- If what I've seen holds up, expect (right to left) Chandler, Alvarado, Brooks and Shea starting along the back line against the Netherlands. Those wide backs best get buckled in now, they are going to be put to work by Oranje. Meanwhile, there seems to be a tight competition between Beckerman and Williams to assume the No. 6 role in front of them. Along with Bradley, Johnson and Morales also looked like line-up material for Friday. Not entirely sure about the forwards, but I'd guess Jóhannsson will also start.
- Bobby Wood looks to have a real spring in his step. I love his explosions through small gaps, his stride has a major bounce to it this week.
- Guzan looks sharp. He made a couple of diving saves so good, not one player ooh-ed or aah-ed; they all just kinda said a quick "oh shit" under their breath and got back to hard work.
And Guzan is especially riding Brooks, from a vocal keeper standpoint. Compliments, criticisms, requests, situation info... the netminder was constantly in the young LCB's ear. In other words, the Hertha hotshot is being groomed to be a leader at the back during these two forthcoming friendlies, and Guzan is playing Lee Ermey's character. That's some sneaky leadership in and of itself. Big Brad II is a real pro.
- Watching Bradley drop those patented mid-range angled lob passes all over the final third is fun-damental. They aren't just pretty and pretty effective, they make defenders turn effectively, which is not always the easiest thing to do with guys like Altidore, Dempsey, Green, Johnson and Yedlin making the runs.
Let's keep this simple: make defenders turn a lot and you will create more chances overall. They don't like resetting their view on the fly and Bradley lobs produce that effect even when they don't work. It also produces the effect of leaving defenders unsure of how long they get to just stand and face the attack. Make defenders think and chew gum at the same time, and suddenly more things will open up.
And this, to me, is yet another of the many opportunity cost reasons that Bradley belongs in the No. 8 role. He's in better range for his best killer pass with one more target ahead. Does he create 1-2 nice chances playing further up as the lead playmaker? Sure, but he would already do that stationed a bit deeper. Look back at his international career. It's not really an offensive net gain when he slides up to No. 10, but it's definitely a defensive and possession loss.
- Greg Seltzer