Wednesday, May 28, 2008

US-England preview – Which players need to perform?

US vs. England
3p ET/12p PT
TV: ESPN Classic
Text updates at MatchTracker

At long last the match at Wembley is here. The US come into the game on a role while England are still trying to recover from their Euro flop.

In his first two matches as manager Fabio Capello has not won the respect of the English public, but most of them expect that to change today. So how can the US and Bob Bradley keep Capello from celebrating?

First up, they need to withstand the opening 15-minutes. Nerves for the US will be high as the take the pitch, so they must start solid. A string of quality passes and some positive possession will cool things down.

After the first 15, they need to open up the field and find the weakness in the English midfield. I’m not sure who it will be, but there is always one weak link in England’s middle. As an added bonus, they should start working Rooney, trying to get him angry.

But the biggest thing the US needs to do is take the shot. England is not a side that will be confused by endless passing in the box, as they will just intercept and counter. The US must remember that the weakest spot on the whole English roster is in goal, so for the love of all things holy, take the shot and force the keeper to make the save.

If the US can ride the game and keep England from finding net for the first 60-minutes, the crowd will start to turn on their team, which s when the US needs to turn to some speed on the wings to force fouls thus earning dead ball situations.

Then comes the final quarter hour. If the US are still in it, they need to hold tight on defense but they cannot bunker down. England has way too much offensive talent to let them fire shot after shot. Get the ball to Donovan, Dempsey or Adu and let them run with it as chances are good that they will either create something or get fouled in the process.

In the end, England should win this match, but the US has a chance of pulling off a minor miracle match. Either way, the US should challenge for the full 90 and under no circumstances should they get dominated. If they do not look like a time that could win the game, it will be a failure.

So there is the full game plan, how about the individual players? Every time a professional steps into a game, they feel the need to perform, but some are under more pressure then others to make it happen. Below is my take on who needs to make it happen tonight in London.

High Pressure
Dominic Cervi (GK) – He is very unlikely to see a minute of playing time, but if he does, it will be his biggest interview possible to land a club spot.

Michael Orozco (D) – He is having a very solid season with San Luis and did some good things in Olympic Qualification, but has not shown it with the full team. With a possible opening coming in the central back, a good show might force some pressure on Bradley to take a risk.

Jay DeMerit (D) – After a long break due to injury, DeMerit needs a good night (or at least a good camp) to argue that he is still a factor in the US’s future.

Dan Califf (D) – There might finally be an opening for Califf to punch through. He has looked great in Denmark, but hasn’t had his time to shine with the senor squad.

Ricardo Clark (M) – Pushing his way into the over populated US midfield is going to be a struggle. He has done a good job so far, but he hasn’t stood out.

Freddy Adu (M) – His move to Benfica has not turned out that way he wanted. Three coaches and no playing time is not the way to develop. He has shown what he can do on the youth teams, but if he wants to move clubs, he needs to show with the big boys.

Landon Donovan (F) – Donovan’s 100th cap sees him as a lock for 2010, but there is still the issue of not being able to get it done outside of the US or in high pressure situations. Against Poland he showed what he could do, but he must prove it wasn’t a fluke. Plus, if there is any truth to the ‘he wants to try Europe again’ rumors, a showing against England makes it a lot easier.

Nate Jaqua (F) – Even with the light pool the US has in forward, many our wondering why Jaqua? He had an excellent past year with Houston and his Austrian club, so the nod is deserved, but he needs to show internationally.

Eddie Johnson (F) – With every game that passes by, Johnson looks less and less like the go to guy for the US. His bad time with Fulham combined with the pressure from Jozy Altidore means EJ needs to produce because his chances are running out.

Medium Pressure
Brad Guzan (GK) – He still looks good for a move to Europe, however if he gets minutes in this game, he needs to show that his bad start to the MLS season is just a hiccup.

Carlos Bocanegra (D) – Dumped by his club after riding the bench for months is not the way to keep your spot. With Orozco and Califf coming on strong, Boc needs to show he still has it.

Heath Pearce (D) – The left side is wide open because nobody has made it their own. Pearce is getting his chance.

Jonathan Spector (D) – Looks like he with have limited minutes if any, but if he does take the pitch, Spector we need to show his versatility in the backline.

DaMarcus Beasley (M) – After being out so long due to injury, Beasley needs to show that he is ready for competitive matches. Oh, and he needs to not re-injure himself.

Maurice Edu (M) – A late add of a young player probably means no minutes, but if he does get in, he needs to give Bradley a reason to call him in that does not involve an injury to another player.

Josh Wolff (F) – No contract and getting up there in age, Wolff is a long shot for 2010, but if no one else steps up as a quality forward, he might find his way to South Africa.

Low Pressure
Tim Howard (GK) – Even with all the quality competition between the posts, the big gloves of the US are Howard’s. Add to it his work at Everton and he’s got nothing to worry about.

Oguchi Onyewu (D) – His time in Belgium has served him well. He is looking smart in the back and not committing many dumb fouls. Now if only he could work on his speed.

Frankie Hejduk (D) – Unless some really strange things happen, Frankie is not going to be in South Africa in 2010 and he’s not looking to change clubs, so he has no pressure.

Steve Cherundolo (D) – Had a good season in Germany and no one else is really breathing down his neck at right back, so enjoy this one.

Michael Bradley (M) – After the season he has had with Heerenveen, there is no question that he will be a key part of the 2010 US run. With a move to England likely this summer, this game is a perfect place to introduce himself to the EPL fans.

Eddie Lewis (M) – Much like Hejduk, Lewis is not going to be part of 2010. He should bring a calm to the team in the middle.

Clint Dempsey (F) – A lock for club and country, but he has not looked so great this calendar year. His first full English campaign has taken it out of him, but he needs to show he can still be creative even when tired.

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Anonymous Thomas Rooney said...

I think England will come out on top tonight. Not really sure why as it is a meaningless friendly for us. Should be an entertaining match.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous US Soccer said...

The real problem is no one really cares about this game or any other soccer match,

2:17 PM  

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