>Monday Lunch: USA vs. Poland Recap

Posted: October 11, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

>By Evan Ream
Before I start this column, I would like to give a shout out to the guys at Yanks Abroad Video Highlights. Without him, neither Will nor I would have been able to watch this game. Now that that’s over, on to the game!

Game Highlights:

Here are my observations for USA as a team:
· USA attacked with a 4-2-3-1, but defended with a 4-4-2. When defending, Jozy Altidore and whoever was playing the center attacking midfield role (usually Stuart Holden or Clint Dempsey) would pressure the opposing team’s backs. When the ball was won, Holden or Dempsey would drop back to collect it and leave Altidore as the point man.
· Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo, the outside backs, didn’t get into the attack much. I don’t know if this was by design or because Poland was so quick on the counter attack.
· Speaking of the counter attack, USA was very weak in defensive transition. Poland was very unlucky to not score a goal or two more just off their counter attacks.
· The cause of these counter attacks was the amount of players pushed up into the attack. I really liked how USA possessed the ball at times, but a lot of times they made one pass too few or one too many and it resulted in a turnover. This is the first game in a long time that I remember USA controlling a good amount of the possession against a decent side.
· I think we saw the likely first choice lineup that Bob Bradley would use right now except Benny Feilhaber would obviously be benched in favor of Landon Donovan.
· By using Edu at center back, Bob Bradley really did get his best 11 players on the field.
· The defense is a work in progress
· I liked how Bob Bradley treated the game like a competitive one and only made one of his allotted six substitutions. Without any more competitive games on the calendar until next summer, it is important to treat each game as if it mattered.
Now from a more individual standpoint:

Tim Howard was his usual self. He made his token game changing save on a point blank breakaway. As much as USA has improved, they will still need to rely on him to keep them in some games in the next four years.
Steve Cherundolo had a solid but unspectacular game. He didn’t really get into the attack, but one of the few times he did, he produced a world class cross that Jozy should have finished off. He has shown no signs of slowing down and should be the right back for the immediate future.
Oguchi Onyewu played as you would expect anyone who has played 90 minutes just once this year to play. He may have been physically fit to play the whole game, but he wasn’t mentally fit. He scored a great goal, but made a mistake that led to the first Poland goal. Onyewu is clearly the most talented center back in the pool but he needs to get back and playing on a regular basis to retain his sharpness so these kinds of mistakes don’t keep happening.
Maurice Edu was played out of position at center back in Coach Bradley’s attempt to put the best players on the field. Edu didn’t really do anything wrong, but he wasn’t exceptional by any means. At the very best, he should just play here in certain situations like he did in the last few minutes of the Slovenia game when USA was still looking for a goal.
Carlos Bocanegra spent the entire game being burned down the Poland’s right side. He is really starting to show his age and is no longer a viable candidate for the outside back position. At the most, I think he has one year left in him for USA. He needs to be phased out of the national team picture.
Michael Bradley, like Cherundolo was solid but unspectacular. I don’t think he is used to playing with the caliber and style of player that Jermaine Jones is. Jones slotted into the role that Bradley usually occupies. Bradley has had better national team games, but he has also had worse.
Jermaine Jones finally debuted and showed what he can offer. I was very impressed with not only his ball winning ability, but his quick distribution and his use of both feet. Jones looked to pick up a slight injury during the match and seemed to be suffering from it when he made the mistake that led to the goal. In all Jones’ vision was something I wasn’t used to seeing with the USMNT. When healthy, I think he should be a first choice starter from now on. He will be able to contribute at age 32 in Brazil.
Benny Feilhaber was completely anonymous in the match, which makes absolutely no sense because USA was playing his style of game for once. A player like Benny should have contributed more to the possession-based game and to see him be unable to do so was disappointing. Benny should remain in the mix but shouldn’t be first choice.
Clint Dempsey started in the CAM role and played very well for the full 90 minutes. This was the first friendly that I have seen Dempsey play in years where he actually seemed refreshed and on good form. Usually DEUCE will drift in and out of games, but Saturday he was a threat for the whole match. Like Donovan, Dempsey will be heavily relied upon for this next cycle.
Stuart Holden looks ten times the player that he was just a few years ago. Holden was calm and confident on the ball and was one of the best at keeping possession. Yes, he made a few mistakes, but Holden showed in his offensive skill and grit in the tackle that he deserves to not only be a first choice player, but a focal point of the team. Christopher Sullivan, who has a great eye for talent, agrees with me, which is all the backing I need.
Jozy Altidore finally got back on the score sheet, but overall did not have that good of a game. He showed flashes and made a ton of good runs, but his touch and finishing were, as usual, subpar. Jozy is still 20 and the best forward we have in the pool by far, but we should be expecting more from him soon. This being said, the man has an impressive goal scoring record of 10 goals in 31 national team games and is arguably a lot farther on then Landon was at the same age. Jozy shows much promise, but at some point this promise must turn into talent.
Men of the Match:
3. Jermaine Jones showed how much he brings to the table. His pass to Jozy was world class and has been something that has been missing for the national team setup for a long time. Think how good he will be once he actually becomes acclimated to the system (and possibly learns English).
2. Stuart Holden proved that it is his turn to step up and take some of the pressure off Donovan and Dempsey. The scary part is that as good as he was, he has the potential to play so much better, especially when he gets more than just nine EPL appearances under his belt.
1. Clint Dempsey was by far the best player on the pitch. Dempsey was at his best; lively and creative while still adding defensive bite. For once with the national team, we saw the EPL Dempsey. Here’s hoping he maintains that form for a while.
Overall, it was a good showing by USA. Their goals were allowed on easily fixable mistakes. USA showed that they could play even with a new formation and the addition of new players to the starting lineup. The Colombia game tomorrow should be an exciting one!

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