The triumphant return! Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before and day of the match.
It’s the must-win game. A game coming off some high drama in the US sports media. It’s the game where the most influential player already has been Magic Spray.
It’s US vs. Costa Rica A team the US hasn’t beat since 2005 and who is hardest to peg in terms of what their going to bring game in and game out due to their tinkering coach Jorge Luis Pinto and the transitional stage it’s in.
|March 22, 2013||U.S. Men vs. Costa Rica *||8 p.m. MT||Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Commerce City, Colo.
|ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas|
Around the web:
Reading material: (lots of good stuff on this one.)
» Worth linking to yet again. Brian Straus’s bombshell expose on the state of the US national team from more than 22 (anonymous) sources.
» Alexi Lalas on Twitter called his quotes in this piece, “Not my finest hour and back when I thought I knew it all. But I’ll own it.”
» ESPN’s Doug McIntyre sits with Bruce Arena and chats Klinsmann and US Soccer.
» ESPN’s rising soccer writer Rog Bennet takes us through one lens of US Soccer history.
» MLS Soccer has a pretty neat video preview of today’s game.
» Soccer Over There vacuums up all remaining tidbits that you need to be prepared..
American Outlaws members gather here.
C’mon brother. It’s all snowboards and snowbunnies in Colorado.
Colorado River, coming at you!
USA v. Costa Rica WCQ History:
» In World Cup Qualifying against Costa Rica, the USA is in the midst of a seven-game home unbeaten streak (5-0-2) and is 5-1-2 overall in home qualifying matches against Costa Rica.
» The USA’s only home blemish was a 1-0 loss on May 31, 1985, in Torrance, Calif., in what was the first home qualifying meeting between the two sides. The game’s lone goal was scored by Costa Rica’s Evaristo Coronado.
» The U.S. is 5-8-3 all-time in World Cup Qualifying against Costa Rica.
How can you not show a clip that has both McBride & Lassiter scoring?!
TSG Commentary from during week:
» The US goes into this match with most uncertainty around the starting line-up in quite some time. Incredulously enough Brad Guzan is one of the more safe predictions about starting that you can make.
»» The recall of Brad Davis to squad (to add to potential LMs Brek Shea and DaMarcus Beasley) along with the presence of Graham Zusi and Sacha Kljestan along with the possibilities of Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez suggest that you may be a 4-4-1-1 or even 4-4-2 from the US amazingly enough. Our preview alluded to Klinsmann dropping that hint in a podcast segment that the US could move back to a double pivot of yesteryear.
That said, you still have both Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman in camp, both capable of playing the #6 role.
»»The backline of course is up in the air. Lots of media pushing that DaMarcus Beasley should start at leftback. While it’s worse if Beasley starts at LM (ask Edgar Castillo about Beasley providing, or rather not providing, cover in the USA-Mexico friendly back last year), Beasley at RB is a very dangerous proposition given Beasley’s role (MF) in a league that doesn’t favor defense and given that Brian Ruiz is liable to wander over to his area.
Beasley’s selection at LB is made even worse if Geoff Cameron is not at left centerback as Beasley will be playing an unfamiliar role with an unfamiliar partner next to him.
The question of course remains as to where Geoff Cameron will play and more evidence is suggesting as such. A disclaimer/addendum to our preview, if you think about the most logical backline, it’s like Cameron – Gonzalez – Besler- Morrow. All have played adjacent to one another in either the Canada friendly or the Honduras friendly. The one disclaimer I would put is on Edu next to Gonzalez as a distributor.
As much I think moving Cameron out of the centerback role, I’ve convinced myself that this is a very real possibility.
» A danger spot–should the US not play a 4-man midfield–is at the top of the US’s left flank defensive third. Klinsmann and Martin Vasquez by and large used Jermaine Jones to play trackback defense over that flank. That’s a dangerous proposition in this one as–especially if it is not Morrow out there–Bolanos–Costa Rica’s RFW is not fond of tracking back on defense leaving him high on that side. If he stays high and Ruiz provides support…and Jermaine Jones is an upfield position that’s a recipe for a pocket of a potentially very dangerous counter area.
More on Costa Rica: (Alonzo Solano of ALZ Deportes will drop by later today with a few more bullets on Costa Rica).
According to Solano, the expectation of Coach Pinto’s tactics are:
» Extremely defensive, looking for the draw on the road.
» A focus on working of Ruiz and Saborio.
» Also, there is a notion that Costa Rica may forego the 4-3-3 it used against Panama in February and set up in a very defensive and narrow 5-3-2 (5-2-1-2). The set-up would allow the Ticos to clog their defensive third and spring very vertical counterattacks . It’s a system that they used–albeit with difference actors–against Mexico as shown below. If this is the case, Joel Campbell will be sacrificed for MLS favorite Roy Miller in the back.
—Addendum: How To Think About Forecasting A Line-up.
TSG is of course no experts on forecasting line-up, though I dare say–though not this time–we are fairly accurate.
Here are some things to consider:
» Is there anything that history tells us? Yes. Klinsmann’s teams tend to be weighted more towards attacking players at home (Brazil friendly, Jamaica, Gautemala). Don’t expect a triumvirate of Edu, Bradley, Jones in midfield (as, gulp, our preview originally showcased).
» Will the US play highline looking to maintain possession and seal Costa Rica in their own end? If you believe this, then you have to consider that one of the US centerbacks likely has wheels — that would be Maurice Edu perhaps or Geoff Cameron. You also might consider in this space who the holder is–but likely you would need a holding midfielder be it primarily Edu again or Kyle Beckerman
» Will the US sit back and defend? In that case you might consider a centerback pairing of two tall stout players like Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson. In this case, you would likely dare Costa Rica to cross into the box because of your US Tall Trees. Note, I’ve seen a number of lineup suggestions and schematics out there that show Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez playing a highline–if the US does this I would be surprised and obviously clearly not in favor of it.
» Do you feel that your centerbacks will need to manage possession and create the distribution out of the back? In this case again, it’s hard to imagine a Goodson and Gonzalez pairing.
» Whether it’s balanced or unbalanced how will the US manage their wing play? If you think it’s an overlapping fullback or fullbacks in general that will provide width, then you are likely looking at ones with better handles BUT ALSO you would have to consider that MF ahead of them plays inverted–that is if you feel Justin Morrow is going to overlap a lot, you probably want to put Graham Zusi on his side who will cut in and open space on his favored right foot rather than DaMarcus Beasley.
» Continuing on the overlapping wing play theme, then the predisposition might be for more for a 4-3-3 as Klinsmann has played and less a 4-4-2.
» Do you expect the US to play on the counter? Well then you would likely consider 2 FWDS or at the very left a winger pressed up high (we call that the “swing forward” here at TSG) like an Eddie Johnson.
» Are you worried about a player’s fitness like Clint Dempsey? Well then you’re probably not going to want to play him wide in a 4-4-2 where we have to do a lot of tracking back after incutting in the attack.