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Unread 09-03-2011, 01:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thoughts on USA vs Costa Rica.

Just some thoughts that came to mind while watching, not a full review.

I think the 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1 system with Donovan given basically a free role behind the striker is the way forward, but we just don't have a good enough striker to play ahead of him.

Jose Torres is an automatic starter in my mind. He can carry out the defensive duties of playing deeper, which is necessary to given Donovan that freedom, but more importantly he is a consistent, accurate, and creative distributor of the ball, starting out most of the US's attacks from deep.

Too many players seem to be a victim of playing in a strict 4-4-2 most of their lives, and have trouble adjusting to different roles. I don't know exactly what Maurice Edu's instructions were, so I can't necessarily tell how bad he played, but it was not good. He was largely responsible for the goal by not closing down the ball, instead standing off until he was almost touching the center backs.

If Edu was indeed told to play that deep, he needs to play it much more aggressively, patrolling the space in front of the defense and simply winning the ball and getting it to Torres ; if he was just given the role of a more versatile holding midfielder similar to Torres he needs to use that physical ability of his to make some forward runs and draw a marker to him. Edu is not a very technical player, but can be useful simply by getting from box to box.

I don't think we need a purely defensive holding midfielder like Edu was playing tonight, especially against Costa Rica. I think once Holden gets back, he will likely play alongside Torres, making for 2 very creative midfielders, but Torres will likely have to do more defensive work.

We need a better center back to partner Bocanegra, there is pretty simply just a lack of quality beside him. More specifically we need a stereotypical big, strong, committed defender who can win the ball in the air. We have guys like Goodson and Demerit, who are fairly limited technically, but can do a sufficient job. I think Edu might work very well here too. He has played as a CB before, has the physical tools, and while he isn't very technically gifted as a midfielder, he would be as the sort of player I am talking about here.

Bocanegra is a converted left back, and is getting on in age, but since he is a converted fullback he is decent with the ball, and passes well out of the back.

Brek Shea is a special talent, but is one of the players I was talking about having been forced into a 4-4-2 most of his youth career; as a left footed player he has been played on the left side of midfield, but he is quite clearly a natural forward. In the current system he provides a huge threat as a wide forward, and should be continued to play there; I would like to see him occasionally switching wings to the right, or even moving centrally. He is 6'3" and a strong player, I think the closer to goal he plays, the more of a threat he will carry.

I don't know what to make of Robbie Rogers, he is similar to Shea in that he probably grew up playing on the right of a 4-4-2, and is now being asked to play as more of a forward in a 4-3-3ish system. Rogers is not as talented as Shea, nor does he seem as natural of a forward as Shea, I think his spot is very much up for grabs.

I appreciate Jozy Altidore's hard work, and the potential is plainly there, but he simply isn't completing his job, scoring goals. Jozy isn't the type of forward that can afford to not score goals; it's not as though he is the type of player that drops off into midfield and creates for others, he is meant to be a pure old fashioned #9 who dominates the penalty area, and it just isn't happening. I am glad that he is playing in Holland, where 4-3-3 is the norm, and is playing well, hopefully he can turn his international career back around.

I think the solution is to play Clint Dempsey, who will be healthy by the next game, as the nominal center forward, but one that drifts around the field, interchanging with Donovan and the wide attackers, which is his natural game anyway. We simply can't afford to carry a striker who isn't getting the job done. If that means playing without an orthodox center forward, so be it, it simply costs too much to not have all players contributing.

I still don't know what to make of Juan Agudelo. He has some talent, but right now he seems like just another striker that isn't good enough, which essentially leaves the US playing with 10 men.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 01:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I got excited by the thread title and was hoping you were thinking of moving to Costa Rica. I hear it's beautiful.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 01:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Love the analysis. Thanks for making me slightly less of a USMNT donk fanboy.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 09:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Doesn't the USA normally perform poorly in this area of what I consider their 4 year season? I thought they had to fight to qualify for the World Cup this last time? I could be wrong.

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Unread 09-03-2011, 09:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Well that sort of depends on what you mean by struggle, as cliche as that is.

The US has qualified from CONCACAF every world cup since 1990 (got in automatically as host in 94), and we did qualify as the best of the group for 2010.

But when you look at the relative level of talent the US and Mexico have, they should be winning every game it seems, but there are always some surprising results.

Last night was just a friendly though, so it doesn't really count for anything.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 10:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Okay. I get all my information from a soccer crazy buddy of mine that works for the Red Bulls. Every loss is the end of the world, friendly or not. I'm trying to learn the game, but there are to many fucking leagues around the world, and to mix that with the international game, it's tough to digest.

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Unread 09-03-2011, 02:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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There is way more information out there than one person could possibly digest, so information overload becomes a real problem.

It doesn't help that the MLS is completely ass-backward compared to the entire rest of the world.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 03:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I gathered that early on. I know that I will never have much interest in MLS soccer. I can stomach watching a Man U vs. Barca match, but I can't watch MLS for more then 5 minutes.

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Unread 09-03-2011, 06:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I try my hardest, but it yea, the quality just isn't the same.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 10:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde View Post
I got excited by the thread title and was hoping you were thinking of moving to Costa Rica. I hear it's beautiful.
I thought this was an all out war scenario ... that would have been tits.

Quote:
You often seem to think that the lowest-hanging-fruit makes you some sort of comedy genius. You're just not a good person. You're spiteful, constantly negative, and bring others down to make yourself feel better. I just don't have room for that.
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Unread 09-04-2011, 10:32 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Unread 09-05-2011, 12:37 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cocktooth View Post
I'm trying to learn the game, but there are to many fucking leagues around the world, and to mix that with the international game, it's tough to digest.
I have this same struggle in my quest to be a real soccer fan. I feel like I'm always 3 steps behind.
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Unread 09-06-2011, 02:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Will miss the second half vs Belgium; but problem that I notice immediately is that Dempsey is being played in the same position as Donovan was, in the hole behind 3 forwards (or as the central man in a line of 3 behind the 1 striker, depending on how you define the wide players). Not really a problem for Dempsey, he is the most technically skilled player in this US side, probably the most creative, and can run a game on his own at times, and he will play well there. The problem is in terms of the 3 other attacking players, really none of them are sure-fire starters, plus this leaves us with 2 deep lying central midfielders (Edu and Torres again) who risk being overrun with Dempsey usually being too far forward to help them (this is part of this system though, Dempsey is supposed to be attacking), plus the quality issues with Edu aren't going away.

My Solution: move Dempsey into the forward line, he regularly scores goals from either wide position at his club, and is more than capable of playing as the Center Forward. Move what was Dempsey's position back a little closer to the 2 central midfielders.

Donovan fits a little better into the position, Dempsey fits a little better closer to goal, both can do a good job at either place.
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Unread 09-06-2011, 02:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Belgium are basically playing the inverse of our shape; also a 4-3-3, but with 1 midfielder deeper than the other 2, whereas we play 1 in front of 2.

This should, in theory, mean the midfield is pretty tight, everybody has a direct opponent.

The key men, again in theory, would be whichever center back on each team is more comfortable on the ball; something Belgium are leaps and bounds ahead of us in. Since the fullbacks should be concerned with the wide forwards, and since the central striker can only mark one of the center backs, this leaves one free to step into midfield when in possession.

The key battle will be whoever is the deepest of the Belgian midfielders (I assume Felliani, but just turned it on...edit: actually appears to be Simmons the #6) vs Dempsey. If Dempsey can stay free of his man, he will generate chances for goals. If the Belgian is allowed time on the ball, the US will be overrun in midfield and Belgium will dominate possession.
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