Monday, March 7, 2016

Driver 9

Injuries have done a real number on the USMNT attack depth charts, and striker is no exception. At least two back-up quality choices for this spot remain on the mend, so there's been a bit of a deck shuffle.

Jozy Altidore
Bobby Wood
Gyasi Zardes

In the frame: Charlie Davies, Juan Agudelo, Bjørn Maars Johnsen, C.J. Sapong

Holding out hope: Terrence Boyd


Altidore should be back from a knock soon... we certainly hope. I'm not really sure about switching Wood to this stable, but he's a change-up option and preferable to the other choices. The physical tools of Zardes nudge him ahead of some others, but barely. Thankfully, Johannsson should be back in a few weeks.

Davies knows the level and should really get a look at some point. Agudelo remains an enigma to me, he should have stayed in the Eredivisie. Johnsen needs a new club. One might say the same thing about Sapong for another reason, but let's give Philly's playmaking acquisitions some time to set the table for him. Boyd hasn't put on a US shirt in two years, and this fact is bumming me out.





- Greg Seltzer

45 comments:

BH said...

was Dik permabanned? If so I will have to start commenting here more.

As a Galaxy fan really not sold on Zardes at this point. He doesnt look like he has the touch or finishing skills. Also not loving a lot of his movement. He has an engine but overall there are other guys i would like to see getting more of shot.

DaM said...

@BH I was just coming to write the same thing. The shine is a bit off him. He's got a lot of tools, but he isn't 21 anymore. Needs a more consistent game starting with the first touch.

DaM said...

(and, of course, by my comment I meant Zardes not Dik) :)

Dany Tzvi said...

wouldve liked to see zardes make the jump to europe. i made the argument at the time the rumors were around but ill state it again: the intrasquad pressure is just not something he's gonna get at LA.

Chris said...

"ugudelo remains an enigma to me, he should have stayed in the Eredivisie."

I agree. But ugudelo? Tell us how you really feel, haha. I would love to see Davies get a look. And yeah, Boyd bums me out a lot too.
By the way, what do you see in Sapong exactly? I haven't seen enough of him lately to formulate an opinion.

Greg Seltzer said...

Heh. I originally typo'ed his name as Augudelo, then deleted the wrong later. Pure mistake, no slight intended. Forgive me, I'm actually sick for the firs time in about four years.

As for Zardes, I don't think he has been quite so bad in a US shirt as many claim. But yeah, I was looking for a reason for someone to supplant him.

As for Sapong, he also has many physical tools. The guy made a couple of short, encouraging US appearance and was never seen again. Besides, last year saw his best MLS season and we don;t have another true power forward option (a healthy one, anyway).

Dr.Jon said...

@Greg: Agudelo remains an enigma to me, he should have stayed in the Eredivisie

Never a truer statement has been typed.....(The T. Boyd one, too.)

Patrick said...

Germany just won the world cup without a target striker. Barcelona didn't have one; ManU don't have one, not sure Vardy is a prototypical big center forward. It is hard to build around Altidore with his constant soft tissue injuries. Unless you think the 2.Bund is far inferior to MLS, I would start Wood. Wood has to start against Guatamala, Altidore will either not be fit or not in form.

The US, like Germany, seems to be developing attacking midfielders and not strikers. Seems silly to try and crowbar guys in when much of the world is moving on.

Interestingly (at least to me and maybe only me), the USWNT has probably 7 of the top 12 strikers in the world.

Greg Seltzer said...

Heh. You may not have noticed, but we are not operating with the luxury of Germany's depth chart. Only the top, top teams can operate in this odd manner - for example, Barcelona. That does not constitute the rest of the world moving on.


Dany Tzvi said...

"Altidore will either not be fit or not in form"

Its unusual to write a player out of a teamsheet because his future form is poor. Maybe greece won the euros because they had the oracle on as a team consultant.

DaM said...

@Greg For what it's worth, it's not so much that Zardes has been bad. Certainly not worse than someone like Zusi would have been. Just a question of whether he still seems like the future or not. I think his progression has flattened out a bit. I didn't see an appreciably better player this weekend than I did a year and a half ago. Just makes me wonder if this is it for him, and if so, is there not something with a better future out there. Maybe Jerome.

Patrick said...

Of course we are not Germany. But like Germany, and Spain too and Mexico, I don't see any Zhlatans in our pipeline. If you look at our YNTs we have guys like Pulisic, Hyndman, Polster,Trapp, Zelalem, etc. All the best guys are in the midfield or are front to goal forwards like Norris, Kiesewetter, Wood. If we are not developing back to goal guys, are we supposed to just play guys up top because...? Maybe that player comes along by 2018, but I don't see him and we already had one WC with Jozi lasting 18 minutes.

brian said...

whats the point of this?

Dr.Jon said...

There's always Boyd, probably our #2 target striker when well. I can't think of many other people in that role besides those 2.

Dany Tzvi said...

your reason for not starting altidore still revolves around his fitness. when jozy is fit he is our best striker and he should be starting. his body of work far surpasses wood's. wood's play in the 2b this year is not as impressive and in a worse league than Jozy for AZ. Wood has only ever had one good performance for MNT.

not to write him off. he should and will get his chances, but until he proves himself more comprehensively Jozy is the starter.

we have a tournament this summer that zelalem & friends aren't playing in, we need out best team now

Zach said...

Damn Dany, aren't your writing off the Olympics a little too early? Still a decent chance to advance.

And I don't think Zelalem is even a starter on that team.

DaM said...

@Zach Yeah I don't see how he could be 90 minutes fit with as little time as he is getting in Scotland. That being said, with Pelosi/Alashe coming off injuries and Hyndman getting no PT either, it's really hard to tell who is going to get the start. Assuming some flavor of 4-3-3 (which probably winds up being a 4-2-3-1) Have to assume Keisswetter/Morris/Trapp are locks. Probably Hyndman too. So that leaves you one left sided spot and one central spot. Pulisic probably gets the 10 but Zelalem could play the left side (or vice versa).

That being said, you are probably right and we see a more defensive central midfield with someone like Alashe/Polster next to Trapp. Any something annoying like Gil over Pulisic. Yay.

Patrick said...

Altidore is our best of his type but he is always hurt. In any sport, players that get multiple soft tissue injuries will keep getting them. To continue to plan to play with Jozy is ignoring the fact he will probably never make it through a tournament. My point is simply to come up with a different plan A. Other teams don't have target forwards and do well. Jozy, if healthy, can come off the bench if we need a goal. I have no problem with him, just can't count on him. It is like a football team relying on an injury prone QB with no good backup (see Eagles).

Greg Seltzer said...

You'er really exaggerating, the guy has 91 caps at the age of 26. How is he always hurt? He's also made it through tournaments before. Other teams that don't have a striker and do well are well beyond our talent level all over the field, with depth to burn. And if he's healthy, he is easily our best striker and the team operates best through him, so why plan ahead for him to come off the bench? This all makes no sense, including the QB comparison. If anything he's the star WR.

Dany Tzvi said...

guys im talking about copa america lol

this is nothing like a club situation in any sport. this is a representational squad, we have a list of players available, we dont get to plan out or choose who is on that list.

altidore is our best when healthy? well... guess what, hes healthy! he should be starting! even if he is injury prone, what are we gonna do? trade him away? sell him for a cool mili?

an NFL team is planning out a season of 16 games where theyre mostly locked into the team. in soccer its the same but with 40 games and a little more freedom. in international soccer its at most 7 games, almost always 1 or 2 games, and, in the case of the upcoming copa america, no more than 6. if we cant make it 1-5 games with a plan B, then we weren't going anywhere with the plan A. remember 2002 was a helluva lot of plan B, tactically, and if you look at world cup winners in the modern era they use almost their entire squads over those 7 games. in the world of high level soccer, teams prepare multiple tactics. there are tactics we can use without jozy that we are prepared to use, but our best, most effective XI is with Jozy starting

dikranovich said...

In 16 tournament style games, confederations cup, gold cup, and World Cup, jozy has 3 goals to his name.

soccer boy said...

In fairness he has been injured in those games. Got injured in 2011 gold cup. Injured in world cup jk's fault. Cause he was returing to form from another hamstring injury jk had to release him from the team, that he shouldn't been on anyway. Atleast not as a starter.

dikranovich said...

a fair observation might be made by looking at the Liverpool game yesterday. they started with sturridge, then firmino was at the tip of the spear, and to close out the game, origi was brought on. the first two strikers scored liverpools two goals, and the target striker came on to close out the game.

Belgium has what looks to be, three world class strikers, of course, they will very rarely, if ever, be on the pitch at the same time.

isn't one of the keys to our national team, the ability to have flexability and be able to adapt?

soccerboy, jozy scored two of his three tournament goals at the 2011 gold cup.

soccer boy said...

yes after that he was injured and so was juan. That's how freddy adu got into the picture

Dany Tzvi said...

yes it is important to be flexible, what does that have to do with our first choice tactic? our first choice tactic should be jozy at striker.

Zach said...

Dany, I think the U23 midfield has to include Acosta. Need his bite, experience and athleticism. Acosta, Trapp, Hyndman; Kieswetter Morris Pulisic

Dany Tzvi said...

i have not and am not going to say anything about the olympic team. this is a post about the senior team and everything i have said is concerning the senior team.

dikranovich said...

dany, I just don't know. Your ideas seem to rigid to me, like we are stuck in a box. In the reality jozy has been a disappointment. Three goals in sixteen tournament Games is just disappointing and not what we should Be expecting. He certainly also had some assist, and he drew some pressure, and those are positives, jozy could be the man in 2018, but with the talent coming up, injuries, and his own form, it's not a given.

Dany, 3 goals in 16 games is no fluke. In 70 epl games he scored twice.

I don't know about you, but I ain't getting to excited thinking about this players as first team choice for our national team.

Dany Tzvi said...

But we're not talking about 2018, we're talking about 2016.

DaM said...

agreed dany. making up statistics and then pretending they are important isn't the way any qualified minds think about soccer. jozy has been alive for 267 USMNT matches and only scored 20 goals!! and why are tournament style games the only relevant ones when the upcoming matches are qualifiers? Jozy has never scored on a monday!

silliness.

dikranovich said...

Dam, Dany explained that copa America, a tournament, is nothing like a club situation. interestingly, jozy was born 13 days before caligiuris shot heard round the world, way back in 1989. My guess is USA have played more than 267 games, and we know our boys goal total, it's more than 20.

Jozy has a reasonable rate of return for his 90 caps, with 33 goals, but for his 16 tournament caps, he has not shown nearly as well. If you have some numbers, or opinions that show otherwise, you should introduce them. I'm not sure if he ever scored on a Monday or not though.

Dr.Jon said...

Yeah, 90 caps and 33 goals isn't that far off of Klinsman stated goal for his international striker of a goal 1:3 games.

"we need the next generation of strikers to come in and score goals on a consistent basis. The key message to our young talented strikers is you have to score consistently. You can’t ever get satisfied. They need to have a ratio where they score at least a goal every third game. That’s what you expect from an international-caliber striker. " (http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2015/05/31/16/50/150531-mnt-jk-qa-on-ned-ger-roster)

dikranovich said...

that's a good point dr jon. I was looking at Mcbrides goal ratio, his caps and goals are close to altidores numbers, but McBride outshines him in tournament play. Mcbride scored 10 of his goals during tournaments that involved group stages and knockout rounds over a 30+ game span. McBride was closer to that one goal every three games ratio coach klinsmann is talking about. world class strikers clip at about one goal every two games.

I didn't look up clint dempseys numbers, but my guess is that he is better than the one goal every two games clip in tournament play, because he so feasted at the gold cup and does have world cup and confed cup goals to his credit.

patricks point is a valid one, which is that it is hard to rely on a guy who has a propensity for getting injured, especially when games come so close together, and in bunches.

is it even practical to believe altidore could stand the rigor of a four or five game tournament, let alone a seven game tournament, as the starting number 9? I guess we will know a lot more after this summer. it would be great to see altidore produce at copa America, but if he is not ready to go, we have other options, and we are not melded to playing any one formation, and can change up tactics.

Dr.Jon said...

Yeah, as long as Boyd is hurt, and coach wants a target striker, we are thin..

Dr.Jon said...

@dikranovich Yeah it looks like Clint is in between 1:2.5 (120 caps, 48 goals)

Dr.Jon said...

I'd like to think one day - maybe with Wood? or Morris, we can switch to a proper 4-3-3

Spitballing....

Lletget - Wood - Kieswetter

Johnson - Pusilic - Nagbe

Villafana - Brooks - Mizga - Yedlin

That leaves, Finlay, Trapp, Green, Gil, etc...a ton of talent on the bench.

dikranovich said...

Dr Jon, you don't have one defensive mid, and our style is to play with two. what gives?

Dr.Jon said...

@dikranovich the "future" *waves hands in rainbow like manner* :)

In retrospect I see a better fit, maybe.... Trapp/Bradley/Morales/Acosta

Not sure what pulsilic's best role is? CAM? LW? We definitely aren't thick with pure wingers...

Pusilic - Wood - Kieswetter

Johnson - Trapp - Nagbe

Villafana - Brooks - Mizga - Yedlin

dikranovich said...

Dr Jon, I do think any future lineup is going to contain dos d-mids, and to me, putting all these different 4-3-3 lineups up helps explain why it's just not our best formation.

And I think any future lineups will somewhere in the lineup contain pa Dutch, Russell canouse.

Dr.Jon said...

I don't doubt that, Dikranovich....can we split the difference and do a 4-1-3-2?

dikranovich said...

yes. just as long as there are two d-mids. obviously the diamond limits some of the options a little. doesn't 4-2-3-1, just sounds better than 4-1-3-2?

Paul Poenicke said...

I'd like Greg to offer his comments on the 4-1-3-2. Do we have the players for the formation?

The attacking five would be some combination of:

F.Johnson--Nagbe(Mix/Benny)-Bedoya

Jozy--Deuce (Wood/Davies/Jóhannsson)

Bradley has ability to play as a defensive mid in this formation. He would be further behind play to direct early attacks, and has the smarts to know how to protect the backline. The backline hasn't been beaten by shots on the top of the box or from the central part of the midfield, as is expected in a 4-1-3-2; instead, we have been beat through poor clearances, interceptions, headers, and by speed over the top.

I'd love to see Jurgen experiment with this formation. It seems a plausible fit for the team. Teams and players, not countries, need formations. There is not one formation woven into the team's DNA--whatever that means.

dikranovich said...

Paul, I always appreciate your posts, but what don't you get about the USA playing with two defensive central midfielders? Why do we feel such a need to shy away from this natural tendency?

My sense is that over the years, as Americans have yearned for a more attack minded national team, we have lost some perspective. That has to be the answer.

It's ironical that if there is one country who does have a formation woven into its fabric, it is the Dutch, and the 4-3-3.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Paul:

I am not in favor of any formation that leaves the USMNT with two in central midfield, or any that leaves three at the back.

dikranovich said...

Greg, I'm sorry, but it's odd, you are not in favor of formations that have just two central midfielders, yet, you love a formation that in total, only has three midfielders.

If you look at what Liverpool did today, that's a 4-4-1-1, and the two central midfielders were both defensive minded.

What a Europa league final that will be between Liverpool and Dortmund.