Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
What will decide Friday's showdown
by Ridge Mahoney, June 18th, 2010 2:37AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  men's national team, world cup

MOST COMMENTED

[USA-SLOVENIA] With the USA anticipating a more tactical match against Slovenia in Johannesburg than was the case with England, how might the pieces be moved around on the board?

Regardless of what personnel changes, if any, are taken by U.S. coach Bob Bradley, the Slovenians have shown strengths and weaknesses the Americans will be cognizant of. Here is a breakdown of those elements:

HEIGHT. Striker Milijove Novakovic is 6-foot-3, yet midfielder Andraz Kirm is rather tallish at 6-foot-1. If Kirm is matched up with right back Steve Cherundolo by playing left mid, balls aimed to the back post from the right flank could find Kirm towering over the 5-foot-6 Cherundolo. If so, the American will need to fight his way up the ladder to unbalance Kirm as much as possible before and during contact with the ball.

Balls hit square from the back post are a primary element in Slovenia’s offensive set plays. Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Bradley will need to win balls in the air, but just as vital will be the Americans' ability to get to knockdowns and second balls. Slovenia is also aggressive at following up its shots, so the battle to control or clear rebounds, blocks and deflections will be especially important.

CENTER MIX. In the two-leg playoff with Russia last November that Slovenia won on away goals (1-0) in a 2-2 tie on aggregate, Slovenian center backs Marko Suler and Bostjan Cesar were occasionally turned and exploited. Algeria also found slots in losing to the Slovenians, 1-0, while forcing a few good saves from keeper Samir Handanovic.

In addition to the usual diet of flank play and crosses, the Americans should probe for lanes and channels in the center of the field. There will be opportunities to shoot from distance as well as play balls forward if Suler and Cesar step up to challenge.

When defending, central midfielders Valter Birsa and Robert Koren are susceptible to combination play and dribbling runs; if both go up into the attack, Aleksandar Radosavlijevic, one of the outside mids, will provide cover. Thus the timing and angles of runs by Jozy Altidore and his forward partner, as well as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey cutting inside from the flanks, are vital.

Yet the Americans cannot be sluggish or stupid in their transitions from attack to defense; like many European teams, the Slovenians are quick and crafty going forward when they win the ball, and they’re not afraid to run the ball right up the middle rather than passing it wide.

ATTITUDE. In the aftermath of Slovenian defender Andrej Komac being misquoted about predicting victory, U.S. coach Bob Bradley and his players have said all the right, respectful things about their opponents’ abilities and tactical acumen.

Five rest days separate the England and Slovenia games, so the Americans should have recovered psychologically and physically from Saturday's fierce game.

Several players in the final stages of recovering from injuries should be close to full fitness and sharpness, and getting a full competitive game against England is just what Onyewu may have needed to fine-tune his anticipation and decision-making.



0 comments
  1. Charles Stamos
    commented on: June 18, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
    Torres and Bradley weak as a team in the first half. Poor marking on both goals from the all the defense, nice second half from the USA, esp Donovan, He scores, makes the great long pass to Altidore for the assist on Bradley's goal, and assists on Edu's goal. Pathetic calls from the referee constantly throughout the game. The USA will have to beat Algeria by more than England or hope England beats Slovenia and then the USA goes through.


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Neymar    
"I think Brazilian soccer is behind. It's behind Germany and Spain. We've slipped behind and we ...
Arsenal players practice speaking New Yorkese    
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] In preparation for their visit to the U.S. Northeast, where they'll ...
MLS Goals of the Week    
[VIDEO PICK] Well-placed long-distance shots, including Benny Feilhaber's gamewiiner for Kansas City over Columbus, dominate Week ...
Report: Julian Green will join Bayern tour    
[INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES] A Bayern Munich spokesperson confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that Julian Green will be in the ...
Soccer America Power Rankings    
[MLS: Week 19] D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City posted wins to stay right behind leader ...
Top scorer Ebobisse wins USSDA honor    
[AWARDS] Jeremy Ebobisse, the leading scorer in the under-17/18 age group with 38 goals in 27 ...
2014 W-League all-conference teams    
[AWARDS] The four W-League semifinalists -- Charlotte Lady Eagles, LA Blues, Ottawa Fury and Washington Spirit ...
Veteran college coach Logan Fleck passes away    
[OBITUARY] Logan Fleck, a longtime men's and women's college head coach who started programs at USF ...
Longtime UMass coach Sam Koch dies    
[OBITUARY] Longtime University of Massachusetts men's coach Sam Koch died on Sunday at his home in ...
D.C. United on course to set record for biggest turnaround     
[MLS: Week 19] D.C. United's 3-1 win over Chivas USA on Sunday moved it back to ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives