Tag Archives: Michael Bradley

New Post: Watch the goals from the #USMNT win against Honduras

  By, Kyle Gibson

The United States Men’s National Team steamrolled Honduras 6-0 Friday in San Jose to climb up to fourth in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal.

For most of the bountiful U.S. goals, quality matched the quantity. As Stefon might say, this game had it all: free kicks, perfectly weighted passes, first goals, Tim Ream, etc.

The Bay area’s own Sebastian Lletget scored the first goal on the night, and first of his U.S. career, after a Christian Pulisic shot was saved into his path.

Captain Michael Bradley then capitalized on the space Honduras gave him at the top of the box with a very good goal.

The effectiveness of U.S. legend Clint Dempsey was up in the air before Friday’s match, due to his long layoff stemming from heart issues. Deuce showed he could still ball, though, grabbing the third goal off a great Pulisic pass.

Pulisic turned from provider to scorer in the second half, needing just about 15 seconds at the start of the half to make the lead 4-0. This 18-year-old is special, but you knew that.

 

Dempsey added a fifth goal a few minutes later.

The man of the hour then sealed the deal with a free kick, completing his hat trick and rounding out the score at 6-0.

I’d say that’s a job well done for Bruce Arena and Co.

New Post: Three keys for the #USMNT tonight against Costa Rica in Copa America

By, Kyle Gibson

After a subpar start against Colombia in Copa America Friday, the U.S. Men’s National team returns to action Tuesday at 8 p.m. against Costa Rica.

One would assume that Colombia will beat Paraguay, but the United States essentially needs a win to keep Costa Rica at one point, forcing a necessity for a Ticos win against Colombia in the final contest.

Here are three keys for Tuesday’s match-up.

1. Do not concede an early goal: 

This is a problem I didn’t include in the last game for fear of being redundant. After all, allowing early goals has plagued the U.S. in big games for years. Cristian Zapata’s eighth-minute goal from a corner again exposed the team’s penchant for allowing early goals, while also highlighting the team’s sometimes glaring set-piece weaknesses.

Costa Rica is one of the most solid teams in the tournament, so the U.S. can simply not afford to be chasing the game for long stretches.

2. No Jermaine Jones:

Jones completely lost the plot for much of his time in the game. Feeling a youthful vigor that doesn’t match his aging skill set, Jones would often rush forward, trying to take speedy Colombian defenders on. This led to plenty of dispossession and often seemed to confuse Jones’ teammates.

I would play Darlington Nagbe instead. Nagbe has been impressive in his appearances for the squad so far and has plenty of speed and technical ability.

3. Will the real Michael Bradley please stand up? 

I mentioned Bradley as a key in my last post too, but I sincerely believe that as Bradley goes, so goes the team.

Often, Bradley did not display his trademark judgement on Friday and his passes were not crisp.Hopefully for the Yanks, Tuesday will be much better for Bradley.

Bonus: We need to talk about Clint. 

Clint Dempsey just doesn’t have “it” anymore. The skill, above average speed and love of “trying s*&t,” as he used to call it, just does not seem to be present anymore in the 33-year old.

If healthy, the central spot Dempsey is filling would more than likely be filled by Jozy Altidore. I don’t think Jurgen Klinsmann will do this, but I think Bobby Wood would be much better in this spot.

Follow @KyleisGibson on Twitter. 

 

New Post: Three Keys for the #USMNT Tonight against Colombia in #CopaAmerica

By, Kyle Gibson

The United States men’s national team gets Copa America Centenario started Friday night on home soil against Colombia, which ranks third in the latest FIFA rankings.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad is 3-10-4 all time against Colombia, with its last win coming in 2005.

While games against 23rd ranked Costa Rica and 44th ranked Paraguay won’t be as rough on paper, both sides are still very strong. This makes the first match imperative if the U.S. doesn’t want to be watching the rest of the games in the stands or on T.V.

Here are three keys that could help the Nats score three big points against the mighty Colombians.

1. Sound connection between  center-backs

We aren’t entirely sure who the center-back pairing will be for Klinsmann, but this is nothing new. He has used five so far in World Cup Qualifying. In the two tune-ups for Copa, he used John Brooks and Geoff Cameron (Bolivia) and Brooks/Steve Birnbaum (Ecuador).

I think that Brooks is a lock, but the second slot should be mystery up until the release of the line-up. Hopefully for the U.S., the central pairing performs well together and stays together throughout group play.

2. Play Michael Bradley in a defensive midfield role

This is especially important against Colombia, which sports many dynamic play-makers that can control the game in the midfield.

Klinsmann seems to like Bradley as an attacking mid, but I like him further back. I had the pleasure to watch him live once for Toronto FC and he completely controlled the game in a deeper position.

Some pundits say Bradley is near world-class when he plays this position and I agree. His trademark tireless running and organization serves the U.S. better than a Bradley that plays in an advanced role.

3. Contain James Rodriguez, Carlos Bacca and Juan Cuadrado

James Rodriguez rose to world stardom at World Cup 2014, winning the Golden Boot and best goal award. I profiled his likelihood of joining Manchester United on Thursday.

Rodriguez could give an unsteady U.S. back line fits, as could Carlos Bacca.

Bacca, a striker for A.C. Milan, scored 18 goals in 36 matches. He also has three goals in the six Colombia World Cup Qualifiers.

Juan Cuadrado had an incredible season on loan for Juventus. I could talk at length about his first touch, burst of speed and craftiness, but the video below sums it all up. I am predicting Fabian Johnson to get the start at left back tonight in order to match Cuadrado’s pace.

Follow Kyle Gibson on Twitter, @KyleisGibson. 

Preview: The 3 Keys to the USMNT not Waffling against Belgium, including leaving Jozy Altidore on the bench

By, Kyle Gibson

Since advancing last Thursday, the US men’s national team has set its sights on the insanely talented, Group H winner Belgium. Led by Eden Hazard, this team’s combined transfer fee is up there with most of the world’s elites.

As I wrote last week, though, Belgium thus far has played like a group of individuals, not a cohesive unit. The team also qualified for knockouts from the easiest group in the tournament.

Here are my three keys to beating the Belgians.

1. Don’t Start Jozy Altidore

Altidore participated in full training for the first time since his injury against Ghana on Monday and is listed as available, but just because he’s fit to go, it doesn’t mean Jurgen Klinsmann should start him.

Let’s go ahead and say the Germany game was an anomaly, because the US¬†only looked to score a few times. Besides that game, the US has scored 2 goals in each game, 2 coming from Clint Dempsey.

In order to preserve the shape that has gotten the team this far, the 4-2-3-1, Klinsmann should opt to keep things the same and keep Dempsey up top. If the US finds itself needing offensive firepower late on, go for a two striker formation and let Altidore impact the game with fresh legs.

We have to remember, by the way, that Altidore wasn’t exactly stacking up the goals before his hamstring injury, anyway.

2. Watch the Late Goals

Belgium has only scored goals in the second half at this Finals, including a 78th minute winner against South Korea and an 88th minute winner against Russia. Unfortunately for the US, it has given away two crucial goals in the final 10 minutes, Ghana’s equalizer and Portugal’s game-tying miracle.

The US can’t allow the Belgians to score late, which is easier said than done. Speedy wingers and strong depth means that the likes of Kevin Mirallas or Divock Origi could be on as substitutes late, terrorizing the US goal. To make matters worse, Eden Hazard and right winger Dries Mertens don’t seem to tire.

I keep flashing back to fellow CONCACAF teams Mexico and Costa Rica, who surrendered stoppage time goals on Sunday. Mexico paid for it with elimination, while Costa Rica barely escaped from penalties.

3. Michael Bradley has to perform

I don’t know what it is with Michael Bradley, but he has had a very rough World Cup. Bradley looked broken against Ghana, surrendered the giveaway that Portugal ultimately equalized on and then played poorly against Germany as well.

Perhaps many critics were right and Bradley wasn’t suited to play as an attacking central midfielder on the world stage. With that being said, Bradley performed great at that spot in the World Cup tuneup games against powerful Turkey and fellow Knockout team Nigeria.

Bradley switched positions slightly with Jermaine Jones in the second half of the Germany game. Perhaps Klinsmann will keep that in mind when he prepares the lineup for Belgium.

Michael Bradley has been the best field player for maybe a year now. He can’t let his team down at the biggest of stages. We need to see more from Michael Bradley in this World Cup Finals if the US wants to find a way to the quarterfinals.

Do you believe? What are your keys? Share in the comments or send me a tweet @kickingit10

 

Preview: The United States will finally beat Ghana at the World Cup today if it can do these three things

clint

By, Kyle Gibson

The day we have waited for (or dreaded) for months is finally here. Once again, the United States finds Ghana in its path at a FIFA World Cup finals. The Stars of West Africa are talented, dynamic, fast and most importantly, beatable. Here, in my humble opinion, are the three keys to the US coming out victorious in it’s first Group of Death match.

Survive the first 15 Minutes

In studying the US on film. Ghana’s technical staff has probably realized by now that the US back line is not so stellar. There are still problems with the combination of Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler centrally and the only player of the four with World Cup experience, DaMarcus Beasley, earned his caps as a midfielder. That’s why I think Ghana will press and attack the US hard to start the match, before this back four can find its footing. If the US can make it through the first 15 minutes without giving up a goal, the defense can breathe easier and relax, knowing it has stopped a significant effort from a top team.

Keep shape in Midfield

This thought hinges on whether or not Jurgen Klinsmann will roll out the lineup we saw against Nigeria. Klinsmann axed the 4-4-2 ¬†diamond for a 4-2-3-1 with both defensive midfielders, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman, playing just ahead of the defensive line. If Klinsmann wants to use that formation again, I’m worried about the positional discipline of Jermaine Jones. Jones can wander out of position at times, which could leave the fledgling back line exposed to players like Jordan Ayew and Asamoah Gyan.

If the 4-2-3-1 is indeed the formation, I think Clint Dempsey’s role is important as well. Dempsey’s unorthodox game can often be selfish, as Klinsmann himself has pointed out. He is playing behind Jozy Altidore in this new formation, which means he’s tasked with helping Jozy stay involved. Clint has scored against Ghana at the World Cup (2006), but if today becomes the Clint Dempsey show, it hurts chances at winning.

We know Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey will fill two of the attacking spots, but what about the other? I think this should be Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya possesses ability going forward and is also conscientious about tracking back to help on defense, which will be crucial against Ghana. Mix Diskerud can be subbed into this spot if need be later on.

Play Possession oriented Soccer

Keeping Ghana off the ball will be very important and a healthy amount of possession can aid the US in that regard. More possession equals more chances as well. This is easier said than done against a side as quick and gifted as Ghana, but it can be done. Also, if Ghana wants to spring into counter attack, it essentially will have six defenders to deal with if Klinsmann sticks with the 4-2-3-1.

Here’s my projected US Starting lineup, in the formation I’ve been mentioning.

Tim Howard, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Alejandro Bedoya, Jozy Altidore.

–Give us a follow on Twitter, will ya? @kickingit10

USA vs Turkey Player Ratings, a rating for every US player after the 2-1 Win

By, Kyle Gibson

Another day, another two goal performance for the US, which looked better against Turkey than Azerbaijan. Still, there were a few hiccups. This is a first for me in terms of assigning a rating to every player. Starters will be ranked out of 10 and subs will be ranked out of 5.

Starting 11 (Ranked 1-10) Starter Average 7.6/10

Tim Howard 9.0

Great performance by Howard, who did the best he could with an adventurous back 4. His stabilizing performance is something the team will need, especially in the first 15 minutes of the World Cup against Ghana, when all hell will probably break loose.

Timmy Chandler 5.6 

A real howler of a game for Chandler. I tweeted before the game that he might be able to lock that spot up, but now it is apparent that competition is wide open. Chandler’s giveaway led to Turkey’s penalty and he was frequently out of position. He had plenty to gain, but ended up losing.

Matt Besler 6.5

I’m nervous that this is probably the only option for this point forward at the left center back. Besler looked shaky and his communication with Chandler was lacking. That being said, Chandler’s poor performance might have brought Besler down by osmosis.

Geoff Cameron 7

Starting to agree with Klinsmann that this is the spot for Cameron, unless Klinsmann wants to move him to right back, which he plays at Stoke. That would move Johnson to left back, where his two footed ability could help stabilize that spot. From that, Omar Gonzales could slide back into Cameron’s spot and continue his tried and tested partnership with Besler. I’m not Klinsmann, though. Steady game for Cameron, who gave up a penalty, but was between a ball and a clean sheet.

Fabian Johnson 8 No, 8.5 (Goal)

Inspiring stuff today by Johnson, who I think has more than locked up his spot in the 11. His goal was a beautifully worked piece of skill by he and Michael Bradley, but also shows the necessities of the modern game, where a team NEEDS backs that can move forward. I think it’s safe to say Brazil has won a few World Cups in part because some of their wing defenders could be strikers for other teams, Johnson provided good organization, marking and the press forward that this team needs. I actually just talked myself into ranking him higher.

Jermaine Jones 8.3

We only had one half to watch Jones, but I think he proved he can play the defensive midfield position that will free Michael Bradley, as well as move forward when need be. He was shaky defensively early on, but improved later. His rating is so high today because of the boundless energy and selflessness he showed, taking all kinds of deflections and diving everywhere. Good showing by a very hungry player.

Brad Davis 8.2-1=7.2

Davis loses a point for me because of his blatant handball that he used to keep a ball in play. I know the referee did not see this incident, but it will not be missed in Brazil. Here are the positives, though: Brad has a golden left foot and he plays smart. He showed both of those abilities today for a good game.

Graham Zusi 7.7 

Have we seen the two wingers the US will start against Ghana? Zusi has started both tuneups so far and has done a tremendous job, in my opinion, His crosses are precise from deep and he’s dangerous in the final third. Pace might be a question, but i think Zusi understands this limitation and doesn’t get himself stranded.

Michael Bradley 9.5

What more can you say about Bradley? I’m pretty sure his assist for Johnson reduced Ian Darke to tears. He also had a smart pass that set up the second goal.He was not afraid to come back and defend, which he does so well and he always played the right pass. My only concern, take a couple shots for yourself, Michael!

Jozy Altidore 6.7

By no means do I want to heap on Jozy Altidore, who I think is starting to frustrate fans with his goalless drought. With his hard work today, I think he should have scored today, but if he keeps working hard, that goal is coming soon.

Clint Dempsey 8.6

Clint was his best when he was terrorizing the Turkish defense. He can be hard to handle and his work rate produced a garbage goal. Of course, when you are playing Ghana, Portugal and Germany, there is no such thing as a garbage goal. It’s a positive that Clint has a poacher’s mentality ready for Brazil. Also, he returned to the flair he showed during his peak at Fulham, which will also be needed.


SUBSTITUTES (Ratings out of 5) Sub Average 3.38/5

Brad Guzan 4.3

Guzan was forced into action a few times in his half of action, more than showing he is ready for Brazil. The goal he gave up was, of course, not his fault and he actually guessed the right side on the penalty.

DeAndre Yedlin 3.4

Yedlin’s speed is going to be very important in the Group Stage, especially in the first two games. Showing he could defend pretty well was a positive sign.

John Brooks 3.7 

Brooks might just throw a wrench into Klinsmann’s plans with the back. After all, he was very steady in his time on the field. I have a feeling he will see very significant minutes against Nigeria.

Kyle Beckerman 3.5

Beckerman’s style is different from Jones. He did not cover as much field as Jones, but that might not be an issue, especially if Jurgen wants the man behind Bradley in that diamond midfield to simply provide defensive cover and occasionally link up with Bradley. Beckerman is tenacious, but always organized, which could come in handy if the wild Jones loses the plot.

Mix Diskerud 3.4 

We didn’t see a ton from Mix, but he was the last man in. I tell you though, his performances keep impressing me. He not only has pace, but it’s a very controlled pace. I like him at this point as a 60th minute sub when the US is pushing for a goal.

Julian Green 2.0

Julian, don’t look, your inexperience is showing.

–Follow @kickingit10 on Twitter

 

 

 

New Post: On Michael Bradley, shut up, MLS bashers.

Toronto

By, Kyle Gibson

By now we all know the news about Michael Bradley’s transfer back to North America and Toronto FC, a move reported by MLS legend Taylor Twellman of ESPN and later confirmed by everyone on earth.

Michael Bradley is coming to the league he started his career at as a better player now and has a very high salary. Yes he is the best U.S. player, even though Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan give him a run.

The reaction was kind of what I expected, many were very happy, but many fans of the national team are worried that Bradley will be out of form by the time that the World Cup comes around because he spent a few months in MLS.

Shut up. Honestly, just please shut up.

I respect your opinion about Bradley maybe still being in his prime and wanting him to keep climbing the ladder in Europe, but I am sick and tired of people bashing the MLS.

Around 2003, three years into watching soccer, I started to wish the best U.S. soccer players could go and play in Europe and compete at the highest level. However, around 2008 I started to wish that the MLS could keep the best American players and help to turn the MLS into a real world player.

There have always been Eurosnobs that bash the MLS, but if they are real soccer fans, they should know that the MLS has dramatically improved in recent years.

Thierry Henry noticed a change between his first and second season here saying it used to be all direct long balls, but now there is a much nicer style of play.

Eurosnobs, take a look around! Actually watch a few games. The MLS is a viable league that’s attracting plenty of quality players from around the world. Some crowds are still small, but watch an EPL game and look at the stands, or an Italian game, the stands are nowhere near full.

This is a league that isn’t even 20 years old yet. European teams have had, in some cases, at least 100 years to establish themselves and the league they play in.

The MLS is an entertaining watch where good players can make a living. A fair wage for all its players will help it grow. So will more American fans.

In this country, we talk about buying American and believing in America, we need to start doing the same with our soccer.