sabato 30 marzo 2013

Can Sporting's back line keep Di Vaio out of the game?

“Arguably, they’re the best team in the league at the moment,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said about Montreal Impact. Whereas there is an opportunity that Montreal will drop ten guys within 30 yards of their goal, such as Chicago Fire did,  albeit midfielder Graham Zusi “don’t think it’s their style really to sit back,” the question is: can KC's defense control Marco Di Vaio? Sit down and play counterattack toward Di Vaio was a key of  Montreal Impact 4-0-0 stretchKC’s defense has back on track  to become Sporting’s strength after a very slow start, shutting out both Chicago Fire and New England Revolution. Against Fire, KC did not allow a single shot on target for the seventh time in club history. That back four should see the come back of  MLS 2012 Defender of the Year center back Matt Besler, that went  from a big performance with USMNT. They are hoping right back Chance Myers too could return as well, after a leg injury, though newcomer Mechack Jerome played a solid game in place of Myers. On the other full-back spot is Seth Sinovic, a solid defender also good going forward. The Aurelien Collin-Matt Besler central duo is one of best central pairing on the whole MLS. How this bunch can contain Di Vaio? Impact No.1 threat plays around the offside line. He's been called for offside 16 times through the first four games of this season. So, specially if Pete Vermes’ thoughts will be to play an offensive oriented game, KC’s defensive line will have to pay attention playing high up, in the way to chase Di Vaio. Playing 2vs1 in the middle, Besler and Collin will have to cover Di Vaio in advance with one of them, preventing him from get balls, while the other center back will have to cover the deepth. When the ball will be lost in attack, if Sporting’s first line will be not able to gain back possession quickly, defensive line will have to read the situation and react immediately, collapsing back as soon as possible in the way to avoid long and dangerous balls on its back for Di Vaio.

giovedì 28 marzo 2013

Dynamic duo

                       With veterans Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra, two centrepieces of the U.S. defense
for a long time, both out, and with Clarence Goodson off with a strained hamstring, Jurgen Klinsmann, using his different 25th lineup in 25 matches as U.S. coach, gambled by starting Matt Besler, who had played only one game for the USMNT, pairing him with Omar Gonzalez. The move paid off. They proved criticism before the game about how they were too young were wrong.  Both got tested and was connected and committed.
And Klinsmann echoed that "The guys were outstanding," Klinsmann said. "Our back line, you know, many said they were inexperienced. They deserve a huge compliment..." Besler and Omar Gonzalez -- two Major League Soccer defenders of the year --  are Major League Soccer’s products, with Besler playing with Sporting Kansas City and Gonzalez with Los Angeles Galaxy. They anchored a back line that suffered on the flanks, with DaMarcus Beasley that struggled at left back while Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez often tracked back to became fifth defenders. It’s far from say that they could handle anything next future or that U.S. back line solved its lacks but their defensive effort earned them a high grade. Besler and Gonzalez helped keeper Brad Guzan to secure his second clean sheet in two games and spurned Mexican trio of Javier Hernandez, Javier Aquino and Jesus Zavala. In the right place at the right time, Gonzalez did his job in the middle of the U.S. defensive package, cleaning the box both in the air and on the ground and leading an organized team from the back. He performed well covering his zone in tandem with Besler in the first serious game of his young USMNT career. Besler looked comfortable stepping in after Goodson went out wih his injury and built off a great display  in the shutout. He was able to read the game, defending like a veteran. He stayed active despite an early yellow card for a tactical foul on Giovanni Dos Santos and despite the task to deal with  Hernández and provided a pivotal block on a Carlos Salcido shot in the 69th minute. Besler and Gonzalez showed U.S. have depth behind Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, and Goodson.

mercoledì 27 marzo 2013

It could be done

The USA held Mexico to a 0-0 tie and get away a big point that ended a poor track record there. The tie moved the U.S. (1-1-1) into third place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying even with a depleted roster lacking of nine starters.With midfielder Jermaine Jones already off due to an ankle injury, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had to made another change when Clarence Goodson too were unavailable due to a hamstring injury. German coach opted to put on the field a very young central defensive duo pairing Matt Besler to Omar Gonzalez. They both came from MLS as Besler is playing with Sporting Kansas City and Gonzalez with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Gonzalez and Besler, which recorded a total of six caps combined before the game, looked well anchoring a U.S. back line that showed weakness on the flanks, specially on the left, where veteran DaMarcus Beasley had troubles chasing the line. With Mexicans trying to break through from the wings during the match, a much better work was done by Geoff Cameron on the right. Mexico had the edge as they posted a 17-1 shots, but rarely created clear scoring chances. On the other side, the Americans hadn't spells of ball retention, recording just one shot. El Tri put a lot of more pressure during the 15 corner kicks they had but poor execution plagued them also on set pieces situations. Herculez Gomez and Graham Zusi did a big job in the USA half while Michael Bradley provided energy on the middle of the pitch though he blew Americans' best scoring opportunity. Jozy Altidore was decent up top albeit he had no support as Clint Dempsey wasn't effective. The Americans essentially played a defensive oriented game but they have to be happy as they showed a huge amount of attitude and teamwork. 

 Player ratings: (0-10; 10=best)
G Brad Guzan, 7: Another game and another
clean sheet. He showed his usual ability to command the box.

D DaMarcus Beasley, 5: He struggled to cover the flank
and was knocked several times.

D Matt Besler, 7: At just his second cap, he
looked like a veterans, specially in the air. 

D Omar Gonzalez, 7: A big performance. As Besler, Gonzalez disallowed everything Mexico sent his way way both in the air and on the ground.

D Geoff Cameron, 6:
Did his job and was effective defending.

M Michael Bradley, 6,5: Solid defensive performance, good with the ball on his feet but he wasted
Americans’ best chance to score.

M Maurice Edu, 6: Decent defending provide strenght in midfield. Made a dangerous tackle in the penalty area in the 76th minute

M Herculez Gomez, 6: Spent his game time helping Beasley on the flank. Looked comfortable.

M Clint Dempsey, 5: Contributed defensively
but offered little forward.

M Graham Zusi, 6:
Contributed defensively and did it quite well while had not attacking influence.

F Jozy Altidore, 6: Playing as lone forward
he didn't get support so his opportunities were limited.


M Eddie Johnson, 6: Added something offensively.

M Brad Davis, 6: Offered some freshness.

M Brek Shea, 6: Provided energy in the middle.

martedì 26 marzo 2013

USMNT vs Mexico

After the much questioned 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in a blizzard in Denver, USMNT will try to earn its first victory in a qualifying match in Mexico, where the current overall record is 0-13-1. Estadio Azteca maintains its mystique as one of the greatest stadiums in international soccer and the greatest in CONCACAF soccer. The game will be not easy for the United States. After using 24 different lineups in 24 games, coach Jurgen Klinsmann will change again after midfielder Jermaine Jones suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out against the Ticos. In Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, and Joe Corona the German coach has plenty of options to sub Jones but the most probable man to be inserted in the middle of the pitch is Maurice Edu, now playing with Turkey’s Bursaspor. The backline would probably be the same that faced Costa Rica, with Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez as centre-backs, Geoff Cameron at right back, and DaMarcus Beasley at left back. Another option could be to move Edu in the middle of the flat four, pairing him with Goodson and leaving Cameron and Beasley out wide. That could include Beckerman in front of them. A Beckerman- Michael Bradley duo would be able to protect the back line. Both Cameron and Gonzalez had a bad day as central defenders against Honduras and still could have trouble covering Javier Hernández and Andres Guardado. Whatever Klinsmann decides on,  U.S. will have to don't park the bus and to be tactically smart: a win and three points are not a must as a draw could be enough for Klinsmann's side so we could see Bradley, Beckerman, and Edu all toghether in a three man midfield through the game.

sabato 23 marzo 2013

All is well

So, Jurgen Klinsmann's experiment can continue. After a stormy week, in which he also faced a Sporting News report that contained a lot of criticism, attributed to players, about his way to run the program, German coach, under unreal conditions, went off with a needed 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifying match in Commerce City, Colo. to grab his first points of the Hex. The USMNT came to Denver to adapt to the high altitude they will face in Mexico next round and they had much more. They prove their worth and came out with an energized attitude after they showed good determination. There were no much tactical or technical factors to judge in a game where running, passing or tackling were a huge task but still USMNT showed to be able to battle through adversities both on and off field. In the conditions, all they had to do was win and the did it. By the way, this Snow Ball still told us that the central pair of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones could have a future. Clint Dempsey provided the game's lone goal in the 16th minute and well performed up top, such as DaMarcus Beasley did at left back. At the end, USMNT showed a collective display to get the job done. Next USMNT stop will be Mexico where will be no deteriorated field conditions to help them. The United States will face no snow next game against Mexicans.

Player grades: (0-10; 10=best)

G: Brad Guzan, 6 -- Started for the injured Tim Howard, he was solid and made no mistakes under the difficult conditions.

D: DaMarcus Beasley, 7 -- First World Cup qualifier played over three years. He defended well and was also able to push forward. He had 98 touches and completed 58 passes.

D: Clarence Goodson, 7 -- A big effort in a questioned back line. Strength in the air and on the ground.

D: Omar Gonzalez, 6 -- Looked good enough.

D: Geoff Cameron, 6 --  He get his first start at right back, the position he held at Stoke City. He perfomed well enough.

M: Jermaine Jones, 6 -- The German-American was the symbol of the team's division during this week. He was solid, making good decisions and keeping possession.

M: Michael Bradley, 7 -- Anchored USA midfield with a solid performance in the center of the field.

M: Graham Zusi, 6 -- Struggle a bit but still played some nice and quick passes.

M: Clint Dempsey, 7 -- Played effectively as a true captain, scoring the game’s goal. 

M: Herculez Gomez, 6.5 -- He did not blame playing as left wing and helping Beasley on the defensive phase.

F: Jozy Altidore, 6.5 -- Played as a pivot, using effectively his size.

M: Eddie Johnson, 6 -- Some nice touches after he replaced Zusi in 75th minute

M: Maurice Edu, NR -- On the game for Jones in 83rd minute.

M: Kyle Beckerman, NR -- Real Salt Lake midfielder replaced Gomez in the final minutes.

martedì 19 marzo 2013

Chivas USA physical display paid off

The first SuperClasico between Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA finished 1-1 at the Home Depot Center following late goals and a questioned red card. Chivas felt down to 10 men, following Joaquín Velázquez's red card at the end of the first half, after a tackle on Galaxy midfielder Colin Clark. Despite playing with a man edge for 50 minutes, Galaxy failed to create scoring chances --  Jose Villarreal’s crossbar aside -- against a organized Chivas USA defense. LA had the control of the game posting 61.8 to 38.2 in ball possession but they were unable to turn retention into chances, ending the game with just three shots on goal. Bruce Arena started with his classic 4-4-2 line up, pulling Clark and Mike Magee on the flanks while Jose Villareal was paired up top alongside Robbie Keane. José Luis “Chelís” Sánchez Solá lined up a 3-4-3 formation featuring Josue Soto and Eric Avila as wing-backs while the offensive trio of forwards Julio Morales, Juan Aguedo, and Josè Correa had the duty to challenge Galaxy’s flat four defense. Chivas showed an aggressive play as Chivas’ 22 committed fouls against Galaxy’s eight testified. But Chivas coach defended his way. After  Velázquez's ejection, Chelís quickly brought Morales off and replaced him with defender Carlos Borja, who went to the left side of the rebuilt Goats' three-man backline, alongside Bobby Burling and Mario de Luna. Arena too made a halftime change, as he kept Clark off the board replacing him with defender Leonardo, moving A.J. DeLaGarza at the right back spot while Sean Franklin was pushed up into the midfield. Late change Michael Stephens added nothing to the attack. A much better impact had Jack McBean, which came later on the field to give LA the lead in the 83rd minute. But Carlos Álvarez’s score in the 89th gave Chivas an earned point. With this draw, Chivas  pick up a good point as they had lost seven of the latest eight meetings with the Galaxy.

lunedì 11 marzo 2013

A boring scoreless draw between Sao Paulo and Palmeiras

This match was a disappointment as it ended in a boring 0-0 draw.

Ney Franco opted for the Libertadores keeping on the bench Jadson and Osvaldo and lining up Wellington and Luis Fabiano, both unavailable in the next round of the major South American clubs tournament. On the other side, Gilson Kleina started in a 4-4-2 mode with Vinicius at right-wing and Márcio Araújo on the left and with Chilean Jorge Valdívia, which improved as the game went on, lined high up near to Kléber. He also utilized Juninho at left-back in the place of suspended Marcelo Oliveira.  The first part of the game was boring, with Sao Paulo in command of the operations but creating really not scoring chances. The tactical battle didn’t produce an open game. Sao Paulo were very slow moving the ball and had an unispired Paulo Henrique Ganso who showed his techical skills but provided no dangerous balls for his teammates up top. As Gilson Kleina pointed out, Palmeiras left himreceive the ball with his back to goal and move away from our area." It worked.
Franco’s side passing was controlled - they ended the first half with a higher pass completion rate – but didn’t resulted in goalscoring chances, with the exception of the one Luis Fabiano had in the first minutes. Playing with an 11-men defensive wall, with both Valdívia and Kléber behind the line of the ball, Palmeiras closed all the passing lines. With a slow ball circualtion and with no real attacking combinations put on the place, Gilson Kleina’s team had no troubles on controlling the game defensively.
At the start of the second half, things changed as Gilson Kleina inserted dynamic Patrick Vieira, taking off Charles. That change and a better offensive attitude gave Palmeiras the control of the game. On this situation, Valdívia’s play get better as Palmeiras’ attacking midfielder showed invention in possession and started to find gaps between the lines. Palmeiras’ play were more  exciting when Sao Paulo’s defender Lucio was sent off. That convinced Franco to bring back the team into a more defensive-minded formation. Sao Paulo’s manager replaced Ganso with Jadson and Luis Fabiano with Osvaldo in the way to provide more compactness.

Neither of these sides showed a great play as neither produced big scoring opportunities. Both attacked just one half, Sao Paulo the first and Palmeiras the second. Gilson Kleina’s squad was unable to exploit the numerical edge after Lucio’s ejection while Sao Paulo seemed to be much more worried about next Libertadores game than about this ‘Clasico’. Once again, Jadson and Ganso didn’t play toghether. At the end, it was a game completely lacking in emotion.