Competent, Not Dangerous | a USA match mini-reaction

Sorry for the delay and the abbreviated nature of this post. I've been on the road all weekend, and I'll put something together after the Denmark match that will address what we learned from the two matches. Until then, just a few quick hits about the Slovakia match...

* We're a technically solid team. Where we struggle is (1) creating enough clear-cut chances from the run of play when the opposition sits off and makes us beat them (eg. no counterattacks allowed!) and (2) finishing the chances we do get.

* Dempsey's punk-ass "I'm better than you lot" attitude is really starting to grate. On a positive note, it looks like he's been working on his Ronaldo "knuckleball" free kick, which might prove useful...

* Spector didn't look lost in the middle. I liked his ability on the ball as well, but do have concerns about his instinct to try for the direct ball over the top too often.

* Part of what made Davies so important to the US front line was the change of pace and energy he brought, forcing defenses to sit deeper. Long term, I wouldn't mid seeing Donovan playing that role, but in the meantime, I was sure Bob brought in Cunningham and EJ to audition for the part of "speed guy." Which makes it strange that neither started this match.

* Casey is frustrating. At times, his touches and passing are excellent. But then he puts down a series of heavy touches. And then, of course, there's the inconsistent finishing and the dire lack of speed he's bringing to the party. Why is he starting for us again?

* A tale of two Bornsteins. The notes I jotted in-match remarked upon how good Bornstein's defending was in the early going. He was cutting out crosses, making tackles, muscling the Slovakia right wing off the ball. But then it all fell apart, and it wasn't like he was compensating by bringing too much to the attack outside of a couple of crosses. Castillo on Wednesday?

* Feilhaber looks sharp. Good to see that regular club playing time is paying off. That said, I hate it when Bradley plays him wide. Which pretty much guarantees that he'll be playing on the left, Holden on the right, with Clark and Junior in the middle on Wednesday, rather than the much more appetizing Torres-Junior-Benny-StuHo midfield quartet.

* Altidore is rusty. He needs playing time. Wonder if that's why Bradley left him out there so long when things obviously weren't working for him?

* Our crossing sucks. StuHo to the white courtesy telephone please...

* Guzan looks really good. Too bad his minutes at club level are so limited by that other Brad or he might really be pushing Howard (to the benefit of all).

Anything I missed?


  1. Playing Rogers on the Right is a great way to ensure no crosses?

  2. Well spotted, though even on the left, his crosses tend to be useless high floating things. And did you see some of those corners? Allow me to quote myself again...

    "Our crossing sucks."

    All of that said, I'm not averse to having wingers that cut inside (which Rogers will become more effective at once he gets a little stronger and picks his moments better). The larger problem is that pretty much all of our wide mids do that.

  3. Didn't have so much of a problem with Rogers. He worked hard and showed some good moves. The crosses could be better but he was a lot better on the ball than I've seen a while.

    McCarty put in some good minutes as well.

    The match also showed me that EJ is not the solution for CD. I'd like to see Cunningham get some more minutes, but he didn't look all that useful on the pitch either. If we need to integrate a sppedster into the squad, we might as well have a look at Findley - can't be any worse.

    As for Casey, I would rather see Ching. I couldn't help thinking that he would have caused Slovakia some problems with his hold-up play and wouldn't have been bodied off the ball so easily like EJ and Cunningham. Casey's physical play usually ends up with the ref calling a foul on him. Ching's play tends get fouls called on defenders.

    Finally, I don't know if I like having Donovan up top as much as I like him on the left where he gets more space and creates more havoc.

    Maybe we pair Dempsey and Altidore up top and use Donovan and Holden on the wings with Feilhaber and Bradley in the middle.

  4. I noticed the fouling problem with Casey as well. Everything seemed to go against him (and Altidore, to be fair), but when EJ and Cunningham came on, they got far more whistles in their favor.

    RE: Donovan
    I'm not so sure Donovan wouldn't be more valuable playing off an athletic striker (Altidore) with the freedom to go wherever he wants to go instead of being confined to one wing. Not only would he have the ability to stretch defenses with the threat of the quick break in behind (see: his play with the Galaxy), but he could drop deep or drift wide, forcing defenses to adjust to his movement.