World Soccer Source

Soccer and Football News and Commentary on World Soccer, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), Major League Soccer (MLS), World Football, and American Soccer. All articles, opinions, and commentary by Colin Reese. Twitter: @COLINREESE. Facebook: WorldSoccerSource

Who Should the USMNT Start in the Gold Cup?

June 30th, 2015

 

 

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Who should the United States start in the Gold Cup, and what formation should the U.S. use?

 

The modern 4-3-3 formation seems best, particularly since a 4-3-3 is the same as the 4-2-3-1. Both formations use two midfielders tasked with the bulk of the recovery of possession in the midfield with three more attack-minded players behind an out-and-out striker or center forward.

 

The Midfield Three

 

Let’s start with the defensive midfielder anchoring the center of the Midfield Three.

 

Is it really necessary to have a midfield destroyer like Kyle Beckerman starting there when Michael Bradley thrives in this role?

 

Sure, Bradley has been outstanding with the freedom to go forward, but doesn’t also starting Mix Diskerud in the midfield afford Bradley defensive cover when he goes forward?

 

Alejandro Bedoya has shown a willingness to track back on defense and recover possession, so a Midfield Three of Bedoya-Bradley-Diskerud should provide plenty of defending and ball recovery.

 

The Front Three

 

If the Midfield Three is Bedoya, Bradley, and Diskerud, then what is the Front Three or attacking trident?

 

Jozy Altidore should start at center forward with Clint Dempsey at left wing, but who plays right wing: Fabian Johnson or Gyasi Zardes?

 

There’s no immediate answer to this question. On the one hand, Johnson is a naturally wide player that uses both feet interchangeably, but Zardes is an MLS forward on the rise that is something of a force of nature.

 

Just maybe Zardes combination of speed, running, raw athleticism, and attacking ability is more valuable that Johnson’s great wing play. Zardes has proven that he plays well in a wide role, and Zardes is more of a worker than Johnson with a bigger scoring threat.

 

The Back Four

 

How about the Back Four? Who should start in the defense?

 

DeAndre Yedlin and Greg Garza are the right back and left back with the qualities that the National Team needs, and Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks check all of the boxes for quality center backs.

 

There’s a widespread belief that Omar Gonzalez should start at right center back over Alvarado, but Alvarado is harder to wrong foot or beat for pace.

 

The fact that Alvarado was caught on the wrong side of his man on a header in a friendly is hardly a reason to declare Gonzalez the more solid defender.

 

Tactical Formation

 

As Brad Guzan is the clear starter in goal, then this USA XI is perhaps the best for this summer’s Gold Cup:

 

Guzan; Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, Garza; Bedoya, Bradley, Diskerud; Zardes, Altidore, Dempsey.

 

Conclusions

 

Two observations about this line-up warrant mentioning: 1.) Bedoya and Zardes provide a lot of running and defending on the right side of the field; and 2.) Dempsey’s natural inclination will be to drop deep making Zardes and Altidore a two-man striker force to stretch the defense and high press.

 

The United States is a national team with a roster and line-up still in flux, but this line-up sets the squad up to play a more modern and effective style of soccer that can help the United States to improve on the international level.

 

The Top 10 Copa America Players

June 19th, 2015

 

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

1. Lionel MESSI (Argentina)

The Argentina attacker is the undisputed best player in the Copa America and in world football. Messi not only blazes through seas of defenders off the dribble, but the Argentine can also unlock any defense with his passing and with what Ray Hudson calls his fly’s eye vision. Messi’s peers refer to him as an alien, and everyone knows Messi is the best.

 

2. NEYMAR (Brazil)

The Brazilian and Barcelona forward has reach a level just below Messi, and like Messi, his game is not only based on dribbling and goals but also on exceptional passing as well. Neymar’s star continues to rise, and he’s currently carrying the Seleção on his back. Neymar is known for his individual skill, but he is an outstanding team player that displayed his ability to play team soccer by how he played with Messi and Luís Suárez last season for Barcelona.

 

3. Alexis SÁNCHEZ (Chile)

Alexis Sánchez or Electric Sánchez – another Ray Hudson nickname – uses a low center of gravity combined with speed and technical ability to attack the opposition without mercy. The Chilean forward seems to always stay on his feet or pop right back up to continue to assault opposition defenses. Easily the best player in the EPL last season, Sánchez is among the top 10 players in all of world football.

 

4. Arturo VIDAL (Chile)

King Arthur has to be considered either the top midfielder in the world or amongst the top three or four midfielders. Vidal is a complete midfielder that not only has a knack for scoring goals and burying penalty kicks, but he also runs and defends without tire. The only other midfielders in the Copa America close to Vidal’s level are Javier Mascherano and Javier Pastore of Argentina.

 

5. Javier PASTORE (Argentina)

The Argentina attacking midfielder improved his efficacy and influence by leaps and bounds this past club season with Paris Saint-Germain. Known for his technical ability, vision, passing, and dribbling, Pastore has now become a midfielder that wins back possession, runs all game, and stamps his influence all over the field.

 

6. Ángel DI MARÍA (Argentina)

The Argentina winger attacks with captivating speed and skill, and he has a cannon of a left foot that also strikes with placement and grace. The fact that Di María is starting for a national team with so much competition is a testament to how skilled of an attacker he is.

 

7. Jorge VALDIVIA (CHILE)

El Mago Valdivia is amongst a small few true Number 10s in world football. The Chilean playmaker has a rare ability to orchestrate an attack and play with a level of passing skill and vision that few today can match. Valdivia almost looked like the last of the true Number 10s until Pastore fulfilled his potential this past club season.

 

8. Sergio AGÜERO (Argentina)

The EPL’s top scorer is younger than Carlos Tevez and better than Gonzalo Higuaín, and all of these qualities represent just how talented he is. His goal off a crazed diving header against Uruguay showcased that not only is he skilled and quick, but that he also buries the ball in the back of the net when even half a chance to score presents itself.

 

9. JAMES RODRÍGUEZ (Colombia)

Known simply as James, the Colombian attacking midfielder’s game is still improving and becoming complete but his scoring ability and creativity are world famous. The 2014 World Cup golden boot winner will only get better for Colombia and for Real Madrid. His star is still on the rise.

 

10.  DANIEL ALVES (Brazil)

Daniel Alves is an under appreciated right back that is somewhat of a scapegoat and whipping boy for Barcelona and Brazil fans, but his past season with Barcelona was perhaps his best ever. The Baiano still has several years at the pinnacle of world soccer.

 

The USMNT Is Ready to Use the 4-3-3

June 15th, 2015

 

Clint Dempsey (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Clint Dempsey (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

The United States Men’s National Team is now ready for the 4-3-3 formation.

 

Attacking at pace proved to be an effective strategy when the United States beat the Netherlands and Germany in what were close games, and Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, who were both absent from those games, can attack at pace as well.

 

With Michael Bradley free to push the ball up the field with pace and supported by Mix Diskerud, American forwards like Altidore and Dempsey can thrive since both forwards like to play fast and with the ball at their feet.

 

If the United States continues to use a defensive midfielder to free up Bradley and Diskerud to play in more advanced positions, then the United States has a recipe for success in the Gold Cup.

 

A Midfield Three with a defensive midfielder, a center midfielder, and an attacking midfielder isn’t rocket science. Hopefully, the United States continues to start one of each type of midfielder.

 

Anchoring this midfield, Kyle Beckerman or Perry Kitchen will fill the defensive midfielder role in the Gold Cup, and Bradley and Diskerud can sit in front of them in the midfield with Altidore, Dempsey, and either Juan Agudelo or Alejandro Bedoya as the Front Three.

 

Joe Corona is another option at right wing/forward as well, if he in fact makes the 23-man roster.

 

Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States have been trying to play the modern 4-3-3 formation, and this is a 4-3-3 formation that can be successful.

 

Although Klinsmann has a Back Four in mind, the defensive unit is still up in the air for most observers.

 

Based on form and skill, DeAndre Yedlin and Greg Garza should be the right back and left back respectively.

 

In the center of the defense, Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks look to be the best center back tandem despite their miscommunication in marking a few headers that resulted in goals against the Netherlands.

 

Brad Guzan is obviously the clear first-choice goalkeeper, but the sixth player in the Front Six is debatable.

 

Working off the assumption that Beckerman or Kitchen, Bradley, Diskerud, Altidore, and Dempsey should fill five of those six spots, then the question again becomes the Bedoya or Agudelo dilemma discussed above.

 

If you look at skill, athleticism, size, and international performances, then Agudelo is a better player than Bedoya, and Agudelo can play wide or centrally, which helps when using a fluid attacking trident.

 

Agudelo is a key player for the National Team, and he brings the ability to create his own goals and free up others, and he is too valuable to put on the bench.

 

Since Agudelo has been playing frequently as a winger for the New England Revolution, it makes since to give him the right forward spot with Dempsey occupying the left forward spot.

 

As a bonus, Agudelo also provides non-stop running and spirited defending, which helps the USA to recover possession and pressure the defense.

 

This American Front Six would then look like this:

 

Bradley Beckerman/Kitchen Diskerud

Agudelo Altidore Dempsey

 

In the Front Six, Bradley and Diskerud would play in more advanced positions than Beckerman or Kitchen, and Altidore would occupy the Number 9 or center forward spot in what would be a fluid attacking trident.

 

This formation takes advantage of most of the information learned from not only the United States’ most recent games, but it also uses the general information known about the players in the American player pool.

 

Klinsmann and the National Team would be wise to not make wholesale changes in a team with momentum.

 

Since this strategy has worked against top national teams recently, then Klinsmann should simply reinsert Dempsey and Altidore into the line-up with Agudelo at right forward.

 

On a final note, one small technical variation on the 4-3-3 would be to have Dempsey sit deeper than Altidore and Agudelo as a trequartista, which is somewhat similar to Beckerman providing structure to the midfield by sitting deeper as a defensive midfielder.

 

In this 4-3-3, Altidore and Agudelo would be the forwards with Dempsey playing as a Number 10 just behind them, and this puts Altidore and Agudelo in a better position to make runs behind the defense.

 

In either variation, Bradley, Beckerman/Kitchen, and Diskerud are in the midfield while Agudelo, Dempsey, and Altidore make up the Front Three.

 

Same difference.

 

Either way, the United States has a viable formula for success and a formation that makes sense given the personnel and the style of play that the National Team wants.

 

The players and fans responded to the United States going straight at the opposition, and this style of play was a form of defense that put pressure on the opposition the whole game.

 

Here is what the USMNT’s starting line-up in the 4-3-3 could look like:

 

USA XI: Brad Guzan; DeAndre Yedlin, Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Greg Garza; Michael Bradley, Perry Kitchen, Mix Diskerud; Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey.

 

 

USMNT: 23 For the 2015 Gold Cup

June 9th, 2015

 

Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey (Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey (Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

There’s just no predicting Jürgen Klinsmann’s rosters for the United States Men’s National Team.

 

Trying to guess his rosters is problematic, and he frequently omits players that are deserving of a roster spot.

 

At least commenting on who deserves a spot doesn’t require a crystal ball.

 

Although formations vary, a 23-man squad somewhat limits how many players of each position can fit on the roster.

 

The United States needs three goalkeepers, four center backs, two right backs, and two left backs, but after this, some decisions have to be made about how many defensive midfielders, attacking midfielders, and forwards the roster needs.

 

Of the 23 roster slots, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Mix Diskerud, Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, and Joe Corona need to be on the roster.

 

It’s worth mentioning that Benny Feilhaber deserves to be on the roster, but Klinsmann seems to not like him.

 

Starting with the defense, surely outside backs DeAndre Yedlin and Greg Garza need to be on the roster.

 

Likewise, center backs Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks are too good to leave off the roster, especially given their youth, skill, and athleticism.

 

With William Yarbrough as the back-up goalkeeper to Guzan, this is already 14 players. This includes two goalkeepers, two center backs, a right back, two left backs, four midfielders, and three forwards.

 

Since Bradley can help the squad more as a box-to-box midfielder than as strictly a defensive midfielder, two roster spots should go to defensive midfielders, and Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu or Perry Kitchen deserve these places.

 

Edu can probably help the national team most as a center back where he frequently plays in MLS, so Cameron and Kitchen are good choices to occupy defensive midfielder spots.

 

Edu, Alvarado, and Brooks make three center backs, and Andrew Farrel who is having an excellent MLS season would be a strong choice to fill the fourth center back place on the squad.

 

Farrell would be new to the national team, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve it.

 

The USMNT needs a fast and skilled center back that can defend on the ground and in the air, and Farrell is a technical player that is really hard to beat for pace.

 

Another new player that the United States would benefit from is Dillon Powers who is a two-way midfielder that can play anywhere in the midfield.

 

His skill, work-rate, and defending are bolstered by the fact that he’s a player with enough speed and endurance to perform at the international level against better competition.

 

As a general policy, Klinsmann cannot afford to keep excluding this new breed of better young American players now playing in MLS.

 

In keeping with the need to bring in more of these new MLS players into the fold, London Woodberry is another player ready for international play.

 

The right back fills a need the national team has for another right back that can defend and go forward at the international level, and Woodberry looks to be the player to fill this need.

 

The American attack needs so more firepower on the bench to back up Dempsey, Altidore, and Agudelo, so Gyasi Zardes and Rubio Rubin have demonstrated that they have what it takes to perform well as forwards on the international stage.

 

Zardes is a powerful, fast, and skilled Number 9 that plays well as a wing, whereas Rubin can play well as either a second striker or as a Number 9.

 

Finally, the squad needs a third goalkeeper, and Bill Hamid is qualified to fill this role.

 

So, what would this roster look like in a more organized fashion?

 

Here is the 23-man roster discussed above:

 

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan, William Yarbrough, Bill Hamid

 

Defenders (8): Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Maurice Edu, Andrew Farrell*, DeAndre Yedlin, Greg Garza, London Woodberry*, Fabian Johnson

 

Midfielders (7): Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Perry Kitchen, Dillon Powers*, Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona

 

Forwards (5): Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Gyasi Zardes, Rubio Rubin

 

* = New players

 

 

That 23-man squad consists of 12 MLS players, 7 players from European leagues, and four players from Liga MX.

 

How would this USMNT line up?

 

 

 

 

Gold Cup: The Best USMNT XI

June 7th, 2015

 

Juan Agudelo. (Photo: Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

Juan Agudelo. (Photo: Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Jürgen Klinsmann hasn’t established a core group of United States Men’s National Team players, nor has he decided upon a preferred starting line-up that has developed chemistry.

 

This is a problem, and this makes predicting or endorsing a starting line-up for the 2015 Gold Cup difficult.

 

Questions arise about what the center back pairing should be and what midfielders and attackers play well together.

 

The Back Four is in the air, and the midfield and attack is in the air.

 

The 4-3-3 formation is a fluid and safe set-up because it is essentially the same thing as a 4-2-3-1 formation, which you could argue is the most sound formation.

 

For starters, Brad Guzan deserves to be the starting goalkeeper, and DeAndre Yedlin and Greg Garza deserve to be the starting right back and left back. But what about the center backs?

 

Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks are likely the best two center backs in the player pool, and despite a few miscommunications on marking headers, both have displayed strong 1v1 defending, good skill on the ball, and athleticism.

 

Klinsmann should make these two his starting center backs. Both have all the qualities and experience to man the center of the American defense.

 

The key to the midfield is using Michael Bradley correctly, and this boils down to giving him the freedom to both defend and attack how he sees fit.

 

If the United States goes with three midfielders, then Geoff Cameron and Mix Diskerud should be the other two midfielders, especial since Klinsmann doesn’t rate Benny Feilhaber.

 

This midfield would be Cameron as the defensive midfielder, Bradley as the box-to-box midfielder, and Diskerud as the attacking midfielder.

 

Since Diskerud defends well and tracks back on defense in addition to being a creative playmaker, this trio would work out well.

 

Cameron’s tireless running, skilled passing, athleticism, technical ability, and his strong defensive fundamentals make him the best defensive midfielder option. Defensive midfielder is after all his natural position.

 

A middle three of Bradley, Cameron, and Diskerud would be dynamic, balanced, and fluid, and this allows for the type of possession, pressing, and counter-attacking play that Klinsmann wants.

 

The American attack for this writer is a no-brainer. Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey should be the attacking trident. Agudelo is an excellent center forward and wide player, and this allows the U.S. to have him in the attack along with Altidore.

 

Dempsey doesn’t need a fixed position, and just lining him out left on paper allows him to roam free. This position out left in the attack is the common place to start a team’s best right-footed attacker, and we see it with top club teams and national teams around the world.

 

With Yedlin and Garza running the flanks, Agudelo and Dempsey don’t need to hug the sidelines. Agudelo, Altidore, and Dempsey can then combine with one another and swap places as they see fit, and this gives the American attack a certain amount of dynamism that should create more scoring opportunities.

 

Klinsmann’s revolving door of formations and starting lineups is too chaotic for any real conclusions to be drawn from the USA’s games, so sticking to a rational 4-3-3 made up of talented and experienced players makes more sense.

 

Most observers and fans of the United States Men’s National Team can likely agree on a Front Six made up of Bradley, Cameron, Diskerud, Agudelo, Altidore, and Dempsey, or at least they can acknowledge that it makes sense and that all of those players are qualified.

 

Using Alvarado and Brooks as the center backs is more controversial, but the USA needs mobile and technical center backs with good defensive skills, and these two have all of these things.

 

There are no defenders that never get beaten or lose their man. Being the last line of defense in front of the goalkeeper is a job where mistakes are a guarantee.

 

Given everything we know going into the 2015 Gold Cup, the following USA XI (4-3-3) makes the most sense:

 

Guzan; Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, Garza; Bradley, Cameron, Diskerud; Agudelo, Altidore, Dempsey.

 

 

Gold Cup: The NT Positional Depth Chart

May 8th, 2015

 

William Yarbrough and Ventura Alvarado (Photo: US Soccer)

William Yarbrough and Ventura Alvarado (Photo: US Soccer)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

GOALKEEPER

     Starter: Brad Guzan

     Back-Up: William Yarbrough

     Third GK: Clint Irwin

 

RIGHT BACK

     Starter: DeAndre Yedlin

     Back-Up: Fabian Johnson

 

RIGHT CENTER BACK

     Starter: Ventura Alvarado

     Back-Up: Maurice Edu

 

LEFT CENTER BACK

     Starter: John Brooks

     Back-Up: Michael Orozco

 

LEFT BACK

     Starter: Greg Garza

     Back-Up: Brek Shea

 

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER

     Starter: Geoff Cameron

     Back-Up: Jermaine Jones

 

CENTER MIDFIELDER

     Starter: Michael Bradley

     Back-Up: Dillon Powers

 

RIGHT ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

     Starter: Joe Corona

     Back-Up: Alejandro Bedoya

 

CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

     Starter: Benny Feilhaber

     Back-Up: Mix Diskerud

 

LEFT ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

     Starter: Clint Dempsey

     Back-Up: Kelyn Rowe

 

STRIKER

     Starter: Juan Agudelo

     Back-Up: Jozy Altidore

 

 

 

Looking at the First Team

 

Guzan in goal with Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, and Garza as the Back Four is a strong defense. American soccer fans can be proud and confident with this defense.

 

Cameron and Bradley as the defensive midfielders with Corona, Feilhaber, and Dempsey is a balanced and talented combination of defensive midfielders and attacking midfielders.

 

This midfield even has the all-important duo of a stay-at-home defensive midfielder with a box-to-box midfielder, and it has a true Number 10 flanked by technical and creative attacking midfielders with lots of freedom to float around.

 

Agudelo as a striker gives the United States a very talented striker that is creative, fast, tall, and strong, and he can score with both feet and his head. Agudelo also can create his own scoring chances and set up others to score.

 

 

Hope For the Future of American Soccer

May 7th, 2015

 

José Villarreal (Photo: LA Galaxy)

José Villarreal (Photo: LA Galaxy)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

 

There is much for which to be hopeful for the future of American soccer and the United States Men’s National Team. Plenty of talent is coming through the pipeline.

 

The United States has technical and athletic players that are young and youngish at virtually every position.

 

In goal, the USA has William Yarbrough, Clint Irwin, Cody Cropper, and Zack Steffen.

 

In defense, the USA has DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Andrew Farrell, Greg Garza, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, and Christian Dean.

 

In the midfield, the Stars and Stripes have the likes of Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Dillon Powers, José Villarreal, Kellyn Acosta, Benji Joya, Emerson Hyndman, Luis Gil, and Paul Arriola.

 

In the attack, the United States has Juan Agudelo, Gyasi Zardes, Bradford Jamieson IV, Jordan Allen, Rubio Rubin, Mario Rodriguez, Alonso Hernandez, Junior Flores, and Romain Gall.

 

These young players coupled with others that weren’t listed along with the players in the 25-32 year old range give the USMNT a deep pool of talent where many need experience, playing time, and seasoning.

 

But, one thing is for sure, and that is that the skilled and proven experienced players can be started with a few of the younger players to give them experience, seasoning, and chemistry with the senior squad.

 

Of all of the younger players in the pool, with the exception of players like Agudelo, Yedlin, Alvarado, and Brooks who have proven themselves with the National Team, Bradford Jamieson IV really stands out as the most exciting national team prospect of the group.

 

Jamieson has an excellent first touch, advanced technical ability, speed, fearlessness, size, vision, excellent passing ability, and lots and lots of speed and quickness. Jamieson also has the thing that American soccer has been looking for: a player that can take defenders off the dribble and score solo goals from the run of play. Jamieson will attack defenders directly and continue to do so even when defenders take possession from him on his previous dribbling attempts.

 

If the United States wants to use a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, or 4-3-3 formation, there is room for Jamieson to get some real minutes with the National Team.

 

There are many conflicting views of who should start for the United States, but if we look at a 4-2-3-1 formation with the experienced and proven players, then there is room to put Jamieson in to play the first half or the last 20-30 minutes of the game.

 

What is a proven USA XI in a 4-2-3-1?

 

I’d argue that Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Greg Garza, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya/Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore is a non-controversial and strong starting line-up.

 

If we look at that line-up, what does it hurt to start Juan Agudelo over Altidore and Jamieson over Bedoya and Corona just to give him experience and the squad an explosive and quality attacker?

 

Furthermore, how could it hurt to give Dillon Powers minutes in the midfield and to give Andrew Farrell minutes at center back?

 

Surely, these players are good enough to see minutes in friendlies or in the first round of the Gold Cup against truly weak opponents.

 

The most important thing is that MLS appears to be producing more and more technical and athletic defenders, midfielders, and forwards.

 

Despite being produced here, these players are demonstrating a level of technical ability along the lines of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley.

 

Once again, of all of these players, Jamieson is by far the most polished and exciting of these young players, and Jamieson is the type of creative and skilled attacking player that the United States has been waiting for more of since the appearance of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

 

Jamieson’s technical ability, speed, and 1v1 skills are truly special by any standard. The fact that an 18-year-old American player that was born and raised in the United States is displaying these skills is a reason for hope for the undeniable rise of American soccer.

 

Let us not forget all of the other promising young players that are defenders, midfielders, and forwards. It will be interesting to see which players begin to stand out more and more from the others.

 

Looking toward the Gold Cup, perhaps Powers, Farrell, and Jamieson are the most deserving of surprising roster inclusions for that tournament. With proven players largely already filling up the 23-man Gold Cup roster, there is room for Farrell, Powers, and Jamieson on this summer’s roster.

 

The continued improvement of American soccer will depend on risk. The players starting for the National Team should be consistent performers at the club level or at least proven performers at the club or international level, but the United States needs to start incorporating its younger players that display the most skill.

 

 

Champions League Semifinals: Juventus Can Beat Real Madrid

April 30th, 2015

 

Arturo Vidal (Photo: Giorgio Perottino/REUTERS)

Arturo Vidal (Photo: Giorgio Perottino/REUTERS)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Once again, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been playing the best club football in all of World Football, but in the match-up of Juventus against Real Madrid in the Champions League Semifinals, Juventus is not to be taken likely.

 

Juventus is a giant of World Football, and the argument can be made that Juventus has the best defense and the best midfield in all of club football, plus Carlos Tevez is Juve’s striker and the top scorer in Serie A.

 

In the defense, Juventus has Gigi Buffon in goal, and they can also use three defenders with two wingbacks or they can use a traditional Back Four with two outside backs and two center backs.

 

Juventus’ defense is the Italian national team’s defense, but by using a traditional Back Four, Juventus can field more midfielders.

 

Juventus’ defense contains Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini, not to mention Angelo Ogbonna, who will soon be one of the best central defenders in the world.

 

Even without Barzagli playing in a three-man defense, Ogbonna is an incredible defender with almost unmatched pace, outstanding technical ability, and excellent marking and tackling abilities. Ogbonna is left-footed, but he is good with his right foot, which allows him to play as the right defender better than Chiellini whose right foot isn’t nearly as refined.

 

A Juventus Back Four would contain Stephan Lichtsteiner, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Patrice Evra, and this defense with an overload of two-way midfielders in front of them is difficult to break down or penetrate.

 

The midfield is perhaps Juve’s biggest advantage, and Juventus possesses a monster midfield, even with Paul Pogba likely out injured for the first leg of the semifinal.

 

The Old Lady can start Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, and Roberto Pereyra at the same time, and if Pogba is available then they can use Pereyra, Pirlo, Pogba, Marchisio, and Vidal all at the same time with only one striker: Tevez.

 

In this final formation, Pirlo would be lining up behind Pereyra, Pogba, Vidal, and Marchisio from right to left, and that would pose a problem for Real Madrid.

 

Looking at Real Madrid’s midfield, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, and Isco is a world-class midfield, but Juventus’ midfield is overwhelming.

 

All of Juventus’ midfielders are two-way midfielders, and every single one is world-class and capable of scoring incredible goals.

 

All of their midfielders pass and move and cover for one another, and they all run non-stop.

 

Even Pirlo who is often seen as a languid player is a grandmaster at covering tons of ground and controlling games while looking like he is barely breaking a sweat.

 

Perhaps Real Madrid is the heavy favorite because less people watch Serie A these days, but make no mistake about it, Real Madrid’s coach, Carlo Ancelotti, and all of his players consider Juventus to be a giant of an opponent that they fully respect and recognize as an elite opponent.

 

The big question for Juventus will be which tactical scheme is the best to use against Real Madrid.

 

Is it better to go with three marking central defenders lining up from right to left, or is it better to use as many of Juventus’ elite two-way midfielders as possible to win the battle of the midfield?

 

In this match-up, Juventus has the best center midfielder in the world: Vidal.

 

So, does using three at the back diminish Juventus’ ability to control possessing and dictate the style and tempo of the game?

 

One important note about Juventus is that Marchisio is often overlooked and underrated, but the Italy international can play any position in the midfield where he can attack at pace or defend with tireless energy.

 

Marchisio also possesses a formidable shot with both feet, and he has an enormous amount of experience. He is more experienced and proven than Real Madrid’s fabulous midfielder, Isco.

 

Real Madrid is the favorite in this match-up, but this is really an even match-up where Juventus has the better defense and midfield, plus they have a feared and world-class goal-scorer in Tevez.

 

This will be a riveting Champions League Semifinal.

 

Here are some of the line-ups and formations we could see from Juventus against Real Madrid:

 

Juventus XI (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Pereyra, Pirlo, Marchisio; Vidal; Morata, Tevez. (Assuming Pogba is still injured)

 

Juventus XI (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio; Morata, Tevez.

 

Juventus XI (4-5-1): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Pirlo; Pereyra, Pogba, Vidal, Marchisio; Tevez.

 

 

The Best American Footballers (May 2015)

April 27th, 2015

 

Clint Dempsey. (Photo: Getty Images)

Clint Dempsey. (Photo: Getty Images)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

After the Mexico friendly and with the 2015 Gold Cup a few months away, World Soccer Source ranks the Best American Footballers (May 2015 Edition).

 

The players are listed in order in groups of five with their position or positions and their club team. “GK” denotes Goalkeeper. “DF” denotes Defender. “MF” denotes Midfielder. “F” donates Forward.

 

Here are the rankings:

 

1-5: Clint Dempsey (F/MF, Seattle Sounders), Michael Bradley (MF, Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (MF, Sporting KC), Jermaine Jones (MF/DF, New England Revolution), Juan Agudelo (F, New England Revolution).

 

6-10: Jozy Altidore (F, Toronto FC), Geoff Cameron (DF/MF, Stoke City), Ventura Alvarado (DF, Club América), Mix Diskerud (MF, NYC FC), Joe Corona (MF, Club Tijuana).

 

11-15: Brad Guzan (GK, Aston Villa), Tim Howard (GK, Everton), Alejandro Bedoya (MF, Nantes), DeAndre Yedlin (DF/MF, Tottenham), Greg Garza (DF, Club Tijuana).

 

16-20: Dillon Powers (MF, Colorado Rapids), Michael Orozco (DF, Puebla), Fabian Johnson (DF/MF, Hoffenheim) Maurice Edu (MF/DF, Philadelphia Union), Charlie Davies (F, New England Revolution).

 

21-25: Aron Jóhannsson (F, AZ Alkmaar), William Yarbrough (GK, Club León), John Brooks (DF, Hertha Berlin), Andrew Farrell (DF, New England Revolution), Gyasi Zardes (F, LA Galaxy).

 

26-30:  Kelyn Rowe (MF, New England Revolution), Teal Bunbury (F, New England Revolution), Brek Shea (DF/MF, Orlando City SC), José Villarreal (F/MF, LA Galaxy), Bradford Jamieson IV (F/MF, LA Galaxy).

 

 

What’s the Best USMNT Gold Cup Roster (April 2015)?

April 23rd, 2015

 

 Joe Corona (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images )

Joe Corona (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images )

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Greg Garza, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Juan Agudelo, and Clint Dempsey is the Best USMNT XI in a Diamond 4-4-2 formation for the 2015 Gold Cup, and below is the best 23-man roster USMNT fans can hope to see this summer.

 

The 23-man roster is made up of three goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders, and four forwards, and the group below allows for several different formations and tactical schemes.

 

Much of this roster consists of proven and very experienced players. Such players include Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Brad Guzan, and Michael Orozco.

 

Other players like Juan Agudelo, Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson, Ventura Alvarado, DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Greg Garza, and William Yarbrough are too good to really contest.

 

So, in essence, this roster only contains several players that are debatable, and these players are Dillon Powers, Brek Shea, Gyasi Zardes, Perry Kitchen, and Clint Irwin.

 

Powers has been very impressive in MLS for several seasons, and he plays every position in the midfield. He’s technical and fast, and he defends and attacks. He has the vision and skill to set up goals, and he can score goals himself.

 

Zardes has shown well in MLS and for the U.S., and Shea has been converted into a left back, which seems to best exploit his skill set.

 

Irwin is easily one of the very best goalkeepers in MLS, and frankly a level above Bill Hamid or Sean Johnson. Nick Rimando is more experienced, but nothing about Irwin’s play suggest that he isn’t ready to be the USA’s third goalkeeper.

 

Kitchen has been a consistently good performer in MLS, and he put in a good showing against Mexico on April 15, when he came into the game late and had no problem adjusting to the speed of play or playing well as a midfield destroyer.

 

Plenty of other players are qualified to make this roster, but except the five players singled out, this group of U.S. internationals should all be easily recognizable as highly-qualified players by USMNT fans.

 

Benny Feilhaber was excluded due to the fact that Jürgen Klinsmann has shown no intention of making him part of the U.S. Men’s National Team.

 

 

Here is the best 23-man USMNT roster for the 2015 Gold Cup:

 

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), William Yarbrough (Club Leon), Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids)

 

Defenders (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Michael Orozco (Puebla), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham), Greg Garza (Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Brek Shea (Orlando SC)

 

Midfielders (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Perry Kitchen (DC United), Mix Diskerud (NYC FC), Joe Corona (Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids)

 

Forwards (4): Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Gyasi Zardes (L.A. Galaxy)

 

 

Deeper Positional Breakdown:

 

Goalkeepers: Guzan Yarbrough Irwin

Center Backs: Jones Cameron Alvarado Orozco Brooks

Outside Backs: Yedlin Garza Johnson Shea

Center Backs/Outside Backs: Cameron Orozco Alvarado

Center Backs/Defensive Midfielders: Jones Cameron Edu

Defensive Midfielders: Bradley Jones Cameron Edu

Center Midfielders: Bradley Jones Edu Diskerud Powers

Center Midfielders/Attacking Midfielders: Diskerud Powers

Attacking Midfielders: Diskerud Corona Bedoya Powers

Attacking Midfielders/Forwards: Dempsey Corona Bedoya

Wings: Johnson Shea Corona Bedoya Yedlin

Strikers: Altidore Agudelo Zardes

 

 

 

The Best USA XI (Diamond 4-4-2): Guzan; Yedlin, Alvarado, Brooks, Garza; Cameron; Bradley, Diskerud; Corona; Agudelo, Dempsey.

 

 

 

World Soccer Source

Soccer and Football News and Commentary on World Soccer, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), Major League Soccer (MLS), World Football, and American Soccer. All articles, opinions, and commentary by Colin Reese. Twitter: @COLINREESE. Facebook: WorldSoccerSource