This was much much better from the US!
There was some intent to build an attack instead of firing cannonballs up field.
Now for some context and conclusions:
1) The obvious one.
This was not Argentina. Nor was it against a Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, or any team whose style is to keep the ball. This was against the South American Italy. A team notorious for having one of the world’s most organized and stingiest defenses.
But this doesn’t take away from the US at least having some intent to hold the ball a bit more. For that, I give a thumbs up. In the 88th minute I think I saw the best US sequence ever. I actually smiled and said out loud: “There you go”. These are the types of sequences that should be applauded and encouraged. It doesn’t matter that it ended up in nothing! And please don’t make the mistake of thinking Bradley had anything to do with this.
2) Tim Ream instead of Onyewu.
This change needs to be made permanent! Not that Ream is some international quality player, but he is light years ahead of Onyewu, Demerit, or god forbid Omar Gonzalez. If Gooch were to have played, all that structure from the back would have vanished, and we would have been coughing the ball up as usual. One player does make a difference – especially when it’s part of the spinal column of the team.
3) Agudelo is light years ahead of Altidore.
This change must also be made permanent! Aside from having proper technique, he’s smarter than your average US player. He makes the right decisions – when to go forward and when to keep the bloody ball! With him and Ream as the offensive and defensive focal points, respectively, the team is at a higher level. What a difference just 2 guys with the “right qualities” in the right positions can make.
4) Chandler? C’mon people really?
It seems everyone is all happy about this Chandler fellow. Let’s not get carried away please. This has Marvell Wynne part 2 written all over it. Make no mistake, Chandler is being given a shot because of his physical attributes. Looks like this is another one-trick pony. That is, use his speed and strength to go forward, forward, forward, then serve aerial crosses. Technical, intelligent play? Hmmm … Well, I’m not going to sentence him yet, but all he’s showed thus far is one dimensional. What a shocker that Bob and the fans are delighted.
5) What’s Missing?
As far as personnel, this game was a perfect example of why we need an “enganche”. For those that might not be familiar with the term, an enganche is essentially a #10. A creative, intelligent and technical maestro as the center attacking midfielder. A Sneider, a Xavi, a Riquelme, you get the idea. Someone capable of unlocking defenses with a touch of magic. But Bob prefers to fill that roster spot with someone with holding midfielder qualities. So Maurice Edu’s and Jermaine Jones types, instead of Fielhaber’s, Torres’, or even Donovan’s.
Overall, fans should be much happier about this loss than the tie against Argentina. Interesting, isn’t it?
p.s. Bornstein should not be anywhere near the National Team.
Sure, Chandler’s no Dani Alves. But come on, Chandler is much better than Wynne is. Chandler is a good crosser. The day Wynne delivers an accurate cross is the day I’m about to die (Wynne and I are approximately the same age).
Gary Kleiban says
Agreed. He is a much better crosser.
Then again, that’s not saying much.
He may yet prove me wrong, but thus far he’s shown to be one-dimensional.
I don’t expect Bradley to whip a Dani Alvez out of his ass, but I do expect players that are more than pace and power.
Most attacking right backs these days aren’t particularly skilled dribbling or anything like that–they bomb down the flanks and deliver a cross. Guys like Dani Alves are very much exceptions.
If you’re looking at Chandler weaknesses, I’d go with the defensive side more than anything.
I totally agree thank you for pointing this out! I kept telling people how I was so happy that we were actually trying to play some and what a great addition Tim Ream was. People were baffled that I was more happy about a loss to Paraguay than a tie against Argentina, when Argentina is considered a better team. People seem to have a bad habit of seeing absolutely nothing but the scoreboard. And yes, our biggest weakness is still someone in the middle of the field who can get on the field, pull the strings, and run the show to link everything together, as well as put their foot on the ball and know when to speed up and slow down the tempo of the game. I also have thought of the idea of playing Donovan in the number 10 role, that could be our best option, I like some of the qualities Torres, and Feilhaber bring but I just don’t think their all that good to be honest, Donovan playing there could be interesting thought I think. As for Chandler I agree, although I definitly think he is way better than Wynne, he is not what we need to get to the next level and I still definitely would prefer Cherundolo there, LB continues to be a gaping hole as much as I hate Bornstein and Bocanegra, who else?? However LB and a few other spots could be upgraded but when we find someone who can fill the number 10 role at a truly world class level is when we will be able to go toe to toe with the rest of the world, until then we may scratch out a result here and there but consistently we can’t play with the Spain’s, Germany’s, Brazi’s, and Argentina’s of the world until we produce a midfield maestro of world class quality, it’s no coincidence that the above mentioned teams are the best in the world and every one of them has at least one world class midfield maestro if not more than one.
Gary Kleiban says
Hi Kevin, excellent contribution.
Donovan is a good candidate for the #10. He could be more focused on the attack instead of tracking back so far on defense. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why he seems to disappear during some games.
And just so people are clear on where I’m coming from …
I don’t expect the US to be one of the giants overnight.
Yes, you’re 100% right, we would need a world class #10, but I’m not asking for that. I just want, no I expect, to see us taking the required steps in that direction. One of those steps is playing with an enganche, period. Be it someone from the current pool or otherwise, let’s consistently attempt to play some quality, cerebral, possession oriented ball. Two defensive center mids in a 4-4-2 is not the formula.
Having not seen either game in its entirety, I didn’t want to jump into any of the Argentina/Paraguay discussions, but I must ask a question about yours and Kevin’s comments, above: do you think the new “development academies” here in So Cal, with less pressure to win to advance, will shift from 4.4.2 schemes to 4.3.3 or even 4.5.1 formations?
I ask because, based on what I have seen, even among the elite clubs, I have my doubts. It will be hard to retool the vast majority of the teams, even the high-level ones with talented players. It seems to me they are too used to playing kickball with impatience. When teams do attempt to play possession, at the first sign of frustration, they start launching the ball down-field, and shooting from 30-40 meters out. And the pressure from the parents (i.e., the wallets) to “just shoot” is enormous, too.
So, is there any possibility of a “bottoms-up” US soccer shift from sending the ball down the field towards a more patient, possession-oriented game that seeks to create quality finishing opportunities (American Revolution)? Or is the only hope a “tops-down”, cut the king’s head off and plant a new example (French Revolution)?
Gary Kleiban says
I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter whatsoever.
Coaches in America have no tactical sophistication. Meaning they don’t know how to TRAIN a team in the DETAILS of play, individually and collectively. For the most part they throw 11 on the field, in whatever formation they choose, and give verbal instructions that are quite meaningless if the DETAILS of those instructions were never choreographed for days, weeks, or months prior.
There is no collective play in the US. There is no team play or identity. It’s a bunch of endless individual improvisations from start to finish. There is no tactical work in the US.
So 4.4.2, 4.3.3, 4.5.1, etc … it’s all the same – a bunch of players doing the best they can without understanding their individual and collective roles in detail.
Sorry for the rant Alberto, the thought of these things just get me worked up. But I will add that Chivas USA has run mostly 4-3-3 since the beginning of the Academy.
You mean the “Development” Academy where the only pressure to win is to go to the giant showcase playoffs in Los Angelas? I like what the development academy is doing and it is a step in the right direction in my opinion but there still is a lot of crap being played, but it’s been proven time and time again between Barcelona and Spain recently in particular that you can win with style and don’t have to resort to negative game killing tactics. I think it is still part of our culture to play direct and be big, fast and fit, until we revamp the culture of the game I feel we will see the same stuff but I do think it is very slowly starting to change and there are certain players and teams going about things the right way so we are seeing some players here and there that are brought up to be comfortable on the ball and smart on the field rather than just running around and being athletic.
I know this is late but I just stumbled onto this amazing blog. I agree with almost everything you say. I am just now starting to coach ( a young team granted that but trying to make my way up the ranks). I said to myself when I was first starting to get a coaching job that I would try to influence the Spanish passing style into my team again I’m getting off topic.
What do you think about a Bunbury & Agudelo partnership up top for the US. It has looked solid in the U-20 and U-21 sides do you think it could translate into the main stream team??
Gary Kleiban says
I mention them both briefly here:
In short, they are a thumbs up for me at this point. Agudelo, in particular, continues to show he is legit. Did you see his goal against DC last night?
But I must say, he needs to leave MLS sooner rather than later. Otherwise, he’ll never fulfill his potential and we’ll surely be left with a player that is still behind world class.
p.s. Altidore needs to get sacked immediately! He should never ever in a million years have been around as long as he has!