Concacaf Seminfinal #1: USA vs Costa Rica

A foreshadowing of the bigger match to come.

An opportunity for the USMNT redeem themselves from past performances

A moment when the defense as will have to be near perfect.

A loss here would hurt everyone: fans, players, coaches and federation.

A win would inspire everyone and build confidence going into the final as well as into the final leg of WCQ road to Russia.

Formation:4-2-3-1

Expect a conservative defense:

Zusi, Bessler, Villafana and possibly Miazga(if not Gonzalez).

Midfield:

Bradley, nagbe, zardes(if he is not exhausted),McCarty, Agudelo(probably default to Dempsey),

Forwards

Morris or Altidore

The all or nothing approach 4-4-2

same defense

Midfield:

Bradley, Nagbe , zardes, Agudelo

Forwards:

Altidore and Morris

 

3 Goals needed & a clean sheet

Everyone is talking about the disappointing performances of the USMNT.   The third game has not even started and the are rumors about who will be the reinforcements called in.  The fans and the media seem to not listen to words of the coach which put more emphasis on the players peedormaces rather than getting the win.  Instead, they are driven by the love of competition and seeing their team come back victorious.

As the USMNT prepare for the last game against Nicaragua, they should forget that the team needs 3 unanswered goals to clinch 1st place in Group B(thanks to panama defeating Martinique 3-0 earlier today.  They should instead realize that worse case scenario they are going to face Costa Rica in the quaterginals rather than the semi finals.  If they desperately try to score goals, they might make themselves vulnerable.   The mindset should be to keep a clean sheet, own the tempo and the possession.  If this is accomplished the goals will follow.

We should also see how the presence Corona, Rowe, Pontius and Miazga affects the game.  Some have showed well.  Some have showed not so well and some haven’t had the opportunity to show as at all.

Let see how things play out.

 

cheers,

robert

 

Way closer than it should have been. USA 3 – Les Matininos 2

Another case of the second half defensive blues. How difficult is it to hold onto a lead? For the USMNT, the answer is very difficult.

As upsetting, frustrating and concerning as this is, we cannot dwell on it too much.  Being that this is a young roster that has limited experience both at the international level and as team.  I’m not happy but I am not shocked.  This has been a recurring trend as long as I have followed the USMNT.  It seems more psychological than anything else(this is where grit especially the kind of grit that comes from experience  is worth more than gold).  It seems that when the USMNT players realize that their opponents are going to step it up a notch, they become well too self aware and fall back on a conservative almost fear driven style of defending.  You can see this by how they give up a lot of space in their own final 3rd and how they are unable to put pressure on the opponents 1v1.  This is where leadership and composure are essential.  And it seems that we lack that at moment, maybe more than we have lacked it in the past. Is it concerning?  YES, but this is part of the process for young players.  This is how they grow as individuals and as players.  You have to make mistakes in order to realize where improvement is essential.  Let’s move on.

As coach Arena has mentioned, he is more concerned with the individual performance than the team performance(regarding the Gold Cup). Looking past the above noted issue, what did we learn? In a nutshell, many of the players are not at World Cup caliber yet(sad face).

Zardes had his best performance so far. Even though he had a great assist to give us the victory, it seems he still needs to be sharper in order to regain his best form. He should get another start.
Morris saved us. He scored (2) goals. Yet I am still not convinced. His effort has always been admirable. When relying on his speed(at this level), he will give most defense a lot of trouble. But he needs more versatility and better awareness/vision. The good thing is that the drive is there, yet he will only grow so much if he stays in the MLS. He also deserves another start.
Agudelo to me impressed me the most(I am very biased here). His effort and finesse was the best so far(at least when compared to Coronas performance against Panama). His distribution was solid and he was always looking for a way to breakdown the defense to then create a passing lane for his teammates. I believe that if other players would have capitalized on their chances, he could have had 3 assists. Sadly, i am not sure that this is his best role for the USMNT, and I am not sure if is good enough for the WC. I hope he gets an opportunity (under this formation) with Dom Dwyer in front of him and possibly Kellyn Rowe to his right side.
Acosta Acosta Acosta. He is 21 years old. He needs time. He is not a leader and still needs to grow in order to command a game like this(at the international level). Even though he did not have a good night, he needs to keep on getting playing time(preferably with Bedoya or another veteran player by his side). I think he will get there. We need to be patient on this one and keep our expectations in check.
Lichay did better than Morrow, but unfortunately they are not the type of defenders that can make the runs time and time again in a threatening manner. I believe Lichay can challenge Zusi for his spot and deserves another look.
Roldan, Hedges and Arriola are still young and need to grow. Hedges would benefit from time in Europe he needs to face stronger opponents.
Gonzalez scored a goal, but I do not think he commanded the defense well(that why he was there to provide leadership and stability). I believe he shares responsibility in the first goal. Giving up a 2nd goal after a 2-0 lead in such a quick time frame did not help either. He has a spot for now, but I think he needs to be more assertive otherwise he might give reason to look at the long list of center backs looking for an opportunity.
Guzan gave a goal(another sad face). I am not really sure what happened. I don’t think he is really sure what happened. Despite that, he was solid and if it were for some of his great saves we could have lost the match.

Lastly, you have to give credit to Martinique(they made this game entertaining and exciting). They fought hard and never gave up. Although it is easy to take them for granted, they showed that they have enough skill to do well in tournaments such as these. I wonder how long they can keep of this momentum?? I am definitely routing for them as this years cinderella story, and curious if they can pull off an upset/tie Panama in a few days.

In the end, we got the victory. We did not get the clean sheet nor the goal differential(which might come back to hunt us).
USMNT are back in first place(4Pts) as they head into the last game of the group stage against the struggling Nicaragua Saturday July 15th 7pm EST/4PM PST(FXX, Univision, UDN).
More details on this game tomorrow.

Cheers,
Robert

Gold Cup Game #2: USA vs Martinique

Tonight it’s about redemption of character.  The players of the USMNT  have an opportunity to prove that they are  2018 World Cup caliber.  A win is must as is a clean sheet and multiple goals(more than 3).  The talent is there.  The question at hand is the desire there? And, is the chemistry there?

The opponent is a team from Martinique (a tiny is island in the Caribbean).  Les Matinino as their called are looking to fulfill this years cinderalla story(just like Jamaica did in 2015).  Most of their players play for the local islands major clubs: Club Franciscain, Club Colonial and Golden Lion.   Although a handful of their players play internationally( 1 MLS, 1 in Poland, 2 in France), they lack experience at this level, but are riding high in confidence as they upset Nicaragua 2-0, and now sit at the top of the table with 3 points.  We can expect them to be cautious as they play in a defensive style looking for a tie and possibly capitalizing on quick counter attacks.  Having said that they have nothing to loose.  As team they are inconsistent.  Conceding an early goal will definitely put more pressure on them and could open more scoring opportunities for the USMNT. ** An interesting note about the roster of Les Matininos is that the coach has called up mostly the local players rather than opting for some of the players that are currently tied to clubs in France and else where in Europe.  ***

At this point it is hard to tell how coach Arena is going to approach the starting lineup.  It could be a complete new squad to provide rest his players from the Panama match.  He could also keep some of the players that he thinks need the experience as well as opportunity to redeem themselves.  Hard to tell.

Goalies:

Brad Guzman should get the start

Defense:

Option 1.  Keep the same squad

Option 2. Switch out at least 1 central defender and 1 outside defender.

first in line I believe is Matt Hedges for Omar Gonzalez and possibly Justin Morrow for Villafana(even though I believe he has shown well and had succes when moving forward and attacking)

or

Matt Miazga for Bessler and Eric Lichay for Zusi.  **I would like to see Lichay.**

Option 3:

a whole new back line:  Morrow, Miazga, Hedges, Lichay

Overall, I’m not worried with any and all combinations.

Midfield:

I believe it is a good opportunity to start Zardes and Arriola on the outside.

The question is do we keep Acosta and McCarty as a pair or do we bring fresh legs(Roldan). If we bring in Roldan, do we pair him with someone with more experience like Bedoya or do we keep either Acosta or McCarty?  I think Acosta needs the experience but not sure who the proper pairing would be?

Forwards:

We could mix it up by bringing fresh legs in Agudelo and Morris.

Having said that, Dwyer has 2 goals in 2 games and he is playing in front of his college hometown.  So, do we keep him and give Corona another chance or do we go with Agudelo who showed better against Panama?

too many possibilities.

Tune-in and find out Wednesday July 12, 2017. 9PM EST/6PM PST FS1,Unimas, UDN.

Cheers,

Robert

PODCAST: USA vs Panama Postgame Analysis & Predictions for match against Martinique

First time in history that USMNT has not won its opening Gold Cup match.  Luckily it was a draw and not a loss.  Join Robert and the Professor as they look at the disappointing performance against Panama, and as they predict the changes that need to happen as the USMNT prepares for its second match against group leaders Martinique(Wednesday 6PM PST, FS1, Unimas, UDN).

Cheers,

Robert

 

PODCAST: USA vs Ghana Post Game & Look Ahead at the Gold Cup Opening Match USA vs Panama

Join Robert & the Professor as they look at what was learned from the Ghana friendly, and what to expect as the USMNT takes on Panama on their opening match of the Gold Cup 2017 this Saturday 1:30pm in Nashville(FOX, Univision, UDN).

Cheers,

Robert