Friday, May 25, 2012

US Soccer - Pre-5 Game Series Thoughts

With a brutal schedule of 5 games in 18 days coming up, Klinsmann is running this camp as if it were a tournament.  Though only our last two games actually matter because they are World Cup qualifiers (hosting Antigua & Barbuda; then at Guatemala), it will be of great benefit to play Scotland, Canada and especially Brazil.  With Bob Bradley at the helm in past years, knowledgeable US fans always had an idea of what to expect from our teams in terms of formation, tactics/style and ultimately results.  With Klinsmann, we are all still learning.  Primarily, we still don't really know how he will deploy our midfielders.  Now that its been nearly a year since his hiring with WC qualifiers upon us, the time for experimentation is over.  Its time to produce.

I figured it would be fun to jot down my thoughts now and see how completely ignorant I am after even watching a few games.

Today, Klinsmann whittled down the 27 man camp squad to our "tournament"-bound 23.

GK: Howard, Guzan, Rimando
- Though Juergen had given Hamid a lot of opportunities the past year, he has seemingly selected the best 3 available (Friedel notwithstanding) now for the real games.  Hamid didn't exactly seize the moment with the U-23's either.

Def: Cherundolo, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Cameron, Parkhurst, Goodson, Castillo
- We are heavy on CBs (5) and extremely thin at fullbacks (2).  But Parkhurst is apparently the RB backup now while Fabian Johnson, listed as a midfielder by US Soccer, is a capable LB.
- Timothy Chandler clearly wants to play for Germany, though he may not admit it.  His absence last year cost us the Gold Cup (Bornstein would've have never seen the field) and this decision to avoid being cap-tied has now lost him the confidence of Klinsmann, teammates and US fans.  If he turns us down again in the fall, we should be done with him, as unfortunate as that is.  Time to make a decision, Timmy.
- Eric Lichaj and Tim Ream are two others who probably should be on the squad, but may have been excluded due to exhaustion - Lichaj just back from injury and Ream having just joined the EPL.
- Castillo?  really?

Mid: Bradley, Edu, Beckerman, Jones, Corona, Torres and Johnson.
- Just like our defense, this is a very central-minded group of midfielders, isn't it?  We have four central defensive midfielders (1st four listed) and Torres is often deployed there as a deep-lying playmaker.  Fabian Johnson is seemingly the only wing of the group, and in my opinion should be pushed back to LB.  Of course, this is just another minor example of the difference between Klinsmann's thinking and Bradley's since JK has 6 forwards listed, while Bradley usually only had 4.
- If Beckerman starts OVER Michael Bradley, I will want to fight somebody.
- No Danny Williams, DeMarcus Beasley or Sasha Kljestan - all interesting decisions.
- Joe Corona, who just last year stated that his priority was Mexico, finally gets his first call-up to USMNT, after some productive performances in the U-23's failed Olympic qualifying campaign.

For: Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore, Boyd, Gomez, Wondolowski
- The biggest shocker was that Brek Shea didn't even make the 27 man camp roster.  He was basically Klinsmann's biggest contribution to the starting lineup since last summer.  He needs to get back in form and avoid getting suspended.  In years past, Bradley would have called him up anyway.
- Dempsey and Donovan will finally get to play together under Klinsmann - how will they be deployed?
- Freddy Adu being deployed vs Mexico in the '11 Gold Cup can possibly be seen as Bradley's last act of desperation - perhaps to signify that he was finally out of ideas.  Adu hasn't sniffed a call-up since.
- If Boyd can score a few, he may become this year's Agudelo (or Eddie Johnson), upon whom we immediately place all our hopes and dreams.

I have zero idea how Klinsmann will send them out, but this is how I would line them up.  Man, I already miss Shea.


If I were to guess how Klinsmann will do it, maybe something like this.


A 4-3-3, with Beckerman parked in front of the defense.  Bradley and Jones alternate going forward centrally.  On defense, they flatten out beside Beckerman.  Dolo and Johnson will be called upon to provide width for Clint and Landon.  Yes, I already know that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

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