Friday, June 08, 2007

Gold Cup Report from the Shed

WOW! The Home Depot Center was rocking last night. The atmosphere was great as many of the 21,344 in attendance were on their feet throughout the game. Unfortunately most of the crowd was in the powder-blue and white of Guatemala, but the spread-out USA fans gave some good cheers.

USA came out in a formation that can’t be explained as a traditional 4-4-2. They played it more like a 4-3-3 but it was dynamic throughout the game.

The back line was mostly flat with some wing runs from the outside backs. Bradley and Feilhaber shared defensive midfield roles with occasional pushes forward but mostly covering for Bocanegra and Onweyu in the middle. Bradley showed great composure on the ball and is a calm, steady player. Feilhaber seems a little more offensive minded. They repeatedly switched sides of the field and worked well together.

Donovan and Beasley occupied the right and left wings but were often a third forward as USA attacked. Dempsey was the clear striker in the middle with Twellman starting slightly behind him on the left.

The defensive work rate of these players was good as all are willing to track back allowing other players to move forward into that space. There was great field coverage throughtout. This attacking style made for attractive soccer resulting in a great goal for Dempsey who is clearly the player who features prominently in the strategy.

The second half was a hack fest that the referee allowed to get out of control. Onweyu was given a ridiculous yellow on a play that happened right in front of me. The referee had his back to the play.

But isn’t this always how the games go versus Central American teams? Let’s get over it already! USA cannot get drawn into playing for the referee’s whistle, or worse, hoping to get a call. (It isn’t any better in the World Cup.) Of course USA could have played better but it was scrappy and nobody got hurt.

So overall it’s a glass-half-empty/full situation. USA can use this experience in the future and they got the win.

Next up: T&T on Saturday.

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