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USMNT: Moving On To Algeria

England's Wayne Rooney tries to stop Algeria's Rafik Djebbour (L) during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa soccer match, Group C, England vs Algeria at Green Point football stadium in Capetown, South Africa on June 18, 2010. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. Photo by Henri Szwarc/Cameleon/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

With the news that controversial match official Koman Coulibaly has received a rating of “poor” after his expedited evaluation following his shocking display in the now infamous United States – Slovenia draw and is likely to be relieved of his World Cup duties on Monday it’s time we shift our focus to the United States’ final opponents in the group stage: Algeria.

This match will be different for an Algerian side that were content to sit back and play for a draw in their previous matches, something they did successfully against England, and if not for a goalkeeping howler would’ve done against Slovenia. [For an extended explanation of this, check out the excellent Zonal Marking.] This was done essentially by playing a seven-man midfield in-front off the bank of central defenders that protected the goalkeeper. Officially Algeria fielded a striker against England, Gladbach’s Karim Matmour, but he rarely contributed to the attack instead electing to stay back and help solidify the defensive effort. Algeria allowed their defensive wall slight breathers by sending wing-back Nadir Belhadj on barnstorming runs up the left hand side that exploited the gap occasionally left by Glen Johnson in England’s defense. This tactic will not work against the United States because unlike the other three teams, Algeria must win by multiple goals to advance.

Goal scoring has not been easy for Algeria in 2010, having only scored six times in eleven matches — three of which came against Cote d’Ivoire in a Cup of Nations match, with one being scored in extra time — so switching to an attacking formation will represent a seismic shift for the Desert Foxes. Much of the team’s attacking inspiration comes from Portsmouth man Belhadj who likes to fly up and down the left channel, as a result his forays forward could create holes in the Algerian defense that Bob Bradley should look to exploit using the pace of Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey. The three center backs often deployed by Algeria are all in excess of six-feet which makes it difficult to win aerial challenges but may open the door for a “fox in the box” type player such as Herculez Gomes.

Regardless of their opponent’s lack of attacking prowess, the United States must amend a glaring hole in their offside trap that has thrice been exploited in this World Cup — twice for goals, and once by an Emile Heskey effort that forced the best out of Tim Howard. A failure to rectify this flaw could be taken advantage of by a good creative player, and Algeria has one in the form of Karim Ziani who plays in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg.

Given Algeria’s focus on their spine this match could be an opportunity for the American wide players to prove their ability by getting balls in behind the Algerian wall to Altidore and either Gomes or Buddle, the latter two being in fine goal scoring form this year. It will be very important to test goalkeeper Rais M’Bohli often who despite his solid display against England has proven shaky at club level in the past.

This group has been anything but “easy” as predicted by an infamous British tabloid and the final ties of the group will show us the true quality of the teams involved.

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Click to comment


  1. Kris

    June 22, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    2-1 USA!!! GO USA

  2. jack

    June 22, 2010 at 1:07 am

    @ Alessandro Del Piero

    You do realize that 7 out of the USA starting eleven play in the EPL and only 3 players on the squad play solely in MLS right??

    And no the Championnat national d’Algérie is not better then MLS its actually considered a really weak league even by African club soccer standards..

    USA 2 Algeria 0

  3. Rick

    June 21, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    That first paragraph might be the most painful run-on sentence I’ve ever read.

    Punctuation is your friend.

  4. GOD USA

    June 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm


  5. GOD USA

    June 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm


  6. Alessandro Del Piero

    June 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I will have to say that the game will be great, but i don’t believe that the U.S. is going to win, it is a matter of experience.
    Algeria is superior in evertything, the truth is MLS is not as powerful as other leagues not even the algerian, which will give the priority to them at the end, plus a number of them are professional in europe.
    Vive l’Algerie !

  7. doug

    June 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I’m actually coming around to the opinion that one guy we need to step up and have a big game is Bob Bradley. Although the US did play better in the 2nd half than the first, in my view Bradley has rung up a series of fairly clear mistakes, one of them named Robbie Findley. He showed in the Australia game he had poor touch and stage fright in front of the goal, didn’t impress in 78 minutes against England, and then won out against Buddle for the start against Slovenia for reasons completely unknown.

    As i’ve commented before, I think it was a mistake to forgo two of our substitutions against England, it was a mistake to start Findley, and then it was double-mistake to leave him in for 78 minutes. It’s not clear a well-rested Findley is better than a well-rested Buddle, but a 70 minutes-tired Findley is surely no comparison to a well-rested Buddle or Gomez. Bradley just didn’t do his job, even tho’ his job is simple — make three substitutions.

    Secondly, in general, I’m opposed to half-time substitutions. Everyone is well-rested after the halftime break, so you get no “tiredness quotient” benefit at all subbing at the half. He should have pulled Findley sooner, and told Torres at halftime to work hard the first 15 minutes, b/c he be subbed out thereafter. Of course, we did play better in the 2nd half, but it’s not clear this was caused by the substitutions. My feeling is that Bradley just made an emotional decision to make changes for the sake of making changes.

    Lastly, i believe in general that players shouldn’t be benched for making one mistake. Give them a chance to redeem themselves. That’s why I wouldn’t necessarily make changes in our back four even though they’ve been sketchy to-date, and why it was questionable to send Findley & Torres to the bench when they did. (Although it’s never a bad idea to send Findley to the bench…)

    And, yes, tiredness is a big issue in soccer. Outdoor soccer is not that different from indoor soccer, where people usually sub like it’s a hockey match. In hockey matches, of course, 45 second shifts are the norm. Fresh legs are a huge advantage, which is why teams are limited to 3 subs. And Bob Bradley just squanders the three sub resource…

    • Robert

      June 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      I could not agree with you more! BB has been saved by the hard work on the field to make him look like a genius. the first match showed his lack of foresight by keeping the starters on so long and subbing Gomez when the game was over! Than, pulling Torres was just a waste of a sub so early in the match. WIth findley playing so horribly and havn’t put one away he would of been pulled and what if Howard re-injured himself and were left with no subs with 30 minutes to play? The beauty of this sport is that over management is not that big of an issue in this sport but the only control and influence they ahve on this sport is when to sub in players. I give Bradley a D+

    • Kris

      June 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Well we won’t have to worry about Findley in this match. He has that wonderful yellow card ban!! Thank God!!!

      • doug

        June 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm

        Yep, it’s good, no Findley. Unfortunately, Altidore missed practice today w/ a stomach bug, and I tend to think he shows signs of getting tired late in matches as well. It’s too bad we haven’t got stewart.

  8. dz forever

    June 20, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    O B


    watch the game again …

    one two three viva l’algerie

    algeria 2 usa 0

  9. O B

    June 20, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Algeria were all defending against England????!!!!…. are you serious?!! What game were you watching???

  10. doug

    June 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

    “Algeria must win by multiple goals to advance”

    Not necessarily. Though I also suspect the English will turn it on after two fairly poor performances so far, it’s far from clear England will beat a Slovenian team which only needs a nil-nil draw to move on, and has forwards capable of swift counterattacks in any event… If England draws or loses, any win puts Algeria thru.

    • Bobby Brandon

      June 20, 2010 at 12:28 am

      Very true, thanks for pointing that out. Apologies for my error.

      With that in mind, we MUST avoid a slow start like the previous two games because an early sucker punch would allow them to bunker, and they can really bunker.

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