Initiating Follow-up: USA v. Turkey

First, let me mention that I knew there would be some challenges to my post-game review that I filed.

Second, dead wrong on Benny Feilhaber from the little I have watched. My apologies.

I completed my review on the train back to NYC about 4 hours after the Yanks completed their victory in the final home send-off game.

I filed my report in what I consider “The Dead Zone”–see the schematic below:

Don't try this at home...

I usually finish touching up my column right at the beginning of The Dead Zone. What I think is the strength of TSG game review is the detailed analysis that takes place so close to the end of the game. Usually TSG is not in the press box, so we’re writing before the major outlets are with immediate freshness.

Bradley explains...

This time–with Bob Bradley quotes, player quotes and travel involved–I filed my column the next morning–at the beginning of the green section (I have no name for this section). I had completed it within 8 hours of the match though.

However, the timing left some of the freshness and game review asunder and consequently, my review was not as “tight” as I would have liked it to been.

Okay, enough, what does this mean? Not one of my best reviews, but then again you can’t fit everything into one. Best part? I’m my own assignment desk and editor!

So today I’m going to add to start in this column and then during the day–and since Virgin America’s wifi bandwidth is not strong enough to pull up “The Tres” from ESPN–I’m going to re-watch the game and add more commentary in a new post when I arrive home.

I may make some changes to my review or stick to my guns.

I’ll be taking selections out of Saturday’s commentary and using them as starting points here.

Pardon the digression…and we start with the Turkish goal.

• On what happened on the Turkey goal:

Bob Bradley:

“The comment though was simply the reactions when the ball took over.

When Jonathan had made the run, the ball came loose, it got played up.

We actually put a little bit of initial pressure on.

Goodson, I believe, pushed pretty high now to try to shut things down.

The next level of reactions weren’t that good and they were able to play the ball down the left side and create that opening.

It’s about a team reaction when the ball turns over. You want the initial pressure to give everybody else an idea of what they need to do. In some cases, the next guy can join in and maybe it can be taken care of right there. In other cases, it’s a re-grouping behind the ball.

In that particular case, we were, sort of, caught half and half and didn’t do a good enough job.”

More from Bob Bradley indirectly:

“You have challenges, the way Turkey plays there is a lot going on in the center part of the midfield, especially in the 1st half.

You’re asking a great deal of your center midfielders because they have to be able to step up and press in front of them, but also be aware of what’s going on behind them.

And if the gap gets too big between the midfield and the backline than gives players space to operate.”

TSG commentary:

I’m going to review this one again when ESPN3 is available, but watching the YouTube clip, it sounds and looks–to this writer–like Benny, ah Benny-I-will-be-lowering-your-rating, played some ole defense and didn’t “join in” with Goodson on the defense and that the entire midfield then needed to “regroup behind the ball.”

It’s amazing when you slow it down–and listen to the coach of the team that got hurt on the play–and deconstruct the happenings how quickly things can happen and players can “attack.”

At the very least, if you’re Ricardo Clark, you want to do something different and force that ball a different way based upon communication behind you or game plan.

You want that ball to the winger to be airborne–if it has to go there, as the pass will travel slower, allowing the defense to recover and the player might have to take an extra touch or two to recalibrate his run to the goal.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kevin on 2010/05/31 at 9:27 AM

    Nice work TSG with the Bobbo comment on the goal.

    Matt, I think you may have tweeted it yesterday but I can’t find it. I’ll put a feather in your cap.

    Here’s was ESPN player ratings from yesterday on Jay DeMerit:
    Jay DeMerit, defense, 6 — He bore much of the blame on the first Turkey goal.

    Thanks TSG for getting us the real goods.


  2. I changed my mind on the first Turkey goal after watching a recording of the match. That was caused almost entirely by our midfield failing to rotate behind Spector as he made his very nice run forward. I want him to do that, but I want our midfielders to stop watching the action and actually fill the space he leaves. With any US midfielder around where Arda first picked up the ball, the counter would have been greatly slowed, and the defense would have had time to react. As it was, poor Spector was left to try and catch up to Arda alone (a doomed effort from the start.)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/31 at 10:04 AM

      Agreed. In a separate comment on the goal that I will add bradley mentioned that midfield had to “be aware of what was behind them”


    • I hope Sweats gave Spector an extra pat on the back for almost catching up with Arda at the end of the counter too. That took some major hustle and determination on his part, something the midfield could’ve learned from on that play.


  3. Posted by dikranovich on 2010/05/31 at 3:20 PM

    its funny, but i felt like junior bradley was probably calpable for the turkey goal. after the goal, bradley tracks back several times before the half to break up turkey attacks. he must have sensed that he was to blame for the goal and he put forth a greater effort. thats my take anyway.

    junior is going to be in the center of the midfield for the england game. then there is one other spot, or maybe two more central midfield spots available, for either edu, clark, feilhaber, holden, torres, or maybe dempsey. thats a lot of options. gotta go 4-5-1 with dempsey on the wing and hope jozy plays like a mad dog againt england.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/31 at 3:55 PM

      I think primarily Benny, Rico and then MB90 were responsible. If Rico doesn’t just sit there like a deer in headlights he probably forces a less than perfect pass.

      I can see a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-3-2-1 (a lot of which was played Saturday), but I can’t see a 4-5-1. You need some one quickly trailing Jozy and he’s certainly not a Findley guy to keep draggin around the wingfulls backwards.

      Even Drogba works better with an Anelka to play off of him.

      I get where you’re coming from and I think that’s exactly was BB was hoping for on Saturday, but didn’t get.

      The England central defenders are even tougher than Turkey.

      Jozy has said it himself–and I think Jozy works ironically similar to Donovan in having a speed guy in front of him, it gives him the threat of a turn. When Altidore has to manufacture his own path to the goal on a turn…he doesn’t do much.


  4. Posted by dikranovich on 2010/05/31 at 4:21 PM

    there are a lot of good points out there, but you know what the main point is? the main point is to not allow england to score a goal on june 12th. that is the main goal against england. the question then becomes, does coach bradley realize this. my guess is that he does. 4-2-3-1 aka 4-5-1. guess what the usa does in the england game. dempsey up top landon on the right and dmb on the left, or maybe donovan on the left and holden on the right. then a triangle of central midfielders.


  5. Posted by Matt B on 2010/05/31 at 6:24 PM

    There were several problems on the goal. As you guys have all said, the midfield, either Rico or Bradley, needs to rotate back when Spector goes forward, so they have to take a good deal of blame. But at the same time, Spector cannot turn the ball over in that situation. He made a great run, but he needed to get rid of the ball. As a defender that far forward, you’re betting off shooting into Row Z than turning it over there. I also found it quite ironic that we were beaten on a quick counter-attack, given how often we use the counter.


    • Agreed, which is what led to Harkes’s “irresponsible” comment on TV. It was a contributing factor to be sure, but only because the midfield didn’t do his job.

      It was a lovely surging run forward, and I hope he has the confidence to keep doing it. Defenses aren’t set up to account for an extra man storming the castle…


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/01 at 10:46 AM

        Intelligent offensive full-back play is double-sided. The FB needs to have the confidence in his team that there will be adeqaute cover for the hole left behind. But also, the FB must recognise when it’s appropriate to go forward and when it’s not. He cannot bomb forward at every opportunity and then point to the DMs for when there’s lack of cover if they get caught out. I think the best example to use is Cole vs Johnson…

        In this case, I feel like the DMs let him down.


  6. Posted by dikranovich on 2010/05/31 at 9:10 PM

    it just that spector is such a good crosser, sometimes. he could have passed the ball. i mean really, maicon he is not and he knows it. spector picked up one pk this season for west ham making the run into the box, now he thinks he is pele. spector could have played it smarter. bradley should have seen the play and covered. maybe a couple of players got caught flat footed. usa sure has made a habit of falling behind, then coming back for at least a share of the points.


    • See, I agree with this… the part of the Turkey goal that bothered me the most was that Spector was barreling down the field with tunnel vision and missed several opportunities to pass off the ball until he got trapped and had nowhere to go but to lose the ball into a wall of Turkish defenders. I think Spector is capable of playing much better defensively than he did in that game, but he needs to understand that he’s not a center-mid for a reason… he doesn’t have the foot skill to pull off an end-to-end run. With that said, I also agree that the midfielders need to see that he’s making this run and drop back. Heck, we stress this all the time in rec league games, so it’s weird to see the US team struggle with the same thing. I guess it’s easy to get caught ball-watching no matter what level you play at.


  7. The infographic is awesome.


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