Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dutch friendly was not so friendly

Why is it that the Netherlands are also called Holland while their people are called the Dutch?  Anyway...

The game vs the Netherlands went about as well as expected.  They were clearly technically superior to us on the ball and thus were able to control possession and game flow for much of the game.  Specifically, I noticed that their midfielder's were composed on the ball and were able to shield it from pressure while looking to make a forward pass at the same time.  In comparison, our midfielders would automatically turn back and send it to our defenders whenever any kind of pressure came.  Essentially, there was a clear difference in confidence level on the ball between the two sides, probably as a result of skill level.

Also, Sneijder's awesome playmaking as their "Zidane" exposed the fact that we really lack that kind of impact player in our attack.  Worse yet, the best playmaker we have is Landon and he was nonexistent last night.  He displayed none of his dangerous attacking prowess that has been all the rage at Everton the past 2 months.  Perhaps he's still affected by that missed sitter from 2 yards out last weekend which would have salvaged 1 point vs Tottenham.  So maybe its good that we were in a close game even though our best field player didn't contribute at all.

I was impressed with this new Dutch kid, Eljero Elia.  His lightning fast play on the wing, along with Robben, gave our fullbacks all that they could handle.  Spector lacked the speed while Bornstein lacked the experience to slow down this combination of skill and quickness.  If England deploys a Shaun Wright-Phillips or an Aaron Lennon against us, it could spell trouble.

De Jong's tackle that broke Stuart Holden's leg last night deserved a straight red and further disciplinary action, which of course won't happen.  I was also amazed at how classless the Dutch were.  They committed bad fouls, complained constantly and dove left and right.  In some ways, they reminded me of Mexico's crap antics whenever we face them.  De Jong's dive, when he misplayed a ball and gave Beasley an open chance on goal, was just shockingly obvious, but of course, called incorrectly.

Bornstein's grab of Sneijder was stupid, even though Sneijder dove for a penalty.  Huntelaar's goal was also because of an unlucky Bornstein deflection.  So even though we gave up 2 goals, they were soft goals and the result could've easily been a shutout.  DeMerit, in his comeback NT game since his eye injury, was one of our best players last night.  He was strong in the air and didn't allow the Dutch forwards past him.  I'm hoping that Bornstein never sees central defense again for us.

Robbie Findley got to audition as Charlie Davies' replacement and he was terrible.  While his speed was an asset, he never linked well with anyone and didn't know how to create scoring opportunities the few times he had the ball in the final third.  If we don't have Davies, I'd rather see the experience of Brian Ching up there instead of Findley or Eddie Johnson.  Actually, I'd rather see Dempsey up there with Jozy and I'm betting that's what will happen come June.  Speaking of Jozy, I thought he was outstanding.  He held up the ball well but was also dangerous several times in the attack.  His powerful shot in the waning moments would have been wondrous had it been not at the goalkeeper.

If Holden doesn't recover by May, there leaves a huge gap on the wing.  Beasley's comeback to the squad is a welcome sight as long as he gets playing time with the Rangers.  He was more effective than Donovan, even assisting on Bocanegra's goal.  This Bedoya kid has a promising work rate and we'll see how he does at his club team the next few months, knowing that Bradley's tracking him closely.

As for our central midfielders, I like Torres' savvy but his lack of defense is probably what will hamper his playing time in South Africa.  Still, his dipping shot on goal early in the game is something that most of our squad seems to lack, isn't it?  Bradley Jr started again and will start in June.  I am fine with that.  He plays hard and plays better than anyone else that we have.  I much prefer Maurice Edu to Ricardo Clark simply because I think he has a much better touch on the ball so I'm glad he's healthy.

Too bad we didn't have Jermaine Jones last night. This would've been the last chance to play with the national team before Bob Bradley picks the final 23. Its good that he made the trip to Amsterdam this week though to visit with the team. If he is fit and makes an impact in Germany in the next couple months, I've got to think Bradley would think long and hard about calling him.

My 23 for South Africa (explanation, if I think its needed, in parentheses)

Tim Howard
Brad Guzan
Marcus Hahnemann

Oguchi Onyewu
Carlos Bocanegra
Steve Cherundolo
Jonathan Spector
Jay DeMerit
Jonathan Bornstein
Heath Pearce (His crossing has been great.  Bornstein's been terrible)
Clarence Goodson (Has a nose for the ball, even though he's twig-thin)

Landon Donovan
Clint Dempsey
Michael Bradley
Stuart Holden
Jose Torres
DeMarcus Beasley (Alejandro Bedoya if Beaz is not fit)
Maurice Edu
Benny Feilhaber
Jermaine Jones (Ricardo Clark if JJ's not healthy)

Jozy Altidore
Brian Ching
Charlie Davies (please make a miraculous recovery.  please.  okay fine, Robbie Findley then)

Starting Lineup if everyone's healthy

Donovan-Jones - Bradley-Holden
Spector - DeMerit-Gooch-Dolo

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