Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Central Park Rangers

I owe you all two clipboard spots today, but will post them separately so as not to confuse the inevitable comments section debates. First, we cross the formation's halfway point by sizing up the two-way midfielders.

Michael Bradley
Jermaine Jones
Sacha Kljestan

To me, this spot is fairly cut-and-dry. Recalling Friday's defensive midfield list, I reserve the right to take all three of these guys to leave behind one defensive midfielder. You'll just need to wait until the exercise is complete to see if that happens.

As for the players, Bradley is the biggest no-brainer in the USMNT bubble. The team is clearly not the same when he's out, and not just because the Bald Eagle raises his offensive game with the Nats. In my mind, Jones is a perfect impact sub in this team. Some will find this an insult, but I don't and the USMNT has no evolved past the point of "But he plays for so-and-so... " in building a line-up. I cannot state enough that the best 11 players in the pool usually do not make the best field set, so it's not like I'm saying he's not good enough. With Kljestan, you get a guy who could also work the #10 position in a pinch. Still, his game has evolved since moving to Belgium - he's now a bona fide traffic director.

- Greg Seltzer


Cathal said...

Greg, the only issue I find with your depth chart is the way the positions are segmented. We haven't really been playing a 4-3-3 in qualifying - it's been more 4-2-3-1, and Klinsmann has been pretty vocal about wanting to use Jones and Bradley as a double-pivot. This is a pretty common tactic, especially when your two best center-mids aren't pure #6's or #8's. There's definitely a debate as to whether or not this is the best tactic, or whether the double-pivot is working, but I don't think Klinsmann plans on using a pure 4-3-3 when everyone is healthy.

No doubt you want to put the right pieces of the puzzle together, and this means leaving some pieces out if they're redundant. But the mark of a good coach isn't just about putting the pieces together, but also being able to re-shape the puzzle to get the most out of what is available.

I understand Klinsmann's desire to make the most out of having two great box-to-box mids in Jones and Bradley - instead of looking at those two as redundant to one another, he's trying to exploit that advantage.

Jolazo said...

I'm guessing that you see Mix as a #10? Doesn't he play more of an #8 role with Rosenborg?

UnitedDemon said...

I have another candidate, who I honestly think is better than Klejstan: Mix Diskerud.

He is not as defensively capable as Michael Bradley, or as defensively inclined as Jones, but he is the kind of distributor we need, and he showed an appreciable level of tenacity during the Gold Cup.

Klejstan is playing well for Anderlecht, and is a team leader for that side, but on the national team level, he has shown himself to be a player who is good at a l ot of things, but not good enough at any one thing to be a real contributor for the Nats. He's not fast enough to be a winger, he's not as defensively capable as the top two choices, and he's not as creative as Bradley or Mix.

My point is, if we need a sub option, which is what it will come down to, if we're down a goal, Mix is by far the better answer.

WonderKin said...
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WonderKin said...

Cathal, in Klinsmanns version of the 4-2-3-1 there is one defensive midfield (supposedly), one two way midfielder, and one advanced offensive minded midfielder... so I do not understand your objection.

The two wide players in the three part of the 4-2-3-1 are a different type of player as well.

WonderKin said...
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andrés said...

Just wanted to chime in quickly to say that I concur with UD, very well put and is a strong possibility that JK's felt that all along. Doesn't make me feel any less gutted for the kid if he doesn't make the final roster though.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Cathal:

Well, for starters, it's *my* clipboard, not a guess or direct companion to Klinsi's. Still, both the 4-2-3-1 and empty bucket are essentially more conservative cousins to the 4-3-3 and the USMNT typically plays them that way: get the fullbacks forward, form a midfield triangle for linking and four main attackers in (usually) a similar base shape.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Jolazo:

Yes, and typically yes. But I do not give deference to what a club coach does. His selection and tactics may be very different, which means his needs will be different. Hence, a player's club position is not necessarily always his best position. For me, though, I think it's very important in short tourneys to have as much of the team as possible doing the roles they do best.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ United Demon:

Let's be clear. The main reason the USMNT has usually not seen Kljestan's best is because he so rarely gets to play his proper position. He isn't a winger and continually asking him to be one makes him look more pedestrian to USMNT fans.

And being down a goal late isn't the only situation we'll face. I'd rather have Diskerud creating than deeper, fighting a bunch of beefy CMs.

Cathal said...

WonderKin, obviously formation names are all semantics, but I recall Klinsmann saying he wanted to use Jones and Bradley as a double-pivot, rather than have one act as a DM.

Greg Seltzer said...

Klinsi says a lot of things. Sometimes they are actually what he means to do.

UnitedDemon said...

I'd agree that he hasn't been given many shots at CM, but he has played the role this cycle. He didn't play it as well as Diskerud has, Mix made far more out of his appearances, whether to the possession or on the stat sheet.

I like seeing Diskerud on the field, period. Realistically, this third spot on this depth chart is likely determining factor of who gets a shot at the final 23, as JK would rather fill in the floating Dempsey role with Donovan or even Eddie Johnson. This is the real competition spot, the creative sub. Klejstan should lose that battle.

And personally, I like having a CM pairing with a DM that has real attacking flair. I don't think flair is a term anyone has used with Klejstan since Chivas USA.

WonderKin said...

Yeah, Jurgen does, but Greg and alot other people think that Jones takes away from Bradley when he does not play a true #6 role, which is anytime he steps on the field. That's why Greg has him essentially as Bradley's back up and I believe likes Cameron as the true #6. Then again it's not my blog so you should ask him.

I lean towards trusting Jurgen, but then again it did look pretty good the one time they actually tried it.

Greg Seltzer said...

"I'd agree that he hasn't been given many shots at CM, but he has played the role this cycle. He didn't play it as well as Diskerud has, Mix made far more out of his appearances, whether to the possession or on the stat sheet."

Kljestan has not made any CM starts in qualifying. His last CM outing came against Belgium. Belgium is considerably better than any possible opponent in CONCACAF right now and also quite massively sized in midfield.

"I like seeing Diskerud on the field, period."

I do, too. And as such, his name will still appear on the clipboard later.

Phil McCracken said...

Would love to see Bradley and Klejstan together. They seem to see the game the same way and are always on the same page.

Jacob Klinger said...

Columbus '09 springs to mind.

John said...

@Phil McCracken: I rather see Diskerud over Kljestan. Mix has shown in a U.S. MNT jersey that he can be a difference maker.

Greg Seltzer said...

Diskerud is on my #10 list, the position where most of his USMNT impact came before Gold Cup (and against better opponents).