Snap Judgements: USA v. Canada Review

Mr. Tuesday will be along with a full re-cap tomorrow of the United States 2-0 win over Canada in Gold Cup Group Stage Game 1.

Bob, on it tonight...

• Bradley goes two traditional attack schemas and both work.

The first half saw the US deploy the “speed flank” of Steve Cherundolo, Landon Donovan and Juan Agudelo (with Jozy dragging across) on the right. The pair of Donovan and Cherundolo flummoxed Canada’s main attack pairing of Josh Simpson and Simeon Jackson.

The second half saw the Yanks slowly morph to a one striker set-up and push Clint Dempsey up in the attack. Klejstan came in and the Yanks methodically attacked the same flank.

Both tactics by Bob Bradley worked because Canada continually found themselves out numbered in the midfield, four to three in the first and five to four (when Dempsey came back to receive) in the second.

Steve Cherundolo–a candidate for player of the game–was instrumental in both shutting down the rear and making himself available up the field.

Note: The tactics did seem to frustrate Dempsey in the early going, who without a left back providing service or support was left to keep the field wide in the first rather than participate on the attack.

• The ghosts of–or heirs to–Robbie Findley and Benny Feilhaber.

As we mentioned nothing extraordinary from Bob Bradley in gaming tonight. Juan Agudelo is now playing “the Robbie Findley” role.

Similar to Findley, Agudelo was tasked this evening to hold up the ball on the right or make a fundamental corner flag run. He’s everything Bradley wanted in Findley at World Cup 2010 and much more, or will be at least.

All the way back. Old haircut and defense? No where to be found...

Congratulations US fan base, Bob Bradley showed off his shiny new Benny Feilhaber. His name is Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan came in in what we’ll call the Joe Dumars role in the 2nd half. Wait, that reference might be too old. How about the James Harden role?

Able to provide an outlet or a link or carry the attack, Kljestan looks to be Bob’s weakside-come-central 2nd half spark this tournament.

But TSG, you haven’t mentioned Tim Ream and Clarence Goodson in the back!

We just did. We’ll respond in the comments section.

• Michael Bradley looked…fresh

Can only imagine that the US’s notorious effort hound Bradley is just raring to go this tournament after playing little in 2011 to the lead-up.

Though Canada conceded quite a bit of space, Bradley was–to his father’s teachings–extremely quick in distribution. He still has some challenges moving back instead of forward, but on the day he was aggressive, on mark with his distribution, and all that fans can ask from him.

And Jermaine Jones looked good with space and more time to work today rather than Sunday. He’ll be put to the test against teams later in the tournament, but he helped himself today.

• Jozy Altidore moved well–he must build on today.

A goal from Altidore and some nice offball running. Had the assist on the 2nd goal as well. What I liked about Altidore is that he actively looked to use his body against physically inferior players. Altidore must show the stamina and will through the group stage.


• Clint, but not the plays you think

A little perturbed at his lack of opportunities in the first half. The man known as “Deuce” came alive in the second.

Fans and media folks will point to one of two plays in heralding Dempsey’s play on the evening, either the improvised scorpion kick mean to redirect a cross or the Fulham man’s slide-and-deposit job that finally cooked Canada’s bacon.

However, a play in the 85th minute is the one that bears the most coverage. Having seen a lead bass in the center of the box meant for him go astray and get nearly picked up by a Canada defender, Dempsey continued to pursue and win a ball that he had less rights to.

Dempsey dogmatically gained the marble and stutter stepped, looking to buy time and win a penalty as he got nudged and hit the deck.

That Dempsey, a forward player, attacked defensively like he did and tried to work a penalty, and that it happened near the close of the 80th decade of time speaks volumes as to how much Dempsey’s game has improved over the past year.

42 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by 4now on 2011/06/07 at 8:08 PM

    It felt good not to worry about our center-back pairing. Entirely comfortable with Goodson & Ream against this level of opponent.

    Donovan looked under the weather, to say the least.

    Happy to see J. Jones more involved.

    Cherundolo a true professional.

    Would have preferred to have seen Spector to Klejstan, to be honest.

    Good for Jozy, who deserves some good luck.

    Top notch work by Timmy.


    • Posted by Jeff on 2011/06/08 at 8:21 AM

      I don’t know which Donovan you were watching, but his distribution was unbelievable.


      • Posted by 4now on 2011/06/08 at 9:53 AM

        “Unbelievable” I might reserve for Iniesta or Schneider or Xavi, not a post-bacterial Donovan playing against Canada on a choppy Ford Field. He seemed a bit languid, still recovering, not entirely his spritely self. I was impressed he went the full 90 considering his 24-hr bug.


  2. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/06/07 at 8:21 PM

    it is going to be importaint going forward that jermaine jones understand his role on this team. tonight, he showed that he does. a universal understanding among top teams is that teams play their best game in the last game of the event, not the first one. maybe mexico does not understand this though. it would have been nice to have holden and benny off the bench tonight, that would have given this game a nicer feel, closing it out. as it was, howard did a nice job keeping a clean sheet. some bench players are going to have to step up their games.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/06/08 at 7:05 AM

      If we had Holden today he wouldn’t have been coming off the bench. He’s the best US central midfielder right now and it’s not close.


      • Posted by Adam on 2011/06/08 at 8:41 AM

        He has yet to show the ability to stay healthy long enough for us to anoint him as the best CM. He only has 17 caps and most of them were in friendlies or in the 2009 Gold Cup when we trotted out the B team.

        He still isn’t proven at the international level.


        • Posted by jwrandolph on 2011/06/08 at 10:39 AM

          I don’t think his inability to avoid legshattering tackles is related to his talent. Stu would be a lock starter for the US, and -at least to me – more than proved himself this year in one of the best leagues in the world.


        • Posted by van on 2011/06/08 at 10:47 AM

          A great way he could show the ability to keep healthy is to keep people like de Jong from flying in and breaking his freaking leg. Not like he’s a fragile blossom. His play in the Premiere has been scintillating. Those opponents are better than anyone in CONCACAF.


    • Posted by Jeff on 2011/06/08 at 8:22 AM

      Yeah I’m not too sure why you would thinkin Stu would be on the bench. By far top 3-4 players on the team.


  3. Posted by jwrandolph on 2011/06/07 at 8:41 PM

    A few quick thoughts…

    One move that really excited me tonight was the sequence where J. Jones moved around 2-3 players and found some space on the attack, leaving Canada’s Johnson no option but to clip his heels (earning a yellow in the process.) I feel like thats what Bob Bradley wants more of, and what I hope we’ll see this cup. A pretty good game overall for Jones.

    It was nice to see the US boss the majority of the game, and to score two goals from the run of play. I’d still love to see more comfortable possession play in the opposing 1/2.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the Altidore-Agudelo-(Dempsey) pairing develop a deeper level of understanding. There were several times tonight where it looked like we had a great attacking opportunity that was snuffed out by a lack of interplay between those 3. Thats a world-class terrifying attack if those guys are in top gear and working as one.

    Congrats to Jozy. He deserved some luck, and I hope it builds his confidence. Agudelo I thought was a bit more impressive with his work-rate. Starting to see him as less of a flash-in-the-pan and more of a long-term pairing for Jozy that could be a force in the next few Gold Cups as well as 1-2 World Cups.

    There is no keeper on earth that I would rather play for my country than Tim Howard. When he’s on he’s got better athleticism than anybody, he’s braver than Casillas or Hart, he’s got the brothers-in-arms enthusiasm of Valdes, he bosses the defense better than Peter Cech (sp). I will back this man until the day he retires.

    I don’t know about yall, but I actually loved the announcer. I’ll take him over Harkes every day of the week.

    Good to pick up the W today.


  4. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/06/07 at 9:07 PM

    nice thoughts jw i really loved some of the diagonal floated balls. usa switched the point of attack pretty nice tonight. the team had some really good buildup and without looking their best, field conditions, etc, usa picks up a big win and can now build from here.


  5. Was it just me or was some of our possession forced short passes that ended up putting the recipient in more danger than should’ve? Like dikranovich said, it’s important to play our best game last and get the result here, plus the field looked awful (there was an early sequence where we broke out and the ball out to the corner pretty much died on impact…), but I still felt like we were forcing short passes that weren’t there.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/07 at 9:18 PM

      I don’t know if I’d describe some of those passes as “forced”–I think a lot of them were slightly misplaced balls that would’ve been more threatening had they been placed more precisely. Edu had a couple; Dempsey had one I can remember; Donovan, also. That, of course, is the difference between us and a top-10, top-15 country.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/08 at 4:51 AM

        A combination of slightly misplaced passes and pass anticipation. Small things, but look bigger when you aggregate them. Plus the pitch really didn’t help passing on the deck, at all.

        If I was being *over critical* I’d have to look at the fact that Altidore’s goal came from a goalkeeping error rather than a sublime bit of skill, and the fact we knew DeRosario was a key dangerman, but stood off him too much to let him shoot, which he almost scored. Plus Howard was forced into some brilliant saves [maybe a better opponent would have punished you?]

        But at this stage, it [tournament football] is about picking up 3 points and regrouping and then moving on to the next game, then stage. That is the most important thing. As it stands, you won and kept a clean sheet.


  6. Posted by MJ on 2011/06/07 at 9:34 PM

    “Howard was absolute magic,” Hart said. “I almost clapped.”

    Too right.


  7. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/06/07 at 9:44 PM

    the replay is on fox right now. 55th minute, second goal is on the way.


  8. Posted by Paul on 2011/06/07 at 9:50 PM

    Quick question about the Ream-Goodson duo: was this the first time they have started a match together? I can remember them playing together in a few friendlies, but I believe this is their first time together in the starting 11. Except for a couple of gaffes from Ream, Ream-Goodson looked very solid, good enough to beat most CONCACAF opponents. I would be interested in knowing their passing accuracy and other stats concerning their distribution out of the back. A simple hypothesis for today’s solid performance, the best two consecutive halves of ball out of a US side since the World Cup: when the fullbacks keep from spraying the ball across the pitch, to the sidelines and opponents, the US has a far better chance of winning. Even Timmy’s distribution was better than average.

    In emphasizing the US’s flank play during the first half, don’t forget to include Boca on the left; Boca was far more active in the final third than he usually is. I was at the game, and am still stunned to think of Boca, particularly in the opening twenty, charging down the left flank, playing balls into the box. The tactic seemed to disrupt Canada’s play, as Bradley gave both Boca and Cherundolo freedom to charge forward.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/07 at 10:01 PM

      No, played together in South Africa.

      Boca was, uh, competent. Let’s put it that way.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/06/07 at 11:14 PM

        Carlos Bocanegra is like, like, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s a step above the average stuff, it will never let you down– you may really like it sometimes, but you’ll never rave about it to your friends and say, “You gotta try this.!”


        • Posted by Andy_4Lakes on 2011/06/08 at 7:46 AM

          +1, I do so love beer analogies. Maybe it’s the Wisconsinite in me…


          • Posted by John Henry on 2011/06/08 at 8:24 AM

            Gotta love Leinenkugels!


            • Posted by John on 2011/06/08 at 8:29 AM

              Bocanegra is like an “aged cheddar”… while it doesn’t have the flash of a pepperjack or a blue it works on everything, you can put it anywhere and it never disappoints?

            • Posted by Andy_4Lakes on 2011/06/08 at 9:21 AM

              Beer and Cheese comparisons! You guys are killin’ it! Now if one of you can make a comparison to a fish fry I’ll be all set here!

            • Posted by John on 2011/06/08 at 9:32 AM

              Bocanegra is like grilled Shrimp at a fish fry…. you think you can get away without having him, but then when you throw it out there you realize it punches up the whole affair, and is won’t let you down in any normal Salmon or Cod lineup.

            • Posted by Andy_4Lakes on 2011/06/08 at 11:59 AM

              Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. Now I need to go get some fried cheese curds…

    • Boca’s runs up the left flank may have been only competent (and his service about the same) – but the offensive threat he provided, especially in the first half, was much more than I would have expected. He’s not the answer to our left back problem, but his performance last night showed me that we need not abandon runs up the left without Lichaj or Bornstein in at that position.


  9. Posted by dth on 2011/06/07 at 10:01 PM

  10. Posted by Joe on 2011/06/07 at 10:03 PM

    thats the power of having jones anchoring the defense when we push up th flanks


  11. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2011/06/07 at 11:07 PM

    I think butterflies are a good thing-Tim Ream probably the Gayest yet best quotation from that clip dth…also lol at how nerdy sweatpants is and how chill Dempsey reacts


  12. Posted by John Henry on 2011/06/08 at 4:15 AM

    Haha… I love you guys. “Dempsey dogmatically gained the marble”

    Sorry to sound like an apologist, but I thought Bradley (in the 1st half) was also the most dangerous yank in the final third. He was making smart one-twos (that his teammates mostly missed), powerful shots, and incisive through balls. Seems like finally the Jones/Bradley tandem is working itself out, especially by letting lil’ bradley get into the attack consistently. Kid has a nose for goal, no question about it.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/06/08 at 7:00 AM

      Spot on on MB. I think the combination of Jones’ strength and ownership in the CDM role and the formation forced Mikey to play to his strength in the forward 2/3’s of the field. He looked comfortable, confident and consistently positive while the US was looking to score. Most of his “negative” passing came after the lead in safe mode IMO. I’d rate him a 7+ overall.

      JJ put him into a few difficult spots but I like this combo for the next 12-16 months and then we’ll see what a Mikey/Stu combo brings for 2014. Don’t want to get too far ahead as Canada isn’t Mexico but you had to like the signs here.

      Defensively, in rewatching this was essentially a 2-2 game if Howard does not pull their ass from the fire on the two major chances. That first big save over the bar was Superman stuff. I think we’re getting a bit spoiled as the announcers gave it sort of a “just over the bar” treatment. Unbelievable quickness, positioning and strength on a smoked U90 shot from 12 yds out. God Bless Timmy Howard.

      And we’d be remiss if we didn’t heartily agree with TSG that Coach Sweats got everything spot on tactically and strategically. This was a great match to test out the Ream/Goodson pairing and they make a very good complementary pair. What a difference it makes having composed recovery and distribution out of the back. It makes Donovan and Demps so much more effective.

      still need an LB answer although Boca did his usual stellar turn.

      Great analysis and prognostication as most of your formation and even the Sacha inclusion were dead on.

      Sunil is looking in the wrong place for the next USMNT manager…Matt’s right here.


  13. Posted by SamT on 2011/06/08 at 5:55 AM

    And all is once again right with the world. Nothing like a solid performance (team and individual) to put the Spain loss behind us.

    One thing not yet mentioned. The play was narrow all match. Even when we were charging up the wings, it was rarely on the touch line. We took a very direct path to goal in transition, and it worked beautifully.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/08 at 9:07 AM

      A lot of people were pissing and moaning about the U.S.’s performance since the World Cup, with all sorts of dire statistics, and comparing our performance unfavorably to Mexico’s but to me this is a very simple function of strength of schedule: we’ve played a really difficult one. In fact, I’d guess we’ve played one of the hardest in the world–maybe only Brazil and Argentina better us post-World Cup–and so of course we’ll look bad. Mexico, meanwhile, gets to romp through New Zealand and Ecuador and teams like that. Time will show which strategy is better.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/08 at 4:32 PM

        Was the schedule a football related “strategy”, or a financial one with the USSF riding the post World Cup wave?


        • Posted by dth on 2011/06/08 at 5:02 PM

          Both, I think. People in and around US Soccer have spoken often about wanting to get a more difficult schedule. The Spain game was clearly a different species, given Bradley’s reaction to it.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/06/08 at 5:14 PM

            It’s not a criticism [though when I read my comment again, it probably sounds a little terse – sorry]. USSF needs a payday if they’re going to invest in various initiatives to enhance the team in the long run.


  14. Posted by Charlie G. on 2011/06/08 at 7:01 AM

    Think one of the keys was J. Jones becoming more comfortable in the US system – hopefully, the is the start of many solid, consistant performances – his play really helps free M. Bradley to do what he does best. Thought the whole team really challanged possession right away on a turnover, which really helped slow Canada. Ream – Goodson worked well, but it will interesting to see them challanged more when US is not controlling possession as much. A couple ot times I was wondering about back passes to Ream as being too timid a play, until I saw what he can do with distribution, seeing the field well and keeping Canada honest. Missing Stu Holden and what he can bring in giving US options in adjusting the style of play. A solid win against Panama, then maybe we’ll see Freddy get a look, and perhaps Spector a chance in MF ?


  15. Posted by Charlie G. on 2011/06/08 at 7:24 AM

    Oh, what’s with the lack of crowd in Detroit? Only 20,000 or so. Bring this game to Stanford stadium and you’d have a sell-out (and I’d be there). And now I’m hearing that Detroit wants an MLS team ?


    • Posted by John on 2011/06/08 at 8:10 AM

      It’s one of those… 25,000 in a 25,000 seat stadium looks packed… 25,000 in an stadium that supports 65 to 78 thousand…. not so much.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/06/08 at 9:03 AM

      US Soccer put it at 28k, the highest-ever attendance for group stage Gold Cup USMNT game.


  16. Posted by John on 2011/06/08 at 8:04 AM

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