Just Another Day At The Office? TSG’s USA vs. Jamaica World Cup Qualifer Preview

Jermaine Jones and the USA tangle with Jamaica again…

(Note: We so wanted to go with “The Beckerman Bowl” as our preview title. Alas, after careful consideration and line-up review, we stepped back from that headline)

Jamaica’s Independence Stadium…also known as “The Office.”

The United States takes to The Office Friday in the first game of a home and away series against the Belgium of CONCACAF, Jamaica.

Like Belgium, Jamaica would appear to have a massive amount of individual talent.

Names like Luton Shelton of Turkish side Karabükspor ….  now Burnley-bound MLS vet Dane Richards, and Whitecaps future pride Darren Mattocks. Yet, like Belgium, the sum of the parts doesn’t often add up and Jamaica fall prey to a collection of parts working ever so individualistically to try and attain the goal.

Less because they are not team-oriented, more because the parts are all very similar.

Jamaica’s speed forte can and does work, especially in games that are toe-to-toe punch and counter-punch. Jamaica faced down a Guatemalan side–one that gave the US’s A team fits in June–slugging it out with La Bicolor on the way to a 2-1 victory that looked like twenty players on the pitch were doing shuttle run training.

However, and predictably, it can lead to Jamaica playing down to their competition. A 0-0 draw against group rearguard Antigua & Barbuda attests to that notion. (*Remember this point; we’ll come back to it.)

Thus Jamaica enters the turn of this qualifying round in a similar position as the US–in fact probably a stronger one: one win against the second best squad in pocket to zero for the States and playing at home with a right to control their destiny and then look for the draw on the road next week in the US.

The States though should handle this match on foreign soil despite previously not being victorious in the land of Marley, Tosh, Toots & Cliff.

Alas this is a year of firsts (Italy, Mexico at the Azteca) for a Jurgen Klinsmann side that seems to be coagulating into a defensive force with just enough offensive knife-work to etch the right scoreline.

While the opponent might be a new one for the coaching staff, the squads faced off just last year in Washinton D.C. in the knockout rounds of the 2011 Gold Cup.  With Bob Bradley at the helm, the Yanks authored a blueprint on how to flummox the would-be Jamaican attack and put down the CONCACAF foe.

Kljestan was a key player on the other side of the ball last time the two teams met….

Bob Bradley overloaded the midfield moving from his hallmark 4-2-2-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1, pushing an extremely effective Sacha Kljestan in a free Trequartista role into dangerous pockets between Jamaica’s midfield shield and it’s backline.

With Jamaica deploying in what for all intents and purposes was a 5-2-3, the US controlled the run of play and possession eventually wearing down the Reggae Boyz who failed to adjust and eventually met their demise. 2-0 was the final.

This time though Jamaica has made some personnel adjustments and the US has a new coach and slew of players on the disabled list. Jamaica’s doing work in their home stadium as well. It will be a tight match.

Without further Freddy Adu, let’s get to our customary preview.

As usual it goes:

TSG What We’re Looking For

Commenter’s Corner (New edition!)

11 At The Whistle

About the Opponent: Jamaica

TSG What We’re Looking For

The Space-Time Continuum.

If the States are to go on the road here in the first match and wrangle all the points out of the trip, they’re going to do so with a different game plan than the one Bradley employed in June 2011.

Under Bradley, of course, the US was never truly afraid to concede space within their defense, betting on the fitness of their best athletes in central midfield to outrun, out hustle, outlast that of their counterparts. The results were often mixed.

In the Gold Cup battle, Bradley sought to keep Jamaica spaced and hammer the central midfield for scoring opportunities.

Once his squad adjusted to the 4-2-3-1, incisions became gaps in the Reggae Boyz defense and with Michael Bradley as the midfield maestro–he attempted an astounding 90 passes on the afternoon and completed them an 87% clip for 78 connections–the US dropped Jamaica like a fighter felling his opposite after too many jabs to the solar plexus.

With Klinsmann, the States, especially on the road, won’t play that open (unless they’re forced to with high presses as Guatemala proved able to do.). The States will be more than happy with a 1-0 result off a late game header by someone like a Terrence Boyd or Clarence Goodson. The US will look to possess to keep pressure off their defense. Defensive possession.

Whereas Bradley’s game had space in the midfield that his team eventually exploited over time, Klinsmann’s team will look to suffocate their foes and turn errant passes out of Jamaica’s deep midfield into scoring opportunities.

The key for the States when pressing will be to keep that tight shape and not allow Jamaica’s flankers to get the ball on the run and fly unchecked down the touchline.


Here’s an area of the field to watch.

Fab, pivotal as always…

The question of getting the US’s Bundesliga-based fullbacks up the pitch is an important one.

Whereas an advancing Fabian Johnson been instrumental in 2012 to generating chances, the two years previous it was getting right backer Steve Cherundolo overlapping Landon Donovan that was key.

The US will probably play with a single holder in this one–likely Maurice Edu–and Jamaica’s forward wingers are there most dangerous players.

Just how much attacking verve Klinsmann’s team has shouldn’t be judged by the personnel deployment in this one so much as how much license to go forward Klinsmann allows his fullbacks, especially Johnson. That’s your marker on the States going for three points.


No Landon Donovan, no Michael Bradley, no problem? Good question. While Donovan has been pedestrian the for the national team since Klinsmann’s introduction, Bradley has been the opposite, raising his game in the face of the new manager starting the midfielder out on the bench early in his reign.

The US managed a victory in Mexico without Bradley, Dempsey and with a mundane Donovan and Jose Francisco Torres, but this is qualifying. Should fans be concerned?

Will Spurrious Efforts Give Way?

When last we saw Mr. Nacho Delicious against the Reggae Boyz….

Anyone watching the Yanks can see that Jose Francisco Torres has not done well with the numerous chances he’s been given on the pitch.

For our money, Klinsmann’s continued trotting out of JFT is not without some merit. Torres can possess the ball and make clean passes; maybe it’s just going to take some repetitions for him.

That said, Torres’s lack of assertiveness in whatever role he’s been assigned and lack of imagination when placed further up the pitch, has the US screaming for someone who can chuck passes into willing receivers ready to run on to them.

Bet that Klinsmann will use Clint Dempsey in the role that Torres inhabited against Mexico, the would-be attacking catalyst.

Dempsey is certainly not at full fitness and what you do with a player with his creativity is place them up the field where they can help you and not hurt you with a missed defensive assignment.

Can Clint Dempsey provide a #10-tinged forward effort or will he meander deep as he tends to do and actually crowd the midfield?


» Steve Cherundolo has gotten exposed on US duty against speedy wingers–Franck Ribery for France and Jefferson Montero for Ecuador. This time he likely has Jamaica’s best offensive weapon to neutralize, Luton Shelton, in his kitchen. Watch that match-up.

» Where is Jozy Altidore on the depth chart? As he has done the past two seasons now, he started out the club season hot only to quickly come back down to earth. Meanwhile, Terrence Boyd continues to produce and would appear the understudy currently to Herculez Gomez.

» Once more here on Dempsey.

The US’s sniper is prone to doing a little too much on the ball on occasion especially when teammates stagnate around him and he’s also prone going for goal from odd and far-off angles. Just like in basketball when a three-ball is launched, there are large caroms and/or errant rebounds, this can present a fast break/counter attack opportunity in a unique way the defensive is not prepped for. If Jamaica scores in this one, it’s a good bet that a wild show or deflect pass was the US culprit up the field.

Commenter’s Corner:

Joe Davis is a USMNT fan and TSG reader from Tampa Bay, FL:

Donovan is getting older, seems to be losing interest in soccer all together, and starting to become injury prone… So why do we keep calling on Danny Williams?

It is becoming more and more apparent that the USMNT needs to start looking for the “next Donovan”, or at least a right winger. Gone are the days of Dolo and Donovan linking up and creating opportunity after opportunity for the likes of Altidore and Dempsey. Could Gatt be that answer? Perhaps.

US fan whipping boy…

But at the moment it seems that Danny Williams has a pretty secure grip as Donovans back-up, which doesn’t bode well for the attacking soccer JK wants. He pretty much eliminates our threat from the right side, and puts all the pressure on the left to create. In every game that Donovan has missed this year, our goals have come from the left. Is there not a better RM than a player who has logged only 44 total minutes of club soccer this year?

TSG: Great question and observation Joseph.

First, I think the attacking, flowing soccer that Jurgen Klinsmann wanted when he took the US job was either a clever bit of personal marketing for himself or maybe just some misdirection.

The German way.

The Klinsmann way is insure defensive integrity, cohesion and, above all, discipline. What you have with Danny Williams on the right flank is a player who will cover over an aging Steve Cherundolo and who will help the midfield when it’s pushed up and attacking on the left. Danny Williams is more a solution for attacking on the left rather than the reason the ball goes to the other flank.

If Klinsmann had a player he felt who could attack effectively and intelligently in the open field on the right while providing defensive cover, Williams would likely drop a peg on the depth chart. That said, it’s not clear who that is.

It’s not Josh Gatt, at least not yet. He’s a very raw talent and entrusting a player like Gatt with that nuanced role is not a good short-term line-up recipe. (Gatt is likely better served coming on as a RB once the US has a settled RCB situation). It’s not Graham Zusi who’s not as strong a defender, though doesn’t lack in effort.

Fans saw DaMarcus Beasley at left mid in a similar role against Mexico, but his lack of defensive discipline nearly cost the States the game.

If there was a time to try a different player in that role it could be this Jamaica game where Jamaica will be challenged in getting the ball north to their forwards. Could Klinsmann trot out Joe Corona there? Possibly.

A possible deployment for the USMNT predicated on a pressing game plan and Klinsmann’s history….

11 At The Whistle:

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: A recent Twitter brush storm had TSG readers attempting to rate Howard appropriately in the club and international top keeper pecking order. Where do you rate him? One thing is clear, if Howard gets injured, it’s not clear just how Klinsmann would go with.

(Note: For more discussion on the US goalkeeper situation, TSG was a guest and discussed the subject on this week’s MLS Reserves podcast. You can find that here.)

Is it TSG or did Cameron’s move to Stoke City not garner enough highlights. Here’s a US player–who has played on the backline for the last year–walking into England’s flagship “English” team and starting in the center of the midfield.

DEF: Steve Cherundolo, Geoff Cameron, Carlos Bocanegra, Fabian Johnson

The skinny: This is a test game for the aforementioned Cherundolo. With Cameron west of him and Williams likely north of him on the pitch, he’ll have some cover. Similiarly, how will Ye Olde Man Boca fair against the speed of Mattocks or Tremaine Stewart or the steel of Ryan Johnson?

CDM: Kyle Beckerman Maurice Edu

The skinny: It’s rather ironic that Edu gets the start here in our opinion. Should Carlos Bocanegra not have been called in, Edu would like be the starting center back in his place and Beckerman would have started.

Now with Bocanegra back in the fold, it means that the US needs probably its fastest defensive midfielder to help shield the backline. This pushes RSL’s captain Kyle Beckerman to the bench in favor of Stoke City’s Edu.

To not play the America’s best dreaded player after his fine performance against Mexico is almost blasphemous. And think about it, if he has a poor effort it merely sets the “Redemption Song” storyline in motion for the home return leg. Anywho….

RM/LF: Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones

The skinny: Well, US fans learned (or re-learned) some things about Jermaine Jones. Against a Mexican midfield where Jones could have exerted his superiority in the center of the pitch, (he’s a starter for Champion’s League Schalke 04 for crissakes!) Jones was nothing but a solid yet unspectacular midfield component.

Jones won’t be pulling any creative strings Friday and he’ll be a step down from the vision of Michael Bradley as well.

RF/LF: Clint Dempsey, Jose Torres

The skinny: The preview has spent some time on Dempsey. Look for him to play a centrally and show to either flank on the ball or drift into the space created by Gomez’s action ahead of him. That is similar to the role that Kljestan exploited last time the Yanks played the ‘Boyz.

For all his to-date foibles, Jose Torres–if unapathetic–should still be able to possess the ball against the Jamaican side. Does he deceiver the run-out? No. Will he get it? If Klinsmann holds serve on his selections than yes.

Look for Dempsey and Torres to switch (as Donovan and Shea did early on in Klinsmann’s tenure if the US is not breaking down the Jamaican side).

Lastly, if you’re the US Kaiser, you probably have to start Dempsey here. Dempsey is a volume shooter and volume “touch” guy, meaning he needs to get the ball frequently to get in the flow of the game. If you need a goal late, Dempsey can work obviously but it becomes more of a singular option and the team gears toward spotlighting Dempsey in the attack, sometimes to the detriment of others.

STR: Herculez Gomez

The skinny: Gomez gets the start again and his forechecking is the first line of turnover-enabling pressure that the US will need to execute their game plan. Scoring is a bonus here.

It should be noted that Jamaica probably has their best centerback combination in their history. Work to do here.


» Terrence Boyd gets the nod up top, Herculez Gomez slots back to Jose Torres’s role.

Jamaica’s all-time Iron Lion

About The Opponent: Jamaica

It may be cliche to talk about “speed,” “pace,” and “sprinters” when talking about Jamaican soccer, but it’s true.

Jamaica quite simply plays vertical.

Their game demands open space and when they get it, they can strike as evidenced by Jamaica beating a pressing, very vertical-in-its-own-right Guatemala in the first group game of this qualifying series.

However, it’s hard to use that speed when you can’t get out on the run and Jamaica wasn’t quite as impressive in drawing the group’s caboose Antigua & Barbuda. In that game the Barbudans sat back in a 4-5-1 and begged the Jamaicans to break them down. It didn’t happen and a 0-0 draw was the result.

(My colleague on March To the Match suggested that Jamaica will look to possess the ball and breakdown the US; if they couldn’t breakdown A&B what chance do they stand. Listen to the latest March to the Match where we discuss USA-Jamaica here.)

Jamaica’s trusted 4-3-3 under Theo Whitmore. Jamaica has deployed in this formation almost exclusively in 2012.

Jamaica will likely deploy in a 4-3-3 that’s become their hallmark under Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore. They’ll look to push their fullbacks and forwards up the pitch, fast, while relying on a trident in the midfield to manage possession and provide linking.

MLS journeyman Ryan Johnson is their lone target forward.

On good days, Johnson’s lassoing in service and distributing. On bad days he’s stranded up top, cursing his teammates out to join the attack as he fends of two defenders converging to take the ball away. On either day, he’s usually scowling and definitely brooding.

Should the “Tappa” elect to play the 4-3-3 versus the States, he’ll run the risk of leaving arguably his two best 1v1 players–Richards and Shelton–isolated on the flanks with little service. It’s a real possibility as the US will look to constrict their foes in their defensive third.

Given that likely tactic by the States the demands on a very ordinary midfield of Jason Morrison, Houston Dynamo man JeVaughn Watson and Leeds United holder Rodolph Austin to escape the States’ pressure become very real and critical to Jamaica getting the three points.

Behind the key midfielders is a “Nosworthy” and remade backline. With Demar Phillips out, the backline should feature three different players than who faced the US last year in the RFK debacle.

The centerback pairing of Nyron Nosworthy and Adriana Mariappa has played well together and is a strength for Jamaica. Nosworthy is a perennial starter at Championship side Watford while Mariappa is starting to see time at Redding.

The back four is supported in goal by Swedish leaguer Dwyane Miller as MLS veteran and TSG whipping boy Donovan Ricketts appears to have been the victim of a changing of the guard.

Get in line Mattocks, the fawning starts at Stewart…

A few other notable MLS players could feature in this one. Youth sensation Darren Mattocks might get a call as a super sub up top, though that role is likely to go to Norwegian leaguer Tremaine Stewart who has Jamaican fans arguably more excited than the Whitecaps front man.

While Jamaica considers this one of their strongest qualifying squads yet, the opinion is not shared here.

32-year-old behemoth striker Ricardo Fuller was deemed past his prime and not called in as was steady Motherwell midfielder Omar Daley. Combined they represent more than 120 caps.

Veteran keeper Donovan Ricketts didn’t get an email–and though he’s not a favorite around these parts–was always a steady influence in between the posts for the Boyz.

Finally, if you’ve been watching the opening of the Premiership campaign in England, then you surely witnessed the early play of Reading’s Jobi McAnuff.

Had Eden Hazard not been the-Belgium-word-for-en-fuego for Chelsea, than McAnuff’s early form might be getting more press. The Reading midfielder is always a threat in possession and a sneaky defender up the pitch as well. Word is the Jamacian Football Federation recruited McAnuff hard to represent his home side in 2012, but the bid fell short. (Update: McAnuff is cautiously expected to be called in for October’s qualifying series). McAnuff is a player who mysteriously retired from international football at the tender age of 23 and has over 117 appearances and where’s the armband for Reading. Perplexing … and pause to calling this Jamaica’s strongest possible squad.

Jamaica though still has enough firepower, but a call to adapt their shape is in order.

While the 4-3-3 seams a likely conclusion to Whitemore’s starting line-up, a better option for the Tappa would be to deploy in the Bob Bradley Special: the 4-2-2-2.

Much like Bradley’s hallmark US teams, the Jamaicans can be deadly when getting out on the counter and vulnerable should that counter falter.

A 4-2-2-2 as shown in the diagram above would better match-up with the States’ likely positioning.

First, it would shield the Jamaican’s backline with two players instead of a single holder. Given the that States like to pinch in their forwards in a 4-3-3 (Dempsey, Torres) the extra player assigned centrally makes sense.

The formation would also force Richards and Shelton into shuttling roles–roles that Dempsey and Donovan proved devastating on within Bradley’s offensive counter.

While this may slightly negate their gaining the corner on the US it would better position the players to support what is likely to be a difficult linking extrication from the US’s forward pressure and to force US centerbacks into some positional decision-making with two forwards up top.

With two-up top Ryan johnson specifically would have an option running off of him–Stewart–instead of slowing the attack to drop to a midfielder catching up.

Going to be a good one.

58 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jared on 2012/09/06 at 1:26 PM

    No more Torres. He’s only looked good against Scotland who were clearly not fully into the game. He needs way too much time on the ball which he won’t get with the speed of the Jamaican players. I’d much rather see Herc there with either Boyd or Jozy up top.


  2. So if Dempsey is fit to play (missing about a month off) what does that tell us about Jozy Altidore when he didn’t play much in the 5 game tourney in May/June? Dempsey was out longer than when Altidore came into that camp.

    I’m a fan of Torres but if another formation or player works that JK plays, so be it.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/06 at 2:07 PM

      I’m not sure if Dempsey is fit to play so much as it is better if he starts.

      The counter to the argument above is that you bring on an unfit player when the other team is tired — I just don’t like that argument :>

      The difference is that Dempsey had a forced sabbatical while Altidore has his own self-imposed. :>


  3. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/06 at 2:03 PM

    This is one idea I am feeling with the Formation that you put up for Jamaica



    If tied or down at 60, Drop Williams for Gomez and drop Torres for Shea

    other option



  4. Posted by Biggy on 2012/09/06 at 2:15 PM

    If Boca starts, he is make or break for this game. Any goals scored will come through him I think. I think the changing of the guard needs to happen sooner rather then later.


  5. This Just In: Lovel Palmer is vulnerable at RB…. ask me how I know…..


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/06 at 2:36 PM

      Ha. At least he has Mariappi inside of him who is pretty decent. I never really predict line-ups for the other team, but I can’t stress how much I would go with a 4-2-2-2 with Jamaica.

      They match that 4-3-3 and Richards and Shelton if the US is disciplined won’t see the ball.


      • Actually Palmer DOES have that ability to play 1 decent game every once in a blue moon. If Jamaica play a 4-2-2-2 and Palmer is tasked with staying back mostly and somehow he doesn’t switch off for a game (his favorite activity) then he could be fine back there. Plus if he has someone to play in front of him who plays decent defense, they can cover his lapses. However his frequent switch offs usually pull the right sided center back over to his side to cover the streaking wing play and lead to a gap between the two center backs which the USA could exploit. Something worth watching.


  6. Posted by Shawn G on 2012/09/06 at 2:30 PM

    Don’t rule out the fact that JFT has a similar upbringing to Dempsey and looks up to him; playing close together might bring out the best in him.


  7. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/06 at 4:33 PM

    I just want to be able to watch the game- There are a couple sports bars and even one “soccer bar” in my area (Harrisburg, PA) but none of them can confirm whether or not they have beIN Sport or not! (????) I even told them the channel number.

    I don’t want to take a chance as I live 45 mins from Harrisburg so I think I may just come home and hope I can find a stream. Its great being a soccer fan in the USA sometimes.


    • Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2012/09/06 at 4:45 PM

      Hey Crow,

      I would imagine that any decent sports bar in the country would have beIN. Any sports bar that’s worth anything has DirecTV service & since DirecTV added beIN to it’s sports pack it stands to reason that most sports bars should have it. It’s not like beIN is FS+ which requires it’s own subscription. I’d at least give the sports bars in your area another call & ask to speak to a manager if the peons who answer the phone can’t help (which seems to be the norm for sports bars across the country in my experience).


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/06 at 7:21 PM

        Yeah, I asked to speak to a manager at three different establishments, contacted them on Twitter and even told them the channel number to look for and they told me they didn’t think they had even (even though they have DIRECTV). This sports bar has multiple locations and is definitely the most popular sports bar in south central PA. The soccer bar is the only one I know of in the Harrisburg area. D’oh!!!

        I think they do probably have it but I don’t want to take a chance. I’m going to call at a different time to see if I can talk to someone else.

        Thanks for the input though Turd! Always enjoy your posts 🙂


    • Posted by CJ on 2012/09/06 at 5:58 PM

      Ditto what Turd said, Ha. I have DirecTV and one day I came home and had the channel. Any DirecTV carrying bar would have the game, your best time to call in advance is after the lunch rush hour and before happy hour when the wait staff/bartenders aren’t as busy and more likely to acquiesce your request for them to look up the channel. It’s there, and it’s on 24/7 now.


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/06 at 7:22 PM

        Yeah I called around 3 PM when it should have been slower. I’m going to try soon again- they are open till about 2 AM.


  8. Posted by dude on 2012/09/06 at 6:16 PM

    Think I’ve got a brilliant solution to our fears that Dolo won’t cope with speed, and Williams can’t attack properly.

    Make Danny Williams the right back. Why are we preserving Dolo like Lenin in his ice cave? A bit dramatic, but if Dolo is liability, then we owe him nothing but gratitude and a place on the bench. Same goes for Boca, though I think he’ll fair better.

    Point is, I haven’t been impressed with Dolo’s ability to deal with a speed demon for about a year now. If a player turns him, he can’t track him down. Why deploy two right backs just to cover for a player who needs that kind of help?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/06 at 7:38 PM

      I’m not sure that Williams is great at 1 v 1 defending. He also gives the ball away a little bit too.

      Not that he shouldn’t be tried. Eric Lichaj deserves a camp at the least. And the kowtowing to Chandler must stop. He’s good, but not that good.

      Agree with this: http://www.mlssoccer.com/blog/post/2012/09/06/armchair-analyst-chandlers-snub-decision-heart


      • Posted by dude on 2012/09/06 at 7:56 PM

        I’ve seen Williams play left back, he looked uncomfortable, and kept things tight. My point is, rather have him play a natural position.


    • Posted by mbw on 2012/09/06 at 8:52 PM

      I wouldn’t worry too much about Cherundolo. Yes, he got smoked against France and especially Ecuador last fall, but he was pretty far from peak form and condition at that time. (It took him longer to get over the Gold Cup injury than people realize.) He’s no longer the threat going forward he was the last two summers, but if they’re going to block that side with Danny Williams and play Johnson as a wingback on the left, it’s not a big issue anyway. They’ll have to find a replacement sooner or later. But not tomorrow.


      • Posted by dude on 2012/09/06 at 8:57 PM

        But handicapping your right side intentionally is insanely stupid. We should have people who can at least provide depth off the bench who can make opposing fullbacks scared.


        • Posted by mbw on 2012/09/07 at 5:54 AM

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on whether the unbalanced formation is insanely stupid. I think it contributed to the wins in Italy and especially Mexico, which had its (second?) most dangerous attacking player more or less neutralized down that flank.


          • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/07 at 6:26 AM

            I don’t think the unbalanced formation is insanely stupid if used as a tactic. If it becomes the default formation for every team as it seems to be then I think it’s wasteful. Not every team we play against needs to be treated with the respect of Italy and Mexico. If Cherundolo isn’t capable of playing against most Concacaf teams without a defensive midfielder in front of him then I think it’s time to look elsewhere.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/09/07 at 7:30 AM

        I don’t worry about Cherundolo, but it’s hard to deny he’s lost a step and doesn’t contribute terribly much offensively. That being so, the exclusion of Eric Lichaj is quite odd. Lichaj of Gold Cup was better than Cherundolo now, and Lichaj now appears no worse than Lichaj of two years ago. So why exclude him? Put it down to Klinsmann’s Mysterious Roster Decisions–Lichaj can go commiserate with Sacha Kljestan while Torres finally gets a shot at the position we know he was born to play (after umpteen tries at every other one): goalkeeper.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/07 at 7:55 AM

          I wish we knew if it was a skill issue or a trying to land a starting spot issue with lichaj. IMO he is easily the 3rd best outside back. If it is to try and win the starting role at AV it’s a gamble but I understand it. If its skill that is a head scratcher.

          Btw I almost Torres starts and no shows again so we can get rid if him and flip out when JK brings someone other than sasha to replace him.


        • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/07 at 8:21 AM

          I’m not ready to say that Klinsmann has written off Lichaj just yet but it isn’t looking great for him right now. I’m still hoping it’s simply that Klinsmann wants Lichaj to lock down the starting spot for Aston Villa first.


          • If Lichaj can’t convince Lambert he is full time starter material for Villa then why do US fans regard him as Dolo’s natural successor?

            From reading various Villa fan websites and reviews in the Birmingham papers, the consensus seems to be Lichaj is well liked and has a lot of promise but isn’t quite ready for a fulltime starter gig yet.

            When Lambert came in one of the first things he did was buy a right back, Lownton. Then at the transfer deadline he brought in a left back, whose name escapes me. Lichaj is getting his shot at starting but it looks to me like he hasn’t entirely convinced Lambert he is anything more than a stopgap measure.

            Lambert makes it the fourth manager in a row (O’Neill, Houllier, McLeish and now Lambert) Lichaj has yet to entirely convince. That is troubling.


            • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/07 at 9:53 AM

              I know I regard him as Dolo’s natural successor because from what I’ve seen of him with the USMNT he’s been better than other options. The other options that I can think of right now are Parkhurst, Spector and Chandler. Obviously, Chandler is a better player but clearly isn’t ready to commit to showing up. Parkhurst and Spector are both far too slow to play outside back at the international level.

              Unfortunately, the US is not in the same position as Aston Villa where Jurgen can just go out and buy another right back. Just because a player doesn’t impress a manager at Aston Villa doesn’t mean that they don’t have value for the national team (if that were the case then MB90 wouldn’t be allowed to play). If he had been allowed to move full time to Leeds while Grayson was there then I think we’d be having a very different discussion.

            • Jared,

              MB 90’s situation at Villa isn’t really relevant to this discussion because he basically never got a chance to prove he could play for them. During that period, he was allowed to play for the US because he was a proven regular for the USMNT prior to his Villa vacation. I would not say Lichaj has even now compiled the same quality of resume that MB90 had at that point and does not deserve the same sort of leeway from the US manager that Mikey got. I notice Clint may well get the same sort of leeway when/if he plays tonight against Jamaica.

              My guess is that MB90’s lack of playing time was due more to an off the field situation rather than any particular lack of merit on Bradley’s part..
              Eric on the other hand has been at Villa since 2008, played 17 league games for them (16 games for Leeds on loan), a lot more than Mikey ever did, and is very familiar with the place and they with him.

              I agree with you that just because he can’t convince the Villa people that he is the man, then it doesn’t mean he can’t play for the USMNT.
              However in a practical sense, because of his failure to convince, he hasn’t been getting the kind of games in quality and quantity of completion that Dolo is getting ( Dolo is the standard here correct?). This makes it hard for him to achieve his full potential. He has played total of about 49 games ( including loans) since 2008. That is almost Freddy Adu territory (about 46 games in his first four seasons in Europe).

              That is not what you want from Dolo’s successor.

              If he can’t make it at Villa then he needs to get somewhere where he can.

              JK hasn’t said anything but my guess is he has left Lichaj in England to get it all sorted out. It’s worth noting that since the Gold Cup Final, Bradley is gone and Lichaj suffered a major injury. He’s never been to a JK camp so to assume he is the same guy who impressed everyone under BB may be wide of the mark.
              Hopefully he wins the starting job but my feeling is he eventually becomes their utility guy, their version of John O’Shea/ Phil Neville. Even then he may be good enough for the US but time will tell.

              It’s a long time between now and 2014 and it isn’t written in stone anywhere that Lichaj has the US’ right back spot reserved for him.

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/07 at 12:03 PM

              No, Dolo is not the standard. The standard at this point is the people competing to be the next right back. To me Lichaj is ahead of those players and will be until he’s brought in. He might fail then but we’ve seen the others fail since Lichaj has last been brought in.

              My point with MB90 wasn’t that he doesn’t deserve more leeway just that Villa has been a very screwed up club for the past few years so judging someone on their time there isn’t a good idea. Even Guzan has run into that with Given being off form yet still keeping his spot (that might have changed now).

            • Jared,

              Well if Dolo is not your standard that’s fine but I would think you’d want a full time player to replace him.

              I just get the feeling that fans have almost the same attitude towards Lichaj that they have towards Holden, i.e they are autmatically entitled to their spots once they get back on the field for the US. And don’t feel that way about it.

              As far as I’m concerned the ship has sailed on those two. They can of course catch up but I don’t see the USMNT owing them any more attention than any other prospective player.

              As for Villa, well Guzan voted with his feet about that situation did he not? That should tell you all anyone needs to know.

              Given was better or at least as good as Brad last year but Guzan would not have resigned if he wasn’t pretty sure he was going to get his legitimate shot to beat Given out.

  9. […] Americans Ready to Tally First Win in KingstonBleacher ReportSB Nation -Tucson Citizen -The Shin Guardianall 283 news […]


  10. Posted by mbw on 2012/09/06 at 8:46 PM

    That was easily the best analysis I’ve seen of JK’s preferment of Danny Williams at RMF.


  11. Posted by Nelson on 2012/09/06 at 9:19 PM

    I was really hoping for an Office Space reference.

    🎵 damn it feels good to be a gangsta🎵


  12. Posted by wook #6 on 2012/09/06 at 10:00 PM

    Edu was listed as a defender in the call-up roster. Has Jurgen used a player in a position different than his call-up designation yet? I remember wanting him to a few times, but recall him sticking with it. I guess, Gatt’s scratch from the midfield could change things anyway.

    Also, if we’re going to try to keep possesion, as a defensive tactic, I’d prefer to see Beckerman in there. I realize we lose speed with him, but likely reduce turnovers. I have a hunch Edu & Cameron will be the CBs and Beckerman, Jones & Deuce the CMs.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/06 at 11:16 PM

      Donovan, Cameron, Dempsey, Torres all have been used outside their roster designation.


  13. […] You can read The Shin Guardian’s match preview right here.  Will Parchman gives us five things to […]


  14. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/06 at 11:02 PM

    Hearing rumblings that Jamaica is going to play a 3-4-3.

    That formation makes a lot of sense too especially if Whitmore is betting the US plays a single striker.

    If it’s move, counter-move before the game and it’s a 3-4-3, you’ll probably want to see the States in a 4-4-2.

    I would think that looks like a front 6 of Torres, Edu, Jones, Williams. Boyd or Dempsey and Herc.

    Boyd (or Dempsey)-Herc.
    Torres – Edu – Jones – Williams


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/07 at 5:13 AM

      I may be off here but don’t you play 1 up top against a back 3 so you basically get 3 v 1 on your forward givin you am extra man in the MF. If Jamaica is going 3 at the back wouldn’t that be because they think we are going with 2 up top?


      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/07 at 6:25 AM

        Maybe, but also they could be responding to our last few games, seeing that we play very narrow and are hoping to use a 3-4-3’s natural width to exploit that.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/07 at 7:10 AM

          Not sure I agree with the “natural width” of a 3-4-3 a 3-5-2 is wide but if you push the outsides of the 4 in a 3-4-3 wide you risk being manhandled in the middle of the park. If we play out normal 4-3-2-1 we get 5 mfs in the center against 2. The better use the space well or our MF will bully them and it will be Scotland all over again


          • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/07 at 7:29 AM

            I agree that 3-4-3 can be narrow. Depends how you are playing it. Breaking it up into 4 lines are you 3-1-3-3 or 3-2-2-3 or 3-3-3-1 or 3-4-2-1 or is it more of a 5-4-1? The details of it can be so complicated its really selling it short to say 3-4-3 versus 3-5-2 or 3-6-1. Players are all so complicated that their positioning really makes all the difference. Would Dane Richards be wide in the 4 band or the 3? It can change the whole look of the formation.

            The important part I got out of the 3-4-3 comment was 3 man back line.


      • Posted by Damon on 2012/09/07 at 6:30 AM

        Here’s an article from zonal marking talking about how the 3 man defense is most effective against a 4-4-2. http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/03/24/three-man-defence-in-football-soccer/


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/07 at 7:06 AM

          Thanks for the link. Switching to a 4-4-2 would seemingly play into their hands. If the go 3 in the back I would love to see us go 4-5-1 (or 4-3-3 with two MF in the top band) and bring people like Shea in to attack the outside space.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/07 at 4:30 PM

          Jamaica goes 3 in the back in the formation and the US goes with a 4-4-2. Not everything is bible on Zonal Marking. :>

          That said, there might be a last laugh somewhere if that doesn’t work.


    • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/07 at 6:23 AM

      Depending on Jamaica’s specific 3-4-3 (diamond or not) I think the narrow 4-4-2 diamond that we played against Slovenia could work


      Let Edu and Jones run box-to-box like both can with torres or beckerman keeping possession deep. Having Dempsey and Gomez switching back and forth with either edu or jones going into the box. Altidore or Boyd playing as a referance point, allowed to drift left. Jones protects dolo and edu protects Johnson…. Maybe?


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/07 at 6:40 AM

        If that is the formation then it needs to be Beckerman. Torres doesn’t defend/read the game as well as Beckerman does. The defense needs more of a shield than Torres can provide.


        • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/07 at 7:37 AM

          My thinking was that the defense needs less of a shield at that holder spot and more of an outlet. Someone who the can feed the ball to and then can move it around. Edu in that role causes problems because of his lower skill level with the ball.

          My though was to have Jones and Edu running as disruptive advanced defensive players, not really looking to possess the ball, but to win it and move it to Torres. Torres could then be gathering loose balls and distributing, not really looking to move forward or win the ball off of players. Thinking a bit like Pirlo recently.


    • Posted by Damon on 2012/09/07 at 6:27 AM

      You have that backwards. 3 man backlines are most effective against 2 forwards.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/07 at 6:53 AM

        I would say its not apples to apples here. Zonal Marking is often spot-on but they have their flaws and contradictions.

        This piece here is about how Chile played a 3-4-3 vs. Spain’s 4-3-3 two year’s ago at the World Cup and did well until they went down a man:

        (Similarly there is an article out today where Jonathan Wilson gets Clint Dempsey’s positioning all wrong. :>)

        The commenter above is right in that it depends upon the shape of your midfield. You’re also correct in that a 3-man backline was designed to by possession clubs to remove the advantage of stranding an extra/useless defender at the back.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/07 at 6:55 AM

          In regards to the above btw, probably should have suggested a 4-4-1-1 with Gomez / Boyd running off each other creating the depth and linking to the midfield. So my bad.


          • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/07 at 7:18 AM

            This is why I love this site. Great thought provoking commentary.

            As for the article it does look like Spain had a 3 v 1 in the middle of the park. But graphics can be very deceiving.

            I do like a 4-4-1-1 much better as it pulls Herc back so he can’t be covered by one of the backline. It also allows him to make runs off the ball an area of his play that always impresses me.


        • Wilson got the position wrong? He quotes Dempsey:

          “I’m not someone who really enjoys playing with my back to the goal, like a traditional target striker,” he says. “I like either being a withdrawn forward or someone who plays on the left or the right. I’m also not a traditional winger. I’m someone who kind of comes inside and tries to get in those pockets and do a lot of link-up play. You don’t really see me taking a player on on the outside and getting a lot of crosses in. That’s never really been my style, though it doesn’t mean I can’t work on those things.”

          Not sure how that’s not correct. Deuce isn’t a winger and he’s best used (IMEHO) in the space behind your out-and-out striker.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/07 at 10:28 AM

            1) Dempsey has predominantly played on the left for the US not the right.
            2) Dempsey was more successful for Fulham as a withdrawn forward, not coming from out wide last year — goals, shots on numbers are the metric there.
            3) In Wilson’s suggested line-up he has Dempsey as a right mid and up high. This is a role that Dempsey has never truly thrived in. He’s been better cutting in from the left (as Wilson comments), not coming off the top right corner.


  15. […] The Fan In You « Just Another Day At The Office? TSG’s USA vs. Jamaica World Cup Qualifer Preview […]


  16. […] Just Another Day At The Office? TSG's USA vs. Jamaica World Cup Qualifer … It's not Graham Zusi who's not as strong a defender, though doesn't lack in effort. Fans saw DaMarcus Beasley at left mid in a similar role against Mexico, but his lack of defensive discipline nearly cost the States the game. If there was a time to try … theshinguardian.com […]


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