Game Review: USA 1, Chile 1, Bunbury 1

Tag team game review here by TSG’s “Tuesday” and Editor-in-moniker only Matthew.

We start with Tuesday and I’ll follow up with bullets and ratings



The kids were allowed to stay up late on Saturday night.

It was a chance for USMNT fans to see what lies beneath their current first 11, what talents might lurk in a group that has just a handful more caps than it has contenders for starting spots. It was our first glimpse of what the future might look like, who might be reaching their peak in Brazil and even Russia. At times last night I found myself thinking I was watching high school soccer, with neither team intent on keeping the ball for very long, instead looking to win it, get it quickly forward and pressure when possession was lost. But upon second viewing, I realized it wasn’t as bad as all that. Both sides had a youthful look, lacking top players from the World Cup, and that was evident in the flow and tempo of the match.

Chile presented an interesting challenge for Bob Bradley’s young group, lining up in a somewhat unusual 3-3-1-3 formation. Bradley sent his players out in the 4-2-3-1 with which he’s started to find some success and, by extension, increased faith. One of the weaknesses of this formation tends to be that it can become narrow in the final third without the threat of fullbacks overlapping. While Loyd got up and down the flank on the left (where the USA enjoyed most of it’s attacking success) on the right Franklin tended to stay home. This meant Bedoya was often found drifting centrally to try to find the game, leaving Chile to defend narrowly with their 2 fluid banks of three. At any time Bielsa’s side can form a back four or five with the wing backs, Meneces and Mena dropping back or the holding player, Silva dropping in when one of the 3 center backs was pulled out wide.

Chile and the USA both took similar approaches into the match, despite differing tactical line-ups. Both sides like to pressure the ball high up the pitch after loosing possession, with the USA tending to rely on the athleticism of its back four while their opponent rely on covering runs among it’s back 6 players. The result was some helter-skelter football as neither side were allowed time to settle in possession. This also mean that the USA was rarely pressed back into a defensive shape – which only rarely resembled a 4-5-1 some fans fear in the defensive third and usually was something more akin to the two banks of four which we’re accustomed to.

Disk mixing it up with the ball....

In attack, Diskerud frequently found higher up the pitch than Wondoloski. This was something of a problem for the US attack at times, with their central striker drifting deep and wide allowing Chile were able to maintain a high defensive line without the threat of the USA getting in behind. The US started the game intending to play the ball quickly with one and two touches but often seemed instead to lack composure when on the ball. They were defensively shaky in the opening minutes, with Franklin nearly conceded a penalty in the opening moments as he was caught out on the wrong side of Puch as he cut into the box.

Soon the US attack began to find some success – with the second 10 minutes being the brightest spell of the first half. Their problems were evident, however, in that most of their chances came from outside the box – McCarty’s fine strike from 35 yards in the 12th minute that was tipped over the bar by Garces and a minute later with Wondo’s clever turn across his defender when Shea found him after good work up the flank by McCarty. Chile soon adjusted and were able to condense the space on that flank without the US taking advantage of the real estate then available on the right.

After 30 minutes of play, the pace slackened and neither team were able to create many chances. While Chile were still getting the ball quickly forward, they lacked the final ball and the US defense seemed equal to the task. The USA did a good job managing possession of the ball in their own half of the field but struggled to find penetrative passes out of the back to create chances in the final 15 minutes of the first half. The US was admirably fluid in attack throughout the match but too often all four attacking players were found lining up across the Chilean back line in the center of the park, too far from the deeper midfield pair to have the needed support. Perhaps the US were trying to leverage their height advantage in aerial challenges, but they made it easy for Chile to sweep up any second balls instead. Chile’s fluid defensive system dealt well with a 4-2-4 look that might have troubled another side.

All and all, it was a good team showing from Bob Bradley’s young team, with no player performing truly poorly. Though no one player really stood out either. For me Dax McCarty was the best player of the first half, though he was occasionally sloppy with the ball.

Gonzo, an okay first half...

At halftime Bradley decided to experiment, bring on Marvell Wynne at center back in place of Gonzalez. It was not a success. Wynne was involved in nearly every chance Chile were to fashion in the second half. The converted fullback was significantly culpable for Chile’s goal. Despite excellent interplay on the right flank between Seymour and Meneces which beat three US players with a quick 1-2, Loyd’s recovering run was good and the cross should have been dealt with easily. Had Wynne been aware of where danger lurked, in the form of Parades, rather than watching the ball, he would not have been pulled so far out towards the flank as to leave space and time for the Chilean number 9 to take down the ball and finish acrobatically to atone for an imperfect first touch.

The US soon began to create chances to equalize, with Bedoya staying wider in the second half before making central runs later in the development of US attacks. Franklin also began to come into the game a little more. With Aguedelo and Bunbury coming on for Shea and Wondolowski after 60 minutes, I expected the USA to revert to their more standard 4-4-2, but that never really happened. Both the substitutes drifted around to receive the ball with both Diskerud and Bedoya running into the spaces beyond them. Bedoya nearly fashioned the equalizer with a slashing diagonal run into the box and a good touch past two Chilean defenders before being spoiled by the goalkeeper, but he was unable to pounce on a tantalizing rebound when Garces spilt the ball.

Bedoya was also involved in the play which led to the penalty and US equalizer from Bunbury. Ream found McCarthy with the sort of penetrative pass along the ground that the US too often lack. Dax laid the ball off to Aguedelo, who played a quick 1-2 off Bedoya and found himself running at players on the edge of the box. With a clever touch, the youngster played the ball by Silva, but the defender–his hands already aloft protesting his innocence–clipped Aguedelo’s foot on his way by and the referee blew for a penalty. Bunbury made no mistake with his finish, or with the dance-steps celebrating his first international goal, joined by the player that had earned the spot-kick.

While the US searched for a possible winner, Chile fashioned a couple more good chances through their best player of the half, Marvell Wynne. The MLS cup-winner’s defending was erratic. That his physique is not quite that of the typical footballer was only highlighted by his lack the mentality and awareness required of defenders well at the international level. He looked comically out of place at times. Hopefully, it’s another case of Bob Bradley giving a player that’s not quite cut out for the international level one last chance to prove himself. If it’s not, we can only ask, Wynne will Bob Bradley learn?

Observations and Ratings

• You’re likely to see, at most, 4 of the Yanks on the field last night make a true dent in their “this game matters” USMNT cap count. In that group, I’d put Tim Ream, Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo and maybe Mix Diskerud. The tier right after them–meaning a Gold Cup call-in is certainly possible: Ale Bedoya, Brek Shea, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin and Dax McCarty.

• Decidedly split reviews on Dax McCarty last night. It an enormous task to control the offense and initiate the linking and attack against a game played at that speed. I think Dax acquitted himself well last night. His defense was challenged initially and I think he learned what he needed to do as the game wore on. Rating: 6

• Can Mix Diskerud take the next step? Certainly pleased to see the big attacker employed in the point forward role. His on-ball control was excellent, carefully (at most times) selecting the appropriate one-touch, two-touch or just playing keep away. The question will be (and I think you’ll see Mix in Egypt) is can he be a true “threat” in the attack? Can he himself scare the defense to draw defenders, to open the pass? Rating: 5.5

• I had a fun time watching Zach Lloyd’s maturation last night. One thing any keeper loves is a defender who stands up their attacker. Lloyd was certainly too aggressive in this regard early in the game and at one point paid with a yellow card, but the entire night he was the only US defender who, on an island, stood up their attacker. Both Gonzalez and Franklin failed to close down a number of times. Lloyd consistently did. Rating: 5

I’ll find the quote, but Bob Bradley confirmed he saw the same thing in the presser. I think Lloyd might have a lower ceiling than any USMNT fan pining for a leftback would like, but if you’re an FC Dallas fan, you have a fine MLS defender on your hands.

Is "Brek" "Fast" enough to be in the "Club?"

Brek Shea, all the attributes of a solid national teamer to develop, except speed explosiveness rather….and that will probably limit his time going forward. Had a better game than against Colombia. In fact Bob Bradley commented as well that Shea came off the field in that Colombia game and told him, “he had never played at that speed before.”

If Coach Sweats insists on using Shea on the flank, I think it’ll be difficult for him. Gareth Bale Lite as some suggest, he is not. Rating: 5

• Beyond an Alejandro Bedoya and Lloyd run, the US off-ball movement of the Yanks in the 1st stanza left much to be desired. I don’t necessarily blame the players here as I think they were executing a game plan.

• As for our good friend Sean Franklin, regrouped after some early gaffes–he admitted in the mixed zone that he clipped the Chilean attacker on the near-penalty in the early going. Franklin will be need to improve his on-ball defending for consideration going forward. Rating: 4.5

• Ale Bedoya saw little of the ball on the evening. It would be incorrect to try and give him a grade. Probably should have finished one or two of his attacks on defenders. No player fed or feeds of the crowd as much as Bedoya  Rating: Inc.

• KC fans will like this comment. There is no question that Teal Bunbury’s training time with both Generation Adidas and in Stoke shows. He was patient in possession and he was confident in possession–on one play in the 2nd half virtually rainbowing the ball to himself down the flank. Bunbury rating: 6.5 … Which brings me too….

Marvelous Wynne is running out of lives unfortunately. A shocker last January on the right wing, Wynne moved centrally and has the physique and pace for the game, but just seems that his learning curve will likely not come up as quickly as those physical skills start to train. Good in one-on-one play. Rating: 3

• When was the last time you saw *two US strikers displaying flair in possession in the same game? Maybe Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore, but Altidore often plays muted.

• Caught up with Juan Agudelo in the mixed zone afterward, first thing you notice…he’s a pretty big dude. I think he has to go 6’0” and he’s fairly solid. On the pitch, he had phenomenal ball control and earning possession, especially when coming back to the play.  Rating: 6.5

And if you’re a New York Red Bull fan, you also got the performance of Tim Ream. A global point here…no player will be sharp without getting in a rhythm will continuous games. Time Ream was about as sharp as you could be. Chile often didn’t go at him and his distribution up the field on nearly all occasions was sublime. Rating: 7

• Others:

Nick Rimando: Failed to command his box, but no mistakes Rating: 4.5

As for P Diddy (Sean Johnson) : The goal was not his fault other than that extremely calm in the cage. Looking forward to more observations there. Rating: 5

Omar Gonzalez: If not for his slow feet, last night’s pairing might have shown two potential starters. Rating: 5

Chris Wondolowski: Just doesn’t have the speed at the international level. Will be called in occasionally at best. Rating: 4.0

Jeff Larentowicz: Disappointed on the evening, less so on defense, more so in possession. Uncomfortable with the ball at his feet Rating: 3.5

Anthony Wallace & Eric Alexander: Inc.

Answering readers comments and questions…

• Is Marvell Wynne really that bad?

Answer: Depends if he is playing at the national level or club level. The reality is Wynne is very much like…like…Shawn Kemp. Kemp was phenomenal for the Seattle SuperSonics in his early years, but once injuries slowed his athletic ability and he couldn’t out-leap, out-quick players, he had nothing to fall back on.

Wynne can do well in Colorado for a few reasons: 1) He has a simple rule. He’s the “tracker” guy. See guy…follow.

and 2) He’s got such great defensive presence around him. In front he’s got Pablo and Larentowicz and next to him Drew Moor.

Put him on the national level and think about this way…he can hold his own…but don’t you want a centerback who excels and is not always thisclose from giving up an opportunity?

• And the follow-up: Who’s fault was the goal?

The short is obviously it’s a group-thing.

The long? Breakdowns happen all the time. A good defense has a central core that cleans up messes. The outside fullback role is on the hardest to play–it’s reasonable to assume even the good ones: Alex Cole, Maicon, Lahm, etc are going to get beat from time-to-time.

LLoyd got beat on the left on an excellent offensive attack.

Tim Ream perhaps could have made a move. Reality, that’s not his responsibility. Not his fault.

Wynne, probably the most culpable. The attacker was his responsibility and he drifted. Ream picks up if the ball is driven around the corner.

Crosses and “beats” happen all the time; Wynne erred.



66 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carlos on 2011/01/23 at 8:30 PM

    I think u should have put Zach Loyd in the gold cup certainly possible category! BB likes his potential/recovery speed


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/23 at 8:31 PM

      Fair enough — it wasn’t a comprehensive list.. A few major errors…but perhaps.


    • Posted by guti on 2011/01/24 at 11:02 AM

      I was very impressed with Zach Loyd on Saturday. He defended well, and showed some flash when involved in the attack. His crosses need to improve though, but I’ll be following his developement with FCD. Him and Teal B were the best players in that game for me.

      It was another great time with AO over at the pre game pub. The crowd keeps growing each year, camp cupcake has turned into an annual vacation for me. The march into the stadium was fantastic, we were all together most the time, and I liked the lap around the stadium before arriving at the supporters section. Too bad I didn’t run into TSG there, would’ve been cool to meet up with CO and FBM.


  2. Posted by Collin on 2011/01/23 at 8:36 PM

    Thanks for the thorough analysis. I missed the first 55 minutes, so this helps a ton.

    In the bit I saw, Ream’s passing was on another level. Impressive stuff and desperately hope he gets Gold Cup PT. What was his grade, by the way?


  3. Posted by Joe on 2011/01/23 at 8:49 PM

    What was Tim Ream’s rating? You rated every one else with the exception of Ale Bedoya who you said was inconclusive, but you made no such note for Ream


  4. Posted by Ryan Rosenblatt on 2011/01/23 at 9:32 PM

    Would be really surprised if either Franklin or McCarty. I can’t see Franklin getting enough chances to play with the team and earn a spot before the tournament. My guess is he has to wait until the end of the year in meaningless qualifiers to work his way into the team. As for McCarty, I liked what I saw, but there just are too many good players ahead of him at central midfield. Besides Mo, Jr., Stu, Jones and Benny, I think Beckerman should be ahead of him as well.


  5. Posted by dth on 2011/01/23 at 9:46 PM

    Brek is actually quite fast; he’s just not explosive. I’m pretty sure Brek would beat everyone besides Wynne in a full-pitch race; problem, of course, is that this particular athletic skill isn’t particularly helpful.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/23 at 10:23 PM

      Definitely not explosive DTH, but last night he lose a few 50-50 balls based upon pure speed. Good comment though.


    • Being fast over the length of the pitch just isn’t that important in football. It’s the acceleration over the first yard or two and speed over about 10 yards that are most critical to being “fast”.


      • Posted by John on 2011/01/24 at 9:11 AM

        I found the game entertaining and absorbing, even when it turned into giveaway central in the middle of the pitch.

        That said, this further confirmed the lack of depth and the drop off between the entrenched back… 3? and the subs coming up. My word is it terrifying.

        That said, I liked Ream and I thought Dax worked his socks off. Does he have the skills to break through the stacked midfield? Probably not. Still that doesn’t take away from him always trying to do something even if it didn’t work.


        • Dax probably secured a larger share of my wallet this upcoming season for DC United on Saturday night. He’s going to be a very good player in MLS. He definitely has his work cut out to break into the first 23 in our deep central midfield, but he’s a different type of player to all the other guys which might work in his favor.


    • Posted by nelson on 2011/01/24 at 6:29 PM

      The Spanish announcers were actually talking about this. they said he isn’t the quickest but do to his stride he’ll outrun you over a longer distance. They compared him to some hispanic player I didn’t know.


  6. I like Ream, but i did not think he played particularly well last night. he gave away possession in a couple spots that you just cannot do as a cb. teal and juan are just on the same level when they are on the field, and ale linked with them really well. wondo isn’t a target forward, playing him like that neutralizes all of his strengths. he would have been better off in brek’s spot then by himself up top. and goodnight and good riddance to marvell wynne, that had to be the end last night.

    btw, great turnout from AO, that game is absolutely a blast to attend. much love to AO SoCal for doing it right with the pregame, just stellar.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/23 at 10:20 PM

      I think that’s fair on Ream Biggy, but everyone gave away the ball. Really hard to dial up the engine to that speed for a full 90 minutes, you know.

      What I liked about Ream is that all his balls up the pitch via ground or air…the good ones…which were 85% of them…we’re spot on the right *FOOT* of the attacker.

      I thought we played very well last night…I watched a lot of him and Lloyd and by the end…Chile was only challenging “the other guy” not Ream.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/23 at 10:38 PM

        I agree with this. I’m surprised how much stick Ream is getting for his turnovers when he’s turning the ball over–fairly infrequently–on the opponent’s half of the field (and meanwhile making some incisive passing) while Gonzalez and Wynne were truly terrible from that perspective. Also: there were a few passes (from all of the centerbacks, but mostly Ream) that were properly placed in space, but their intended recipients didn’t check back properly for.


        • well i did mention that wynne was significantly the worst player on the pitch and that he cannot play at this level, which is too bad because he seems like a really nice guy. the issue with ream’s giveaways to me versus anyone else’s is that they were in the middle of the pitch between the backs and the mids. that is somewhere you cannot give the ball away. gonzalez looked to play forward more if he missed or wide where an immediate giveaway doesn’t slay you. you brought up a good point though, ream made some passes that other people weren’t ready for. prob why i want to see him with the first team next to gooch, and why i want to see wondo get a shot next to jozy/with lando and clint. it was evident that the distribution/overall play was not there from the mids last night (cough jeff l cough) and that really tints my actual impressions of a lot of guys.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/24 at 9:02 AM

          See, my impression of the giveaways was exactly the opposite: Gonzalez was the one giving it away in US territory and Ream was giving it away (more rarely) in Chilean territory.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/24 at 6:25 AM

        ream is obviously going to see more looks with the us team and that is probably a good thing. there are still several center backs that need to be looked at and ream was culpable on the chile goal. so was wynne, but i mean, jesus. lets see what ike opara looks like in the back, and im dying to see more of geoff cameron. usa prospects are looking up.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/24 at 6:28 AM

          Agreed…I think those two guys at centerback specifically (Opara and Cameron) are going to be in contention.

          Opara specifically, because he’s got the height and speed.


      • That’s because “the other guy” was Wynne.


  7. Posted by Mateo on 2011/01/23 at 10:30 PM

    Thanks for the analysis!

    I have to ask the following, because I’m starting to hear a lot of complaining and jeering from USMNT haters that most of the best players from last night are “imports” and are not truly American, and we will probably hear more of it if Juan and Bunbury continue to shine. My question is, aren’t there other national teams that have (or have had) players that were originally born in nations other than the one they play (or played) for (And yes, I know of Giuseppe Rossi; I’m not asking about Americans playing for other teams)?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/23 at 10:38 PM

      There are plenty examples with Owen Hargreaves playing for England; Michael Hoyos is an American who plays for Argentina…

      Many more if I need to add them….I don’t hear the import issue that loudly….but maybe I’m not just aware of it.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/01/23 at 10:39 PM

      If you’re not getting imports these days…you’re truly not trying. Maybe GeorgeCross is reading this, maybe not–but I thought England’s decision not to pursue Lewis Holtby was absolutely batty.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/24 at 7:36 AM

        He made his choice to play for Germany, and made it quite clear. You have to respect the player’s wish.

        If Canada were a top-10 country, I wonder how English Hargreaves would insist he is. I have said previously that I do not like FA’s snaking their fingers up family trees to seek out player eligibility. But that’s just my personal view though.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/24 at 9:00 AM

        Eventually he made his choice, but if I remember the mini-saga correctly, he indicated he was willing to consider being called up–but only the press seemed to show much interest. Obviously tough to know what happened behind closed doors, but it seemed like Holtby was willing to be recruited.


  8. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/01/23 at 10:45 PM

    Dax is too slow for international play.

    I love that Bunbury and Agudelo both look confident and eager in attack. That’s a pleasant change from the hot potato style of some other US strikers.


  9. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/23 at 11:08 PM

    dax is to slow for international play? alex, are you talking about his physical speed, or his mental capacity, or maybe both. dax was a solid player last night, probably one of the best players for the usa.

    i see the usa moving in the right direction. they have only given up two goals in the last four games, against solid international competition. and really you have to chalk up the goal last night to the fact that the center halfs had just been switched and they did not read each other very well, certainly not on the goal.

    the usa is really starting to find a groove in its passing game. the touches in the final third are not just there, but by the same token, the usa is getting more shots on target. im not sure what the shots/shots on target ratio was, but i bet it was pretty high.

    in retrospect, coach bradley could have maybe started burnbury as the loan striker and put a larger target up front and wondo does seem like an ideal sub. this us program is making nice strides and looks poised to be ready for gold cup, wcq, and beyond.


    • Posted by Joe on 2011/01/23 at 11:51 PM

      The US was 4/4 shots on goal. You were right on with the passing comment. By far the weakness of the USMNT has been its inability to control the game through passing in the midfield and it really seemed that that was the main gameplay focus of this team. Everything seemed to be running through Dax. What I am really looking forward to is watching the regular starters and seeing if they can get better passing from the mids.


    • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/24 at 11:07 AM

      But I wonder if Dax made one dangerous, connecting pass in the offensive third last night…
      You can buzz like a bee all you like, but something needs to come of it.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/24 at 11:22 AM

        Made the pass to Wondolowski (that Wondo decided to shoot immediately on rather than take a few touches or play to Shea, which I think is a mistake).


  10. Posted by Zoo on 2011/01/24 at 6:02 AM

    USA played better than I expected. Kudos to Agudelo and Bunbury for constantly applying pressure until the ref awarded a penalty. Article has interesting analysis (although some horrific grammar and spelling). Although I watched the game and don’t understand why Wynne alone is taking such a beat down. If you go to youtube and watch the replay, it shows clearly a defensive breakdown in midfield, central defender misses the header, Wynne awkwardly misses the volley, and keeper caught flat footed. Easy to decide for yourself from vid.


  11. Posted by Denver Andrew in D.C. on 2011/01/24 at 6:33 AM

    I’m a Wynne guy, I think mostly because I play the kind of defending he plays. (See guy, follow) But … I’ve only been playing for a couple years and like Wynne I survive on hustle as I learn to be more patient on the ball and learn that defending means more than just tackling.

    I don’t think Wynne is bad, he just doesn’t have too much room to get any better. I hope he proves me wrong.


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/24 at 6:46 AM

      what im seeing is that fans who want total football dont want wynne on the team. if you are a fan of defense and you feel like defense wins championship, then you see the value of the hungry beast.


      • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/24 at 11:05 AM

        If you are a fan of athletics or ice hockey or American football you like Wynne. If you are a fan of football, you don’t. I mean this seriously.


  12. Posted by Marmaduke on 2011/01/24 at 7:26 AM

    Wynne definitely botched the central D on the goal, but how much blame goes to Loyd?

    His defending on the cross was not great, but as I recall, he recovered (after taking a HORRIBLE angle) and forced a pass to an even wider attacker. I wasn’t paying enough attention to remember the details. Was he chasing the wrong guy? Should he have gotten help from the midfield on the overlapper?


    • Posted by Tux on 2011/01/24 at 8:15 AM

      He needed help – the initial attacker, IIRC, was looking to bring the ball inside the box after cutting off his run to the endline. Loyd got in the way of that line and forced him to lay the ball off. Both centrebacks were in the middle, the help on the outside needed to come from Shea or Larentowicz. Neither tracked back and Loyd was left to cover two wide threats by himself.


  13. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/01/24 at 10:16 AM

    I’m not seeing what is earning Brek Shea a spot in the starting lineup, or in a USMNT jersey at this point. Apart from being tall and having interesting hair, his game brain needs massive infusion of RAM and a faster clock speed. What charms am I blind to?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/24 at 10:38 AM

      I disagree on Shea’s mental acuity.

      I saw that written somewhere this morning. Shea’s been moved from position to position over the past two years.

      For Rongen he played striker.

      For FC Dallas he played forward then midfielder,

      For Generation Adidas recently he played central defender

      And now he’s being incorporate into a new system for January camp.

      Mind you, I don’t think he excelled in earnest Saturday night…in fact his short range passing game is probably his biggest weakness now (in addition to his lack of explosiveness).

      What your missing is that he’s a lefty, he’s big, he actually had a number of decent possession earning or maintaining headers and he showed some flashes.

      Can he come up the curves fast enough…that’s what remains to be seen.

      But brain game…still outstanding…because you did see Shea vastly improve from his Colombian performance.

      Still not USMNT quality, but there’s that.


      • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/24 at 11:02 AM

        Mostly about sense and concentration for Shea.
        He reminds me of Freddy Adu actually.


        • Posted by cosmosredux on 2011/01/24 at 11:04 AM

          Oh that’s unfair. Shea certainly shows a drive to get better…can he is the next question.

          I’m not certain Adu has any drive (because if he did he would demand to be on the field somewhere.)


        • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/24 at 11:11 AM

          Depends on how what you consider drive. Shea has enough drive to be content being an on-again-off-again substitute for an MLS side while Freddy is a journeyman abroad. Its about what they show on the field, I am referring to. And what I see in both is a boat-load of natural talent and inventiveness and a lack of concentration and football sense. I think the comparison is more than apt. What She has going for him is the ability to play in multiple position because of his size, of course.


      • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/01/24 at 11:14 PM

        Matthew: Thanks for the reply. I forgot the left foot. Tall, left foot, and interesting hair:-) Good points otherwise. He was certainly not helped by continual giveaway-fest happening all over the field. I do wish him well and hope his physical talents translate into success on the pitch, and that he does settle into a role that is comfortable for him and benefits the team. And it must be said: interesting hair *yes you alexi* can do wonders for a career.


  14. Posted by jb on 2011/01/24 at 10:50 AM

    I’m a little surprised Dax isn’t getting more credit. To me, he was quite good in the linking midfielder role, hustled his butt off the whole game, and took on a leadership role on the field. He made a couple of turnovers, but all our possession was thru him. I thought he was easily the best player for the US. Larentowicz was invisible, Shea looked overwhelmed, and Bedoya was stranded without service. Mix had some fantastic touches and some terrible ones, but he seems to have considerable potential.

    I’m not sure about the high grade to Ream, though his distribution is obviously a class above our other defenders that played. He was not free from turnovers and his footspeed worries me. Loyd hustled all game and seemed to get more confortable as the game went on. Our other defenders were terrible.

    I’m as excited as everyone else about Bunbury and Agudelo potential, but I hope we all give them time to develop before we expect too much.


    • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/24 at 11:01 AM

      Visible hustle doesn’t necessarily equal quality.
      See Charlie Adam on this point in the same role. You never see the guy barreling or frantic. Nearly every output is considered and deliberate and effective. Not so for Dax.


      • Posted by John on 2011/01/24 at 11:24 AM

        I tend to think that in his role you have to give a bit of leeway when you consider the “talent” playing around him.

        If he had Holden behind him with Edu and Donovan/Dempsey on the wings, his job would have been a bit easier.

        Easy to forget that the people surrounding the mid were led by the “old veteran” of Bedoya with a grand total of 7 caps (who and Dax with a grand total of 3 caps.


    • I saw this a bit different from Matthew and rate McCarty’s performance a bit higher. I actually didn’t think Mix was that effective in this match, he wasn’t great centrally which is part of why Bedoya wasn’t involved enough, and when he went out to the left in the second, we suddenly started attacking more down the right flank.

      McCarty had our best chance in the first half, and created the next best chance soon after with work in tight space. Though he was hardly perfect, he was clearly the US best player in the first half, if not so much in the second. His work rate papered over the tactical problems the US seemed to be having. And he was in on the play leading to the penalty – don’t forget it takes two players to create the type of defense-splitting pass that Ream was able to play and he found Aguedelo quick square pass.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/24 at 12:22 PM

        Welcome back Tuesday — I think you were spot on in terms of Diskerud getting caught upfield too much…but I can say I think that had to do also with Bob Bradley defending in a 4-4-2. You could see that if he wasn’t helping out up top immediately on a turnover, Diskerud would run *up* the field to get into position.

        Then if there was a turnover he’d sprint (and I mean sprint) to attempt to provide a link. Unfortunately, often times that distance was prohibitive to Dax using him for an outlet.

        I liked Diskerud in the 1st half because–and we could see this only from being at the game–is that he was directing and beckoning players into position. He too was expecting players to be certain places. He was very vocal in direction and I did like that about his game.

        I think the team as a whole–and Diskerud specifically–had difficulty switching field on the evening, only usually making that happen “around” the back rather than through the pitch.

        Spot on with this comment: “His work rate papered over the tactical problems the US seemed to be having.” Dax made every effort to “be there” for distribution. That was a huge positive for him.


        • Posted by Jeff on 2011/01/24 at 12:30 PM

          Great call regarding switching field, I don’t think enough has been made of this. I invited myself to the apartment of a friend who had Telefutura, and watched the game with two non-soccer fans. Even they were commenting on all the open space on the other side of the attack.


        • Yeah, this is a key defensive tactic in Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3. They pressure wide areas in such a way that makes it very difficult to switch the point of attack without playing across the back four so they’re happy to concede space on the opposite flank since they’ll have time to adjust.

          If Bedoya had huggged the touchline instead of drifting inside, or had Franklin taking more risks to get forward on that flank, the long diagonal pass out to him might have been on.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/24 at 12:57 PM

          Tuesday – Thanks for the help with that. You’re the guy that knows formations…

          You could see–and I asked Bedoya about it–the US struggling to maintain defensive shape sometimes instead of flowing on offense.

          That’s of course long been a trait to harangue Bob Bradley with.

          There were two runs I saw *the entire* first half…I think I wrote about this…Bedoya making a central run and Lloyd going horizontally and then up across the field. I think is Disk had more options he would have used them.

          Franklin was having trouble overlapping because of his defender and I think Bedoya and Shea were worried about getting caught out of defensive alignment.


  15. Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/24 at 10:55 AM

    “The kids were allowed to stay up late on Saturday night.

    It was a chance for USMNT fans to see what lies beneath their current first 11, what talents might lurk in a group that has just a handful more caps than it has contenders for starting spots.”

    Excellent sports writing.
    Great lead.


  16. Posted by Crow on 2011/01/24 at 1:41 PM

    Why is Brek Shea a winger? Seriously. He seems better fit for practically any other position on the pitch. Central Defender, Target Forward, Central Midfielder…. Maybe FC Dallas and the USMNT should listen to Atletico Madrid.


    • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/01/24 at 2:06 PM

      I’ve been wondering this for a while. It’s sheer lunacy to play him there. He’s about the polar opposite of what you want from a winger.

      It would be sort of like England playing Aaron Lennon at CB.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/24 at 2:14 PM

        I’m tired of people acting as if it’s totally crazy for Shea to be a winger. He’s 20 years old and just had a 5 goal/4 assist season in MLS. Maybe he’ll never be USMNT quality, and maybe his future is better at centerback, but it’s not as if he’s some sort of hopelessly naive kid stumbling around out there all of the time. He’s had quality there and he was a consistent starter out at the wing for your MLS Cup finalists.


        • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/01/24 at 6:57 PM

          I don’t think people doubt that he has potential. I think the reason people keep groaning about him as a winger is because that position isn’t the best use of his talents.

          Pointing out that he was a decent MLS player out wide doesn’t help your argument because merely being a decent MLS player doesn’t make you anywhere near the level of what our national team needs. How many of our key players from the last World Cup were in MLS? Very few. Almost all of them had moved on to bigger leagues, even if only for loan spells (Donovan).

          Being good enough for MLS and being good enough for USMNT are two very different things. MLS is still a mediocre league. At this point, our national team is better than mediocrity, especially in the midfield. We don’t need average MLS players. We need world class players.

          Is there an elite 6’4″ winger anywhere in the world? That position requires a certain amount of speed and agility. Tall guys rarely have it. Gareth Bale is one, but his ball control, speed, and quickness are infinitely better than Shea’s. He’s also a lot shorter, which helps with the agility.

          Shea is a square peg in a round hole playing an outside position that demands speed and quickness. He would be much better off working on his aerial skills and learning how to play CB. You can be a world class CB in lieu of elite athletic gifts. Shea has a non-zero chance of becoming our version of Gerard Pique in defense. As an attacker, he will never crack our A team 18.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/24 at 11:33 PM

          I have no problem if you argue that Shea would be better served playing elsewhere. I happen to agree with that position, though I think it’s a strange idea to say he could be the American Pique–not happening, 0% chance, period, full stop, end of story. (He can become good, but come on, guys.) I just think it’s puzzling that people are acting as if playing Shea as a winger is as crazy as walking in the Antarctic without clothes on.

          Like you say it’s “sheer lunacy.” And there are a lot of people around who are throwing around similarly overheated terms. If it’s just exaggeration for effect, then it’s my fault for misreading you. But at least some of it is and I wish people (generally) would stop to think that things, even flawed things, can have good reasons for existing.


  17. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/01/24 at 1:43 PM

    In this game I came away with a few impressions, not conclusive opinions just watching the game live thoughts. I was watching the Telefutura feed at a bar and I don’t speak Spanish. So it was hard to track what was going on sometimes. I will type them out as they came to me in my brain or as I said to the guys I was watching with.

    -Ream and Gonzalez are playing pretty well together.
    -That left back (Loyd) looks promising.
    -Is Shea playing winger or central? How can a person that tall not win more headers? (by win I mean actual end with us in possession of the ball)
    -Ream is playing forward and left quite a bit.
    -Where is Bedoya?
    -I thought there was another central midfielder. There is Dax, Bedoya, Shea, Mix, Wondo… Are we playing 5 defenders? (Me looking for Larentowicz and wondering if he touched the ball at all)
    -Who did they sub into the game for Gonzalez, because he sucks. (Wynne)
    -Ream is making decent passes forward, but they are intercepted because no one is checking to the ball and he is telegraphing them.
    -Thank god they are taking Shea off, he has just gotten worse the longer he played.
    -Man, Dax is tired.
    -Wow, Bunbury and Agudelo really focused and calmed the whole attack.
    -Why is a goal kick never an offensive play for us?


  18. […] match analysis here by TSG. I basically agree with everything they say, though I’m a bit lower on Dax’s […]


  19. Posted by kaya on 2011/01/24 at 7:30 PM

    A vast improvement from the Colombia game isn’t saying much to me. To elaborate on some of the comments I’ve read here, I think if you combined Dax’s concentration and Shea’s physical attributes, you’d have a very good player. In their present lack of combination, however, these characteristics are likely to linger in MLS and camp cupcake-ish settings.
    Like everyone else, it’s hard not for me to get excited about what we’ve seen from the Bunbury/Agudelo combination… but that little on the air tussle about the PK made me wonder if Bob’s got his inner Mr. Miyagi channeled and ready. I guess it’s a little too early to say we need a Phil Jackson?


  20. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/24 at 9:28 PM

    its all good. from now on, can everyone put up there epl fantasy standings when they post. i think when people are making absolute statements its good to know where that person is ranked. (43)


  21. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/24 at 9:34 PM

    excuse me, let me ammend that ranking to a (53) since i went down in the rankings ill keep my opinions on marvell wynne to myself for little bit. of course i do have berbatov as captain this week.


  22. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/26 at 8:48 PM

    antonio, your up there, so just post your ranking with each post. everyone needs to start doing this(37).


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