Your World Cup 2014 USMNT Jersey Buyer’s Guide

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It’s that critical time for US fans.

No, not the draw.

Not the World Cup either, more important. Like the opposite of January Camp important.

It’s time to decide whose US jersey you are going to rock for the foreseeable future, the one that will give you soccer cred at the bar (Wow, he must read TSG is what everyone will be thinking) and if you are lucky enough to be headed to Brazil, to rock with pride as you support America.

Just in time for the holidays too!

Don’t take this decision lightly. A ‘friend’ of mine has a Freddy Adu slate gray US jersey at the back of his closet that he fears wearing in daylight for the incredible shame that would be cast upon his family.

Here to guide you through this strenuous decision are Eric Giardini, a Roma expert whose middle name is actually ‘Bald Eagle’, and Matt Biggerstaff, a true Jose Torres fan who once got Chuck Blazer to tell him to fuck off on Twitter (Editor’s note: It was actually “idiot,” but same difference.).
Remember, if you pick the wrong jersey based on their advice, it’s your fault, but when someone buys you a drink at the bar based on your perfect jersey selection, they get 10% of that beer. Each.

Without further Freddy, we take to the TSG stage to discuss the pros, cons and statements you’ll make at the bar flashing the last name of somebody you probably don’t know and certainly don’t play as well as.

Go.

Alejandro Bedoya

Evan TV's new Bachelor has one....just sayin'

Even TV’s new Bachelor has one….just sayin’

B: Has anyone had a bigger 2013 than TSG’s ‘Ambassador to Brazil‘?

Maybe Aaron Ramsey, but certainly no one else in a US shirt. Bedoya had a great Gold Cup, made a big move to Nantes in France, has helped them to the top half of the French table so far, and has been popping up in US starting lineups all fall.

Right now, I see him as the impact sub-possible starter who could make a big difference in Brazil for the US.

He is also young, so this is a good investment for the future, plus you will quickly be able to tell if someone has followed the US more than the highlights on ESPN when they come up to you and ask if your last name is Bedoya and look rather confused when you say no. No please, tell me more about this up and coming ‘Dempsey’ guy, I have never heard of him sir.

E: I can’t really argue against Bedoya especially given his current form (actually scored again as of writing this) for Nantes, but you are digging deep into the jersey hipster well on this one. I think December might be a bit too early to splash the cash for Alejandro, but once May comes around I think you’ll be in a better position to see how he will fit in with the team.

Buy, but wait until Spring. (Editor’s note: There are no “puts” and “calls” on soccer kits. Our apologies.)

Michael Bradley

B: Mr. Bradley is a terrible pick for me.

Mainly because I picked up his red and white hoops jersey last summer as I saw him emerging as a monster in the midfield. Now, after a great season for Roma and a World Cup qualifying campaign that cemented him as the best player in CONCACAF, you could say Bradley is the easy choice for any true US fan who understands what drives the team.

Really, what screams SEX APPEAL more than a Lex Luthor looking fellow who maintains the midfield like a well oiled clock tower?

Lots of things. In fact, almost everything. But sex appeal doesn’t win you World Cups, just ask SEXY ALEXI. No really, that is the title of this clip, and the top result when you google sexy Alexi Lalas. I wouldn’t know, my computer googled it on its own. Really.

E: I think this will end up being the top selling jersey leading up to World Cup 2014.

He’s running the midfield for the USMNT and has managed to eek out some quality minutes in the Roma midfield, hopefully keeping the “BRADLEY NEEDS TO GO OUT ON LOAN IN JANUARY!” cries at bay. This shirt will ultimately prove to be timeless and could be worn for years and years and years.

Buy, unless kryptonite is your secret weakness.

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Jozy Altidore

B: I’m guessing this will be a hot pick for 2014, and I certainly say jump on the bandwagon. I want to see Jozy succeed ever so much, and hopefully he does in Brazil. He’s played quite well in the US shirt of late, and everyone likes forwards, especially young talented ones who hang out with Money Mayweather. So grab that Jozy shirt, and know that you will never be the only one with it on, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

WE WANT A JOLAZO!

(BTW, Remember that time that Jozy was late for practice because of sheep. Yup.)

E: I was this close to purchasing a Jozy jersey for the last world cup but ultimately went with Clint Dempsey because, duh.

That being said, Jozy’s two year run both club (well, maybe not recently) and country has him at least 1-A to Bradley’s 1 status at the top of the jersey list.

Let’s face it, everyone loves a striker when it comes to jerseys. Who here has the jersey of a defender? Raise your hand.

I do, but that’s for another story.

Point being, get the shirt of the guy who can’t stop scoring for the US and get ready to hug the guy in Brazil (or at the bar) next to you with the same Altidore jersey.

Buy before he scores more goals for Sunderland and the jersey transfer fee goes up.

SWOOP UP A SEXY CENTENNIAL JERSEY ASAP BEFORE THEY ARE GONE!

Brek Shea

Brekkinize!

Brekkinize!

B: Let’s put it this way, if Brek manages to crack the roster and then does something amazing at the World Cup, you will be the only guy at the bar with his shirt, and people will likely hail you as a visionary and buy you shots of Jack Daniels (guessing that is what Brek drinks.)

If not, at least your life will be full of laughter, mainly people laughing at you for purchasing a jersey for a guy who is struggling to break into a bottom five EPL team. The one positive you will always have with this jersey on is that you can rock your hair any way you like. Literally. Just tell them you are trying to look like Mr. Shea and BOOM good to go.

E: When I lived in DC, my friends and I would go to the bar to watch US games and had a longstanding agreement that if Brek managed to find the back of the net, we would all do Jager-bombs because THAT is what Brek surely drinks. Unfortunately, he never managed to score during that time and nobody I watch games with here wants to take them with me.

Wait, what were we talking about?

It pains me to say this, but Buy for the LOLz, Pass for the soccer.

John Brooks

JAB-ulani!

JAB-ulani!

B: Dark horse World Cup starter right here, especially since he hasn’t been fully capped. Realistically, this dude is going to be gooooood.

This is the one ‘Yeah I follow the US really intently and decided to get this jersey because I’m both knowledgeable and good looking’ pick that I am really on board with.

I think he will be a mainstay for the USMNT for years to come, so you will be looking good in this jersey for the next 9-13 years I do believe. May not get a ton of credit in 2014 though, so it really depends if you are more of a stale donut now or a fresh donut later type of person.

E: John Brooks will be the man and will hopefully potentially solidify the US backline for the next 10 years. However, if we are basing this purely for the World Cup next summer, I think you have to Pass for now because I’m not 100% sure he a) plays for the US and b) that he makes the trip to Brazil. Once he gets cap-tied, you’ll have to fight me to get to the head of the line to get his shirt, but until then, I’d save that money for someone else.

Fabian Johnson

Let the record reflect that this here publication called it first. Fab J as the USMNT Chief Hipster. Sayin'!

Let the record reflect that this here publication called it first. Fab J as the USMNT Chief Hipster. Sayin’!

B: Any excuse to run around yelling “WE’VE GOT A BETTER JOHNSON THAN YOU” is something I am always for.

Wearing your Johnson with pride certainly will make all others respect you, even when it is hard to do so. Okay, I’ll stop now. Fab seems primed for a big World Cup, and will play a critical role for US plus he will be around for a while. This is both a good investment currently and for the future.

E: What would buying a Fabian Johnson jersey say about you? Nobody quite knows what your best position is or how best to use you. Do you want people to think that about you? I don’t know. I think he’s a great player and definitely is an upgrade at a position but nobody knows where? Is he a left back? Left mid? The uncertainty worries me. Eddie Johnson I may have been on board with but Fabian gets a Pass, like that sexy pass he gave Jozy in Seattle.

Aron Jóhannsson

E: Everyone has been all a flutter about Aron Jóhannsson and why shouldn’t they be. He can’t stop scoring for AZ and he finally got off the snide for the US down in Panama. The kid is a true fox in the box striker that the US has been lacking since the days Joe-Max Moore was foxing that box. The fact that he nearly started an international relations fiasco with Iceland is icing on the cake.

B: Your heart may be racing E, but at least spell his name right! You forgot an S (E Note: :(). Outside of that, young Kevin ‘Iceman’ Bacon certainly looks like he is going to be rocking the US shirt for a long time and he looks goooooooddddddd. Hey world, guess what? America has talent up top, and they are young, good looking, ready to steal your women and poach your goals. Prepare yourselves, the American goals are coming.

Buy NOW, before Iceland tries to purchase it first.

Fly like a butterfly, shoot like .... one too?

Fly like a butterfly, shoot like …. one too?

E: Terrence Boyd may not make it to Brazil and if he does he’ll probably get #23 and sit down at the end of the bench next to Nick Rimando, but I don’t care! I Iove it! The kid loves America! He’s probably the most ‘murrican player the US has as proven by the AMERICAN FLAG TATTOO HE GOT ON HIS ARM! Just scroll through the man’s Instagram feed and it puts the rest of us that were born in America to shame. Do it for apple pie, the Statue of Liberty, and for Bald Eagles.

B: Terrence gets on the field in that last friendly and immediately looks for a shot on goal. He’ll shoot from anywhere, and has the confidence that it will go in. Plus, dude’s a boss. He and Brek probably go out and shoot those guns together on the weekend, then seduce good looking European ladies after. Just look at that Instagram feed, how can you not like him? He busts his ass for the shirt, so you should bust your ass to get it.

Buy if you love AMERICA and FREEDOM and EAGLES.

Don’t if you are BORING.

Mix Diskerud

E: I like Mix. I reaaaalllly like Mix. I thought he’s be great every time I’ve seen him in a US shirt and thought last year’s this summer’s Gold Cup was almost a “breaking out” party for Mix. He’s young so he should be around for a while and there’s some old folks currently in that midfield *cough* Jermaine *cough* and he should very well prove to be the perfect complement to MB for years to come.

B: DAT HAIR. Mix seems like the type of guy you grab dinner with before you go out, you wingman for each other (he clearly doesn’t need the help) at the bar, and then you go over to his place to play FIFA the next afternoon before you all go play pickup in the park. Sorry Mix, I just want to be your friend, that’s all. You play nice futbol too.

Buy, and hope somehow it makes you grow magic locks too.

Blank

E: Kind of a cop out, but whatever, we’ll all deal with it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more inclined to purchase just straight up blank jerseys. Classic, timeless, elegant, can wear out for a night on the town, and you won’t have to worry about Player XYZ not living up to his potential.

B: BOOORRRINNNNGGG. Life is a gamble E, live a little. Too many of the US kits have been far from timeless for this to be a good idea. If you don’t want to take a risk, pick up a Donovan or a Dempsey kit, those are both timeless players for your shirt and no one can harass you about how the guy on the back of your shirt is playing somewhere in the third division in Brazil (thanks Freddy Adu!)

PASS, we are going to live a little here!

E: Fine, no blank, but whatever you do, don’t put your own name on the back of the jersey. Unless it is actually your jersey. I remember way back in college I was sitting in class and this girl in front of me had a USWNT jersey with a name on it that I didn’t recognize. “She put her own name on the shirt,” I scoffed to myself. The next day, I was flipping through the school newspaper and there was a piece on that girl who had just gotten back from the 2006 U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia. In that instance, it’s allowed.

Click for our go-to for almost all of the jerseys we just educated you on.

The American Outlaws

B: Not ready to commit to a jersey? Start with a shirt and a glorious American flag bandanna from the finest support Team America knows. This will be the best $24 you ever spend, on an annual basis.

Buy it yesterday, what are you waiting for?!

The USA World Cup Draw: United States, Germany, Ghana & Portugal

We got this.

We got this.

Germany, Ghana, United States and Portugal.

Group of Holy F!

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.

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• 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.

USA v. Austria: Will It Be The Sound of Sweet Music for The States?

Will Space Monkey play the disruptor again today?

Will Space Monkey play the disruptor again today?

Here’s a little bit on Das Team by Oxford, Mississippi-based Scott Schroder who writes at SB Nation:

To come at it from my area of expertise, Austria would be a mid-table Bundesliga team with a star in the midfield who would likely be angling for a move to a bigger club in the near future.

Alaba sets the beat for Das Team

Alaba sets the beat for Das Team

That star is Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, but who is deployed within the Austrian team as a midfielder. Truthfully, the only reason he is a defender at Bayern is because he has European Footballer of the Year Franck Ribery ahead of him on the left wing, but the Austrian gets forward a lot for a defender and is known for his skill on set plays.

Back to the broader point of Austria’s level of play, they have only a selection of second division players to choose from in goal, being Energie Cottbus’ Robert Almer and Austria Wien’s Heinz Lindner. Almer has gotten the bulk of the playing time of late and was featured in their last meaningful match against Sweden on 11 October, when Ibrahimovic sealed their World Cup fate in the 86th minute.

If there is a match the team would like to have back from their qualification run, it would have to be their meager 0-0 draw against Kazakhstan back in October of 2012. They controlled play but couldn’t find the net, leaving Kazakhstan empty-handed.

In defense, they have been strong in all matches aside from conceding three goals away to Germany in Munich, the first of which was the record-breaking goal for Miroslav Klose that pushed him ahead of Gerd Müller all-time for the German national team.

Their captain, Schalke player Christian Fuchs, anchors the back line for his country although his time in the Königsblauen side has been limited of late due in large part to positional experimentation.

Austria’s weapons in the midfield, aside from Alaba, include Stoke City man Marko Arnautovic, formerly of Werder Bremen, and Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik. Harnik was born and raised in Hamburg, but decided to play for Austria after never having been called up by the DFB despite always residing in Germany.

Weimann for the Villians today.

Weimann for the Villians today.

In the forward positions, many will recognize Aston Villa’s Andreas Weimann, but also of importance is Trabzonspor’s Marc Janko, who has scored in nearly half of his appearances for Austria.

The match is in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, named for one of Austria’s best ever players after he died while technically still the coach of the national team in 1992. He also reached great success coaching the Hamburg sides of the 1980’s who won two titles under his reign.

Another Austrian legend, former Werder Bremen and Galaxy man Andreas Herzog currently sits alongside Jürgen Klinsmann on the USMNT bench. He is his nation’s all-time leading scorer.

Graph: Thinking On USMNT First Halves

The graphics below show the US’s typical first half set. They push the ball high on the left and keep compact defensively. If they get a goal, great, but they rarely ever rev the tempo or get the ball going side to side against quality opponents at the risk of giving one up early.

The arrows show the typical movements by position in attack. The grey, transparent section is the space the US usually elects to defend. Ale Bedoya yesterday or Graham Zusi, their speed and endurance protect the weaker right flank by flashing forward to shut down switchfields or tracking back when compromised.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Small Things: USA 0 – Scotland 0

One of the few times Altidore saw the ball today.

One of the few times Altidore saw the ball today.

A rough game, though not wholly untidy, game for the States today in Glasgow.

Once again a tale of two halves as Jurgen Klinsmann and staff used the first half to see if they could break down an active 4-1-4-1 of Scotland (they didn’t) and used the second half to rev the tempo as Scotland dropped deep. Though no goals for the States in that second half, certainly more chances and most of that through the work of Aron Johansson.

Here are some breakdowns and observations.

• Conduction construction

The US’s style is to take a risk-averse approach to first halves. It’s understandable and not a terrible strategy.

Feel the other team out. If you nick  a goal, then the other side must chase and pockets of attacking or possession space can open up for the team that has the lead.

This was another somewhat solid first half defensive performance for the US in Europe at the expense of generating any threat on goal. Last time out–against Bosnia–the US made two individual errors in giving up two first half goals (note: one was debatably offsides) but played good team defense throughout in that eventual 4-2 friendly win.

The US was similarly compact and stoic if not frenetic in their defensive work today. The lone exception being TSG fave Geoff Cameron who occasionally found himself getting pulled out too wide left, though Scotland failed to punish Cameron in space.

Cameron wins a ball back high up the pitch...but before you congratulate him ... see below.

Cameron wins a ball back high up the pitch…but before you congratulate him … see below.

It should be noted that Cameron had two excellent ball pressures up the field that led to turnovers and one–seen here on the left–that could’ve been pounced on for a chance.

The story on offense was simple….as in simply dreadful.

Perhaps due to unfamiliarity but not due to instruction, the US failed to effectively poke and prod at Scotland’s defense.

What are you doing Jermaine?! That's not a good place to be!

What are you doing Jermaine?! That’s not a good place to be!

Three contributing factors plagued the States’s attack in the first half.

Lack of movement to receive balls between gaps–specifically by Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan–in building out of the back.

Lack of width provided and movement by Eddie Johnson and, at time, Ale Bedoya to come narrow or stay wide to create space. The US had two outlets that were rarely involved in the build-up.

And as result of the first two, floaters or hospital balls by Bradley and Jones to the outlets (Beasley, Bedoya, Johnson and Evans) which retarded reception and thus quick distribution.

Michael Bradley is pinned a bit in the corner--he next jams a ball into Altidore that results in a turnover. Jones fails to provide support.

Michael Bradley is pinned a bit in the corner–he next jams a ball into Altidore that results in a turnover. Jones fails to provide support.

There were a few ways the US could have solved these issues in-game.

First, obviously checking to open spaces.

Jones was particularly negligent here often hoping for the “perfect pass” from Bradley or Kljestan to find him. Jones, with his distance from or angle to the passer, often made that pass very difficult.

Second, being in motion–something that Graham Zusi and Aron Johansson in particular do well.

Smart running–knowing when a run will take a defender or merely stretch the defense–was needed. And sometimes its just the urgency to build tempo and merely get in motion that works. Start moving and the teammate next to you will feel the responsibility to move in synch.

Other first half notes:

• Thought Brad Evans played okay in the first half. Wasn’t challenged much though. And that said, Ale Bedoya was continually tasked with playing support cover over the top and Evans got skinned a few times and better players punish the US here. On the play below if Evans drops into the box a little more to cut down a Fletcher dribble-drive, he can recover to play Conway wide outside.

• While the Scottish defense closed quickly with numbers on Kljestan, the unfamiliarity with his role and his average close-range technical skills hurt his ability to do the job that was needed. Klejstan is excellent with his head-up and when looking vertically. Too often today he wasn’t quite sure where he was going with the ball when he received it. Worth another runout though.

• Not the strongest half for DaMarcus Beasley. Beasley had a few chances in space with the ball on switch fields–one notably at the 38th minute–and he continually had his head down and often went backwards with the ball. Risk-adverse, conservative, but also not productive.

• Whether due to Gus Poyet’s attendance or not, Jozy played a decent first half without a lot of touches–he was probably the most active of the front four when not in possession or rather when looking for possession.

The US gives us Scotland's best chance of the first half. (Click to enlarge.)

The US gives us Scotland’s best chance of the first half. (Click to enlarge.)

2nd half

• Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley are more vertically aligned. Simple movement by Bradley into the holes opens up the game. US revs the tempo–like they did versus Bosnia–by pinging balls long up the flanks to wide players Eddie Johnson and Ale Bedoya to start.

• Due to the flank chances, the subs of Mix Diskerud, Brek Shea and Aron Johannson are now more poised to take advantage of a Scottish defense that did not fear vertical play. (Love this Johannson kid… seen below here pushing/urging a tardy Shea into where he should be in space to receive the ball.)

Johansson directing Shea up high.

Johansson directing Shea up high.

• More on Johansson. Mentioned this previously, but a good comp for how Klinsmann is using him just aft of the striker is German Thomas Muller. Muller sweeps horizontally from left to right in the German system looking for the ball and dragging players. It allows Ozil the space opposite him to get on the ball unimpeded at times. Same here for Johansson who was continually looking today to provide a linking outlet into the attack.

(Minor note–and an important one in ultimate frisbee too (just thought I should add that): By *not checking back directly to the ball, a player can–obviously–spend less time turning upfield and finding a pass or taking on an opponent. It’s subtle, but important skillset and one that hurt the US in the first half as Kljestan had difficulty getting on the ball with enough time to turn and see a pass.)

• Some unsung work today by Jozy Altidore who did the best with what came his way. Here below Altidore fights to get to the near post on Shea’s cutback for Johannson. Altidore doesn’t halt his run when he can’t beat his defender, but rather barrels into him, providing a deep set-up option and screening the keeper. A little thing that wasn’t always present in Altidore’s game.

...

• Good performances today by Johannson, Altidore and Howard. Beasley, Jones and Kljestan left wanting.

USA v. Scotland: Live Commentary

Note to long-time (short-time) TSG fans … TSG will be back en force in 2014. We’re almost done removing a 5-foot pile of late 2013 responsibilities from our shoulders. Thanks for the patience.

USA, Scotland, Eric Lichaj at RB? We’ll see.

Centerback please...

Centerback please…

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