Anatomy and Dissection
Nothing horrifying, except Osvaldo Sanchez’s “save” on Bradley’s second goal. the The U.S. Soccer website has a page devoted to breaking down the latest 2-0 American win against Mexico. It has a lineup graphic and videos of the two goals. This is handy, but really doesn’t tell the whole story (much like the weather description of 53 degrees and overcast). The ProZone Match Analysis does provide some more stats to understand how the game went a little better.
Lineup graphic from USSoccer.com
The U.S. may have lined up as a 4-4-2 technically, but Bob Bradley effectively lined the team up in a hybrid 4-4-1 or 4-2-3-1, using Donovan as the attacking fulcrum.
Bradley and Klejstan were the bedrock from which the offense was built on. They were setup as solid ball winners who could link with Donovan and the wings to spring the offense. Klejstan may not have had the best game, but Bradley was able to disrupt the Mexican attack all game and chose his spots well when he got into the attack. They both served as the outlet for the defense and Bradley (with a 91% pass completion percentage) especially was able to turn that into offense. These two midfielders relieved some of the pressure on Onyewu and Bocanegra.
Beasley and Dempsey were asked to play defense on the wings again, but Coach Bradley had them press much higher up the field than in any previous US/Mexico game. This was really disruptive to the Mexican offense and forced numerous bad passes. It did not seem like the Mexicans expected high pressure defense. On offense, it did not appear that Beasley and Dempsey were given free reign and were asked to tuck in centrally. This would account for Beasley’s influence in the passing game, as he really did not try to speed past the defense.
Donovan really played a different game than he normally does. He pressed much like the wingers and while he was withdrawn from Ching, he did not get to face up against the defense as he normally tries to do. He was very much in a pass first mode; trying to bring the wings and the central midfielders into the offense while maintaining possession. Ching was even more isolated. He could not use his strength to his advantage. I would like to see what an in form Altidore might be able to do with his mobility and strength.
Overall, I was impressed with Bob Bradley’s game plan. He caught Mexico off guard with the heavy defensive pressure and then used a quick passing game to keep up the pressure on offense. The U.S. had more chances and really stifled Mexico’s offense. Yes, they may have been missing a few players, but I am not sure it mattered as Bradley outfoxed Erikson, he at least had the better plan.