Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black Rob's Soccer Talk

Our resident soccer expert, Black Rob, weighs in on last night's USA-Mexico soccer. Had I not received this story from him, I probably wouldn't have even known there was a game. Here it is:

Some quick thoughts from last night’s 2-0 USA victory over Mexico:

  1. This is probably the most important point of all. The USA is better than Mexico. If it wasn’t for Mexico’s ridiculous home field advantage, this would be beyond argument. I think it’s important for all US soccer fans to accept this, so that our reaction after a game like last night isn’t overwhelming joy, but contentment alongside even-handed criticism. We’re the best team in CONCACAF and should expect to beat Mexico now, home or away.
  2. That being said, Sven Goran Eriksson should be fired. Some of his decisions yesterday were questionable at best. Oswaldo Sanchez starting in the net (That 2nd goal was shit)? Pulling Dos Santos when he was clearly the most dangerous player Mexico had? I’d be shocked if he makes it to the weekend.
  3. Michael Bradley has pretty much locked up his position in the US midfield for the next 8 years. He gets better with every appearance and last night he was a beast. Two goals, but more impressive is how he dominated the midfield with his smarts and some hardass tackles. There were times when Mexico just looked over matched by him alone. Bravo.
  4. Donovan is our best player, like it or not, but Dempsey is our most creative. We’ve got to find a way to get him the ball in more dangerous positions. I would suggest the on-the-rise “Christmas Tree” formation, but this leads me to my next point…
  5. The outside back trials (left-back in particular) are still ongoing. Our outside backs are not skilled enough to play the “attacking wing-back “ role that is so popular these days. They’re not terrible, and I was admittedly impressed by Hejduk last night, but more often than not our attack would grind to a halt when the ball landed at the feet of Hejduk or Pearce. Why not just give our midfield/wingers more offensive freedom?
  6. All these criticisms aside, it was an overall good performance by the boys in white. We showed that we can build up play through the midfield, we’re still great from set pieces, and we have two solid centerbacks (one or two blunders aside). We’re good, I think people are still getting used to that. Oh, and lay off Brian Ching. Everyone clamors for Altidore to take over his starting role, but Ching plays the targetman role very well…better than Altidore does…for now.


Rob said...

Also, Rafa Marquez just proved how far gone he is from his days of being a greater asset than liability. That's their captain? Really?

Mike Hunt said...

Black Rob,

Good article. I've never heard that the US was a better team than Mexico, and I wouldn't have guessed that that was the case. Is Mexico underperforming or is the US overachieving?

Rob said...

Thanks for the compliment. To answer your question, I think it's much more a case of Mexico underachieving. The US has had steady overall improvement since the '94 World Cup (as a young player, ODP coaches told us that the US Soccer program's goal was to win the world cup by 2010...this was in 1995). On the other hand, Mexico seems rocked by instability - The head coaching position has been a carosel (sp?), many of their highly touted players are struggling for playing time at their clubs, and Mexican fans and media have been giving their team shit for using naturalised players instead of native-born Mexicans. In fact, they just barely made it to this round of qualifying. Hard times indeed for the Mexican national team.

Hope that longwinded response helped.

Stormin' Norman Disciple said...

Stop talking about soccer so much on my site. This is America.

StevieY19 said...

SN only likes sports where they let him know the limited amount of time he has to pay attention. The pitch in baseball, the snap in football, and the second half of the fourth quarter in the NBA.

Stephen said...

Agreed that Altidore isn't consistent enough yet to match the value that Ching provides as a target player.

Klestjan didn't have as good a game as I've seen from him previously; we'll have to watch how he develops in future qualifying matches.

Outside back is definitely our weakness. Cherundolo at right-back is generally pretty solid (though unspectacular) when healthy. Nobody has stepped up at left back though.

I was impressed at Beasley's play, considering his lack of playing time at Rangers. If he can stay healthy and get some regular playing time somewhere, I think he's more important to the US offense than Dempsey.

Rob said...

Yeah, I actually had Kljestan and Dempsey in mind when I suggested giving our midfielders more freedom at the expense of our outside backs. I actually think Beasley wouldn't benefit from such a shift though...but instead replacing him with a more creative type of player who would benefit from a freer offensive role (Adu? cough, cough). That being said, yeah Beasley played really well last night.

Moonlight said...

All I can think about when I see the Christmas Tree formation is that we are one wandering defender away from a 3-6-1 and we know what that got us.

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