More from looking back:
• On the central midfield:
I think one thing that needs to be kept in perspective is that the US had a very different approach from half one to half two in the midfield.
Per Bradley’s comments as well as….well…the television, the US pressed two central midfielders up the pitch in the 1st half, hoping to win possession and keep the ball in Turkey’s end. As we know because of poor service, poor possession maintenance, poor positioning and poor tackling, that plan didn’t work out all that well.
In the 2nd half, you have to give credit to Michael Bradley for hawking all over the front of the pitch and allowing Jose Torres just to sit in the middle of the pitch, play positionally, be available for support, see the field and distribute balls.
The MB90 role in the 2nd half was exactly what Maurice Edu played in the 1st half against Czechoslovakia.
Again, it’s important to note that the strategies and tactics for both halves were very different.
Having said that, my guess is that Clark had one last trial for a starting nod against England and he didn’t shine. Similar to Benny. If you read on below as well, you’ll see I think what Bradley was banking on in the 1st half.
To lead with a douzy of a bulletpoint here, I think you’ll have Edu and Bradley starting in the 1st half against England, depending on how the game shakes out you’ll see Torres for offense if necessary, perhaps Rico for defense. All still pending of course…
On the central defense combined with the midfield, I think you’re asking too much of your central defense–or conversely they didn’t follow the game plan or didn’t have one.
My ratings were high for the central defense–perhaps they should be knocked down a tad–however you had Spector beaten inside three times in the first half; and you had Boca or the left side beaten twice.
Turkey kept a player just forward or near the ball to ignite central attacks with the US zone. That’s your central midfielder here who has to recognize. Ricardo was consistently out of position and Michael Bradley whiffed on one tackle and went to the ground twice and left that same central defense vulnerable.
I’m actually not blaming those two–I that’s a huge challenge for the central midfield to undertake.
I think the first half of strategy by Bob Bradley showed a lack of adaptation–despite his forthcoming comments–after the opening whistle.
Either the central “team” didn’t make an adjustment or the game plan wasn’t there.
• “Jay DeMerit looks a lot more comfortable with Oguchi Onyewu in the back.”
Agreed. Evan made this his first comment in our last piece and Jere Longman (a solid writer for the New York Times) wrote that in his game review as well.
Exceedingly true. You could visibly see the difference in the JDM-Gooch partnership in the 2nd half. You can probably chalk it up to repititions and less pressure, but it was evident.
• On Oguchi Onyewu’s fitness
Here’s my thinking on Onyewu and June 12th. He’s not there…yet. Bob Bradley said on Thursday that you were going to see many of his World Cup starters Saturday against Turkey. Onyewu was obviously not in the starting rotation.
I don’t accept that Gooch was tired from playing on Tuesday so he didn’t start on Saturday. You know why?
Because he played the entire 2nd half! If you were giving him 45 minutes and metering him to that, why doesn’t the first 45 minutes work? You can take him out at the half after the “starting unit” has built some cohesiveness. We saw Boca who just had hernia surgery–he played the first half and 30 minutes of the 2nd.
Reason Onyewu was on only in the 2nd? Because he’s not there just yet.
Here’s what Bob Bradley had to say about Onyewu after the match:
“The turnaround from the game against the Czech game was very quick–given where he is in the whole thing.
We felt that 45 minutes made more sense and choose the 2nd half.
It’s a good half from him.
It’s a differnet type of half. We’re pushing very hard. Jay and Gooch were in good position to collect balls after we put them (Turkey) under pressure.”
I think Bradley and staff are just pushing and pushing and hoping that Onyewu makes it by the 12th.
It will now be interesting to see June 5th against Australia. You certainly can’t play Onyewu as sub in that one if he’s your starter.
By the way, I think Gooch starts against England now given Bradley’s comments and the comfort of the team around him.
• On TSG player ratings
» Benny Feilhaber: TSG gets a 7–right?–on it’s player ratings. Benny, decent with some balls in possession, a terrible errant ball in the 1st (I didn’t see it was him) and lackluster defense up the pitch. Poor call by TSG.
» On Goodson and DeMerit: Okay, I’ve reviewed the tape. A lot they had to do. The cameras captured a great job of Howard hollering at them, but they didn’t capture when Goodson covered for Boca on an errant or when DeMerit shut down Spector’s side after he was beaten another time.
• On Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore’s performance up top in the first half.
I didn’t like it…and neither did Bob Bradley. First I was following and tweeting about possession in the first half on the over-ball. Dempsey won only 2 out of 8 headers by my count. Yet, he was a target up there.
More so, I think Bradley as well as myself, was disappointed in Altidore’s ability to win possession up top. Jozy is supposed to win, possess, and distribute more than he did.
It looked from my vantage point that Coach USA was attempting to use Altidore as a hold-up player who could lay off the ball to Donovan and Dempsey on the right side up top. If you think about it, the 2nd half had Donovan and Dempsey again being withdrawn, but a speed option up opened up all worlds of potential for them.
Here’s Bob Bradley when asked about Clint Dempsey after the match–pay special attention to the last few lines:
“Again, whenever you start a game, things need to be sorted out on the field. Often times, there is a period of time, when you just need to play through things and then the game starts to open up and you can take advantage.
We understood that.
It’s a hot day; it’s humid. You can’t now push and get stretched all over the place. It can’t be one guy at a time.
Because the whole flow of the game changed at halftime. It worked well we could drop Clint off to the midfield.
(The question thought to be over….Bradley interjected)
“Look, the one thing I would say about the 1st half is we still had some moments when we had advantages and we weren’t sharp enough. And so, some of those plays are better, than maybe were having a little different halftime talk.”
• On Jose Torres and his role:
Is Torres inline for a start against England? I don’t think so. Should he be? Not sure about that either.
The Torres start to me really hinges on what Bob Bradley does up the pitch. If Bradley is going to try the lob–as he has now done against both Turkey and the Netherlands–then Torres’ value in the first frame is wasted.
The US did a great job of threatening through the midfield in the second. I think it would be wise for the US to employ that same linking midfield passing game in the second half against the Three Lions after Gareth Barry or Tom Huddlestone has worn down. I just think that England will snuff it out before their tired.
• The top 4 conundrum:
I probably should have reserved this for another post, but oh well. Tuesday said, “I’d put Donovan up top with Altidore right now.”
There’s some merit in that, but the bigger question is this:
The US–as we saw in the 2nd half and as we saw with the wing midfielders against the Netherlands–plays better with speed opening things up.
Can you start Findley? Unsure. But if you start Findley, then effectively you’re leaving Holden–who has usurped Benny’s spot in the pecking order–on the bench when Stu would play the pinched-in halfback (on the left or right) probably better than any other player.
Stu’s fast enough to get back, solid in defense, a threat with his foot on long balls and the most comfortable player the Yanks have in one spot with possession.
If you’re going to play a front “three” of Dempsey, Altidore and Donovan, then I favor the line-up on Saturday with better execution. Dempsey is much better when the ball is laid off and the play is not at a gallop. The question remains, “Can Altidore win, maintain and be a threat in possession?”
Because if not, then you have to get some speed on the field and Holden doesn’t see the pitch until the 2nd half.
• Closing comment:
Since I haven’t upset you enough day, John Harkes–in review–actually called a good game. He questioned Feilhaber’s defensive abilities at the outset and he was consistently pointing out the gap between the backline and the midfield during the 1st half.
• Turkey coach Guus Hiddink weighs in on the U.S. and says they are a notch below England.