Is it just me or does this international break feel likes it began about a month ago? Seriously itching to get back to EPL now that Chelsea sudden forgot how to play soccer and are thus let the City’s and Arsenal’s (nope, sorry, not you United fans) back into the title race.
In the meantime we’ve got a few more friendly and Euro qualifiers to keep us busy for another day, so enough with the idle chit chat and let’s jump into the previewing, starting with…
UMSNT vs Denmark (postmorterm)
Pessimistic perspective: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so perhaps I can do us all a favor and cut down on the length of this post by offering a visual recap of the USMNT’s performance against Denmark last week:
That’s a bit of an oversimplification, of course, as the US was (inexplicably, tbh) winning 2-1 in the 80th minute before a pair of defensive breakdown gave opportunities to Nicklas Bendtner – NICKLAS FUCKING BENDTNER – who remarkably took advantage of them (giving him a hat-trick on the day). For the uninitiated, Bendtner was a big-time prospect who signed with Arsenal and promptly went on a scoring streak that involved one goal every 16 million games or so. Plus he is one of the biggest self-loving jackasses known to man. So the fact he scored three goals against us, friendly or not, is a national tragicomedy.
There are a few notable silver linings, such as the play of Jozy Altidore and (at times) Michael Bradley, but by and large it was yet another disappointing showing by a team that has more or less done nothing but shit the bed repeatedly ever since Jermaine Jones’ boner-inducing beauty around the hour-mark against Portugal:
Worth noting that the above was in July of last year, meaning we are a little past a “small dip in form” at this point. The team needs to put on a good performance sometime in the next few games or the voices (from weirdos and crazy people who are already) questioning whether Klinsmann is the right man for the job are going to start getting louder.
Optimistic perspective: So the USMNT has an incredibly poor track record recently when it comes to capitulating games late on. We have repeatedly conceded goals to either draw game we should win or lose games we should draw, for which Klinsmann has been receiving a lot of grief lately, but there is a mitigating factor that everybody seems unwilling to acknowledge: JK has been inserting substitutions at halftime and even later to get a look at a lot of people in what little real-game situations he has available, and that sort of tumult to your line-up is almost certain to create the type of defensive confusion that inevitably leads to goals. I’d muuuuuuuuuuuuuch rather us being giving up goals near the end when a bunch of n00bs are playing rather than in the first half, when the USMNT has actually done quite well recently.
Point being, let’s not give up on JK or this team quite yet. Unless they lose to Mexico in a couple weeks, in which case fuck it, I’m out.
BRIEF RECAP OF 3-2 LOSS TO DENMARK: Altidore scored one and set up Johansson for the second (on a nice feed from Bradley) but it wasn’t enough to overcome three from Bendtner, including two in the last 10 minutes that immediately turned a “Well, we haven’t looked great but can’t argue with score, I guess” outing into a “Just effing Christ why are we so bad?” performance.
CONCLUSION: We’re on to Swissinnati.
USMNT vs Switzerland (preview)
So the bad news is that Switzerland is a better team than Denmark. The good news is… well, actually I’m not sure there is any good news other than the USMNT has proven time and time again that we are a million times better when playing with little to no expectations (compared to, say, when we were ranked 5th by FIFA going into the 2006 World Cup and promptly got pounded by about everybody – save, strangely, for eventual champions Italy).
With Dempsey and now Johansson both out injured, it’s a tossup as to whether the biggest question marks will be who plays up front or in the back, which reflects how porous the team’s defense has been lately.
John Brooks had a particularly awful finish to the Denmark game, losing Bendtner for a goal and then not finishing a straight forward header right at the death. Need to see a LOT more out of him today.
As for the midfield, I wish I loved something as much as Jurgen Klinsmann loves watching Brek Shea contribute nothing on a soccer field.
Projected starting XI for USA: Yarbrough; Johnson, Brooks, Orozco, Chandler; Shea, Bradley (c), Bedoya, Green; Altidore, Zardes.
One possible change is to remove Zardes and add someone like Garza to the midfield as part of a 4-5-1 with only Jozy up front, which is exactly what I am sure JK would do if this game actually mattered, but since it is a friendly there is no reason to start out in such a negative formation (meaning he probably will do exactly that).
Players to watch on Switzerland: the angry little bowling ball of a man known as Xherdan Shaqiri, who parlayed a successful at this summer’s World Cup into an unfortunate stint at Bayern Munich before moving on to Inter Milan where he’s played well.
Oh, and some random Swiss “smokes” to keep you restless natives at bay (as you can say, the pickings were rather… um… slim):
Euro 2016 Qualifying
There is a sneaky big game in European qualifying later this afternoon as well as Israel (#2 in Group B) hosts Belgium (#3 in Group B) in a battle to determine who will challenge Wales for the top of the group.
Also some pretty interesting friendlies, including Netherlands vs Spain and Argentina vs Ecuador, which you would be well advised to watch or DVR if you can.
One more day of international friendlies and qualifiers then a couple days to rest up for the return of EPL (and the rest of the domestic leagues) this weekend.
So there we have it. Check ya’ll on Friday.
Samuel X. Army