TSG’s Official USA vs. Mexico Preview: Have Fun Storming The Castle!

It’s a tired movie analogy, but it works oh so well here.

The movie–of course–the Princess Bride. The scene? Billy Crystal’s Mirace Max character has just returned the Dred Pirate Roberts (“Wesley”) to life.

Along with swordsman Inigo Montoya and behemoth Andre The Giant–rest his soul–the half-alive-Wesley and crew are expected to take on Prince Hupperdink’s army, liberate the princess and make a be-pajamaed Fred Savage happy that his Peter Falk grandfather came over to read stories. Mission accomplished though Miracle Max says it will take a….

The castle in this case?

None other than the nearly impenetrable Colossus of Saint Ursula or to known the fervent US fan merely as “the Azteca.” …. a rocking cauldron, more than 7,200 ft above sea level, of anti-“whoever” energy bombing down on the opponents just as quickly as beer and urine do on the unlucky enemy winger taking a corner kick.

Alan Gordon is your Giant and Herculez Gomez is perhaps your vindicated Montoya.

Moving on….

Alan Gordon or….

(Wait, can’t you just see Alan Gordon on a white horse in the 94th minute knocking in a ball off his thigh … it’s the stuff dreams are made of it’s the stuff that lives on trashy romance novel softcovers.

Okay, now, quick, quicker, to the preview!

Alan Gordon…whew…there, that’s better….

Alan Gordon? Nope.

Chris Pontius not on the travel roster? Nope.

Steven Beitashour? Sean Johnson? Brek Shea? Nope across the board.

The United States national team will travel for “what really shouldn’t be called a” friendly at the Azteca in Mexico City and the biggest surprise of what was an eventful selection process will be the absence of US national team captain Carlos Bocanegra.

This marks the first time–excluding the 2009 Gold Cup Final where Bob Bradley used a “B” team–that Carlos Bocanegra will not captain the United States against Mexico since June of 2007 and it will be the first time that Bocanegra doesn’t play against Mexico in any encounter–save the one mentioned above–since September of 2005. Even in that one, Bocanegra was on the bench.

(Note: The last time Bocanegra wasn’t selected for a Mexico match it was April 28th, 2004. Bruce Arena was coach, Josh Wolff started at forward. Oh and the last US captain (non- 2009 GC Final) not named Carlos Bocanegra? This guy!

Now what do we do!!!

Is it a changing of the guard? No, not really; one can expect Captain Carlos to be back on the field come qualifying time in September against Jamaica, sporting the armband and dishing out meaningful fouls–but it’s still a moment.

For whatever reason that the current Rangers player wasn’t selected (club situation up in air, beginning of the Fall Euro campaign), it still is a nod–like many other player selections–to a forward-looking roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The US has improved under Jurgen Klinsmann in defense, but they haven’t improved in central defense.

Whether it has been Oguchi Onyewu’s recent walkabouts in qualifying, Brazil’s forwards playing spin class with the US interior or Slovenia playing over-the-top-ball late last year in almost coming back on the Americans on their home turf, the US’s aging central defense has been an area of protection, not strength for the side.

This shouldn’t be a newsflash for anyone.

At Euro 2012, the average age of the starting centerbacks for what largely is a tournament with the highest percentage of elite teams, was 28-years-old. In their recent qualifying series, the average age of Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra was almost 32.

That’s acceptable, but only if the players have last names like Nesta, Stam or Desailly.

Now the US will brandish a younger, perhaps more athletic central defense when they play under a shroud of vitriol this Wednesday. It’s a rude education.

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our customary TSG preview.

It follows:

TSG What Are We Looking For

11 At The Whistle

About The Opponent

TSG What Are We Looking For

» Midfield Rocks

Jones: Rock solid…

Jurgen Klinsmann has tipped his hand on the midfield; he wants to–much as he and Germany does–rely on the consistency and authority of the midfield to be the foundation of a game plan.

In the last series of matches, the US moved around parts, but the combination of Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones featured in the starting eleven all buy one time. All though word is coming in (via Jeff Carlisle) that the Maurice Edu will now be used at centerback in all likelihood.

With Bradley unavailable, Klinsmann still sought out three of those components to maintain that desired consistency for a one-game friendly: Torres, Edu and Jones–despite the former two looking to get new Euro campaigns underway.

As for Jones, perhaps no player is more important in this game than he.

The German-American was expected to be a star of the US side way back in 2009 but he couldn’t stay on the pitch. Jones was hammered by a series of injuries that saw him not really get into the US picture until the end of 2010.

2011 saw Jones struggle to cope with a formation that demanded ground coverage at its central midfield core. This was an elder Jermaine Jones and as Jones’s inability to cover the amount of territory as he did when he was younger bled through his game, the Schalke 04 player let his temper and an erratic passing game get the better of him. Jermaine Jones would often snowball into a pinball careening into and off of tackles and banging passes like he was using flippers instead of feet.

Now, a formation switch has helped save some wear and tear on Jones and takes advantage of his veteran skills.

Jones is often relied on to be the key linking player in a US attack that has often lacked creativity in getting the ball to its forward in scoring opportunities. This is not say that Jones has the ability to conjure up creativity or pull assists out of hat, but Jones has accepted the role and the required discipline at not turning the ball over has rubbed on playing defense with less “incidents.”

Big player for the US this Wednesday if they want to win, Jermaine Jones.

Now the question becomes how will Klinsmann build around that midfield and….

» Where does the US elect to try to win this match?

The US has tried multiple approaches to playing Mexico over the past few years. The two most recent games from the Bob Bradley era saw different approaches. Bradley used the US bunker-and-huck at the Azteca after springing Charlie Davies and stealing for a goal at a qualifier match in August of 2009 at the Azteca.

At the 2011 Gold Cup Final, Bradley employed an identical strategy to the one that saw the US carry though a 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus in February of 2009.

Bradley went 4-3-3 as a means of keeping the ball up the field and Mexican’s defense under duress. The strategy nearly worked again as the US went up 2-0. However an injury to Steve Cherundolo saw the US backline get juggled, then mangled.

The US lost shape, got stretched, and Mexico was merciless in roaring back to a thrilling 4-2 win.

The “reduction of space” from backline through striker and keeping the ball has been a focal point of Klinsmann’s campaign and that plan issues a challenge to the States’ front six on Wednesday.

The challenge: “Keep the ball. Keep it up the pitch. Or that very green defense behind you might get thrashed. Are you going to let that happen?”

That’s the expectation here.

The US will use defensive mids who can keep possession to try to keep the ball over the half-line and find the small opportunities to inject passes for scoring chances.

On the defense, the US will rely heavily on making its midfield as best a moat as possible, likely defending just aft the half-line with either five across or more likely four with a sweeper (Edu.)

» About that backline

The back four will be green, but they will also have wheels — that a first for the States in some time.

That is, a defense where all four players can run. The US can’t afford to drop Mexico on set pieces–see Brazil, silver medal, 2012 Olympics–but they also aren’t going to bust you up like a say Terrence Boyd, Alan Gordon or Brian Ching up top would.

That backline will should be able to recover if they get beat beyond the line and their fleetness should make them able to set a higher line up the field and reduce some space–the same space a Giovanni Dos Santos (not making this game thankfully for US fans)–was able to exploit to ridiculous extremes at the aforementioned 2011 Gold Cup final last summer.

Will Mo Edu be a centerback again a role he soldiered against Poland in Chicago?

Some small things to look for:

» Will Maurice Edu be able to handle a centerback role? Or if it’s Michael Orozco-Fiscal, will he avoid that one foul a game that always seems to plague him and give the other team one of their best chances. (The red card against Nigeria–2008 Olympics–should be forgiven by the way)

» Is Geoff Cameron in game shape and will he be focused enough on the game to avoid the lapses in focus that plagued him during his last few months in Houston?

» Will Fabian Johnson just settle down?! He’s the US’s most thrilling youth player, but he’s prone to over-committing, over-dribbling and just over-everything?

» Can the recently recharged Steven Beitashour if he starts continue to improve on 1 vs. 1 defense? Or will be it be Edgar Castillo who enters on his wrong foot?

» Will it be lunchpailing or finishing providing goals? Or just no goals at all?

Will Wondo get run?

The personality of the US forwards represented ranges across the board, from the tested Landon Donovan to the everywhere-but-at-the-national-team-level-yet Chris Wondolowski to his forward counterpart Alan Gordon, a construction worker man of a forward. Young prodigy Terrence Boyd rounds out the mix.

It will be interesting to see when and who is deployed. Wondolowski works better if the US can keep any sort of possession and work chances in the attacking half while Gordon (see Olave, Jamison and dominance a few weeks ago in San Jose) can boss a lot of players with superior strength

11 At The Whistle

Possible US configuration on the attack…

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: Will the US run out a keeper in the second half at all–probably not–to give them a taste of the Azteca?


DEF: Edgar Castillo, Maurice Edu, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson

The skinny: Still cannot wrap the mind around Beitashour….starting…first cap….Mexico. Thus we’ll take the option that Edgar Castillo gets flipped and plays on the right.

CDM: Kyle Beckerman

The skinny: With Maurice Edu rumored to be tabbed as a centerback, Klinsmann turns to Kyle Beckerman who had a strong match against El Tri last year in Philadelphia.

Donovan has gone Scotland in MLS. Will he bring it Wednesday night or will it be another “flu game?”

MID: Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones, Jose Torres, Landon Donovan

The skinny: Welcome back into the fold Danny Williams. Once again, you’ve got the soccer role version of “clean the latrine!” See Castillo behind you? He needs cover, so you get to play out of position and have US fans scorn your abilities despite never being played in your natural role.

Enjoy the Azteca, try not to get a urine shower. At least, you don’t speak Spanish so you can’t understand what they’re saying about your mom.

STR: Herculez Gomez

The skinny: Now, Herc, he’ll understand what they’re saying about his mom …. and hopefully channel it.

How great would it be to see America’s leading player in the Primera nail against Mexico on their home turf?


» Fabian Johnson at RB; Castillo at LB

» DeMarcus Beasley for Danny Williams

» A 4-4-2 with Alan Gordon-Herculez Gomez tendering up top; Danny Williams sacrified for a midfield across of Donovan, Beckerman, Jones, Torres.

About The Opponent:

El Tri possible deployment…

Is the next Golden Era of Mexican soccer upon up?

Mexico is feeling good; though for a few, their necks might hurt–that, of course, from toting around the Olympic Gold medals courtesy of a 2-0 statement win over a Brazilian team still looking for their first soccer Olympic gold.

The Mexicans were unfazed in the final Saturday, deftly and calmly playing the ball out of the back against advanced pressure from the next World Cup hosts. The finishing was glorious and the victory resounding.

The Mexican team that enters Wednesday will perhaps be a nick below full strength, but will be more than capable. It says here that is the US loses composure, this could be another whupping like the 2009 Gold Cup.

Thankfully, one slight reprieve for the States.

Gio Dos Santos–he of the Joakhim Noah quaff & dazzling dance work-footwork–will be absent. However, the TSG-coined “Dos Santos Swivel” will still be in effect.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will start up top and look to exploit the gaps in the US defense–ones that the midfielders need to not author with poor pressure on the ball.

That will be a key for the States–not necessarily backline positioning so much as shutting down passing lanes.

South of the Chicharito striker spear will be Aldo de Nigris who pounced on the US last year in the Final also. He’ll play that Dos Santos Swivel role.

The attacking de Nigris will be a backstopped by a midfield that will sport Cruz Azul’s Pablo Barrera on the right and Andres Guardado on the left. It was Guardado and Steve Cherundolo who got locked in a manu-e-manu battle last time down Azteca way in the States 2-1 loss in 2009.

The central midfield makeover is perhaps as key to Mexico’s success heading into Brazil 2014 as solving the central defense is to the US’s chances.

The aging Israel Castro and the mainstay Gerrado Torrado (he of what seems like 576 El Tri caps) are now expired/retired, but their replacements don’t seem to be making statements just yet.

Jesus, he’s tall!

Monterrey’s 25-year-old 6’3” Jesus Zavala seems to have a lock on the CDM shield role. He’s got the potential to fall just shy of Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi on the center midfielder ability scale, but Zavala has been erratic and also tends to tire as the game wears on.

This could be an opportunity for the in-form Landon Donovan.

Zavala’s pairing will likely be with Herculez Gomez’s Santos Laguna mate Edgar Gerardo Lugo. It is in center midfield where the US with Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu should be able to go toe-to-toe. Lugo is hardly a lock long term for El Tri.

The backline is starting to gel as well for El Tri as World Cup qualifying gets going.

Stuttgart’s steady Francisco Rodriguez and Espanyol’s Hector Moreno–the only other Euro players to Little Pea, Guardado and Ochoa–pair again for this match and have become the preferred pairing for coach  Jose Manuel de la Torre.

That both are called in again here–after both featuring in friendlies versus Brazil and Boznia-Herzegovina in June–tells you how serious that Mexico is about building cohesion in the back. Severo Meza starts on the right. On the left, Jorge “El Pechu” Torres Nilo will deputize for starter Carlos Salcido who was an overage player at the Olympics and stays abroad to start Fulham’s Premiership initiative. (not at Tigres)

Guillermo Ochoa likely starts between the posts.

As for their style, it’s nothing the States and its fans haven’t seen before.

Keep the pressure on, take on defenders off the dribble and look to play a through ball, cross (on the floor), or cutback for the opportunities. Mexico is so good at home locking the opponent in their own box that the US will need to be opportunistic with ball advancement and diligent in possession.

The key match-up of course will be Mexico out-letting to its attackers versus a States backline which lacks cohesion and must come together under fierce conditions.

68 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Erik on 2012/08/13 at 9:37 PM

    Salcido is at Tigres in the Liga MX now (no longer at Fulham) and Alfredo Talavera wasn’t excellent in London (Jesus Corona was the keeper in the Olympics).


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/13 at 10:28 PM

    “Davies in. Davies shoots. Davies GOAL! Goal for the United States at Azteca, only the 4th man to do it for the red, white & blue and they’re going crazy in the corners.

    Love that goal call:


  3. Posted by sandy on 2012/08/13 at 10:48 PM

    Inigo, not ‘Indigo’!


  4. You had me at “storming the castle”.


  5. Good to see JK starting to look towards the future at center back. I understand that Bocanegra has been the backbone of the defense for years, but he won’t be in 2014 and we can’t afford to keep procrastinating in finding his replacement. I think that Cameron will ultimately fill that role and Omar Gonzalez should get some serious run in a couple months once he’s fully back to health.

    Would love to see Wondo get the start as well on Wednesday, but that’s probably a long shot. I know his style isn’t 100% what the system calls for, but his knack for scoring goals in MLS has to transfer to the international stage at some point.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/08/14 at 6:14 AM

      I agree- I wish that the backline changing of the guard would have happened immediately after JK came in though. I know there have been some experiments but its pretty odd to have such a radical change in a game at Azteca right before WCQ. With that said I like this news of Edu being tried out at CB. Edu is just another player in a pretty deep midfield and I like him more than some of the other potential personnel at CB (Orozco-Fiscal). Hopefully, he seizes the opportunity. Recently, Okugo (a younger, similar player, but more talented Edu) has been playing CB for the Philly Union and it has worked out well.

      I wouldn’t have minded to see players like Lichaj and Ream instead of some of the others but I realize you have to consider their club situations. Maybe DeMerit as well just based off his form even though he’s older but I can deal with him not being there.

      I do agree with posts from the other article that Pontius should have been called in. I don’t know what else he has to do to merit a call-in.


      • Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/08/14 at 7:07 AM

        Yeah, pretty disappointed that Lichaj and Pontius weren’t called in. The former seems a no-brainer if we’re reconstituting our D with promising youth.

        Not sure how I feel about Edu at CB. He may deputize reasonably well, but I can’t see him as a long term solution. He’s been deployed as a midfield destroyer for so long that it seems odd to change him up now. He’s not old, but he ain’t a spring chicken, neither, by footballing standards. Speaking of age, Beckerman ain’t getting younger and will be unlikely to play a major role in WC14; doesn’t it seem smarter to cement Edu’s role in his spot? A lot will hinge on where Mo ends up moving to (what’s this about tossing 1st div offers in France and Spain while considering a Championship club!?).

        Also would have loved to see Okugo try at CB. He’s been a revelation (seriously, a revelation) for Philly since Hackworth took over and he’s young enough to really grow into the role. He’s more or less what JK probably thinks of when he called up Union alum Orozco-Fiscal — technically skilled with a motor and of decent size. Add Okugo’s silky, Ream-like distribution and ability to get forward, and you really have an incredible option there.

        Speaking of Philly, Sheanon Williams might have been another decent pick as Fabian Johnson’s understudy. He at least deserves a slot at Camp Cupcake.


        • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/08/14 at 7:28 AM

          The one or maybe two times I’ve seen Edu at CB he was spun like a top and really struggled when facing the goal which is a key skill for CB. He also is NOT a very strong or accurate passer of the ball wihich limits distribution options and creates turnovers in back 2/3rds which is not what green back four needs. . Poor choice IMO if it actually is the choice especially with Cameron called in as well.

          Agree on Okugo and really enjoyed watching him a few weeks back in person. Excellent soccer brain and very strong on ball defender + distribution abilities. He would make a fantastic next gen CDM alongside Bradley going forward. A bit of Makelele about him.


        • Depending on where Cameron plays for Stoke I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see him get some time at that holding midfield spot, not necessarily in this match but eventually. They’ve got several centerbacks already so it’s certainly something to watch.

          For my money Edu is a capable backup but lacks the quality that our other players in those spots have. Jones is a possibility at that spot but he may or may not have lost a step at age 32 in the next World Cup.

          The other very possible long term option that no one seems to thinking about if we’re looking for a midfielder who tackles well and can provide that link forward: Stu Holden.


          • Posted by Dinho on 2012/08/14 at 8:23 AM

            Jones is a penalty (and/or red card) waiting to happen in the back.


            • And the USA holding midfielder who isn’t is..? 🙂

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 9:51 AM

              I have to say that I think Jones has grown up a little bit. In the past–as recent as last season–he was chalking up the cards, but it seems like a concerted effort by both club & country to rein him in.

              He did well in Guatemala — let’s see what he does Wednesday.

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 9:54 AM

              Actually I lied and you guys are right. Jermaine Jones has had a yellow card in almost every game for the US this year.

              Carry on with your discussion…

            • Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/08/14 at 10:11 AM

              I wonder if his bet about cards with his Schalke manager carry over to international duty? 🙂

        • Posted by steve-o on 2012/08/14 at 1:16 PM

          Agreed on Lichaj and Pontius, but I think Lichaj is still fighting for a starting spot on AV. Also, I’m a DC guy but I have to admit I think Pontius is benefitting a lot from having DeRo next to him. By the way, it’s too bad DeRo is not american – what a shame, He is the true #10 we’ve been looking for that we’ve never had, including Reyna, Donovan, etc – even though I love them, they are not true #10’s. Imagine Landon, Dempsey and DeRo in the middle.


      • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/14 at 6:20 PM

        Reportedly,Demerit is dealing with concussion – like symptoms?


  6. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/14 at 8:49 AM

    Here is my unsolicited 2 cents:

    – Like most everyone that watched Mexico beat Brazil at the Olympics I thought about how great it would be to go down to Azteca and steal the bragging rights in the rivalry.
    – Sounds like TSG is thinking the same strategy we saw with the U-23 who destroyed Mexico on what had to be one of the greatest days we have had (senior team beating Italy in Italy and the junior team dismantling Mesico in a neutral Texas). I am all for trying it.
    – While I wish we were bringing our A-team, we basically have two friendlies including this and Camp Cupcake before the hex starts in February. I don’t like missing this opportunity but unless we think Boca and Dolo are making the WC as starters we should give them a break given its only a midweek friendly and give some other people a shot. Its really now or never to try things.
    – I really don’t like the fact that our two CBs aren’t playing CB for their clubs.
    – In TSG’s formation I would like to see Williams in Beckerman’s role, Torres in William’s role, Herc (or Shea) in Torres role and Boyd in Herc’s role. I really don’t like Torres as a forward in a 4-3-3 set-up (or a wind in a 4-5-1 if you want to get technical).


    • Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/08/14 at 8:55 AM

      Agreed on Torres. He needs more protection to fulfill his potential, and dropping him a wee bit deeper ahead of a CDM makes more sense.

      Also agree on the CB thing. I don’t see how we can justify using Edu as a CB; sweeper I can definitely see, but any deeper and we’re playing with fire. Why are we bringing back Orozco-Fiscal, again?

      Also, I like Beckerman but I don’t see how his inclusion is justifiable at this point. Edu should be nailing down CDM role at this point, not playing dress up at CB.


  7. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/08/14 at 9:05 AM

    I think the comments here are very astute, what’s the point of having Edu as CB if he isn’t a long term solution? Better to give a developing CB the nod than waste an opportunity on Edu who won’t have that role in the future,unless that JK’s plan for him (In the game that I saw when he was CB, I would rate him equal or slightly lower than orozco-fiscal).
    I’ll go out on a limb and risk the rath of TSG’s witty critics & “quoters” by asserting that Ricardo Clark is a better CB than Edu and did a decent job for a brief spell in the Bundesliga before injuries & regulation pushed him out of that role.
    The pressure to win or have a decent showing must not be discounted in terms of some of JK’s decisions but I would like him to not put Edu at CB and stick to the development philosophy but that takes big cojones to stand up to an underlying pressure. (helps if you’re in a union or have a guarrantted contract).
    JK’s decisions will show that he stands by his convictions or the result(pressure to win) is more important (possibly weaker JK) or that his tactical decisions are suspect.
    Or he is a genius and I’m some shmuck who’s typing while congealed into the couch as his children cavort over a lego strewn rug.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/14 at 10:29 AM

      I am curious as to how Edu’s new team sees him. I always liked him as CB as part of Bradley’s pull a CB drop Edu from MF to CB and add an attacking player strategy. Edu could easily play the Phil Jones role as the “forward” CB. The problem with that is you can’t have 3 forward guys in your back 4.


    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/14 at 6:30 PM

      As far as I know, there are no physical reasons preventing Mo Edu from playing CB. If he has the skills and abilities to play defensive midfield he can certainly play center back. If the much despised Rico Clark could make the same move and draw good reviews at Eintracht then certainly Mo can.

      Which means the main thing preventing him from doing a good job there is between his ears.

      When Bradley tried to convert him a few years ago it did not work out and at the time I figured Mo just did not want to do it. A few years on and in need of a new club perhaps Mo has had a change of heart. Being able to play there competently certainly increases his value to a prospective suitor.


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/15 at 6:55 AM

        The big difference between Clark doing it at Eintracht and Edu trying it for the national team is that at Eintracht there would be time to train Clark on the position. Edu will get a couple of days of training then be thrown in there.

        The issue of Edu playing there is certainly between the ears but it’s not necessarily an issue of whether or not he wants to play that position or not. It’s one of the hardest positions to play in the entire game. Positioning is crucially important as are the instincts necessary to know when to step up and when to fall back at the same time making sure that the rest of the defense is on the same wavelength. I’m sure Edu could become a competent central defender if he was given the time with a club to do so but a few days with the national team every cycle isn’t getting it done.


  8. Posted by Jared on 2012/08/14 at 9:32 AM

    I really don’t want to see Castillo at right back with Edu as his covering central defender. Castillo is a bad left back which is at least nominally one of his positions (that and left mid). He will be a disaster on the right going up against Guardado and needs someone with experience to help cover for him which Edu does not have as a central defender. I would rather just see Klinsmann throw the MLS guys out in defense than see Edu and Castillo back there because at least there would be some upside to getting them some experience at this level.

    If we go 4-4-2 then it will get very ugly, very quickly. Asking Beckerman and Jones to handle the role of shielding an inexperience defense while also providing some support to the attack just seems too much for them. I think we would see them caught out of position after giving away possession regularly and the last thing we need is the Mexican attackers getting to run at the backline.

    I’m sure we will see Boyd at some point since I don’t think Klinsmann would have him fly in just to sit on the bench. I’m excited to see how he will handle this type of atmosphere and his ability to hold the ball up with what will probably be little support.


  9. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/14 at 10:30 AM

    Any chance we see Danny Williams at RB? I am pretty sure he played a number of games there last year for his club team.


  10. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/14 at 10:32 AM

    Another thought I had during lunch… Is it just me or do anyone else see the Ream/Omar pairing come 2013 with Cameron in front of them in the #6 role? That type of formation would give Fabian and Lichaj the ability to bomb forward and get some coverage like Barca and Busquetts.


    • Posted by Kevin on 2012/08/14 at 2:00 PM

      I’ve always liked that philosophy of essentially 3 CB’s. And by always I mean most of the past year or so when I actually started watching soccer.


  11. Posted by dth on 2012/08/14 at 10:54 AM

    Wanted to complain about Torres but I realize this is what’s going to happen come Wednesday.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 11:22 AM

      Can’t understand, given the way Torres is used, why Dax McCarty doesn’t get run. It’s not like he hasn’t *captiained* the national team before.

      I’ve yet to be impressed with Torres in a pressure situation and he’s played quite a bit of games.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/08/14 at 11:24 AM

        I’d like to see Dax be given a shot at the #6 spot, actually. Edu/Beckerman is adequate at the position, but it seems to me we’ve got some options that might be good to check out.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 11:25 AM

          Don’t like him in the #6, but most do. I think he’s a box-to-box type guy. Think he could be great in the role that usually goes to Danny Williams.


          • Posted by Tab on 2012/08/14 at 10:00 PM

            Come now. Dax McCarthy is as good as Danny Williams? Really?

            As for Torres, out on the wing — or heaven forbid at left back again — he is out of his element. But no one we’ve got can pass like Torres.

            Maybe you’ll disagree. But I don’t think Benny F can. It’s not Donovan’s game. It’s not Dempsey’s game. Michael Bradley has moments — like the truly lovely assist against Brazil — but he is still rough in this regard.


            • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 10:53 PM

              First: The comment said Dax McCarty could be great in the Danny Williams role. That said Danny Williams has proved exactly squat on the tucked in outside player role. It’s not his skill set. And frankly Dax McCarty is way undervalued.

              As for Torres, as a contributor once said here he’s a three-touch passer instead of a two-touch passer — meaning he surveys, adjusts and chooses his spot.

              Donovan is a much better passer in the run of the play. There are numerous examples there. Torres is much better passer in terms of holding and circulating the ball. Apples to oranges.

              No one on the US has the same skill set as Torres. The closest anyone really comes to him in terms of what he provides is Kyle Beckerman and he’s not as visionary.

              But like Rey Ordonez in baseball, passing can’t be your only trait.

            • matthewsf,

              “The comment said Dax McCarty could be great in the Danny Williams role. That said Danny Williams has proved exactly squat on the tucked in outside player role. It’s not his skill set. And frankly Dax McCarty is way undervalued.”

              How would you define the “tucked in outside player role” that Williams played for the USMNT?

              As I recall Williams played that role in the Italy game and here is what I noticed:
              When we were pinned back in our defensive third often as not when our defenders got the ball it came out to Williams who is very good on the ball and did a good job holding it. It seemed to reduce the need for the long clearance. A “target midfielder” so to speak. The target forward does that but in this case knowing that Italy would provide formidable pressure, it is almost as if, and who really knows, JK had Williams deliberately give the defense a second outlet.
              And of course Williams gave the team another body with which to flood the midfield and prevent Italy from completely overrunning us there.

              Dax in that role would certainly add to the offensive aspect. I don’t know if he holds the ball as well as Williams, and he is probably not as good defensively but he certainly is a player I’d like to see more off in a USMNT shirt.. I’d like to see him put his spin on “the Williams role”.

  12. Posted by evan on 2012/08/14 at 11:06 AM

    am i the only one who has a problem with the fact that Klinsmann keeps giving chances to these mediocre MX-League players Torres, Castillo, Orozco and Beasley? yes they are familiar with Mexican opposition but that’s their only upside. they would not make the bench for a Mexico B-Team. i don’t want to root against Americans but i almost hope their mediocrity gets really exposed and we lose big to Mexico tomorrow so we can end these experiments and get more minutes to better players in the future.
    Herculez Gomez has really flourished in Mexico and has earned his shot. these other four players have not…


    • Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/08/14 at 11:26 AM

      Agreed, for the most part. A couple of qualifiers: Torres is actually regularly hailed for his strong play, though that admittedly hasn’t translated into international form. Beasley has pedigree and talent, no question, but he’s not a WC14 solution.


    • Posted by Ashley on 2012/08/14 at 11:30 AM

      “i don’t want to root against Americans but i almost hope their mediocrity gets really exposed and we lose big to Mexico tomorrow so we can end these experiments and get more minutes to better players in the future.”

      I think you’re going to get your wish about losing big. We’re taking a makeshift backline into Azteca to face a confident Mexican team. We were always likely to lose, but after hearing that Edu will be one of our CBs (along with Orozco as the RB), I’m thinking this will be a blow out. I don’t think Edu has even played CB since that game against Poland. I’ve never seen us play well in Azteca, so I doubt a stellar performance by the midfield or forwards will be there to save us if the defense turns out to be a disaster. I’m having flashbacks to the 5-0 beatdown we got in 2009 at the GC.


      • Posted by evan on 2012/08/14 at 12:20 PM

        yes if USA can get a result at Azteca with this lineup that will be a bigger upset than beating Spain in ’09 IMHO. Cameron, Besler, Orozco and Edu for centerbacks? i think Williams has played more centerback than Edu. and then he calls in Alan Gordon… i’m starting to think Klinsmann is really out of his depth. either that or he’s crazier than the craziest fox…


        • Posted by steve-o on 2012/08/14 at 12:50 PM

          I think gordon is brought in for wondo. here’s why – wondo’s lighting up the league and hasn’t shown his mls form on the international stage yet. but that’s either because (1) wondo’s not good enough OR (2) he’s not good by himself in the lone target striker role. most mls teams like san jose play a 4-4-2 system so he’s more like dempsey roaming behind a bigger guy striker. I bet JK is thinking let’s try wondo with gordon and see if it brings out the best of wondo. if not, forget about wondo, because he’s had several good tryouts. i’d bet that’s also why he brought in beitashour to give him an honest shot with a couple of his teammates on the roster.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 12:55 PM

            You mean in the Jack Haley – Dennis Rodman way or in the KEvin Durant – Russell Westbrook way. :>

            The thing about Wondo is that he plays very well off a target man, any target man (see the All-Star appearance). He’s a poacher and the US just hasn’t used him in that role at all because it’s playing a lot closer to call and trying to keep possession now. Wondo thrives at SJE because they move the ball up the pitch fast and there is more space.

            The question is less about partner, more about the attack. My guess is that if the US can manage possession, you’ll see one or both of them in the 2nd half. But it sure would be great for Wondo to have a runout in the starting 11.


            • Posted by steve-o on 2012/08/14 at 12:58 PM

              Exactly, that’s why this could be his shot with a partner probably in the last 30. JK will start a 4-5-1 but I bet he switches to 4-4-2 unless we’re winning. But that’s unlikely in Azteca.

          • Posted by steve-o on 2012/08/14 at 12:56 PM

            (cont…) you’ll notice alot of euro teams do this by buying 1 player they really want + 1 of his better playing countrymen too to give them a friendly face on the team. i’ve read some articles about good players being moved to new leagues or teams and never showing their old form because they felt alone or isolated. Landon felt this way in Bayern and even Drogba said this about Chelsea. Chelsea remedied this by hiring a full time relocation specialist. Now that’s probably why they have Lukaka + Hazard + Hazard’s brother too (all belgians). Many euro teams now do the same thing, and many coaches know this now. I bet JK is doing the same thing with the Mexican-Americans too. But tougher players like Dempsey don’t need to be coddled – it’s mostly the prima-donna types like Landon (sorry dude, still love ya).


            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/14 at 7:02 PM


              Having had to move to a foreign country to live and work I can tell you that being able to adapt even with help is tougher than you think. Try it before you start calling people prima donnas.

              Tough guy Dempsey doesn’t need coddling?

              Before you start criticizing Landon, Drogba and Hazard for being wussys as compared to our American tough guy ( and Clint is a tough guy) just remember that when Clint moved to Fulham he had Boca, Keller, and McBride there his first year to get him settled and later EJ, off and on, from 2008 to 2011, assuming he felt he the need to be around some real Americans. Which means that he had a club that was uniquely attuned to and accepting of American soccer players. McBride practically owned to the place. And remember that in London they speak a version of English to where Clint was probably able to get around without too much drama. And finally, its London which overall is far more culturally familar to most Americans than Greece, Turkey Spain or Portugal.

              Contrast that to what Adudinho in Portugal and Jozy in Spain had to deal with or even Landon at Munich where it seems the players, who saw him as the hated JK’s boy toy, would have run him out of town on a rail from day one if they could have.

              You want a real tough guy? Try Mikey Bradley who picks up languages like a new set of clothes and lives by himself (until he got married) and gets immersed in the local culture, all in an attempt to get acclimated to his team.

  13. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/14 at 11:15 AM

    What ever happened to Zak Whitbread?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 11:21 AM

      He’s the Jonathan Woodgate of the USMNT. He’s on the trainer table more than the pitch. Can’t have that in a critical position.

      Playing int the Championship I think this year.


      • Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/08/14 at 11:27 AM

        yeah, the Canaries cut him loose after being injured so long, despite having helped lead the charge into the prem. kind of sad, but that’s the biz.


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/14 at 11:36 AM

        That’s a very good comparison. It seemed that in the past 2 years if there was an international break that Whitbread would get an injury in the match right before the break that would rule him out.

        Leicester City is the club that will pay for his medical treatment this season.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 12:03 PM


  14. Posted by Alex on 2012/08/14 at 12:21 PM

    Has anybody watch the MLS 36 series episode on Wondo? Really interesting stuff as a mic followed him during the All Star match. At halftime John Terry was full of praise for Wondo’s off ball runs, saying he was impossible to follow. Maybe we’ll see Chris redeem himself and win it for us as a supersub in the Azteca. I bet people would just lose their mind if it did


    • It’s important to remember that Wondo has 8 caps but his total minutes add up to something like 4 games worth. That is not a lot and if Wondo gets enough time I see no reason why he cannot be a fairly regular scorer for the US.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/14 at 3:20 PM

      Wouldn’t take the retirement thing super-seriously, but he’s sounded like this before this year.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/14 at 7:25 PM

      Not to get to into Landon’s head but I think he just lacks a filter. Of course when you are out of contract and a certain age retirement is a consideration. That oesnt mean its likely but if said he never considered it that would be normal, to actually have never considered it would be odd. Considered doesn’t mean leaning towards it or even that it’s a likely possibility.


  15. Posted by kg on 2012/08/14 at 5:08 PM

    Beitashour’s gonna be the starting rb. You can take that to the bank. Also, Edu’s gonna stink it up, he’s a terrible cb with no positional sense. He was torched against Poland and the Czech Rep. and will be wednesday night. Williams is a superior choice due to a. bundesliga experience and b. superior passing ability.
    If the us wants to make a game of it they could start something like this

    (paco would be the linker and castillo/corona would be the attacking mid)
    beasley would be a good sub for boyd w/gomez shifted up top.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/14 at 5:11 PM

      Word is that Orozco-Fiscal has been practicing with the first team at RB with Fabian Johnson on the left. Makes some sense in that Fabian will advance and Orozco-Fiscal will stay at home.


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/15 at 7:44 AM

        Ah, if only Orozco-Fiscal was actually staying at home and not just positionally at home.


      • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/15 at 8:33 AM

        The formations continue to get more interesting under JK. Gotta imagine Johnson will get pushed up high and Orozco Fiscal will play almost in line with Cameron and Edu.

        This has the makings of a very interesting tactical battle. Here are my questions: will the center mids get the ball out to Johnson as effectively as Bradley has done? Where does Donovan play, and who feeds him the ball?


  16. Posted by kg on 2012/08/15 at 6:19 AM

    yeah, i’ve been hearing that word on the street about fiscal at rb too so maybe it’s not in the bank like I said. I do get that it makes sense to get as many liga mx players on the field as possible so as to deal with the altitude/mental hurdles. I still am of the opinion that Edu is an extremely poor choice. Hopefully he proves me wrong.


  17. Posted by TGP on 2012/08/15 at 12:55 PM

    I dont know whether Klinsmann is a genius or deluded. I look at this roster and talent evals and dont really agree with what he does with players like williams, torres, edu. I dont get the value of brining in Gordan or Orozco-Fiscal or castillo. I like some the players but not how they are used and i like that he is willing to try things but not what he tries. frustrating. Also, anyone else think he has put too much emphasis on trying to get to crazy levels of fitness?


  18. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/08/15 at 12:57 PM

    What to use in this game?
    True 4-3-3?

    4-4-2 diamond?

    3-5-2? (unbalanced 4-3-3)


  19. Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/08/15 at 12:58 PM

    any word on the starting lineup?


  20. […] TSG’s Official USA vs. Mexico Preview: Have Fun Storming The Castle! Share this […]


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: