Positives and Negatives from USA-Slovakia

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I already gave my generally upbeat take on the game here. Yes the US failed to break through but overall they controlled the game and created some good chances. But the game did tell us a number of things about the US squad.

1. The Bradley-Feilhaber pairing bossed the game and should be the top central midfield tandem until proven otherwise. Both played well defensively, sprayed the ball around the filed, and controlled the pace of the game. With Feilhaber on the field the US is just a lot calmer in possession and tends to avoid those cheap give aways. The biggest weakness of this pairing is that there are times in the game when both Bradley and Feilhaber are caught behind the ball, leaving the backline exposed. Furthermore, while Bradley can play the holding role well, he isn’t necessarily your prototypical ball winning holding midfielder.

2. None of the second striker candidates have yet to show themselves as good enough – certainly not Casey or EJ.
Casey was a black hole throughout the game. His lack of pace is very problematic and he was not even effective at holding up the ball. The lack of threat posed by Casey allowed the Slovak defense to key more on Altidore. EJ was an improvement over Casey, but showed a weakness with his back to the goal and was frequently muscled off the ball. Jeff Cunningham didn’t get enough time, but looked more promising than the other two. I would have really liked to see Robbie Findley, but RSL made the finals. He seems to me the only one that has similar attributes as Davies.

3. Dempsey should play up top.
His work rate just isn’t good enough to be that two-way wide player. Dempsey also rarely gets wide and puts in a cross. But he can score goals, is good in the air, and is one of – if not the most -technically gifted players on the team.

4. Jonathan Spector can play anywhere on the backline and is a huge asset for the World Cup. Spector proved in this game that he can definitely play in the center of the defense. His technical ability and confidence on the ball also contributed to the American dominance in possession, as instead of just hoofing it upfield, Spector found outlets. He lacks a bit of speed for the outside back positions, but is plenty fast to play centrally. Spector’s versatility should give Bradley some flexibility in picking the squad. I would say with Spector there is no need to pick a back up at left back and Spector could serve as the fourth centerback after Bocanegra, Gooch, and Demerit.

5. Cherundolo also staked his claim at right back. The German-based veteran offers more than Spector going forward and has good pace. He is also the most experienced player in the squad and is the captain at Hannover in the Bundesliga.

6. Bornstein’s defending has improved but he is still prone to the catastrophic error.
Let me say: that was not a penalty. But Bornstein put his hands all over the Slovak #7 who dove everytime he touched the ball and from the refs view Bornstein looked like he pulled him down. It was weak but it was still naive play by the left back. Bornstein’s defending has improved and he stopped quite a few Slovak attacks down the wing. But he offers little going forward and he is prone to big errors. Against El Salvador he cleared the ball back into the box resulting in a goal and could have been legitimately called for a penalty. Castillo should get time against Denmark and if he makes the spot his own, then I am not sure Bornstein would make my squad since Spector provides plenty of cover and would be a better leftback option than Bornstein.

7. Robbie Rogers played well and would be in my WC roster if the tournament started tomorrow. Rogers is not a starter by any means, but his speed and ability to put in a decent cross could make him a decent option off the bench if we are chasing the game.


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