Friday, January 21, 2011
I'll admit it, this one snuck up on me. While I've been following the events in camp closely, I didn't realize that January 22 was so close. So here we will have our customary game preview. Here we go.
First we gotta figure out who the 5 players who won't be making the game day roster. My best guesses are:
GK: Sean Johnson, GK Matt Pickens, DF A.J. DeLaGarza, DF Zach Loyd, MF Sam Cronin (Quad strain)
I don't mean any disrespect to these guys, and I could be completely wrong here. But there would be no point in having more than two game day goalkeepers and more than 6 game day defenders. Sam Cronin picked up a slight quad knock during training and will be left out (reportedly).
So here are your game day 18:
GK: Nick Rimando, Dominic Cervi
DF: Sean Franklin, Ryan Miller, Marvell Wynne, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Anthony Wallace
MD: Eric Alexander, Alejandro Bedoya, Mikkel Diskerud, Jeff Larentowicz, Dax McCarty, Brek Shea
FW: Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Eugene Starikov, Chris Wondolowski
Based on Bob "Mad Scientist" Bradley's latest experimentation's, I would like to see the United States coming out in a 4-2-3-1, much like what we saw against Poland back in October. Chile are sure to offer some flair moving forward, and controlling midfield through the essentially five midfielders will be key to keeping possession and pressure off the U.S. back four.
I'm just going to drop you a line-up that I would favor here:
Avg. caps: 1.81
Avg. age: 23.09
Elder net-minder Nick Rimando likely takes the start, and perhaps youngster Dominic Cervi gets to show off a bit in the second half. Simple enough for that spot.
For the back four, I've had my mind made up since the roster was announced that Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez would be your starting centerback pairing against Chile, barring injuries. They are the future for the U.S. in defense, and there is no better time to link them up than now. Marvell Wynne returns to the U.S. fold, for I think the first time since the 2008 Costa Rica debacle. He has all the speed in the world, but can he turn that into a dominant defensive performance? Especially after playing most of his club season in central defense. Left back options for the United States are few and very far between. So Anthony Wallace, a veteran of the 2007 U-20 World Cup run to the quarterfinals for the U.S., steps in. Can he impress enough to get future looks there? He's sure to be tested.
Out of this formation, the triumvirate of Jeff Larentowicz, Dax McCarty, and Mikkel Diskerud will need to boss the central of midfield. Larentowicz will need to play the enforcer role and shut down Chile's playmaker, whomever that may be. McCarty will be your midfield quarterback and king of distribution and possession. Diskerud, who assisted in his last game for the US, will once again be stuck in as the U.S. resident #10. They'll likely be doing it alone, as I'm not sure if I expect the U.S. fullbacks Wynne and Wallace to be getting forward much, partly due to Chile's dangerous counterattacking play. Deep offensive support from Larentowicz will be key as well, and the 27 year old does have a knack for ferocious long distance shots.
Wide support comes in the form of camp elder Alejandro Bedoya, and relative newcomer Brek Shea. While Bedoya's skill set is pretty much now known, since he does have six caps to his name, Shea is a whole other animal. He'll need to step up his game from his poor last outing with the United States, this past October against Columbia, where he got a surprise start, and was sympathetically axed at halftime.
Teal Bunbury is really the only forward in camp (now) who can play the lone striker role. Agudelo and Starikov thrive in space when they're able to run at players, and Wondolowski plays much better as a withdrawn striker. So Bunbury gets his first start with the U.S. after impressing mightily in his 45 minute cameo against South Africa two months ago.
So there you have it. Am I the only one upset that this will not be on english-speaking television?? Blame Fox Soccer Channel apparently. But it will be shown on TeleFutura and ESPN3.com at 7 p.m. pacific time. See you on the flip side!!