15 November 2011
What a difference a game makes. From my winners being so short after the France game, to my losers being few and far between today. The USA looked impressive from the start and banged in three goals in a 3-2 win over Slovenia, but there are still plenty of questions to be asked about the USA going forward.
Carlos Bocanegra: This is a no brainer. 100th cap for the captain who always puts in a solid display. Congratulation’s Carlos!
Edson Buddle: It was always a wonder to me why he didn’t feature more in the World Cup up top with Jozy Altidore and tonight he stole the show. Brilliant finish for the first goal and was a constant threat, especially in the first half.
Fabian Johnson: Other than the US having a penchant for putting out young players that somehow manage to score on their debut (i.e. Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore, and Juan Agudelo), I cannot remember a better first start from any other player in a US jersey. Johnson made dangerous runs and was slick in his movement and passing at the top of the box. He gave the USA an extra dimension that they have been lacking for a long, long time!
Michael Bradley: Continued to hold the midfield while looking dangerous going forward and was the catalyst for many of the US attacks with some very adroit passing.
Clint Dempsey: Put himself into dangerous positions. Not only scored the second goal with a solid header, but also created the first goal with high pressure up top. On that sequence, he took the ball off the defender, which teed it up nicely for Buddle to volley home.
Jurgen Klinsmann and his switch to 2 forwards: Altidore has always been a great hold-up forward, but a hold-up forward needs a second player to combine off him. Buddle did just that and the US looked very potent. A good adjustment made by the coach to get the midfield to push up higher in support of the two strikers as well.
Kyle Beckerman: Two games, two lukewarm performances. Did nothing today to convince me that he should be the shield in front of our back four.
The Defense: The defense so often has been the US’s strength. Now that we begin to look creative going forward, the defense all of a sudden looks fragile. They continue are susceptible to the long ball over the top and were caught too many times on the counter. Questions weren’t just asked of the defense in the second half, but the entire game.
Those long balls over the top continue to trouble Clarence Goodson, who again didn’t look all that strong in the one v. one physical battles.
Timothy Chandler looked good going forward, but on defense he HAS TO TUCK INSIDE. On Tim Matavz's first chance of the day he was able to get inside of Chandler and the center-back because Chandler was caught out wide, only to be called offside. That should have been a lesson learned, but Matavz got away again on the same exact run. This time the flag stayed down and Matavz made no mistake in drawing the sides level at one.
Pressing up as a team is wonderful, and the way the US should play, but they need to be faster in transition and do a better job of getting back and finding its shape the moment they lose the ball. That starts with the forwards pressuring the opposing defense and not allowing the opposition to start their attack right away.
THE USA AND A FULL 90 MINUTES: Just as against Costa Rica, the USA looked brilliant going forward and had the lion’s share of possession for the first 45 minutes. Afterwards, the USA became victims of their own pace. In the second half they looked tired and were unable to replicate their movements from the opening half. Slovenia had all the possession, created a ton of chances, and to be honest we’re really unlucky not to draw level. The USA needs to play the way they did in the first 45 minutes, but heading into World Cup qualifying, they need to find a way to put together a full 90 minute performance.