Monday, June 22, 2009

USA 3:0 Egypt

You can only say "WOW." The U.S. got every single break they needed yesterday to stage an improbably appearance in the Confederations Cup Semi-finals. The win by Brazil over Italy is important in this mix because it cannot be said that the U.S. performance in the first two games of this competition did not deserve their berth in the final four. If Brazile had gotten only two goals against Italy, the U.S. would be going home instead of the Italian. Thanks Andreas Dessano.

So there is a certain amount of euphoria about teh U.S. win, but make not mistake, there are still some real problems in the U.S. squad. Bob Bradley's tactical decisions are still questionable, the performance of some of the veterans are inconsistent at best and completely out of form at worst (yes, I am talking about DeMarcus Beasley and to a certain extent Clint Dempsey).

There is still too much recklessness in the midfield (Rico Clark and Sasha Kljestan and to a lesser extent Michael Bradley). There is still too much long ball and not enough passing on the field. The U.S. still doesn't have a true playmaker (Michael Bradley is getting there).

Thus, while many U.S. fans are going to take a look at this performance against a slightly depleted Egypt squad that was obviously knackered and get caught up in the moment and over celebrate this win. The U.S. squad, I believe does not appear to have any plan under Bob Bradley. I don't see a consistent plan for Bradley as we move forward. The performances in this competition is too up and down and too varied to find a plan. These performances also seem to be disconnected from the strategy and tactics of the World Cup Qualifying. From game to game, even accounting for the tactical differences between opponents, you never what kind of team and set up Bradley will field. Is the U.S. going to be a possession oriented team, a strong disciplined defense/counter attack team, an open, attacking team or what. The fact is that you can't identify a "Bradley" style and that is hurting the U.S. as much as anything with less than a year to go to the World Cup.

Next I think Bradley is being inconsistent in his application of his player selection. Time and againg, Bradley has stated that he won't select players who aren't seeing regular playing time for their club (injuries aside). Yet, for example, Jose Torres sees lots of minutes for Pachuca (he is a regular starter and when not starting usually sees action as a sub) but DeMarcus Beasley hasn't seen time for Rangers in months. Jozy Altidore, even when healthy, wasn't seeing time at Xeres or Villareal, but Charlie Davies sees lots of minutes for his club. I think Torres has handled the situation well, but I would imagine that mercurial players like Freddy Adu, it would be hard to understand why Beasley gets the nod and Adu (who like Beasley is getting time with Monaco or Benfica) rides the pine.

Finally, as I think I have mentioned before, there are too many U.S. players, who seem to believe they have an almost guaranteed starting spot. Certainly I think Tim Howard is the number one keeper, but Brad Guzan had a good game yesterday and has responded well when called up. Landon Donovan's performances against all three teams was much better than recent World Cup qualifying where he was essentially absent. Perhaps wearing the captain's arm band motivates Landycakes. Bocanegra's absence allowed Jay DeMerit to prove why he should be considered for starging center back rather than Boca or Gooch. Clint Dempsey is inconsistent (even accounting for yesterday's goal) and probably needs a good dose of bench time to mull over his performance (Roy Hodgson did it a Fulham to great effect).

I believe that with the Gold Cup squad including a fair number of younger players who are hungry to make that 2010 World Cup roster, you will likely see some good performances. Those players need to make clear their intention to battle for a staring slot against these veterans and Bob Bradley needs to make clear to his veterans that he will give these young guns the shot to grap the starting position. No one's position should be safe, including Howard and Donovan's.

Make no mistake, I am ecstatic that the U.S. will square off against Spain in teh semi-finals. I want the U.S. to do well, I always have. But one fine performance should not be misconstrued as finding a necessary solution to the U.S.'s problems. Well done fellas, but you need to keep doing better.

1 comment:

Paul H said...

Very sound synopsis on what happened against Egypt. I've been thinking the same thing about Bob Bradley for awhile now. He just tinkers with the line-up from game to game and there is basically no consistency in anything he(or the team)does. I have no problem with Jozy getting the starts, especially with Ching hurt, and seeing Davies some more would be nice. Hopefully he will keep Donovan at LM too since he seems to perform best from there. I would be all for Gooch and Demerit keeping the CB roles and Bocanegra starting at LB when he comes back from injury too, and hopefully Spector can stay healthy for a change. All-in-all a great result on just to show something against Spain...maybe get at least one goal off of them.