USA 0 – Belgium 1: Another Goose Egg for the Collection

First, a quick (and not trivial) note: FFG never actually got to view this game. Is it an ESPN conspiracy against the Jurgen Klinsmann era? Likely not, but vs. Mexico we missed the first 20 minutes due to the Little League World Series; vs. Costa Rica coverage was delayed thanks to Men’s US Open tennis; and today my DVR recording of “International Soccer – USA at Belgium” yielded 2 and half hours of NASCAR! This is not a rant on any of these great sports, by any means. In fact, on any other day they could have been tantalizing, but if ESPN is going to commit to USMNT soccer coverage, then let’s cover it… [stepping off of soap box]

That being stated, our analysis is strictly limited, but not useless. From reading other write-ups of the game it sounds for all intents and purposes like a clone of the Costa Rica match–we come out strong and possession-minded but at some point late in the first half begin to fade and fall on our back foot. Blake analyzed our poor final third distribution in the Costa Rica match, and here we’ll take a slight variation on that same theme.

I decided to see what our two strikers were up to, and the stats were revealing. The chalkboard below shows the COMBINED passing distribution and shots for Altidore and Agudelo.

The passing distribution and shots for Altidore and Agudelo. No, you are seeing correctly: zero shots.

In all honestly they put together a nice passing percentage (23/26) and some impressive field coverage. That would be fantastic if this were the chalkboard for a midfielder! It’s true that a striker in a one-striker formation has a lot of holding up and redistribution to do, but take a look at how deep our striker is dropping to link up. An old Brazilian star who was coaching my son once gave him the straightforward advice: “A striker doing his job should produce about 3 shots on goal per match.” So where are the shots? As you can see above, 90 minutes of “striking” yielded 0 strikes.

However, since I didn’t see this one with my own eyes I won’t overstep with my analysis. Am I being too hard on our young duo of attackers? Does the blame lie somewhere else? Gringos, is there someone out there who was fortunate enough to see the match? Please, fill us in!

Editor’s note: ESPN’s horrible treatment of soccer fans only brings one thing to mind (besides #$&*^$#, that is), the Onion’s coverage of ESPN’s terrible coverage of soccer.

Enjoy.

8 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Blake Owen says:

    I think the embedded video sums up my thoughts on ESPN pretty succinctly.

    Ben, I think your analysis is pretty spot-on. Or at least I think it is BECAUSE I CAN’T ACTUALLY WATCH THE GAME.

    OMG CAPS

  2. James says:

    This obseravation is accurate. I did manage to watch the game online via ESPN’s stream (it was rough, with the weather and all), but what was clear was the complete lack of forward presence. There is simply just too much dithering around the penalty box in general. And it should be quite obvious that Altidore, and to a lesser extent Agudelo, are not capable enough in one-striker formations. With the emergence of Shea, it may be possible for Klinsmann to slot Dempsey up top w/ Altidore. But will we survive the midfield battles with only two center mids if we revert to a 4-4-2? It will be interesting to see which way Klinsmann goes next against Honduras and Ecuador. If everyone is available and assuming he tries two forwards, I see his best line up like this:

    ———————Howard——————-
    Dolo——–Goodson———Boco—-Chandler
    ————————————————
    Donovan—-Holden*———Torres——Shea
    ————————————————
    ————-Altidore——–Dempsey———

    * Holden could easily be Bradley, Edu or Jones –
    but, I’d really like to see Holden when he’s healthy.
    At least he can spell Donovan from his corner kicks!

    • bensten says:

      Thanks for the insights, James. It’s good to hear from someone who saw the game : )

      I do like your hypothetical 4-4-2, too. The emergence of Shea had me thinking the same thing about either Dempsey or Donovan. How about a 4-4-1-1 with Donovan just behind the striker and Dempsey on the right?

      Before the Costa Rica match I also made the wild card prediction of Chandler at left back and it’s kind of funny to see it may work out that way. If Shea stays outside/wide like he should then I think Chandler is the perfect pick behind him.

      In the end I guess it’s not up to us. We’ll have to wait for Klinsy’s next move…

  3. James says:

    Oh, and on ESPN – yes they suck! Why not move NASCAR to ESPN2 and leave the soccer where you planned. If you are a NASCAR fan and were going to DVR that, then you were hosed anyway on the time delay. But now you’ve screwed both NASCAR and US soccer fans with your programming changes. If you are going to offer us US Soccer, then stop yanking all of us around!

    Keep up the good work FFG – love the analysis.

  4. AdamFromMich says:

    According to Ives Galarcep, here’s the USA starting lineup:

    —————————Altidore————————-

    Shea————-Torres—-Dempsey——–Rogers

    —————————–Edu————————-

    Chandler—Bocanegra–Goodson–Cherundolo

    ————————–Howard————————–

    At halftime, Agudelo came in for Altidore and Beckerman replaced Rogers. Beckerman took Dempsey’s position and Demps moved out to the right. In the 75th minute, Larentowicz came in for Torres.

    Of course, this is all second-hand, because I didn’t see the game either! And yes, ESPN sucks.

    • Blake Owen says:

      Thanks!

      From my brief look at the chalkboards, it looks like Dempsey was dropping deeper more consistently than Donovan had. He doesn’t appear to have been any better in the final third than Landycakes.

      Hopefully this weekend I’ll find time to post some chalkboards.

  5. James says:

    AdamFromMich is spot on with the lineup and subs, and it was indeed a 4-1-4-1 shape (at least in theory – with Robbie Rogers involved the shape looked a bit mysterious at times). It was only luck that I called up the live stream at work as I too hoped to watch the DVR later. Apparently we need to record all of the ESPN channels in the future! It looks like you can still rewatch it online at ESPN3 if you get a chance.

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