Nigeria Recap: Ready As You Can Be

Submitted by Brian on June 9th, 2014 at 12:23 PM

HOT. Jozy scored a scorcher, the team worked a beautiful goal, and Tim Howard was all but untroubled until Omar Gonzalez entered and the US flailed about ineptly with three central defenders. That was like the Panama game I love referencing except against a World Cup-quality outfit, the most recent African champions at nearly full strength. At the moment I'm not even mad about Landon Donovan. That's how good that was.


    The alternate universe. After a dismal performance from Brad Davis against Turkey I suggested that the alternate universe version of the USA lineup might forget all about having a nominal winger guy at left mid and just field ALL THE CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS because hey, why not. This happened, and it was terrific.
    And it had the opposite effect you might expect on the USA's width. They were able to cover the flanks much better in this game and because of that, the fullbacks—both fullbacks—were comfortable getting upfield. It's a lot easier to make that surge when you've got Beckerman and Jones looking for it and offering to cover instead of just one.
    Speaking of Jones…

Pictured: Jones, pre-Beckerman

Off the chain. Even if you don't appreciate the things Beckerman does himself, the fact that his addition lets Bradley and Jones range about the field pressuring opponents with their endurance and athleticism was a revelation and demands his inclusion going forward.

Jones felt like a wonderful player for most of this game. I have spent the last four years going "bleah" about him and demanding that he eat bench so that Bradley can be the offensive force the US needs him to be. But what if I told you Bradley was up the field and Jones was roaring around the field and it was all just fine? ESPN presents 30 for 30: Kyle Beckerman, The Man Who Didn't Move.

Jones did. Goddang he did move. There were multiple instances where he flew in at speed and removed a ball from Nigeria's possession. While his positioning as a pure holder is questionable, his defensive instincts and effort are top-notch, as he demonstrated after a dangerous Beckerman turnover when he recovered to clear a ball that would have been totally uncovered if this was the Turkey game. And then there was the 70-yard run to end a Nigeria break where Jones went from the potential target of a through ball just outside Nigeria's box to an interception on the edge of the USA's. Once you realized it was the same guy on both ends of that play it was… I be like dang.

The one-game turnaround from Davis/Chandler to Jones/Beasley was incredible. What happens on that turnover if Davis in in the game? It doesn't go out of bounds harmlessly, that's for sure.

There's a clear and large gap between Jones's ability going forward and Bradley's, but when freed up to go get the ball he was the bald eagle's equal. Two of those guys in one midfield suddenly seems tough to deal with, especially since both were going full blast 85 minutes into a friendly that had seen Nigeria wither.

Something weird: check. Poke a USA fan on the internet today and you'll get an exclamation about Jozy's second goal and then a comment about how the formation worked well. Everyone will tell you a different formation, though. has back-to-back articles labeling it the "Christmas Tree" 1-2-3-4…

In USMNT's new "Chrismas tree" formation, Kyle Beckerman plays starring role

…and the diamond

Three Things: USMNT commit to the diamond and it finally starts to shine

…while ESPN and various other people on the internet asserted it was Klinsmann's standard-ish 4-2-3-1. If you ask me that was… weird. Everyone's right, and everyone's wrong.

On defense the shape was generally the Christmas Tree that was briefly unpopular a couple years back: either Dempsey or Altidore was up top with the other withdrawn next to Bradley; behind that there was a line of Jones-Beckerman-Bedoya.


Except when it fell into a diamond for folks who wanted to advocate for diamondness.


Functionally, Bradley would apply high pressure while the back line of three provided shielding and covered for the backs when they advanced. The withdrawn forward very occasionally did some covering on the left, mostly when it was Jozy.

In possession it was hugely mutable and definitely asymmetric, with Bedoya ranging upfield as a winger and Bradley pulling centrally as the withdrawn forward pushed higher. Bedoya's upfield run put him in position to get the hockey assist on the first goal, with Johnson cutting inside of him. Approximate location chart in possession:

                            Dempsey                    Altidore

                                             Bradley                              Bedoya


Beasley                                Beckerman                         Johnson

                           Besler                         Cameron

Jones did surge upfield from time to time anywhere on the left two-thirds of the field; generally he was more withdrawn.


Jones left, Bedoya right

So what is that? I've seen it described as just about anything; it felt like a 4-3-3*, but with one of the wingers flipped with Bradley on defense, so I guess a diamond, except not. Which is not something I've ever seen before. I will probably resort to calling it "Nigeria" in the event it lasts. Which it should, right?

*[Distinguishing characteristic of the 4-3-3: three central midfielders with one playing behind the other two.]

Spiritual formation. Forgetting the positions for a moment, the US featured:

  • two offensive players with minimal defensive responsibilities, one of whom would link with the midfield
  • two box to box midfielders
  • one defensively-oriented right winger
  • one holding mid
  • a wide fullback
  • an in-cutting fullback
  • two central defenders

If you forced me to put a name on it I would call it an asymmetric 4-3-3. A slightly less weird version of that has historically been my preferred Football Manager formation, so obviously Klinsmann has found something here.

Rope a dope. The US soaked ineffectual pressure for about 20 minutes before finding its stride, and by ten minutes into the second half they were running rampant over an exhausted Nigerian squad. The US has twin advantages here with so many of their players based in MLS (or, in Beasley's case, Mexico): unlike Euro-based gentlemen, MLS players play in the summer, and play where it is hot. Also unlike Euro-based gentlemen they're coming off a recent opportunity to rest. Hopefully fitness will be a key advantage in the sweltering heat of Brazil.

Beas with ease. Even before the game, Klinsmann was telling reporters that "Beasley is the starter at left back" in response to questions about why Beasley over Chandler, and then that game happened. With a big assist from the relentless Jermaine Jones, here's both the key passes and crosses from the first 80 minutes (ie, until Gonzalez entered and the US lost its shape in an unfamiliar 3-5-2) mashed into one graph:


That is one pass that got to the box for a shot and one cross that even made it in, for 80 minutes. Fabian Johnson and Bedoya had a bit more trouble but only a bit—none of those crosses were completed and most of the things resembling danger were off corners.

Part of this is the fact that Nigeria's left winger, Victor Moses, is their best attacker, sure. Beasley and Jones completely shut off the US left wing of an offensively-oriented World Cup foe. Beasley's understanding with both Jones and Besler was a world apart from the acres of space Turkey was given.

Johannson T-shirt FTW.


Checking in with irritating striker confidence meme. Jozy had a great flick-on to Dempsey that passed without anyone saying anything about Altidore's confidence level. A few minutes later, he scored from two feet. A few minutes after that, he had another threatening flick-on to continue 180 straight minutes of being a handful and chance-generator up front; Twellman attributes it to the goal he just scored from two feet. Argh, argh.

Now, the second goal, that's a confidence booster, if you believe confidence has much to do with it.

Your eleven for Ghana. I wouldn't make a change. The only US player under threat is Bedoya since Zusi does have a skill set the rest of the roster does not, but Bedoya's corners were superior to a couple of weak Zusi efforts in the last game, and even though Bedoya's final ball wasn't quite there most of the day he did make a lot of correct decisions.

The problem comes if and when someone gets the hook because of card accumulation or injury. It's clear Klinsmann was not expecting to have both Beckerman and Jones on the field simulatneously; if that was the case then Maurice Edu would be on this roster. If someone does go out with injury he now seems like the most logical callup, but save chicanery and bad/good luck the US's options are like so if Beckerman goes out:

  • Put Jones back on the chain.
  • Move Cameron into the midfield and play either Brooks or Gonzalez on D.

Who loves those ideas? Nobody.

This doesn't really exacerbate things otherwise because Jones and Bradley are not replaceable in the pool. It does add another cog that can't get out of whack without damaging the machine.

Depth is an issue. Another Gonzalez appearance ends with the impression that if Gonzalez sees the field in the World Cup it's collar-tugging time, and that's the case around the field. Other than Zusi for Bedoya and possibly striker for tired striker, is there anywhere else a US substitution doesn't make you think "uh-oh?" Large chunks of the roster seem unplayable.

I guess I am still a little peeved about Donovan. I have no faith in Davis or Green to do anything positive if inserted, and that's one too many guys to not have confidence in. Meanwhile a couple others are awkward fits, like Diskerud. Diskerud is Bradley's injury cover, and that's necessary. Unfortunately he doesn't quite fit in any other spot on the field, so when you bring him in it's suboptimal.

Turnovers are another. The US is trying to play like a possession team and isn't quite good enough at it yet. They get caught out a bit too often. Beckerman had a couple of turnovers in bad spots, and the central defenders had issues in previous games. That looms as a potentially devastating issue. It's one the US has to risk, as they have to be able to retain possession better if they're ever going to progress to past the quarterfinal of a World Cup.

Jones is really good at putting out fires, at least.

LET'S GOOOOOOOOO. Let's go, man.

Elsewhere. The great Zonal Marking has started their tactical previews of the World Cup. Directly relevant teams haven't been posted yet, but you can get some schadenfreude from the Mexico analysis. SI on Jozy. Wahl thoughts. Analysis of Portugal-Mexico.



June 9th, 2014 at 12:37 PM ^

I admit that I'm not a fan of soccer, but, am a fan of U.S. World Cup soccer.   So help me out a bit and provide an analogy that I can completely relate to:

"U.S. Team has the same chance at winning the World Cup as TEAM X has at winning the Big 10 football championship."

I assume Brazil is "OSU;"  Germany is MSU;  Spain is Wisconsin ... so who is the U.S.?


June 9th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

I'm exactly the same as you - I have almost zero interest in club soccer, but really enjoy watching/following the USMNT. As far as the USMNT's B1G analogue, dare we say it is UM? I mean, nobody really expects UM to win the B1G this year, but it wouldn't be beyond reason for it to happen. You could say the same thing for this group. Portugal and Germany are easily the favorites to advance, but we're not completely out of it. Have to beat Ghana though.


June 9th, 2014 at 4:00 PM ^

OSU has the talent that should (and recently did) annually contend for the national title, but I don't think they "waste" it.  More like they draw in the talent by any means necessary and live with the mixed results.  It usually works but consistency is an issue; eventually some freelancer who jumped the depth chart due to raw talent is going to get exposed.

I'm not nearly as familiar with WC but Germany more strikes me as overrated.  I mean they're legit, but they're too often considered a "top 3" team (for want of a better term) when they're more like a "top 10" -- OK one of the best in the world and that's nothing to sneeze at, but within the realm of upper-echelon parity.  I.e., they're respected but not feared.  At least, they never seem to blow me away with talent that has me wondering, "How do you stop these guys?"  Well, if they're consistently getting stopped and there's nothing odd going on, more likely the preseason poll was inaccurate.


June 9th, 2014 at 4:09 PM ^

Since 1966, Germany has finished in the top 3 nine out of 12 World Cups. Similar kind of streak in the Euro. 11 straight appearances, only missed the semifinals 3 times.

Difficult to find a better team over that stretch of time.


June 9th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

At least one site has the US as 250-1 to win the World Cup ... in 2013, one oddsmaker had the longest shot to win the conference, Illinois, as 100-1. (I haven't seen 2014 odds yet?) So from that perspective, it's probably Purdue: not gonna happen, next question.

Even if you were looking at, say, the World Cup vs. the Hot New Play-Off Thing, the US is more like Northwestern, I think: once upon a time, they gave it a good run, but things were a lot different back then, and except for one crazy run where they came up well short, since then, they've never really had a chance at all. The quality simply isn't there.

With respect to getting out of the group stage, they probably have a better shot to do that than Michigan does to win the Big Tenteen, although the concerns could be similar: a lot of questions about offense, with a defense that's doing what it can but sometimes has unfortunate lapses. One really talented guy can't carry the offense himself; even with two or three really good players, you've still got other guys on the field that have to do their thing, too.


June 9th, 2014 at 4:09 PM ^

Definitely loving the USMNT coverage as well!  Keep it coming. 

I agree with England = current UM.  Both desparing over an empire lost.  Let's just hope UM's drought doesn't last as long as England's. One of the football anthems here talks about '30 years of hurt' and it was written in '96!

Living in England, however, I think my English friends may compare the US to Rutgers..."So they have a team?  And they play with us now?"

Continuing on the US = Rutgers theme, "Why do they persist in talking into a microphone when they clearly do not understand the PR ramifications?"  Ok, I kid.  I kid.    



June 9th, 2014 at 12:42 PM ^

Move Cameron into the midfield and play either Brooks or Gonzalez on D

What about move Cameron to RB and play Brooks/Gonz on D. Put Fabian at winger.


June 9th, 2014 at 2:44 PM ^

If Beckerman's out, I think he's fairly replaceable by sliding Cameron in his spot and putting Brooks in the back (really don't want to see Gonzalez on the field in Brazil). And if Bradley's out, I guess you slot Diskerud in and just hope he's up for the job. The real question involves the very real possibility if Jones is missing. I guess you play Zusi on the right and slide Bedoya out to the Jones role. 

Davis, in my mind, is only a last 20 minutes, chasing the game, player, who would go in to provide service on set pieces. And I really doubt we see Green. The only role I could see him having is coming on late in the game in Manaus to run at Portugal players with dead legs.

Everyone Murders

June 9th, 2014 at 12:47 PM ^

It seems that over the past two games Altidore has built up some real chemistry with Bradley (who's been playing out of his head - my favorite player on the pitch during the warm-up series).  I wonder if some of the cohesion reflects the players' growing familiarity with one another (or re-familiarization) combined with the impact of the new assistant coaches that Klinsman has brought in.

In any event, I'm champing at the bit for this thing to start.  Nice write-up to cap off a terrific warm-up game with the perfect opponent to prepare for the Black Stars.


June 9th, 2014 at 12:52 PM ^

LOVE me some World Cup.  I'm going to be up in Traverse City on vacation, so I'm going to find a good bar up there and drink myself into Bolivian.


June 9th, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

Brian pretty much always has the noon window for posting. Unless things get off schedule (like last week with the Isaac commitment), recruiting roundups are posted at 2(-ish) on Mondays and Thursdays. It's especially helpful to wait to put together the roundups on Mondays, since usually there's lots of stuff going on over the weekend that gets written up on Monday morning on the recruiting sites.

It may not always look like it, but there is some method to the madness around here.


June 9th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

Ordered a drink.  Asked the guy next to me how "we" scored the second goal as I missed in during my drive to the bar.  

He turns out to be a Nigerian. Gives me shit (in a joking matter) about "we?"  

Dammit I fail.

Yinka Double Dare

June 9th, 2014 at 1:10 PM ^

This game was a point in favor of Klinsy's statement that formations dont matter. I have no idea what that was, and it did look like a few different ones, but apparently as long as the talent is on tge field and the recognize their responsibilities who cares what it's called if it works?

Mr. Yost

June 9th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

Well done Brian, great read and some really good points.

Can't wait, I have DVR and I'm still leaving at 2pm on Wednesday to be home for all of the initial coverage.


June 9th, 2014 at 1:21 PM ^

I feel good knowing the two goals that were cede happened directly because of two guys that won't see the field except for injuries. The first was Timmy Chandler just standing around while a Turk took his lunch and the second was a result of Gonzalez marking lazily. 


June 9th, 2014 at 1:42 PM ^

did we win?

I don't care for soccer but I do at least have an interest in any US team winning in its respective sport. Maybe a score posting wouldn't hurt in these extensive write-ups. Granted, I only read the first paragraph and didn't see a score in that span. 


June 9th, 2014 at 1:53 PM ^

They went up 2-0 on two Altidore goals and looked like they were going to run Nigeria off the field in the 2nd half, then US subs came in and it got hairy at the back end with Nigeria scoring on a penalty with about 7 mins to go.

I don't watch much soccer at all, but my takeaway is that Bradley is really good and US defensive subs are terrible. 


June 9th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

Man, this WC cannot start soon enough! I'm getting so excited.

Flight leaves next week for Brazil! Any other Mgobloggers headed down?


June 9th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

I'll admit to being one who thought you couldn't play Bradley, Beckerman and Jones together, as I thought it would leave the US way too narrow. I was wrong. It allowed them to be really dynamic while still having cover out wide because of the way Jones, Beasley, and one of the forwards interacted.

Jones is a totally weird player, his best quality may be his unpredictability, which is a weird quality to have as a defensive mid. He doesn't play well as a #6 because he wants to hunt the ball. He's not really a box-to-box midfielder because he plays better going back rather than going forward, but he was relentless in breaking up whatever Nigeria had going. 

The other reason that structure for the US worked (and Besler said something akin to "we didn't play in a formation, we just had interlocking responsibilities") is that Beasley was great, winning most every tackle and playing simple but effective balls forward, and the forward on that side tracked back to give him an outlet up the line, so he didn't get caught with one to few options.

One big fear in that game was that Bradley committed 3 fouls that probably would have received yellows. I don't remember them all, but one was toward the end when he just grabbed a guy with the ball and pulled him backward. If he has to miss a game, I don't know how in the world the US will function.



June 9th, 2014 at 4:16 PM ^

"Jones is a totally weird player, his best quality may be his unpredictability, which is a weird quality to have as a defensive mid."

That's actually what I'd look for in a defensive mid, personally.  Conventionally I expect the back four to hold their ground, in which case you can use a defensive mid to create havoc.  If you use your defenders conservatively, your midfielders can focus on more "attacking" defense, and some of them are very good at it.  If the midfielders are confident at taking risks because of a disciplined defense you can create more opportunities on the counterattack, which is especially valuable if you're not a possession team.

I know some teams these days like to attack with their defenders but while it improves the chances of scoring I don't see how it improves the chances of winning.  If you don't have a defensive mid covering you're badly exposed and if you hedge you don't have a numbers advantage so while I've seen it work on occasion it just seems a bad use of personnel for a little extra offensive unpredictability.  I don't think there's anything you can do with your front six that's greatly improved by mixing them with your back four.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

June 9th, 2014 at 6:13 PM ^

I disagree with your last paragraph. The US is not an offensive machine, so you can't have only six attackers - that's too easy to defend. Having a left or right back make runs down the wings spreads the field and makes the defense have to account for another guy, potentially opening things up for your "front six," especially if a defender has to leave the man he was marking. If you lose possession, then, sure, people have to get back. But goals can be hard to come by at times, so if you're not increasing your chances of scoring, you're increasing your chances of losing, IMO.


June 9th, 2014 at 2:33 PM ^

but the diamond with Jones and Beckerman worked great. Jones is playing almost without a position, he's just a rover that will go any and everywhere which may be the best way to play him. I've worried that when he's the holding midfielder he doesn't have what it takes to play straight up defense like Beckerman does, but with both that's not an issue and the US actually looked like a capable team. 

I almost wish Klinns had settled on this lineup sooner and did less experimenting building up so they could have gotten a little more work in game situtations but oh well. One week until Ghana. 


June 9th, 2014 at 2:37 PM ^

They do have a closed door game against Belgium on Thursday or Friday, which will certainly be played at less than full speed and aggression but should give the midfield at least a half to work together in game situations. 

The place where it really felt disjointed was between Bedoya and Dempsey (who is pretty unusual in the runs he makes, so it's understandable).


June 9th, 2014 at 3:07 PM ^

Brian - Love the attention and write-up on the USMNT.

As to your comments on formations, I believe you are over-thinking the positioning and nomenclature. Teams naturally lose shape from their intended formation. Sometimes this is simply a cause and effect from their opponent's formation. Simply stated, pressure and space tend to result in on the field adjustments. Whether intended or not.

As an example, the diamond formation is often used to eat space. This cuts down on dribbling and passing lanes. Take a team like Portugal, who likely plays slanted to Ronaldo's (the left) side of the field. In this situation, I would an asymmetric heat map of where players occupied the field.




June 9th, 2014 at 3:11 PM ^

fantastic recap, especially loved the analysis of our formation.  keep up the wonderful coverage, Brian.

anyway, a few more post game thoughts (already posted these in the game thread but I suspect that nobody saw them):


 few quick thoughts on the game:

- Jozy!

Great stuff.  Hell yeah!

- Bradley looked better than he had in the previous two games. 

I’m not sure he’s back to the form he showed in that Mexico friendly but he at least looks to be at least at his 2010 form, which is pretty good.  His work rate was incredible today.

- I liked the formation. 

Playing Bradley, Beckerman, and Jones together really limited Nigeria’s chances and allowed both Bradley and Jones to play to their strengths a lot more offensively.  I’d still love to see Fabian Johnson play as an outside midfielder (the only real outside midfielder in this formation) but that ship has sailed.  It’s way too late to try a new CB pairing and Cameron’s the only guy on the team who I’d feel comfortable with at RB.

The only slight drawback to playing Bradley, Jones, and Beckerman together, IMO, is that it really tests your depth at that spot.  If you’re up a goal and one of those guys gets tired, or hurt, or is on a yellow card, there’s really nobody that you can bring in for any of the three without sacrificing a bit of defense.  In hindsight, it might’ve been worth giving a spot to Maurice Edu instead of say Julian Green or Brad Davis.

- The US’s discipline and work rate really wore Nigeria out. 

Actually, it seemed like we didn’t really start to have a lot of possession until the second half when Nigeria’s fatigue caught up with them and from then on we mostly dominated - at least for as long as most of the starters were still in.  But even in the first half, when we seemed to have less offensive-half possession than Nigeria, we still managed to create way more chances than they did because we were so dangerous in transition.

I thought that our counterattacking reliant strategy was a bit of a departure from the possession-based attack that Klinsmann has tried to employ during his time with the US – but I think that’s a good thing.  In all honesty, we were never likely to have a lot of possession in Brazil anyway.  The strategy that we used today seemed more like the sort of thing that could actually work in our group.

- We still lacked precision offensively. 

The good news was that we created a ton of chances; the bad news is that we wasted a ton of chances.  If you’re getting lots of chances but just missing shots I think that’s a little bit concerning.  If you’re getting lots of transition opportunities with tons of space and the defense outnumbered and you’re not even turning those opportunities into shots – because of missed touches/passes or misunderstandings between attackers – I think that’s slightly more concerning still.

Jozy played great and Bradley was sharper than he had been, but I still thought that Dempsey at times wasn’t on the same page as everyone else.  Dempsey, Mix, Bedoya, and maybe some others were all guilty at times of sloppy play when we were in dangerous positions.  Overall, the US is going to have to be more efficient in Brazil because nobody we play is going to be as terrible at defense as Nigeria was today.

- Speaking of Nigeria, they were awful. 

I’m not sure how much to make of the fact that we looked good against a really disappointing Nigeria side.  They have quality players and they should be motivated by the fact that they’re going to the World Cup so it’s not like our success came against Barbados.  With that said, Nigeria showed a total lack of discipline and commitment defensively and didn’t really show any chemistry going forwards.  FWIW, Nigeria tied Mexico recently 0-0 (although Nigeria dominated them) and tied Scotland (who shouldn’t be very good) 2-2 last week.  So I don’t know what to make of them.  It would be great if Ghana played this poorly against us but that doesn’t seem likely. 

- Beasley is so much steadier than Tim Chandler. 

Anyone who still thinks that Tim Chandler should start over him is basing that 100% off of what league those two play their club football in and 0% off of how those two guys have played for the US.

- Did anyone else think the defense was still kind of concerning? 

Nigeria looked awful but still kind of managed to generate a lot of chances.  It still seems like Besler and Cameron aren’t on the same page sometimes leading to some dangerous chances.  Also we keep leaving guys open on set pieces.  Maybe I’m just not being realistic with my expectations defensively but the US has had so many games in the last three World Cups where the other team comes down and buries the first chance they get* so I’d really like to just not give up any real chances.  Today Nigeria still had more than a few.

*2002 -Poland, 2006- Czech Republic, Ghana, 2010 England, Slovenia, Ghana again… also Italy’s goal in 2006 was pretty early on against us as well.  That’s just a ton of games times over the course of 3 World Cups (including 3 out or 4 games in 2010).

- I thought it was surprising that Wondolowski came on and not Johannson. 

Is Wondo above the Ice Man on the depth chart?

- Overall it was a good (but not great) performance by the US.

I feel better about our chances at advancing now than I did after the Turkey match.  Still, we’ll need to play much better against Ghana if we’re going to get 3 points.


June 9th, 2014 at 3:54 PM ^

In the event of Beckermann going out with injury... 

You put Mix in for Bradley, and slide Bradley back. Play Jones & Bedoya/Zusi on the outsides. 

Sure it might limit what Bradley can do on offense. But I think Mix will surprise us in just how well he can facilitate the offense from that spot. 

Bradley wouldn't need to be nearly as hesitant about going forward as Beckermann either, due to the fact that he can get back.


June 9th, 2014 at 5:02 PM ^

Overall it was a good game and the US got better as the game wore on save for the last 10 minutes.  The first 20 minutes were not very good however as they started slow and the game was crazy boring.  Against superior firepower this is how the US has to play but their counterattack needs to be like minutes 25-80 not the first 25.  But coach was very pleased at halftime as the obvious goal was stop chances and that was far better than the game vs Turkey which was much more fun to watch as both teams had good chances but the US was a sieve in the first half. 

Other quick thoughts -

  • I think a whole nation of Beckerman "haters" agrees with you.  He is a high run rate defensive midfielder and does his job and allows Bradley freedom.
  • Who thought 12 years ago Beasley would be on the team and not Donovan?  I am impressed with that guy - he drove me nuts as a midfielder due to lack of skill but his speed at the back and defensive ability , makes you wonder if he should have been a defender for a decade.
  • Still think Zusi is the 2nd best passer on the team but Bedoya obviously has a massive work rate which you respect as a coach.  Working your ass off can make up for a lot in soccer, especially in the heat they are going to face.
  • Teams from Asia and the U.S. are usually very good at work rate whereas the Europeans and South Americans can be spotty at times (excluding Germany), so in a way you almost hope the heat is oppressive.
  • I was impressed with Jozy even the previous game vs Turkey as he possessed, held the ball, set up players, he just lacked the finish.  I would have liked to see Iceman get in for 20 minutes yesterday - he seems to be a very distant option to Coach at this time.
  • I didn't watch Jones enough to appreciate him as much as you did.
  • The central defenders looked better.
  • Somehow the defense looked worse when you added a 3rd central defender.  I don't like this strategy; it feels like prevent defense in football which just usually leads to opponents scoring on you.  That 3rd guy will feel out of place.
  • Go team go!


June 9th, 2014 at 5:44 PM ^

I think part of the early issues were just the fact that the setup was a significant departure for parts of the midfield. Took them time to get their bearings. 

Someone else mentioned that the Bedoya passing issues might be a chemstry thing and I agree. On the ball that was behind Dempsey I felt like Dempsey needed to hold his run a bit more there, as he was running into an area that Bedoya couldn't pass to. Or Bedoya needs to get the ball off his foot faster in that situation.


June 10th, 2014 at 6:21 PM ^

I wish the witch doctor would just cast something that would cause opposition teams to score own-goals until Ghana wins the World Cup. I actually want to see Cristiano Ronaldo, Ribery, and the other big name players.

And I was very relieved to see Ghana's starting 11 actually play like a coherent team full of veterans. The fluidity was nice to see after the appalling game against the Dutch. Though, the Koreans didn't press the Black Stars as much as the Dutch. If I were Klinsmann, I might think about replicating the Dutch strategy with a 5-3-2 with Dempsey, Altidore up top, Bradley, Jones, and Bedoya/Beckerman in the mid, and Johnson-Cameron-Besler-Gonzalez-Beasley at the back, with Johnson and Beasley joining the attack. I know the Dutch and the U.S. are on different levels, but Ghana looked very uncomfortable with being pressed by five players.


June 9th, 2014 at 7:48 PM ^

I remember complaining about how Jay Demerit would just woof the ball without playing it from the back. Now I would welcome a defensive presence like Demerit on our back line.


June 9th, 2014 at 8:50 PM ^

I would gladly take Besler and especially Cameron over Jay Demerit. I think Brooks is pretty on path to be a more athletic and technical version anyways.


Edit: the guy I feel like I miss is Clarence Goodson. Maybe it's some kind of Kovacs complex, but he just seemed to safely get the job done very frequently. It would be nice to have one more guy I feel decent about at CB.