USMNT: To Rüssia With Love

DJnVa

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Jozy!

If he had missed that, we'd be screaming at him for not laying off to Bedoya.
 
Dec 21, 2015
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Pulisic has botched two of the best possessions of the 2nd half so far, when he's had passing options. I'm going with "awful game".

I also love him to death and want him to get as much run as possible as a starter on the team and think he's going to take us places. But he's had a game such that after screwing up the counter right before the goal at 43', the FS1 camera caught him walking towards the (dead) ball for the corner kick saying "Fuck Me!" to no one in particular.

...and now there's Altidore. Pretty good play by him - he's gotten better as the game has gone on.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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There's that rare moment of brilliance. A much-needed reprieve from watching Bradley try to play D at the other end with his stunning lack of all awareness.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Impressive thing about Jozy tonight has been his ability to get separation from the defender and get a good shot off.
 

teddykgb

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Pulisic has botched two of the best possessions of the 2nd half so far, when he's had passing options. I'm going with "awful game".

I also love him to death and want him to get as much run as possible as a starter on the team and think he's going to take us places. But he's had a game such that after screwing up the counter right before the goal at 43', the FS1 camera caught him walking towards the (dead) ball for the corner kick saying "Fuck Me!" to no one in particular.

...and now there's Altidore. Pretty good play by him - he's gotten better as the game has gone on.
He's struggled with the final ball, that's fair enough, but awful game is too far. He's been lively and created some super high percentage of our danger. He's dribbling at people taking space and the defenders are turning from him not wanting to get beaten. Yes, his last cross aside he's not made the best decision all the time but you're short changing the danger he has created
 
Dec 21, 2015
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Williams got his money's worth on that yellow card - Altidore just absolutely refused to go down.

Also, that was an awesome cross by Pulisic. Credit where due, he's like 2 for 8 on those tonight but that one was a beaut.
 

allstonite

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Pulisic has botched two of the best possessions of the 2nd half so far, when he's had passing options. I'm going with "awful game".

I also love him to death and want him to get as much run as possible as a starter on the team and think he's going to take us places. But he's had a game such that after screwing up the counter right before the goal at 43', the FS1 camera caught him walking towards the (dead) ball for the corner kick saying "Fuck Me!" to no one in particular.

...and now there's Altidore. Pretty good play by him - he's gotten better as the game has gone on.
I think he's just had the ball a lot. He's had a ton of chances and created a lot too. But as has been said they keep getting crossed up in the zone. I'm going with closer to best player of the game.

And I think he said "for me" because then it was a short corner directly to him


And I swear I typed most of that before that pass. Because that pass
 

luckiestman

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Pulisic has botched two of the best possessions of the 2nd half so far, when he's had passing options. I'm going with "awful game".

I also love him to death and want him to get as much run as possible as a starter on the team and think he's going to take us places. But he's had a game such that after screwing up the counter right before the goal at 43', the FS1 camera caught him walking towards the (dead) ball for the corner kick saying "Fuck Me!" to no one in particular.

...and now there's Altidore. Pretty good play by him - he's gotten better as the game has gone on.

So much for that
 

DJnVa

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Also, that was an awesome cross by Pulisic. Credit where due, he's like 2 for 8 on those tonight but that one was a beaut.
But sometimes on crosses it's just the crosser's job to play the ball and you gotta play the ball before the run is started sometimes.
 

Titans Bastard

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He's struggled with the final ball, that's fair enough, but awful game is too far. He's been lively and created some super high percentage of our danger. He's dribbling at people taking space and the defenders are turning from him not wanting to get beaten. Yes, his last cross aside he's not made the best decision all the time but you're short changing the danger he has created
US fans have always been harshest on our best players. Donovan, Beasley, Reyna, McBride, Bocanegra (among others) have all been major whipping boys for significant chunks of their careers.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Kljestan and Pulisic sure look like they have been playing together for more than just 85 minutes. They have legitimate chemistry.
 
Dec 21, 2015
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He's struggled with the final ball, that's fair enough, but awful game is too far. He's been lively and created some super high percentage of our danger. He's dribbling at people taking space and the defenders are turning from him not wanting to get beaten. Yes, his last cross aside he's not made the best decision all the time but you're short changing the danger he has created
You're right, he's tracked back on D very nicely and his passes in midfield have been well-chosen.

But sometimes on crosses it's just the crosser's job to play the ball and you gotta play the ball before the run is started sometimes.
I'm pretty sure it's not the crosser's job to hit the leg of the defender. But I'll stop badmouthing the man, he's surely been a value-add player on the field tonight.

Also, Carlos Ruiz has FIVE GOALS vs SVG. So far. I think the coaches told him what would be required for Guatemala to advance, and he's made all necessary sacrifices to his dark gods in order to be able to at least hold up his side's end of the bargain.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Brace for this Altidore kid.

Looking really good, why doesn't Klinsmann ever play him in major tournaments?

:fonz:
 

DJnVa

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I'm pretty sure it's not the crosser's job to hit the leg of the defender. But I'll stop badmouthing the man, he's surely been a value-add player on the field tonight.
Of course, but he's also had 3 crosses go across the mouth of goal with no one on the far post.

MORRIS!!!

EDIT: Not MORRIS!!!!
 

DJnVa

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So on that one Pulisic ran straight at the defense and put the pass behind Morris, but man, the kid shows no fear running at the defense.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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I've seen this team score goals in bunches but they haven't all been this pretty.

This is some legit quality. I'm enjoying it very much.
 

Titans Bastard

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Caleb Stanko making his debut, now that the game is safely in hand. He doesn't have much pro experience.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I've seen this team score goals in bunches but they haven't all been this pretty.

This is some legit quality. I'm enjoying it very much.
Speed and skill does a lot for a team. Taking the offense out of Bradley's hands does even more, perhaps.

As good as this has been we have conceded too many high quality chances
As bad as Bradley is on O he is even worse on D. Rarely in position, always behind the play and putting himself even further out of position in trying to catch up. This guy is nowhere near my starting 11 for Russia but I fear JK won't have the balls to phase him out.

I'll stop now, this is a nice win so I'll give it a rest (until his next appearance).
 

teddykgb

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Speed and skill does a lot for a team. Taking the offense out of Bradley's hands does even more, perhaps.



As bad as Bradley is on O he is even worse on D. Rarely in position, always behind the play and putting himself even further out of position in trying to catch up. This guy is nowhere near my starting 11 for Russia but I fear JK won't have the balls to phase him out.

I'll stop now, this is a nice win so I'll give it a rest (until his next appearance).
Fwiw I agree. He looks cooked. He's been a great player for us and a true b2b midfielder but his legs seem shot. He was never the fastest player but had enough to use his two footed play and positioning to make an impact. He's a player I've always admired because he's always taken the responsibility of showing for the ball in the CM role and had enough skill to keep possession and keep it moving but he's not a 6 any longer (if he ever was) and he's not an 8 or 10. I think his best role would be off the bench.

I'm really worried about this cycle right now. Pulisic looked dynamic. Wood and Morris feisty (Morris was phenomenal in his first 8 minutes tonight and then walked for the next 8 lol) The winger they brought on (Arriola) seemed to have some ball skills and understood the position and yet it feels like Jk isn't ready to move on from his last team. I fear that the next World Cup is coming too quickly and the the combo of Jks job insecurity with the legitimate difficulty of the hex is going to make it really hard to get away from some of the old reliables. I guess I'm coming around on the mistake it was to not use the Copa as an experimental tournament because if you were going to have to use the old standbys for these two qualifiers then I just don't know when you're going to turn over the roster before Russia
 

Quintanariffic

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Dumb question: how many friendlies would typically be mixed in to the schedule during the Hex? Iow, will there be appreciable chances to get the next generation involved prior to Russia?

Because if Wondo, Beckerman, Zusi and arguably Jones are on the 2018 roster, that's a massive failure by JK.
 
Dec 21, 2015
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Is the Hex really that threatening? 3.5 qualify out of 6: the US, Mexico, T&T, Panama, Costa Rica, and likely Honduras. Of those, Honduras (43), Panama (63) and T&T (80) are ranked waaaaay behind CONCACAF's big 3. Panama is the only one of those who are probably better than their record (by Elo, they're #46, the USA #24). I don't think playing Wood, Pulisic and Kljestan in place of Altidore, Zusi and Beckerman is going to cost them a WCF spot - just can't see how that happens. Especially if we have Yedlin, Brooks and Nagbe back with a healthy Dempsey and Altidore around.
 

OCST

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It's easy to drop points in the road games - piss bags and all that.

My pet theory is also that it takes Western Hemisphere national teams longer to gel in a given international period, with many (but not all) players flying back from Europe. Look at how bad Mexico looked for parts of the last cycle.

The players talk about how grueling it is. I don't think they're blowing smoke.
 

Titans Bastard

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Fwiw I agree. He looks cooked. He's been a great player for us and a true b2b midfielder but his legs seem shot. He was never the fastest player but had enough to use his two footed play and positioning to make an impact. He's a player I've always admired because he's always taken the responsibility of showing for the ball in the CM role and had enough skill to keep possession and keep it moving but he's not a 6 any longer (if he ever was) and he's not an 8 or 10. I think his best role would be off the bench.
I don't disagree about Bradley's mobility, but I have to think that there's a mental part of the puzzle as well. It's not like he's purely just not physically up to it anymore, he's also making more questionable decisions than he used to. He's still serviceable, but there's something that's just not right with him.

There isn't an obvious DM solution, since Beckerman is past it, but JK needs to be cycling through alternatives. Stanko was in camp this time, which I think is a little wasteful because I don't think he's a serious competitor at this time. I'd like to see Perry Kitchen get a chance or maybe bring in Danny Williams again (even though he plays a somewhat more offensive role for his club). Or give Kellyn Acosta a shot there.

Dumb question: how many friendlies would typically be mixed in to the schedule during the Hex? Iow, will there be appreciable chances to get the next generation involved prior to Russia?

Because if Wondo, Beckerman, Zusi and arguably Jones are on the 2018 roster, that's a massive failure by JK.
Not many:

Oct 2016 - friendlies
Nov 2016 - Hex 1+2
Jan 2017 - January camp + a friendly or two
Mar 2017 - Hex 3+4
Jun 2017 - Hex 5+6
Jul 2017 - Gold Cup
Sep 2017 - Hex 7+8
Oct 2017 - Hex 9+10
Nov 2017 - friendlies

Is the Hex really that threatening? 3.5 qualify out of 6: the US, Mexico, T&T, Panama, Costa Rica, and likely Honduras. Of those, Honduras (43), Panama (63) and T&T (80) are ranked waaaaay behind CONCACAF's big 3. Panama is the only one of those who are probably better than their record (by Elo, they're #46, the USA #24). I don't think playing Wood, Pulisic and Kljestan in place of Altidore, Zusi and Beckerman is going to cost them a WCF spot - just can't see how that happens. Especially if we have Yedlin, Brooks and Nagbe back with a healthy Dempsey and Altidore around.
The Hex is always a bit tougher than it looks on paper for CONCACAF reasons. Tons of travel (USSF tweeted something today about Bobby Wood flying more than 13,000 miles this int'l window), poor field conditions, shoddy refereeing, hostile crowd conditions, crappy facilities, oppressive heat.

It happens every cycle - there's always a snafu where the US looks terrible and listless on the road in a game that should be easier (i.e. not the Mexico and Costa Rica away games which are usually lost causes for more legitimate reasons).

When you are doing a major re-shuffle of the squad, you're going to run into instances where team chemistry isn't great. It takes time for players to gel, to learn each other's tendencies in certain situations, and for partnerships to form. Doing so in the Hex is asking for more unexpected road snafus, and maybe even trouble at home. The US hasn't had a close call in the Hex for a while, largely because the team has gone 14-1-0 at home in the last three Hexes.

The last time the US lost a road WCQ was on Sep 1, 2001, to Honduras. That was also the cycle where the US had the scariest finish - it came down to the last day and the US finished third, thanks in part to Mexico taking care of business. There was no playoff for the fourth place team in CONCACAF that time.

That's why you don't want to tinker too much during the Hex, and why it's been a little frustrating that Klinsmann didn't change things up a bit more over the last year. I guess the good news is that we have a fairly settled group of CBs and an emerging group of attackers. We have not made as much progress in looking at new fullbacks and central midfielders until very recently.
 

Titans Bastard

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Does anyone know if Gilette is going to host one of the Hex matches?
Doubtful. Gillette gets some Gold Cup type games, but is passed over for the Hex because of the shitty playing surface. As it should be, frankly.
 

Titans Bastard

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Upcoming schedule:

10/7 @ Cuba (in Havana)
10/11 vs. New Zealand (RFK Stadium, DC)
11/11 vs. Mexico (Mapfre Stadium, Columbus)
11/15 @ Costa Rica

January camp....friendlies TBD
3/24 vs. Honduras
3/28 @ Panama
6/9 vs. T&T
6/13 @ Mexico

July - Gold Cup
9/1 vs. Costa Rica
9/5 @ Honduras
10/6 vs. Panama
10/10 @ T&T

That's a rough start to the Hex. We have had even less success in Costa Rica than we've had at Azteca. We have tied Mexico on the road twice. We have lost to the Ticos all seven times we've played them on the road since the 1998 cycle. I did some quick research, and we once tied them on the road in the 1985 CONCACAF Championship, which doubled as qualifiers for the 1986 WC. That's the only time a WCQ trip down there didn't result in a loss.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Is the Hex really that threatening? 3.5 qualify out of 6: the US, Mexico, T&T, Panama, Costa Rica, and likely Honduras. Of those, Honduras (43), Panama (63) and T&T (80) are ranked waaaaay behind CONCACAF's big 3. Panama is the only one of those who are probably better than their record (by Elo, they're #46, the USA #24). I don't think playing Wood, Pulisic and Kljestan in place of Altidore, Zusi and Beckerman is going to cost them a WCF spot - just can't see how that happens. Especially if we have Yedlin, Brooks and Nagbe back with a healthy Dempsey and Altidore around.
What was Mexico ranked before the last hexagonal? Probably good enough to not expect to need a 92d minute goal from the USA just to get into the playoff.

The hexagonal is grueling and the margins are thin. It requires depth, unexpected contributions, and preserverence. Sometimes it takes Conor Casey stepping up when accumulation of yellows and injuries takes hold. Or some good fortune in a snow storm. Or a Brad Evans header when the team is seconds away from taking only 4 points from the first 4 games. The USA has had a nice string of close wins and draws in WCQ, often from losing positions or when the game could easily have gone the other way. I think it leads to a sense that the hexagonal is easier than it really is. If you look at the goal differences in the final tables, it's clear things are really tight. If you drop points at home, anything can happen.

It's not time for too much experimentation. I think TB is right that Klinsmann's instinct will be to go with the guys he trusts, especially if they come out of those first two games with only 1 or 2 points (or zero) and have four months to stew on it.
 

Quintanariffic

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Just dropping in to relay that the German press apparently calls Pulisic "Das Ami Juwal" - the American jewel. Sorry (not sorry) if this has been mentioned before. It's awesome enough to be repeated.
 

Titans Bastard

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Wait - are those on the road? What you typed indicated homes games vs Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is on the road and we are probably going to lose. Home vs. Mexico and Honduras - we should hold serve, but they will be two of our three toughest home matches.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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So, what to make of Sacha? When he was subbed out, the announcers last night were talking about him having a good understanding of "his role." He seemed to understand his role last night to be to play the final third like a fucking boss.

Try for a minute to forget entirely about his history with the USMNT and his up and down history with Klinsmann. If you can, just go by what your eyes tell you from the last 110 minutes or so, plus his last year or so in MLS. I see a number 10 with vision, confidence, creativity and strength on the ball, who seems to make the right play 9 out of 10 times. He makes space for himself. He makes his teammates look better. He even occasionally slows up counterattacks. Seven goals in three halves with Kljestan on the pitch and he was involved in all but one -- he set up five of them with the play into the box that got it started or led to the goal, one of which he ended up finishing himself.