June 17, 2009


Italy loss demonstrates U.S. Soccer's lack of progress (Jim Nguyen, June 17, 2009, Fox Sports)

The U.S. Men's national team came into the Confederations Cup with hopes that the tough competition would give them a barometer of how the team measures up.

And the initial impressions are not too good.

The U.S. lost to Italy 3-1 on Monday, and although the scoreline is a bit unfair to the Americans, the loss clearly demonstrates that the U.S. has a long way to go to be a player on the big international stage.

Folks looking for excuses could find plenty of reasonsd to feel the US was hard done by: the red card for Ricardo Clark came for a mere kick in the knee and his first foul of the game; it was followed by an elbow to the jaw of Landon Donovan that didn't draw a red; nor did the foul on Jozy Altidore in the box; and there wasn't even a foul called on the Italian who went over Donovan's back in the box.

That said though, it was the coaching that was costly. It was nice to see Bob Bradley start Feilhaber, but he shoved him out wide and played Clark in the middle. It was no coincidence that the US goal came after Clark was sent off and Feilhaber was playing more centrally, setting up Altidore. then, as the lead slipped away, he took off Altidore and Feilhaber--our entire offense--and brought in Davies and Beazley who were dire.

And it wasn't just the formation that was a problem, but Bradley's "tactics." Not having our defenders cover the ball until it's in deep is insane. Bad enough when you leave them free to pass at will but on the first two goals Jay Demerit actually moved out of the shooter's way instead of trying to block the kick. Goalies always want a clear view of the shooter, but the danger of their being screened on occassion is not worth giving up the chance to keep the shot off net entirely. Once the Italians realized they could shoot unimpeded from 25 yards out the game was over.

And the final really noticable problem is the pretense that Landon Donovan is our best player. Donovan is a perfectly competent taker of penalty kicks. And if you want to honor his service to the squad by letting him take them, so be it. But he's godawful on free kicks, which means we're wasting way too many set piece opportunities.

How about playing a 4-3-1-2 the rest of the Tournament:





And attacking the ball when the opponent has it for cripes sake....

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2009 8:57 AM
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