Thoughts on Fulham vs. Hull, Clint vs. Jozy

Clint Dempsey got the start while Jozy started on the bench. Clint went the full 90 and demonstrated his class and skill. While US fans should be concerned about Jozy not starting, the fact is that he played 95 minutes on Wednesday and it is understandable that he did not get the start. That said there are some reasons for US fans to be concerned about Jozy’s situation.

First, on Dempsey.
Missing the last two games gave Holden and Torres a chance to challenge his place on the national team. Both solidified their position on the national team and have demonstrated their are real options, but I don’t think either came close to displacing Dempsey. While US fans were ready to throw the book at Dempsey, he is clearly class. Duff got a lot of the press attention in this game, but Dempsey to me excelled. His control, passing, and movement with the ball got Fulham into dangerous areas of the field. And he was unlucky not to score. Dempsey basically pushed up as a third striker at times. Granted he did not have to do a lot defensively, but since we are likely to play with two holding midfielders Dempsey should start out wide as opposed to up top.

Second, Hull are bad, real bad. Jozy manufactured perhaps Hull’s only chance of the game in his 15 or so minutes. Neither Jozy nor Vennegoor of Hesselink got any service at all – not even hoofed-up long balls. One has to scratch your head at some of Phil Brown’s decisions. I get the 4-5-1 formation to start the game. But once they went down he replaced Kamel Ghilas – perhaps the one player with legit pace with Jimmy Bullard. It wasn’t that Bullard came on but by taking off Gilas it was a negative substitution. I thought he brought on Altidore way too late and only went with two strikers for a few minutes before taking off Hesselink. It was as if Brown was more focused on not conceding a third goal to Fulham, than he was grabbing one back. Hull actually could put out a fairly formidable attacking team – with Ghilas, Stephen Hunt on the wings, Altidore and Hesselink, Giovanni and Bullard. One of those 6 would start on the bench for a defensive midfielder – but that is a team that could definitely score some goals. The problem is their backline is simply not that good.

Third, Jozy will play – he is too good not to. I can see Phil Brown going with Hesselink over Jozy, due to his experience and general jitters over Hull’s place. Managers tend to like the sure thing when their backs are against the wall. But Jozy in just the last few months has already improved a major facet of his game – his hold up play. He is becoming a much better player with his back to goal and looks more and more like a target striker everyday. At the start of the year I would have said Jozy is not ideally suited to play the lone striker in a 4-5-1. But frankly he looks more and like he can play that role in the premiership. Lets hope the competition forces Jozy to work harder and become a better player – adversity can be good for a player’s development. In the end, I am not that concerned – he is a great kid with a great attitude and with world class skill. He’ll come through.

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2 Responses

  1. I watched the US v. Costa Rica game from an aerial view at the endline and was very impressed by Torres. He has some real ability at serving as the connector in the midfield. He is not the ball winner of Ricardo Clark but against certain teams or as a substitute deserves to be on the field.

    • Matt – I agree with you on Torres. However, I think Feilhaber had a good game – he wasn’t spectacular but we held on to possession much better with him in there instead of Clark. Torres also benefited from the frenetic nature of the last 30 min.

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