Orange Slices: USA vs. Brazil

Orange Slices! USA vs. Ecuador

Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before and of the match

It’s Brazil, but it’s 2012, not 2014. (And unfortunately it’s not 2013 or the Confederation’s Cup, but why dwell.)

The Yanks welcome the international heavweight Brazil Canaries to FedExField in Landover, Maryland on Wednesday.

The US side is beaming, coming off an absolute lambasting of the Scots in Jacksonville. Keeping with Stanley Cup time, the US lit the lamp five times “en-rout” to a 5-1 victory.

How will it perform against a vastly more offensively talented opponent?


Once again, ESPN has the English coverage. The game is available on ESPN 2, ESPN 3.

Telefutura has the Spanish coverage.

Around the web:

Reading material:

» Written in advance of the Scotland beatdown, MLS Soccer’s (and TSG alum) Deven Pleuler takes an analytical (and graphical) approach to breaking down the Klinsmann revolution.


» Brian Straus of the Sporting News tacks on to our Jose Torres piece with a supporting one of his own.

» Any and all works by The Professor of Football, Christopher Gaffney who writes on the Brazilian football culture and on the impact of stadiums in Brazil.

» Rafa Benitez on tactics….a good one.

Weather forecast:

Showers in the AM, fluffy bunny dusters in the sky and 75 degrees by game time. Unlike the Scots, the Brazilians are altogether fine with warm weather.

Surf forecast:

Not a hurricane in sight….and that’s unfortunately what you need in the Mid-Atlantic to slide on some waves on the coast. But, if you are craving a bunch of knees slappers and wanting to wade in somewhere, your closest spot is Ocean City, Maryland. It may be small, but please be careful out there.

To keep your surf stoke going, read about how Kelly Slater finds waves.

Scotland Redress:

Some leftover points:

» Michael Bradley twas not always so.

Bradley just went hockey stick in his development this year. Watching review of Bradley’s club and national performance up until this year, Bradley’s two notorious challenges were one-pursuing looking for the “glory tackle” on defense and making a negative pass in the face of pressure. Bradley has addressed both issues and added a left-foot. Astounding.



The combining factors to make this happen: 1) Playing time 2) Playing time in a technical league and 3) Removing the comfort factor at the national team level.

Kudos to Bradley Jr. who will shortly be a father I might add. If Bradley has a son who eventually plays on the national team do we call him “Junior Junior.”

» More kudos to Jurgen Klinsmann. Pundits cited the lack of a “Jogi Low” on staff to enable creative tactical adjustments.

The opposite has been true. Consider that Klinsmann played effectively a 4-4-2 unbalanced formation up until this camp (something US fans and media had not seen previously in major display–though Bob Bradley did try it) and that his Christmas tree formation against Scotland was attacking in nature (the 4-3-2-1 is normally used defensively) and it certainly appears that at the very least Klinsmann is being proactive in his tactics–something that he was not expressly known for previously.

Okay, Klinsy, now how do you slot in Dempsey…and Altidore?

A step back to Brazil:

The last meeting was actually Omar Gonzalez’s first cap back in August 2010.

The most recent and memorable. The ill-fated 2009 Confederation Cup title match. The US dropped two in the first half and then got upstaged by three Brazilian goals in the second half. The “Fabiano Turn” was Brazil’s first goal.

Your starting central midfielders that day? Benny Feilhaber and Ricardo Clark. Charlie Davies started as well.

If you remember, also, the US’s second goal was TSG-deemed “The Counterattack Heard ‘Round The World.”


A step forward for Brazil

That would be Neymar….or Hulk. Hulk or Neymar?

Jesus Christ or Santa Claus. Does that make Michael Bradley…..Brian Boitano?



  • Landon Donovan surpassed Jeff Agoos for the most starts in U.S. history with his 125th start during the USA’s 5-1 victory against Scotland on May 26. Agoos had held the previous record of 124 starts. Donovan also holds career records in goals (49), assists (48) and points (146). The only mark where Donovan is not atop the list is in career appearances, as he sits second with 139 caps behind 2011 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Cobi Jones (164).
  • U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra moved into an eighth-place tie with former U.S. MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller with his 102nd cap. Bocanegra was previously tied for ninth with Earnie Stewart (101).

32 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2012/05/29 at 8:54 PM

    totally missed the south park reference. I was like Brian Boitano is an ice skater (and I know this ’cause my mom watched it a lot in the 90s) why would Jr be Boitano?…

    I doubt Donovan will hold the record for most cards. Who owns that USMNT honor?

    Looking forward to seeing my (tottenham) boy Sandro vs our mid…should see some nasty yet awesome tackles.

    Praying Gomez gets a start and a game winner.

    Come on you Yanks!


  2. Glad to see someone else mentioning Klinsmann’s was a Christmas tree and not a true 4-3-3. Big big difference, IMO.

    To your point about it being a very proactive, attacking 4-3-2-1 – for me, that was all because of the central three. Bradley and Jones combined to cover approximately 3,257 miles and were fantastic, I think, in taking turns making runs up the field and Edu, to his credit, was mostly disciplined. He still makes me uneasy as a lone holder, but he did the trick Saturday. Not sure he’ll be as useful when the U.S. doesn’t have near as much of the ball tomorrow night. Which leads me to…

    Any thought toward dropping Edu for Dempsey, pushing Dempsey up “wide left” next to Donovan and dropping Torres back centrally? Obviously, Bradley or Jones would have to play a lot more reservedly, but I just think Torres is so much better than Edu that there has to be a way to make something work. Maybe that’s just too risky, though.

    Either way, given the way things have been going, Klinsmann should have earned our trust in his ability to get the right guys on the field in the right places.

    Great reading, as always.


    • Posted by justin on 2012/05/29 at 11:12 PM

      It looks like for fitness reasons, neither Altidore or Dempsey will start. I would not be surprised to have the exact same starting line up that we had against scotland except maybe Gooch replacing Cam at RCB.

      I say this because we want as much steel in the center of the pitch as possible taking care of Neymar will be a handful and we’ll need all three of edu, jones, and bradley providing support there. I think we only want to ADD to our defensive strengths for this game against brazil. Which is why i don’t like any of the switching someone out of those three, since I think any change weakness the US defensively.

      I also don’t think we’ll be seeing Torres pinching in as much due to the fact that he will have to provide some extra cover on the left for Hulk who plays as the right winger. I would not be surprised if the US has more of a 4-5-1 (4-1-4-1) shape, and less of the christmas tree (4-3-2-1). The xmas tree leaves the flanks too exposed, as we witnessed a couple of times on saturday. And as much as i love fab at LB, he should not have to take the hulk on alone. Anyone who’s seen “the avengers” knows that you don’t want to get left in the corner alone with the hulk. (had to do it, but couldn’t think of a way to work in Captain America)

      It would be fun to see Herculez there even as a winger. But i don’t think we’ll see him starting as the lone striker trying to hold up the ball for the rest of the team, like he finished up the game against Scotland.

      Hopefully we keep it tight in the first half, and then open things up in the 2nd half when we bring on Dempsey and Altidore. The real question is what will the score be and how will it dictate who is substituted in the 2nd half for the two previously mentioned.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/30 at 6:59 AM

      Question: when looking at the 4-3-3 and saying it was more of a 4-3-2-1, why do you only acknowledge that the “offensive 3” was split into two bands, and not the “midfield 3”? After all, Edu sat back and alowed Bradley and Jones to play further forward.


      • Agreed. Obviously it was a 4-1-2-1-2 with Edu the holder and Torres having a free role in the attack from the left and Dono staying in an advanced wide position on the right.

        What differentiates the typical 4-3-2-1 is that the “2” are “interiores” – central creative players behind a lone striker. Donovan playing as a winger means this was a modified 4-3-3 (or um 4-1-2-3).

        And more to George’s point… Exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

        At some point the exact numbers describing the formation are meaningless. F Johnson ran up and down the entire left flank so how do we denote that? It’s what the players actually do within the vaguely 4-3-3 system that was important.


    • Posted by Damon on 2012/05/30 at 7:15 AM

      Can I just take this moment to say how ridiculous I think that most discussions of soccer formations are? Seriously… a 4-4-1-1 is identical to a 4-2-3-1 depending on what you call the wingers or the CAM. A 4-3-2-1 can be a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-3-3 again depending on what names you choose to give the wingers and the central midfielders. Of course all of them could also be called a 4-5-1.

      Talking about how many central midfielders there are is useful. Talking about how many there are on the backline can be useful. Even then its often misleading as often a “back 3” is far more defensive than a “back 4” since people call the wingbacks midfielders rather than defenders so to me it would be more accurate to call it a back 5. I just think that we are at the point where most of the time just putting a formation out in numbers form has little to do with reality on the field.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/05/30 at 7:50 AM

        Agreed. Without diagrams it can be difficult. I think the man difference these days is whether you play with one or two DMs.
        Plus people need to be clearer when talking about formations as obviously is differs when you have the ball vs when you don’t have the ball.

        Surprised nobody has talked about the defensive line. Would have thought that this would be the first thing on the agenda against an offensive and fast team, no? The way you ‘defend’ the space between Howard and the back four is going to be crucial. This is surely going to be the biggest difference than the line against Scotland – which is then going th affect how the rest of the team plays…


      • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/05/30 at 8:42 AM

        Let’s just see if we all agree on a couple of points.
        1) Hulk will be an upgrade over the RMF for Scotland, meaning F. Johnson will be tested defensively more than he was on Saturday. (As will all the back line and MF)
        2) Torres’ biggest weakness is a lack of tough tackling, though ala Stuart Holden he does quite well with the toe poke – crafty defending (reminds me a lot of Reyna in his prime)
        3) Dempsey is not going to be ready so one of Klinsman’s challenges will be does he go with Torres at LMF? Does he leave F. Johnson on an island to deal with the attack and see how he does…after all ‘he was the best LB in the Bundesliga at the end of the year. Does he switch Donovan to LMF? (Heck no..that’s Neymar on the other side!) Does he start Gomez there, or maybe go with a Bradley on the left similar to how he played in the Italy game (albeit on the right).
        That tactical decision will have impacts all around.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/30 at 12:36 PM

        Damon- Thank you. From my heart thank you. My eyes just glaze over when I see the numbers and dashes tossed about. I appreciate and enjoy tactical discussions but the how many of this and how many of that just doesn’t reflect what happens in dynamic real time.


    • “jaredlaunius

      “Any thought toward dropping Edu for Dempsey, pushing Dempsey up “wide left” next to Donovan and dropping Torres back centrally? Obviously, Bradley or Jones would have to play a lot more reservedly, but I just think Torres is so much better than Edu that there has to be a way to make something work……

      Klinsmann should have earned our trust in his ability to get the right guys on the field in the right places. ”

      In his comments after the game JK made a point of saying it was Mo’s focus on defense made the “three head monster” work.

      Jones and Mikey” have a much more established attacking pedigree of than Mo so it made sense to unleash them.

      Don’t you think if JK thought Paco was a better guy to hold down the defensive side he would have had him there instead of Mo?

      Instead JFT was Jones’ and Bradley’s’ willing and able partner on the offensive side of things, a role it seems to me, JK has been hoping Paco would play for some time now.

      Now this game will be different as both you and JK have pointed out:

      “I think the players have already forgotten about the Scotland game. They know that this is a completely different story.”

      We will need to be tighter defensively against Brazil but I bet JK keeps Paco right where he is because keeping possession up that high takes pressure off the defense.

      But you want to take Paco away from what he does best (calm the game down, keep possession, make sure the ball gets used well in the offensive end) and give him Mo’s clean up job?

      JFT is a defensive midfielder for Pachuca but he plays that role a different way from how Mo does it. And the other two would have to adjust to JFT in a new role and that does not just happen overnight. So much for trusting the manager.

      And on top of that want to replace JFT with Clint who, great as he is, probably, does not do that set up/possession role as well as JFT?

      I doubt Clint and/or Jozy start or even play, but if you want to bring Clint in bring him in for Boyd or Donovan.

      Why possibly weaken the team in two places and take some of the offensive ability away from Jones and “Mikey”?


      • This is all after the fact now, but I think you missed my point. I was getting at the idea I’d like to see Torres play the point of the three-man midfield and drop either Jones or Bradley all the way back in place of Edu, not Torres. I guess I didn’t make my point clear enough.


  3. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/05/29 at 9:40 PM

    I think we will will see the same 4-3-2-1 but Gomez For Boyd and perhaps Gooch for Cameron for sure, and either Jones in Edu’s spot/ Torres in Jones spot/Corona in Torres spot or just Beckerman for Edu.

    I think one EFG mentioned in a previous post that Dempsey and Altidore were unlikely to start/play in this next match


  4. Posted by Union on 2012/05/29 at 11:19 PM

    I think its the same lineup as Scotland but w/ Gooch in for Cameron. I still think Boyd gets the start. But maybe you’re right.


  5. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/29 at 11:51 PM

    The one thing that the US has to consider is if they’ll need help over the flanks dealing with Hulk or Neymar.

    Scotland really had an atrocious game plan and they often the left the US with numbers in the attack since these pushed Maloney and Phillips up so high.

    Note: The US executed their game plan, but Scotland really was extremely ripe for the picking.

    Anywho, how the US protects over the flanks–if necessary–I would imagine is a key point of discussion in line-up selection.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/05/30 at 7:11 AM

      If Monday’s training is anything to go by, we’ll see very different tactics in this game–perhaps a 4-2-3-1.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/30 at 7:11 AM

        Is that from video or actually watching in person?


        • Posted by dth on 2012/05/30 at 7:33 AM

          The latter.


          • Posted by Union on 2012/05/30 at 9:51 AM

            (Content edited by TSG)

            I like taking out Edu for Gomez and putting Gomez on the right, swinging Landon to the left. Though there is an argument to be made for keeping Landon in the same spot he scored 3 goals from. No Dempsey/Jozy makes this interesting.

            Though…I’ll admit that if there is a game where Jurgen will want 3, strong defensive mids on the field…this would be the game. So maybe Edu stays and its down to Boyd/Gomez up top. I’d prefer Boyd, but who knows.


            • Posted by dth on 2012/05/30 at 10:24 AM

              It’s hard to tell exactly what he’ll do because he divided starters between each team, but a consistent feature was a guy we’d think of as a forward (Gomez, Wono, Altidore) playing on the wing and cutting in without the ball. Think David Villa or Podolski.

              Gomez was dialed-in at practice. High, high effort and he seemed to take a special pleasure during finishing drills of just trying to annihilate the ball. (Dempsey on the other hand, went for pure placement almost every time. Boyd and Altidore’s finishing were what you’d call…puzzling. As in, puzzlingly bad.)

            • Posted by dth on 2012/05/30 at 10:29 AM

              Ives’s formation is more of a 4-3-3. Not saying that’s impossible, but from what I remember from the practice the wide players were in more of a wing midfielder than wide forward position.

      • Posted by justin on 2012/05/30 at 9:10 AM

        I was thinking the same thing.

        Bradley for Chievo plays more of a right defensive mid, with support to the RB coming from him, which leaves the right winger less defensive responsibilities. Perhaps we’ll see this from Bradley and Jones/Edu… with only one of the 3 playing more advanced role in the center as opposed to 2 of the 3 as we saw against scotland. This will allow the CBs not to be dragged out the center of the field


  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/30 at 12:58 AM

    As a note, I’d love to see Cameron against Brazil, though it may not happen. I thought his tracking in open space was very good against Scotland though he had a few mental gaffes.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/05/30 at 12:40 PM

      Matt- I agree on Cameron. Although he doesn’t possess blazing speed I think he can provide more North/South cover than Gooch for Boca and I also think it’s important to see if he can handle the next level at CB. As cold as it sounds, Gooch just isn’t the player he was prior to the knee in 2010 and it’s time to find out who can be the “big” CB in qualifying.


    • Posted by Alex on 2012/05/30 at 12:58 PM

      Thoughts on Geoff on the left covering Hulk? Right footed defender vs left footed attacker seems like a good idea yea?


  7. Posted by Bode on 2012/05/30 at 6:43 AM

    If Brazil do employ Hulk on the right wing, I think that Fabian Johnson might be able to put in a good shift as an “inverted fullback.” Hulk will be cutting inside onto his left foot and towards Johnson’s stronger right foot.


  8. Posted by twewlife on 2012/05/30 at 8:06 AM

    Questions leading up to the game:

    1) If Dempsey is fit, where do you place him?

    In my mind, there are two options. First, you could lift torres and drop Dempsey right in, while pushing him up the wing just a bit higher. The Second option is similar, save for the fact, that torres gets swapped in for Edu, who is in my mind, the weakest link in the central three of Bradley / Jones / Edu. But if torres is swapped for Edu, the overall defensive grit of the middle dips in front of a grinning Neymar.

    2) How quick is our back line?

    Assuming that we hold the same high defensive line that was seen in force against Italy and to a lesser extend Scotland, will the back four be quick enough to stop Brazil from marauding through? While Cameron’s performance against Scotland was less than stellar, he’s still much quicker than Gooch. Furthermore, we’ve seen Dolo get lambasted by quick legs in the past. See e.g. latest U.S. v. Mexico game.

    3) How do you fight the Hulk; A Dempsey Redux

    There’s no doubt that F.J. has put in work, but going against the Hulk will test him to the limit. This might cause Dempsey to pull back a bit in order to help F.J. cover. The problem with the move is that it will hurt the U.S. counter-attack. With F.J. presumably using most of his legs to defend, and Dempsey helping F.J. cover, its going to be much harder to move quickly up the pitch on the left side which is where and how the U.S. likes to launch its attacks. Given that, Dolo and friends may be forced to carry that duty. This is a big problem, as Dolo’s ability to get up the pitch in a hurry and/or deliver quality balls into the middle is a bit suspect.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above issues.


  9. Posted by Alex on 2012/05/30 at 9:23 AM

    I think we’ll see a gameplan more like what we saw vs Italy to protect the flanks than what we saaw vs Scotland. For example I wouldn’t be surprised if both Castillo and Johnson started on the left


  10. Posted by Robert on 2012/05/30 at 11:39 AM

    It would be interesting to see if Cameron would shift into Dolo’s spot. His speed and ability to cover are tremendous assets , plus it gives Dolo a break. With left back solid with Johnson , it would be great to see someone else that can play right back beyond Dolo. I know Morales was in camp but he is gone. Cameron is an athlete who has the pace to cover the quick wingers for Brazil.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/05/30 at 1:18 PM

      Has Cameron ever played right back? I know that he was initially a midfielder turned into a central defender. Not sure that putting him out there against Neymar is the way to start an experiment. Let’s wait until Canada to try something like that.


    • I have heard that Cameron can play left back but not right back. I believe that is Parkhurst’s job. He has played there a lot lately we are told.


  11. Posted by Alex on 2012/05/30 at 1:04 PM

    BTW, I love that Landon goal from the ’09 CC. 3 players, 3 passes, 5 touches, 10 seconds, GOAL. Beautiful


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