Tropical Storming: TSG’s Official USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda Preview

Will Tropical Storm Jermaine be shut down by the Pitch Police? Stay tuned…

And now Canada and Brazil don’t matter. Nor Scotland for that matter. Actually none of it matters. Wipe out the past two years–aside from that “missing the Olympics” thing because now it’s just going to be Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps–it’s World Cup qualifying season. Game on!

(It’s also Euros season too, but any who….)

It’s less than 735 days until World Cup 2014 and Jurgen Klinsmann’s true evaluation as skipper begins now. The friendly season is mere prologue to embarking on the travel-arduous job of qualifying in the CONCACAF region.

The US has looked defensively sound and offensively suspect under Jurgen Klinsmann–those global notions didn’t change through the first three friendlies this camp.

Luckily or thankfully for the States, it starts out its Brazil 2014 run under somewhat favorable circumstances. CONCACAF cling-on Antigua & Barbuda plays the opponent at home for the Yanks in Tampa on Friday. Coverage begins at 7pm EST on ESPN with friend-of-TSG Taylor Twellman on the call.

The US should be well-rested for this one and have a little spring in their step at erasing the ho-hum performance against Canada.

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our customary preview. It goes:

About The Opponent: Antigua & Barbuda

TSG What Are We Looking For

11 At The Whistle


About the Opponent: Antigua & Barbuda

Kerry Skepple’s 83rd minute strike against Haiti in November launched Antigua & Barbuda on their first-time run….

Antigua and Barbuda come into Tampa playing their first international match in more than two months. The islands CONCACAF side sits at an even #100 in FIFA rankings and #13 within the CONCACAF zone, but those digits don’t really tell the story.

The small nation is on a Cal FC-esque CONCACAF run having beaten favored Haiti in November 2011 to progress for the first time into the semifinal stage of World Cup qualifying.

More than half of the team (16 travel players) is made up of members of the Antigua Barracudas, the lone professional club out of Antigua & Barbuda team that plays in the USL; the Barracudas were started for the expressed reason to improve the level of play of the national team.

However, to say the US players greatly dwarfs the experience and level of competition history of it’s counterparts would still be accurate.

What is key for the island side–as much as its game play–is its identity. A&B is attempting to carefully introduce talented “English” players into the side.

Unlike perhaps England or the States, Antigua and Barbuda is sensitive to the notion that its national team should have a proper and weighted complexion of primarily domestic players with a domestic upbringing. The FA acknowledges a difference in an Antiguan from the homeland and one who merely sports the jersey.

Blackstock for Forest…[You motoboating SOB, you old sailor you…]

Important European-based players–like Reading’s Mikele Leigterwood and Nottingham Forest’s Dexter Blackstock–have been gingerly introduced to the pitch for the Benna Boys in 2011, but largely missed out on training friendlies in 2012 due to travel constraints. “Their” integration will be as much a key to competing with the States as what A&B’s tactics are.

(Note: An interesting quip here from Blackstock on Twitter talking about “our England squad.”)

When the Benna Boys do come out, it will likely be in a standard 4-4-2.

A&B will look to push the tempo on a change of possession, out-letting quickly to try and get on the break. The strategy is similar to one many CONCACAF lower table dwellers choose and often what can happen is a loss of team integrity and positioning and quick counterattack coming back the other way.

It’s not a surprise that many of the less illustrious matches in CONCACAF are high-scoring affairs because of the up-down relay race nature of the games.

The US defenders should be up to the task and the US midfielders should balance their movement accordingly.

The Benna Boys will see former Charleston Battery keeper and currently Barracuda #1 Molvin James in goal. The 23-year-old is the youngest of A&B’s keepers, but also has the most caps….with 11.

James should be tested early and often by the States; he may sits near the bottom of the USL goalkeeper ratings and has yet to record a shutout in the 2012 season.

♦This insert from Charleston Battery expert Mike Buytas of No Quarter Soccer. The Charleston Battery frequently play the Antigua Barracudas in the USL. Buytas on Molvin and the Barracudas♦

James saves a penalty against the Haitians in 2011…

The Battery put four past Molvin James in the match the Battery played against Antigua Barracudas.   I thought the score line was a little unfair to James as their defense didn’t do much to help him.

The match link is here;  the goals are at the 1:05, 1:54, 1:59 and 2:11 marks.

Most of the goals came from defensive errors although I thought James could have done better on the first goal. He did a pretty good job as far as positioning and made quick decisions at the USL level of play.

The counter is where the US will need to watch out and is/was the best chance to score. Not sure how many of the back line will play against the US but the the US should get plenty of chances and with time should put a couple away.

In front of James sits a likely back four of: Wycombe Wanderer’s youngster Marvin McCoy, George “Sour” Dublin, Marc Joseph, and Luke Blakely. (Note: It may not be the 35-year-old Joseph partnering Dublin, but could be another mid-30-year-old in Justine Cochrane or less likely Ranja Christian who has been used primarily as a late defensive replacement.)


Dublin, though, is the undisputed spokesperson for the team; he is the squad’s caps leader at 42 and will captain the side. How he got the nickname Sowa (“Sour”) remains a web researcher’s nightmare and a matter of TSG intrigue. (Houston Dynamo broadcaster Glenn Davis interviewed Dublin on his show this week and learned nickname originated from his high school friends for his “donkey” attitude. Thanks to “BerlinTexas” in the commentary for that info.)

A&B will have experience in the middle and youth and speed wide. It will be interesting to see if Jozy Altidore or Terrence Boyd (or both) are called in to hold the ball up top and overpower a weaker set of defenders.

Ahead of Dublin’s backline is a midfield most likely comprised of Quinton Griffith, Akeem Thomas, Mikele Leigterwood, and Lawson Robinson.

Leigertwood for Reading [thumbs nose at Convey]

Leigertwood is the heavy of the group; he’s a perennial starter for recently promoted Premiership side Reading. It was Leigertwood on the backend of a set piece (video) that accounted for the lone score in the game that got Reading promoted.

Leigertwood will be in charge of marshaling the midfield as well as pinging the ball forward. US midfielders should be wary on a turnover of closing down Leigertwood before he boots out a long ball. He’s probably partnered inside by Akeem Thomas.

Outside on the left will be Quinton Griffith who is the Barracuda’s assist leader this season….and was a legitimate national track star during his upbringing.

Griffith has captained two youth national teams for A&B and is largely considered in line for the armband once Dublin retires.

Though he plays frequently as a LB, most expect Griffith to play left mid and provide cover against Landon Donovan. He is…fast. The other outside midfield position is debatable but likely goes to Lawson Robinson.

A player for the States to be concerned with it’s up top with Peter “Big Pete” Byers.

A Montreal Impact alum, Byers has 23 goals in 36 caps for the Benna Boys. He can play with either the left or the right and moves well in traffic (as YouTube attests), however A&B will probably look to play the pacey Byers over the top hoping they can sneak him behind a States back line that is sure to come up and attempt to knock the ball around the opponents attacking third. (Someone make sure Boca reads this paragraph.)

♦This insert from Olivier Tremblay. Tremblay is the Montreal Impact beat writer at and also writes at Mise au vert.♦

Peter “Big Pete” Byers

Peter Byers’ international record proves he can indeed score goals, but he can also be quite selfish and that might explain why he can only hit the mark in international play against such powerhouses such as Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Virgin Islands.

The Montreal Impact let Byers go because of unprofessional behavior, and it is a shame, because had he been more focused, he could have turned the skills he does have into a very interesting career. Moving and shooting in tight spaces are not a problem for him, but again, his selfishness sometimes means that he runs out of space altogether.

What space will he be afforded versus the US and will he try to go it alone?

Byers may partner up top with his Barracudas battery mate youngster Stefan Smith who also has the feet to get behind the back line. Kerry “Arab” Skepple, the hero who struck for A&B back in November, will be the first name called off the bench up top.

A major asterisk on the A&B team review will be the introduction of English-born Dexter Blackstock.

Let’s call it the second player who the States should certainly be concerned with if he gets in the initial eleven.

The former QPR player could be a slotted in as a starter in this one, but has not gotten many reps in concert with the team.

When he deployed last time (February 2011), A&B went with a 4-3-1-2 against Trinidad & Tobago and promptly got thrashed by the Soca Warriors 4-0–Blackstock played the Dempsey role in that one.

Still Blackstock, as CONCACAF bottom-ranking sides go, is a talent that will get some run on Friday.

TSG will backtrack here and say the 26-year-old Blackstock starts, but in a 4-4-2. (Somehow we just made ourselves “experienced” the A&B side.)


G: James

DEF: McCoy, Dublin, Joseph, Blakey

MID: Robinson, Leigertwood, Thomas, Griffith

FW: Byers, Blackrock

The key for Antigua & Barbuda to have a shot would appear to be remaining as compact as possible, providing cover–always–wide over the flanks and taking quick and long vertical counter chances over the top if or when they materialize.

Can, will Landon Donovan get his mojo rising? …. C’mon Landy light that fire….

TSG What We’re Looking For:

• Is this the Seal-The-Opponent-In game?

Let the qualifying begin!


The US–heck TSG–has long talked about the States dictating play to their opponents.

It was a central theme running into Gold Cup 2011 and publicized bullet point on Jurgen Klinsmann’s hiring.

The US typically does well against CONCACAF minnows (Cuba, Barbados) merely on account of their experience and ability so this isn’t one of those games per se, but the US should work on more metronomic possession and attacking and probing to breaking down the Benna Boys.

The States sorely needs work on their ability to manufacture a score against a packed-in side….or more teams will continue to adopt the recent game plans of Canada and Panama.

Can the US get Clint Dempsey multiple chances in a half court set? Where is Landon’s ability best deployed? Will he be deployed as the counter seems to be Donovan’s strong suit these days.

• Lounging in the US forward pool

Might this be the strongest US senior side forward pool in some time? Include Dempsey as a pseudo-forward and it makes it three players (inc. Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez) coming off extremely strong club seasons with high goal tallies as the metric. Add Terrence Boyd, who has something to prove as he looks to drop a club level in the Bundesliga but get on the starting field more and this is well beyond the days of Barrett, Findley and Cunningham.

Klinsmann has preferred Altidore and the lone time the US deployed in the 4-4-2 was with two big guys up top in Altidore and Buddle .(Hard to call the US’s deployment against Canada a 4-4-2 as Dempsey never led the line or looked to integrate with Gomez).

Antigua & Barbuda should represent a really good chance to check out the spears at the top of the States’ formation and truly investigate a pairing as well as build chemistry. Who starts?

• Reacting to the opponent

» Will Jozy Altidore come out with a head full of steam because it was tiny A&B who knocked Haiti out of WCQ? [Kidding]

» Does Jose Torres get the start or is it a surprise entrance of Kyle Beckerman to circulate the ball? Will Jose Torres prove to have “soft hands?” (as in “lack toughness”).

It’s an interesting case with Torres who if he plays will likely look sublime given the opponents talent level. If Torres is not going to be the answer against bigger sides is he worth developing against smaller sides merely because he is useful. Probably the biggest question is: Who amongst Torres, Edu and…Donovan(?) sits?

» While Clarence Goodson controlled the lanes and the skies against Canada, is this not an ideal opportunity to insert Geoff Cameron? The opponent will attack with vertical pace and the US will look to control the ball on he floor on offense. Cameron presents the correct skill set at CB that the US wants.

» Can Steve Cherundolo continue to be iron man? With the fate of Fab Johnson currently unknown and a tough road match against Guatemala coming shortly after, is this really a game that Dolo needs to go 90 and track meet it up and down the field?

» …and that goes to the wider point. After 3 matches in 8 days, does Klinsmann rest players against a team the US should be able to beat without a full A squad? Or is this “World Cup qualifying” and will it be and always be “best foot forward?

» And finally, can the US avoid silly fouls against a team that they should beat without having to resort to “sending a message?” (See lead photo of this piece.)

Howard, always the steady ship….

11 At The Whistle

G: Tim Howard

DEF: Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Fabian Johnson/Edgar Castillo (if injury)

CDM: Michael Bradley

RCM: Jermaine Jones, LCM: Jose Torres

CAM: Clint Dempsey

RM/F: Landon Donovan

STR: Jozy Altidore

(Pretty graphics return next time.)

The skinny & tactics: The main tactical question for the States would appear to be a common one that shapes tactics: How high a line the US wants to draw.

Look to keep the ball in the attacking third, add an attacker and drop a midfielder perhaps and the US can continue to constrict space and hone their attack without A&B being able to relieve pressure effectively.

That plan would keep the ball in the States’ possession and continually put A&B’s weaker back line under the gun; the risk of course being losing containment a few times and giving A&B’s fast attackers up top the chances to test the US back line they’re looking for.


Play a little deeper in the middle and shut down advanced players upon reception with central midfield cover. Keep the US in it’s 4-3-2-1 formation used against Scotland and Brazil and look to drive up the flanks and lob in crosses to Altidore and maybe Boyd.

A good game to watch how a US team with a large talent advantage looks to command the game.

Supporting material: Rigidity hampering US attack

86 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jared on 2012/06/05 at 1:43 PM

    No more Torres. It needs to be Edu (and I’m not even a big fan of his) as the holder with MB90 and Jones in front of him. Those two can provide much more of the push that the US is going to need. MB90 is wasted that far back.


    • Posted by Mark on 2012/06/05 at 2:56 PM

      ^ This


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/05 at 3:07 PM

      I’m in agreement with you both and I think it will make a statement if Torres plays this game. By all accords he should not, if only because you know against better competition he will be a liability defensively.

      I think he starts this one and perhaps centrally; but my choice would still be Beckerman.


      • Posted by Dave on 2012/06/05 at 6:45 PM

        Beckerman…really? I’m not a huge fan of Edu, but he is miles ahead of Beckerman af far as Sill, Speed, and understanding of the game. As it stands now the classic #6 role is best filled by Edu, Jones, Bradley, Williams, than Beckerman.


        • Posted by dth on 2012/06/05 at 8:00 PM

          I think Beckerman is superior to Edu in terms of skill and understanding of the game. Edu is much more athletic. They both think too slowly. Beckerman starting as the #6 wouldn’t be the worst idea I’ve ever seen.


          • Not sure there would be too much to differentiate at CONCACAF level, but I think Edu is a better bet against higher quality opponents.

            Klinsmann’s decision the play Bradley, Jones, Torres, Donovan and Dempsey was a classic example of trying to get your best players in the starting XI, but that does not necessarily mean best team. This meant having Bradley playing deeper, further away from goal, and more distance to cover if he decided to get forward.

            However, I agree 100% with Jared, that the main thing is to free Bradley of some of his defensive responsibility. The upside of having Edu in the team to enable this, far outweighs having Torres in the team, and better balance is restored.


            • Posted by dth on 2012/06/06 at 9:22 AM

              Klinsmann’s decision to play Torres is daffy. I wouldn’t place Torres among the top 11 U.S. players. I’m not entirely sure he’s among the best 23 players. But I’m biased.

          • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/06 at 9:54 AM

            I used to think Torres deserved a shot but at this point I’d rather have MB90 pulling the strings in midfield. Torres has now had time to prove what he can do and his passing just isn’t incisive enough. If you’re going to play with a central midfielder that doesn’t really defend at all then he needs to be making passes Pirlo style.


            • Posted by Dave on 2012/06/07 at 5:51 PM

              The problem with Torres in the past couple games is the same as Danny Williams has had. Neither are Wingers…both are CM types same as Jones & Bradley. Personally I’d drop Jones into the CDM (#6) possition with Edu as the backup, and use Torres paired with Bradley as the #8’s slightly in front of them.

  2. Posted by J Nanez on 2012/06/05 at 2:27 PM

    Klinsmann usually does pretty well preparing the U.S. for the first game in a series. However, I don’t know how sure he in continuing to play in a 4-3-3. Something tells me he is going to play A&B straight up in a 4-2-2. The Scotland game taught me that they have no problem in attack if the are set up to do so properly from the start. I have a nagging feeling that that because Dempsey, Altidore, & Castillo came onto the team so late (after the scotland game & missed some training with the rest of the group respectively) you d figure they would get what needs to be done the momn


  3. Posted by Kenny on 2012/06/05 at 2:29 PM

    Good preview, but I take issue with this statement: “The US has looked defensively sound and offensively suspect under Jurgen Klinsmann–those global notions didn’t change through the first three friendlies this camp.” In both the Brazil and Scotland games the reverse was true: lots of chances generated (if not converted against Brazil) and some good possession, suspect D through the center. The D also looked suspect against Canada even if it went unpunished.


  4. Posted by CJ on 2012/06/05 at 2:48 PM

    Is it just me or should this game play like the highlights of the Women’s U-17 games against all the area teams? (10-0 and wondering why we didn’t score more) We should be able to field our “Robbie Rogers” squad and be able to steamroll these guys, no?

    Fantastic investigative work on the opponent. It’s really impressive, I don’t want to detract from the hard work you put into it. It’s just the idea of being concerned with tactics and the such here has me, disappointed already that there might even be doubt.

    How can we possibly take anything away individually or tactically as preparation for our next opponent? The only measure here is if someone gaffes and shows their lack of mental preparation. But, should that be a question of our National team? These guys are [highly] paid professionals! I can understand… underestimating your opponent in a rec league but, at this level? Gosh, I’d be so embarrassed. My non-soccer friends already laugh at me for being a US soccer supporter when we couldn’t qualify for the Olympics. Seriously, right before these friendlies it happened. I had nothing to counter with other than “they are a young squad”. He didn’t seem to think that a good excuse.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/05 at 3:15 PM

      I think that’s fair; attempted to steer the preview away from tactics and more towards story lines.

      Interesting thing to me is. 1) A&B has some players that all haven’t played together yet. That’s obviously both a good and a bad, 2) They appear to have decent strikers and 3) The US beat Guadeloupe 1-0 in the Gold Cup in 2011.

      Final score: 3-0 — I don’t think A&B gets desperate and surges forward once they go down. They try to keep it tight and pick up points elsewhere in the group.


  5. Posted by tgp on 2012/06/05 at 2:55 PM

    I really hope we dont play the 4-4-2. The canada version reminded me of the old bucket that Bradley used to play with both our midfielders in front of the back 4. Torres isnt a winger and Landon looked disinterested. The entire Canada set up was just a bad idea and i hope we never see that again.


    • Posted by Luke S on 2012/06/05 at 3:39 PM

      not to be rude just curious – if we had 2 true wingers (obviously not torres, maybe johnson and donovan with dempsey up top), why would the old bucket be a bad thing? maybe have bradley and jones switch in terms of which one joins the attack and which sits like the ‘6’. dempsey could drop and help in the midfield of course. obviously several formations, all of which should result in a W on friday, but just wondering why you’re against that particular formation


      • Posted by Dave on 2012/06/05 at 6:55 PM

        Even with 2 true wingers IMO we’d still be better served using a diamond midfield over the empty bucket. 2 strikers (1 Target/Hold-up, 1 speedster/roamer), CAM (Dempsey if not a striker), 2 Speedy Wingers (Donovan & Shea), 1 CDM (Edu, Jones, Williams, Beckerman). The diamond allows the outside backs to join the attack more…and Johnson, Lichaj, and Chandler are too dangerious for other teams not to respect them overlapping.


        • Posted by lukesandblom on 2012/06/05 at 11:43 PM

          not sure we can afford only 1 cm, i think most teams would run over us in the middle. gotta have bradley and jones on the field for me. still hoping for a 4 2 3 1 with johnson in the midfield. since we don’t have chandler or lichaj in camp, i’ll have to wait until at least august (most likely longer than that)


        • Posted by Jason on 2012/06/06 at 11:23 AM

          No spot for Bradley in that line-up? I agree with lukesandblom on Bradley and jones, plus if the idea is to have “speedy wingers” why put them in a narrower diamond midfield? I think Shea’s place on the team (if he finds some better form) is as a LF in a 4-3-3, when doing the 4-4-2ish or 4-2-3-1in don’t think Shea is worth including. But then again for these upcoming games that doesn’t matter.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/05 at 3:53 PM

      I think Bradley used to play something more called “funnel-and-smack:”

      The challenge in my opinion vs. Canada was that the-per the bucket comment–the US used to parallel midfielders and tried to probe a 5-man defensive line.

      When that wasn’t working, Jermaine Jones (2nd half) started carrying the ball himself and getting caught in bad situations.

      The US lacks that player who can drive one-on-one and find the dish when necessary.

      What they should’ve done — imho — was bring Torres central for reception and–something the team could have controlled on the field–checked back to the ball more and move off-the-ball.


  6. Posted by scweeb on 2012/06/05 at 4:56 PM

    So if JK were to use the teams current roster now and this is with out counting GK we would have something like 10 guys at or over the age of 30 come WQ. So with that being said is he using this time now to test these guys and see if they can keep up a wq type play were they are constantly playing or is he testing younger guys manly MB, Torres, and them that are going to be at 26 or so to build th team around them. Cause right now i don’t think LD can make the impact we want him to when WQ comes around.
    Jozy 24
    becker 31
    boca 33
    Boyd 22
    MB 26
    Cherundolo 33
    Demp 30
    LD 31
    Edu 27
    Gomez 31
    goodson 31
    fabian 26
    JJ 32
    guchi 31
    park 29
    torres 26
    wondo 30

    ages of what they will be at WQ


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/05 at 6:30 PM

      I think way too much is being made of the US having guys that will be over the age of 30 by 2014. With the exception of Boca, Dolo (just age for these 2), Gooch (injuries have robbed of him of physical ability and we’ve seen that mental ability has not stepped up enough to cover) and Donovan (motivation really seems to be gone unless he leaves MLS) most of those guys will still be in their prime. The US players that will be over 30 are not guys that were playing pro ball at 17 like a lot of the Euro/South American players so they have a lot less wear and tear.


    • Posted by Dave on 2012/06/05 at 7:08 PM

      Jozy 24 – 2014
      becker 31 – Replaced by Danny Williams
      boca 33 – Replaced by Hines, Ream, Cameron
      Boyd 22 – 2014
      MB 26 – 2014
      Cherundolo 33 – Replaced by Lichaj starting (Unless Chandler joins, then Dolo out)
      Demp 30 – 2014
      LD 31 – May be a bench player unless he finds love of the game. Look for Gatt/Gyau
      Edu 27 – 2014
      Gomez 31 – Replaced by Agudelo
      goodson 31 – Replaced by Cameron, Gonzalez, John
      fabian 26 – Starter 2014
      JJ 32 – Replaced by Holden
      guchi 31 – Replaced by Cameron, Gonzalez, John
      park 29 – Replaced by Lichaj, Chandler, Morales
      torres 26 – 2014
      wondo 30 – Replaced by Wooten or another young striker.


  7. I love that you question Donovan starting. No player, no matter what he’s contributed in the past, should be “secure” in starting. If we figure out that calling in Joe Gyau provides us with the best chance to win, we should do that. If it’s starting Donovan, we should do that. All I know is that excluding the Scotland game, Donovan has been very lackluster in his NT performances since the last world cup. He seems to get lost out there too easily – teams push him far out on the wing and he can’t seem to take them on and will cede possession easily or pass the ball back. That was one thing against a talented Marcelo, a completely different thing against Canada.

    (Kampfers from TexAgs btw, love the writeups).


    • PS – your midfield 3 of Bradley, Jones, and Torres (over Edu) has been what I’ve been calling for all along. Since I know you’ve been on TexAgs, I’m gonna say you stole that from me 😉


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/05 at 6:32 PM

      It’s not just with the national team that Donovan has been lackluster. He’s been that way except while at Everton since the World Cup. He’s even admitted that he’s losing motivation. Unfortunately, I think it’s just a little too early for guys like Gyau or Gatt. Chandler might have been able to put a little pressure on him but obviously that’s not going to happen right now.


      • Posted by 2tone on 2012/06/05 at 9:51 PM

        Klinsmann has already pointed out Gatt as one player that is close to getting a call-up. With Donovan’s lackluster performances I have a feeling we may just see Gatt get called up in August against Mexico.


  8. Posted by wes on 2012/06/05 at 7:54 PM

    jozy mad about he will score a hat trick for his parents


  9. Lackluster performances? Wow, this is beyond absurd. I guess hat-tricks don’t count these days. Go back and read the interview. The man was being honest about where his career is and will be in 2 years. If you read the entire thing, you’ll also see that he missed being away from the national team.

    I didn’t think American journalistic practices could wear off so easily on the American populace, but I’m beginning to think otherwise.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/06 at 5:46 AM

      A hat trick is great but where was the effort in the other 2 games? If his next 2 performances weren’t the definition of lackluster then I’m not sure what is. Throw in the fact that he’s clearly over MLS and it’s fair to say he’s been lackluster.


      • His effort in the other 2 games was no more and no less than anyone else on the team as far as I could see. Nothing he did “screamed” lackluster. Up against a very solid right back in Marcelo against Brazil but was still involved as far as I’m concerned—he didn’t torch Marcelo one on one, but that’s not his game and it wasn’t due to effort— and was involved in a game against Canada that wasn’t really suited to his game, compounded by the fact that the squad as a whole was fatigued and playing a line-up that wasn’t are most fluid offensively.

        I guess I’m just asking for a little more evidence as to why it was sooooo lackluster, beyond simply saying that it was lackluster—and having this be a consistent criteria that we can apply to other players, with some kind of objective indicators…


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/07 at 5:53 AM

          I thought his defensive effort was poor against Marcelo. Marcelo was involved way too much in Brazil’s attack. Donovan is usually very good at helping out defensively but he never seemed to be there when needed against Brazil. Marcelo even scored. I can understand Marcelo marking Donovan out of the game but I would also expect Donovan to work harder defensively.


          • Okay. There’s much more meat to this than prior statements.

            I would have to look at the game a little more closely, particularly where Marcelo scores. My initial impression is that the Marcelo goal was a marking mistake on Gooch as Marcelo cut centrally—Donovan would have had to have tracked back a considerable distance and essentially been man marking Marcelo in order to stop that goal. To me it was poor communication defensively by the US overall, not a matter of someone not giving the right amount of effort.

            With this in mind, I’m really interested in watching that game again to observe the Donovan vs Marcelo matchup a little more critically.


  10. Actually, I should say, I guess when a guy doesn’t score a hat trick every game his performance should be deemed lackluster. This reminds me of the talk once upon a time that Deuce didn’t give his all for the Nats. Apparently one has to put up video game performances every game to maintain one’s position on the pedestal.

    I think perception is being lead on a bit by some of Landon’s comments, somewhat retroactively. He’s certainly an abrasive character, I understand why he’s not universally loved, but are we really at a point where (a) his contributions are being put into doubt because of an interview where he made some candid comments that essentially amount to him talking about what its like to be an aging footballer who has carried the hopes of US Soccer for his whole career up until now (b) we’re talking about how he, out of all the players on the current squad, is not “guaranteed” a position anymore, and (3) that Josh Gatt, a raw talent with no caps, is now the heir apparent?

    I know this is a place for opinions so I don’t want to be harsh and sound as if people shouldn’t criticize Donovan, but I read comments tinged with these sentiments around the time of the Gold Cup, and the logic has never been fully teased out beyond innuendo and what I perceive as a hidden dislike for Lando on a personal level.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/05 at 11:26 PM

      To be honest. If you remove the Scotland game, ask this question: Amongst observations of all games club and national when was the last game that Donovan imposed his will on a game?

      That was MLS Cup 2011.

      In terms of Donovan, it’s difficult. My opinion is I think Donovan liked the limelight after WC 2010, but he is a reluctant to carry a team. The American media and fans–rightfully–hold Donovan to a higher standard.

      The reality is Donovan’s defense–when motivated–is enough to keep him on the team sheet. In the attack, he should be more active but he often doesn’t find the game.
      Amongst American soccer “in-the-knows” Donovan’s benching at the Gold Cup was justified — I can’t comment because I don’t know all the facts.

      I think these are legitimate reviews of Donovan.

      Is Gatt ready? No, no he’s not. He should be broken into the team like Cameron is. In a measured, earn your place way.

      That said, my opinion is I think the criticisms are fair but I think the better question is: Do you consider Donovan more a squad player (like a Jermaine Jones these days) or do you still rely on him to be a conduit of the attack?


      • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 12:33 AM

        False Matt. LD imposed himself on several games just a few months ago at Everton. You are going too far back to MLS Cup 2011. He was great against Chelsea and Man City in particular. He was the best player on the pitch against Aston Villa. He was fantastic in his FA Cup match against Fulham.

        1) He once again was the spark that brought Everton back to compete.
        2) He was arguably their best player in Jan/Feb, winning player of the month again in Jan
        3) He led Everton in assists during Jan/Feb
        4) He led the entire premier league in assists during his stint at Everton

        In 2011 he suffered through a spate of injuries. In 2012 he was stellar at Everton, and came back to an LA team with an absolute horror show of issues. If you read the Everton boards, he is heavily rumored to go back at the end of the year.

        This is not a hard analysis. He’s done in LA. He had a fantastic game against Scotland. He was marked out of Brazil until we converted to a 4-4-2, giving him options. Against Canada, he – and the rest of the team might I add – looked gassed.

        He is not a bench player as was evident just a week ago. He still has enough to give, and Gatt is too young.

        I hope LD is still a starter in 2014, I believe he still has tons to give. I think leftoff77 is 100% right.

        Clint Dempsey was miserable against Canada. LD had a hattrick a week ago and led an offensive attack on the ground we had yet to see in all of our national team performances under Klinsmann. Yet LD is the one that has been written about and the one people continue to bench. Honestly, I find it absurd on the heels of his Scotland performance.


        • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 12:43 AM

          P.S. I also don’t know how someone with LD’s stats gets the phrase “doesn’t find the game” in attack. He leads the USMNT in assists, has been a machine in LA (minus injury ridden 2011 and the circus that is this year, which I’m not counting for a whole host of different reasons), and was stellar at Everton each time. He’s the conduit still. As we saw against Scotland and at Everton (just three short months ago for the latter).

          People are in a hurry to rush him out for reasons foreign to me.

          Also – LD’s benching at the Gold Cup was rumored to be what lost Bob Bradley the lockerroom – let’s all remember Clint pointing at him againt Panama. Telling. Team’s not ready to let him go yet either.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 12:53 AM

            It’s also, respectfully, very difficult to argue injuries when he went on-loan to Everton immediately after the season is excelled as you pointed out.


          • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 12:54 AM

            P.P.S. I’m not building a shrine for him either, but the populace’s reaction to him this past week is a bit mind-boggling to me. Wanted to show some support.


            • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 12:57 AM

              Fair — again — good debate here — and I think the question is more what burden, especially in attack, do you put on Donovan to be the catalyst or conduit.

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 12:50 AM

          Completely fair on Everton–should’ve written Galaxy/USMNT, **but I think that answers my point.** He’s selectively motivated. Was motivated the entire stint at Galaxy.

          And if you’re Galaxy fan, do you really want to hear his professions to play for the Toffees and then his “lack of motivation” of playing for Galaxy after signing a contract less than 2 years ago? (That’s another point.)

          I think he will go to Everton at the end of the year. And he’ll be motivated.

          And frankly that speaks precisely to what Donovan has been challenged on his entire career.

          Fair and debatable opinions both ways.

          Consider this, for a player who effectively integrates into an EPL side midseason and played against a better level of competition arguably than MLS and CONCACAF, why isn’t he annihilating it this year?
          You can claim a Galaxy mess, because the talent on that team is still better than 75% of the teams in MLS.

          Two notes:

          “He was marked out of Brazil until we converted to a 4-4-2” — That’s untrue. He received the ball numerous times on-the-run or in space. He didn’t earn one foul. He lost the ball 20 times in possession. He created 3 chances…when he actually moved off the ball and found space.

          BTW, This is not a Dempsey conversation. It’s not a one or the other. It’s about Donovan.

          One again, to be clear…it’s not about what you want Donovan to do within the game. It’s not about citing accolades. Not about whether he is or will be still be one of the best US players…because he obviously still is.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 12:52 AM

            Respectfully Kay you and I are answering different questions. You’re answering about Donovan’s stature and achievements.

            My point on Donovan is what he is tasked to do within a game. Not whether he has the qualifications to do it.


            • Agree with both sides here—good points made all around. My point, as Kay touched upon, is the general populace’s reaction to recent games. There’s a reason Donovan gets singled out, as he should, but I get irked when people’comments amount to “off with his head”.

              Which is why I really like reading your response Matt. There’s a much more subtle debate going on about what we are to expect from Donovan moving forward, what is it that he can still do as he advances in age. One aspect of this advancement is his motivation, and I think he has grown tired of the domestic game. He won the MLS Cup—there’s nothing left for him to do, and the league has reached a state of maturity where it no longer needs to rely solely on his presence to make it what it is.

              On that level, for motivations sake, he does need to move on soon or I do think his interest at the national team level will wain as well. But I think if he goes to Europe for an extended period and is playing more consistently in big matches, his desire to perform on the world stage will be amplified and we should expect more of the “imposing” Donovan than the “conduit” Donovan—the one that is more willing to evade accolades and place responsibility on others. However, this expectation should be tempered a bit. Very few players, particularly at the national level, regularly impose themselves and carry a team anymore—so I don’t think this expectation should be cast upon Donovan who doesn’t belong to the global elite of players. This is partly why I think Donovan’s not so dominant performances conjure up so much hyperbole—we’ve built up a false idol, a heroic figure, that simply doesn’t exist at the level of the USMNT nor really on any international side.

              Also, the Canada game, aside from fatigue, is hard to gauge performances on because I think their was no continuity to the US attack from back to front. Torres was killing the pace on the wing, and Canada was so compressed defensively otherwise that it wasn’t the type of game that Donovan was going to stand out. That doesn’t mean he didn’t play well, but rather that the imbalance created by the loss of Johnson and the play of Torres, along with the tactics of Canada, created a game where something more than an individual effort was going to tip the balance.

          • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 1:09 AM

            I’m both an Everton and LA fan. After 7+ years giving his all for LA and MLS, I see him as needing a job change and a change of scenery. I have zero problems with his comments. Dude needs a new job, and Everton is it.

            He has not spoken askance about the Galaxy, just about his own motivations. Smart PR.

            I personally think the motivation stuff changed a lot for him after 2006, and I think people knock him for it more than they should.

            I watch LA week in week out, and he is not annihilating it in LA for a whole host of reasons – some of them his own. But watching that team, there are far far far greater problems than Landon Donovan. Bruce Arena long ball, a revolving door in one of the crucial CB positions, Robbie Keane off form, Chad Barrett being Chad Barrett, Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane being a partnership made in hell. But notably, Bruce Arena’s absolutely bewildering formation changes, subs and line-ups this year are bar none. Frankly, a whole bunch of fans are wondering if he’s lost the plot. I know you want to write a story on this at some point, but it’s not the DPs letting LA down that’s problem #1 in LA.

            Didn’t say he had a great game against Brazil. Marcelo was fantastic and owned LD. Flat out owned him. And he’s one of the best fullbacks in the world. I don’t think this is a case of motivation not showing up is my only point. And he did perk up once we converted formations (ironically the only thing good this game were his set pieces).

            I’m not trying to make it a Clint Dempsey conversation, I’m just trying to make a comparative observation that LD gets more scrutiny. Justified or not.

            I was trying to use his stats to answer your question about whether he’s a role player or a conduit of the attack. Not trying to list his accomplishments for another purpose.

            As for the injury – everything I read said he started with 1 March/April of 2011, came back strong May, injured again at the Gold Cup, then recovered heading into MLS Cup 2011. Offseason got him back into form. I’m not an expert or anything, just rehasing what I lived in 2011 between Everton and LA.

            Bottom line- Hope the LD versus Scotland/Everton shows up to do what you’re asking. I think he still can. That was my answer to your question. 🙂


            • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 1:10 AM

              Ah…fair question on catalyst versus conduit (Jones) – really good two words there.

              Everton LD = catalyst
              Scotland LD = catalyst
              LA of past two years LD = conduit

              We shall see who shows up on the 8th and 12th.

              See your point.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/06 at 6:11 AM

              To be fair, against Brazil, he was up against Marcello. How often will he be up against a player of that calibre? He had a quiet game because of Marcello’s performance. Let’s not get too carried away.

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/06 at 6:14 AM

              He’ll be up against a player of that caliber at the World Cup in at least one game where the US needs him to perform.

              I thought the bigger problem was not that Marcelo stopped him but that LD didn’t put in the effort to stop Marcelo. It’s understandable that he was unable to regularly take on one of the best left backs in the world but it’s not acceptable that Marcelo caused so many problems going forward.

          • Posted by mbw on 2012/06/06 at 7:58 AM

            The thing is, they still don’t have a viable alternative to Donovan, so long as they need to play Johnson at left back. The US attack just doesn’t work consistently in the absence of Donovan’s off-the-ball movement and his usually fail-proof ability to pick out the right pass. Johnson’s the only other attacking player in the squad with that kind of footballing intelligence, and it’s hard to see him moving forward at this point.


  11. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 12:57 AM

    As a tangent, players like Riquelme, Ibrahimovic, Robben, Berbatov, Veron, Ronaldhino, Lampard — all are tremendous players. ALL have went through periods when their dedication to their respective national teams was correctly questioned and where they answered it with their desire (Donovan, Ibra), play (Robben), or otherwise.

    Fair questions. No one questions Donovan’s abilities or qualifications, much like no one questioned the abilities of any of the players above.


    • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 1:21 AM

      Here ya. Hope my additional post clairifed my stance as well. Not torch bearing – just thinking that we still got more catalyst around. God, I hope so.


    • M&K,

      Having watched Donovan since the 2002 World Cup it seems to me the issues with him today are no different that what they ever were.

      As exceptional a player as the man has proven to be he has some flaws. For one thing he was never a good one on one player i.e. he is not one to kill the ball , freeze his man with a great feint and then do the same thing to the next two defenders. He was always more of a one touch blow by you kind of guy.

      Mostly however, especially when it comes to the USMNT he tends to blend into the background unless he is really needed and even then he really needs to be surrounded by a certain level of talent and if it is not there he never could take the team on his shoulders and carry them. His most memorable performances, 2002 World Cup , the Confed Cup games, the Algeria game, his Everton loan spells etc. he had good players around him to work with. Everyone will tell you his mindset is to be the quintessential teamate almost to a fault. He does not and never did have that Lone Ranger selfishness all the great ones occasionally display. If he had just a little of either of the Clints, Mathis and/or Dempsey, then we might really see something. As it stands he is just an exceptionally talented player.

      Now that he is nearly thirty it will be interesting to see if he can turn it on and off like he always used to but the questions surrounding his desire will be a good motivator for him during qualifying as would a move to Everton and the 2014 WC. Otherwise, I see Donovan as mentally checking out.


  12. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 1:02 AM

    Final evening point. Torres’s experience, W-L record, lack of defensive game all make him a candidate way in advance of Donovan for the pine right now.

    In my opinion, the reason Jermaine Jones is so valuable to the US right now is that Torres cannot hack playing defense in the middle of the pitch and is showing that his ability in slotting a pass forward–against high level competition at a higher rate of play–is severely in question.


    • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/06/06 at 1:30 AM

      On a non-LD note, Jermaine Jones surprised me this past week as well. I didn’t know he had that one-two interchanging play in him. He was part of a breathtaking display along with Bradley in the middle at times. Defense + offense, not bad! (Course, the yellow cards are another story…wondering if The Fish is smelling blood).

      Hope Jones can bring more of that good stuff too.


  13. […] Barbuda (we are playing two countries, right?), but luckily the guys over at The Shin Guardian know some stuff on the twin-island nation. linkscolor = "000000"; highlightscolor = "888888"; backgroundcolor = […]


  14. Posted by Kevin on 2012/06/06 at 6:38 AM

    I love your articles, but grammatical mistakes are one of my pet peeves. Please watch your use of “it’s” in place of “its.” That’s all thanks!


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/07 at 8:15 AM

      Might be easier if you just work on your pet peeve. Read the top line of site…it’s a BLOG! Done for FREE…with no ads, popups . You’re getting fantastic, insightful unbiased articles (except Matts ridiculous love affair with Perlaza..)) and generally high level commentary without the juvenile nonsense found on almost every other blog site. Just pretend there is (or isn’t) an apostrophe their (sic) and enjoy the content…
      Matt-time to spray again for grammar trolls!!


  15. Posted by hick dk on 2012/06/06 at 6:47 AM

    If TSG is still intrigued about George Dublin’s nickname here is an article about him from the ABFA that explains his nickname.


  16. […] The Shin Guardian has an in-depth preview of Friday’s World Cup qualifier between the US and Antigua & Barbuda (7pm, ESPN, ESPN3). […]


  17. Posted by berlintexas on 2012/06/06 at 7:27 AM

    “Sour” got his nickname from his high school friends for his “Donkey” attitude and it stuck with him. Credit to Glenn Davis for having Dublin on his radio show this week and asking that exact question.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 9:34 AM

      Thanks so much for this. I’ve added it to the column up top.


    • Posted by hick dk on 2012/06/06 at 10:21 AM

      When he said donkey he was saying he was saying don’t care his accent made it sound like donkey sour is actually sowa which is a combination of the words so what but due to the antiguan accent it comes our sowa


  18. Well that’s the problem isn’t it? We’ve got plenty of attacking options and possibilities but it all hinges on having a quality defensive mid. We need somebody who can stay true to their defensive responsibilities and win ball after ball, intercept pass after pass, then quickly pick his head up and distribute to somebody who cn make something happen.


  19. Posted by SamT on 2012/06/06 at 7:58 AM

    A couple comments on land and population…

    Looks from the satellite map that the larger island (Antigua) is around 12 miles across at its widest point. Wondering how many soccer fields the island has.

    From Wikipedia… combined population of Antigua and Barbuda is just under 82,000. Men, women, children, and old people. Let’s say for argument’s sake that 20% are men aged 20-35. Not sure if that is too high, but now we’re at 16k. Factor in health, general athletic ability, exposure to the game itself, and then soccer ability… Player pool is probably measured in the low 100s, and most of the best are going to be at or below Div1 NCAA ability.

    We should never take any opponent lightly. And as a result of the TSG analysis it seems our biggest risk appears to be the ability of our back line to keep up with ATB attackers on the counter.

    But I’m with CJ above. This should be a walk-away win, and we should press the game for the full 90 to build goal differential.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 8:15 AM

      Oh, I agree it should be a big win. I just don’t think 6-0, I think 3-0, 4-0.

      BTW, nickname of the national football stadium: Sticky Wickets.


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/06/06 at 8:52 AM

        I think how big will depend on what Klinsman does with his subs? If he say, takes out Altidore and puts in Herc or Boyd I don’t see either going anything less than 100% regardless of the score line. Not a knock on Altidore but if he has played 65 minutes and we are up 4-0 I just don’t see him busting it the way a fresh Boyd does.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/06 at 9:07 AM

          I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Jozy busting it the way Herc and Boyd did in the past few games.


  20. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/06/06 at 8:43 AM

    A couple of thoughts:

    – Edu needs to play over Torres. Edu is worse than Bradley at #6 but Bradley is better in CM then Torres at the moment. The difference between Bradley and Torres is greater than between Edu and Bradley. Not sure why that is as prior to this set of games I would have bet my life that Torres was a better passer than Bradley.

    – Beckerman is fine too. Beckerman is probably better than Edu at most things but speed and stamina which is very important but hopefully not for this game.

    – Donovan is great in space running at someone with the ball. Donovan is average in tight spaces. This doesn’t mean that I think he sucks, shouldn’t play, etc. It is what it is. His goals against Scotland came in transition. His opportunities in Brazil came when the game opened up. I can see sitting him in some situations.

    – No one seems to mention it but it seems like getting an early goal is the key to JK’s pressing style. If they just pack it in and counter it becomes harder to press. If you get the early goal you can get them out of the pack it in and counter as they need to take more chances to get into it. Scotland we got a quick goal and once they started to try and push it opened them up to turnovers and getting killed in transition.

    – I really want to see Jones not pick-up a card. Lets try to keep the card count down here fella. It would be helpful if you could play in more than half of these games.

    – IMO the line-up should be:

    Dempsey – Altidore – Donovan
    Jones – Bradley
    Johnson – Cameron – Boca – Dolo

    – If you want to call it a 4-3-3 thats fine. If you want to call it a 4-4-2 (diamond) that is fine as well as Dempsey will be floating/cutting in playing almost a AM role.

    – We really need Fabian in the formation above as Demspey will leave the left side open with tons of space. Teams have to follow him as he tucks in.

    – I am not sure Cameron is better than Goodson at the moment but for what JK wants to do in 2014 it is good to give Cameron some opportunities. I would swap Cameron for Goodson when we head to Guatemala.


    • Posted by Excellency on 2012/06/06 at 9:32 AM

      Yes, exactly my lineup but I think Boca plays LCB. Also I think JJ has been playing on the right.

      Actually, Gomez could do as well as Altidore in this one but presumably they want to tune up Jozy for Guatemala (because he has not played much recently) and Gomez needs to stay fresh and healthy for Guat in case he is needed for that one.


    • Posted by 2tone on 2012/06/06 at 10:03 AM

      Thats exactly what I expect to see against Antigua. I wouldn’t mind seeing Joe Corona get some minutes against Anitugua as well.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 1:02 PM

      Excellent point!

      ” No one seems to mention it but it seems like getting an early goal is the key to JK’s pressing style. If they just pack it in and counter it becomes harder to press. If you get the early goal you can get them out of the pack it in and counter as they need to take more chances to get into it. Scotland we got a quick goal and once they started to try and push it opened them up to turnovers and getting killed in transition.”


  21. Posted by marty on 2012/06/06 at 1:04 PM

    you people are absolutely uninformed if you think Edu is better than Torres. Edu is HORRIBLE. His first touch is non-existent, he thinks much too slowly. Clearly the level of competition at Rangers is god-awful. Torres has done a great job for us on some occasions with his poise on the ball and vision. Two traits, i might add, for which the U.S is in dire need. He does disappear sometimes, but he’s a fantastic little player. And whom on the US doesn’t disappear!? Did Dempsey even play versus Canada? (He’s our best player and I love him, but still)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/06 at 1:34 PM

      Let’s keep comments impersonal please. Thanks.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/06 at 1:48 PM

      What exactly has Torres done with his vision? Not a heck of a lot when MB90 playing at defensive mid is making more of an impact offensively with passing than he is. I think if you read a lot of the comments most people do not think Edu is better than Torres but that Edu is a better fit because he allows MB90 to play further forward.

      His poise on the ball disappears when he gets pressed because it’s not something that he’s used to a club level. He’s also not defensive enough to be moved further back so he just doesn’t really have a position other than the one that he’s been shoehorned into as a left central mid.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/06/06 at 5:01 PM

      Comparing two players who don’t play the same position can be a fool’s task. I will also point out that Edu plays #6 to date we haven’t seen Torres play the #6 role. Personally I think that Torres can’t play the #6 role shielding the back 4. That said, we have seen Edu play as a forward MF and he has been bad at it.

      From an overly simplistic point of view its Edu versus Torres but its really a question of

      Edu in the #6 and Bradley and Jones as the advanced MFs
      Bradley as #6 with Jones and Torres as the advanced MFs.


  22. tacked this on an earlier thread but wondering what folks think of this front six:


    Let Demps and Gomez take guys one v one, give us width and earn our set pieces. Let Jozy post up, lay the ball off, and work the give and go. Let Bradley and Donovan come marauding into the box and put in the work in the middle third. Let Edu clean up.

    At this point, I don’t trust Jones or Torres to make the productive pass forward under pressure. Donovan defends better than Torres, especially out wide. Lando and Gomez have shown flashes of nice interchange, so it’s not as if Donovan won’t find the sideline from time to time, but the man scores most of his goals when he takes his first touch in middle of the pitch.

    Finally, the last thing we need is to play down a man for 75 minutes in an away fixture… which is what Jones seems intent on delivering with his style of play.


  23. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/06/07 at 6:57 AM

    One Point that needs to be made(at least in my not so humble opinion) is that Jones needs to start. He despite his dangerously growing reputation is class (no pun intended) He plays for a champions league team and Schalke definitely did an upward trend this year with a coach who saw his value. Yes he does pick up a plethora of cards, although I suspect many that he is now accumlating are iffy but given to him due to his rep. He got away with one with his foul on Neymar ( he did get ball first though) but the dogged determination & fight is needed. Unfortunately you can’t teach heart but you can role model for others the fighting spirit.
    Now I don’t mean to glorify or exonerate Jones but he does have the class & skill set needed to be in the middle of the pitch by the US. I think part of his problem is trying too hard to make things happen. This is something that Klinsi & staff need to work on with him but at least he wants it, the elite players want the ball/responsibility in the game and don’t shy from it. Unfortunatley that doesn’t always mean its the player with best skill set or natural talent with that desire but them again that is the beauty of the game with all the intangibles(Messi outjumping Oneywu for a header, John Starks Infamous dunk over bigger Chicago Bull defenders,Blacburn defender Hurley outjumping DeGea as ManU lost to Blackburn, ___ inserrt your own example)


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/07 at 8:07 AM

      I agree with Jones quality and class levels but the one defense you cannot make for him is that he doesn’t earn his cards. My man EARNS his yellows)))


      • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/06/07 at 8:16 AM

        Ok so I can be a tad overzealous in my defense buth then again sometimes I must admit I enjoy some of his Yellows, it must be my growing up playing american football where the mentality was to make someone pay/earn their yardage or space on the field. So I am biased by my own pesonal experiences, I will work on it in my upcoming therapy sessions!


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/07 at 8:39 AM

          Let’s be clear…I think he brings an edge that this squad is lacking severely. And his overall game is extremely valuable. I loved his tackle on Neymar and thought it sent a message that that sh^7 that Marcelo was pulling just wasn’t going to fly.
          Hoping he can find that balance especially in away games in Mex and Guat etc where the atmosphere is charged and chippy is the order of the day.
          Good comp is Marquez for quite a few yrs who was a fantastic player who just couldn’t keep his head in that atmosphere and it cost Mex far too often.


        • Posted by Dave on 2012/06/07 at 6:30 PM

          Growing up in the Midwest playing soccer in the 80’s the mindset of “make them pay for every yard” was clearly seen. Jones plays with bite and determination…which in my mind makes him the perfect guy to play the distroyer (CDM) shielding the back 4. Edu does a good job as well, but not as consistently IMO. Bradley, Holden, and Torres are more the Box-To-Box CM types. They can spring the attack from a deep position or can play quick combo’s to build tempo and possession. Not sure what mold Danny Williams or Alfredo Morales fall into yet…but here’s hoping at least 1 is a distroyer to insure we maintain depth.


  24. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/06/07 at 10:42 PM

    Matt you might want to update this due to more injuries, but I think this is the 11, knowing Klinnsman


  25. […] the following comment in our USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda preview–by schweeb–got our mind percolating. Republishing: [edited] Whatever man, I’ve […]


  26. […] Photo: Courtesy of the Shin Guardian […]


  27. […] Everything that you want to know about the Antigua & Barbuda side here in our preview. […]


  28. […] (For a more comprehensive review of the Benna Boys, check out our previous preview here) […]


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