USA 1, Jamaica 0: TSG’s Top Ten List

Dolo & The States, best foot forward…

Some quick takes courtesy the TSG DVR and laptop. Oh and for all those that slammed: Missed only one on the starters, JFT instead of Terrence Boyd.


10• Winning the numbers game. Thankfully.

Our USA-Jamaica Game One review called out the Klinsmann coaching staff for failing to put the right numbers and configuration in the US midfield in Kingston. It was a more-than-fair assessment.

Klinsmann’s side rectified that on Tuesday with at least five players assigned to battle three in the Jamaican midfield.

However it was even more numbers on many occasions and how they materialized was the key.

Klinsmann–as we asked the question of “how far he would go” in the Game 1 Jamaican preview–sent Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo forward on their square or diagonal passes into Torres, Dempsey and Zusi respectfully. That was the license and it was the fullback motion that pinned backed Jamaica’s fullbacks from helping further open the space ahead of them.

Michael Bradley must’ve been smiling some from Roma where the strategy was very similar to the one his club team employs.

9• Foot-No Gas Syndrome

TSG contributor Alex Olshansky adds:

Before the goal: USA was 410/467 passing (88%), JAM was 77/137 (56%)

After the goal: USA was 144/186 (77%) and JAM was 129/170 (76%). US also went from 7.5 passes complete a minute to 4.1.


Jamaica might have had cause to now push the game after the States score, but the US needed to keep the urgency.

8• Geoff Cameron’s Laundry List

I can just imagine a scene in the locker room afterward where US equipment director Jesse Bignami is inventorying the kits and Ryan Johnson falls out of Geoff Cameron’s shorts’s change pocket. (Yes, I know there are no change pockets in anyone’s shorts, save RVP’s or maybe Tevez’s, but whatever.)

Geoff Cameron flat-out dominated Johnson in this one.

Johnson went for headers and Cameron out-leapt him. Johnson looked to receive a ball over-the-top and Cameron swallowed. Johnson got frustrated, fouled and lost focus–and the two players set to run off his hold up play (Luton Shelton and Omar Cummings) suffered from it, failing to sniff the box almost all night.

If your Stoke City–and with the acquisitions of Maurice Edu, Steven N’Zonzi and Charlie Adam–don’t you have to just sneak a look at Cameron at centerback? Johnson may not be as skilled but he is a hulking 6’1”, 175lbs or so.

Good to see some swagger from D-Will.

7• Who in the name of Yann M’Vila was playing in the central holding smack down role?

It’s amazing what a little familiarity and comfort does.

Danny Williams probably doesn’t speak a lot of English. And up until the last scraps of Jamaica Williams had been asked to be deployed in more of a shuttler and cover protector role. In fact this was our commentary on Williams in advance of the USA-Mexico friendly:

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.

Not today TSG!

Williams looked downright cozy in the holding role with the major team advantage of allowing Steve Cherundolo and especially Fabian Johnson to gallop forward. With the US pressing it was Williams with only Cameron or Bocanegra behind him on many occasions.

Johnson’s stat line: 8 recoveries, 3 interceptions, 66 of 69 passes completed (yowzas!) and perhaps most importantly….some swagger.

Williams looked the part, often demanding the ball with a hand raised from his teammates and, after getting smacked in the head by an errant Je-Vaughn Watson elbow late in the game (and without the command of the English language) still sent some body language Watson’s way.

A drop of nasty. Might there be more in store down the line? That’s the first time US fans have seen Danny Williams personality shine through.

6• Look, just a few wet blankets, okay?

An astounding effort by the States and the vital home win. The end justifies the means.

That said a shaper team. A team with more discipline in executing would seemed like instructions to press more in the second half perhaps closes the night with a draw on some of the Yanks’ lack of focus.

There were also a few areas of housekeeping that need attending. The first being the most pressing.

» The States are vulnerable on quick restarts or turnovers.

Jamaica was well-schooled Rodolph Austin gathered a loose ball and took a quick shot on Tim Howard that had to be parried and as the minutes waned Jamaica’s final two corner kicks were knocked-on before the States had a chance to gather itself. Luckily the States had resolve, but a sharper team would have punished them.

» Jermaine Jones needs to end the simulation and face-grabbing.

There was a moment at the end of the second half where Jones was legitimately fouled–and he was a number of times on the evening–however Jones incessant complaining to the refs as well as his penchant to stay down on the play goes a step beyond–it would seem–Klinsmann’s mantra after the Brazil game to dirty-up the game within the game. Jones should have gotten that call, but he likely didn’t because the ref was just tired of dealing with him.

5• Herculez Gomez is here ________________________ the rest of the depth chart is here.

Gomez leading the line ahead of Dempsey.

With the US playing a near Roma style attack, it was the right configuration up top and it worked because Herculez Gomez understands the match.

Beyond his tremendous set piece delivery tonight and of course, the game winner, it was Gomez’s engine that again manufactured chances.

(Note: It should be annotated that Herc’s best goal scoring season ever–17 with the Los Angeles Galaxy in–saw a majority of his goals scored from outside the box. (Herc loves to remind us of that one and I reminded him of it tonight.)

Gomez was consistently showing up in the right places through effort on Tuesday. In fact, late in the second half after he and Jermaine Jones were arguing a call, Jones trotted back to his position, Gomez damn near sprinted. And this was a Gomez who battling illness all week.

Gomez–right now–is, consider this, may be, pound-for-pound the best poacher in CONCACAF? (Yes Chicharito scored one tonight to get off the snide, yes the Little Pea plays at Manchester United., but Gomez–like he did in tying Chicharito for the Clausura scoring title in 2010 before the World Cup–may be on as good form right now.)

[Insert typical TSG-Gomez disclaimer here.]

4• No soup for you

If there any player more frustrating, infuriating than Freddy Adu Jozy Altidore? When the line-up was announced–and before the DVR delayed review–my very first thought in terms of “those missing” was, “Oh thank goodness, all eleven players are going to play defense.”

I don’t care that Jozy Altidore missed a back heal; I don’t care all that much that he gave away the ball in the corner when the States’ were trying to ice the game.

But I very much do care that Altidore lacked a lot of hustle on both his own turnovers and on closedowns as a fresh sub.

If you look at Altidore’s club goals they’re often with a player clearing space around him. On this US team, Altidore will not be the focal point some time and must play defense. The perennial question, will he ever step up the defensive part of his game?

3• Clint Dempsey bailed the States boat tonight as good as Landon Donovan….(and he’s a superb false #9)

Clint Dempsey was not at his best tonight. In fact, far from it. There was nearly another Honduras in Chicago turnover again. (We’ll spare the YouTube link-up).

But Dempsey was necessity in taking people on, in maintaining possession and in, frankly, leading the US when Jamaica tried to rough up the game.

With Dempsey’s ability and his me-against-the-world-“he tries stuff” mentality, the US needed to follow someones’s direction and bravado in puffing out their chest. That was Dempsey, though not at his best.

2• Itching Questions

This was the best effort from Jose Torres tonight, but he still lost the ball seven times in possession and missed some passes. It came in a game where there was a lot of support for the midfield.

Is it enough from Torres? Is he just spot-starter or will he, should he, continued to be crammed into the line-up regularly?

At the opposite end of the spectrum (or not), Graham Zusi, of course, has now mountain-climbed up the depth chart. Here’s what TSG wrote about Zusi after the January game vs. Venezuela when he played for the USMNT “B” team:

Differing opinions on Graham Zusi, but the Sporting KC man was adept at one thing. Two-touching and moving the ball quickly. Zusi’s rate of play was good. Many will say he missed passes tonight, but the opinion here is that he was proactive and making passes where his more reactive teammates *should have been*. 

He’ll get a look with the senior team and some point this year if he continues his maturation and it will be an important one.

1• Steve Cherundolo’s Killer Crossover

There was a pretty good basketball player in the 1990’s named Tim Hardaway, a point guard for the Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat. Hardaway was a point guard who broke down defenses and could score if need be–all it took was a quick switch of the dribble from one hand to the next (and sometimes back) and the a little hip movement from his defender was all that he needed to make a massive incision in the defense.

That’s Steve Cherundolo.

No player.

No player was more instrumental than Steve Cherundolo in this one. Dolo was a marauding flanker. He was an extra hand in the midfield and, most of all, he was the most trusted man in possession that often opened up the attack and staved off any semblance of Reggae Boyz pressure.

A play in the 71st minute was subtle yet emphatically stated ‘Dolo’s value.

Geoff Cameron, under slight duress, feeds the ball to Steve Cherundolo with one and maybe two defenders set to collapse. Dolo fakes toward the ball holding the defense, steps back and now receives it with space, fakes forward slowing the primary face-up attacker, and then he flicks a pass up the line to an awaiting Danny Williams.

Problem solved.

That was Cherundolo.

The game plan got the ball to Cherundolo early and he set the tone on the flank. The threat of driving up the line opened up a simple yet extremely effective dribble in Dolo’s arsenal. That crossover. The memory of Dolo combining with Zusi and peeling up the line in the opening minutes still fresh, Dolo would now fake up the line and then pull the back.

Jamaica’s defenders would react negatively, dropping of instead of closing down and the space would open a pocket for Zusi to slot back in, Jones to appear or Dempsey to drop back into to initiate the attack.

Can’t underestimate Dolo’s importance this evening.

28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex on 2012/09/12 at 12:51 AM

    Dolo for MOTM. Parkhurst didn’t play bad, but the Mayor is just a step above.


    • Was sitting in the temporary seating on Timmy’s end in the first half and had a great view of Dolo pushing up the right. I kept screaming for us to move the ball out right, because it seemed that Stevie C was getting down the line whenever he desired.

      That said, Cameron is my MOTM. He owned the skies and apart from one or two passes that weren’t exactly crisp, I had absolutely zero qualms about his play.


  2. Posted by Jared on 2012/09/12 at 6:42 AM

    Danny Williams needs to be the defensive midfielder from now on until he proves that he can’t do it. That performance was better than anything we’ve seen from Edu or Beckerman ever in terms of the complete package. He harassed and intercepted as well as Edu and didn’t give the ball away (66 of 69 is just ridiculous). Can you imagine if he had MB90 to pass the ball to?

    I was extremely impressed by Zusi. His ability to play with Dolo was incredible and similar to the way that Donovan has been able to use Dolo. If Donovan isn’t available then Zusi needs to be there with Dolo. Williams starting at right mid after tonight will really piss me off because it will severely weaken two positions.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/12 at 8:09 AM

      Let’s remember though. These was defensive third pressure on Williams & he was fresh and hadn’t played Game One.

      He should definitely start getting reps. I’d like to see him there a few more times first.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 8:09 AM

      +1 ^^^ this


    • Agree a few more reps are needed for DW – but he looked very, very good last night. As noted below, a DW-MB90 combo is looking very, very encouraging, and like a big upgrade (in terms of possession) over Jones-Edu, Beckerman-Edu, etc.


    • Posted by steve-0 on 2012/09/12 at 5:01 PM

      Agreed – this is now his position to lose. WIth Beckerman, you get controlled calm passing and cutting off passes. With Edu, you get a defensive shield – a true shot stopper. But with Williams, you get the best of both worlds!!!


      • Posted by Union on 2012/09/14 at 9:41 PM

        I don’t need to see anymore reps. Give him the job. I’ve seen enough reps from Edu and Beckerman to know that I don’t need to see anymore reps from Williams. Its his job.


  3. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 8:19 AM

    I’ve never understood why people want to see the Dolo regime end. I agree that he shouldn’t be playing 90 minutes every game during the Gold Cup etc, but he hasn’t had a bad game in I don’t know how long. Even a few games that are weaker, I don’t remember him being a huge liability.

    Chandler shouldn’t even be considered anymore, and unless JK decides to finally start calling in Lichaj there really isn’t anyone else who offers anything going forward while playing solid defense.

    My favorite players last night were Dolo, Williams, and Cameron (I’d have to think Stoke would give him a run at CB if they are watching some of these games).

    I think Danny Williams should have moved ahead of Edu and Beckerman in the “sweeper” role. I think he is already ahead of them and he is the player you want come 2014. I want to see him start their the final 2 qualifiers. Edu is done for now- you bring on a defensive midfielder who makes you more vulnerable to attack- that’s where he is at right now. He’s approaching the level of Ricardo Clark.

    Just a question- since JK took over how many times has any true striker/forwrd scored in the run of play? I’m getting a feeling we might go another World Cup without a forward scoring in the run of play.

    I want Jozy to suceed and it frustrates me he can’t bring his club form over, but if you are making a sub for a hold up player… its not him. Boyd instead, Sapong (if on roster). Heck Corona or Guzan would probably do better than Jozy in that role.


    • I wouldn’t say I WANTED the Dolo regime to end – not sure if many fans would – but I will admit I’ve been concerned that the Dolo regime WAS ending. I agree he hasn’t had a “bad” game in as long as I can remember, but do think he hasn’t looked like the offensive threat/defensive stalwart he was last night in his past few outings. Regardless, he was awesome last night – so that at least assuages my fears that the Dolo regime will end sometime soon. Dolo’s still got it going on, for now at least.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/12 at 9:47 AM

        I think it’s fair to be grooming replacement.

        With age, a player like Dolo who has oscillated between brittle and consistent may break down.

        It’s fair to want someone ready/willing to step in. It may have been Tim Chandler at one point, it isn’t now.

        It’s somewhat fortuitous–and I am of the mindset that solving LB was a good move–that Fabian Johnson got the runout in the back rather than Chandler on the left because he can be better and more dynamic. He needs to stop overcommitting on the attackers first move, but he’ll get there.


        • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 9:58 AM

          To the two replies above- I guess I was referring to (probably a small minority) a few posts I’ve seen basically saying ‘Dolo is/should be done with the National Team. The guy is still starting in the Bundesliga. I’m definitely for grooming a replacement- I’ve been a huge Lichaj fan since before his first CAP and even a bigger one since the friendly vs Colombia in Philly the other year. I really hope JK calls him in during October. I also WAS a big Chandler fan- I loved the Paraguay (?) friendly with Chandler and Lichaj bombing down the right flank.

          Speaking of starters in the Bundesliga- how is Jermaine Jones a starter? Yesterday was a ‘better’ Jermaine Jones game and he somehow didn’t get a yellow for once, but he just never seems to play at a Bundesliga starter ‘level’ for the National Team.


        • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 10:08 AM

          Also another reason I’m desperate (along with most of the fanbase probably) to see Gatt. Although I wouldn’t want to see Gatt ‘wasted’ at RB if he can offer alot to the attack at RW.


  4. Posted by mbw on 2012/09/12 at 8:25 AM

    That was the Steve Cherundolo of May 2010-July 2011. I really do think his dip in form this past year might have been episodic rather than secular — a product of injury and poor form rather than age.

    Just curious: what’s the basis for people saying Danny Williams doesn’t speak much English? He sounds pretty capable in interviews. But on the field might be a different story?


    • Posted by Roman Lewandowski on 2012/09/13 at 4:53 PM

      I was just about to post what you said in the second paragraph. Williams doesn’t seem to speak English as well as Johnson and Boyd, but he clearly has command of the language. To my knowledge, Chandler is the only one of the military kids who speaks poor English.


  5. Posted by derek on 2012/09/12 at 8:42 AM

    I would love to see this same lineup with two changes (once they are healthy) : MB90 in for Jones and LD in for Torres. They would have provided some much needed possession in the final 15 minues.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/12 at 9:49 AM

      It’s funny. Donovan is probably not the exact right fit there, but may have helped. Donovan/Dolo usually is that permutation. Just making the observation.


      • Well, is Zusi capable on the left? I know Donovan is but he’s stronger on the right with his longtime partnership with Dolo. Or, would you consider sliding Donovan centrally and let Dempsey cut in from the left? Most of our effective wing play came from the right side last night anyways. And I’m in favor of anything that puts Dempsey and Fabian close together.


  6. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 10:04 AM

    My question- was it part of the gameplan to switch the emphasis of the attack from the left flank to the right flank to throw Jamaica off or was it just because ‘Dolo/Zusi were working it? That’s the first time under JK that I remember the right side doing the work like it often did under Bradley.

    Wouldn’t the USA attack be much more dangerous if both flanks were legitimate threats? By 2014 if you could have

    SHEA/GYAU/(you fill in the blank) DONOVAN/ZUSI/GATT/(you pick)


    develop to their full potential I think the USA would be able to dynamically attack from both wings causing alot more chances, no? Wouldn’t that be better than selling out on one side?


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 10:05 AM

      Sorry the formatting is all messed up with this computer- I think you can figure out what I’m trying to say with the players at LW and LB and RW and RB.

      I think last night showed how essential it is for the USA to have/develop attacking width.


  7. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 10:29 AM

    There’s Terrence Boyd who had to get his estranged father who he hadn’t saw in years to sign documents so he could get his passport

    There’s Danny Williams: A wide-eyed Danny Williams, still buzzing after the game, agreed. “I have played before emotional fans in Germany, but never anything like this — 24,000 fans felt like 50 or 60,000 in here,” he said with a broad smile. “They made it a special night for us.”

    And then there is Tim Chandler.

    I don’t care if the cynics say that Williams and Boyd would not play for Germany. I’m glad to have guys who want to be on the team- no matter how talented they are.


  8. Posted by Eric L on 2012/09/12 at 11:51 AM

    Just curious how many people calling for Gatt have actually seen him play?


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/12 at 12:43 PM

      How many people have seen him play? How can you? Its not easy to watch Norwegian football. Ill take Brian Sciaretta (easily the most respected opinion in mind mind for foreign players), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and others words for it though. I also like the video highlights I’ve seen of his goals and assists.

      Any player with blazing speed who is a true wide player is desperately needed with the National Team.


  9. Posted by Jake on 2012/09/12 at 1:19 PM

    Williams looked great in the #6 role. Be great to see more of him in that role.
    Zusi played great as well.


  10. […] confidence but in candor had shown us very little in a US shirt until last night. Many had argued (The Shin Guardian and Brian Sciaretta most notably and most early) that Williams suffered from Klinsmann’s […]


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