TSG’s Official USA v. Mexico Preview: Knights Of Columbus

USA - Mexico. Bravado and bad blood abounds...

USA – Mexico. Bravado and bad blood abounds…

Let’s this out of the way. TSG has been authoring in-depth USMNT previews since 2010. The least confidence in this one.

The drama has returned to CONCACAF. The Hex, vexing.

Torrential downpours blanketed North and Central American CONCACAF games this past Friday somewhat fitting as the World Cup hopes for a few nations were left in muddy waters.

The United States and Mexico square off Tuesday in the most proper of places, Crew Stadium in Columbus–an arena rich in history, lore and symbolism for the States. The cries of Dos-A-Cero echo across American soccer media today as Columbus has been home to three 2-0 beatdowns of the Mexicans. The most recent, February 2009 in the front end of the Hex cycle series, saw Michael Bradley sling the team over his shoulder and erect a brace to carry the day.

Michael Bradley and Tim Howard shine for the USA in Columbus in a 2-0 win in February 2009

The States, of course, enter this game without Bradley–the Roma midfielder grotesquely rolling his ankle on the turf in San Jose. He’s been officially ruled out as have John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore. Brooks due to a club team callback and the rest due to yellow card accumulation.

It some ways the string of unavailable names will resemble the US’s trip to the Azteca in March, but that’s where the comparisons end.

This is a US home game, a match-up where the US holds a gaudy 23-0-1 home record. This is not a game for survival by attrition or eking out goals. These are statement games. And the pomp and circumstance–supporters groups, ESPN coverage and more–suggests that statement will be cheered and broadcast loudly.

But the States have a vexing problem on their hands.

The US’s does not want to get into an up-and-down game with El Tri, a team whose counterattack is as good and as pretty as any in the world.

When El Tri is steaming up the pitch, with interlaced off-ball runs that look like they’re being cut by a symphony conductor, they downright savage their opponent. The rushes come furiously and without warning–not unlike how MLS’s LA Galaxy play–and the US knows all too well what happens when they are not answered with an appropriate response.

In the 2009 Gold Cup, Mexico amassed “A” level talent in the final game, inserted a rested and motivated Carlos Vela after the break and rode he and Dos Santos to Cinco-a-cero victory.

In 2011, an early 2-0 scoreline by the Yanks backed El Tri up against the wall. El Tri sprung a response a little Bruce Lee like. Some unfortunate events–Clint Dempsey banging on the crossbar from distance–and the US fell 4-2.

So the States’ must possess the ball without fail Tuesday–a task that seemed more than plausible 45 minutes before kickoff last Friday. Now though, that task becomes a challenge with two of the US’s best deep ball handlers–Bradley and Matt Besler out and no Jozy Altidore to showcase his newfound target man game.

But, if you think the States have a difficult road to hoe on Tuesday than Mexico is up a Mississippi River-sized sh*t’s creek.

El Tri finally scored at home in 2013 in their World Cup qualifier Friday, a fifth minute goal a relief more than statement of intent. Whatever goodwill that created in the stands or faux confidence it built on the field, flooded out the door when their opponent Honduras answered with two in the second half to knock the Mexicans out cold on their home turf.

Just another Friday in a hectic CONCACAF qualifier date.

Paddling Mexico back to the top of the Hex?

Paddling Mexico back to the top of the Hex?

Mexico currently sit on eight points in the Hex and in fourth place.

Given their track record in the US and Panama potentially salvaging a point in Honduras, the green and red could find themselves tied with the Canaleros heading into a match-up with Blas Perez and company at home with a direct route to Brazil on the line. (The fourth place team in CONCACAF this year heads to New Zealand with the victor in a home-and-away series making Brazil.)

El Tri has a lifeline today though. They’re up that creek, but they’ve discarded an old ineffective paddle and brought in a new one, a potentially World Cup life-saving one.

Fernando Tena–who rescued El Tri back in 1991 after an awful Gold Cup, is in and Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre now chucked overboard.

It’s an immediate addition by subtraction; heck even Jim Rome as a replacement would likely see a better effort from El Tri Tuesday than if Chepo remained on the deck.

Mexico. Columbus. The Hex. This is one of those games fans remember and recount every four year cycle.

Can the States pave the way to victory Tuesday?

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

About The Opponent: Mexico

TSG What We’re Looking For

Keys To the Game for the Americans

11 At The Whistle



About The Opponent: Mexico

Whoa boy, a murky image Mexico presents itself as heading into this away qualifier.

Chepo out; it’s now a Fernandino Tena world. Logically that move is the first place to look for how Mexico will look to claw their way to at least a point in Ohio. What bag of tricks will a new manager spill out of the bag? Is there even enough time to make changes?

The key here may be from Tena’s words himself early Saturday after Chepo’s dismissal:

“El equipo mejorará de acuerdo a actuaciones de partidos anteriores, no podemos en tres días hacer grandes cambios ni creo que tengamos que hacerlos, tenemos una forma de pensar sobre la forma en que debe jugar esta selección.”

Paraphrased in English: “The team will improve performances to their previous games. In three days though we can not make major changes or nor think we need them. We have a way of thinking about how to play this selection.”

If you look at Tena’s recent track record–his run through the Olympic gauntlet with Mexico U-23’s team–and you look at the method that El Tri has used to put the hurt on the US in the last few matches, you arrive at two simple adjustments that may come on Tuesday:

» Improve the defense by making it more compact and defending a shade higher.

» Attempt to disorganize the US backline through counters and offball movement.

Addressing the defense first, El Tri had been downright non-fundamental under Chepo.

Sure El Tri’s defense has shipped less goals, four, in the Hex than any other team. (Note, they’re tied with Costa Rica for the lead.)

However, if you take a look at those performances, absolute sitters by Jobi McAnuff (for Jamaica in February), Joel Campbell (for Costa Rica in June..off the post) and  Jerry Bengston (Friday for Honduras) should see that number unquestionably moved up by three.

There are further observations. A review of the 30′ to 36′ against Honduras last week showed a shocking oleo of defensive gaffes than went unpunished, from tracking runners, poor closeout angles, poor fouls and poor positioning. It was just a few months ago that Mexico was being talked about as being a favorite at the 2014 World Cup!

In interim manager Tena, Mexico has the right guy for the short-term–a pragmatic tactician who will demand El Tri’s defensive lines move in lockstep and who will likely elect to draw the line of confrontation against the Americans somewhere between the top-of-the-attacking third and the halfline. Improvement numero uno.

In attack, El Tri has lately been as dynamic and predictably poor as the NY Jets offense … hey wait a second.

No need to look further than the US’s gut-it-out draw in March. In that one, Mexico kept trying the same combinations over-and-over-and-over again–even with few signs of success. The pattern when Gio Dos Santos incut, Dos Santos incut, Chicharito over the top, Dos Santos Incut, Pablo Barrera round the corner, Dos Santos incut, Chicharito over the top, Barrera around the corner, Dos Santos…incut.

The bet here is that El Tri adjusts by coming out in a similar 4-2-2-2/4-3-3 that they used at home against Jamaica in the first final round qualifier, February 2013 (a 0-0 draw). They’ll look to push a bit further up the field to confront the Americans hoping to take pressure off their weak backline. And they’ll look to get out and run at the right times. They’ll still use the Dos Santos incut, but they won’t beat on it mercilessly if it’s unsuccessful.

Peralta doing work at the Olympics.

Peralta doing work at the Olympics.

Tena will likely employ Hernandez up top with Oribe Peralta in a non-traditional striker pairing. Hernandez may not have scored in the last three games he played against the Yanks (March 2013, August 2012, June 2011), but he causes the US backline fits in popping up like that annoying card in Classic Concentration.

Peralta is a Tena favorite having excelled under him at the London games last year. It’s hard pressed to see Tena leaving either on the bench when the whistle blows.

Gio Dos Santos will once again start wide right and look to incut seeking to find the movement off Hernandez and Peralta ahead.

Whereas in March, Dos Santos was expected to exclusively incut from the right–and continually failed  (Preview – March 2013 – The Dos Santos Incut Option), the past two games has seen Dos Santos float more as he did against the American in Pasadena at that Gold Cup Final (Preview – July 2011 – The Dos Santos Swivel).

Dos Santos is absolutely vital to the Mexican attacking cause and much more so when coming in a la Ruiz, al Messi from the right.

Honduras so respected Dos Santos on Friday that they had Roger Espinoza–their best defender–man mark Dos Santos whenever he was on Mexico’s right flank.

Andres Guardado, in and out of form and favor this year and now playing leftback for Valencia in La Liga, likely comes in for Christian Gimenez on the left. Somehow, it says here, Chucho Gimenez whether he finds his way to a starting role or not, will factor in this game; he was one of the few El Tri midfielders actively moving offball and looking spritely on Friday.

Behind the front attacking four is where Mexico has some serious personnel challenges and should call in Cruz Azul’s Alejandro Castro before Tuesday.

Gerarado Torrado picked up a second yellow Friday and that is nothing short of a massive loss for El Tri. Torrado did the dirty work in central midfield, often protecting the central defense with a Mexican team that was rather ambivalent manning up Honduras.

Further, Torrado was Mexico’s Paul Scholes, continually dropping deep to receive passes and shuttling from left to right to make sure that Mexico always had his capable handling skills available to outlet.

The current thinking is that out-of-favor Jesus Zavala–recently lauded as a golden child of the Mexico midfield–deputizes. He had a solid game versus the Americans in March. Former Pachuca-now-Porto man, 22-year-old Hector Herrera will likely pair Zavala.

El Tri’s back four leave much to be desired defensively. Servero Meza at rightback is an accident waiting to happen every match–sometimes he skirts through, but often times he doesn’t. Worse, the book on Meza hasn’t changed–he’ll fall asleep at least once each game on an opposite field, far post run. Count. on. that.

At leftback is Carlos Salcido whose play has drawn the ire of the Mexican fans lately, but who looks reasonably sound by these eyes.

Salcido always has a few adventures defending, but he can be effective if El Tri uses him more in the attack. (Note: Freddy Adu should send half the money he made from the Union to Salcido, who was nursing an injury and got worked over by Adu at the 2011 Gold Cup.)

There is a very good chance, however, that Herrera in central midfield gives way to Salcido who paired Zavala there against the Yanks in March. If that’s the case then Jose Torres Nilo will deputize at leftback. That sound you heard was a collective groan south of El Paso.

At centerback the pairing will be the veteran Hector Moreno and the youngster Diego Reyes. Their positioning is not immediately strong and Reyes particularly can blow hot and cold–normal for a CB will few high pressure reps.

Joe Corona is the young keeper who shined in London last summer–unfortunately he’s been off form lately with fans and media clamoring for the bandana of Ochoa.

A possible El Tri deployment Tuesday.

A possible El Tri deployment Tuesday.

Mexico again will look to remain compact and sit their defense at the top of the attacking third. They’ll look for Chicharito testing the backline once the Americans have come up the field or Dos Santos finding pockets where Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones should roam in central midfield.

One they hit to the center of the US defensive body, El Tri will work the sides, especially with Guardada–a chance here that Angel Reyna is the call–looking to take on whoever the US rightback is. It has been Guardado’s creation responsible for many of the crosses that have found Chicharito with good chances.


TSG What We’re Looking For:

• Backline Lockstep

Major bulletpoint here; short, curt commentary.

Mexico 4 – USA 2

Mexico 5 – USA 0

The US got slaughtered in its two latest Gold Cup Finals for one reason and one reason alone–backline organization along with the deep CDM counterpart.

In that 2011 Final, Little Pea and Dos Santos wrecked havoc sh*t on a US backline that looked like it had been cut with pinking shears.

On the left is Dos Santos off the dribble, pass and shot in March .... nothing vertical completed ... on the right is the US defense of that tactic with the defensive events of Beasley, Besler & Edu.

On the left is Dos Santos off the dribble, pass and shot in March …. nothing vertical completed … on the right is the US defense of that tactic with the defensive events of Beasley, Besler & Edu.

In March at the Azteca, the US solved those woes, specifically the movement of Dos Santos.

Maurice Edu, Matt Besler and DeMarcus Beasley combined for 16 recoveries, 8 interceptions and 4 tackles won all in the vicinity of Dos Santos’s inward movement. Conversely, Dos Santos did not complete one incising pass or have a good shot all game.

With the absence of Michael Bradley, one would expect Kyle Beckerman to sit deep in the left central midfield channel, taking away that space and movement from Dos Santos. (Note: Mexico will probably flip Dos Santos over to the left a few times just to see if his one-v-one play can at least create one or two chances off the dribble).

What’s key for the US without Edu and Besler this time around is not only Beckerman’s positioning–expected to be solid–but also the positioning of the US left centerback in when to step forward. Besler in his first game under intense pressure in March was nothing short of masterful here. The US left centerback, be it Clay Goodson or Michael Orozco-Fiscal, will need to attempt to read the game effectively.

Progressively–because you can expect breakdowns with new parts–both Jermaine Jones and Omar Gonzalez will need to stand ready for layoffs or to close down if either Beckerman of the “US LCB” get beaten. Gonzalez is particularly quite good at this.

• Please Check-In For Your Flight.

You (need to be) the man!

You (need to be) the man!

Landon Donovan could not have returned sooner for the US. Though shut down on Friday in Costa Rica–the Ticos did a tremendous job of running defenders at him when the US was attempting outlet on the right in the beginning of the match–Donovan’s movement in picking up balls in the seams of the Mexican defense must have Tena worried for his central midfield pairing.

Whether it’s against a high line–the Charlie Davies assist in 2009–or against a withdrawn line–the Clint Dempsey assist at the 2011 Gold Cup final–Donovan should be able to find some joy on the pass or the dribble.

How much freedom that Klinsmann gives can afford Donovan will be critical to Donovan poking at the El Tri defense.

Keys To the Game for the US:

» Defense: Mark Dos Santos out of the game, especially when he’s on the right.

This goes to Beckerman and Beasley primarily.

» Defense: Do not allow Peralta to set up shop centrally.

If Peralta plays he’s very good at turning and getting his own shot, usually to the left, but also dishing. The Americans cannot give him time on the ball centrally–goes without saying.

» Defense: Control the tempo of the game

Even with a weakened midfield corp, the American should be able to possess the ball at home. This is vital so that the game does not become vertical ping pong and present better chances for Mexico.

» Offense/Defense: Avoid cheap giveaways that can lead to El Tri taking out their attacking boom boom stick.

I just texted Jermaine Jones again. No answer. Anyone?

» Offense: Challenge the El Tri discipline and shape.

Finding Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey between the lines will force El Tri to make the decisions they want to avoid on defense.

» Offense: Take chances against the El Tri CBs, especially if they’re playing a high line.

Might the States see an Aron Johansson start? 2013 has proved that, when unshielded, Mexico’s centerbacks are prone to mental and physical errors.

11 At The Whistle

A possible US deployment on Tuesday...

A possible US deployment on Tuesday…

GK: Tim Howard

The skinny: Yes, Tim Howard should have come for the second goal on Friday. Yes, Time Howard should have come out on the third goal. (Note: It’s also funny that Howard didn’t cover his five hole against Campbell on that third goal. Earlier in the half, Campbell had a breakaway and Howard dropped a knee to protect the five hole. Campbell came again and it appears Howard guessed wrong.)

Calls for Tim Howard to be excused from this competition seem fair. Brad Guzan is in form and bested–well got a draw–against Mexico in March. So this will be a big moment for Howard Tuesday–and in those situations the US keeper has a decidedly uneven record. Something tells me that in Brad Friedel’s home state, Howard shows just how bald the good how good the bald US keepers are.

DEF: Fabian Johnson*, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco-Fiscal*, DaMarcus Beasley

The skinny: First. Step back. Second. Discount this section.

Tim Howard came out a few days and suggested that the US will make a single like-for-like switch in the back. And in all likelihood that’s what happens. The Fiscal stays at rightback and Clarence Goodson takes Matt Besler’s spot. Not sure that this is the best move for the States here.

It would be an understatement to say that TSG has continually questioned Goodson’s positioning. The US saw the challenges again from Goodson in the Gold Cup where speedy strikers had Goodson compromising the line. Can he step up? History hasn’t shown that.

TSG goes with Fabian Johnson at rightback on the anecdotal evidence of two left midfielders called into camp–Jose Francisco Torres and Brad Davis. Johnson also had a solid game last August when Angel Reyna and Andres Guardado manned came at him in the “Mind the Gap” friendly 1-0 win. The concern on Johnson is his penchant to get spun like a top in one-v-one situations or give up fouls in poor locations. Marco Pappa nods from Holland.

Omar Gonzalez will be at right centerback and perhaps played his strongest game in a US kit on Friday.

CDM/CM: Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones

The skinny: Beckerman has been like Klinsmann’s binky. Always there for him when he needs him, thrown away whenever he sees a new toy.

LM: Mystery Guest

The skinny: The biggest question mark and tactically illuminating spot come Tuesday. Klinsmann called in Torres and Davis again. Torres plays as a tucked in possession hub, while Davis plays at more a true left mid for the US. Two different views on a single role. If the US uses the role as a possession hub so that DaMarcus Beasley can overlap and so that the actor can help out in the left central channel, then either Torres or Mix Diskerud would get the call. And that’s the bet here–that Torres and Diskerud are challenging for the spot.

A coin flip gives the slot to Torres.

In all likelihood, Brad Davis was brought in for the similar role that he had against El Tri last time. Late game defensive sub when the US is looking to hold possession wide around the back.

The odd man out appears to be Zusi.

RM: Landon Donovan

The skinny: Donovan will be asked to be all over the field and likely asked to track as Graham Zusi did last time. With Jones pushing a little higher than Kyle Beckerman and to the RCB, Donovan should have adequate support as well if he gets caught up field. All eyes on the US goal king Tuesday; he’ll be needed.

WtF/STR: Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson

The skinny: Toyed with the idea here of a Johannson start–the Icelander seems more likely off the bench if the US can muster a lead. El Tri will press and then hitting the Space Monkey (TSG nickname) on the floor or off the shoulder of a centerback seems like a plausible scenario. Johannson definitely gets minutes in this one.

Johnson gets the call is would seem and despite his recent challenges in a US kit, he at minimum provides a few different looks the US can us. Johnson can start up top as a lone striker or in pairing with Dempsey. He could, though not likely, shift out left and look to attack the back post on crosses. And, despite getting beaten in Jamaica on a set piece, Johnson is another nice defender in the box, typically.

46 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Scweeb on 2013/09/09 at 1:52 PM

    The reason i would give Bacon a start is that EJ seems the be better of the bench. And i can’t agree more with Beckerman on this. The game will rely on him and JJ to work together and have a good game.
    I keep wondering that with out MB we might be better off with a different formation. Not sure what that is but it seems when we play better teams we have to have MB in this formation for it to work well.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/09 at 2:03 PM

    FYI: This was Mexico against Jamaica. Jamaica is not a possession team, but they use the flanks a lot like the US will want to at least on the left.

    Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 2.01.13 PM


    • Great stuff as usual sir, I commend you.
      I’m thinking Salcido slides in for Torrado for Mexico. He played that role for the Olympic gold medalists very well, and it covers for his lack of foot speed at the left back position.

      For us, I’m hoping it is FabJ at Right Back with Zusi in front of him, allowing Donovan on the left to contain Dos Santos with Beasley. Zeus can flip with LD at times to allow Donovan to drive the offense, but this game speaks to a tactical adjustment to help the wing play for the US – something lacking for a while. (Not that Klinsmann didn’t try multiple options – just none have really panned out).

      Up top is a head-scratcher. Jozy’s brain fart was inexcusable – we needed him there. With the options as is, and knowing we need Donovan to help mark Dos Santos (no way Davis or Torres have the speed, work ethic to do so), EJ is the default starter. Maybe Coach K will continue his ‘keep it weird’ status and start the Iceman…but don’t think so.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/09 at 2:34 PM

      Note: The problem with the formation above is that Meza is the lone overlapper on the right. When the US played in Mexico I believe it was Barrera and he was effective.

      But I just cannot see Tena sitting Peralta.


  3. Interesting lineup. I can see it for a few more reasons being that Torres plays against these players regularly and he knows their weaknesses from club team preparations more than anyone other than Corona. I’m just not sure that is the option though. I don’t see why Donovan can’t play the same position (LM) and he provides more on the attack possibly adding a 3rd player in the box with EJ up top and Deuce at the top of the box. Seeing Donovan play 1-2 with EJ or Deuce going forward from the left with as noted Beckerman leaning to the left side for protection. This would allow Zusi to provide some passing from the right and put less pressure on Jones to have to push up. While I like Torres and would love to play him, I am just not sure he’s the guy to play there but like Beckerman… Torres is a player that does what is asked of him (its not always pretty but it gets done). In my scenario, I’d expect Bedoya to have a chance to come in late for Zusi at RM and Johannson for EJ possibly.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/09 at 2:35 PM

      Agree — i’m 100% sure I overthought the Torres thing. So I flipped a coin. Came up Torres.


      • Posted by Hunt Daddy on 2013/09/09 at 2:43 PM

        I don’t think you overthought it at all. Torres tucked inside to great effect at times during the Gold Cup. That allows space for Beasley to get up the left flank and gives the US a numbers advantage the center of the park- important in your lineup because Beckerman will be predominately concerned with protecting the back four leaving Jones to deal with MEX midfield by himself. It also lets Dempsey stay higher up the field.


        • Yeah, I don’t think you over thought it. You can very well be right. I’d even argue that having Bedoya start on the RM is not a bad idea but it all begins with the coaching strategy for this game. Then players fitting it.


      • Question on Torres:
        Is anyone concerned that he could pose a turnover problem or stall out offensive pushes up field? Appreciated the strides that he made at the Gold Cup but he still hangs on to the ball a little too long, and deals poorly in tight pressure. Avoiding cheap giveaways that quickly get pushed up to Dos Santos will be critical (as pointed out by Matt above). Not fully convinced I’d rather have Torres than LD at LM and Zusi at RM.

        Really like the idea of FJ at RB. Orozco or Parkhurst probably don’t cut it.


        • Posted by Sean on 2013/09/09 at 7:36 PM

          There is no way anyone on the squad will stall the offense like EJ does.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/09 at 7:44 PM

            (cc Darius) After Friday, I’m willing to concede that, but still he’s a big body.
            I can’t believe I just wrote that.


      • Posted by SamT on 2013/09/10 at 5:06 AM

        The other reason we may see Torres is his ability to possess and control the tempo. Bradley has added this to his game in the past 12-18 months, but without him we lack that ability. Your coin flip may be right.


  4. Posted by Steve Davis on 2013/09/09 at 2:29 PM

    Wondering how many of the Beckerman critics will be uttering a sigh of relief at some point tomorrow night that he’s on the field as he reliably cleans up behind a JJ giveaway, wipes out a promising Mexico attack, or gives a desperately needed outlet to an under-pressure member of the back four and calmly keeps possession for the US.

    This game will prove (yet again) his value and why JK keeps him around. Just hope he doesn’t have to track a run that’s about to pass him by…that’s one of the places he struggles at this level. Speed and recognition…


    • Posted by Dirk on 2013/09/09 at 4:06 PM

      What happens when he gets beat because he’s not quick enough to track back at this level? Great MLS player, Decent (off year) Gold Cup player, not someone you can rely on in WC qualifying against a points hungry and desperate Mexico team. I hope I’m wrong. Why the hell isn’t Bedoya being talked about for a starting spot?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/09 at 4:14 PM

        I like Bedoya a lot as you know. And may well be in line for a start on the left in the Herc role.

        As for Beckerman–no disrespect intended here, but the trackback issues that left Beckerman out of BB camps are not present here.

        BB liked Beckerman a lot but his system (BB’s) was vertical, counterattacking.

        The US tries to slow the tempo down for the most part using possession defensively. Beckerman *shouldn’t need to track back often if everyone does their jobs, regardless of a turnover or not. If the backline is stepping appropriately then a turnover by Beckerman himself should see the backline reacting quickly to the break.


        • Posted by scweeb on 2013/09/09 at 5:19 PM

          | |
          | |
          | |
          | |
          | |
          | ……………………………………………………|
          | |
          | |
          | |
          |______________________________ |

          If the US plays how they are supposed to you will hardley see Beckerman past the dotted line. So tracking back is really not going to be there. If you watch most of the games he is behind that line waiting to distribute the ball if need to the other side or be the outlet to keep control of possession of going up one side isn’t working. And sense he is that far back he has plenty of time to get into the passing lanes and try to stop the flow or control were the other teams possession is going. Leaving JJ free rain to double team and make the hard tackles.


        • Posted by Dirk on 2013/09/09 at 8:22 PM

          Can you see a situation in which Mexico attempt to pressure the U.S. higher up the pitch knowing that Bradley is not there to calmly deal with it? And in that that scenario would Beckerman be able to deal? Because he is nice passer/throughball guy when he has time on the ball but in the Gold Cup his slow reaction/vision when pressured would drive me nuts.


          • Actually, after Bradley, Beckerman is probably the best under duress.

            I was thinking about the high pressure and I’m not sure Mexico is good enough to play it right now. They really haven’t played a lot of this year. That said, with all the Us subs this is the time to do it.


  5. Posted by WatertownMA on 2013/09/09 at 3:00 PM

    May 31, 2012 Klinsmann said, “We need to get an edge, more nastier.”

    This was missing from the Costa Rica game. I hope the US finds it in time for Mexico.


  6. Posted by sam gaugush on 2013/09/09 at 3:35 PM

    Here’s hoping we see Zusi (or even Bedoya) over Torres … and that LD and Deuce come up big time this game.


  7. Posted by Julio on 2013/09/09 at 5:45 PM

    Fiscal, Gonzales, Goodson, Johnson
    Jones, Mix
    Bedoya, Dempsey, Donovan

    i would love to see this, Aron plays at a much higher level than Johnson and had a 5 game goal streak


  8. […] flank, and Beasley the defender can help Kyle Beckerman cover the Gio Dos Santos incut. Over at The Shin Guardian, they have an excellent write up on why that’s effective, and how the US dealt w…. Keep in mind home soil means more possession—that means more Beasley overlap, but be glad the […]


  9. I’m not sure I’ve gotten one lineup right since JK has taken over but let me ask another question… Beckerman brings concerns with going back to the 2 defensive center mids that we used to play in 2011 and 2012… it was not pretty in the midfield… so tell me again how having to defensive center mids in the midfield will help us?


  10. Posted by tgp on 2013/09/09 at 7:59 PM

    Klinsmann’s roster construction is terrible. How can you bring Mixx, have multiple cm go down, call in another player, and start the other player. Under what scenario is Mixx going to play? Why bring him?

    Why arent there any actual rb who can play rb on this team? Why have parkhurst if a player like orozco who didnt play in qualifiers and didnt play in the gold cup starts over him and goodson gets called in and will start over him at cb?

    Too many people playing out of position, too many people called in apparently not better than people left off the roster. Drives me crazy.


    • Posted by Hunt Daddy on 2013/09/09 at 8:09 PM

      I wish someone would flat out ask him those questions in a presser


    • Posted by Jared on 2013/09/10 at 10:26 AM

      I think you’ve nailed it here. Klinsi just seems all over the place with his roster selection and his reasoning for starting/not starting guys.

      If you want Torres for the Mexico game then he needs to be picked ahead of Mixx and not just left at home in the hope someone gets suspended.

      Cameron or Parkhurst should have played ahead of Orozco because they actually play right back or in Parkhurst’s case played right back. Orozco is about 5th choice for me at any position and to start him at an unfamiliar position against a very good team was just dumb. I feel bad for Orozco being stuck out there as he was put into a position where he was only going to struggle.


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/09/10 at 10:40 AM

        Wait, has Torres actually been named a starter? If not, this line of criticism seems a tad premature.

        Putting aside the fact that if he starts it’s likely to be in a different position than Mix’s.


  11. Posted by Justin Mango on 2013/09/09 at 8:08 PM

    Great analysis.. One aspect that I cannot avoid pondering is a starting 11 without JJ. I know he is a World Class player, but when it comes to the nats, he simply tries to do too much. Similar to when Deuce drops too deep and starts unnecessarily backheeling, JJ bombs forward more than he should. If Becks does his job well as usual, then do we need dual holding Mids? Even with JJ getting forward a bit more, does it seem too protective at home? JJ doesn’t get forward as well as Mix or Zusi, so ideally we’d have Beks staying home at home, and either Mix/Zusi or even JFT pulling the strings in front of him. That would give the wings to either LD and ideally Bedoya, with business as usual CD and EJ.


  12. What about Donovan (as a central striker / false nine), Dempsey (as the second striker / No. 10), Fabian Johnson (on the left and) Graham Zusi (on the right) –as your front four?

    Obviously Johnson and Zusi will have major defensive and positional duties when out of possession.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/09 at 8:44 PM

      I think that’s certainly possible. Donovan was very good in that role during the Gold Cup


  13. Great piece. Boy do we miss Besler. Would much rather have him on the right (or JAB) and play Fab for Beasley on the left.

    I think it will be very impressive if Klinsmann starts Guzan, he’s clearly in better form. But I doubt it will happen.

    I think Aron Bacon merits the start, he’s better technically and as you say has that knack for exploding into space. EJ’s strengths are magnefied when he comes off the bench.

    This is going to be epic.


    • Posted by Justin Mango on 2013/09/10 at 6:35 AM

      I too would like to see A Bacon. I think it’s a wonderful option to be able to start players that are unknown quantities. Mexico will not know how to deal with him, as they’ve never played against him.

      In my last comment, I was implying FJ would move back to LB, and DMB to the bench. However, DMB, and for that matter LD, have traditionally faired well against Mex. I still would like to see 1 holder and then maybe Zusi on Front of the 6, FJ left… If LD plays as a false 9, EJ starts, Deuce drops to pine, and Bedoya comes in on right. Deuce needs a wake-up call, and may play best off the bench “with a chip on his shoulder” in the 2nd half…


  14. […]  As usual, the guys over at The Shin Guardian and The Yanks Are Coming have you covered for game […]


  15. If anyone hasn’t seen the footage of Joel Campbell taking a dive, here it is. The lack of morals displayed by Campbell is the reason Besler can not play against Mexico. This will be remembered for a long time. Paybacks next cycle.

    FYI: warning this video may cause intense emotions/getting you pissed off. Hope USMNT has seen this and comes in fired up against Mexico. Dempsey chip on your shoulder kind-of game.



    • Posted by CJ on 2013/09/10 at 4:24 AM

      Ugh, classic. I thought it looked weird and with Besler’s reaction like shenanigans were in play. “I swear to God, I’m going to pistol whip the next guy that says shenanigans.” Lol. Apply that to the next soccer player I see fall over like he had been pistol whipped.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/10 at 5:39 AM

      Just as a note. That’s the linesman making that call. Thought the ref was excellent on the night.

      And that may be too overt by Campbell, but perfect timing for it. Just dusted Besler in a foot race, Besler sidles up. Not in any way condoning it at all.

      But that sh*t will be happening until there is video review which FIFA will fight hard against.


      • Aside from that foul and the yellow on Jozy late (which was boneheaded on his part but should not have merited him being booked), I thought that was the best reffing I’ve ever seen in an away CONCACAF game. It’s not really comforting to know that the ref wasn’t the one at fault there, but he really had done a helluva job up to that point.

        And yes, until there is post-game video review then this will never change. Sepp Blatter, please, for the love of all that is holy, do something positive with your power.


      • A couple of questions Matthew. First, would FIFA not at least punish/suspend Campbell seeing that he clearly dived and provoked an undeserved card, as I believe is done in the Premiership?

        Second, has Fabian J been playing LB or RB this season for Hoffenheim?

        Oh shoot, here’s a third. Do you think Corona merits a look at LM? I think he might be a wider option than JFT, plays the ball faster and IMHO, is more explosive offensively.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/09/10 at 9:54 AM

          1) There will be movement on Campbell by CONCACAF (it would be CONCACAF first I believe since the refs are assigned/managed by region.)
          US won’t fight for that issue and CONCACAF, in their mind, has bigger worries.

          2) Fabian has been playing LB and a little LM for Hoffenheim this year. He has been average at best there and Hoffenheim have already shipped 12 goals in the Bundesliga where most teams sit around 6 or 7.

          3) I think Corona has shown that he’s not enough of a difference maker yet. The one scenario I *could* see him starting is if the US wants to carry the ball up the left side–instead of pass it–after Dos Santos is found wandering central.

          I think your options at LM are plentiful: Landon, Torres, FJ, Davis, maybe Mix for starters.

          Landon would be interesting there because he can track back and help but also would be extremely threatening to Mexico if they get caught up field with numbers on a turnover.


  16. […] A TSG breakdown of the tactical nuance at play. The prospect of Kyle Beckerman should not disappoint you. Although my #cameronovereverything […]


  17. […] Game Preview on The Shin Guardian […]


  18. Personally hoping JK goes with Matt’s strategy above with a few variations.


    Donovan ——————–————– Zusi/Bedoya

    ———–— Beckermann ————- Jones ——————-

    Beasley————Goodson———–Gonzalez ———Fabian

    ———————————- Howard —————————–

    Literary can not wait for this match (so many unknowns in how this will go down.)


  19. Posted by WatertownMA on 2013/09/10 at 2:52 PM

    I prefer to see Parkhurst at RB and Fabian Johnson at LM. The attack is so much stronger w/ FJ involved. But, I think TSG’s observations are correct – midfielders called in – looks like FJ will revert to the backline (but I think he’ll stay on the left side.). Bedoya (not one of my favorites) has fresh legs and can run. He should get a nod to help cover in the MF. Beckerman is essential. I really believe Johanson should get featured here.


  20. […] Shin Guardian has your go-to match preview if you’re stuck in line at the DMV or just want a really, really long distraction from […]


  21. […] Shin Guardian has your go-to match preview if you’re stuck in line at the DMV or just want a really, really long distraction from […]


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: