Tuesday, November 15, 2011

USMNT Beats Slovenia!

The USMNT defeated Slovenia, 3-2, in an international friendly earlier today. The US came out in a more aggressive formation and scored all three of its goals in the first half. In the 9th minute, Edson Buddle capitalized on a Slovenia turnover deep in its own end, forced by Clint Dempsey. Buddle crushed the loose ball into the corner of the net. Dempsey scored a beautiful header off a Michael Bradley corner in the 41st minute. Fabian Johnson was rewarded for his stellar play in the first half by drawing a penalty in the 42nd minute, and the subsequent penalty kick was put away emphatically by Jozy Altidore for his first goal in the Klinsmann era. Unfortunately, the defense did not play its best, but it was enough to secure the victory.
Here are my five thoughts on the match:
  • Jurgen Klinsmann changed his formation for the US, coming out in a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond as Jozy Altidore and Edson Buddle teamed up front, Clint Dempsey at the point, Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley were wing midfielders, and Kyle Beckerman lined up as a defensive midfielder. The defensive line was (left to right) Timmy Chandler, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, and Steve Cherundolo. Once again, Tim Howard was in goal. You had to like this formation, as the US had nine scoring chances today. They had been averaging only five per match in Klinsmann's first five matches.
  • Johnson and Bradley were both outstanding, especially in the first half. Johnson provides the US with an athletic, offensive-minded midfielder that could cause matchup problems in World Cup qualifying. Bradley was impressive in joining the attack moving forward and had some nice feeds off set pieces. There could be a logjam in the US midfield when Landon Donovan rejoins the team in 2012 and if/when Stuart Holden recovers from his latest knee surgery. Johnson and Bradley made cases for themselves to be in the conversation for the starting 11 in 2012.
  • Altidore once again worked hard and played well, but he has to learn to put away easy scoring opportunities. Again in this match, he had an easy put away in the 11th minute, with Slovenia reeling off Buddle's rocket goal just a couple minutes before. Johnson delivered a beautiful cross right in front of the goal mouth, but Altidore blocked the ball well over the crossbar instead of tapping it into the net. Altidore scored on a well taken penalty later in the first half, but that should have been his second goal of the match.
  • There are concerns over the US defense, especially in the central midfield. Bocanegra made some uncharacteristic errors, including a horrible over the back foul at the top of the box in the final minute that gave Slovenia a chance to tie the match. Thankfully, the free kick was high and the match ended with the US on top. Goodson and Bocanegra did not have their finest performances today and will need to get better to keep their starting positions.
  • Congratulations to The Captain, Carlos Bocanegra, on his 100th cap for the USMNT (for you novices out there, a "cap" is an appearance in an international friendly or competitive match). Klinsmann mentioned in his postmatch comments that the team was very happy to celebrate with a win. Bocanegra is just the 12th American player to reach this milestone.
Now it's your turn...what did you think of the match?

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