U.S. Men's National Soccer Team: Thoughts from Matches Against France & Slovenia
Here are four thoughts from the United States' recently-completed friendlies against France and Slovenia.
The U.S. attack was present against Slovenia: Perhaps it was U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to experiment with a 4-4-2 formation against Slovenia. Or maybe it was inserting Michael Bradley into the lineup. But unlike much of their first six matches under Klinsmann, the U.S. looked quite dangerous up front. Fabian Johnson was solid in his debut as he created several chances, and the attack-minded lineup put more pressure on the Slovenian defense—such as when Clint Dempsey forced a turnover that led to the first U.S. goal. Jozy Altidore played well (as he has in the past) with help up front, so we'll see if Klinsmann continues to use the 4-4-2 formation.
An encouraging two matches from Altidore: Although Altidore scored against Slovenia, his better match was against France; he proved a handful for French defenders, repeatedly holding the ball well up front and doing well enough to perhaps draw a penalty. Altidore certainly seems to have grown as a player during his stint at AZ Alkmaar.
Brek Shea struggled: It was a bit surprising that France manager Laurent Blanc praised Shea for his performance against the French. Shea did track back well defensively, but wasn't as dangerous as he had been in previous matches for the U.S. Possibly, he felt the effects of a long MLS season combined with the rigors of playing against a better team. Against Slovenia as a substitute, his crosses weren't pinpoint as they could—and perhaps, should—have been.
Up-and-down defense: For the most part, against France, the back four—especially Clarence Goodson—held up well. That is until Loïc Rémy beat Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra to score the match's only goal. However, against Slovenia, the U.S. defense looked shaky at times, especially when dealing with through balls, as Tim Matavz was kept onside to score Slovenia's first goal.
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