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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread May, 2014

Real and Atletico go two rounds. Can Liverpool come back? Will Arsenal finally win a trophy?

May 7: Man City v. Aston Villa, Valladolid v. Real Madrid, Copa Liberatadores Quarterfinals (1st legs)
May 8: Copa Liberatadores Quarterfinals (1st legs)
May 10: Inter v. Lazio
May 11: Liverpool v. Newcastle, Man City v. West Ham, Atletico v. Malaga, Celta de Vigo v. Real Madrid, Roma v. Juventus
May 13: Germany v. Poland
May 14: Sevilla v. Benfica, Copa Liberatadores Quarterfinals (2nd legs)
May 15: Copa Liberatadores Quarterfinals (2nd legs)
May 16: Barcelona v. Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid v. Espanyol
May 17: FA Cup Final (Arsenal v. Hull City), DFB Pokal (Dortmund v. Bayern)
May 24: Champions League Final (Real Madrid v. Atletico Madrid)
May 27: USA v. Azerbaijan, Scotland v. Nigeria
May 28: Denmark v. Sweden, Mexico v. Israel, Cameroon v. Paraguay, Honduras v. Turkey
May 29: Chile v. Egypt, Spain v. Bolivia
May 30: England v. Peru, Portugal v. Greece, Netherlands v. Ghana
May 31: Mexico v. Ecuador, France v. Paraguay

Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: May 07, 2014 at 03:40 AM | 1176 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   1101. zack Posted: May 30, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4716248)
Think I'll try making it to the Rhinos game, since it combines my two favorite domestic teams. I'd be waaaay more into it if it wasn't 7pm on a friggin' Tuesday, but such is life in the early rounds of a cup.

Floop.
   1102. AuntBea Posted: May 30, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4716254)
If I were del Bosque I would take my chances with an injured Costa rather than take Torres.
   1103. ursus arctos Posted: May 30, 2014 at 05:20 PM (#4716258)
del Bosque has always been known for being incredibly loyal to the players with whom he has achieved success.

The Torres situation may be the greatest test of that principle we have yet seen.
   1104. AuntBea Posted: May 31, 2014 at 07:18 AM (#4716486)
I guess del Bosque took both, and left off Negredo and Llorente.
   1105. Flynn Posted: May 31, 2014 at 08:22 AM (#4716488)
In a perfect world Kezar would still be home to SF high school sports, but also have about 10,000 more seats and an MLS team. It really is a great place to watch a game. Very continental in how it's on the edge of the park, surrounded by a bustling neighborhood.
   1106. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 31, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4716504)
I guess del Bosque took both, and left off Negredo and Llorente.

Yup. For everyone who might have missed it, full Spanish squad:

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli, on loan from Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Raúl Albiol (Napoli), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fábregas (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Koke (Atlético Madrid), Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: David Silva (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atlético Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Pedro (Barcelona), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Villa (Atlético Madrid)

The big decisions are Koke over Jesus Navas, Cazorla/Silva/Mata/whoever over Isco, and Villa/Torres over Negredo/Llorente. That's prioritizing central play (even Koke, an outside mid, tends to tuck inside) over width (from Navas), directness (from Isco), and play in the air (from Llorente primarily). Del Bosque probably would argue that with Juanfran and Alba as his outside backs, this side will generate enough width on its own, which is entirely possible but this squad isn't going to assuage people who think that Spain are too old or predictable (I am not one of those people). If the Barcelona trio (excluding Cesc, though he should probably be included here) don't perform (and even if they do perform a bit), it is very likely we see much more playing time for Mata/Silva/Cazorla/Koke in the past.
   1107. puck Posted: May 31, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4716570)
Well, that was quick. Sneijder, Robben, and Van Persie just sliced through Ghana's D for a goal in the opening minutes. That's all Dempsey, Bedoya and Altidore need to do.

Edit: The Dutch looked a little shaky defensively in their friendly vs Ecuador and are using largely the same back 3 (De Vrij and Martins Indi, with Vlaar in for Veltman) and wingbacks (Janmaat and Blind).

SEEEE LAAAA PERRRRR-DIOOOOOO Robben!
   1108. I am going to be Frank Posted: May 31, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4716583)
Just set up an AppleTV to my TV - it is glorious.
   1109. puck Posted: May 31, 2014 at 04:12 PM (#4716597)
Just set up an AppleTV to my TV - it is glorious.

Set top boxes are the way to go for streaming. ESPN3 has been so watchable since they added an app to the roku. I've even watched cricket!
   1110. I am going to be Frank Posted: May 31, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4716599)
Villa and Lampard are supposedly going to NYCFC... I hope they enjoy the Bronx and Long Island (I assume that's where they are going to practice).
   1111. AuntBea Posted: May 31, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4716609)
Ireland gave Italy all they could handle in a 0-0 draw. Exciting game, apparently. I only saw 15 minutes of it.
   1112. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: May 31, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4716618)
ESPN3 has been so watchable since they added an app to the roku.


Uh, HDMI cable, anyone?
   1113. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 31, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4716622)
   1114. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: May 31, 2014 at 05:07 PM (#4716625)
Just to perk up spirits in a couple of irrelevant ways, here are two things that have happened in my current FM 2014 game that have never happened before in the THOUSANDS of hours and HUNDREDS of seasons I've played in FM (since 2010):

Newcastle has become the first non-BIG BASTARD club to consistently place in CL spots, doing so 4 of the last 5 years and even making it to a CL Final one year.

Their head coach?

The one and only MoPo!

COYS!

Also, in 2022, Jurgen Klinsmann's USA squad won the World Cup, the 1st time that has ever happened when I wasn't coaching them.

Here's the run:

1-0 Czech Republic
2-3 Egypt
1-0 Japan
1-0 Cameron
e1-0 Germany
5-0 Australia
2-0 Holland

BELIEVE!!!
   1115. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: May 31, 2014 at 05:32 PM (#4716632)
I'll play a 4-2-3-1:

GK Schmeichel 2
LB Roberto Carlos 4
CB Moore 5
CB Beckenbauer 5
RB Lahm 1 (for $1 why would you take anyone else?)
CM Makelele 1
CM Pirlo 2
LW Garrincha 3
RW Best 2
AM Maradona 5
CF Eusebio 3

Makelele is going to have to do a LOT of enforcing!
   1116. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: May 31, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4716650)
NYTimes match fixing article about the 2010 World Cup.

Why are our billionaires buying basketball teams for x4 their value instead of buying us a World Cup?
   1117. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 31, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4716651)
Playing around with a reactive side, flair players on the flanks (4-3-3/4-2-3-1 hybrid that I have set up as a 4-2-1-2(wide)-1):

Gianluigi Buffon - 3

Fabio Cannavaro - 2
Franco Baresi - 4
Roberto Carlos - 4
Lillian Thuram - 4

Claude Makelele - 1
Frank Rijkaard - 3
Zinedine Zidane - 3
Di Stefano - 4
Ronaldinho - 2

Gerd Muller - 3

Buffon
Thuram - Baresi - Cannavaro - Roberto Carlos
Makelele - Rijkaard
Zidane
Di Stefano - - Ronaldinho
Muller

Going defensive since, if we're matching up these teams, it's much more useful to have extra markers in the midfield than the alternative. Any of these attackers can score...just going to hunker down and defend.
   1118. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: May 31, 2014 at 06:25 PM (#4716657)
Cannavaro is the biggest bargain on the board.
   1119. Swedish Chef Posted: May 31, 2014 at 07:18 PM (#4716667)
NYTimes match fixing article about the 2010 World Cup.

The Sunday Times has a much better scoop.
   1120. Swedish Chef Posted: May 31, 2014 at 07:26 PM (#4716669)
I don't know why Qatar just don't give up the World Cup, it's not earning them any friends, it will cost them a lot and they may even have to give their slave labor some rights. Hell, I bet the new host would be willing to kick in some money to cover the bribes they have already paid.
   1121. TFTIO is familiar with the work of Pablo Neruda Posted: May 31, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4716690)
Huh, seeing a game at Kezar might be kind of fun.

I'm going to that game. Should be great, and I can just hop the N back to my apartment afterwards.
   1122. Swedish Chef Posted: June 01, 2014 at 08:24 AM (#4716769)
Spain striker David Villa has announced he will leave La Liga champions Atletico Madrid after being made an "irresistible" offer thought to be from MLS side New York City FC.

From
   1123. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4716809)
If I could, I would lay big money that Blatter linked those documents to the Times himself. FIFA is stuck with a Qatar world cup--they've already spent billions and they know where all the bodies are buried--but Blatter seems content to pull the temple down as long as he gets to remain high priest. As long as he can expose Platini and his ties to the Qataris, Blatter gets to keep on rolling. For the thousandth time I will add that anyone going to that WC will be dancing on the graves of hundreds of people who have died horribly building those stadiums and luxury hotels, etc. and I hope the USSF pulls out of it altogether.
   1124. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 01, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4716851)
-------------Dempsey------------Altidore---------------

Davis-------------------Bradley---------------------Zusi

---------------------------Jones----------------------------

Chandler-----Besler-----------Cameron------Johnson

---------------------------Howard-----------------------------

Brad Davis with a start. I can't help but think Dempsey on the left and Donovan or Johansson playing off Jozy looks better. Ah well. Let's go Brad Davis!
   1125. ursus arctos Posted: June 01, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4716861)
Looks like Prandelli has decided not to take Giuseppe Rossi to Brazil.
   1126. AuntBea Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4716871)
Looks like Prandelli has decided not to take Giuseppe Rossi to Brazil


Again? That guy is cursed.

Are any of Turkey's best players absent or not starting today?
   1127. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4716874)
Should have been 1-0 Turkey on that one.
   1128. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4716877)
Following ursos's lead, full Italian squad:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).

I haven't watched the Italian NT with any consistency since the Euros. What's the deal with this squad? Are they planning on playing a diamond midfield? Where's the width (and if it supposed to come from the fullbacks, where's Maggio? Or is that Insigne's job solely?)?
   1129. Langer Monk Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4716879)
Awfully pretty.
   1130. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4716881)
FAB Johnson!

And lovely work from Bradley at the tip of the diamond!
   1131. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 01, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4716889)
Creative and confident going forward, but holy crap are we naive in the back. I don't think we're good enough to play balls to the wall like this in Brazil.
   1132. Langer Monk Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4716895)
Too many giveaways in the midfield caught them out of position, and seemed like Bradley and Jones were getting caught on the same side of the field a bunch.
   1133. sardonic Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4716897)
Man, there's just no way you can convince me that Graham Zusi is more dangerous than Landon Donovan.
   1134. Flynn Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4716898)
Blatter did not want a World Cup in Qatar - he wanted either the USA or Australia. Almost all of his enemies - Warner, bin Hamman, Platini - did want a World Cup in Qatar (or more accurately, got bought off by bin Hamman). It's a win win for Blatter, force out his enemies and maybe stop this mess from happening which would be one step too far for a lot of people. So I too wouldn't be surprised if it came from him.
   1135. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4716901)
Le whoops!
   1136. Langer Monk Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4716903)
Some sad officiating there.
   1137. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4716910)
Sunderland fans must be wondering where Jozy is getting all this energy from.
   1138. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4716913)
Hell of a ball from Zusi.
   1139. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: June 01, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4716922)
Not good enough from the USMNT.

They pull that defensive performance in any of their games in the WC and they'll get crushed.
   1140. puck Posted: June 01, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4716925)
where's Maggio?

Not healthy. He's been recovering from some weird lung thing, like a collapsed lung that needed to be drained.
   1141. Swedish Chef Posted: June 01, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4716975)
Sweden were very lucky they didn't go to Brazil, they are a really shitty team now.
   1142. I am going to be Frank Posted: June 01, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4716992)
I went to the game today. Red Bull Stadium is very compact (seats with no armrests, for instance) but has great sidelines and no matter where your seats are you're close to the action. Getting in and out of there is a huge pain in the ass. The crowd was lively, and had a good time - although they had the slowest beer pourers in the history of bar keeping.

The diamond does not work defensively. In the first half, there was a ton of open Turkish players on the attack and yet when the US got the ball back, there was no one besides Jozy able to break quickly. Both Turkish FB had TONS of space. The RB looked like Dani Alves with his positioning out there, and if he had more skill would have caused a lot more problems. Luckily for the US besides Sahin, Turkey could not control the tempo of the game and their passing was hit or miss.

Beckerman needs to play instead of Jones. I know he's not as good, fast or athletic as Jones, but Bradley and the rest of the team play much better with Beckerman on the field. Zusi and Davis didn't show much. A winger with speed was needed and the best the US could do was throw on Mix, which opened up the right side for Yedlin. Jozy just isn't very good - he's the US version of Heskey. He's physical and can draw fouls (especially when he's not being called for BS ones), but he does not have the skill and composure around the goal.

Green and Brooks both looked terrible in their cameos.
   1143. I am going to be Frank Posted: June 01, 2014 at 06:24 PM (#4716996)
Oh! I got a Panini sticker book along with this poster!

I'm thinking of buying some stickers. Does that sound too juvenile? Being an adult with money is great - I'm considering buying three 50 sticker boxes. Much better than begging my parents for money.

In the sticker book I got these ten stickers:
Fredy Guarin
Felipe Caicedo
Javier Hernandez
Nani
Michael Bradley
Javier Mascherano
David Luiz
Kyle Walker
Iker Casillas
And Gianluigi Buffon
   1144. Mefisto Posted: June 01, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4717006)
I basically agree with 1142. The 2 friendlies have not instilled me with any confidence about this team. Zusi did nothing all day that I could see, except to deliver one excellent pass that Green miscontrolled. Dempsey didn't do much with his opportunities; Donovan would have done better. I don't know why Davis was on the field at all. The defense was pretty much a shambles -- Germany will be up 4-0 at halftime if we play like that. Johnson was sublime on the goal and Bradley's pass to him was terrific.
   1145. KronicFatigue Posted: June 01, 2014 at 07:59 PM (#4717025)
I was there as well and my comments match 1142. I'm actually so annoyed about getting in/out of the stadium that I'm writing a letter. The PATH is a joke on Sundays, so I couldn't risk a dangerously crowded train with small kids. Unfortunately we were KICKED OUT of the stadium not too long after the game ended. We had no place to go and were forced to stand outside for half an hour. Concession lines were stunningly slow (one manger was cashing out registers as the players were being announced!) and making you remove the cap to your bottle of water when you enter is offensive on its face.

Terrible experience OTHER than the game w/ the amazing site lines.

One of the people I went with had never watched a soccer game before. "Who's number 13?" [Jones] "Oh, he's terrible. He's the worst one out there".

US defense looks like they are playing a man down. The amount of space that they give allow doesn't make sense from a geometric standpoint. It seems like they are always nowhere, if that makes sense.

Jozy is like when you get a breakaway in a video game and start to panic and don't know how to finish. He wasted so many opportunities.

Crowd was good, but I saw a US Friendly a couple of years ago that was 10x more intense. Granted I was sitting in Sam's Army at the time, but I kept looking at the Supporter's section (American Outlaws?!) and was NOT impressed.

I got those posters and sticker books too. Poster is awesome. I didn't realize that it came with stickers. I would have taken two :)
   1146. AuntBea Posted: June 01, 2014 at 08:48 PM (#4717042)
Beckerman needs to play instead of Jones. I know he's not as good, fast or athletic as Jones, but Bradley and the rest of the team play much better with Beckerman on the field.


Supposedly the USA abandoned the diamond formation in the second half, as it left too much space between the midfield and the back line.
   1147. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 01, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4717071)
It's not a new observation but Jones is going to be the Ricardo Clark of Brazil isn't he? There is something that the manager sees in him that the rest of us don't and he's just going to kill us.

The defense is really bad right now. Is there something fundamental that the US is doing that makes us unable to develop competent defenders. I realize we aren't a world class team but we've got/had guys virtually everywhere else that can play at pretty high levels but it seems like the defenders have just never been at the level they needed to be at. Is this the last flaw of the US being late to the soccer party?

Because it has only recently become a spectator sport of meaning in this country have we been unable to teach our defenders the game instincts to play at that level? It always seems like our defense is a step slow. Maybe it's just a speed issue but I feel like when I watch the US the defensive set up is like watching a team of baseball players who are new to a position. Rather than just getting set we seem to run around a bit.

Am I just seeing something that is not really there?

I just look around and even back to previous World Cups and I feel like we have always been uncertain on the back line.

Hoping someone who knows this stuff better than me can help me out. Lots of people here who know this stuff and seem comfortable asking questions, hope I'm not asking too many stupid ones.
   1148. AuntBea Posted: June 01, 2014 at 10:16 PM (#4717077)
Interestingly, I turned on the Germany/Cameroon game immediately after the USA game, to see how the German team defended, because I was wondering about some of these same questions. Not long after I started watching, Boateng and the German right side left a huge gap that was easily exploited by the Cameroon player for a goal. It actually looked a lot like the USA. It's at the 3 minute mark of this highlight clip.
   1149. steagles Posted: June 01, 2014 at 10:23 PM (#4717083)
The defense is really bad right now. Is there something fundamental that the US is doing that makes us unable to develop competent defenders. I realize we aren't a world class team but we've got/had guys virtually everywhere else that can play at pretty high levels but it seems like the defenders have just never been at the level they needed to be at. Is this the last flaw of the US being late to the soccer party?
you can only get better by playing a better opponent and there isn't a high enough concentration of good forwards at any level of play in america to facilitate the development of world class defenders.

that's a fundamental problem that american soccer has and will continue to have for as long as better sports exist in america.
   1150. AuntBea Posted: June 01, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4717091)
The problem today was not an inability to play against quality forwards, but poor defensive positioning and/or instincts, possibly coupled with a poorly designed formation. Turkey was not doing anything special with their offensive game plan, except bringing a lot of guys forward fearlessly, and exploiting large spaces in front of the back line and down the wings.
   1151. Mefisto Posted: June 01, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4717117)
I agree with 1150.
   1152. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 07:15 AM (#4717156)
that's a fundamental problem that american soccer has and will continue to have for as long as better sports exist in america.

Yeah, it's a real shame that Brooks, Johnson, Chandler and Jones are too distracted by basketball and football and baseball to position themselves correctly.

Or it could be they haven't played together very much and Klinsmann's coaching has been a bit scattered leading up the the Cup. The US has been inconsistent defensively but we're capable of some stout defending at times. Against Italy in 2006, Mexico in 2002, against Spain in the Confed Cup, etc. Right now I'm not sure what Klinsmann expects from the defenders and, man, do we really miss the brains of Cherundolo and Bocanegro. On the back of yesterday's game, I think Beasley has to start at LB going forward.
   1153. J. Sosa Posted: June 02, 2014 at 08:40 AM (#4717173)
The biggest problem for the World Cup is that the USMNT doesn't have much defensive talent. The main problem though in that particular match was the formation. We don't have the players to play that way.

I'm late to the party on discussing Donovan, but I had a hard time as seeing that as anything other than personal from Klinsmann. Whatever emo personality traits Donovan may have that irritates people like Klinsmann and Dempsey so much, he can still hurt high level opposition. We don't have enough talent to be randomly leaving people like Donovan home. Maybe it all pans out, but I'm really down on our chances. Donovan would give this team more options, options we don't have now.

I didn't like that fomation at all. I've hardly been reluctant to express exasperation with Altidore, and to be honest, I'd rather play Dempsey alone up top and drop Altidore for some additional legs in midfield. I do like Bradley in an advanced role. After that, I'd prefer we try to help the back four more. Our defense is, bad, bad, bad. I'm no tactical wizard, but I don't see a solution other than to try and defend in numbers and hit back on the counter with Bradley. Getting into a shootout with teams like Germany and Portugal is not going to go well for the ol U S of A. Like others have said, that kind of performance against Germany would leave us needing a field goal and a safety to tie at half time.
   1154. I am going to be Frank Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:03 AM (#4717182)
I was just thinking about it, but the diamond formation is an offensive formation. When would the US be playing offensive in the World Cup? Against Ghana? Definitely not against Germany or Portugal. The only way the US should be playing an offensive formation is when they're down and need a goal. So what's the point of using it in the last couple of friendlies before the real matches start?

Altidore was very useful yesterday, albeit against a poor Turkish defense. I have a feeling hoofing it long against Germany and Portugal may be our best option to relieve pressure and hope he draws a foul or hold it up until help arrives. Dempsey really can't do that. I'd rather see Dempsey play on the left and have three real central midfielders - Beckerman, Bradley and Jones. Put Zusi (or whoever) on the right. The US should just go Swiss or Greece and bunker and play for set pieces.
   1155. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4717191)
You know what, forget the USA, I'm jumping on the Belgium bandwagon. Nothing but La Chouffe for me all the way to Rio!
   1156. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4717194)
The diamond is something of a primitive formation, but the top of the diamond is Bradley's best position and he's the best player on the team by a mile ... so there you have it.

It's really starting to look like the USMNT peaked in 2002. There's no law of nature that says the trajectory has to be steadily up. The other nations are trying to improve, too.
   1157. J. Sosa Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4717195)
I had been thinking they would go with Dempsey and Donovan wide, Altidore up top,and jam the midfield. Now, I'm not sure what they should do. But the diamond ain't it.

I don't trust Altidore. If he's willing to be a workhorse and actually fight to hold up the ball, I'm on board. If we get Sunderland style Dozy I want no part of it.

edit: Speaking of diamonds and 4-4-2, it has tickled my funny bone that the 4-4-2 is back in vogue. At the last world cup a river of ink was spilled proclaiming the death of the formation, and more recently the focus was on strikerless formations, and yet one cycle later some of the best club teams use it.
   1158. Mefisto Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4717198)
The diamond can be a defensive, counterattacking formation (e.g., when Mourinho used it). But that requires high pressure in the midfield, which we don't have. I'm not convinced it's the formation, per se. I also think that, individually, the US back 4 are adequate. I think we need more time and organization among the back 4, and we need a better midfield than we put out yesterday. Our only real shot against Portugal and Germany is, as 1153 and 1154 say, to bunker in and play on the counter/set pieces. On the counter, Donovan would be real damn useful.
   1159. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4717205)
It's really starting to look like the USMNT peaked in 2002.

This is silly. We have all kinds of good players coming up and we're training more players than we ever have. The story of US Soccer has yet to be written. I guess proximity to the WC is start going to bring out all the naysayers to the thread.
   1160. Mefisto Posted: June 02, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4717215)
   1161. Textbook Editor Posted: June 02, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4717227)
It's really starting to look like the USMNT peaked in 2002.


Well, here's the thing: What's the upside potential of the USMNT in any WC? I think most would say a quarterfinal spot is probably the best they can hope for going into any WC--at least right now and possibly in 2018 as well. We're not at a point where--going into a WC--anyone would say "If the USMNT doesn't make the semifinals it'll be a disappointment."

So--in that sense--2002 might be peak WC success for the USMNT. Unless/until they make another quarterfinal, you'd have to say that was the case.
   1162. PepTech Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:35 AM (#4717303)
   1163. PepTech Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4717304)
Dupe. Dummy.
   1164. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4717308)
FIFA announced today the investigation into the 2018 and 2022 bid process will be complete next week...despite a few million docs about bribery just being dumped on The Times. Now I'm convinced Blatter is behind the leak. Lots of negative press for Qatar/Platini without actually having to do anything concrete about it since it's not in the report.
   1165. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4717311)
David Villa and Fran Lampard? Meh. Now Mario Balotelli...that would have been a signing. In fact, I think Balotelli is one of maybe 5 players in the world who would move the needle in New York--Balotelli, Messi, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovich and maybe Bale. (Before you call me crazy, the sheiks can afford his wages and maybe Mario would like to play in a place where a monkey noise is just some fat guy in the first row farting.)
   1166. J. Sosa Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4717317)
The concern for me is that we don't seem to be developing players of the Dempsey/Donovan grade. Back in 2002 I had thought by this point we would be turning out Donovans on a fairly regular basis. That Donovan should have been an impact player on this team in 2014 is discouraging. Klinsmann choosing to go the Teutonic route says something I think. Who knows, maybe a number of young players will develop by the next world cup. I'm going to be cheering like crazy for them, but I've been resigned about our chances since the draw.

Was it just me, or did Lalas and Keller seem to be smoldering? It seems like some stuff that has been bubbling under the surface about Klinsmann for awhile is starting to come to a boil with Donovan being cut. I didn't watch all the non match action hoopla, so maybe my brief read of it isn't accurate.
   1167. steagles Posted: June 02, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4717327)
Yeah, it's a real shame that Brooks, Johnson, Chandler and Jones are too distracted by basketball and football and baseball to position themselves correctly.
i was referring more to the fact that talented athletes in america are exposed to non-awful sports at young ages and can choose to play them instead. what the hell else is a kid gonna do in france? ride a bike?

I was just thinking about it, but the diamond formation is an offensive formation. When would the US be playing offensive in the World Cup? Against Ghana? Definitely not against Germany or Portugal. The only way the US should be playing an offensive formation is when they're down and need a goal. So what's the point of using it in the last couple of friendlies before the real matches start?
i'm definitely not an expert, but the plan might be to run up the score on ghana, and then play for a tie against the other two and hope to advance on differential.
   1168. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:02 PM (#4717336)
The concern for me is that we don't seem to be developing players of the Dempsey/Donovan grade.

We'll see. That kind of stuff is really unpredictable. We may find in two years that we're suddenly blessed with top end talent. Our talent pool is undeniably deeper than it has been and, sadly, if Davies and Holden hadn't been wrecked, we'd be much more formidable. I'm not comfortable about our preparations leading up to this Cup which is starting to have a whiff of Steve Sampson panic about it. We shouldn't be trying to sort out personnel and formations and week and a half before the first game. We should be fine tuning. I hope Klinsmann has some sort of master plan that we're not privy to because from the outside looking in he seems to be crapping his pants.
   1169. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4717341)
what the hell else is a kid gonna do in france? ride a bike?

Play rugby. Play tennis. Play basketball. Swim. They have plenty of choices. Why do you even care since soccer is awful?
   1170. I am going to be Frank Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4717352)
Oh, speaking of Lalas, as you'd expect, he wears jeans on the studio show. Bob Ley and Keller wear the full suits.

The US outfield players really have been a disappointment. Really, on this list out of all the US-born and raised players only Cameron, Jozy and Bedoya are at a club in the "top" European leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Portugal, Russia and Dutch) playing regularly. Three players - that's bad. Dempsey and Bradley would be regulars in Europe, but who else?
   1171. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4717357)
I was just thinking about it, but the diamond formation is an offensive formation.

The diamond is something of a primitive formation, but the top of the diamond is Bradley's best position and he's the best player on the team by a mile ... so there you have it.

The diamond can be a defensive, counterattacking formation (e.g., when Mourinho used it). But that requires high pressure in the midfield, which we don't have.

Part of the problem here is that "diamond" refers to a couple of different "formations:" you have the wide/two-central formation that everyone played in middle school (which normally becomes two banks of four on the defensive) and you have the "diamond" as in more modern usage, with four central players, width provided by the fullbacks, and the two forwards dropping back into wide defensive roles. This is the formation as Mourinho and some others have used it (though in Mourinho-at-Inter's version, the formation rotates into ball-side defence. Prandelli used a version of this formation in the Euros in 2012). The former can be a decent reactive formation, if you have hyperactive ball-defensive forwards, or if the second striker drops back into the midfield. It's also a good delivery method for outside-in cross play, because you have two players wide and two or three up at all times. The latter is a ball-retentive formation, because you have four in the centre of midfield, but weirdly tends to be defensively against ball-retentive sides (again, Prandelli and defensive mids, which is one reason why they gave Spain trouble in their first match in the Euros. Some Italian teams have made versions of this formation, or a 4-1-3-2, or a Ancelotti-esque Christmas-tree hybrid into their preferred formation). I only saw about five minutes of the game yesterday (the five minutes leading up to Fabian Johnson's goal, pleasantly), but the formation was very clearly the former type. This can work, but you need active wings, and hyperactive forwards, and good delivery from the wings is essential too. In the small bit I watched, there were massive gaps in both locations, and that's more concerning.

The problem today was not an inability to play against quality forwards, but poor defensive positioning and/or instincts, possibly coupled with a poorly designed formation.

Exactly. Once you reach a certain level, ball-defence, while undeniably important (especially for fullbacks), becomes comparatively less important in relation to team defence (this is a drum Michael Cox bangs a lot). Team positioning, gap prevention, etc. are what separate organised sides from less organised ones (for those of you who watch the Prem, this was a really visible improvement in Palace pre- and post-Pulis). The US has some defenders of at least a good calibre/playing level (I'm thinking of Geoff Cameron here, specifically, but also Johnson and Chandler, and some others), but spacing problems suggest a coaching/drilling issue, not on-ball issues. Of course, they don't play together much, so this could easily improve. Jones is supposed to also help here - was he just not holding well? Passing badly? He's normally not great when I watch, but at least he's positionally secure. Did he wander away from shielding the back four also?
   1172. Topher Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4717359)
I'm not sure how much of this to blame on Klinsmann (not a question of if, just how much). I think the defensive mess has a lot to do with (a) the players on the pitch have very little experience working with each other and (b) Klinsmann has almost gone out of his way to test things by having players play out of position or at least stretching the roles they are best suited. For example, Jones wasn't really played out of position at the bottom of the diamond. But that isn't really the way he's best suited to play in the center midfield.

I think Klinsmann actually deserves a bit of credit for some of this. Turning Beasley into a left back when there wasn't anybody in the pool that had a solid hold on the position was a bit inspired. I think it is pretty remarkable that Klinsmann could take a player like Brad Evans and see a right back out of a player that plays on the left side of the midfield.

But the problem is that Evans didn't work. Klinsmann gave plenty of chances to Gonzalez and Goodson to be a first choice center back and all the while he was doing that was goofing with Geoff Cameron in positions other than the one he is likely to play in Brazil.

I think Klinsmann was well intentioned. He wasn't going to settle for cromulency (is that a word?) so he kept on experimenting with new players and old players at new positions. But at some point I think he needed to stop tinkering and start working on team chemistry. For me that would have been the start of this calendar year. But instead he went right to very end to bring new players into the squad.

I really am sympathetic to Klinsmann on this because I think the US roster is a mess in trying to determine where players should be best positioned. If I were to list the 20 players on the list and state where I think they are best placed on the pitch, I wouldn't at all be surprised if the rest of you disagreed with my assessment of half of the team. This team would probably benefit greatly by having a lesser talented player or two that was a true fullback or a true winger instead of trying to force more talented players into positions that are not natural to them. But if I was coaching the team, I'd really hate to have to settle for that so I get while he kept on tinkering.
   1173. Manny Coon Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4717366)
Is there something fundamental that the US is doing that makes us unable to develop competent defenders. I realize we aren't a world class team but we've got/had guys virtually everywhere else that can play at pretty high levels but it seems like the defenders have just never been at the level they needed to be at.


This cycle has been rough on defenders. In the past I think some our defenders have been pretty decent. Eddie Pope was really good. Onyewu was good at his peak, but got hurt at the absolute worst time and never really recovered. Bocanegra was solid, Demerit was ok. Going further back Balboa, Dooley and Lalas were all decent enough compared to talent of the rest of their rosters. On the outside guys like Cherudolo and Sanneh were good. Cameron a quality right back but he likely won't play there. This time around it's just not a good group, a 35 year old DeMerit might be better than half the defenders on the roster.

Another part of the problem is often American players who are potential defenders, often end up in midfield because lack of depth there. Guys like Edu, Ricardo Clark and Brek Shea all had physical tools be good defenders, but ended up getting the bulk of their training and playing time further up the field. I wonder if the low quality of MLS has something do with this, if those guys were forced from a younger age to scrap for minutes on tougher teams, maybe they would have converted younger, like John O'Brien playing left back at Ajax and Spector moving back when he was young in Europe; my guess is both those guys would have reminded attackers if they came up through MLS.
   1174. Topher Posted: June 02, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4717377)
Jones is supposed to also help here - was he just not holding well? Passing badly? He's normally not great when I watch, but at least he's positionally secure. Did he wander away from shielding the back four also?


I'm anti-Jones (but I'm also anti-Beckerman) -- so I have bias on this -- but I don't think that putting him at the base of the diamond at all suits his skills. I think Jones is at his best when has a bit of freedom and throughout qualifying he had that with Bradley serving as his cover.

If Klinsmann is going to stick with the diamond, I'd rather see Beckerman out there than Jones. In any other formation, however, I'd rather have Jones starting.
   1175. puck Posted: June 02, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4717412)
   1176. madvillain Posted: June 02, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4717436)
Just a heads up: FM 14 is now $12.99 on Steam. I have 13 and play it a lot, too much really. Is it worth it to get '14?
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