Saturday, June 12, 2010
The biggest test is over, but now a brand new one presents itself. A sneaky Slovenia team lies in wait tomorrow for its Algerian counterparts, both who know that should a winner emerge from that match that they'll be 2 points clear of the group favorites. England get a chance to right the ship against Algeria next, while the US faces Slovenia on the 18th.
On to the player ratings:
Tim Howard- 8 - Couldn't do anything about Gerrard's goal, and past that, was an absolute rock. If there's one player on top of his game in this World Cup, he's in the US' net. Scary moment after the Heskey challenge, but Howard is in beast mode.
Steve Cherundolo- 7- Another player who impressed me tremendously. The always savvy and steady veteran gave James Milner such a hard time that Fabio Capello was compelled to remove Milner after just 30 minutes. Got forward well and defended with aplomb. Solid effort today.
Jay DeMerit- 8 - Was an absolute bulldog in defense. Shutting down Wayne Rooney is no small task and the former Watford captain will have himself a new home soon enough should he continue this kind of performance.
Oguchi Onyewu- 8 - All the doubts and questions have been resoundingly answered. Gooch battled Heskey and Crouch for 97 minutes and didn't concede an inch. A couple instances of rust (England goal, should've stepped quicker to Rooney to deny the entry pass, and got caught to far up field, allowing Heskey a 1v1 with Howard ), but after all was said and done, big marks for the big man today.
Carlos Bocanegra- 6.5 - Did anyone really expect the aging Captain America to go toe-to-toe with Aaron Lennon for 90 minutes? No. Bocanegra defended smartly, not allowing Lennon the flank, but conceded the inside channel in the hope that he'd find support from the midfield or centerbacks. All in all, a stout performance from Bocanegra.
Landon Donovan- 6.5 - Really wanted to see more from Donovan in the match as he didn't really put his mark in save for a few exceptional set piece deliveries and the early Altidore chance. Did put in work defensively and his passing is always top notch.
Michael Bradley- 6.5 - The boy sweatpants was stout as always in central midfield and effectively shushed up Frank Lampard for the majority of the match. His passing was soft early on but improved as the match progressed.
Ricardo Clark- 5 - The one low spot in the US starting 11. Clark lost Gerrard on his goal, was caught out of position on other occasions. Seemed a bit nervous with his touches, but his defense, when he's in the proper position, is always pretty good.
Clint Dempsey- 7 - "If you don't shoot, you're never going to score." That phrase rings so true for Dempsey's game today. Was active throughout in offense and even put in some work defensively. The goal was a gift, but like he said post match, they all count the same.
Robbie Findley- 5 - You can run and run to the end of the world, but his touch and inability to keep possession are quickly becoming his downfall.
Jozy Altidore- 7.5 - Was a workhorse up top and forced Ledley King out of the game at halftime and beat up on Jamie Carragher in the second. Probably should've netted his opportunity, but Green did well to tip it on to the post.
Edson Buddle- 6 - Immediately brought a new physical presence to the game, and won quite a few headers and kept possession well. He's my pick to start against Slovenia.
Stuart Holden- 6 - Defended well for the last 10 minutes and probably should've done better on his late cross.
More analysis later...for now, enjoy the result.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
So first off lets talk about who starts, as there still are a couple positions where there are some questions.
Unfortunately there are now questions all over the back line. Jonathan Spector's form has dropped significantly since his stellar run of form this time last summer, but veteran Steve Cherundolo can capably step in and its pretty close to securing the spot on Saturday. What Cherundolo lacks in size he can make up with offensive ability, experience, and agility Right back is settled. Against the US's three previous opponents the US back line has included, in the middle, Clarence Goodson, and while he has performed admirably, he wasn't brought to the World Cup to start. Jay DeMerit has struggled without his buddy Oguchi Onyewu in the middle. According to Bob Bradley, all 23 players are fully fit and ready to go 90 minutes, and the vibe I'm getting from press reports is that Onyewu and DeMerit have looked sharp in training. But Onyewu's lack of playing time over the last few matches is worrying. But if Bradley was just saving a fully fit Onyewu for England, then more power to him. Jay DeMerit is a better player with Onyewu partnering him in the middle, as it leaves less for him to worry about in the air and can thus concentrate on his 1v1 defending, which is where he exceeds. Carlos Bocanegra is a lock at left back as Bornstein's limited minutes have only cemented his innate ability to create chances for the other team.
In midfield things are a bit more settled, with the exception of who starts next to Michael Bradley in central midfield. My favorite to start was Maurice Edu, but with Ricardo Clark getting starts in the last two games with the full team and Edu not seeing anytime at all, that kind of tells me that Clark will get the start. That's all well and good, I just think Edu is better defensively and has good positional awareness. More so than Clark at least. I expect Jose Torres to play some kind of part against England. Perhaps after Bradley and Clark wear down Carrick and Lampard a bit, Torres can be brought on to sit in behind Bradley, allowing him to push forward into the attack and Torres to control possession and distribution. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are shoo-ins to start on the flanks as Dempsey wasn't effective up top against Turkey and played well against Australia (when he wasn't being hacked down). Holden and Beasley are first options off the bench in the wide areas and Maurice Edu could have a minor part to play. Benny Feilhaber seems to have lost his former role to Torres, but still remains a viable offensive threat off the bench in a pinch.
Up top I'd like to think Jozy Altidore is good to go, and according to everyone including the man himself, he is ready to go. Who partners him is a whole other story. The popular pick is Edson Buddle, who displayed his attacking prowess against Australia. He was physical and was knocking down balls well and controlling traffic up top. That leave Robbie Findley as the speed option off the bench and Hurculez Gomez retains his role as the super-sub. Findley played well against both Turkey and Australia, however, he showed his ass against the Aussies after missing two open net opportunities, which CANNOT happen against a team like England.
Therefore that leaves us with this formation.
I'll be back tomorrow for an England preview. Good night to you all.
Against Australia, the US thoroughly thrashed the Socceroos 3-1, thanks to two goals from Edson Buddle and a late insurance goal from Hurculez Gomez. The US dominated the match and the Aussies generally looked disinterested from start to finish.
All in all it gives the US some confidence heading into the showdown with England on June 12.