I know I promised World Cup travel updates from Brazil, and you’ll get them eventually—but erratic internet and a busier-than-expected activities schedule have conspired to keep the updates at bay. (My basic laziness has played a part too, surely.) In the meantime, I want to chime in quickly with a few quick tactical thoughts about the US team.
OK fine, you want just a few photos? Here’s a crowd of Brazilians (and a few Mexicans) lining up to enter Arena Castelao in Fortaleza.
And here’s a selfie of me at my seat.
Satisfied now, Mom?
So as I was saying, we can talk about the ecstasy and the deliciously unexpected heroism of the win over Ghana some other time. For now, the U.S. has a big problem. I’d never realized how laughable the calls to bench Jozy Altidore after his disappointing EPL season were until the second I saw him clutching his hamstring. I knew right away the rest of the game would be a nightmare. Using Bedoya, Beckerman, and Jones all essentially as defensive mids has worked out really well in the last two matches (Nigeria and Ghana), but that was owing in large part to Jozy’s ability to hold up the ball while waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Young Aron Johannsson clearly wasn’t up to the task in Jozy’s absence. Someone on Twitter stated that we had just two touches within 20 yards of Ghana’s goal after Jozy left. One of those touches was our second goal. We obviously need a new strategy against Portugal, as simply pretending that Johannson is Altidore won’t cut it. Here then, are a few ideas.
1) Abandon the three defensive mid alignment we’ve all so recently fallen in love with, and go back to the diamond midfield we’ve been using forever. I’ve come around on Beckerman as a player, but I just don’t see how we generate any offense if he’s in the lineup on Sunday night. Bedoya can stay at right mid (or replace him with Zusi, either is fine), but I’d bring in Brad Davis and his magic left foot to try to give us some run down the opposite side.
2) Push Dempsey up to pure striker. It seems a lot to ask of a guy who just got his nose broken, but Dempsey has the skills to hold up the ball with his back to goal, and we need them immediately.
3) Start Wondolowski over Johannson. We know we’re not going to generate a ton of chances anyway—might as well put a poacher in the lineup in the hopes he creates a goal out of nothing.
4) Tell Bradley to play better. Yes this is a big tongue-in-cheek, but Bradley was not at all himself against Ghana. A quick return to form for our most important player would go a long way toward righting the attack.
So my plan would be:
We’ll see what Jurgen does…good luck, Yanks!
Read More »