I’ve been trying not to type this column since I saw the Mikey B replay Sunday. TSG has written these thoughts before. The fans have suffered through qualifier after qualifier illuminating the sentiment contained herein. However, if I don’t write it, then I can’t come back and reference it at a later date for its braininess or its stupidity.
Just an exquisite, amazing pass, a Donovan to be precise, from Michael Bradley for his club team, Bo’Munchen, to assist for a score against Bayern Munich this past Saturday.
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….and yet this splendid play brought out the curmudgeon in me.
I hated it for what is was “not”….hold this thought for one moment because we’re going to put it on a collision course with one below.
A polar observation:
The US draws England as the heavy in the World Cup group. Immediately I, and I’m sure you as well, had a niggling, pin-pricking voice in your mind that hinted at, “Yes, yes there is a chance we can knock down that victory.”
You’re next thought, or at least mine? How? How does it happen? How do we win that one?
The Brits, deployed in a 4-4-2. A strong 4-4-2 with maybe three exceptions or outright weaknesses: A target forward for Wayne Rooney to play off of, problems at wingfull with the shaky Wayne Bridge and oft-injured Wes Brown and Glen Johnson there, and, much like the US, a little bit unsettling situation in the midfield where James Milner might be making a play for time, but the rather limited Gareth Barry and the off-form Frank Lampard man the central pitch. These gents are flanked by very poor man’s Donovan Shaun Wright Phillips or Aaron Lennon and the Clint Dempsey of the England Steven Gerrard relegated to the wing.
What I currently envision for how the game play–we can dream a bit, right?
The U.S. works to combat Wayne Rooney and holds firm. On the other side of the ball, a counter attack or two netted by Landon and Stu (or maybe even Robbie Findley or Marcus Tracy) after possession had been linked through the midfield.
It’s not secret that the U.S. will need and already need to maintain more possession in the middle of the pitch. However, how ironic is it that our very first opponent in World Cup 2010 will demand that strategy as the prescription to beating them.
Crash! Back to our weekend observation. Really a gorgeous play by Coach USA’s son, the type of play that Mike Bradley does well on. It’s a relative strength for USMNT midfield stalwart, his quick reception and distribution….and it’s categorically not the type of skill that the USMNT demands in its first match-up in South Africa. The US will demand possession, protection and carriage in their central midfield, not hot potato.
Which brings me to the title of my piece. TSG, and all our contributors and commenters, have reviewed the USMNT midfield before, exhaustively, and I’m sure we’ll do it many time again. TSG has championed for more Benny Feilhaber; only his 2009 pairing with MB isn’t nearly close to the rhythmic coupling the two had in the Gold Cup of 2007.
Let’s be honest, the USMNT 3rd highest leader in minutes played during qualification and would-be minutes leader if he didn’t earn a red card and have to drop a game, Michael Bradley will most certainly be on the pitch in June barring an injury.
We know Ricardo Clark is not the answer in attack from a possession standpoint and probably from a complete game standpoint. We know that Coach USA is looking at Benny as reliever and possible winger. We probably know that Edgar Castillo is flanking in the midfield or defensive third of the pitch, but flanking, not centering.
We know Coach Sweatpants will not waver from his borderline maniacal focus on defensive coverage in the midfield–which to his credit has time and time covered for questionable play by the wingfulls while allowing for the threat of Donovan and others on the outsides.
Only the USMNT midfield demands someone who can possess the ball in combination with that defensive intensity.
We’ve been waiting for a healthy Jermaine Jones midfield caboose to rumble into town. In a moment of brilliance from Michael Bradley, here’s another, or perhaps the best, reason why.