Some interesting stuff on the podcast from The World Cup Roundtable guys. The original post was a roundup of that days games on Episode 7, and the talk digressed a bit. Instead of clogging up that roundup with all USA talk, they split it into a separate Bonus Podcast. Also worthy of note is the “Tread On” post which I wholeheartedly agree with. The Czech Republic used our own plans against us. We didn’t deal well with a mirror image of our own team playing against us. Couple that with the early Czech goal and we played right into their hands.
One of the main issues in my mind was the starting lineup (which I must stress, I would have probably done the same or similar) did not have the flexibility to change into a more offensive formation without major substitutions. If you recall in my posts before the WC, I said one of the USA’s major strengths was flexibility. Guys who can play multiple positions and help the US move seamlessly from a 451 to a 352 to a 442 and back again. With Lewis and Cherundolo both playing, when we moved to a 3 defender system one of them would have to consistently stay back, negating the prime advantage with them which is getting forward into the attack and making crosses. The other would have to come off, in this case Cherundolo to bring on a midfielder or forward.
So how do we proceed into the next game? Well, maybe Bocanegra gets the start since he can switch into a 3back setup quite nicely. He doesn’t give you the offense from that position that Lewis does, but substantially improves the defense. That may also give Convey (assuming he starts, I think he does) more of a green light to go forward since he won’t have to cover that flank defensively. If Lewis gets the start again (I doubt it) then maybe Cherundolo sits and someone lke Albright comes in who is not as polished as Cherundolo, but gives another 6ft+ defender who is a threat on set pieces as well. And considering the very tall forwards that Italy has, it might not hurt to have our entire backline over the 6ft mark. Now these are my ideas, and I don’t know for sure who Bruce Arena will handle it. He thought (and I tend to agree) that for the “most part” the defense played well and he might not make any changes. He particularly complemented the center pairing of Onyewu and Pope.
Offensively, Beasley needs to ride the pine and just pick splinters out of his arse. Who replaces him? My first choice would be Dempsey, but that puts alot of pressure on Cherundolo to defend, and if he can’t come forward enough then why have him in there? The same logic of having Bocanegra behind Convey goes with having a stronger defender behind Dempsey. This may require more fiddling with the lineup than Bruce would like. Donovan might be another option particularly since McBride will need a partner up front which will push donovan back into midfield. So Arena chooses to keep some combination of Mastroeni, O’Brien, and Reyna in the center then this almost certainly pushes Donovan out right. Unless of course Donovan and Reyna (or Mastroeni) start in the center, but then that brings us back to the right midfield question. No, I think the best solution is Donovan on the right. McBride’s partner will almost surely be Eddie Johnson, although I wouldn’t put it past Arena to start Wolff or Ching, but I would be shocked.
Lets hope that the Italians come out to play and don’t sit behind the ball. If they come out to play, we have a very good chance. If they sit back, we are likely to get burned just like against Czech Republic. Should be interesting…