I couldn’t agree more with Ken’s post on the formation that the U.S. should deploy against Honduras. There is a school of thought that whenever the U.S. goes away from the 4-4-2 they look out of sync. But I think the 4-2-3-1 would a be a tactical winner since we could get forward easily on counter-attacks. We have historically been best as a country when we can absorb and counter and that formation is our best bet. But the players Bob Bradley picks are also crucial.
Bob Bradley has a clear affinity for Brian Ching and Jonathan Bornstein. But let me make a plea – please NO Ching and No Bornstein.
Brian Ching is not good enough. He wouldn’t make my squad. Ching is not a bad player and he does have a good attitude and leadership skills. But all the claims of his vaunted ability to hold up the ball are just not true. The perception is somehow that Ching is some Drogba-lite type player with great technique able to control balls in the air and win headers. That certainly is what his game is about – but the problem is that he is not really that good at it. If you watch Ching he is often beat in the air or fails to control a controllable ball. If he does control it his distribution rarely leads to anything. Now as a caveat, I would concede that Ching may be slightly better than the other target strikers in holding the ball – slightly. But the problem is that he offers absolutely nothing else – especially going forward.
Ken correctly argues that this is a game where the U.S. should seek to absorb pressure and counter-attack, since Honduras is going to push forward to try to get the win. The problem with Ching is that he is “the anti-counter.” No defender is worried about Brian Ching getting the ball at the midway line and breaking down the field. He is absolutely useless with the ball in space due to his lack of speed. And on top of this has never even demonstrated any particular knack for scoring goals. In MLS he has just 8 goals this year – and that somehow makes him our go to striker in a game that could send us to the world cup? Again Ching is not a bad player, but he is simply not good enough.
Defensively, the loss of Jay Demerit to an eye injury likely moves Bocanegra back to the center. I am deathly afraid that Bradley will pick Bornstein to play left back. I have to admit having a certain soft spot for Bornstein (two fellow Jews on the Nats is pretty sweet), but lets face it he is a headless chicken defensively, prone to potentially catastrophic errors (see El Salvador game), has poor technique, and offers very little going forward. He gives me a heart attack whenever he is on the field. That said I think Bornstein makes sense on the bench as a late substitution to help lock a game down, since he does have some pace and a good work rate.
For me, Steve Cherundulo is healthy and playing in the Bundesliga, is the most experienced American defender, who even played in the 2001 clincher at Honduras. He offers us a lot going forward as well as he is a great crosser of the ball and is perfect player to push forward on counters. He should start at right back.
At left back, my pick would be Spector. Sure he is not playing all that regularly with West Ham since the Spurs game where Aaron Lennon torched him a couple times. Nevertheless he is a steady, classy player, is familiar playing at the LB spot, and there is no Aaron Lennon on Honduras.
In the midfield, I agree with Ken’s approach. Davies—Donovan—Feilhaber. This puts a hell of a load on Davies and requires him to work his socks off, but will also allow him to use his pace to get forward. I could see putting Donovan on the left – which is probably more likely – but we need to get him on the ball in this game and putting him central would do that. Alternatively, Torres or Holden could take wide roles instead of Davies or Feilhaber. I actually don’t feel strongly who Bradley chooses for the three, as long as he goes with that formation.
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