An altogether more entertaining game from the States against Das Team of Austria coming off a malaisical (new word) canvas of work in Scotland.
Some quick hit breakdowns:
• The US has been found out! Back to the tinker board, Vasquez.
The above image is the passing chart of DaMarcus Beasley.
Not wholly awful, but what you don’t see above is any incising passes in the attacking third.
This was the second game in a row that the US has been well-scouted.
Against Scotland, Barry Bannan immediately ran at DaMarcus Beasley every time he got the ball in possession looking up field.
It was the same tactic used by Austria on Tuesday. Jurgen Klinsmann and Martin Vasquez have been milking the left side of the US attack ad nauseum since Beasley played back-to-backs against Costa Rica and Mexico in March.
The staff will have to both come up with some wrinkles to free Beasley and have a Plan B as they prepare for Brazil.
Now the good news is–thanks to the switch field work of Michael Bradley–the US adjusted nicely. Geoff Cameron got up the field and had excellent handles in possession.
It stands to reason that if you run an extra defender out on the US left rear flank that the right side can open up if you move the ball quickly laterally.
That’s exactly what Roma man Bradley did methodically on Tuesday.
• Speak Up [defensively]!
To any media hound and likely the average fan, the US’s troubles in defense were elementary yesterday.
Way too much space offered between the midfield and back line(s).
Some of this was by design of the US attack–Jermaine Jones clearly was authorized to get forward more and he executed on the directive.
However most of this was due to the backline consistently cheating backwards to guard against the pace of the Austrian forwards. With Brooks and Gonzalez dragging themselves deep and with Jones pushing up, it became Michael Bradley vs. [whole slew of Austrians] in the midfield on turnovers upfield.
There are a few ways to correct this: (1) Watch your turnovers in the middle of the field…..[quick interlude]
[Pick it up Jermaine! Failures of execution on proper passes happen all the time, but the Shalke man must improve his decision-making in the middle of the field. It’s one thing to miss a forward pass–that’s acceptable. Jones is not a creative midfielder by birth/genetics/tutelage but he’s asked to play one on Team Klinsmann. That said, it’s knowing when to make a pass or shield that ball and not give up a turnover where you team gets caught out. There is a rather large sampling size recently that suggests that Jones is not improving here. Back to our bulletpoint..]
(2) Put pressure and shield the ball from forward advancement with your midfielders upfield. The US seems hit or miss here. This is something that Bradley’s teams tended to do really well but for some reason–attack creation on the brain–Klinsmann’s teams seem to be inconsistent with and (3) Step up higher and close down the space, trusting your goalie to come out on the one or two over-the-top balls that he may face.
However, those are all fundamental things that likely these players know.
Tim Howard was the captain yesterday. I’m sure he’s a good captain.
However in the middle of the field–and I’m sure Klinsmann was yelling it from the sideline; I know I heard Kyle Martino yelling it from the broadcast booth–there was no one taking charge and assertively demanding that the backline play true.
That’s a problem and it should be simple to solve. It needs to be rectified.
• Wingo Bingo
The US’s board failed miserably here on Friday; however on Tuesday there were some glimmers of hope. Brek Shea and Ale Bedoya didn’t burn up the pitch and force Austria to defend them, but they were more proactive in movement.
You have to believe the additions of Fabian Johnson–to the Shea role–and Zusi to the Bedoya role will alleviate some of the concerns here though.
• Agree again with Kyle Martino in that it looks like Klinsmann is really trying to find a slot for Kljestan. That said, Kljestan is really excelling at the unencumbered deep-lying CM at Anderlecht. That position doesn’t exist on the US and will be under more duress at World Cup 2014.
• Not to belabor the Jones point, but while many may say it’s the centerbacks (a good argument) or the fullbacks (less of a good argument) that are the key positions to figure out before Brazil, it may just be Jones–not even “the other CM.”
It is clear to this viewer, that Klinsmann–and I think rightfully–doesn’t want to burn out Michael Bradley by pushing him up the field the entire game to fight in traffic for creation. It’s also clear, by the way, that Bradley is the guardian angel of the backline. There would often by a whole lot more brewing for the opponent’s attack if Bradley wasn’t shielding.
Likewise–and perhaps correctly–Klinsmann wants two midfielders with steel in the midfield and they just don’t exist. Danny Williams is not quite there; Maurice Edu can’t get on the field and has proved that he’s a liability often with the rock. Mix Diskerud is offering more and more offensively by the month, but he’ll get eaten up defensively at his current level in Brazil. Kljestan is not the answer.
Therefore, it’s Jones. And the US success in Brazil may just depend on how well he plays within himself and how few mistakes he makes.
• Solid game for Geoff Cameron. He’ll be a solid to very good centerback one day when someone gives him reps there, but he’s more comfortable outside and if he shows he can stay 1v1 with quicker players, he’ll get a shot to win that gig.
• Ice skate lessons and fundamental cliff notes for John Brook and Omar Gonzalez today.
• And lest it not be said, good attacking movement yesterday. Solid ability from the US to process out their errors from Friday and come back and execute if not score on an attacking game plan.