Tag Archives: Jonathan Spector

USMNT v Spain thoughts

By Kevin Koczwara

First Half Thoughts

Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and Euros in 2008 because it’s one of those rare national teams that works as a unit and is loaded with über-skilled players. The side has a style of play, and all of the players understand how it works. It’s remarkable to see them work as a unit and build the attack from the back while never losing a defensive shape.

The attacking shape Spain has isn’t anything any other team outside of Brazil and the Netherlands — when its best player stop fighting with one another — can play. There is not form or answer. Players keep switching, moving into space, moving out and filling. It’s like a beautiful blob that keeps creating and always looks to go to goal.

For the U.S. Men’s National Team, it needs to tighten up at the back and get the midfield some help. Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones are out numbered and out-classed trying to mark and play against Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets — who’s barely had to do anything — and David Silva in the middle of the field. Santi Cazorla is swapping flanks and opening up space for either Sergio Ramos on the left side or Alvaro Arbeloa on the right to overlap and get in behind the defense.

Spain has also taken advantage of the funny bounce on the grass laid over the turf at Gillette. The ball sits up nicely for an attacker when the ball lands and dies on the sod. Because of this, Spain has sent over a few balls into space and to an attacker making a run because the ball won’t continue to roll or bounce all the way to Tim Howard in goal, instead the ball settles nicely on the foot of an attacker. The U.S.’s high line in the defense isn’t helping either. The high line is allowing space in behind and Tim Ream and Oguchi Onyewu don’t have the pace or the communication, or so it seems, to keep up with the through ball.

Second Half Thoughts

The United States just couldn’t cope in the midfield all game, but it did improve in the second half. Spain’s possession game wears a team out, and it just killed the U.S. Michael Bradley — who came on at half-time — Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Spector — moving into the midfield after starting at right back — couldn’t swarm the ball or force mistakes with pressure because they were worn out from chasing the game.

Bob Bradley finally felt the need to bring on Clint Dempsey and move Jonathan Spector out of defense and into the midfield in the second half. Things clicked a bit better for the USMNT at that point, but it all didn’t work.

Dempsey playing high in the center of the midfield with Michael Bradley, who also came on at half-time, and Spector behind him gave Dempsey the freedom to open things up and hold the ball for the U.S., something the team lacked in the first half with Agudelo and Altidore up top as neither is particularly adept at brining other players into the game or holding the ball.

Kljestan was also impacted by Dempsey’s arrival and the Fulham player’s ability to get on the ball. Kljestan was almost invisible in the first half (I had to check with reporters around me to make sure he was a second half substitute). Kljestan had some positive moments on the ball when he came back and found some space because Dempsey was able to grab hold of the ball and allow Kljestan time to move into space to receive a pass, which is encouraging for Bob Bradley going into Gold Cup games because Kljestan will give him a positive player who can pass the ball and move in the midfield coming off the bench when something new is needed.

Spector looked more comfortable in the midfield than he did on the right side of the defense. At West Ham, he showed more potential and ability in the midfield as a ball winner who found himself ghosting into the box at the right time. Too bad for him that the depth in the midfield is the one area  the U.S. actually has some. He needs to improve his game at right back, still, or get it back to the level of the Confederations Cup in 2009 — where he was a notable addition and stand-out — to find playing time during the Gold Cup.

Steve Cherundolo seems to be aging backwards and doesn’t look like he’s giving the spot up on the right side of the defense anytime soon, which is good for Bradley because he is short of options there. But the U.S. needs cover for the 32 year old, and if Spector doesn’t pick up his game he might see Eric Lichaj jumping ahead of him, as well as Timmy Chandler — who isn’t on the roster because of fatigue from his club season in Germany.

As for Lichaj, he looked uncomfortable on the left, but he hasn’t been playing there for long and he’s right footed, not an easy transition, especially against the best team in the world. There is still promise for him, though. As a right back, we might be able to see more of his ability to get forward and cross the ball.

The key for the game against Canada will be the U.S. ability to create, and its obvious that Clint Dempsey gives them the best chance at creating through the middle and holding play up. Bradley may look for him to be the catalyst in Detroit, Mich. against Canada in the opener if Landon Donovan has to miss the game because of the illness that kept him out of today’s match with Spain. When Dempsey was on the field, the parts all seemed to move and his skill on the ball allowed other players to find space and get into better spots to receive the ball. Which is something this team sorely needs right now.

Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesocerguysonline.com.

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USMNT draws with Argentina thanks to Agudela's second half goal

By Kevin Koczwara

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Juan Agudela has made a name for himself on the international stage for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Quickly. The 18-year-old striker again proved he was more than worthy of earning a spot on the team by scoring his second goal in three games with the USMNT.

Agudela’s goal sealed a 1-1 draw with Argentina, who scored in the 42nd minute when Esteban Cambiasso slammed a rebound from six yards out into the net. Anything less than a win for Argentina looked unlikely for much of the game as it controlled the tempo, almost all of the possession, and had the majority of the chances on net.

Argentina toyed with the USMNT at times in the first half, dominating the possession, forcing the U.S. deeper and deeper into it’s own end. Stretching play from one side to the other. Argentina forced Bob Bradley’s five-man midfield deep into its own end for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Angel di Maria had a great chance to open the scoring in the 34th minute when he found some space in the box after the U.S. was unable to clear the ball. Di Maria weaved around a few defenders but found himself to close to the touchline and had to shoot with no angle. Tim Howard made the easy save.

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What the Future Holds for the USMNT

By Kevin Koczwara

It has been over a week since the United States Men’s National Team was humbled by a young Ghana squad – the youngest team in the World Cup Finals – in extra time at the World Cup in South Africa. I have had enough time to soak in the pain, the misery and the confusion of seeing my country lose at the World Cup when I truly thought it could advance in the tournament and make major strides, you know, kind of like how the Italians, Argentines and Brazilians must feel right about now.

Then I got to thinking about the future of U.S. soccer and how bright it may be. The squad that went to South Africa was a good mix of veteran players and up-and-coming talent. The roster manager Bob Bradley took with him had a good mix and set a good framework for the next World Cup – 2014 in Brazil.

The Yanks will have major questions to answer during the qualifying for the 2014 World Cup: who will their core defenders be? And who will supply the much needed goals?

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Key Players for the U.S. Against England

By Kevin Koczwara

I recently wrote about the Americans keys to victory on Saturday when they open the World Cup against England. They weren’t ground breaking keys, but they are important, and should not be taken lightly.

Now I am going to expand on the keys to the game for the Yanks and look at three players the U.S. Men’s National Team needs to show up in a big way on Saturday.

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A Closer Look at The Yanks World Cup Roster

Courtesy wjarrettc Flickr

By Ryan Fleming


Bob Bradley didn’t have much of a choice. He was forced to leave Charlie Davies, the star forward of the United States Men’s National Team and French-side, Sochaux, out of the 30-man preliminary roster, which the USMNT’s manager presented yesterday at 2 p.m.

The young, fiery striker has not played a competitive match since he was seriously injured in a fatal car accident last October. Recently, he has been fueled by a possible World Cup placement on the US squad, but now he’ll have to wait.

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USMNT Announces 30 Man World Cup Roster

By Kevin Koczwara

Today United States Men’s National Team manager, Bob Bradley, announced the 30 players he is taking to Princeton, NJ to train and try-out for the squad for that will be going to the World Cup in South Africa in 30 days.

The USMNT’s final roster can only have 23 players on it come June, but Bradley would like to evaluate what he believes are his best 30 options and see who fits where. Then he will have to make his final cut. Why not just the name 23 he wants to go to South Africa now like some countries are doing? Well, Bradley has a lot of injury concerns to address within the squad. So, he needs time to assess each and every player before he names his final roster.

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Bradley Needs to Drop Bornstein

By Kevin Koczwara

After watching yesterday’s international friendly between the United States and the Netherlands I examined Jonathan Bornstein’s game. I watched him closely as he lined up as the USMNT left-back, once again, and saw nothing new from him. There was little improvement and there were so many major mistakes on his part, one cost the Untied States a goal.

So what happened and why wasn’t Bornstein subbed earlier in the game?

The issue of left-back will haunt the United States until the squad gets to the World Cup if Bornstein continues to get chances out on the left flank. He has shown, time and again, that someone else needs to step up in place of him. And Bradley needs to finally get it through his thick skull that this guy cannot compete on the international level, right now.

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