The Chess Match: USA vs. Slovenia

(This is Part IV of IV of our USA vs. Slovenia Preview)

(Part I) (Part II) (Part III)

Okay, TSG already gave you a profile on Slovenia, including what to expect out of the match-up.

But what should Bob Bradley and company do tactically to get a much-needed three points in the swing game of the group stage? It’s time for the TSG Official Preview.

With admittedly more talent, Bob Bradley will be counted on to get the tactics right...

In our first piece this week, we used a Bob Bradley quote calling this game a chess match. Expect it.

With two teams lined-up with similar 4-4-2 formations and similar counterattacking styles, it usually comes down to moments of the unexpected, the amazing or buffoonery to declare a winner.

Saturday’s game saw a slugest, especially in the midfield, between two teams trying dictate their style on the game. Notice against England how the US looked to use their fitness to their advantage? Tim Howard constantly yelling at players to get up the field after a save or change of possession in the box. Throw-ins taken immediately. Free kicks put back into play before the defense could set.

That game plan won’t work against Slovenia–the Green Dragons are too well-drilled and cohesive to surprise them.

Might JFT hub the midfield early? (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

Unlike England, where Bob Bradley went with a line-up that had as much as experience and reps together as possible, this match-up will be more about moving the pieces around at the right moment.  Tactic, counter-tactic.

Bob Bradley’s in-game prowess may be tested like never before during his reign, given the heightened importance of the affair.

Therefore when reading the  “11 at the whistle” segment below keep in mind that the line-up and complexion of the squad on the field will likelyevolve from the starters penciled in below for the kickoff.

Both teams want and need to win this one.

Expect the States to start cautiously as always Friday, shooting the ball up-and-over the top if they get pressured and then chasing it down. It is absolutely imperative that Slovenia doesn’t score early and doesn’t score first. If they do, Bus City for Charlie Brown’s crew and a long day of unlocking for the Yanks that may only end in a draw or worse.

Look for the Yanks as well–pending the scoreline–to change up how they’re playing both out of the half and into the 2nd frame. I would expect Bradley, having calibrated the first half, will go a reliever or two either at the 45 minute mark or no later than the 65 minute mark.

And now, our customary preview.

As usual we go:

TSG What We’re Looking For

11 At The Whistle


TSG What We’re Looking For

• Primarily-forward and creative motion from the strikers is vital to creating opportunities

TSG wants a Buddle start. No surprise there. (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

While the tendency may be for a post-up game of Jozy-and-distribute, that’s not the best call here. Altidore may be feeling his oats coming of his Carragher scorching and woodwork job, but with the combination of Suler and Cesar in the middle for the Slovenians, hucking the ball over-the-top to the would-be target man would be a poor call.

Altidore’s strength is not his first touch and too often his distribution is either a moment of creative brilliance, but more likely a “just-miss.” (See “Findley back-heal” (1st half) and “Findley lead pass” from the England match).

Primarily though, simple distribution from Altidore goes back to a waiting Donovan or Dempsey. Laying off the ball backwards and allowing Slovenia to set up shop behind the point of attack is not what you want to do against the tactically-sound Green Dragons. Oh, and should that touch go eschew, Tim Howard may be staring down the barrel of a counterattack.

A better solution would be putting a man, or men, in motion vertically so that reception of the ball occurs with the option for that striker to go forward.

Altidore needs to make these runs, though Edson Buddle is more accomplished at them.

Findley’s role–it goes without saying–plays into this strategy.

While you’ll likely see an Altidore-Findley pairing, a better deployment might be the Galaxy hitman Buddle–who’s not afraid to take a shot on goal.

I’m not banking on it, but I am asking for it.

One more note, I expect the Yanks to attempt to “work” the Slovenian defense with over-the-top balls early in the game, both if they’re getting pressured but also to tire it out for later poaching forays from the likes of Herculez Gomez.

• Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey need to boss this game, offensively.

Never perhaps was the #10 jersey a more fitting one for Donovan to wear or a bigger announcement of the role that Donovan needs to play, then this Friday.

In a game that will likely go 1-0 to the victor, it will take a moment of unlocking Slovenian defense, likely on-the-fly, to notch a goal. That’s Donovan’s forte. He’s good enough to do it and he’s needed to do it in this one.

Concurrently, Clint Dempsey might be called on like he was against England. The Fulham striker needs to get better shots and should be able to wriggle free more frequently in this one as Slovenians defenders wing defenders are more pedestrian than the Three Lions.

• The US needs to ready out of the lockerroom in this one.

Another scene like this early on might be catastrophic...

Can you name the last meaningful game that the Yanks didn’t fall behind in?

Do you realize you have to go back to the Azteca in August ’09 for the last game that the Yanks held a vital lead early on against a quality opponent?

England, Turkey, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador.

What do the aforementioned games have in common?

Bradley’s minions fell behind in all of them.

That playbook is not going to cut it in this one.

Team America cannot use a one-goal adversity to jumpstart the engine as Slovenia would like nothing more than have a peaceful sit-in inside the 18-yard box.

This is where your captain (Bocanegra) or onfield quarterback (Tim Howard) need to step up beforehand and say something independent of the coach.

Coaches can coach in multiple World Cups. Players have 3, 4 maximum to compete.

This is there game, especially for Bocanegra and Howard.

• Countering the Dedic-Novakovic two-steps in the central pitch on the run

The Slovenian Two-Step, Event 1

Lining up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, the two up top of Zlatko Dedic and Milivoje Novakovic are a difficult if not an awe-inspiring duo for Onyewu and DeMerit to contend with.

Mark my words you’ll see one of the following events occur in the first 10 minutes of Friday’s game–should the actors above be deployed.

Option 1:  Zlatko Dedic, the retracted forward, will come forward to receive the ball at the top of the defensive third. Milivoje Novakovic, a talented and in-form striker, will make a diagonal run from in front of DeMerit to behind Gooch where a vertical pass can be made.

If played correctly, Novakovic will have the option of attempting to round DeMerit, layoff to the wing if stymied, or play give-and-go with Dedic now moving into DeMerit vacated space with Onyewu trailing.

This is exactly the type of movement that Onyewu and Team USA was susceptible to against the Three Lions with Onyewu migrating out high.

Option 2: A simple give and go where Dedic looks to get behind Onyewu

Option 3: You get the picture…

The Yanks need to snuff these runs one out with help defense from a central midfielder over the top or a denial of the pass by Onyewu, who can’t overplay and get caught out. Simple in writing, harder in execution.

11 At The Whistle

Band-Aids don't stop the pain....

G: Howard

The skinny: There is no skinny. Rib band-aid or no rib-band aid, Howard’s organizational skill will again be called in to play in this one.

DEF: Cherundolo, DeMerit, Onyewu, Bocanegra

The skinny: The Yanks trot out their same starters again. Will Gooch’s level of play continuing trend upward? Can he be consistent for a full 90 minutes? The bigger question might be can Jay DeMerit get by in this one without falling victim to a second yellow and without taking of fistfulls of jersey home with him.

MID: Dempsey, Clark, Bradley, Donovan

The skinny: First, the Clark-Bradley pairing likely takes the pitch in the first half here. Pending the scoreline, I think you’ll see that second half cameo from Jose Torres that fans are looking for.

The reason for Clark-Bradley is simple. Yanks don’t want to fall behind early and they definitely want to wear down there older and less physical counterparts–wear down as in discourage them physically from waltzing down the center of the pitch.

On the outsides, I think you’ll see Donovan start on the left on this one as you saw him see out the 1st half against Turkey. Donovan’s most dangerous run in this one will be cutting in from the right with his speed if a Slovenia inside defender elects to chase a down-the-line run. Donovan’s speed will be vital to getting the opening–early–to create an opportunity.

STR: Buddle, Findley

The skinny: I’m going to say Buddle starts this one (can’t a writer go for the win instead of the draw too?), but Bob Bradley likely answers with the same Altidore-Findley pairing that took the field June 12th. The tactical plan is already outlined above for the strikers.


» Jozy Altidore for Edson Buddle

Like I said above, Altidore-Findley are probably the starters….probably

Probability: 85%

» Jose Torres for Ricardo Clark

I don’t see this one early on. Torres won’t have space in the early going to work his on the ball magic. If the Yanks need a goal or have worn down the Green Dragons, then you may see Torres in the 2nd. I think Bradley tries to get this one done first with a defensive unit.

Probability: 49%

» Back to “The Turkey”: Altidore-Dempsey up top, Holden in the midfield

Moving Dempsey up top to play off Altidore accomplishes a similar movement to the Dedic-Novakovic two-step described. I don’t see it happening, but it does make sense. Hell, the Slovenians are going to try it against a similar defense.

Stu Holden though is the type of player that you want on the field in this one because you know he’ll always track back, he’s not going to lose position, and he’s got the ability to go wide and find a good cross without getting caught out.

Probability: 15%

» Maurice Edu for Ricardo Clark

Will Edu see the light of day for the Yanks in this tournament? The only reason I think Bradley would make that change is if he feels Clark is prone to the type of error he made on the England goal. A similar one may crush the Yanks on the day.

Probability: 10%

Friday’s pivotal players: Donovan, Bob Bradley

42 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by s44 on 2010/06/16 at 3:03 PM

    As nice as Findley’s first touch was, I predict Buddle-Altidore.

    Donovan has to seize this game as he did in San Pedro Sula, when the rest of the team seemed ready to let down after the hex had broken their way and a win didn’t seem vital.


  2. Posted by tnnelson on 2010/06/16 at 3:42 PM

    how many times does clark have to screw up for bradley to lose faith in him? he lost gerrard on the england goal, and he almost always seems to lose the ball when he gets it or just back pass to a defender. he lacks any skill other than disrupting the other team’s attack. yea, that is effective against better teams, but he doesn’t need to just sit back and do that this game because their attack lacks any real bite. he is just going to be another body all game which is the biggest waste of our midfield depth. there is literally no reason why torres, or at least edu who has the similar qualities to clark, he’s just better(especially attacking), to get the start. clark would just be subbed out anyway, hopefully, unless bradley’s lost his mind, and that would be a waste of our 3 subs since he will just be taking up space while he’s on the field. also, i think findley should still get the start and let buddle have a go at half or after the 65th minute or so. then let herc come on for 10 minutes or so. i also really hope bradley can find a way to get holden on the field, although unlikely, because he is class


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/16 at 3:45 PM

      Good question and I think the Slovenia game will be the answer here.

      If Bradley goes back to Clark–since there is no Wayne Rooney–then we know the answer.

      If he plays Torres, then the jury is still out – Torres is a better fit for this game, I just don’t see him starting

      If he plays Edu, then he’s lost faith in Clark.


    • Posted by CKrause on 2010/06/16 at 6:08 PM

      Personally, I have never liked Rico because I think he really just doesn’t add anything to the team. I always hope for Edu and Torres to get in over him and I think tomorrow is the perfect day for BB to start with hard-nosed Edu, who can actually add something offensively, and in the 60′ sub in Torres so he can dictate possession. Also starting with Torres to control the game from the start would not be a bad idea because it would allow us to build up from the back and therefore increase possession and demoralize the Slovenians. Rico was the right choice for the US as BB was playing for the draw, but Edu and Torres put us in a better position to win. It is time for BB to experiment and try to win the match because anything less than that is failure.


      • I completely agree about Rico. For too long the USMNT coaches persisted with Mastroeni who was always a red-card waiting to happen. Rico adds a little more that Pablo did, but not by much.

        I hope Sweats goes with Edu to start the Slovenia game which will give Baby Bradley more freedom to do what he does best, plus Edu offers a lot less chicken-without-a-head style of defending and breaking up plays. I really want to see the Torres/Bradley or Torres/Edu pairing for a full 90, but think that Torres should come on just after the half to pick apart a (hopefully) tired Slovenia team in this situation and possibly give him a full 90 against Algeria if we pick up the 3 pts here.


  3. Posted by Johninho on 2010/06/16 at 3:50 PM

    I’m begging Bradley to make just ONE change, any change to prove to me he’s not mailing this in. So help me God, if we pull a Sammo ’98 again this year, I’ll be waiting for him at the airport, and not in a good way.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/16 at 3:52 PM

      I think you saw the US go for it against an arguably stronger England side.

      But Johninho, I think you have to look at this game in segments — if Bradley comes out with the same line-up I can gaurantee you he’s not finishing it with it.

      The most important thing for the US is not give up counterattack opportunities and take their chances at the beginning of this one regardless of who the players on the field are.


      • Posted by Johninho on 2010/06/16 at 4:02 PM

        I desperately want to believe you, but the thing I’m reading (SBI, etc.) is that Clark doesn’t think he’s going to sit. And that scares me. I’ve said it before: I’d best not see Clark matching up with Robert Koren, their best player.

        And if Clark pulls the same thing he did in the England match, and your central key – do not concede first goal – is ruined, I’m worried that even a guy like Torres can’t move the bus in the second half.

        I need to see a different CM than Rico – bottom line. Mess or don’t mess with the strike pair all he wants, but we need a better midfielder.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/16 at 4:10 PM

          TSG doesn’t think he’s going to sit either.

          Consider this:

          Clark – Bradley – @240 minutes in meaningful play since August last year, about Edu – Bradley – 0 meaningful minutes – 45 minutes in a Netherlands friendly Torres – Bradley – 0 meaningful minutes – 45 minutes in a Turkey friendly

          And that’s not to mention the Bradley / Clark partnership against Egypt and Spain in the Confederation Cup last year.

          The writings there.


  4. Posted by Mark T on 2010/06/16 at 4:22 PM

    Unfortunately, this team has proven many times over that they come out flat at the whistle (in both halves), save for the recent Turkey game. Changing that is doubtful to happen overnight regarless of what Howard or Captain Carlos say.

    In Howard’s recent interview on ESPN he talked about how crucial it is to not give up an early goal as it blows your whole game plan, so I imagine he already stresses the importance of coming out ready every game.

    The best thing I have heard said about this game was by Landon Donovan the other day… (paraphasing here):

    “If we can’t beat Slovenia, then we don’t deserve to advance out of the group.”



  5. […] The Chess Match: USA vs. Slovenia (This is Part IV of IV of our USA vs. Slovenia Preview) (Part I) (Part II) (Part III) […]


  6. Posted by Soccernst on 2010/06/16 at 6:00 PM

    Loving the FIFA stats site. I’ve wasted too much time over there. Germaine to the discussion, here are the US stats on pass completion:

    1. Jozy Altidore: 45% completed
    2. Rico Clark: 51% completed
    3. Gooch: 56%
    4. Bradley: 60%
    5. Findley: 60%
    6. Lando: 61%
    7. Boca: 65%
    8. Dolo: 66%
    9: Dempsey: 67%
    10: Demerit: 67%

    To put this in perspective:
    1) Overall we are the 3rd worst team at pass completion in the tourney
    2) England had fully 10 players with better completion percentages than our best… this tells you something about the kind of game we were involved in!
    3) generally, defenders have the best completion percentage, as they have the least pressure. Pressure increases up the field, and forwards cough up the ball the most (excepting goalies).

    1) Clark + Bradley is not a formula for passing success (especially since these positions typically register some of the highest completion numbers)
    2) Findley did well at involving his teammates (relative to other fowards), Jozy not so much.
    3) You can read too much into stats!
    4) I am pro Findley/Buddle, Torres/Bradley pairings.

    Go Yanks!


    • Posted by kaya on 2010/06/16 at 6:57 PM

      I too looked at the FIFA pass % statistics (only got through the US individual), and thought the US team was dead last in the tournament. I read in the Guardian minute by minute and espn gametracker that we had the 2nd lowest team passing % completion since the statistic started being recorded in 1966. I mentioned this in the England/US game review comments (“I’m surprised no one is concerned by this”), but since no one responded, I supposed no one else was (and Matthew wrote something to the effect of a beautiful tactic via an ugly game.)
      Clark has no business being there, least of all paired with Bradley. Clark doesn’t even try to pass the ball forward; at least I can credit him for not trying to do something he can’t. But Bradley only made acceptable passes on Saturday because he wasn’t pressed by the English. Is sweatpants so obsessed with a variation of the power/speed combo in CM that he can’t see we can’t afford 2 mediocre/poor ball distributors there?
      If we can’t “gamble” with good ball distribution in this game, I don’t see when we will (I mean to start.)


      • Posted by Soccernst on 2010/06/16 at 8:35 PM

        I expect the numbers to be much better for Slovenia even if Clark plays. Effective passing does not a win equal… *ahem* Spain.


    • For better or for worse– the FIFA pass completion stats factor in all passes attempted, including backpasses in the defensive half. The OPTA figures reflected at least a slightly more promising display of passing by the Yanks Saturday. Most of the figures were similar, but three players are notably better with forward passing:

      a. Clark– who improves 20 percent from 51 to 71, making him the seventh most effective forward passer on either side in the match;

      b. Donovan- from 61 to 67 percent– hardly a shining improvement but given the fact he’s the creative engine behind the American attack promising that he’s better moving the ball forward, especially against a top-flight opponent such as England;

      c. Dempsey– 85 percent– the second highest figure from OPTA in the game (Behind Gerrard), and an eighteen percent increase. Given he also covered the second most distance of any American (behind MB 90), I’d say that’s a promising development and one that reflects he was far more sharp Saturday than he was against Turkey. Of course, in both games he found the back of the net– and we’ll take 55 percent if he can manage that again Friday.

      Just thought some perspective on the FIFA stats site was warranted given there are different statistical models and programs for measuring these things.

      DIsclaimer is of course that as much as we try to “Moneyball” the game– soccer so often depends on other things, especially in the absence of a controlled variable (a batter standing at home plate) to make the actual statistical figure matter.

      Excellent final portion of the review.


      • Posted by kaya on 2010/06/16 at 9:48 PM

        Neil, thanks for that insight. Although…. if your pass completion goes down when you include backpassing, that would seem to me to indicate the defense and keeper are being put in a lot of dangerous positions.
        I realize that the data collected for soccer cannot be tied 1 for 1 to a result like they can in basketball, football, and especially baseball, and this is part of the reason I love the sport so much.
        What is OPTA and where are its stats available? I’m imagining could be what you’re referring to, but it looks like you have to pay for this data.
        If Clark has a 71% pass completion rate, perhaps their criteria also needs to include a factor for “meaningfulness” or “difficulty” or “factor of success attributable to the passer’s delivery” =)


  7. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/16 at 7:10 PM

    oh oh oh. You can link you right sidebar to part 4 now….
    there, i made a meaningful contribution.


  8. Posted by dude on 2010/06/16 at 7:38 PM

    I can’t believe anyone is considering Clark versus Slovenia. First, he is our worst midfield option, second Slovenia is a bunker, counter attacking team. This is a type of team we suck at. The solution is not bunker down from the opening whistle and hope for a goal. The solution is Torres, who will make everyone around him play and pass better, getting them in dangerous positions, and surprising Slovenia who think they know what to expect. It’s time we start trusting our defenders to defend and our players to keep their shape (heck, we do it anyway, our backline+Howard is the reason for England, not Bradley-Clark).

    I also don’t see Findley being of any use, Slovenia won’t give him any space to run or way for him to receive a through ball. He can’t dribble, and he can’t shoot. Buddle.

    Also, after reading about the chess pieces, here’s what we got.

    Rooks- simple, uncomplicated, destroyers- Michael Bradley, Clark, Demerit, Onyewu, Bocanegra
    Knights- unique attacking skill sets- Torres, Feilhaber, Edu, Holden, Gomez, Buddle
    Bishops- speed to strike- Cherundolo, Beasley, Findley
    Queens- a little bit of everything, and vitally important- Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore
    King- Tim Howard. How could you not see this coming. The other two are there to catch him lest he should fall.

    Oh yeah, and our one and only pawn- Bornstein. (Unfortunately, Edu seems to be in this category, also, but only in Bob’s mind).


  9. Posted by Jammer on 2010/06/16 at 7:46 PM

    I’m so glad to hear a case made for starting Buddle over Altidore. Besides the reason you mentioned, he also scores more, shooting with better skill and accuracy. Look at Altidore missing an easy header against England! And look at Buddle’s first goal against Australia, an unstoppable shot past a defender and he made it look easy.


  10. Posted by JW on 2010/06/16 at 8:56 PM

    Nice article, but tactically, how will the US create space up top? Slovenia will defend far back and mark the forwards closely to a fault. Bradley will have to have a big game in the middle directing traffic, or that directing will have to come from the Dolo or Boca (they should find some space in front of the midfield on the attacking side of the field, the wings will likely play deep to track Dempsey and Donovan inside). This side does like to let up some goals from within the box from crosses, so a good delivery from ‘Dolo could make the difference.


  11. Posted by KMac on 2010/06/17 at 1:10 AM

    A couple of thoughts/factors not discussed yet above. I just re-watched the ALG v SLV game from Sunday, inspiring these observations/questions:
    Despite what Matthew hypothesizes I think that we might press SLV like Algeria did but even harder? Don’t know if it was the relative heat (73F) or what, but I was not that impressed by the Dragon. Maybe they played down?
    Birsa and Koren looked bigger threats to me in the seams between the mids and backs (albeit with the help of some tragic goalkeeping). Of course the front runners are an obvious threat too as depicted above. The Desert Fox’s handled them alright until they went down a man (STUPID!).
    Speaking of which, it is imperative that neither Dolo or Demerit get a second Yellow (not as worried about Findley).

    Might the SLV pro wrestling trash talk might just fire our team up a bit?

    It could have been my imagination, but it seemed to me SLV attacked mostly center or right side, leading me to believe we may see Landon on the left more of the game than Deuce as Matthew suggests.

    With respect to lineup, I was looking back at the Netherlands, Turkey and Czech game to see what Bob was playing with. I bet he plays with what he knows in the first half. The strategy forks there depending on the outcome.
    Tie – sub on Torres and whichever opportunists haven’t yet seen the pitch (Gomez, Buddle)
    1 goal ahead or better, will he play the bunker to see out the win?
    Down a goal (or god forbid more)…well, I am not even going to visualize that, they just can’t let that happen. I am staying positive.


    • I’m fine with Dolo or DeMerit getting a second yellow in this game as long as we get the win. Worst case would be for him to get a second yellow against Algeria and miss the first knock-out match.


      • Posted by Jared on 2010/06/17 at 9:07 AM

        Tuesday – Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the yellows picked up in the group stages don’t carry over to the knock-out rounds. Am I way off?


        • If you get 1 yellow during the group stages, your slate is wiped clean for the round of 16. If you get a yellow in the 1st match and the 3rd, you are suspended for the round of 16.


  12. Most likely Bob keeps Donovan on the right. Against Turkey Donovan started on the right, Feilhaber left – they could’ve easily switched and in fact they did after the goal, solving quite a few of our defensive problems. Demps and Dono frequently switch flanks but, whatever their individual preferences, Donovan right, Dempsey left suits both player and the team best.

    Donovan is a much bigger threat on the right where he can go outside or inside, rather than just inside. When he played on the left against the Netherlands, their fullback was able to mark him out of the game because he didn’t have to play him straight up allowing him to stay very tight. Since Dempsey is definitely coming inside from a wide position on either flank, when he’s on the right we’re far too narrow. We never have static width in the attacking third – players that are positioned in wide areas – but in this situation we no longer have dynamic width – players that will run into wide areas.

    With two wide players both wanting to cut inside the forwards will have to make that space, but unlike many teams Slovenia will likely not track their runs closely and prefer to keep shape instead. They’ll get bodies back in the box and dare Findley and Altidore to try and produce the final ball.

    Fact is, Dempsey does better in tighter spaces which is what’s on the left. Donovan prefers to have more space and time to pick a pass and he gets more of this with the threat of Dolo’s overlap on the right. I don’t expect any change to our 4 attacking players beyond possibly Buddle starting over Altidore for his physicality and superior finishing…


  13. Let’s all try to remember that Jozy Altidore is 20 years old. The kid had a good game against England. Buddle is scoring goals in MLS. Altidore was playing in England. Buddle scored against Australia. Altidore played against England. I think putting Buddle in ahead of Altidore would be crazy. If Buddle starts, it should be ahead of Findlay to give the USA two big, strong finishers in the box. As others have said, with Slovenia likely to play deep, Findlay’s speed will be useless. I would like to see another true winger on the left side so we could have crosses coming in from both sides, while Bradley, Donovan and Dempsey create at the top of the box and Torres moves the point of attack around. We want to challenge defenders around the box and fire in long shots. If we earn a large number of set pieces, we’re bound to score off at least one of them. This team has gotten pretty good at set pieces. With credible long-range shooters, Slovenia has to defend out there.


    • Posted by DanPA on 2010/06/17 at 8:10 AM

      I disagree that Findley’s speed will be useless against a deep-dropping backline. Sure, he won’t really be able to run in behind the defense, but I think Bob really values his speed+workrate to create pressing opportunities and turnovers in the attacking 1/2 of the pitch (TSG discussed this as a way to generate space for attacks in part II or part III).

      I can see the value in Findley’s speed workrate, but I agree that having another big body in the box is the better way to go… especially because Buddle seems to have a better nose for goal than Findley right now.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/17 at 9:02 AM

        Hard to see how Findley’s speed will be useless. Turkey dropped their backline and the Yanks got two goals by going wide to the corner or chipping it over it.


  14. Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/17 at 7:23 AM

    The bottom line is that Torres is the better player and he should be starting regardless of opponent lineups and tactics. Bob Bradley obviously favors Clark, which is a shame.

    I really don’t understand this love affair with Buddle either. He scored some goals in MLS and two in a half-hearted friendly against a terrible Australia side. Altidore has been less than stellar but there is no way Buddle is going to start over him, and there is no way Bradley is going to pair Buddle and Altiodre together. Gomez is a better player than Buddle as well, so I don’t even think Buddle should see the field absent an injury to Altidore.


  15. I get the logic behind what BB would be thinking is he starts Rico but I still think starting Torres is the better choice for this reason: If Rico is going to be in the game until the 55 min mark that’s probably 55 min that we aren’t effectively putting Slovenia under effective threat. Without threat from the CM our strikers will be easy shutdown by the Slovenia backline. We probably would be then relying on trying to get a goal the last half hour of the game. I just think that limits our opportunity too much.

    I wouldn’t mind Rico playing the first 25 min (getting the trouble time out of the way) and then Torres coming on (giving us 1 hr plus of Torres), but that isn’t a traditional soccer move and could be a waste of a sub.

    I still feel a Torres start is our best option. If he does start it doesn’t mean that we have to be offensive right away. I don’t think he is a horrible defensive liabilty and his hold up play would help us hold possession (limiting Slovenias chances). If he is told to stay home early I don’t see a huge counterattacking threat from Slovenia. I think this game goes our way if we can have a slight advantage in overall possession. As far as Torres being fresh later vs. Slovenia point. Who says Torres can’t do his thing from the get go and last for most of the game? Yes it isn’t his best time to overpower the opponent but with him in there from the start we can grind away at Slovenia.

    To use the boxing analogy, I don’t think this is the game where you want to use the “rope-a-dope strategy”. The opponents are close to evenly matched, with us having a slight advantage. We need to use our advantage for as long as possible and try to wear down Slovenia from the get go, while still being tactically strong. We can get our jabs in when we need to, but I want us to try to score/press hard near the end of the first half. We aren’t looking for a knockout punch but continual pressure. We go up early then we can go to defense late. If we leave the attack till later we risk Slovenia having a less amount of time (30 min) where they really have to bunker in hard. I just don’t see it. If it comes to it in the 2nd half I think Slovenia will play for the draw, I don’t think we should make that easier for them to do.


  16. Xavi: 170cm, Iniesta: 170cm, Messi: 170cm.

    Torres: 168 cm

    Apparently you don’t have to be big to be a pretty damned good footballer.

    RE: Buddle: I think it’s most likely that our starting front 4 remains the same with Altidore-Findley, Dempsey-Donovan. Findley may not have the opportunity to get behind, but his speed will create shape if he comes deep or runs into wide areas. He’s essential to creating space for the Double Ds.

    But Bob’s England substitutes are telling: Buddle, Holden, Gomez. It’s probably just as likely that we see Holden-Bradley start in midfield in this match as any other option. Would love to see Torres-Bradley though. Bob had enough confidence in him to give him the start in Amsterdam, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t do the same here.


  17. Posted by Chris on 2010/06/17 at 10:07 AM

    Great coverage as always guys.

    A few thoughts: As deep as Slovenia will be covering, I think our best chances are going to come off of Headed shots from crosses and from loose balls in the box. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the new Adidas ball has made hard-hit long distance shots fly high. I haven’t seen hardly any hit hard from outside the box on frame yet. With that in mind, I think Dempsey up top with Jozy is our best striking pair for this game. That leaves the wing open and that spot should be Holden’s. Looking forward to our win tomorrow!


  18. […] you check out the excellent work done by Grant Wahl, Jonathan Wilson, and the fellas over at The Shin Guardian.  I apologize for the lack of detail here–I’ve been crunched for time this past […]


  19. Posted by Dan on 2010/06/18 at 1:07 AM

    Look, Torres is good, but the people on this blog IMO completely overate his ability. He’s not inesta, he’s not messi. He’s good and young and he could be great in the future for the U.S. He’s never played a big international game, and bradley might be right to not start him. That being said, i expect to see him out there at some point in the game, but I have no problem seeing Rico start, mainly for defensive reasons.


  20. […] review of Slovenia–who play the 4-4-2 like their petrified of odd number formations–see here from World Cup […]


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