TSG’s Official USA vs. France Preview: The Germans Are Coming!

Storm the beach!

Remember the span of time in 2009–and towards the end of 2010 World Cup qualifying–when the United States had a home match at Rio Tinto against El Salavador before going on the road against a Trinidad & Tobago side whose quality in that game was going to be a crapshoot?

If you recall that match like I do–a missed clearance by Jonathan Bornstein that led to an El Salvadorian goal, a few moments of attacking pressure at the end of the first half which scantily provided the winning difference–than you are quite comfy with at least the notion of new US manager Jurgen Klinsmann attempting to implement a style of play here for the United States in the friendlies leading up to World Cup qualifying.

You may not enjoy the results, but the notion of “trying something new” for a US team that had gotten stale with the similar game planning of the Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley eras is a positive.

Back to the match.

El Salvador, currently ranked #82 in the world by FIFA, came into a hostile environment in Sandy, Utah and nearly etched out a victory. The United States should’ve handily dealt with the mid-level programs from CONCACAF.

Yet, they did not. Victories, while prevalent in the former regime; were hardly ever “without a shadow of a doubt.”

For the bulk of Tim Howard's USMNT career, he's been Travolta dancing to "Staying Alive"

Tim Howard was relied on to be other-worldy rather than “I’m-there-in-case-you-need-me.”

If the average fair like El Salvador challenged the Yanks, its juxtaposition against quality clubs is stark. The US bunkered against power clubs like Brazil and Spain in hopes of snatching a victory by Howard’s paws from the jaws of defeat. The Confederation Cup up to the Argentine friendly earlier this year in New Jersey.

Klinsmann’s directive from USSF doesn’t allow for these displays, but seems to give him some leash with the results. Bradley was tasked with those “results,” Klinsmann is tasked with creating a program. Remember that.

It takes trying new things. It takes trying new personnel and it takes losses–because how can you expect to win outright with a new style, when the old style was familiar and comfortable…and barely got you those results.

The United States will play France (FIFA: #15) this Friday and they will likely lose despite a weakened Les Bleus side.

If they lose with a bunkered-in approach, then you should throw your iPhone against the wall, take the dog for a walk or pound out detested epithets in 140-character intervals on Twitter, because what you’re getting is more of the same. Or rather less of the same, nothing new and no result to boot.

However, if they lose “differently” or with a “we need to try and dictate play” bent, then it’s a matter of continuing to measure incremental improvements, some of which can be qualified tactically: (1) the discovery that it is possible to cover the US’s relatively weak central defense with a single centerback, (2) that it is possible for those same centerbacks to control the ball and enable possession or (3) that it is possible to defend in the opponent’s half.

…And some of which can be qualified personnel-wise: (1) Yes, Kyle Beckerman is able to pass forward effectively under duress (2) Yes, Timmy Chandler can hold down the leftback spot because (3) no Edgar Castillo could not. Or  (3) Yes Clint Dempsey should be moved exlusively inside or (4) yes Michael Orozco may not be the answer, but he has the attributes to allows other defensive and offensive philosophies to manifest.

Klinsmann will not be judged on this camp and he probably won’t be judged by playing the likes of Haiti or Bermuda in the early rounds of qualifying. It’s both a scary feeling, but it’s only through risk–Klinsmann or other–that you gain.

Hey now, slow clap, let’s get on to our customary preview:

About The Opponent: France

New manager Laurent Blanc has taken a measured approach in his first year on the job.

France is looking for a revival.

After a Thierry Henry handball against Ireland enabled the former Euro power to claw their way into World Cup 2010, team dissent with coach Raymond Domenech (pronounced dont-know-much) had players revolting during the tournament.

The days of being part of the higher class of UEFA seemed to have slipped away as harshly with the graceless ending to Zinedine Zidane’s international career–a headbutt to Italian defender Marco Materrazi in a World Cup Final loss in 2006.

France has yet to reclaim the stature they were elevated to 15 seconds before Materrazi whispered something in Zinedine’s ear and the superstar went bezerk.

As France readies for Euro qualifiers, their squad under new mind Laurent Blanc is one that is two states of flux.

The first is due to injury. The names crossed off on France’s medic sheet are longer than the list of coaches that have already expressed no interest in the vacant New England Revolution coaching job. And it’s not just this friendly series, it’s somehow been that way for Blanc until he took over. Perhaps retribution for disgracing the global game at World Cup 2010?

Instead of meandering through paragraphs of whose replacing whom, let’s just do a good ol’ injury report for those in doubt or out for Friday’s match:


Patrice Evra (brother’s passing);  Samir Nasri (hamstring), Eric Abidal (club duties)


Florent Malouda (knee); Yohan Cabaye (N/A), Loic Remy (N/A)

Now, of course, that list doesn’t include quality players that weren’t fit to be called in:

Yohann Gourcuff (angle surgery recovery, nearly complete); Bacary Sagna (broken leg recovery); Philip Mexes (ACL recovery, nearly complete)

So, let’s just say it will be the US “A” team versus the French “B+” team. Fair value? (BTW, the States are +750 on the betting sheet for Friday’s match. May be worth a plunk down.)

The injuries to key contributors combined with the jettisoning of players that embarrassed the nation at the World Cup has left France–still a quality side–with a major dual challenge of building cohesion under Laurent Blanc as they have to take in a new playbook.

All with Euro 2012 looming.

Evra, out.

Dissecting the line-up from the back–let’s just skip past French keeper Hugo Lloris who is the equal of any top notch keeper out there–the loss of Evra is a blow for Les Bleus.

Though the French fullback–at least per our comments here at TSG–has been on the decline for the past two years, he is still a bedrock to the French defense–steady in his role and valued in terms of his leadership on the pitch.

With Ballon d’Or finalist and left centerback Eric Abidal now out for the clash as well, who mans the port side of France’s defense is fuzzy. Expect the starting nod to go to Valencia fullback Jérémy Mathieu–though there is an off-chance that Florent Malouda, if healthy, deputizes.

The left centerback role is not as clear with Blanc’s first choice Philippe Mexes and second choice Abidal both out and it will be up for Blanc to decide how he wants to use the game.

He could either go with PSG 21-year-old Mamadou Sakho and get a look at the future or he could select Arsenal whipping boy Laurent Koscielny. Koscielny likely gets the call if only because of the present disarray at the back.

He’ll be partnered on the interior with steady Valencia centerback Adil Rami who many tab as underrated in La Liga.

Rami is a physically punishing centerback who probably should take advantage of his strengths and play in the Premiership. Let’s see how Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore attack the 6’3” defender.

The Lyon iron horse, 31-year-old Anthony Réveillère will be on Rami’s outside hip.

France’s backline strategy is relatively similar to the States in reverse. When fit, Evra on the left will look aggressively to get up the pitch a la Cherundolo while Réveillère, on the right, will pick and choose his spots a la the off-footed Tim Chandler.

It’s up the pitch that bring us to Blanc’s squad’s second state of flux.

In the lead-up to the World Cup campaign, ex-manager Domenech went typically with a 4-2-3-1. Once defensive midfielder starter Lassana Diarra was ruled, France’s shape often took on a 4-1-4-1 shape, looking to play the ball out to the wings.

With Blanc now in charge, the strategy has changed yet again, with France rolling out in an amoeba-like 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. It doesn’t seem that Blanc is quite settled on the line-up and, with the injuries wreaking havoc, it makes instituting a system that much harder.

With a low confidence, we’ll suggest that Blance dons the 4-3-3–now putting the pieces in place is just as hard.

M'Vila for France. Not sure if the "M" stands for Makelele. Didn't check.

What’s not hard is Rennes Yann M’Vila in the holding role–perhaps the most underrated player by media outside of France–a la Kyle Beckerman. To put M’Vila’s potential in perspective and understand the reverence with which is he is already viewed, consider that comparisons to the great Claude Makelele are commonplace.

Ahead of M’Vila, France will likely deploy as follows.  At CM, it’s a toss-up between Marvin Martin and Newcastle find Yohan Cabaye. Martin replaced Cabaye in the 2nd half of France’s last friendly and provided quite a bit of attacking support. We’ll tab Martin.

At LFW Franck Ribery will likely beat out the inconsistent Malouda, at RFW Blanc favorite Jeremy Menez who will provide another tantalizing match-up to evalute Tim Chandler on, and at STR, Karim Benzema should make his return to the side.

That’s 10 players. With the 11th expect Blanc to chose between two players that will likely dictate the formation. That role is normally reserved for the great Yohan Gourcuff–however the Lyon man as mentioned above is just not quite back to international standards.

If it’s Loic Remy, then France will shuttle Remy from side to side around Benzema to make corner runs and stretch the States defense. It it’s Gameiro then he’ll sit in the hole and play more like Dempsey.

We’ll suggest that Gameiro gets the nod on the day.

France's line-up...not to scale as the team will be higher up the pitch.

Tactically, France will look to press up the pitch and put a lot of pressure on the States in their own defensive end. The States will need to be diligent on the ball and manage possession. Is Klinsmann’s team up for it?

If France goes with a 4-4-2, the midfield will look more diamond like with Martin coming up and Remy swinging from one side to the other.


TSG What We’re Looking For:

Well, what we’re not looking for, but still interesting nonetheless:

No scissoring in that role for...Deuce.

Take a look at that chalkboard on the right. At a glance, it’s probably one of Jozy Altidore’s games at Alkmaar, right? Wrong. It’s Clinton Drew at Craven Cottage this past Sunday.

TSG has never been a staunch advocate of Clint Dempsey in the target role for the USMNT for two reasons: 1) He would take an absolute thumping with his back to the basket for a full game and 2) he is so valuable in his creator role for the States.

Yet, here was Dempsey on Sunday being absolutely brilliant in the target role for Fulham as they almost knocked off Tottenham Hotspur. And this wasn’t–pardon–Michael Parkhurst-statured centerbacks that Dempsey was going up against all afternoon. No, this was 6’3” Younès Kaboul and 6’2” 210lbs or so Ledley King.

Dempsey was seamless in his reception and distribution and then was so shifty after distributing that he got loose a few times for some quick give-and-go’s. Bobby Zamora–the comp for him being Jozy Altidore on the USMNT–played behind Dempsey and was on the receiving end of Dempsey’s passes.

Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore has deposited the majority of his eight goals from Alkmaar from a run-on or forward-facing starting point.

There is little chance that Klinsmann swaps these players as we know on Friday despite some obvious observations that the US attack just may improve as a result. However it begs the question and starts to put milestones on whether Klinsmann can–as he is attempting–develop players during their time with the USMNT and have them consistently excel in those roles if they are doing other things with their clubs.

The #3 and the #4 of the back four

If you are a frequent reader of The Shin Guardian, then you know we’ve been an abject defender of at least the idea of Michael Orozco-Fiscal–that is notion that a centerback with both handles and speed is a necessity in the US system, and frankly most systems.

It’s why you don’t see Klinsmann cluttering the camp with the likes of George John and Omar Gonzalez; both potentially international caliber players. By and large, the hulking centerback role (read: captain of the skies) is owned by Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson right now. That’s almost one too many when you consider that Carlos Bocanegra is a necessity as the captain and only capable left-footed centerback.

Remy for Les Bleus...

It will be exceedingly interesting to see how Klinsmann schemes for France in that over-debated right centerback role.

Here’s the three things the US coxswain needs to consider:

First, France will press up the pitch and the States will need to deal with that pressure. Point to the gentleman Orozco-Fiscal from Mexico.

Second, how will Klinsmann plan for which central pairing for France? If it’s a 4-4-2 and Karim Benzema and Loic Remy up top, know this: (a) Remy loves to run, in fact speed and vertical attacking is his forte–if the New York Red Bulls training staff mashed together two parts of Thierry Henry with one part of Dane Richards, you’d have Remy. Point, Orozco-Fiscal.

If it’s Gameiro, well he’s quick, but will play more as a distributor in the hole, perhaps Klinsmann goes with European experience. Point to the Gooch from Portugal.

Dolo may be pitstopping for Hannover, but he still can cut down attackers with the best of them...

Finally, point three. Steve Cherundolo’s had his engine idling at Hannover lately.

To be clear, see-sawing bouts with form have been a mark Cherundolo has worn throughout his entire career–mostly due to his lack of durability.

It seems Cherundolo is in a natural ebb right now–and US fans witnessed a savvy Cherundolo manage the game against Ecuador instead of attack it.

Now, Cherundolo will have to deal with Franck Ribery–who really should spell-check his name by the way.

He’s fast, but not blistering, however if you add in his adroitness on the ball then you essentially have the Dwayne Wade of international football.

If the situation calls for him to explode by you, he’s got the wheels, but more than likely he’s going to careen and slalom through the box and deliver that way.

With the United States looking to contain errant through-runs of Remy–perhaps–and Cherundolo possibly needing a bouncer watchdog on the defensive side of the ball, precisely who Klinsmann chooses as his centerback will tell you if there is an outright depth chart (and Orozco-Fiscal is on top of it) or if it will centerback by committee for now depending on who the opponent is.

• Get with the program!

US media folks really need to abandon their seemingly nostalgic thinking that the US is best in a 4-2-3-1.

Klinsmann's Honduras locker room scrawlings...

Right now, Klinsmann is boss and on his own accord (see re-used sketchboard on the right) seems very committed to playing an offbalance 4-3-3.

Klinsmann has only regressed–for lack of a better word–to the 4-2-3-1 twice. First, against Belgium in the second half when the States were tired, still battling constant pressure and it was clear that then against Ecuador with Michael Bradley inserted to aid a tiring Kyle Beckerman in the second half and running a double pivot.

Here’s the prime takeaway: The skillsets needed in the USMNT central midfield are vastly different than with the former regime. Bradley taxed the central midfielders with linking to tucked-in forwards (Donovan, Dempsey), then aggressively shutting down attacks and covering over the flanks if necessary. Whew, I got tired just reading that. It’s  a lot of work.

Now, with the backline up the pitch, the US is using a single containing central midfielder to retard or divert–not shut down–on a turn of possession.

On the attack, the midfield is charged with advancing and creating chances, not exclusively ball protection.

So, first, it makes sense that Kyle Beckerman (who TSG things has done a tremendous job to date) or someone like him is the holder. The holder must look to advance the ball in the face of pressure. (Even against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday facing pressure, Beckerman almost refused to give in to the back pass when RSL trailed by one and then two. Take a look at the game tape, it’s pretty phenomenal).

Ahead of the holder, the three midfielders must be comfortable moving forward in possession with on-ball skills and create chances at the same time. This discounts the skills of destroyer-types-without-an adventurous-side. I don’t think it’s a surprise that Jeff Larentowicz didn’t make this roster.

11 At the Whistle

The US line-up. Disclaimers below.

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: Insert “excavated in stone with a diamond drill bit” joke here.

DEF: Steve Cherundolo, Michael Orozco-Fiscal, Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Chandler

The skinny: Cherundolo and Chandler are the outside starters until either is unseated which likely won’t happen for some time.

It will again be interesting on the interior. With Bocanegra–returning to France, important opponent–nearly guaranteed of sporting armband, that leaves Klinsmann two rooks and a knight to choose from.

Klinsmann chooses the knight.

Now get on your horse and chase down Remy &  Ribery–sounds like the French Lilo & Stitch–Michael.

CDM: Kyle Beckerman

The skinny: Will the RSL man be able to shield the backline from the likes of Gameiro, Martin and friends. The biggest test and step forward yet for the Floridian yet.

Johnson rod? No, Johnson "nod." (Photo courtesy: DuNord.)

RM: Fabian Johnson

The skinny: We’ll take a shot with Landon Donovan’s withdrawal that the 23-year-old Hoffenheim midfielder gets the spot. Per MLS Soccer’s Greg Seltzer one is to think of Johnson–who is very tidy this year in club ball with four fouls committed while 14 suffered–as a young Dennis Rommendahl, the standout Danish and Bronby winger.

Yup, that’s just about the role that Klinsmann is looking for on the right with an advancing fullback in the rearview mirror.

And one more note, Johnson is known to flip-flop flanks (what great alliteration) during the match and that is precisely what Klinsmann had Brek Shea do against Honduras and Ecuador.

CM: Danny Williams

The skinny: Klinsmann moves Johnson’s Hoffenheim mate, Danny Williams inside here as he is more suited for the role that Maurice Edu valiantly tried to excel in last camp. There is an outside shot that Edu or Bradley starts here, but the reality with Junior is the role that he inhabits at Cheivo is nearly diametrically opposite the one he could be tasked by Klinsmann to inhabit here.

Is there anything scarier than a line of Germans controlling the battlefield in Paris? (Look, you knew we weren’t going to make it through the piece without one of those knee-slappers.)

CAM: Clint Dempsey

The skinny: Deuce is near chameleon-like in his ability to impact the game as cited above. It will be very interesting to see here how he generates offense and moves with potentially all knew midfield buddies on the same line with him. Will he and Johnson get in the way of one another?

And that M’Vila vs. Dempsey match-up…..JUICY! All caps!

FW: Brek Shea

The skinny: Step back for a second. Any remember the young Shea–less filled out–as a tethered target striker for the U-20 team just a few short summers ago.

Now Shea owns the left flank, is training with Arsenal and is on the MLS short list for MVP this season.

And….he’s only 21. It’s ironic because the chorus coming out of World Cup 2010 was “Who is going to replace Donovan and Dempsey?” The chorus this week has been, “I’m so frustrated that we haven’t seen Donovan and Dempsey play together under Klinsmann.”

Meanwhile, the doorway-challenged Shea is lighting it up and has quite a, pardon, arsenal of attack weapons at his disposal.

The US has found the next link in the Donovan and Dempsey lineage–Sports Illustrated cover first or mug on the cover of FIFA 12? 13? 14? first. Now the question is, “Who’s with him?”

The Rooster, the heir apparent to Cleetus on the swag meter as well.

Oh and do note, France’s top two left fullbacks and their top right fullback are all out. Say hey Shea.

STR: Jozy Altidore

The skinny: We’ve dubbed Jozy Altidore, “The Drifter” and really it’s the same old, same old with the now Eredivisie striker. Bands of focus during the game coupled with popcorn-munching. Don’t expect more. Don’t expect less. And don’t more until there is a serious challenger (Conor Doyle?, Omar Salgado–probably not) to the throne.


Disclaimers: Onyewu for Orozco-Fiscal. Edu for Fabian Johnson with Danny Williams moving back outside.

49 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2011/11/09 at 4:31 PM

    Two comments:
    1) very narrow formation you’ve got out there. Who are the guys to help out on the fullbacks defensively against the depredations of Ribery and the erratic but lovable Menez? If the two shuttlers, then is the US conceding the middle?

    2) Evra in decline? I still think he’s a fine player, though short of worldclass. Is this a nugget of conventional wisdom I’ve missed out on?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/09 at 4:36 PM

      1) On the formation, two notes–not to scale and not to scale.

      2) On Evra, I’ve probably watched more Man United games in the EPL than any others over the past three years. He’s not nearly as tidy with the ball and his overlaps are not as frequent.
      I think you’ll find Manchester United fans say the same.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/09 at 4:37 PM

        Check out Klinsmann’s whiteboard and plug the players in there.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/11/09 at 4:51 PM

          Well, even on Klinsi’s whiteboard it looks narrow–or, better put, could lead to narrowness. What, Danny Williams is supposed to help clog the middle on defense and provide an outlet on the right flank? It would take a highly talented player to pull that off, and I felt that was part of the problem in that game.


  2. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/11/09 at 4:51 PM

    Just a friendly gambling reminder from someone that has lost a good bit of money under Klinsman (and won a good bit of money under Bradley)…. its not worth it. If the Yanks beat France you will be happy enough without the extra $$$ in your pocket and if they lose it just hurts more.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/09 at 5:11 PM

      I never bet on teams that I root for. It makes it very difficult for me to bet with my head rather than my heart.


  3. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/11/09 at 4:55 PM

    On another note I am very excited to see Fabian Johnson play. Also would like to see Williams in the middle. Hope we see the line-up that TSG suggested.


  4. Posted by Jared on 2011/11/09 at 5:05 PM

    Didn’t Klinsmann name drop Johnson after one of the last friendlies? I think it’s 99% he starts now with Donovan out. I think Edu is out of the starting lineup as well. Just doesn’t have the skills for that role.

    We will certainly see how the Orozco-Fiscal experiment is shaping up in this game since this will be his first major test when you look at the other opponents that he faced.


  5. Posted by John on 2011/11/09 at 5:08 PM

    “The names crossed off on France’s medic sheet are longer than the list of coaches that have already expressed no interest in the vacant New England Revolution coaching job.”



    • Posted by dth on 2011/11/09 at 5:14 PM

      But who wouldn’t want to coach a cheaply-run team with little talent and less fan interest?


      • Posted by berniebernier on 2011/11/09 at 5:23 PM

        The lack of fan inteerest is because their stadium is a hell hole. Its 45 minutes without traffic and can be as long as 2 hours away from the city, its a football stadium which means its always half empty, parking is still football game priced ($40) and you don’t even get the same traffic help the patriots games get which means every fan has to leave on the same one lane road.

        I have never been to a Revs game and have no intention of going due to the stadium. If they were at the much rumored site in Boston I am a season ticket holder.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/09 at 5:25 PM

          I’ve been to a few Revs games but only when they used to do the doubleheaders with 2 Euro clubs in the second game. Just an all around pain to attend games there.


          • Posted by John on 2011/11/09 at 5:32 PM

            Colorado has a better step-in situation than New England right now. And that is saying something considering that you would be working for the minimum.


          • Posted by Alex on 2011/11/09 at 5:41 PM

            A shame that one of the top sides in the MLS has fallen so far I miss the days of Noonan, Twellman, Ralston and Dempsey.


            • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/09 at 5:45 PM

              Absolutely and the Kraft family should be ashamed at the way they’ve allowed that to happen. They refuse to spend any money on the team and kept Twellman from transferring to England right before he had his career ended by a concussion.

  6. Posted by Union on 2011/11/09 at 5:16 PM

    Thats pretty much the exact starting lineup I expected, especially with Donovan out. I would put money on that being what Jurgen puts out. I’m not a fan of Beckerman at all, but I don’t see Jurgen starting someone else.

    I could see Gooch starting over Fiscal and Morales starting over ‘Dolo (I think that is heresy, but I honestly think it has a shot of happening)


  7. Posted by Union on 2011/11/09 at 5:16 PM

    Oops. **Some** think that is heresy (I certainly do not).


  8. Posted by John on 2011/11/09 at 5:36 PM

    I want to see the following out on the field at some point…

    Yelldell, Cherundolo, Chandler, Morales, Jones, Johnson, Williams

    because that USA team would be far more comfortable speaking German than English. It would catch our opponents off guard.


  9. Posted by Kartik on 2011/11/09 at 5:37 PM

    Good stuff there, though I think when Donovan, Dempsey, and Shea all play together, It’s going to be tougher to stick with that 4-3-3, and the natural move would be to a 4-2-3-1. That is unless you move donovan into the center of midfield, which I am all for. I’ve been calling for donovan to play an iniesta midfield role for as long as I’ve been calling for Dempsey to play as a false nine. And i’ve been calling for it for as long as the revs have been sucking.

    Yup, revs fans. Your whole organization sucks. Massive props to the people who go out there every week, they’re the least of the problems. Although the front office would probably respond to that with a nice “YOU SUCK ASSHOLE!”


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/09 at 6:01 PM

      Extremely true on the Revs fan comment. (Apologies for rubbing salt) :>


    • Posted by Izzy on 2011/11/09 at 6:50 PM

      Whole-heartedly agree with the comment about Donovan possibly playing the Iniesta role, and Dempsey possibly playing as a false nine. Dempsey presents the excellent movement needed to drag defenders out of position to create space in the backline, or to find space himself. Donovan on the other hand shows great on the ball intelligence and I actually kind of liked him in the central midfield in Klinsmann’s 4-3-3 against Costa Rica. The problem is that with Torres in there, we may have had possession, but we had less numbers in the attack because he wasn’t willing to get forward. Maybe if we had Donovan next to Jones with Bradley/Edu/Beckerman behind them in a holding role while Dempsey plays as a false nine up top, creating space in the defense for Shea and Altidore to exploit. Things that make you go “LEH GO” 🙂


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/10 at 5:28 AM

      Where do you put Donovan in the Iniesta role. That’s likely where Fabian Johnson is in the line-up above. Why can’t Donovan play there? Seems natural.

      Donovan will supplant him and then you have your 4-3-3.

      The 4-2-3-1 seems to fly in the face of how Klinsmann wants to defend–again higher line with one holder moving more pieces up in to the attack.

      I don’t see it and the US has looked challenged to create attack–even more so than usual–when they’ve went to the 4-2-3-1 against Belgium/Ecuador.

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying?

      (@izzy — as for Donovan against Costa Rica, he was extremely ineffective in that central midfield role, not that he couldn’t learn it.

      See here: http://theshinguardian.com/2011/09/13/klinsmanns-depth-chart-september-2011/
      …for both points.

      Donovan continually drifted wide to the RM role that I think he’ll inhabit upon his return.
      Oddly enough it’s just the role he is playing with the Galaxy currently.


      • Posted by Izzy on 2011/11/10 at 1:27 PM

        Donovan’s movement to the right flank in that game is similar to Iniesta’s movement to the left flank for Barcelona. On defense, Iniesta joins Xavi and Busquets in central midfield to make a 4-3-3, but going forward, he has the freedom to drift wide left or drive at the defense through the center.

        In fact, the whole side is something of a mix between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 because of their movement. Iniesta plays centrally on defense and can shuttle to the left if he wants on offense, while David Villa is the opposite, moving high to the left on defense and making central runs when his team has the ball. Messi is the central striker whenever Barcelona defend, but drops into the midfield when they receive the ball, either dragging defenders out of position, or leaving the most dangerous player in the world open to run at the backline. Pedro is a bit more willing to hug the touchline, but still looks to make off the ball runs through the center of defense to exploit the space Messi may have created. Xavi and Busquets are really the only ones who’re stationary.

        This article provides a good visual:

        http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/11/30/barcelona-5-0-real-madrid-tactics/ ( Barca’s 5-0 against Madrid )

        http://www.zonalmarking.net/2011/04/17/real-madrid-1-1-barcelona-tactics/ ( Barca’s 1-1 draw with Mardid )

        Notice the positioning of Villa, Messi, Pedro, and Iniesta. Insert Shea for Pedro, Altidore for Villa, Donovan for Iniesta, and Dempsey for Messi and I think you actually have a fairly good lineup and something worth a shot if Klinsmann is pushing for more control of the game.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/10 at 1:38 PM

          I think you missed my point. I’m not saying that Donovan can’t play that role–it seems ideal. I’m just saying that he’s not a back to the goal central midfielder.


          • As great as running Barca’s system would be, let’s not forget two things:
            1 – part of the reason they’re able to push so far up the pitch is because they have world class centre backs and defensive midfielders: Puyol, Pique, Mascherano and Busquets. We…do not.
            2 – the possession game that Barca plays is literally impossible to recreate with any collection of players who aren’t currently on the Barca side. While I completely support the idea of the USMNT attempting to eventually become a team that can completely dominate possession of a game, asking this current cycle of players to do so RIGHT NOW is like handing a twelve year old a basketball and asking him to dunk on a full-height rim.


  10. Posted by john on 2011/11/09 at 6:05 PM

    Laurent Koscielny is the best French defender and in top form. Altidore, Dempsey will have to work hard

    Jeremy Mathieu is a very underrated LB hes one to watch out for. Matheiu debuchy has played really well for Lille.

    It will be a tough game


  11. Posted by berniebernier on 2011/11/09 at 6:24 PM

    While I am sure I will enjoy the game on Friday I will be much more excited if they were showing a U-23 scrimmage. I am not sure what that says about me and/or the current USMNT.


  12. Posted by Union on 2011/11/09 at 6:43 PM

    Speaking of U-23, Matt, how long until we see Boyd on the senior squad. I know he needs to break into the starting lineup at Dortmund first. But. If Agudelo was getting constant calls. No reason to think Boyd can’t get a look.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/11/09 at 8:22 PM

      Boyd needs to go on loan. Too good for the reserves, not good enough for the full team.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/09 at 8:37 PM

      Hard for me to comment on Boyd. Haven’t seen him play. Brian Sciaretti has said good things about him.

      I think with any international. They should establish themselves either at their club or out on loan before a call-up. No need to rush them AND give them exposure to the system with less pressure.

      I think Morales was a deal. Basically, call him up to the senior team for a feel of it and you’ve got him.

      As for Agudelo, he is/was not wowed by the reps at the senior level. Not that he’s produced. A lot of it is about being who your comfortable playing with–so Agudelo was at least comfortable with that group.

      That said, U-23 is perfect for both him and Boyd in my opinion.

      If there is anyone that perhaps will get any early call-up for that roster I think it could be Mixx (against played at the senior level), Corona or Doyle…and Doyle’s a stretch but he seems comfy at a Championship side.


  13. Posted by Chad on 2011/11/09 at 7:19 PM

    Been saying for awhile that Demps should be a forward for the Nats. Now it looks like we’re starting to all agree that he is the best forward as well as the best creator on the team, much like Donovan had been seen as the best withdrawn forward and best wing on the team.


  14. Posted by dth on 2011/11/09 at 9:36 PM

    OT, a little bit BUT–another Bay Area kid joins the big time, with Marc Pelosi signing with Liverpool.

    Always fun to see, though at some point San Jose Earthquakes people (management? fans?) have to get a bit PO’d that there’s so much Bay Area talent…that has no chance of playing for San Jose.


  15. […] The Fan In You « TSG’s Official USA vs. France Preview: The Germans Are Coming! […]


  16. Posted by Excellency on 2011/11/10 at 6:58 AM





    * If we’re feeling more experimental, then we could put Beckerman or Williams in Edu’s spot.

    Bradley, Johnson, Dolo and Gooch on Ribery. They should get a workout.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/10 at 8:37 AM

      Johnson is categorically not a holder — Bradley unfortunately doesn’t have the chops in the attacking third. Shea is the lone true winger, best to keep him wide. Big challenges–not disrespect–in that line-up up there.


      • Posted by Excellency on 2011/11/10 at 10:06 AM

        We could have a long debate. Haven’t seen Johnson really play enough yet so I’ll pass – for the time being.

        Disagree on Shea, altho I think he could fill in creditably for Gervinho’s role at Arsenal but that’s if he were at Arsenal. I think we need Shea to help get the ball back on defence and bring the ball up through the middle, He can then adjust his play according to what Chandler and Dempsey are doing on the wing. That could mean that he reverts to a true winger or not depending on the play of those two. That will also mean that it is more likely there will be men in the box when he completes his play on the wing.

        I could agree with you if we had Van Persie at center and Arsenal backs and mids bringing the ball up the field with just the right pace. Right now that would be a problem with USA, I think you would agree.

        With Shea playing more centrally he can switch to the right side more easily as well which he did with results in the past.


  17. Posted by Andy on 2011/11/10 at 10:05 AM

    I’d like:



    Chandler Gooch Orozco Fiscal Morales


    It’s time to get experimental! (Boca and Cherundolo are not the future). I would be good with a Beckerman replacement as well, but I think he could do alright.


    • Posted by Andy on 2011/11/10 at 10:08 AM

      It didn’t do my spacing like I hoped, but use your imagination with Shea on the left wing and Johnson on the right mid/wing. Dempsey playing in that CAM creator role. Williams and Beckerman playing in the central mid role with Beckerman being slightly further back than D-Will.


  18. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/11/10 at 2:15 PM

    I think about how to put together a plan to build effectively toward 2014 while still making it through qualifing. I start putting together a base formation to work out of. I like what we have started with 4-3-3 or 4-1-3-2. Now my questions come into how do you depth chart.

    What if we run out something like this:

    Then Depth Chart beyond just this camp:

    LF-Chandler, Lichaj
    SCD-Boca, Gooch, Goodson, Ream
    FCD-MOF, Cameron, Parkhurst
    RF-Dolo, Morales, Spector
    CDM-Holden, Beckerman, larentowicz
    CR (creator)- Torres, Williams, Kljestan, Adu
    BB (Box to Box)- Bradley, Edu, Jones,
    LW-Shea, Beasely
    CF-Dempsey, Altidore, Buddle, Agudelo, Bunbury
    RW-Donavon, Johnson, Bedoya, Rogers


    Defense the same, Wings the same
    CDM: Holden, Beckerman, Edu, Jones
    CAM: Torres, Williams, Bradley, Kljestan, Adu
    ST1: Dempsey, Agudelo,
    ST2: Altidore, Buddle, Bunbury


  19. […] Uh, yeah, so, anyway, U.S. vs. France, 2 p.m. CST tomorrow at Stade de France. I don’t have any grand thoughts, so if  you’re in search of a preview, well, here’s your dead end sign. Turn around and head over to The Shin Guardian, which, not unsurprisingly, published its customary fantastically comprehensive preview. […]


  20. Don’t know if it’s been said yet, but i just saw an interview with Klinsmann and he said that Johnson is battling for a spot in the middle of midfield not out on the wing. I expect to see Beasley in there or Williams tried out there again.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/11 at 4:36 AM

      Interesting. Not to not stand behind my work, but every time I saw Fabian Johnson in games he was playing a lot centrally. Posed this to Seltzer who has seen him more and he discounted.

      Let’s see what happens. Will be very interesting.


  21. […] For TSG’s USA vs. France preview, go here. […]


  22. Posted by John on 2011/11/11 at 10:01 AM

    It’s time to head…..



  23. […] For TSG’s USA vs. France preview, go here. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: