Orange Slices: USA vs. Jamaica

Orange Slices! USA vs. Jamaica

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

It’s the “must-win” it always was, but with higher stakes. Does that make sense? No, but then again neither did the US lost in Jamaica or some of the tactics.

The US takes to Crew Stadium in the land where the Abercrombie & Fitch man roams free tonight to battle the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica less than a week after Jamaica hung a 2-1 victory on the Yanks.

The USA (1-1-1, 4 points) dropped into a tie for second place with Guatemala in Group A following Friday’s loss to Jamaica (2-0-1, 7 points).


Once again, ESPN has the English coverage. The game is available on ESPN 2, ESPN 3 with the coverage beginning at 8pm ET.

Galavision has the Spanish coverage.


Around the web:

Talismanic tonight?

Reading material: (lots of good stuff on this one.)

» The MLS Analyst, Matt Doyle, drops some great toilet-bowl reading material with, “What is American Soccer?,” an excellent feature on the tactics and formations of the US over the past 20 years. Must-read.

» Be sure to check out Steve Fenn’s article below looking simply at Tim Howard and shots-on comparing the Prem to Kingston.

» Our friends at the Free Beer Movement have some lighter, fluffier fare with some tongue-in-cheek analysis that you may or may not hear from Jurgen Klinsmann.

» We love this Reggae Boyz forum. They aggregate links from around the web, most are typically objective on their team and they are welcoming to new folks. If you post, be respectful.

» The Yanks Are Coming folks are back and they are wondering whether all that Klinsmann bravado in his opening remarks is just mumbo-jumbo.

» Noah Davis for Grantland says the “golden sheen on Jurgen Klinsmann is less shiny” going into tonight.

» Steve Davis describes the pressure the team is under tonight and the scenarios that play out.

Weather forecast:

It will still be a balmy 75 degree or so with clear skies when the States take the field at 8pm ET.

Surf forecast:

You can’t surf in Columbus, Ohio, but did you know that it’s not a mistake on the lake to surf in Cleveland!

USA vs. Jamaica in qualifying

It was October 7, 2001 when Captain America Claudio Reyna helped the US qualify for World Cup 2002 in the States with a 2-1 victory over the Jamaicans in Foxboro. More amazing is Donovan’s frosty tips and his jiggy-jig on Tyrone Marshall to earn a penalty in the affair. Joe Max-Moore with two deposits on a Reyna feed and to finish of Donovan’s foul in the box.


The TSG Take:

This is a more treacherous affair here Tuesday night for the States because of the loss Friday in Kingston. Jamaica doesn’t three points; they don’t even need one though they’ll try to get that one by bunkering.

If I’m the US, I need to follow the number one rule in the baseball hitter’s dilemma. I have to look fastball first, but adjust to the curveball.

Meaning, what I mean is I think Jamaica’s going to play on the counter. They’re fastball as always is a track meet match. They typically play-up-down. And given that the States need to press, you can expect a little more lively affair.

If Jamaica comes out with a similar game plan to Friday’s, that an adjustment in our minds that comes in game.

Thus there are two key foundations to the line-up that is left without Clarence Goodson in this.

First, the US must start their most seasoned, cohesive and hopefully fastest defensive unit. That would necessitate a backline of Cherundolo, Cameron, Bocanegra, Fab Johnson fronting Tim Howard. (Mini-point here, just how injured is Howard from Friday–that’s a real question).

Bocanegra here not the fastest, but he’s been tabbed to start, he’s the seasoned veterans and he’ll organize the backline. Calls for Cameron to play defensive mid rather than CD in this one seem short-sighted. Has Cameron practiced there with Klinsmann’s US national team? No. So you want to try him there in this match? No again. Plus, what if you fall behind? It’s Cameron that can be easily added and pushed up from the back into the attack without using a substitution.

The front six is the next riddle and it begs the question how the US will play in this one and just how forward they want to get their fullbacks into the attack and will they be unbalanced in that attack (the States typically has been under Klinsmann) or will they go with a two striker set that focuses more on holding and spraying. (Think Slovenia with Altidore and Buddle fronting the US.)

It’s a good question and one that only will be answered with the line-up announcement a half an hour before the game. We’ll take a shot below at a quirky line-up that you just might see. (Reminder, we always try to predict the line-up/not select a team ourselves).

G: Tim Howard

DEF: Cherundolo, Cameron, Bocanegra, Johnson

CDM: Maurice Edu

LM/RM: Jermaine Jones, (Brek Shea or Graham Zusi*)

CAM: Clint Dempsey

FW: Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez

The skinny: Low confidence here in the selections. Jose Francisco Torres did play a game at leftback so fair play there. The reason for these front selections above are all of these players are: 1) constantly moving and b) move the ball vertically in possession.

A player like Jose Torres was considered, but in the end, he’s a 3-touch player and Jamaicans defenders would be on him before the pass. TSG has never been partial to Jozy Altidore and the striker took little initiative to involve himself Friday when the service to him broke down; hence the call for Boyd. With Boyd and Gomez the US gets two relentless forwards who can put pressure on the Jamaican defenders.

The biggest question is Shea or Zusi and that gets down to just how much attacking initiative Klinsmann feels he has or needs. Shea needs the ball, but can then make defense’s adjusts. Zusi was the player that was missing last, a linking or shuttling player to the front. If we were forced to bet, then Zusi would be the call.

36 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Izzy on 2012/09/11 at 9:43 AM

    I understand you guys saying that Jozy didn’t do great trying to involve himself on Friday, and I agree partially, but I think we should also understand that helping get the forwards involved was “supposed” to be Dempsey’s job. I use quotes because, as we all know, and as you posted in ur synopsis of the game, that’s really not Clint’s thing. He can do a fair impression of a number ten and has definitely had at least a few good assists in his time, but linking play isn’t really his strongest point. I imagine that’s why Juergen might have liked Torres in that role against Mexico.

    That may be a little too much of an expanded theory considering the depleted roster we were working on that day, but Klinsmann definitely seems to want Jose to be something useful further up the field. He likes his touch, technique, control, and passing. Now he wants him to take a note from Dempsey (who, from videos/pictures I’ve seen, seems to be quite fond of his fellow Texas native) and become more aggressive in the attack.

    Now that I think about it, I wonder how close Juergen might be to placing Paco in that trequartista role again now that he made that statement about Jose taking more responsibility and then proceeded to place Dempsey in that same role (with mixed results, I might add).

    There’s no doubt that, in Klinsmann’s mind, Jose Francisco Torres is a project worth the trouble. We’ll see, I suppose…


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 9:46 AM

      Very fair point on Altidore and perhaps some bias here. Jozy has always been a player though, even up the field with service, who’s thrived by others creating space for him.

      Whether it be against Guadeloupe with Wondo (I believe) clearing in front of him or vs. Canada with Donovan being extremely active to draw attention.

      I think–if you’re going to press–you want players that press but also that move proactively. I’m not sure I’d slot in Altidore there.

      But I am probably very wrong.


      • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/11 at 9:59 AM

        I think Jozy is what he is. A player who is going to stay very central and serve as a good target player as well as decent finisher as long as he has service. If he’s in a game where the US dominates posession and doesn’t have to press extremely high, I think he’s a good fit. Otherwise, I think you go with the more active Boyd.


        • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/11 at 10:27 AM

          For me, Jozy plays the Number 9 role like Fernando Torres, NOT like Drogba. That is fine, if the team is built to support that type of center forward. However I think the US is looking for a Drogba type.

          The reason that I bring up those two players is not for a quality comparison, but for a system comparison. Look at Chelsea. A team built around the Center forward holding the ball just couldn’t play well with one looking to run with the ball. Changing the system is required. They played both as a 4-3-3.


          • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/11 at 10:44 AM

            I feel like Jozy isn’t quite as active as Torres can be, who often moves laterally across the back line a lot more than Jozy does.

            However, I will say that this seems to apply more to Jozy with the US than with his club team. I often wonder if Jozy is told to be a little more stationary with the US in order to supply the team with a consistant outlet pass who will also stay high on the back line and keep them from pressing too far up.


            • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/11 at 11:39 AM

              I guess that is my point. The US is looking for a stationary center forward to hold the ball and bring midfielders into the play. Definitely a Drogba thing. Jozy is naturally a drifter. Moving outside (usually left) and then coming back inside to get the ball on the run, Ala Fernando Torres.

              That kind of movement can be useful. By drifting outside a midfielder can crash through the space created. Also if done right the Forward can be between the full back and the Centerback and then receive the ball in stride and blow past the Centerback. I just think the US isn’t trying to do that, making Jozy fight what he naturally wants to do.

              The reason you start Jozy is that he is a better player than Boyd. The reason you start Boyd is that he is a better hold-up striker.

              There are three options here:
              1. Start Jozy and force him to play hold up that makes him perform lower but increases team performance
              2. Start Boyd and accept his lower individual ability but better hold up play and increased team performance
              3. Start Jozy and change the team play to fit better with him, maximizing his output and sacrificing somewhere else.

              Its hard to know which is best for the specific game plan, future development of Jozy or Boyd, and the future of the team.

  2. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/11 at 9:49 AM




    Or does klinsy just f with everyone



  3. If we are going with Zusi and Shea on wings at CM with Edu as central defending mid… yikes! Going more offense is not the words… how about going all offensive with no help to Dolo and Johnson on defense. Shea has never shown the effort you need for him to play this position and Zusi is a question mark too. Shea is usually up higher in the 4-3-3 type version.

    I just can’t imagine JK going all offensive to the extent of leaving the backline with no help on defense. I’d like to see us in 4-2-3-1 with:



    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 10:19 AM

      It’s Shea *or Zusi on the wings.

      You have to also remember that you can play with width using your forwards or you can play with width using your fullbacks.

      Why Bob Bradley’s 2-deep CM set was effective is that it allowed the fullbacks to advance without playing a high line defense because of the speed and endurance of primarily Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley.

      Anyway, I threw out that line-up for fun–though I can’t see the frail Torres playing effectively against a hard tackling Jamaican side.

      I could see your line-up too with the exception of Edu and Jones. Through Klinsmann’s entire tenure he’s never used two holding midfielders — I’m not sure this is the match for it.


      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/11 at 10:40 AM

        I just don’t know that I want to play with both fullbacks pressing against a team looking to spring a counter attack. That is a lot of ground to cover.

        Is it me or do we all of the sudden seem too unbalanced left. Altidore and dempsey like to start left of center. Torres seems to be deployed left. Johnson and Shea like to run the Wing, Shea definitely left, Johnson deployed there.

        A lot of USA games lately I have felt that we have too many players looking to do the same thing, ie. occupy the same space and make the same runs. For all the talk about “roles” its seems like we are trying too hard to get our best 11 players on the field at the same time, but building a team around our best 3-4 players.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 10:49 AM

          Completely agree with your comment and I think that is the main question. How much space behind the fullbacks.

          Let’s remember — and this is why coaches know what they’re doing and we know just a pinky’s worth — Jamaica will likely play more reserved.

          Will they play in the 4-3-3 they’ve been using and risk the US outmanning them now in their end why those two wide forwards just sit and wait?

          They’ve also used a 4-2-3-1 which I think it appropriate here. Guard the middle of the pitch. Defend 5 across (like the US did against Argentina to its success in a 1-0 friendly victory).

          I would do that frankly (of a 4-4-1-1 and I would put Mattocks or Stewart up top to run behind the US).

          It’s the fun question about this game.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 10:53 AM

      Another thing about Shea. He has in fact played a wide midfielder role quite successful when Dallas nearly won the MLS Cup two years ago. He and Dax McCarty were fantastic in covering for Ferreira and providing him options.

      Shea also played a similar role against Ecuador with some success end of 2011 though Danny Williams was tucking in and providing some cover.


  4. […] Fan In You « Jamaica 2, USA 1: The States Now Must Spliff The Difference Orange Slices: USA vs. Jamaica […]


  5. Posted by Damon on 2012/09/11 at 11:09 AM

    433 for me.

    Edu playing in front of the back 4 lets him slide back to form a 3 man defense and let Johnson and Cheruldolo push forward to create more width against a team looking to pack the middle. Dempsey cutting in from the left gives Johnson plenty of space to operate down that flank.

    WHen Dempsey wears out bring on Shea for him. I’d imagine at some point Boyd would come on for Altidore. Not many options on the right wing with the current roster unfortunately.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 11:10 AM

      Lot of merit to this formation. And given Gomez’s tracking back last game, I could see it.


    • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/11 at 11:11 AM

      I feel like this line up would suffer from many of the same possession problems we saw last match and it would play just as narrow. Dempsey is not really a guy to help provide width and neither his Herc (not surprising considering neither one are wingers). You’d have to ahve Dolo and Johnson provide the width and if they get caught up trying to do that too much, we could get caught on the counter.


      • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/11 at 11:12 AM

        I would point out that maybe I’m just being pessimistic and not seeing the full potential of this line up.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 11:13 AM

        Dempsey in-cuts — and Gomez did a good job of providing some hold-up play on the right flank in the previous one. Do the fullbacks get up the pitch. Do we keep high pressure — same questions.

        Love it. Quite the conundrum.


        • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/11 at 11:17 AM

          Perhaps but I still have questions about the possession ability of that middle three (Jones, Edu, Williams). One of them still needs to be able to get the ball to Herc, Jozy, or Clint. Maybe replace one of them with Zusi?


      • Eric – the exact same thought went through my head. I have trouble envisioning us working the ball up from the CB’s, through Edu, through Jones/Williams, and then up to the front 3 without turning it over. I’ve never been a fan of Edu – he seems to give the ball up too easily on offense – and would rather see Jones in front of the back 4, with a more possession-oriented CM (ie, Torres) to link Jones/the front 3. Though as pointed out in previous comments, Jamaican pressure could easily thwart Gringo’s game.

        It will be fascinating to see how Klinsi handles “the conundrum”.


        • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/11 at 11:46 AM

          This thought makes me wonder if the USA needs a “CDM”? Or is it that they need a holding playmaker? Someone in front of the back four that they can feed the ball to. Not necessarily someone to “protect” them, but someone they can outlet to. Ideally having that holder be a monster defender would be better, but sacrificing defensive skills for better passing forward might be worth it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beckerman again, he seems like that comprise between edu and Torres.


  6. How many times in a row does Jones have to play like dog poop before he’s dropped?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 12:51 PM

      Not going to happen I don’t think today. He’s got the most games played for the US this year. Hard to remove him.


  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/11 at 12:57 PM

    Brian McBride is on the Tweet machine __


  8. Posted by amh on 2012/09/11 at 1:18 PM

    Question about Danny Williams. What role does he play on the team and does he do it well? Seems to me to clatter around quite a bit, but that might be by design or it just might be me.


  9. Posted by Soccertes on 2012/09/11 at 1:41 PM

    Another unfortunate revelation prompted by The Conundrum (which may not be so reveletory, I realize) is that the US arguably is a completely different team without one Michael Bradley on the pitch. The former reliable destroyer seems to be rapidly developing into a box-to-box MF that can distribute (including from deep-lying positions) and possesses tactical awarness perhaps unrivaled by his positional peers. I never thought I’d say this about MB, or any other player for that matter, but as I sit here in the waning hours of my work day nervously anticipating tonight’s do-or-die event, a pit in my stomach from the uncertainty and host of unanswered questions swirling around the soccerwebs, I actually miss MB right now so much it almost hurts.

    There… thanks for the catharsis.


    • Posted by mbw on 2012/09/11 at 2:11 PM

      Yes! And with multiplier effects all over the pitch. Fabian Johnson is less effective going forward with no DLP pinging balls out to him (as in the Italy and Brazil matches). Dempsey suffers from the absence of creative players like Bradley and Johnson in the attacking third. Edu’s pass completion percentage drops because Bradley’s not there to pick the ball up from him. . . .


  10. Posted by Soccertes on 2012/09/11 at 2:07 PM

    One thing that would provide me with some visual alka seltzer is a starting midfield change that replaces Beckerman with, well, anyone but Beckerman. In addition to his shortcomings ability-wise (exposed by the quicker Reggae Boyz) and the tactical limitations that result from pairing him with two other defensive MFs, his presence seems to transform Jones into a poor man’s Nigel De Jong.


  11. coverage starts at 8pm ET (not 5pm ET)
    you gave me a mild heart attack


  12. Long-time lurker, first-time poster here. I enjoy the commentary and comments a lot.

    I’m a stats nerd and figured some people might be interested in the true “must win” nature of tonight’s game in terms of moving on to the hexagonal. As I’ve figured it, 11 points is the magic number. Any team from the group that reaches 11 points will advance, no help from other teams needed, no worries about goal differential (it’s impossible for 3 teams to end with 11+ points at this point).

    For either the U.S. or Guatemala, that means 2 wins and a draw is sufficient with no need to get help from other teams, while Jamaica needs a win and a draw to advance. This also means that a U.S. loss tonight could potentially mean that they no longer control their own destiny with two games to play.

    The real grey area is finishing with 9 or 10 points. 9 points for the U.S. (a win and 2 draws) would leave their fate in the hands of Guatemala, who could still finish with double digit points along with Jamaica. 10 points would put any team in high likelihood, but not guaranteed, territory, as there are multiple scenarios where three teams finish with 10+ points (meaning a team with 10 points will still be out). As such, two wins for the U.S. or Guatemala, or one win for Jamaica, is good but not enough for those teams to advance without either one additional point or specific helpful results. (For example, if the U.S. won tonight, lost to Guatemala, and then Jamaica and Guatemala draw, and those three teams all beat A&B, the U.S. would be out with 10 points in third place.)

    For all intents and purposes 7 or 8 points won’t cut it. It’s mathematically possible in various scenarios, but realistically that would involve something like Jamaica running the table or A&B defeating the U.S. In other words, a win, draw, and loss for the U.S. in the remaining three games would likely mean no hexagonal unless the right set of circumstances allowed them to still finish ahead of Guatemala.

    Bottom Line: The U.S. needs 10 total points in the group to feel comfortable about advancing, but preferably 11 points which would guarantee a spot. This means that 2 wins in the final 3 games is a must.

    A win tonight puts the U.S. in great position, needing at most 4 points in their final two games, quite possibly less than 4, to advance. A draw tonight still leaves the U.S.’s fate completely in their own hands, albeit with considerably less margin for error. A loss tonight means two actual “must win” games coming up plus some help would be needed (particularly via goal differential and/or Guatemala dropping points to A&B or Jamaica), and any further loss of points would put them in great jeopardy of not moving on.


  13. Anyone else loving Danny Williams in his preferred #6 role?


  14. Dempsey’s face!!! ahahahaha


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