June 21, 2014


USA - Portugal Preview: Why the Americans Should Play Ugly (Again) to Record (Another) Sweet Win : Sometimes to win the beautiful game you have to play without beauty. (Kevin Alexander, New Republic)

With Jozy Altidore nursing his strained hamstring, and neither Aron Johannsson or Chris Wondolowski the same type of strong target player, Jurgen Klinsmann should opt for the 4-2-3-1, with Clint Dempsey as the lone striker, a combination of Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, Graham Zusi, or Brad Davis as the middies, plus Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, and the starting D, which hopefully includes a healthy Matt Besler. In that formation, there are six people sitting back and annoying Ronaldo, who will constantly be marked by either Beckerman or Jones, plus a fullback. Deprived of the counter-attack, Portugal would be forced to try and beat the US with balls played in from the wings--and here's where they really will feel Coentrao's absence. Plus, Ronaldo and co. just hate it when teams playing defense minded, pragmatic, soccer against them. It's almost an affront to the honor that should be playing Portugal. "Come out and attack us like men," you can imagine them shouting, as the Americans park the bus in front of Ronaldo's Ferrari.

Aside from frustrating Portugal, this formation would have the US looking for its chances on set pieces and any time it can work the ball out to Zusi and (ideally) Davis to whip crosses into the box for Dempsey, Bradley, and anyone else who's made a run forward--while, by Moses, being sure to hold solid numbers back in order to keep the Portuguese counter cut off. The resulting game could well be low-scoring, and it would certainly not be the prettiest soccer, but it's the smartest play when you match the US skill set against Portugal's.

...the same strategy will work against them.
Posted by at June 21, 2014 12:59 PM

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