Snap Judgements: USA 0, Belgium 1

Dempsey seemed frustrated in his first match under Klinsmann

The Yanks went to Brussels Tuesday and failed to flex against the home Red Devils from Belgium, falling 1-0 in a sloppy match in Seattle-like conditions. The States again controlled the run of play early and relinquished it and with it the lead as the match progressed.

Jurgen Klinsmann went to work today with a more Euro-ready squad than Friday as the US attempted to diffuse Belgium’s lethal wingers while managing possession.

The first half saw the fat guy on the see-saw start out on the Yanks side with chances from Altidore and Shea, but as the half wore on Belgium’s possession proficiency wore down the Yanks and made Tim Howard a busy man. It took two moments of brilliance by the Everton keeper to delicately preserve the goose egg on the scoreboard.

The second half tottered mostly in Belgium’s favor though the Yanks managed to spritz chances at the Belgium backline, failing to convert though, including one oh-so-close Maurice Edu header that rippled the nets as Juan Agudelo was called offside.

The lone tally was for the home side; a banana rifled off the foot of Red Devil left back and surging national team player Nicolas Lombaerts who zipped the ball under the left armpit of Howard who could not drop to the ground fast enough.

The observations:

Chandler claims victory on the left flank...

• Dealt With!

Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler on the wings did an outstanding job against Belgium’s all star wide attacking rotation of Alex Witsel, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertins.

Cherundolo tired as the game wore on and just barely avoided a car in or near the box, but he held up.

Chandler played out of position at leftback and–though a friendly–shut down the last LigueOne player of the year in Hazard. That accomplishment should only be slightly discounted by the stakes of the game.

That’s not an easy job for a newly integrated player.

Carlos Bocanegra helped out admirably on the left…

…and so did the midfield…leading to…

• Robbing Peter to pay Paul

As TSG wrote in the preview, “the best defense may be a good offense.”

Partially right.

While it was encouraging to see the US gain more possession and in turn continue use a single holder to cover the backline in the first half, the US have failed to generate solid chances to despite arguably playing a more attack side further up the pitch.

Some of that is of course due to unfamiliarity, but today it was mostly due to protection needed for the backline. C

lint Dempsey and Jose Torres often found themselves neck-deep in defending and when an opportunity came to break or a link upfield needed to be found, there were none or it was Jozy Altidore just about visible somewhere on the horizon.

There were some calls for a 4-4-2 in the media, but all that would have done is stranded two strikers up top, none of who have blazing “beat-the-line” speed. Even if they did, the Red Devils kept their back four tethered so diagonal runs would not have been as effective. (Perhaps more effective might have been Dempsey ahead of Torres, but that’s just splitting hairs.)

• Triple gainers and plungers on the Klinsmann Depth Chart

The goal of these friendlies of course is to evaluate talent and with Klinsmann making a diverse set of call-ins, a few cursory insights can now be made:

Edu was like the safety in Techmo Bowl. Everywhere.

» Maurice Edu spent over 180 minutes over seven time zones being nearly the only holder in the US midfield.

Reportedly out of form early on in the campaign for his club team Rangers, Edu’s work Tuesday was both impassioned and calming.

In fact if not for Edu the US probably would have given up goals much earlier in the contest. (Yes, his failed clearance led to the sequence to the goal, but that was more unfortunate than mistake.)

That niggling though you have stuck in the back of your head is, “Where was Edu during the Gold Cup?”

Um, right down the end of the bench.

» Brek Shea equity just went up today. The FC Dallas man playing a day after the face of FC Dallas, Bobby Rhine, passed away, showed more attacking chops than another other North American league player on the evening.

Shea continually used the threat of his speed to maintain possession on transition and attacked the goal from the flank.

Even as the 84th minute wore on a still-charging Shea closed on a defender and made a leaping stab with his cleat in an attempt to block a forward pass from the Belgium backline.

ESPN’s Rob Stone commented that Shea–according to his agent–will be a hot commodity in the January transfer window. Continental Europe saw a glimpse of his potential today.

» Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard? Both a full step ahead of their teammates.

» Robbie Rogers made an effort, but it wasn’t enough. Rogers–like Edu–was coming off serious minutes on Friday against Costa Rica. However the Columbus Crew winger looked a step slow early on and–worse–never really adjusted to the game speed.

Late in the first half, Rogers could be seen pulling a Bornstein-esque two-handed grab on Alex Witsel–it was a microcosm of his game.

» Watch your back Jozy Altidore. Wouldn’t be surprised if Altidore remained with his club for the October friendlies and Juan Agudelo got one or more starts.

Is any potential US player in need of a better club playing situation now more than Agudelo?


The “highlights”:



» Is it me or is Tim Howard hollering less in games under Klinsmann?

While others take stock in Howard snapping at his defenders, the great Trinidadian keeper Shaka Hislop once commented that visibly berating your defenders encourages the opponent to attack that much more and put a target on the offending defender. Positive or negative, time will tell.

» How best to deploy US heavyweights Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan going forward? Dempsey started today in the same spot than Donovan did on Friday and struggled to find opportunities in the center of the pitch. Again, like Donovan, Dempsey seemed to catch more fire when he could survey the field from the flanks.

Best best going forward? Klinsmann will keep Torres in his CM role and alternate Donovan and Dempsey inside and out as the situation dictates. Robbie Rogers will go to purgatory on the bench while Brek Shea will be given more opportunities to show off his left foot.

Player Ratings:

Tim Howard: 7.5

Tim Chandler: 7.5

Carlos Bocanegra: 6

Clarence Goodson: 5.5

Steve Cherundolo: 7

Maurice Edu: 6.5

Jose Torres: 5.5

Clint Dempsey: 5.5 (on a curve)

Brek Shea: 6

Robbie Rogers: 3.5

Jozy Altidore: 4.5

Juan Agudelo: 6

Kyle Beckerman: 6

Jeff Larentowitz: N/A

89 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/06 at 11:27 PM

    Looking forward to holden playing clint’s role, clint playing torres’ role and donovan(?) playing roger’s role.


  2. Posted by Jared on 2011/09/07 at 5:20 AM

    Shea impresses me more and more as he continues to play. He has a bit of Dempsey in him in that he’s not afraid to try stuff. I can’t imagine him having that confidence under Bradley as only Dempsey seemed to be allowed to do that sort of thing under Bradley and even then it took him a while to get there after proving that he deserved it by his play in Europe. I hope Shea doesn’t go to England first.

    I think you’re a little high with your rating of Chandler and Cherundolo. I’d drop them each about a full point. They didn’t offer enough going forward and Cherundolo especially started to get beat as the game went on.

    I do appreciate that you didn’t give Larentowicz a rating as he didn’t have the time. It bugs me when a guy gets a low rating when he barely has the time to make an impact.


    • Posted by Travis McKil on 2011/09/07 at 12:36 PM

      I agree with everything Jared has said here. I would also like to add that Agudelo looks like a young Wayne Rooney to me right now. He is our best post player and has a natural understanding of the position. He never seems to waste energy but is always working. So I would maybe bump him and Shea up a 1/2 point.

      We have a potentially great offense in the works. You can beat defenses up with guys like Shea, Dempsey, Agudelo, and to a certain extent Altidore. Then, the experience and class of Dempsey and Donavon can put teams away late when everyone is gassed. If you then throw Holden or Davies (I still believe) in that mix it is even faster and tougher. The beauty of this lineup is in it’s versatility; if a forward is in bad form or injured, sub on a CM and push Dempsey forward, Donavon forward, or both.

      Here’s what I’m thinking if the World Cup were today:

      ——Agudelo—— Or Jozy
      —————-Jozy- Or Dempsey;Donavon
      Shea—Donovan- Or Dempsey; Holden
      —-Dempsey—— Or Bradley; Holden
      —-Beckerman— Or Bradley; Edu
      Lehigh——-Dolo Or Chandler

      I think giving Rogers a vote of confidence and some experience was not a bad call, by the way. Coach let him know he had a fresh start and gave him ample time to prove himself in this set of friendlies. Of course he failed miserably in my opinion but it was worth a shot. He will have to earn another call-up.


  3. I definitely think there’s something to Howard not screaming at his defense as much. Under Bradley he was screaming after every shot that someone took. Yesterday’s game, I thought was a huge difference in his attitude in net. I haven’t seen too many Everton games, how is he in net there?


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 11:46 AM

      Have noticed this alot in the recent matches. Actually had a convo with Goodson after his big save in the 1st half that looked like two guys discussing marking vs one angry Dad who just stepped on a rollerskate in the dark..whoever is responsible for the quieter gentler Timmy it’s a nice change.

      Could also be the fact that he feels a bit more comfy with who is in front of him.


      • It’s probably both. In the small amount of time where I played keeper in “competitive” soccer (if a crappy junior high travel league qualifies as such), there were players who I didn’t trust to defend my elderly grandmother, and I was much more vocal about making sure that they knew where they were supposed to be. Other players with a bit more of a knack for breaking up attacks and standing their men up, I didn’t get on as much because I knew that they were more likely to be seeing the same thing that I was, and were going to take care of business. Timmy has seen quite a few games with Goodson and Boca in the middle now, and I think he’s starting to trust Clearance Clarence a little bit more as he’s getting more and more reps in front of Timmy.

        This is probably the strongest back four we’ve played in…geez, I don’t know how long. (I rate Chandler higher than Lichaj, though not by much) And who would you play over Dolo, Goodson, Boca, and Timmy Chandler Bing? Ream’s not ready, and for the life of me I can’t think who else we’d play over Boca.

        Also, KN, I love the description, though Howard’s angry face is far scarier than my father’s.


  4. Posted by Izzy on 2011/09/07 at 5:36 AM

    I think if we’re going to continue to focus on possession and dictating the pace of the game for 90 minutes, we should continue with the 4-3-3/4-1-4-1. However, we’re going to need a few things:

    A – Two wingers who are just dangerous; Brek Shea was pretty good, but Robbie Rogers didn’t have a great outing. I don’t think it’s lack of confidence. It seems more like lack of decisiveness. One instance was in the last five minutes in the first half when he seemed to be half-heartedly driving toward the corner flag, unsure as to whether he wanted to go down the line and whip a ball in, or cut inside and try to release someone. Also, lets clear something up about Robbie Rogers – HE IS TWO FOOTED. He is not righty or lefty, but BOTH, so quit saying he’s on his wrong or right foot. He took the legendary corner kick against Costa Rica lefty, but whipped in the cross that led to the first righty.

    B – We need a more judicious ball-handler from deep. They need to be calmer with it, better able to spread the play, even able to hit long diagonal passes to wide players on the touchline. I would say this is either Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, or maybe even Kyle Beckerman. Either way, Maurice Edu doesn’t quite have his game figured out.

    I would say we should play this sort of shape:

    This way we have two dangerous wide players, a midfield runner for support that is offensively fairly skilled and defensively able ( Bradley ), and a defensive midfielder who can spread the play well while handling himself on defense.

    We could see Donovan return to his place in that central trio, something I’m not against at all, actually, especially as it would allow a spot for Brek Shea, who I’ve been really impressed with for the most part. I could also see Juergen going with this. In fact, I would bet a million past my last penny that he’ll go with this lineup against Honduras:

    I’d like to see how that functions. It’s the same lineup that “failed” against Costa Rica, but now we have Dempsey, and better yet, we don’t have Rogers ( okay, I’m kidding, I love Robbie, he’s just in poor form right now ). We have a left back who is defensively competent in Chandler, and I imagine a Landon Donovan whose coach will remind him to tie his cleats next time around.


    • Posted by Izzy on 2011/09/07 at 5:41 AM

      Also, a question – Where do you guys make your lineup diagrams, like the ones you used in the preview to this game? I like, but I think what you guys use is better because the “players” are smaller.


  5. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 5:49 AM

    I am not worried about where Donovan or Dempsey play. I see one starting on the as the CAM in the 3 and one starting on the right wing of the forward 3 and the two interchanging over the course of the game. Dempsey and Donovan have always switched sides and roles before I don’t see why they can’t continue to do that.

    Overall I feel good about the team despite the 0-2-1 record under Klinsman. I would much rather lose 1-0 to Belgium like we did yesterday then tie Argentina like we did pre-GC (assuming its a friendly).

    Given the new formation and style of play (more possession and less hoofing it up field) could Dempsey play forward? I am not impressed by Altidore or Agudelo and feel like there are other candidates for the wing in the 3 (Bedoya, Chandler) and the front of the MF 3 (Feilhaber, Klesjian).


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 6:30 AM

      oh, i did not know sacha was armenian. but speaking of armenians, yuri mossivyan scored the game winner for his country in euro qual.


      • Posted by The Dude on 2011/09/07 at 2:07 PM

        Thank our terrible wait to get a green card/citizenship in the US for that one.


        • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/07 at 4:22 PM

          So you would prefer that citizenship be like a 3 month wait as long as some big club has the money to buy it for a player?

          This is how it is in some other countries.

          Assuming you are an American, I see you place a really high value your citizenship.


          • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/07 at 4:26 PM

            I’m ok with it being a 3 month wait if he’s good enough. David Regis on the other hand should have been forced to wait.


  6. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 5:51 AM

    Any chance Torres could move out of Mexico to Europe? He could use getting a 1/4 thought step quicker particularly in the final 3rd.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/07 at 4:33 PM

      Well, that would require some club be willing to buy him wouldn’t it?

      And I notice he only recently started being full time again for Pachuca, a team which apparently is not the best club in Mexico.

      If he continues to do really well for club and country, and his country actual wins a game he plays in sometime then maybe something happens in the January window but I wouldn’t bet on it. Torres is a standout for the USMNT but I’m not so sure he would be so exceptional for many foreign clubs.


  7. Posted by mbw on 2011/09/07 at 6:27 AM

    Can we add the 4-3-3 to the list of “gainers” from these two friendlies? It looks to have organized a previously disorganized midfield.


  8. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 6:47 AM

    I’m just glad to see Tim Howard playing the last few games at the ridiculous level we almost expect him to be at every game. It seemed that he had dropped down a tier since the England game in the World Cup (other than the Argentina friendly). For the US to do anything in 2014, Tim will have to be a monster, I believe.


  9. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 7:00 AM

    In the last post I made a comment criticizing ESPN, and Martin (I believe) questioned me about the positives/negatives of ESPN and how they do expose a larger audience to soccer.

    Well, here is another reason I dislike them. I used to post frequently (actually before I came here at all) in the US Soccer forums. Recently, there has been a large group of new users all from old ESPN soccer forums they “shut down” apparently. I would say the quality of discussion has certainly dropped since this group started posting.

    Several new users want Klinnsmann fired, one AGREES WITH JOHN HARKES that Chandler is not a wingback of international quality after the Belgium game!!! Thank goodness I didn’t hear Harkes say that live or I would have broken the TV. It goes on and on. It just seems like these people are brainwashed by ESPN. That is why I don’t like ESPN.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/07 at 7:28 AM

      Did Harkes really say that? He’s such an idiot. Would he rather we have Bornstein or Castillo back there? It’s not a coincidence that both Bradley and Klinsi were so eager to get him into the squad.

      I really want to know what Harkes has done to keep that job. He is beyond awful and not even entertaining. At least with Lalas he can be funny and has some insight into the game. Harkes sounds like he’s barely spoken the language before. I don’t know how Ian Darke puts up with him.


      • Posted by Sean on 2011/09/07 at 10:46 AM

        I’d like to see Johnson there first, and happen to think Lichaj was a bit better going forward from LB than Chandler was.


      • Posted by Pancho on 2011/09/07 at 11:53 AM

        Agree on Harkes…though in his defense I do not remember any such thing about Chandler.

        Why didn’t they use Ramos as the analyst…his insights are so much better, so much. Even Twellman is better. Harkes is like a 2nd play by play man, but less interesting.


    • Posted by Fellianis_Fro on 2011/09/07 at 4:13 PM

      I have noticed that games broadcasted out of Europe at most use 2 people and usually just one person calling the action. I can’t remember which game but more than a few times there was about 10 seconds of silence as the action occurred on the screen. Insight was given, commentary provided when it was needed. Harkes on the other hand appears to have the need to fulfill a broadcast quota of words spoken. Just shut up already, not every American viewer is a 10 year old being exposed to soccer for the first time.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/07 at 4:39 PM


      While I agree with you on the quality of the posters on ESPN, I don’t think you can blame ESPN for the quality of those who come to feed on their slop.

      As for Harkes, come on now, what did you expect? He and Julie Foudy are the same announcer except Foudy had a better career( playing and announcing) and is one millimeter less self absorbed.


      • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/07 at 5:39 PM

        Reaqding the comments on ESPN, their TV coverage & Blogs and others, in conjunction with my rage yesterday evening coming home to a scheduled DVR recording of the US game on ESPN which turned out to be NASCAR. I had an epiphany, that I would like to share with all my football brethren.
        EPSN sites and others who have people whose commentaries are more akin to neaderthal utterings and grunts than actuall soccer/footie discourse; all serve a purpose.
        There is a passenger for every train (at least thats what my uncle said when he saw an ugly chick) My point is that those comments on those blogs or sites, that I loathe, like many others, are future or possible soccer astutes. The point is that many are in a place where they are getting used to not only the game but what is expected/to be looked for. They must be taught or more appropriately learn via experience. Think of these uncultured sites (Boy do I sound snobby!) as a stepping stone to a more educated view of the beautiful game!
        So in a way, by you leaving those sites, you are depriving potential soccer affectionados exposure to a seasoned soccer intellectual, who may influence their mindsets. You are a Role MODEL! sorry Charles Barkley, we are all role models.
        At one point in my life I have been an uneducated Jingositic myopic American(some say I still am one) who thought that baseball was the true sport and the players the greatest athletes. Exposure to soccer whether high brow or low brow, eventually eroded those beliefs. Think of a kid learning about rock music through the BackYardigans or The Hansons/Jonas Brothers before liking The Rolling Stones. LED etc…
        Lets all embrace that the Indocrination has begone!! Football is becoming the Main sport!! coverage sucks but it always starts with the kids, they are playing everywhere, soon it will be a Tidal wave. Amen!


  10. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/07 at 7:21 AM

    One area where the Klinsmann team is has slipped is on the counter IMO. In the long stretch in the middle of the match when we were on the back foot, there were several opportunities to break (two down the left with Chandler come to mind) but i think Shea (?) chose to backpass and set the slow buildup. One touch those balls into space to the guy with a full head of steam. Do that a few times and the times you open up the possession game.

    While i’m not suggesting our style should be bunker and counter, Klinsi please review the Counterattack Heard Round the World with the team.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 8:03 AM

      Good point. I noticed that yesterday. It seemed when the US started to counter-attack, they would suddenly hold up and pull the ball back.


      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/07 at 8:05 AM

        I wonder if it’s an intentional thing to get the players used to playing possession buildup only in these games that don’t matter. He knows that the US can counterattack well but hasn’t done much possession buildup.


        • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/07 at 9:49 AM

          I was suspecting it might be intentional also. You can see the players thinking a lot with the ball. Hopefully the thinking will soon take place before the ball arrives. There might be wisdom in learning the new thing first before asking players to mix counter and possession appropriately.


          • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/07 at 4:42 PM

            Thinking = hesitation = breakdown of play.

            You aren’t supposed to think on the field. It should all be second nature. You are supposed to know where you are going to send the ball before you even get it.


            • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 4:05 AM

              Which is why it’s likely due to them working on new tactics. The US team can easily counterattack because that’s all they did with Bob now with Klinsi he’s asking them to have more possession in attack. We’ll see going forward if that changes (which I have to assume it will).

  11. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 7:38 AM

    It’s weird. I really like the overall vibe that is coming out from this squad. It seems like Klinsi’s making good team selection choices (excepting Rogers but hopefully his play has cleared that up) that are consistent with where he’s going and I like the fact that he made the right tactical switches yesterday to right the ship.
    Beckerman seems to really be comfortable in this system and was a game changer in the middle 3rd. I’ve never been a big fan of his MNT inclusion but he really brings good intelligent possession and aggressive ball winning every mminute he’s on the pitch.

    Not sure how Herc Gomez is left off this type of squad as his running and goal hunting is badly needed. Bedoya the same. Not game changers alone but the gap from the last 2 games is a strong ball attacker in the box to complement the wide play.
    Too many times there were only 2 or 3 players in the box. And Altidore is not an attacker of the ball. Sorry to the Jozy fans but he just doesn’t bring enough energy to the game for me. Lazy running and poor first touches are the norm in my watching.

    I’m not ruling Bradley out of this squad going forward. I think the team needed a break from him and the old regime. The Chievo signing was convenient to leave him off for a camp and a few games to get his head around the fact that it’s a new situation for him and the team. His instincts to attack the box can come in handy from the MF especially late in games.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 8:04 AM

      Please post this on US Soccer forums. You will get torn to shreds by some of the new users. I thought I could be extreme, melodramatic, and opinionated. My word.


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 8:06 AM

        I’m not talking about you Kickin Names. I’m talking about the users on that forum.

        I agree with you I feel positive about this squad. And as hard as it is for me to do because of my personality, I am trying hard to allow TSG to help me become more reasonable in my opinions and balanced- here and in life in general.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 9:20 AM

          its the funny little thing about blogging. wherever you go, there you are. if you are here, then this is the best site and the others are garbage. i do think fantasy rankings should determine how valid someones comments are, that, along with the actual comments.


          • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/07 at 9:30 AM

            TSG continues to be the only place I am willing to read all the comments. I might not always agree, but they are all well thought out.


          • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 9:34 AM

            What is your deal? I’ve posted on US Soccer since the inception of their fourms. I’ve gradually moved away from there over the last several months because I enjoy this site and am enjoying this discussion more and more. Ive mentioned numerous times on the US Soccer forums that I would suggest checking out TSG and its comment section if someone hasn’t yet.

            I first started posting on US Soccer forums at its inception back in 2009 because it was WAY better than the ridiculous name-calling, vulgarities, and random musings on Yahoo or ESPN. There weren’t alot of people on the site but there were good discussions from time to time. I never remember any confrontations whatsoever. Ever since the ESPN boards disbanded, the traffic has probably doubled, but for awhile there were trolls posting why soccer sucked, or why Bob Bradely shouldn’t start black players, etc. That has been cleaned up but I’m sorry, I’m going to criticize a discussion if multiple users think a coach 3 games into a new coaching gig should be fired. It makes the whole community look stupid.

            I don’t know what your problem is with me, I have never attacked you or any of your comments.


            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 9:47 AM


              Let it go.
              There’s one in every crowd. And as mom told you so wisely so long ago, if you ignore them, they leave you alone.

              We saw a small uptick in nonsensical “your mom” and frat boy comments a few months ago when one of the discussion groups went down but it seems like they got bored and wandered away when no one told them what THEIR MOM looked like in response to a stupid post.
              Enjoy the overall experience on here and the lack of frat boy drama and your stress level will drop significantly.

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 9:55 AM

              I just can’t. Its not in my nature. I don’t know the meaning of the word “friendly” or exhibiton. I’m like the Deuce of the comment boards, without the talent.

            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 10:08 AM

              hold the phone nells, you are the one that went off the handle about john harkes saying chandler was not international quality, when in fact, harkes did not even say that, jesus.

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 10:42 AM

              My bad. I reread the comment twice and he agreed with Harkes that Chandler was struggling with 1v1’s. Which I disagree with completely.

              The commenter is the one who said Chandler did not have international quality- the way it was worded it sounded like Harkes said both.

              I’m glad to see that you are back at TSG, 30 minutes after criticizing the site, moderator, and commenters on the US Soccer forums. And I apologize to you for posting the same thing on here and the US Soccer forums. Hopefully we can move on.

            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 10:55 AM

              ouch, yes, if im not barred from here for dissent.

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 10:58 AM

              woops my reply is accidentally above. i wont cut and paste again.

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 11:03 AM

              May I ask that we refrain from personal comments again. They take away from the value of the commentary section.

              Thank you.

            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 11:15 AM

              thank you for your understanding matthew, but my last personal comment for the day is that i do plan on winning the tsg fantasy league this season.

            • Posted by Union on 2011/09/07 at 11:20 AM

              Speaking of John Harkes, Ives just tweeted that he interviewed for the U-20 Head Coaching job. Uhhh…

      • Whatever you do, (sorry Matt), do not attract the ESPN posters to this site.



  12. Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/07 at 8:38 AM

    Matt–I agree on the Howard yelling issue. Also, it seems clear to me that Jurgen has told Howard to distribute with the throw much more often to start play quickly again and ensure that its started with possession.

    I agree with those here who have highlighted the lack of a killer counter. However, I think this is due to instilling a new mentality in the team, playing as a group under the new possession mentality, and therefore not emphasizing counter play. Jurgen wants to establish one before the other. As I’ve said before, these games remind me a lot of watching a preseason american football game. Coaches want to work on specific “tactics” if you will through the course of a game, limiting the playbook and the overall capacity of the team. I don’t think Jurgen is explicitly handcuffing the team, but I think he is emphasizing certain facets of the game to the players and encouraging them to work on those facets during games. Once the base is built, greater tactical variation can be introduced, and with it I think you’ll see a better overall attack from the squad moving forward.

    Essentially, this was the first extended camp Jurgen had, and he played both games without both of his best attacking players playing together.

    Interesting rating on Edu, partly because what you highlight has been what I really liked about him for some time now. He snuffs stuff out and covers a lot of ground. I think that will be an interesting position battle moving forward. Does Bradley ultimately fit in the spot, does Edu improve his form at Rangers and continue to win the role, or does someone like Beckerman surprise and steal the role. My money is still with Bradley with one caveat–if that’s the role he features in at Chievo. It will be important for him to gain greater tactical discipline in order to feature as the 6 with Jurgen. His tackling also needs to sharpen, but overall I think he has the most to offer in the role all around moving forward, and that includes his age.


  13. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/07 at 9:08 AM

    My thoughts from both games:
    US 4-3-3: I like some aspects of how we have been playing but we have a few problems with this formation. Our holding mid needs to be better at distribution forward. They are winning possession and keeping it, but also relying on the creative midfielder too much. The holder is also the distributor. The other two mids should be free to roam and create. Also we have a problem with wing forwards. They are not fast enough physically and mentally to play effectively. Also they keep cutting inside. Cutting inside is fine after you turn the corner on the fullback. But they keep cutting inside in front of the fullback thus bringing him into the play. I think this will improve with some time, but still need someone better there. Lastly, I still think we need to try something different with the formations. Really shake up the team to get them thinking wide in attack and narrow in defense. I felt we played to opposite way the last couple games, everyone cutting inside during the attack, and then retreating wide on defense.

    Edu – Calm and collected, but spent too much time passing backwards. A single holding midfielder needs to be great at closing down attackers and winning the ball. Edu does this well. But the holder also has to use on ball skills to successfully pass to the other midfielders. Edu almost exclusively passed to the Center backs. That meant Torres and Dempsey had to drop much deeper to pick up to ball. What you need in the system is to combine Edu’s skills with Torres’s (which is what I see in Holden). Beckerman is a bit better at this, but still isn’t quite good enough. I would free Edu from the holding role, but to do so would require a formation change.

    Torres – I am so torn with how he played. Part of me thinks he played well. The other part of me thinks he is a waste of time. Yes he controlled the ball and maintained possession, but he didn’t then feed the ball to his teammates in spots where they could do anything with the ball. His position has to be creating scoring opportunities as well as maintaining possession. Maybe the team wasn’t moving effectively enough to pick them out on runs, but I also think he was a bit conservative with the ball. Also how do you fit him into the team with our other talent. Is he good enough to allow the US to use the midfield three of holder-creator-distributor effectively?

    Shea- Clearly good, but where to put him to maximize the team once you include Dempsey
    Dempsey-Good, but disappeared for long stretches of the game again. Is it him or the team around him?
    Rogers – I think a lot of his problems are related starting. He is not a starter on the international level. But he does have the look of a great super-sub. To him, knowing that he is only going 30 minutes of all out allows him to play more decisively. Which is why he looks so good when he comes on as a sub.
    Altidore/Agudelo- Both were good, neither is a single striker although both try very hard to be. I think our chances going forward are in how well they develop.
    Defenders-I thought all did well, but we were definitely missing the width in attack from them. I think a bit of time in the new system to develop understanding with the midfielders would help this. Dolo is clearly our best defender, Goodson continues to improve, Boca is a nice player and a good leader, Chandler needs to improve his crosses (even from the right).


    • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/07 at 9:42 PM

      Excellent analysis, particularly providing the context on Edu in the 4-3-3. Something is going to have to give here—either Holden returns and fills the holding (avoided a pun there) role, the formation changes to a 4-2-3-1 with Holden granted a more advanced role and Edu as defensive cover, or Bradley slots in as the holding mid and Holden pushes up in the position that Torres has currently occupied (or Beckerman takes the role, who knows!).

      Getting the right balance is so important, and I hope that Jurgen continues to tinker around with the mid-field–both positionally and personel wise. I really can’t wait for Holden to start playing again at Bolton, as I want to watch more of him there and see exactly what his role is with the team–I know that he did quite a bit for them on both ends, but I’m interested to see what he has to offer offensively. He could really open up the game for Donovan, as his range and ball winning could take defensive responsibility away from Donovan, and yet in possession his distribution and general on the ball poise would possibly open up more space for LD in the attack.


  14. Posted by ghettobooty on 2011/09/07 at 9:30 AM

    I don’t get this love for Chandler, his offensive game yesterday was terrible. He couldn’t cross worth crap. Eric Lichaj is better suited as left-back.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 9:35 AM

      Matthew here.

      Frankly if I was rating Chandler on his offensive game he would have got a “2.”

      To play leftback without any real work put it in and stabilize that flank behind Shea (so Shea could stay forward in the attack) was worth the rating in and of itself. That’s a huge ask.

      Lichaj is out for months, but does have a slightly better left foot.

      Given the way Steve Cherundolo played yesterday, I would think that Chandler is going to challenge for the rightback spot long before any consideration at leftback.

      I think using him at leftback yesterday was merely to tighten up the defense against a talented attacking side and not compromise the entire game plan to cover over that flank.

      Have not seen enough of Fabian Johnson, but I think he or Hetha Berlin’s John Anthony Brooks will get some looks.

      Castillo’s ability to get forward helps his defense. Which is…atrocious fundamentally speaking.


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 9:58 AM

        Is John Anthony Brooks a CB or a LWB or “both” like Bocanegra? I haven’t seen him in action yet, but have been intrigued by what I have heard. Is he starting for Hetha Berlin?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 10:02 AM

          Made the senior team; earned the senior team contract (more importantly) — it’s a 4-year deal..those don’t just grow in the forest.

          Plays both but he’s more athletic than Bocanegra.


          • Posted by Union on 2011/09/07 at 10:29 AM

            Interesting. Don’t know much about John Anthony Brooks, what’s the word on him? Did he sign with Hertha Berlin at a young age? I also see that Alfredo Morales is on the roster and is listed as an American. What’s his story?


        • Posted by dth on 2011/09/07 at 10:23 AM

          I’ve only seen him play once, but from what I’ve heard he’s a centerback.

          The LB prospects from that generation are Juan Pablo Ocegueda and Sean Cunningham.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 9:37 AM

      Eric Lichaj is out for several months. Chandler is better than Castillo or Bornstein. Best case scenario for the future would be Fabian Johnson or Eric Lichaj being at LB and Chandler at RB. Or maybe Johnson at LB, Lichaj at RB and Chandler at RW.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 9:50 AM

      It’s the NJB effect. He’s Not Jonathan Bornstein.
      Agreed that he looked labored even carrying the ball in open space but he was willing and, more importantly IMO, a world more dependable defending the flack. Has great soccer instincts that allowed for an emergency fill in.


  15. Posted by Mike on 2011/09/07 at 9:40 AM

    Does anyone remember, as a reference, how the German teams did when Juergen first took over? Maybe it was my own lack of awareness of European qualifying matches/friendlies prior to WC 2006, but if I remember correctly, everyone was surprised by the style that the Germans unleashed starting in those WC 2006 games — like it came from out of nowhere. Does anyone remember the development of those German teams (pundits emphasize “the process” with the US team but don’t refer to a German “process”)?
    Can we hope/pray/expect a similar trajectory?


    • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/07 at 11:04 AM

      From his hiring to the eve of the 2006 world cup, Klinsmann was hated for shaky performances, unconventional methods, and choice of residence. Especially the 4-1 dismantling by Italy in the final warmups. Everyone quickly forgot after a Frings laser in the opening game. Interestingly he couldn’t solve Italy when it mattered either.

      An article from the times. 70% wanted him out in the spring of 2006:,1518,404727,00.html

      As for if we can hope for a similar trajectory. I hope not. I’d like something of a steady rise verses a pardon at the gallows in Brazil 2014. Of course I wouldn’t mind if we finished 3rd in 2014 🙂


      • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/07 at 11:20 AM

        To put this in terms of real results in the run up:
        Bad losses including Slovakia, Turkey, Italy, South Korea.
        0 Wins against top 10 teams, only ties and losses.
        Unconvincing 1-0 win against china?
        Rut ro Jürgen


      • Posted by Mike on 2011/09/07 at 2:12 PM

        A ‘pardon at the gallows’ instead of a steady rise is not exactly the trajectory of Germany in the past half decade. How much credit Klinsmann gets for the Germany of this era is still up for debate, but they have been, arguably, the second best team in Europe since 2006 which was not the case prior to the Klinsmann/Low era.
        By the way, does any one else remember before Germany’s first game in WC2010, after a few of the favorites had underwhelmed, Klinsmann in the ESPN studio was asked if Germany would play well in its first game and he just responds with supreme confidence “They will be ready” and then they split apart Australia?


    • Posted by SamT on 2011/09/07 at 11:07 AM

      Excellent question. And I think it’s the question in the back of everyone’s mind. I don’t know the answer, but it strikes me that there’s indeed a degree of faith in Jurgen and his process here. WWJD? We’ll see.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 11:20 AM

        did coach klinsmann have to play qualifing games with germany before the 2006 world cup and, how long before the cup was coach hired, and, did he live in germany or the usa when he was coach of germany?


        • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/07 at 11:22 AM

          No. As hosts in 2006 they were already qualified. Only friendlies (see the record above — also available here:

          He lived in the USA, which did not sit well at all.


  16. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 10:01 AM

    What am I missing with Edu? It seems I was high on him when others weren’t, and now vice versa. Am I just looking for the “flashy” or “positive” play, and missing the behind-the-scenes work? He seemed to make alot of poor passes yesterday, and got caught in possession to me. Maybe that just made me forget about his solid defensive work.


  17. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 10:05 AM

    I think with Edu it’s a massive request for him to cover over the backline by his lonesome. Doable if he stay at home, but still very difficult.

    I don’t worry about his linking–yet. If Klinsmann moves to two holder a la Bradley (who by the way, really never used a “bucket” formation) then I would say Edu is less useful.

    For all the talk of Stu Holden–and TSG’s first interview subject ever is player we think has the chops to be captain one day–he’s got to prove he can avoid injury in the middle of the field (and not become the next John O’Brien).

    He’s slighter of frame in the Premiership and if he suffers another injury that rules him out for anytime, I think it may be wise to move him out to the wing…but that day is not here yet.


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 10:22 AM

      we love holden on the wing. his crossing ability is oh so deliciouso. tell me people, who has done more for the us mens team between benny feilhaber and stuart holden? it does not speak to who is better at this moment, but it does still have bearing. coach klinsmann is going to fly high with this team when holden, benny, and junior all team up together. thats just my opinion, it is not etched in stone and i could really have a different opinion, if mix ever gets picked up by man u, or if gatt does too, or if hoffenheim makes the champions league with four americans in the starting lineup. actually mix and gatt would not only have to be picked up by man u, but they would also have to give substantial minutes, or at least triple the minutes spector got at united.


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 10:46 AM

        I love Holden in the middle like he plays at Bolton. I like his service from set pieces as well which would be a huge step up from the way Landon has been delivering them lately. But I agree- Holden is my 2nd favorite player after Deuce, but I’m worried he may become “the next John O’Brien”.

        I have got some of my family members mildly interested in soccer, and they asked what happened to the guy with the Ken Doll hair? I think Holden could succeed Landon and Deuce as the face of American soccer, if he ccan stay healthy.


        • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/07 at 9:47 PM

          I don’t think Holden’s frame is the problem. I think getting the brunt of two careless/insidious tackles is. Sure, there will be more aggression in the middle of the park, and certainly so when you have the hustle that Holden does, but those injuries don’t seem to be due to some inherent physical problems as can occur with some talented players, but rather just straight up sh#t luck.

          Though, don’t they say that part of greatness is simply staying heathy? But I’m optimistic on this one, and neither injury has been one that I think will hamper Stu’s effectiveness going forward in his career (knock on virtual wood).


      • Posted by ZTRENZ on 2011/09/11 at 11:10 AM

        I agree that covering the backline with a single Dmid is very difficult. Some people criticized Edu for dropping too deep but that is going to happen due to the immense area he has to cover laterally. I’m not a big Edu fan but I thought he did fine and can appreciate how hard the task was that he was asked to do. Bringing on Beckerman seemed to be a big help.


  18. Posted by Union on 2011/09/07 at 10:50 AM

    A lot of varied opinions on Chandler. I for one, remain impressed. The guy is big, fast and technically sound. He made a few mistakes in terms of distribution, but he’s 21, that will change as he matures. His crosses were off for both games, but he gets a giant pass for the Belgium game since he was handling a new position and defending against one of the best young players in the world. Remember how good his crossing has been for Nuremberg and when he played against Paraguay/Argentina. Plus, ‘Dolo is on the wrong side of 30. 36 in 2014 means he’s not going to be a factor. I’m not saying Chandler deserves the starts immediately, but I do think that’s where it needs to be headed.

    Still super curious about what Fabian Johnson can bring.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 11:42 AM

      I have not been able to watch nearly as much soccer so far this season. I don’t have Gol TV, Fox Soceer Plus, or Fox Soccer Channel anymore. Has Fabian Johnson been starting, how is he viewed in the Bundesliga, and when is he expected to be eligible to play for the US?


      • Posted by mbw on 2011/09/07 at 4:08 PM

        This is culled from various reviews by folks who have seen a lot more of him than I have: Johnson is an attacking wing midfielder “who is lightning fast, quick pace, fast reactions, hard pressing, good cross.” He usually starts on the right side, but flips during the course of a game. He has been used as a wing back / fullback and has apparently acquitted himself pretty well, but his primary position is attacking midfield.

        Sounds like he’ll be competing primarily with Shea, Donovan, Bedoya, Gatt, and maybe Holden, depending on what Klinsmann decides to do with the central mids. And it sure would have been good to have him out there yesterday.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 4:11 PM

          One thing that Castillo showcasing shows is this…If a player has offensive chops as a means of dissuading or beating back the attack on that side (Think Bradley putting Donovan over Bornstein all the time) then Klinsmann will try him out.

          This was not the same during the Bradley era when in the backline (as oppose to the midfield example above) if a player wasn’t physically gifted and a somewhat solid defender he didn’t get a run out.

          Think Michel Bastos for Brazil in the World Cup…with Brazil lacking anyone to play the leftback position (or Florent Malouda for Chelsea when Cole went down.)


  19. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 10:56 AM

    Completely off topic.

    I can’t make tonight’s rescheduled Philadelphia Union game. I haven’t heard anything back from BigSoccer so I’m willing to give my ticket away for free to a SOB member so it doesn’t go to waste. Looks like the weather is better in Philly than it is here in Central PA. Crazy flooding- 6″+ of rain since 7AM on top of the couple of inches already, and there is alot of rain to go.


  20. Posted by Russell on 2011/09/07 at 11:35 AM

    I re-evaluated my Chandler thoughts after reading this. There was relatively little trouble down that side against a good team. I agree that RB is Cherundolo’s for the near future (his touch/class was a step above almost all USMNT) and that Chandler, Lichaj, Johnson will battle it out for LB.

    I like Shea. A lot. But for now if WC was tomorrow, he comes off the bench and relieving or pushing Dempsey or LD up top. Super Sub speed/strength.

    Torres – People need to get their heads around what he brings to the team. He is tempo and he is middle 3rd. He is not an instant game changing or a goal creator. It can be argued whether the US should play the type of game he brings, but no one can argue that he brings something. If you put a bull dog next to him (Edu / Bradley / Beckerman) and a #10 or our closest option we have ahead (Holden) it will suit him best (or maybe a 4-1-4-1 w/Holden next to him in the middle?). He gives the back 4 an option (notice by 1000x how less often a CB is hoofing it forward), he creates space and he allows the “attacking” players to stay forward. In yesterday’s game there was a noticable difference in tempo/possession when JFT was checking to the ball and sliding it forward to Dempsey than vice versa.

    All in all a 1-0 loss away to Belgium is not bad.. but I want to see continued improvement.


    • Posted by Pancho on 2011/09/07 at 12:21 PM

      It may not be the popular opinion, but in my mind Torres would do better as the #6, providing cover for the back 4 (the seemingly Beckerman position). What he lacks in bite, he’d make up for in distribution forward.

      Wher Paco lacks skill?, tenacity?, decisevness? is in the final 1/3. but no one in these games has shown the ability to put a through ball to the wing, or a diagonal cutter, etc.

      I get that he is not the ‘shut-down’ d-mid ala Beckerman, but he would excel in the distribution from this position. For my money, he is ill-fated to start as the ‘Reyna-like’ CM. He’s more of a Beckham-type of CM than anything else, finding the open player for a long pass, rather than dribbling through people, almost a 3rd line rather than 2nd line player.


      • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/07 at 1:25 PM

        That single holding midfielder in a 4-3-3 needs to be more than just a Destroyer. Watching Barcelona play a 4-3-3, its the CDM (Busquets) who takes to ball from the CB and brings it forward to distribute it to the other mids (Xavi and Inesta) pressed further up. Then the mids look to shread the opposing Def. Watch clips of Busquets. I find he is underestimated in his importance and skill.

        What I saw these games was Edu acting as a CDM, but then only playing a backward pass from there. Torres was having to drop to get the ball. But that meant he then had to thread passes through the midfield to other midfielders or the forwards had to drop far to receive the ball. That meant we were attacking with 4 front of the ball when they had 6 or 7 behind it. If Edu was acting as a distributor with then you would have 5 in front of the ball.

        Also the full backs need come up even with the CDM. When you play “3” midfielders you need to flood the middle zone with fullbacks on attack and wing forwards on defense. This brings your midfield numbers to 5 which allows you better passing opportunties.

        Pancho is right in that what Torres has done in the games so far needs to be done by the “#6” or the CDM. The problem is that Torres doesn’t have the physical presence to be that CDM. But if Edu, Beckerman or even Bradley can improve in that role then we would be set. Torres might be sucessful in the Xavi type of role, but I am not sure. Maybe Holden there? Donavon in the Inesta role? but then were does Dempsey go?


  21. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 11:42 AM

    I’m fully qual’d to take you up on the ticket except for the SOB part. I am an SOB but not the kind that paints his face blue and shouts obscenities for hours at a time for no apparent reason other than poor parenting.
    Come on Crow take that ride…it’s dry here.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/07 at 11:53 AM

      Sorry if this is off topic. Unfortunately I can’t tonight. If you are seriously interested in the ticket I can transfer it via e-mail. They are getting very strict about having to be an official SOB member in order to sit in the River End. A season ticket holder in the River End had his tickets revoked because he sold one on StubHub which some idiot bought and started a fight during the Colorado game.

      I hope SOB’s don’t have a bad name. From my experience, the vulgarity level is much lower than the American Outlaws section at National Team games, and songs/chants are more organized. Obviously, it helps having the same group together every game. I don’t think our supporter group can compare with Seattle or Portland but I believe it is up there among the best in the league.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 12:40 PM

        I kid re the Boys in Powder Blue. One of the best, and most underreported, stories IMO in bringing the Union to town from nothing but a hard knot of avid fans clamoring until someone listened. Cheers to you.
        I am not an official Son of Ben and wouldn’t want to jeopardize your status. Good luck with finding a taker.


  22. Posted by a on 2011/09/07 at 3:34 PM

    I really like the 4-3-3 as the main formation going forward. It’s a base formation that allows for subtle tactical switches depending on an opponents strengths and weaknesses.

    Yes the US has struggled in the final third in these three games but I think its really important to note that we have not once had anything that closely resembles a first choice side. Much of this has been due to various players injury/club situations. Unfortunately, a good part of the US teams chance to reach the next level of international play is going to depend on how/if individual players develop at clubs in top leagues.

    I see a first choice side (assuming health and good club form) to look something like this.







    I think having this first choice side on the field at the same time would dramatically improve the frequency of offensive chances, finishing is a whole different question.

    Edu has been solid both in possession and in protecting the back line. What he currently lacks in ball skills and creative dangerous passing Bradely offers. The question here is can Bradely find a club situation that allows him to develop his defensive positioning and responsibilities. I thought Bradely was one of the few world class US players at least years world cup and I expected him to get a bump for his club team but that did not happen. He is young so hopefully he will find the right situation.

    Hopefully Holden can return to his pre-injury form at Bolton. If he does I think he will be a clear upgrade to Torres. This is not to say that I haven’t been encouraged by Torres, I have been. I think Torres has done an admirable job modeling what Klinsman wants out of the 8. I think Torres will provide good insurance for the role if Holden can’t stay healthy or handle this role or if nobody more exciting comes up the pipeline. I see the 8 as an absolutely critical role in Klinsmans 4-3-3. This player needs to dominate the midfield, maintain possession, and provide a creative link to the attack.

    Having Donavan and Dempsey on the field at the same time verses one or the other and Rodgers is perhaps the most obvious and immediate upgrade to the midfield. Rodgers, as he is now, lacks the skill and decision making to help a team at the international level. Larentowitz, although he did not get much time against Belgium, is no better. To me, his positioning stood out. Larentowitz seemed to repeatedly clog up any build up play on the right as the US was trying for the last minute equalizer. He seemed to always show directly to the ball and never made a run to clear space or stretch/challenge the defense. The real question is what is going on with Donovan his play seems to have stagnated. Unfortunately, he never got a long term spot at a better club to force him to take the next step as a player. I know he is one of the best that we have and that he will help in qualifying but I doubt he will be able to go full 90’s in 2014 especially with Klinsmans desired pace. As it is now Donavan is a defensive liability and doesn’t seem to have the endurance to consistently break up attacks and provide offense, he seems to be only good for one or the other. Can Adu find consistent playing time with a club in order to develop? If he can it would be great to seem him starting With Donovan coming on for the final 30 as super sub who could push for the killer or comeback goal, or provide a steadying presence in possession if the US milking a lead.

    I really like what I have seen from Shea. The question is where does he find himself after the January transfer window. Can he find a club situation with world class coaching and tactics and playing time? He needs to work on exploiting the corner and better overlapping play. If he can’t make this step and insists on cutting in to the corner of the then the best thing to do would be to move him to the right side and have him play as an inverted winger similar to what Arjen Robben does for the Dutch. This would free up space for Chandler or Dolo to exploit.

    Dempsey is Dempsey, one of if not the best attacking player on the team. What he really gives us is the ability to play or to interchange with any of the 4 attacking roles. He only seems to suffer when things get to crowded or he is given too much defensive responsibility.

    Altidore really impressed me with his hold up play; something that is vitally important in what I think Klinsman is trying to do. His linking and combination was also really strong although more so against Costa Rica then Belgium. Hopefully his new club situation will boost his confidence and help him develop his off the ball movement (his biggest weakness) remember he is still very young. Agudelo offers some of what Altidore lacks; good off the ball movement great work-rate. If only we could find a striker with both and a nose for the goal. The good news is they are both young and promising. If needed we can always fall back on Dempsey to play the 9. This might be the only way to get all of the best US players into the same 11.

    Now to my main cause for concern the back line. Hopefully Lichaj or Johnson can finally solidify the left back spot. I would much rather have a left that can live up to his defensive responsibilities and is weak going forward. Sort of the inverse of Castillo although Castillo really isn’t that great at going forward.

    I like Bocanegro and think he is the ideal choice for Captain and solidifying presence for the back line. I just worry that he will be able to maintain his current form as he ages. If his pace or endurance start to slip we are in real trouble.

    For the other center back Goodsen is the best I’ve seen of players who have recently filled the role. But after left back this is my biggest concern. Far to often other teams get second chances or a quick break completely opens up the middle. I hope we have a few good prospects coming down the pipe. Players that are good with the ball at their feet and positionally strong.

    Right back is the only spot on defense I am confident in. I think Chandler shows all the promise in the world and Cherundolo, all class during the world cup, provides excellent depth. If we need a strong defensive lineup against better competition we can move Chandler to right wing and play Dolo. It would be a real shame if the only way to solidify left back is to play Chandler there. I thought he was great defensively but it really limited his attacking which is a big part of why I think he is such an exciting prospect.

    Howard has looked really strong. He seems to be energized under Klinsman. He was back to himself making killer saves. This is a big difference from the Gold Cup where he was constantly berating the defense and seemed disheartened, almost like goals were inevitable.

    I could care less about the results of these friendlies, particularly when we have not been at full strength, and am encouraged about where things seem to be headed under Klinsman. As I said at the top of this long-winded self indulgent post, I like the 4-3-3 that we are playing it is a formation that gets our best players on the field. Our strength is in the midfield and the wing play and the 4-3-3 allows the best five of these players a spot on the pitch. With slight tactical adjustments you can change this formation to more defensive (have two holding mids and or Chandler on the wing), or switch positions to exploit weakness in the opponents defense (Donavan and Dempsey interchanging or Shea on the right coming inside with chandler providing width and crossing behind him).

    There is a lot to be excited about. Hopefully our good young players can find the right club situations to develop their ball skills and tactics against elite competition. I think this development more then anything will be the key this cycles success.


    • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/07 at 9:59 PM

      Really like this comment. You covered a lot, some of which I’ve already made comments about so I’ll just say that I totally agree regarding the tactical flexibility of the 4-3-3. If we have Chandler and either Fabian/Lichaj as fullbacks, the 4-3-3 makes complete sense for this team. One thing I love about Barcelona is how fluid they are from defense to offense, and I think the 4-3-3 base is one of many reasons for that fluidity.


  23. Posted by Josh on 2011/09/08 at 12:54 PM

    Is it me or does Agudelo mostly impress whenever’s he on the pitch? Okay “mostly impress” may be too strong … but it seems he always has the right idea sometimes leading to good chances … which is more than I can say about Altidore before the Gold Cup and his start in Erividisie.

    In his short time v. Belgium, Agudelo was the American who stood out most to me. Granted it was in the second frame, v. some Belgian subs …

    He had what seems a solid if unspectacular Gold Cup the Jamaica match most notable. I understand he’s still a kid with and must be cultivated judiciously, but I wonder if Klinsmann must not be too judicious integrating Agudelo as a USMNT fixture.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/08 at 1:14 PM

      Agreed Josh and here are some stats:

      Altidore 7 pass attempts 3 completed.
      Agudelo 16 pass attempts, all completed.

      That means two things:
      1) he was extremely tidy with the ball
      2) he made himself available off the ball to receive passes.


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