TSG’s USA Vs. Costa Rica Preview Lite

Jozy & in form?! I'm going to Disneyland!.

We are squeezing in this preview as best we can. Written completely on an iPhone. Don’t ask. We’ll be back in full force next week.

The USMNT arrives at Game 2 of the Jurgen Klinsmann era Friday night at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, CA.

At the same time, small signals are starting to emit from USSF that the regime change from Bob Bradley to Jurgen Klinsmann will be a sweeping one. Just this week, Klinsmann opened up practice to fans and players interacted with fans after it. Bradley would host select groups, but often times media and fans would have to crane from a corner field position to witness practice and some times be swept away by security.

On the field, one thing is abundantly clear.

Whereas his predecessor Bob Bradley relied on the industry of generally two physically fit, big stick tackling central midfielders, Klinsmann seems intent on occupying that space with three players with only of whose job is to focus exclusively on cover over the centralbacks and flanks.

That role was of course played by Kyle Beckerman excellently against Mexico and should likely be played by either Maurice Edu or Jeff Larentowicz this Friday against CONCACAF heavyweight Costa Rica.

Beyond that, you can be sure the US will continue to learn to build from the back, there will likely be on striker on the pitch and the midfield will see to build chemistry throughout the game and push wider than it did in Klinsmann Game 1.

Sort of fun not knowing what to expect, no?

On to our preview. It goes:

TSG What Are Looking For

• Martin, oh Martin

Mexico was Mexico and ultimately the United States conditioning and a few adjustments won out against the forechecking of the Mexican forwards and midfield.

We know that Jurgen Klinsmann is focusing on building from the back.

The media’s book on Klinsmann has been that he lacks the tactical nous to hammer out a gameplan–much less-a win. Costa Rica runs a very lopsided 3-5-2 with their wing midfielders often leaking out to look more 3ish-4ish-3ish. A different set of challenges for Klinsmann’s campers here.

Bob Bradley often counteracted Costa Rica’s midfield by running almost a 4-1-3-1-1 where the spine of the Yanks in the midfield included a possession guy (Feilhaber or Torres), a ball carrier (Michael Bradley) and a destroyer off-ball (Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu).

What does Klinsy do?

• Timothy Chandler

The bullet needs no other headline. Still amazing to think that perhaps the best US starting prospect on the national team was an unknown to USSF at the beginning of this year.

That in short is amazing. After Bradley and Klinsmann both jumped as high as Nuremburg wanted them to, Chandler is finally in camp for both matches and it will be interesting to see just how much he is both the focus of pushing forward in the attack and being an active part of it.

All eyes again on Chandler.

• Do we see a more possessive central midfield at the start?

Against Mexico, Klinsmann opened with a standard 2010 Gold Cup summer line-up of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in the center of the pitch. Of course, neither is in this camp.

What also happened in Philadelphia is that Jose Torres looked lost on the wing in the 1st half, tucking in much too often and making possession management that much more challenging as Torres dragged his defender in with him.

Here’s what’s going to be interesting, though it looks like Jurgen’s play is telegraphed already.

Does Klinsmann keep the 4-1-4-1 with perhaps a holding possession player like Torres or does he–which seems likely–go with a more destroyer type in Jeff Larentowicz behind Jose Torres and Sacha Kljestan.

Seems like the latter.

• Ladies and gentleman, I give to you the real Jozy Altidore?

For the first time in three years, Jozy Altidore enters a USMNT camp with a high frequency of club repetitions under his belt and in-form. Perhaps the best short term benefit of the discovery of Juan Agudelo has been Jozy Altidore acknowledging that there is a new “young striker darling” on the US team–don’t forget Teal Bunbury–and he needs to bring it.

On the bringing it, time will tell.

11 At The Whistle:

Might the self-titled "Young Tim Howard" get some action tonight at HDC...we already know he will off the pitch. (Photo credit: Matt Mathai)

G: Bill Hamid

The skinny: Why keep bringing the same guy into camp unless you: a) know he’s your guy down the line or b) you’re going to play him.

Hamid plays at HDC.

DEF: Edgar Castillo, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Timmy Chandler

The skinny: A closest thing to a layup here in the predictions. Can’t see anyone else starting.

CDM: Jeff Larentowicz

The skinny: The Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake rivalry gets upped at the national team level.

CM: Jose Torres, Sacha Kljestan

The skinny: A closest thing to a layup here in the predictions. Can’t see anyone else starting.

LW/RW: Brek Shea, Landon Donovan 

The skinny: Shea’s a young boy. That he played a full 90 on Tuesday shouldn’t matter. He’s ready to see first time action and the state where he got his first cap hosts.

STR: Jozy Altidore

The skinny: No finer time to show that this isn’t a beginning of the season fluke.

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by justin on 2011/09/02 at 10:40 AM

    Thank you for putting out a reasonable starting line up. other blogs i’ve read have not even been close. This was exactly what I was thinking too.


    *jurgen love torres to much not to start him
    *I wouldn’t expect for Sacha and Torres to play side by side but this shows that one can advance further into the attack or outside as the wings cut in, while the other stays further back as deep lying distributor. But neither will play CAM so that Donovan can cut in and have chandler come careening down the right flank.
    *Maybe edu or spector (who plays DCM for birmingham the past couple games) get put at CDM if they’ve shown klinsi this past week that he can do it, but there will be that CDM sitting on top the back 4. No way we see torres on the wing again like beginning of last game.
    *other possiblity is seeing donovan slide behind altidore as the #10 with someone sliding out to that right wing, maybe pontius or rogers or sacha


  2. How many times does the variations of 4-5-1 have to fail before we stop trying to field that formation? You know why we’re a second half team? Because we switch to a 4-4-2 at the half! Sure we have heaps of midfielders, when we field 5 of them they cancel out our lone striker which renders him useless, effectively making the game 10 v 11. We are a talented team with tons of athletic ability and we should use that to our advantage. Play a 4-4-2 preferably with a diamond. It’s experimental time so the roster should look like this:

    Jozy Juan
    Shea JFT
    Castillo Carlos Clarence Chandler


    • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/02 at 5:22 PM

      I think you have a point with the futility of a 4-5-1, it always seems so defensive. The striker/forward is so isolated. But I think that the problem has always been the personnel and their mindset. In a good 4-5-1, the lone forward should have good mids who can support and then quickly transition back to a defensive role. Having 2 or sometimes 3 defenisve ( Vs Argentina) mids whose inclination is not to make a mistake or get caught out severely limits the lone forward and the effectiveness of a 4-5-1. Who supports the forward? Deuce is great but I think he cant play that role without losing something of his defenisve role and he lacks quick recovery speed. MB ? ugh no. LD is perfect for it in my humble opinion as is Rogers or Aguadelo. But the other mids can’t be afraid to take on people or spaces when in possession, it leaves the attacking players with severly limited options. This is what I also attribute to the previous coach’s mindset which gave the players a fear of tryly moving forward and attacking. Klinsman has been reinforcing the idea of taking on people when warranted. this will translate to a better 4-5-1 where the players attack as a unit instead of a selected few. Anyway this is my opinion and I have been know to be wrong on a few occasions ( Yes dear!) Take a look at Wolves last year with Kevin Doyle up top in a 4-5-1, they beat a few good teams ( Gratitious plug for wolves again!)


  3. Posted by mbw on 2011/09/02 at 10:59 AM

    It sounds from the Carlisle piece like the first major tactical move of the JK era will be to liberate Donovan from major defensive responsibilities. Two ways to go with this: either play him as a second striker in front of a two-man midfield (Sacha/Torres and Larentowicz/Edu) with Rogers wide right; or play him as a right forward in a 4-3-3 and rely on Chandler to supply width. For now, I think I’d go with the former. But I think long-term the latter is the way to go (given the return of Holden, who’s tailor-made for the linking role, and the glut of young talent will soon have at CAM).


  4. Posted by Joe on 2011/09/02 at 11:00 AM

    I think Orozco gets the call over goodson again. would be surprised to see shea start as well. Edu> jeff anyday of the week. And Klinnsman has been quoted saying that LD’s best position is tucked in behind a forward..


    LD will play higher that Rogers and pontius.
    Half time, Ide like to see Shea come in for Pontius, and Agudelo for Rogers.

    How about that quartet of attackers on the pitch?? agudelo—-ld—-shea


  5. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/02 at 11:01 AM

    Given this chance to shake up the mentality of the US team against a weakened Costa Rica Team, I would line up in something very aggressive. Even if we end up morfing back into something conservative at the half. Giving the guys this idea of go out and dominate I think would be a great way to inspire them. My line up



    • a 4-3-3 against a weaker than normal Costa Rican team would be a HUGE departure from Sweats’ era. Do you think a three midfielder formation could last 90? I don’t know but it could be worth a look, and who else to try it on than Costa Rica…


  6. Posted by SamT on 2011/09/02 at 11:03 AM

    Damn, Matt. Your iPhone spells better than you do. (And nice write-up.)


  7. Posted by Sean on 2011/09/02 at 11:15 AM

    I say he goes 4-1-4-1


    If they want to see Edu without Bradley or Jones, this is the time for that. But, I could easily see Larentowicz in there as well.


  8. Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 1:35 PM

    Personal choice (as distinct from what I think will happen)

    Hamid; Castillo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Chandler; Beckerman, Kljestan; Shea, Donovan, Rogers; Altidore.


    • Posted by Alex on 2011/09/02 at 5:08 PM

      Beckerman’s not in this camp, just for the Belgium game


    • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/02 at 5:27 PM

      I’d like to Rogers out there on the left supporting Aguadelo or Altidore up top with LD on the RIght. Brek more wider out left, rogers on the inside channel, with Gringo Torres as the pivot with Larentkicz as the anchoring DM.
      The back would be Castillo-Bocanegra-Goodson- Chandler/Cherundlo


  9. Posted by Alex on 2011/09/02 at 5:03 PM

    Personally I can’t see Mo not starting. So
    Hamid, Castillo,Boca, Goodson, Chandler, Edu, Torres, Shea, Donovan, Rogers, Altidore. My first USMNT national team too! This is probably the best day in my life thus far!!


  10. Posted by Nelson on 2011/09/02 at 5:19 PM

    all i know is, Mo better “teach them how to dougie”


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