May 30, 2010

CUT AND THRUST:

Defensive Concerns Remain as U.S. Team Heads to South Africa (JERÉ LONGMAN, May 30, 2010, NY Times)

On Saturday, Torres brought vitality to the American attack in the second half but also played insistently on defense, which has been a liability that has limited his playing time. He said he had been watching videos of Michael Bradley to hone his commitment to defense.

“I think I’ve matured pretty well,” Torres said. “Everything I’ve learned, I take it to the field. These past few days, I’ve been watching videos on how to defend a little more and close the gaps. Usually, I would just defend one man, and the other one I would leave him. Now I’m watching my back, trying to close the gaps, trying to get the ball.”

Also coming on at halftime at forward was Robbie Findley, who impressed with his speed, mobility and passing. He has struggled to score early in the Major League Soccer season with Real Salt Lake and was a surprise choice for the World Cup roster. But Bradley hopes that Findley can help fill a void left by the absence of Charlie Davies, putting defenses on their heels, opening space for himself and creating channels for Donovan and Dempsey to operate from the wings.

“Robbie’s been fantastic,” Howard said. “His touches are tidy. There was one play where he tracked all the way back and broke up a play; it’s easy to let someone else do that. He’s got pace. He can jump for a guy who’s not that big. He causes center backs problems. His touches haven’t been getting away from him. He’s a really good X factor to have.”

Dempsey opened Saturday’s match at forward, but the ball seemed to get caught in his legs a couple of times. He played more effectively in the second half on the left side of midfield, scoring the winning goal. As Turkey’s defense was stretched by Torres and Findley, Donovan also found more room on the right side, where he played over the winter for Everton in the English Premier League.


If Torres and Holden kept a commitment to defense, in addition to their playmaking ability, the side could be even better than they were last year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2010 6:27 PM
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