Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jermaine Jones debuts!

Finally, after over a year since US fans first heard about the possibility of Jermaine Jones joining the US side, JJ debuts on the field in a US kit.  After the 2009 season, one German publication (Kicker?) had him rated as the top defensive midfielder in Germany.  Even if that was an exaggeration, he was clearly an effective midfield presence in Bundesliga.  There's no doubt in my mind that had JJ been healthy for WC 2010, we would not have conceded that Gerrard goal or the early heartbreaking one vs Ghana, since both were Clark's fault.  Is he the missing piece we've always been looking for?  No.  He's not the striker we hope Jozy will someday be.  He's not a new defensive stalwart for the future.  But what he does provide is a reliable and skillful CM for this next cycle next to Bradley.  I'm know a lot of experts are worried about how to deploy JJ with Bradley and Edu in the mix.  For me, he is a clear step up from Edu, therefore he starts.

Against Poland, Bob Bradley played what appeared to be a very fashionable 4-2-3-1.  Holden and Feilhaber were the attacking wings with Dempsey tucked in below the lone striker, Jozy.  We created quite a few chances including JJ's beautiful left-footed pass over the top to Jozy, which was coolly slotted home.  Jozy did miss a couple more good opportunities however, which should serve to remind us again how much he still has to learn, attitude included.  Dempsey and Holden were particularly solid on this day.  Back to JJ - he was clearly comfortable both on the ball and defensively which allows the wings to stay wide and the forwards to stay, well, forward.  His field vision and distribution is inarguably much better than Edu and probably even Bradley.  Again, I don't think there is much debate here.  He should start in every major game we have until he can't play anymore (or he begins showing some crazy cancerous attitude or something unforeseen like that).  Hopefully it lasts through the next WC, when he'll be 32.

Against Colombia, Bradley decided to experiment with a 4-3-3.  It was horrendous.  JJ, Bradley and Edu cannot all play at the same time.  I'm not expert on football formations, but when Chelsea uses a 4-3-3, they at least have one primarily offensive midfielder, like Lampard in there with Essien and/or Mikel stationed behind him.  Our 3 were all more apt to be defensive minded and tried to occupy the same space in the middle.  It was ugly.  And boring.  It wasn't until Bob went back to a 4-4-2 in the 2nd half that our attack improved.  Other observations: Eddie Johnson's best move is to receive a ball with his back to the goal and dribble expertly backwards.  He's terrible.  I'm tired of watching him.  Brek Shea wasn't as useless as so many writers thought.  I'd have no problem giving him another look - definitely January camp.  Eric Lichaj is likely the future at RB.  Spector plays hard, but he's just too slow to defend the flank.

Since we probably won't see the full squad again until maybe even March, here's another starting lineup, as if there hasn't been enough this year.

I like the 4-2-3-1.  Best XI if we played Mexico tomorrow:

Gooch just looks rusty and hesitant still.  Bornstein can perhaps make an argument to start but Aston Villa seem to like Lichaj, so I do too.

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