Thursday, March 13, 2008

U-23 Olympic Qualifying: US 1-0 Panama

I'm going to stop calling these 'recaps' because honestly, I don't recap what happened in the game. I'm just posting what I think about it. And here's what I think about this one:

A clean sheet is just what Seitz and the US defense deserve. The Panamanian offense isn't the strongest of the group (by the numbers it's the weakest, actually) but it's to the US' credit that there were a scant few chances on goal.

On the other side of the field, our offense could use a little work, namely with finishing. Shots, boys; let's have more of them. I think ultimately what will lead to more shots is better service, and in that case, here's what needs to happen:

- Get rid of Gaven. I didn't see any creativity from him this game. He advanced the ball only to pass it laterally or backwards. I'd even be willing to experiment with Zizzo in his place.
- Centralize Freddy. He's the best finisher of the squad (which explains why he was up top), but he's also the most creative. He contributes more as a #10 in the hole than as a forward up top, or, ideally, as a CAM with the freedom to get forward. We saw a central Freddy in the U-20 tournament; let's see it again.
- Put Kljestan in the middle third. For this to happen he needs to be relieved of the bulk of his defensive duties, and for that to happen we need Edu playing as DM instead of McCarty. (I said it yesterday and I'll repeat it again today: the kid has the motor, but not the brain.) Problem is, there are only two ways Edu gets to play midfield: Ianni steps up in training and inspires some confidence in Nowak, or West Ham releases Spector. The latter is more likely, I think.

If we want more goals, this is what I think the lineup needs to look like:







Otherwise, if one-nil victories are satisfactory, then what we saw tonight should suffice.

Other notes:

- The Sturgis experiment seems to be working. There weren't many chances from the wing. Then again, there weren't many chances at all, but still, he's better than Freeman. Honduras will be the real test.

- Orozco is a fine addition to the squad. He is excellent on the tackle and works well with Edu. I don't have any complaints.

- Hill's touch and balance are better than Wynne's. Wynne has him beat for pace and stamina, though, and because both have sub-par positioning and awareness, my top choice for left-back would be Wynne. If Hill is an option on the left, why not try him on the wing? (More important question: is Hill injured? He wasn't on the bench.)

- Our set pieces aren't terrible; in fact, a couple of our corners were fearsome indeed. Nowak has obviously been drilling dead-ball plays during practice.

- I want to see more Holden. He was excellent for the first half-hour. His stamina is lacking a bit, which might be why he didn't start v. Cuba, but he's the best winger in the current squad.

- Speaking of wingers, how about the prodigal Salvatore Zizzo? Hannover was reluctant to let him go for the week, but he isn't showing much out wide. He worked very hard for very little. Better than Gaven, but still-- compared to the U-20 tournament, Zizzo is underperforming. Let's get back on form, Z.

- Nowak has picked a very balanced squad for this tournament, IMO. The team is neither overly offensive nor defensive and Nowak has options at almost every position on the pitch, even if some of those options are untested and experimental. If we had won v. Cuba, I would be satisfied. As it is, I wish we had more tried-and-true options up top and out wide. I wonder if Nowak misses Alvarez and Feilhaber going into a make-or-break match v. Honduras.

- This might be tempting the devil, but I'm curious about Cervi. He became very popular very fast. I want to see why.

- At one point the ESPN Deportes commentators mentioned something about DC United. Anyone know what? Also, a paradox: I appreciated the Spanish commentary of this match better than the Miles/Caligiuri abomination of the DC-Harbour View match.

Plato's Republic beckons.


1 comment:

Don said...


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Best Regards,