Preview: USMNT In HDC, Just Chile-Axing?

If a US game is played at HDC in January, and no major US broadcaster carries it, does it exist?

Does Bunbury get a nod up top in this one?

Poor joke.

The USMNT takes on Chile this Saturday in Carson at 7pm PST and if you have the internet, a good connection and the right cable provider, you can watch it.

If you comprehend Spanish, you might want to check out the broadcast on Telefutura.

TSG didn’t get down to January camp this year unfortunately (we’ll be there for the game) so hard for us to do a proper TSG-in-depth preview.

In fact, with just 9,500 attending thus far–and you can bet a fair non US-favoring contingent–we’ll call this a “Preview Lite”

Last year in a World Cup year, Bob Bradley went with an extremely awkward line-up to start this one that included twin mighty mites, Robbie Findley and a blasé Jeff Cunningham running over each other up top.

They were backed by a midfield that saw Kyle Beckerman sitting in the holding role and Sacha Kljestan–at right outside mid for the affair–bumping into Benny Feilhaber twice on the interior as it appeared Coach Sweats mantra was to push Marvell Wynne up the right wing frequently. Conor Casey was clocked at a high speed of 2 miles per hour in the 2nd half.

On the other side of the ball, Jimmy Conrad earned an early red, Wynne was an adventure on the right and everyone’s favorite Jonathan Bornstein battened down the hatches after Conrad’s card, moving to central defense and captaining the backline.

This year? Who knows….

Here are some things TSG will look for…. followed by a potential line-up afterward that is sure to be off.

• Obviously, what’s the formation? Fresh off a trip to South Africa that saw the US play well in a 4-2-3-1 to start, the US then scored in their customary 4-4-2. Does Coach Sweats dare go 4-3-3 with a bunch of youngsters that have hardly played that?

Will Bob put this Mix Disk in heavy rotation?

• Perhaps the most watched player will be Mikkel Diskerud. The lengthy attack-minded mid played wide right in South Africa. Does he move centrally now in what I am about to call the, gulp, Eddie Gaven (lite) role?

• Will we see Bob Bradley stick with his strategy making one side his speedy attack side (think: Cherundolo-Landon-Findley) and the other side his tucked in off-ball side?

• Where does Chris Wondolowski play? If you watched Wondo light it up in the 2nd half for San Jose last year, he was best in a reserved forward role, wandering  and playing without a true defensive up-top responsibility. Will he play off a speedy guy? Agudelo. Or a post-up guy? Teal Bunbury.

• If we see that 4-2-3-1, what veterans get the start as the two holders? Dax and Larentowicz? Dax and Cronin? Cronin and Larentowitz? (You can bet on McCarty being there and playing the quarterback role Feilhaber did last year.)

• Do we get some speed on the right again and is that Wynne or Sean Franklin?

• Conversely on the left, does anyone rise up and make themselves effectively a contender for 1st or 2nd on the 2014 depth chart?

• Will Bob Bradley continue to “go big”…putting Shea, Diskerrud and Bedoya across a 3-man midfield gives Coach Sweats a six-footing middie attack line.

11 At the Whistle

G: Nick Rimando

DEF: Anthony Wallace, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, Marvell Wynne

CDM: Sam Cronin, Dax McCarty

MID: Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya

STR: Teal Bunbury

30 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by chris on 2011/01/18 at 7:27 AM

    lichaj cant play cause of his obligations to villa, right?


    • Lichaj isn’t even in camp. And this is because of being with Aston Villa. Correct.


      • Posted by chris on 2011/01/18 at 2:22 PM

        but camp is not for the vets right?
        (not that lichaj is a vet) but..
        i mean whats the difference between this game and the ones in MArch. will there be vets there? do they have a camp for that?
        im confused.
        like why not have donovan in this game?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/18 at 2:47 PM

          Good questions Chris.

          In terms of this game, the strength of the competition is at best a B…Chile will be bring their B or C team from a team that did not advance beyond the group stage in South Africa.

          Secondly, players get burnt out. In terms of Landon, good to give me a rest from a camp that he doesn’t need to prove himself and a game that is meaningless.

          Third, camp complexion. If you had Landon and other senior guys there, there might be a “star struck” effect from the new camp guys…i.e. deferring Donovan in scrimmages instead of shooting..things like that

          Fourth, there are few camps where you can actually evaluate new talent rather than prepare for a tournament or qualifier. This is one of them.

          The March friendlies will be good tune-ups for a Gold Cup tourney that will decide who goes to the Confederation Cup–the World Cup dress rehearsal that occurs in the host country the year before the World Cup. This tourney was invaluable for the US in 2010. Therefore, you may see more veterans on the Gold Cup squad in June.

          Back to this camp, what Bob Bradley tries to do in camp is evaluate some players while surround them with others (Ale Bedoya) that are either not fully established or fringe players that know what’s going on. I think he did a good job in that case this time.

          Questions answered?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/18 at 3:52 PM

          Plus the March 26th game vs. Argentina (at Meadowlands – I’m going!) is a *recognised* FIFA date, so all club teams *must* release their players to their national federations if called up. Therefore, both teams should have their big guns out [hopefully].


  2. Posted by JW on 2011/01/18 at 8:47 AM

    Are you predicting that Coach Sweats will try out Bunbury and Agudelo at lone striker, each for a half?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/18 at 9:58 AM

      I doubt Agudelo is used as a lone striker – I actually think Braun would have been your starter in this one. Bradley likes to work youngster in slowly.

      I could see a 4-4-2 with Agudelo and Bunbury…I can see a 4-2-3-1 with just Agudelo — too young, too much pressure (whether artificial or not.)


  3. Posted by Chas on 2011/01/18 at 8:53 AM

    Coach Sweats should ditch the 4-2-3-1 and just go with a 4-4-2, if only to see what the forwards can do. Its can exhibition match, and the forward position is a huge question mark for the varsity USMNT, whereas midfielders (especially central midfielders) are not. I’d keep two of them on the field at a time, and give all of them a chance to play.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/01/18 at 8:56 AM

      Except the responsibility of a pair of forwards in a 4-4-2 is different than the responsibility of a lone forward in 4-2-3-1. If Bradley is interested in playing 4-2-3-1 primarily, he should be auditioning forwards to see how they perform in that specific role.


      • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/18 at 1:30 PM

        Nice post dth. However, I would respond that both formations share the most important responsibility that a forward has, which is finishing chances. I’ll take an ill-suited 4-2-3-1 striker who can score goals over one who fits in with Bradley’s “specific role” and doesn’t score goals (Jozy Altidore immediately popped in my head).


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/18 at 5:31 PM

          Except: a striker who scores goals in a 4-4-2 might not be able to score goals in a 4-2-3-1 (Manchester United, for example, has a bunch of these guys–Berbatov and Owen for sure, maybe Chicharito too). They’re different formations for a reason and Bradley would just be wasting everyone’s time if he plays two out-and-out forwards for the purpose of auditioning them both for one ill-suited spot.

          And also: forwards’ roles aren’t to score goals, they’re to increase their teams’ chances of scoring goals.


  4. Posted by Chris on 2011/01/18 at 9:04 AM

    Why not start Wondo? He has the scoring abilities and the maturity that would be useful with a squad like this.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/18 at 9:59 AM

      He’s not a lone striker. I could see Wondo starting as Dempsey does in a 4-4-1-1. The challenge with Wondo is his speed doesn’t scare and he can’t be a hold-up guy. So employed by his lonesome, he won’t have much success, in my opinion.

      Could see a 4-4-1-1 again with him playing off Bunbury.


  5. Posted by Nelson on 2011/01/18 at 11:01 AM

    Chile is a sick team. I saw them thoroughly beat Uruguay in a friendly last fall. They’re scrappy tacklers though. Should be an interesting game


  6. Posted by SamT on 2011/01/18 at 12:00 PM

    This is an early cycle friendly against a quality opponent. Perfect time to experiment with a new look.

    I’d like to see Bob come out in a suit.


  7. Posted by Alex on 2011/01/18 at 3:44 PM

    I like your line-up. But maybe Juan on the wing? Its something he’s done for the U-20s before, and it seems like him and Bunbury have some good chemistry together. So same line up, just swap JA for Brek. Your thoughts?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/18 at 3:55 PM

      I think with the dearth of speed strikers that the US has and given that Agudelo seems a plausible candidate for that role that you want him focused on that role exclusively.

      I could see Bradley going 4 4 2 and dropping either Bedoya or Diskerud.


  8. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/18 at 4:31 PM

    im almost certain larentowicz will be in the starting eleven sat night, probably with dax. it would be awsome to see dax, larentowicz, and cronin on the field at the same time. it would require the 4-5-1 though, or they might call it a 4-3-3 and have brek and bedoya on the wings with a center forward.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/18 at 5:44 PM

      Why are you almost certain about Larentowicz?

      I could easily see him instead of Cronin. I put Cronin in because he’s already started for Bob Bradley once. I don’t believe Larentowicz ever has.

      I could see all three if if the US plays a 4-5-1…which I guess you could say they played when Benny was in, in South Africa.

      As for a 4-3-3, don’t see that.

      The main difference that I see, and you may be right on Larentowicz is that Dax often plays in the hole….so Larentowicz ahead of him makes sense. Cronin is more apt to play a true holder, but be less forward pushing.


  9. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/01/18 at 5:05 PM

    Gotta get Agudelo in the starting lineup. 442 with Teal and Juan up top. We need forwards and this is a great opportunity to see two of our promising youngsters work together.


  10. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/01/19 at 12:59 AM

    Jozy getting the start in Villareal’s exit from Copa Del Rey vs Sevilla. Up top with Rossi and Montero. First half he was out left, playing fairly deep. His touch looked good (no giveaways and involved in some tight quarters one touch passing) and at one point worked himself open for a shot. Second half he was leading the line more centrally and looked less comfortable, but to be fair Villareal were down 3 by that point and the service was aweful. He was maybe slightly more involved than montero, less than rossi. Commentators summary: “Ineffective but not poor in the game.” Find net please Jozy, but keep growing.


  11. Posted by phlub on 2011/01/19 at 2:09 PM

    I see Wondo starting in a 4-4-2 w/ Teal OR Juan slightly more forward and then Teal AND Juan in the second half. Wondo moves back or subs out. Basically I think Wondo deserves a solid look as a slightly more vetted (be it MLS-vetted) forward who can produce for the US in multiple types of attacking rolls for Cups and Qualifiers leading up to 2014 (but likely not 2014). Could be a solid A-Team bench option anyhow in place of the striking forward vets like Gomez, Casey, EJ, and Ching (all of whom have had mixed USMNT results).

    Then the 4 mids to start… (Bedoya, Dax, Mix, Brek)


  12. […] For TSG’s full preview see: Preview: USMNT in HDC, Just Chile-Axing? […]


  13. Is there any reason a fast striker (Aguedelo) and a big strong striker (Bunbury) shouldn’t play well together. From everything I’ve read and seen they have good chemistry together. Surprise us all Bradley and start the two young guns together and see what happens.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/22 at 10:34 AM

      Nope…I think that is ideal actually.

      Just can’t see Bradley heaping a bunch on the younger Agudelo today in his first home cap.


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