A sharpshooting contest which Jozy Altidore wins with some sweet stuff. Steve Cherundolo is hard done by poor service in the end. The clip shows Altidore really relaxed with his infectious personality coming through.
The US meets Slovakia for the first time. Bob Bradley has some serious questions up front with Charlie Davies out.
Who will partner Altidore? Bradley has called up a pair of players with huge promise who have yet to deliver. For all their hype, Jeff Cunningham and Eddie Johnson’s national careers have been dogged by underwhelming performances and attitude problems.
Conor Casey’s brace against Honduras gives him plenty of cache but like Altidore, he is reliant on service to score goals, lacking that creativity. Eddie Johnson also is a straight to the goal type of striker.
That leaves Cunningham. I know, I know. He tends to be a little Napoleonic. But he is a fantastic assist man in addition to being a goal scoring threat. If you look at England’s plethora of goals scored in the qualifiers, it has been pulled of in no small part by Wayne Rooney’s immense contribution as an assist leader. He makes Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch look threatening. Bradley should seriously consider starting Cunningham just behind Altidore for that reason alone.
The Slovaks play a 4-5-1 with a huge emphasis on midfield control. They do not score too many goals and if one takes away the group abuse of San Marino in the WC qualifiers, then the situation becomes even more dire.
They also tend to give away goals, mostly to Slovenia. Who as it turns out should have actually qualified for SA in all fairness but are to set to play Russia in the playoffs for the last four European spots. Thanks to an own goal by Seweryn Gancarczyk, now a hero in Slovakia. Slovakia was able to overcome Poland. Jerzy Dudek was in goal. Need I say more? The dude man was always going to make things interesting.
Their goalie Jan Mucha has been a big factor in their first ever WC qualification while veteran Misoslav Karahan and increasingly Zdeno Štrba, perform holding duties. In attack Napoli’s Marek Hamsek shows plenty of promise as the midfield spark. Robert Vittek, their main target man has been quiet so far but Vfl Bochum’s Stanislav Sestak has picked up the slack with six goals in six games.
Slovakia seem vulnerable to counterattacks and the USA with its speed should be able to overcome the back four led by Peter Pekarik, Martin Skrtel, Marek Cech, and Jan Durica. Like most other Eastern European teams, Slovakia play a very physical game and have already accumulated a number of yellow cards. This is a friendly but look for a tough tackling match.
The USA will do well to remember that Slovakia managed to overcome the Czech Republic and Poland in their group and qualify for the first time. They stuck it out.