It’s simple. WIN and they’re IN.
USA plays Algeria today for the opportunity to go to the second round. Today is a REALLY big game. Arguably bigger than the England game. Win, and they’re in. Tie and they need help. Lose, and go home.
So what are they up against?
An Algerian team that has only given up one goal so far, against Slovenia (who is arguably looking like the best team in the group). A team that plays with only 3 defenders. A team that gets a lot of players behind the ball. A team whose speedy forwards gave Slovenia a ton of trouble (England, not so much).
Keys for the USA
The key for the US is really going to be DO NOT GIVE UP AN EARLY GOAL. Each of the first two games they put themselves in a hole they later have to dig out of. Be solid early.
I think they’ll have room down the flanks since the Algerians play with 3backs. Although their outside wingers are really quick, I don’t think they’ll catch Donovan with a head start. It’s tough enough tracking him when you start even. And playing with 3 backs means more 1v1 opportunities for our forwards. Altidore loves that. And since Findley is out due to yellow card accumulation, let’s see if Buddle gets the nod next to him (what I’d prefer) or if Coach Bradley does something else like move Donovan or Dempsey up top with him.
I’m also looking to see who starts in the center of midfield. Clark started the first game, Torres the next game, Edu subbed in and played very well in the second game. I think this is important because if Algeria’s defense compresses into the box as they did in the first two games, the US will have many opportunities from outside the box and the distance shooting will be a factor. Clark and Bradley can both bomb from distance. Torres can too, but not as well, BUT he takes way better free kicks. Tough call.
Here’s the important stuff.
Time: 10:00am EST (ESPN pregame starts at 9:30am)
Where: Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa
Where to Watch:
- English: ESPN
- Spanish: Univision
- Portuguese: ESPN Deportes
- Online: ESPN3.com and Univisionfutbol.com (look for “En Vivo” to the upper right)
- Delay: ESPN Classic, 10 p.m.
I’ll post here when the lineups come out.
Cherundolo, DeMerit, Bocanegra (c), Bornstein;
Donovan, Bradley, Edu, Dempsey;
Seriously worried about Bornstein over on the left. He hasn’t been playing well and got drubbed the last time or two out there. However… he’s pretty fast and can easily push up into midfield if needed to help counter Algeria’s 3-5-2. Ditto with Cherundolo on the other side, so maybe Bradley is planning to keep 3 in the back most of the game (DeMerit & Bocanegra + one of Cherundolo/Bornstein). Either Donovan or Dempsey would then push centrally. Might be interesting. Let’s see how this plays out.
Also, a little surprised at no love for Buddle. Is he injured? in the doghouse? Not that I disagree with Gomez there (all he does is score goals), just a little surprised. No Onyewu… I take that as Bradley is worried about Algeria’s mobility and pace, moreso than any indictment on Onyewu. Onyewu was a natural fit against England and Slovenia, but this will be a different match.