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USMNT Notes: Bradley confident in right back options, Donovan looking forward to Saprissa

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The U.S. men's national team held a press conference today in advance of Wednesday night's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica and while there were no real surprises, the event still had its amusing moments and interesting comments from head coach Bob Bradley, Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra.

Among the funnier moments was one reporter calling Carlos Bocanegra Pablo Mastroeni, another reporter calling Bob Bradley Michael and four Costa Rican "journalists" asking Donovan for autographs after the press conference (along with one sporting a Costa Rica jersey).

Here are some of the comments from Bradley, Donovan and Bocanegra ahead of Wednesday night's match:

When asked about the difficulty of playing in Saprissa and whether the United States would be prepared, Donovan

"We had the advantage now of playing in El Salvador and I think that was our biggest test," Donovan said. "Cuba and Guatemala were tests in the first round of qualifying but I think the El Salvador game opened our eyes."

One popular questions for the veterans is what are they saying to prepare younger players for what is sure to be a stunning sight on Wednesday night. Donovan revealed that there isn't much that can be said.

"Until you play in a game like this there's not a whole lot you can tell people," Donovan said. "I know in my first game (in Costa Rica) the older players said a lot to me, but until you play in it you don't understand, but we have a lot of guys who have experienced that and will be prepared for it."

"My first away qualifier was in Costa Rica," Donovan said. "You watch the games on TV, and you hear about it, but that was a massive wake-up call. It's exciting, at that time it was intimidating, but now I really look forward to these games. They're a lot of fun for us."

Bradley address the right back situation and expressed confidence in both Jonathan Spector and Marvell Wynne.

"In both cases we feel the players have had good experiences along the way with some of our youth teams," Bradley said. "Certainly Marvell benefited a great deal from his Olympic experience last summer. Jonathan, playing in the (English) Premiership, has seen what it's like to come up up against great players playing in difficult environments.

"We feel good that when there are injuries, when there are suspensions, that we've got players that not only can step in, but we've had them into camps, we've had games, it's familiar to them how we go about our business."

When asked about Costa Rica's resurgence, Bradley pointed to the work of head coach and former Olympic team coach Rodrigo Kenton, who has done a very good job to have a young Costa Rican side in second place in World Cup qualifying.

So what's the lineup going to be? If I had to bet on one I'd go with this one:






Why this lineup? Well, Bob Bradley said that Jozy Altidore is healthy enough to start and if Altidore is healthy, can Bradley really leave him out the way he's been scoring goals for the national team? If Altidore is up top, then we will pretty much see the same starting lineup Bradley used against Trinidad & Tobago, with Spector replacing the injured Frankie Hejduk.

What do you think of the above notes? Feeling good about Spector or Wynne at right back? Starting to feel confident that the U.S. team will be able to hand Saprissa this time around?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. for those who say torres isn’t tough or seasoned enough, he plays in those types of envirnoments every weekend.

  2. Ives, torres for mastroeni and you’ve got it.
    at least that is what i’m hoping for….i never see mastroeni make a forward pass! he kind of ruins the groove. torres has both defensive and offensive abilities and should be able to get back and cover for beas when he moves forward.

  3. What all you Pablo haters out there don’t seem to get is that he’s a defensive player. He doesn’t score, he doesn’t assist, he doesn’t make slick passes opening up opposing defenses. He’s not “sexy”. None of that is his job. He’s there to break up opposing attacks, which he does very well. He does it better on the international stage than in MLS, perhaps because the level of competition and the style and complexity of attack is not as developed. (As an aside, he’s not the only US player I think plays better on the national level than in MLS.) When Pablo has a great game, he won’t be noticed because he’s not on the score sheet. It seems that there are people here who think that every position on the pitch should be scoring. I’d rather see a team that plays together, with different players doing different jobs. Let Pablo break up attacks, and let Bradley play possession and start the attack. They shouldn’t be doing the same thing. Is Pablo getting old? Sure, and there are younger players waiting for their chance. But there is nobody tougher on the team, and especially going into Saprissa I want a player with toughness and grit who’s not afraid to be physical. This game isn’t going to be the beautiful, flowing, stylish, one-touch game people would like to see, and we’re going to need toughness and grit to get a result.

  4. I hope I’m wrong, but this lineup will get torn apart on the sides. Dempsey and Donovan are remarkable players but they definitely lack the concept of midfield defense. Lucky for us that latin american don’t utilize the wings as much as european teams.

    People will be clammoring for Ching’s head after this because he’s won’t be getting the crosses he feeds off of with these midfielders. I believe they are more of a “cut inside” type of player.

    Saprissa’s stadium has field that I would not even call turf, more like carpet. That said I would be leary running our prize striker out there coming off double toe surgery. I hope he holds up.

    Even after all this pessimism, I predict we will get a result! Only sad thing is, it will be a tie.

  5. Ives,

    Great site, first palce to go for US Soccer.

    I think BB goes with the 4-5-1 with only Ching up top. He is always conservative on the road and we get ugly soccer (see Guatamala, Cuba, El Sal).

    That said I hope he goes with your projected lineup. 2 forwards makes more sense to me.

    I would really like to see BB pull out the element of surprise and go with Altidore and Davies up front. CR would not be expecting it and it would mess with their game plan. I also like Deuce on the left and LD on the right.

    Ives, if BB goes conservative 4-5-1 and we get the same old, same old, please question him on it at the post gaem interview.

  6. Mark,

    Got it.

    I personally don’t see us starting 2 forwards but rather 5 in the midfield. Trying to clog the game up and weather the storm that is Saprissa.

    I’m not saying it’s right but that’s what I think BB is going to do.

  7. Yes, I understand why Ives was predicting that lineup…I didn’t understand why BB was using that lineup. I like Dempsey on the left, who actually has a much harder and deeper shot then Landon, with Donovan on the right side, but creeping up the middle to service Ching and Altidore. If you are going to use Beasely as a left back, you might as well work the ball up the left side of the field.

  8. Mark and others,

    Ives is getting that because Bob Bradley has started Landon at left wing a few times recently.

    On a bigger level, against better teams than our region, we really lack true wingers. Our forwards get little to no service. So big target strikers don’t have a chance. That’s why an Eddie Lewis type or even Steve Ralston last WC Qualifying were so valuable to McBride.

  9. Mark,

    Likely because Donovan is a natural finisher and he wants him to be able to cut in on to his righ and take a shot from distance. Also, Donovan is practically two-footed, and Dempsey has a good cross as well; we have two of the biggest forwards in CONCACAF( I think. I was doing some research), we need to take advantage of them.

  10. I don’t understand why BB would start Landon on the left and Dempsey on the right. Doesn’t Dempsey play left winger for Fulham and would a right footer like Donovan be more effective coming up the right side, or slashing through the middle?

  11. I love the predicted lineup, hopefully that is how it plays out tonight, we’ll see. Maybe swap LD and Deuce, as Clint plays on the left at Fulham anyways.

    I am so tired of hearing people say that Wynne should start over all the other RB options because he is so fast and is the future starter there anyways. Uh, no. I don’t care how fast you are, you have to have skill and a good soccer knowledge as well. I would take Spector over Wynne any day of the week. And yes, Spector plays in the PREMIER league in England, Wynne plays in the MLS in Toronto. I am pretty sure Johnathan gets much more experience weekly than Marvell.

    Spector 2 – Wynne 0.


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