WTWF: Confederations Cup

A little preview type post (WTWF = What to watch for) for the USMNT's upcoming South African adventure.

To state the obvious, this opportunity sets up as excellent preparation for next summer's World Cup. There are tough matches in the CONCACAF region, however they tend to be that way due to hostile environments rather than top class opposition. Not taking anything from Costa Rica, Mexico, or Honduras but no one in the region (US included) compares to Italy, Brazil, or Spain. Playing this quality of opponent at a neutral site is a definite litmus test for this team going into the T-1 year countdown.

US Schedule (All games on ESPN/ESPN2):
US v Italy 6/15 @ 2:30 PM EST
US v Brazil 6/18 @ 10 AM EST
US v Egypt 6/21 @ 2:30 PM EST

As the top 2 teams advance to the group stage it will take some inspired play and perhaps a slip up from Brazil/Italy for them to get through. Not quite though impossible as Italy has looked shaky on the International Stage since their German triumph and Marcello Lippi has taken an interesting mix of experience and youth to South Africa.

Players to Watch:

Benny Feilhaber - After a great 2nd half showing against Honduras it will be interesting to see if BB can mix him and Bradley Jr on the field successfully. The ability to think -> execute creatively is never the strong point for a USMNT but if Feilhaber can bring it on a consistent basis, his presence is necessary for this team.

Conor Casey - Got the start against Honduras and while he does well with his back to the goal he doesn't have the pace or skill to punish defenders while running at them. If he can finish a few times down there, he puts his name into the mix for that striker role moving forward, if not...Bradley should continue to explore options...cough...Marcus Tracy...cough.

Jozy Altidore - As exciting a prospect as the US has ever produced had great games against Mexico and T&T earlier in qualifying but fell off slightly in the latest two. Can he bounce back against what is probably the stiffest competition (especially Italian d) he's ever come up against?

Freddy Adu - An American enigma continues. During the few chances he does get he tends to look confident with the ball but continues to be the 3rd option at best and usually inserted as a shot in the dark late in the game. What kind of chances will he get this time around? This could go a long way in determining his club situation next year as well...

Carlos Bocanegra - Injured late against Honduras so it will be interesting to see if he is able to go against Italy or Brazil. If not, how does Demerit respond? If he's healthy, let's see how he and Onyewu look in the face of a Brazilian attack

Overall Trends:

The left side of the midfield - I think we can agree that Clint Dempsey, despite his occasional attempts to do way too much, is the #1 option on the right. What works on the left is less certain, I prefer Donovan out there as he doesn't have the strength to hold up in the middle but I expect Bradley gives Torres a shot out there too.

LB/RB - After quality performances against Honduras you gotta hope BB shows some faith in Jonathan Borenstein and Spector during at least the first two games. A decision to experiment next Sunday against Egypt would probably be worthwhile though, especially if the prospect of advancing has disappeared.

Opening round Squad Picks??

Not really gonna go through this as you gotta figure he'll come out with what worked against Honduras so no point in being experimental and thats whats fun about this.

If they are out of contention for the elimination stage then hopefully BB gets creative and gives some guys a shot. Maybe a full 90 for Adu? Things like that...don't throw the game out the window but this team hasn't shown enough yet for him to be comfortable with any of the formation options. Unless of course they have 3+ pts from the first two games....

Check back for some reactions....

No comments:

Post a Comment