Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The 23

So it's been awhile, but I have a few things to say regarding the US's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic last night and the final roster which is to be announced sometime today.

I didn't get to watch the game last night as ESPN3 is blocked in my neck of the woods, and I couldn't just head over to a bar to watch the game since it was on at 2 a.m. over here.

I'm not all that surprised by the scoreline. This is like an exhibition game in Spring Training or in Pre-Season football, scorelines don't really matter as you're trying to get a good look at who might make the roster.

I've seen the highlights, and I've read a few first hand reviews, but I've yet to get a firm grasp on the overall thoughts on who played well and who played bad. There were players who were active but didn't produce much (Beasley and Edson Buddle), there were guys who showed flashes of good and bad (Goodson, and Edu), guys who didn't do much of anything (Johnson and Rogers), and then there were guys who were just plain bad (Pearce, Bornstein and Cherundolo). And that might not have been the case, but from what I have read so far, that's the general consensus.

Before I get to my final 23, I'd like to address Herc Gomez and his goal. Even the man himself said the goal was 10% him and 90% Goodson, yet most US pundits are praising him like he is the second coming of Van Nistelrooy. I'm not even saying Gomez shouldn't make the final 23 (he should), but that goal was hardly the reason. I'm happy he scored it, and I've seen many a strikers flounder an opportunity like that, but it was hardly a wondergoal, which is what it was treated as by some US followers (I'm looking directly at Alexei Lalas, who to me, is a complete joke of a commentator).

OK, so enough of that. But here is my final 23, and let me already say that I haven't seen many of these guys play, but I have followed them recently, and I am aware of what type of form they are in. I am also aware that Bob Bradley and his staff do a much better job of selection than what we give them credit for; it's what they get paid to do and Bradley (though I don't always agree with his tactics) seems like a hard working fellow who wouldn't breeze through this type of task. Anyways:

GK (3)
Hahnemann (who based on form, should be the backup goalie)

DF (7)
* I think BB is comfortable with the flexibility of Edu at CB (despite his gaff last night on the 4th goal) and Beasley at LB that he will only need 7 in back.


* If form is really what matters, Gomez and Buddle should make the squad. I know LD and Dempsey can both play up front, but they are both better suited and more comfortable on the wings. Bringing one less defender allows them to bring both Buddle and Gomez, who are both in the best form of their careers and offer different skill sets.

We'll see what happens today, but I'm confident those are the best 23 at this moment, even though there are some GNJB whipping boys in that group (Ching, Bornstein), but the WC is best suited for veterans.

Anyway, I've been giving this a lot of thought, and there would be two formations I would love to see, one that would be in my dreams, and one that is actually possible.

My Dream






* So my reason to think this might work is it's the same formation that the US U-20 '07 team used so well and it worked quite well with Altidore up front but flanked on the wings by guys who do better facing the goal. Holden is the key though, he must have the ability to distribute quickly from the middle and work well with the lone man up front as Adu worked so well with Altidore in '07 (it's almost like the triangle offense in the NBA, where you have to have a big man who can pass at the top of the key or foul-line extended).

The other question is whether Dempsey would be able to track back and play the left side of defense (Donovan would be able to), a role he isn't used to. Although you could have the two D-MF rotate over and not be so dependent on the wingers tracking back. But I think Bradley would really flourish (as he did in '07) in this role especially alongside another quality holding MF like Edu. This formation is also dependent on the fullbacks pushing forward to provide service on the outside, which would suit Spector well, but Bocanegra might struggle (especially coming off hernia surgery). So this might be a formation better suited for Bornstein.

Either way, this formation utilizes Dempsey/Donovan better (on the outside, facing goal) while also adds supporting help to the defense, which surprisingly is probably out weak point. The US has been letting up a lot of goals lately, and usually only holds the opponent to 1 or zero goals when they get a standout performance from their Goalie. Many US fans and pundits like to focus on goal scoring, but in this cycle, the defense has been the bigger concern.







*That might even be a little two offensive for BB who may opt for two holding MF like Bradley--Clark or Bradley--Edu, but I have little doubt he is going to play one of Dempsey or Donovan up top with Altidore.

I should probably explain my 11 a little more, and maybe I'll do that later, but I'm a bit late for a lesson, so I have to shove off. More to come.

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