Rope-A-Dope: USA Stuffs Turkey, 2-1

Deuce was extremely calm on the ball netting the game winner. 75th minute again for clockwork. Read on.

In the final game before the trip around half the world, the USMNT set their guns to “blaze” in the 2nd half after accepting attack volley after attack volley from the Turks in the first.

Former Fenerbache player Colin Kazim-Richards found a leaking Arda Turan up the left wing in the first half to open the the scoring for the visitors, but US punched back after halftime through Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, beneficiaries of Landon Donovan the playmaker.

The 2nd half saw an urgent group of Yanks push the tempo, link shorter passes and overwhelm a Turkey team that wilted in the humidity of Lincoln Financial Field.

Coach Bob Bradley was measured in his post game comments and said that the introduction of new players in the 2nd was key to the US gaining the win. Bradley also commented that the US game plan was to hold shape as best as possible in the first, absorb offensive pressure from a talented Turkey team, and strike later in the match.

“The early phase of the game is so much about establishing things, and playing through the period of time when the game is tight and there is no space, not giving anything away–knowing  that over time the game will start to open up.”

The Yanks were on the ropes in the first, but Bradley claims that was part of the plan

And open up they did. Whether it was a halftime speech, the insertion of key components, or merely a pre-meditated game plan, the Yanks looked the part of World Cup contenders during the final 45′ plus after sitting on the ropes with Turkey playing the role of George Foreman to the Yanks’ Ali.

A 1st half that saw balls lobbed up the pitch and the tandem of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore not able to create opportunities, much less keep possession, gave way to the 2nd which saw a more staccato array of passes linking through the middle with the threat of Robbie Findley’s speed opening up the space there. Cue the counter punch.

With Deuce tucking in at left half, Landon on the right–where he played nearly whole game–and more accurate and simpler ball movement from conductor Jose Torres in the middle, the US midfield attack dominated the Turks.

One note before we get started here. That pesky leftback conundrum was again called attention to yesterday. The US was very disciplined in protecting Carlos Bocanegra in the back. While Boca was tactically strong on the day, he was anything but physically strong as first Feilhaber, then Donovan, then Deuce covered over the top of him, forcing attackers wide.

Now on to our customary review (and boy were we off in the preview):

TSG’s What We Were Looking For


Player ratings

What We Were Looking For

Onyewu is at threat level "Recovery" instead of "Fine Tuning"

• Okay, let’s try this one again: Whither Gooch?

TSG–actually let’s make this just me–Matthew from TSG was way off. While three of our predicted four starters were in there, we had commented that Oguchi Onyewu would most definitely start.

Didn’t happen and, yes, you should read into it. While Onyewu entered in the 2nd half, the 2nd half is when the US had game-planned to attack more feverishly according to Bob Bradley’s comments afterwards. Thus putting less pressure on it’s backline.

If Onyewu is your starter, then you need him in their against Turkey’s best, not when their attackers are pooped. I usually try to read into Coach USA’s rationale and figure out the reasoning–only thing that rings a bell here is concern.

Whatever USSF is feeding us about Gooch’s readyness, I’m now not believing it.

Press officer Michael Kammarman attempted to joke in the press box after the line-up annoucement with a “There’s nothing wrong with Gooch. He played 65 minutes in the 2nd half on Tuesday. He’ll in in the 2nd half.”

• What’s the forward combination?

Well, Findley was the back-up, but the starters up top were Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. Again, another area where Matthew from TSG erred.

That said, the combination of Altidore and Dempsey were annihilated in the air and failed to produce any credible chances in the first beyond Altidore’s little scissor-dribble burst.

While I do accept that the US was playing defensively, the fact that the States weren’t able to keep possession suggests this combination at least for this game wasn’t the best one.

TSG had mentioned and wanted Gomez–who warmed in the 2nd half, but didn’t get in.

• Let’s hear it for Marcus Hahnemann?

…..or not.

Make no mistake about it. No Hahnemann today means the Wolverhampton stalwart is just that and that alone. A #1 club keeper who’s #3 on the States.

(My biggest regret before the Yanks head to South Africa was not talking to Hahnemann in the mixed zone yesterday who had no suitors for an interview.)

• Is Maurice Edu in the hole?

I’m glad I put this one in here, because what you saw from the States today was a page out of Tuesday’s chapter and a look that the US is going to move the ball a lot more with their defensive midfielder that sits in the hole.

First, that’s not Maurice Edu’s role.

Bradley in his post game speech suggested that the weather elements led him to press his midfield and the midfield “had a lot of work to do” in the first half.

So, Coach Sweats employed a forward Ricardo Clark to close down players. Clark though didn’t use his athleticism all that well. Oh, he definitely runs and tackles well, but most of that running was to make up for the fact that he was out of position.

Worse in the first half, was Michael Bradley employed as the distribution hub in the back, which led to one spectacular pass, but often many errant passes sprayed up the field. Hard for your forwards to keep possession when they have to focus on reading where the ball is going.

The ghost of Estadio Saprissa is completely extinguished.

For his part, Senior Bradley alluded to the value in pushing the younger, just-as-bald Junior up the pitch (let’s hope we don’t see Bradley sitting deep there anymore). The question is, who owns that role? Jose Torres?

If Edu’s in there, he’s likely moving Bradley back not putting Edu in the hub.

Torres for his part looks like a reliever in the role that Feilhaber once held.

So to synthesize my comments, I think you’ll see an Edu-Bradley combo take the field against England with the Texan Torres coming when things loosen up (read: when Frank Lampard and possibly Gareth Barry start to run on fumes.)


• Best Play

(Findley – Donovan – Jozy Altidore)

Cue the I-told-you-so’s on the Real Salt Lake…sub. Robbie Findley was actually the same Robbie Findley today. Findley still had a lot of trouble his final ball, twice dribbling out of bounds in the right corner.

The better part for Findley was his scintillating pass that unlocked Donovan, who grounded to Jozy for the 1st score and Findley’s ability to hold position on aerial service. The States’ best striker today maintaining possession up the pitch? Yup, same guy.

Oops, this isn’t the ratings section.

Well, Findley to Donovan to Altidore was International class. Well done.

Most Unheralded Play

Clint Dempsey

Dempsey did more than just score on the day...

On a day when Clint Dempsey dove once, but took many more hits–an elbow to the jaw on a corner, submarined twice on jump balls, plus an assortment of other jabs, a simple play at the 25th minute mark comes to mind. With the Yanks concluding an unsuccessful attack, Dempsey shadowed the goalkeeper away from the side–the right–the attack came so that the Turks couldn’t counterattack.

It was a simple play and one that usually goes unnoticed, but one that prevented that quick turn. Well, that’s what unheralded plays are.

• The Golden Shinguard

Jay DeMerit

First, ignore what you hear about how suspect the central backline is. There was one goal against the States on a blown team defensive assignment from the midfielders.

The reality is the central defenders, in particular, were hung out to dry a number of times by poor-tackling in the midfield and an older-looking Bocanegra and skittish Jonathan Spector on the outsides. To be precise, it is the flankers who are most suspect.

The TSG Golden Shinguard goes to Jay DeMerit with a nod to Clarence Goodson, Clint Dempsey, Jose Torres and Landon Donovan. Of the other candidates, only Landon went a full 90 minutes.

DeMerit, or as we may start calling him, Captain Shutdown was a force in the middle. A plethora of times a blown tackle left him hung out to dry. Pairing a new centerback in the first and recovering one in the 2nd, DeMerit had two sensational “stand-ups” – taking on on-coming defender who had a few options and relegating that forward contained.

After Amsterdam, and now this, you’re just not watching the game if you don’t give DeMerit high marks in this one.

Player Ratings

Tim Howard: 6.5

The skinny: Um, can I say that Howard needs to orchestrate his frustration and support better. After the 1st goal, Howard was clearly dismayed. It does no good to holler at your defense after that play with attackers standing around–it just gives the opponent confidence.

Beyond that Howard was smart on his angles in letting up only the single tally, though he wasn’t truly tested after the 1st half. For those that still pine for Brad Friedel, twice Howard came out beyond the box to snuff out an errant striker run. Friedel can’t make those plays and Jermain Defoe loves to make those runs. Timmy headed one, the other he pushed wide (which was eventually called back for offsides).

Got surprised on a quickly-taken free kick in the 2nd because he was organizing his defenders, but recovered to parry the ball over the limbo bar.

You’ll always be in good hands with Tim, even when he’s not paying attention.

Carlos Bocanegra: 4.5

Here’s what you need  to know about Boca’s health…and frankly about the leftback situation. Bob Bradley for the past two games has thrust the ball up the right side of the pitch.

In both Czech game and the Turkey game, there was not one overlap from a left fullback. Both Bornstein and Boca on Saturday had opportunities to do it. They maintained their shape.

Bocanegra is still not 100% and he’s being covered by the left halfback. He may have gritted it out, but he was no more than average today.

Clarence Goodson and his designated "No-Fly" Zone

Clarence Goodson: 7

Might the former FC Dallas be inline for a start against England. It sure is looking like it. Goodson covered for some leftback and center midfielder deficiencies and was an admiral in the air.

No friendly skies on Goodson’s watch.

Jay DeMerit: 8 (consensus in commentary has lower; don’t agree)

The aforementioned Captain Shutdown was simply stellar on the day.

Note, DeMerit (and Goodson) played the Turkey goal the right way. It was the midfielder’s role to hustle back and contain the left wing on the Turks goal in the first. Bob Bradley mentioned that after the match.

Jonathan Spector: 3.5

In fairness to Spector, he saw a lot of traffic today. That’s where the benefit of the doubt ends.

Spector was shaky, looked jittery, and was outright anemic in man marking.

His day started out bad in the 5th minute when he positioned himself poorly, and was turned twice on a through ball that Jay DeMerit barely snuffed out.

Spector simply lost his man on a bundle of occasions. Bob Bradley in the post game made a veiled comment about “individual defense” and players being accountable when someone asked the question of the backline.

We may see Cherundolo next time.

Benny Feilhaber: 6.5 5 (agree now with the consensus in the commentary)

I’m going to get roasted on this review. Benny played very well in my opinion because: 1) he’s categorically not a left midfielder and 2) he was assigned to stay inside of Boca and keep treats wide.

There is only so much you can do when you’re positioning is required by the scheme. Played balls to feet and was not a liability in defense as he sometimes is.

Michael Bradley: 4 for the 1st half, 6.75 for the 2nd

If there was a tale of two halves, here’s your “hero.”

Bradley was  unsteady in the first half, and that may be generous. Playing in the distribution hub role—and perhaps this was the game plan, Bradley was tasked with shooting the ball up the pitch to Dempsey and Altidore. Too often those passes were way off target, like the-crowd-thought-about-yelling-“Airball” off-target.

Worse, on defense, Junior went to ground way too frequently and missed the tackle. You just don’t do that at the international level. This needs to be commented on.

In the 2nd half, Bradley was returned to a better position of a more advanced central midfielder and ball hawker and did a much better job.

However, I still think Maurice Edu did a better job at that role on Tuesday.

Ricardo Clark: 4.5

US fans are lucky that the former Dynamo man has a big gas tank, because Clark was running all over the pitch in the 1st half—about half the time because he was out of position. Clark hawked well, but that’s about it.

Landon Donovan: 7.75

According to Coach Sweats, Manhattan Beach’s finest was saving himself for the 2nd half. I sure hope so.

Donovan really wasn’t well supported in the 1st half and played within himself.

The second half—again with that threat of speed in front of him—Donovan blossomed and channeled his inner Steve Nash with two quality assists. Which presents an opportunity for this comment:

Not to be a downer, but a great tactical line-up in the second with Robbie Findley dragging the right back and centerback and Clint Dempsey hitching in towards the middle—if only the States had an overlapping leftback with a foot like an Ashley Cole or better (the Algerian who the Yanks will meet) Nadir Belhadj…well then the US offense would be a force.

Clint Dempsey: 6.75

Typical Deuce game here. Scores a goal, just misses a second. Shows frustration with teammates.

Better from Clint today on being involved in the game as he didn’t seem to disappear, only get frustrated, when he wasn’ getting service.

I quoted this stat a few months earlier, but will reiterate today, 85% of Clint Dempsey’s goals in the English Premier League have come in the first 15 minutes or last 15 minutes of the game.

Duece scored at the 75th minute today. Clockwork my man.

Smoke bombs went off after Altidore evened the affair.

Jozy Altidore: 5.75

Weren’t you begging for just a little bit more?

Maybe it was the humidity, but I wanted more out of Altidore. Big Jeezy is a strong player–that’s not in question–but tenacious or “not-to-be-denied”—well I’m not seeing that yet.

I was frustrated with Altidore’s game on the day on one hand—on the other the service wasn’t there, especially in the 1st half.

The US was strongest on offense when the attack didn’t go through him, but he when in possession the Turk defense had to reckon with him.

Yeah, that encapsulates his day.

Oguchi Onyewu: 5.5

A nice point blank block on a shot. A header win in the middle of the field.

Better from the big man, but there was a cross where Dempsey was laid out on in the 2nd half. After I watched that I watched Gooch amble up the field. He used to run, now he ambles.

Gooch’s is getting into shape when he’s suppose to be fine-tuning.

Jose Torres: 8

My the defensive strides that the Pachuca midfielder has made; oh, and another, thing, yes Bob he’s a central midfielder.

Torres came on in the 2nd half and was a revelation in possession and distribution in the middle.

Contrary to other reports, you will not see Torres starting. Torres does his best work when the opponent is fatigued and has his time on the ball. To deploy Torres to start a game, would be to subject someone who doesn’t face the rigors of physical play in the Primera to too much physicality–in my opinion. It would waste his abilities.

Remember that role that Benny seemed to own off the bench—that role is what Torres has now locked up.

And about those defensive strides? Torres went to ground 6 times in the 2nd half and poked away the ball every time. That’s how it’s done.

Somewhere Sunil Gulati–who looks like he’s 5’2” in person–is cheshire-ing today. Torres was his eye’s apple during qualifying.

Robbie Findley: 7

(Rating mistakenly authored above).

If Jozy Altidore is a bowling bowl, than Robbie Findley is a pinball. Surprisingly about Findley was his ability to win service on over-the-top balls—I did not see that in Findley’s earlier forays on the Bob squad.

Steve Cherundolo: 6.5

The US used Cherundolo’s speed to get ahead on the break and in support in the 2nd half. Good strategy. Would Cherundolo been making those runs if he started in the first?

Too hard to tell. What you can bet on is that Cherdundolo will be worked into first team camp action as the first priority for the Yanks will be staying in front of attackers, something that his first half counterpart had trouble with.

Jonathan Bornstein: Inc.

Tantalizing, but ultimately inept. To me with Bornstein, it’s confidence. He gets on the ultimate stage and he’s afraid of making a mistake so he reacts instead of pro-acts. (is that a word?)

Same story, ability, but his medulla oblongata lacks tactical awareness.

Stu Holden: Inc.

International class; should be starting; let’s find him a spot. Somewhere. Good hair too.

90 responses to this post.

  1. Matt thanks for another great review. There probably will be a flurry of comments here soon. So to start let’s talk about Gooch.

    I think Gooch will still be the starter for 2 reasons:
    1) Demerit is sooo much more comfortable with Gooch than with Goodson. I think BB started Goodson to see how he and Demerit coexist. In the first half Demerit and Goodson were very hesistant when a Turkish player was streaking at them. Both of them weren’t sure who should step up to pressure said player. Granted this is the first time they really get to gel but it wasn’t perfect yet. I think Gooch still allows Demerit to be a better player and the team is better for it. Come June 12 I think Onyewu starts. I see Goodson probably starting in one of the subsequent matches.

    2) I didn’t see the same limp/slowness in this game. If that is better and Gooch’s quick decisions on the ball are better I think he starts

    I was trolling through the “which jersey to pick” post and noticed your “maybe I should get a Bornstein jersey post”. Vegas is bust baby. Please say you didn’t do this. If you want to get a jersey that you need to explain to others go buy a Wambach jersey.
    In all seriousness I appreciate your nack for always questioning, trying to think outside the box, and focusing intently until you wrap your mind around a thought. I bet this atribute gets on Mrs. Tsg’s nerves fairly regularly but it helps here. Also I am not trying to slight the USWNT. Wambach is a beast and we could definitely use a player like her on the USMNT.


    • I would like to just add tp my post above that I think Gooch will be ready come June 12, but if he is not completely then Goodson definitely gives us a good option. I think both will get time in the Australia game again.


      • Devil’s advocate on my own post.
        So I am really conflicted on this one. I really have no problem with a Goodson and Demerit pairing as long as they can get the chemistry right. Matt you are right; the likelihood that Onyewu is fully ready is low and Goodson is probably more likely. Maybe I just can’t give up on Gooch.

        Anyways I get the fact that the back-line should be steady and we should have 1 starter clearly identified. So hopefully this is settled finally next week. I trust the coaching staff to make the right decision.

        So I have to get on with my Sunday….


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 8:19 AM

      Well played on the Mrs. TSG comment — spot on.

      Mrs. TSG:


  2. Posted by Taylor on 2010/05/30 at 6:15 AM

    Sorry to nitpick, but the US plays Slovenia six days after England, not four. But your point about Gooch is well-taken. Love the site!


  3. On Torres or Edu to start against England.

    Just wondering if starting Torres wouldn’t be better. Aiming to not be down by 1-2 goals at half might be the better strategy. I get the rope-a-dope idea but I don’t know if we are strong enough to be Ali in this situation and England sure ain’t no dopes. (That’s right George I used the word ain’t)
    I just have this feeling that without Torres possession skills/relieve pressure with smart outlet passes England are going to have the ball way too often and have way too many chances.

    What is everyone elses’ view?
    I really like Edu, and think he should see some significant time. Ideally I think switching it up a bit and putting Edu at CDM and start Torres might work well too but MB will be in there and maybe gives us a better option (plus he is a lock).
    Obviously Torres starting against Slovenia is the preferred option.


    • Meant to say above I would rather see an Edu/Torres starting pairing with Torres still playing the distribution hub role. Maybe if I pray for it long enough, BB will here me.

      Torres helps us out sooo much on the left side ball movement because often when Boca had the ball he was able to give it off to Torres who then found the LM. He completes that triangle so well. Without him you end up with the Boca to Rico problem of the last game where our attack up the left stalls out instantly.


  4. Posted by Sam on 2010/05/30 at 6:33 AM

    I think Bornstien did a much worse job than you’re giving him credit for.


    • Posted by tnnelson on 2010/05/30 at 9:07 AM

      yea, he was on the pitch for 20 minutes and was beat at least 4 times. boca got beat maybe twice in 60. bornstein is just awful


  5. Posted by KMac on 2010/05/30 at 6:44 AM

    on a related topic. England is looking pretty shaky against Japan.
    Opening cornerkick set piece ala UConn in the eighties (low hard service 1st timed in!) put Japan up 1-0 early.
    Japan playing a quick 1 touch posessions and pressing England well as a team.
    Lampard squanders a PK in second half after a Honda handball during England free kick.
    I smell blood on June 12 – adding more credance to playing Torres IMHO on June 12.

    I was on the US side of the center circle in a club box in Philly yesterday. I agree with many kudos. I will re-watch the game on DVR and post my comments later today. I have to say the Bornstein was out of position on every key play using his speed to recover to Matthews point. Spector seemed to be suffering personally as occused, but I also feel the US midfield was extremely culpable for not possessing the ball well and leaving our flanks unsupported on the counter especially and in defense in general.
    Possesion in the second half and using not only the depth created by Findley as well as the width DOLO and others opened up gave the Turks less opportunity to expose us at will.

    One final quip – I watched Gooch warm up both pre game and at the half to come on with my binoculars. If there is a limp or defect in his gate or motions, it is harder to find than Osama Bin Laden. Maybe I just see what I want to see. I saw him run tackle and JUMP well. We’ll see.

    Goal Joe Cole.


    • Posted by Bob on 2010/05/30 at 11:28 AM

      I was watching with my binocs from the endzone opposite where the Outlaws sat. I saw the same thing with Gooch – no limp at all. In fact, I really thought he played much better and with more confidence than he did in the Czech game.


  6. Posted by dude on 2010/05/30 at 7:08 AM

    Well, you guessed it. I’m shocked you thought Feilhaber had a good game. Shocked anyone did. He looked quite out of form, out of position, out of the game. He make a few decent passes, but the attacking down the flank wasn’t there at all, the defending was weak beyond belief. Yeck.

    I’m also curious that people didn’t notice how dreadfully naive Goodson was when Spector went forward. Instead of letting a midfielder do his job, he came up the pitch almost to the penalty area to press a Turkish player who 1) has way more skill and 2) had many open passes. This left Demerit stranded with two men to mark on opposite sides of the pitch. I saw it like three times on the replay.

    Here’s hoping Gooch gets 90 minutes vs Australia, and looks good.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 8:20 AM

      Benny’s role belongs to Stu. I believe Benny has lost the exclamation point from his name.

      That said, I think he was playing the role that BB had instructed in the 1st half.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 8:23 AM

      BB was asked extensively about the positioning on the goal.

      I’m going to do a separate post, but Goodson’s position was exactly where BB instructed him to be.

      DeMerit was where he should be–for the most part–focusing a difficult pass.

      A midfielder should have came back to occupy the ground space between the Turkish winger and Kazim-Richards.

      More in a future column.


  7. Matt I agree with your assessment of Findley:
    “Robbie Findley was actually the same Robbie Findley today. Findley still had a lot of trouble his final ball, twice dribbling out of bounds in the right corner.”

    I think Turkey’s outside back’s bailed him out many a time just knocking the ball out. If Findley started against England Ashley Cole would not be so kind. I think he would get eaten alive if Cole dropped off of him 1 yard and waited for the mistake to happen. Could be wrong though.

    This leads into the ultimate questions. Does Gomez possess more finishing skills? Do Gomez, Findley or Buddle start against England to try to stretch the D? Or does Demps start up top with a better supporting cast (Holden and Torres)? I still don’t think this game decided that. I know there is little time left to experiment. I may be just trying to dream up ways that Holden is on the pitch but it still may be our best option. I think Demps has the speed to pin back Cole and make good diagonal cuts. It didn’t work in this game because Demps underperformed. I am still holding out for:


    Let the discussion begin


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 7:34 AM

      That’s an extremely offensive-minded team to play England, especially as England will have the (three) lion’s share of possession.


  8. Here’s a prayer sending out to BB (it is Sunday):


    BB please think long and hard about it. If you in your infinite wisdom would like to switch Donovan and Holden go ahead.
    P.S. if Onyewu isn’t healthy then Goodson will do.


    • I’d actually push Dono up w Alti and have Dempsey left, Holden right. Fits better with how we’re playing. However, a lot of our success came from Findley coming deep and Donovan running beyond him.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 1:47 PM

        I think if Findley or perhaps Gomez are ahead of Donovan it’s okay to have him as a forward. With Dempsey or Altidore in front of him in the first there just wasn’t the speed threat to create an attack.

        I think Holden has to play period.

        To think that with two weeks to go there are now more questions than definite answers.

        Perhaps Bradley wants in that way so opponents don’t get a read on the team.


  9. Holden has to start someplace, he does a great job of holding the ball, and distributing from a midfield position. he makes a difference i cant tell when he is on the field. i guess i would sit Clark in favor of Stu and get Torres in as well, dempsey and altidore up front with dono,holden bradley torres in the midfield i guess. then bring in findley/gomez/buddle in the second half for some added pace?


    • I have a sneaking suspicion that BB’s ideal line-up (heading into the Turkey match) was:


      I think he inserted Feilhaber in for Holden and that is why he made the comment about some players going 90 minutes the other day and needing a rest. Clark was just getting some time on the field becuase he hasn’t played a game for the USA in so freaking long.

      Maybe after this game BB’s starting line-up would be:



      • I would be happy with that



        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 8:45 AM

          If Donovan can play equally as well on the left, why would you have him matching-up against A. Cole and not G. Johnson? I think that Donovan’s speed and talent would be better utilised against G. Johnson, whereas on the right, it would probably be cancelled out – which works in England’s favour as Donovan is a key player for you.

          Holden doesn’t need to to beat A. Cole, he can deliver the ball from deep.


        • George,
          You are thinking from the England side of things which I appreciate. I can see how your thinking makes sense.
          My original thinking was that Donovan on the left would be in a position where he would be told by BB to track back to cover Boca or at least come inside to force play to the outside. The problem with this is that we might not be able to push the ball through Landon’s side when we attack if he is so far back. Thus negating Donovan just like in previous games (think March) when Donovan was a non-factor. Granted if Torres is in distributing I am ok with Landon on the left as he will get the ball to Landon for counter attacks with good outlet passes. If however say Bradley is the hub and Edu on RCM then the Boca-Bradley-Landon triangle might not work out so well.

          I was originally thinking Holden on the left might make us more dynamic.
          1) Holden can motor up and back quickly to cover Boca. Plus he tends to creep inwards which is what Bob might want the LM to do anyways.
          2) Holden gives you a crossing option on the left that Boca cannot give. Yes it is not his favored side to cross from but with Dolo and Donovan on the right we have that side with good crossing options. I know Donovan as LM would also be able to cross but I think as a team we are better when we short pass/force the game through Donovan.

          There are probably pros/cons to both ways.
          I can see your point of looking at the overall picture and saying that if we attack on England’s left side it plays into their hand and keeps the ball on that side where England would be glad to come back at us through Cole.

          I guess on your suggestions I would amend the above lineup (if Torres is in) to have Donovan LM and Holden RM. If MB is in I still have to think about it.


        • Donovan getting behind A Cole helps pins him back and denies England width on the left.


      • Posted by ndb on 2010/05/31 at 3:30 AM

        But my point is I don’t think that will happen – I feel A. Cole will end up pinning Donovan back.


  10. Side post:
    If anyone hasn’t seen this yet check it out:

    Jose Francisco Torres – Every Touch vs. Turkey – 05/29/10 by 723FootballFilms


    • Matt posted this above didn’t see that sorry but it is worth another look anyways


      • Posted by Fireball on 2010/05/30 at 8:23 AM

        Harkes likey Paco


        • Posted by Paul on 2010/05/30 at 10:16 AM

          And has good reason to. As seen in this clip, Paco makes the crunching tackle when necessary. Size does not matter as much for the two defensive mids Bradley will likely play against England if Paco’s positioning is again just as strong against the 3 lions. I’d start Paco against England simply because he can keep posession long enough to give our guys a breather–smart possession that allows us to keep our shape and make deadly attacking runs.

          Matt, I am suprised a stronger roasting hasn’t come on as of yet. How can you give a 6.5 to Benny (sans exclamation/?)? Really didn’t touch the ball in the first half; sent a potentially deadly pass across the field in the 3rd min. His play may have been muted as he was out of position and instructed to play inside, but even when he had the ball not much was accomplished. Benny’s play for club and country has seemed to go from ! to not requiring a ! to possibly suggesting a ?.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 11:04 AM

            You are right.
            And I am incorrect.

            I also was looking down on thet errant 3rd minute pass and I didn’t know it was him.

            I will revise.


        • It is true, that was Benny’s first touch, his next took another 10 minutes.

          That said, tactically, I think the whole 3 CMs thing works better with Holden tucking in on the right flank compared to Feilhaber on the left. England’s build up comes down the left but they’re looking for the winger in space on the right. Basically we saw my England tactics in mirror reverse.


  11. Posted by Freegle on 2010/05/30 at 7:50 AM

    The only person that was “tantalized” by Bornstein’s performance was Aaron Lennon. He is PRAYING that Sweatpants puts JB on the field June 12th. He could win the golden boot in one half. JB’s problem is not lack of confidence, it’s incompetence, almost comical ineptitude, and downright hopelessness. His positioning is awful, one on one defending is pitiful, and on top of that, he’s tiny so he is incapable of being physical.

    It’s to the point now where it is a known commodity to our opponents. If Bornstein is in the game, attack down your right flank.

    I know that you guys over at TSG like him a lot… but you can’t be an apologist for him. It undermines your credibility on what otherwise is a superb site for analysis.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 8:53 AM

      Freegle — all I’m saying is he has the athletic ability.

      I think Tuesday wrote about it back after the March friendly.

      Bornstein is out of his league at the international level…I grant that now.

      Having said that…if you took Boca’s head you’d put it on Bornstein’s body for a better leftbacker.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/05/30 at 11:35 AM

        Aaaaaaah! You’re still somehow justifying that this guy is anything less than completely useless at this level. I was at the game with a UK expat friend and his takeaway was to start an underground internet campaign to force BB to start JB on the 12th this morning. I actually apologized to him for what he was about to be forced to watch when they introd him in the second half. And he outperformed my warnings.
        A complete waste of roster spot. I would have rather seen a speculative Frankie Headache inclusion for morale purposes.
        Torres was a bright light on a very dark afternoon from an indiv performace standpoint. Live and on tape he jumped off the screen. The only reason he didn’t start is that he belongs in MB’s job and Coach Nepotism WILL NOT make that decision. Very strong posting above that recommend an Edu/Torres pairing in the central mid. That is exactly what this squad needs to compete in a WC comp but unfortunately the coach is handicapped by his prior commitment to his boy. I’m not saying that MB can’t play but he is not the best option in the middle. in either role, with the skills he possesses (or doesn’t).
        Enjoyable 2nd half to watch but whoever says that Gooch doesn’t look hobbled is wearing some seriously rose colored glasses.
        looking forward to the Aussie match and can’t wait to give the 3 Kitties a good Spain like drubbing on 6/12.
        Come on Yanks!!


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 11:48 AM

          I think you guys are reading my rating for bornstein wrong.

          I don’t actually think I’m excuse making. I thinl he now has had 3 bad games in a row.

          If he plays in south africa I’m not going to say I told you so. I’m going to now say surprising.
          Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


        • Posted by Bob on 2010/05/30 at 11:57 AM

          Plus, I know Howard can be a little overly dramatic with his forwards, but from my binocs it was clear that he gets VERY frustrated with JBo. At one point, it was clear that JBo was giving Howard the calm down hand signal and then pointing at his chest to admit he was at fault for being out of position … again.


        • Posted by Bob on 2010/05/30 at 11:58 AM

          Ooops … I meant backs/backline, not forwards.


        • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/30 at 4:52 PM

          The 3 kittens… LOL, I like that one.
          I think you’re being harsh on Matt for the Bornstein thing. Matt’s been very critical of him, but JB does sometimes show his potential.
          I’m totally with you on the Bradley thing. I think only Donovan has more minutes than Junior. It’s absolutely incredible that sweatpants got away with such overt favoritism… but all you hear is that the guys love playing for him. I think the discussion about either Bradley being the right choice was over a long time ago so you won’t find people here discussing it.


  12. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 8:55 AM

    Another note that I’ll throw in here.

    I found it shocking at how many over-the-top balls the Americans lost in the 1st half.

    I dare say that Conor Casey or Brian Ching–I’m not saying they should have made the squad–make better target men than Jozy or Deuce.

    Maybe Bradley was looking at this, but if over-the-top was part of the plan, not swell on the day.

    I think what you saw from BB in the 1st half was trying to absorb pressure –as BB himself conceded afterward–and then get all his good attackers (Deuce, Donovan, Dempsey) in one space. Jury is still out on that.


    • I agree with your point about over the top, but I am willing to say that I think both Dempsey and Altidore could do better with that in the future. I think Dempsey especially had an off first half.

      On another point good pickup on the “Most Unheralded Play” comment. I think Altidore and Dempsey especially pressed well. That is something you haven’t seen us do much and it worked in this type of game.


    • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/30 at 4:53 PM

      Watching Donovan the first half, I was sure that either he was not feeling good, or had been instructed to not exert himself. I figured it was to prevent injury, but if that was part of the game plan, Landon took it fully to heart the first half =)


    • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/30 at 5:00 PM

      Ricardo Clark specializes in over the top balls to the opposition’s defense. I saw Edu do a lot of the same against CZ and it’s mind boggling. It’s been part of our “game plan” regardless of what kind of forward we’re playing with. We’ve already got enough poor passing going on with Bradley… again, I know it’s useless to complain, but I fail to see how we can afford to field Bradley and either Clark or Edu in the CM, yet I’m pretty sure this is what we’ll see.


  13. Posted by dikranovich on 2010/05/30 at 9:04 AM

    what? this team is good and only needs to send balls over the top to allow players to run on to them. sending balls over the top, ala mcbride or ching, is not part of the gameplan, except only to take pressure off the defense. why would usa be so worried about hold up play when its got speed players like donovan and findley and probably dmb. usa game is not about hold up play, its about quick strikes and winning set pieces.


    • Posted by Dougs on 2010/05/30 at 10:15 AM

      I was just going to comment on the lack of discussion about how Ching would have contributed then I say your post above Matt. To add, Altidore did a POOR job of holding possession and got muscled off the ball several times. That is where Ching would have been key, he wins headers and holds onto the ball.

      Independent of how we are playing now, we have always relied on this aspect of our game to take pressure off our defense, especially when protecting a lead. I think Bob let Ching go because he thought Altidore and Buddle could do the job sufficient. Altidore is not nearly as strong as Ching in that capacity and Buddle has no int’l experience.

      If we lose a close game or have trouble holding onto leads or ties for points at the WC I expect that Ching’s absence should get further scrutiny. Of course that would have meant leaving Buddle at home, but it has yet to be seen whether that would been a significant loss since it looks like Alti, Gomez and Findley will get most of the playing time.

      Hope you keep an eye on this issue Matt.


      • Posted by Gino on 2010/05/31 at 9:25 AM

        If the US fails to make it out of group play, I’m sure it won’t be because Bring Ching wasn’t available. No offense to The Big Aloha, but he obviously wasn’t THAT vital to Bob’s plans, hence his exclusion from the team. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ching and was surprised he was cut, but it’s pointless to fret over players who aren’t going to S. Africa.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 10:58 AM

      I’m not sure that the united states and bob bradley doesn’t game plan like every other team.

      Consider yesterday. Had the States run at Turkey from the outset when their players were fresh there probably would have been a lot more holes in the defense.


  14. Posted by shoaff on 2010/05/30 at 9:51 AM

    I think you watched a different game from the one I saw. Demerit and Goodson weren’t nearly that good. How many clear cut chances did Turkey have in the first half? 4? 5? Cut those scores in half. And Feilhaber? Did you see the perfected weighted cross he played TO THE OTHER TEAM? A square ball from the wing into your own box? When you’re not under pressure? Really Benny, really?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 1:30 PM

      Oh wow — now Nathaniel (a Black Sox teammate) is on here.

      I’ll concede Feilhaber.

      I will not concede Goodson and DeMerit. I can’t tell how many times Spector left DeMerit out to dry and Boca or Michael Bradley on another tackle whiff left Goodson staring at 3 attackers, 1 with a ball.

      I think folks are missing–and in the press box my seat was right above the US backline in the 1st half–how many playes that the central defenders had to juggle.

      They were asked to do quite a lot. In the 2nd half, the attack took some of the pressure off the defense.

      Ultimately the US gave up only two shots on goal all day one that went straight to Howard and one that netted.

      (Shoaff — saw your player ratings — MB90…way too high)


  15. Posted by Joe on 2010/05/30 at 9:57 AM

    Couple things:

    Bornstein is the WORST player to touch the field, possibly EVER. If he gets PT I will probably run on the field and crack him so they need to sub him out.

    Holden and Torres are too good not to play. They are so skilled, Torres played out of his mind vs Turkey.

    Where the hell was the defense on counter attacks? Turkey had way to many chances from close range that other teams will not miss. It was really bad and needs to be fixed.


  16. Posted by ndb on 2010/05/30 at 10:02 AM

    this was nothing more than a morale boosting win before the team flies to south africa. the performance was far from solid. if we play like that against england, they have the players to finish off what turkey couldn’t. let’s not kid ourselves, it was only poor finishing on their part that they didn’t embarrass our sloppy defending.

    i am just happy that this was a warm-up game and we have time to formulate a plan for england.


  17. Matt or anyone else,
    I have a hypothetical question dealing with the distribution hub above. If we did leave Demps in mid and Torres on the bench to come in as a super-sub….
    Would it be better to start this line-up than Bradley/Edu?


    Hypothetical because I don’t think you would see MB on the bench and this hasn’t been tried. I don’t have anything against MB but with our current CM possibilities different pairings might be better for the team. I know this isn’t Holden’s strength but he might work well in the hub and has decent D.
    Also this means that you don’t need to bring both Holden AND Torres off of the bench every game.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 10:58 AM

      Thanks for this question.

      Tomorrow I’m going take the questions from the commentary and create a new post.


      • Thanks for responding. I know you are probably busy today. Yeah I will stop posting wildly. I just had to get all of that out me. It was consuming my thoughts and man does it feel cathartic. Have a great Sunday.


  18. Posted by scweeb on 2010/05/30 at 11:14 AM

    The thing i liked about Torres play yesterday is he really set the tempo of the game for us. He not only played the hub but made him self the hub and distributed the ball well. I would like to see him start and play that roll threw a whole game. With him there it gave donovan time and plenty of chances to create plays.


  19. Posted by JohnnyF on 2010/05/30 at 11:32 AM

    Matt…you did well my son – except Demerit.

    Go back and look at minute 65. With the ball at his feet at midfield, only Howard behind him, and only mild pressure, Demerit almost gave the game away with a lazy pass that was intercepted by a lingering Turkish forward. If the deflected pass bounces a foot away from Demerit- the Turk was off to the races. Just because nothing came of it doesn’t obscure the fact he made a horrific pass to begin with.

    You can see it in the Torres-Touches video -which was amazing by the way. I didn’t realize he won so many tackles. And the last little chip into the box when Dempsey was offsides? Beauty.

    Speaking of Torres, think what seeing him on the field during the World Cup would mean to millions of Mexican-American kids looking for a hero? Sure Bocanegra’s father is of Mexican decent but I can’t see 10 year olds claiming, “Yo soy Carlos Bocanegra!” during pick up games. While Torres is a first generation kid who plays with style and daring for one of the best Mexican clubs.

    I’d say the US is a Torres World Cup goal away from a golden generation of Mexican-American players.


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/05/30 at 12:32 PM

      I don’t think Donovan gets the shinguard either. He was fairly absent in the first half and also lazy. I’ve been watching these games with some footie newbies as I do commentary and it’s interesting to hear their response and questions. They knew who Donovan was but were wondering why he didn’t track back after he lost the ball, something he did quite a bit in the first half.

      If not Demerit who was the pick of the back 4, but also could have done better for cover on the goal, i think you give it to Torres who really stopped the flow of the game for the Turks. Yes the Turkish still had many chances in the second half but Torres controlled the midfield and was the difference maker.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/30 at 12:37 PM

        What’s done is done. This can go on all day. Thanks shaun


      • I agree on Donovan. There was a lot of sloppy play from him but I don’t think he was being asked to be part if a flat midfield four in either half. More on that, with pics later.

        As for DeMerit, He’s a fantastic defender but isn’t great with the ball. This is what prevents him from being a very high level CB.

        What put our defense under pressure in the first half is that the Clark/Bradley midfield just doesn’t work. They are way too similar. Way too many times he was content to jog along behind the attacking play instead of busting one to get back. What’s the point of having speed?

        Even if Edu is marauding and Bradley is organizing, Edu is much better positionslly and does not get caught up the pitch.


    • Posted by KMac on 2010/05/30 at 12:35 PM

      So what happened to looking at the “body of work” ? I think Demerit was probably the only rock in the defense. I will find you many more good things he did vis a vis minute65 in my post tomorrow.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/31 at 12:13 PM

      TSG Hall of Fame Nominee for the Torres part. Very appropriate given the following.


  20. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/30 at 12:38 PM

    All this discussion on the starting xi means that we’re REALLY deep. If Robbie keeps it up and learns how to either get rid of the ball quicker or perform some stepovers, then our 3 supersubs are set(Stu, JFT, and the aforementioned speedster).

    If Bob goes from what he saw in the 1st half with the lack of power up top, then Buddle is your starter for the Australia match.

    With the starters up top out of the way, let’s move on to the mids. The placement of Landon and Dempsey will be dependent on who we’re playing, thus I see Landon starting on the left ONLY in the England match, especially now that Deuce has voiced his affinity for the LM spot and we all know Landon’s versatility in being able to play either side of the field. With the Socceroos, it’s probably going to be Kewell and Cahill up top(too bad Viduka was left out) and as far as I know they don’t have any deadly speed on the wings. So our starters for this match are most likely going to be



    • Posted by Hercules3076 on 2010/05/30 at 12:58 PM

      I don’t know if we can say that we are REALLY deep. It just means that we have some depth, especially at what has been our strength for a while in number of quality players, the midfield. We still have no great LB, much less good depth. We are starting to accumulate some CB strength. And our RB situation is just slightly better than our LB situation.

      Most of the conversation has centered on one position plus one player. We have depth in CM, where we want to see Bradley/Torres/Edu for 2 spots. Mostly it is a differential in tactics. That is why I see Bradley/Edu for England and Torres/Bradley for the other two. The only question that might throw a wrench in the situation is if BB thinks that MB has had a drop in form and he might through out Edu/Torres like we saw against the Czechs, though that combo (while not exclusively their fault) gave up the opening goal. So, in two halves (in two games), in which 5 goals were scored against us, that combo has only been on the field for 1. Though we might see that combo regardless of form due to cards… We also haven’t seen the Edu/Bradley combo, so it might not gel, so that is what I’m wanting to see to start against Australia

      The other player is Holden. While he would be a great winger on the field, he has the unfortunate fact that the only two players ahead of him at that position are arguably the two best outfield players on the team in Dempsey and Donovan. The only way that I see him on the field is if Dempsey is moved up to forward. We saw that against Turkey, albeit without Holden on the field. Maybe that is what we’ll see start against Australia.

      If only we had 2 more games rather than 1. There are just a couple more combos that I want to see. So, if BB takes from Turkey that Dempsey-Altidore just isn’t strong enough up front, I can see the Buddle-Jozy combo. I guess the question is, what the super sub scenario? Gomez or Findley for Buddle…or Dempsey up, sub Holden…


    • Posted by Dave on 2010/05/30 at 1:38 PM

      Findley could have got rid of the ball earlier, but on the plays he went over the endline he should have been trying to bounce the ball off a defender to negotiate a corner. After all, the US thrives on setpieces, like most teams.
      Off this topic, but am I right that Torres helped out a lot by defensively by staying in position, helping on counters and switches to the other side?


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/30 at 1:52 PM

      What I meant was, we’re REALLY deep in regards to the quality of the subs that Bob will put in(Midfield/forward combinations).

      If Bob decides that our first priority is having Holden on the field at some point, then we have to sacrifice some power up top for the 1st 45 at the least(this means that Findley would start up tp with jozy, and Holden would come on for him, pushing Dempsey up front and Donovan over to the left, this would also eliminate the Charlie-in-a-bottle that we saw yesterday pressing the tired backline of Turkey).

      If he decided that having the Charlie-in-a-bottle to press backlines is more important than having Holden on the field in the latter stages of the match, then we will either see Buddle/Jozy up top to provide the strength and ability to win headers, or another Demps/Jozy starting combo(and this 2nd combo will allow Holden to start with LD on thhe left, BUT back to my original point, Findley will come on for Holden–or maybe even the improbable thought of Dempsey off– to do what he’s supposed to)


  21. like I said on Twitter, love the blog (keep it up!) but disagree on many of the player ratings today. I thought Boca did an admirable job at LB today and warrented at least a 6 on the rating. Where as Goodson, for me, didnt play as well as he did vs. Czech so I would have given him a 5.5 or 6. And of course, I disagree with Benny. I thought he was uncomfortable on the ball and very out of place. I would have given him a 4. The one other point I don’t quite agree with is the Gooch comments. I never took it to mean he wouldn’t start vs. England just because he didn’t start this game but its interesting. I thought he looked much better and I expect him to start vs. Australia and if all goes well then start vs. England.


  22. Posted by dikranovich on 2010/05/30 at 4:13 PM

    to me, the real question is what is capello going to gameplan against the usa. and it seems like what he will do is put gerrard and lampard in the middle of the pitch and try and play from these two. if usa can shut down gerrard and lampard then usa will win.

    torres may be good off the bench and im not sure if he has started a game for the usa and really put his imprint on that game from the start. but maybe he is getting closer. is torres really a better passer than feilhaber, minus maybe a dumb pass by feilhaber into his own box. the truth is, feilhaber makes through passes that really spring our players into the attack, he just needs to be in the center of the pitch to do this. holden is great also and if he keeps it up, he is a starter before much longer.

    the best way to shut down gerrard and lampard will obviously be to use three central midfielders. we need to get rico and edu into a defensive mid position and move bradley up a little higher into a central attacking mid role. thats bradley, edu and clark all on the field at the same time v. england. this will be a very strong triangle formation and it will stymie gerrard and lampard.


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/30 at 4:44 PM

      It’s good to dream…but using 3 mids makes absolutely no sense. Also, Bradley won’t deviate from his 4-4-2. The guys have already bought into BB’s system and to change it would mean catastrophic failure.

      Besides, Gerrard and Lampard won’t start next to each other in the midfield anyway(George can you verify this?). As far as I know, Capello has tried this withough any success at all.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2010/05/31 at 4:25 AM

        antony, i think you are missing my point. im not saying usa should play with three midfielders, im saying the usa should play with three center mids, two defensive and one attacking, plus a right and left mid.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/31 at 6:06 PM

        I would be very very surprised if SG and FL were not sperated – ie, playing in the same band in midfield. I feel that SG will play of the left side of 3 in the 4-2-3-1 formation. What we saw in the 2nd half against Mexico (where FL was not playing), was seeing if he could play the DM role and to see how Milner played out wide. We also saw that against Japan, SG and FL didn’t really gel – but it was hard to see as Japan wasn’t pressing too much in the 2nd half and had at least 9 outfield players behind the ball.

        Welcome to my mate from home, Nick (NDB). I told him months ago to check out TSG…


  23. DeMerit’s clumsy skinning courtesy of Tuncay in the fifth minute alone meant a 7 was his high-water mark. Didn’t see his performance as you did at all, but agree that he’s sound on set pieces and was infinitely better in the second half, like most of the team. Seemed more comfortable holding a less high line and being paired with Gooch. Agree that the first goal was on the mids.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/31 at 12:45 PM


      just re-watched this play — I’m not so sure that is DeMerit fault there.

      First, Boca heads a 50-50 ball to the center of the pitch.

      Both Clark and Bradley converge on the Turk with the ball who manages to skirt a pass ahead to Tuncay.

      I have actually no fault with DeMerit getting skinned here–I don’t like it, but he’s got a guy running at him.

      What DeMerit may have done wrong was not come up and take Tuncay on the possession by Turk before that.

      Many central defenders are going to have trouble if their stationary and there is a guy on the attack already running with the ball at them.

      I give most of this to MD and Clark with 33% blame to DeMerit perhaps for not coming up.
      But yes, I’d like to see him make that play.


  24. I would have to say I agree with the article, Torres will not be able to bang with the bigger English midfield while they are fresh. They grow them pretty big in jolly old England, I’m afraid our neighbors to the south/Primera are more speed and finess than the England team will be. I think Clark/Bradley must start to slow the attacks through the middle. I can definately see Torres against Slovenia and possibly even Edu against Algeria, maybe sweatshants has a plan (I hope) for all three. Either way MB starts, until the forcasted red card. I Like Demps on the left, but how do you get frosted tips(Stu) in the game…he is a must; with Donovan and Demps in the midfield. I gues that is why BB has the word Coach in front of his name. Love the site, gets me through the days here in Iraq.

    P.S. Played a game U.S. AF against an all British team…2-1 good guys. Sign of things to come? Hope So!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/31 at 12:22 PM

      Spot-on here — most of what you written I will be echoing in a follow-up piece.

      Well, spot-on in my opinion….


  25. Posted by yo on 2010/05/31 at 12:33 AM

    in 2006 it seemed very obvious that a lone striker wouldnt work but arena went with it and it was a disaster. bradley’s problem is that he wants to fill the middle with a ton of holding mids which will be 2010’s disaster. despite the position that they are actually playing, i believe that michael bradley, clark and feilhaber are holding mids that lack the necessary skills to help the offense push up. clark cannot pass or dribble, bradley loses the ball too much and is a red card magnet and feilhaber doesnt do anything (never really hurts the team but when was the last time you saw him contribute something important). i agree that torres against england may not be a good move but put in holden to balance things out a bit.

    also, if bradley really said that the plan was to hold shape in the first half and strike later in the match he should be fired immediately. what kind of plan is that? if turkey had put away two or three chances, what was the backup plan? what amazing fire power has he seen from this team that led him to believe it can play this way? so stupid.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/31 at 12:24 PM


      Follow-up coming — not “strike later” in the match…the game plan in the first was to pressure and hold possession up the pitch initiating attacks that way.

      The US was clearly wary of Turkey–especially on the counter.

      Important to make that distinction.


  26. Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/05/31 at 8:32 AM

    Just wanted to take a break from the back and forth to say thanks to Matt for a great site and always engaging and well thought out discussion threads. This is, IMHO, the best US soccer site on the web. I look forward to WC commentary.
    Go Yanks!


  27. Posted by okocha on 2010/05/31 at 8:57 AM

    i don’t understand why jozy is off limits to criticism. he had a couple of nice plays, and that’s not counting the goal, but outside of that, i think he had a bad game. we learned that you can’t put it in the corner and have him fight for it, he lost it way too easy twice in the first half with that. he’s a big strong player, but he plays small; he got pushed off the ball way to easy. and how many times did you see a defender come around from behind him to get a ball. and that one play where he got a pass in the box and then slowed up, leaning backwards was a disgrace for someone who’s supposed to be our top forward. and please don’t say he was just being smart and trying not to get injured. any singularly minded player wouldn’t be thinking of getting hurt at a crucial moment like that. will he pull up against england because he doesn’t want to be hurt against slovenia or algeria? there was another play where he got the ball at the top of the box, was able to turn, and had a good 1.5 to 2 seconds to make a decision, and decided to pass. he had a lane to shoot, why did he hesitate?!? i’ve always been a jozy fan, but his performance sat. was not one of a top striker, or at least one who seems to be a “lock” and immune to criticism. findley made some mistakes but he made us more dangerous. and i’m sure a ball into the corner would be lost so easily if buddle was out there, he proved that against czech. even ching would be better in the corner. we just have to stop thinking jozy is our “big” forward, just because of his size, and start seeing him for how he plays. he lets defenders come around his back too easily, and he’s focused on scoring. if he could hold the ball and pass well, that would different. but BB shouldn’t let jozy play just because he was jozy. also, i believed dempsey should be a forward, but after sat., i could see how he’s better off as a midfielder. and as good as holden and edu are, i’d rather have donovan and dempsey than either of them. i think torres and bradley proved they work well together, and should let them keep playing together build more chemistry. my 2 cents


    • Posted by okocha on 2010/05/31 at 9:00 AM

      sry, i meant to say a ball into the corner WOULDN’T be lost so easily if buddle was out there. also, we saw torres hold the defender behind him more than once; it’s not about size, it’s about knowing how to use your body


  28. […] Bornstein: 6.5 Surprising, as I said here. Those that read TSG religiously know I have a fondness for his skill, but lament how quickly he […]


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