USMNT

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Nov 19, 2009
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I was roaming around the CONCACAF website this morning and found some interesting scorelines from earlier WC qualifiers.

For 2002, in the semifinal group (same group we are currently in), we finished first with 11 points. We put together a 3-1-2 record. In the final group that same year, we finished 3rd with 17 points. We went 5-3-2 with only a +3 goal differential. That was good enough to qualify for Korea where we lost to world powers and eventual finalists Germany in the quarterfinals.

For 2006, in the semifinal group, we finished first with 12 points. We put together a 3-0-3 record. In the final, we finished tied for first with 22 points. We went 7-2-1. That was good enough to qualify for Germany.

For 2010, in the semifinal group, we finished first with 15 points and went 5-1. We lost to Trinidad... Ouch. In the final, we finished first with 20 points and a 6-2-2 record. That got us into SA and everyone knows how magical that run was.


So... ties/losses do happen in qualifying. Mexico loses as well (and will lose in this cycle). Mexico needed a last minute goal to escape El Salvador. Latin American countries are not easy whatsoever to play against on the road. Qualifying is a marathon, not a sprint. We were not beaten last night, and we picked up a point on the road in a hostile environment. I was guilty of the doom and gloom after last night's tie (especially after I paid to watch it), but we are fine. I repeat, WE ARE FINE.

Let's regroup and hit it hard in September. I expect rested legs and a refocus on the goal ahead. JK's tournament style format the last month has taken its toll. From Jacksonville to DC to Canada to Tampa to Guatemala. That's hard on any player at the highest level.
 

Exit 174

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ESPN had a nice interview with Jozy yesterday, explaining how much different and how hard everything is on the road. It's not like going to another state or another city across the US to play a road game, you're traveling thousands of miles into a completely foreign land with weird people and weird food. Yes, typically we should beat the tar out of Guatemala, but I'll take a point and get back home. Playing on the road in Central America for WCQ is nothing to sneeze at.
 

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Nov 10, 2009
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It was a tough result, especially given what probably should have been a PK and the missed advantage call in that short time span.

But...

It's pretty much always been the case that if the US wins at home, any points on the road are pretty much a bonus. 1 point was much better for us than it was for Guatemala. We're in good shape particularly after A&B drew with Jamaica.

I also thought we looked light years better last night than we did against Canada and Antigua.

I was glad to see Johnson back in the lineup. We are a much better team with him at left back. And someone mentioned bringing Jozy in for Herc. I definitely see what you were getting at, but I sure wish Jozy had Herculez' work rate. If he did, he'd be a worldclass striker. I still remember how easily we'd have gone up early on Ghana in the 2010 R16 but Jozy pulls up his run at the top of the 18 and Landon sends a perfect ball across an empty box while Jozy's ballwatching.
 
Nov 19, 2009
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It's time to get this thing going again...

US plays in Mexico (yes, IN Mexico) tomorrow night at 7 CT on ESPN2. JK has brought more of a B team to Mexico and I have a feeling the scoreline will represent that. No Bradley, Dempsey or Jozy to speak of, and the backline (very, very inexperienced) will struggle.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3):Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6):Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steven Beithasour (San Jose Earthquakes), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)
MIDFIELDERS (9):DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

CowboyCookie will be happy to see the inclusion of Beckerman on this list. Don't get the inclusion of Castillo, Orozco-Fiscal, Beckerman, Gordon, and Wondolowski.

If we are going to bring in inexperienced players, why not let some of the kids from the U-23 team get a call up? If you call in Besler, Beithasour, Zusi, Wondolowski and Beasley, why not call up Agudelo, Bunbury, Gyau, Gatt, Opara and Sarkodie. Those kids have a bigger, brighter future than the ones we are bringing. Let them have the trial by fire. And if you don't play them, they still get to experience Azteca. Just my thoughts. I think Mexico wins 3-1...

Real games continue on Sept. 7th and 11th with a home and home against Jamaica in WCQ.
 
Nov 19, 2009
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With those defenders?

6-1. Man, that squad looks like it could barely care about getting thumped in Mexico.
I think the back 4 will be Besler-Cameron-Beitashour-Johnson. If Orozco-Fiscal or Castillo start, I need to change my prediction (worse than 3-1). Luckily, Mexico does most of its attacking down the right flank, and I think Johnson is more than capable of holding his own against the Mexican offense.

The only players who stand to learn anything from this friendly that will also help us in the next two years leading up to Brazil are Cameron, Johnson, Edu, Jones, Torres, Shea, Williams, Boyd, and Gomez. LD has obviously seen this atmosphere many times. The rest will have a very minimal (at least I hope) impact on the team.

It also wouldn't shock me to see us down a man within the first 30-40 minutes of this game. With the crowd, the intensity of the rivalry, and the always suspect officiating down there, I think Jermaine Jones is headed to a very early yellow. It'll be interesting to see how he adapts to the environment.
 
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I think the back 4 will be Besler-Cameron-Beitashour-Johnson. If Orozco-Fiscal or Castillo start, I need to change my prediction (worse than 3-1). Luckily, Mexico does most of its attacking down the right flank, and I think Johnson is more than capable of holding his own against the Mexican offense.
Does it change your prediction if Edu starts at center back?

http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2012/08/13/trial-fire-cameron-edu-center-us-defense

In fact, the most experienced center back on the squad is new Stoke City man and former Houston Dynamo stalwart Geoff Cameron, who has only five caps to his name. But if this moment, this match, is to represent a changing of the guard — if even only temporarily — Cameron must be the defensive linchpin many believe him to be.

“Obviously, there’s more responsibility,” he said after US training here on Monday. “Usually, I’m leaning on the shoulders of [Carlos] Bocanegra, [Oguchi Onyewu], and Clarence [Goodson]. They’ve been to a couple of World Cups, so I’ve always had that shoulder to lean on a little bit and take some of the pressure off. But now that I have a few caps and the last qualifier, it’s definitely different.”

That difference won’t necessarily be eased by his probable center-back partner, Maurice Edu. The unsettled Rangers holding midfielder looks set to drop back into the defense to make up for the roster’s obvious thinness at that position. The pair worked alongside each other in training on Monday night.
 
Nov 19, 2009
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Does it change your prediction if Edu starts at center back?
Thanks for that. I haven't had the chance to read any notes from their training last night. I actually like Edu at center back more than Beitashour.

I also overlooked the greatest impact of this friendly tomorrow. JK gets his first experience at Azteca with nothing on the line. Sure, it's a fierce rivalry, but why not get it under your belt now, instead of going there for your first time for a WCQ. The experience and information he gathers there tomorrow night will be invaluable for the future.