FIFA World Cup 2010: Why Didn't Bradley Start Edu and Feilhaber Against Ghana?

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FIFA World Cup 2010: Why Didn't Bradley Start Edu and Feilhaber Against Ghana?
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Soccer is all about creativity and flair.

With his decisions for the starting lineup against Ghana, US Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley did everything he could to suppress the national team's creativity, and tried to assert his personality and rigidity on a team that needed flexibility against a much more wily and physical Ghana team.

It's been three days since the US lost 2-1 to Ghana, but I could not find a way to express myself until now, and the lack of criticism of Coach Bradley on ESPN is starting to bother me a little. So for us as soccer fans and the United States to develop as a soccer nation, I'm going to do what the Spanish/French/English, etc. media does after a defeat in the World Cup to a team we should have beaten.

Coach Bradley, 4-4-2 is the standard formation in FIFA video games. Couldn't you have been a little more creative and looked at things from a more pragmatic point of view?

I understand Robbie Findley is the fastest player on the team, but in his first two games he did absolutely nothing and wasn't effective in connecting in the 1-2 game with Jozy Altidore. He barely had any good, positive touches. And the team had a much better approach at the attacking end when Findley didn't play against Algeria.

Which begs the question, why didn't Benny Feilhaber play?

Feilhaber is by the far the most skilled passer, creator, and distributor on the team. In the second halves in which he played against Slovenia and Algeria, the team had a much more positive look and disposition. He was crisp on the ball and made good decisions leading the game forward. Feilhaber is a true creative genius and somebody who is a great counterpoint to holding midfielders like Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu.

4-5-1 or 4-3-3 are formations based on width and flexibility, traits that are very important at a world class level of soccer. Although both Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan were playing in the wings in the 4-4-2, they had much trouble servicing Altidore in any way.  If Feilhaber had played he would have been a much more effective facilitator of play to Altidore than Findley, Herculez Gomez, and Edson Buddle could have ever been. He would have been a link between the midfield and the attack.

It is also important to focus on your strengths, and our strength is clearly our midfield. Bradley, Edu, Dempsey, Donovan, and Feilhaber are all very high quality midfielders that should have been on the field together as much as possible.

So why play Ricardo Clark at all against Ghana? He might have been good enough at forcing the ball away from Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey in the game against England. But since Edu came in the game against Slovenia, the team had scored three goals (should have been four goals) without conceding one.

You never split up a winning side and replace it with the team that had played England to a 1-1 draw. When the English couldn't even beat a mediocre Algeria team and was blown out of the water by the Germans 4-1, it makes me wonder what the US National Team could have done if Edu and Feilhaber had played in 4-5-1 since the beginning in Rustenberg against the English.

I most certainly believe we would be going to play Uruguay in the quarterfinals instead of sitting at home.

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