U.S vs. El Salvador
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Sep. 5, 2009 @ 6 p.m. MT
ESPN Classic, TeleFutura
It has gotten a wee bit crowded at the top. Three points separate the Ticos from El Tri and in between, sit the US and Honduras. A win at Sandy will make for some breathing room.
The US are without Oguchi Onyewu and Jay De Merit which means that Bob Bradley will start Chad Marshall. He will partner Carlos Bocanegra at the center while the full back positions go to Steve Cherundolo and Jonathan Spector.
The defensive unit will take on the responsibility of stopping El Salvador's fast counterattacks. Last time around, the match ended 2-2 with the US coming back from a two goal deficit. Frankie Hejduk had a monster game floating in the cross from which Altidore scored the first goal and then becoming a goal scorer with the second, as the US earned a draw.
The US problem against quality opposition has been ball possession and control. Too many stray passes and less time spent in interlinking plays and build ups have led to other teams coming back even as the US has had the luxury of scoring first. El Salvador does not provide that sort of opposition but it is a good point to note because this match will see a fast counterattacking style from both teams with Landon Donovan and Charlie Davis providing the zip. The US plays with two men on top but with Dempsey it almost feels like a 4-3-3.
There are some options in midfield. Bob Bradley will start Michael Bradley but he might want to sub him with Ricardo Clark as a pacesetter to slow down the game and retain the ball. The other possibility is to hold back Benny Feilhaber as a substitute to elevate the game with his energy should the US lag in creativity and goal scoring opportunities. He could also prove decisive in a situation where the Salvadorians create a logjam, which is a real possibility.
The US needs to be careful about midfielder Osael Romero who was in very good nick at the Gold Cup and Eliseo Quintanilla. The defense has Alfredo Pacheco of Red Bulls, their free kick specialist and a very good goalkeeper in Miguel Montes who will have to be at his best this evening.
This is what El Salvador is up against. At home against them, the U.S. is 10-0-2 dating back to 1977. In the latest five meetings on home soil, the U.S. has recorded five consecutive shutout victories with 14 goals scored.
I don't see that changing. A 2-0 win is my prediction. Charlie Davis will keep up his blistering Sochaux debut.
Costa Rica and Mexico have a huge game and at the end of the day the Hexagonal could see dramatic changes in its positions.