Gringos Abroad (Retrospective): Jonathan Spector

Sports News - January 30, 2010

West Ham United 1 – Bolton Wanderers 2

English Premier League Mar-6-2010

In lieu of Jonathan Spector’s forgettable weekend, Fútbol for Gringos is taking a look back at one of his somewhat more promising appearances.

Offensive Performance

As has been the case for much of the season, Spector started at left back instead of his preferred right back. Unfortunately for West Ham, the game demonstrated why he prefers the right: none of his crosses originated from his left foot. In order to put the ball in the box, he had to cut back towards the middle of the pitch, move the ball to his stronger right foot, and then send in his cross.

Despite that limitation, Spector did have a number of good crosses, and, in the 88th minute, a long pass by Spector ended up at the feet of Alessandro Diamanti (a West Ham midfielder), who then tallied West Ham’s lone goal.

Defensive Performance

He relieved pressure on his fellow defenders with a number of intelligent passes, displaying good ball control in the process. However, he had trouble dealing with the speed and technical ability of Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton’s right midfielder. In fact, the away sides’ first goal came partially at Spector’s expense after Lee put in a cross that was headed home. To be fair, the center backs were also culpable as neither marked a single Bolton player, not to mention that most West Ham players, due to a hard challenge on one of their own, had given up on the play.

Spector also demonstrated good ability in the air. In the 21st minute he outmuscled Kevin Davies, one of Bolton’s forwards, to clear a ball in the box. To that point Davies had been having his way with West Ham’s center backs and had won numerous aerial challenges.

US National Team Implications

The US has tried a revolving door of left backs over the last year (Heath Pearce, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, and Spector), but none have made the position theirs. This game was an ample demonstration of why it is not Spector’s – his offense suffers playing on the left.

Also, his difficulty handling Bolton’s winger (Lee) is troublesome for the upcoming World Cup.  The US midfielder playing on Spector’s side (probably Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, or Stuart Holden) will need to drop back and defend more than usual when playing teams with quick outside midfielders.  And England, USA’s first opponent, has those in spades.

http://www.ussoccer.com/Teams/MNT/H/Stuart-Holden.aspx
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