I have actually never read any of the soccer articles, so I apologize if this is answered within the articles as I am not a soccer fan, my curiosity (and laziness) is getting the better of me. But why is non-UM soccer covered here with front page content? I don't get it...what is the connection to Michigan sports? Did I miss something?
Preview: Nats Versus Turkey
|WHAT||USA vs Tukey
Send Off Series Friendly
New York, NY
|WHEN||2:30 PM Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||I don't know man|
Man, my Armenian friend is just all about these friendlies.
THE THEM: LAND RATHER NEAR LAND OF FIRE THAT ALSO HAS FREQUENT TIFFS WITH ARMENIA
Turkish soccer fans are nuts, in the best way
Things step up in class for the US after a CONCACAF redux warmup against Azerbaijan. While The Turks aren't in the World Cup they have been in the recent past; they were +7 in goal differential in group D but finished fourth.
Both FIFA and ESPN's BPI metric have them 38th in the world, still some distance behind the US. CONCACAF comparables include Honduras (36th) and Panama (46th), though that former looks a little shaky after Honduras opened its own Send Off Series with a 2-0 loss to Turkey. That may have been a little deceiving, though, as Honduras had plenty of chances on which they just did not convert:
Hull City defender Maynor Figueroa, former Sporting KC standout Roger Espinoza and current New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson all had chances during the game's opening stanza but failed to convert.
Turkey played with hesitancy and managed only a handful of opportunities throughout the opening 45, seemingly content to fall back and weather the storm.
Honduras faded in the final 45, probably for the same reasons the US game against the Azeris slowed to a crawl in the second half: teams headed to Brazil are pounding themselves to get in shape for what promises to be a sultry world cup.
Turkey was pretty leaky in the back in World Cup qualifying, conceding in every game against the four real contenders (Estonia and Andorra are just around to get kicked) save one against Romania.
The vast majority of the Turkish team plays in their domestic league, with a few guys scattered around in Germany. Atletico Madrid's Arda Turan is the star… but he's nursing and injury and out, robbing the US of an opportunity to see how they matchup against a world-class threat. Galatasary striker Burak Yilmaz would be the guy they build around now… if he hadn't gone home a couple days ago.
Your detailed and educated Turkey bits can be found at The Yanks Are Coming and The Shing Guardian but take it lightly. This is a young, experimental Turkey team that could do just about anything. They are supposed to be the Portugal stand-in, as they've traditionally run out the same 4-3-3 Portugal uses.
left: 4-4-2 diamond; right the 4-2-3-1
The same debate about the 4-4-2 versus the 4-2-3-1 persists. The diamond looked sluggish against the packed-in Azeris; teams that actually try to attack may also force the US into a more conservative formation with an extra defensive midfielder. Personnel-wise these things are near interchangeable as long as Jones is keeping station in front of the central defenders, so we may see both.
DEFENSE: Chandler, Besler, Cameron, Johnson.
Cameron and Besler are seemingly the USA's top options at center back. They have not played together much—the Azerbaijan game was just their second start together—so Klinsmann will probably spend his precious competitive time before the World Cup on strengthening that partnership.
Johnson should reprise at right back as Klinsmann tries to get him comfortable with the right side of the US formation. In one game he's gone from "maybe the right back?" to obviously the right back.
And it's 50/50 whether Chandler or Beasley gets the start here. I'm guessing Klinsmann takes an extended look at Chandler, possibly flipping him to the right in the second half to give Johnson a breather. Can Chandler put in a strong 90 against a dangerous opponent? This is an opportunity to find out.
I would guess Klinsmann takes a look at Brooks in this one, and Yedlin will probably get a late run out.
MIDFIELD: Beckerman, Bradley, Bedoya, Davis.
nothing says Utah more than Beckerman
Guessing here; Beckerman and Bradley paired well in the Mexico friendly and he is a natural holding midfielder who has a ton of familiarity with the diamond. Bradley is MB 90.
Davis had a couple of bright moments in his substitute appearance and here's a guess he'll get a look at the starting left mid. His service is wildly overrated in the context of the US team because Zusi has been dropping balls on his teammates' heads for years now, but it becomes vastly more important if Zusi is dropped for some reason.
In that event, the need for crossing from the right goes down and the US can look at Bedoya on his more natural right side. And as to why you might drop Zusi: with Cristiano Ronaldo looming, Bedoya's workrate and tracking back look attractive as a right mid. If he can help shut down the Turkish left flank in this game he may displace Zusi for at least one game.
Diskerud and Green should also get looks. Green may offer that je ne sais quoi the US lacks, and while it's hard to envision Diskerud displacing either Dempsey or Bradley for one solitary World Cup second, that left flank is open for someone to do something with.
FORWARD: Altidore, Dempsey
Dempsey is reputedly hale and ready to go, so the US will probably try to try the thing they were set to try before Dempsey's groin acted up.
Altidore had a couple of instances of quality hold up play against the Azeris, but that was still clearly an awkward thing for him. When paired with Wondolowski, though, that is his role. With Dempsey the two forwards can interchange, and Dempsey is technical enough that once the ball gets to his feet he can hold it up and lay it off for a charging Bradley effectively.
He changes the entire dynamic of that front triangle, and that's why I'm not getting too bent out of shape about the lack of chances from the run of play against Azerbaijan.
Wondo and Johannsson are likely to come on. Johannsson might get a run out on the wing.
WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR, OTHER THAN EVERYTHING
Diamond versus 4-2-3-1. I think we'll see both, with Klinsmann trying to see what he's got with the diamond when he's got his most dynamic attacking player available and an opponent that might venture one or two guys onto the US side of the field. If it's not working, a mid-game shift is in the cards, whether it's with a substitute or not.
How does that defensive midfield hold up against an offensive threat? If it is still Jones in a diamond, is he disciplined enough? If it's Beckerman, is he quick enough?
Seriously, what is the US going to do on the left wing? Bedoya probably had his best game in a US shirt against the Azeris, but even so his contributions did not help the team as much as Brad Davis's single deep cross did. If the US does go back to their 4-2-3-1 it would be nice to get a look at Johannsson in the Eddie Johnson role on the left wing. Portugal's right flank is supposed to be weak defensively.
How does Dempsey work with Jozy up top? The two have rarely been paired as out-and-out forwards together. Jozy scored a bunch of goals in Holland by running about the pitch instead of being a single hold-up guy trying to lay balls off or turn on defenders. Their partnership is of a different character than the Jozy-Wondo pairing and has to be one in which the guy with the ball has a good idea of what the guy without it is going to do.
SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
It's as simple as that.
It's not Michigan content but this is a topic where a subset of the readers want to read about the World Cup, and most importantly, the author does as well and is willing to provide the information.
It's also May 31st, and let's face it, no one should have come here expecting ground-breaking Michigan sports info.
I was wondering the same thing...and not being a soccer fan, didn't want to dig either. Maybe that makes me lazy, but I was curious if there was a UMich connection I was missing. Have to admit though, it'd be cooler if there were a few UMich guys on the team. Although I'll never be able to relate to the sport, always dial in to see how fellow alums are doing. Go Blue!
Wasn't a complaint, just felt like I missed the boat somewhere as I never saw/heard it referenced anywhere else. Maybe I need to give them a read. I actually like soccer and played in high school, I just never followed it as a fan so don't know much about the players.
No biggie. As Brian put in the initial USMNT World Cup preview, thus begins the every four year cycle of this blog also covering the USMNT in the World Cup. It'll happen again in four years, so be prepared.
We haven't seen him tested there... maybe ever? Sure his speed doesn't keep up with the Jones, but the guy has been damn quality when he has played.
to see if anyonre gets the Golden Snitch.
Turkey fell apart at the beginning of qualifying which is why they came 4th even with the +9 differential. Won 3 of their last 4 though.
They've won all 5 games they played since qualifying ended though.
I'll be at the Nigeria game next week and take pics
Less mobility would hurt against Ghana or Germany's speed I presume.
(tries to find shocked face)
Figueroa contributed well to the Latics, as Espinoza does now, but IIRC it's been years since they had a consistent goal-scorer that wasn't on loan from United. Injury troubles on the back line eventually dropped them to the Championship, and Coyle's mismanagement gave them a deficit that may have affected their playoff odds, but scoring pretty much overcomes everything if you can get it, and they haven't done that consistently ... so I'm not too surprised to see a couple of their name players continue that in international play.
...but Massey predicts a most-likely score of USA 1, Turkey 1. Probabilities: 50% US, 18% Turkey, 32% draw.
I'm not sure that leading with what little you know about the place makes for the most fetching opening. . . Otherwise, thanks! My family is in Spain for the next 6 weeks, and have been enjoying the Liga finals and lead up to the World Cup. There's so little to read when I turn Stateside. . . makes this all the more enjoyable.
who knows why.
This is very good analysis and I look forward to these posts, Brian. Thanks!
I'm looking forward to how Klinsmann sets up for what should be a good game. Haven't seen the U.S. play since the Ukraine game, but this is a different squad. Ghana played very poorly against the Dutch, with the Blackstar defence looking very disorganized. It'll be interesting to see how both teams iron out their problems leading up to their opening game.
Always love Brian's soccer content (actually I always love all of his content). Anyway, here are some post game thoughts for anyone interested.
- Wow, sloppy on defense and sloppy on offense. Thank god this was against Turkey and not Ghana.
I guess, besides the fact that we won and nobody got injured, the bright spot of this game was that the US created a ton of chances. Or did we? I think it’s almost more fair to say that the US got into tons of dangerous spots offensively but even then not many of those plays ended up being shots or really concrete chances. They were more like opportunities for chances (wasted opportunities almost all of the time). The goal by Fab was a thing of beauty but we need to be WAY sharper when we’re given so much space on the offensive end. There were so many bad passes and touches when we were one competent pass or movement away from a sure goal.
Also, our defense was awful. Turkey could’ve bagged 3 or 4 easily despite not having that many final third entries (at least it didn’t seem like they had that many). But once they got the ball in our end it was just a comedy of errors and guys out of position leading to tons of chances for the Turks. It seemed like part of that the reason for that was because many of their final third entries were off of bad giveaways. If this were Germany, Ghana, or Portugal we probably would’ve given up 3 or more goals with the way we played.
But, like I said, we did win. Also, the refs probably robbed us of at least two goals, so maybe I’m overreacting.
- Poor (but positive) Jozy
The announcers made a big deal over the fact that Jozy didn’t get a goal and from a confidence standpoint I agree that it would’ve been really nice for him to get on the score sheet. But to sum up his performance as “he really could’ve used a goal but didn’t get one” doesn’t do justice to the way he played. First off, he did score a goal in the first half that got called back on a clearly wrong foul call. He also had at least two other sure goals that he was robbed of. The first was when Zusi only had to slide him an easy pass for a tap-in but instead decided to fire a wild shot that ended up way off frame and the other time was when Dempsey was wrongly ruled offsides on a pass from Tim Chandler. If it weren’t for the wrong offsides decision Dempsey would’ve had a really easy pass to Jozy for what would’ve been a tap in by Jozy. So Jozy put himself in great spots and actually put one in the back of the net but fate conspired against his name being on the score sheet today. Sucks.
With that said, Jozy’s play in every other aspect of the game was also a big improvement over what we saw against Azerbaijan. His touches were much sharper and smoother than what we saw on Tuesday night and he never stopped making dangerous runs. Even in the final minutes of the game when some others had pretty much stopped attacking (and Dempsey, his partner up top, had stopped doing anything really), Jozy was still trying to get behind Turkey’s backline – which by the way keeps all four of those guys from pushing up as far and limits their ability to get involved offensively. Jozy also defended a lot and fought for loose balls. I thought that overall it was a great performance by Jozy.
- Tim Chandler not nearly as good as Beasley
I get why they wanted to give Tim Chandler a run out. He’s a strong and fast guy who plays in the Bundesliga who on paper matches up with the attackers we’ll see in Brazil. With that said, if you base the LB spot on how guys have done for the US there’s no question that Beasley should be starting. Chandler had one really nice play where he intercepted a pass and played a great through ball to Dempsey that would’ve ended up being a US goal were it not for a wrong offsides call. But he also had a few poor turnovers AND he pretty much gave away a goal in each half – once by being caught way out of position and then again when he got muscled off a ball that he had lost on the play that ended up being a penalty. People might’ve overlooked the first mistake since it didn’t end up being a goal but if that had been Jonathan Bornstein US fans would've been up in arms and freaking out over his poor positioning. And the second mistake was worse still.
Beasley may not have all of the impressive physical attributes that Tim Chandler possesses but he’s clearly a way more reliable option on the field.
Oh, and if they’re going to insist on starting Chandler, why not at least have him and Fabian Johnson switch sides? At least that way Chandler could use his speed to contribute offensively by getting up the wing. On the left he doesn’t provide much offensively AND he’s unconvincing defensively.
- Julian Green rant. I mean, WTF?
So today confirmed what most of us already suspected. Maybe Julian Green’s a fantastic prospect and maybe he does some impressive stuff in training but in terms of being ready to contribute in Brazil he falls way short. Everyone was wondering against Azerbaijan why Green didn’t get in the game. After all, if you’re planning on using him in the World Cup, there’s nobody on the team (or probably on ANY World Cup team for that matter) who is in more need of experience before the tournament starts in Brazil.
Well, it turns out the reason it took so long to play him is because he’s just not that good (yet). I mean come on, he did absolutely nothing today to make it look like he had any business even being part of the 30 man camp. I think it was Kasey Keller who said after the match that Green looked like a kid out there and I agree with him. Yeah, Green is fast (and maybe his terrible corner was an anomaly) but he still just clearly isn’t ready to contribute. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. The dude had played like 40 minutes of first team soccer before today. WHY IS HE ON THE TEAM?
This isn’t just a Landon Donovan issue. This is a Landon Donovan, Joe Corona, Eddie Johnson, Juan Agudelo, and Break Shea issue also. Any of those guys would be a way better option to start or come of the bench in Brazil. Even Jose Torres or Terrence Boyd – neither of whom are really outside midfielders – would have a way better chance of contributing in some way at the World Cup than Julian Green.
Klinsmann basically just wasted a roster spot on Julian Green even though if there’s any team that will need to use its depth in Brazil it’s us. We’re in the group of depth and we have the worst travel schedule in the entire field, and somehow it was a good idea to bring Julian Green over Landon Donovan or Eddie Johnson? Truly idiotic. And it’s just weird that Klinsmann did such an amazing job of developing depth in our player pool over 3 years only to use none of it for the actual World Cup.
- The diamond
Did we stick with the diamond? It seemed like there were a bunch of times when Michael Bradley had to come as far back as the central defenders as to receive the ball. That doesn’t seem like what you would normally do as the offensive point of the diamond. Was the formation not working in those moments or had we scrapped it? This isn’t meant to be a complaint because whatever we were doing allowed us to find tons of space to attack Turkey in spite of our sloppy play. I’m actually inclined to think that whatever we were doing tactically generally worked. But I was confused to see Bradley so far back in those instances. Anyone know what was going on?
- Fab. Also Cameron, Gonzalez, Chandler, Klinsmann, and Goodson
Fabian Johnson looked great and the goal was fantastic. It really seems like he’d be by far our best outside midfielder if we played him there. He’s truly a quality attacker.
In the past I’ve wondered if our best lineup might include Beasley at LB, Tim Chandler at RB, and Fab at LM but Chandler’s shaky play today makes me think we’d be best off if he weren’t starting. But, I still kind of wonder if the best option might be for Omar Gonzalez to play CB next to Besler. That would allow Cameron to play RB which would move Fab to LM. I think Cameron’s more reliable than the mistake prone Gonzalez, but after seeing how shaky we looked today I wonder if Gonzalez’ chemistry with Besler almost makes up for the fact that Cameron is a more reliable central defender. I’d LOVE for Fabian Johnson to play in the midfield and I really think that a Beasley/Besler/Gonzalez/Cameron back line might be about as good as the Beasley/Besler/Cameron/Johnson back line that we saw against Azerbaijan.
This whole situation makes me REALLY wish that Klinsmann had included Clarence Goodson in the team. Start him with Besler and put Cameron at right back and you’ve got our best lineup defensively. Damn.
- Some thoughts on how the other guys did.
Davis - Unconvincing. I’m just kicking the shit out of a dead horse, but how is he a better option than Donovan or EJ? Also, if there’s anyone whose effectiveness seems likely to go down as the level of our competition rises, it’s Davis (because he’s slow for this level… sorry dude :/ ).
Dempsey - Sloppy. Well, his individual skill and dribbling was impressive at times but his passing, shooting, and understanding with the other guys just wasn’t there. He’s gotta be way better than that in Brazil.
Mix - Looked good again.
Zusi - Fine? Played one great ball to Green but he also wasted what should’ve been an easy goal the time he didn’t pass it to Jozy for a tap-in. And he ruined another attack by getting his pocket picked when he had tons of guys wide open and our attack had Turkey outnumbered. Overall, he didn’t make as much of an impact as you’d hope.
Jones - Fine.
Bradley - Always a really good player. Maybe wasn’t as dominant or as sharp I would’ve liked but at least he made an amazing pass for the first goal. We’re gonna need more from him in Brazil though.
Besler and Cameron - Tough to say. Neither of them made any obvious mistakes and both had some good moments, but our defense as a whole sucked. It seems like they still lack chemistry together.
Yedlin - Eh, would prefer Parkhurst or Evans. He’s fast but he gets caught out of position and commits stupid fouls. Basically, it looks like he’s everything (good and bad) that everyone thought about him when he got picked.
Brooks - Nothing to say. Is that fine?
Howard, Guzan - Fine.
Landon Donovan – WHY AREN’T YOU ON THE TEAM?!?!?!?!?!
Klinsmann – I think he already screwed up.
Hopefully I’m wrong. It seemed from the start like a really bad idea to not bring Donovan, EJ, and Goodson and now guess what? Brad Davis is starting at left mid and we’re short on reliable defenders. WHY?!? WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Hopefully I’m wrong and he turns out to be the crazy genius that we thought he was up until he picked a terrible roster. But Brad Davis is starting for us at left mid. I mean come on.
You missed Beckerman, whose play is absolutely horrendous. With such a great distributor and possession guy like Bradley on the field, Beckerman is not. Watch every touch Beckerman makes. He is playing hot potato. Doesn't look upfield, won't dribble the ball, and has spacing issues. He really limits the US on offense when he is in there. That is really the spot on the roster Donovan should have had. Even if Klinsmann claims Donovan is a forward to Beckerman as midfield.
I don't mind the young guys on the roster. They likely won't play, but you give them an opportunity to experience the World Cup and play/practice with the best you have to offer. We lock a few of them in with the US team by giving them this opportunity.
Dempsey looked out of sorts with his teammates. Made some nice moves and would attack when he felt like it, but never hooked up with any of his passes and wasn't in sync with the others. His attitude looked bad and more than once just gave up if he lost the ball. He needs to get on board. I wonder if him sitting the first game was some sort of punishment by Klinsmann. Maybe Dempsey is bent about Donovan.
I think Altidore played well, but he doesn't have that killer instinct. Years ago when people knocked him for being weak on the ball and being unable to hold possession, we excused that because he was aggressive and creative. Now he is very good at getting the ball and possession, but lacks that imagination to make something happen. We missed out on him putting it all together at the same time. He will never be the great striker we had hoped for, and need. Which then grinds my gears about Donovan not being with them. We need more proven scorers.
The defense was bad but doesn't the potential just seem so much higher than ever before? We have some really good athletes back there. They just need more experience. This World Cup will be rough, but sets up nicely for the next four years.
Beckerman and Donovan play nowhere near the same position. Beckerman is a #6. All he's ever tasked with when he plays is shielding the centerbacks and playing the simple ball. He does that well, but he's very limited athletically, which is why Jones is preferred there.
The defense, especially Besler/Chandler/Gonzalez , will be what sends this team home from Brazil (aside from the killer opponents in our Group). Johnson and cameron are good, but Turkey were relentless in attacking the right wing (our LB) and no one was stepping out to close down the ball, stop crosses, mark deep balls over the top, etc. It was a road map for a better team to rip us apart, and the penalty was a direct result of our LB/CB dilemma.
Mostly, closing the ball down was atrocious. Mix Diskerud did a good job when he came on, as did Yedlin, but that was late.
I think Altidore did well holding up the ball and dominating Turkey physically- that is a real skill, but I think Dempsey is a tough partner for Altdore, who is direct and strng, while Dempsey is tricks and flicks, grifting at the far post, doesn't hustle into dangerous positions, etc. He is a languid player for a forward; if Altidore was knocking the ball down for a speed merchant who could finish, it would be something else.
Last, I don't think this was Bradley's best performance, but his assist was sublime and his engine is something else. Jones was a bit of a mess, Beckerman would be my choice to just sit in front of the back four and help the defense, who need it.
Anyway. A fun day out with the family... a lucky win, but I'll take that.
The crowd sounded great on tv. Nice showing.
I thought Brooks was impressive in his half of play. I'd prefer him to Gonzales if we need to go to a third CB. Curious to see how Besler and Cameron look against Nigeria, as they've now had a full game of play next to each other.
Chandler was a mess and that's pretty clearly our weakest position. Brad Davis didn't help things out in his mediocre tracking back. That LM's got to be aware that if Chandler tucks in to cover someone running the left central channel that its the LM's responsibility to cover for anyone running in back of him. I hope we see Bedoya on that side, he's just much more physically capable of the amount of running needed to play on the side of midfield. Davis has a good left foot on set pieces, but I don't think he's capable in keeping up with the speed of play.