- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On June 10, 2010
- 0 Comments
- Bob Bradley, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu, Robbie Findley
It is so close we can taste it. One day away from the start of the World Cup and two days away from the biggest U.S. Men’s National Team game. Going into Saturday’s game and the rest of the group phase I do have a few questions to discuss.
1. How will the defense hold up to the pressure?
Injuries are a pain in the butt, there is no getting around that. We hear talk that everyone is good to go a full 90 but the issue becomes who are those four that will start in the back? Is it a four that we all expect (Onyewu, Bocanegra, DeMerit, and Cherundolo)? Or will someone like Clarence Goodson sneak into the lineup?
For me the key still rests on Onyewu. If he is indeed ready to go a full 90 and his head is actually strong again then the U.S. defense doesn’t worry me nearly as much. His timing has to be there both on the ball and in the air. Some reports have suggested he is looking better at both so that helps out a bunch. But if he doesn’t good I’d say Goodson will be in there to replace him, which to me is fine.
Depth is very low in this area, so if one falls the whole team could struggle.
2. Can this group keep the possession going?
On this big of a stage keeping possession and creating chances are key. In fact I’d argue keeping possession is a bigger factor facing this team. I think they’ll get that against Algeria and Slovenia but I have a feeling against England they’ll sit back more than anything else and wait for their chances. Its a risky tactic but we know it can pay off if a team gets frustrated like England will do.
3. Has the team gotten over the lack of Charlie Davies?
We’ll still hear Davies name come up in the World Cup, its almost certain to happen. Plus I don’t think they ever really had to “replace” him in the first place. Instead what Bob Bradley has done is shifted his team’s focus offensively a bit. There is some pressure on Jozy Alitdore but bringing in guys like Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez and Robbie Findley meant he is no afraid to find someone who is hot that will score.
Davies pace will certainly be missed here but we can’t help but like what we saw against Australia last week. Buddle as we know plays extremely well off the ball and he also knows how to link up well with Landon Donovan, something I’m not sure Davies is as good at doing here.
4. Will Donovan handle the pressure this time?
Absolutely. He’s saying all the right things about the pressure but we can tell this time around Donovan means business. In 2002 he was just a kid that was happy to be there, and in 2006 he wasn’t ready to handle it. He’s said that much and we knew that much. But 2010 is different as we already know. His time with Everton and the start of the MLS season with LA showed that Donovan is a real force for this U.S. team. The team goes as he goes and I feel very confident in knowing that he will lead this team to some good stuff.
5. Biggest X-Factor on this team?
Gomez. For me I want Gomez off the bench in late game situations. Its what he is comfortable with and its how he scores a majority of his goals. Findley wouldn’t be a bad choice here either but to me Gomez could really help carry this club far with some late-game goals.
6. How easy is this group?
No group is easy, even if you’re Brazil or Italy. I agree with what some others around the blogosphere are saying, this group is tricky. Its not deadly like in 2006 but it is tough. One slip and you’re done.
We know what to expect with England but Slovenia and Algeria are two different equations. Slovenia won’t be a push over but they should be someone the U.S. can beat. Algeria might not be a pushover but if they stumble in their first two games they could just pack it in for the final game against our boys.
Getting points in the England game are vital though. That will only build the proper momentum for the final two group games, which by most people’s expectations are suppose to be wins.
We’re better as the underdog so finding ways to live up to the hype will be interesting to see.
7. How far can this bunch really go?
When I first looked at the bracket and made a first guess on all the results I had the U.S. in the semifinal. It was just a gut check kind of call. Will it actually happen though? I doubt it, but a quarterfinal visit should be doable. The draw is favorable to get out of the group though, which is more than we had in 2006.
8. How will this World Cup affect the game back here in the States?
We’ll unfortunately hear Alexi Lalas say something about the “power of a World Cup” a million times of the next month. But there is some truth to what he is saying. A good World Cup for the U.S. will only increase the profile here. Though in 2006 the team crashed pretty hard but the game didn’t seem to die here because of it.
The deeper this team goes the better off the game will be back here. Without a doubt. The fact that people who barely watch the game expect the U.S. to get out of this group tells us a lot about where this game is going here in the U.S.