Friday, February 24, 2017

Final Stop

At last, we reach the left wing. This is the end point, be sure to de-board the train.

Christian Pulisic
Sebastian Lletget
Julian Green


In a rather short time, Pulisic has become an obvious starter for this team. Lletget showed in the recent friendlies that he can push up the flank. Green is the emergency bench killer, though I'd probably be more inclined to turn to Arriola or Zusi first at this time.

And with that, we have my current "A" group for the vital March World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.



As promised, I also have an alternate idea for if we really want to control the proceedings in either of those upcoming contests (the idea of which I know often makes folks in our bubble uneasy).




Finally, I also have one version of an "everybody fully fit and in form" XI to chew one. It's not out of the question for March 24th, but also not exactly likely.




Of course, playing Nagbe in that #10 role means the wingers would be the main "half-court" playmakers, which I could be fine with. It also means Nagbe would run the break, which you have to admit is a bit mouth-watering.




- Greg Seltzer

19 comments:

Erik Salter said...

That's a good lineup, far more than capable of coming away with 6 points in the next two games. A few things:

1) Brooks and OG looked absolutely terrible together in Costa Rica. Both are prone to ball-watching and lapses of concentration.
2) Can we tether Bradley to the back line? He's prone to drift too far forward and play hero ball -- though not as bad as Jones.
3) I suppose in your system Pulisic and Johnson will be given license to switch wings?
4) Nagbe is a super-sub for me. I've seen him drift out of games too often.

Nick said...

Like it, Greg.

My only quibble would be Wood for Altidore. Specifically, Jozy has stated he doesn't function very well in a single striker setup. I think we should take him at his word, and Wood has been great even when he is a bit stranded up top.

UnitedDemon said...

I still have no idea why Gonzalez is top for that spot. If Cameron is back, we need him there.

Birnbaum has made far fewer errors than Gonzalez, as well.

FiveTwo said...

Gonzo is playing well with his club, but has been exposed with USMNT recently. Hedges, Zimmerman, Birnbaum nipping at his heels.


Greg Seltzer said...

@ UnitedDemon:

When discussing the amount of mistakes made by Birnbaum, let us first put that in context: 405 of his 748 USMNT minutes to date have come in January friendlies against C+ sides. On top of that, he had another 45 in a Cuba friendly. He has rarely been tested at this level. His toughest assignment so far was starting a WCQ at home to Guatemala.

Gonzalez's WC huge performance against Germany tops Birnbaum's CV by itself. There's simply no comparison. In addition, Gonzo is in fine midseason club form and about 95% of the Costa Rica debacle was the fault of Brooks. I'm not throwing him away for one game, either.

@ Nick:

As I said, I feel fairly confident that Jozy doesn't like playing as a lone striker when he gets stranded. He surely liked it just fine at AZ. Besides, he's with Giovinco at TFC... what's he gonna say?

@ Erik:

I'm not a big fan of swapping wings just to swap. I like them best with those corresponding wingbacks. And it would be rather difficult for Nagbe to vanish from a game in the #8 spot, especially with the USMNT. And yeah, if everyone was fit, I'd prefer Cameron (or someone else to mind the store) playing behind Bradley, so he's capable of aiding attack more.

DaM said...

I'm generally on board as well (I can tell you are relieved)...

my one worry is the consistency from Brooks/Gonzo. I'd be a huge fan of Cameron at dmid, but I am afraid of the low end of the brooks/gonzo combo. Both of them look to be in real fine, midseason form at the moment, but I think the potential of an awful game from one of them remains way higher than for Cameron. While we are still in fine position to qualify, we no longer have any margin of error. I am not sure the risk of a chance that one of the brooks/gonzo pair kills us is worth getting Cameron into his best position. I guess it depends on how you value the risk. If i say the risk of one of the centerbacks having a disaster with brooks/gonzo is 8% and the risk with brooks/cameron is 4%, I'd probably go with brooks/cameron and just let Bradley play the 6. Especially if I feel like a CB disaster is the only way we lose the match.

Dany Tzvi said...

I mean also when cameron is the 6 he os covering for the back, and cameron + bradley in the midfield together is a whole lot of disruption to keep things clear for whoever's behind them

dikranovich said...

Brooks and gonzo is a mess waiting to happen, only it already has. Let's not make this mistake again. Why???

mark said...

Like the lineup I would just switch Johnson and Pulisic to keep them where they are currently playing for club

dikranovich said...

I guess things could be worse than having a left back who is on the bench with his club team, two center backs whose heads are almost in the clouds, and our big league striker, can come off the bench if we need a goal. At least the first of the march qualifiers is at home. That does give a little more margin for error.

Andy Palmer said...

I liked Brooks and I like Gonzo, but I don't like them together. They both do better when paired with a more agile partner.

Patrick said...

If you are going to play Johnson out of position, might as well play him at LB. Villafanna is not starting anywhere and you simply can't start him in the biggest game of the cycle. Lichaj or Johnson have to start at LB. Can Villafanna even get a loan at this point?

dikranovich said...

Patrick, I think it is pretty clear who is going to actually be starting at left back against Honduras. it is a good sign that Cameron is back in the first team and getting minutes for stoke. as soon as he is ready to go a full 90, he should work himself back into shape pretty quickly. we need him, because brooks and gonzo is just not a pretty picture. you get Cameron back, and you have two English league players working the right side of the field, and with Fabian on the left, we get two bundas league players working the left side of the defense. its really s no brainer!

Dany Tzvi said...

Hard to win games when you dont score, and we havent scored well without fabian in the attack

dikranovich said...

Dany, you could kindly point to a meaningful game where we have scored well with him in attack, I'd like to hear it. you help shine a light on the problem. Soccer is not about scoring well, it's about winning. A 1nil win is worth three points just like a 5 nil game Is still worth three points.

Dany Tzvi said...

2013 WCQ vs panama

dikranovich said...

dany, you sort of made a point, except USA played panama twice that year in world cup qualifying. the game you talk about was 2-0 at home, in front of a great seattle crowd, and Fabian was playing in the attack, of course several months later, down in panama, USA put three past panama, without Fabian in the lineup. they did give up two goals though, and maybe his presence was needed in defense.

Dany Tzvi said...

His presence wasnt needed in defence when we had brad evans at RB in the home leg.

dikranovich said...

Dany, we've moved on from that point some four years ago. Recent history is definitive about where Fabian Johnson should play for the US national team.