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The USMNT Daily Update: Bradley resume training and what his comeback means for the USMNT qualifiers

MichaelBradleyRedStripes (ISIPhotos.com)

By John Todd/ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

Both Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. Men's National Team fans everywhere breathed sighs of relief this morning amid word that midfielder Michael Bradley was back in full training with AS Roma after being sidelined for the past three weeks with a thigh injury.

Bradley's return gives him two weeks to get match fit and prepares for the USMNT's remaining qualifiers in October, first against Antigua & Barbuda on Oct. 12th, then against Guatemala on Oct. 16th. His return is crucial to the U.S. team's chances of fielding as strong a team as possible for the matches that will ultimately determine if their World Cup qualifying hopes remain alive.

No, the USA shouldn't need Bradley to beat Antigua & Barbuda, or to beat Guatemala at home, but the midfield's struggles in Jamaica illustrated just what the team misses when Bradley's dominant presence is missing.

What will be interesting to see is who Klinsmann fits around Bradley for the upcoming qualifiers. Jermaine Jones has long been preferred as a midfield partner, but Danny Williams' showing against Jamaica in Columbus (and his improving form with club side Hoffenheim) has him on the rise.

Klinsmann sees Bradley in a more advanced central midfield position than the anchor No. 6 role most recently filled by Williams. Jones tried playing Bradley's role in the September qualifiers but struggled badly in Kingston before showing some improvement in the return match in Columbus.

Here is the USMNT midfield we could see start vs. Antigua & Barbuda:

Donovan———-Bradley——–Dempsey

——————–Jones———————

Before anybody even dares say it, NO this layout does NOT mean Bradley is a playmaker. It just shows how he will be in a more advanced role than Jones. This quartet would play behind two forwards, most likely Herculez Gomez and Jozy Altidore. As we have seen in the past, when Bradley and Jones are paired centrally neither really sits deep for the majority of the time. Both players tend to surge forward when they can. I would lay out the formation to look more like this, though it will probably too reminiscent of the Bob Bradley era for Klinsmann to ever concede he was playing a 4-4-2 with deep-lying central midfielders

———–Altidore——Gomez————-

Donovan—————————Dempsey

————Jones——-Bradley————-

What we will need to see is whether Klinsmann learned any lessons about leaving forwards stranded like the USMNT did in Kingston. That might prevent him from trotting out this attack, though it should be noted that having Landon Donovan in the lineup across from Clint Dempsey in midfield would give Herculez Gomez and Jozy Altidore much more support than they saw against Jamaica.

The game on Oct. 16th vs. Guatemala will be an interesting one because what Klinsmann tries to do will likely be determined largely by the result the USMNT manages in Antigua. If we stick to the notion that the USA will attak more at home, we could see this front six:

———-Gomez———–Dempsey——-

Donovan———-Bradley————-Zusi

——————-Williams—————–

Some might ask why not just play Bradley in the deep role and slide Dempsey into the playmaking role (like this):

———-Gomez———–Altidore——-

Donovan———-Dempsey———–Zusi

——————–Bradley—————–

Klinsmann has never really used Bradley in an anchor role (though he has shown in the past on the club level that he can certainly handle that role well). For my money, if Klinsmann is convinced Zusi can handle a starting role (and he sure did impress against Jamaica) then I would personally love to see this front six go at Antigua & Barbuda as well as 

Whichever way Klinsmann goes, his options are improved exponentially by the presence of Bradley, who brings a presence to the middle of the field no other American central midfielder does. Now all Klinsmann and the national team need is for Bradley to stay healthy for the next three weeks so he can resume his role as the indispensable backbone of the U.S. midfield.

117 comments
  • GW

    “And yes, Messi may be small, but he’s hard to knock off the ball because of his skill and low center of gravity. LD doesn’t have those traits, so he’s easier to muscle.”

    The reason Messi is hard to “muscle” is because, in addition to his ball skills,he is so quick and fast that it is hard to get a body on him.

    Also, his teamates, most of whom are not a lot bigger than Leo, are mostly just like that and if you try to “take out” Messi and miss, you will probably wind up way out of position and no team is better and faster at exploiting that sort of blunder than Barca. So defenders are very wary of that entire teams quickness. Messi is his own play action pass. Speed kills.

    Barca evolved their present style in part as a response to the bigger, stronger players from other countries.

    Donovan has been a high level pro for about 14 years. In my view he is probably the most talented all around player the US has ever produced.

    If stopping him was as simple and easy as putting a body on him, everyone would have done it by now.

    It’s not that easy.He’s pretty good at figuring that sort of thing out and going where he needs to be.

    Like

  • GW

    “There is a logical reason why Roma, which was strongly linked to MB in the summer of 2011, waited until the summer of 2012 to pull the trigger. Quite simply, MB was not good enough in 2011 but he improved dramatically and was good enough by the summer of 2012 for Roma to bring him on board.”

    Or you could look at it logically and say that Roma used Chievo to see how well MB would acclimate to Italy and Serie A.

    And when he showed well, then they pulled the trigger.

    Switching leagues and countries is far harder than you all seem to think. An acclimation period at a place like Chievo
    is very useful for both the potential buyer and the prospective seller.

    And MB did not improve “dramatically” at Chievo.

    If you remember, after a short acclimation period, he very quickly surprised everyone, seized a starting job and then moved to being their dominant midfielder. If he learned a lot of new skills at Chievo he did so very quickly.

    Chievo are a humble club. They bring in talent (as in already skilled), give them a platform to display their skills and then sell for a profit. So if MB was a fixer upper so to speak, they don’t really have a lot of resources to be renovating him.

    It sort of reminded me of how quickly Donovan became an important, integral part of Everton during his first loan spell.

    This makes a lot more sense to me than your take.

    Like

  • Shawn

    I didn’t say you said he was ‘bad.’ I simply don’t agree it’s fair to say he’s ‘different,’ except in the way you hope every player grows.

    He’s more mature and aware. But his game is still essentially the same stylistically. After all, he scored for fun in Holland. So it’s not like he never got forward before.

    Like

  • Shawn

    But when Landon starts in the center, it’s not just ‘one’ body that’s on him. It’s the DMC and a defender, at least. He always has a man-marker and less room to maneuver.

    Tactically, he’s a superior player on the wings with the freedom to come in, than vice versa. I’ve never been in the “Landycakes” crowd. But that doesn’t mean I can’t say a player like Dempsey is better suited to the central withdrawn forward role than Donovan is.

    Like

  • GW

    So you are saying Donovan gets hit with two, or three man man markers when he is in the center of the field?

    Do they follow him everywhere? Because Donovan will just move somewhere else. Or, if they stick on him, even better because if they keep it up it means someone, somewhere is really open. Who is covering Dempsey while all this foolishness is going on?

    Donovan is not exactly an idiot when it comes to soccer.

    If you watch Dempsey and if you watch Donovan both of them go where they feel they need to be. They understand off the ball movement. Their teamates then cover for them. It has been that way on the USMNT for many years. Many of Donovan’s games where he “disappeared”, he did so because he was playing defense and no one watches that.

    It’s not as if either one stays exactly in the center of the park as if mounted on a rail moving up and down when asked to play centrally. Soccer is a dynamic game.

    I’ve never been his biggest fan but Donovan is far smarter as a player than you give him credit for. At this point his body may be letting him down but he still has the best “soccer brain” in the USMNT player pool.

    Like

  • GW

    He was always a complete player. Some people say his dad getting fired shook him up and made him a re dedicate himself to get even better but I doubt it.

    I think it happened sooner, when all that BS at BMG went on followed by the Villa fiasco.

    The USMNT gig is a big deal to MB 90 but it is not his first priority. His bread and butter day job is his club team. They are the ones who pay his way and put food on his table.

    Mikey was basically fired twice in less than a year, long before his dad got the axe.

    Have you ever been fired LZ? Because if you have then maybe you understand how that can force you to get your priorities straight instantly.

    So when he got lucky with Chievo, he wasn’t about to screw it up and got down to it very quickly. As I’ve said elsewhere, he stood out for Chievo so fast it’s pretty clear he had all the talent already and what he really needed was a place to show it and people who believed in him.

    That was not the case at Villa and obviously things had been going south at BMG for a while.

    Like

  • GW

    “Whereas MB had a guaranteed starting position under his father on the USMNT roster plus a guaranteed 90 minutes per game, even when he was not playing at the club level and was not in good form, MB had no such assurances under Klinsmann. That basically shook MB up and he realized it was a whole new ball game and he needed to pick up his game and he did.”

    His dad’s firing could hardly have come as a shock to MB90. He’s not a kid. He’s played in Europe a long time. Managers there get changed as often as you change your underwear. Of course it hurt but I doubt Mikey was all that shook up.

    The USMNT does not pay MB90’s bills. His club team does.

    I think Mikely’s epiphany happened sooner, when all that BS at BMG went on followed by the Villa fiasco.

    The USMNT gig is a big deal to MB 90 but it is not his first priority. His bread and butter day job is his club team. They are the ones who pay his way and put food on his table.

    Mikey was basically fired twice in less than a year, long before his dad got the axe.

    Have you ever been fired biff? Because if you have then maybe you understand how that can shake you up and force you to get your priorities straight instantly.

    So when he got lucky with Chievo, he wasn’t about to screw it up and got down to it very quickly. As I’ve said elsewhere, he stood out for Chievo so fast it’s pretty clear he had all the talent already and what he really needed was a place to show it and people who believed in him.

    Like

  • GW

    When people talk about indispensable, it is a matter of degree.

    As they say in the NFL, injuries are a part of the game that must be accepted and overcome but what mostly matters with injuries is who is injured and for how long.
    An injury to Tom Brady is more worrisome than an injury to Logan Mankins.

    To think otherwise is naive.

    Certain players, Bradley, Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, Dolo, Johnson and so on are more “indispensable” to the USMNT than others. This is a soccer team not a democracy.

    Can the US win without player X or player Y? Of course they can but the chances of winning are decreased a certain percentage by their absence.

    So it is all very well to say we can win without Dempsey or Bradley or whoever, but it would be a lot easier and more likely to happen with them available.

    If you doubt that just go to Vegas.
    The people who set the lines in Vegas are far from stupid. They know that the odds against a US team w/o Bradley are greater than the odds against a US team with Bradley.
    and set their odds accordingly.

    But of course, as I have said, it doesn’t mean we can’t win without him.

    Like

  • CplDaniel

    I think you will run into a problem with that plan. I would fully expect TNT or Guate to bunker down and counter for the first 60-min (thus appear “contained”) and then only play a free-flowing game for maybe the last 20-30minutes.

    Like

  • Dlock

    Jozy run???? the laziest _______ I’ve ever seen. He can stay in Europe with that at best average team/league he plays in.

    Like

  • Dlock

    see what? Altidore fall over when there’s a slight breeze or see him do nothing at all. Altidore is aweful.

    Like

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