USMNT: Czech-USA Good, Bad, Ugly

Submitted by Brian on May 26th, 2010 at 11:23 AM


I'm not too exercised about the ugly loss last night because the US was fiddling around with players and resting sevenish starters. The main takeaway is that the US has no choice put to put Spector or Bocanegra at left back, likely Bocanegra because Cherundolo was pretty awful, still rusty after an injury-laden season.

Other takes from Dirty Tackle (yay goalscorers, Goodson, Holden) and Grant Wahl (boo Pearce, Buddle).

The Good

Stuart Holden. Excellent performance until he got tired late and started lofting moonballs on his set piece services. The De Jong tackle appears to have robbed him of the ability to go 90 right now. Will it be better after a couple weeks of intense training? Hard to say.

That's the only thing preventing me from advocating that Holden should start and the US should push Dempsey up top. Holden has pace, poise on the ball, and a beautiful stroke on free kicks and crosses. He seems much more involved in the game than the occasionally indifferent Dempsey—yes I know he had more yardage covered than almost anyone in the Confed Cup—and starting him removes the difficult choice of what mildly frightening striker to put on the field. On the other hand…

Brian Ching. Ching specializes in the pass before the really interesting pass. It was not a coincidence that the US got zero shots, on net or not, in the first half other than the Edu cleanup of Cech's biffed clearance attempt. As soon as Ching came in he started winning balls, making clever, ball-keeping backpasses, and using his vision to set up attacking plays. He successful set teammates up with a couple of back-heels. He won the corner that Gomez eventually put in the net. He set up Gomez with another golden opportunity, and sprung a half-dozen other attacking moves. There was no contest on the night: Ching was by far the USA's top forward. With Donovan and Dempsey on the wings his lack of scoring is all right: if he sets up Dempsey for an 18-yard bomb that's fine by me.

Right now I might even take him over Altidore. I know this makes me insane, but Ching produces when he's not scoring in a way that no other USA forward does and Altidore is not scoring.

UPDATE: Ching not in 23? WTF?

Jose Torres. Torres has nowhere near the talent of anyone on Spain, but he's our most Spanish player, if you get what I'm after. He's quiet on the ball, maintains possession, sets other people up in good positions, and never hoofs it aimlessly upfield. Useless defensively and not enough of an impact player to get over that when he's going to be playing on a team that struggles to maintain possession like the US does. I don't see how he has a starting role but he could be a valuable sub… if it weren't for Feilhaber.

DaMarcus Beasley. Healthy, looking like the DMB of old. Defensive ability should make him a useful late-game sub, and a proven USMNT performer who was possibly the team's best player in the last WC.

The Meh

Herculez Gomez. Gomez managed to score a goal a lot like most of his Puebla tallies: a completely easy chance set up by someone else. So that was good, I guess. He didn't do much of anything else; when he and Ching were sent off on a partial break late he kind of lamely dribbled at a defender and got off a shot that was nowhere near the cage. He also rocketed a chance Ching set up beautifully right at Cech. I think Buddle did more, but it was hard to tell because he was saddled with Eddie Johnson.

Edson Buddle. Wahl's got Buddle on his cuts list but I'd take him over Torres (who, frankly, will not play since Benny Feilhaber duplicates his skillset and is favored by Bradley) or Bedoya. Wahl points out that Gomez scored a ton as a sub, which is nice, but I kind of look at that as a condemnation of his ability to play. I bet this run he's on is mostly fluky. Buddle seemed to do more in the limited opportunities he had and has that chemistry with Donovan. An unmarked header from four feet isn't that impressive, is it?

Maurice Edu. For a ball-winner, didn't seem to win any balls. Points for putting in a goal, but… again, it was from two feet away and largely due to a Cech error. Holden did more to score that goal by putting it in at the back post dangerously than Edu did. Then gave up the Czechs fourth goal on a horrendous misplay while moonlighting at central D.

Brad Guzan. Not like it matters.

The Bad

Eddie Johnson. Multiple times an unchallenged Johnson jumped for a long ball lofted ahead… and totally missed. No thanks.

Left back Chernobyl. How can their be 14 left backs in MLS worse than Bornstein and Pearce? How is this possible? God. I spent most of the first half groaning at yet another Czech guy burning Bornstein, and then Pearce comes in and is directly beaten on the second and third Czech goals. If Bradley puts either of these guys on the field in the WC I will have a conniption fit. It's not just me: Alexi Lalas gingerly suggested maybe Bornstein was not impressing, which is the ESPN equivalent of advocating he never play for the US again.

Steve Cherundolo. Terrible performance from a guy who has been a mainstay. Gave the ball away time and again. Was badly out of position on the second Czech goal and gave the player who would launch the cross a ton of time and space to make a precise pass.

Sacha Kljestan. Not only did nothing with the ball but lazily expected a clearance on the third Czech goal instead of attempting to mark the guy streaking in front of him. Total waste of a roster spot given the depth in central midfield. Will not be going to SA.

The Ugly

Oguchi Onyewu. I noticed Onyewu being pretty lumbery out there so let's turn to the USA soccer rainman Wahl:

14' 0-0. I remember how players run. Onyewu does not run the same way that he did before the knee injury. Will it matter?

about 2 hours ago via web

Depressingly prescient, that, as the Czechs would equalize shortly before halftime on a cross on which Onyewu was beaten badly on. When he came off the field, his injured leg was immediately wrapped in enough ice to bury Jonathan Bornstein alive, not that I'm advocating anything in particular.

Injury concerns were not assuaged, to say the least. Gooch did have a good recovery when Goodson was beaten in a half-break situation early, at least.



May 26th, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

Hopefully Gooch hels a bit more and the rust comes off faster in advance on 6/12

I actually wrote about the odds on the USMNT for their match vs England and for the whole Goup C. Admittedly, its a novice take. But, I find it interesting that in the wake of the English and American friendlies the last two nights that the odds have shifted.

England is now more expensive chalk at -200, up from -188.

The Yanks pay out less on a win at 4.8 to 1, down from 5/1

A draw now pays 3/1, up from 2.8/1

I have no idea what any of it means. I would have figured on the Brits odds becoming chalkier, but not the lesser payouts on the Americans.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:12 PM ^

Some guys have a knack for making the exact right play at the exact right moment, Jonathan Bornstein is the Bizarro form of said player.

Gooch will need to up his fitness to contend with the English side. I still have no idea how we will prevent a corner getting to Crouch's massive head. This scares me...

Pretty cool though to see the studs walk down on the field as the game was coming to an end and nod to the fans as if to say...we got this

The World Cup - the best of all possible diversions until September 4


May 26th, 2010 at 12:28 PM ^


So what the hell do we do with the defense? It doesn't look like Gooch is dealing with rust, it looks like he's not healthy. He just didnt' look comfortable and I really wonder if he can go 90... If he's unable to go 90, he should be on the bench (if we had other options at all, he should be left off to heal). Demerit's apparantly having depth perception issues after recent eye surgery, not exactly what you want in a center back. Goodson looked ok, but is a stick and has almost no experience. Boca's going to have to play in the middle, I think, which just makes the left back situation worse.

Both Pearce and Bornstein are not talented enough to play at this level. Both should probably be cut, but Bornstein will likely make the team. Spector just finished a season where he was the worst starting LB in the EPL by most estimations, but I think he's the starter. I didn't think Cherundolo was as bad as Brian did, he combined well with Holden a few times, but he wasn't above average.

Dolo - Goodson - Boca - Spector  ???

Dolo - Demerit - Boca - Spector

We're probably going to end up with both Bradley and Edu/Clark sitting deep to protect the centerbacks with likely Beasley starting against England to provide cover for the disaster on the left from Lennon or Wolcott torching us on the flank.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

I don't see how you can get Beasley on the field as a starter unless you're moving Donovan into a withdrawn striker spot, which I guess would make some sense but given how well Donovan has played on the wing for both the US and his clubs of late I'd be loathe to make that move.

My back line would be Boca-Demerit-Onyewu-Spector. Worst LB in the EPL is >>> Best MLS LB, evidently, and Spector's done well enough for the nats on the right. If Onyewu is truly unfit, I have a crying spasm and then gingerly insert Goodson.


May 26th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

I think Beasley plays as part of a 4-5-1 (note: I'm not sure this is a good idea, but wouldn't be surprised to see it). Something like this

Dolo - Goodson - Boca - Spector

Bradley - Edu - Beasley

 Dempsey - Donovan

        Altidore (I actually think Ching is the better option as a single striker but doubt he starts)

Beasley and Donovan plan a kind of interchanging wing with Beasley holding more defensive responsibilities. Dempsey and Donovan also free to interchange. That left wing could get mighty crowded, especially if Spector pushes up, but at least its three guys who are relatively tactically smart.


I'd love to have Gooch on the back line, and I'm hoping he's rusty, not too early in his recovery to play a full match (there are lots of reasons, mainly communication oriented, why subbing center backs is a bad idea, not to mention the fact that if he's only fit for 60 minutes, one of your subs is predetermined, killing some tactical flexibility). But he looked like he was favoring his knee last night. Maybe head in hands weeping is the right approach for this D.


May 26th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

Bob Bradley is not a type of guy to make crazy tactical changes.  In recent memory, I can't think of a time he has gone to the 4-5-1.  In your set up I can see maybe Donovan and Dempsey taking a staggered set up with Dempsey pushing a little higher.  I have no idea if that will work because that may put too much pressure on the middle three.

I think your back line might be what Bradley roles out against a team like England.  The main concern for me is LB and the other CB position.  I think Boca is too slow for the LB against Walcott or whoever Capello puts out there.  


May 26th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

I have just a few points of disagreement, Brian.  First, I don't think Gomez should be written off. The guy showed significantly more hustle than Buddle, which I really like in a forward since it forces the D to make passes they don't want to make or havent developed yet = turnovers.  Also, scoring goals that others set up is partly knowing where to be positioning-wise in a specific situation.  Reading the play and knowing where to go so the ball is likely to land at your feet is a talent that can't be taught.  Sure, he didn't finish the 1v1 but pulling off a ridiculous move in his first Nats game with a spot at SA on the line its understandable why he went with a low-risk low-reward play. 

Also, I think you underestimake Torres' defensive ability.  He actually won quite a few balls in the midfield and I was impressed by his presence and ability to get involved and break up plays.  Yeah, he looks like a 12 year old kid running around out there but I think his balls won/balls lost ratio would prob be right up there.   I would use him over Fielhaber just because the last few games I watched Feilhaber didn't play very good and had a tendency to disappear. 

my 11 for England:

Altidore - Dempsey

Donovan - Edu - Bradley - Holden

Boca - Demerit - Goodson - Spector


Notes:  Use Gomez as supersub at forward, Torres at mid if we need playmaking or a late goal.  Beasley/Clark at mid if we are looking to hold.  Boca at LB is a concern because he is going to get beat to some balls or just run by on some plays.  Not sure what else we can do there though.  Some people have suggested Beasley could be the answer there but I really really dont want to see that unless Boca, like, loses a leg.   I am not a huge Dolo fan but if Boca is getting beat like a rented mule we should bring him on first and move Spector left.  Please dont let Bornstein play. 


May 26th, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

I forgot what match it was last year, but after that said match I never wanted to see Beasley play at LB.  I agree that we don't let Bornstein play in any circumstances. 

I also agree with you on the merits of Torres.  He has been playing better than Feilhaber has on his club team.  The thing is, I think BB likes Feilhaber over Torres.  If Feilhaber get picked for the 23, is there room for Torres?


June 10th, 2010 at 10:28 AM ^

Hello Sam McGuffie - Brian McGuffie's close friend Steven George Gerrard will be participating in the soccer world cup in South Africa in the no.4 shirt. Sorry to say your relative from Scotland Brian McGuffie will have to make do at home in Glasgow and his other job at G3 Creative Solutions.

Pai Mei

May 26th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

Findlay is horrible but taking both Findlay and Buddle means something. Bradley is looking for someone athletic to play with Jozy and Ching does not fit. Ching plays to slow to be at the WC. Clint is for sure playing up top 


May 26th, 2010 at 1:49 PM ^

I feel sometimes like I'm watching a game no one else is: Beasley is not a good player. I think sometimes people are blinded by his athelticism.

Historically, he has not been good enough: despite a promising start at PSV, he completely fizzled out. Not cracking the top 11 on what at the time was the class of the Eredivisie is not the same as not cracking the top 11 in the MLS or anything, but still. He had lost the faith of HIddinck and soon PSV was shopping him around.

From there he had a forgettable stint at Man City and a mostly unremarkable stint with Rangers.

I did a double take when Brian said he was possibly the best US player in 2006. My god, really? Beyond the fact that others would be far more deserving of that title (Donovan, for one), Beasley was a liability. My lasting memory of him was of a player on the ground while the opposing team moved quickly to the attack.

And last years Confederations Cup? He was directly responsible for a Brazilian goal. And what's worse, he was dogging it as well.

All of which leads up to last night. For all the talk of his success, can anyone point to a single moment when he involved another player in a successful possession? His MO was "dribble, dribble, dribble, oh shit i dribbled too much thinking i was faster than everyone on the opposing team and was easily removed from possession".

I really want him to do well with the opportunity he's being given, but it's only for lack of depth that a player of that caliber is on our national team.


May 26th, 2010 at 3:01 PM ^

This is not the same Czech team that the Americans faced in 2006.  As a Scotland supporter I have been following them recently (just beat them in a friendly and were drawn in the same group  for the 2012 Euros) and they have been absolute garbage of late.  They failed to qualify for South Africa in a group where both Slovenia and Slovakia emerged (not exactly powerhouse sides) and their recent form has been rubbish with losses to Turkey, Scotland, and Azerbaijan (WTF?) as well as draws with the United Arab Emirates and Norhtern Ireland in their last five (scoring only once in the five games) prior to dropping four goals on the USA. 

Giving up four to anybody is alarming, but doing it against this Czech team is particularly disturbing this close to SA.  Hopefully they can get things patched up quickly.

ABE in 2010!


May 26th, 2010 at 3:39 PM ^

Did you happen to notice that Bornstein and Pearce playing for us.  Pearce was responsible for at least one goal.  And Bornstein is well Bornstein. 

To quote

I've never really been a fan of Bornstein's. He seems to have graduated cum laude from the Marvell Wynne School of Defense (If you get beat, be fast enough to get back and foul him), and that was painfully evident last night. The main weapon in his defensive arsenal seems to be hurling himself in the general direction of the attacker's feet. As far as I'm concerned, the Hondurans can have him. He's one of a select group of USMNT players whose presence on the field genuinely frightens me.


May 26th, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

Nobody plays all of their A team in these friendlies.  England didn't have Terry, Cole, or Lampard (and probably others I'm forgetting) and still beat Mexico 3-1 without really breaking a sweat.  

I'm not saying the sky is falling or that this is the squad that will play England, but giving up 4 goals to a team that has been downright awful lately (and was missing their best offensive player in Rosicky) while playing any of our top 30 players is not a good sign. 

Roberto Mancini

May 26th, 2010 at 10:21 PM ^

will be the match to look forward too.

Turkey is playing very well, meaning Bob will have to play a (near) starting XI similar to the one against England on the 12th.

As a bonus, Turkey has the craziest, in a good way, national anthem I've eer heard.