USA vs. Costa Rica 9/2 - the Midfield

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by schrutebuck, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. schrutebuck

    schrutebuck Member+

    Jul 26, 2007
  2. INKRO

    INKRO Member+

    Jul 28, 2011
    Michael needs to get settled at Chievo pronto.
  3. schrutebuck

    schrutebuck Member+

    Jul 26, 2007
    The weakness of the midfield possession strategy was demonstrated when Costa Rica was pressuring the backline. Edu and Torres did not do a good job getting open for them and that's what caused some of the turnovers and near-disasters.

    When the backline was able to work it upfield from these spots, however, good opportunities were created on the counter.

    Torres was very effective at receiving the ball and maintaining possession. He had good passing and worked the ball reasonably fast.

    Edu did his job as destroyer well enough but had little to do until late in the match when he had to push forward.

    Shea was better than Rogers. They both lost the ball a lot, but Shea at least created some opportunities with his dribbling down the wing.

    Donovan had a match to forget, highlighted by the shot he didn't take in the 44th minute.
  4. the Next Level

    Mar 18, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Guys Shea and Rogers were not midfield players. They were forwards in a 4-3-3.

    Landon did a poor job of staying connected with his midfield cohort. Especially when the team lost possession. Pressuring the CB should have been left to the FWs and he should have stayed in midfield linked to Torres and Edu. The fact that he did not do this left those two to cover WAY too much ground and they were gassed by the end of the first half.

    Also it killed the team shape which meant Rogers and Shea had to cover a whole lot more ground.

    Basically as the midfield lost cohesiveness, the team began to fall apart. But that is pretty much the personality of a 4-3-3.
  5. jaxonmills

    jaxonmills Member+

    Aug 26, 2011
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Agreed. If we want Landon playing behind the striker, it needs to be a 4-4-1-1 or something like that. Perhaps as a CAM in a 4-2-3-1, but being the 4th most advanced player in a 4-3-3 isn't an attacking enough role for him. We would've been better off tonight with Klejstan (an actual CM) centrally and Donovan on the right for Rogers, or Donovan centrally with the wings pulled back far enough to link up with Torres and Edu.

    I also think our back line might not have been high enough as a unit while we were attacking. I just felt like we were spread thin in the center of the field.
  6. FlashMan

    FlashMan Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Donovan was awful. Almost the worst game I've ever seen him play.

    Shea is gassed. He had a great first 20 minutes and just ran completely out of steam. He's played more games in the last 2 months and travelled more than basically any player in MLS/National team history so far as I can tell. FCD has had at least 2 games a week basically during the entire stretch, plus he's played national team games....he just needs a break.

    Rogers was just pretty dang awful in general. While capable of moments of brilliance, I just don't think he's capable of being a full time national team player.

    I thought Torres was great. The kid's got definite game and definite potential for the future.
  7. the Next Level

    Mar 18, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Remember as we discuss midfield we are only talking about Donovan, Torres, Edu, and Klejstan.

    Shea, Rogers, Agudelo, Altidore were forwards.
  8. FlashMan

    FlashMan Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That seems like a silly restriction to make. We all know Shea and Rogers are wing midfielders which is essentially what they were playing last night, albeit more forward on the field. The only true forwards on the field last night were Altidore and Agudelo.
  9. the Next Level

    Mar 18, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Nope. 4-3-3.

    The 3 are FORWARDS not any sort of wing MFs. That is one of the tactical mistakes our players and coaches make.

    In a 4-3-3 the 3 FWs press the opposition DF which should limit their ability to build comfortably out of the back. The formation requires the midfield 3 to stay connected and the back line to play high.

    Now if the players played their roles poorly that's another story...
  10. idiot wind

    idiot wind Member

    Mar 12, 2004
    Edu played the best game by a USMNT defensive midfielder I have seen in years (though I did not get to see the last 15 minutes).

    Things fell apart when Torres got pulled back to a deeper position to start the second half. He was much less effective offensively and slowed the game down horribly which favored CR.
  11. Mr Martin

    Mr Martin Member+

    Jun 12, 2002
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think you are being a bit too dogmatic in this strict 4-3-3 interpretation. The modern 4-3-3/4-5-1 that Klinsi appears to be using is designed to be flexible. I see no problem with viewing Rogers and Shea as attacking wing MIDFIELDERS in this match.

    Either way, as "forwards" or "midfielders", Shea was pedestrian and Rogers below average.

    Donovan wasn't horrid, but he was described by Klinsi recently as a "#10", and as such I don't think he was effective and couldn't drive the game. I think as he ages, we will see more up and down from him no matter what role he plays. The strong consistancy of 2009 and 2010 can't be counted on. I think we saw the same thing at the Gold Cup, where he had good and weak moments and seemed a bit slower and below his excellent standards.

    Torres was the best mid (overall MotM, too) and circulated the ball very well. We have seen him play well against certain teams before, and vs CONCACAF he is a valuable guy. Still don't understand why BB don't take him to the Gold Cup, where his skill set would have been useful. That said, his poorest performances for the US were vs Holland and vs Slovenia. Torres has to start vs Belgium, and I think that will be a HUGE game for him to show if he can progress beyond CONCACAF role-playing status to being a core player for the US.

    Edu was really solid most of the match. Did what was required, but didn't stand out, either.
  12. Arid_Torpor

    Arid_Torpor Member

    Jun 1, 2006
    Durham, NC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    After the first 30 minutes, Torres was one of very few bright spots. He may well have been MOTM.

    Shea, however you're designating him, started well but fell off.

    Edu was quiet, which is find for a DM; it was hard for me to tell how much responsibility he had for CRC's increased attacking in the second half.

    Rogers, however you're designating him, was not good.

    Not really sure what to say about Donovan.
  13. Cannons

    Cannons Member+

    May 16, 2005
    Torres is pure class and plays like a young Reyna. His passing is first rate and he can create. BB's player selection was often strange and I always felt he didnt like skill players like Torres but preferred muckers and bangers in the midfield. I think Klinsi is smart enough to know what a Torres brings. Bob never was

    I also think we will see MB having to actually fight for a place and then fight for minutes. His game doesn't really match what it appears Klinsi is trying to build. Edu played well, then there's Jones and now he's looking at Jeff L.
  14. goussoccer

    goussoccer Member+

    May 23, 2001
    Avon, CT
    The midfield (and I include the wing midfielders in this assessment) had moments, but as the game progressed, lost their legs. It's clear we still have a lot to learn about the possession, quick passing game. If we are going to do that our spacing and support needs to get much, much better. There were a number of times where you would see a player with the ball out wide and 4 defenders around him and no other US player within 10-15 yards. You need better support than that if you want to play that game.

    The other piece of that game is how to pace yourself - it's a long game. It almost seemed like we ran ourselves ragged with our possession game rather than running Costa Rico ragged.

    My sense of the players was:

    Edu - finally played as well as I hoped he could...not fantastic, but better than some recent games, I wonder if it has to do with the tactics around him or not.

    Landon - he has never shown well in the congestion that is the middle of the field at the international level. This seemed to be yet another example of that. Not terrible, but not what you expect. And missing that opportunity early was a huge mistake.

    Torres - a real 'breakout' game for him. He controlled the game, heads and shoulders above Landon. Took hits, protected the ball and distributed very well.

    Shea - a work in progress, but showed some flashes and insight into the game needs to be more consistent.

    Rogers - a much bigger work in progress. He does not see the game around him very well it seems. Once or twice he held the ball too long before making the pass other times, he held the ball too period to lose it. Has some speed, but his tactical awareness and speed of thought is well below what is needed of a USMNT starter.

    Sasha - I thought he did well for the time he was out there. Better movement and vision.

    That all said - as I've said elsewhere - it was a pleasure to watch the US come out and attack and control the game. I'm willing to put with a couple of inconsistent games like last night for the team to get the hang of this. Certainly having our 'A' team will help quite a bit. A midfield group of Torres, Holden, Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, Jones and Edu is not a bad group to select from and Shea showed that he is going to be knocking on that door soon. Sasha is in the discussion but on the fringes right now.
  15. the Next Level

    Mar 18, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    In this game the FWs didn't do their job. They have two jobs: 1) to create and get on the end of chances when in possession, and 2) to press the opposition defenders when not in possession.

    The only FW doing these was Jozy. The other two were nearly entirely undangerous in possession and played too far back in defense. In a 4-3-3 the FWs are tasked with creating their own chances.

    These players were lacking quality in the game and that hurt the midfield, who in a 4-3-3 is mainly required to get them the ball in the attacking third and provide support. Our players seemed to lose the plot after 30 min or so and seemed to revert back to Bob's ball.

    Not that I have a problem with Bob ball, but it's clearly not what we are doing anymore.
  16. dwsmith1972

    dwsmith1972 BigSoccer Supporter

    May 11, 2007
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That Slovenia/Holland are generally viewed has poor games [halves] by Torres in hindsight says more to me about how he was used than him. In a flat 4-4-2 in the center paired with a CM with a similar mandate, might be asking things of him for which he is not well suited. He did quite well in the half he played against Turkey when he was asked to sit in front of the back line and distribute the ball as a pivot.
  17. TrueCrew

    TrueCrew Member+

    Dec 22, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Nope. Just because John Harkes said it on TV doesn't make it true, or ESPN put it on it's graphic.

    Last night was 4-1-3-1-1. Shea and Rogers were not forwards in my opinion. No way were Shea and Rogers forwards, did you see how often Jozy was isolated? Were your eyes open? Wide midfielders for certain.

    Plus, Donovan wasn't playing BEHIND three forwards, he was the #10 playing a free role behind Altidore. He was often the most advanced player on the pitch (besides Altidore). Did you see Shea and Rogers pressuring their CB's much when they were trying to play out of the back? Nope. Jozy the most. Donovan 2nd.

    Hate to disagree to vociferously, as I know nomenclature can be tricky, or in the eye of the beholder, but I don't really see a very good case for a 4-3-3 based on last night, much less a definitive one that would justify excluding Rogers and Shea from the discussion and including Donovan.

    So do you think Kljestan was a forward when he come on for Rogers? That's why the Agudelo/Altidore swap was made, we had 1 true forward, like for like, with LD palying WC/CAM, and essentially a diamond behind them (DM = Edu, RW = Rogers, CM = Torres, LW = Shea). I'd call it 4-4-1-1, before 4-3-3.



    NOT this:


    Donovan was in front of Torres, not next to him. And mostly in front of Rogers/Shea, especially pressuring the CB's, which would be done by the wide "forwards" if this were truly a 4-3-3.

    As to who played the best.

    Torres was the best of the bunch. Showed a surprising amount of defense early, but continued to gamble for interceptions that were working early, but not late, and CR got some opportunities to break as a result. Still, some very good passing, especially early. The ball to Shea early was brilliant.

    I though Edu was very good. Some nifty passing and very good tackling. Like everyone else, he faded a bit late, but not as much as Shea.

    Shea looked gassed after the early interchanges were he looked really good. But was off a bit on the last ball a couple times. The one to Donovan was spot on, LD just blew it.

    Rogers had some nice moments, but he just doesn't have a good enough first touch to be effective. Once he settles the ball, the D is set, and his speed is useless. He has to be playing through to use it properly, or just have tons of space in front of him.

    LD, if one wants to call him a MF, had good moments, but shanked one shot, and then chickened out in '44. You've got to want to take that shot. That was a Landycakes moment. His FK's and corners weren't very good for the most part. I'd like to see Torres and Kljestan take some.

    I thought Kljestan did very well in limited minutes. Though I prefer him inside. He doesn't have the speed, but his touch and vision are way better than Rogers.
  18. drumline123

    drumline123 Member

    Aug 13, 2010
    Real Madrid
    Rogers to me is a usmnt sub. Im hoping stuart holden returns to his pre-injury form. i think he is the creativity that were missing.
  19. manq360

    manq360 Member+

    Jun 17, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Portland Timbers
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Donovan has a real problem with playing the true #10. I am not sure why, but he does not seem to be able to stay in the middle and direct traffic. Someone mentioned his problem in 2006 was having Reyna behind him and deferring to him. I am beginning to wonder if it is just not the position that is troubling for him. JK mentioned that he was "over-talented" which could mean that LD can play a number of positions but has a hard time sticking to one. Maybe he is resisting the fact that he is slowing down somewhat and cannot be as an effective winger as previously. JK wants him in the middle...can he adjust to this restrictive position? In either case, we all know he has many up and down games behind him. I am anxious to see a game without him. Maybe he has become like Reyna, kind of outlasting his usefulness, even though I still think he is a tremendous player.

    Though Edu did a really good job, but, as so many of the other players, tired in second half. These guys should all be in-game fitness...what is the problem? Too much pressure?

    In any case, looking forward now to the Belgium match.
  20. SecludedMonkey

    SecludedMonkey New Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I thought Donovan was awful most of the game. Should have been pulled at half-time.
  21. beto07010

    beto07010 Member

    Aug 4, 2011

    I differ with you in that this is how I saw it:


    Shea and Rogers where definitely not forwards last night. A lot of the times Landon was behind the wingers, but for the most part they created that line above Torres. But you can't possibly say that Shea and Rogers were forwards, I don't mean to imply that you were the one saying that, however...
  22. beto07010

    beto07010 Member

    Aug 4, 2011
  23. dlokteff

    dlokteff Member+

    Jan 22, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    He was subbed at half-time. Whait, whaaa, he wasn't?
  24. Arisrules

    Arisrules Member

    Feb 19, 2000
    Washington, DC
    Donovan is a nice to have, he's not a player you build your team around, especially at the international level. He comes in and out of games too often. If Klinsi is going to build the offense around Donovan in that respect, with him as the 10, and the game flowing through him, it's going to suck.

    Also, why was this Torres' breakout game? We know what he brings to the table. Bob should have called him in against CONCACAF competition, but once he gets closely marked, he usually wilts. Also, not to rain on all the adulation, but Torres did a lot of ball watching, especially after some poor passes.

    Shea is a beast, but he shouldn't have played for that long. He has played too many minutes recently, and it was ridiculous.

    Rogers is average.

    Edu is fine, but he's still below Bradley and Jones in my book. He's below Beckerman I feel as well. I don't care that he plays for Rangers, SPL is about equal to MLS.
  25. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

    Jul 10, 2001
    I'm curious to see Torres against Belgium too. I'd be tempted to play him in the CAM role against them. Play Edu and Beckerman behind him. When playing a good team on the road you have to set things up a bit more conservatively. I think this would give us a stronger defensive spine up the middle and minimize any defensive liabilities from Torres.

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