USA vs. South Korea: I’ve Got Seoul Or I’m Super Bad

(The prodigal son makes a return)

"You wear that thing...."

“Split ends!”

Here’s what I know about South Korea’s junior varsity based upon a single observation Tuesday night. They’ve got a right midfielder, Kim Tae-Hwan, who is, indeed, a player. Slices centrally on his right and has quick first jab step. He’ll create a chance Saturday afternoon.

Their midfield will harass you in a swarm after the half line and extract a few buckets of turnovers. Their centerback pairing–whoa their centerbacks. Their Tuesday effort made the “Chad Marshall-Clarence Goodson against Mexico in 2009 at the Meadowlands” performance look absolutely symphonic. (Why’d you have to bring that up, old man?). And they’ve got a tall, rangey huckleberry up top who was directing traffic Tuesday and surprisingly spry….until you realize half the time he was battling Crash Marquez who will have binders full of red cards in Brazil.

Oh and the Koreans are number two in the MLS allocation order to no one’s surprise and the over-under on Ji-Sung Park references this weekend stands at 123.

And that’s really all that’s needed because just a slightly raised eye will be on the States at “The Bruce” (well done David Lindholm) to see if a little junket to Brazil can punch a few more return tickets in the summer, unmask a surprise player or two and take down a team that is should handle even though it’s a friendly.

It’s a curious bunch… these Yanks… this winter.

In the tried and true tradition, Jurgen Klinsmann leads with defense first. Omar and Besler in the middle with Rimando cleaning up behind and the newly be-ball-and-chained Kyle Beckerman directing the orange defensive flag waving attacks to the left lane on right. This part of the line-up will be ho-hum, biz as usual. (But make sure to keep your eye on Omar’s play. He’s been clean in the tackle–no cards for the US in 2013–and for the most part tidy, if not accurate on the ball, but he’s been a step slow in the team defense game and that… that … will kill you against the world’s best this summer.)

Quick aside and belabored point: Why is this a foreign notion to folks that good teams, championship-level teams shore up their defense at the start of a managers tenure. Southampton, Everton, the newish Bayern. Set the team defense and find out where you can take risks of losing shape to create opportunities.

However, these campers though may or may not follow the attacking blueprint that has developed since Costa Rica was picking icicles out of their ass in March of last year. There are three rightbacks still on the roster after one-ish (Shane O’Neill) was sent home.

There appears to be no lefty leftback on the roster with the job authored to Michael Harrington by most of the media–then you remember that Antigua & Barbuda saw Jose Torres at leftback in the quarterback role so you think Brad Davis–decidedly not quick enough covering in midfield. Maybe a ball distributing, less defensive leftback role might be an option–especially with Fabian Johnson’s injury issues and Edgar Castillo’s up-down form.

The top is striker heavy with a bunch of grisled veterans of MLS American football fields past.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 9.28.22 AM


Mike Magee–MLS’s original Heath Pearce–who liked to roll in early….from party time that is early in his career. Eddie Johnson who will probably have a better career at DC United and more lengthy overall than Freddy Adu–think about that. And of course, there’s Papa Wondo, Chris Wondolowski–who, take a bow my friend, didn’t have to go to Europe to get paid fairly in MLS.

As for that attack, back in December, Jurgen Klinsmann–thank you World Cup prep–got a little found out. Scotland and Austria watched the tape and knew to overplay to the Yanks’ left with DaMarcus Beasley manning the ball typically out of the back.

Maybe he pulls a Davis at leftback or….

Just having some fun here at your expense.

Just having some fun here at your expense.

…. maybe he flips the formation on the vertical axis and goes up the right side–we saw South Korea keep distribution up there stronger right side on Tuesday.

Seattle Super ... Sonic

Seattle Super … Sonic

Maybe it is Harrington–or more likely Parkhurst–playing the tucked in defender role and maybe it’s Seattle’s Super Brad Evans in the first half with Seattle’s Sonic, DeAndre Yedlin earning his first cap relieving.

To balance the oppositely symmetric formation out Eric Alexander plays the Ale Bedoya role–near identical left-footed player there by the way in terms of skill set and the Yanks push up the right side with Evans and Yedlin, pardon me Clyde Frazier, overlapping and attacking.

Either way you can probably be sure of a few things come Saturday.

Just like last year’s eye sore against Canada, there will be test-iteration-test-iteration.

There will be a few wrinkles in deployment and stutters in attack…and defense for that matter. Sacha Kljestan won’t get three on the night and rubberstamp his US legacy and they’ll be a little sparkle of some player that will get him a half chance with the big boys at some point.

So sit back and save your energy–from analysis, groans, sweeping statements–by Cobi Jones’s eye Papa Wondo locked his World Cup spot against Belize six month ago–and rest up, because shit’s about to get real.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Crow on 2014/01/31 at 12:34 PM

    Just curious- are any TSG readers going to be at the game tomorrow or the World Cup? I think it would be cool to put names with faces. I just realized tomorrow will be my 15th “cap”.


  2. I’ll be there with a friend and some of his friends. It’ll be a day trip since we’re driving up from San Diego. This will be my first cap since a 2005 WC qualifier in Connecticut against Trinidad & Tobago. Or maybe my last was a friendly against Canada most notable for being Freddy Adu’s first cap as a full international..


  3. I’m very excited to see Yedlin get his first cap. He has two things that can’t be taught. He has world class speed and he never tires. His crossing has gotten very good over the last year and he can get into the box seemingly anytime he wishes. If he can develop some 1 v 1 skills he’ll be the whole package.


  4. […] The usual suspects, The Shin Guardian and The Yanks Are Coming, have some game previews up for […]


  5. Posted by euroman on 2014/02/01 at 8:44 AM

    What a stupid comment about Goodson & Marshall in 2009. They were 2 v 11 that day and the best players for the US (best 11 for the tourney). This is just another example of your poor observations from 30,000′ with mindless comments.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/02/01 at 11:30 AM

      You just played yourself. Yeah, I watched that game:

      Regardless, they got torn apart in the 2nd half and that is a fact. Marshall was good in the first half and poor in the 2nd. And Goodson–who had barely started that tourney–was felled by the same challenge he’s had his entire career of keeping a line.

      So why don’t you take your drivel somewhere else, ITG (Internet Tough Guy) and actually contribute to this publication next time you come back.

      If you’re so offended go write your own review instead of passively reading and then getting personal with comments — that, Mr. ITG, is a mindless comment.


      • As only an occasional commentor, let me just say. I learn a lot on this site. I appreciate your insights and those of others here. I would most definitely agree that there are plenty of other sites to visit if you want to be rude, and attack others. Please do yourself and the rest of a favor Euroman or ITG and “don’t waste your time here.” That is all. Enjoy the game.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2014/02/01 at 12:17 PM

          I’m going to delete this thread, but thank. You’re right, not worth it.


          • The high road is always the one less traveled, and always has a more pleasant view. PS – I missed your posts during the last few months. Had to go elsewhere and put up with a lot of this. I hope your life will allow you to post more in the coming months. Thanks for all your work.


      • Posted by gino744 on 2014/02/01 at 3:08 PM

        Matthew, This Tool Obviously Got Lost While PerusIng The Goal.Com Website. He Deserves The Same treatment As Serial Killers And Suicide Shooters…ambivalence. TSG Is well Ab ove Trolls From His Ilk!


  6. Posted by Fellaini'sFro on 2014/02/02 at 11:17 AM

    First off ITG have no place here. Mathew, what happened in the last several months since the US qualified? Some of the newbies coming on here have been downright douche bags. I am looking forward to visiting this site like I have the last four years for all the great articles and commentary leading up to and through Brazil. But not if the douche bags from start showing up and ruining it. Stay classy Shin Guardians.

    I went to the game yesterday. This was my third USMNT game at the HomeDeBro Center. ( Look that one up on Dirty Tackle) I was absolutely shocked at the sellout. It was amazing to see the support out here in LA usually reserved for EL TRI. I felt like the college hipster who is always pointing out how they supported a band before they made it big. The first goal absolutely had the place rocking. I really, really enjoyed the experience of supporting the USMNT with my fellow US Americans. Sam’s Army and the Outlaws rocked it hard too.

    As for the game. Some quick hits. Brad Evans got molested all day long on his side. Parkhurst didn’t help himself either with his lack of touch and losing his marks. Mix had to drop farther and farther back to get the ball leading to a stagnant attack. Gonzo and Besler did pretty well keep the line. Zusi was solid on his side, Brad Davis looked lost and finally I think Benny punched his ticket with a solid subbing role. Goodson came in and looked more interested in trying to keep his line than actually defending.

    By the way with the civil unrest in the Ukraine. Does the friendly still happen in March?


    • Posted by Jim on 2014/02/03 at 11:39 AM

      Agreed… Evans looked poor. And it’s not as if that hasn’t happened before. He’s been just okay for the most part on the right but with far too many moments of vulnerability (a la against Panama last summer). Parkhurst was unspectacular, but I would prefer to see him on the right in the absence of Dolo/Chandler/Cameron. Anybody else want to see Cameron and Besler at CB?

      Mix is a baller. I don’t know what the best combo is in the center of the pitch, but I like Mix. He doesn’t have the bite to be an ideal empty bucket partner with Bradley and that would leave MB90 with more defensive load than he has when he plays with Jermaine Jones (which is still entirely too much).

      All in all, if the only thing that comes out of that match is the realization that Brad Evans is serviceable, but not our solution to right back, then it was worth it.


  7. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2014/02/03 at 1:51 PM

    I watched the game on ESPN3 as a replay. I knew what to look for going in so my thoughts may be colored.

    I keep seeing conversation about Donovan vs Zusi on the right wing. While at his peak Donovan could run the wing, I feel like moving the best two footed goal scorer on the team away from goal is a mistake. Donovan is a great striker at this point. I think using his as the speed guy next to Altidore in Brazil makes more sense than any other play there. Zusi gives you hard work and quality service from the wings. Also he can come inside and work possession with the CMs.

    Brings me to Left midfield/wing. We have used a variety of players there in a variety of roles. Zusi actually spent quite a bit of time there, as did Donovan, in this game. I thought they both played worse there than at their starting roles. Davis was ok, not really good, but definitely not horrible. I though when Davis was on the right is when he looked the worst. The team really lacks a true wide attacker for this spot. Shea would be nice if he could put it together, and Fabian Johnson could work, but I am not convinced.

    Parkhurst deserves to be on the field, but not at left back. I think this game he really just kicked evans off the team. Depending on how the roster shakes out Parkhurst just showed he could effectively back up left back. I think given regular time at Columbus he might show that he is the starter at right back.

    My World cup Roster:
    gk: Howard, Guzan, *Rimando
    LFB: Beasley, Fabian Johnson
    CB: Besler, Gonzalez, Goodson
    RFB: Chandler, *Parkhurst
    CM: Bradley, Cameron, Jones, *Williams, Diskerud
    Wide Mid: Zusi, Bedoya, *Shea
    Forwards: Dempsey, Donovan, Johanson
    Stickers: Altidore, *Eddie Johnson

    Starred Players could be replaced based on form and need.

    My Starting formation would be a 4-1-3-2:


    I would see this team working in pairs that can interchange Donovan and Zusi, Altidore and Dempsey, Bradley and Cameron.


  8. Posted by WatertownMA on 2014/02/04 at 10:49 AM

    I really miss TSG! The other sources just don’t fill the void. No other source break down the game as intellectually as TSG and its community.


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