Some pernicious themes that undermine the US team

An international conspiracy:
John Harkes in the Brazil vs USA final said at one point that US defenders will have to be careful with their tackles given how the referees have been carding them. The Italy match got the ball rolling on that controversy. Thereafter, it was a cumulative process as the US picked up their share of yellows and reds generating a buzz that FIFA did not want to see the US succeed against the bigger teams. The Brazil match should bury that. The Seleccao were carded more often.
Here is a stat that the US should be most concerned about: It is a team with questionable ball control. Of the semi-finalists, the USA passed the ball the least and were least successful in holding onto it. The South Africans made 2389 passes completing them 76% of the times. Spain was even better with 3229 passes and an 81% success rate. Winners Brazil passed 2077 times with a 79% completion rate. The US was way below on the possession index with fewer passes, 1824 passes for a poor 60% completion rate.
In short, the passing was infrequent AND even more tellingly, ineffective. When you take a lead, you also have to hold onto the ball to make it possible to win. The US failed to do that even as they led the four teams in shot accuracy.
So before assigning any international conspiracy which has a nice emotive feel consider these stats. Bob Bradley and his training staff would be better off concentrating on this aspect of the game rather than getting distracted by some unproven plot.
The “we let one get away” theme:
This has been peddled not just by pundits but also by Bradley and Dempsey. Again it has a nice emotive tug. It gives the impression that the US team let the Brazilians back into the game when they had them on the ropes. If you take away the two scoring opportunities which the US did very well to capitalize on, Julio Cesar was otherwise work free. On the other hand Tim Howard had to deal with 31 goal attempts, 13 of them on target. Under such a torrid barrage, it was a matter of when the citadel would finally fall, not if. As mentioned above with the possession stats, the Brazilians swamped the US with superior ball control and the US coughed it up more quickly making it harder for them to maintain the lead.
The two themes muddy what clearly should be obvious. The passing game needs lots of work. You might be able to bury some teams with effective strikes but sooner or later this fundamental flaw will be exposed by superior and more resilient teams.

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4 comments on “Some pernicious themes that undermine the US team
  1. similar stats in the us game v spain. we defended better but spain had many more chances than we did with 17-3 edge corner kicks for example.
    our showing in the confed cup will make our WC bid even harder since teams will no longer be overlooking us methinks.
    kev

  2. the US does need to hold possession more. plain and simple. they run themselves ragged and then get stretched out by the brazilians (maicon has crossing practice all day). donovan was tucked in helping the middle and just can’t be expected run all day at full pace with maicon attacking like he does. but once again, as pointed out in the article, improvement in controlling the ball will help a ton.
    gabe
    also, i thought it would be fun to add an interview with Marcelo Balboa where he talks about his childhood and his desire to grow soccer through the company Calle Street Soccer.
    http://www.captainu.com/buzz/273-marcelo-balboa-the-interview-on-role-models/?utm_source=CaptainU&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=marcelo_balboa

  3. conspiracy my foot. I saw some of the tackles in question, frankly, they were cardable offenses. The color of the card is at the referee’s discretion.
    Really I do not see much reason to really celebrate anything about the confederations cup
    run. The team played 5 games, won 2 and lost 3.
    They scored 6 times and conceded 9. The fact that the team placed second will tend to lead some towards a misguided sense of satisfaction and strenghten the present aura of complacency surrounding the team. They need someone who can teach them the rudiments of possesion football and sharpen thier technical and tactical skills,
    I still think they could use a Real Coach!

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