TSG’s Official USA vs. Italy Preview: Azzurri Skies For The States?

Genoa's Stadia Luigi Ferraris

Stadium history//Video (worth a watch)

Jurgen Klinsmann’s men saunter onto the Stadio Luigi Ferraris pitch Wednesday in Genoa looking to ignite some offensive fireworks (pun intended) that were on display last time they were in Europe–a 3-2 win over Slovenia last November.

The States will also looking to tighten the defense; something they did against France that trip quite well.

With Klinsmann only having a two-day camp and one game evaluation and with a roster that seems to be continually morphing–Landon Donovan and Timmy Chandler were ruled out late Sunday night while Sacha Kljestan and Brek Shea were shuttled in–the Americans will likely have yet another new starting eleven. Oguchi Onyewu and Jose Torres join the scratches along with the aforementioned Donovan and Chandler.

The Klinsmann mantra of preaching consistency among player development–that is getting reps together–seems to be facing some challenges in the wake of mounting player injuries and solid play of some of the youngsters.

Boyd: "But, hey, I'm ready..."

On the latter note, the roster addition of the Borussia Dortmund reservist Terrence Boyd was described Monday to reporter Brian Sciaretti in Genoa. Said Klinsmman on Boyd:

“[Terrence Boyd] brings an energy to the group. He’s a high-pressure player. He goes at defenders, he goes at people. That’s what he loves to do. From there he wants to go in the box and finishes things off. I wanted to personally see him. I wanted to get a sense for him.”

On the former, the injury to Chandler in particular may create a positive shuffling of the depth chart as well.

And in particular, both the midfield and the defense will see turnover and re-jiggered player positioning among those already in camp.

The Italians enter to the game with much more team cohesion than the States and could boast as many as five players in the starting eleven who regularly start together at Serie A club Juventus. The US–who has struggled to develop any sort of an offensive attack against above-average opponents–save Slovenia–will be hard-pressed to score against the Italian unit as well.

(Note: The over-under line on tired Catenaccio references during the broaddcast and on Twitter Wednesday already has moved from 279 to 361.)

Let’s get to our customary preview. Per usual it goes:

TSG: What We’re Looking For

About The Opponent: Italy

11 At The Whistle

Gotta be better that 7-1, right? The US "forces" marching to their destruction by Italy in the 1934 World Cup in Italy....


TSG What We’re Looking For

Leftback Chain Reaction:

The Timothy Chandler injury–while a pain in the butt–might be a blessing in disguise here for the US.

Where wil Fabian roll on Wednesday?

Pairing Chandler’s absence with: a) the original roster’s top-heavy forward focus, b) the lack of leftback prospect in camp currently beyond perhaps Jonathan Spector and c) the late addition of Shea, it seems highly likely that  TSG (no relation) 1899 Hoffenheim man Fabian Johnson will man the leftback spot for the Yanks.

Johnson represents perhaps the Yanks best option at leftback if only because he’s: a) left-footed has a left-foot and b) he’s seen some time there. Remember  Chandler does not play at leftback for Nurnberg and has been prone to positioning hiccups when deployed there for the States.

With Johnson at leftback and with Carlos Bocanegra likely to start in his customary captain’s spot, the US will have a pairing at leftback not seen since Klinsmann tested out Edgar Castillo at the spot a few months ago. Two left-foot dominant player comfortable playing the ball to the outside instead of in-cutting or relying exclusively on the holder to bail them out.

Despite Bocanegra’s obvious distribution flaws–and you should look for them on Wednesday and see how they impact the attack–the US should actually be able to move the ball up the left flank more effectively than any other time in Klinsmann’s tenure–if in fact Johnson is Wednesday’s solution.

Continually, should Johnson’s impress against the Italians, it may pave the way for Chandler to compete for more time on the right flank where–in this writer’s opinion–he naturally belongs and isn’t robbed from the offensive swashbuckling that his left peg handicaps him from on the opposite side.

Also, call it a hunch, but don’t t put it past Klinsmann to try Geoff Cameron out at leftback here and keep Johnson in the advance midfielder role. Johnson’s work rate would provide cover and Cameron has proved adept at turning outside on his “weaker” foot as shown during the most recent US camp when playing left centerback.

Yet Another Observation on “The Drifter”:

If you’re a regular reader of TSG, you can count well beyond your fingers and toes–and many of your friends fingers and toes–the number of times we’ve pointed out he need for Jozy Altidore, aka “The Drifter”, to be mentally and physically consistent on the field with the Yanks.

A moment or two of brilliance from Altidore–a strike against Guadeloupe last summer or his first half against Slovenia–show just what the player is capable of. Those moments are few and far between and it may be in no time that Altidore effect sees Klinsmann’s hairline resemble his predecessors. Altidore is doing that right now with his AZ Alkmaar manager Pat Verbeek who has repeatedly scolded the American publicly as, it would seem, a means of pushing him.

Commitment concerns continue to dog Altidore since his days as a Tiger...

Plug in Altidore’s run-ins with both hull managers during his time there (Phil Brown and Iain Dowie), his inability to get off the bench at Villarreal and Verbeek’s comments lately, and four observations doth a trend make.

(Note: The hype after Altidore performance this past Saturday is sure to be high for this one on Wednesday)

For Klinsmann though, the Altidore effect could be much worse. Whereas Bob Bradley relied on the countering of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan as the mainstay of his attack, the system that Klinsmann so desperately wants to play, some amalgamated version of a 4-3-3 playing of a target striker, relies heavily on the target man being engaged throughout the game.

Is that folly by Klinsmann? Probably not in that US youth system is seeing a wave of target man up-and-coming and a rash of speedy wingers on the outside.

At present though, you can see Klinsmann’s challenge.

In camp this week is Edson Buddle, a player who was trotted around England and didn’t land a transfer this January and the fresh-faced Boyd who is devoid of any real senior club experience.

It’s also abundantly clear that Altidore’s best games come when he’s actually using his big frame off a target striker, not playing one himself.

It’s a conundrum and it seems destined to continue as in the previous reign, that Altidore will be shoehorned into that target man role. Square peg meet round hole.

The shortest hop of any player. Will Junior's dad be on hand?

Michael Bradley the Transformer….and the rest of the midfield.

Michael Bradley–the lone US Serie A representative–will be a spotlit focal point here on Wednesday.

Bradley–limited to bench work early on in Klinsmann’s tenure as seeming way to say, “um, buddy, you’re not the captain anymore, you’re one of the squad for now”–must have been harsh for a player who wears his heart and his fight on his sleeve.

Is Bradley now conditioned to play within Klinsmann’s system and if so, will it be a shuttling or a holding role?

With the withdrawal of both Jose Torres* and Jermaine Jones, the US has holes in the three-man midfield. It stands to reason that Bradley will either be in the linking or holding role while Danny Williams and Maurice Edu will factor into the others.

(*Is it not time to start wondering if Jose Torres is in fact someone the team can count on going forward? The Primera is not the most physically rigorous of leagues and Torres now has penchant for chaining together one injury after another in the league.)

The US is really devoid of anyone that can play the three-touch game that Torres does and it doesn’t look like there is anyone (Kljestan and Bradley seem like the two healthy bodies that could try and pull it off if any) to play that role.

With RSL captain Kyle Beckerman not called in for this one, expect Danny Williams to play the holding role and Michael Bradley to play the shuttler.

With Bradley in that role what it means is that the US will need Steve Cherundolo to get forward for any sort of attacking width on the right as Bradley tends to either drop or drift inward and that may alternately put more pressure on Clarence Goodson–the likely starter at RCB and has been resting during the Danish Liga’s break–who will tasked with covering when Cherundolo gets forward.

Square Passes:

• Watch Clint Dempsey for the States. With the States newfound desire to press defensively up the pitch and the US attack still fairly anemic when it comes to offball movement, Dempsey has been downright stifled by opposing defenses. The forward-striker works well when given a little bit of room and he’s just not getting that when’s he sporting the US crest.

To make matters worse Dempsey will probably be hawked part-time by Danielle De Rossi, who despite his age likes to lay the wood on would-be attackers some times. Watch those ankles, Deuce.

• The still-and-ever-dangerous Andrea Pirlo is a lock for Italy’s deep-lying playmaker role. Both Goodson and Bocanegra struggle with long balls over the top. The US will need to be vigilant on marking Pirlo when he receives the ball in the attacking half.

• Steve Cherundolo has had a few knocks lately and has looked rather pedestrian lately. Will he pick it up?

• Look for Michael Parkhurst to possibly be introduced before Geoff Cameron in this one. Parkhurst’s proximity to Europe will want Klinsmann looking at him versus European competition for sure.

11 At The Whistle


US attacking posture against Italy: Let's go out on a limb here at TSG and say that Cameron gets the righback start and Maurice Edu gives way to Edson Buddle in the starting line-up.


• Johnson starts for Cameron.

• Edu starts for Buddle.

• Williams and Bradley flip-flop


About The Opponent: The Azzurri

This section contributed by TSG Serie A expert Eric Giardini

Cesare Prandelli’s 23-man Italy squad named to face the United States is pretty standard with no real surprises. A little ho-hum save one-position.

Buffon: Pious about protecting the mesh....

Starting in goal, is captain Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon is more than a mainstay. Wednesday’s match will give the bandana’d keeper his 113th appearance for the club and, with it, will surpass goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff as the most capped goalkeeper in Azzurri history.

When you think Italy, the first thing you think of is defense and Prandelli has a strong pool of defenders to choose from. The entire backline from Juventus (Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini) have been called and this trio has been instrumental in allowing a Serie A-low 15 goals against in 24 matches. They are cohesive and their repetitions at the club will mean that the US will not find cohesion mistakes easy to come by as they did against Slovenia last last year.

The Italian midfield may not be what it once was, but it will provide yet another layer of defensive integrity ahead of the back four. The ageless Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo join Riccardo Montolivo, and Claudio Marchisio to provide both steel and playmaking ability. Antonio Nocerino is the “5th man” so to speak off the bench. Nocerino will an offensive spark from the bench if needed while from Brazilian international hopeful Thiago Motta can be brought in to help set up shop and kill the game.

The only major headline coming out of the squad announcement is in the attack due to the mecurial Mario Balotelli being left off the squad.

Balotelli must face Prandelli’s “Code of Ethics” punishment for a recent incident with Tottenham’s Scott Parker.

Streaker Sebastien Giovinco is no stranger to Brek Shea. The US left winger faced off with Giovinco in a 2-1 US loss to Italy at the 2008 Toulon Tournament...

With Guiseppi Rossi’s long-term knee injury and Balotelli’s fireworks not on display, it leaves the two top frontline up-and-comers out of the 18 Wednesday and creates at least glimmer of an opportunity for some younger….youngsters.

Twenty-year-old Fabio Borini gets his first call-up after initially being named to the U-23 squad last week and the rest of the attackers for Italy lack any real experience with the national squad, as Inter’s Giampaolo Pazzini is the eldest with 23 caps. Parma’s Sebastian Giovinco (6 caps) and Juventus’ Alessandro Matri (4) round out the forwards. (You’re probably wondering about “Q:” Regarding Fabio Quagliarella, he tore his ACL in January of 2011 and only just played his first full 90 minutes on the 18th against Catania, so he’s probably not wanting to be risked by Prandelli.)

Giovinco is a player to keep an eye out for. He has tremendous speed and on-the-ball skills that may prove troublesome to the United States’ backline.


Ode to The Cat: This is the official Italy line-up already listed for tomorrow.

Predicted Starting XI

In games past, Prandelli has settled on a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield and it’s likely to be trotted out in Genoa again.

A key battle will be Cherundolo getting up the flank with the two Italian midfield attackers link to ping the ball into his vacated spot and find a surging Giovinco or Matri on a counter or speedy attack.

What other managers often overlook though is the offensive contributions of De Rossi in the his own distribution role.this is often overlooked outside of Italy, and is able to be a distributor if needed.

Giovinco will line up a bit behind Pazzini in a withdrawn striker to connect with Montolivo and serve as a conduit between the midfield and Pazzini in the target forward role. Not precisely Antonion Cassano, but one can make the analogy.


Overall, Italy possesses a strong defensive side capable of giving the United States attack issues on that end of the field. One bright side for the US is the relative inexperience at the international level of the Italian forwards. This is a good matchup for the two nations as the US should provide a stern test for the Italians heading into their difficult Euro 2012 group. Conversely, the United States should gain from the experience of having a close to full strength squad as they take on one of the world’s best.


From the editor: One has to wonder if the Italian handcuffs put on Mario Balotelli is really the right move for a striker who clearly has the talent to succeed on the international level.

Every team has it’s Dennis Rodman or Terrell Owens–a player who may divide the dressing room from time-to-time but is crucial to on-field success.

The Italians seem hard-headed in these cases. Their early World Cup 2010 departure saw them leave the aforementioned Quagliarella on the bench until the final 45 minutes and leave former Sampdoria man Antonio Cassano–now battling health issues–behind altogether.

With Rossi injured, the Italians really should be more open to bringing in talent ahead of all else–or maybe they should just bring in Robert Mancini once he’s replaced next year by Jose Mourinho at Manchester City. (Wouldn’t that be great to see Mourinho herding Balotelli again?)

56 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2012/02/27 at 10:30 PM

    Think that line about Boyd being a “high-pressure” player is a giveaway–it’s the way Klinsmann wants to play, ideally. Which means I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised to see Boyd start above Altidore.


    • Posted by rambo on 2012/02/28 at 10:18 AM

      Klinsman has stated a few times about how he wants to integrate players into the team, so I doubt he will start this game.


  2. Posted by Wixson on 2012/02/27 at 10:31 PM

    Good to have you back, TSG. Great preview as always, will be fun to watch. Agree with the Torres 3-touch, trap it, turn, pass, would have been nice to see him with jones to destroy. Oh well.


  3. Posted by Luke S on 2012/02/27 at 11:00 PM

    dolo goodson boca spector
    bradley williams
    johnson dempsey shea

    and it ends 1-1!


  4. I do think Fabian Johnson is our best option at left back with the current roster, but according to the man, myth and legend, Brian Sciaretta, he is actually naturally right footed -> https://twitter.com/#!/briansciaretta/status/173917924099239937


    • Posted by John Lesh on 2012/02/28 at 1:09 AM

      He is most assuredly right footed


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/02/28 at 4:39 AM

      Regardless, he is actually getting time in a top league playing LB. he is also playing well while there. No one on the roster (or actually our player pool can say that).


      • Posted by Martin on 2012/02/28 at 9:26 AM


        But going forward Chandler should be our starting left back. He is a better defender than Johnson. He is probably our best defensive player after Dolo and ,maybe, Boca.

        Johnson is a better midfielder than Chandler.

        That is more important than whether you are left or right footed. Actually, Chandler seems to be fine with either foot.

        It’s also interesting that Henley, the young Tennessean at Blackburn, another in the long line of great saviours at left back, says right back is his best position.

        It should be noted that being naturally left footed does not necessarily make you better suited to play left back, left wing, etc. over a right footed player.

        There are far too many examples to cite. One example I like to point to is Robben who plays right wing but probably wouldn’t kick a ball with his right foot if his life depended on it.


        • Posted by Alex on 2012/02/28 at 12:08 PM

          LW and LB are two very different positions. Its far easier to be an off-footed LW because of a large preference of in-cutting wingers who score with their strong foot i.e. Robben, Ribery, David Villa, C.Ronaldo, etc.
          But off-footed LBs are rare. Mostly because they’re not as effective in the opponents final 3rd. Fullbacks add width to an attack and must be able to cross (with their good foot). I see off-footed LBs as a stop gap, but not the final answer to our problems. Chandler and Lichaj did well with their time at LB, but imagine how much better we’d be if they were left footed.

          Plus, as a right footer who’s played on the left, its awkward trying to defend Right wingers with your bad foot.


          • Posted by Martin on 2012/02/28 at 5:58 PM

            “But off-footed LBs are rare.”

            Not as rare as you think. For example, I’m pretty sure Philip Lahm, is right footed. However, I’ll let you research that since it can be really hard to find sources that tell you exactly what a player’s preferred foot is. Not to mention that at the international level most of these guys should be functionally two footed. All I know is that I’ve seen quite a few predominantly right footed players over the years play on the left side (fullback or winger) without too much bother. And vice versa. The agian my all time favoruite time was Holland,1974 and with those guys, the left back was likely to wind up at center forward at some point in the game.

            “Chandler and Lichaj did well with their time at LB, but imagine how much better we’d be if they were left footed”

            Chandler, if he stays at letback, will be just fine. His first goal of this season was a left footed blast from outside the penalty box. If the US comes up with a left footed defender who plays the position better than Chandler then fine, move him in. I want the best left back in there, not the best left footed guy we can dig up. There is a lot more to playing left back than which foot is dominant.

            “.Plus, as a right footer who’s played on the left, its awkward trying to defend Right wingers with your bad foot.”

            With all due respect to your skills, I’ve seen quite a few predominantly right footed left backs do a fine job on right wingers. For one thing it is not uncommon to see flipped over guys like Robben on the right wing.

            So the right footed Alex would have been on the left footed Arjen Robben like white on rice. Problem solved.


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/02/28 at 10:27 PM

              Right-footed LBs are obviously serviceable if they have the ability, but if you had two LBs with equal ability, who do you choose? I am guessing you have never had to run back towards goal and chase an opponent / slide tackle – because you know which is easier and more natural to do, right?

              Using examples such as Lahm [or Irwin] are redundant because they are obviously in a class that the USA are no where near producing presently. Tell you what, why don’t you look at all the club sides in the top leagues and see how many inverted full backs there are? Bet there are not too many as the *preferred* choice.

              I do agree100% with you comment about not sticking a left-footed player at LB just because they’re left-footed. The biggest thing about playing full back is about is positioning, knowing and getting your angles right, which also means cutting off passing lanes. Over-lapping runs would be great, but let’s not be too avido – this is Italy you’re playing, not some CONCACAF monnow such as T&T.

            • Posted by Martin on 2012/02/28 at 11:58 PM

              “I am guessing you have never had to run back towards goal and chase an opponent / slide tackle – because you know which is easier and more natural to do, right?”

              The good defenders learn to minimize the frequency of that sort of thing. Professional athletes learn how to compensate for their natural weaknesses. If they don’t, they don’t stay professional very long.

              “Using examples such as Lahm [or Irwin] are redundant because they are obviously in a class that the USA are no where near producing presently.”

              Typically condescending comment and an irrelevant one. It’s a matter of equivalence. In general whatever league or level they are in. left backs will be facing right wingers that they are more or less equal to.

              “Tell you what, why don’t you look at all the club sides in the top leagues and see how many inverted full backs there are? Bet there are not too many as the *preferred* choice.”

              I did that a while back . As it turns out it’s pretty hard to get confirmation on exactly which is a player”s “natural” foot. It’s not like baseball where they list “throws left. bats right”.

              And of course many players are adept enough with either foot that it’s a moot point.

              And then there are the guys who are so good with one foot, they don’t use the other one regardless and it doesn’t matter.. This does not mean they can’t. Beckham is famously right footed but his left is far from useless. He just never seems to use it much in games.

              People here focus too much on which foot is the preferred foot.. This is not baseball where you match up righties vs lefties. First and foremost a left back needs to be a fundamentally sound player and defender. If he is not that then you have problems. I prefer Chandler of all the guys I’ve seen there in the last ten years or so because he is fundamentally the best player and defender of all of them.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/02/29 at 8:40 AM

              So, some of the world’s best full backs can’t be very good then because I have seen them chasing wingers who have got past them.

              I don’t think people here are focusing too much on that. Obviously, if the LB is right-footed but has a good left, then it’s invalid. But if you’re playing with and inverted winger on the left and your LB hasn’t got a decent left, then where is your width coming from? It’s all about team balance, no? Has the team been posted yet? In Dempsey playing in the hole or on the left? What about Shea?

            • Posted by Martin on 2012/02/29 at 10:02 AM

              “So, some of the world’s best full backs can’t be very good then because I have seen them chasing wingers who have got past them.”

              That is a pretty harsh assessment of those guys. It happens to everyone. What separates the great ones from, forgive me Alex, fullbacks like Alex is they know how best to compensate for the situation regardless of whether they are right footed, left footed or two footed.

              You are also overly harsh on right footed players who play on the left side of things. If they are good enough they find ways to give their team width, even if they can only use their off foot. If they can’t then teams usually find someone who can.

              Every game, good players make it work regardless of their deficiencies.

              With all due respect, Alex’s problem is not that he is right footed. If he was playing right back and had to face a predominantly right footed Beckham playing left wing I’ll bet he would still have a hard time. No shame there but true nonetheless.

  5. Posted by Carlos on 2012/02/27 at 11:56 PM

    Great analysis, but I don’t agree with the LB. Johnson has been playing LB for club at least the last 5 games, Coach K has seen him live while he player there. So unless Johnson did not show well during that game, which I don’t think was the case (as heard from a couple of posters elsewhere), he is the man. I’ve heard others say let’s try Williams @ LB but if their club coach picks Johnson as the best solution to their reg LB then I going to assume that Johnson plays that position better.

    We have so many capable DMids but I would go with Williams. Bradley plays out on the wings for club albeit in a different formation. Shea on the Left is our best option. And I think Dempsey as a withdrawn Forward who will help relieve pressure from midfield. I would really like to see Boyd get minutes & I even more want him to have a solid showing. We really need more from our forwards. Oh I almost forgot Sasha, I guess I’m not the only one. I just don’t see anyone on the roster playing this role. It’s a big, big area of concern. Here is hoping he shows well.








    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/02/28 at 12:00 AM

      I can talk/reason myself into anything if given the time. :>

      Though I can’t see Shea starting just because he got shuttled over.


      • Posted by Andrew M. on 2012/02/28 at 1:27 AM

        I don’t know man. I can’t see Klinsmann calling up the U-23’s biggest offensive threat from this important last friendly before qualifying if he’s not going to start him. If that’s the case and I’m Caleb Porter, I’m also pissed.


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/02/28 at 4:46 AM

        Just curious but Shea got there before many of the Europe based guys so it’s not like he missed part of the camp. Could this have simply been Shea/Johnson 1/2on the depth chart so I send one to each camp and don’t worry about depth. Now that JK wants to move Johnson he needs to call in Shea. Shea really does play the same position as any of the scratches do ey bring him in? If its just for practice numbers that seems like a bad choice from a U23 prospective.


    • Posted by Excellency on 2012/02/28 at 10:39 AM

      The lineup makes sense (given the players on the roster) except I wonder if Williams is too young to put in the d-mid position as a starter against Italy. I think we might see Edu to start just because we need some consistency and experience at that position.

      Later we might see Williams come in for Sacha depending how things are going.

      Bringing Shea away from u-23 camp means, I think, that Klinsi wants to see how he works with Johnson at RB. However, I think Johnson is great at left mid in diamond

      They say Spector is a mistake at LB but, if he can play there, I’d love to see:


      “A left back, my kingdom for a left back”


      • The idea of seeing Danny Williams start at D-mid for the first time ever, against Italy, is very scary to me. I haven’t been super impressed so far with him – but I’m also not sure if we’ve been using him where he belongs. Edu is possibly my least favorite D-mid on the entire #USMNT, but I still think I’d rather see him start there over Williams.


      • Posted by Luke S on 2012/02/28 at 12:17 PM

        can you explain why you want bradley as a right winger when he plays strictly as a #6 for his club? or are you just predicting what klinsmann will do? especially with shea as your #10 (oddly). put shea where fabian is, fabian where bradley is, bradley where sacha is, and sacha where shea is.


        • Bradley has spent a fair amount of time playing wing. While he was in Holland he did it, and back in the early days of his career you could find him playing there. Jurgen has already tried him at this spot, and based solely on one game it was a pretty good result vs Slovenia.

          While I dont think it will happen that way, I wouldn’t put it past the man to play MB there.


        • Posted by Excellency on 2012/02/28 at 5:48 PM

          I’d play Donovan there if he were available.

          Bradley played right mid against Slovenia with success.

          I don’t think managers have pushed Bradley forward enough. maybe it was because his short passing game was not the greatest. He has improved in that department. I think he can score. He had a nice cross the few times I saw him wander out on right wing.


          • IRT Bradley’s crossing…there’s a reason that he takes corners for us even though he’s 6’2″, and it’s not because he’s bad in the air. Dude is probably the best crosser we have, what with Landon seeming to lose his touch after the WC.


  6. Posted by Carlos on 2012/02/28 at 12:19 AM

    I don’t think Shea starts just because he got shuttled over, but because he the last many standing, Johnson would have played LM, if not for Chandler & Johnson’s cover is whom Dempsey. Dempsey is needed elsewhere. It’s Shea’s natural position & I don’t see anyone “Left” whose better.


  7. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/02/28 at 5:56 AM

    this US team with the all the injuries, you have to think coach klinsmann is going to go with a 4-5-1. why play any other formation to start this game against a team as strong as italy? and usa is on the road, on top of this.

    but i guess buddle did start the last game he played in against slovenia. is there anyway altidore does not start if he is healthy? it has to be doubtful after his two goal performance over the weekend and it was probably doubtful before that.

    altidore up top with deuce right up behind him pulling strings in the middle. on the wings are the two newcomers shea and sacha. danny williams gets his go in the middle along with “the machine” michael bradley.

    the defense better be ready. cherundolo, goodson and boca are three veterans with some familiarity. fabian johnson will have to be on the same page as these three if he is going to be successful on the left. hopefully johnson will be attacking from the left.

    this aint gonna be a 1 nil game.


    • I’ve got to agree… I think this is the most likely formation and starters, and I think it makes good sense with our personel. I’m not a big fan of Sacha as a creative center-of-the-pitch kind of guy. He’s not quick enough with the ball. I do like him as an attacking player on the wing though.


    • Posted by justin on 2012/02/28 at 10:26 PM

      I think this is our best option too. 5 man midfield. Klinsi did it against france, and i bet he’ll start there against Italy. I would say there is a 50% chance that Johnson is right wing instead of Sacha and someone else at LB. It’s just hard because we don’t have anyone who has play as a right winger for their professional team the past 6 months except Johnson.
      We shall see tomorrow.


  8. Posted by EFG on 2012/02/28 at 6:50 AM

    I wouldn’t go so far to say that Prandelli is putting the “handcuffs” on Balotelli. Everyone in the player pool knows that Prandelli has this “Code of Ethics” and isn’t afraid to drop anyone if they are in violation. Daniele De Rossi was dropped last year after his sending off against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. Prandelli stated this week:

    “I don’t want players who, after any kind of provacation, could leave me with 10 men on the pitch and who are not ready to play in such an important competition as Euro 2012…In my ideal formation Balotelli will be a regular player in Euro 2012, but for me it’s equally important that he proves he’s consistent behaving well on the pitch over the following two or three months, and that he won’t react to any kind of provocation. I don’t want to see his fouls again.”

    Balotelli will be fine and will be an integral part of the Euro 2012 squad. Changing topics, at least we (should) be spared the Rossi talk in the pregame. Also over/under on the number of times the video of De Ross/McBride from WC 2006 is shown?


  9. Posted by Ben on 2012/02/28 at 7:26 AM

    De Rossi is 28… based on the comments in the article (“ageless; “despite his age”), I would have thought that he was 35.


  10. Great preview, per usual. I hope we abandon the 4-3-3 soon. I love it from a football stand point (Arsenal fan) as it allows free flowing football, but, sadly, the US cannot do that consistently. Also, as mentioned, Altidore needs another forward to work off of in close proximity. As such, I hope to see a 4-3-1-2 or 4-4-1-1 with Dempsey playing off of him, but we’ll see who can go wide right then. I do like our midfield though, but our backline will continue to be suspect for a while.

    …I wonder how long until Ream gets called back in if he continues to play for BWFC…hmm.


  11. Posted by Mark on 2012/02/28 at 10:35 AM

    Am I missing something about De Rossi’s age? The man is not old at all.


  12. Posted by scweeb on 2012/02/28 at 10:39 AM

    So when do you think we will start seeing some of these younger speedy forwards and wing that you were talking about.


  13. Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/02/28 at 10:41 AM

    You know, from the looks of the USMNT formation layout, if Cameron does indeed tuck and Johnson has to patrol the whole left flank, it looks more like a 5-3-2/3-5-2. That’d make for an interesting tactical match-up. I say 3-1 Italy.


  14. Posted by EFG on 2012/02/28 at 11:24 AM

    Could not have been more wrong about the Italy lineup. Official:

    Maggio – Barzagli – Ogbonna – Cristico
    Marchisio – Pirlo – Nocerino
    Thiago Motta
    Giovinco – Matri

    Surprised to see Ogbonna who, although has been playing well and is the jewel in every major club’s eye come the summer, is only playing in Serie B. Cristico hasn’t played a competitive match since November with Zenit St. Petersburg.


  15. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/02/28 at 11:51 AM

    This is the official Italy line-up already announced by the Italian FA: see comments above as well.

    Ode to The Cat: This is the official Italy line-up already listed for tomorrow.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/02/28 at 11:52 AM

      My guess is Motta was inserted to negate Dempsey


      • Posted by EFG on 2012/02/28 at 11:55 AM

        No doubt that he can try, but putting him in the trequartista slot is a bit puzzling if that’s the goal.

        How Italian (read: smug) is it to give the lineup a day in advance? Almost taunting Klinsmann in a “here’s what we got, we’ll even give you a day to prepare” kind of way.


  16. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/02/28 at 12:24 PM

    Just returned from 9 days in Roma visiting family and they were shaking in their boots…….or mostly didn’t even realize they were playing a friendly against the US.

    Pretty dismissive announcing the lineup the day before and I anticipate a pasting from the Azurri with all of the confusion and shuffling in the US lineup.


  17. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/02/28 at 12:35 PM

    Fantastic analysis as usual BTW and truly appreciate the effort.

    I have to admit I was hopeful about Klinsi’s projected overhaul of the MNT but I don’t see much progress TBH. Tactically he’s had holes and the player selection seems just as head scratching as Bob’s if not more so.

    Hopefully the focus of the qualifying will sharpen things up but…


    • Posted by dth on 2012/02/28 at 2:49 PM

      I would agree his player selection has often been odd, but I’m willing to give him a shot to try. Roma wasn’t built in a day har har har….

      At any rate, it certainly takes time to change a country’s style and even if I don’t think Klinsmann was the best guy to do it, I think he needs a longer shot to try.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/02/28 at 3:47 PM

        I think you have to at least have tempered success about the defense.

        What you really want to see is an acknowledgement from the players of moving off the ball and working harder to score. Counters will not come as often now.


        • Posted by scweeb on 2012/02/28 at 8:43 PM

          SO when should we being seeing the grand shape of this reconstruction should WC14 be the end date or is it a good showing at WC14 and a new play style to build on for WC18?


          • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/02/28 at 11:11 PM

            scweeb, i think the most important thing, above style or some grand shape, is playing to win. and having a mentality that winning each and every game is the goal. usa is never going to win the freaking world cup if people are out there wondering “when are we going to be competitive?” and when you dont win, you need to learn from the mistakes you made, and come back stronger the next time. and guess what you need to do if you get knocked down yet again?


          • I think assuming that a complete overhaul would happen in two years is a bit optimistic, because that means that you’re still counting on guys who have come up through a flawed system. The youngest players on that 2014 team would be 16 at the moment. 2018…maybe. But don’t hold your breath. JK is making moves in the right direction, but it’s still a very tough and very hard row to hoe.


  18. Posted by Union on 2012/02/28 at 3:55 PM

    Interesting choices. I think the starting lineup will be pretty straight forward, honestly. I think its all but guaranteed that Johnson starts on the leftside until Chandler comes back. But, I agree with other posters in saying that he is a very good midfielder and I think he could end up helping the US a lot in an attacking role. At this point, he is a much better player than Shea on the left side, like it or not. I also think that D. Williams gets the nod at defensive mid, but who knows.







    Though I could honestly see Boyd/Buddle getting the start over Jozy, with Jozy subbing in around 60 minutes. It seems Jurgen is intent on getting a message through to Jozy…


  19. Boyd wont get the start. No way. But I dont think it’s farfetched to say that he will get some minutes. A lot of that depends on how the game goes as well. If nothing else, Im just happy he got the call and while not necessarily a permanent name on the roster yet, there’s no doubt in my mind this will be good experience for him.


    • Posted by Union on 2012/02/28 at 7:01 PM

      You’re probably right. And maybe that wouldn’t play well in the locker room. For all I know, he won’t even be available off the bench. But Jurgen didn’t call him out of a meaningful U-23 camp just so that he could participate in a 2 day camp with the senior team and sit on the bench against Italy. Especially in lieu of playing against Mexico in a super important U-23 friendly. I say he gets 30-40 minutes tomorrow.


  20. […] friends at The Shin Guardian write that the rash of injuries to the USMNT normal “A Select” are presenting a host of challe…– but new additions like Terrence Boyd get a great chance to show they are ready for prime […]


  21. Posted by over there on 2012/02/29 at 6:07 AM

    Dude, de Rossi is like 29.


  22. […] We don’t need to talk about the two USMNT friendlies to open 2012; those are for fringe national teamers, like Dynamo center back Geoff Cameron and former MLS defender Michael Parkhurst, both of whom shined in wins over Venezuela and Panama, winning subsequent spots on last week’s roster against Italy. […]


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