Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bob Bradley and Qualifying

After two dismal performances on the road in World Cup Qualifying, there is absolutely no way that Bob Bradley is going to change styles on us. Don't look for any real changes to the line up. I suspect Steve Cherundolo will play rather than Frankie Hejduk (all evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion as Hejduk must get energy from just thinking about surfing). Other than that, I don't expect to see any changes to the line-up that played in Havana. Which is leading to a problem for me.

The U.S. will get through to the next round of qualifying. Sitting at six points all they need really is a win and and a draw in their next four games to advance. Three of those games are at home, so the odds are really good that the U.S. will get more than one win. Two wins and a draw between Trinidad and Guatamala and this group is done and dusted and everyone else is playing for second. Even if Trinidad or Guatamala defeat the other, the U.S. only need a draw against them to win the group.

the biggest problme for the U.S. at this point is the lack of a scoring threat, a real, every game scoring threat. We just don't have it. One of the recent comments I have seen about Kenny Cooper and I don't know if it was intended to be a criticism is that the man shoots from everywhere, inside the penalty area, outside the area from 25 years out, left side, right side, whereever. Of course that is not Bob Bradley ball (which explains why Cooper is not on the squad). But Bob Bradley is a guy who studies the numbers, studies the angles and must surely know that in order to score goals, you actually have to shoot the ball at the net. Can Cooper be a good target man a la Brian McBride? Yes, but that is a waste of his talent. The problem is the Bradley wants a McBride II and not an attacking brand of football.

If the Euros taught us nothing, they taught us this, possession without attack is not only boring, but dangerous. Compare France/Italy with Spain/Russia/Netherlands and you will get my point. The U.S. can pass the ball around the permimeter quite well, but they are not going to attack, because attack demands risk and risk is something that Bob Bradley avoids like the plague.

If the U.S. win tomorrow night against Trinidad, there will be no change in the U.S. tactics, period, end of story, see you in South Africa where we will likely get trounced. The youngsters that Bradley is avoiding naming to his squad all play that style of play that demands finesse, attacking, going at defenders as playing well, attractive football. That is something that Bradley just can't stomach so players like Adu, Altidore, Cooper, Charlie Davies, Stuart Holden, Robbie Rodgers, Danny Szetela and others sit on the sidelines, hoping they will get a shot after the 2010 world Cup.

In short, while I will take the wins on the road, all they have done is validated Bob Bradley's system, but they have not proven that the U.S. is ready for top level play against the best in the world.

We should be racking up teh goals, from lots of different players, so as to prove to the world that we not only play defense, but we are a threat to score when we step on the pitch. But don't count on that anytime until after 2010, cause Bob don't play that game.

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