Thursday, August 11, 2011

Some flash post-Mexico thoughts

Lets take this down piece by piece. But Brek Shea, eh?

Defense

Fairly impressed by the shape from what was by all accounts a makeshift back four. I figured the lack of Clarence Goodson would lead Jurgen to tap Ream, but he surprised us all and went for Fiscal, which proved to be a pretty nice little move. His partnership with Boca was fairly tight, and the fullbacks were similarly sharp. Dolo has been a rock at RB over the last few years, but I was more than a little nervous about how the spindly Edgar Castillo (gald dern he's tiny) would hold up. Through his semi-incoherent babblings (I'm pretty sure he just tossed out the word 'barbque' at random mid-sentence around the 25-minute mark), Jorge Ramos mentioned early on how much trouble Castillo has had striking a balance between attack and defense at Club America. I thought after a shaky start he pulled it together and swept off a few menacing challenges. He does tend to get caught out in the attack at times, which is a little baffling since he looks lost when he gets there. But when you're not conceding goals its not a problem. All in all, not a bad first start from the Las Cruces, N.M. native, though I don't think he did anything to convince me he was any better than Eric Lichaj.

I'd give this group a solid B effort tonight. Haven't seen possession numbers yet but they're bound to favor the Mexicans, and yet most of the chances were speculative and from beyond 18 yards. Chicharito was out, yes, but Dos Santos was utterly neutered. The lone goal was an extraordinary mix of luck and skill not to be blamed on a single group or player, and certainly not the back line, though from the couch it seemed like Howard could've made a better show of it. Easier said than yadda yadda...

Midfield

Disappointing effort from both Bradley and Jones, a fairly mediocre to above average night from both Beckerman and Torres and a good to great night from Donovan. Klinsmann opted for Buddle as a lone striker (ughhh), and extended Donovan and Torres down the sides while Beckerman, Bradley and Jones interchanged in the middle. Beckerman is a known quantity at this point - very solid defensively with a fairly inept touch in the attacking third. He contributed nothing to the attack, but when dropping back he saw a fair amount of success. With more than enough holding mid options, his lack of offensive ability is a damning mark against him down the line.

Jones looked disinterested. His long balls (when he chose to use them) were off target and he did little to aid the attack. I'm unsure how to assess this since he had a pretty solid Gold Cup by most accounts. Bradley completely disappeared for stretches, while Torres couldn't find the game. You could see his quality on possession, but the flow of the game seemed to out-pace him. That could be a result of some USMNT rust, or it could be because he played out of position for all but 25 minutes. But he has to play better. Odd, we were saying the same things under Bradley.

Funny enough, the US goal was set up by the three subs - Agudelo to Shea to Robbie Rogers. When Rogers came on I turned to a buddy and issued a snarky remark, but I was happily chomping on those words soon enough. And Shea... whoa. No surprise to those of us who've seen him in MLS this year, but he's on another level right now. The Mexicans were baffled as to how to handle his physicality, especially when he nosed out two defenders and laid in a brilliant cross to Rogers, who merely had to breathe on it to score. Rogers' speed has always impressed me, and he was unlucky not to draw a red out of Torrado after he churned past him like it was nothing with about five minutes left. Rogers and Shea each earned themselves another serious look. Rico Clark was... well, he was Rico Clark.

Forwards

I haven't a clue how Klinsmann regards players who flame out in limited minutes. As Rico Clark and Jose Torres can attest, Bradley shuns you to the dark nether regions of US soccer. So if Klinsi is anything like Bradley, Buddle will find future caps hard to come by. The Buddle as a lone striker experiment belongs on the scrap heap, at least for now. It was shockingly apparent how much the game picked up once Agudelo got in and began stewarding a very attractive brand of one-touch flowing soccer. Donovan to me has always always reflected and enhanced the talent surrounding him more than imposed his will, which is why his slow start mirrored the team's. When the changes rolled in in the second half, Donovan was the most dangerous player on the field because now he has Shea overlapping and Agudelo providing probing runs into the box with Rogers poaching. Very encouraging stuff.

All's well that end's well, yeah? If the first 45 were fairly blunt, the final 25 were scintillating. It's impossible to discern a direction after just 10 days under Klinsmann, but if his eclectic roster choices are any indication, we're in for a fun few years.

- Will Parchman

8 comments:

Joe said...

I see a ton of people that rated Beckerman high in this game and was glad to see this was more realistic. If you watch the replay on the Mexico goal, Beckerman trails coming out on the play -- while he guards no one -- and ultimately is responsible for not closing in time and allowing the cross. He seemed slow in the first half at one point giving up the ball around his own defensive 18, and only marginally improved in the second half when Mexico tired around him. The yellow card that he "drew" was really caused by his own late challenge and it wasn't deserved. I expect (and hope) that when Holden returns, we'll see Bradley move back and see Beckerman back on the bench.

Matt said...

Brek Shea transfer rumors are a comin'...

SPA2TACU5 said...

Request to the author: can you please provide players' positions next time? It puts their performance in a better perspective.

Chris said...

No huge Buddle supporter here, but the game and attacking potential changed dramatically during the few minutes around when Agudelo entered - partly due to his skill set, but I think more due to the additional width and speed that comes with Shea and Rodgers.

I think it's a little harsh to put the lack of effectiveness going forward on the lone striker playing in front of 4 holding center mids that were too busy bumping into each other than moving the ball or themselves meaningfully up the field. Seemed as if Donovan was also invisible as well until those changes were made to speed up our game and add some other options around the field.

Anyway, definitely encouraging. Spot on about Orozco, he was good, and I think we can expect to watch a pretty exciting team once Klinsmann gets a little more time with everyone.

bhamhawker said...

Not sure what some of the national media are seeing in Beckerman from that game, so I'm glad Will had a seemingly on-point eye. He's absolutely out of his depth in terms of keeping possession at the international level, and I thought he looked woefully slow in defense.

I still don't understand the fascination people have with Donovan as a wing. The whole game changed once he moved inside and he saw more of the ball. I'd love to see an Adu\Donovan pairing up the middle with Shea and Dempsey flanking them.

Greg Seltzer said...

Buddy, you seem to like to forget about all of the integral USMNT goals that have come with Donovan out wide. I mean, think back to his best, biggest games, and see how many came with him wide. Considering that he has never excelled as a forward against teams outside CONCACAF and the fact that we don't ever want him with back to goal, one of two things HAS to happen.

1 - He plays out wide.

2 - We play with wingers and him as the #10.

We need his industry, his pressure valve and he's still the best crosser on the squad. We also need to give him passing targets. The more, the better.

And that's all I have to say about that...

As for Beckerman, yes, he dawdled too much on the ball in his own end and that bugged the hell out of me. That being said, he was basically alone in holding down defensive midfield with Jones usually nowhere to be found.

Greg Seltzer said...

I should also note that in his highest level club gig, he was used exclusively out wide. Moyes is the only manager he's ever had that has done this with him. Judging from LD's performances in the Prem, I'd say Moysie was pretty shrewd.

Will Parchman said...

I have no issue with placing Donovan on the wing consistently. The problem is that he has a tendency to get lost out there when the center mids drop back or dissolve, an issue that is addressed when A.) we have an actual attacking mid on the field, and B.) he pinches inward and creates those overlaps.

I think what Klinsmann discovered is that he can't play three players - Bradley, Beckerman and Jones - with essentially the same skill set. This should fix itself when Holden returns and/or the formation changes. Keeping Donovan outside in that instance is fine. But I wouldn't suspect we'll see all three of those guys on the field at one time ever again.