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Member since 12 August 2011 | Blog

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  • SPORTS MOMENT: Being able to witness the 2006 game between #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan. It is something I will never, ever forget. Electric moment in time with a buildup that was second to none, and a game result to match.
  • NFL TEAM: Cincinnati Bengals
  • NHL TEAM: Columbus Blue Jackets
  • MLB TEAM: Cincinnati Reds

Recent Activity

Comment 01 Jul 2014

There's some talk on Twitter about this, and I wonder myself if this formation could possibly morph into more of a 3-4-3, with Cameron dropping deeper between Omar and Besler, and Fabian/Beasley getting up the field into the attack to put pressure on Belgium's wings.  Belgium, much like Germany, do not really have fullbacks - instead having guys who play centrally for their clubs.  They also like to attack from their wings, so if the US can force pressure on Belgium's back four, it may cause Hazard/Mertens to have to retreat a bit to help in defense.

I don't know.. it's tough to do something new like this all of a sudden - hopefully Jurgen's had this idea of Cameron as CDM in his back pocket for a while and just hadn't shown it yet.

Comment 01 Jul 2014

Read on Twitter (Grant Wahl) that the US were told by coaches (and are presenting to FIFA) their formation is a 4-3-3 rather than 4-5-1.  Doing this to suggest "an attacking mentality."

Comment 01 Jul 2014

Jurgen still says he's available, but he won't be starting obviously.  I don't think we'll know if he's really "available" until he enters the game, or just doesn't make an appearance.  My guess is he doesn't play today.

Comment 01 Jul 2014

The lineups are out:

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Van Buyten, Vertonghen, Witsel, De Bruyne, Fellaini, Hazard, Mertens, Origi

US: Howard, Johnson, González, Besler, Beasley, Cameron, Jones, Bedoya, Bradley, Zusi, Dempsey

Comment 01 Jul 2014

Just saw a stat that the US was the only group winner in 2010 to lose their Round of 16 game.  Might they have some payback, to become the only 2nd place group finisher in 2014 to advance to the quarterfinals?

Comment 01 Jul 2014

I guess I'm stating more of what I would do.  Bradley hasn't been himself as the attacking mid.  Whether he's tired or not, he looks it at times when on the ball.  He also has had very few options ahead of him.  This is a game where the US need more of the ball.  Slotting him further back allows him to win more balls, and then still pull the strings in the attack.  He can pick his spots on when to make runs forward.  Probably his best trait (that we've been unable to see with his current role) is the late runs he makes into the attacking third that can go unaccounted for by the defense.

Also, Belgium is much stronger on the wings than they are in central midfield.  The three man center midfield for the US isn't as necessary to control Belgium as it was against Ghana, who are much stronger and dominant centrally than on the flanks.  Playing the diamond midfield, especially the way the US have played it recently, leaves the flanks open quite often.  Against Ghana and Germany, the US were content to give up the overlapping runs outside.  Hazard and Mertens/DeBruyne are too good to allow them a head of steam coming at the backline.

Dempsey needs the ball facing the goal to be most effective.  He's done well replacing Jozy, but he's not going to win many foot races, and he's not going to hold the ball up as well as Jozy.  IMO, he needs to play more of the #10 role, but be of one mindset - attack attack attack!

Comment 01 Jul 2014

This is the question.  If Jozy really is available to play I agree he probably should start.  You ride with him as long as he can go.  If you bring him on late and he can't go or reinjures himself, you've wasted a sub.  However, maybe he really is feeling better and the risk I speak of is not relevant.  I don't know, but I'd tend to think that risk still exists.

IF he plays, it could shift the lineup quite a bit.  Do they play him alone up top?  That would be a lot of running for Jozy and a lot of holdup play.  If they put him up top with Dempsey, then either Beckerman comes off, or Jones has to play more of an outside mid role.

Personally, if Jozy is available to go for the first half or a bit longer, I'd go 4-4-2 with:


I'd have Dempsey play as more of a #10, or withdrawn striker.  Make sure he pairs up with Altidore so each has an outlet.  In a perfect world, you have the lead with 30 minutes to go.  I'd sub on Yedlin at outside mid for either Zusi or Bedoya (whichever needs it more), bring on Mix for Jozy and put Dempsey back up top as a lone striker, with Mix as a true attacking mid.  Then, hopefully you continue the lead and can sub on Beckerman for Jermaine Jones to play the destroyer role and you have more of a 4-1-4-1.

This puts Bradley in his more natural role of holding mid, and it gives him the ability to have the ball and play to targets he hasn't had for basically the entire group play.  Yet, he can still pull the strings of the attack.  He has run A LOT in this tournament.  Maybe it is time to allow him to pick his spots instead of constantly generating the attack as well as dictating the defensive pressure.

Comment 27 Jun 2014

Believe me - my comment wasn't meant to paint a broad stroke and include every single youth player in that group.  Obviously there are plenty of individuals who do commit themselves to the game, and some groups who commit together.  There special circumstances and outliers to the general public.  However, in general I believe what I wrote holds true.

I coach a bit.  Our team is generally pretty successful in our area.  Yet, we're filled with some kids who love the sport and spend some of their free time touching the ball, and others who don't understand the game at all.  It's just something for them to do and be involved in.  And that is fine, but as a "soccer nation" we have far too many talented players who just don't commit themselves to their craft until later in their playing careers, or haven't familiarized themselves enough with the game.

Comment 27 Jun 2014

COMPLETELY agree with you here.  If you don't like soccer, fine.  Just don't tell me it's dull, the players aren't "tough" or "courageous", or attack it in general.  If someone wants me to explain why I love it, I will.  But there's no need to convince anybody.

Comment 27 Jun 2014

Two teams at two different ends of the spectrum that hopefully give AC a good chance at catching on.  The Sixers are terrible and need players who can make a difference.  The Warriors could be going for championship pieces (trading some assets and getting rid of some salary to take on Kevin Love), which could leave them with a few roster spots open and only the league minimum to offer.

Good luck to Aaron - hopefully he makes a great impression on the court and somebody gives this kid his chance!

Comment 27 Jun 2014

Welp.. At least you said it's your opinion.  No downvote from me.  But, I strongly disagree.  You may have more physical confrontation in football, but that doesn't make you any more courageous or determined than an athlete of a different sport.

Comment 27 Jun 2014

I'm glad I saw this post in its infancy, because it's a great topic for discussion for those of us who played or love soccer.

I completely agree with where you are going here.  Soccer is a player's game, and the skill required to be successful at the top level is something that can trump the "athleticism" advantage that someone else may have.  Many of us familiar with soccer have heard the term "let the ball do the work" and that really is the definition of the beautiful game.  Moving the ball around successfully into areas quicker and more efficiently than a defense can contain is what makes you a potent attacking side.  The ball, in motion, generally moves at a much faster rate than a runner.  What does it take in order to do that?  Touch and understanding, just like you said.  More importantly, first touch and understanding of the game.

This is where the US still lacks in comparison to other nations.  Kids grow up in Brazil, Germany, France, England, Italy, Argentina, and so on, dreaming of playing for Manchester United or Barcelona, or playing in a World Cup.  They spend free time dribbling, juggling, playing pickup with other kids in the streets or fields.  Most do not have the luxury of video games.  They do not have the ease of viewing television as most American kids do.  Instead, they develop a natural feel for the ball and for the game because it is what they do.

Americans, rather, are resigned to getting kids to commit to a club team by paying money for "top coaching" (which is normally a crock).  Kids play when they're at practice.  They're drilled to understand the game through the eyes of their coaches or teammates.  They spend little, if any, free time playing freely and without instruction.  The one advantage they do have over many other nations - the ability to watch soccer on cable at almost any time of the day - is rarely used.

All this goes back to your main point of top athlete vs. best skills.  If you put the best athletes in the world against the best skill, best skill wins every time in soccer.  Obviously amazing athleticism paired with top level skill is the best alternative, but in America we aren't quite there yet.  In time, hopefully.

Comment 27 Jun 2014

AND those percentages are predicated on what has happened in the past to put Belgium/United States at their power index rankings, not as much on their current form.  Belgium has looked as pedestrian as you possibly can while still going through with 3 victories.  Coming out of probably the easiest of groups, how battle tested will they be?

Comment 27 Jun 2014

I'll say this - after watching much of yesterday's game against Korea, and having seen bits and pieces of their bout with Algeria, I'm not impressed at all with the current form of Belgium.  For having so many world class players, they really struggle to combine their pieces into anything of a cohesive unit.  I'm not "happy" to see the US paired with the Belgians, but I'm also not scared of the matchup like I, and so many others, were prior to the start of the Cup.  They've looked pedestrian for long stretches.

The US is keeping shape so well defensively, and they've had stretches of good possession the past two games.  It is now time to take it to the next level.  Can they do it?  I think so, but it will take a massive effort again from players who have worked their tails off so far for 270 minutes plus.

Comment 27 Jun 2014

Agree on the Altidore bit here.  He injured himself on 6/16.  It will be almost exactly two weeks of rehab time for him prior to the first knockout game.  Even if healthy, I doubt his stamina and form will be quite where it needs to be to go a full 90 minutes (if he can go at all).  His presence has surely been missed - Dempsey has done a good job up top, but it's easy to see he's not a natural target man, and we've not gotten a chance to see much of Clint with the ball, running at a defense.  Altidore against Belgium, even for 45 minutes, could be gigantic.

The question though becomes - who is taken off the field?  Does Jones move to a more wide position when he's been the best field player by far for the US in this Cup?  Do the US go back to the diamond midfield, with Jozy and Clint up top?  Interesting, interesting questions to be had and all depend on the health and availability of Jozy.

Comment 26 Jun 2014

It's true - many people within the German team and national program have hinted at that.  Not that anyone has come out and said it (although Philip Lahm may have actually said the words, not sure), but it is fairly common knowledge that Loew was seen as the tactical genius behind the German team in '06, and Jurgen's greatest (only) attributes were his commitment to physical training and the sense of belief he instilled in a young side.

Comment 24 Jun 2014

This is gold, Lavelli.  Gold.

Comment 24 Jun 2014

I find it hard to believe he cannot help a lot of teams in the NBA.  However, it still takes someone willing to take that chance.  It's not the end of the world if he doesn't get drafted - it could even end up as a better situation since he could select a team that likes him and where he sees an opportunity to make the team.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Brad Stevens was the guy who went after Craft.  AC just seems to fit the mold of a Stevens-type of player, and while definitely not the same caliber or exactly same type of player as Rondo, I think he'd fit that system well as a backup option who can keep continuity on the floor when Rondo is out.  I'd definitely take him over Phil Pressey, who is smaller, not much of a shooter himself, and not much of a defender.

Comment 24 Jun 2014

This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the petition, but rather the viewership and ratings the US games have been getting in this WC.  An estimated rating of over 24 (ESPN and Univision combined) million viewers in the States for the game Sunday is incredible.  I can't say I'm completely surprised since it feels like last WC in 2010 the interest began to rise, and the buildup to this year's cup has been immense.  Yet, the sheer number of people watching is gratifying to many "soccer" people in this country.

I cannot even imagine what the viewership ratings would be if the US can survive Germany, and win in the round of 16.  A lot of if's there, but obviously not an unthinkable scenario.  That puts the US in the quarterfinals either on July 4 or July 5, with the whole nation available for watching.

Comment 23 Jun 2014

To me, the responsibility of that last goal falls on, if anyone, Fabian Johnson.  It was his man - Cameron was crashing down centrally to nullify the runner over his right shoulder (I think it was Bruno Alves).  Cameron even glanced off to his right just before Ronaldo's cross to ensure his man was not dangerous.  He had zero idea that Varela was over his left shoulder.  If FJ cannot get there in time to head off the cross to Varela, then he has to make Cameron aware of the runner.  Either he did not do it loud enough or he did not do it at all, because you could tell after the fact that Cameron was stunned.

Now don't get me wrong - Cameron has to be thinking that no chances can be taken in that instance and game situation, but if he knows a runner is there he can dive for a header away.  Instead, he tried to clear with his foot.  But with all that said, nothing comes of any of this if CR7 doesn't hit a perfectly weighted and placed ball and Varela doesn't finish it.  Although everyone wants to have a scapegoat sometimes you must tip your cap for a brilliant play.

Comment 23 Jun 2014

Mexico looking for only a draw, though they aren't a side built to "play for" a draw.  Croatia needing a win, and could give Mexico fits.  Brazil seemingly through as everyone expects them to easily dispatch Cameroon.  But, can this Brazilian team handle the pressure?

Now the real fun begins!

Comment 23 Jun 2014

Yeah I believe it was Beasley, but you could tell he thought for a second about going all-out to dive in there and tackle the ball as it arrived to Ronaldo, but the ball was placed just well enough Beas wasn't sure he could get there in time.  That's a spot where you take zero chances to gift a breakaway, and if you aren't sure you can get there before Ronaldo you just can't do it.

The crazy thing is for any player in the world, minus one (CR7), you expect them to take that ball and have a cross just as Ronaldo did.  Yet, the one guy you expect to try to beat you himself did not do that in this instance.  Beasley was playing for Ronaldo to have a go at him, and I think the cross took him by surprise.

Comment 23 Jun 2014

I'm 99.9% sure the second group of games today (and for the remainder of the group stage) begin at 4 pm EST rather than 3 pm.

Yep - just checked and they do begin at 4 today.

Comment 23 Jun 2014

You are definitely entitled to your opinion, but I don't get the outrage for Michael Bradley's play.  Admittedly, his play against Ghana was easily subpar, but he also was playing an attacking midfielder role without the ball.  He chases box to box, has significant defensive responsibilities, and is also tasked with basically starting and creating the US attack.

He was not good against Ghana with the ball, but hardly had it.  Against Portugal, he did well defensively, tracking back numerous times to slow Portugal's threat.  He always made himself available to the backs when possession was won, and his passing was clinical at times (I believe I read he completed 60 of 69 passes, with 7 of the misses occurring in the US's attacking third).  He presented himself well on his scoring chances, albeit unluckily missing the sitter in front of goal.  He hits that shot 3 inches in any direction of where he did, and it is an easy goal.

He made one "BIG" mistake (losing possession of the ball in the 95th minute 65 yards away from goal with 5 defenders behind him) and he gets lambasted as if he is the cause for the result.  I don't get it...