The Foreign Review: USA v Arg. & Par.

Juan-Agudelo-300x204

You keep smiling boy. You are good.

3 Quick Points:

  1. I apologize for both of our lack of posts, Biggy is incredibly busy with work, and I’m trying to graduate sometime in the next century so I put the site on hold for a while.
  2. I realize I’m not really all that foreign… having been born in Biggy’s favored US of A, but I have no emotional investment in the well being of the USMNT, and I hold a foreign passport… so for the sake of the argument, I maintain my foreign-ness.
  3. Even though we aren’t posting, we are very active on Twitter, and can be really entertaining, though Biggy has used it to push his techno music love more than anything recently.

Now onto the meat of the post.

Agudelo is going to be better than Altidore and Davies combined. He is the smartest striker the US has seen since McBride, has a presence well beyond his years, and his composure, even against a team as talented as Argentina, is second to none on the USMNT.

Random Agudelo outburst aside, Argentina’s dominance in the first half isn’t even a debatable topic. They looked like Barcelona playing a Sunday-league team from the Bay Area. Messi was dancing through defenders like they were standing still, and the weak point of Argentina’s squad, their defense, never had to actually defend. I haven’t looked at the stats, but I would not be surprised if Argentina had over 75% of the possession in the first period of the game.

The second half was an entirely different story. The introduction of a second striker to clean up what was a confused and hectic center of midfield, as well as a right back actually capable of keeping pace with the likes of Di Maria inspired a respectable USMNT comeback. I firmly believe that the US actually dominated the bulk of the second half, with a few defensive miscues that Argentina probably should have converted. The biggest difference maker was the man between the sticks, Timmy Howard. I can’t remember a performance more remarkable than his show against Argentina, making no less than three remarkable saves against Messi, as well as multiple more against the rest of the Argentina contingent.

The main notes that came out of the Argentina game are these:

  • Bob Bradley needs to make his initial lineup, then think about how he would change it if they were losing, and then scrap his initial plan and START with the players he SUBBED on at the half. Bob tends to always favor the conservative, but when you know a team has a week defense, and you decide to play one striker against them, you will not succeed.
  • On the striker note, Altidore has no idea what he is doing as a lone striker. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that at some point before, but he looks lost, always tries to attack if he gets the ball, and gets frustrated. He doesn’t know hold-up play at all, and simply is crafty or fast enough to take on an entire defense on his own. He is a remarkable player, but not by himself.
  • Agudelo, on the other hand, could potentially play as a lone striker (though I realize he is lacking some of the size). He has the mentality of a seasoned veteran, and it was the most refreshing thing to watch when he came on and settled the attack down, keeping possession and capping it by scoring a well taken opportunity without having the jitters of a typical 18 year old in his situation.
  • Chandler, who I didn’t even know existed, is really good.
  • Spector can’t play defense.
  • The most atrocious aspect of the game was the pitch. I’m not sure what it was that was wrong with it, but the ball couldn’t bounce, everything was slow, and everyone was falling over on it. Why they decide to play on these pitches is beyond me, when you bring a major soccer nation to play you, please make sure the pitch is of a respectable nature.

Then the Paraguay game begins, and Bob finally found his balls. Two strikers from the get go, and a defense that might actually be able to contain quick players.

Unfortunately, the poor possession game that plagued them in the Argentina game for the first half returned, though not to such an extreme nature. The biggest issue with Bradley’s tactics seems to be that they change so drastically every game. Even after fielding a side similar to the second half against Argentina, the squad opted to play a flanking outside back style, which certainly wasn’t how they approached the second half against Arg (most likely out of fear that Di Maria would torch them down the left).

While unfortunate to be trailing, the USMNT struggled to make chances in the first half, particularly near the Paraguay goal, as the best opportunity was a speculative, yet impressive, 30 yd hit from Dempsey. Paraguay played a very aggressive style early on, which tends to fluster Altidore, despite his typical size advantage. Jozy’s one goal in Turkey, besides seeing the pitch more, should be to learn to play a big-man game, body up people and attack their size, not their speed. He showed glimpses of this before the World Cup last year, but has seemed to regress into a softer style (which could be due to a complete lack of playing time).

Second Half Notes:

  • Tim Ream is rather impressive. Chandler and Ream could be set for some long USMNT careers.
  • Dempsey seems to try to do too much while playing for the National Team. I never see him try as many tricks in Fulham games as he attempts to pull against other National squads.
  • Jermaine Jones shouldn’t wear #13…. every time I see him I think its Rico Clark.
  • Agudelo is way too good to be 18. I’m calling a Little League World Series situation on this one, show me his birth certificate.
  • Bad Decision Bob made the only decision I wanted him to make! He actually took off Altidore and allowed Agudelo to play as a single striker, which both myself and our friends over at TSG wanted to see.
  • Paraguay doesn’t offer much of an attacking threat except from set pieces.
  • American Outlaws finally got a shout out on FSC!
  • The Dirty Mustache made an appearance. Proof that Bob Bradley is still half-retarded.
  • Kyle Martino doesn’t know the difference between a fingertip and a palm…
  • Agudelo is really, really good.

Overall, the US has some promising youth, but struggle to prove that Bob Bradley is capable of making great decisions before the games begin.