding right now. He’s had zero role since. Tim Howard is meanwhile hugging his left post while cooing to it.

’45 – GET US TO HALFTIME BATMAN BECAUSE FAIL EVANS HAS FORGOTTEN HIS FEET.

HALFTIME: This hasn’t been nearly easy enough. 1-0. CONCACAF. ‘Mon. More beer.

’46 – BeIn Sport cuts in with a Magic Mesh commercial 20 minutes into the second half. Jozy will score from 55 yards with a bounce off Bradley’s head, a carom off a wayward vuvuzela in row 20 and then an angry stare. You will miss it.

’50 – Jamaica is a blunt instrument currently droning away into the bedrock of the flaky US back line. I am not confident. Besler-Gonzalez is only as good as I can throw them, and my arms are literal toothpicks.

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