World Cup: USA v. Slovenia Preview

Is it an exaggeration to say that the USA's game with Slovenia tomorrow is its most important since its knockout round win over Mexico in 2002? I do not think so.

Off of a lucky draw with England in its first match, the USA can virtually assure itself of getting through to the round of 16 with a win over Slovenia tomorrow. A loss would almost certainly knock them out. A draw would force a USA win in its third game, against Algeria to even have a chance to go through.

Should the USA win this game? Yes. Because the USA should win, this becomes a huge, pressure filled game. I hope Bob Bradley puts the right team on the field. I thought he did not in the game against England. On the flip,what I think Bradley should do.

Slovenia is a pedestrian team with meager offensive skills. They will play tight and defensive and hope for a counter goal. The theory is that the USA will have to be more offensive minded to get the win, I agree. But there are different ways to be offensive minded.

After watching a week of the World Cup, I have become convinced that the new Adidas ball is not conducive to possession-based attacks with long buildups. It is conducive to long runs and passes, and shots from outside the penalty box.

USA should put on the field on the offensive side good shooters and players with pace. That of course means Donovan, Dempsey and Altidore. But, in my view, it does not mean Robbie Findley, who has speed, but no long run potential nor is he a finisher. Edson Buddle is opportunistic and shoots. He should clearly start over Findley (if not Buddle, then Hercules Gomez.)

As holding midfielders, Michael Bradley should start again; Ricardo Clark should not. Because Clark is inept at offense, he has gained a reputation as a good defender. I do not see it. Clark makes too many mistakes (such as his mistake on Gerrard that led to England's goal in the first game.) Clark will make the same type of mistakes against Slovenia. I would start Stuart Holden, who not only will be a better defender than Clark, but will get the ball quickly to Donovan or Dempsey. In short, I think Holden is the better player period.

The defense is what it is. Bradley is playing his best 4 and there is nothing more that can be done about that. Cherundulo had a very good game moving forward against England, but I would ask him to stay home more in this game.

In short, I would play conservative at the back and hope that our stars- Donovan, Dempsey and Altidore - can find ways to shoot, and score.

Given the conditions (including the ball) and the relative skills of the teams, this is, in my view, the best strategy for USA.

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    Game time and (none / 0) (#1)
    by nycstray on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:23:58 PM EST
    broadcast info?

    9:30 am EST tomorrow (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:25:25 PM EST
    on ESPN.

    Cool, Thanks! (none / 0) (#3)
    by nycstray on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:29:32 PM EST
    and Univision.... (none / 0) (#13)
    by magster on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 06:50:12 PM EST
    for those who are cable or satellite TV impaired.

    Correct (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 06:52:38 PM EST
    So you can get uni on reg TV? (none / 0) (#15)
    by nycstray on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 06:55:55 PM EST
    Hmmm, I may have to take my portable into the garden and have the game on while I putz in da dirt :)

    You'll need a converter (none / 0) (#17)
    by magster on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 07:05:50 PM EST
    because it's an HD signal now.

    I think it is HD (none / 0) (#18)
    by nycstray on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 07:20:57 PM EST
    bought it just a couple months ago. If it doesn't work, I'll just stay indoors and knock off a couple hours of work during the game ;)

    Did you watch Mexico beat France? (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:30:04 PM EST
    Was Cuba not invited, not good enough to qualify, didn't trust players to not defect?

    I did (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:32:37 PM EST
    France looked terrible.

    Henry should have played.


    Cuba did not qualify. Is looking ahead (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:37:35 PM EST
    to Brazil 2014:  FIFA

    it isn't by invite (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jen M on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:43:18 PM EST
    (almost) every country that can scrape together a team starts playing every other country in their area. (Europe, Africa, Asia, Americas, etc) years ahead of time.  The World Cup is the end result of all those qualifying games.  

    Jose Torres, NOT (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:39:58 PM EST
    Stuart Holdneis what most USA watchers/supporters seem to want instead of Clark.

    Personally, I prefer Holden to Torres. The reason is the Adidas ball. Torres is a possession player:

    "That also means a dynamic passer, such as midfielder Jose Torres, could be added to the starting lineup. Torres certainly sounds as though he has the right mind-set to find whatever holes exist in the Slovenian defense.

    "When a team sits back and they're just waiting for a counterattack, a team has to be patient and has to have possession of the ball -- not look for the long ball and just see what we can get off of that," Torres said. "This is where the experience comes out of every player, you know? We have to keep possession and not get frustrated, and let them come out a little bit. And when there's open gaps try to put the ball through and try to make something happen.""

    This is the wrong player for this spot imo.

    But, to be clear, my opinion is the minority. Most folks can only see Holden as playing in the Donovan/Dempsey role. Those who would play Holden would move Dempsey up to forward (for Findley) and keep Clark in.

    That seems absolutely wrong to me. Getting Clark off the field is essential.

    If I were a world class soccer player (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:51:05 PM EST
    I would rabble rouse my player's union to push for FIFA to stop changing the soccer ball at will.  How fair is that?  Of course it is really unfair to every player.  What if they did that in baseball?

    The new ball (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 05:53:42 PM EST
    makes money for everybody.

    So would corked bats. (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 06:26:30 PM EST
    So DID corked bats (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 06:39:29 PM EST
    Fair enough, the point is made... (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 11:58:55 PM EST
    Agree and disagree (none / 0) (#16)
    by steviez314 on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 07:01:01 PM EST
    Agree about Buddle over Findley.  Slovenia will play back and won't be vulnerable to speed behind them.  There just won't be room.  Besides, when I coached my daughter's soccer team 15 years ago, my professional coach was Winston Buddle, Edson's dad.  He used to bring Edson to help our practices sometimes.  Great kid.

    Would rather have Torres.  I miss the Reyna ball possesion and passing.  There needs to be better connection to the forwards.  If Torres plays though, Michael Bradley better concentrate on D more.

    I disagree strongly about the ball.  I see countless shots from 18+ that keep sailing way over the goal like they're taking off from LaGuardia.  On free kicks, the ball can't seem to be made to dip after clearing the wall.  How many corners have sailed long all the way across the field.  And how many long downfield passes just keep going and going.  It seems impossible to get any backspin on the thing.

    Maybe it's not the ball.  I find the offensive play to be pretty poor so far--goals on deflections, scrambles, lousy offside traps, etc.

    stevie's back! (none / 0) (#21)
    by lilburro on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 09:14:05 PM EST
    cute story about Buddle.  

    I am just hoping that tomorrow my boss who was kind enough to uncork some champagne during Obama's inauguration (a workday) will be as sympathetic to me paying a little too much attention to the game tomorrow....


    We should win (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 07:42:17 PM EST
    But I saw a lot to be disappointed in in the US/ENGLAND game.  It was first round, and a new wierd ball, I should have some optimism but I feel grumpy about it tonight.

    Capt Howdy's new game creation (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 07:48:37 PM EST
    has a live demo.  I'll probably lose my computer to Joshua tomorrow as soon as he finds out.