Thursday, May 27, 2010

Luchametric USMNT Tactical Analysis: What to Look for Against Turkey

Alright, so now we know which Yanks will be heading to South Africa, but what should we expect to see tactically, hopefully starting Saturday against Turkey?

We've looked through the lineups at for both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, and what follows is our tentative projection of what to expect from Bradley in the two upcoming friendlies and against England on June 12th.  We went with the above two sets of matches as we think the Gold Cup in 2009 and the various friendlies over the last year don't accurately represent our best XI (in fact, we think our B-team was a grave disappointment in virtually every match it played).

The first graphic (above) is our prediction if Bradley runs out a standard 4-4-2.  In such games, he has historically put Dempsey and Donovan on the right and left flanks respectively.  Clark and Bradley are the two most common holding/defensive mids in Bradley's various lineups.  We think Altidore is a sure starter, and we're going with Gomez up front with him. Why? We think the combination of Altidore's physicality and ability to hold the ball combined with Gomez's speed and technique will give the US two very different looks at striker--which we dig like dirty rice. Note that Goodson could start for Onyewu and Bocanegra for Bornstein. In our review of Bradley's lineups, the back four were very frequently changed up and moved around. We don't think that will change.  If Gooch isn't ready by June 12th, you could very well see Bornstein, Bocanegra, DeMerit and Spector filling out the back four.

Next, Bradley has also used a rather uncommon 4-2-2-2.  In the graphic to the right, you'll see that in this schema, Bradley and Clark drop back in front of the back four, and Donovan and Dempsey switch sides.  Donovan played mostly on the left with Everton this winter and spring, and this may affect Bradley's tactical decisions.  Regardless, we've still got Gomez and Altidore up top.  At Puebla, Gomez was typically the lone striker, and for the US Altidore has played on the both the right and the left, so it will be interesting to see how Bradley decides to use the two forwards (if he goes with Gomez and not Buddle or Findlay).

Finally, we came up with our own lineup, featuring the return of the prodigal son, DaMarcus Beasley.  He's been in our doghouse since the last World Cup, and he's been in Bradley's for about a year, but he looked very, very good against the Czechs.  The last graphic is our hypothetical XI with Beasley in the mix--in this case, a 4-4-1-1.

In this formation, we put Beasley on the right wing, moving Dempsey over next to Donovan with Clark as the sole defensive mid.  Up top we push Altidore ahead of Gomez, allowing Gomez space to create.  We think this is a great attacking formation for the Yanks.  We look forward to seeing what Bradley's actually going to do with Beasley.  For example, Bease could replace Clark or Bradley in the 4-4-2 or the 4-2-2-2.  Also, we haven't even considered the option of pushing Dempsey or Donovan up top as one or both strikers, which would give the US another and very different look.

Needless to say, it's nice to see that the US has some very tantalizing options.  Word.

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