Posts Tagged ‘Clint Dempsey’

Assault Lake City: TSG’s Official USA vs. Honduras Preview

It's a redemption shot for the USMNT and certainly Fab J.

It’s a redemption shot for the USMNT and certainly Fab J.

The USMNT finds itself in Sandy, Utah this week looking to affix a three-point dollop of whip cream-and-cherries on top of the 6-point ice cream sundae it crafted at the expense of Panama and Jamaica over the past week. Sure would be nice with expected temps at game time hovering around the nineties.

The States have manufactured four goals during this Hex stretch in four distinct ways, a salvo that has resulted in two victories and put the Yanks close to punching that coveted 2014 World Cup ticket.

The Honduras fulcrum game here is one that loomed large and pivotal on the qualifying calendar upon announcement but even more so after the US tripped over itself and coughed up a 1-0 lead–and its gumption–to the Honduran squad in February’s opening round of the Hex campaign.

Now, though, the US is dining from a position of strength atop the qualifying table and Los Catrachos are the ones powered down for the return match.

Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figureroa, Boniek Garcia and Jerry Bengston among others all set to miss the Sandy city clash on Tuesday for the visitors. Additionally, while Honduras pummeled the Jamaican speed bag on Friday–a 2-0 win that sent Reggae Boyz skipper Tappa Whitmore to the Jamaican Fed guillotine–the lead-up to the match saw Los Catrachos go scoreless through the two previous road qualifiers against Panama and Costa Rica.

Against a States team that has been rippling the nets, going scoreless probably doesn’t get Honduras the draw and single vital point in this match-up that they seek.

Scoops up!

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our (near) customary preview.

It goes:

TSG What Are We Looking For?

About The Opponent: Honduras

11 At The Whistle

(Photo courtesy American Outlaws Salt Lake City)

(Photo courtesy American Outlaws Salt Lake City)

TSG What Are We Looking For?

» Middle management

This game will may “will likely” be won again in the midfield.

Here are the numbers in February from the central midfield battle between Los Caratchos and the Yanks:

Honduras: 107 of 127 passing (84.25%), 5 tackles won, 4 interceptions, 15 recoveries

United States: 114 of 139 passing (84%), 5 tackles won, 1 interception, 13 recoveries.

("You'd want the one on the left")

(You want to have the chart on the left. The one on the right looks like some incubating virus or something.)

Seems rather even, yes?

One more datapoint to add.

That Honduran CMF stat line was accomplished with two field positions (and two players, Luis Garrido and the indefaiguable Roger Espinoza) while the US line was accomplished with three field positions (and five players Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones/Graham Zusi and Danny Williams/Maurice Edu.)

Those numbers are astounding. Let it be noted that most of the damage was done by former Sporting KC johnny-on-the-spot Espinoza–no boots to the face in the match though (yes, that’s Ike Opara, Sam Cronin and Cody Arnoux in that video also).

Honduras flat-out bossed the midfield. It took Los Caratchos three fewer players and they defiantly shoved the line of confrontation into the US’s defensive half. By the way, subtract Danny Williams’s contribution from the numbers and the difference in the stat line of Bradley-Jones versus Espinoza-Garrido is staggering. Bossed.

Things have a funny way of changing of course and the roles here seem reversed; Honduras’s depleted troops and Los Caratchos being on the road may make the US midfield selection more complex actually.

After Tuesday’s man of the match performance, many will want to see Stoke City utility man and TSG fave Geoff Cameron in central midfield.

However Honduras may elect to press the midfield–given their success with that strategy last time–much more than Panama. In something few pundits incredulously pointed out, while Cameron excelled on Tuesday, he did so with very little pressure on him on-ball and in possession–think of a running back whose blockers have lined-up defenders and so the back doesn’t need to elude but instead can take his time and pick his holes.

That was Cameron on Tuesday who gave an excellent performance against a weak opponent with a perplexingly passive defensive effort. It may be different if the Roger Espinoza terrier is unleashed.–as it was in the series opener–to push high and shut down the deep US attack supply line.

Not his best day to be ... nice.

Not his best day to be … nice.

Jermaine Jones has proven he has the steel and ability to run with the ball and deliver passes with a man on his hip already. So maybe the decision in favor of Jones is rote?

However, Honduras may, in fact, look to sit deep and protect their second-string centerbacks. Does Klinsmann then opt to keep Cameron on the field–while either granting more rest to Jones or even Bradley–because he did well in tracking space and spraying passes against a similar defense?

Then again, if Honduras is consistent with its two previous road deployments, it will likely put out three central midfielders, one more than February. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. So Jones is the pick?

The bet here is that Klinsmann goes back to Jones-Bradley in the middle and uses the former’s harried on-ball defending to push the line of confrontation to around the halfline. Both Jones and Bradley are adept if Honduras starts pressing and putting them both on the field likely dissuades Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez from thinking he can gain an advantage by pressing.

(Note A: A big theme in the February match-up was the inability of US fullbacks–Fabian Johnson and Tim Chandler–to get ahead in the attack or even provide width and–while that is true–it’s damn near impossible to get ahead in the attack if your midfield is losing the turf war centrally in your defensive end.)

(Note B: There’s some prevailing notion out there that central midfield is Cameron’s best position–hard to say that. He’s a very good stand-up defender on the interior and he’s good at surveying the field from the middle, but his best skill is not turning in traffic with a defender on his hip. Centerback is likely where Cameron ends up on the club and national team level and where he ultimately excels.)

» Backswap

A look back at the Panama game plan suggests that Klinsmann and staff expected Panama to have more bite in their  central midfield.

Last week, Klinsmann schemed to get Jozy Altidore going in the Germany friendly with early balls in stride to his feet through Brad Evans. Tuesday, Klinsmann game-planned to get DaMarcus Beasley and Matt Besler active earlier in possession and providing supply up to Fabian Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore–because pressure was expected in central midfield and because Panama’s Leonal Parris tends to put himself in positions that even Lindsey Lohan would find shocking.

Anyway.

The US left rear pairing had the second (Besler, 72) and third (Beasley, 70) most pass attempts on the evening after Michael Bradley’s team-high 87.

All *incomplete* passes by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Besler was given license to drop more long balls up the field, 2 to 1.

All *incomplete* passes by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Besler was given license to ping more long balls up the field, 2 to 1. Gonzo’s long balls were typically clearances as well.

Many expect musical chairs to ensue and for Fab Johnson to be moved to the backline with Brad Davis or Eddie Johnson moved ahead of him, but that seems poorly conceived if it transpires.

First Fab Johnson is giving the States some much-needed width on the left through his ability to hold the ball and break down defenders. Davis would give the States width, but give very little going forward. Eddie Johnson would offer width, but little cover for a new leftback.

The logical choice to deputize is Edgar Castillo who has the ability to distribute appropriately from the back and defend on the break.

Castillo hasn’t many supporters this camp, but he’s versed in Honduras’s style and he’s got a way of playing big when he’s truly needed.

(Castillo was called on after having gone through morning training already for a Canada friendly in May 2012; he was one of the best players on the field. In the US’s first victory at the Azteca in an August 2012 friendly, Castillo played pristine positional and on-ball defense as DaMarcus Beasley failed to track back on multiple occasions.)

» Good circulation

Given that Honduras probably retreats some in this one looking to clip a draw or 1-0 win, how does the States elect to break down the bunkered defense.

The schematic seems simple and is one that anyone hanging around Kansas City in October of last year probably is familiar with. October 2012 saw the US shellack Guatemala at Sporting Park 3-1. The Guatemalan side they faced that day  looked a lot like the US opponent Tuesday; Guatemala was beset by injuries, especially to its backline resulting in a novice centerback pairing.

In the October 2012 match, the US aggressively pushed the ball up the flanks to create space centrally, both in possession (Eddie Johnson on the left) and through passing sequences (Graham Zusi on the right). As they worked on the fullbacks for Los Chapines, the young Guatemalan centerback pairing was called in for support.

That cued space in the middle, something that Clint Dempsey knows exactly how to make use of. With Herculez Gomez running the channels, Clint Dempsey playing hide-and-seek and Michael Bradley making his Late Box Runs, Los Chapines were overwhelmed and succumbed.

The key of course to this attack, like most, is quick ball circulation. Below is Danny Williams passing chart for that match. 82 of 88 passes completed on the day, nearly all of them laterally. Don’t play Hot Potato with that man; he’ll be still standing.

Danny Williams, horizontal shuttler, USA vs. Guatemala (3-1 US, October 2012)

Danny Williams, horizontal shuttler, USA vs. Guatemala (3-1 US, October 2012)

The faster you move the ball, the more out of position the support defense is and the easier the opponent’s defense breaks down. With two of Fabian Johnson, Eddie Johnson and-or Graham Zusi on the wings Tuesday, this will hopefully be the same tale for the States on Tuesday.

Continue reading

Report Suggests Rossoneri Interest In Deuce

Redeemed at WC 2010

Clint Dempsey now to Milan?

It’s possible.

300 million pocketbooks in the United States are an added bonus.

Additionally, in a little reported piece of news yesterday, Serie A, revoked the number of foreign players, outside the EU, making the search for and viability of players around Europe more important.

(On the ban above, clubs can trade and borrow player quotas, but it certainly doesn’t help the big clubs….perhaps the ban was not in response the World Cup meltdown by the Italian team, but Jose Mourinho wining the treble with a predominantly non-Italian squad last year).

—————

Other rumors / news:

• Might the Sheffield public (thanks Jeremy) trade one American for another. Out is Frank Simek at Sheffield Wednesday, signed by League One’s Carlisle United to a two-year deal, in may be none other than Jay DeMerit at United. Leeds United is also rumored by a player for the American central backer.

US Soccer: Clint Dempsey On The Europa Final

US Soccer conducts an interview with Clint Dempsey before today’s hallmark match:

Dempsey: All cylinders go...

:  You have the chance to become the first U.S. player to compete in a European club final.  How does that feel?

Clint Dempsey: “I don’t look at things like that. I look at it as another opportunity to play in big games.  I’ve played in two MLS Cup finals, two Gold Cup finals, and a Confederations Cup final. This is a great one to add to the list. It is good to be a part of teams that get that far.  They are special moments in your career.”

See the whole interview here.

Part V: Awaiting Davies, More Flavors Du Jour

*Stay tuned later today or first thing tomorrow for a special Tuesday at The Shin Guardian. We’re going to need everyone’s help.

—————-

Will CD9 be in time?

One of the more popular series at The Shin Guardian essentially goes by the name of the first post in the series, “With Davies in Repair, Who Strikes.” Shortly after Charlie Davies’ October injury, The Shin Guardian and our community began to look into, review and hypothesize just what could and would Bob Bradley due in the absence of the striker who arose from national team obscurity so quickly.

We’re back today with Part V, admittedly more because time has passed since Part IV (February 11th); we are still devoid of a plethora of observations.

(Again for those new to TSG, here is Part I, Part II, Part III, & Part IV — they are worth meandering through if you’re just catching up on the national team.)

To go back to Part I in October 2009, TSG compiled a list of options as Davies healed.. In Part I, we were prescriptive about needing a pacy forward to occupy the slot ahead of Donovan. The list: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore (pre-blowing up), Conor Casey, Brian Ching, Kenny Cooper, Freddy Adu, Eddie Johnson, Chris Rolfe, Robbie Findley, Jeff Cunningham, Marcus Tracy, Preston Zimmerman.

Continue reading

The Deuce Lets Loose: Golazo Against Juve

TSG’s commentary man Shaun just sent up these quips:

• Did you see that Dempsey goal?! No one on the USMNT comes close to scoring a goal like that!

• The commentator just referred to Dempsey as “Hodgson’s little yankee boy”. This needs to stick

Clint Dempsey’s critical strike against Juventus today, positively Messi-like.

Fulham roar back in Europa League, 4-1, against a shorthanded Juve after being down 3 on aggregate. Congrats Fulhamerica fans!

Duece Takes To Old Trafford Today

Sir Alex time....

Clint is back as the Cottagers head to Sir Alex country in hopes of diffusing the Red Devils.

Duece, more “relieved” to be back on the pitch? Here’s what he told FullhamFC.com:

(….he is now looking forward to more action on Sunday.)

“That’s why you play in the Premiership, so you can play the best teams in the world so it’s exciting when you get to play in those games,” he told fulhamfc.com.

“You want to play in big games and it was great to be back. I’m still working on trying to be 100% fit and get the sharpness back. But it’s good to be back playing – I knew there was a possibility of me getting on the pitch against Juventus. Now that I’ve got the first game out of the way hopefully I’ll be able to improve on my fitness and quality.

“They told me that I would be out for between five to eight weeks and it took seven weeks. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, I’ve been in England for three years and seven weeks is the longest I’ve been out so I feel fortunate.”

Despite his fitness not being tip-top, TSG is tipping Dempsey to get the start with Danny Murphy ailing and Deuce a big player in these bigger games.

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