Archive | May, 2010

Thoughts on the USA’s 2-1 win over Turkey

30 May

Team USA finished their send-off series on a positive note yesterday, defeating Turkey 2-1 behind second half goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. The team leaves for South Africa today and plays Australia in a friendly on June 5.

  • The U.S. defense looks very susceptible in the first half.  Turkey had several chances on the counter attack and probably should’ve scored two or three goals.  The most notable flaw was after right back Jonathan Spector made a good run into Turkey’s penalty box, Turkey ended up with the ball and had a ton of space to operate and scored their first goal.  Spector ended up being one of two defenders to track back to get to the player, but it was too late.  There’s just no reason that should happen.  There’s got to be more coverage from the rest of the defense as well as the midfielders.
  • Along the same lines, the U.S. played a 3-5-2 and I don’t think it worked very well.  The team was very open to the counterattack and Turkey always seemed to have an advantage going forward.  The central midfielders especially didn’t do a good enough job of playing defense.
  • Despite the first half issues, the team looked much more dynamic in the second half.  The additions of Robbie Findley and Jose Torres definitely played a part in this.
  • Findley showed why he deserved to be on the squad, making several good runs and of course, delivering that lofted ball to Landon Donovan that Altidore was able to finish.  He still has to work on figuring out when to get rid of the ball because he ran out of real estate a couple times, but his speed will definitely help the team.
  • Joses Torres made a good case for more playing time.  It’s already surprising that he doesn’t play more just because he’s so good on the ball.  He played a very solid half yesterday and almost added a goal of his own, striking the outside of the post off a free kick from the right side.
  • The U.S. showed the ability to come back from a goal down.  This is huge.  For once, the team actually looked stronger as the match went on instead of losing steam.  

US plays Turkey in final domestic tuneup

29 May

Team USA will play host to Turkey in the final match of the send-off series before the team departs for South Africa.  This will be the first match played with the 23-man World Cup roster.  It’s going to be a chance for Bob Bradley to figure out who the final starters are going to be along with who can make an impact off the bench.  Hopefully the defense will be able to put on a more cohesive and promising performance than it did against the Czech Republic.

The game will be televised live at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

France to host Euro 2016

28 May

Stepping away from World Cup news for a minute, UEFA announced that France will play host to the 2016 European Championships.  France beat out Turkey in a close 7-6 vote.

With all the problems UEFA has experienced with Poland and Ukraine for the 2012 edition, it’s no surprise that France won the vote.  The country has solid stadiums already so the budget is much smaller and the country also has experience hosting a major event, the last being the World Cup in 1998.  France previously hosted the European tournament in 1960 and 1984.  The 2016 tournament will be the first with 24 teams, expanded from the current 16.

Essien ruled out for the World Cup

27 May

Ghana and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has been ruled out of the World Cup after struggling to recover from a knee injury.  Essien suffered the injury during the African Cup of Nations and ended up missing the second half of the Premier League season.  It was hoped that he would be healthy in time to play a role in South Africa, but no such luck.

It’s a big blow for Ghana as group D is no cakewalk as they’ll go up against Australia, Germany and Serbia.  Even without Essien, Ghana has the potential to make it to the second round like they did in 2006.  And as Grant Wahl points out via twitter, Ghana did reach the African Cup of Nations final without Essien.

USA announces final World Cup roster

26 May

Well, the U.S. certainly picked an odd way to announce the final World Cup squad, but that’s beside the point.  The only selection that really raised my eyebrows was Robbie Findley, who got the nod (presumably) over Brian Ching.  He’s never really impressed me that much. 

There’s also been a lot of derision directed towards Jonathan Bornstein, but I don’t think he’s that bad.  He just needs to work on his consistency (and work on it fast).  As a whole, the defense will need to improve dramatically (and get healthy) before June 12.  Otherwise, it could be a short World Cup.

Gooch saw his first game action in seven months against the Czech Republic last night and looked understandably shaky, especially on the Czech’s tying goal.  I don’t think there was ever any doubt that he would make the squad.  He adds a large, physical presence that the U.S. clearly lacks when he’s not in the game.

It’s the first World Cup for 15 of the 23 players.  That’s slightly scary, but most of the starters have at least some World Cup experience.  Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Steve Cherundolo will be playing in their third cup. 

Goalies: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley, Maurice Edu, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Torres

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez

Worst idea ever

26 May

Let’s just classify this under things that I NEVER want to see: Maradona pledges naked victory lap

Final USA spots up for grabs tonight

25 May

Team USA plays host to the Czech Republic tonight in the first of three pre-World Cup friendlies.  It’s going be to the last chance the fringe players have to make a mark on the team before the 23-man squad is announced tomorrow.  Several of the starters will not see any action tonight, which makes good sense as their spots are locked up and injuries must be avoided at this stage.  

In fact, tonight’s starters are: Brad Guzan, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Bornstein, Stuart Holden, Maurice Edu, Jose Torres, DaMarcus Beasley, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson.  Subs: Marcus Hahnemann, Jonathan Spector, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark, Sacha Kljestan, Heath Pearce, Brad Marshall, Robbie Rogers, Robbie Findley, Alejandro Bedoya, Herculez Gomez

Tonight’s game will be shown live at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.  The squad selection will be shown live Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.