Tag Archives: Jozy Altidore

U.S. set to open Gold Cup against Canada

6 Jun

As we all know, Spain is a rather phenomenal football team.  The U.S.? Not so much.  There’s nothing like a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the World Cup champs to get ready the Red, White and Blue for the Gold Cup this week.  Sure, you could say the U.S. wasn’t playing its best lineup, but then again, neither was Spain.  The real problem for the U.S. was the complete lack of passion and the inability to mark anyone in a white jersey in the penalty box.

Regardless of the reasons for the lackluster effort against the supremely talented Spanish, the U.S. has to regroup quickly as Gold Cup play opens Tuesday against Canada.  Winning this year’s Gold Cup is important to the U.S. because it would earn the team a spot in the next Confederations Cup in Brazil. And we all remember what happened at the 2009 Confederations Cup. (In case you forgot, the US advanced to the final after beating Spain and blew a 2-0 lead against Brazil in the final.)  Playing in the Confederations Cup would be extremely beneficial for the team going into a World Cup year as its a meaningful tournament and a good barometer of where the team is and what needs to improve.

Here are three keys to U.S. success in the Gold Cup:

1. Get the defense figured out – Let’s just say that the starters in Saturday’s game (Tim Ream, Oguchi Onyewu, Eric Lichaj and Jonathan Spector) failed to lock down any major minutes in the Gold Cup.  There was too much standing around and not enough guarding the opposing team.  Let’s hope that the likely top choice line of Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo,  along with two of the three following: Jonathan Bornstein or Clarence Goodson or Spector can put on a better, stronger and smarter performance.  If not, Tim Howard is going to have a coronary and/or get arrested for murder.

2. Take advantage of the opportunities – If there is no one between you and the net except the goalie, please shoot the ball.  The U.S. hasn’t exactly been a goal-scoring machine as of late, so it is important to take the chances when they are presented.  Going hand-in-hand with this sentiment is the play of the team’s strikers.  Jozy Altidore was ok at best against Spain and Juan Agudelo fell into the same category, although he actually hustled, which is always a plus.  The only other forward on the roster is Chris Wondolowski and I don’t see him being able to make much of an impact.  The trio, particularly Altidore, has to step it up and convert chances in this tournament.  I could see the U.S. moving Clint Dempsey up front if the strikers are struggling.

3. Fringe players need to step up – We all know what players like Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra bring to the table.  In order for the U.S. to be successful both in this tournament and in the future, some of the other players need to show they can contribute – players like Agudelo, Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan and even Freddy Adu.  The U.S. can’t rely on the same small group of people all the time.  Other athletes need to show that they can be difference makers too and that they are willing to take advantage of their opportunities.

What the U.S. has to do to beat Algeria

22 Jun

By all accounts, group C is still open for the taking. Going into the final group games tomorrow, Slovenia is first with 4 points, U.S. second with 2, England third with 2 and Algeria fourth with one.  It’s also a well-known fact that all the U.S. has to do tomorrow is win to advance to the round of 16.  However, a draw could throw things into chaos and a loss would send the team home.  The U.S. should beat Algeria, at least on paper, but they also should have beaten Slovenia too and look how that turned out.  Let’s just go with a win would be the best scenario.  There’s several keys to getting that crucial victory.

First and foremost, the U.S. has to start strong.  They’ve conceded inside 15 minutes in both games this World Cup and they can’t afford to do that again. Although the team thrives on and embraces the underdog role, they won’t/shouldn’t be in that position against Algeria.  The U.S. is the clear favorite to win and they need to put that beyond doubt early.    The U.S. attack is more than capable of making a menace of itself immediately and putting Algeria on the back foot early would do wonders for team confidence.  Can the U.S. actually score first for once?  Interesting concept.

The team also needs better defensive play.  Oguchi Onyewu was culpable for both Slovenia goals last time around and he will be looking to make amends against Algeria.  The U.S. can’t give the Algerians loads of space to work with.  Along with defenders playing smarter, the midfielders also have to do a better job of tracking back to help close down space.  I also expect better from Timmy Howard.  It was clear he had his rib injury in mind on Slovenia’s second goal, going in feet first as opposed to make himself big.  He’ll need to put that completely behind him and go all out against Algeria.

In addition to starting strong, the U.S. needs to play the full 90.  I know I’ve written about this before, but they have yet to do it.  In a crucial game like this, a small lapse could spell the end of the road.  The squad has the ability to play well for 90 minutes, now we just have to see if they can do it for the biggest game of the year.   Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan will be vital to these efforts.  Bradley has been a workhouse through the first two games and I expect more of the same from him.  Donovan will need to influence the game from the get-go.

A few observations/questions too…

  • Who will play up front with Jozy?  Robbie Findley is suspended after yellow card accumulation.  Either Edson Buddle or Herculez Gomez will have a chance to earn their first World Cup start.  Clint Dempsey could also play up top, but he probably won’t, at least not at first.
  • Apparently, the U.S. is 0-6 all-time in game three of the group stages.  Yikes.  Here’s hoping they can turn that stat around.
  • Can the team handle the pressure?  The Yanks beat Egypt 3-0 in the Confederations Cup to advance so they’ve shown they can do it, but the world’s biggest stage is a different story.
  • Defenders Steve Cherundolo and Jay DeMerit are both sitting on yellow cards going into tomorrow’s game.
  • The best result for the U.S. in the England/Slovenia game would be a 0-0 draw.

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.  

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

Team USA’s 30-man roster

11 May

Here’s the preliminary roster for team USA.  Charlie Davies did not make the cut, so that’s got to be disappointing for him.  In all honesty though, it’s not that shocking given he hasn’t played in a match since October.  That’s almost eight months.  Granted, Gooch has been out of action for approximately the same amount of time, but he’s back at game fitness already.  Plus, he’s a rock in the back and the U.S. will definitely need him. 

There’s really no surprises from Bob Bradley.  No one was excluded that should have made it and I don’t think there are any shocking inclusions.  Everyone knows who the starters will be, but the battle for the final roster spots will be intense in the next few weeks.

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton)

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), José Torres (Pachuca)

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)

My final 23 based on the above choices:

Goalkeepers: Howard, Guzan, Hahnemann
Defenders: Bocanegra, Bornstein, DeMerit, Onyewu, Spector, Cherundolo, Marshall
Midfielders: Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Edu, Feilhaber, Holden, Torres, Bedoya, Clark
Forwards: Altidore, Buddle, Ching, Gomez

Davies won’t play for Sochaux this season

23 Apr

U.S. striker Charlie Davies will not play for his club team Sochaux this season according to the French club’s president.  It’s a large hurdle for Davies as he has made a miraculous recovery from a serious car accident in October.  He has hopes of being back in time to play in the World Cup this summer, but a lack of any match fitness with the club will have to hurt his chances.  However, based on the progress he’s made, I would think that he would still be given a spot on the 30 man roster due to FIFA in May. 

Team USA is seriously hurtin’ in the striker department right now with the only solid, healthy option being Jozy Altidore.  Clint Dempsey can also play up front if need be (and honestly, he’s much better there than in the midfield).  If Davies can get back in good enough fitness, I’d say he would earn a spot in South Africa.  He might not be at the point where he can play a full 90, but he will be able to make an impact based on his size and speed.  Altidore and Davies are a tough duo to handle up front and if there’s any way to get them on the field together, Bob Bradley will try to make it happen.  It’s a race against the clock for Davies and it’s going to be a close one.

US escapes El Salvador

5 Sep

The United States had to come from behind to beat El Salvador, 2-1, in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday night.  The visitors went ahead in the 32nd minute on a goal from Christian Castillo. The US was able to bounce back and tied the game in the 41st minute when Clint Dempsey beat the offside trap and headed in a beautiful ball from Landon Donovan.  Donovan was the catalyst for the second goal as well, sending a long ball in to Jozy Altidore, who was able to head in the cross just before halftime.  

The US had a goal called back in the second half (still rather unclear why – although it’s suspected that Dempsey was called for the foul after sliding to get the ball up to Altidore.  If he was, it was a terrible call.)

Mexico is back.  They went into Costa Rica and dominated, pulling off a 3-0 victory.  That victory over the US in August clearly did wonders for Mexico’s confidence.  Honduras also won, defeating Trinidad and Tobago, 4-1.  Based on tonight’s results, Honduras now leads the hexagonal with 13 points and the US is second, also with 13 points (Honduras is first based on goal difference).  Mexico is third with 12 points and Costa Rica is now fourth.

Positives

  • The US showed the ability to come from behind again.  They’ve been able to win twice when coming from behind (tonight, in June vs. Honduras) and draw once (at El Salvador).
  • Landon Donovan showed why he is a dangerous player.  He had assists on both goals and did a nice job distributing the ball.  He put in a solid performance and did a good job tracking back on defense.
  • Clint Dempsey has scored some clutch goals for the US.  Dempsey is excellent at being in the right place at the right time.  He’s played with more energy since the opening games of the Confederations Cup (where he looked lazy and tired).  
  • Jozy Altidore is a solid presence up front for the US.  He scored his team-leading sixth goal of qualifying (his potential seventh got called back).
  • Altidore and Charlie Davies are a dangerous duo up front.  Davies showed great poise on the ball and showed off his speed before being taken off after hurting his leg in the second half.

Negatives

  • The US is still having issues clearing the ball out of the defensive end.  If the US makes it to South Africa, they are going to get blown out if they can’t get the ball out of their own end.  There were way too many shanked balls and turnovers in bad places on the field.  All the players on the team have to be more aware of who is around them and where they are on the field.
  • The backline looked rather shaky, especially Jonathan Bornstein.  The teams gets Onyewu back for Wednesday’s game at Trinidad and Tobago.  They need him.
  • They allowed El Salvador to score first.  Even though they have shown the ability to come from behind, they cannot continue to give up goals first.  Better teams will be able to shut them down after scoring.
  • The ref called back a goal by the US in the second half.  No one really seemed to know why.  An explanation would have been nice.  That goal also would have eased the pressure on the US a little.