Sunday, June 08, 2008

US-Argentina preview - Who needs to perform?

US vs. Argentina
7:30p ET/4:30p PT
TV: ESPN Classic and Galavision
Internet: ESPN 360
Text call at Matchtracker

The final game of the US’s triple crown takes place in just a feel hours with a great deal on the line. Since this is the final match before World Cup Qualifying starts, the US men need a good outing not only to gain confidence, but to give US fans a reason to hopefully about things to come.

Bob Bradley has not called Jozy Altidore in for this match, which means the forward spots are wide open. Look for Eddie Johnson to get one more look to finally make it happen, but Kenny Cooper could be a second half sub.

In midfield, all eyes will be on Freddy Adu as we see if he can continue his strong showing from Spain. But his big question is can he work well with Donovan.

Finally, the backline looks to get figured out tonight. With Bocanegra off the roster, the center spot with Onyewu is open.

Argentina has most of their first team in for this one and after dismissing Mexico 4-1 on Wednesday night, they are looking to take down the other CONCACAF big weight.

There really is no way the US can win this game, but if they can pull off a tie and control stretches of the game, it will be big for the team.

Here are the players that need to perform:

High Pressure
Dominic Cervi (GK) – If he sees time, it will be due to an injury to Guzan or Howard. He will need to prove that he’s got something good.
Dan Califf (D) – With a center position open, this game could go a long way to deciding his story with the senior side.
Jay DeMerit (D) – He has everything in common today with Califf.
Heath Pearce (D) – He has placed his claim on the left side, but can he hold it?
Drew Moor (D) – With Pearce looking strong, Moor will need to give Bob Bradley a reason to look his way more often.
Freddy Adu (M) – He was the creativity against Spain, but can he do it again? If he can and if he can be the person that frees Donovan with quality passes, it will be hard to deny him more starts.
Michael Bradley (M) – Not his best over the last two. Where is the control, where is the smart pass and where has his first touch gone?
Maurice Edu (M) - Bradley needs a new Reyna to control things, might Edu become that player?
Sacha Kljestan (M) – Needs to give some versatility so earn more caps.
Pablo Mastroeni (M) – Looked good against Spain. Another positive night and he might just be past the World Cup red card.
Landon Donovan (F) – Mister Century Mark could silence his critics today with a performance against the top team in the world.
Eddie Johnson (F) – He has looked much better in creating chances, but a striker needs to be able to strike. So many opportunities against Spain, but no danger, that must change.
Kenny Cooper (F) – The US is dieing for someone to come in and give them a point man up top. Cooper has the size and pace, but does he have the killer finish?

Medium Pressure
Brad Guzan (GK) – He was better against England then Spain, will need to control his backline better.
Steve Cherundolo (D) – Can he control against explosive talent?
Frankie Hejduk (D) – Old-timer has looked very solid. Keep it up and he might get a chance at another Cup.
Oguchi Onyewu (D) – The best defender so far. He is controlling his size better and not giving up many cheap fouls, but there have been communication failures.
DaMarcus Beasley (M) – His spark is still off. Needs to give an option done the side.
Eddie Lewis (M) – Might his age be the reason to keep him? If he can bring a calm to the side, he might have more caps coming.
Clint Dempsey (F) – Clint is exhausted and has been absent for most of the last two games. If he wants to be part of this month’s qualifiers he needs to give something.

Low Pressure
Tim Howard (GK) – This is the kind of match that can make him into a folk hero of US Soccer (see Keller vs. Brazil 1998 for reference)

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