Positioning: Catastrophe Averted, 43′, USA 2 – Turkey 1

First, of all, I love Jermaine Jones. To me, he gets too much stick from the US fanbase. He often does the grunt work of carrying the ball despite opponents draped all over him. (See, USA 4 – B&H 2 or even USA 2 – Mexico 0 over the past year.)

That said, he’s being thrust into a role that is less than ideal for his skillset right before the test of a lifetime. Many commented that it was Jones’s distribution at issue, if any, on Sunday.

Take a look though at the sequence below. It’s a curious defensive display from the States in the least.

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Michael Bradley goes to close down a Turkey midfielder whose checked to a pass, but Jones goes too. Why? (And BTW, lot of greenage there in between the lines.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.06.27 PM

Later on in the sequence, the US swarms in the middle of the field, Jones is neither coming up to support, guarding the linking player or otherwise….

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.07.50 PM

The ball gets played by the Turkey midfielder to the support square pass on the right flank. Jones, with two players, behind him goes to close the player down. Jones is the CDM–there are as many as four Turkey players central ready to break down the US if a ball find its way vertically.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 9.06.50 PM

The Turkey rightback launches the ball to his striker counterpart. The break is on! There are three central trailers bearing down in support. Only a misplaced ball by the striker allows the US to barely escape what could have an excellent chance.

There are a number of issues here. (1) The US spacing between its backline and its midfield can be measured in acres instead of inches. (Arrigo Sacchi is unimpressed.) (2) There is half-commitment from Jones with no failover in midfield–that’s probably Zusi? in that final slide who doesn’t stay with a runner and (3) Jones appears to be positionally naive at CDM and gets sucked exceedingly high. (Note: I would also think that Besler should be face-guarding his opponent–or in front of him–but I’m not sure the right positioning there.)

This type of defense Ghana for one and likely Germany and Portugal will pounce on. This was–in the end–an innocuous play; overlooked by broadcasters, but scouts for the US Group G opponents no doubt caught this.

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49 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Spiritof76 on 2014/06/01 at 10:22 PM

    Matt, you seem to be a perfect conduit of fandom opinion on the Jones-Beckerman question. Its a complex one, and both players add certain strenghts and weaknesses to the equation.

    So, who is your ideal starting #6 vs Ghana, Port, Germany since we are sticking with the diamond? Or do we see a Jones for 60/Beckerman to close the game down scenario like today in NY?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/06/01 at 11:05 PM

      It’s really hard because I’m unsure how Klinsmann is going to play it.

      Part of me thinks that the only reason that Michael Bradley was moved up the field in the diamond is because if you play the diamond it puts Jermaine Jones off the field otherwise.

      So … against Ghana … (and I haven’t thought this thru)…but he’s how I approach all tactics… (I’m defensive-minded first):

      1) What’s the one thing you have to take away that the other team does best? Vertical penetration to their two forwards, Gyan, Waris.

      2) What mini-battle do you want to win? So tough. Our right flank, their left *unless Opare is at left back for them.

      I’ll go Bradley sitting deep. I’ll go Jones, Bedoya, Zusi ahead of him and then Dempsey-Altidore.
      So a 4-2-3-1/4-1-3-2 … really just oscillating where Dempsey plays.

      Reply

      • Posted by Larry Montanez on 2014/06/02 at 7:32 PM

        I’m more worried about the diagonal run from a winger into that space behind JJ, created by him being too far up. Remember that run Gerrard made to score against us? A Turkish left winger made a diagonal run 3 times in the first half; Cameron was a bit behind on the first one, and got a bit lucky, then was ready for the next two. But JJ should’ve been around there to discourage that run, or help break it up. It seems to me that he’s not a natural defender (by natural, I mean it’s not instinctive to him); he’s learning to play defensively, just like you show nicely how he’s a few yards out of position. But the WC isn’t the place to do something that doesn’t come intuitively. Bradley is a natural defender, and as good as he can be going forward, offense doesn’t seem to come naturally, or intuitively; there were many times he should’ve been sitting at the top of the box waiting for a ball he could volley, but he wasn’t there.

        So Matt, I’m with you. Make Bradley the holder. that’s the most important position for us, so put who is best at it there, and figure out the rest.

        Reply

        • Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2014/06/02 at 10:06 PM

          I agree, I think we’ll look quite poor if MB is not used in front of the back line. Too bad JK is so high on JJ as the 6. I wouldn’t mind seeing Cameron pair with MB in front of the back line…kick JJ out wide if we have to, just get him out of the middle. If we had Cameron/MB protecting the the back line it should alleviate a lot of the pressure on the CBs…except for the dreaded middle ball over the top. Could we go with Brooks at CB if we sat a little deeper and had a better presence in front of him? I’m anxious to see the adjustments for the Nigeria game.

          Reply

  2. Posted by James H on 2014/06/01 at 10:24 PM

    Without a doubt, the result from this game can be very misleading and I’m afraid the most will come away encouraged by the scoreline. This was a game we should have lost in the neighborhood of 4-1. Between Jones’ defensive positioning and Chandler’s lack thereof, it is a minor miracle we only shipped one goal. If I’m Klinsmann, I am very concerned and thinking hard about switching back to a 4-2-3-1 against Nigeria.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/06/01 at 11:06 PM

      FWIW I think it’s going to a be a 4-2-3-1 against Ghana. I think it will be Bradley deep with Jones. Only concern is Deuce maintenance.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Usually Ranting on 2014/06/01 at 11:15 PM

    After watching the game and seeing the ire of US supporters directed (or in my opinion, very misdirected), at their favorite German-Americans to rage on – Chandler, Green and Jones – I want to point out one of the other big issues from yesterday’s display.

    The essence of Jurgen’s entire scheme and the big driving point behind the diamond formation actually working is the idea that when you lose the ball, you win it back as soon as possible. Just watch how Liverpool played in their title run. They played the diamond and every single player worked to win the ball back. From Suarez and Sturridge all the way back. When you don’t swarm the ball and win it back, the MF gets overwhelmed and broken down. Which is what happened in the majority of Turkey’s chances yesterday. In yesterday’s game, you saw a lot of balls being lost (Clint Dempsey, I’m looking squarely at you), and then little or no assertive attempt to win it back. Dempsey had his moments, as he usually does. And yes, he had the goal. And yes he is probably the most dangerous weapon the US has on the roster. But if he isn’t willing or able to defend and win the ball back, the diamond just won’t work. Not focusing on him, you saw it all over the field. The US wasn’t able or committed to swarming the ball. Bradley was and it resulted in a few great chances. Davis and Zusi had good moments as well. But it was never cohesive defending. Jones was just overwhelmed and despite that, he did a pretty good job.

    Dempsey wears the captains armband, he needs to make the captain runs.

    Reply

    • Posted by Usually Ranting on 2014/06/01 at 11:18 PM

      And yes. I will admit this may be a lame excuse to rant about just how appalled I was about Dempsey’s lack of effort when the US lost possession. It was truly astounding.

      Reply

      • This has always been the issue with Dempsey though, this isn’t anything new. Many people (myself included) were appalled when he was handed the armband, I can’t think of anyone who personifies effort on the squad LESS than Dempsey does.

        He is a self serving player. That’s not to say he isn’t brilliant and a fantastic talent that deserves to be on the pitch all the time, because he does, but he is not and has never been captain material. If a play occurs that doesn’t involve him directly, he couldn’t care less.

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        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/02 at 4:35 AM

          Ditto and another knock on Klinsi’s team mgmt. IMO. Watching the background team stuff with Clint giving out jerseys and standing up talking in monotone voice in front of his team just SCREAMS “I’m really embarrassed to be doing this because I know that Mike is the captain of this squad..” Imagine being clapped up in a big spot in a game from a guy who will pout and sulk in signifant spots in a game. Clint is a lot of good/great things but a leader of men just isn’t one of them. Give Mikey the armband…

          Reply

          • Posted by Ger Neale on 2014/06/02 at 4:56 AM

            The memory of Bob has to fade a little more for Mikey (MB90) to get the armband. Mutiny is always lurking, especially with such a strongly divergent, maybe even eccentric, personality as Klinsmann.

            Reply

            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/02 at 10:05 AM

              I really like the way you put that…strongly divergent, maybe even eccentric….that captures both the engaging as well as scary aspects of Klinsi as well as I’ve heard it put in words…

          • In the end the captain is there for the manager and the players, not the fans . The captain is whoever the manager wants and so you get all kinds.

            I am always skeptical about thinking that outsiders like us really know how the team reacts to a man like Dempsey. Just going by the various so called behind the scenes looks we get at the two neither of them strike me as particularly warm and fuzzy individuals. Both strike me as fairly aloof.

            If that is what matters, probably the best candidate for Captain is either Timmy or DMB.

            We all assume that Mikey is a better leader of men because he LOOKS like most fan’s idea of what a captain should look like. Well, looks can be deceiving.

            Mikey may currently be the most indispensible player on the team but Dempsey is not far behind. The man was a regular and sometime star man in the EPL for 5 seasons.

            Mikey has nothing in his resume to match that.

            In the end it does not matter if one or the other is the captain. I would make it Matt Besler or Kyle Beckerman and be done with it.

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        • Posted by Jake on 2014/06/02 at 7:24 AM

          While I agree that Dempsey is not the ideal captain, I disagree that he doesn’t do any work for the team…

          How many goals has he scored (for Fulham especially) simply because he made the run (found the space) no one was paying attention to and the ball happened to find him? You could argue that this is a selfish notion, scoring goals, but I would counter that if nobody scores your team can’t win.

          Again, his defensive work rate isn’t what you want, but I don’t think you can say he doesn’t work for the team.

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          • Posted by Paul on 2014/06/02 at 9:12 AM

            agreed. Some of this is a little harsh, and imo more indicative of the player he *used* to be.

            Reply

            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/02 at 10:49 AM

              For a classic un-captain like example..watch at 84 mins when Demps goes into and loses a 50/50 ball….it pops up behind him and the same player gains possession less than 3 yds from him…he turns and puts the Deuce face on for the ref and watches (yep WATCHES!) the guy turn and begin to dribble slowly forward about 40 yds from goal and he never makes a single move to challenge or dissuade him after losing out on the tackle…
              Weak…between that and the CONSTANT whining and bitching instead of playing through calls/non call that NEVER go his way…
              I agree he is an indispensable offensive hub at this point but does not inhabit the role of captain with his attitude and defensive approach

    • Posted by Jon on 2014/06/02 at 11:10 AM

      UR kind of mooted the following reply by replying to his own post, but I mostly have to agree with him, but not about the specific players. I agree Dempsey was not at WC velocity. He was slack in passing and his touch, then did not go full on to win the ball back.

      I disagree that MB worked hard to win the ball back when it counted in the defensive third. Nuri Sahin’s ball off the post happened because Turkey went numbers up in the attack after a clearance from the US box. Davis was unable to win the ball, and the midfield plus FJ did not react, leaving 5 men defending 7 Turkey attackers. A similar thing happened when Turkey was through on goal in the first half but missed on a poor one time shot from 6 yards.

      Beyond that, people are taking the final 30 minutes MUCH too seriously. Both teams lost concentration at both ends and I really think that part of the game was a throw away.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/06/02 at 12:05 PM

        Coming in late here and only reading this reply.

        I think Bradley wants to be a #6. It’s the role he says he likes the best. He is an attacking player out of necessity; he had to learn it to improve his game.

        I think Bradley is really conflicted in his role and its a trust thing too.

        This is where Klinsmann has failed. In a perfect, well-coached world. Bradley destroys high and doesn’t “worry” about the central midfield defense because Jones-Cameron-Besler has it handled.

        You saw Bradley come back often, then debate whether to comeback. The inverse of Jones.

        Reply

    • Posted by JT on 2014/06/02 at 1:25 PM

      In my humble opinion, according to what I’ve seen up to this point from the US men’s national team, Micheal Bradley works better with Kyle Beckerman watching his back in the midfield. We can all agree that Bradley looks better on the field with him than with Jermaine Jones. Jones was just horrendous. He should be an injury-sub in the best case scenerio. Considering how our backline looked, I would much rather bring Brad Evans back to the team way before ever considering bringing back Landon Donovan to the team. Now perhaps I’m just a little concern and possibly over-reacting but that backline looked sloppy. Ok, fine the age old excuse, they need more time together for refinement. I hear you guys more playing time together equal more gel. But we can all agree that we are out of time almost. Timothy Chandler absolutely looked like a big risk. He losed intensity and lacked focus at times along with Fabian Johnson leaving guys unmarked and playing catch up far too many times for my heart to bare. A many times I had to see them make full out sprints to catch up to an opponent that was left completely open in the final third. Which is too near and dear to goal for my comfort if I may say so. Mistakes that you cannot make against the likes of a germany or portugal who will without a doubt salivate at the chances and convert on those opportunities, if given. There’s just no if’s and’s or but’s about that. A Christian Ronaldo will make you feel sorry for any passive aggressiveness. After his goal against Turkey, Fabian Johnson is much suited for that right midfield role considering his capabilities and talents. Some give and goes in collaboration with Bradley and a Mix Diskerud or a Clint Dempsey would work. Then you would have Gonzalez, Beasley, Geof Cameron, and Besler in that back line with Beckerman as an anchor in the back midfield to offer interchangeable support for the backline and midfield. With such ideas in place, this would only leave our Fowards/Strikers to be decided. One guy has proven to be a solid guy at that position who will work to score and has alot of upside. That would be Johannson. So who would you pick to go along side him. Unfortunately Altidore falls at the end of that list next to Clint dempsey. Instead I would pick Wondolowski. Why? I say, why not? His tenacity and hard work ethic has proven that with or without the ball he is willing to push to find open spaces or try to get at the end of each volley either inside or outside the box. And has proven that he can score with a head, foot or a deflection on counter attacks or set pieces. I’ve seen far too many swandered chances where in the final third Dempsey loses steam at times, his focus drops and he no longer makes rational decisions with the ball. Electing to shoot when he should pass and taking on defenders when he should pass the ball or turning the ball over when he should shoot. As for Altidore the proof is in the pudding and the man is a substitute, plain and simple. Jozy looks tired out there most of the time with no goals since Dec. 5th 2013. Now is no time to be rolling the ball on attaining confidence for Jozy. You either have it or you dont at this point in time of the year. He clearly doesn’t have it and hasn’t had any playing time or consistancy in Europe in God knows how long. Case in point Rooney for England has done and produced alot more for club and country and yet he’s actually being considered as a bench player this WC. So if England can make these bold decisions, why is it life / death that Altidore start. Sorry but to me it makes no sense that he does. Right now, you get the most out of him as a 60th minute sub. Clint Dempsey you can start him if you wish or not. In my opinion, you can bring him in as a midfield sub like he did for ol’ Fulham, remember where he scored many goals in the premiere league. Those guys up there must of known what they were doing because it worked. My theory is I rather have 40 minutes of superb or solid play than 90 minutes of occasional shine with a lack luster performance from Dempsey. “If something so wrong felt so good, then I dont want to be right.” I can already hear the teeth grinding, the groaning and complaints coming from my fellow US fans for this one. Heck, they are still trying to get over the choice of Americas sweet heart Don-O getting dumped. With all due respect to LD, despite all his accomplishments and everything he has done for the sport in the US, I was quite all right with the decision made by Jurgen. Because the fact of the matter is we came into this Jurgen Klinsmann era willing to accept change. As an American our motto is go all the way or dont go at all. What kind of team we would put out there or fans we would be if we didnt stand true to those ideals. So I’m with ALL the changes all the way. Embrace it. Go USA…

      Reply

  4. Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/02 at 4:28 AM

    Great atmosphere there live and you have to be impressed at how the support has grown in the last few years. That being said….when can we anticipate the maturity level of the “supporter groups” to start to move beyond frat boy behavior. I had a friend with his 77 yr old father and two pre teen sons given the “you shall not pass” BS because he had the misfortune to buy (yes buy!) gen admission seats behind the goal where the
    ‘supporters groups” were camped out. Turned back because their “flair” wasn’t up to the Outlaws/Star Wars conventioneers standards. Between the direct and the indirect (“you suck a-hole”….really?) frat boy stuff it would be OK with me to see (as a 20 yr USMNT live supporter) and hear a bit less of these guys outside of game-focused noise and support. That’s my rant…

    Now onto what occurred between the lines yesterday…

    Excellent Jones points and this puzzle will be the undoing of this squad unfortunately. How to get max output from Jones’ sizzling energy, size and skillset while allowing Mike to do what he does best has become the US’s Rubik’s cube in a dark room. Because JJ is a pure almost feral soccer player, asking him to be in a role where calm, fluid positionally solid composure is the optimal approach (see Alonso/Busquets/T Silva) you’ve set him up to fail IMO.
    You could see the difference immediately when Becks entered in 2nd half that the 10-20 yd entry pass that Turkey completed at will in the first half was completely taken away by KB’s positioning (2-3 steps further back as per above). I don’t think JJ can adapt to anything other than the ball hawking greyhound that he is….and Kb is just too damn slow at this level unfortunately. This is why I think Edu could have been “coached up” better to hold even with his limitations but with D first mentality and excellent recovery speed.

    Still haven’t figured out what was going on with Chandler and Johnson and the over the top ball all day. Watching it now and Davis did not provide enough cover at all but naïve on Chandlers part much of the day IMO. On the positive side our recovery defending is fantastic and the overall speed and distribution out of the back is better than I’ve ever seen in a US side.

    I thought the CB’s were actually pretty solid and most of the breakdowns were when FB’s just didn’t drop and cover in pretty clear 2 v1 situations inside of them especially in first half. The overall affect is of a side that hasn’t played together which is alarming and sadly very true.

    Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2014/06/02 at 4:22 PM

      “You could see the difference immediately when Becks entered in 2nd half that the 10-20 yd entry pass that Turkey completed at will in the first half was completely taken away by KB’s positioning (2-3 steps further back as per above).”

      In the second half Mikey was asked to drop back and play alongside Beckerman. It was felt that Jones was alone too much in the first half with too much to do.

      Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/03 at 7:48 AM

        So Beckerman in there did not contribute to the change? I appreciate the precise requoting but other than showing off your well rounded mastery of the copy/paste function what is your point?
        It is an observed fact by most who watched that Jones was (and generally is…) positionally challenged and even when the left side was loaded up Turkey played 6-10 fairly easy 10-20 yd entry balls unchallenged that the CDM is tasked with shutting down the passing lane.
        That entry ball was no longer easily available once Beckerman came in for Jones so you can reasonably attribute that to Beckerman’s influence at least somewhat yes?

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2014/06/03 at 6:03 PM

          It’s hard to say, but Jones was overloaded many times in the first 25 minutes. Largely because you lost the ball too easily centrally and it seemed to be too easy for Turkey to start a counter-attack. Beckerman, IMO, did benefit from Bradley dropping back out of possession.

          I’d be more concerned with the diamond in itself, because you’re typically supposed to win the central midfield battle with this formation, but I felt the diamond didn’t contract quickly enough when the ball was lost.

          Also, a side affect of this is ‘conceding’ width, especially when the ball was lost. Knowing this, Chandler was an absolute liability all day. If Beasley doesn’t start, Klinsmann has definitely lost the plot!

          I understand the desire to play diamond because it enables you to get your best midfield players on the field and two forwards, but considering both Ghana and Portugal have players who can destroy you *starting* from wide, I’m not sure I would play this – mainly because I don’t trust zero cheap turnovers. Also, I’d favour two deep players – no reason why Jones/Beckerman can play the traditional holder, and Bradley a hybrid DLP/B2B (depending on phase of game, score etc).

          The other thing nobody has mentioned is how a diamond matches up with other formations. From my reckoning, vs a 4-2-3-1, as long as the No10 and No9 drop deep out of possession, that leaves the 4-2-3-1s FBs ‘spare’ vs the diamond’s 2 CBS.

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  5. Posted by Arisrules on 2014/06/02 at 5:13 AM

    Nice post. What I didn’t get was how centrally our fullbacks were playing. Even in the second half, which was a much different game, Turkey, whose wingers aren’t the greatest, were able to find so much space behind the fullbacks. This was particularly true of Chandler all game long.

    i”m not sure how to approach the backline. I guess FJ is our starting RB, but he was caught out defensively a bunch. Our CB pairing barely has any reps, and at LB I am definitely unsure about Chandler starting there.

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  6. Posted by Linda Sheridan on 2014/06/02 at 5:27 AM

    Thanks so much for this breakdown My husband is 61 and had an A license For over 30 years. He coached at Princeton When Bob Bradley was there. He is a student of the game and an excellent Coach and former player. He grew up in Kensington Pa. Attended Philadelphia Textile(now Philadelphia University) when they were in the top 10 Walter C was his coach. Anyway, now our son has been with Red Bull from u16 and is plays U23 With them now while on break from Villanova .

    I have been forwarding your stuff to both Of them and they love it because they can’t Watch every game. My husband is Rich Sheridan. His younger Brother ,Eddie played for the Philadelphia Fever and Rich was a coach for the Fever Our son is Sean Sheridan. The academy League has been wonderful for him! So blessed. Thanks again! Linda Sheridan

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/06/03 at 12:23 AM

      Wow! That’s a wonderful compliment. Thanks.

      How did you find out about the publication?

      Reply

  7. Posted by Soccertes on 2014/06/02 at 5:32 AM

    I agree with the last two posters’ comments (in addition to a bunch of other observations made above – I love the soccer IQ of the commenters on this site) and would add that whatever the back line ultimately looks like it would benefit from speedy wingers helping to track back on D and also stretch opposing defenses which might soften some counterattacking threats or leave the team less exposed in lost possession situations.The diamond is not so conducive to this and in any event the guys on the flanks are not known so much for their speed. I don’t have any answers for this off the top of my head but it does seem clear enough that no matter who we play at the back we are going to have vulnerabilities that could be mitigated by speedy wingers.

    My second observation is just general frustration and annoyance with Deuce always being so quick to complain about what he thinks are fouls. He’s hardly the only player to do this, but he is notable for doing it almost every time and so damn quickly. Hey Deuce, instead of throwing your hands up and staring at the ref with righteous indignation, try spending those valuable 10 seconds tracking back to help your teammates quell the counterattack that your lost possession just enabled? To be clear, I love Dempsey’s game, and by all accounts he’s a good and humble guy, but on the field he needs to focus less on appealing for fouls and more on leading by example, like every captain should. (BTW, I thought it was interesting in the ESPN doc that JK said he gave Clint the armband because his game was “self-centered” and JK wanted to force Clint to think of the team first. This is a noble notion in concept, but I question whether using the national team captaincy as a tool to teach personal character lessons is a wise or appropriate tactic.)

    Love this site, Matt, and love reading the insightful comments. Keep it all coming!

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  8. Posted by Tyler on 2014/06/02 at 6:01 AM

    Posting in both Turkey threads: Question/idea…Does Klinsmann run out the 4-4-2 diamond in send-off series to help Jones/Bradley master the roles that JK wants them to play the preferred 4-2-3-1 (Jones cover the CBs, MB90 in Box to Box)? To me that make sense logically. Thoughts?

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    • Posted by ATroy on 2014/06/02 at 6:10 AM

      I’ve been wondering this myself. The diamond midfield forces someone to stay put to keep shape and provide support centrally, and in the 4-2-3-1 you still need someone to do this. Jones naturally gravitates forward, even defensively, as Matt pointed out. Forcing him to maintain shape and discipline, and to keep it top of mind, is important. Too often he and Bradley seem out of place together in the 4-2-3-1.

      However, the 4-4-2 allows Fabian Johnson more freedom moving forward, and that tends to be a good thing. Almost every time he forays into the attacking third it seems as though a good chance is created. Going back to the 4-2-3-1 may not allow FJ so much natural space.

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      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/02 at 6:31 AM

        Or considering the threat that Johnson uniquely provides in taking on space and defenders from the right back, do you play Jones in more of a right sided covering role for him and just recognize that JJ/MB are going to struggle in a straight up diamond formation with their roles and recognition….so play them in a flat 2 but with Jones out wide providing cover…

        Again it s team selection issues but would Jones be better served playing out wide right and move Zusi or Mix centrally in the box to box and get Mike’s dependable positioning and coach’s brain in the #6. You limit JJ’s damage that way and take advantage of his destroyer mentality and recovery defending while freeing FJ to run rampant on the right side.

        Can’t help but think using Donovan in that withdrawn attacker top of diamond role would really be an effective way of moving JJ/MB out of the conundrum that our current CDM/CM axis currently presents…but now I’m at risk of being deemed unpatriotic and not supporting our manager…)))

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        • Posted by Tyler on 2014/06/02 at 8:36 AM

          4-2-3-1 does not negate FJ’s strengths necessarily…also @James H below: 4-2-2-1-1 isn’t a horrible shape either…bottom line: MB90 has been given license to get forward and should be no matter what formation we line up in.

          Regarding who should be captain: in my experience the “captain’s armband” doesn’t mean as much to the players in the squad as it does to media/fans…Dempsey is a winner, and a veteran of the squad it’s fine to give him the honor. Who do they listen to away from the coaches? That is who leads this team.

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      • Posted by Jake on 2014/06/02 at 7:37 AM

        I have been toying with the idea of JJ playing one of the wide MF positions too. JJ at RM with KB at the bottom of the diamond gives central cover and lets JJ help keep tabs on CR7 (or at LM if CR7 is on the other side).

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        • Posted by gino744 on 2014/06/02 at 9:14 PM

          I don’t see any value in trying to play Jones out wide. I think he would just get caught out more while obstructing the RB offensively and leaving us further exposed on the right. Not to mention trying to institute this one game before Ghana makes no sense. I don’t think this would even work in FIFA, Playstation or Xbox.

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    • Posted by James H on 2014/06/02 at 8:21 AM

      I hope this is true because I believe sticking with the 4-4-2 diamond will be near suicidal in Brazil. But if it is true, JK will probably need to make the switch back against Nigeria to see if any of the benefits do actually translate to the 4-2-3-1. But the problem then becomes Dempsey as he does not play as effectively as a third mid in that triangle; he still sees himself as a withdrawn forward, so you basically left with a warped 4-2-2-1-1

      I always thought Donovan would have been better choice in that role as the attacking mid in the central triangle. He’s more defensively responsible and you still get his creativity. Personally, I would have had Dempsey coming in from the left mid spot, supported by Fabian Johnson (our strongest fullback) at left back and making those wide runs into the space that Dempsey will inevitably drift from. This would require having Jones play on the left side in his DM/destroyer role, covering for Fabian and screening the CB’s but also letting Bradley inhabit the box-to-box role he seems natural at.

      Oh well, I know, Donovan, get over it…

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  9. Posted by Coach-BMill on 2014/06/02 at 10:53 AM

    Hola gentlemen, it is nice to have a place to discuss this game and the current US iteration in a more full and detailed capacity. Becoming more frustrated with the SI/Espn article and comment ideas and thoughts… always good to come back to the shinguardian.

    A few thoughts-
    JK- just played every single rostered player in the last two games. (rimando the only one who hasnt played, and he wont)
    That is an impressive feat for final tryouts and true in game situations and how they deal with the scrutiny. Seems as if that was planned for the first two games and now the nigeria and belgium games are tune-ups for the starting and maximize the effort and effectiveness of our top 15 that will play.
    ————Howard, johnson, cameroon, besler, (honestly no clue whether chandler or beas)
    ——-jones, bradley
    ——- bedoya, zusi (who needs to be involved more, i thought he was poor save 2 passes yesterday)
    ——-jozy and clint

    with Davis, AJ, wondo, beckerman as realistic subs (unless a chandler to the back and fabian moves to mid move)

    With the diamond system, it has been about quick recoveries (well done: @usually ranting) and a very narrow defensive shape in midfield. With the idea that the opponents opposite fullback from the ball will have a lot of space, but that ball and time it takes to go east/west allows our athleticism to get recovered and set with time to spare. (this also allows for a great counter opportunity to jozy/clint as they shade to that side. Thus some of the route 1 balls sprayed to have jozy chase. Piggybacking of of matt, this idea clogs the middle and does not allow straight ahead counters or hopefully* space in front of the cbacks to shoot unpressued like all the goals given up in 2010. My problem was that when needed to JJ was great in recovery runs and winning/blocking balls and danger, but he was abhorent about following runners into the box pre-service (which is exactly his role when the US forces a long diagonal switch) that lead to the many scrambles by the USA def in their own box as turkey misfired about 5 times in the first half.

    If the idea is to allow MB and JJ to win the ball and go forward from 60yrds out leading a counterattack i think the 4-4-2 is employed, otherwise the 2nd half of turkey with two lines (more active though) of 4 defending and looking to get forward.

    BTW my 2nd favorite part of the “sunny-side up goal” was Jozy’s decision to not put in a cross but pull it and make sure numbers were in to apply pressure to turkey, which allowed Fabs to attack space and continue his run. Super heads up play by a guy trusting his teammates and that his own time will come. I’ve seen jozy in much worse pressing/inside his own head circumstances, and i can fully live with this jozy, especially till he scores.

    Thanks for letting me rant and get some of my thought out in a place that can start good convos!
    Good to have Shin guardian back for this WC!

    Reply

    • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2014/06/02 at 9:17 PM

      Just wanted to second your plaudits for Jozy’s work preceding the goal. He battled hard to win it back, hold it with three players around him, and find Fabian in support and in good space. Without Jozy’s work there, we don’t get that goal.

      Great overall comment as well. Cheers

      Reply

  10. Posted by twewlife on 2014/06/02 at 11:59 AM

    A half-dozen questions/comments/accusations/prayers:

    (1) Who is going to play left-mid? I really do not know. Bedoya seems like the natural fit, but I really thought Davis gave a good accounting of himself. I wonder if the starting left midfield slot is dependent on the left fullback position? We’ve seen Bedoya and Beasley play before. I don’t recall ever seeing Bedoya and Chandler on the pitch at the same time. (Feel free to correct me here)

    (2) Beasley or Chandler at left back? I suppose the third candidate is FJ, but I really don’t see that happening at this point. I think I’m still pulling for Chandler here, but I’d love to hear everyones pros / cons for each candidate.

    (3) I thought Matt’s article was brilliant, but I do think some of JJ’s miscues were partially due to the extremely high position of Davis in the first half. Davis’ high position caused all kinds of space and exposed JJ’s penchant to be overly aggressive on the defensive end.

    (4) Odds that we’ll see the diamond formation trotted out against Nigeria? And if said diamond formation is indeed trotted out against Nigeria, odds that we see it on June 16th?

    (5) Others have pointed this out, but it seems weird that Johansson hasn’t gotten any time in the #9 slot. Think Altidore is staying in the game in the hopes that he finds the back of the net? As a side note, Altidore’s conditioning is amazing. Watch him applying consistent pressure in the last 10 minutes of the game. Say what you want about the absence of goals, but the dude is a beast.

    (6) My big criticism on the offensive side of the ball was a lack of quality secondary runs into space. Aside from the FJ goal and the Green run around the 80th minute mark, there wasn’t that much creative movement into space. I’m not sure why that is. Bradley can distribute, and Zusi/Davis are each more than capable of delivering accurate balls into space. I would like to see JJ make a run now and again when Bradley’s holding the ball. I would also like to see more horizontal motion in the off ball movement from the wide midfield players.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Tom Patton on 2014/06/02 at 12:11 PM

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  12. Posted by matthewsf on 2014/06/02 at 2:36 PM

    A note on KB — one, absolutely fantastic play from him in the 84′ last night that showed his class.

    – Pushed attacker to their weak foot — attacker makes an entry pass
    – KB anticipates, intercepts return pass to the attacker he was guarding.
    – KB under duress now is able to make a forward pass to Bradley in stride before a foul is called.


    However–and here’s where I think JK’s head is–there was a play in the game where–and I think it could’ve been the play where Brooks misplayed the header — or maybe it was Chandler’s poor pass to Brooks that gets interrupted…

    Anyway, Beckerman was trailing the play trying to catch up. He couldn’t catch up to his attacker. If the attacker with the ball, now at the edge of the box on the US’s defensive left flank saw Beckerman’s mark then he could have slotted a cutback pass for a free shot at the top of the 18.

    Beckerman didn’t nothing wrong that play. He just couldn’t catch up to it.

    Reply

  13. Posted by kurtosis on 2014/06/02 at 5:19 PM

    Jozy doesn’t move more than a step in that picture sequence. Jozy.

    Reply

    • Posted by Landon Moore on 2014/06/02 at 7:19 PM

      Jozy ran a ton and ran hard all game long and this sequence was definitely a smart 10 seconds to not be running around. Especially given the subject of this blog post, which is how impatient defending high up the field created a chance for Turkey.

      Reply

  14. Posted by Landon Moore on 2014/06/02 at 7:16 PM

    Not to mention, what in the heck were Davis and Chandler doing on that play?

    Reply

  15. […] disagree, Coach. I thought he looked tentative at times, very good at others- and some of that, as The Shin Guardian wrote last night- has to do with being asked to do something not particularly suited to his game. Can you expound on […]

    Reply

  16. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2014/06/03 at 6:11 PM

    Nice acknowledgement of Arrigo Sacchi’s ’25m rule’, it did make me smile (and wonder if anybody else picked up on this!).

    Reply

  17. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/08/magazine/how-jurgen-klinsmann-plans-to-make-us-soccer-better-and-less-american.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

    For those of you who are interested in JK’s rationale regarding the Landon Donovan incident, this should be a useful read.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/06/04 at 12:35 PM

      Very good article with a 10,000 ft view of Klinsmann’s tenure and direction. Like it or not, he has the reins and is definitely thinking beyond 2014 in both his personnel as well as his coaching and management decisions.

      Reply

  18. Posted by Crow on 2014/06/04 at 5:08 PM

    My question- who partners with Bradley in 2018? Trapp? Edu? Flores? I really don’t have a clue.

    I want to live in an alternate timeline where Stuart Holden never got hurt. I can’t imagine how much better the team would be with a top form Holden and Bradley.

    Reply

    • Posted by Arthur on 2014/06/04 at 7:48 PM

      I think that timeline includes Holden and Bradley being able to successfully negotiate play in the center of the park. Holden seems like a smart, flexible player who could figure out a way to play with Bradley. However, the same things were said of Jones, and it has only been within the last few games that the two truly look more comfortable playing with one another. So I temper my dreams of a Holden-Bradley midfield with that caveat, hoping one day we actually get to see the two play together. (Now if only the defensive line could have improved as a unit as much as Jones and Bradley have. Now there’s an alternate timeline that seems impossible yet is more feasible than the imagined Holden-Bradley timeline.)

      Reply

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