(The prodigal son makes a return)
Here’s what I know about South Korea’s junior varsity based upon a single observation Tuesday night. They’ve got a right midfielder, Kim Tae-Hwan, who is, indeed, a player. Slices centrally on his right and has quick first jab step. He’ll create a chance Saturday afternoon.
Their midfield will harass you in a swarm after the half line and extract a few buckets of turnovers. Their centerback pairing–whoa their centerbacks. Their Tuesday effort made the “Chad Marshall-Clarence Goodson against Mexico in 2009 at the Meadowlands” performance look absolutely symphonic. (Why’d you have to bring that up, old man?). And they’ve got a tall, rangey huckleberry up top who was directing traffic Tuesday and surprisingly spry….until you realize half the time he was battling Crash Marquez who will have binders full of red cards in Brazil.
Oh and the Koreans are number two in the MLS allocation order to no one’s surprise and the over-under on Ji-Sung Park references this weekend stands at 123.
And that’s really all that’s needed because just a slightly raised eye will be on the States at “The Bruce” (well done David Lindholm) to see if a little junket to Brazil can punch a few more return tickets in the summer, unmask a surprise player or two and take down a team that is should handle even though it’s a friendly.
It’s a curious bunch… these Yanks… this winter.
In the tried and true tradition, Jurgen Klinsmann leads with defense first. Omar and Besler in the middle with Rimando cleaning up behind and the newly be-ball-and-chained Kyle Beckerman directing the orange defensive flag waving attacks to the left lane on right. This part of the line-up will be ho-hum, biz as usual. (But make sure to keep your eye on Omar’s play. He’s been clean in the tackle–no cards for the US in 2013–and for the most part tidy, if not accurate on the ball, but he’s been a step slow in the team defense game and that… that … will kill you against the world’s best this summer.)
Quick aside and belabored point: Why is this a foreign notion to folks that good teams, championship-level teams shore up their defense at the start of a managers tenure. Southampton, Everton, the newish Bayern. Set the team defense and find out where you can take risks of losing shape to create opportunities.
However, these campers though may or may not follow the attacking blueprint that has developed since Costa Rica was picking icicles out of their ass in March of last year. There are three rightbacks still on the roster after one-ish (Shane O’Neill) was sent home.
There appears to be no lefty leftback on the roster with the job authored to Michael Harrington by most of the media–then you remember that Antigua & Barbuda saw Jose Torres at leftback in the quarterback role so you think Brad Davis–decidedly not quick enough covering in midfield. Maybe a ball distributing, less defensive leftback role might be an option–especially with Fabian Johnson’s injury issues and Edgar Castillo’s up-down form.
The top is striker heavy with a bunch of grisled veterans of MLS American football fields past.
Mike Magee–MLS’s original Heath Pearce–who liked to roll in early….from party time that is early in his career. Eddie Johnson who will probably have a better career at DC United and more lengthy overall than Freddy Adu–think about that. And of course, there’s Papa Wondo, Chris Wondolowski–who, take a bow my friend, didn’t have to go to Europe to get paid fairly in MLS.
As for that attack, back in December, Jurgen Klinsmann–thank you World Cup prep–got a little found out. Scotland and Austria watched the tape and knew to overplay to the Yanks’ left with DaMarcus Beasley manning the ball typically out of the back.
Maybe he pulls a Davis at leftback or….
…. maybe he flips the formation on the vertical axis and goes up the right side–we saw South Korea keep distribution up there stronger right side on Tuesday.
Maybe it is Harrington–or more likely Parkhurst–playing the tucked in defender role and maybe it’s Seattle’s Super Brad Evans in the first half with Seattle’s Sonic, DeAndre Yedlin
earning his first cap relieving.
To balance the oppositely symmetric formation out Eric Alexander plays the Ale Bedoya role–near identical left-footed player there by the way in terms of skill set and the Yanks push up the right side with Evans and Yedlin, pardon me Clyde Frazier, overlapping and attacking.
Either way you can probably be sure of a few things come Saturday.
Just like last year’s eye sore against Canada, there will be test-iteration-test-iteration.
There will be a few wrinkles in deployment and stutters in attack…and defense for that matter. Sacha Kljestan won’t get three on the night and rubberstamp his US legacy and they’ll be a little sparkle of some player that will get him a half chance with the big boys at some point.
So sit back and save your energy–from analysis, groans, sweeping statements–by Cobi Jones’s eye Papa Wondo locked his World Cup spot against Belize six month ago–and rest up, because shit’s about to get real.