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….

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85 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Herc on 2013/06/18 at 5:00 PM

    ————————-Altidore———————-

    E. Johnson———Dempsey—————Zusi

    ——————–Jones—-Bradley—————

    F. Johnson–Besler——-Gonzalez—Evans

    ————————-Howard———————–

    Reply

    • Posted by Herc on 2013/06/18 at 5:10 PM

      Keeping with Besler-Gonzalez, guess no reason to break up what is working.

      The Johnson Duo on the left, most were thinking Castillo, interesting insight into JK.

      Jones back after the concussion, good to see that means that he is feeling better.

      Reply

  2. Posted by dth on 2013/06/18 at 6:46 PM

    Zusi has been pretty poor today, and that plus Honduras tactics — keeping compact and high initially, exploiting our lack of pace in attack — is making Donovan’s absence felt. Need him back. (Or for Darlington Nagbe to get naturalized.)

    Reply

    • Posted by Paul on 2013/06/19 at 8:42 AM

      Yeah, the guy misses one match and what the hell, he’s spraying passes everywhere but to our forwards.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Jared on 2013/06/18 at 7:12 PM

    Couple of bad giveaways by the central defense. Gonzalez is still not a fully convincing international defender.

    Reply

  4. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/18 at 7:32 PM

    Completely unforced errors – cannot credit Honduras with great pressing. Lucky not to be punished too.

    Reply

  5. Posted by dth on 2013/06/18 at 7:33 PM

    Taylor Twellman’s ability to distill any and all occurrences into a recommendation for old, English-style 4-4-2 is impressive, if infuriating.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/06/18 at 7:38 PM

      Keep it simple!

      Reply

    • Posted by john m on 2013/06/18 at 11:04 PM

      I can’t say I miss john harkes but twellman leaves me meh….he muddled the analysis on the goal again neglecting the fact that if zusi had played the ball to johnson instead of dummying, johnson would’ve been offsides.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2013/06/19 at 2:54 AM

        I noticed that he missed it. He never even mentioned that Johnson looked clearly offside initially when it looked like Zusi had touched it.

        Reply

  6. Posted by dth on 2013/06/18 at 7:38 PM

    Davis for Zusi a grave error in subbing. Should have been Davis for Johnson (if you had to sub for one of the wingers). Eddie hasn’t been great in defense, and creating very little.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2013/06/18 at 10:31 PM

      I’m pretty sure it was only because Zusi was hurting. Either way I doubt Davis goes to Brazil. He’s just too slow to be an asset. I remember one Hon corner that we blocked out well and we had a chance to break, but Davis just didn’t try to burn down the left flank.

      Credit for that nice move to win a free kick though, I enjoy it when players succeed 1v1

      Reply

  7. Posted by Ufficio on 2013/06/18 at 7:54 PM

    Four minutes? CONCACAF officiating is such a fucking joke.

    Reply

  8. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/18 at 8:15 PM

    Glad they took one of their chances. Would have been criminal if they didn’t win this game. Zusi served a couple on a silver platter that even I would have buried…

    Reply

    • Posted by Paul on 2013/06/19 at 7:11 PM

      George with the key insight regarding this game. The US created more high quality scoring chances in this game than in the Panama game, but simply failed to convert. Dempsey had at least three criminal misses (7th, 18th, 70th minutes); Johnson had one miss in the first half (17th), Davis failed to convert in the second half (56th). Combine those misses with two goal-mouth scrambles: yes, a scrappy match, a match the US should have secured by the half. I was happy to see so many chances being created; now we need to figure out how to convert chances at a higher percentage. Moving F. Johnson into the midfield is probably the best option to convert more chances; the Gold Cup may offer other attackers to bring off the bench when the attack stalls.

      Reply

  9. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/18 at 8:23 PM

    On offside goal, nice early throw by Howard that started the move. I liked that – a lot.

    Reply

    • Posted by john m on 2013/06/18 at 11:06 PM

      it was close but don’t think johnson was off. since zusi didn’t touch dempsey’s pass it kept zusi on. but yeah, I didn’t even celebrate as i was sure it was coming back. i love being wrong.

      Reply

    • Posted by john m on 2013/06/18 at 11:08 PM

      ahh I see, u mean on the goal which was actually called offsides… got it

      Reply

  10. Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/06/18 at 8:47 PM

    Very mature performance all the way around. There was an inevitability to their play tonite.
    Bradley continues to look like a vastly different and grown ass man out there. Amazing what these 2 yrs in Italy have done for his handle in traffic and his head up ball movement. Bravissimo!
    Demps is starting to get on my nerves with the diving and general douchery. Not very captainly tonite IMO. Time to give the band to Mikey where it belongs.
    Still not convinced on Gonzalez. An intl CB doesn’t hesitate that second to allow a guy an unobstructed run at keeper on that breakout and play the pass. Just dumb defending. Timmy saves the bacon again.
    Jozy doing all the stuff that we’ve been screaming for including chasing up top late in the game defensively. Very impressive stretch and credit to Klinsi for pushing him harder in the last year and adjusting tactics to get him involved and successful.
    Still think that Jones going forward doesn’t give you what Bradley can. The Cameron solution might be in effect to allow Mike to play higher and drive the ball forward.
    What a difference 2 weeks makes!

    Reply

    • Read on another site that Keller remarked that it actually helped Howard when Gonzom did not close off Nahar on the Besler give away the pending shot. Evidently he said OG took away any options shooter had other than to shoot. I, not a professional keeper and WC veteran thought he had options: 1) lower far post 2) upper near post 3) dribble in and put in he five hole, etc…. Shows of what I know.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/19 at 3:55 AM

        (I need to watch it again, but) I think Keller was referring to the Honduras player on the middle not being an option because of Gonzales, and giving Howard a chance to get his angles right. But IMO, Gonzales should have shifted across to make the shooting angle even more acute, and Evans tucks in to pick up Gonzales’ original mark – because I still think it was a fantastic opportunity and should have scored, and then we’d all be talking about Gonzales’ lack of intervention…

        Reply

        • Posted by Jim on 2013/06/19 at 5:31 AM

          Either way, it was a gift of a poorly taken chance from Najar. Has to go low far post or high near post. A lesser keeper maybe does worse with that, but not the best effor from Najar, thankfully.

          Reply

          • Howard and Gonzo had Najar all the way.

            Howard played it perfectly by coming out and giving Najar no angle to shoot.
            Najar did not have to shoot. He wasted the effort. He could have held his fire and taken the ball to the corner to restart or to the byline and then try to work his way back in or cross it.

            Gonzo stayed with his man until Najar shot and the threat of a cross disappeared.
            Gonzo did so because, I assume, he realized the Howard had the shot covered and the rebound or the cross was the bigger threat at that moment.

            Reply

            • Gonzo did the best he could in that situation, which was to cover the pass to the middle while at the same time forcing Najar wide so any shot would be at an acute angle that Howard could cover better. Gonzo correctly identified that a cross was potentially much more dangerous. Disagree that Najar shouldn’t have shot, he had a decent angle and a better player would have buried the shot in the far corner.

            • Posted by seamusbklyn on 2013/06/20 at 5:58 AM

              Keller was spot on of course; they made the best of a bad situation. As the play unfolded it looked counterintuitive but then you realize, yes, that makes the most sense, unfortunately. It took some cogliones for Gonz not to slide over to the ball reflexively (and hard to see how you don’t if you haven’t planned for this scenario), but the alternative (wide open shot from a much better angle) was worse. Credit to both Gonz and Howard, but we got a bit lucky there.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/21 at 8:38 AM

              If you think “there was no angle to shoot” at, then you really need to watch it again.

            • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/06/21 at 12:13 PM

              “Howard and Gonzo had Najar all the way” …..said no one who understands positional defending ever.
              There is no circumstance where you allow an attacker to run 15 yds with the ball directly towards your goal while you maintain your marker to eliminate the “passing lanes”. And he had a slightly trailing defender that was in position to cover the other attacker. Gonzalez blew that decision horribly and was lucky to get away with it.

            • KickinNames and George Cross,

              “There is no circumstance where you allow an attacker to run 15 yds with the ball directly towards your goal while you maintain your marker to eliminate the “passing lanes”.
              And he had a slightly trailing defender that was in position to cover the other attacker. Gonzalez blew that decision horribly and was lucky to get away with it.”

              No circumstances? Absolutes having a way of letting you down in sports.

              You are portraying the situation inaccurately. Watch the replay on You Tube.

              Besler gave the ball to Najar who was just inside the halfway line. Maybe he thought Andy was still with DC United and it was an MLS all star game. Who knows?

              Andy blew past Besler and headed goalward.

              He had another Honduran free on his left.

              Evans and Mikey had been heading up field and were not getting there on time. Only Gonzo and Timmy were effectively between the goal and the Honduran twosome.

              What Gonzo did, and I’ll assume it was intentional, was stay goal side of those two almost exactly between them.

              If he moves to Andy, Najar can either blow by him or slip a pass to his fairly open, more centrally located, teammate. Maybe Gonzo remembered his screwup in the first Honduras game. In any case what Gonzo did was the right thing. It is called jockeying i.e. influencing where the attacker moves without actually tackling him.

              When you are faced with two attackers, you try to keep the guy with the ball as far away from the goal as possible, i.e. jockey the ball handler out towards the wing if possible.

              The Honduran in the center was potentially more dangerous because he would have had a better shot at goal. Timing is also vital because this was all very bang, bang. If Andy was going to pass to his teammate he should have done it early since every step Najar took towards goal kept decreasing his shooting angle.

              I have no doubt Andy wanted Gonzo to close on him but that did not happen so Andy winds up shooting into Howard who beats the shot away. Good but routine save.

              Timmy played Najar perfectly because he saw what was happening and came out at just the right time and he never gave Andy a great angle to shoot.

              Was the goal 100% covered? No, but it rarely ever is. If it had been Iniesta or Robben maybe they bend that ball past Howard with the outside of their left foot but that is a pretty low percentage shot. Timmy kept the percentages reasonable and that is really all you can do.

              As far as I’m concerned Gonzo and Howard did everything the way they were supposed to.

              Had Najar scored there the only US player who it could be said did not do his job was Besler.But Besler is the new Golden Boy, far more popular than Gonzo, and beyond criticism. Had Rico Clark been recalled and done what Besler did you all would be asking for Congress to pass a law revoking his passport.

            • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/06/25 at 10:01 AM

              Schmutzie,

              Lots of words and quotes to cover up the complete lack of logic to your argument. Of course if you stopped playing in grade school then your argument makes complete sense.
              On a 24 x 8 goal you can’t leave the shooter and “play the pass” from 20-30 yds out. Your odds are much better if you challenge the shooter and close his angles and bet that the pass isn’t perfect or you slow him down enough to allow your trailing defender to catch the second attacker. You pick the nearest post and haul your ass over to minimize the shooting space. Period.
              Hockey and other small goals sports its common to take away the pass and allow the goalie who covers 80% of the goal to challenge shooter. Not with the big boy goal.

            • K Names,

              Like I said, watch the replay. It’s a very bang, bang play.

              Najar would have been best off if he had laid off the ball to his fellow Honduran for a wall pass return. Instead Andy wound up doing the worst of all of his choices which was head in the direction he was heading , thereby narrowing his shooting angle with every step and then blasting the ball at a very well positioned Howard.

              And I’m sure this happened mostly because Gonzo jockeyed him perfectly intentionally or not and Howard played the shooter and the shot perfectly.

              You obviously don’t agree with this point of view but that’s fine. Kasey Keller, a pretty fair keeper, agrees with me and said so during the broadcast. And I’d say he knows a lot more about it than either of us.

              Besler is the only US player to be criticized in this situation.

    • RE: Clint diving…he’s been targeted a whole bunch this spate of games. And if you’re referring to the fall he took late in the game, I think that was less of a dive and more of a loss of balance combined with sturdy defending. He’s had more than a few legit complaints that have gone uncalled in the past few games. A few of them have also been ones where he’s gone down easy, but he’s by no means the biggest offender on our team (I’m looking at you, Jermaine).

      Reply

      • Posted by Jim on 2013/06/19 at 5:34 AM

        I don’t fault Clint for diving. It was a frustrating match for him, I think- playing at altitude in hot weather. Thought he probably should have had at least one goal, particularly from headers. The chance late in the second where Clint received the ball in the box with his back to goal and tried to turn left to get in on goal was well defended, but on a different day he scores there.

        Reply

  11. Posted by Alex on 2013/06/18 at 10:28 PM

    Anybody think Geoff is doing a lot to force Jones off the field? When Bradley/Jones pair together Jones plays the more offensive of the two, and in all honesty, I’d rather have Bradley in that role due to his calmer presence with the ball and his quicker passing. I feel that Cameron gives him that forward freedom.

    And Fabian needs to be played higher up the pitch. He’s been so influential to our offense. Sadly our search for a solid LB continues.

    Reply

    • Posted by justin on 2013/06/18 at 10:47 PM

      +1

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see castillo get more time in the following qualifiers at LB. Our trip is pretty much a lock. I think we will see him and LD tried out at different spots….

      Still don’t love EJ at midfielder. I think did not facilitate the attack very well tonight. Anytime Fabian was in the final third we saw things happen. I think EJ’s world cup ceiling right now is a second half sub.

      However if Donovan can make his way back into the starting lineup at LM (Zusi is pretty much a lock at RM with his great service he has provided), Fabian would be pretty nice to have on the overlap. We shall see in September. Happy Gold Cupping until then.

      I know Geoff Cameron is a great compliment to Bradley, and in the past couple of games probably a better compliment than Jones, BUT if he cannot lock down a starting spot at the club level, you CANNOT count on him being in good enough form for the WC next summer.
      –However if he can get a starting spot at Stoke and continue to improve, we could very much see that pair starting in Brazil. With Jones as a great option off the bench.

      Reply

      • Posted by Alex on 2013/06/18 at 11:01 PM

        I think Beasley has been great as an LB all the way back to the Snow Dome game. Honestly I think Donovan replaces Zusi. Zusi played well the 2nd half before he was subbed but he wasn’t great the 1st. Need more consistency from him, and he lacks enough pace and the goal-scoring threat Donovan does.

        Reply

        • My DVR shit the bed so I didn’t get to see the game at all and therefore can’t comment on Zusi’s performance.

          However, I don’t think Klinsi is looking for a scorer to play the right-wing role, or even the left wing role given Fabian Johnson’s time spent out there – though this does make the Eddie Johnson sightings perplexing…maybe Klinsi wants different things from different sides of the formation. Better finishing skills would surely give Zusi another element for his defender to consider when the ball is at his feet, but his crosses and ability to hold the ball better in traffic seem to make him the ideal wigner for Klinsmann.

          In my opinion Donovan will suffer from the Dempsey paradox for the USMNT until he hangs up his boots; that paradox being he’s a talented player (even if he’s no longer blindingly fast) but where do you play him? It would appear his best position would be in Dempsey’s spot in the formation albeit playing a little closer to Jozy (think of where and how he was playing against Germany in the 2002 WC QF). There his predilection to go to goal and dish or receive on the run would be of more benefit and less hindrance to the team as a whole. This of course means we’d have to find a new place for Deuce in the formation which would likely start a domino effect of robbing Peter to pay Paul – Deuce on the left wing means we need someone to overlap more, but we don’t have a marauding LB, Deuce on the right means we need Cherundolo to turn back time about 6 years, and on & on.

          Sweats found a way to make it work in the 2009 Confed Cup, but that was with a healthy Charlie Davies and Jozy drifting to provide the width that Deuce doesn’t.

          So the question then becomes, can Donovan and Dempsey co-exist in Klinsmann’s formation and current personnel.

          Reply

    • Posted by James H on 2013/06/19 at 8:51 AM

      In my mind Cameron is pushing Jones right off the field. Cameron matches up much better w/Bradley than Jones does. JJ may have more talent (which is arguable), but Camerion’s inclination to stay deep allows Bradley more freedom to go forward, which shifts the point of attack further up the pitch and gets MB more involved in play around the box. I definitely want to see more Cameron w/Bradley to flesh this out.

      Reply

  12. Posted by WatertownMA on 2013/06/19 at 5:11 AM

    I’m thrilled for the win and loved the sequence that led to Jozy’s goal. As an unforgiving critic of Altidore, I’m impressed with his performances of late & am hopeful and becoming optimistic that he can bring consistent scoring.

    Other observations or concerns:

    1: In the attacking third and on 1v1s there seems to be a lot of losing the ball easily and not fighting to win the ball back. There were a few instances of this with Zusi and E Johnson. If our attackers try to beat their defender and lose the ball, it would be nice to see more fight to win it back.

    2: There was a lot of giving the ball away from give-and-go’s to nobody and needless deflections.

    3: Finishing was suspect. Clint should have done better with 2 headers and his shot from the 18. Bradley should have done better with his shot inside the 18. E. Johnson should have made solid contact on the “scrum” sequence (goalie out of position likely leading to a goal). Evans could have put away the header. Gonzalez needs to put his headers on frame – with his size advantage there’s no reason for him not to do better on set pieces. Zusi needs to shoot after the layoff pass (from Bradley?) while in the 18.

    4: Lots of quality attacking and scoring opportunities coming through F. Johnson. He’s an excellent option, but I’m concerned of dependency setting in on the attack channelled through him. We need a F. Johnson-type player on the right.

    Reply

    • Posted by WatertownMA on 2013/06/19 at 5:18 AM

      I hope Corona, Bedoya, Donovan, Chandler, and more are watching and studying what F. Johnson is doing and can reproduce/model it.

      Reply

  13. Posted by Jim on 2013/06/19 at 5:56 AM

    A couple impressions:

    There was a telling moment in the second half when Jurgen could distinctly be heard yelling, “faster, faster, faster” referring to the ball movement. It came after a sequence where quick movement led to opportunity. Against a compact middle, we needed to have faster lateral ball movement/quick switches of the pitch in order to stretch the defensive shape. Some of the magic we have always shown on the counter needs to be seen when we have possession. The US rarely looks good or threatening when passively knocking the ball around and it usually leads to giveaways or long balls to no-one-in-particular. Props to Guatemala for forcing us to play long balls

    Our lack of pressure on the man with the ball in our half didn’t make much sense to me with the way we were playing offensively. I suppose it was our way of keeping shape at all cost. However, against a good passer with vision and a striker who makes a smart run, we would have been exploited on a number of occasions. I guess against better opposition we pressure that guy more, but it’s still scary to see a guy holding the ball for so long with no pressure.

    We could have really used Cherundolo and Donavon this match. I’m thrilled we got the three points though. It was a good finish from Jozy that wasn’t as easy as it looked.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/06/19 at 8:13 AM

    Fabian Johnson is right footed. Despite Twellman’s instance otherwise. He can play well with both feet, but clearly favors the right. I would like to see Castillo and Johnson on that wing together with Castillo at fullback.

    I would really like what this team could look like at the world cup. Adding donavon and cherundolo to this team could really provide some more quality and depth.

    This is my thought for brazil, with some expected playing time for the upcoming season. Could change around based on form.

    —————–Altidore—————-
    FJohnson——Dempsey———Zusi
    ————Bradley—–Jones———-
    Castillo–Besler–Gonzalez—–Dolo
    —————-Howard——————

    Starters in Danger: Jones, Castillo, Dolo, Gonzalez

    Bench: Donavon, Gomez, Cameron, Beasley, Shea, Eddie Johnson, Guzan

    in 23: Sean Johnson, Edu, Goodson, Evans, Holden

    Next Players in: Bedoya, Chandler, Bocanegra, Kljestan, Corona, Agudelo, Boyd

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2013/06/19 at 8:55 AM

      Twellman’s barely a step up from Harkes, really.

      Reply

    • I really like the idea of Donovan coming off the bench. Back when the WUSA days, Mia Hamm was in a bit of a scoring drought and may have been injured, too. She spent a while as a second half sub for club and country and was god for a goal more than half the time. London is not the same caliber on the men’s side, but if his mental game is not there to be a starter, his speed and skill off the bench would be pretty nice to have.

      We need to see more of Cameron in the middle of the pitch. Either at d-mid or center back. I agree with what others have said, that he can offer some things that Jones and Gonzalez don’t at hose positions. But we haven’t seen enough of him against top competition (in the middle) to know if he can deliver at that level. He got shredded out wide by Die Mannschaft, but he’s certainly been a beast in the middle against CONCACAF and MLS opponents.

      What a luxury a healthy, in-form Holden would be.

      JK is high on Corona. If his stock continues to go up, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in there over Shea.

      I can’t say why, exactly, but I don’t expect Zusi to stay this high on the depth charts. Maybe he just looks too much like Beckerman.

      No matter what, there will be some pretty good players left home. It will be sad for them, but it’s nice to have depth.

      Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/06/21 at 12:25 PM

        Mduke,

        The Donovan point is interesting and makes sense. And funny in that the best comparison is with a womens soccer player.

        Agree on Cameron. This also makes Klinsi’s lack of CB runouts during friendly etc all the more puzzling. The ball boys know what Goodson brings and still he gets runouts over Cameron who provides a much higher distribution upside there. His willingness to “sit” in the hole at destroyer and give Mikey the freedom to drive the attack is very intriguing to me. He’s not the force that Jones is but also isn’t the liability that Jones can be. Jones WILL NOT sit in consistently and I think it affects how Mikey plays when he’s in.

        Reply

  15. Man, Honduras is such a shit side.

    Reply

  16. Posted by Paul on 2013/06/19 at 11:07 AM

    Is there no commentary, or is it coming later?

    Reply

  17. Posted by mbw on 2013/06/20 at 6:58 PM

    U-20s: Luis Gil tells ETR he’s been studying Andres Iniesta. Love it.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/21 at 4:53 AM

      FIFA U20 WC — USA vs. Spain [13:45 ESPN2].

      Looking forward to seeing more of Stanko, Trapp, Villareal and Gil in this tournament -I have heard very good things about these players.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2013/06/21 at 9:08 AM

        I prefer Mikey Lopez to Trapp — Trapp is a slightly better passer but Lopez brings some needed bite to the attack.

        It should be interesting. I think the best prospect of the group is probably DeAndre Yedlin.

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2013/06/21 at 9:14 AM

        Also kind of sad to think what could’ve been, given the number of injuries/dropouts. Starting lineup could’ve been:

        Cropper; Ocegueda, Packwood, Brooks, Yedlin; Lopez, Pelosi, Gil; Rodriguez, Hernandez, Villarreal

        Shane O’Neill’s been pretty darn good for the Rapids, and he might have been first option off the bench at CB. What could’ve been…

        Reply

        • Posted by mbw on 2013/06/21 at 10:23 AM

          But look at it this way. The US has to start producing high quality prospects in greater volume. If nothing else, this cycle has demonstrated impressive depth — we got through qualifying comfortably without five of our top prospects (at least). If we manage a decent performance against Spain with our fourth and sixth best CBs. . . .

          Reply

          • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/06/21 at 11:44 AM

            The problem is the depth isn’t all that deep. Yeah, we handled CONCACAF, but we looked absolutely wretched in the Toulon tournament.

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2013/06/21 at 11:46 AM

              Toulon tournament was strictly experimental (and with a lot of mixed ages), so it’s not really an indicator of anything. The U.S. looked (generally) far more organized and purposeful today, but the central defense stinks and Ramos opted for a high-risk, high-reward strategy.

      • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/06/21 at 11:46 AM

        Gil’s been quite impressive. Not much else positive to take away here.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2013/06/21 at 12:06 PM

          I dunno, I thought the main problems were at CB and GK. Other than that, US demonstrated that when you take a high-risk, high-reward strategy, sometimes things go awfully awry. (Italy demonstrated the same thing against Spain in 2012 at the senior level.) People complain when teams go and bunker against Spain and complain, I guess, when they don’t.

          The lesson, as usual: y’all need to be less results-oriented and more process-oriented.

          Reply

          • Posted by mbw on 2013/06/21 at 12:31 PM

            Be that as it may, the decision to start Trapp alone, without Lopez, was insane.

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2013/06/21 at 12:48 PM

              Oh, yeah, I’m happy to argue that. I like Lopez much more than Trapp generally (and especially for this team, which needs some bite in central midfield.) But I think Ramos’s general approach was sound, and I was impressed with how well-coordinated they were able to press and harass Spain. If the U.S. had that extra bit of quality — and more experience, too — it would’ve been something like 1-1 or 2-2 at HT.

              The real problem, of course, is not Ramos but MLS/developmental system. We’re doing better at creating more prospects, but they generally seem like “middle-class” prospects, if you will. We need more stars, and we need to give them more opportunities younger. We’re doing a better job of getting players out of college faster because of homegrown rules, but one wonders what the heck Gyasi Zardes was doing in school for so long.

              The other problem is that MLS coaches are still pretty hostile to younger players; they seem to believe that never playing your young players is, like, a viable strategy for developing them. But, as Colorado found out when starting Shane O’Neill, starting your young players might not lead to the sky falling: that player you rated highly…turns out to be a good player! No way! (And Shane O’Neill was not exactly considered a premium prospect at the time he was signed, either.) One imagines what would’ve happened if, say, Frank Klopas gave a shot to Victor Pineda while the Fire still struggle to get goals.

              Meanwhile few teams have yet grasped that having a high-quality academy system will give you a massive advantage in a salary-capped league.

          • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/06/21 at 12:47 PM

            I appreciate the effort to play with Spain, and I don’t really care about the scoreline. But I was really talking more about individual performances. I mean, there’s a reason the “reward” has been one golazo and one other decent scoring chance. It has to do with the quality of our attacking players.

            Reply

            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/06/21 at 7:56 PM

              Ufficio,

              The Under whatever teams are there to give the next generation a taste of what it is like to be an international and help them prepare for it .

              Unfortunately with the US teams it seems they don’t get a lot of time together. On top of that, with all the last minute withdrawals and additions maintaining any kind of continuity can be very challenging. And as we have seen with the senior team, continuity in the team certainly helps the players shine individually. Until US soccer does a better job with that particular aspect you have to expect these kinds of results when faced with solid teams like Spain
              .
              I think everyone can agree that Spain is far ahead of the US and most countries I terms of producing talented players but I’ll bet these guys also are very familiar with each other and have probably played together much more than the US guys have. For example, having JA Brooks would have boosted the US talent level quite a bit but just how much time would he have had to develop any kind of understanding with his teammates?

              These kinds are pretty talented. They just didn’t look like it against Spain.

  18. Posted by dth on 2013/06/21 at 8:36 PM

    Ramos’s description of his strategy against Spain was apt, I thought:

    “It was a big gamble, to come out and play Spain on their side of the field,” Ramos told reporters after the match. “But with the way I see football, it’s a gamble I wanted to take.

    “I did not want to play on our side of the field and still lose the game. I wanted to take a chance on winning the game and unfortunately it did not work out.”
    (http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2013/06/21/u-20-world-cup-despite-loss-spain-us-coach-tab-ramos-satisfied-aggressive-st)

    From what I hear, I feel like people would’ve been happier bunkering and losing 2-0 or something.

    The key Moneyball lesson is that the best risks you can take sometimes make you look silly if you fail. I think this was in exactly that category.

    Ramos clearly needs to tweak tactics/player selection going forward, but for whatever reason he tends to start off OK-ish in that category and improve as time goes on in a tournament. Hopefully that pattern repeats itself in this tournament.

    Reply

    • While Spain were definitely better, I also feel 3-0 at HT flattered them. I think the US actually played quite well on the whole, but just a few small individual, and cheap mistakes proved extremely costly. Those half chances you missed were then magnified.

      Pressure is now on to get a result against France [i.e. not lose].

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2013/06/24 at 9:28 PM

        Good result to grab a point against Spain, but the same issue of small, cheap mistakes — that little bit of individual quality. Overall, since the game was pretty close (you could argue US should’ve gotten all 3 points), quality is obviously comparable but there’s a certain edge missing there.

        In this case, again, I point to a lack of opportunities/experience for the guys on our team. If you compare the number of appearances the French u20s have to the US u20s, I believe Les Bleus have double the first-team, pro caps (in generally tougher leagues, to boot). U.S. still has a long way to go in giving players experience, I think.

        Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2013/06/23 at 12:36 AM

      I think tweak a few things and we’re much better. O’Neill at CB should help for 1. It’s a shame Walker Zimmerman wasn’t healthier earlier during the year, and JAB didn’t want to go. But Stanko and O’Neill will be an improvement,

      We need to go back to Lopez and Trapp under Gil in the midfield though. Trapp just isn’t strong enough to play as a loan DM. And playing Benji Lopez in a box to box role just does not seem to play to his strengths. I believe he would be much better off playing as a winger.

      France is going to be a tough test though, even better than this Spanish side. I doubt Ramos is going to change his high press style, so we may be in for a long 90 minutes. But we showed that we can still put up a good fight regardless of the result, and that’s what I preferred to see.

      Reply

    • Posted by jwran on 2013/06/24 at 8:51 PM

      Thanks for pointing that point out regarding Moneyball. Its so important to remember that even statistics deals in probabilities, and never certainty. Watching the US-Spain U-20 game last week that we lost 4-1, I was reminded of the senior Confed Cup game a few years ago that we won 2-0. Really, the games weren’t *that* different, and you could argue that we were playing a higher percentage game this time around. Particularly if we had buried some of those chances in the first half and been able to then focus on defending with more numbers, we were giving ourselves a greater percentage at a win.

      Here’s a comparison of ESP v USA, 2002 / 2013

      Spain – USA
      S(OG)
      2002: 29(8) – 9(2)
      2013: 12 (9) – 8 (3)

      Fouls Committed:
      2002: 13 – 9
      2013: 10 – 15

      Corners:
      2002: 17 – 3
      2013: 5 – 4

      Goals
      2002: 0 – 2 (f yeah)
      2013: 4 – 1

      Reply

  19. Posted by Crow on 2013/06/24 at 5:24 PM

    Just wanted to say how cool it was last week to meet Clint Dempsey. In all of the games that I have attended since going regularly in 2008, I have never run into any of the players except EJ and Kasey Keller in Mexico City. Dempsey is easily and will go down as my all time favorite athlete. When he scored the goal vs Ghana (and celebration) I knew I was falling in love with soccer and that he was my favorite athlete. I love the way he plays- the passion, the joy when scoring, his background, only 3 years younger than Deuce, the tough attitude/sticking to his guns, his family life— even when he is pouting it makes me smile. I don’t have the talents Clint does but my favorite athletes are always the ones I can identify with the most. (see Joakim Noah, RA Dickey, Josh Hamilton)

    Anyway, I was at Salt Lake airport for an early flight, exhausted and about to go back to work. I turn around shortly before boarding the flight to go to the restroom and there is Dempsey pushing two strollers with wife and other daughter. I just stood there dumbfounded for a few seconds (wearing my AO Dempsey jersey 2011 edition). I had always hoped to meet Dempsey someday. The closest I had came was at the 2011 Argentina game in NYC he came over and gave a thumbs up- I had Prarie Rose Clayton make a 4’ by 4’ “Don’t Mess With Deuce’ banner that hung behind the goal. I felt like a nervous 12 year old and started to walk away before approaching him. It was kind of humorous- as I said earlier he was pushing two strollers looking at a flight info board- his wife was getting their daughter something to eat. Nobody seemed to recognize them at all.

    I went up and said hello. He seemed a bit surprised at first- but as soon as we started talking he was very friendly and approachable. We only talked briefly but I’m sure I could have talked longer. He asked me where I was from/going etc and about my background. I made a comment about the shirt (he was rocking that “hipster” shirt with us flag pocket that Klinsmann wore) and explained getting into soccer passionately post 2006, going to all the games I can, blah blah blah. I wish I would have thought of something more substantial to say- I wish now I would have asked how great it really was for them to play in Seattle. It was such a nice experience for the fans and it seemed like FINALLY after all of these years with a hostile home crowd, the players were getting an appropriate home atmosphere. I know post game comments from Bradley and Howard really seemed to indicate they were moved.

    Anyway, Clint seemed pleased to go to Texas and fish so I said my goodbyes (got a friendly smile from his wife) and the Dempsey family walked down the Terminal completely anonymously (funny how far we have to go to become a soccer nation- although that must be nice for the players)

    Clint just seems like a real person and friendly. Considering the situation he could have certainly blown me off even though I would have been surprised, so it was much appreciated. I’ve run into some cool and uncool athletes over the years and glad this was a good experience.

    Reply

  20. Posted by Crow on 2013/06/24 at 5:33 PM

    I’m kind of surprised to observe so much cynicism (including comments on other sites) towards Ramos. Why does everyone have to become so critical and snarky anytime a coach tries to create “change”? (Klinsmann, Porter, Ramos) I guess it is just human nature. It seemed like some here even wanted “Porterball” to fail but look- the Timbers have 1 loss in 18 games after arguably being the worst team in the league last year (especially on the road). They are playing an effective and attractive style of soccer. I sure hope Porter wins coach of the year.

    I knew the National Team was always going to qualify. I was amused by people who honestly thought the US might not. With the 4th place team facing New Zealand and Jamaica in the group, the USA was at worst going to back in to Brazil. Now the USA is playing some of the most attractive and effective soccer of the last 10-15 years. The Gold Cup and World Cup obviously will be the judge of Klinsmann but his reign seems to be a success to me so far.

    I like the way the USA is playing under Ramos. People clamor for change and then balk at it. I do not want to bunker back and get picked apart. Its a shame this team doesn’t have Pelosi, Packwood, and Brooks. I’m excited about the way these players are performing and think because of these experiences that they will be even more successful at the Senior Level (compared to players from prior and current generations).

    A few side notes- As a Union fan I think its cool Jack Mac is called up for the Gold Cup, but how is Klinsmann going to use him? In the Eddie Johnson winger role? Jack Mac only seems to do well in the box. I don’t see how it will work. Also I’m so confused how Okugo (although I’m a bit down on him this year) and Agudelo didn’t get called in. In Klinsmann we trust though.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2013/06/24 at 6:00 PM

      I think Jack McInerney is Scotch-Irish for Chris Wondolowski (which was Polish for Taylor Twellman, which was Ye Olde English By Way Of Suburbia for Jason Kreis, and so on.)

      Okugo, Agudelo, Rowe, O’Brien were all odd omissions. Do we need to see Onyewu or Goodson for the umpteenth time?

      Reply

      • “Do we need to see Onyewu or Goodson for the umpteenth time?”

        Well you don’t have to look but yeah we do.

        In 2009 right about this time of year Demerit and Onyewu were coming off a tour de force performance against Spain. It looked like the US was comfortably set at centerback for the upcoming World Cup.

        Fast forward a year later to the World Cup. Now the US has a rusty Demerit just coming back from a serious eye injury and a semi mobile Onyewu trashing his semi repaired knee in a vain effort to play.

        So you think Gonzo can last until the World Cup? The same guy who bumped into Chandler in his first training session with Nuremberg and blew out his knee? And you’re sure Besler is going to retain his form? The US is one bad tackle away from a serious CB depth problem.

        So who are the backups to BeGonz?

        The aforementioned Goodson, of course. Boca, who presumably has not had the door closed on him yet. Cameron, who is proving a better midfielder and who faces an uncertain situation with his club where he couldn’t get a game at CB?

        It seems to me JK needs to work on CB depth.

        I realize you think JK is an idiot but I suspect he has a plan for this.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2013/06/24 at 8:59 PM

          No, it’s not that I’m trusting in Gonzalez and Besler. In fact, I wouldn’t mind trialing alternatives to Gonzalez (who I think was only OK).

          My problem is that we know what Bocanegra, Onyewu, Beckerman, etc. are going to give us. They have long, distinguished records. That’s good! But you give yourself no room for surprises or upside.

          Think of a national team pool as a investment portfolio. (over-simpilfying) Investing time in too many vets is like having a portfolio composed entirely of bonds: it’s safe, but not highly productive. I’d like to see some risks taken, and see what happens when some young guys are thrown out in the field.

          Or put it another way: the last off-cycle Gold Cup established for a certainty that Stuart Holden was a World Cup worthy player. Who on this roster looks like a possibility to surprise in that way? I count a few — McInerney, Diskerud, Gatt, Wood — but not enough, espeically when we can think of several young guys who are playing quite well who aren’t on the preliminary list at all.

          Reply

          • Posted by Crow on 2013/06/24 at 10:21 PM

            I can see both arguments. Part of me is somewhat curious to see what form (if any) Gooch has left. Its such a shame. He was arguably one of the top 5/top 3 players on the National Team just a few years ago. I mean there was a reason AC Milan signed him. I will never forget seeing him blow his Achilles just ahead of me that night. I could hear it happen and hear him scream. If Gooch was a horse they would have shot him. Such a shame. The thing is Boca and especially post injury Gooch don’t work in JK’s system. That is why I’m baffled that a guy like Okugo who is a perfect fit for a high line defense is not included even on the preliminary roster. I’d rather see Boca and Gooch before Goodson and Orozco Fiscal, but I’d rather see Okugo and others first in the gold cup (Hedges, John, O’Neill etc).

            Even though the hype has died down I hope we see Holden and Gatt featured regularly. Hopefully we see a rekindled Donovan as well.

            I am starting to give up on Diskerud. The guy can’t even start regularly in Norway at 23. I think Diskerud and Bedoya are running out of chances.

            And why no Agudelo? He’d be absolutely perfect. I almost wish Boyd was left out of the Senior Team games as well since he was barely used.

            Reply

          • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/06/25 at 11:32 AM

            dth,

            I don’t disagree with your sentiment but tell me who the back up CB’s are going to be?

            And we don’t know what Boca or Gooch is going to be like since we haven’t seen either of them play for the USMNT for some time now and some things have changed with them.

            Gooch is intriguing because he sat behind arguably the most in form pair of CB’s in the Champion’s league. Were they that good or is Gooch so bad? And if he is so bad why did Malaga keep him only one bad tackle away from the Champion’s league?
            If they can’t do it anymore then the sooner they are weeded out the better.

            In my mind this Gold Cup will do three things:

            1. Tell us where Donovan and Shea are likely to be
            2. Rule out those older guys I mentioned, or not
            3. Give your unknown a chance to emerge

            And I think that is the order of priority as well. Beyond an in-form Shea and Donovan I see little chance for any new blood. Maybe Juan for Terrance. The emergence of Evans and DMB, two pretty versatile guys, a vital asset in the World Cup, made things a lot tighter for the bubble people.

            I don’t see JK at all interested in anything “for the future” so to speak. He’s going for maximum impact right now.

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2013/06/25 at 11:58 AM

              What, is JK planning on not coaching the 2014 world cup? If he is…he’d damn well be interested in looking at the future. And part of that is asking yourself questions like,

              “Jose Torres has been a professional for years now in Mexico. We know his speed of thought is too slow for the international level. We know his athleticism is poor. He’s 25 right now, just entering his prime — right when we should see weaknesses overcome. Are his weaknesses things going to change by 2014?”

              And since the answer is “almost certainly not,” I’d be inclined to toss him out. On the other hand:

              “Kelyn Rowe has been a professional for about three years now. He’s shown creativity and a nose for goal. He can play anywhere in an attacking midfield spot — out wide, in the center, he can be effective at the MLS level. (Though it looks like he’s better centrally.) We don’t have a lot of midfielders like that. On the other hand, he’s a bit too risky and careless with the ball — turns it over too often. And we don’t know how he’ll perform at the international level. Could those things change by 2014?”

              And since the answer is “probably not, but maybe” then you should be inclined to give him a shot.

              A lot of these guys are known quantities. There’s no mystery about Clarence Goodson, Jose Torres, or Alan Gordon. They’re maybe serviceable in certain situations, but you know what you’re going to get. That’s got it’s role, for sure! I don’t dismiss it, just as I don’t dismiss owning bonds as part of a well-balanced portfolio. But if all you own is bonds, you aren’t getting enough upside and you risk missing an opportunity to bump your game up another level.

            • dth,

              The reason your investment portfolio analogy is imperfect in this instance is because such things have a short term and a long term.
              And the definition of long and short term is pretty standard when it comes to financial portfolios, whereas long term and short term can be very different when you are referring to soccer team managers.
              The last fifteen years or so SAF could take a long term view of his portfolio. He could take fliers on Chinese center forwards and hope they could do more than sell shirts.
              Any manager working for Abramovich had no long term to consider.
              Then again a typical EPL season would see a team like Chelsea play around 50-60 matches across all competitions in one season. When you throw in all the training sessions you can see that a guy like Benitez got an awful lot more time with his guys than JK whose last match was his 24th (I believe) since he took charge about two years ago.

              So there are significant differences then in each manager’s view of what defines long term and short term.
              Right now JK’s short and long term is all about the 2014 World Cup. I think he will go in their trying to win the thing. I’m pretty sure his contract is up at its conclusion. And I doubt he will come back. Rowe will be someone else’s problem.
              I don’t remember if he is on the provisional list but barring something very unlikely, I doubt Rowe will get within miles of the WC team. The Gold Cup is all about what these guys can contribute to the WC either in terms of roster players, or injury alternatives.

          • Your bonds are close to maturity, and the coupon has always been shite!

            Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2013/06/24 at 7:47 PM

      Just be glad Klinsmann left your back line intact! Will be a good opportunity for Philly to pick up some points against weakened opposition.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2013/06/24 at 10:27 PM

        I hope all the Sporting KC players remain with the National Team all summer! ;) And please call in Agudelo for the Gold Cup! ;)

        Reply

  21. Posted by Crow on 2013/06/24 at 10:26 PM

    Are there any winners in this Brazil mess? Granted I’m not trying to be melodramatic and am trying to keep things in perspective but….

    I’m finally going to my first World Cup next year and now even feel worse that I’m just helping exploit the population. What are/were my other options? South Africa/Russia/Qatar???

    I would have loved to have seen a World Cup in this country especially if I would have children in the next few years- to be able to take them to one- or how about countries such as England, Spain, Netherlands, or Australia that certainly deserve AND WOULD BE HAPPY to host.. and are able.

    I’m happy that the Brazilians are making their voice heard but I sure hope they don’t get the tournaments moved or cancelled (not that I think they will). Can you imagine if they would have to move the tournament? I guess the populace would ‘win’ by having their voice heard, but would their be anything to gain? Would things really get better? And after all that money spent and people displaced (which TSG has been highlighting for a few years now from that Professor) to have no ‘benefits’ at all with tourists arriving.

    I’m just wondering if FIFA can do anything right. Its crazy to think the next two world cups could be far more dysfunctional.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/06/25 at 9:39 AM

      I’m thinking Sepp Blatter and the bunch of Brazilian guys making bazillions off of this are the winners. Tends to be how these things go….

      Reply

  22. Posted by dth on 2013/06/26 at 6:17 PM

    Look, if MLS collectively is serious about winning and keeping fans, they’d make sure their streams worked for the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup.

    DC-NE’s stream sucked and got garbled all the time.

    And the marquee matchup of the round, Portland-Dallas, doesn’t have a stream as of the writing of this comment. Is it really that hard to do a decent stream? Figure it out.

    Reply

  23. Posted by dth on 2013/06/26 at 7:52 PM

    Has Schellas Hyndman developed anyone at FC Dallas? Not sure whether they just splice footage of Fabian Castillo when he first came in the league.

    Reply

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