MLS Talk Podcast #110: US-El Salvador Postgame

us training in a line

Kartik Krishnaiyer and Chris Riordan co-located for this show discuss the US-El Salvador match and the choices Bob Bradley must make for next year’s World Cup. Clint Dempsey as a #10, should Brian Ching start ahead of Jozy Altidore, will Edgar Castillo feature at left back and whether or not Eddie Johnson should get another look are among the big picture items discussed. Additionally, we discuss the US Open Cup Final, DC United’s 4-4-2 vs a 3-5-2, the recent success of Bruce Arena’s Galaxy, and the USL situation.

12 thoughts on “MLS Talk Podcast #110: US-El Salvador Postgame”

  1. On your offhand comment, Kartik, that the DCU style is defined by a 3-5-2… well, that’s a little too short of a shorthand statement. DCU’s style of play is defined by an aggressive midfield that wins balls and looks to turn the ball upfield A) immediately and B) on the ground, with diagonal and/or give-and-go passing. You can do that in a 4-4-2. DCU over the last few years has not been able to do it in a 4-4-2 because their primary ball-winning mids have been Carroll and Simms, neither of whom have the skill to be the lone defensive midfielder *and* successfully get the attack started the other way unless they are getting passing help from the defense. When DC has tried a 4-4-2, it has generally led to poor possession because the defenders have not been able to help out the ball-winner and make those crucial early passes.

    The match against Chicago last weekend was very interesting in this regard. We’ve been seeing smooth ballhandling from Jakovic all season, and Namoff is a decent passer, but previously a four man backline meant either Burch at center back (disastrous) or Janicki (a decent stopper, but also a pure hoofer). Against Chicago, they had James available to pair up with Jakovic, and suddenly we saw DC in a 4-4-2 keeping good possession and making intelligent breakout plays, because the center backs could both help out and not just turn the ball over.

    Now, if Tom Soehn had a working brain and Jakovic were healthy, we might see them build on this… but since Soehn doesn’t and Jakovic isn’t, I don’t see how DC will be able to seriously employ a 4-4-2 the rest of this season, except in the very defensive arrangement we saw in Dallas on Saturday. Which is a shame, because I think the team could stand to gain from the tactical flexibility of using 3 or 4 at the back depending on the situation.

  2. Kartik, I don’t necessarily agree when you say the U.S. isn’t that talented. The backline was iffy because we never decided on the 3rd centerback- it was Califf but he played poor and Marshall has no chemistry with the first team since the Gold Cup doesn’t count. Onyewu is a pretty good stopper, McBride played for a bottom of the table Fulham and scored the occassional goal, something I expect Altidore to do with Hull this year, hopefully 8-10 in league play would equal McBride and he scores at a good rate for the nats. Donovan is better than the last 2 cycles. Our midfield isn’t built for possession and our fullbacks scare me a few times each game, but we have talent relative to the rest of the region and talent level can’t be an excuse. I respect El Salvador’s team, the wings against our fullbacks are a tough matchup, but I think Aguirre is showing the value of a good manager. We don’t have less top level talent than past US teams(do you really think torres doesn’t understand how to slow the game down like reyna, and with donovan, dempsey, davies, altidore and bradley we should score in concacaf), it’s just a different type of talent that doesn’t always seem to be used correctly, so some of us are just frustrated.
    Bob Bradley would do better with our past teams because it would fit his style, not because the teams were more talented. In the past when we went down to teams the game was over. Now I feel confident we can score, because our offensive talent is better, but this doesn’t match Bradley’s style. It’s frustrating because I know that Davies and Spector never would have seen the field if Ching and Cherundolo were healthy. And it’s hard to be an attacking team when your midfield can’t hold possession, so I don’t know that there are any easy answers. Bradley would be a good manager for a less talented team imo, I don’t think our players are world beaters but when we go down a goal like against honduras or el salvador it seems we almost play with more confidence and the talent we do have shows through.

  3. Both of you observe that most fans want to see Torres — and in the next breath dismiss the idea because “it is not going to happen.”

    Apologies for being a bit gruff, but it is time to step it up: If Bob Bradley’s team selection and substitutions are wanting — call a spade a spade!

    This is not about thinking we are better than we are. We all know there is no John O’Brien on the team. That there is no Reyna. That our player pool has not progressed the way we would have wished.

    But Kartik, if you think a player with Torres’ qualities should have been on the field this summer isn’t this clear evidence that Bob Bradley is doing something wrong?

    Let me push the point.

    Do you think Charlie Davies would have seen the minutes he got in South Africa if Brian Ching was not injured? Do you really think Davies would have started in Azteca if Ching had been available all summer?

    Don’t you think that Jonathan Spector should have been in the side long before Bob Bradley started playing him? Weren’t the injuries to Frankie H and Bocanegra what gave Spector his break?

    And finally, what is really one of the *big* stories in US Soccer:

    Among US players, vision on the ball and the ability to maintain possession through central midfield is in rare supply among US players. But there is a player with these abilities — a player who completes (last year) an impressive season, regularly starting for one of the best teams in the Western hemisphere. And this player is buried behind the likes of Sasha Kljestan. Not to mention Ricardo Clark and a Michael Bradley — a quite gifted player, but one with glaring short-comings as an offensive midfielder.

    But given the way Bradley has til now failed to integrate Jose Francisco Torres, given the way Spector and Davies only got into the squad when injuries forced Bradley’s hand — your contention that Bob Bradley is a satisfactory manager is can only be met with incredulity.

    1. Fair enough. I think you make some good points and yes the failure to integrate Davies and Spector at an earlier time reflects on Bradley. I think it is fair to say that I am trying not to give Bradley a pass, but at the same time think our problems which are numerous aren’t necessarily because of him. I blame the federation for poor player development, poor scouting or potential pool players and poor preparation for matchdays versus CONCACAF rivals. Bradley certain has a role in this but it doesn’t start and end with him.

  4. Let me first say another completely enjoyable podcast. Good for Chris to join in.

    Kartik, I would have to take a different view of your position on the US talent. I am of the mind that upon reflection the group we send to the WC next year will be our most talented. Maybe it can use some more experience but from top to bottom our most talented group.

    Let’s look at the squad:

    Donovan, I was not a believer but he is world class and has shown it against the likes of Spain and Brazil.

    Tim Howard, some people say a Top 5 keeper world wide. Good enough for Man U. ( at least for a while), David Moyes believes in him and that’s good enough for me.

    Altidore: maybe our most talented player ever and his future is ahead of head. Spain remembers him well.

    Davies: great individual talent has a complete load of tools for the game and seems to be able to do what ever he is asked to on the pitch. Needs playing time, works well with Altidore and you saw what he did one on one in the Mexico game.

    Spector, see your recent post no one puts the ball in like him, could still be at Man U. if he wanted (according to him) but with injuries behind him just coming into his own.

    Onyewu: A rock on defense! Who has been signed by what major club? Yes, we know.

    Dempsey: ok, he makes his share of mistakes, but from what I can recall he can score when the going gets tough.

    Ok, we can go on Torres, Demerit, Ching, Bradly, etc.

    When it’s all said and done great talent.

    1. I respectfully disagree. The only “great” talents at an international level on the list are Donovan and Altidore who is raw.

      Howard is a major drop-off from Keller or Friedel.

      Dempsey is a drop off from E. Stewart in his prime.

      Spector is good compared to our past backs.

      Still no #10 to replace Reyna or emulate Ramos.

      Michael Bradley is no John Harkes.

      Benny Feilhaber is nowhere close to John O’Brien

      Carlos Bocanegra isn’t even close to Eddie Pope or Alexi Lalas.

      Need I go on?

  5. For once Kartik is a glass full guy instead of half empty. I agree that despite all the hype, we are a lock to make the World Cup. Where I disagree with Kartik is that we are still far better than Mexico or Honduras. Does Mexico have a player of the caliber of Donovan or Jozy? Their best player plays in MLS, Blanco and is 35. Honduras best player is Guevara and he’s 34 and plays in MLS. So two things- MLS is the best league in the region and the US is younger and stronger than our opposition.

    1. I respectfully disagree. Take Honduras. Palacios and Suazo are marvelous players. Palacios has been at the heart of Spurs’ resurgence this year. Suazo has done very well in Italy.

    2. Guevara is not anywhere near Honduras’ best player. Ever watch the EPL? Palacios, Figeroua and Thomas all start and perform well there and Osman Chavez was very close to a move to Spurs also.

      As far as Mexico is concerned, besides Blanco and Franco the core of that team is young and hungry. Vela, Dos Santos, Guardado, Nery, Memo, etc.

      Calling MLS the best league in the region is almost laughable. Look at the Chile and Paraguay teams, about the clinch WC bids from COMNEBOL and look what league some of their best players hail from. It’s not MLS, Argentina or Brazil, but Mexico.

  6. It is enlightening to read this blog. However, why does Bob Bradley get a pass? He should of have been given the pink slip at the beginning of the year. Then the Confed Cup where just about everyone said it was a good learning experience, I say bolony! Bradley didn’t make the right substitutions at the right time. The embarrassing loss in the Gold Cup final. And finally the last two qualifiers…I have seen enough. I have my share of disagreeable thoughts on a couple of players Bradley has a liking for and continue to get playing time, but they don’t deserve to be criticized when the technical director is placing them in a bad position. Besides Reyna, the group of past players that Kartik compares were successful at the national level because of great technical/tactical leadership.

    Why can’t the US Soccer Federation hire a top international coach to lead our top level players?

  7. Bradley isn’t getting a pass from us. I’m sorry if that was misinterpreted, but my point is that the USSF from top to bottom is broken and has made mistake after mistake since Project 2010 was put in place. The structure lends itself to a coach like Bradley. In many ways he’s trapped> He’s not the boss, the USSF is the boss. A peter principle exists about what guys play and what guys get picked in US Soccer. This has been going on forever. Also, player development was neglected in the worst way between 1999 and 2006, so while we had a great core of players developed prior to Bradenton’s opening in 1999, the player pool while deeper than ever also features less truly capable internationals than anytime since prior to the 1994 World Cup.

    Some people do not want to accept that our talent level has dropped and instead want to simply blame Bradley. Do you really believe the likes of Jonathan Bornstein or Brian Ching would feature regularly if player development had not been neglected?

    I’m not a Bradley fan by any stretch, but do accept that this is not the easy job some make it out to be and while CONCACAF has improved, the US has either stood still or regressed. Sorry, that’s simply the way I see it and it goes way beyond the current head coach.

  8. I don’t see how Kartik can say that a player like Kenny Cooper would get “nowhere near” the Mexican national team. The guy is 23 and an up and coming player in the German 2nd division, who is likely to become a solid European based professional. Any Mexican playing professionally in Europe is going to be considered for their national team. Mexico doesn’t have European talent to spare like we do. As a matter of fact, where are all these Mexicans abroad who aren’t on their team?

    I think your mistake is related to your overrating of the Mexican League where most of the Mexican team plays. It’s not that good. As Landon said, “They suck.”

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