Posts Tagged ‘carlos bocanegra’

Part II: 60 Days to The Rumble At Rustenburg

…and we’re back with Part II, The Key Tactical Battle…

Walcott attacks...

Part II of “Rumble at Rustenburg” looks at the most important section of the field to win.

For those readers who have made themselves familiar with the intimate tactical details under Bob Bradley, it’s no secret that Coach Bradley often likes to: A) move the the ball to the wings quickly and away from threats in the middle, B) protect the left flank through the threat of counterattack (Donovan to Davies,

Will Boca be tasked with punching out the England attack?

while a speedy Ricardo Clark–or Maurice Edu–trail and protect a reverse on Bocanegra or Bornstein) and C) draw a midfielder in on the right to force the action down the right flank where Spector, Gooch and Bradley (all fairly big, athletic players) can shut down attacks way out wide–the weak left flank is thus protected.

Conversely England will look to exploit the Yanks weakness on the left while making Ashley Cole available over the drawn in midfielder on the right for attacks down that flank.

That match-up on the US left flank will be the pivotal battle to win….so say “GeorgeCross” and “Tuesday.”

The Key Battle: Walcott/Lennon vs. the US Left Flank by “GeorgeCross”

Theo Walcott is the main player here….

I feel that England can drag Bocanegra out of position and stretch the defence, creating space to exploit. Looking at Fig. 1, you can see that if Walcott hugs the right wing, and Bocanegra comes across to cover then that leave space between the left back and centre back – green shaded area.

Figure: Walcott or Lennon attack wide...

We have at least two options here. One is that it creates an opportunity for a through ball to be played for Walcott to use his pace to get behind the defense. Two, this space can be utilized by Rooney or Heskey – which means that Onyewu (or Demerit) picks them up.

If Bocanegra stays compact with his back four, this denies that pocket of space. But this allows Walcott to either cross the ball behind the back four (green shaded area) – for the other offensive players and perhaps Lampard to attack, or to run at Bocanegra on the outside.

Fig. 4 looks at the prospect of Walcott running at Bocanegra on his inside and wrong foot. Walcott using his pace can cause Bocanegra real problems, especially if his gets inside the box on his wrong side – all it takes is a mis-timed challenge and it’s a penalty (see 1st goal vs. Croatia at Wembley). Walcott can also cut inside and shoot with his left foot, which he has demonstrated in the EPL this season. Furthermore, by Walcott cutting inside and taking Bocanegra with him, it will create space (green shaded area) for Johnson to overlap and be the potential spare man in space getting behind the USA back four.

Tuesday’s take…

Pinning Johnson back defensively could be the difference in the match….

(Click Here To Watch The Glen Johnson-Theo Threat Unfold)

…and the difference between Walcott being the best winger in the world on the day or entirely anonymous.

England’s right flank vs. US left flank is really the key battle of the match – In the US half, it’s a speedy English winger, supported by Johnson attacking the US left back spot. In the England half, it’s Glen Johnson’s tendency to misread the game and get caught forward balanced against the pace and directness of the US counter-attacking game. While playing conservatively in the first half an hour so as not to concede an early goal, the US must use the space vacated by fullback to attack with enough threat to force Capello to reign in their advance.

A reasonably fit Charlie Davies taking up his preferred starting position wide on the left would inhabit the space vacated by Glen Johnson when he makes a forward run and cause problems for England’s defense.

Could a Beasley-Donovan tandem be key?

I think an asymmetric 4-2-2-2 deployed against Spain in the Confederations Cup lines would cause England more trouble than anyone expects if we can field Davies. If Johnson is forced back, the right wing is isolated giving the US left back a far easier defensive task. Like England with Ashley Cole, we’re a far more dangerous side with Charlie Davies, but aren’t without options.

Does Charlie Davies Complete his miraculous recovery? His impact as a second half sub could be more important than as a starter.

If CD9 weren’t fit, the approach would be different approach but the goal remains the same. Donovan and Beasley starting in wide positions for old times sake might even be the best option!

Part III coming…all the rest of the offense and defense…

Jumble: Oh, No! Not That Leftback Enquiry Again

Does this question really need an introduction?

Much has been made about the Yanks vaunted left back position. Who do you favor as the lead in the depth chart there: Boca, Bornstein or Pearce….and why?

Bocalicious?

GeorgeCross: Personally, I think that Bradley has given Bornstein more than enough chances to make that position his own, and he has not come anywhere near the required standard – to be perfectly honest, his inadequacies would be highlighted week in week out in the Prem, let alone international football and the World Cup.

Pearce is a little tricky because I have only seen him play a few times for Dallas – I saw him play quite well, but did not think he was anything too special.  Not sure he has enough ability to bridge the gulf in class – might not be so evident in the group games against Slovenia and Algeria, but I question Pearce in the knockout stages.

Therefore, Bocanegra to get the green light, not because he is brilliant, but simply because he is the best option that the USA, sort of a minimax strategy – minimise the maximum damage that an opponent could inflict – rather than looking for an offensive left back. He might not have Bornstein’s legs, but you will not see him getting caught out positionally as much, and he won’t be as naïve in conceding ‘tactical’ fouls in and around the box – again, the further the USA progresses, the tighter the games become, and it really is about these millimetres and centimetres  that can make all the difference.

Just...about...sums...it...up....

McKee, “Spectator-Capped”: Spector/Gooch/DeMerit/Boca! (ConfedCup lineup = best).

England will bring speed/skill regardless of our choice.  We need Boca’s headers in attack with LD10 and CD9 ahead of Boca – keep the game in their half to check England’s pace.  Cards/injuries? Use Dolo right, Spector left, Goodson center as needed.   Pearce? Bornstein – not convinced

Shoaff, Black Sox: Pearce: so slow.  Bornstein: so not ready for the World Cup.  Boca: needed in the middle, especially with the injury to Gooch.  The solution: Jonathan Spector. Plays left back for West Ham and is our most versatile defender.  If Cherundolo is healthy, they both play—Cherundolo on the right, Spector on the left.

Rogers, Hillcrest Road: I don’t know who is tops on Bradley’s depth chart, but I’m liking Pearce at that position right now. His play in the last couple of friendlies was really solid. He showed a great ability to contribute to the attack with smart, timely runs and great balls from the wing. Bocanegra is too solid in the middle, in my opinion, to put him on the left. Also, he seems to have trouble with speedier players, so putting him out there against Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Theo Walcott could spell trouble.
McKee, Spectator-Capped: Spector/Gooch/DeMerit/Boca! (ConfedCup lineup = best).  England will bring speed/skill regardless of our choice.  We need Boca’s headers in attack with LD10 and CD9 ahead of Boca – keep the game in their half to check England’s pace.  Cards/injuries? Use Dolo right, Spector left, Goodson center as needed.   Pearce? Bornstein – not convinced

Michelot, Ligue1Talk: I like Pearce. He’s “aged” well, as if MLS had given him new legs. He looked good against CONCACAF teams and he is better offensively than the other 2. Good balance between offense and defense. Play Boca in the middle where his lack of speed is less detrimental.

Arbogast, Notre Dame: Talk about choosing amongst unappealing options. Since you have to pick someone, I’m going with Bocanegra. Bereft of anything better, I’m going with experience and smarts to carry the day. With DeMerit’s rise, you can feel real good about your central defense even without Boca (assuming Onyewu is back and fit).

Elephant In The Room & It’s Not Gooch, DeMerit

What’s the word Bob Bradley? We know you see it.

One of Bob's key problems to figure out....

Is Omar Gonzalez or Brandon McDonald a sign that you don’t believe Oguchi Onyewu will ready despite reports–is it telling that you have 5 central defenders in camp? How much of a factor for South Africa is rooted-to-Columbus defender Chad Marshall?

The notion of a balking backline has been creeping in all of qualification. The signal grew louder August 12th in Mexico. In Trinidad & Tobago, even louder and to a crescendo October 14th in RFK.

Tim Howard added insult to questionable performance with a mic’d up, “Every f%^king time!” howl that wasn’t personally directed, but could have been.

While both Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit were bit by the injury bug, the biggest question that TSG has is “Does Carlos Bocanegra have a spot in the starting back line in South Africa? And if so, where is it?”

This is Part of I of II where the Shinguardian will dissect Boca’s role in defense….Part I today is central defense; next will be at wingback.

Captain America: Riding out a rough patch for club and country....

The fan in us has some serious trouble even contemplating that statement above, the analyst must ask the question.

Captain Integrity Bocanegra did not factor for his club team, Rennes, in December.

Stades Rennes seems to have went younger by reshuffling their backline. Rennes has inserted Senegalese big man Abdou Kader Mangane in their central defense, moving French nattie player Rod Fanni (that’s an unfortunate name, no?) out to rightback, pushing right back Romaine Danze out to leftback. Boca hasn’t had a whiff of the pitch.

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Part III: Davies Still Repairing, Who’s Striking?

(Part IV of the series coming real soon….)

Two months ago to the day, TSG wrote one of our more popular columns: “With Davies in Repair, Who Strikes?

We followed this column with Part II that suggested that the answer to the USMNT striking problem may lay not with the players themselves, but with a different formation that took into account the rejiggered talents of the team that Bob Bradley could currently field.

So where do we sit today? Sixty odd days after the USMNT began addressing the issue for the South African replacement–sniffle–for one Charles Davies we’re still left with a lot of head scratching, if not even more.

Cakes: "I'm the man, but I'm still curious who's the man in front of me?"

TSG’s biggest question on the day and biggest requirement? How does the new look upfront impact Landon Donovan who clearly has the class now to be a difference maker, but needs the team and strategy tailored to his style. (Just ask Clint Dempsey about this….)

On our Landon issue, no current answers. With Landon absent for both friendlies, we learned little about potential replacements in Eddie Johnson and Jermaine Defoe Jr.–I mean Jeff Cunningham–who were called in to be considered for the role.

Cunningham scored in his starting debut, but was also knocked off the ball on multiple occasions. Eddie showed a little bit of pace, but a troubling lack of creativity in one-on-one situations. Further, since that friendly, EJ was moved to the discount rack at Fulham, buried on the bench and likely available to and at the mercy of the first suitor. No playing time for the potential South African hopeful.

Worse for the USMNT, it appears that Jozy can’t get a handle on things in Davies absence either, being wildy erratic and nearly invisible in the two friendlies–whether Jozy has been told to roam the offensive 1/3 or play hold-up is not known–what is known is that whatever role he was inhabited in Friendlyville it certainly didn’t breed confidence or create systemic opportunities.

JZA’s club situation has not shed any light on his future contributions either.

So going forward in this column, we’ll take a different tack in reviewing the possible players and combinations.

We’ll do the following: We’ll give some general priorities that Bob Bradley has favored through qualification. We’ll give our take on how the offense changes with various personnel and finally we’ll interject about the USMNT’s group stage opponents in helping us with our evaluation.

General priorities:

Complement Mr. LA Galaxy Landon Donovan.

Let me lead this segment with a broader question: Should it be Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey who the team is built around?

Wow! Did you see that question coming?

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