TSG’s Official USA vs. Scotland Preview: Action Jacksonville

Steve Cherundolo: Putting his foot down on international attackers since September of 1999.

On Saturday, the US senior side kicks off its longest run of matches since the 2010 Gold Cup tournament with a set of three friendlies followed by the first triple of World Cup qualifying games.

Will Klinsmann have the US standing tall in World Cup qualifying? Or against Brazil for that matter?

The US will begin tuning a squad that, through a myriad of friendlies, has been defensively stout, but offensively suspect since the introduction of Jurgen Klinsmann as front man.

The friendly set: Scotland this Saturday, followed by Brazil in the midweek and closing with Canada is ideal for grading the players in advance of qualifying and was probably set up as such.

The US gets a gritty, defensive-postured, mid-tier UEFA side in Scotland as a warm-up for the theatrics of Brazil.

Per recent Klinsmann commentary, he’s calling the run of matches a “Five Game Tournament.”

Some challenges here for that disposition on Saturday.

First, US attackers Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey are not expected to play in this one. Altidore by club agreement; Dempsey for injury recovery. Add in the Oguchi Onyewu is not in camp yet and the Portugese leaguer will likely not get the starting nod either. It’s not Klinsmann’s first choice squad fans will likely see.

Second, the USMNT coaching staff needs to pair down the 27 in camp to 23 names for qualifying. That cut occurs this week as well. Combine that task with evaluating where players are physically and Scotland is not ultimate top of mind this week. Seemingly by admission as well.

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

About The Opponent

TSG What We’re Looking For

11 At The Whistle

About The Opponent

A special treat for our TSG audience this time around. Grant Russell, a journalist with Scottish Television, has offered to write the “About The Opponent” section. He did such a good job, that we made it it’s own column. Below here is the forecasted 4-1-4-1 deployment, but for much more on Scotland click right here.

Scotland’s forecast starting line-up (via Grant Russell)

For a profile on Scotland national and Aston Villa midfielder, Barry Bannan, click here.

TSG What We’re Looking For:

• Forgetting Timmy Chandler

Where the US leftback situation looked somewhat settled up until Chandler’s invite snub a little more than two weeks ago, now it presents an interesting conundrum and will actually be looked at in tandem with the left advanced midfielder-wing role.

Will Fab(ulous) Johnson be back up top on the left?

And all the chatter will revolve, correctly, around one key figure: TSG hoffenheim’s Fabian Johnson.

Arguably the best display thus far by a left fullback not named Timothy Chandler over the past two years has been by Fabian Johnson, against Italy just a few months ago in Genoa.

Arguably the best display thus far by an attacking, advanced, left-midfielder has been…Fabian Johnson at the end of 2011 on the road in Slovenia.

So whither Jurgen on Johnson?

Given Johnson’s proclivity in the attack and Brek Shea’s recent swoons and given some of the call-ups, the US would appear to need Johnson’s skillset further up the pitch taking on defenders.

That said, when you look at the depth charts, the forward role sees Joe Corona as a viable option as well as an inverted Landon Donovan if Edgar Castillo is available to overlap to create left-side width.

(And a grander USMNT defensive point here….)

Defensive lines in soccer are like offensive lines in football. The goal is to build continuity through communal repetitions and common experiences. It’s why the Italy teams of the 2000’s were so good. It’s why Bob Bradley attempted to race Oguchi Onyewu back to fitness and central defense in advance of and in time for World Cup 2010.

When you look at the US, despite the improvements in defensive cohensiveness, the personnel still is quite challenging from what Klinsmann wants to do (play out of the back, overlap a lot more.)

With the beginning of qualifying and–if you step back–just two years and maybe 30 games until the 2014 World Cup, the US needs to begin making some “planning” decisions in the back.

Do they continue to run with Bocanegra since the Californian can handle CONCACAF competition or do they start grooming Cameron or Ream for that role? With Cameron’s selection–more on that specific ability in a minute–and Tim Ream’s absence, it appears the Dynamo man is 2nd on the LCB depth chart.

About how much time is Steve Cherundolo given to go ironman at rightback–or is this set of six games a test of his abilities in a continuous stream of games? It would be wise given Cherundolo’s age to groom the quality back-up.

• Cracking the attacking nut in the final third

A big part of Klinsmann’s mantra with the States has been for the team to  “move as one.” It’s not of course an exclusive or original idea. From Arrigo Sacchi mandating specific yard-lengths between players on his late 1980’s Milan teams to Ferguson’s Manchester United of the late 1990’s where each midfielder had such a clear and specific task for the middle four as a unit to Guardiola’s “5-second rule” at Barcelona, tactical operations as a squad over individual players are the hallmark of champion teams.

For the States, Klinsmann’s move to create a highline, play a single holder and cap the midfield with an unbalanced formation has proven to dramatically improve the defense (the US’s advanced efforts against France was a particularly solid effort), but in parallel has completely decapitated the US’s counter attacking strength and much of its offense.

Scotland–with it’s defensive disposition–should provide a good opportunity for the States to challenge itself ahead of CONCACAF qualifying foes and see if it can maintain possession in the attacking third and create chances against an organized and hard-nosed defense.

…and can Jose Torres possess and circulate the ball against a UEFA side? The last such challenge (Belgium) didn’t turn out to so hot.


“When Cameron was in CONCACAF…..let me Cameron play”

» Interested in seeing Geoff Cameron turn up field. Cameron adjusted nicely to the speed of the game in his brief time on the pitch for the USMNT in January. Will he be able to shake off a ho-hum start to his MLS campaign? (Oh, and note Dynamo fans. Cameron needs to move on. He needs to be challenged. He seems to be trying to make an opportunity happen all the time from the backline. Put Cameron in the EPL against Grant Holt or Emmanuel Adebayor and he’ll be focused on one thing–defending.)

» The back-up RB is Alfredo Morales? Seems plausible. Parkhurt is good cover, but is not known to get up and down the flank. Should get a cue to Morales’s senior position on Saturday.

» Just how much has Altidore progressed? Can be focused for a full 90 minutes. has his commitment to defense improved? Are these the same questions we’ve asked for three years? Yes. Did I just cut-and-paste them? No, but I could have.

11 At The Whistle

The skinny:  The Tartan Army is analogous to recent US opponents like Slovenia and Italy in terms of their formation. Thus you would expect similar deployments to those two aforementioned opponents from Klinsmann.

Some notes on these games:

» The US went 4-4-2 against Slovenia, but 4-3-3 against Italy

» The US arguably played much better defensively against Italy.

If Scotland is featuring inverted wingers–as it says here–and Klinsmann wants to deploy Bradley in his more customary box-to-box role and deploy some offensive oopmth in Landon Donovan than expect a 4-3-3 (that will play often like a 4-2-3-1) that shakes out as follows with Johnson coming in a bit on right foot, Edgar Castillo overlapping and Michael Bradley drifting out wide to the right:

US’s forecasted deployment

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: What a surprise. Worth mentioning again how docile that Tim is in goal for the national team now. Clearly on a directive from the coaching staff. I like it.

DEF: Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo

The skinny: Cherundolo keeps trucking along at RB. With Chandler now in national team purgatory, the US will need Cherundolo to perform and remain healthy. It will be a camp battle between Onyewu and Goodson for the RCB slot; Klinsmann appears to prefer Onyewu’s ability, but the former Rossoneri is arriving late to camp. Expect Goodson for this one.

(TSG, by the way, prefers that both improve their discipline in the offsides trap….but that’s another matter in and of itself.)

Edgar Castillo appears to be the starting LB right now. Castillo might’ve had a good season, but defensive deficiencies don’t evaporate overnight. Questionable–in a league where defense is not at a premium–just how much Castillo can raise his defensive game at the international level. Seems like a big leap.

CDM: Kyle Beckerman

The skinny: Media pundits love to call out Beckerman for some reason. Meanwhile all the RSL captain has done is: a) man a position that was typically manned by two players in the previous regime b) earn the praise of Klinsmann for following directions on the field to a tee and c) been one of the few US holders continually able to advance the ball despite enormous pressure.

Beckerman may not be the long term solution but out of a plethora of “other central defensive midfielders” in camp (Morales, Edu, Williams), only Beckerman has shown the ability to create opportunities via the pass.

That said, maybe Jermaine Jones jumps in here? It’s possible.

CM: Michael Bradley

The skinny: Back to a box-to-box Slovenia-esque role for Bradley? Does Bradley push up or drift wide? If Donovan pushes a little further occupying the space that Dempsey did against Slovenia in the 2nd half then look for Bradley to be used as a trailing attacker a little more.

RM: Landon Donovan

The skinny: Klinsmann uses his #7 role to do two primary things: (1) Provide cover for an advancing Cherundolo and (2) Drive and dish.

That’s Donovan…if he’s healthy and motivated. Maybe taking a break from the wheel-less Galaxy will benefit Donovan’s conviction.

LCM: Jose Torres

The skinny: Paco is welcomed back and he seems like a good fit in this one as the States will need to circulate the ball quickly to breakdown the stingy Tartan Army.

Also, cue the set piece battle between Bradley and Torres with Donovan now third in the pecking order.

LW: Fabian Johnson

The skinny: Perplexing how Johnson wasn’t on the German team radar. While he may not be the best prospect at any position for Dien Mannshaft, Johnson’s versatility is an asset and his patience on the ball in the attack is innate. TSG loves players that keeping moving on and off-ball regardless of the situation–knowing that movement is the first step towards opportunity–Johnson does this…..well

STR: Terrence Boyd

The skinny: CONCACAF is your oyster, youngster. Rumored looking to take his talents to Stuttgart or somewhere, Boyd could use a strong friendly series and CONCACAF tourney to showcase his wares. It will be very interesting to see Boyd go up against players he should be able to compete with physically while having service from the likes of Johnson, Donovan and Dempsey.


Morales or Parkhurst at RB giving Cherundolo a break. Beckerman dropped for a forward or for Jermaine Jones.

88 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/22 at 3:48 PM

    With Scotland using inverted wingers, I could see Bradley and Beckerman playing a dual central defensive role or Bradley and Jones whatever the pairing may be.


  2. Fantastic. A few things in response.

    As I remember, didn’t Bradley don the #6 against Italy? I know his deficiencies at the position have been well discussed on this site, but, from what I’ve seen, it seems he’s strengthened them in Italy. I still like CDM as his best position over the coming cycle(s), because a team that has Bradley playing deepest would have some legitimate passing pop.

    Any chance Klinsi trots out an experimental roster to give the fringey guys a chance to earn their spot in the coming matches? Maybe something like: Howard; Morales, Parkhurst, Cameron, Castillo; Beckerman, Jones, Corona; Wondolowski, Boyd, Zusi (though I don’t personally endorse Zusi at RM)?

    I’ll actually take Eric Lichaj circa 2011 Gold Cup as my best left back performer over the last couple years. I found his exclusion astounding.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/22 at 4:21 PM

      Agree that might see Bradley in the #6 role. I’m just not sure what the configuration ahead of him looks like.

      I think you’ll see Klinsmann use as many of the subs you listed above in the 2nd half. Just my opinion.


    • Posted by Biggy on 2012/05/22 at 4:22 PM

      with you, Lichaj and Johnson down the left is a duo that could cause people some problems.


      • Posted by cpjuengel on 2012/05/23 at 6:13 AM

        yea. lichaj, i agree


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/05/24 at 6:50 AM

        I love how we all think that Cherundolo needs to be replaced shortly and that we need a better left back than Castillo yet the guy that could fill both of those (Lichaj) isn’t in camp. If this was still Bradley in charge I think a lot more would be made of this.


  3. Posted by Alex on 2012/05/22 at 4:42 PM

    If I remember correctly, Castillo wasn’t particularly bad defensively, but his distribution and speed of thought wasn’t good going forward. As many others have stated though, still puzzled at Lichaj’s exclusion


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/05/22 at 5:45 PM

      I think it depends on who we are playing. I feel fine since its really Antigua and Guatemala I am fine with a little more offense and a little less defense. That doesn’t mean I won’t be nervous after Brazil torches him. I also agree that Fabian is best in attack.

      That said, I would take Lichaj over Castillo in a heartbeat.


  4. Posted by Alex on 2012/05/22 at 4:43 PM

    And I’m glad people here aren’t clamoring for Johnson to be our LB for the future and beyond. His attacking skillset is much better utilized as an Attacking Mid/Winger


    • Posted by JGD on 2012/05/23 at 10:35 AM

      Johnson, like Chandler before him, was needed all over the pitch. I agree that he has a great attacking talent, but we also have Shea, Beasley, Corona who can operate on the left side but not aren’t great at left back. I’d much rather have Johnson lock-down LB of the future than LW of the future.


    • Posted by Andrew M. on 2012/05/23 at 10:44 AM

      Well I’m absolutely not exactly pumped about him being our future LW, until he starts playing there week in week out for his club. He’s a left back at training every day, and he’s a left back every game (a damn good one too). I like people playing their positions they play with their club team. This roster kind of scares me with the lack of depth at key positions we’re still trying to figure out. Especially our wide players.


  5. Posted by Sean Phelps on 2012/05/22 at 4:53 PM

    6 games?


  6. Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/05/22 at 5:01 PM

    I am confused. Isn’t it 5 games since the third WCQ isn’t until early September. By that time he can call a new roster, make changes, etc. Its 5 games and then basically off for the summer.


  7. Posted by Dave on 2012/05/22 at 6:04 PM

    Alex I’m afraid I’m going to burst your balloon. I happen to think that Johnson has the exact skillset desired to play a 4-3-3, a 4-2-3-1, or 4-1-4-1. In these formations the desire is to have a swift technical player overlap the Left Midfielder to wip in crosses or challenge the opponents defense. Johnson is exactly that type of player. Without Lichaj or Chandler in camp I’m for using Johnson as the LB (stronger defensivly) and Castillo as the LM/RM. At least for the first 2 friendlies as I think Castillo can/would be outmatched by the Scotts & Brazilians…similar to his abuse by the Mexican & Costa Ricans. Against the minnows of CONCACAF he’s an option…but until he proves his worth against them I don’t trust him against better compitition.


    • Interesting idea. Made even more feasible by the fact that Castillo has (I think) put in time at left wing with his club. As you mention, though, against CONCACAF opposition, I think Castillo will do fine at LB, and Johnson’s potential to wreak havoc on CONCACAF defenses is too alluring to play him anywhere but on the wing. In my opinion, at least.


      • Posted by Dave on 2012/05/22 at 8:14 PM

        Caught a few Xolos games at the end of the Clausura and he was in fact playing left mid, going back to left back only for injury or card situations–don’t think Xolos manager believed him a good defender either. On the plus side he was willing to help out defensively from the wing spot.


        • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/05/23 at 1:25 PM

          Hate to disagree, but I will. Castillo may have started a few games at MF, but most of his appearances/time was at LB. In all substitutions he usually moved back, I don’t remember a single substitution in a game where they brought someone in at LB to allow him to move forward.
          Which points to another plus. He did not get substituted…for the Xolos who had a great season…he was one of the lynchpins.

          As mentioned above it is the ‘speed of thought’ the mental mistakes that doomed his first couple of caps as a starter. But, henever got scored on…despite his errors, that’s a plus.

          I’m looking forward to seeing he and Johnson hook up on the left…I could see some things really, really breaking for the good from those two in attack. Watch for Landon to score from the right on a through ball by one of those two.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 1:45 PM

            A few notes:

            Watched Castillo a number of times. I think his defensive game won’t translate to international level, especially under duress. Just my opinion but we’ll see. I seem to have caught a number of games over the past 3 years that he featured in and I’ll say, I think his best position is a CDM in a 4-2-3-1 (if the US had that specific a luxury).

            Castillo is very smooth on the ball for the most part; his passing is suspect though. On defense, he’s just not disciplined; he has a habit of reaching for the ball or overplaying a move (watch for that) that then compromises his position. When he’s in front of an attacker and he thinks contain, he’s not bad.

            I’m expressly interested in seeing how he does against Brazil–both for his ability under duress and how those cope around him if Castillo is challenged.

            Now having that, if you remember that unbalanced formation puts a lot more onus on the holder and the LCB. If the FB is advancing, it’s usually the holder or the LCB that covers the space behind him.

            Will/can the US continue to cover for some left side deficiencies by pushing their attack in that direction?


    • Have to respectfully disagree on Johnson. IMO, I see him as more of a guy to drive in at defenders, not one to stay wide and whip in crosses. Remember where he received the pass that led to the penalty against Slovenia? Pinched all the way inside.


      • Posted by Dave on 2012/05/23 at 1:40 AM

        True…but he was the one who crossed the ball that Jozy layed off for the Dempsey goal against Italy. Just saying that there are pros and cons for him at LB and LM. I just happen to believe that having a strong backline as the best way to build a team…as it gives the more advanced players confidence and the ability to take risks. I’m also hoping that Shea and/Gyau can step up in the coming year and take on the attacking duties that Johnson would give us as a LM.


      • Posted by elk_GER on 2012/05/24 at 3:05 AM

        As Chandler said himself in a German interview, he prefers LB position.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/05/22 at 6:43 PM

      Fabian Johnson was leading the Bundesliga in assists before moving to LB. At LB we had very few assists. I agree that having him overlap is a great option however I think its a luxury that works if you have another great LW option.


      • Posted by Dave on 2012/05/23 at 1:46 AM

        My hope is that Shea, Gyau, or Gatt can step into the wing attacker slot opposite Donovan. If they can consistent and make that leap then using Johnson as a left back isn’t such a loss to the attack. However, if Lichaj can gain/maintain a starting role next season with Villa, or if Chandler does come back….than I’m all for moving Johnson into the midfield. Really all depends on the players available and the form that they’re in. As of right now…at this camp…Johnson is our best Left Back option.


        • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/05/25 at 6:46 PM

          Stephen Warnock has started his decline as the #1 LB for Villa I think. Very high chance that Lichaj is the starter come next fall.


    • Posted by AG on 2012/05/22 at 7:10 PM

      I think Castillo could be a LM sub, but never again should he be a defender for the NT. How do we keep Johnson further up? Play a different fullback.


  8. Posted by TheSeagullsFollowingTheTrawler on 2012/05/22 at 7:50 PM

    Thanks for the number of articles and depth of analysis for this set of games. I would certainly trade the work TSG has put in for the Scotland game for the recent Landy-Hates-Klinsi screed–a fabricated hack-job that would force the resignation of a teenage journalist from his/her high school newspaper–I received from my paid subscription service. (And I don’t need to mention that TSG does not have a conflict of interest because one of its writers covers the US and Mexico.)

    Solid work on remembering the big picture concerning the defensive unit, and the age of ‘Dolo and ‘Boca. It is a bit frustrating, after considering the big picture, to see certain players–Ream and Sasha and Lichaj; perhaps a nod to another younger mid or two (Beckerman is 30, facing the same age issues as others)–being left off the side. With the call-ups for the next round of games, I can appreciate what Klnsi is doing at forward; his attitude and vision for who will play midfield and defense are not as clear.


    • Posted by Dave on 2012/05/23 at 1:59 AM

      In truth there are only 2 aging Center Mids (Jones & Beckerman) currently in camp. Bradley, Torres, Edu, & Holden (when healthy) are all entering into their prime years while Williams & Morales are young promising CDMs. ACM’s there’s the potential of Corona, Adu, & Diskerud on, the brink. As far a midfield goes the bigger concern is on the wings…Donovan, Johnson, Shea, Gatt, Gyau, Corona, & Bedoya are the only ones I can think of….and only Donovan & Johnson are at the level they need to be at.
      Defense is the real concern with Boca & Dolo both on their last legs…Gooch & Goodson aging…and the Chandler situation. However, if Chandler returns, Lichaj locks up a starting role next year and Cameron, Ream, Gonzales/John can step up their games, I’ll feel much more confident.


    • I think the plan for the defense is a two step plan. Fill in the RCB and LB positions first (they have been problem positions for years now), once we solidify them, start transitioning out ‘Dolo and ‘Boca. I think Klingsi is thinking don’t blow it all away at once and start from scratch. Fill in the holes already there, when we have those plugged make new holes and fill those.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 1:46 PM

      thanks for the feedback.


  9. Posted by gino744 on 2012/05/22 at 11:06 PM

    Can someone remind me why Chandler is in purgatory? Also, I think I remember reading here recently that Lichaj in nursing an injury, hence his exclusion from this roster.

    US Soccer lists the Scotland game as being televised on NBC Sports Network and Galavision. My cable guide (Cox San Diego) doesn’t have any listings for the game except for Galavision. How can it be 2012 and I still have to watch a USMNT game played on US soil in Spanish?! My only consolation is that it’ll be in HD. I also read that the WCQ against Guatemala on June 12th is pay per view only. Does that mean it’ll only be broadcast in Spanish also? If I didn’t speak Spanish I’d be furious.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/05/23 at 4:58 AM

      Purgatory? He declined the call-up. It’s been pretty well-publicized.


      • Posted by gino744 on 2012/05/23 at 7:05 AM

        My bad, I thought I read somewhere on this site recently that Chandler was in “purgatory”. As for Lichaj, per cpjuengel’s post below, then I find it strange why he’s not on this roster. I thought he performed well at LB during last summer’s Gold Cup.

        Despite the perceived lack of class in USA’s CONCACAF group, they’re still World Cup Qualifying matches so I don’t think I’m alone in being uncomfortable about who’ll play LB for us. Jamaica already showed they can be a real handful during that same Gold Cup and the US wasn’t very impressive despite reaching the Final.


        • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/05/23 at 8:23 AM

          Actually, my bad. Indeed the term “purgatory” is used in this very article.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/05/23 at 5:52 AM

      I like what they are doing with “NBC Sports Network”- I appreciate their coverage of MLS, Hockey, Cycling, etc. Unfortunately, its all owned by one of the world’s worst companies- Comcast. I know Comcast plays hard ball demanding ridiculous prices for their channels on other carriers. The other year DIRECTV didn’t have Versus (NBC Sports Network) for about 6 months because of a disagreement with Comcast.

      The Guatemala game isn’t aired because they have the television rights and were demanding ridiculous fees to share the rights for the USA like Honduras and Mexico did in 2009.

      Its frustrating but until we get more people watching the games in this country it is going to continue to happen. As pathetic as it is, it is just not “worth it” for ESPN, NBC Sports etc., to pay the exorbirant fees to televise the games.


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/05/23 at 10:59 AM

        NBC doesn’t have the rights to the Guatemala game. The wonderful people at Traffic Sports, yes the same people that are ruining the Boss’s career.


    • Posted by cpjuengel on 2012/05/23 at 6:16 AM

      lichaj is back from the injury and was starting at Aston Villa the last 3 or 4 games of the season.


      • Posted by Alex on 2012/05/23 at 8:57 AM

        And was one of the better performers in those games based on the reports of the games. Played on either side of the pitch too


  10. Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2012/05/22 at 11:17 PM

    Since Chandler, a natural righty, was given an opportunity at LB, why not give Williams a shot at LB? I agree that Johnson would add a great deal to the attack further up field, but I don’t like Castillo as a fullback at all.


  11. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2012/05/23 at 8:37 AM

    Does anyone seriously think that having Castillo at LB locks down that position in the eyes of his teammates? He handles the ball well, and likes going forward (and is decent at it) but isn’t that great at the one thing a defender needs to be good at – defending. I can’t imagine that he makes the players in front of him feel secure in venturing away from their positions.

    I’ll reserve judgement because I haven’t seen him play since his last outings for the USMNT, but I’m not terribly optimistic.


  12. Since we’re trimming the squad after the Scotland, I think we’ll see a few more of those near the bubble more in the mix than a “best 11” to kick things off.

    Torres would play deeper in midfield, rather than the number 10 – Have to think that could be Corona.

    Fabian Johnson has given us the best performance we’ve seen at left back since Johnny O’Brien. He should play there. But possibly Castillo starts this one back there.

    And let us please not confuse our gratitude for delivering us from Johnny Bornstein with Chandler’s greatness.*

    *Still have to think that Klinsmann will make every effort to cap-tie the rest of the dual-nationals on the roster this summer.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 1:48 PM

      I think Donovan or FB moving centrally will occupy more of a #10 role here, rightly or wrongly. Torres is more the #8 player that he was used in early in JK’s rein.

      With the news on Danny Williams I agree on JK going for cap-ties.


  13. Posted by Izzy on 2012/05/23 at 9:35 AM

    I actually think that we’ll see Bradley in the six, and we might be better served with him there. While Bradley showed a very marked improvement in his positional awareness against Italy that helped close passing lanes, his ability to cover loads of ground in no time was very useful in that game and always has been. What I also like is how smooth Bradley has become on the ball. His distribution has been good for a while now, but his actually dribbling and ball handling has become quite impressive. Beckerman, for me, is not quite as mobile and isn’t nearly as good on the ball.

    I also am not comfortable with Torres being nearly that high up the field. I think he needs to be deeper and in a position where he dictates the play of the whole game rather than just the attack. Moreover, he’ll have the eye of the opponents’ defensive midfielders on him, which really isn’t good for business, at least not for him. He needs to be in a low pressure area, similar, or rather EXACTLY like Andrea Pirlo.

    I would actually rather see Corona in the most advanced central midfield role. He looked quite good there in the Olympic qualifying, and will offer more attacking drive than Torres, who is composed, but not really known to get that involved in the attack.

    On a side note, I would have liked to see Mikkel Diskerud in the Torres role. He’s someone I’ve had my eye on for a while and I think he did pretty well in Qualifying as well.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/05/23 at 11:25 AM

      I like Mix’s prospects for the future however, to be honest, at the U-23 tournament he didn’t show me as ready to have the keys to the USMNT attack. You could argue he looked good against Mexico but he also looked weak against Canada and El Salvador. He also failed to get significant minutes with Gent.


  14. Posted by Jake C on 2012/05/23 at 10:05 AM

    Has anyone else considered how many orange slices we’re going to get in the next few weeks? I for one am salivating.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 10:08 AM

      I’ll be working on it. A little light this week and I’m taking my computer in to finally get the “h” button fixed.

      But quality content nonetheless.


      • Posted by TheSeagullsFollowingTheTrawler on 2012/05/23 at 9:58 PM

        Damn, this is “light.” Looking forwards to the “depth” TSG provides, whether or not I completely agree with every single point.


  15. Posted by JGD on 2012/05/23 at 10:37 AM

    Damn I’m excited for international games this summer. Love watching USMNT, even in friendlies.


    • Posted by TheSeagullsFollowingTheTrawler on 2012/05/23 at 9:59 PM

      Same here. Just want to see progress in the attacking third. Increase the chances and put more them away. Is that too much to ask from a group that had the most successful American club side in history? (Someone needs to quantify this fact.)


  16. Posted by TGP on 2012/05/23 at 12:38 PM

    I cannot recall any offense generated by Beckerman. He has done a decent job holding but he does get beat by pace on some of the counters. All in all i think he can handle the minnows of the region but not much more than that. As much as i have been anti Bradley in the past he certainly owned that role against italy and has shown much more than Beckerman.


    • I would have to agree, on both counts. I too, have ripped the former MB90. Mostly because he was MB90 and never ever MB65. But he has improved remarkably. I have never claimed to be extremely knowledgeable about the game. It appears that I may have proved that earlier with my criticisms of MB. I firmly believe in him as our best Dmid. For what little that is worth. Hope you guys enjoy the games as much as I will. Keep up the interesting and worthy banter.


      • Posted by JGD on 2012/05/23 at 2:50 PM

        Bradley is arguably the most important player for this team. He’s had an outstanding season for Chievo and as TSG pointed out, likely in line for a switch to a big Italian club very soon. Bradley certainly isn’t a midfield destroyer like Jones, but he’s easily the best (if not only) two-way central midfielder on the roster. Box-to-box game, best passer and most heady defender out there. The amazing thing is that he’s only 24 and he’s only going to get better. I simply love watching the kid play.

        I have yet to be impressed by anything Beckerman can offer. I don’t think he’s as good defensively as either Jones or Edu and I don’t really see where this ‘offensive generation’ comes from. Maybe he does so for Real, but I’ve seen nothing of the sort for the national side. Jones has put in a full year at defensive midfield for a Champions League side in Germany. He is easily the first-choice defensive midfielder when Bradley is played as a box-to-box guy.


  17. Posted by Union on 2012/05/23 at 1:48 PM

    Ives has a good piece up on Fox Soccer about why Lichaj, Ream, Sacha etc. were kept out. I was definitely wrong in what I assumed had happened. I also think ESPN insider has something up, but I missed that.

    JK seems to think that Ream is below Cameron, Gooch, Goodson and Boca on the depth chart. I somewhat understand that viewpoint, though I’ve always thought Ream was far more skilled than Cameron in terms of natural ability. As for Sacha, just seems like JK doesn’t really admire what he offers as a player. Seems to think of him as a Maurice Edu type and says he is below the Bradleys, Edus, Jones on the depth chart. On Freddy Adu, he says that Freddy needs to put a stamp on his team. Sounds like JK is essentially saying, you need to dominate if you want a shot. I think Freddy has a role on this team as a 60 minute spark plug (and JK is overlooking that), but I do get that Freddy has never been able to dominate for clubs. Lichaj was the biggest head scratcher. I thought he was out of the picture because he was injured for most of the season and JK was hoping to give him a break after starting most of the Villas games towards the end of the season. JK is there saying “he broke in to Villa too late, but its nice to see he broke in”. That to me is bullshit. If Castillo is above Lichaj on the depth chart after next season someone needs to hammer JK until he explains himself. Because that is insane.


  18. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 1:51 PM

    “It came in too late for him, but it’s good that he broke in (at Aston Villa), “Klinsmann said of Lichaj. “If you look at certain positions, who are they kind of front-runners. Look at the central midfielder position. Michael Bradley, a Jermaine Jones, a Maurice Edu, a Kyle Beckerman.

    “Then you have a Sacha Kljestan that you have to tell ‘You know what, sorry. You’ve had a good season but you’re not passing one of these four right now with their elements’. Then you don’t do them a favor to call them in.

    “Like in Italy, it worked out great but we had to play (Kljestan) in a wide position and that’s not his position. He kind of sacrificed himself for the group,” Klinsmann said. “But now, bringing him here to be a fifth guy of two positions, then you’d rather him have a good break after a long season. That’s sort of how you juggle things with these players.”

    Klinsmann wouldn’t come out and say that Lichaj was still behind the pack at fullback, but pointed to him needing more experience.

    “All the outside positions we have a special eye on obviously,” Klinsmann said. “What he needs now is games. And Bedoya needs games. Who knows what happens now at Rangers. We have kids up in Scandinavia like Josh Gatt. We’ll observe it. That’s the good thing now about having Andy Hertzog and Mattias Hammann. They are all over the place in Europe. They go to those places. In Nordsdjaelland, they went to see Michael Parkhurst play against Clarence Goodson. It helps having a presence in Europe now with these guys, to look after them.”

    Another player who was a bit of a surprising exclusion from the current camp was Bolton defender Tim Ream, who Klinsmann praised before revealing that, at the moment, he isn’t high enough on the depth chart for a call-up.

    “Tim’s situation is similar to Sacha’s,” Klinsmann said. “They are players who are right there, but they can’t pass the four guys in front of them. Right now, Tim is not passing Gooch, Carlos, Clarence and Geoff Cameron. They are our four players locked in there as of today.

    “I don’t know about tomorrow, but as of today that’s the situation,” Klinsmann said. “Now, if I put Tim on the standby list, he’s ready for the situation. I know if I called tomorrow, A.J. DeLaGarza or George John, they’re right here and get the job done.

    From FoxSoccer


    • Posted by Mingjai on 2012/05/23 at 2:28 PM

      “‘It came in too late for him, but it’s good that he broke in (at Aston Villa),’ Klinsmann said of Lichaj….

      “Klinsmann wouldn’t come out and say that Lichaj was still behind the pack at fullback, but pointed to him needing more experience.

      “’All the outside positions we have a special eye on obviously,’ Klinsmann said. ‘What he needs now is games.'”

      Still seems strange to not at least give Lichaj a run in camp to see how he directly stacks up against the competition at his position(s). I’d understand if JK didn’t put him in the final 23, but bring Lichaj into camp to keep him sharp and integrated into the NT framework. It’s not like the US has much depth at fullback…

      And now with the Chandler situation, heaven forbid Cherundolo ever misses significant time.


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/05/24 at 7:39 AM

        That’s a bunch of BS that it came too late for him. He played 10 games for Villa at the end of the year and combine that with what he’s shown previously with the USMNT he should at the very least be in the camp. He can play either side and is so much better than Castillo that it’s not even funny that Castillo is back again.


        • “That’s a bunch of BS that it came too late for him. He played 10 games for Villa at the end of the year and combine that with what he’s shown previously with the USMNT he should at the very least be in the camp. He can play either side and is so much better than Castillo that it’s not even funny that Castillo is back again.”


          This reminds me of why following a national team is so very much different from following a club team with a long season.

          Castillo got his third cap and last played for the US against Costa Rica, Sept. 2, 2011. That was about 9 months and more importantly 8 USMNT games ago. While he may not have been impressive, to discard him completely based on a game that long ago when he was still only on his third cap and JK was on his second game in charge strikes me as premature.

          To put that in perspective a team like the USMNT plays about 14-24 games per year , so you would be discarding him based on a bad game that was anywhere from one half to three quarters of a season ago.

          In the interim, there seem to be quite a few people who say he has had quite a good season with his club.

          But apparently, Jared, you don’t believe Castillo can improve.
          You also don’t believe Lichaj can decline.

          Eric last played for the US even longer ago than Castillo and for another manager to boot. And that game, the Gold Cup final, was a bad one for him. And since then he has had a major injury. Yes, he came back to play 10 games in the EPL but that was under dire circumstances where Lichaj replaced an injured player and there was a relegation battle going on. I did not see every one of those games but I notice they did not win any of them. They also gave up 14 goals in those 10 games. That does not sound like a stellar defensive performance by anyone on Villa.

          So just looking at that circumstance I see no reason to be shocked, shocked that Castillo was called up while Lichaj was not.

          Where the club comparison comes in is if the USMNT were a club, by now, 8 -9 months down the road both of those guys would have had a number of USMNT games and practices for everyone to contrast and compare. But we and JK can’t do that. We can only make indirect comparisons.

          Which is one reason why Castillo has an advantage having been to camp with JK a number of times while Eric has not. The devil you know and all that stuff.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/05/23 at 4:39 PM

      This makes a lot of sense to me and a great reminder of how rosters are put together. Is Sacha one of the 23 best players for the US? Yes. Is Sacha one of the top 4 DM for the US? Not sure. I would like him over Jermaine Jones but that is debatable.

      Also interesting that Danny Williams isn’t there as a DM. What position doe JK see him in?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 4:47 PM

        RMF – But he better improve. The defense is fine.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/05/23 at 6:14 PM

          Better improve is an understatement. I was willing to give him a pass as someone playing out of position when he was playing RMF.

          I can’t see him playing in MF between Bradley and Dempsey in a 4-3-3. In the unbalanced formation I can’t believe that he is the second best RMF we have behind Landon.


          • Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2012/05/24 at 12:10 AM

            I’d like to see Williams groomed for the back line. He has the skill set and speed. He seems to be a natural defender. i don’t see him as an attacking player at all, plus he’s behind MB and Jones as a Dmid.


        • Posted by Izzy on 2012/05/23 at 6:31 PM

          Alright I understand that Sacha is behind Jones, Bradley, and Edu, but Beckerman? We have enough defensive midfielders in those first three, why not bring a creative, energetic, hard-working presence into the central midfielder in Kljestan? I just don’t understand why we need four defensive midfielders…


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/05/24 at 1:28 AM

            This is one man’s opinion so take it for what its worth…

            Bob Bradley played a bucket where the two DM were basically interchangeable. JK does not. While in a 4-2-3-1 there are two DM the role of the two are not the same. Its similar to the CB position where JK seems to want one fast/able to play with the ball at his feet and one aerial capable rock of a defender.

            Looking at some of the great articles in linked to here you get the feeling that when we need to be more defensive (France, Italy) we see 2 DM playing more defensively. When we can afford it (Honduras, Slovenia) we see the first DM play a destroyer role and that second DM plays more of a forward “linker” role. No one really plays two “linker” DMs

            If you look at the graphic from the Atlantic piece you can see that Edu is on a totally different field segment than Beckerman in the drawing. That is what I great graphical view of what I mean by distinction between linker and destroyer. That graphic clearly shows that Edu has a different role than Beckerman on that day.

            Sacha can really only play the “linker” role. Beckerman can only play destroyer. Edu can only play linker. Bradley mainly plays linker but I think he could play destroyer (however JK doesn’t see to want him to). Jones can play both (even when he gets forward and links he does it with yellow card coming any second thugish destroyer flair – see Jamaica at GC).

            Long way of saying that Sacha probably can’t take Beckerman’s place if you want to have a balanced line-up he needs to take Edu’s. I see the depth chart as Beckerman – Jones in the destroyer role and Bradley – Edu in the “linker” role. Earlier I mention I could see Sacha over Jones but that is based on the my idea that Bradley could play destroyer in a pinch (as could Cameron IMO).


          • “I just don’t understand why we need four defensive midfielders…”

            Did you ever watch Manchester City?

            A World Cup roster has 23 players.

            Typically the break down is 3 keepers, 4 fullbacks, 4 center backs, 4 defensive midfielders, 4 attacking midfielders, 4 forwards and a partridge in a pear tree.

            Things may change by 2014 but JK did say the players for this series of games would be the ones he would pick if the World Cup started tomorrow. As far as JK is concerned Bradley, Jones, Edu and Beckerman are his guys for now. Agudelo is the partridge.


    • Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2012/05/24 at 12:01 AM

      I find it hard to believe that JK would even bring up AJ DeLaGarza as a potential standby CB for the nats…that statement is beyond troubling. I agree that Cameron is a more well rounded defender, especially in the air, than Ream at this point. If Ream can’t improve his marking and clearances on crosses he’ll never get on the depth chart. The Lichaj omission is incredibly frustrating. I’m beginning to really question JK’s assessment of our defenders. Castillo won’t be able to defend WC caliber forwards – he would be a complete liability on set pieces.


  19. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 1:53 PM

    I agree that Ream is behind Cameron right now. Cameron’s ability to turn outside on his left or right foot and not give up the ball or hough it up the pitch was key in that decision imo since Camero is the better defender.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/05/23 at 3:42 PM

      Cameron and Shea both need to move on. I think like Ream if they face new challenges they will take the next step instead of stagnating.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 3:46 PM

        Can easily say that about Cameron and probably about Shea. The ribbing on Shea is tough to understand. Blas Perez really doesn’t look to draw and dish and there is no service from a midfield on that team.


      • Posted by sea-soccerballer on 2012/05/26 at 8:05 AM

        So subpar play at the MLS level is an example of a player not being challenged? ok ok
        So by that logic Ream should have stopped having his 2-3 “mental lapses” a game once he moved to Boton right? (WRONG) He’s been the same player ..still good..but the SAME. Now the prevailing logic is that Cameron will play more consistent D once he moves to England? How about we get players on our national team that CONSISTENTLY EXCEL at their current jobs instead of placing all this hope and hype on players who we deem to have “potential” yet time and time again show that they cannot be trusted to perform when it matters. EVERY GAME MATTERS EVERY SECOND MATTERS ON THE PITCH…We made excuses for Ream and im starting to hear the same things with Cameron. Im glad Cameron will get a chance to show his worth vs. proper competition but if he underwhelms like he has in 75 or so percent of his games since hes moved to CB I will look forward to seeing George John and Omar Gonzalez (when healthy) in the USA kit. Dominant defenders are needed if we are to have a dominant defense. And in case yall haven’t noticed most championship teams and dynasty’s (in all team sports) are founded on a dominant defense


  20. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/23 at 3:12 PM

    By the way, this is a fantastic and analytical piece by a TSG alum on Klinsmann’s US changes. Mirrors the preview and a fascinating read: http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2012/05/22/central-winger-piecing-together-klinsmanns-revolution


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/05/26 at 1:35 PM

      Why do I enjoy this site so much? I posted a link to that article on the official US Soccer Forums. One of the comments was simply: Horrible Article. I asked why…. here is the response:

      Way off. That piece was light on facts and heavy on stupid.

      And it wasn’t “riveting.” If the author wanted to be “riveting” he would have interviewed Klinsi and asked him why he keeps using so many DMs and pretending like the offense is going to improve that way? And it would have been really “riveting” if after Klinsi dispensed his Pollyanna stump speech about chemistry or time – the author asked him again, why does he call up so many DMs and why does he pretend like the offense is going to improve that way?

      Then two other guys got into a fight with borderline racist comments at each other…. I have no idea how it started.


  21. […] with the team after the roster announcement, while the folks at The Shin Guardian have their US-Scotland preview up.  I also didn’t get a chance to really promote this, but Howie did an Inside the Numbers […]


  22. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/24 at 12:24 PM

    “Mid tier UEFA team” – that is a very kind and generous description of Scotland.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/05/24 at 12:58 PM

      I think it’s pretty accurate. Clearly they aren’t in the top tier (Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands) or the next tier (England, Sweden, the former Yugoslav teams, etc) but I’d say they are a tier or so below that but there is so much crap in UEFA that they are clearly not close to the bottom.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/24 at 2:04 PM

        I was mocking Scotland.

        I will be an *active* USA fan for the game on Saturday night (obviouslly won’t be wearing any American merchandise though).


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/05/25 at 7:02 PM

        I don’t think so. Croatia, Belgium, Greece, Turkey are mid-tier. Scotland is closer to Estonia and Luxembourg IMO


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/05/26 at 6:42 AM

          There are 53 nations in UEFA. Scotland is closer to middle than the bottom of those. Just look at where Scotland finishes in the qualifying groups. Middle of the pack.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/26 at 11:41 AM

            Personally, i would look at their ranking points vs. top UEFA team and bottom UEFA team, as looking at the table in isolation can be very misleading…


          • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/05/26 at 12:26 PM

            If were to divided those 53 nations into three groups Scotland would be in the lowest 18 or the bottom part of the middle 18


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/26 at 12:52 PM

              Scotland’s demise over the last 20 years has been very amusing to this Englishman. They’ll be on the ABE wagon *again* this summer. We’ll be at the tournament.

              Carry on.

  23. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/26 at 11:42 AM

    Is this been show on an English language channel? I would like to DVR it.


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/05/26 at 12:23 PM

      OT but Georgecross: I’ve never seen England play so cohesively. They actually look like they have chemistry out there. Who knew AY could play as a striker?


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/26 at 12:49 PM

        He played in the hole quite a lot with Villa, and also at Watford, when (assistant coach) Lewington was manager. Took his goal very well, but the CBs were like statues, and got sold far too easily.

        Game is OK but definitely has the feel of a friendly. I would like England to play at a higher intensity, and circulate the ball quicker. Let’s see what changes Hodgson makes.


        • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/05/27 at 10:55 AM

          I remember him playing in the hole towards the end of his time at Villa, but I think that was incidental mainly because Heskey couldn’t score sweaty goals with Agbonlahor. He and Downing opposite each other after Milner left was beast mode 24/7.

          Against Noreay yesterday he was level with Carroll on Defense, basically a 4-4-2, then when England would break he would drop off and combine with Carroll in a Slovenia-esque 1-2 punch. Still surprised Adam Johnson was left off.


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: