May 30, 2012, 10:38 PM EDT
- Where the big problem on the U.S. back line lies now
Remember when we all sat around straining our brains to fix the gaping hole along the back line, the one at left back? Timmy Chandler came along … and then dumped us like a cheating girlfriend. No matter, though, because Fabian Johnson rode in to the timely rescue. The Hoffenheim man has little wrong over two matches, strong in one-on-one defending, reasonably well positioned, troublesome on the attack, etc.
But there’s still a bugger of a problem back there; the trouble spot just shifted into the middle.
I’ve already written the early, brutal details about Oguchi Onyewu’s night to forget. He was a little better in the second half … until the moment when he was late stepping forward, leaving Tim Howard stranded to stop an unchallenged shot that turned into No. 4.
Carlos Bocanegra still has something to offer, but his speed will become an increasingly liability unless Jurgen Klinsmann can find a quality partner to situate alongside him, one with a little more speed. Maybe it’s Clarence Goodson. Or maybe it can be Cameron with a little more top-level experience.
Either way, the case is being built that it just isn’t Onyewu.
- The imperfect midfield fix
The United States still has spots that are weak and vulnerable. Center back is not the only one.
The midfield mix was good enough against Scotland, but suffered severely Wednesday. Much of the trouble can be traced to Jermaine Jones, who lost too many balls, took way too long to catch the pace of the game (much faster than Saturdays) and wasn’t in the right spots, providing the requisite cover at the moments his team needed it most.
Meanwhile, Michael Bradley had another strong match. Mostly, at any rate.
There are times when Bradley didn’t move out of the center channel to pressure (or better yet, forcefully eliminate) a Brazilian advance. It underscores a point I think we’re all learning: he’s not a defensive midfielder. Not that he can’t be serviceable there, but it’s not Bradley’s ideal positioning.
Bradley has evolved into a two-way man, and a darn good one. I know the Jose Torres backers may take issue, but Bradley is the best passer on the U.S. team. His ball into Fabian Johnson to start the U.S. goal was pinpoint perfect. Looking back over his body of work in the U.S. shirt, who can deny what he offers going forward, in arranging goals and scoring them?
The three-man arrangement looked better Saturday when Edu was the holding screener and Bradley’s starting positions were higher up the field. (Wednesday, Edu and Jones played ahead of Bradley in the triangle.)
- Too much whining, not enough “getting on with it.”
The United States looked a little undone by the early penalty kick decision. Good call or bad, they have to get past it.
Landon Donovan was complaining too much, throwing his arms around when he needed total focus on that bunch of yellow wizards. He must have thought he was back in the L.A. Galaxy uniform; they do a lot of that stuff.
Donovan struggled to get anything going against Marcelo, among the globe’s top left backs, so some frustration may be understandable. Then again, as the most experienced U.S. man, he’s got to provide a better example.
Jones kicked into his bad old habit of lashing out temperamentally, crunching Neymar along the sideline.
Bradley has trimmed that petulant element from his game, and thankfully so. Jones, 30, may be what he is, unable to turn that stuff off at this point. It’s another reason Klinsmann would do well to keep looking for a third central midfielder.
Bottom line: this is big boy soccer, and the stakes will rise dramatically in just over a week. Things won’t always go the U.S. way, and they just have to get on with it.
Aug 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Neymar could be a stunt double for Limerick’s Barry Cotter.
Aug 27, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT
UCL draw hands two PL teams favorable groups. As for the other two… woof.
Aug 27, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT
Argentine superstar picks up second UEFA Best Player award after stunning treble-winning season.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:42 PM EDT
The stars will be out in force as heavyweights collide at the first hurdle.
Aug 27, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Experienced center backs both missed Liverpool game through injury. Will they return this weekend?
Aug 27, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT
All the latest gossip from around the PL.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT
Super Mario knows he is running out of chances to salvage his career.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Gunners boss says he will be available “24 hours” as Deadline Day approaches.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:28 AM EDT
Back in black, the Red Devils have a snazzy new jersey for their UCL games this season.
Aug 27, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Have City given up on signing KDB this summer?
Aug 26, 2015, 10:03 PM EDT
Three matches certainly don’t tell the tale of an entire season, but it’s a decent length chapter in the story of the 2015-16 Premier League.
Aug 26, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT
Martinez wants Stones to stay, and says chairman Bill Kenwight isn’t going to cash in this late in the window.
Aug 26, 2015, 7:56 PM EDT
The Times’ Chief Football Correspondant Oliver Kay says the move should be done soon, and for less than $90 million.
Aug 26, 2015, 7:07 PM EDT
Forget the weaker opposition for a second, and enjoy that the 18-year-old Zelalem was dynamite.
Aug 26, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT
A retooled group stage draw could provide some incredibly high-profile groups for this season’s UEFA Champions League.
Aug 26, 2015, 5:23 PM EDT
“He has the best mentality that you can imagine,” Van Gaal said of his star striker.
Aug 26, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT
Rog and Davo break down Chelsea’s first win of the season, Manchester City’s perfect start and a red carpet MLS affair between LA Galaxy and NYCFC.
Aug 26, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT
Your final 32 teams in the 2016 UEFA Champions League have been determined after Wednesday’s five second legs, and Manchester United is in.
Aug 26, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT
The aggregate final was 7-1. Ander Herrera also scored for the Premier League side.
Aug 26, 2015, 3:52 PM EDT
He’d later add a second, with help from Ander Herrera. Here’s Rooney’s first goal in 10 matches for United.
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