Monday, November 19, 2007

The Nelson Mandela Challenge champions!

Well, the nats got the victory in South Africa, and, considering the altitude and the youth in the lineup, that is the most important thing. Plus, I think we affirmatively learned some things from this game, and that is another good reason for playing friendlies. But, alas, the video from this game will certainly not be packaged and sold to fans as a banner moment from our nation’s efforts at the beautiful game.

The good:
-As stated before on Balompie, we love Cherundolo!
-The starting backline looked very solid, against some decent strikers. Even, I admit, Gooch. I think Pearce was even solid (though his weak points seem to be in getting forward and in playing the ball out of the back).
-I think Edu had a good game. Hard to believe this was his second cap. Great assist to boot.
-The homophonous Adu wasn’t great, but showed signs. And those signs are tantalizing. I say keep playing him.

The bad:
-Whither DMB?
-Oh, Benny, we hardly knew ye! Everyone say it together: Feilhaber is not now and looks never to be a viable option for right midfielder.

The ugly:
-Okay, against both Switzerland and South Africa, our midfield was broken. I mean that we had extreme difficulty in maintaining any meaningful possession. We have been able to put together good flashes of attacking soccer, but nothing sustained. This needs to be addressed. Without it, our forwards are stranded. Dempsey was adrift against South Africa. (And think back to the Switzerland game before Adu came in.) If you’re going to play Feilhaber, he has to be in the middle. But given his lack of any playing time at Derby County (which is confoundingly shocking at cellar-dwelling Derby — a separate issue), I don’t think he should be starting. Together, Edu and Bradley just don’t cut it as far as composure or possession is concerned. Maybe Rico Clark should be an option in the middle.

Other thoughts: Might it be time to bring Dempsey back into the midfield fold? Or, maybe give Landon another shot in the center? In what other ways might we produce a lineup with better linkage from back to front? With a healthy Ching, (or Kenny Cooper anyone?), I think I’d like to try Dempsey back at right MF, and Landon in the center. (Throw Adu or Jozy up top with the target man.) Beasley is a lock on the left. And then take your pick for another MF—Bradley, Edu, Mastreoni. I think that gives us a dynamic MF that might do a better job of holding the ball and building dangerous and diversified attacks. Thoughts?

1 comment:

Slurpo-san said...

I'm pretty sure Adu, not Edu, got the least that's what I remember, but I could be wrong.

other thoughts-
1) egad, we were a disaster in the MF and couldn't maintan any semblance of possession. I still believe that Bradley-Feilhaber is our best central MF combo and it should be obvious to all that Benny is wasted on the wings
2) I still like Dempsey roaming up front, but he needs (!!!) to be paired with a legit target man (Ching, Cooper, etc...). That would allow Deuce to run at the defense, rather than trying to hold the ball until support arrives, which is clearly not his strength. So, not necessarily time to can the Striker Deuce experiment, but we have to do it the right way if we're going to do it.
3) Fabulous finish by Cherundolo and great to see a back getting forward.
4) Very disappointed that Bradley didn't leave Adu and Altidore out there for at least 25 minutes together to see if they could spark anything. Of course, by that point our MF was in shambles and we were reduced to playing long balls just to get ball out of danger, so maybe they wouldn't have seen enough of the ball to link up, but it would have been nice to get them a shot.
5) the lack of cohesion in the MF made even a weak team like SA look dangerous in attack--I hate when teams go up 1-0 and then bunker down to weather the storm. Actually, I can't decide whether we bunkered down and waited, or whether it looked that way b/c the MF stunk or some combo of both. Either way, getting the early lead and then playing not to lose is not a good strategy on the int'l level..