Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts on US v Poland Friendly

I admit it. I wasn’t going to watch the US/Poland friendly. Why? Number of reasons. I had used up my “me” time to watch UM/MSU so getting back out to the bar to watch the game was only a slim possibility. Also, FSU/Miami was on at the same time, so while I could double dip, the huge college football game was going to outweigh the minor international friendly, which leads to the final reason. Friendlies are usually drab affairs wherein those trying to impress either shine or completely fill their pants; teams try something which will work spectacularly (US v Austria in 1998 with the 3-6-1 formation) or fail miserably (any of France’s friendlies in 2010). I usually stay away from friendlies both from a viewing perspective and a betting perspective.

Then Saturday night rolled around. I was stuck at home and Larry was watching a movie with a friend. While checking my twitter feed and came across the US lineup, which included Jermaine Jones and Stuart Holden. I had heard a lot of hype re: Jones and wanted to see what all the hubbub was about, so I opened up ESPN3 and watched the entire game.

Based on one game, the Jones hype was warranted. He has a range of passing that has been lacking in the midfield. He has several cutting balls forward, including the one that set up Jozy for the opening goal. He was a little suspect defensively but definitely a welcome addition. Holden got hosed by DeJong (shocker!) last March and it was good to see him back and in the starting lineup. Thought he worked hard and had a couple of good moments, with runs that created space and passes that got everyone involved. He disappeared when he went to the second striker and looks like he’ll do better drifting outside in rather than holding the middle.

Overall the game was highly entertaining match with lots of intensity and incident, and I’m glad that I took the time to watch it. This friendly was not friendly at all, with several crunching tackles from both sides. The play was very open and there were chances at both ends. It was nice to see the US get off to a strong, energetic start, which was a big shortcoming of their World Cup campaign. Too bad they forgot to work on clearing the danger as both Polish goals came from poor clearances and turnovers.

Bradley stayed with the starters for most of the match and only brought in Bedoya for Feilhaber for the last 30 minutes. Felt that Bedoya was invisible after his first couple of touches right after coming on. I’m not familiar with him, so not sure what this means.

And no, I’m not ignoring the goal line scramble at the end. It was a madhouse, no way the AR could make the call and the ref had several bodies in the way. These things happen.

Some final thoughts on each line of the US team . . .

GK: Howard made several good saves, claimed several crosses and had decent distribution. Can he do more to command his box and get players to clear the danger sooner in and around the penalty area?

Defenders: Poor clearances by defenders and midfielders led to both goals and there were still the type of breakdowns that cost them in South Africa. Edu was shaky at the beginning but got a little better. They really need him in MF. Give Goodson a chance for crying out loud. Is Bocanegra the longtime answer? (No so let’s start solving the problem now.)

Midfield: Jones was quite good but made the turnover that led to 2nd goal. Bradley was below his usually high standards with several loose passes. Holden drifted in and out and Feilhaber was anonymous. Dempsey dropping wide left made a positive difference

Forwards: Jozy was ok but really should have had a 2nd or 3rd goal for himself. Based on this performance you wonder if this is why Villareal is not playing him or if he needs more than Europa Leage action. Liked the switching of 2nd striker to change things up but still need foil to Altidore.

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