Snap Judgements: USA vs. Paraguay

Some quick thoughts on the US’s 1-0 loss to a stingy Paraguay side in advance of Jay Bell’s game review.

• The US may not have scored, but multiple parts had good performances

Clint the Chameleon....

The end results wasn’t there for the States. However, this wasn’t the “A” team.

This was a team of different parts that was patched together after the squad played a very focal point opponent in Argentina.

The Yanks certainly lagged in putting together consistent attacks and cohesion.

However, different parts–Tim Ream, Timothy Chandler, Clint Dempsey cutting inside–showed they had different aspects to their game. A greater oleo of skill sets if you will.

Coupled with this, you cannot argue that the team doesn’t play extremely hard for Bob Bradley and adhere to the game plan.

The execution wasn’t fully there tonight, but the buy-in was.

• The central midfield, excellent individually, was miscast for the task.

Gerardo Martino...

First of all, Paraguay’s Gerard Martino is no mug. The guy took an arguably under-talented side all the way to quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2010.

After being abused against Mexico, Martino changed nearly his whole side and decided to batten up the hatches.

Martino’s men pressured in two ways that he knew would disrupt the States:

First when the central midfielders were receiving the ball at the top of their offensive third and 2nd collapsing at the top of their defensive third to stymie the creation of Donovan and Dempsey.

I’ve taken a look around this evening at some other publications and I’m seeing very high marks for Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu. Okay, fine both played well. Michael Bradley in fact played excellently given that he’s had less than 200 minutes of play time in 2011.

Bradley, brandishing the equalizer, just misses...

But they didn’t “do” anything and that’s what the game play dictated they needed to accomplish tonight.

Countless times Bradley was asked to “create” out of the back.

It’s one thing to play a safe pass it’s another to go pick up the ball, move it, get it back, move it again.

The US’s strategy demanded a “creative” hub deep in the midfield, Bradley was very strong in making the safe pass, not the unlocking one.

This is not about Michael Bradley, but he’s not the guy tonight there. Edu less so.

A few different moments in the 1st half highlighted Bradley’s creative limitation.

First, he consistently dribbled backwards when he wasn’t under pressure, allowing the other team to reset their defense because they weren’t being pressured for the moment.

Second, around the 33rd minute, Timmy Chandler made a clearing run up the right flank. He drew two defenders with him.

Bradley played him a looping ball over the top–with two defenders closing and no support and no means of going forward. What was Chandler to do with that ball? What could he do?

Around the 43rd minute, Landon Donovan was on the left flank working out of a jam. Jonathan Bornstein had made a run before him, but was covered. Donovan desperately needed somebody, anybody, Bianca?!, to come to his aid, but no central midfielder made himself available.

In fairness to Bob Bradley, I’m not sure he felt that he had that guy on his roster, but then why did he bring in Sacha Kljestan? Was Jermaine Jones in the doghouse after Saturday night? Or why not pull in Jose Torres for the friendlies.

To reiterate, safety first Bradley did, but the US doesn’t play the Spain game and just ping it back and forth with players coming back and showing and moving.

Paraguay’s defense was begging to be abused by a player in the position who could find the right ball.

Don’t think this bullet’s on target? Try this, Bradley inserts Jermaine Jones for Mo Edu at halftime. I presume Jones is going to man the hub. Bradley keeps M. Bradley there for another 10 minutes.

Then he switches the two  (or makes them more complementary) and things are start flowing a little better.

• The mature striker is not the one with the most caps.


I swear I remember reading it somewhere: the comparison made that “Eddie Johnson had seven goals in his first six World Cup qualifiers too” followed by something along the lines of comparing Juan Agudelo’s first matches in the Stars & Stripes.

Honestly, that sentiment needs to end now. Pay attention to the game.

Here’s the thing on Juan Agudelo. If he doesn’t get there, he’s still starting from a better foundation than any other striker, save perhaps Charlie Davies, in the US system since Brian McBride.

Agudelo shows a feel for the game–I won’t say he’s beyond his years. It’s a feel that he was brought up playing soccer somewhere in South America or Europe.

He understands the game. He thinks ahead. He makes valuable plays.

He makes valuable plays – say that again.

Scoring is a by-product of this. Make the smart runs, goals will follow. Seal off a defender as a target and turn him, goals will follow.

Comparisons to strikers such as Jeff Cunningham, Eddie Johnson and Robbie Findley (if there are any) are ludicrous. Eddie Johnson and Jeff Cunningham scored goals because someone played them in and their speed put them in position to finish.

Very different.

In Juan Agudelo, US fans witnessed a striker who came back to find the ball in midfield and made himself available. One who knew when to use flair.

Frankly, I don’t care if Juan Agudelo scores another goal for his next, I don’t know seven US games, because he does everything a striker is supposed to and I know at some point when he returns to form, given his education of the game, he’ll start scoring again.

On to Jozy Altidore….

Might we remember March 29, 2011 as the inflection point after a reflection moment acknowledged by Jozy on Twitter Tuesday evening.

His comment:

Key words “Need to improve” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Altidore acknowledge that.

Did it take the wondrous work of Juan Agudelo supplanting Jozy’s spot at the top of the striker pecking order for the realization to kick in?

Or was it–and you could see it on the edge of your TV screen–that Jozy really was confounded on where to move all night when he wasn’t getting the ball.

Conversely to young Juan, Jozy didn’t know hot to make himself available and valuable.

• You really are witnessing a different Clint

Clint Demspey found the game Tuesday night, it didn’t find him.

Dempsey looked masterful in possession, continually challenging the defense for Paraguay. It’s what makes players of his ilk: Dennis Bergkamp, Dirk Kuyt, even a Herculez Gomez so valuable.

You can’t typecast their game, they just morph into what’s needed.

Dempsey still needs to work a little bit on keeping it intact when he’s frustrated, but whereas this may have been a game for Landon to be sprung for a counterattack, the Deuce was able to create out of nothing and he can do it against many different defenses.

And that is a very valuable skill in the game of soccer.

• Glimpses of backline potential

Tim Ream, cool and calm on the ball. Revelatory as a potential major cog going forward.

Tim Chandler and Eric Lichaj–speed. Especially for the Nurnburg man.


(Oh and I can’t ignore. Might Bobby Convey have helped tonight…okay going to hide under the bed now.)

93 responses to this post.

  1. […] Snap Judgements: USA vs. Paraguay [The Shin […]


  2. Posted by @graysonson on 2011/03/30 at 12:12 AM

    I enjoy your insight into the game. You have a good eye for football.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 12:19 AM

      thanks for the compliment–appreciated…and contributing on the publication.


    • Posted by Kevin O' on 2011/03/30 at 11:14 AM


      Grammar be damned, I could not agree more with the above praise! That’s why I come to the site. Sane, concise (and honest) observations of an evidently very convoluted game to watch for some. Mr. Leander Schlackens anyone?

      I’m with you on Agudelo. Positionly, I think only McBride had as much or a better sense of what to do at such a young age. Jozy is currently lost at sea. At least he’s now somewhat acknowledging his “Freddy” syndrome.

      The back pass that occurs with no defensive pressure is my major pet peeve with U.S. soccer. Anyone remember the master of the back pass, Richie Williams? Hell, even Reyna used to do it. I think this is a Bruce Arena implement that will certainly not go away with his Mr. Sweatpants protege in place. Help us Stuart Holden, you’re our only hope…

      Keep up the good work!


  3. Posted by @graysonson on 2011/03/30 at 12:16 AM

    I was happy to see us go out, attack, and even pressure them at times. We know that we can sit back, defend, and counter with moderate success, so I was happy to see us push forward even before we went down a goal. It will be nice to watch some USMNT games in the future where we are not constantly battling from behind. It would be even better if it were not against shite CONCACAF teams, lol.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 12:19 AM

      Agreed — the US just played two top 30 FIFA teams and both games were very winnable.


  4. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/03/30 at 12:44 AM

    On the whole, I think it was a good night. This game showed some of our weaknesses, but you could argue that our three young starters (Ream, Agudelo, and Chandler) all played extremely well.

    We might have found three long term solutions in one fell swoop. I really can’t complain about that, even if some of the veterans underwhelmed.

    I’m a big Agudelo fan and I agree with your assessment. He’s a good athlete and he also has “it.” Having said that, I thought Chandler stole the show with his blistering runs down the flank.

    We’ve got ourselves a 21 year-old Bundesliga caliber player who seemingly materialized out of thin air overnight. Nice.


  5. Any german/americans (or ?/americans) out there who predominately play either LB or LM?


  6. Posted by nelson on 2011/03/30 at 3:53 AM

    Hey Matt,

    I agree with your assessment for the majority. Were you at the game? Just wondering if we met and I somehow didn’t make the connection. Below is my review of the game with thoughts and such. I concur with you on a lot, but may also say a few additional or slightly different things.

    I was in the AO section(My first ever international game). It was great. We lost a friendly but won in so many ways for developing the team. I agree with most if not all the snap judgments. Very astute. Below are my thoughts on the game. I apologize for any typos. I just drove back to Atlanta through some serious rain.


    (caveat: I realize paraguay was stacking the box)

    My only concern on the night was why didn’t we shoot low shots. It rained many times in the game. The pitch was slick. See Agudelo’s misfortunate slip. Dempsey had a volley on goal in the first half. Was really hoping it would have a crazy dip and go in. Bradley Jr. had one of the arguably best shots on the night. Donovans upper90 was on the wrong side. Yet, I can’t help but think if we shoot on the ground we win more corners, get lucky deflections, or challenge the keeper by making him dive…


    Bradley totally missed a through ball to spector on the break later on in the second half. Instead he played it left. I’ve seen Spector score that break away. Game would’ve been tied.

    Bornstein…He can’t cross after making a line sprint. Not a new observation. Just a sad reminder. May have had one or two that did work. But overall he was just the one glaring defender that couldn’t hang with the passes.

    Dempsey. So many supporters got mad at dempseys high shots. I didn’t because at least he shot. With a crowded box you have to take some shots from weird angles/afar. I criticize him now but only because he should’ve shot differently aka inside of the foot sometimes. I think it’s how he scores goals best.

    Those around Dempsey (CMS). Dempsey drew so many fouls as usual, but also double if not triple coverage. One of our players should’ve have run about six yards from him and yelled heel/trail/pass/onetwo. Anything!!! I realize Dempsey cutting in often was a result of him wanting to shoot but he could never truly break free of the three men. One of the other players has to demand the ball in the space that dempsey frees. If this happens we will see more goals from US CMs. I need a more aerial view to see how much space there was, but the defenders did well of small area passing so i expect my midfielders too as well.


    Play Spector as high up the pitch as you can. The kid still has a forward mentality and desire to score. He’s not the best defender but he will track back. He makes good runs and has a decent shot. I do remember the Spector of ’09 but he’s gone. Enter M/AM Spector.


    I understand Sweatpants may have told him to play holdup. But really man, just run to the line. Run to the line. Chandler wants to play a vertical ball to the line from defense and you stand in the middle-right of the pitch waiting for some miraculous cross over players. Agudelo gets that ball more. Then if he does, go to the line Jozy. A lot of miss cues. Jozy wants to turn and go to goal but he positions himself closer to the fifty yd line side than the goal side. Herc Gomez and Agudelo could really teach him a few things…

    :)TIM REAM:

    I saw him play for Red Bulls last August. O how he progresses! Seeing the opening five minutes and the US passing out of the back and back in to the back and to the mid made me so happy. The only pass they didn’t do enough was to the keeper IMO. Later on they did utilize the keeper. Tim was acrobatic, speedy, and fairly reliable. To be honest I have no idea what happened on the goal. It was a corner. Then a shot fired, a clearance failed, and some Paraguayan dude ripped it upper 90. I did feel like the US needed to mark #21 with their best man. Not sure who that CB is.

    NO NAMES?:

    Alcaraz maybe?… (not having the names on the jersey really left me in the dark as far as Paraguayan identities) Also, 3g was not working in my section so I couldn’t readily check a website. Should’ve bought the programme.


    You don’t qualify for the World Cup out of CONMEBOL and lack ability. So many fans were overly optimistic. Living in Ecuador last semester, I was well aware of the fact Paraguay squeezed out a position and crushed Ecuador’s hopes. Chile as well. It’s a very tight race with great teams. How many teams lead CONMEBOL’s group in the last qualifying? A good trivia question I don’t know. Does anybody know?

    Paraguay shares strengths that the US has. Good aerial threats from set pieces with defenders. They probably even half a better striker pool. However…


    The kid has a chant for himself already at age 18. A deserved one at that. I don’t think he played when I saw Red Bull as Kandji was still in the squad. But like Tim Ream, Agudelo has seen great development and shown soccer IQ in their growth.

    (Overstatement)We probably would’ve ripped the stadium to pieces had he scored/assisted at anytime. The guy likes to move. He understands the sideline and its crucial connecting power. He wins throw ins or forces deep throw ins for the other team. THESE MUST BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF WITH HIGH PRESSURE

    He was unfortunate to slip on the wet turf in what seemed like space in the middle of the field. It rained a lot…

    CLICHE WARNING: Great plays don’t make great players, great players make simple plays great.


    Jermaine Jones, Juan Agudelo, and Timothy Chandler and others made some nice one touch passes that really sped up the US’s ability to get the ball up the field in the second half. We need that type of speed with the ball to break down a bunkering opponent. We lacked a tall enough target to cross it in to the box effectively. It seemed the chance needed to come from trios of players breaking down the D quickly.


    On the fip side, patience is a great virtue. I don’t want to be ridiculously patient like Spain, but I feel like Bornstein could really use patience. For instance, why whip a bad cross in when you can aim at the closest defender and try to win a corner. I would prefer him try to drill the defender. At least that way when he overshoots the defender he scores or passes to a teammate…


    We need a left footed, good at crossing, left back. Could Tim Ream do it? Not really his style…but let’s face it Bornstein is extremely lacking in crossing skills and touch in general. I conjecture that amongst the masses of American soccer players someone is left footed and good enough to start and be the Cherundolo/Chandler on the other side. Preferably he would play in a league where wingbacks or fullbacks also can defend…Find him USA scouts/fans.

    Time to nap before class…


  7. Posted by dbex on 2011/03/30 at 4:37 AM

    Great analysis — insightful and well written. Thanks. A couple thoughts…

    I guess I’m the only one who was incredibly frustrated by Dempsey’s game. He started reminding me of Bad Clint from the first couple games of the Confed Cup, when everyone was hollering to sit him so he could get his head together and rest up. It’s not that he shot too much — he did, but that’s OK; we need someone who is willing to take the occasional outrageous shot from outside. It’s that he played selfishly on the ball, tried to take on too many guys, and was playing to take the foul rather than make the pass (he got fouled a lot, but on at least 3 occasions set it up by trailing his leg or starting to go down before he was touched). Then he would make moon-eyes at the ref and start trash-talking with the opponent, slowing everything down and distracting himself and everyone else. He’s clearly got the skills, but c’mon — calm down and play the damn game.

    I agree about Bradley. I thought he played pretty well, but he’s not Pirlo or Xavi in being able to pick out the seam-splitting pass that springs people. We’ve seen him try before, and it seems to result in a turnover 90% of the time. He either lacks the vision or the precision to get the pass there. I don’t think Edu has that ability either. Who in the US system can do this? Holden, I think (sigh). Torres, except that he lacks the speed of thought, so big, fast defenders shut down his angles before he can release the ball (see the Slovenia game). Maybe Jones? Have seen flashes, but I’m not sure that’s his role. Anyway, I’d rather see Bradley moving sideways or backwards than coughing it up every time, and then doing what he does well — playing destroyer in the middle and being opportunistic on offense.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/30 at 6:05 AM

      Nope. You’re not alone. Funny, I just wrote “Bad Deuce” and then read your comment with your Bad Clint reference. I thought “Bad Deuce” his evil twin took over his body for most of the second half. Your points are spot on. He played like he was watching for his commercial to show up on the stadium board. I’m a huge fan but his motivation tonight did not seem to be to make the team around him better. It was to feed Bad Deuce’s legend and it didn’t work. Most of the fouls and possession were not positive in that the ball stopped with him far too often.


      • Posted by pino on 2011/03/30 at 6:47 AM

        Sorry guys but im gonna step in now. Dempsey played with the confidence and desire that so many people often claim he lacks when he plays for the Nats. Since Landy Cakes decided to return to his phantom mode ( ie pulled his disapearing act) It was necesarry for at least one (Agudelo also stepped up tremendously) of our attackers to step up and take on some responsibility. I though he did exactly what he needed to do, and you guys touched on it before. He was drawing players to him, which had to have left space open for overlaps and supporting midfielders, who never showed up. When he played on the left side he had Bornstein who was back to his usual inconsistent self and provided nothing going forward. Granted im as biased as they come in regards to the Deuce, but seriously guys he was a man possesed tonight, the guy thinks he can do anything right now and that is not a bad thing.


        • Posted by dbex on 2011/03/30 at 9:40 AM

          Sure, he was a man possessed….by the spirit of Bad Clint. 😉 look, I’m all for him showing some swagger, but he needs to do it without taking himself and his teammates out of the flow. I agree there were times when he needed more support, but that’s also where I wish he’d show a little patience.


        • Posted by Martin on 2011/03/30 at 11:03 AM

          No problem with Clint’s attitude or swagger but his touch was off. He was not sharp and his first touch deserted him for most of the night. If they were not trying to get ready for the Gold Cup he should hve been subbed out.

          Donovan played like he was suddenly ten years older and his dead ball service was abysmal.If he’s not LD he should have been subbed out.

          I haven’t seen this for a while but when both of these guys are off, it is very hard for the US to win. If one of them was on the US wins maybe 2-1. If both were on the US wins maybe 3-1.

          Otherwise the rest of the team was okay.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/30 at 7:49 AM

      It’s simple. Dempsey came on the field with the thought in his head that “I’m going to be best player in the game for both teams.” Then he set out to try. Disagree with the particular application today, but I love the mentality and hope we get that in the Gold Cup consistently. It’s one that few of our other players even think about thinking.


  8. Posted by Tabare on 2011/03/30 at 5:05 AM

    Let me chip in.

    1. Paraguay are a solid side, even without top players.

    2. What a *pleasure* to see Tim Ream playing the ball out of the back. Composure, intelligence. A nice performance. (Don’t see how Onyewu and Bocanegra have long term prospects as starters.)

    3. Chandler was exciting. A bit ragged here in there in his touch. But a great evening.

    4. Agudelo looks significantly better than Altidore. Yes, it’s one game. But his movement shows a soccer brain. How you manage him and Jozy — in terms of playing time and the psychological stuff — is an open question. But he’s looking promising in ways Jozy never has.

    4. Michael Bradley was competent and at times impressive. But I wholly agree with Matt: He cannot unlock decent opposition. The problem is that Bradley is just not a particularly good or incisive passer. And, at 23 years old, that is almost certainly not going to change.

    5. The Jose Francisco Torres point. How does Sasha Kljestan get into the side ahead of Jose Francisco Torres? The mind boggles.

    6. The Bob Bradley point. Coach Sweats is going to be the same man. Conservative. Unimaginative. Plodding.

    7. Oh yes, how Bradley can stick with Bornstein and not even call Bobby Convey…it is amazing.


  9. Posted by Sean on 2011/03/30 at 5:37 AM

    Great read. I thought Dempsey was immense, especially in the first half. Pulling the strings all over the field. Bradley still has one of the highest workrates on the team, and was able to impose himself once Jones was in. I’d still like to see a Jones-Edu pairing, or Holden with any of the above. Donovan’s set piece delivery was lacking, Paraguay didn’t even need a wall as he crossed every single free kick. Agudelo is legit, hopefully CD9 regains his form, as Agudelo/Davies pairing is straight up scary!


  10. Posted by nelson on 2011/03/30 at 5:41 AM

    I was directly behind them. It was literally almost a forward pass. I guess passing to space and the space a runner should be running in is our biggest weakness at times.

    I agree Dempsey aimed to draw fouls. But mainly because they had already earned a yellow and deserved red for a few of the challenges. He reminds me a lot of Nasri in that he weaves in and out for long periods and can sometimes lose an outlet. I think part of that fault is non moving teammates. His fluidity will jive with fluid parts. and when he received the ball outside he brought it in almost every time. that’s when a cm should step up and i dare say every time. just make bornstein stay back.

    I think the biggest thing is the difference in refs. He’s used to EPL refs that have upped their game in calling fouls and cards for tackles from behind. This ref let far too many go IMO. Which is ok if Ecuador is playing Paraguay cause they hack like crazy and that’s their style. all i wanted was some consistency.

    when i watch it online i’ll be able to tell how bad the fouls were. thanks for the input. I was more unimpressed with Donovan. He seems less creative when he can’t counter. I would’ve moved him up top for superspeed.

    And yes I have a mancrush on Dempsey. He’s just got swag. I reckon Jozy needs to work on his dance moves like Chuck D or Demps if he wants to improve his game.


  11. Posted by daniel on 2011/03/30 at 5:47 AM

    tim ream will be wearing the armband in brazil.

    i liked the lichaj-chandler left-flank pairing. they overlapped well. too bad chandler was gassed. let’s try that one again.


  12. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/30 at 6:13 AM

    MB comments are spot on again. Don’t hate him but he’s not going to elevate the squad IN THAT ROLE with the skills he possesses. It was telling how the attack changed when JJ entered and assumed that role. Again, it was interesting that it took MB almost 10 mins to RELINQUISH that role. Showing again the weakness in the BB-MB relationship. This is where the Stu injury really hurts in that I think Bob would have been forced to cede the CMF leadership to him. Now we’re back to trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. I absolutely think he belongs in the squad but not in the role he’s cast in. Or casts himself?


  13. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/30 at 6:23 AM

    Overall, the young guns were impressive and will be heard from and props to Bob for their inclusion in the mix. Lichaj is raw but has the makings of a forceful, game changing back. Chandler has great game sense and his burst is international level.
    At this point, poor JB just looks like he doesn’t really want to be there any more. His touches under pressure are really college level and his crossing ability is lacking. Your Convey comments are not ludicrous as someone has to be able to provide something more than JB brings. Convey is faster than Boca and he got a runout against Arg.
    Ream does look like a solid CB and I’d be wasting electrons trying to add to the Agudelo chorus. Great point by Matt that goal scoring is a side bar from him at this point. He did everything a very good international level forward needs to do. Receive and turn under pressure and no one to flash and when dish. He’s special and I agree that a pairing with somewhat returned to form C Daviies could be lethal.


  14. Posted by tnnelson on 2011/03/30 at 6:31 AM

    spot on about Agudelo. i kept my eye on him a lot, and he really does the little things well. he’s got a good soccer brain, and knows what to do with or without the ball. i couldn’t help notice the opposite with Jozy. his off the ball runs are terrible, and he doesn’t do the hard work unless he thinks he will get the ball. time and time again Agudelo opened up space with a purposeful run where he was probably not getting the ball, but he knew he could open up space in the middle for Dempsey and Donovan to create. one play i can remember in particular with Jozy… Landon took the ball about 45 yards from goal with a ton of space and we had men forward. chandler was streaking down the right and Agudelo made a run on the left to open space and actually overlapped Bornstein on the flank, and Jozy was in front of Landon with Paraguay on their back foot and scrambling a bit. Jozy made a run right across Landon’s path, and instead of opening up space, forced him to slow down to avoid a man, doing the exact opposite of what you want your striker to do. all Donovan could do was play Bornstein in, and he couldn’t even get a meaningful touch on the ball in a good position because he’s Bornstein. all i can say is i thought we would at least get a good shot off there, maybe even a goal, and Jozy’s terrible movement stifled it, and not for the first time on the night


  15. Posted by Bryan on 2011/03/30 at 6:39 AM

    Gotta say I’m optimistic about the FUTURE potential of JA. He’s definitely going to put some away now but with regular time in NY and with the Nats he should progress into something special over the next couple years. Jozy? Learn how to play the linking/ hold up role McBride was so good at or find the exit door. Finally, Ream’s passing out of the back and Chandler’s speed getting forward is a combination I’m not sure I’ve seen on the same field for the US. All kinds of exciting. I’d love to see those guys mixed in with the ‘A’ team.


  16. Posted by Paddycass on 2011/03/30 at 6:41 AM

    Good read. Wondering if teams have figured out to either keep Bradley busy defending (Argentina) or just crowd him and Dempsey out and force it wide (Paraguay). Donovan needs space to really thrive (Don’t we all!), which is becoming obvious, and maybe he needs to play higher. He does so well on counters or where there’s open grass.

    I’d let Dempsey, Altidore, Agudeloa take the heat in any clogged midfield, move Bradley behind them and Jones behind him. Let Landon roam wherever he can- he has the skills for that.

    Chandler and Agudelo do look the real deal, and Ream – that’s very promising right there.


  17. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/30 at 6:42 AM

    it was nice to see junior bradley mute the sounds of his critics over these last two games. he was clearly the best player on the pitch last night. reem is good and makes nice passes, but in like the third minute he made a pass out of the back that got intercepted and paraguay almost scored, except bornstein got enough of his body in the way to prevent an early, third minute goal.

    isnt it kind of funny to hear someone say that bradley cant make the pass, like xavi, or pirlo? one can only chuckle at this kind of comment. junior bradley is better than jermaine jones and the sooner jones realizes this, the better the usa team will be. bradley is also better than holden and it is not putting holden down, because he was missed and im sure coach bradley was looking forward to utilizing his ability.

    jimmy johnson had a saying. he said “i treat all my players the same, differently.” what he means is that each case is different, so where freddy needs club time to get back into the picture, junior does not and it is perfectly logical to see things this way.


    • Posted by Matthew Reese on 2011/03/30 at 7:09 AM

      Curious as to how many Bradley jerseys you have in your closet? My guess bout 7-8.


    • Posted by daniel on 2011/03/30 at 7:11 AM

      you must’ve been watching a different game. bradley isn’t match sharp at all. he made plenty of careless passes. he backpedaled when he should’ve driven forward. ream was the best man for the US, no question.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/30 at 7:37 AM

      One word. Wow!
      If you want to be a middling, mediocre side that struggles to create offense against CONCACAF clubs in qualifying then I agree completely with your assessment.
      That’s an awful gushy review for a 1-0 loss. I saw his coming back to receive the ball and then making rushed questionable decisions most of the game. Keep in mind that Pguay was allowing him to receive the ball and holding pressure until beyond the 50 for most of the game. In coaching and preparation terms, that means that they have no respect his distribution or his ability to beat the first man.
      I saw him turning back far too often and slowing the attack when tempo was needed and keep in mind that ANY easy giveaways in that role convert to scoring chances which you can count at least 3 if not 5 in this game.
      Not saying he didn’t look better than the Arg game but to say that he looked better than Jones and that he is the answer in that role long term? I just don’t see what you’re seeing.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/03/30 at 7:53 AM

        Uh, I thought Bradley was good. It’s not a crazy thought.

        Bradley made a lot of simple passes to keep possession and distribute the ball around. If you liked the fact that we kept possession for long stretches and worked the ball around but didn’t like Bradley, it’s a contradiction that you have to resolve. I think matthewsf makes some valid points about specific plays, but Bradley overall had a strong game for me. I think (Bob) Bradley should have been much more eager to move Clint Dempsey into the #10 role.

        Some people think the argument is closed over 4-4-2 versus 4-2-3-1. I think today reopened it.


    • Posted by dbex on 2011/03/30 at 10:02 AM

      OK, I’m the guy who made the Xavi/Pirlo comment, so tell me….what’s funny about it? It’s true. If you think i’m being too pie-in-the-sky, let me ratchet down expectations a bit: how about someone who can distribute like John O’Brien did, or an in-form Claudio Reyna? MB can’t; it’s just not part of his skill set. Closest thing to it right now is Holden. Jones passes well, but I don’t see him picking the ball up from the back 4 and possessing that way.

      I *like* Bradley. I think he’s a leader and a critical player on the team. He’s just not the right guy for that role, and he’ll have a lot more energy for the stuff he’s good at if you don’t make him try.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/30 at 5:25 PM

        job, god bless him, the boy smoked to much chronic in a-dam and manhattan beach


  18. Posted by mdb on 2011/03/30 at 7:31 AM

    Dead on analysis of Mikey’s performance. I love that guy, but he does not see comfortable in the role of playmaker. Not sure if he’s incapable of controlling the offense and unlocking defenses with smart passes, but he’s certainly not comfortable trying at this point.

    The number of times he had space in front of him and chose to reverse course, his back to the offense third, sometimes for 10-20 yards…it was infuriating.

    I wonder if he’s also a little gun-shy from his experience at Aston Villa so far…


    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/30 at 7:55 AM

      Of course he’s not comfortable in the role of playmaker. Fortunately, he wasn’t playing in that role. He was sitting just in front of the defense and spraying it around. The lack of offensive creativity in the first half was due to the lack of options up front—where Edu was absent, and Dempsey and Donovan were too wide. In the second half, when Dempsey moved central in a #10 role the offense looked much better.


  19. Posted by jack on 2011/03/30 at 7:37 AM

    I second your Convey comments. He deserves a call-up for the Spain friendly. Give him a chance, he’s a World Cup veteran for —- sake. Not some newbie from nowhere. Also think Beasley could have helped us if he ever gets back into game shape.

    Also would help us, off the bench: Adu. Yes, I said it. He brings more to the table as an offensive sub than Kljestan or probably even Feilhaber. I don’t think the Danish second division is any better than the Turkish second division, to be honest. The verdict is still out on Diskeruud.


  20. Posted by Cameron on 2011/03/30 at 7:37 AM

    Good article. I think that Bob Bradley just does not have that creative center midfielder in his arsenal at the moment (well, actually, I’m sure that quite a lot of people will make an argument for Mix, but he’s young and inexperienced so I’m not sure I’d agree). At the moment, Michael Bradley seems to be more into the defensive aspect of his role–which, don’t get me wrong, he did very well these past two games, especially considering the PT he’s getting at Villa–but we needed more help starting those offensive plays from the back and moving them up.

    Left back is still a bit of a black hole, but seeing Tim Ream put in such a good performance was reassuring. I really, really liked the combination of Lichaj at RB and Chandler at RM–I wouldn’t mind seeing that again (not to mention some of Lichaj’s throw-ins into the box–jeez, the kid’s got arms)–especially since it allowed Dempsey to shift up to the front. I thought that Deuce also put in a very good, very aggressive game, but the real bright spots for me were the young guys.


  21. Posted by Charlie G. on 2011/03/30 at 7:42 AM

    Again, great analysis from all. Think with the MF players Bob had to use, there wasn’t much choice in styleof play – of course, that assumes if other players were available Bob would make the most effective use.

    Perhaps I’m naive, but I keep hoping for a true No. 10 – someone in the center mid who has a decent touch, can pass, and can, on occasion, break down 1 v. 1. Claudio Reyna has a 12 year old son, but that may be too long to wait. Am not saying that the US can’t play without a true No. 10, it just provides another dimension. Don’t think Landon is this player. Maybe Benny.

    Loved Ream, Lichaj, Chandler. Can’t say enough about Agudelo – I cringe a bit when people say bring him along slowly – don’t think he’s the type that will burn out, seems mature beyond his years. The nose for the goal, an instinct to always keep challanging is what creates chances – this is what Davies brings as well. Amazing attitude. A Ronnie Lott mentality for you 49ers fans.

    A curious idea – as many think J Jones will be too old for CM in the next WC, how about working him into a central defender role with Ream.

    At least with the USMNT there’s lots to talk about. And, who will be the break out player(s) from the U20, U17’s?


    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/30 at 7:58 AM

      The u20s don’t have any superstars–just a bunch of very solid players who might or might not work out. Great depth. Guys to watch out for there: Joe Gyau as a winger–great dribbling moves, good shot, maybe his passing is not as strong; Bobby Wood can play any forward position in a 4-3-3; Amobi Okugo is a fine destroyer; Gale Agbossoumonde might turn out to be a beast of a CB; Omar Salgado as a 6’4″ forward has a ton of potential also. So we’ll see.


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/03/30 at 8:44 AM

        I thought West Ham was supposed to be pretty high on Lletget. Haven’t seen much of him personally, though.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/30 at 9:41 AM

          West Ham apparently was, but he was sick throughout most of 2010 and hasn’t really hit his stride since then–he bounces between their youth teams and their reserve teams. Watching him in the game yesterday, he was OK–hit a post on a clever scoop shot–but didn’t play the classic #10 role a lot of people have attributed to him. Good linking player, but didn’t create a lot on his home.


    • I’m not sure Claudio’s son (if he plays exactly like Cpt. America) is a true #10 in the making. Cladio played a lot like Mikey does: box-to-box, simple passes to maintain possession, but not the Valderrama/Etcheverry/Xavi type who unlocks a parked bus. If you watch the last 20 minutes of the game, the entire 2007 Gold Cup, or Claudio for Man City in the beginning of the 2005 season, you’ll notice Baby Sweats (or Claudio) knowing where he wants to go with the ball before he received it, and then quickly making a pass that is meant to open space for the “third man running.”

      This style is extremely effective if there’s a complimentary midfielder/forward (or multiple) to support them and make intelligent runs off the ball. Which is why Agudelo has made such an impact so quickly; coming back for the ball and being able to do something with it giving Mikey one of those outlets for simpler passes and some absolvement of creativity.


  22. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/30 at 8:05 AM

    what the usa really needs is for benny feilhaber to recapture his form of four years ago. if you go back over the last four years, it was the feilhaber/ junior combo that looked most promising. 4-5-1 with junior, holden and feilhaber would be the best triangle of central mids usa could put on the field. jones is good, but he is on the wrong side of his prime, but if healthy, he will be a nice addition for qualifing.


  23. Posted by Jake C. on 2011/03/30 at 8:34 AM

    Matt, I agree with your sentiments about midfield. The entire lot is to blame for me, excepting maybe Dempsey, but he wasn’t necessarily a midfielder; he was wherever the ball was. The big problem I had was when Kjlestan came in at left midfield. What is a left midfielder (or specs at right middie) going to do? Would have loved to see another sub–even if it was Kjlestan–in the center. My major problem will be if BB keeps using the center of midfield as a corral for his defensive players, because it stymies our attack. Subbing in attack-minded players on the wing isn’t always the best option, Bob.


  24. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/30 at 8:42 AM

    Where was Mixx? Why wasn’t he a 2nd half substitute? He would have been perfect for this game!


  25. This was actually a really good performance against a stingy defensive side. The US didn’t ultimately break Paraguay down and score, but they consistently created chances out of possession. Paraguay is the classic type of team that we struggle with – defensively solid, content to sit back, let us play and hit on the counter. The good news is that we just about have the quality to start breaking down these teams and winning this kind of game more often.

    In this regard the match was something of a breakthrough performance, despite the scoreline. “When did we learn to play football?” I thought to myself. Clint Dempsey was everywhere and involved in everything. Those bemoaning our lack of a classic number 10 obviously weren’t paying attention to his work last night because he played the creative role very well. All Paraguay could do was foul him repeatedly.

    Chandler was consistently able to get up the pitch and add an extra man in the attack on the right flank, but with Dempsey cutting inside from the left a similar option was needed on that side. Bornstein was officially terrible – a bit suspect at times in defense, able to find space in advanced positions but doing very little once he received the ball. The covering from Bradley and Edu for the fullbacks was actually very good and we weren’t ever exposed on the counter. Ream distributed well out of the back, allowing USA to keep possession and play attractive football.

    Aguedelo had me more convinced than previously with solid footballing performance and creative flair rather than simply turning in a goal, though that’s an important skill too.

    Defensively our centerback partnership was a bit shaky. The Paraguay goal was a bit of an odd one, with the most dangerous area left largely undefended even once Ream’s slip is accounted for. Why on earth is he the only player at the edge of the 6 yard box on a corner?

    Nice to see the USA continuing to pressure in search of the equalizer and create chances up until the final moments. Too often these sorts of matches seem to die prematurely in the last minutes as we stuggle to keep possession and/or create chances when we do.


  26. Posted by Izzy on 2011/03/30 at 9:07 AM

    I’m not really sure I understand why people are giving Bradley a lot of criticism for not unlocking the defense. When you’re the distributive hub deep in midfield, you’re supposed to help keep the ball, control tempo, link play and spray the ball around the field to players in good spots. Slicing the defense wide open isn’t part of the job description, although it’s not an ability completely out of reach for a lot of players who are in his role. Bradley had a match against Liverpool that 723FootballFilms used to have before his account got pulled. He was deep in midfield and distributed responsibly throughout the match. Moreover, he hardly ever looked to break into the box, as was the case last night. Bradley played that role for the majority of the season before that friendly.

    Bradley’s distribution and ball handling deep in the midfield was pretty good last night. He might be missing a little bit of the finer nuances of the role, but the only player who has them seems to be Jose Torres, and his defensive ability, while quite impressive for a player of his creativity, is not quite up to Bradley’s.

    We should also understand that Bradley has just about NEVER played this role for the USA. That has an effect, maybe not much of one, but it can make a difference.

    Another interesting thought is that Bradley sitting deep allows Jones to get into the attack. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Like Matt has said, Jones tends to force the final ball, but he does have pretty good ability when it comes to that, probably better than Bradley’s.


    • Posted by Jeff on 2011/03/30 at 10:46 AM

      +1 here

      Bradley seemed fine and BB’s general approach from the 4-4-2 is to attack from the flanks.

      That being said, in a game where we possess the ball so well, we need an outlet in front of MB. Edu is not the guy for that. Jones did a decent job in the 2nd half – perhaps Holden assumes this role when healthy – or Mix as he matures. Dempsey could do this as well and Chandler could move to the wing with Dolo or Lijac overlapping.

      We are going to see similar games as Gold Cup rolls around. I’d prefer to see the Edu as a CB experiment rehashed for this tourney (at least early). Pair him with Ream back there and we have the makings of fluid back line.


  27. Good breakdown of the game – I agree on most points.

    As you state in your first observation, although the end result might not have been what we were looking for, the game was still a huge success, in many ways. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the USA backline dictate the tempo and passing of a game like they did last night (thank you, Ream). We got a great look at what some of our most promising new prospects: Agudelo, Chandler, Lichaj – can do. And Dempsey showed that his success at Fulham can translate over to the USA. Not making excuses – our finishing was poor and we should be able to beat Paraguay – but the scoreline doesn’t really tell the whole story. Not that anyone reading this site would need to know that.

    I thought Bradley was the best among the Bradley/Edu/Jones trio. That might be influenced by the fact that he hasn’t played much recently, which is unfair to Edu/Jones. But I thought Bradley did a good job keeping possession, and even dribbled his way forward out of a few tight spots. He’s not the CAM we need to link our defense and offense, but we’ve known that for a while. More evidence that the 4-2-3-1 is the direction we should be headed.

    Agudelo looked, as many have said, mature “beyond his years”. Great point made about scoring goals not being so important at this time (though he’ll obviously need to get in the habit of doing so eventually). In his previous two games, we saw that he could finish chances where he put himself in the right place at the right time. Last night we saw more than that: he showed for the ball (sometimes was the only one), made smart hold-up plays, balanced his 1v1 moves with good passes, etc. I’m convinced now that Agudelo is the whole package.

    My major disappointment was not being able to see Diskerud play with the big boys. It would have been a big leap of faith to plug him into Holden’s role, but I would have liked to have seen it anyways. I realize Bob was limited in his options and that probably wouldn’t have been a smart call. I hope Mixx keeps playing well with his club and earns a call-up in June.


  28. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/30 at 11:09 AM

    Random thoughts-

    I saw people complaining about the result and the performance. I thought it was a promising performance- especially in the 2nd half.

    I am really excited about 2014. If Agudelo continues to develop along with Ream, Chandler, Lichaj,Bradley, and Holden, this team is going to be good.

    I was begging to see Tim Ream and he brought it. I can’t believe people were blaming him for the goal. It was obvious he was literally thrown to the ground by his mark. He was solid defensively and made so many good passes UP the field. What a refreshing change. Ream is the one central defender. Pick from Gooch/DeMerit/Gonzo/Opara/Goodson/Whitbread for #2.

    Bocanegra needs to play LB every game, or else bring Convey in, or try Lichaj or Spector out over there- or Zach Lloyd or Anthony Wallace. It is driving me nuts that people are justifying another atrocious performance by Bornstein. He is an embarrassment.

    Timothy Chandler exceeded my high expectations. I don’t remember him getting beat once defensively and he was a monster going forward. Finally a true winger with lethal speed and crossing ability! He linked up well with Lichaj when moved to wing. If he plays on the right side, Donovan can move to the left and then Dempsey can play that withdrawn striker role or attacking mid. What a valuable asset for this summer and beyond!

    Seconds before Lichaj’s throw, I told my dad: watch for the long throw- I wonder if Paraguay knows about it, LOL

    Shady officiating last night from the Honduran ref. Maybe you don’t call a penalty on Jozy getting choked or Agudelo being brought down in the box, but you have to call a foul on the Paraguay goal. I saw it live and it was confirmed on replay. Tim Ream got thrown to the ground.

    I wish we could have seen Holden paired up with Bradley. Sadly, Edu was a dissapointment. Jones might be a solution for the Gold Cup but I don’t see him being part of the plan for the World Cup.

    I hope Bradley and Donovan can find more consistent form before the World Cup.

    If Jozy doesn’t pick it up immediately, I want to see Bunbury or Davies paired with Agudelo.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 11:31 AM

      Fact: If Juan Agudelo plays at World Cup 2014–and we are getting way ahead of ourselves–he will be older than Landon Donovan or DaMarcus Beasley were at World Cup 2002.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/03/30 at 11:42 AM

      I have no idea how grabbing a guy around the neck and railroading him to the ground doesn’t warrant a penalty. I guess the ref just didn’t want to insert himself into a friendly that early in the game. I can’t imagine that not getting called in an official game, though.


  29. Posted by kaya on 2011/03/30 at 11:12 AM

    unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch the game, so I’ll resist the temptation to comment that MB’s performance (or lack thereof) doesn’t surprise me. oh wait…
    my question, or comment really is that Convey’s attitude must be a real issue for sweatpants to continue not calling him up. The LB quagmire continues…


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 11:31 AM

      Soccer sportswriters in America have long known that Bobby Convey puts “I” in “team” as often as “t” “e” “a” or “m”. That’s what is holding him back.

      With the Reading experience under his belt, his best friend right now is somehow Frankie Yallop convincing USSF that he’s changed. If, in fact, he has.


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/03/30 at 11:43 AM

        Probably doesn’t help that’s publicly alleged that there’s some sort of bias or conspiracy against him at the USSF. Not the way to endear yourself to the staff.


      • Posted by kaya on 2011/03/30 at 1:11 PM

        I have to say from the interview you had with him last year it sure didn’t sound (read) like it…


      • Posted by BrosefTito on 2011/03/30 at 1:11 PM

        If he is so selfish then why did he have so many assists last season. He’s certainly not selfish on the field.


  30. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/30 at 11:25 AM

    It still seems that the US can’t buck the trend of poor first halves. They always seem to come out better in the 2nd half- this has been going on since the Confed Cup. Is this Bob Bradley’s fault?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 11:29 AM

      Coach Rope-A-Dope… if you put Edu and Bradley on the field and ask them to create you’re going to have that.

      I’m not saying Jones is a the solution. I don’t know what is (and I’m not sure what you sacrificed by bringing him in), but it helped the game play.


  31. Posted by B on 2011/03/30 at 11:40 AM

    I think the one thing you can say about Michael Bradley is that the lack of playing time has made a dent in his confidence. Part of his sub-par performance is fitness and rustiness issues. The other has to be his confidence in his game. The Michael Bradley in the world cup was the tireless runner, the enforcer, the kid who never gave up. That Michael Bradley is currently missing. You can see it in his body language. He stays home, he isn’t confidence in his passing. He had that great shot at the end of the game but for the most part he is performing adequate as a defensive center midfield, which for MB90 is not good enough


  32. […] was odd seeing MB 90 look gassed after sixty minutes last evening. Also, it should be noted that while MB 90 played well (easily the best American central midfielder in the first game as well), he … And therein lies the rub: Sacha Kljestan is the best other option, for now, despite the rage he […]


  33. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/30 at 3:34 PM

    im a little confused as to why usa fans are so against junior bradley. he was easily the best player for the usa these last two games, yet there are people trying to suggest he did not play well or some other nonsense, as if he was not in game shape or something else. its hard to believe that people are so against the father, that they will take it out on the son. what a shame. these same people think they know football, but really…. they dont.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 4:07 PM

      @dikranovich This is Matthew from TSG.

      I think for some reason you’re emotionally involved with the success of Michael Bradley. I think there are positive and negative comments on TSG.

      I think they are objective.

      However, I think making blanket statements that call out the objectivity or quality of these observations–especially calling out those that oppose your views–shows a lack of objectivity itself and reeks of elitism.

      Just “who” was the best player for the Yanks for the last two games is subjective. I tend to think Tim Howard was excellent against Argentina and Clint Dempsey was excellent against Paraguay.

      But both of those observations are likewise debatable and I respect people’s opinions who disagree with them.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/30 at 7:11 PM

        im sorry matthew, but anyone that says howard was anything but exceptional against argentina has to be off their rocker. it would not be anything personal, it would just be more factual.

        amigo, there are many american fans who really begruge the fact that bob bradley is the coach, im not saying these people call him things like coach sweats, or anything like that, but there are many people that think the guy cant coach and that he should not be the coach. am i lying? because, if i am, then i must be a cantalope.

        so as it stands, these people that dont rate the coach, they come and they dont rate the son of the coach. let me speak with some english venacular, so everyone can understand. they dont rate one of our best players, not just because he was huge in the world cup, or in holland, or pretty much anywhere he has been, or because he is only 23 and got a bright future. oh yeah, im sorry, its not personal to believe in someone, like its not personal when people believe holden is this wonderful player, if only he could stay healthy for ten minutes, he would probably be playing for man united. WHATEVER………


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/30 at 8:19 PM

          “People” may do that, but THIS site objective.

          Best part of sports is that it’s debatable–more so soccer because the true stats of a player haven’t been unlocked yet.

          Many Americans begrudge Bob Bradley–but most if not all on this site realize the talent pool he is working with.

          I call him Coach Sweats–so what–that’s because on this site if I wrote Bob Bradley I would write it 50x over. Further I call him Coach Sweats because I–personally–should feel a coach should dress more professionally. That’s me.

          I don’t lament his coaching because he wears sweats.

          Pardon, but you appear to have disdain because people don’t accept your opinion as right.

          And further, this is a fair subject Michael Bradley is not Andrea Pirlo or Michael Essien. He’s–currently–a back-up on a team that employs a just returned former Lyon man and a man about to be out of contract in the starting midfield.

          That–is a fact.

          It’s not personal, it’s a matter of subjective opinion.

          And–honestly–the sooner you understand what this site is all about the more I’ll value what I’m sure is astute commentary under the facade of put-me-downs.


          • Posted by Kevin on 2011/03/30 at 9:07 PM

            For whatever reason I’ve always thought Holden would be a great fit for Man Utd. He just seems to have a Utd mentality that probably came from being a Utd supporter (at least I’m pretty sure he is). Maybe it has something to do with my interpretation of the Traditional Houston Dynamo style of play to be similar of that of Manchester United. I can’t really put my finger on it. I was wondering if anyone else has ever thought similarly about anything I just said so I could have an idea of why they think that way.


            • Posted by Dikranovich on 2011/03/30 at 10:02 PM

              Holden like the coach of man u were both born in Scotland. Similar to the way the Aston villa coach and central mid are both French products. Of course the owner is American so let’s s what happens when junior is an outright purchase and the French “genius” heads back to the ffff

        • Posted by Freegle on 2011/03/30 at 8:20 PM

          Wow. Another Narkid special. This defines “missing the point.”


  34. […] Snap Judgements: USA vs. Paraguay Some quick thoughts on the US’s 1-0 loss to a stingy Paraguay side in advance of Jay Bell’s game review. […]


  35. Posted by Seybold on 2011/03/30 at 6:40 PM

    Yeah, Convey. They need to invite him to a camp and see if he can behave.


  36. Posted by Kevin on 2011/03/30 at 8:52 PM

    I think that the second half showed that Dempsey should be the attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1. I’m going the even mention the obvious conclusions of Agudelo and Ream, but I think we’ve been getting it all wrong with Dempsey on the outside. In the midfield who do you want on the team and where? I already mentioned Dempsey at attacking midfield, now Donovan at outside mid is obvious as well. I would like to incorporate Holden into the midfield, but the question is whether to put him outside or inside. If you put him inside, he would be forced to play out of position as a defensive midfielder. On the outside, I think we lose the opportunity for speed. I’m going to go with inside. Who partners with him though? There only really seems to be one logical option here considering Bradley’s nepotism, but luckily enough I think MB90 is also just tactical sense. On the last outside midfield position, you have players like Bedoya, Chandler, even Diskerud I think. The thought of Chandler and Lichaj both being able to go up, attack, and cover for one another on the right side gives me jitters, so that’s what I’m going with.

    lastly, with players like Shea or Cameron, (yes I realize nobody talks about him as a CB anymore, but with Taylor hurt and Kinnear still looking for an attacking midfielder Cameron at CB is looking more likely for the Dynamo) I think you get a near perfect CB pairing chemistry wise. Ream isn’t the quickest, nor is he slow, but Cameron and Shea can both makeup lots of ground with their speed and are supposedly good CB’s with converted midfielder you still get good touch and distribution from both CB’s and don’t have to give up height for it. I could easily see one of them having to fill in at CB for their club and just staying there. 3 out of 4 defenders solid. Now hunting for a LB… gotta watch some more Bobby Convey and Robbie Rogers.


  37. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/31 at 7:52 AM

    I thought MBradley had a good game. But I did not think he had a spectacular game. Thought he mopped up quite well and provided a passing outlet. But he had time and space as Paraguay didn’t press like Argentina.

    My only (harsh) criticism is he likes to play the ‘floated’ (diagonal) pass too often, when it called for more of a driven pass or pass on the deck behind the full back, ie throughball. There were opportunities to get behind the defence that were not taken because once the receiving player chest trapped the ball and got it down, the defenders were able to reset. These few seconds are the difference between playing somebody in behind and not. And the better the opponent, the more likely this little things will be more important and there will be fewer opportunities.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/31 at 9:24 AM

      Agree with your sentiments here GeorgeCross. Excellent observation.


    • Posted by Jake C on 2011/03/31 at 9:55 AM

      Yea I remember one pass in particular he sent to Chandler that was hit like that; Chandler let it go out of bounds rather than try to deal with it, as he was double covered by the time the ball got to him. Good point.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/31 at 10:18 AM

        That’s the one that I talk about up top. Pass should have *never* been hit.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/31 at 5:27 PM

          you are talking about a pass that bradley made to chandler as he was moving down the right flank? bradley hit a deft ball that chandler could have controlled. id like to see video of these passes you guys are talking about, as well as some video of the passes jermaine jones hit. it sounds like what im hearing now, is that bradley should not be trying to push the ball forward, im serious, im confused at what some people are trying to say. is someone trying to say that bradley should not have even attempted the pass he made to chandler?


  38. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/31 at 5:34 PM

    in all honesty, bradley should have scored that goal. he did not put it deep enough into the corner and there could have been more power behind that shot, but back to the pass, dont you guys think it is just a little ironic that we talked about bradley being no pirlo or xavi, two guys who hit deft little floaters all game long, yet when junior does it, it becomes harshly criticized. someone out there must see the humor in all this?


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/31 at 7:08 PM

      Big difference between switching or spreading the play, and trying to play someone in behind the fullback.

      We are talking about this game, why are you talking about Pirlo and Xavi? You are obsessed with comparing Bradley to these players. My comment boils down to decision making and seeing the passing option, not who can make the best floated diagonal passes.


  39. Posted by Dikranovich on 2011/03/31 at 7:25 PM

    Mr cross could you provide some video to try and prove your point. Really I don’t care about xavi or pirlo. I just think Bradley is the best center mid in the us pool. Hands down. But some people have a problem with this opinion and they try to belittle my opinion by calling it some sort of obsession Like saying I have seven or eight junior jerseys. Actually, I have ten


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/31 at 11:25 PM

      You’re not Jack McCoy and I don’t need to provide video evidence. If you watched the game, or Bradley in general, you’d know what I am referring too.

      I am not belittling you, but you have an inferiority complex on behalf of Bradley. Bradley is probably the best player you have as a holding player but best midfielder??


  40. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/04/01 at 7:20 AM

    george, dont you think you are being a little disingenuous when you suggest things like obsessions and inferiority complexs. why would i have an inferiority complex about junior? he starts every game. then im suppose to take you at your word that bradley does these things you harshly criticize him for and if i ask for video, you bring up some star trek reference. then you suggest in the last sentance that i said bradley was the best midfielder and you used a couple of question marks for emphasis. of course i stated that he was hands down the best center mid and you are looking to twist it some other way. i really find your arguments a bit contrived.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/04/01 at 7:24 AM

      @dikranovich Make your comments less personal now.

      While others may accidentally slip into being personal from time to time or are drawn into those discussions, your comments are flaming and antagonistic.

      I’m asked you privately before to refrain from this. Now I’m asking you publicly.

      I’m sorry if you don’t like this message or feel singled out. But the community is bigger than any one commenter/reader/person of including myself.


      • Posted by Dikranovich on 2011/04/01 at 12:02 PM

        Matthew, I’m not going to make my opinions less personal, this is the united states of America, not Nazi Germany. I mean honestly, if I really wanted you to “value” my opinion, I’d tell you how great you are. so, are you the Gestapo or are you a us soccer fan?


  41. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/04/01 at 8:10 AM

    Let’s give Matt the weekend off from forum policing shall we? We really should be able to disagree without all the exclamation points and are you kidding me?!’s.
    Here’s what I learned from you guys this week:
    Overall a good week for US soccer even with the Paraguay loss. –
    A bona fide next big thing has shown up in Juan Agudelo. We’ll see how he grows into the role.
    Bob has done a really nice job of injecting the new boys into the mix in meaningful games and most are looking like they belong.
    “John” knows alot about websites that involve dressing up cats for someone who “doesn’t do that”.))
    Tim Chandler is talented, fast and has a large forehead (which apparently makes him more aerodynamic)
    Eric Lichaj makes money on weekends posing as Gareth Barry at charity events (I made that one up)
    Tim Ream has demonstrated that the US CAN build from the back and a Ream to Stuie to Mikey to Deuce/Landon/Juan A is an exciting linking option for 2014 cycle and growing in reality. Booyaaa!
    I think that we can all agree that Michael Bradley has a ton of talent and upside and we’d like to see him used and excel in an attacking role that suits his abilities.
    The consensus is that we might want to consider trialing Bobby Convey, Timmy Chandler/Eric Lichaj, Marcelo Balboa, Roberto Carlos at 47, someone from the USWNT defensive corps and/or “a guy on my indoor squad who’s really good on the ball” at LB as a potential replacement for Jonny Bornstein.
    And those of us attending USMNT games outside of the supporters sections vow to make more noise and stand up:<) And a formal thanks to the supporters sections for helping to put more US fans in seats and more visibility for the game. You're a great fan, Crow, and look forward to more of your insights and energy.
    Peace, ladies and gents and have a great weekend.


    • Posted by John on 2011/04/01 at 8:40 AM

      10 Things I learned from the Jay Bell commentary thread (and as well this week).

      #1: Everyone still doesn’t like Johnathon Bornstein, but probably not enough to have a TV show called “Everyone hates Bornstein” with Evangeline Lilly as his next door neighbor. Ok.. well, wait… I like Evangeline Lilly, now I would watch. Needs to be on HBO. I’m going to cast Wayne Brady as his Agent. It would be a south of the border Entourage.

      #2: US Fans come in all shapes, sizes and organizations, however we are all still fans. Except for people that support the Hollow Earth United States team. Those folks be crazy.

      #3: Not only have we stolen the English nomenclature for footy items, but their overriding pathos. Bad performance against a World Cup Quarter finalist? PANIC PANIC PANIC!

      #4: Max Brooks (World War Z) is Mel Brooks Son. <— That right there is education

      #5: Very few people think about dressing up cats. Obsessively. Well, except for David Beckham. He picks up kittens from Brighton and dresses them in Victorian Costumes <— Allusions to "Spaced" watch this show, people.

      #6: When you read comment threads back to your wife because someone made a funny, it comes across as being less funny and makes you seem completely insane.

      #7: Landon Donovan is doing just fine. Todd Dunivant is doing just fine. When they both play together it gets really confusing. DONOVAN TO DUNIVANT!

      #8: Randolph Scott was a screen legend.

      #9: Mix Diskerud is the most famous Norwegian in the Americas since Leif Ericson, except that I feel like I have seen more of Leif than Mix recently. <— Does not apply to Leif Garret.

      #10: It's spring, unless you are in South America. In which case, stop complaining, because you could go to the Iron Maiden themed bar in Baraloche and party with some of Argentina's finest.

      The End.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/04/01 at 9:05 AM

      I wouldn’t call Agudelo a bona fide next big thing. Wilshere, Bale, Goetze, Neymar–those guys are bona fide next big things, because they’ve proven themselves on big stages in important leagues. Agudelo is just a nice prospect.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/04/01 at 9:21 AM

        And in the interest of preserving the spirit of good will that Matthew (and John, reporting from somewhere in Middle Earth) have created…..
        you are 100% correct. I will formally change my opinion of Juan Agudelo from “next big thing” to “nice prospect”.
        If I should slip up occasionally in the future and refer to him as “quite good” or “a real up and comer” please feel free to quickly correct me on my grammar usage. I’m still just learning.


        • Posted by John on 2011/04/01 at 9:29 AM

          I’m just going to call him, “complete disappointment” to head off all the “Next Big Thing” stories at the pass.

          Juan “complete disappointment” Agudelo scored 14 goals and saved a bus from plummeting into a ravine in South Umbria today.


          • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/04/01 at 9:31 AM

            John- are you familiar with the term “Man Crush”? Just asking.


            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/04/01 at 9:34 AM

              I’m headed right now to read that entire string to my wife.

            • Posted by John on 2011/04/01 at 9:35 AM

              Is this like a “bro-mance”?

              Because I already have an ongoing one with a registered whig party member from 1845… mmm John Tyler, you GO with your suppression of the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island.

            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/04/01 at 9:50 AM

              For those of you who haven’t printed out your Harvard or Yale diplomas, as yet:

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