Quick Hits: USA 0 – Austria 1

"Where did all these defenders come from?!"

“Where did all these defenders come from?!”

An altogether more entertaining game from the States against Das Team of Austria coming off a malaisical (new word) canvas of work in Scotland.

Some quick hit breakdowns:

• The US has been found out! Back to the tinker board, Vasquez.

Beasley's distribution

Beasley’s distribution

The above image is the passing chart of DaMarcus Beasley.

Not wholly awful, but what you don’t see above is any incising passes in the attacking third.

This was the second game in a row that the US has been well-scouted.

Against Scotland, Barry Bannan immediately ran at DaMarcus Beasley every time he got the ball in possession looking up field.

It was the same tactic used by Austria on Tuesday. Jurgen Klinsmann and Martin Vasquez have been milking the left side of the US attack ad nauseum since Beasley played back-to-backs against Costa Rica and Mexico in March.

The staff will have to both come up with some wrinkles to free Beasley and have a Plan B as they prepare for Brazil.

Now the good news is–thanks to the switch field work of Michael Bradley–the US adjusted nicely. Geoff Cameron got up the field and had excellent handles in possession.

Cameron's passing schematic.

Cameron’s passing schematic.

It stands to reason that if you run an extra defender out on the US left rear flank that the right side can open up if you move the ball quickly laterally.

That’s exactly what Roma man Bradley did methodically on Tuesday.

Bradley gets the right flank going.

The New One Direction! Bradley gets the right flank going.

—-

• Speak Up [defensively]!

To any media hound and likely the average fan, the US’s troubles in defense were elementary yesterday.

Way too much space offered between the midfield and back line(s).

Some of this was by design of the US attack–Jermaine Jones clearly was authorized to get forward more and he executed on the directive.

However most of this was due to the backline consistently cheating backwards to guard against the pace of the Austrian forwards. With Brooks and Gonzalez dragging themselves deep and with Jones pushing up, it became Michael Bradley vs. [whole slew of Austrians] in the midfield on turnovers upfield.

You're World Cup, Jonesy!

You’r World Cup, Jonesy!

There are a few ways to correct this: (1) Watch your turnovers in the middle of the field…..[quick interlude]

[Pick  it up Jermaine! Failures of execution on proper passes happen all the time, but the Shalke man must improve his decision-making in the middle of the field. It's one thing to miss a forward pass--that's acceptable. Jones is not a creative midfielder by birth/genetics/tutelage but he's asked to play one on Team Klinsmann. That said, it's knowing when to make a pass or shield that ball and not give up a turnover where you team gets caught out. There is a rather large sampling size recently that suggests that Jones is not improving here. Back to our bulletpoint..]

(2) Put pressure and shield the ball from forward advancement with your midfielders upfield. The US seems hit or miss here. This is something that Bradley’s teams tended to do really well but for some reason–attack creation on the brain–Klinsmann’s teams seem to be inconsistent with and (3) Step up higher and close down the space, trusting your goalie to come out on the one or two over-the-top balls that he may face.

However, those are all fundamental things that likely these players know.

Tim Howard was the captain yesterday. I’m sure he’s a good captain.

However in the middle of the field–and I’m sure Klinsmann was yelling it from the sideline; I know I heard Kyle Martino yelling it from the broadcast booth–there was no one taking charge and assertively demanding that the backline play true.

That’s a problem and it should be simple to solve. It needs to be rectified.

• Wingo Bingo

The US’s board failed miserably here on Friday; however on Tuesday there were some glimmers of hope. Brek Shea and Ale Bedoya didn’t burn up the pitch and force Austria to defend them, but they were more proactive in movement.

You have to believe the additions of Fabian Johnson–to the Shea role–and Zusi to the Bedoya role will alleviate some of the concerns here though.

Miscellaneous:

• Agree again with Kyle Martino in that it looks like Klinsmann is really trying to find a slot for Kljestan. That said, Kljestan is really excelling at the unencumbered deep-lying CM at Anderlecht. That position doesn’t exist on the US and will be under more duress at World Cup 2014.

• Not to belabor the Jones point, but while many may say it’s the centerbacks (a good argument) or the fullbacks (less of a good argument) that are the key positions to figure out before Brazil, it may just be Jones–not even “the other CM.”

It is clear to this viewer, that Klinsmann–and I think rightfully–doesn’t want to burn out Michael Bradley by pushing him up the field the entire game to fight in traffic for creation. It’s also clear, by the way, that Bradley is the guardian angel of the backline. There would often by a whole lot more brewing for the opponent’s attack if Bradley wasn’t shielding.

Likewise–and perhaps correctly–Klinsmann wants two midfielders with steel in the midfield and they just don’t exist. Danny Williams is not quite there; Maurice Edu can’t get on the field and has proved that he’s a liability often with the rock. Mix Diskerud is offering more and more offensively by the month, but he’ll get eaten up defensively at his current level in Brazil. Kljestan is not the answer.

Therefore, it’s Jones. And the US success in Brazil may just depend on how well he plays within himself and how few mistakes he makes.

• Solid game for Geoff Cameron. He’ll be a solid to very good centerback one day when someone gives him reps there, but he’s more comfortable outside and if he shows he can stay 1v1 with quicker players, he’ll get a shot to win that gig.

• Ice skate lessons and fundamental cliff notes for John Brook and Omar Gonzalez today.

• And lest it not be said, good attacking movement yesterday. Solid ability from the US to process out their errors from Friday and come back and execute if not score on an attacking game plan.

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28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2013/11/20 at 10:08 AM

    What about Cameron centrally? Offers steel, but a bit more nuanced with the ball at his feet.

    Reply

    • I agree. While it doesn’t seem JK gives this idea much thought since I can only remember Cameron playing one game there this year for the Nats (vs. Honduras?), Jones shouldn’t be inked in at CM. If only Beckerman had the wheels to match his mental steel. Alas, he doesn’t and won’t be any faster come next June.

      I really believe Cameron should be given more consideration shielding the backline. And while I thought he had the best game amongst the American yesterday, his best bet to start in Brazil seems (to me) alongside Bradley in the midfield. Evans still appears to be ahead of Cameron on the depth chart at RB and Cherundolo looms over all at that position if he gets healthy and match fit for next summer. Meanwhile, Besler, Gonzalez and Brooks all stand ahead of him at CB.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Freddie Footballer on 2013/11/20 at 10:10 AM

    I agree that the off-ball movement was better but it wasn’t good enough in getting behind the Austrian D and I don’t recall very many passes that made it through the Austrian backline. And where was our wide play? I’m confused as to why Shea kept pinching inside instead of making deep, wide runs? Bewildering.

    Reply

    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/11/20 at 1:14 PM

      I think both Bedoya and Shea where looking for Cameron and Beasley to overlap to the corner, but it wasn’t happening because of the strong wing play of Austria. I think that when we play any upper level European style teams this is going to be a problem as we don’t have fullbacks with enough experience or confidence in the centerbacks to make that run.

      Reply

  3. Posted by James H on 2013/11/20 at 10:23 AM

    Truly. I would rather see Cameron paired with Bradly for a good run. Slot Cameron deeper and Bradly square in the middle. When Dempsey or Donovan are not available as an attacking central mid, we are essentially forced into a 4-4-2 with both central mids playing way too deep.

    Reply

  4. Posted by tony on 2013/11/20 at 10:45 AM

    agree with above – thought US looked good in games past where Cameron played D MF and bradley was able to push forward a little more

    Reply

  5. Posted by gino744 on 2013/11/20 at 11:49 AM

    Matthew, it looks like you were going to finish a thought just above your last 3 bullet points but something went wrong before posting your piece. You weren’t leaving it up to the readers to finish it for you were you? How about this: many games Jones plays before suspension from yellow card accumulation.

    Reply

  6. Posted by JH on 2013/11/20 at 12:12 PM

    I love Cameron. I will be sad if he doesn’t start in Brazil. I think he’s better than JJ in midfield, better than Gonzalez at CB, and equal to Evans at RB. He’s probably better than EJ at left wing too, but that’s just a guess.

    One bright lining is that Omar looked like a good centerback finally against tough competition. I think the communication and interplay was a bit shaky between him and Brooks, but overall i thought Oscar looked good, solid, dependable.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/11/20 at 1:11 PM

    My thoughts here:
    -The backline needs a field general. That player is not Gonzalez, Cameron, or Brooks. I really think that its Besler. While individually he may not be better than any of the above I really think he is the cerebral player we need there. It is unfortunate that he is still inexperienced at this level. Loan moves for centerbacks are rare, but maybe klinsmann can hook him up with a team that has an injury and needs a replacement.

    -Whether by design or by player tendency we played far too narrow. Neither of our fullbacks overlapped. Which is fine in my opinion, but only when the wide mids are staying outside. Ideally the mids come inside and the fullback barrels into the space. I don’t know that we have that player on the team or available in the pool, for either fullback spot.

    -I like Cameron for central midfield. I have seen a lot of players move back and forth between central mid and fullback for club and national teams. I don’t think its asking too much for a player. In my mind it seems to make sense.The roles are quite similar, depending on how a team plays. Cameron is the best chance at a good partner for Bradley. But also Jones also consistently asks too much from the other players on the field. I just feel that he makes every other player accommodate him. In a 4-2-3-1 the 2 band players really should be there to serve the team. The ultimate givers. Cover the fullbacks, outlet for centerbacks, and switch the field. Occasionally a late crash of the box.

    Lastly I posted it on another thread but here is my desired formation/players for world cup. You can call it by any number scheme you want. I am going to write it how I want it played the majority of the time, not how you would traditionally write it.
    2-3-3-2 (4-4-2)

    ——–Altidore——Donavon———
    Dempsey—–Bradley————-Zusi
    Beasely——Cameron———–Evans
    ———Besler———Gonzalez——-
    —————–Howard——————-

    Given that there are three “Centerbacks” and 6 “midfielders” on this does that make it a 3-6-1?

    Reply

    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/11/20 at 1:21 PM

      Just a comment on this formation at the end.
      Dempsey on the wing and not Donovan (god I make that typo everytime) because I want Donovan to use speed in behind. Altidore and dempsey can switch and interplay in that left area. They both like starting from there. Keeping Donovan high maximizes his ability at this point in his career. He was never great in traffic and I don’t see it coming on now.

      The subs I could see using from this starting formation is Bedoya for Zusi regardles if up or down, Diskerud for Cameron if down. Fabian Johnson for Donavon if defending a lead or Fabian for Beasley if down.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Brad on 2013/11/20 at 2:48 PM

    I have a feeling this World Cup Osvaldo Alonso will be to Jermaine Jones what Jermaine Jones was to Ricardo Clark in the last World Cup.

    Reply

  9. where did you get the passing charts from?

    Reply

    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/11/21 at 9:31 AM

      MLSsoccer.com will give you these charts in their matchcenter. Its harder to get heat maps but they are there

      Reply

  10. Posted by gino744 on 2013/11/20 at 6:22 PM

    Only 17 days until the World Cup draw. For me, waiting for this day is like waiting for Christmas when I was a kid. Some of you have probably seen this already but its a fun way to pass the time.

    http://ultra-zone.net/2014-FIFA-World-Cup-Group-Stage-Draws

    Reply

    • Posted by Freddie footballer on 2013/11/20 at 6:28 PM

      High probability that USA ends up in a very tough group

      Reply

      • Posted by Nick on 2013/11/22 at 8:40 AM

        Just ran this once for kicks and it put the US in a group with Germany, Croatia, and Algeria. Tough, but not horrible. Then it allows you to simulate the group stage and it put Croatia and Germany through ahead of us, but just barely.

        However, not sure how useful this is if it’s completely random since it has Brazil crashing out in the group stage against Portugal, Australia, and Ghana…

        Reply

        • Posted by Freddie Footballer on 2013/11/22 at 9:20 AM

          I would take that group in a heartbeat. Germany is very tough, but I think we beat Algeria and get at least a tie vs. Croatia – they are probably the weakest team in Pot 4, Bosnia being the other possibility. A complete nightmare scenario would put us with Spain, Chile and Netherlands. We’d be scratching for a point or two out of that.

          Reply

  11. Posted by Izzy on 2013/11/20 at 10:17 PM

    I can understand the point you’re making about Jones, but I simply don’t think he’s playing WELL enough. His skillet, when he’s healthy, is a good match for Bradley. However, I don’t think he IS healthy, and even past that, I don’t think the way he plays suits Bradley. He makes Michael sit back and keeps trying to make big plays with the ball, and even mis-places simple passes.

    As far as your points about Sacha, I would at least like to see him paired with Bradley just once these past two friendlies. That worked fantastically in Bosnia. I just don’t get why it can’t get a look from the start.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/11/20 at 10:26 PM

      Jones reminds me of Veron for Argentina in 2010. Left for dead by coaches and fans, he had an extremely solid World Cup for them.

      Reply

  12. Posted by RP on 2013/11/21 at 12:18 AM

    I submit minute 24 as latest evidence of why Cameron is best fit to play beside/behind Bradley. Simply put he has the handles and where with all for it. Several times in the game he had quick feet and verve to play in tight space and find the right pass.

    Jones in contrast often dribbles into traffic plays a 50/50 ball or worse hoofs it forward.

    Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/11/21 at 6:03 PM

      The Austria game was a high level practice session. I think what you saw with Cameron is he has been making a good case to serve as cover for the likes of Omar, Dolo and Jones.

      But, if those guys are healthy, fit and in form, he’s not replacing them.

      His best is not as good as their best.

      It’s also worth remembering that adding a fit, healthy and in form Donovan, Dempsey and Fabian, all of whom will hopefully be in Brazil, to the Austria game, changes that game drastically.

      Cameron may be JK’s most important player after Bradley because of the flexibility he allows JK.

      Reply

  13. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/11/21 at 9:44 AM

    An interesting point I saw over at MLSsoccer was that the deployment of Diskerud and klejstan might have been an attempt to audition them for the same roster spot. IE diskerud is a natural 10 and kljestan a natural 8. But they were deployed opposite this. Trying to figure out who is better at the other’s job.

    I saw something similar with EJ and Shea. They played opposite roles in the two games. At Scotland Shea played late game wide man and EJ played starter in cutting possession hub. At Austria this was reversed. I think that successfully proved that Shea was better than EJ as a wide sub, not sure either was well suited to the starter possession hub, but I though shea was better.

    Basically I see that Klinsmann set up a roster spot battle between EJ and Shea and also between Kljestan and Diskerud. For me Diskerud and Shea won. So Kljestan and EJ only make the final roster if Jones, bradley, diskerud or Altidore, Johanson are unavailable.

    Reply

    • Posted by SamT on 2013/11/22 at 11:16 AM

      That’s an interesting hypothesis, and you may just be right.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/11/22 at 11:19 PM

      I can see the Shea-EJ argument but not the Diskerud-Kjlestan argument and here’s why….

      Diskerud is 23. Kljestan 28.

      Diskerud has only been deployed centrally (a little blip on the left) while Kljestan has been tried at LM, RM, CDM, CAM and even LB I believe.

      To me this is an audition for Kljestan and see if *he* can contribute something, somewhere for this cycle. If he can’t show his Anderlecht skills, then Mix is going mostly on potential.

      You’ve 5 games maybe and likely, at least, Cameron, Jones and Bradley.

      I think the missing component in the midfield is actually not attacking industry — you can always drop Zusi centrally if you want to. I think the missing player is the end of game, man-on shut down 1v1 defender. Cameron plays more like a shield.

      To me there is/or could be still a spot for either Edu or Williams.

      Reply

  14. Posted by dude on 2013/11/22 at 11:01 PM

    Your argument is that JK wants Bradley to cover, and for Jones to direct.

    I don’t believe for a second that this is the case. Everyone knows the Bradley is the best distributor on the team. JK values Jone’s pedigree, but doesn’t curtail his dangerous delusion that he is/should be running the offense.

    Jones is the problem. He’s incapable of partnering. He doesn’t have levels, he just is. And he isn’t working- not the way we need him to. He’s probably more of a backup at the Bradley position at this point.

    Geoff Cameron. He’s depth at three positions, but he should start at this one. He blew everyone’s minds against Panama, and every time he’s played with Bradley, good things happened, because Bradley was free, and the gaps were stopped. Jones isn’t there to put out fires, he just wants to be independent, and therefore reckless. Only by ignoring his skill and pedigree can JK truly fix the problem, which Bradley and Jones together will never solve.

    Reply

    • Posted by Dirk on 2013/11/25 at 6:16 PM

      This.

      Reply

      • Posted by john mosby on 2013/11/26 at 1:17 PM

        ahh, Cameron did well, but that was against panama, and they are not going to the world cup. if Cameron was this wonderful midfield player, don’t you think he would be played there for stoke? he did happen to also play this position in the costa rica game and there was no revelation during that game as to how positive his contribution was.

        Reply

        • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/11/27 at 8:54 AM

          A lot of our defensive midfielders tend to look really good when the opposition isn’t pressing us. I still remember when Danny Williams looked amazing versus Jamaica (I think).

          I think people aren’t looking at Cameron as a world class center mid, but more of a defensive hub.

          What I consistently find confusing is the team tactics and player personnel. I guess they are caught between selecting the best individuals and forcing them into the team or selecting the best specialists for a position.

          I also see that they haven’t fully embraced the idea that this team needs to be built around Michael Bradley. While its debatable whether he is our best player, he is our best player at the most important position. Your team plays the why the center mids play. I’ll make an NFL analogy, you build a team around your quarterback. If you have Peyton Manning you play as a passing team in a no huddle, if you have Russell Wilson you use his running ability.

          We have Michael Bradley as our best center mid. He is best as a box to box field general. Having a dedicated play maker and a dedicated holding midfielder brings out his best. I think that having him play with De Rossi and Totti show this. I don’t know that the US has a single player that can be the playmaker, but we do have players that can make decent holding midfielders.

          Not to be completely crazy, but given what roles this team needs I could see moving Jones to Right back and putting Cameron at center mid. I honestly think Jones’s bite and drive are needed in the team, but there are plenty he subtracts with some aspects of his play.

          Reply

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