USA 1, Panama 0: Full Gallops, Whoa Horseys & A Post-2007 Gold Cup Now In the Stable

Secured.

Secured.

Jurgen Klinsmann took the job of “Boss CONCACAF” in August of 2011 with the mantra of creating a US style and dictating play.

His first year at the helm was hell-bent on a few principles: (1) investigating the player pool, specifically players with technical acumen who had been deemed not sturdy enough, appropriately, for Bob Bradley’s previous run-and-gun system, (2) solve the defensive woes that often saw turnovers for the States land with a discourteous swoosh in the back of the Yanks’ net and (3) seek to possess the ball–to what end at first was unclear–for stretches of the game.

The plan bore out with the US halting its penchant to give up goals of the exposure and line-gapping ilk–tallies by Asomoah Gyan for Ghana, Carlos Costly in the same stadium as Sunday’s final for Honduras in a June 2009 qualifier and Gio Dos Santos in the 2011 Gold Cup game were the stereotypical concessions that correctly dogged the US defense.

But Klinsmann’s plan–whether intentional, unimportant at the time, or neither–also kneecapped the Yanks’ scoring ability as the US’s swashbuckling attack style was frowned upon because of the risks it placed on a stretched defense. With a challenge of unlocking an opponent’s defense that retrenched behind the ball, the US stumbled something awful in attack and possession, refusing to compromise defensive integrity by plan and unable to find pockets of narrow space and exploit them. Fans were rightfully alarmed.

The style–revisionist it seems not–came to a head in February of this year when the US looked discombobulated and disillusioned in a loss at Honduras. Its 3-man central midfield dominated by a 2-man central midfield. It’s reluctance to push the attack and reliance on using two gallivanting fullbacks for its sole width horribly incongruous to creating scoring opportunities. A more specific–but not any less critical technical point–was the weakness of requiring a central target striker in a 4-3-3 who would remain static further compounded by this not being the skillset of the strongest attackers in the pool.

Together ... again...

Together … again…

Klinsmann and company took a leap of faith on a blustery night in Colorado–perhaps the environs of the game providing adequate cover to scrap a plan that was continually being forced on the team, like struggling to push a beanbag through a mail slot.

The US would move to more of a 4-2-2-2 set-up of yesteryear; it would vacate the 3-man central midfield using Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones again as the double-pivot. The move along with some ill-timed injuries would see CB Geoff Cameron forced to RB–not only because he was more qualified, but because it kept another defender tethered to the rearguard.

The US may have given up its 3-man central midfield, but they wouldn’t lose that extra defender outright–they would just task that RB with the “stay home” designation.

The rest of course if positive history for the US as a Belgium friendly loss became the lone blemish at the US cruised to its Gold Cup draught on Sunday night. (See what I did there.)

Sunday’s 1-0 win over Panama encapsulated all the building blocks of the past two years and the aggressive learnings of this year.

Early on in the Final, the US poked at the bear of a Panama defense knowing full well the bear of a counterattack that might rage out of hibernation, but the States did so with a set of ready-to-fire Winchesters cocked and loaded.

The US knew that Panama would sit back–what they didn’t want was to risk the wrath of a counter by trying to manufacture chances against the Canaleros in field locations that would leave them caught out.

Instead of an overlapping DaMarcus Beasley which has been the Act One script in many of these Gold Cup games, Eddie Johnson was used to help overload the flanks.

In this way, the US could leave two wide players–Corona and Beasley for example–behind the play or have the threat of them going forward at least occupy Panama’s dangerous wide midfielders.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 11.37.33 PM

DaMarcus Beasley – 1st half distribution

DaMarcus Beasley - 2nd half distribution

DaMarcus Beasley – 2nd half distribution

The US was even more cautious.

Frequently–Kyle Beckerman specifically–the US would have the option to make a long square/switchfield pass to the right to the feet of an advancing Parkhurst. There’s a low probability of Parkhurst in possession beating his man off the dribble and flinging in crosses into the box is not a strategy that typically works against Panama. Those two notions and that the Canaleros most dangerous attacker on the dribble–Alberto Quintero–would be ready to pounce on anything errant sent cross court ruled that pass difficult-to-dangerous.

Beckerman and company elected to ignore what would normally be the right pass and keep on working Panama’s right rearguard eluding the problems that a Quintero-Parkhurst 1v1 battle would present.

(In fact–as shown below and warned by Rapids coach Wilmer Cabrera in our preview–the one time Quintero got the ball in space the US immediately sent help–with Ale Bedoya the bodyguard–to help Parkhurst in battle).

Bedoya races to support Parkhurst while Quintero gets ready to receive in space.

Bedoya races to support Parkhurst while Quintero gets ready to receive in space.

More Cabrera commentary for you: The Rapids assistant belabored that the US must stay patient and that they did all through the first half–taking their chances without committing numbers and overlording the flanks to work over Panama and keep their dangerous pinching-in midfielders from finding space.

It was a shame–tactically and emotionally–that Stu Holden had to be recused from the proceedings because what made the Holden selection spot-on was his speed and his ability to read the play and know when appropriate to come forward–Holden knocked on a shot early and was a dangerous conduit on two other occasions–and when to cover the backline.

Ready to play when called on.

Ready to play when called on.

The second half showed the US following the script it has after the halftime whistle throughout the majority of 2013.

The US seems to edit its plan in a three-fold way in the final 45′: (1) possessing the ball slightly deeper to see if the opponent can be drawn out–in used-car-salesman-land this is called “taking the bait” (2a) pushing their RCM higher–the passing charts for where Mix Diskerud was distributing first half vs. the second half is stark (see below), (2b) bringing on a true winger, hugging the touchline on their stronger foot–Brek Shea’s introduction on Sunday and (3) upping the tempo for stretches to create chances.

Diskerud, 2nd half distribution

Diskerud, 2nd half distribution vs….

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 12.01.11 AM

Diskerud–1st half distribution

Now the opponent–as Panama was on Sunday–was spread–and their wide midfielders were toast after playing Cristiano against Barcelona defense on the flanks in the first half. With the tempo increased, US tightened its possession noose asphyxiating the last gasps of attack Panama had hoped to breath into the game.

The US–gosh, thanks against Coach Wilmer Cabrera for the prescient comments on Friday–stretched the field horizontally and while the States didn’t bust down the doors and go Price-is-Right on the scoreboard they did create a series of half-chances and chances and also left Panama woefully in a defensive disposition that they could not break from.

Beasley could now overlap, Diskerud could find space centrally and at worst the US was not going to concede and at best they’d knock-on and get their game winner.

It was a match that was a microcosm of the US’s team development over the course of 2013.

The States entered the year having solved most of their past defensive foes–through both system and personnel. (The States are still woeful on set pieces and the in-form Alvaro Saborio should give the Yanks some scares down San Jose way in the next World Cup Qualifier, but that’s a problem for another day.)

After February’s Honduran attacking malaise, Klinsmann and his staff came to grips that possession maintenance with thrusts of attacking gusto here and there was there best chance for balance–it’s led to the emergence of DaMarcus Beasley with his wide (non-US-central-defense-threatening) runs on the left and also increased the importance of Eddie Johnson, a player who if used appropriately and given a chance or two in space, seems to be coming through.

Sprinkle in–or rather–empty an entire potato sack of Landon Donovan into the mix pinging passes on those coordinated attack forays and balance that with the positional expertise, counter-busting and tempo-management of a Kyle Beckerman and you have your US Gold Final win, another foundational block for 2014 and, finally, an appropriate hybrid style for the States that appears to be taking shape.

Can the US get results wins against top CONCACAF competition and other top-tier opponents with this schematic?

That questions still needs answers and the second half of 2013 bears watching.

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43 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/29 at 12:40 AM

    Early on in the game, this tweet was sent our way:

    I concurred at the time, but now it’s more clear. The US knew that Eddie Johnson could hold it’s own in possession wide; by sending EJ wide, it forced Panama into a more challenging chain of coverage decisions. See a FB can stand up Donovan floating out there, but by sending EJ Panama would have to decide if it wanted to (1) vacate the middle of the field, send a CB to track EJ and then insure that with Donovan lurking centrally with one block out of four out-of-place on the backline the defensive rotation was there.

    Panama did well but the strategy from the States was sound.

    Reply

    • Posted by BT on 2013/07/29 at 7:18 AM

      Tactically, is this something JK would consider using Altidore for? Not sure if he’s as good at holding the ball, but by sending the strikers out wide from time to time wouldn’t the box open up more for Dempsey and Donovan (two guys notorious for coming into the box on delayed runs).

      Great piece by the way.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/29 at 9:05 AM

        Altidore has actually excelled previously against top competition at the USMNT level when split out wide left. Against England in the World Cup, Altidore got wide to that flank frequently, busted up Jamie Carragher once if you remember.
        (Also in the friendly that year against the Netherlands he was terrific off the left.)

        Altidore is not bad at holding up the ball–*when he receives it facing-up to the goal. It’s when his back is to the goal that he is challenged.

        And you’re right, sending a striker wide certainly helps open the space for Dempsey and Donovan.

        Thanks for the feedback.

        Reply

  2. Posted by Ufficio on 2013/07/29 at 4:55 AM

    Carlos Pavon in the same stadium as Sunday’s final for Honduras in a qualifier of June of 2009

    That was Carlo Costly, no?

    Reply

  3. Posted by Spiritof76 on 2013/07/29 at 6:34 AM

    Wanted to just send a h/t and a growler of home-brew to the TSG crew for the pre-present-and post game coverage the entire Gold Cup. Still the go-to place on the whole of the internet for USMNT coverage.

    If I had any advice for future TSG improvement though, it would be 1) STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF 2) STICK TO THE GAME PLAN 3) HAVE FUN!! ®

    The USMNT started out this year with a home draw to Canada and a loss to Honduras, and dragged out our first 5 games to 1-2-2. We now sit 12-2-2, and are tied with our best winning percentage ever in a calendar year (.750). The record for Ws in a calendar year is 13, and we’ve still got five matches left, meaning we need to beat Jamaica at home and Panama on the road to best that number. Ws against Mexico (home) and Costa Rica (away) sure would be nice to add to that tally.

    The USMNT record for games *unbeaten* is 16. Five results from our remaining five games and we will have equaled that. I’m thinking lets set up another friendly against Scotland in October and go ahead and break all the records in 2013.

    Psyched about where the team is right now, with the caveats that I’m still a little concerned about what the WC 2014 defense looks like, and so sad for Stu. But, its a good time to be a USMNT fan.

    Cheers!

    Reply

  4. Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 8:12 AM

    Fantastic followup. Just to add a little urine to the morning corn flakes:
    Klinsi says that Stu’s knee looks…very serious. It’s his right knee which is not the injured left. Which is kinda good news in a very shitty news wrapper.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 1:26 PM

      BTW- I posted this last week after Honduras:
      “I know its not going to happen but man does Stu need to learn how and when to go in hard to challenges. I appreciate that he throws his body around but that’s how the Evans injury happened really, on a reckless dive in. I still think Jonny Evans is pond scum but that was what happened. At least 3-4 times last night he got banged around for no good reason other than just overzealously throwing his body in to lost cause challenges. It really points back to his injury history when you see him in that way. ”

      I know it was just a knee knock on his left knee when he tweaked his right knee but if you watch it was really kind of unnecessary for him to be in there. He seems to not really know how to assess when to tackle and when to shuttle the player. I hope its just a sprain and he’s able to resume training etc but Klinsi’s comments sound like he’s prepping everyone for the worst. Bummer for Stu. And us….

      Reply

  5. I love the site, and this article, but you are in *serious* need of an editor or even just a proofread. I don’t intend to be rude, just constructively critical.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/29 at 8:35 AM

      I’ll get a copy-editor when one of the following happens: (1) Clarence Goodson observes the offsides trap, (2) Tim Chandler fully commits to the US.

      Deal? :>

      Reply

      • Posted by Freegle on 2013/07/29 at 10:49 AM

        How come none of the people who complain about the grammar (and there have been several) offer to volunteer their free time to help?

        Reply

        • Posted by scweeb on 2013/07/29 at 10:53 AM

          +100000000000000

          Reply

        • Posted by K.L. on 2013/07/29 at 11:23 AM

          Pick me! Pick me! If I’m really, really good can I help?!

          Reply

          • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 12:08 PM

            Matt-
            What would that entail? Emailing content to a pre-identified group to get feedback prior to posting? I’m in if you need a grammar bitch to quiet the grammar beeeyotches.
            Of course then it’s not really a b-l-o-g anymore its a j-o-b.
            Maybe the answer is we just step up the “grammar troll” shaming from the TSG faithful. I’m good either way. Both your and Will’s stuff today was far and away the best out there. Much appreciated.
            Now back to your dictionary….

            Reply

            • I’m in. I could just repost –pretty much word for word — what KickinNames said, really.

              I think BJ is volunteering, too, no?

            • Posted by Gregorio on 2013/07/29 at 4:41 PM

              I’m for the grammar police public shaming. I encountered this crap in college, its content vs context. whats more important, quality content? or shitty content that’s grammatically correct? I’ll take the real person commentary over the slick produced drivel any day, go to some other glossy crappy site where they can pay a copy editor and regurgitate cliches and the comments are ” you suck, he was a beast…” go TSG!

            • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 5:37 PM

              Well then…its done….KL, Mduke, Gregorio and I will heretofore be known as ‘The Injurious GrammarTards”. We won’t rest until every single damn one of them there grammar loving fascists gets rounded up and forced to read Goal.com and ESPN.com comments section until there scalp just clean falls off.
              Or we can read and edit this electronic gold dust before you that wave that magic blogging wand and put it straight up on the interwebs.

            • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 5:39 PM

              that should say “their” not “there” above. My sincerest apologies.

        • Posted by John Henry on 2013/07/30 at 9:15 AM

          I have a couple of times. Still would!

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/30 at 11:54 AM

            Hey guys — I appreciate all the support here and I need to think of a good solution.

            The challenge for me is about 75% of the time now, the *only* time I have on a piece is the time to write it, give it to once overs and get it out the door.

            Often I work on my own deadlines. For example, that USA-Panama preview, I said to myself (and thankfully Wilmer stayed true to his time) that no matter what I had to get it out by 2pm that day–people want to read it in business hours at the end of the day on a Friday. :>

            So I finished it at–truly–1:56.

            But I think what a solution here would be is to give the keys to a few of you (if I can figure it out) to come in and edit out the problems. (AND MASSIVE THANKS IN ADVANCE).

            I can always go back and reinstate a previous version so a ton of quality control is not necessary.

            Let me noodle on it.

            I’m well aware of the grammar issues and despite the consistent issue with it, it does pain me to publish with errors.

            But I really have a choice more of a publishing with errors or not publishing at all.

            Let me think about it. I tried it last time with a kind, generous soul through email and it just didn’t work well for me.

            Thanks again everyone for sitting tight with the errors.

            Reply

            • Posted by Paul on 2013/07/30 at 5:32 PM

              Matt, glad you have so many individuals who are willing to read. I do think the “grammar trolls” are a bit much. They do realize you have other responsibilities, right? Especially when you review of matches clock in at over 1,000 words.

              Perhaps you could give your suggested editors a weekly guide for when you expect to be working on a piece, a window when various individuals could edit the piece on a private blog. You offer a window, post, see what has been changed; if nothing get edited, you at least know you gave others a shot at editing. I would hate to see your desire to improve your writing and others’ willingness to help go to waste. Hope you find a decent solution.

  6. Another great analysis.

    Reply

  7. Posted by twewlife on 2013/07/29 at 12:29 PM

    Question to the forum:

    Where do you see the U.S. starting line-up going forward, in light of the Gold Cup matches? Further, who are the prime-substitutes (obviously somewhat dependent on game-time situations.

    To me, the most interesting questions involve, LD, FJ and Jones. It seems pretty clear at this point that LD and FJ are going to be in the starting 11. But where they are going to slot in remains somewhat of a mystery (at least to me). In addition, I’m curious to see if Jones holds on to his starting spot by the time Brazil ’14 rolls around.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 12:58 PM

      Jones: My gut was that Klinsi was hoping that Holden would get back in form by early 14 and bring the wood in the mid with a bit more composure.
      Johnson: I think he owns the left mid role and Beas is a reasonably competent LB that give you some upside going forward AND they can interchange on the left flank seamlessly.
      LD: I liked the way they used Landon in this tourney to his strengths. Demps is better drifting. I like to think of 2014 Landon as maybe more of a Charlie Davies complement to Altidore. Not as fast but better in traffic and the biggest “big moment” player in USMNT history.

      Not a lot of buzz on Torres from this tourney but he showed a lot to be interested in going forward. He was very good and surprisingly stout defensively. With Stu likely gone for a bit (if not for good) there is another MF option who fits the style the Jurgen is trying to instill.

      I still hope Dolo can come back from his latest knee probs and give them a solid L and R back options to go with CB’s that will have played together for 8-12 months.

      Reply

      • KickinNames… I’m wondering if we may decide to take Cameron as backup to Jermaine Jones and take a 5th CB rather than Edu, Williams or Beckerman. Maybe take someone like Fiscal that JK noted could have started the Gold Cup final or possibly John Anthony Brooks!

        Reply

      • Great analysis Matt. I actually feel myself getting smarter whenever I visit this website, which is pretty much every day now. That said, my humble opinion below will probably punch a hole in my previous sentence.

        I feel Fabian should be starting at LB for the Nats. First and foremost, I think he defends better than Beasley. Bless DMB’s heart because he’s really improved since being transitioned from the midfield, especially from when Bob was in charge. However, I honestly believe Johnson would fare better against World Cup level attackers. Secondly, Johnson is a more dangerous threat on the overlap and is better at attacking the goal.

        I see Donovan starting at LW because Zusi plays wider on the right and seems to cross better during the run of play. Landon still has the pace to attack the corner flag but if Johnson is doing the overlapping, then LD has the option of cutting in onto his right foot and hopefully causing some mayhem. The Gold Cup showed that he still has a good nose for the net. Plus, I don’t see Klinsmann messing with team chemistry by supplanting his new captain with someone who still doesn’t have any caps during this Hex.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/30 at 5:37 AM

          Never discount your opinion. Unless you’re in the locker room, no one knows better than another. It’s all just opinion.

          In regards to your opinion above, I’ll debate your on two points. One, incredulously I think DMB is the better defender right now, though Fab J might fare better against WC level competition. fJ’s club moved him out of defense this year because of some of his challenges.

          And Fab J’s crossing is sub-par to DMB’s and that’s a big part of the game plan. I think FJ wins the spot if he improves in those two areas.

          I think LD is the LM and he’ll switch often with Dempsey up top and Zusi out right. LD is terrific e at taking that ball in the key zone centrally above the 18′ and moving it quickly and I think that’s why you’ll see him switch not only with Zipusi, but with CD from time to time.

          Just watched too much tape of Johannson. Cautiously optimistic.

          Reply

          • Posted by mbw on 2013/07/30 at 8:41 AM

            Do you think it’s feasible to play Fabian Johnson at right fullback? Obviously a major departure from the way Klinsmann has been using that position (stay at home, maintain possession, etc.), but then on the other hand, Johnson would provide a real overlap threat, which has been missing since ‘Dolo went down, and a good deal of pace.

            Reply

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/30 at 11:59 AM

              I think this is probably the most legitimate and of the final deployment questions out there.

              And I’m going to say no and here’s why:

              It has little to do with Johnson. Johnson is in his 20’s and an average defender at best. Pairing that next to what will surely be the US’s weakest defensive link (RCB) is probably not a wise decision, especially when you consider it is often Jermaine Jones lining up over that side rather than Bradley.

              Also, players need reps in their roles or at least very similar roles. The translation of play from LFB to LMF is not big. The interactions are simllar. Not so, LFB or LMF to RFB–there is much difference.
              (As many fans who watched Eric Lichah flip over to that flank in the middle of the GC Final 2011 witnessed)

              I think Johnson really needs to improve his left flank play. I have serious reservations of running out JFT at the World Cup (2010 is not the issue, his current game play is) and the other option is Brek Shea.

              But if one of DMB, Fab J and Shea gets hurt, your left side options become EJ (not terrible, he seems to work well on that flank), Brad Davis (nowhere near the speed necessary for Brazil 2014) or Edgar Castillo (who I’m coming around to merely being inconsistent).

              So that’s my rationale for keeping Fab J on the left. He can AND HAS played on the right previously. I believe he did against El Tri in the 2012 friendly. But I just think it’s a big ask.

            • Posted by jeppley on 2013/07/30 at 1:34 PM

              Since you mentioned RCB, who do you see there next summer? Gonzalez seems to have the inside track right now, but I’m not seeing the confidence on the ball that JK supposedly prizes. I think Orozco did enough to get more looks, but he didn’t really show enough to get me excited. While we saw Cameron struggle out wide (against Belgium?), CB was his best position in the MLS. I’d like to see him get more looks at CB.

            • Posted by john mosby on 2013/07/30 at 5:47 PM

              matthew, im pretty sure it will not take much to convince you of the feasibility of playing Fabian at right back. you clearly seem to favor a dmb, Donovan pairing on the left, even if you don’t know it.

              I don’t know if Fabian Johnson is an average defender at best or not, but for the USA, he has been an above average defender in most of the games he has played, whether a shutout of Italy in Italy, or of mexico, in mexico, the guy has played above average for the USA.

              he does get a strong defender in zusi playing in front of him on the right, if he was played there, and a Cameron RCB and there are some people out there that say Fabian Johnson actually favors his right foot.

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/31 at 12:55 AM

          You know, I used to favor Fabian Johnson, but whether it be Honduras on the road, Guatemala on the road, Honduras at home, he’s had some headscratchers offensively and defensively against better competition.

          Zusi, I agree. Strong defenders. But positionally if it were Goodson-Johnson at the left back position and I was Costa Rica I run Arrieta behind them for the first 65 minutes in San Jose and I’d be near guaranteed to get at least two or three good chances.

          Johnson plays on both feet. Naturally right-footed to begin his career.

          I’m hoping I’ll eat these words, but the observations to date are there.

          Reply

          • Posted by john mosby on 2013/07/31 at 12:36 PM

            matt, there are no words to be eaten here. this is just a feasibility study and Fabian has played both left and right back for the mens team, and done well doing it, against very good competition.

            the real point about san jose is that DMB played the left back position four years ago, in this up coming fixture. and now he is four years older and if he is any kind of man, which we all know he is, he is going to want to make amends. it is going to be so nice to not have to play on the freaking turf at saprissa.

            Reply

    • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2013/07/29 at 11:44 PM

      I mean, is this sort of the conventional wisdom template right now, or am I totally wrong?

      ——————-Howard————————–
      ——————————————————-
      —?#1—–Omar—Besler—-Fabian———–
      ——————————————————-
      ——-Jones/Cameron—-Bradley————–
      ——————————————————-
      ———–Donovan/Dempsey/?#2————–
      ——————————————————-
      ———————Altidore————————

      Subs: Guzan, Goodson, J Jones, Beasley, Mix, Torres, Shea, Wondo, Bedoya, Beckerman, Torres, E Johnson/Herc?

      It doesn’t seem like anybody but Landon *really* played themselves into a starting spot during the Gold Cup, although Wondo, Torres, Coronoa, Bedoya, Beckerman, Mix, and a few others probably allowed themselves to continue being considered?

      ?#1 at RB seems like the biggest problem.
      ?#2 as the other attacking midfielder could be filled with lots of able folks, including Jones or Bradley, Zusi, Mix, Coronoa..

      Reply

      • Posted by Jake on 2013/07/30 at 5:19 PM

        I mentioned this in another post somewhere in regards to Clint and MB90, but now I think you can throw LD into the mix too. I think they are three of our best attacking players (add Jozy, but he is not in the conversation) bu tthe problem is they all do their best work (Landon less so…) when they pop up unexpectedly. This is a great skill to have, especially as a second or third scoring option (with Jozy – or the main striker being option 1 usually). But when all of your secondary options are best at showing up in good places, it makes it hard to actually create offense. This I think is why Wondo has struggled to make an impact pre-gold cup (and Herc struggles to score from the run of play).

        What I liked about the gold cup was Mix, Corona, EJ at the end, Bedoya all were able to create offense based on smart positioning and runs – being proactive, rather than reacting (Clint, MB90). LD was great when he was with these players, because he can play that way, but I think the A-team has not proactively created offense in the attacking third. I know competition was weaker, but the mindset was way different from WCQ to GC.

        Jozy started to be proactive which helped wide players (Zusi, etc) become proactive to because they knew he would be working the right (read: expected) channels and forcing a defense into expected cover. Assuming you need width (Zusi) in attack, it makes it hard to figure out where to play, Clint, LD, and MB90 because you sacrifice width on the other side and Jones is the other de facto CM and can’t really be counted on to let MB90 find the spots he likes to attack from. Adding Cameron instead of Jones allows the three amigos mentioned above to do more wandering and less positional, possession based attacking.

        I would do this I think:

        —————–Timmy—————–
        RB——-Gonzo——Besler——Beasley
        ————-Cameron———————
        ————————-Bradley———-
        Zusi———–Donovan———Dempsey
        ————–Jozy—————————

        Beasley bombs forward overlapping an in-cutting Dempsey. LD plays more like a 2nd FW than CAM. Zusi provides width. RB doesn’t press too far forward. Cameron eats everything through the middle and his presence allows Besler to cover for Beaslely. Bradley attacks the second ball a la Slovenia WC’10.

        But can you really justify no JJ? and FJ? Maybe that’s why FJ ends up at RB?

        Reply

  8. Posted by Andrew M. on 2013/07/29 at 12:52 PM

    Would be curious to know what everyone’s opinions on Brek would be after this Gold Cup?

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/07/29 at 1:01 PM

      He looks labored in movement both offensively and defensively unless he has 10 yds to get rolling from what I saw. The goals were nice to see but he didn’t show much beyond a breakaway that was gift wrapped for him and a tap in. I know the objective is to score but looking at him through his runouts I just wasn’t impressed.
      I think he’s going to have a tough time breaking into Stoke’s first 11 which doesn’t bode well for wc14,

      Reply

      • Posted by Andrew M. on 2013/07/29 at 1:58 PM

        I’m an FC Dallas fan, so I’ve followed Shea from the beginning of his career (I’m admittedly bias as well). So when I look at the first games of the tournament ie. Cuba, I look at them for what they are: some his first competitive games in over a year of overcoming injury. He had a bone completely removed from his foot.

        The Brek I saw yesterday was the guy I remember from 2 years ago. He was always making sure he was in the box for a cross if it came (it did). Always looking to beat people. Always struggling when the ball isn’t on his left foot was something I remember too.

        Don’t forget he gave EJ 2 scoring chances that were harder to miss than they were to put away. If EJ would have scored even of those, Brek would have been MotM.

        Glad to hear what you think, I’m always curious how other people see things.

        Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/29 at 4:58 PM

      KickinNames said it right above in that … Brek needs time to … “unfurl.”

      The biggest challenge for him has been the ability to work in less space and that defenders int’l and abroad close down faster.

      To me, he needs to work on his reception and first touch. He’s actually fairly quick and adept on the ball. He’s one of the few wingers who I watch–anywhere who can hit an overlapping pass well–lefty and right–to a lefty (DMB) whose overlapping on his flank.

      That’s not easy stuff.

      He’s got great angles–he’s knows who to threaten with speed and size at the right angle to goal. A player like Antonio Valencia is very vertical-north-south. Ashley Young is very horiztonal. Brek is very fluid in whatever the appropriate angle is. I’m uncertain how much of that can be taught.

      He needs games and to greatly improve that reception/first touch–there are flashes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OoFSyqTjkc in space–and he needs –like Jozy did–to commit himself offensively and defensively for 90 minutes.

      Many don’t think he has a soccer IQ. I think he just needs to improve his rate of play and mental game in association with it. Can he? Good question.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/07/29 at 4:59 PM

        And you’re right, he needs to develop that right foot. It’s not Arjen Robben-like, but it’s not far behind.

        Reply

  9. Posted by Nate on 2013/07/29 at 6:07 PM

    I’m very excited at the possibility of seeing Mix Diskerud as a part of the team going forward. He was MotM for me yesterday, and really didn’t seem to have a bad match the whole tourney.

    So –beyond– disappointed for Stu Holden. What a gut punch for that poor fellow :( I’m still a big Stu fan, and very much hope he can recover and rehab his knee to help Bolton in the spring.

    Reply

    • Posted by Gregorio on 2013/07/29 at 8:01 PM

      I too concur on Mix, he will take over the mid for us soon, he needs a tad hostility but I see him taking over JJ’s spot although I love Jermaine I don’t mind some yellows, opponents have to be on guard, ask Neymar and countless others.

      Reply

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