The morning after: The US needs to lift its possession game

I think I must have made my point now *or cried myself hoarse*: The US needs more ball possession and to slow the game down.
Attack: When healthy, the Charlie Davis and Jozy Altidore combination should not be tampered with. Davis has blistering speed, good foot skills, loves cutting from left to center and is a perfect foil for Donovan’s timed releases. Altidore is a tower of strength in the center, uses his physical prowess to play well with his back to goal, and is a huge target for set pieces.
With Clint Dempsey roaming from right to center, the attacking midfielder gives the USA an effective 4-3-3 formation, and with so many opportunities, even Deuce is bound to score. Like he did yesterday on his third attempt. Is it me or does Deuce look sleep deprived?
Grade: A – Physical, quick, a matter of time before the Salvadoran defense was breached, somewhat tarnished by a number of missed opportunities for a more emphatic win. Dempsey was profligate.
Midfield: Ever wonder what would happen if Landon Donovan had an off day, was injured, or out with a suspension? He is a distribution outlet with his quick vision, pinpoint releases, free kicks, clever link up plays with Davis, Dempsey, and Feilhaber. And he can score goals too. Yesterday, he was on target with two deliciously served up free kicks.
Michael Bradley, was his role to fill dead space? He seems to have abdicated his central midfield role to move ahead without benefit. Benny Feilhaber, just behind Donovan played as a default holding midfielder and I use that term loosely because he actually has impeccable attacking instincts. Bradley and Feilhaber’s roles need to be better defined. Ricardo Clark is a better bet. Get him ahead of Bradley. He introduces a Gilberto Silva quality.
However, this is where the breakdown begins because with all the attacking talent up front, there is a real need for defensive organization at the center of midfield. A genuine pacesetter. Cheap giveaways give the opponents opportunities to score and the Salvadorans came this close.
Grade B: Donovan entirely lifts the grade, Bradley pulls it down. Absence of a leader in center midfield gave the Salvadorans acres to roam.

Jonathan Bornstein’s shoddy clearance was taken full opportunity by Rodolfo Zelaya whose clever foot fake froze three US defenders in their tracks, giving him time to waft the ball over to Cristian Castillo to head home.
Not the most stellar game for the US defense. Chad Marshall had a pretty forgettable game. Mistimed tackles, stray passes put Carlos Bocanegra under pressure and he was caught back pedaling against Castillo, Zelaya, and Quintanilla on their breakaways. Jonathan Spector was average, he could have done better challenging Castillo. His West Ham experience has taught him the advantage of the long ball which he uses quite well.
Grade C: Slow, reactive, too many giveaways. The two goals saved what was otherwise a long day for the defense.
Matchday Squad: Michael Bradley should be replaced by Ricardo Clark. There was also a case for Clarence Goodson in for Jonathan Bornstein.
Grade B-: Bob Bradley, get a clue. Ball control.
Substitutions: Stuart Holden for Charlie Davis was probably warranted. But Kyle Beckerman for Benny Feilhaber? Bob Bradley is playing for a place in the World Cup not another Gold Cup ring. Francisco Torres finally played about 10 minutes and almost scored a goal.

Grade C +:
Kyle Beckerman is a lightweight. A firm second stringer. He does not belong in the MNT. On the other hand, Stuart Holden continues to impress and he is an actual winger unlike Dempsey.

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4 comments on “The morning after: The US needs to lift its possession game
  1. Generally, your comments are right on. My friends and I agree that we need to hold more possession but Clark is not the answer. He can tackle OK but no first touch and can’t pass for crap. Bradley is a better option than he. The best bet appears to be Jermaine Jones. If he can integrate into the squad, get healthy, he has the most potential I would think to help solidify the holding midfield slot and free up Feilhaber, or perhaps Bradley, for a more attacking role.

  2. KevNYC
    The USA’s problem is that they do not have a genuine holding midfielder at present. Its a makeshift role for both Bradley and Feilhaber. I agree, Jones is probably the best bet but he has injury concerns. But this lack of possession is not due to one position, it is a tactical weakness that the US team needs to address on the whole. The US is very good at converting its shot on goal opportunities but they need to get smart with ball control.

  3. Thanks Kev, glad you enjoy the blog. How about that Ricardo Clark? Showed some goalscoring ability against T&T!

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