Friday, June 17, 2016

TDAY: Ecuador

While you're all busy focusing your juju into pulling for Venezuela to stun Argentina tomorrow, let's do a quick rewind on the USMNT's quarterfinal victory over Ecuador. Here are my player ratings. Here are my extra stray thoughts...

  • Today's edition of "Did you know?": This was the first time the US has won three straight competitive matches since the Ghana win to open World Cup 2014 gave them four in a row?
  • Can you believe plenty of people were screaming for Clint Dempsey to be yanked from the line-up mere days ago? I honestly don't know where folks can get such wacky ideas.
  • I can't imagine it working, but the Nats have filed a protest to have both Bobby Wood's yellow and Jermaine Jones' red rescinded. Here is a look at the Jones incident. My initial though was "Wow, that's the most gentle straight red I've seen in recent memory." However, I eventually settled on "Wow, what a dumb move to put your hands up to his face."
  • I'm still in shock that it took Jurgen Klinsmann 29 minutes, seven Ecuador shots and their lone goal before he subbed in a midfielder to replace Jones. No clue what he could have been thinking, but that inaction seriously almost cost us the lead.
  • SO... what do we do with the line-up card, assuming that Jones and Wood remain suspended? Nagbe in for Jones is a no-brainer in my book. I'd also like to free Johnson from the back line (surprise, surprise). Pulisic can be the ace up the sleeve. With much trepidation, this is what I'd suggest, while again mumbling under my breath about the selection policy for this particular squad.










- Greg Seltzer

27 comments:

mschwigg13 said...

Whats the rationale for Orozco over Besler after a strong showing last night?

Dr.Jon said...

That's the same question I have, too. I'd put Besler back in there.

Greg Seltzer said...

I think it was a decent outing, but also that we kinda got away with him playing there because Bedoya was around to track back - and, ya know, because A. Valencia got the early gate. And assuming Argentina is up next, Besler as left back without Bedoya's help just does not sound wise.

Patrick said...

I watched the team in Philly and there is a real calming influence to FJ in the back line. A short pass to FJ takes any pressure off and keeps possession better than a long blind clearance. I always preferred FJ in midfield, but he does bring something to the balloons we will miss.

DaM said...

@greg I couldn't agree more about Klinsi's sub patterns. Forgetting about who he chose, the when was astounding. Bedoya had been subpar all match on offense but was putting in a lot of hard work. It became real obvious that he needed a breather and one could reasonably argue his yellow and suspension were a byproduct of that.

As much as I agree with you on the lineup choices, I get the feeling some, if not all of those moves won't happen. I really hope I am wrong, but I see is staying with the 4-4-2 (just moving Zardes up). Maybe with Yedlin back we move Fabjo into the midfield, but I could also see something saddening like Beckerman getting the start.

Obviously I am screaming for Nagbe in the 4-3-3 but I am not ready to trust Klinsman on selection just because he has made a half hour of good lineup selections. Then again most of us would have a true backup to the outside back spots on the roster and be avoiding a lot of the issues that way.

I know broken record :)

downintexas said...

Im afraid Klinsmann will play it safe. Beckerman in fot nagbe. Fab as left back.

LB said...

At this point in his career, Dempsey doesn't have the work rate or energy to play anywhere in a 4-3-3 other than as the #9. Maybe you could play him as the #10 in a 4-2-3-1, which is what your lineup sort of looks like, but then: a) you're switching to a formation they haven't played recently, and b) you don't want to play Nagbe in the DM spot.

I agree that Nagbe should be in the XI, in the middle and higher up than Bradley. Please no Beckerman. He's too slow-footed to contain Messi in zone 14.

Also agree that FJ should be moved up to help offset the losses of Jones and Bedoya. (He should be moved up regardless, but that's a different story). Johnson doesn't have Bedoya's work rate but he understands defensive positioning on the flank and will be able to help out whoever plays left back.

Pulisic is an ace up the sleeve as a second half sub when you're chasing the game. Even if he has shown flashes of scrappiness in the minutes he's gotten, you can't rely on him to be the kind of tireless two-way player that Klinsmann so clearly values on the flank. And, frankly, I think this tournament has shown that, with our player pool, Klinsmann has been correct to value those kinds of players, Zardes especially, even if they have their limitations.

Still, the suspensions have created a personnel situation that is going to require tactical smarts from a coach who is not adept at tactics. I'm hoping he gets things right enough to squeak us through but it's probably a good thing for everyone that this is something of a house money game.

Dany Tzvi said...

on the formations front, I think it's worthwhile pointing out that we could have this exact XI and have it be announced as a "4-4-2" or a "4-4-2 diamond" or whatever. zardes in the 9 and dempsey in the 10 seems the way to go, dempsey's looked good folding in behind wood when we've come out like such and i think it is wise to set up dempsey to succeed. moving fabian up makes sense because our other winger options - pulisic and nagbe - can be questionable defensively.

another possibility is with the usual back 4, dempsey up top, and zusi and zardes (who's been tracking back loyally if not competently) on the wings. that would certainly be a concession of possession (which would be very un-klinsmann-like, for better or for worse).

DaM said...

@LB I agree and disagree. Dempsey can play the 10 in a 4-3-3 (does for Seattle, of course). His lack of work rate and disinclination to stay up top and battle as a target make him certainly not a traditional 9. The only time he works that way is when he plays as a false 9 and then he comes back so much he turns into a 10. It works occasionally because we play zardes and wood out of position on the wings so in counterattacks they operate as strikers more than wings. If we played with legit wings it would be interesting to see if he worked as a true false 9, but who knows.

LB said...

@DaM I agree w everything you say about Dempsey not being a true #9. He was getting by in that role for exactly the reason you cite: Zardes and Wood would make runs in off the wings while Dempsey would drop back as a false 9.

But I don't think that a 4-3-3 can support a defensively lax #10 in the way a 4-2-3-1 can. I haven't been following the Sounders or MLS much this season, so I don't know how Dempsey has been used, but a 4-3-3 typically has one DM and two box-to-box players in the midfield triangle. One of those box-to-box players may be understood to be the creator of the three, but he still has to play way more defense, and drop way deeper into his own half, than Clint can at this stage in his career.

Dany Tzvi said...

ideally in a 4-3-3 your #10 and your wingers don't have to defend as much because you keep the ball all day, but we're not gonna be able to do that against argentina so i'd say a 4-2-3-1/4-4-2/4-4-1-1 (whatever JK feels like calling it) with dempsey as a second striker behind zardes/wondo makes more sense

Greg Seltzer said...

Typically, wingers defend more than the #10 in a 4-3-3.

Dany Tzvi said...

then we are meaning different things when we say 4-3-3. ask some locals around town how zenit played under spaletti. 4-3-3 with shirokov as the forwardmost center-mid, danny and bystrov on the wings. the "10" always did more defending than the wingers in that system. i think that would be a bad type of thing to do with the US team against argentina.

Greg Seltzer said...

Agred on the last bit, but yeah everyone has their own wrinkles. I like it straight up. Three level midfield triangle, wingers getting back to defend.

DaM said...

Agreed with Greg on this. Dempsey could have played wing in his fulham days when he was doing that kind of work on the flanks, but Seattle found out what happens when you try him on the wing in a traditional 4-3-3... one wing not providing any width and very little defensive cover. If your #10 is a standard #10 he isnt helping your fullbacks at all and the 6 and 8 are clogging the middle Wings have to come back on that.

I will note that with JJ and Bedoya the USMNT doesn't play with a traditional 10 and there's more defensive cover out of the midfield. Dempsey wouldnt't fit that either, but that's not what I am looking for when we talk about him slotting in the 10.

downintexas said...

Siete a Cero! Siete a Cero

Dr.Jon said...

@downintexas that was just painful to watch. El Tri collapsed like a house of cards. The only players with any heart were Chicharito, Guardado and Memo.

Adrian said...

Sure we've lined up as 4-3-3 but to me it's seemed more like a 4-3-2 with Dempsey just popping up wherever he feels is best at the moment. This system has more or less worked and I think we can just do straight swaps. I think Orozco would get eaten alive by Argentina, both on individual skill and because he hasn't gotten the reps. Beckerman for Jones, Nagbe for Bedoya and either Zusi or Pulisic for Wood. I don't know how many times Pulisic has gone 90 in his Bundesliga career. I'd lean towards starting Zusi. Zardes can track Rojo, Zusi can run his legs off for 60' until it's Pulisic Time.

Other options would be Zusi in the midfield instead of Beckerman, and starting Pulisic, or even Wondo at that wing spot...

Also I think it's important to mention that as bizarre as the lineups are, and as discombobulated as we've looked, we have not given up any goals from the run of play in 360 minutes of soccer against some top tier teams (well, one top tier team and 3 2nd tier teams). The defense with Bradley in front of them is working; so let's keep FabJo in there rather than make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Greg Seltzer said...

Well... not only were we been fortunate not to give up a few more along the way, but good probably won't be good enough against Argentina. But sure, I see what you're saying about Orozco. Once again, that falls on the manager's selection, but here we are as is.

Adrian said...

RE manager selection, essentially we have one spare midfielder (Perry Kitchen). So if we have an ingame injury, we either bring on the guy who play a quarter of a season and has 4 caps, or we reshuffle the backline to get FabJo in the midfield.

Dr.Jon said...

There are no good/right answers with 3 suspensions.....against Argentina in a tournament semi-final. IMO

Patrick said...

@Dr:. I agree there are many answers and you can't point to one as obviously right. It is good that we can have 3 suspensions and come up with 5-8 good answers.

JK seems to have Closers and Chasers and Starters. Zusi, Beckerman, Wondo go in to see a game out. Pulisic and Nagbe go in when we need a goal. We have led the last three games and in each one JK brought in the Closers (red cards dropping Wondo).

If you start all the Closers for the 3 suspended Starters, you have no subs to see the game out. It might be the smart move to play Besler, and one each from the Chasers and Closers; so you can influence the game late. Nagbe and Zusi and leave Bradley where he causes the least damage would be my choice Besler in with FJ taking Wood's spot on the wing. But with it being Argentina, do you plan to have a lead?

I could see JK going BB and starting all the defensive players and trying to nip a winner late. But maybe, with all goals for the tournament met, he plays Argentina more straight up. He says he tried to do that vs. Belgium (and he did drop Beckerman) but the players retreated on their own. Here would be an opportunity to see if they wouldn't retreat.

Dr.Jon said...

What a tough decision. My gut says you can't realistically think to squeak a 85' goal and win 1-0. I think you have to play smart, take your chances well and just know with players of there caliber you can be near perfect for 90' and still let in 2 goals. That first Arg goal Messi to Higuain was pretty much undefendable. You got to think nick a set piece goal. A nice one on run of play and hit them late on the counter. Run out a 3-2 win. I'm not optimistic, but the tournament is good for us. Mission Accomplished, style.

But in the end, who knows. I honestly am not bagging on Mexico so much because I can see a 6-0 score line against us, too.


BTW: All the talk about benching Rooney. Start with Vardy, Sterling, Lallana - still no goals.

DaM said...

I've convinced myself that it will be Yedlin, Beckerman and Zusi coming in for Jones, Bedoya and Wood (with Fabjo moving up). Not sure I've ever hoped i was more wrong :)

DaM said...

I didn't even see the Wondo move coming. I assumed nobody would be so stupid as to think Wondo and Dempsey would work well together. Then again I assumed Klinsi would be stupid enough to think Beckerman and Bradley would... so maybe that's on me :)

We've played a lot of top 10 teams over the last 2 decades. We haven't won many of em... but we have never looked that bad.

Klinsi wants to make it about "respect"... it is about putting your players in a position to compete. Something that was conceded from the initial whistle.

LB said...

@DaM This is it, exactly. Beckerman was the predictable, if unfortunate, inclusion but Wondo caught most everybody off guard.

The results speak for themselves and lots of fans and pundits are in a position to say "I told you so" because they've been pointing out JK's consistent tactical and personnel head scratchers not just this past week, but for years.

Yes, Argentina are better than us, regardless of personnel and tactics. But it didn't take hindsight--just some basic tactical wherewithal, the kind not unreasonable to expect from a national team coach--to realize that yesterday's personnel and tactics did not come close to maximizing our potential in the match.

DaM said...

@LB agreed wholheartedly. there are metric shittons of pundits who have pointed out essentially the same thing that German pundits were pointing out after his WC tenure with Germany. There are times when it seems like JK has literally no idea what he is doing from a tactical standpoint.