- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 30, 2009
- 2 Comments
- El Salvador, Geoff Reid, US National Team
Editor’s note: Geoff Reid is a WVH contributor, he appears here every week with his thoughts and opinions on different subjects surrounding the game. Feel free to leave Geoff a note below with your thoughts.
While the rest of the world (apart from MLS) took a break for World Cup qualifying I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the latest US match in Central America. There was a particular time where getting a draw away in El Salvador would be heralded as a fantastic result and a massive achievement, especially coming from 2-0 down with 15 minutes left. How times have changed.
Give credit to El Salvador, they started with more intensity than the US. Looking at it from their perspective, playing at home with that crowd against the best team in the region, with a place in South Africa on the line, it doesnít get much bigger then that. Bob Bradley did not for one second underestimate them, nor did the players, but it seems a good chunk of the public did. It was as if three points were in the bag even before a ball was kicked. In all honesty, it sounded like the English press.
For 70 minutes, El Salvador made the US drop down to their playing level and this is what teams do when you go up against a superior opposition. In every level whether itís high school, college, professional or international, as a manager and as players you know that going into a match as underdogs you wonít be able to pass opposition off the park and you arenít good enough to win on talent alone. What you can do is press the opposition high, force them to make mistakes and break quickly. Itís how my college team won our conference and made an NCAA tournament appearance when yours truly had that honor in 2005. El Salvador did this to perfection and therefore players like Sacha Klesjtan and DaMarcus Beasley had poor games and made sloppy passes.
With 20 minutes left, we must give Bob Bradley enormous credit for making two tactical switches that ultimately paid dividends. Realizing that Heath Pearce was getting burned he brought on Jozy Altidiore (that was at 61 minutes) and put Beasley at left back going to a 4-3-3. Jose Francisco Torres came on right as the second goal went in, however, he ended up getting control back in the midfield and looked very good technically. The instructions were to play more direct because El Salvador didnít have a lot of height and with their goalkeeper milking time off the clock the longer the game went on, it seemed like they knew what was coming.
What was also amazing was the referee allowing their goalkeeper get treatment for five minutes. He should have simply been subbed out if he couldnít get back on his feet after a minute. Luckily it didnít matter in the end, and seven minutes added time sounded about right. It doesnít make sense from a tactical standpoint when players dive and fake injuries to time waste when the time will be added on at the end.
In the end, it was obvious that Bob Bradley should have started Pablo Mastroeni in midfield not only for the bite he gives, but it would then free up Michael Bradley to play box to box as he did against Mexico. Realizing that his original game plan wasnít working, switching to plan B paid off and that is what makes good coaches which is why I donít understand all the Bradley haters arguments.
A few other notes of interest from this past weekend:
– Englandís new throwback kit = UGLY! Iíve never been a fan of throwbacks. Itís right to honor history of your club or country, thatís why teams have museums. Having a throwback jersey for the odd friendly or testimonial I can live with. But not in real matches. The best England kit was the one from 2003-2005 that they wore in Euro 2004.
– To the FC Dallas management: You should be ashamed at the attendance figure for Sundayís match vs Chivas USA. Having 6,524 fans in Pizza Hut Park is just embarrassing for a team that has their own stadium. Arch rivals Houston Dynamo arenít so lucky and they seem to be better off the field as well as on it. Itís inexcusable and something has got to change in Dallas.
– Touching on the Sunday match, does it seem that Chivas always seem to play better in the second half then the first? Just as they did against Colorado last weekend, Chivas started the game very flat and Dallas had chances to punish them. One wonders how long Preki can keep yelling at his players at half time to in order to play better.