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Thoughts on U.S.A. Gold Cup Quarterfinal Win Over Jamaica

Bob Bradley won the tactical battle. Jamaica played to counter the U.S. 4-4-2, fielding a defensive 3-4-3 (awesome breakdown here). The three Jamaican defenders would have marked the two U.S. forwards. The width would have stretched the U.S. defense. The U.S. would have had trouble at both ends. Because Bradley opted for a 4-2-3-1. Jamaica had redundant defensive cover on the lone striker and was horribly outnumbered in midfield. You could fault the American players for not making more use of the tactical advantage given. Advantage Bob.

The Agudelo Effect. Jozy Altidore has looked more assured this tournament. Agudelo has cooled off after a blistering start. Altidore may be better individually at this stage, but it is worth considering their net effect on the team. When Altidore plays the U.S. focuses on him. They are vertical, direct and predictable. Defenders key on him, take him out of the game. The U.S. is bereft of options, loses the ball often and creates virtually no chances that aren’t on counterattacks.

Agudelo makes the team more versatile. They play with greater energy and creativity. They move the ball horizontally. They can be more fluid up front with Juan trailing off to the wing and Dempsey or Donovan pushing forward. They control the ball and the tempo. They are much harder to defend. He may not score in the starting lineup, but, at least against weaker opponents, the U.S. might be better with him on the field. If Jozy can’t return by Wednesday, Bob may not have a choice.

Jermaine Jones impressed. And not just with his acting skills. The dive was egregious (just straight up simulation) and his goal was a bit fortunate. But, as Grant Wahl points out, this may have been his best game for the national team. He was a mobile rock defensively. He finally gave them the bite that has been expected (possibly a little too much). He was a seasoned head in midfield. He’s not going to be Michael Essien at this stage of his career, but with a simplified role and another ball handler in the middle he can definitely be the U.S. Gattuso.

[Photo via Getty]

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