TSG’s Official USA vs. Argentina Preview

And we kick off our USA vs. Argentina preview.

The last time we may be able to show this as a positive for JB....

The United States’ Men’s National “A” Team takes the field for the first time since their friendly against Poland in Chicago in October 2010. They’ll be greeted, coldly, by a nearly full-stacked Argentinian team led by Lionel Messi, John Cryer-look-a-like Javier Mascherano, and the object of TSG’s fawning, Javier Pastore.

The South American team is gearing up for the Copa America later this year. The weather? Frigid and expected to be near freezing at game time. (The line on poor snood comments Saturday evening already stands at 36 in-broadcast, please don’t do your part).

Here are some foundational points for shaping this preview:

» There will be over 60,000 people expected at the Meadowlands to bear witness.

After Brazil went Jimmy Hoffa on the Yanks last August, my premise is that the US will use their best or near-best line-up.

This will be Bradley’s first time seeing the regulars in almost five months and with the game being televised on the ESPN network, a good showing would be appreciated by USSF honcho Sunil Gulati.

» I’m completely flummoxed by what Bob Bradley does in the midfield, now that Stu Holden can only play xBox. It makes it immediately exciting, but also difficult to predict.

What I’m saying is, I’ll name our “11 at the Whistle” as is customary below, but my faith in the formation and how the player selections are deployed, is near an all-time low.

The media's new favorite toy....

» Timothy Chandler, the highly-lauded, as yet to be seen Bundesliga up-and-comer, has been playing right back in practice this week.

By the way, the hype of the “next big thing” always follows the “shiny new Yank around,” but I’m amazed at some of the media coverage on Chandler defining his game. I’ve got about 15 minutes of his game on a grainy stream a few months ago. You mean to tell me that the media folks can already qualify this player as “this type” or “that type?”

Didn’t media hounds learn about their misplaced positional and style allegiance by declaring Edgar Castillo fit for a World Cup roster spot as an “attacking left back?”

Anywho…we soldier on.

Let’s get on with our customary, not seen in awhile preview.

Per usual, it goes: (I can feel the excitement building)

TSG: What We’re Looking At

11 At the Whistle



TSG: What We’re Looking For:

• Is this Bob Bradley II or Bob Bradley I merely ensconced in new sweats?

What's going on in there Bob?

A shame that Coach Sweats lost the Egyptian friendly to unfriendly fire.

That game would likely have been an opportunity to test drive some newer faces in advance of Gold Cup selection and this friendly series would be the ability to have some of those in place or begin building chemistry.

Yes, the 2011 Gold Cup is vital. For those that are new to the game, the winner of the Gold Cup gets the ticket to the annual Confederation’s Cup (aka World Cup dress rehearsal) tournament in 2013.

Back in October, coach Bradley mixed it up a little bit on both the personnel side (Maurice Edu at centerback) and on the formation side (a midfield triumvirate of three central midfielders Jones, Bradley and Edu gluing together a 4-3-3).

Little is known about which way Bradley will go formation wise against Argentina.

That said, a glance at the roster shows the lack of any “true winger.” No Ale Bedoya, no DaMarcus Beasley, and if you want to consider it, no Stu Holden who can sling in a cross.

Further, the absence of players like Jose Torres and Dax McCarty suggests that the US will not play ping-pong horizontally, and stick with the direct football that’s been their custom.

Argentina’s deployment and their offensive firepower, further suggests the best way for Bradley to play, will again to be on the counter. (Note: I haven’t even mentioned Germany’s throttling of Argentina in the World Cup by countering them un-mercilessly. Yes Batista toes the touchline instead of Maradona these days, but that lesson will not be lost on Coach Sweats.)

Back to the Yanks. Many clubs and countries are finding it difficult to locate that winger that likes to take it wide and around the fullback, and play in a cross or gain the corner. As mentioned, Bradley’s selection starkly shows that wide play will consist of probably two offensive strategies that should shape his team selection and formation: 1) Drawing a striker (Altidore?) across the field and laying off to a trailing Donovan or in-cutting Dempsey or 2) using the right flank overlap with Cherundolo–absent for this camp–and Donovan. (we’ll get to #2 in a bit)

So with that said, that leaves two offensive formations that the Yanks will play, the vaunted 4-4-2 and the trending 4-2-3-1.


The only way the US goes true 4-4-2 is if Juan Agudelo is deployed from the get-go on Saturday and believe it or not, I do think there is a shot of it. (We’ll diagnose that position in a moment).

But the key point in this bullet is, how does Bradley view the roles in the midfield and how progressive is he with his roster in starting to develop players for 2014? That would be Bob Bradley II.

Bob Bradley I: Go with those that he trusts and the Michael Bradley initiator that was the formula at the World Cup.


• Jozy, we finally found you some friends.

Jozy Altidore is still the best option up top for the Yanks.

Now consider this.

Jozy Altidore is playing good minutes, but part-time, in the SuperLiga in Turkey in the midfield.

Not a recipe for striker development however.

Jozy maybe we found you some competition?

The best part about new options at striker for the Yanks is that Altidore will finally need to claim his role as oppose to be the lone candidate for it.

International speed? Difference maker?

In Juan Agudelo, Bob Bradley has a player that has speed and the ability to attack and run at defenders. However his best complementary asset may prove all his worth.

If Chile was a prelude, the best thing I saw Agudelo do–the range of his game if you will–was hold up the ball and seal off defenders with his back to the basket. (Frankly that was Findley’s main asset beyond speed–the Nottingham Forest player was more than decent at it.)

Saturday–pending how and when he is deployed–really is the first chance to start investigating this question on the New York Red Bulls youngster: Is Juan Agudelo 2011: a) a difference-maker in the International game, b) merely a complement or c) a word in progress for 2014 at best.

• Whose got the best ‘Dolo impression? Will they be allowed to mug for it?

Yes, yes, the centerback situation for the Yanks bares watching, especially when you consider that all the goals given up by the Americans at the World Cup, were down the center of the field, not by rounding the flankers.

So yes, TSG will be looking at that.

That said, a window into Bob Bradley’s going forward game strategy will be unveiled in this set of friendlies.

Just how much will Bob Bradley rely on the overlapping fullbacks to create width on the pitch? Beyond one Steve Cherundolo, the rest of the outside backs (Boca, Bornstein, Spector) all play like they’re being tethered to a place–a defensive place–on the field. (And rightly so I might add.)

Will Bradley entrust players like Spector, Lichaj and Chandler to get forward? And can those players impact the game or does them going forward just play into Argentina’s hands.

Jermaine Jones & Michael Bradley OR Michael Bradley & Jermaine Jones?

• I’m the rapper; he’s the DJ

Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley. Please stand up. All three of these players have some capability to play the Yanks maestro in the middle of the field.

Will Feilhaber be advanced or be used tucking in from the left? Will Michael Bradley be pushed up with Jermaine Jones as the destroyer behind him? Or will it be vice versa?

Same thing here. The first 15 minutes on Saturday will be very telling as to who Bradley values and why. It is of course, the first chance to potentially see Bradley junior and Jones pair together, since they were running into one another outside of Philadelphia in the Colombia game.

11 At The Whistle

STR: Edson Buddle

The skinny: Jozy Altidore just got to camp on Wednesday. Maybe ready to go by Sunday, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Bradley goes up top with Buddle here.

FW: Clint Dempsey

MID: Benny Feilhaber, Landon Donovan

CDM: Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley

The skinny: Aforementioned. Three players all capable of playing the conduit. Two players capable of being the destroyer. How does it shake out?

DEF: Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Tim Chandler Jonathan Spector

The skinny: A veteran backline is employed with the exception of Tim Chandler. Since Lichaj was a late invite, I doubt he’s a starter. I would have suggested Jonathan Spector as the starter, but I’ll go out on a limb with Chandler. Omar Gonzalez got his first cap against Brazil. The best way to find out what a player is made of, is to throw him into the fire–with veterans around him. (Update: Changed to Spector, 03/25)

Other points:

* Hard to bring in Jay DeMerit to a camp and take him away from a club game if you’re not going to play him. DeMerit’s tracking ability on the Argentine forwards will be needed.

* Similarly with Gooch, he’s playing leftback these days at Twente. If I would have dropped any veteran from the starting team, it would have been him, but Bradley has a soft spot for the big guy and gives him a chance here to show his agility.

* Bocanegra. While I think Bornstein is a better option here. You don’t sit the captain. That said, it’s Lionel Messi out there on that left wing, not Aaron Lennon.

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: There is no skinny here. He’s bald, he’s a bad man and he’s been marshaling the defense for four years.

The US on the attack....


» Jonathan Spector for Tim Chandler at RB: Seems even more probable than plausible. A big challenge to Chandler starting? Little command of the English language.

Odds: 60%

» Jonathan Bornstein for Bocanegra at LB, Boca to CB, Guch to the Bench: Don’t see it. Would say a lot about Bradley’s continued infatuation with JB.

Odds: 50%

» Altidore for Buddle: Coin flip.

Odds: 50%

4-4-2 disclaimer....

» States goes 4-4-2: This is all about what Coach Bradley thinks of Juan Agudelo

Odds: 25%

» The Yanks go with a narrow 4-2-3-1 with Feilhaber as the hub: If you remember, the US beat a similar team to Argentina in Spain back in 2009. In the 2nd half of that match, the States looked great with Feilhaber pushed up the field and linked up with Donovan and Dempsey. An option.

Odds: 17%

About Argentina:

As I wrote earlier this week (though I had some players out of place), Argentina plays a 4-3-3. However it really functions more like a 4-2-4. The front four is a diamond typically with Messi cutting in from the right and DiMaria going wide on the left.

Javier Pastore, as opposed to Valencia’s Ever Banega, expects to get the start in the Tevez role, which is the withdrawn striker capable of carnage role. As I wrote back here, many in Argentina think the key to 2014 success, is the interplay of Pastore and Messi. I’m not sure I like an internal role for Pastore, but Saturday should tell at least part of the tale for one of TSG’s favorite non-American players. (If you don’t know about the man-crushing that’s moved from Feilhaber to Pastore…well you’re probably better off for it.)

The challenge that Argentina will have will be integrating Lavezzi (not a huge challenge mind you). He’s played the point before and with Higuain and Aguero not in for this friendly series, Lavezzi will have continue to play a true #9 role. (For Napoli he plays wide.)

Captain Javier Mascherano and Esteban “I should have been in South Africa” Cambiasso play the holders. Occasionally, Banega will be deployed here as well.

Javier Zanetti is the only fullback that usually joins the attack. The rest of the backline will be Nicolás Otamendi, Nicolás Burdisso and one of either Pablo Zabaleta or the youngster Marcos Rojo at leftback. I think you may see Rojo here, as I believe he is the lone lefty. (What no Heinze!)

Goalie Sergio Romero is a constant for Batista’s men.

Argentina on the attack...

77 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ryan on 2011/03/24 at 8:57 PM

    Maybe I’m being too optimistic here (I am), but I’m not going to be very happy if DeMerit starts and I don’t think he will. Bradley already knows what he has in DeMerit and he’s comfortable playing with Gooch. What is more important is figuring out the trio of Ream, JB and Boca for the two left-sided defense positions. Having DeMerit play wouldn’t accomplish a ton in finding much out about the back line. Playing JB (who hasn’t played left back since October) or Ream would and even if you decide afterwards that you would rather go with DeMerit, at least you know what you have in JB and Ream in case Boca or DeMerit get hurt, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/24 at 10:09 PM

      I like Ream too. And he could get the start. But I think it’s tough to bring in DeMerit from his club team if you don’t plan to play him. End of day, DeMerit is still the best on-ball central defender the Yanks have. Hard to question that.


      • Posted by Ryan on 2011/03/24 at 10:20 PM

        I don’t doubt that DeMerit is our best on-ball central defender, but wouldn’t he be our best on-ball central defender if he didn’t play this weekend? DeMerit is who he is, a good central defender for us, but that will be the case in June, whether he plays this weekend or not so why not give Ream an extended look in these next two matches? I don’t see what is gained by playing DeMerit if the real goal is the Gold Cup and not the results of two friendlies which should be the case. You’re right, he probably will start, but I still think the benefits are minimal, while they’re very high high for Ream, even if the benefit is learning that he can’t cut it yet.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 7:11 AM

        I could see Bradley rotating his centerbacks throughout the two games, because he brought–what, five potential centerbacks? Six when you count the couldn’t-make-it Zak Whitbread? Seems to me Bradley is treating this international break as a serious audition for the spots.

        Personally I’d put Ream out there and see what happens. Could be ugly, to be sure, but you need to find out what you’ve got. Because we know what we’ve got in Onyewu, DeMerit, et. al., and we know it will be a liability in the major games.


        • Posted by Tux on 2011/03/25 at 9:31 PM

          My starting XI:

          Now player by player (this is quickly going to turn into a tl;dr)

          GK: I think we can all agree nothing really needs to be said here?

          LB: Like Matt’s formation, this set is designed to go hard right and not even think about having the left back come up the field. Boca’s job is to make sure that Messi doesn’t get inside him without handing him off to Edu or Ream. Only time he should be anywhere near the attacking third is on a corner, and even then I’m far less comfortable with that than usual.

          LCB: Ream is going to get beat. Argentina is too good and he’s too inexperienced with players possessing so much speed and confidence on the ball to not have a few defensive lapses. Hopefully Timmy is up to the task of covering these up. One will probably get through, but I would call holding this team to a single goal a moral victory. That said, there isn’t much of an airborne threat from Argentina’s front four – and Ream *should* hold his own there.

          RCB: I love Gooch – the guy is a specimen, and I want absolutely nothing to do with him in the air – but this isn’t a game where being a boss in the air is going to matter much. Jay is not as gifted aerially, but I’ve got a lot more faith in him being able to break up a play on the ground.

          RB: If my boy Eric Lichaj (who shares my birthday and has accomplished far more with his life than I have so far) can close down Gareth Bale, he’s got a shot at handling DiMaria on the outside. That said…like Ream, he’s going to get beat, probably badly, once or twice. Timothy Chandler comes on at half (or possibly as late as the 75th minute) to get some time with the A-team.

          LCDM: I don’t trust Jermaine Jones. Dude is far too card-happy, and he’s already 29. I don’t have a whole lot of faith in him being the answer in 2014, when he’s 32. Mo Edu may not be quite as good *right now* but by the time this cycle is completed, I have to believe he’ll be the better option. For this set, Mo is shaded left, in between Boca and Ream, and set deep to remove that hole that Messi loves to exploit.

          RCDM: Again, Jones’ age and tendency to rack up yellow cards like poker chips counts against him – and if anyone thinks that he would get the start over Junior, they haven’t been watching enough USMNT. Mikey should slap Pastore around once or twice with hard, clean tackles (and if he can get DiMaria that’s an added bonus). If Jones comes on, it’s for Edu, unless Bradley has a yellow and is still toeing the line.

          LM/LW – here’s where it really gets interesting. Agudelo is right-footed, and inverting him guarantees virtually no width on the left in the attacking third. But if he’s making runs off of Jozy…well, I’d like to see it tried.

          CAM – Deuce is more of a CF than a CAM, but most if not all of our chances are going to be coming on the counter, so slotting him behind Jozy is still a viable option.

          RM – don’t really think much needs to be said here.

          ST – Jozy, to me, is a better hold up striker than Buddle, but I don’t know if he’ll fit here with the inverted wing. If Agudelo can play off of him, he could draw enough defensive attention to free up the other attackers to make runs. Whether or not he can deliver the ball to where it needs to be is another question.

          Chandler – comes on for Lichaj at some point in the second half.
          Jones – comes on for Edu or Agudelo, depending on the flow of the game. If we’re actually up, then we move Bradley to CAM and push Dempsey out wide. If not, then he spells Edu in the 65th.
          Benny – takes Jozy or Agudelo, if we’re not getting width. Agudelo moves up top if Jozy comes off. If Jones and Benny go on for both of those two, Dempsey moves up top, Feilhaber goes out wide and Bradley’s at CAM.

          I’m not really burning to see anyone else on. Maybe Gooch or Buddle comes on real late if we win a corner…can’t see anything else happening.

          My prediction? We lose this thing 2-0. Di Maria gets one in the first 15 minutes, we spend the next 30 trying to get a good counter, go to half down one, and give up a second one around the 60th minute. Deuce gets a good rip at net but it’s saved, I swear at Jozy at least three times, and Tim Howard keeps the game from being a 5-0 blowout.


  2. Well done guys, one thing though, I don’t think Zabaleta is in this roster for Argentina so I guess it will be Rojo, whom I’ve not heard of. Weak spot for Landon to attack? Perhaps.

    With Jay DeMerit having played just one full match since the Ghana game, I’m not entirely confident that he’ll get a start here. Then again, removing DeMerit requires then that Boca slide inside and put Bornstein at LB. (as you know, not my favorite guy in the world). I’m inclined to agree that DeMerit should get the start next to Gooch, but knowing Bob and his affinity for Bornstein, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him on the field. Another thought that gives weight to a Bornstein start is that if Bornstein is better than Bocanegra at something, it’s speed. Can’t really speak to the amount of quality wingers that Boca faces in France, but none are like Messi.

    Chandler for the start eh? Interesting, as the vibe I’m getting from some other previews has Chandler simply getting a camp invite, familiar with the coaches and players, and being sent back to Germany with something to aim for in the GC roster. But hell, why not give him a shot?

    Feilhaber for the start as well?? It perplexes me, because I see a triumvirate of Jones-Bradley-Edu being effective against Argintina’s 4-2-4, with six to our seven when on defense, and six to their six in attack (in theory of course). But I really, really would love to see this. Bradley Jr riding some bench. And that’s no knock on Michael, because when he is playing consistently, he’s one of the best players the US has to offer. But Jones and Edu have been playing more consistently, and for better clubs, in higher competitions.

    For me, my 11 is:







    • Posted by cosmosredux on 2011/03/24 at 10:08 PM

      Rojo’s young, strong and fast. Zabaleta’s on the roster, but he’s righty. I’d imagine Rojo starts.

      Chandler to start is reach of us/me. But it would be a good place to through him into the first if the backline is all veterans. Bradley could elect to but Spector out there and try Ream out.

      The problem I have with Spector is that, it’s clear he doesn’t have the foot speed to play quick wingers…West Ham saw it, Man United before that–why keep pushing him out there.

      He’s a John O’Shea type on the Yanks to me. He can play anywhere along the backline and in the midfield. That should be his role. Putting him behind Donovan just hurts Donovan’s adventures forward in my opinion.

      It would be wise to try someone else out there. (As a note here, even when Spector had his solid Confed Cup Landon was nearly playing side-by-side with him on defense. Check out Spector defending Robinho in that game and where Donovan is.)


      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 7:08 AM

        Yeah. A lot of people killed Bedoya for his showing against Brazil but failed to recognize that he spent basically the entire game babysitting Spector. Spector, thought of strictly as a fullback, is Championship quality at best.


  3. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/03/24 at 10:11 PM

    Interesting that of our 5 outside backs, 3 are playing midfield for club (specs, jb, Chandler). Key will be picking spots to go forward and communication on coverage when the happens from the guys in the midfield who will be feeling the call of the wild to contribute in attack also. I make it sound like everyone is thinking attack all the time. No. We just have a bunch of guys who will need to get forward in a coordinated fashion or we will be the ones getting diced up and served on toast.


  4. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/03/24 at 10:59 PM

    The thought of Boca trying to defend Messi is nothing short of horrifying. I hope they play Carlos at CB or not at all.


  5. […] break featuring Leo Messi versus the USA at Qwest Meadowlands (for a preview of that go here). In any case, what better way to kick off this great weekend than with a spanking over the […]


  6. Posted by collin on 2011/03/25 at 3:34 AM

    the only chance we have of winning this game is attacking. Jermaine Jones and michael bradley will do nothing for us besides run around and watch argentina and messi pick and dribble through them. We need some kind of attacking mid like Diskerud to go forward, im sick of these defensive mids


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/25 at 3:37 AM

      Could not disagree more.

      Diskerud was good, not great against a Chile “B” team. I’m not sure you want to send him out there in this game in the middle.

      As I’ve written multiple times, I think Stu Holden would have been perfect in this game as a linker in the middle.

      There’s a big jump going to the speed of international play and that’s easier for guys in top leagues (EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga) than more junior leagues unless they’ve played that speed before.


      • Posted by Ryan on 2011/03/25 at 4:45 AM

        Not that it’s a ton of experience (because it’s not and I agree with you here), but Diskerud isn’t completely devoid of experience playing at a top level. Stabaek drew Valencia in their Europa League playoff last year and he played. He was reportedly one of their better players as Valencia waxed them.

        Anyways, while I still agree with you that this isn’t the match to toss him in the center, he has more experience than some realize, even if it’s not a ton.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 7:26 AM

      If by attacking, you mean ‘gung-ho’ and going for it, I think Argentina will pass you off the park. Plus, unlike Maradonna, Bastita seems to have brought some balance to this Argentina team [do you think Germany would have went right through them if Argentina had a midfield trio of Benega, Cambiasso and Mascherano?]. I know it was a freak result against [a weakened]Spain, but they were pretty impressive.

      I also would not be surprised if Zanetti is tasked to watch Donovan [last year’s CL SF, anyone?] and keep him quiet.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/25 at 8:11 AM

        No way Zanetti plays on the left though if Donovan is deployed there. As I would do with DiMaria. You deploy Donovan on Messi’s side and then you are losing your best counter attacker.

        Cambiasso in my opinion is your Donovan minder. And man, he’s good at that role.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 8:25 AM

          Zanetti played on the left to neutralise Messi last year, with Cambiasso doubling up on him. Sticking Cambiasso on Donovan will drag him out wide…


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/03/25 at 12:15 PM

      “the only chance we have of winning this game is attacking.” “We need some kind of attacking mid like Diskerud to go forward, im sick of these defensive mids”

      Do you read history much? You sound a lot like General Lee at Gettysburg.

      You’d probably both get the same results.


  7. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/03/25 at 5:22 AM

    Great preview Matt…. covered all the angles.

    My personal line-up choice (what I would like to see not what I think we will see)


    The armband passes to Donovan for the 2014 cycle. We get two guys in the back that can get forward and provide width.

    Would like to see Edu play as I think he did very well for us at the WC. The fact that is is playing regularly moves him above MB90 for this game. If not this game I really want to see him go 90 later this week.

    Give Feilhaber a chance at the middle of the 3 spot. With Holden hurt we need to find out who is going to play there in the Gold Cup. Would like to see Chandler on the right wing and Dempsey in the middle but not sure that will happen.

    In the second half bring in Agudelo for Feilhaber and shift back to a 4-4-2 or bring in MB90 for Feilhaber and go more defensive.

    Very excited to be at the game screaming in the boys no matter who Bradley rolls out.


  8. Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 7:07 AM

    If we see Spector deployed at right back…I’m not sure what will be left of his charred remains after di Maria gets done with him. Spector got killed by Ryan Giggs and di Maria is many multiples better than Giggs at the moment. If Bradley uses that, he just didn’t learn a thing from the Brazil massacre (i.e.: don’t use slow fullbacks against a team with greedy wingers.)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/25 at 8:12 AM

      Could not agree more. While Spector proved solid early in 2009. He’s now a liability. Trotting him out there if you’re Bob Bradley instead of Lichaj or Chandler would be a poor move.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 8:28 AM

        As this game is a friendly I would 100% agree with this. Not sure I would if it were a knock-out game in the WC [given Lichaj’s inexperience].


    • Posted by mbw on 2011/03/25 at 2:34 PM

      Right. There’s no good reason to consider Spector for right back aside from the (to my mind insufficient) fact of Chander’s and Lichaj’s inexperience. Incidentally, Spector was playing left back in the clips of small-field practice that are up on ussoccer.com.


  9. Posted by timmer on 2011/03/25 at 7:09 AM

    I think a 4-4-2 is our best option with Holden out. Start J.A. The middle will be too crowded and disorganized with 3 center mids.


  10. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 7:35 AM

    And regarding the Conferations’ Cup, it is quadrennial, not annual. And while it allows the USA the potential to plays some very good teams that they might not otherwise play in ‘tournament conditions’, let’s also note that this competition seems to mean a lot less to the UEFA and CONMEBOL participants…


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/25 at 1:55 PM

      My take is that you get:
      1) experience (which we can get elsewhere as noted by the fact that within the same calendar year we will play Brazil, Argentina, and Spain)
      2) Familiarity with the surroundings (overrated in my mind)
      3) A chance to inflate your FIFA ranking and improve any shot the US has of getting a seed.

      To me #3 is the biggest reason. A seed is huge particularly when the tournament is played in Europe or South America. Not sure the US could get a seed but… a gold cup, a Confederations Cup, and first place in qualifying just might be enough.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 2:04 PM

        No team who has won the Confederations’ CUp has gone on to win the World Cup the following year.

        And I believe the seedings for the World Cup does look at the current ranking, but I think the two prior WC’s performances + WCQ have a heavier weight. Plus are you sure that FIFA takes this into account – remember the way they stripped out the effect the play-offs had?


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/25 at 2:21 PM

          I could be wrong but I thought that the seedings last year was a combination of the prior Wrold Cup performances, WCQ, and FIFA rankings. Now I also remember that in typical FIFA fashion it was a secretive process that was decided well after WCQ was under way.

          I do think winning the Confed Cup and placing first in WCQ will help the US team make a case (if there is one to be made) for a seed out of CONCACAF. Without something like that I don’t see how we climb that far in the FIFA rankings by beating up on CONCACAF.

          As for the FIFA rankings, I have to admit that this is not a strong area for me but I thought that all A team matches counted (even friendlies) with FIFA sanctioned tournaments weighted heavier.

          I do agree with you though that the whole we need to get into the Confederations Cup to have a chance in 2014 vibe I get here (and elsewhere) is a little overblown in my mind.


  11. Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 7:37 AM

    So….. we could potentially have a defense that consists of…

    Onyewu – (playing out of position from his club)
    Spector – (playing out of position from his club)
    Chandler/Bornstein – (playing out of position from their club)
    Bocanegra – (playing out of position from his club)

    Good grief.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 7:42 AM

      And Bradley holding – *not* playing for his club!


      • Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 7:52 AM

        Let’s just get Ricardo Clark in a snood, and call it a night!


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/25 at 1:57 PM

          I’m glad I’m perusing the commentary. Hysterical.


        • Posted by Tux on 2011/03/25 at 5:46 PM

          …and I just threw up all over my keyboard. I love me some Messi, but I feel like I’m going to be cursing the little magician with all sorts of horrible slurs tomorrow. But after that, I’ll calm down and realize the people I’m really frustrated with are our back four.


  12. Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 8:01 AM

    My preferred lineup:
    Howard; Bornstein, Ream, Onyewu, Chandler; Jones, Bradley; Altidore, Dempsey, Donovan; Buddle. Or shift Altidore to the STR position and put in Diskerud at wing.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/25 at 8:08 AM

      I haven’t seen anything but a clip or two of Altidore in Turkey but if he could play the right wing and allow Dempsey to push in that could be a very nice option.

      I love Dempsey but he does drift inside quite a bit. If he is on the outside of the 3 I think we risk having 2 guys tight inside and an unbalanced formation. As a Fulham fan I have noticed that Dempsey drifts inside a ton and they almost always attack down Duff’s wing. Salcido’s overlapping on Dempsey’s side helps a little bit with balance but I can’t remember the last time Dempsey took a ball wide and crossed rather than cut in. Boca won’t overlap like Salcido (which almost requires Dempsey on the right).


      • Posted by mbw on 2011/03/25 at 7:26 PM

        Ha — this is a good idea, but what about the fact that the USMNT has come to depend on goal scoring from its right midfielder?


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/26 at 9:09 AM

          The fact that Dempsey is by far our best chance to score a goal that isn’t a counter or off a turnover is not good but alternatively waiting for Altidore to turn into a world class striker is not a valid plan nor is waiting for Agudelo too mature (at least for the gold cup)


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 8:19 AM

      What formation?

      What about the defensive line?

      Deep line [little space behind for Argentina’s forwards to move into].

      Or a high line [can condense the space of the midfield and using the offside trap compress further up the pitch – although, very risky as the team hasn’t had a lot of time to work together to perfect this].


      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 8:22 AM

        4-2-3-1. Semicolons for “bands”. Deep line, fairly compact–Donovan and Altidore drop when not in possession for a 4-4-1-1. Break quickly yadda yadda yadda.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 8:39 AM

          My bad, did not notice the semicolons.

          So are you saying having possession of the ball is might not be the best tactical option for the USA? But the position of your players be a much more important factor [in defence as well as attacking], allowing you to prevent Argentina from penetrating with any real threat; side-to-side, and perhaps conceding the wings confident that you’ll win any ariel battles should they cross?


        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 8:47 AM

          Yeah, with Onyewu, Bradley and Jones I’m pretty confident in winning any aerial battles.

          I’m not proposing a full-on bunker/counter game, but something like you see the Bundesliga or the better English teams play: an emphasis on getting the ball quickly to the speedy wings to attack. Since Argentina isn’t into the marauding full-backs thing, there should be gaps in midfield between the fullbacks and wide forwards.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/25 at 9:11 AM

          I am not sure posession is the best thing for the US (obviously you can’t go too extreme) but its not like we have guys that are surgical scorers.

          The US seems to score off of quick combinations, run outs, counters, long pass knocked down to an oncoming runner, etc and set pieces to headers (a spot where we will miss Holden). We havent really ever been successful with passing it back and forth and then slowly opening up a quality defense. Dempsey is the only player we have that can really do that. Donovan for all his greatness is best at counter attack and running at people in transition (off a take/give away).

          Look at our world cup goals:

          Dempsey v England – wasn’t off of a great build-up just Dempsey taking a speculative shot
          Donovan versus Slovenia – transition
          Bradley versus Slovenia – Knock down of a long ball and a run on
          Edu versus Slovenia (yeah I am listing it) – set piece
          Donovan versus Algeria – counterattack/run out
          Dempsey drawing the PK against Ghana was the only goal from a build-up.


      • Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 8:25 AM

        Well, you can either try to go Inter against Barcelona, or Germany against Argentina.

        I think we are going to be watching the midfield sit very deep with Bradley and Jones sitting right off the Center Backs and pressing to try to clog the passing/running lanes, hoping to funnel Messi out of the middle by packing it. Then attempt to hit off the counter.

        The more I think about this the more I bet that we see more of a 4 – 3/4 – 1 – 1 in the works on defense.

        Then on the counter we will see the attack come up the right side.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 8:41 AM

          Like I said above, Bastita seems to have sorted out that soft centre that Germany went through like a knife through butter…


        • Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 8:44 AM

          Exactly, I expect to see a defensive game in the first half for the US, with anything going as the subs enter the game.

          To be honest, I don’t mind this either, US fans have to get over the idea that at all times we should play passing ole style futball. It just isn’t going to happen at all times, and the counter attack can be a beautiful thing as well.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 9:17 AM

          I agree 100%. Being realistic and pragmatic with your resources is the only way to look at things. It would be great to play the ‘Spain-way’, but you need to have the players to do that. You don’t, so you can’t.

          I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: horses for courses. The players that you have available and the opposition will dictate tactics / strategic / formation etc.


  13. Posted by MJ on 2011/03/25 at 8:42 AM

    I’m getting ahead of myself here but USA v SPAIN this summer now as well, way to go USSF with the quality opponents!



    • Posted by FutbolAmerica on 2011/03/25 at 9:14 AM

      Yet another east coast game. I wish they would bring the A Team to the west coast. We had the January camp-cupcake team in Carson to watch, prior to that go back to January 2010 for another camp cupcake team appearance in Carson.

      The last time the A team was near us was September 5th, 2009 for a match in Sandy, UT, which was an 11 hour drive; and unless they make the gold cup final in LA (which is still a 14 hour drive) we most likely won’t see them this year either.


      • Posted by MJ on 2011/03/25 at 10:51 AM

        On that I completely agree, I actually hail from near Carson and attend the B/C games but I’m in town for both of these coincidentally so I’m psyched. But the US does need to trot out the varsity for the West Coast.


        • If our country was a bit smaller, it might be something we’d see more often. Fortunately for our players but not west coast fans Sunil and Bobbo won’t make our players as well as the opposition fly from Europe all the way to the Western Time Zone.


  14. Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 9:07 AM

    More cheering news: Omar Salgado approved to play for Vancouver: http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2011/03/salgado-available-for-vancouver-following-fifa-approval.html

    Shocked to hear it, actually. My conspiracy theory was that FIFA would hamper this by any means necessary.


  15. Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 9:38 AM

    Arg lineup vs USA: Andújar; Zanetti, Burdisso, Milito, Rojo; Banega, Mascherano, Cambiasso; Lavezzi, Messi, Di María


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 10:00 AM

      This is the midfield [Banega, Mascherano, Cambiasso] that closed down Spain so well. Will be an interesting midfield match-up.

      And to think they’ve still got Higuain and Tevez… so not fair!


  16. […] USA play Argentina tomorrow at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, and while we’re all excited […]


  17. Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 9:46 AM

    Are we sure that last quote isn’t Agudelo on Altidore?



  18. Posted by Cameron on 2011/03/25 at 9:59 AM

    I’m just hoping and praying that Bradley does not run Spector out at RB. I like Specs. I love what he’s been doing at West Ham. I’m happy that I don’t have to defend him anymore to WHUFC fans who wanted to murder him every time he stepped onto the field until about five months ago. But the guy just does not have the pace to deal with Argentina’s offense. Our left flank is already inevitably going to be wide open with either Bocanegra or Bornstein. Lichaj might have less experience, but he’s quicker. And out of all of the possibilities at RB (excluding Chandler because we haven’t seen enough of him), I think that he’s the one who has the most potential to have some attacking skills as well.

    Also, agree on the media hype around Chandler. People are already calling on him to get the start ahead of Specs and Lichaj. I’m not saying that the kid does’t have potential–he certainly does–but he’s been with the NT all of what? Four days? Let him integrate and get settled before you start him against Argentina.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/25 at 10:27 AM

      If this was the Gold Cup I would agree but its not like Lichaj has a ton of experience (one game with the B squad). Specs is not the long term answer and since this isn’t must win, I think it is important to sort through the roster for June. At the end of the day not much of this matters as baring injury Dolo will be the RB for every Gold Cup game that matters.


  19. Posted by Alex on 2011/03/25 at 10:39 AM

    Quick question, since its a friendly, teams are allowed 6 subs, right?


  20. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/25 at 10:57 AM

    How much time has Benny Feilhaber been getting lately? I haven’t heard anything about him in months.


    • Posted by FutbolAmerica on 2011/03/25 at 11:04 AM

      His league takes a winter break so they haven’t been playing until the last few weeks. His team is still atop the second division standings and looking good to secure promotion back to the Danish top flight. If that happens there’s a good chance he’ll get signed to a new contract at Aarhus.


  21. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/25 at 10:59 AM

    Also, I like some of the responses I got in my other post, but I was wondering if anyone else had any good questions that they would like to ask Sunil Gulati. I am invited to a “fan forum” tomorrow, before the game, and would like to have multiple good questions ready to go.


  22. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/25 at 11:01 AM

    One last thing- I wish the whole “redallover” idea would catch on with fans. I know even in the supporters sections we don’t always wear red because usually everyone wants to wear their favorite jersey. It would have been cool if Nike would have given out red shirts or something, or if a viral campaign (similar to the CD9 tribute) of red could have been started. That would have looked cool to the players and on TV.


  23. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 12:14 PM

    Anybody want to be brave and predict a score?


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/03/25 at 12:53 PM

      I’ll say US 2 Argentina 1. Deuce scores a brace and celebrates by my banner. Actually, I’m thinking more 2-1 Argentina but I can’t predict Argentina to win.

      I just hope the US scores. The last two games I’ve attended- Colombia and Brazil, they have not scored and have barely created any chances.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/25 at 1:38 PM

        If Bradley keeps the A-Team on for a decent length of time, I can “perhaps’ see the US scoring. I know that this won’t be a popular statement, but if I was to place some money on this, I honestly think Argentina will score two or three without reply.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 1:40 PM

          Nope, perfectly reasonable. Argentina is really good and the U.S. not so much.

          One thing in the U.S.’s favor: you can be certain all USMNT players are super-motivated; many of Argentina’s players are probably thinking about the Champions League.


  24. Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 1:20 PM

    Via Grant Wahl and Ives, sounds like Edu is playing an advanced role versus Argentina in a 4-2-3-1 look. I don’t think this is a particularly good decision,* though as always I hope to be wrong.

    * understatement**
    ** understatement***


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/25 at 2:01 PM

      Just saw that I really don’t like that decision. It’s Bradley deploying Edu in his role that he used to use for Ricardo Clark. THAT NEVER WORKED!


      • Posted by John on 2011/03/25 at 2:06 PM

        Let’s be honest here.

        “Advanced” is meaning – 1 more way to get a defensive midfielder into the lineup, I think all this does is confirm that the formation is a staggered 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and will look more like a 4 – 4 – 1 – 1 at times.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/25 at 2:28 PM

          It will play like a 4-3-2-1 and that won’t be good for our chances. Edu has scored some goals for Rangers but not sure I want him having the keys to our offense. Like him attacking as a CDM though not attacking as a CAM.


  25. Posted by dth on 2011/03/25 at 9:14 PM

    More frightening tidings:

    Spector: so slow and bad at defending, we’ll match him up with the best player in the world. Is Bradley trying to reenact Shark Week or something?


  26. […] TSG’s Official USA vs. Argentina Preview […]


  27. […] USA play Argentina tomorrow at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, and while we’re all excited […]


  28. […] USA play Argentina tomorrow at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, and while we’re all excited […]


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