Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Clipboard Summation - No April Fool Edition

First, we will just run out the 23, in the reveal order for this version of my depth chart. The as-of-now line-up, specifics on decision and wrinkles after.

Howard, Guzan, Rimando
Cameron, Parkhurst
Goodson, Gonzalez, Onyewu
Johnson, Lichaj
Williams, Beckerman
Bradley, Jones
Zusi, Bedoya
Dempsey, Diskerud
Donovan, Beasley
Altidore, Jóhannsson

Last men cut: Ream (who goes into the 23 if Lichaj is slow to return from injury), Edu, Kljestan, Shea, Boyd. Next week, we could have a lot more to say about Green. Other than him, I am not sure the Mexico friendly will have much impact on this clipboard.

So...moving Johnson to left back and Donovan to that same flank go hand-in-hand. In my mind, the first switch requires the second (and is a considerably-sized reason Beasley jumped a spot to now hold the left wing back-up place). Even if he is playing fairly well defensively, FabJo will need some help. Williams being the more stay-at-home midfielder on his line also provides a little more protection for the greener duo (at this top level) of Johnson and Besler.

Conversely, Bradley being on the right helps Cameron and Zusi get up their wing for crossing. Mikey also loves to fill those empty channels with late runs into the box, so this side could prove nice to him, with Zusi typically pulling his defender wide and the left center back far more concerned with Altidore or Deuce, if not also the oft-wandering Donovan.

You may also notice a slight lean to the right where builds are concerned. The thought is it might be helpful to the types of runs and combos our boys like to get the defense slightly off-center, perhaps getting Donovan and Johnson more space. Of course, the opponent may resist this, with any overplay having the opposite but also exploitable effect of granting the extra space to the guys more likely to hit flank crosses (Zusi and Cameron. Hey, Donovan can be a playmaker or a weak side target/capitalist - I am perfectly fine with either notion. The team tends to lean right going upfield anyway, tends to collapse to the area on the left and already tends to ship most of its crosses from the right, so there everyone should be right in their comfort zone. At the same time, the channels most likely to be run by foul magnets Dempsey, Johnson, Donovan and Altidore also happen to lie in the sweetest free kick areas.

You may think this is a lot of emphasis on attack, but trust me, some goals will be needed to advance. Whatever the wrinkle, something is needed in this group. It has to be subtle, and it has to help even when it does not actually work. My best idea with this particular line-up is that tiny attempt at an illusion. Because tricks are what a whore does for money.... or candy.

As for the subs, I find Jones, AJ, Mix, DMB and Bedoya combine to make up a very handy toolbox for making real impact off the bench. The same could be said for Gonzo and Gooch, as well as a fit Lichaj. Parkhurst and Beckerman provide more of a steadying hand, as the plan goes.

- Greg Seltzer


Unknown said...


Terrific work as always. I for one have thoroughly enjoyed the writing, as well as folks' follow-up posts.

My two cents:

1. I wish Klinsmann saw the midfield the way you do. I fear he does not.

2. I might go Beckerman over Williams to start, but as you have indicated a lot of that comes down to how they look in training. I do think there is something to be said for Beckerman's veteran poise in tournament setting.

3. I would be inclined to drop the Lichaj/Ream spot -- figure Beasley and/or Parkhurst as the back-up left back -- and throw in one more attacking player that has a very physically specific skill set (Green for speed, EJ or Boyd for aerials) to be included in the 18 depending on the opponent.

4. I would be inclined to consider Edu over Gooch for the final central defender spot. I just worry about Gooch's ability to recover from a bad first step more than Edu - and I fear Gooch has never become savvy enough to significantly cut down on his bad first steps. I also suspect Edu could replicate Besler's game in a pinch better than Gonzo or Gooch.

5. I am curious how you think dropping Gonzo from his starting role would affect the trajectory of his career?

Turns out I had five cents.

dikranovich said...

Jones is starting. We should get our heads wrapped around that little fact. from one perspective jones deserves the start simply because it was he who opened the flood gates for all the other duel nationals.

He has played with so much heart out there and I'm sure when he first came into the team he felt like he had to do more. Plus according to one brian Straus article, he is the leader of the group.

What I don't get about Greg's thinking is that he rates Cameron so high at dm, yet leaves him on the wing, in his third best position.

I guess beckerman is the wildcard. We see a great pairing with jr tonight and it could change some thinking at the top, as would a strong performance from edu on the back line, if he is played there.

Zach said...

Unfortunately Dik is right, Jones will be a starter.

And Lichaj will be crushing natty lights on a beach somewhere. Beasley, Parkhurst and even GC can cover LB if neccessary.

I think Edu will sneak in, but that depends on the next two camps. Same w/ Yedlin and Green.

Unknown said...

@dik - I agree that Jones will get the start over Williams. As Greg said before, this is how HE would do it, not how he predicts JK will do it.

Also Cameron is at RB out of necessity. If Chandler was fit and had a couple good showings in the warm-up friendlies, Cameron would move up to mid, or possibly another spot on the back line since DM seems congested.

J.G. Updike (@FixtureWire) said...

Yeah, exemplary work Greg, there is little wrong I could find with the squad and reasoning. I would still like to ask some questions and tweak some things, but that is just because I am a lawyer by trade so I cannot help but tear things down and try to make them better. Obviously, it does not always work out that way, but here it goes…

Why bring Onyewu? I personally worry about taking to many defenders. As long as Cameron is healthy, he provides cover at RB/DM/CB. I think this “utility” is also why I have jumped on the Parkhurst bandwagon. He is a good player, has a ton of experience, and can competently cover each position on the back line. If you bring these players, I think bringing Onyewu is a wasted spot.

Beckerman is a catch 22 with me. Of those players in the pool, he is the best player to sit next to Bradley. I say this because he knows his role better than any other player and as Bradley is our most important player we need to make sure whoever sits next to him compliments him and does not hinder his lanes as Jones often does. However, I still have concerns about his lack of speed and how he seems to slow things down too much on offense. I would normally say bring him, but given the Germany/Portugal match-ups I fear he would just get run over. In the end, I think this will be Jürgen’s biggest decision, and I think it will come down to where he employs Cameron on the field.

Do you think Cameron will work next to Bradley, or was that performance just a one off masterpiece?

I would like to know more about Danny Williams, but alas other than following him on Instragram I haven’t seen very much of him.

I personally like that you did not bring 3 strikers, I don’t see the point of bringing a third option as once you get past Altidore and Johannsson the remaining options are fairly limited in their abilities in my eyes. I could see Eddie Johnson getting a nod just because of his set piece ability and speed, but I am not sure I would want to waste the position unless we are going to run two forwards. Which keeping in mind the competition is that actually going to happen?

I still think you have to bring Green or Shea as the left side of the pitch is one of our weakest in terms of availability of players who naturally play there and can be dynamic. I hope Green showcases well as I would hate to waste the spot on Shea knowing that while he can be amazing at times, his consistency of performance is more than a bit schizophrenic.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ The Streetsweeper:

1. C'est la vie, eh? But I do not assume he will always do as he says he will do. Klinsi is shifty that way. And I mean that in a good way.

2 - I choose Williams because a) he is faster & b) his regular competition is much faster. I think Beckerman would be more useful in a late game situation.

3 - I am not. I am not one of these people who feels we don't need eight defenders. I think these fine folks are planning for a short tourney. I am planning as if we will make the final. Shit happens. And to me, pulling cover lowers the effectiveness of two positions. I am much more likely to pull cover attack for attack. I do not like playing games with the back.

As for Green, he needs to claim a spot by being better than other options now. We shall see if he is. But for me, I highly doubt any third striker I bring would see the field. Unless, of course, shit happens.

4. I do not consider Edu as a CB. And I feel a lot of people have long since stopped seeing Gooch clearly.

5. Hardly, if at all. World Cups do not have nearly the effect on the transfer market that many assume.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ JG Updike:

**Why bring Onyewu? I personally worry about taking to many defenders.**

See my answer about this above. And also about Beckerman/Williams (who will stay home, too, and passes away quicker and cleaner than the other options).

I have advocated all along for Cameron to play behind Bradley. For eons now. I said it long before Klinsi tried it. The only reason Cameron is at RB is the selection crisis.

On the three forwards, it seems we have the same exact ideas.

As for Shea, amazing at times in short shifts is all we would ask from him. So in that light, he is perfect - or rather would be if all his industry created a little more consistent end product, especially in the way of crosses. But yeah, I think either Shea or Green breaking into the 23 could be very useful. But they have to show me they will do the breaking into before I pick them. If not, I will gladly take DMB for his legs off the bench, tracking back, foul winning experience and for how generally annoying it is to be playing against in a big important game. Because he is probably going to buh-ring it.

Unknown said...

Bradley looked great last night when Beckerman gave him the space to roam. Too bad Becks was culpable on the first MX goal.

dikranovich said...

"Becks" was not marking Marquez on the first goal , gonzo was. I'd say on the second goal, it was Julian green himself who was most at fault for not following through with his marking, and taking up a poor position in the box.

Greg Seltzer said...

Green was more at fault than Gonzo on the second goal? Really though?

Unknown said...

The first MX goal was a pick play, in which players usually switch their marks. I'm fine with putting half the blame on Omar though.

Greg Seltzer said...

Soccer players typically do not switch on picks. That is in basketball.

Greg Seltzer said...

Besides, that was not exactly the roughest pick ever set.

Unknown said...

Sorry, I consulted with my friend who only played soccer at a collegiate level, and he blamed Beckerman 100%, although he really hates the guy so there could have been some bias.

Greg Seltzer said...

Heh. Yeah, there is an awful lot of that going around. Some USMNT fans are just brutal to the squad.

But I cannot say with authority, they are not meant to switch. I do not see how they drill in training. Usually, though, there is not much switching on soccer picks.

dikranovich said...

I don't think this is about placing blame. Rather, it is about learning from mistakes.

Omar made several mistakes on the first Mexico goal. One thing he did wrong was he did not fight through the pick hard enough, and secondly, he would not have had to if he was not chasing Marquez away from goal, around the outside of the pick.

Basically, you never move away from goal on a corner, it ain't like you are going to pull someone offsides.

Mexico Goal number two: young Julian green did three things wrong on this play.

The first thing he did wrong, and bocanegra can attest, you never head the ball back towards the middle of the field in your own defensive end. Green could simply have headed the ball out of play and allow the defense to set up.

Secondly, green commits to defending Aguilar, then he backs off. You can't half way commit in this situation, which leads to mistake number three. Julian slides into the box, after he breaks away from Aguilar, and he finds himself in no mans land and is not in position to intercept the cross, which is sent in and struck by Aguilar, and the rebound input home.

So if green just heads the ball out of play, he takes all the other negatives out of the equation and he plays it smart.

You learn from this, you don't run from it.