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.

Additionally, putting Michael Bradley against Honduras deep opens up not only the quickly switch fields, but also to move in possession or unleash a boombosa.

» Step Class

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 9.53.20 PM

Who else cringed at this minute mark in February? Omar Gonzalez bites on a potential outlet pass to Jerry Bengston on the flank getting pulled way out of position, the Honduras midfielder (believe it may be Mario Martinez) lets’ the play develop. Once Gonzalez commits, Garcia times his pass on the change of direction and Bengston is off to the races on a two-on-one that Honduras really should have scored on. (Costly radars it in directly at Tim Howard.)
While Gonzalez bit on a common fake, the lack of pressure on the ball makes the entire pass and play possible.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 9.57.47 PM

The second Honduras goal best illustrates this bullet. Mistakes were make by Fabian Johnson (late to react), Geoff Cameron (poor angle), Omar Gonzalez (failure to stay goal side), yet if Maurice Edu steps up on the ball as Michael Bradley is trailing the play, the incising pass becomes much more difficult to make.

Okay, we’re cheating Mark Van Bommel-style here a bit. We’ve used these images before. The above two screenshots from the February match are from the lead-up to a solid chance in the first half (the first image) and the game-winning Jerry Bengston goal in the second half (the second).

In both cases the US closed-out an opponent inappropriately. In the first, Omar Gonzalez bites too high and wide and only a poor play Carlos Costly five seconds later saves the US from conceding. In the second, the ball handler is offered too much cushion on the ball and the conclusion sees Gonzalez’s man go unmarked.

Since the Germany match, the US has vastly improved both their speed of closeouts (especially Matt Besler) and their positioning. However, Omar Gonzalez–as he did in this February match and he’s did on Tuesday–needs to improve his tracking and awareness. Honduras has the attackers to still punish poor one-vs.-one defending.

The US backline–and midfield–needs to close space out early. It’s an area where there is still room for improvement.

Jolazo City!

Jolazo City!

» Miscellaneous

›› Whether he’s at LMF or LB, Fabian Johnson need to improve his right-footed crossing

›› Jozy Altidore did an excellent jog against Panama dragging centerbacks out of the middle what he needs to improve is his receiving the ball with his momentum going to goal.

›› Altidore, Cameron and Tim Howard all given pitch citations against Panama. They join six more players who are also carrying yellow cards: Matt Besler, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and Fabian Johnson. Costa Rica on the road up next. A full squad would be nice.

›› The States have done a tremendous job of both maintaining possession and getting scores after leading. That is and was a step-up after May qualifiers. Not that US fans want the US to fall behind on Tuesday, but coming behind from a victory would show another facet of the States game that hasn’t been visible under Klinsmann.

About the Opponent: Honduras

While it’s often on the flanks where a game is won or lost, the battle out wide is undertaken after central midfield lines are drawn–like an offensive and defensive line looking to control the line of scrimmage in football.

Honduras has some serious challenges in constructing their game plan for the Rio Tinto.

Espinoza, ferocious for Honduras...

Espinoza, ferocious for Honduras…

While coach Luis Fernando Saurez knows that a repeat of his midfield’s dominant performance from February is unlikely, he still probably pushes his tenacious destroyer Roger Espinoza up and left in the field of play to shut down US distribution.

However, Saurez has a number of factors that suggest any sort of high pressure is foolhardy (in no particular order): (1) The altitude. There is no chance that Honduras can keep up the same level of pressure they brought in San Pedro Sula. (2) The replacements. Push Espinoza up and if a deft Michael Bradley and/or Jermaine Jones are slotting passes, the makeshift backline may be taught hard lessons and (3) Just one true in-form striker–somebody has to chase long balls for those 90 minutes.

Using its two previous away games–a 2-0 loss to Panama and a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica–as proxy, here’s the bet on how Suarez’s troops deploy.

A possible Honduras rollout on Tuesday

A possible Honduras rollout on Tuesday (Martinez and Chavez may start on the opposite sides and/or switch frequently. The red arrows denote Martinez’s movement)

The goalie is the only position filled without a doubt.

Noel Vallardes, he of the 113 caps, will man the sticks. He’s been solid against the States over the years except when bald men jump backwards into him and knock balls into the net off their shoulder.

Ahead of Vallardes are some questions. The rightback is Arnold Peralta who started the February match. He’s the median in CONCACAF and tends to stay home; he is also susceptible to being broken down with speed.

At leftback Emilio Izaguirre probably returns to take over for Juan Garcia. Izaguirre is another World Cup 2010 veteran. He also lists vaunted Scotland superclub Celtic on the resume and a start at the Camp Nou against Barcelona in this year’s Champion’s League.

Inside it gets murkier. Stellar San Jose Earthquake centerback Victor “The Bouncer” Bernardez got himself a dreaded second yellow against Jamaica on Friday. He’ll sit. First choice LCB, Wigan Latic Maynor Figueroa is down with an injury.

The likely starter on the left here is Juan Pablo Montes who deputized for Figueroa on the left Friday against Jamaica. Montes was steady and kept a clean sheet in his first big test.

At RCB, still could be Wisla Krakow defender Osman Chávez–the Honduran Carlos Bocanegra-Lite–but he may not be recovered from an abductor strain in time. The 6’2” Chavez played a major role in leading Los Caratchos to World Cup 2010 and started all three group stage games in South Africa. However, Honduras recalled Vancouver Whitecaps CB Jonny Leveron late Friday and that may mean that Chavez is already a no-go.

The configuration of the front six for Honduras likely goes with three defensive mids again.

With Luis Garrido out on yellow card accumulation, deputy Jorge Claros comes in at RCDM. Wilson Palacios slides centrally and plays a true CDM role when the team goes forward.

On the right flank is Mario Martinez, who never met a right footed shot he wasn’t allergic too. With Boniek Garcia either out or still nursing an injury, Martinez will be counted on to be the “point forward” so to speak and route the attack through. On the left flank will be Quakes flyer Marvin Chavez.

Like both their club and national team deployment Martinez and Chavez probably switch flanks often attempting to probe at the States’ defense.

Centrally and left-centrally slots Roger Espinoza. Espinoza is ever the key figure for Honduras. His industry will enable Chavez and Martinez to go forward knowing he’s there to provide cover. Further–and there is nothing subtle about this–many teams tend to build out of the right rear–that’s owed to right foot dominance. Honduran honcho Saurez has been using Espinoza either flaring out from a central role or even at LM to win duels high up the pitch and gain possession.

Once the marble is secured, Espinoza is typically in position for a quick lateral pass to the center or right-center, usually finding an attacker with ample space to attempt to do some damage.

Up top is Roger Rojas.

Rojas is an up-and-coming Honduras youngster (full youth development, now about 20 senior side caps) and he can certainly hang off a shoulder. That said, Jerry Bengston, who apparently left the team due to not starting against Jamaica–would have been more feared if deployed in the striker role for Los Catrachos. Rojas will have to keep the burn going for 90′ or if not it will be Carlos Costly–a shadow of the player who was instrumental in 2010 qualifying for the visitors.

Honduras strategy on the attack Tuesday -- Honduras will probably look to push higher on the left, though they won't keep a high line. If that doesn't work, they'll likely to to work Rojas or Chavez on Castillo like Jamaica did with Johnson on DaMarcus Beasley.

Honduras strategy on the attack Tuesday — Honduras will probably look to push higher on the left, though they won’t keep a high line. If that doesn’t work, they’ll likely look to work Rojas or Chavez on Castillo like Jamaica did with Jermaine Johnson on DaMarcus Beasley. With Claros becoming the forward-moving member of the empty bucket, Palacios moves right of center to provide cover.

Strategy:

Saurez will probably look to shield his backline, push Espinoza onto the critical deep ball handler for the States (Bradley or Jones) and hit two places in the attack: quick and deep, isolating Chavez one-vs-one on Evans or Castillo and pushing high and left flooding Brad Evans and Omar Gonzalez when the opportunity presents itself. The secondary strategy will be hitting behind Castillo with either Chavez or Rojas as Jermaine Johnson did for Jamaica against DaMarcus Beasley.

If neither of those are showing any joy, it’ll likely be Carlos Costly for Martinez and crosses into the box.

11 At The Whistle

A possible US deployment Tuesday.

A possible US deployment Tuesday.

—-

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: A bit underwhelming from Howard in this fixture last time.

DEF: Country singer Bradley Ray Evans, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, Edgar Castillo

The skinny: May be a surprise here to see TSG breaking up Omar Gonzalez-Matt Besler.

Okay, maybe not if you’ve been reading this publication. That said, there is much merit in selecting the Cameron-Besler duo to manage the backline. First, the US should see more of the ball in this game like they did against Panama. Cameron is obviously better in possession than Gonzalez.

Second, Honduras striker Roger Rojas is fast and not an imposing target figure or particularly strong in the air. If the US’s backline keeps pushing high, speed at centerback over aerial dominance will be at a premium.

Cameron’s the call or should be.

MF: Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley

The skinny: Nine of 20 passing, 15 tackles suffered and possession lost, February 2012. Those are numbers that Tim Tebow would even cringe at. You bet Jermaine Jones (if cleared) is playing in this one.

LW, RF: Fabian Johnson, Graham Zusi

The skinny: Zusi’s defensive work ahead of Brad Evans should certainly enable a little bit more cover than the US had against Panama.

As for Fabian Johnson, it certainly appears–like a starting pitcher in baseball preferring night games over day games–that he’s a stronger player when temperatures are lower. That may not bode well for this match as it’s supposed to be scorcher in Salt Lake City.

WtF: Clint Dempsey

The skinny: Rather write anything further, just click on this tweet and read the second section here. This was Felipe Baloy in Seattle.

STR: Jozy Altidore

The skinny: More of the same please.

The US will look to test the flanks early against Honduras. If they can get a goal, the States will be patient and sit back, drawing out Honduras to get more space. If Honduras gains the early lead and advantage–depending on where the US is capitulating–look for Jones and Dempsey to get on the ball and initiate attacks centrally and then back out to the wings when Honduras collapses.

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32 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sparkie on 2013/06/16 at 7:17 PM

    Good stuff. Extra detail in this one or so it seems. Perhaps I thought it was great for the Princess Bride reference. Well played.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/16 at 8:52 PM

      Thanks much. Better grammar this time too hopefully.

      Reply

      • Posted by JH on 2013/06/17 at 5:51 AM

        Let’s not get ahead of ourselves… lol

        Reply

      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/06/17 at 7:19 AM

        Grammer shmammer.

        But a couple editing points.
        -In the description of who is playing Centerback for Honduras it was a bit confusing who was play left/right. Its almost seemed to be saying both players were at RCB
        -In the Honduras graphic of team movement the description uses “they’ll likely to to work” I think you mean “they’ll likely look to work”

        Anyway, Great preview.

        Reply

        • Posted by cpjuengel on 2013/06/18 at 2:08 PM

          i dont understand why people go on about this. you were smart enough to catch the drift right?

          Reply

  2. Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/06/17 at 7:30 AM

    Boy its amazing what a few wins does for our confidence huh? Camerons performance last Tuesday did much to calm nerves re our back 6. We’re now comfy just slotting him in at CB or back in the holding/destroyer role and providing cover.

    From pure logical tactical nous to Lindsey Lohan to a 60 yr old Warner Brothers cartoon reference to explain Dempseys off ball brilliance….this is what keeps us coming back….
    Great stuff Matt and thanks.

    Reply

    • Posted by shuttlehead on 2013/06/17 at 8:02 AM

      Anybody want a peanut

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/17 at 8:16 AM

      Thanks guys — too kind. Much appreciated.

      Reply

      • Posted by shuttlehead on 2013/06/17 at 11:28 AM

        The best thing going…. except for maybe a nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.

        Reply

  3. Posted by chuck on 2013/06/17 at 7:52 AM

    Nice article. However you allude to something that eludes me.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Alex on 2013/06/17 at 9:21 AM

    Wish we could have one of these previews every day. That said, I think it’s super unlikely that Cameron comes in for Gonzalez. You never know with Juergen, but Gonzo/Besler sure look like they’re his first-choice pairing, and you generally don’t mess with your centerbacks once you’ve got some consistency and need to keep developing a partnership.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jim on 2013/06/17 at 10:59 AM

      Hmmm. I totally get the tactical utilization of Cameron for Gonzalez when we will be focusing on keeping the ball- But as Alex points out above, do we shake up what will likely be THE CB pairing for the US going forward? Or does that beg another question – is Cameron/Besler the better option going forward unless we’re primarily concerned with dominant set piece team/tall striker?

      Reply

      • Matt…http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lsvjyqbsS61r1ssano1_500.gif

        This is such a PHENOMENAL preview. Thanks for all the work you put into making this site a special corner of USMNT fandom.

        Absolutely can’t wait till the game tomorrow. I have three hopes…
        - For us to be the first team in the hex to get 3 goals in a game
        - For Panama to beat Costa Rica to put more pressure on Mexico as well.
        - For Geoff Cameron to play *somewhere*

        Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2013/06/18 at 5:22 AM

        I’m not convinced that Besler/Gonzalez is the tandem going forward. Gonzalez continues to have that one slip in each game and that will cost the US in the World Cup. I would like to see Besler/Cameron tried but now isn’t the time considering you’re already making one (forced change) on the backline. This team has struggled with consistent defensive lineups so shuffling another guy in seems like a bad idea.

        Reply

  5. Posted by Paul on 2013/06/17 at 10:40 AM

    “So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.”

    Alright, I’ll finally admit it. You’re my favorite sportswriter of all time.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Jim on 2013/06/17 at 11:06 AM

    Yo, Matt. Thank you for pointing out what no other pundit or analysis has thus far on the Cameron performance last Tuesday- that while it was brilliant, he played with little pressure from Panama. I was a little upset knowing that Jones would be replacing Cameron but I think you are totally correct, Jones probably should get the start. Bradley is intelligent enough to play off of his midfield partner, so I don’t see any issues with him making the mental switch. I think Bradley is our man to handle the high pressure that Honduras will press us with in that deep position. Cameron may well have been able to handle it- who knows? But I have no doubts about Bradley.

    Reply

  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/17 at 3:30 PM

    BTW, pretty amazing how high and wide Espinoza got in the two road losses against Panama (2-0) and Costa Rica (1-0).

    The left-justified images are his locations in possession and pass distribution.

    Screen shot 2013-06-17 at 3.35.48 PM

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/17 at 3:36 PM

      We may very well be deploy on the right side (the inverse) if it’s Besler and (Castillo, Fab, etc.) doing the distribution on Tuesday.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2013/06/17 at 7:37 PM

        I’d like to see Castillo even though I’m not a fan and keep Fabian up front. It shows a more agressive intent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see FJ move to LB and EJ on the left though- I’m thinking JK does that. I wonder how FJ will play in the heat with temps around 97.

        Do you really think Cameron will start Matt? I just can’t see JK doing that. You know I love Cameron as well but I think Gonzalez and Besler play better together, and i see JK ranking Gonzalez 1A and Besler 1B so I don’t see him pairing Besler and Cameron. I dont know what combination is best but it would be nice to see Cameron on the field. At some point with these inexperienced players you just have to stick with a pairing I think with the World Cup coming up.

        I will say I don’t remember hearing about Zusi or Cameron for National Team duty anywhere else but here in the beginning. It seems Yanks Abroad is the best source to find early info on potential national teamers abroad and TSG does the best identifying talent within MLS.

        Reply

  8. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/17 at 4:30 PM

    Reply

  9. […] resume their partnership, despite the man-of-the-match performance by Geoff Cameron against Panama. There is excellent work about why that should remain the US midfield pairing over at The Shin Guar… and in the long term, we agree. Cameron excelled largely because Panama’s effort at a […]

    Reply

  10. Posted by gino744 on 2013/06/17 at 10:57 PM

    Another brilliant analysis. This one wasn’t completely over my head. Good reality bytes about Cameron and Gonzalez. I can see both sides of the arguments for Jones over Cameron and Cameron over Gonzo as well as Castillo at LB. It’s getting to where our depth in some ways has become a problem in terms of maintaining continuity and developing chemistry.

    A different take here. Should Gonzalez start over Cameron so that he can continue to develop, both for growing his game as well as solidifying the CB partnership? Once the Nats progress past the Hex (trying not to count my chickens but just thinking long term) then wouldn’t it make sense to have cohesion in the back when it’s time to play the Belgiums and Germanys when those types of games aren’t just friendlies?

    I really am rooting for Cameron to find a place in the lineup. Not trying to contradict Matt here, but I think I’d like to see what Cameron can do in the kitchen when the heats turned up. Maybe a home game against a depleted Honduras would be a good test for him in a game environment that’s not do or die. Wherever he winds up, Cameron is on the plane for Brazil. I can’t wait for the next article in that series.

    Reply

  11. […] Want some game previews?  The fine folks at The Shin Guardian and The Yanks Are Coming have you […]

    Reply

  12. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/18 at 9:45 AM

    Synthesizing all the Cameron-Gonzalez commentary here.

    First, personally, I’ve always favored Cameron as both a CB and as the US centerback. My reasoning is that he’s very good at running with players and turning in possession with the ball to maintain possession instead of blast the ball out of space–among other things.

    His candidacy for that role has certainly been hurt by not playing the position this year. He’s regressed a little at Stoke because of the stay-at-home FB role he has.


    Also, I think–if I had to bet–that Klinsmann’s play today is Gonzalez-Besler. I think it’s important to build that chemistry in that role more than anything else. Ironically, our January Depth Chart piece suggested it would be between Besler and Gonzalez for Cameron’s pairing. I still feel it should be that way, but that Besler has won the role.


    The fundamental question I think is how much the US needs Omar Gonzalez’s aerial and strength presence, but from what I’ve seen to date he hasn’t given the US any goals and *not* used that presence in either going right for the ball on set piece plays or not putting a body on his mark.

    Can he improve those things? Absolutely. Will he improve his distribution? I doubt it. He’s under no pressure to improve in-game with the Galaxy and he’s had a few good weeks of it here and there, but it is what it is.

    Now, you look through CONCACAF *now* and you see only one team really (Panama) and maybe Costa Rica (Saborio) with a striker who the US *can’t dominate with Cameron or Besler (from a strength/jump ball perspective).
    It’s no question putting Gonzalez out there in the Snow Game (and probably Goodson) was the right call.

    Then you look more proudly come World Cup time and the question (without a right answer) is will the US need a better aerial/strength presence against the world’s top strikers and will Gonzalez be the guy–the only guy–who can go up against them.

    Drogba, Gyan (Ghana from last time), Ibrahimovic, Brazil (Jo etc.) and then a host of other CBs crashing the box (Italy–Chiellini, Portugal–Pepe) and that answer might be yes.

    Can Cameron and Besler handle it? Klinsmann is suggesting right now that they can’t.

    No right answer….

    There’s also the question of how high a line the US keeps but that’s a longer discussion than here.

    Reply

  13. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/06/18 at 12:30 PM

    Honduras line-up per their national paper. Believable but not confirmed:

    Andy Najar to start for Honduras tonight vs. the #USMNT: http://www.diez.hn/Inicio/Ediciones/2013/06/18/Noticias/Titulares-de-Honduras-ante-Estados-Unidos#.UcC0BvY6WYl

    Reply

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