Home > Uncategorized > Does Bob Bradley realize there’s an attacking third?

Does Bob Bradley realize there’s an attacking third?

I’ll start with the teaser.  Given the way the U.S. has played the past couple months, can someone please check Bob Bradley’s clipboard and make sure that it contains all three thirds?

And can U.S. Soccer quit trying to divert our attention with a slicker home page at the cost of almost all of its statistics (current and historic)?

Because we’re about statistics here, let’s talk about the lack of them from U.S. Soccer recently.  Prior to the U.S. Soccer web site’s recent revamp, you could view lots of match statistics:  shots taken, passes, PCR, shot location, etc.  Starting with the Confederations Cup Final, the statistics suddenly became infrequent and are now completely gone (even for the matches that used to be up.)  So, it’s harder now to quantify how good/bad the team is.

And starting with the Mexico qualifier, U.S. Soccer’s match tracker no longer details who took shots and when.  What used to be some real statistics are now replaced by the simple ones:  so simple that fouls committed and fouls suffered don’t even make the cut.

I can’t understand why U.S. Soccer would suddenly take away all its statistics.  (I know that site revamps take time, but I don’t see where the stats are even supposed to go, so I’m going to assume it’s an intentional decision and not merely new-site growing pains.)  Is it to prevent opponents from getting some tactical advantage?  To keep fans in the dark about the true quality of the MNT’s performances?  Seriously, this blog has previously pointed out that the U.S. was performing well in excess of what its statistics suggested.  And now the statistics are being hidden?

But when a team takes only four shots and puts only one shot on goal, it doesn’t take a historical analysis to know that they didn’t perform well.  And conceding 15 shots (7 on goal) to your opponent at their home?  Not the recipe most successful teams use.

Of course, Bob Bradley’s got his own coaching philosophy and that appears to require new benchmarks.  Let’s suggest a couple:  Can the team get more shots on goal than yellow cards?  Or can we put more than 0.2 shots on goal for every save we force Howard to make?

Did anyone really think that we’d hold Mexico at home scoreless for 81 minutes?  The team that has scored at least one goal in the second half of every home match during 2010 World Cup Qualifying?  The team that whomped the U.S. 5-0?  Just look at Mexico’s 2010 World Cup Qualifying home record.  Mexico has played seven home matches.  They have won four of them by the final score of 2-1.  In none of those four matches did Mexico have a lead at the half.  And at home Mexico has scored at least one second half goal in every 2010 World Cup Qualifier.  In other words, Mexico scores late at home.  The fans in the stands know it — they’re standing around waiting for it to happen.  And frankly it seems like the MNT’s bucket formation meant the U.S. players were doing almost the same.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the discussion about the quality of this year’s squad.  A couple months ago, the experts talked about how the 2010 team just wasn’t as good as our 2002 (and perhaps even our 2006) teams.  But now Bradley’s got 3/11 players starting in the Premier League, one playing for A.C. Milan, and Landon Donovan at his peak.  Given the Herculean efforts previous coaches have demonstrated with lesser squads, can we begin to wonder why Bob Bradley can’t generate more than one shot on goal from Donovan, Dempsey, Davies, and Altidore?  The way Donovan’s playing for the Galaxy, he’s the soccer equivalent of those “nothing but net”  Jordan-Bird McDonald’s commercials.  And Davies seems to score goals every time he laces up his cleats.

In short, like most other U.S. supporters, I am left dumbfounded by this team’s consistent inability to (a) maintain any semblance of an offensive strategy beyond 35 minutes and (b) execute its chosen strategy of playing 10 back and praying.  I’m not saying the bucket is a good strategy, but if it’s going to be your strategy shouldn’t you practice it?  And shouldn’t you be good enough at it that you don’t concede two goals?  With one of the Premier League’s best keepers in the net and an A.C. Milan defender in front of him, shouldn’t that be enough to make even a mediocre bucket hold water?

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  1. wjmooner
    August 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Four shots all game is just awful, although to be fair our second best chance of the night was a missed header. In retrospect Bocanegra and Cherundolo were the worst possible options on the sides on defense. Guardado and Gio are ridiculously talented offensive players and they ran our team ragged all afternoon. They are both so quick that less quick veterans were going to get abused. Dare I say I’d have much rather seen Heydude and Bornstein? Even I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’d rather see Marvell Wynne though.

    In the end, a goal so quickly was the worst thing possible for the USA offense, because then Mexico pushed forward and, since Boca and Dolo were getting abused, Deuce and Landon got taken out of the game because they had to come back defensively. And even though Mexico generally wasn’t doing anything in the middle, Bradley and Clark didn’t recognize this and push forward when given the chance. Clark presumably because he can’t. And if we are going to play an 8-1-1 offense, the best way to get any offense isn’t to punt it forward and hope our guy heads it, the best way is to punt it way forward and hope our guy can outrun the other guy. In other words, Ching was unnecessary.

  2. wjmooner
    August 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Oh, and by “missed header” I mean Davies missed the ball by an inch, so it wouldn’t have counted as a shot.

  3. Ryan Noel
    August 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Great stuff as usual Michael. Really enjoy your posts. Hope you have stopped by for “Peso for your thoughts” over at the Post.

    -Ryan

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