Thursday, June 2, 2011
Almost two years to the day that the U.S. beat up on the European and World Cup Champion Spain in South Africa. The United States' gauntlet of CONCACAF Gold Cup preparation matches concludes this Saturday with a long awaited rematch of CONCACAF and UEFA powerhouses. Gone are Charlie Davies and Jay DeMerit, whose roles in that match proved to be the difference, gone also is Benny Feilhaber, the catalyst for the second goal.
Here is what we know though. It. Is. Spain. Expect your typical beautiful, intricate passing moves in an effort to try and break down the US backline. But this Spain team is not without it's own key players. Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Carles Puyol, and Jesus Navas are absent. But typical of Spain, their depth is unmatched. Here is a likely starting 11 for La Furia Roja:
With the absence of Xavi, the attack will likely flow through the feet of Iniesta, out wide to Silva and Pedro, then lashed in to a box-rushing Villa, or cut back for a distance shot from Xabi or Busquets.
Simple enough with Spain, but what the U.S. will do is really difficult to predict, as Bob Bradley has shown with his insane roster call-ups, but that's neither here nor there. The U.S. will play in one of two formations; the 4-5-1 they employed vs. Argentina which worked for a half or so, or the 4-4-2 which didn't really serve them so well vs. Paraguay. Knowing the conservative Bob Bradley like we do, we figure he'll go with the 4-5-1, in a manner resembling this:
The midfield triumvirate of Jones/Edu/Bradley will try to contain the short passing and movement ahead of the back four, with Jones the likely candidate to draw the assignment on Iniesta. The U.S. seems to favor an attack down the opponents left flank, this time towards Capdevila, which worked wonders for them last time. Recall that it was Capdevila who was tossed aside by Jozy for the first U.S. goal, and then a turnover from Spain's left led to the counter-attack for the second. Worked last time, why not have another go? Capdevila is two years elder now at 33, and with a blossoming Dempsey and youthful Jozy pounding away, one would think that the U.S. can come away with one or perhaps even two again at his expense.
Look for younger, inexperienced guys like Eric Lichaj and Tim Ream to get an extended run out for this match, they need the experience. Throw in Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, and Alejandro Bedoya into that mix as well.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Well now that I've managed to get into blogger through an entirely different browser, no thanks to Firefox, we can throughly examine the clusterbomb of a roster and what Bob Bradley must be thinking. Or rather, perhaps what narcotics he's on?
I assume everyone has already seen the roster by now, so no use in posting it. I'd much rather avoid it for the purpose of keeping my walls without fist holes in them.
Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way, I'm sure that there were discussions taking place for guys like Teal Bunbury, Alejandro Bedoya, and Timothy Chandler between the USSF and their respective clubs. Let me clearly state that I do not believe in any conspiracy theories about Timothy Chandlers international situation. Chandler I'm sure has had thoughts about playing for Germany, however, with Philip Lahm, Jerome Boateng, and Andreas Beck already being implanted right backs with much more international experience. There is nothing to be had for Chandler on the German national team. Now, would Nurnberg have released Chandler if it was Germany who came calling, as opposed to the United States? I'm go on record and say I think it's more likely, IF that were the case, which it is not. I think Nurnberg put simply that Chandler needs the rest after his first full professional season, and this will give him the chance to firmly put his foot in the door as Nurnbergs official starting right back. It is a marginally acceptable exclusion, assuming he continues to start at Nurnberg.
Now, let me discuss the inclusions of Robbie Rogers and Freddy Adu. Two players who (before the roster release) were so far on the fringes of the national team picture that no one's predicted rosters (including my own) even considered Adu or Rogers, et all. Alejandro Bedoya's exclusion is by far the most bamboozling exclusion, more so than Chandler or Bunbury. Bedoya is having a dream season in Sweden and his last match highlights I saw he had two goals and an assist. Whatever Orebro told Bedoya, or Bradley, it scared one or both enough for Bedoya to be left off. It's a shame, because league strength not withstanding, he's having one of the best seasons by an American oversea's. Robbie Rogers meanwhile isn't even a for sure starting player in Columbus, and yet he is the SOLE wide midfielder on the roster, it's simply perplexing on every level. Freddy Adu, who has been playing well of late, scoring goals and playing full matches, but it's all in the Turkish 2ND DIVISION! I mean, I love Freddy and I think he has a future with this team, but I'm not sure that that time is now. Now, if there is one player on this roster who can make us all eat crow, it's Adu. He is highly capable of magical passes and has 1v1 ability unseen anywhere else in the US player pool. But has he grown up enough to take training seriously and to play defense? We shall see.
Chris Wondolowski isn't really a surprising pick, considering last years goal explosion, and seemingly has continued that touch this year with 6 goals so far this season. That being said, he has all of a single cap, against a Chilean "C" squad, where he failed to impress. He is also 28 years old, and if Wondo is still a viable option come World Cup 2014, then something has gone terribly wrong. Bunbury would be the more obvious choice for me, simply because of his youth and it seems that he will have a future within the US system. Wondolowski does not, nor should he.
Now then, the bulk of the roster is made up of guys who we generally assumed would be there, and to be honest, how often do the 21st and 22nd players on the roster actually play in the tournament? Maybe one match? So it's fine in that regard, but I am of the belief that for your confederations tournament, you should call in your BEST 23 players, regardless of club wishes. For me, obviously, that would include Chandler, Bedoya, and Bunbury, in place of Rogers, Adu, and Wondolowski.
Now just yesterday broke the news that Benny Feilhaber was injured in his club match with New England, and today is walking around in boot. This likely means that Feilhaber is out, and someone (hopefully Bedoya) is in. But that news will break when it does, this is all speculatory at this point from me.
With the Spain match just now six days away, expect a lineup breakdown and match preview on Wednesday and Thursday. Until then, play for Bob Bradley's dealer.