USMNT 2010: Filtering Out the Noise

With the results of the USMNT post-Azteca battle and forthcoming qualifier buzz, the debate fury on the happenings of the USMNT–on the web, in bars, just about anywhere–and what the team leadership should and should not do has been running rampant.

We here at TSG thought we’d provide you a little guidance in navigating some of the commentary that you’ve seen or you’re sure to see.

1) Number one on our list is formations and now is not the time to experiment.

We all like to talk about alternate formations and this formation will do this and that formation will cover that. Lots of them actually make a lot of sense.

Let’s get one thing clear though the US has two “formations” going into South Africa:

– huddle in the back and pray and kick the ball over the top. Just kidding….I think….okay really just kidding.

Your World Cup 2010 cheat sheet

Your World Cup 2010 cheat sheet

The US has two formations: 4-4-2 and some modification of a 4-5-1 when they are attempting to lay back in defense. That’s it.

The US will not be trying any other formations, not now or not in RSA, until after 2010.

How does TSG know this beyond the obvious? Take a look at the US starting line-up for their Brazil Confederation’s Cup championship match a few weeks back. Now look at the formation employed by club team of the 11 starters. At least 90%* and quite possibly 100% of the players in the USMNT starting XI come from a 4-4-2 club formation. I’m giving a * disclaimer to Aarhus, Benny Feilhaber’s team, because I am not certain they employ the 4-4-2.

Familiarity with position can speed the cohesiveness challenges of the USMNT who come together only sporadically for the next 9 months.

Asking the US to switch formations or attempts new ones when there are probably less than 10 total matches left for the USMNT before World Cup 2010, is not just not smart, it’s grounds for firing the coach.

2) Let’s forget about fringe players at this point. You’ve seen everyone this summer who has a chance to start with only 3 exceptions: Jermaine Jones and to a much lesser extent, Maurice Edu and Edgar Castillo.

If you haven’t seen ’em, they are almost 100% unlikely to start at this point.

The USMNT needs consistency to develop a rhythm with those on the pitch. In short, they need competitive games together and to build up the understanding of where each individual is as a group.

3) Bob Bradley is not getting fired, replaced or asked to sit in the corner of the room.

Gulati: Backing BB and so should you.

Gulati: Backing BB and so should you.

All Captain Bob has done at this point is take two completely different teams to two different championship games in two different tournaments. Not only that, but he came about 10 minutes short of earning the 2nd tie ever in Mexico City with his #1 star having the swine flu. The players love playing for him and they love playing for him for a reason that we, the fans, sometimes don’t. He sticks with them. He doesn’t judge their performance on one game. He gives them room to make mistakes and prove their meddle. (Note here*: I’m totally discounting this whole Torres situation–something’s weird there.)

Bob’s hear to stay. Is he the right man for the job? Right now, yes.

In case you need more here, USSF Sunil Gulati at an August 11th presser on the Azteca match: “Bob Bradley will be our coach through qualifying, Bob Bradley will be our coach at the World Cup if we qualify, and I am confident that we will.”

So sequentially, you have to see Gulati fired first in all likelihood since he’s not backing away from that quote now.

If you remember these three axioms, you’re message board filtering will be X-men-like and your reading and debate enjoyment will increase we promise you. And let’s start some more educated debate that takes these factors into account like:

Jermaine Jones forces which middie to the bench?

Who’s the most challenging team the US can face in the 1st round?

Should Chad Marshall challenge for a starting role next year?

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kaya on 2009/08/27 at 11:51 PM

    Just because I realize that Bob is our coach does not mean I need to happily accept it.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/28 at 8:24 AM

      True, true — but debate is best served on other topics until after 2010 on the BB topic.


  2. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/08/28 at 5:46 AM

    I don’t know if Chad Marshall should challenge for a starting role next year, but I definitely think he should be prepared for it. As a center back, I really think size is the most valuable attribute (the one time Alexi Lalas is right). Marshall has a good 3-4 inches on both Bocanegra and Demerit. While I think Demerit’s play has been mostly pretty good, I think Marshall should be getting as much experience as he can because there are going to be times when we need those big bodies in there to stop the most dangerous teams. I also think that Chad Marshall has the potential to be a much better player than these other defenders are at their age (this isn’t a knock on Demerit or Bocanegra, just a statement of how good I think Marshall could be).

    and on the subject of this article, I think your three axioms are simple unavoidable truths. We aren’t going to experiment with players or formations and Bob Bradley is here to stay, like it or not.


  3. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/28 at 8:26 AM

    What I’m impressed most about Marshall is how we closes on passes coming into the offender he’s on– and then his speed.

    He’s 6’4” and stellar in the air already and his speed is more than decent–good recipe for starting. If the qualifier roster says anything with Goodson on it–Marshall is the first in central defense after Gooch and DeMerit — not Boca.


  4. Posted by garbogas on 2009/08/28 at 9:40 AM

    How’s Marshall’s ability to possess the ball after he wins it back?


  5. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/28 at 9:43 AM

    You know — I’ll look for that next game.

    When I’m watching a player sometimes I get focused in on the 1 or 2 things I’m looking for.

    I remember from the Gold Cup he was pretty strong — especially in that Panama game.

    You have thoughts?


  6. Posted by garbogas on 2009/08/28 at 10:53 AM

    I’ve never watched Marshall play. I’ll look for the next Crew game on ESPN to try and get a look at him.

    I’m curious about his possession because the difference between what Onyewu does with the ball when he wins it back and what DeMerit does is humongous and it has a big impact on our ability to keep possession.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/28 at 11:00 AM

      You always make great points Garbogas.

      I completely agree with you. Gooch is shaky at best in possession. I’m hoping he can get enough play time at Milan to work on that with some of the better experts on touch play and passing.

      I seem to recall Marshall is strong here, but I want to review myself. What impressed me about Marshall in the Gold Cup was his speed — he’s deceptively quick and took great angles when some of the wingback were beaten.

      Again a Goodson selection over a Hedjuk selection yesterday suggests to me he might start, may not, but it’s possible.


      • Posted by garbogas on 2009/08/28 at 12:19 PM

        Actually, I think Gooch’s possession has improved vastly since he came onto the scene. That was one of the big reasons Milan signed him reportedly. Still, hopefully playing with Milan can only keep improving his possession ability.

        Do you know the situation on Gooch breaking into the starting line-up?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/08/28 at 12:40 PM

          Not great, but not as bad as people make out.

          He’s got Nesta and Thiago Silva firmly in front of him. However, there is a run of lesser competition in starting in mid-September that should see Gooch get some time.

          Additionally looks like Milan is dealing Kaladze who Gooch seems to have passed on the depth chart for first in line sub.

          Our bet for his first start– tune in September 20th against Bologna, a middle to end-of-the-pack team. Milan is at home after a Champions League match midweek.

          There is chance no the 13th against Livorno, but that game is away.

          On a more permanent basis getting in there, only time will tell,

          Here’s a recent Q&A with him that was well done:


  7. […] *Remember, this….is…just…for…fun. Not our opinion on line-ups or formation. Most already know my feeling on the formation. […]


  8. […] minority in being categorically against a formation change. I wrote about this in August actually here and my arguments I believe still carry quite a bit of merit (though admittedly reader comments here […]


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