Wednesday, June 17, 2009

US vs. Brazil Preview

Brazil Wins 3-1. wants you to believe that Brazil is going to come out more cautious than they did against Egypt, and that the US proved in a 3-1 loss to Italy (with two goals coming from an American born Italian player) that they were "formidable".

I won't say that the US isn't potentially formidable in areas, but I have a hard time believing that Brazilian head coach Dunga is worried about anything aside from a letdown from his squad--they barely got 3 points from Egypt, and they've got Italy coming up next, so I could understand how he might worry that the Brazilians might overlook the US.

The sad truth is that they could probably afford to overlook the US and still put the hammer down when necessary, and win this game. People will tell you, "Hey, Brazil needed a 90th minute PK to squeak by Egypt--maybe they are vulnerable." I'd tell those people to shut the fuck up, because right now, Egypt is playing much better soccer than the U.S.

We are about a year away from the actual World Cup, and the coaching staff of the US doesn't have any idea who is going to play in several key positions, in part because the coaching staff are apparently a bunch of idiots, and because of a serious dearth of quality in some key, key spots.

For the life of me, I don't understand why DeMarcus Beasley's failure at left back, which he had no business playing in the first place, has relegated him to garbage time substitutions. I don't understand the continuing patience for Clint Dempsey's over dribbling, psuedo prima donna play on the field. I've talked before about the curious decisions of Bill Bradley made for the Costa Rica Debacle.

But that's hardly the only problem--and one problem is so obvious that even John Harkes touched on it today during the surprisingly compelling first half of Spain vs. Iraq today.

One is a simple compare and contrast--I felt pretty sort of OK about the current back four of the US--(Bornstein, Gooch/Demerit, Bocanegra, and Spector) and then I watched 23 year old Sergio Ramos for Spain play again (warning: Canandian "punk" music). And it is frustrating to watch him and know that he could join the US squad, and be one of its best midfielders. Sergio Ramos, have you considered becoming an American? You might be a striker on their squad!

The other problem is that complete lack of identity in the midfield. Harkes pointed to the wing midfielders, which is where I see a simple solution--go with whichever talented players belong on the wing--and to me, it is simple enough--that's got to be Beasley and probably Dempsey, even though Clint "Deuce" Dempsey has been pissing me off lately.

One of the reasons he's pissing me off--and if you watched him in that the Costa Rica game, you saw it too--he's cheating into the middle of the field, because he has no faith, zero faith, an atheistic approach, if you will, in his center midfielders. He's right to be full of righteous doubt, when Coach Bob Bradley sends in tandems like His Son and Pablo Mastroenni, or His Son and Rico Clark. To me, at least two of those guys--Clark and Mastroenni--have played themselves off any serious consideration for the national team, in anything outside of emergency roles. It was curious from the get go that either was getting any serious consideration in the first place.

Harkes made the point in a roundabout fashion--just prior to complaining about the lack of quality on the wings, he mentioned the lack of roles in the middle--"Who's the holding midfielder? Who's the attacking midfielder?" Ponder that for a second--it isn't just that we don't know who the starting midfielders are--we look at them, and can't figure out what role they are going to play? May I kindly suggest a new way of looking at the midfield--like maybe, two quality attacking center midfielders, with a belief or a trust that either center midfielder can track back and play some jockeying defense?

My starting 11 for the tomorrow, and the next qualifier, and probably the next qualifier after that (excepting Bocanegra, who should play when he is healthy. Here's the thing--when Bocanegra comes back, I'm not sure it should be in place of Jay Demerit. It, maybe, should be in place of Oguchi, who has played well for 85 minutes in every game, but makes one huge mistake in every game, that always seems to lead to a goal. Get Tim Howard drunk, and ask him which two starting center backs he'd like to have in front of him.)

Starters in a 4-4-1-1
GK: Tim Howard, of course, of course:
Defense (L to R): Bornstein, Gooch, Demerit, Spector)
Midfield (L to R): Beasley, Feilhaber, Kljestan, Dempsey)
Forward: Donovan
Striker: Altidore

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