Post-match: USA v. Scotland: 2nd Viewing analysis

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by FirstStar, May 27, 2012.

  1. FirstStar

    FirstStar Hustlin' for the USA

    Feb 1, 2005
    Time's Arrow
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Good to sit back and watch with fewer emotions after getting really pumped up watching us dominate Scotland last night. I'll have more complete thoughts later, but wanted to get the ball rolling as this is always a good thread after key games.

    My first thoughts are that the formation really worked for the USA, but looks a little dangerous going forward. All three of our forwards like to move inside and that left us exposed on the flanks at times. Scotland didn't have the speed to punish that. Other teams will, so we'll see how often this formation is used in the future.

    Second thought: As much as I don't like Edu's game, I think he was pretty important last night sitting as a rock in the middle and covering for Mike's and Jermaine's runs forward. I think we will see more of this in the future.

    Third thought: Landon got a hatter, so he's the obvious MOTM. However, the system worked so well and people played their roles so well, I think it's hard to pick out an individual player who stood out. Landon was there to finish the chances created for him (and by him), but so many others did well also. Perhaps the most complete team effort I've ever seen from the USA. A lot went right for the USA last night.
     
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  2. Pass-n-Go

    Pass-n-Go Member+

    Jul 5, 2008
    Under JK, Edu has had two roles. A Khedira role and a Makelele role. Both are ball winners. Just different types. One sits deep and acts as a screen. The other is upfield more pressuring and allows his partner space to set tempo. I think Edu's best position is sitting deep.
     
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  3. cpwilson80

    cpwilson80 Member+

    Mar 20, 2001
    Boston
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Big thing for me on the re-watch: ball movement and transition.

    There are two great articles in the latest issue of The Blizzard: the first an interview with Xavi; the second, a discussion between Didier Deschamps and one of his former coaches. In both instances, ball movement is mentioned as a way to break down a packed defense. The philosophy is that even 5 yard passes open up new angles, allowing a gifted player to hit a splitting pass.

    The US did this better last night than in any game I can recall. We played the ball incredibly quickly, and decisiveness from Torres, Donovan, Johnson, Bradley, and Jones made a difference. Credit, too, to our backline; very few direct balls out of the back, a marked change from the past.

    This led to the second component - our transition. The mantra of "possession with purpose" appeared on the broadcast multiple times, and I think we demonstrated it beautifully. Our three central midfielders dominated the middle of the field, and were quick to make an outlet pass once they won the ball. What's more, we seemed to have the appropriate number of guys moving forward in transition. For example, if Johnson or Cherundolo would bombard forward, Edu would hold the position. This balance protected us from any dangerous counters from Scotland.

    This is what it looks like when everything clicks. We'll see how things look against a tougher test this Wednesday.
     
  4. Ace08

    Ace08 Member

    May 30, 2010
    Club:
    --other--
    You mean guys have only watched it twice? LOL....I'm on my 3rd viewing, simply a beautiful display of soccer last night.

    Been watching the USMNT for a long time....this is the most complete performance I can remember. A lot of people on BS were criticizing the formation and setup last night before the game....so I would think there would be a ton of apologizing to JK today on the forums.

    It really is an example of what a change in philosophy and better coaching can do...JK didn't invent the idea of having the USMNT use Edu, Bradley, and Jones all at the same time. BB actually deployed a lineup as recently as the Argentina friendly that had all 3 of those guys in there...but what a difference last night in terms of the roles, responsibilities, and mentality of those 3 guys. You can tell JK and the staff clearly defined each of their roles and the payoff was huge. They absolutely dominated the middle of the field. MB and Germany Jones are true box to box players and their passing is really an asset from a central position. They were both involved in the attack a ton last night and deserve a lot of credit.

    And also....it's clear to see why JK rates Torres so highly. A lot of the things he does are subtle but when you re-watch the game you can see his subtle passes and movements open up new angles for the attack constantly. He also did a great job pressuring up the field and caused some key turnovers that gave us the ball in advantageous areas.

    I'll say one last thing....Boyd has a ton of talent. So much so that Altidore better step up his game because Altidore is no longer a lock to be starting in 2014. That's how highly I rate Boyd and I have a feeling JK feels the exact same way about him. He's fearless, aggressive, taller, and stronger than Altidore. I really want to see more out of this kid. Either way with Altidore, Boyd, Dempey and Gomez we now have something that just a year ago we never thought we'd have......depth at striker.
     
  5. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

    Mar 17, 2004
    Club:
    --other--
    Yep, confirmed on second viewing. Scotland already started their summer vacation. VERY curious to see if this carries through to the next game and thereafter.
     
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  6. ImaPuppy

    ImaPuppy Member+

    Aug 10, 2009
    Using too many parentheses
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
  7. Susaeta

    Susaeta BigSoccer Supporter

    Apr 3, 2009
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I have not finished re-watching, but here is what I have found interesting so far.

    Two Formations: The US playing defense and the US attacking.

    There have been concerns over whether the US's "narrow" formation will be exposed against a team like Brasil. They may be justified, but here is a counter-thought. The US's defensive formation was not narrow at all. When the US did not have the ball, I think this was the general team shape:

    [​IMG]

    Donovan and Torres pressured high and wide, and they dropped back wide to help their fullbacks. Bradley and Jones created the central pressure, with Edu cleaning up behind them. Boyd did a pretty good job of applying up field pressure and forcing the Scots to play uncomfortably quick.

    When the US had the ball, they shifted to this:

    [​IMG]

    Donovan and Torres pinched in and went forward. Cherundolo and Johnson moved forward behind them. The biggest surprise to me was Jones stepping up as a pseudo-10. Edu stayed behind as the cleanup defensive midfielder, and Bradley orchestrated from classic 8 position. We have seen this general attacking team shape before.

    It was pretty interesting watching the US shape expand and contract. The question is whether Brasil can attack from wide positions before the US can expand their width defensively. Not sure we will get the chance to find out. I have a hunch the US will play more of a 4-4-1-1 against Brasil.

    Edu and the Central Midfield

    A few of us mentioned this in the post-game thread, and the impressions stands up to second viewing. Edu was important in this formation. Bradley and Jones pressed pretty hard in the central midfield. Without Edu behind them, they do not have that freedom.

    With Dempsey and Altidore coming back, it will be interesting to see what adjustments Klinsmann makes. I would not recommend losing Edu, or someone to play that role. It would mean Bradley and Jones are pinned further back in the midfield. Then again, I would not have run out last night's starting formation, either.

    One thing Klinsmann may want to consider. The US's best defender on the night might quietly have been Torres. Watching him it is pretty interesting to see how often he steps in to recover the ball for the US. He is a pretty sneaky and smart player. The chalkboards confirm it - in a team that consisted of supposedly bigger and better defenders in the midfield, he led the US in takeaways.

    Boyd

    There is a lot to like about this kid. His movement is smart, and he has a good motor. He is aggressive and has good instincts around the goal. He is big enough to bang with big defenders, but what stands out to me on second viewing was his footwork and agility. While he did not score, he played a role in each of the first 3 goals and other near-miss opportunities.

    On the first goal, it was he and Torres who double teamed Bardsley into the turnover that led to the score.

    On the second goal, he does something subtle. He gives Donovan the signal to cross it forward, then starts to make a hard and quick diagonal run towards goal, taking two defenders with him. That opens the space behind him. Jones occupies that space, touches it to Bradley, and wonder goal.

    In the 22nd and 42nd minutes, he shows some very quick footwork to receive passes then quickly turn and get off shots. His agility is surprising and somewhat rare for a big forward. His aggressive instincts around goal are also sharp.

    On Donovan's shot off the post, Boyd again make a smart, hard diagonal run to pull defenders away from the ball. Donovan is coming in from the right. Boyd runs hard to the left and opens up the space for Donovan to shoot.

    On the third goal, again Boyd makes the initial run, this time towards the near post looking for a Jones cross. Donovan ghosts behind him and has all the space in the world for an easy finish.
     
  8. RalleeMonkey

    RalleeMonkey Member+

    Aug 30, 2004
    here
    Our off the ball movement was incredible. Before a player received a pass, teammates were moving to space. Sooooo unusual for a USMNT. Usually, player receives ball, teammates check to make sure he didn't lose it. Then someone might move to an open spot. This game "ok, pass is going to player x, i better get to a spot where I'll be useful when he receives it." A total 180.

    Good job JK!
     
  9. dlokteff

    dlokteff Member+

    Jan 22, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    This is pretty much what I saw as well. I didn't think Torres was going forward as much as you say, he seemed to roam freely wherever he pleased to get into spaces where he could create, to me. But the bolded above was just a revelation. Did not expect this. Incredible performance by Jones in this role, and the others as well.
     
  10. cpwilson80

    cpwilson80 Member+

    Mar 20, 2001
    Boston
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Exactly. Those passing angles I mentioned above? Torres is the best player in the US pool to exploit those.
     
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  11. Susaeta

    Susaeta BigSoccer Supporter

    Apr 3, 2009
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This seems fair. I did not place Torres as high as Donovan, but he may have been even further back than Jones. Really interesting player movement in his case.
     
  12. Matrim55

    Matrim55 Member+

    Aug 14, 2000
    Berkeley
    Club:
    Connecticut
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
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  13. Bees Knees

    Bees Knees Member

    Nov 10, 2005
    Aruba
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    On my second viewing the most outstanding aspect of this match was the difference in motivation between the USA and Scotland teams. I don't know what Klinsmann did (I guess the whole clearly-defined depth chart thing has people competing like crazy for positions) but I felt like the coach was the man of the match for fielding such a fired-up, hard-working team. I was a big fan of Bradley as a coach too, but now I'm wondering if Klinsmann's edge might be as a motivator.
     
  14. Susaeta

    Susaeta BigSoccer Supporter

    Apr 3, 2009
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Nice write-up again, and we actually agree. My point was not that we were not vulnerable out wide, just that when the defense was able to set itself, we had wide coverage. It was in transition where Scotland was able to exploit our width, and Brasil would be 10x worse. That is why I think we see the 4-4-1-1 we saw against Italy, with width built into the system.
     
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  15. Pl@ymaker

    Pl@ymaker Member+

    Feb 8, 2010
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'd start Boyd over Altidore. Boyd looks more hungry than Jozy.
     
  16. neems

    neems Member+

    Liverpool FC
    United States
    Apr 14, 2009
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just finished my second viewing. The most notable difference is how much Torres stands out as making the whole midfield work. I thought he played well before, but after a second viewing, he was essential to making the midfield fluid. Otherwise, our possession may have been much more sloppy.

    Also, Edu was critical in allowing our fullbacks to maraud up the flanks. Give credit to him for having a great game in the defensive midfield and being perfect in his positioning.
     
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  17. Marko72

    Marko72 Member+

    Aug 30, 2005
    New York
    Someone in one of the threads referred to him as a "sly thief," and I think it's a nice, accurate description. I've been against him playing "wide" but this game confirmed (at very least situationally) the wisdom of it.
     
  18. ScrappytheSeal4

    Jun 5, 2010
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    What are you basing this on?
     
  19. AutoPenalti

    AutoPenalti Am I famous yet?

    Sep 26, 2011
    Coconut Creek
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Food.
     
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  20. ScrappytheSeal4

    Jun 5, 2010
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Those "Behind the Crest" videos are very intrusive, aren't they?
     
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  21. Howard the Drake

    Feb 27, 2010
    I'm going to start the guy who scored 15 goals in the Dutch league over a guy who scored 15 goals in the German 4th division.
     
  22. cpcrews

    cpcrews New Member

    Jul 6, 2003
    San Diego
    Gotta agree with a lot here - the ball just stuck to Torres foot, letting everyone feel confident in running off him knowing he was going to control and distribute. And his defense was a pleasant surprise. The US is a different team with Donovan, fast and dangerous on the counter. I was really happy to see Bradley pass so well - he's a workhorse in the middle no doubt but it was good to see him look up and make the great pass as well. I used to think we needed a Feilhaber or Adu type to be the creative element - JK showed me the whole team can do it when it's set up the right way.

    While I thought Boyd was good, he wasn't finishing - I can think of some clutch goals Jozy has scored and despite the production we get from LD and Dempsey, we'll need an out-an-out forward who doesn't just hold and distribute but scores. Boyd is good, but Jozy right now is better all around - his hold up play has improved a lot and he can strike a clean ball on goal. And we know from Italy he links up well with Dempsey.

    Big question is where to slot Dempsey in after such a great central midfield performance - Jones, Bradley, and Edu were a turbine in there and if they can do that against Brazil I'm not sure I want to break that up. I like Torres and Donovan on the wings too. Maybe Dempsey plays up top? More than likely he takes Torres' spot and Torres comes in centrally as a sub when someone runs out of gas.

    Tough to rate the defense - the midfield dominated so much I can only really talk about how Fabian Johnson looked light and fast coming forward - Cherundolo was letter perfect. Communication between Cameron, Bocanegra, and Howard could have been better on the goal. Cameron is a good passer but seems to lack a bit of confidence defensively. Could be he settles in with more experience. Gooch didn't look gimpy at all and appeared strong and confident clearing his box. But Scotland was not pressing too hard - again because they were getting overwhelmed in the midfield. Can't wait to see how this setup works to relieve pressure on the back four when we're playing a high quality offensive midfield.
     
  23. dlokteff

    dlokteff Member+

    Jan 22, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    Didn't rewatch but I've spent a whole bunch of time with the chalkboard.

    Defensively, I think you have it almost exactly (except Jones was on the right Bradley on the left). Watching I was really noticing Jones pressuring really high and the stats bear it out. Of his defensive touches 5 out of 6 were in Scotland's half (and the other is really deep I suspect it was clearing a corner, nope just looked Scotland had ZERO corners, LOL).

    Offensively it looks a bit different. First Jones (and Donovan, too) played further right. I'm actually really surprised by how right Jones was. These are his offensive (possession, shots, distribution) that occurred in Scotland's half broken out by 1/4 of the field (LW=touchline to edge of 18, LM=edge of 18 to center circle, etc...):
    LW = 0
    LM = 7
    RM = 19
    RW = 28

    Maybe this is the stats lying a bit, but this really shocked me.

    Then Torres. Looking at it he didn't really play left wing at all offensively, and he was no where near as far forward as Jones. In fact Torres' and Bradley's positioning is eerily similar, and I think they did play closely for a lot of the time. It's from about at the spot where you have Bradley on the field above - they are both there, but I think they played it differently. Torres worked horizontally, getting in positions to layoff or feed balls to the attacking runners. Bradley was one of those attacking runners along with the outside backs, Donovan and Jones). He played vertically.

    Here are the stats by quarter of the field:
    Jose Torres:
    LW = 7
    LM = 11
    RM = 7
    RW = 7

    Bradley:
    LW = 7
    LM = 14
    RM = 15
    RW = 3
     
  24. Bob Morocco

    Bob Morocco Member+

    Aug 11, 2003
    Billings, MT
    How I describe what we played last night is a 4-3-2-1 on offense, Torres and Donovan were free to roam while the 3 CMs had to provide organized cover. On defense we went to a 4-1-4-1, compared to a 4-3-2-1 it was almost like the wide CMs and the AMs switched positions when we went to defense:

    ----------------Boyd----------------
    --------Bradley------Jones---------
    -Torres-------------------Donovan
    -----------------Edu----------------
    -Johnson---------------------Dolo-
    ------------Boca--Cameron--------
    --------------Howard--------------

    Jones and Bradley pressed higher than JFT and LD, who were tasked with marking the opposing fullbacks. This is kind of similar to how Fulham play in their 4-1-4-1 but with less freedom for the wide attacking mids and less overall fluidity.
     
  25. swedust

    swedust Member+

    Aug 30, 2004
    On second viewing:

    Cameron -- was shakier than I saw first time. Still believe in his potential but now I see how he is behind a Goodson type

    Gomez -- really found a way to get meaningful touches on the ball in limited minutes. Has the spark. I have been skeptical of his value but he was very sharp on a closer look.
     

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