Thursday, February 7, 2013


If one more person calls last night's U.S. formation a 4-3-3, my head is going to explode. People are straight trippin'.

- Greg Seltzer


Phil McCracken said...

Not that I get hung up on what the numerical formation is as it only matters what each player's role is on the pitch rather than the numbers, but how would you categorize that line-up numerically?

Greg Seltzer said...

Frankly, I have no idea.

Phil McCracken said...

Great, that makes me feel better because I couldn't figure it out either.

dikranovich said...

It's a 4-3-3. Come on. The thing with a true 4-3-3 is on defense it becomes a 4-5-1. That means ej and deuce, or who ever the wings are need to defend with some real purpose.

Greg Seltzer said...

Ummm... besides Chandler, who played down the right side?

Seriously, it's like you want to be wrong on purpose.

dikranovich said...
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Unknown said...

Another classic example of Klinsmann needing to feel like he's the smartest guy in the room.

I want someone with far more time at his disposal than I to do the following analysis: what position was Dempsey playing when he scored all of his goals --professionally and for the US -- over the past four years.

The answer, as best as I can tell, is simple. He was playing some form of outside midfield, with two other midfielders in the middle, one other midfielder opposite him, and two forwards in front of him. Sometimes an outside defender got in the mix. Sometimes not. Whatever.

I sincerely believe that FIFA, the video game, and Barcelona, the actual team, has messed with our collective heads. The game is not that complicated. Or perhaps more accurately, the game is too complicated, over the course of 90 minutes, to be mastered with catch-all tactics. It's like they say about boxing, all that planning goes out the window as soon as you get punched in the nose.

Instead, what you need is a team of players who are disciplined personally, and on the same page in terms of how to defend when the other team is in possession, which basically comes down to how high you are setting your offside trap and where on the pitch you plan to double. Beyond that, when you're in possession. It's friggin' soccer. Look for the open space. When your teammate is on the ball, support him from multiple angles. Play the ball behind the defense. Shoot to score. Practice your set pieces.

What does this have to do with Dempsey? It seems clear that he, and the rest of his mates out there, are trying to play within some "system" that is totally unclear to them. And as opposed to the past, when Dempsey was finding space, cutting from the outside in, he is now constantly surrounded by defenders. Yes he scored a great goal yesterday from the middle of the park (making a run, incidentally, from behind the play); but who was right there with him? Eddie Johnson! Making the identical run, just from a more advanced position! Why? Why on multiple occasions was Eddie actually getting in Dempsey's way, in the box (go back, watch the tape.) Because they were both deployed in the most nebulous way possible. A system so complex it fell in on itself.

Even in defeat, I never remember a US A team of the past decade looking lost. Overmatched, yes. But never lost. Never this.

People talk so often about this "unbalanced" formation. To what end? So our backs can get forward? Why do we need to be unbalanced for our backs to get forward? If the "unbalanced" formation is supposed to be confusing the opposition it's not working!

All this complaining about no true wingers on the team. Absurd. We rarely, if ever, have had more than one "natural winger" on the field at any given time. Watch the tape of us beating Honduras in 2009. Donovan on the left and Holden on the right. Even then, Holden was hardly a "natural winger". He certainly wasn't deployed as a winger in the EPL. But Holden found space out wide back in 2009 because Davies and Casey were occupying the defense enough for him to find space. And he found space because he didn't have Jermaine Jones taking 75 touches in the middle third of the field.

aaaaarrggh! I can't shake the feeling that all of this comes down to Jermaine Jones. If that friggin' guy wasn't in our pool then Klinsmann isn't compelled to fit him and Bradley on the field at the same time. We all want Bradley closer to the attack, but we know Jones IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH DEFENSIVELY to play the role that Pablo M or Ricardo Clark used to play... so we need a third D mid. And we end up with this crap.

Assuming Dolo is still too hurt to go in March.

Altidore - Gomez
Shea - Bradley - Edu - Dempsey
Johnson - Boca - Gonzo - Cameron

Gatt off the bench if we need a goal. Beckerman off the bench if we need defense.

dikranovich said...

I'm gonna wait till I get home to write anymore comments. But when I do . Look the f out!!!

DrewVT6 said...

Hey streetsweeper...i don't think people are so concerned about lack of 'wingers', i think people are concerned over our lack of width.

No one had the separation speed and ball control to get around the defense in the final 3rd. In previous games where we've achieved that width with guys like FabJohnson or Cherundolo or Chandler getting into the attack we've been successful. In another area where JK was out-coached, Honduras pinned our wide-backs deep where they couldn't support any buildup and we don't have a Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon to get by that wide defender on our own.

EJ's speed seemed to be pulling a second defender on that left side, but enter Klejstan into a role he's not cut out for and that was nixed.

Tony M said...

Greg, how about reposting Streetsweepers outstanind post as a Guest Blogger? It's awesome - and I think dead on.

Brian Zygo said...

Looked like a 4-6-0 to me.

Anatoly M said...

Greg, thanks for your site. I check here daily for info and to listen on the conversation. You need to know that your effort is appreciated!

@ The Streetsweeper - excellent write up. Right on.

Klinsmann is aggravating. I wanted him to replace Bob Bradley, badly. The main reason was that it looked like BB reached his ceiling and USMNT stopped improving. Of course, we are not Brazil or Spain, and we all know this. But I thought we are ready to challenge a middle level European team and not lose every time. Most of them have a less than a handful of really good players and bunch of journeymen, that maybe are better known than our guys (and play in stronger leagues) but are not fundamentally better (or at least not that much better). Most of those teams (Poland, Greece, Ukraine, Turkey, Belgium, Sweden, Serbia, Denmark, etc.) have many of the same problems that we have, they are not easy to beat, they can on occasion beat up anybody. Whatever current fluctuations are, this is a good solid level that I think we should belong to. To use/abuse two famous quotes: "on any given Sunday" "I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody".

That is what I was looking to get from the wordly, experienced, mercurial, optimistic, not shackled by anything or anybody Klinsmann. Same reason why I among so many looked with hope at Freddy Adu or José Francisco Torres (so far the hope unrealized) - some spark, creativity, some intangible extra.

After a couple of years I have no idea what Klinsmann brought.

We used to be a team of horses with big hearts - never say die, play to the very end, with physical conditioning that allowed it. Counterattacks, but not much of a fancy ball possession. With BB we punched above our grade a few times, but had difficulty braking down weaker teams that bunkered against us. BB outsmarted Spain beautifully - his crown achievement - but otherwise was not known as a tactician. I hoped that Klinsmann can outfox opponents much better than BB or Arena ever could.

Alas, I have no idea what we are trying to play. At one point it looked like Klinsmann was instilling for defense to play very high - to compress the midfield and get advantage of congestion. It justified his early love affair with Michael Orozco who is speedy enough to catch up if the line is breached. But now, I don't even see that.

The midfield is brainless. The one player who IS capable of doing something better (Mike Bradley) is not free, and the player who looks like is free to roam (Jermaine Jones) minus rare splashes IS NOT capable. Dempsey and Altidore, quite productive for their teams lately, look lost for USMNT, again. Ironically, the only players under Klinsmann that look like they know what they are doing - Hérculez Gómez and Kyle Beckerman - were not on the pitch or roster at all. Mind you, I don't believe they are our best players by any stretch of imagination, it only looks like they fit better into whatever Klinsmann is trying to do.

Our total is quite less than the sum of the parts lately. How many Honduran players would be starters for the USMNT? A couple, yes. But we were thoroughly outplayed in every aspect.

I call for Arena and Klinsmann to switch places ASAP.

Joos said...

Looked like a 4-Cluster of whateever-Bradley-What's going on up here? to me.

dikranovich said...

i appreciate these comments here, and what they tell me, is that regardless of how the klinsmann experiment ends, the USA soccer culture is going to be better for it, because it will have been lessons learned, either way.

the truth is maybe that our domestic league has improved at a faster pace than our national team, and neither has blossomed as much as we would have liked, though it feels so close at times.

Cam said...
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Cam said...

I seem to remember that Kinnsman's contract runs past the world cup maybe trough another entire i wrong? i hope so.