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Robinson shines, youngsters wilt and more: Five takeaways from the USMNT win vs. Canada

As the U.S. men’s national team celebrated its ridiculously early goal against Canada on Sunday, and the sold-out crowd at Children’s Mercy Park went crazy, you would never have imagined that the party-like atmosphere would only serve as the misleading start to an otherwise disappointing day for the Americans.

Winning is ultimately the goal, particularly in tournament play, so ignoring the fact the USMNT held on for a 1-0 victory over Canada would be foolish. Unfortunately, it would also be foolish to overlook the clear flaws, and failings exposed on a hot day in Kansas.

From Daryl Dike and Gianluca Busio delivering muted performances that should slow down the runaway nature of their bandwagons, to the entirely predictable struggles of Donovan Pines, who stepped into an emergency role due to a Walker Zimmerman injury and proceeded to justify all the concerns expressed when Gregg Berhalter made him one of the more surprising selections on the team, there were plenty of negatives to chew on.

There were also some very encouraging positives, including an inspired showing by Miles Robinson, who stepped up to lead a battered and fatigued defense and helped it hold on to its 1-0 lead. There was also James Sands flashing a masterful first 30 minutes in a hybrid centerback/defensive midfield role, a stretch when he looked like the best player on the field, but a level he wasn’t able to maintain as he wilted in the heat.

Here is a closer look at some of the key takeaways from Sunday’s USMNT win over Canada:


Zimmerman injury exposes Berhalter’s roster mistake


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Donovan Pines came off the bench as an injury replacement for Walker Zimmerman in the 15th minute and the first 30 minutes he managed to hold his own and avoid mistakes. The second half was a far different story though, as the D.C. United defender was exposed on multiple occasions, offering a harsh reminder of just why there was major skepticism surrounding Berhalter’s decision to make him the team’s fourth centerback (which was second only to the inclusion of Jonathan Lewis on the roster in the ‘head-scratching selection’ department).

Why exactly did Berhalter select Pines? It has become clear that Berhalter came into the Gold Cup with an eye towards using more of a three-centerback setup, and when searching for young American centerbacks doing well in three-centerback setups, Pines falls on a very short list.

To his credit, Pines has had a strong season in MLS, and has put up some impressive stats, but his flaws aren’t a secret. He struggles in possession, which is an issue in Berhalter’s system, and he can be exposed in space by quick attackers, as he was against New York City FC in his final match before the Gold Cup.

Berhalter made the decision that Pines’ experience in a three-centerback system made him a more sensible pick over other options who are better on the ball, but who would have to be taught the intricacies of playing in a three-centerback setup, like Mauricio Pineda, Justen Glad, Auston Trusty and Henry Kessler.

The danger in that decision reared its head when Zimmerman went down with an injury and Berhalter found himself with a decision to make. Does he scrap the 5-3-2 system he deployed after just 15 minutes and insert Cristian Roldan to avoid using Pines, or would he give Pines a chance and therefore keep the same 5-3-2 that had dominated the early proceedings of the match?

Berhalter chose Pines, and while the final score will make that decision appear to have been the right one, what took place for the final 60 minutes of the match suggests Berhalter was extremely lucky to avoid punishment for that decision.


Miles Robinson’s stock is skyrocketing


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

One of the goals of this Gold Cup for the USMNT was finding a central defender capable of competing for a starting role when World Cup qualifying roles around and Miles Robinson jumped to the front of the line in that race after his dominant showing against Canada.

The Atlanta United centerback was everywhere, showing himself to be adept at dealing with both physical attackers and speed ones with equal aplomb. He could manage one-on-one situations while also using his speed to provide cover for his teammates.

Robinson is also capable of playing in a three-centerback system as well as two-centerback system, the kind of versatility that gives him an edge over some other prospects.

Does this mean Robinson has secured a starting role for World Cup qualifying? Not quite yet, but he has emerged as the top MLS option to replace the injured Aaron Long, and if he can continue playing at a high level the deeper the USMNT goes in the Gold Cup, then Robinson will put some real pressure on European-based options like Chris Richards, Mark McKenzie and Matt Miazga for that spot next to Brooks, either in a 4-3-3 or 5-3-2.


Dike and Busio take a step back


Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

When the starting lineup was unveiled before Sunday’s match, the excitement over the inclusions of Gianluca Busio and Daryl Dike was palpable and understandable. Both youngsters had been very impressive, and to many USMNT fans, they appeared destined to dominate their way through the Gold Cup if just given the chance.

It didn’t quite work out that way on Sunday, as both players struggled to deal with Canada, and in Busio’s case, with the hot conditions, which may have contributed to him fading in the match.

Berhalter gave Busio more freedom to get forward early in the match, with James Sands pushing into midfield to let Busio roam. Early on that worked well and Busio appeared to make good use of the freedom, but as the match went on Busio struggled to get a hold of the match, and eventually disappeared to the point of needing to be replaced in the 74th minute.

By no means was Busio the only USMNT midfielder to fade from view– Kellyn Acosta also struggled and left the match when Busio did. Canada’s experience edge in midfield was clear to see, even with John Herdman initially resting regular midfield starters Mark-Anthony Kaye and Jonathan Osorio with an eye toward the quarterfinals.

Does that mean we won’t see Busio start again in the knockout rounds? He should see more opportunities, but Berhalter will have to consider shifting Kellyn Acosta into the starting defensive midfield role, especially after Acosta’s lackluster showing in a more advanced role.

As for Dike, he had his moments where he was close to breaking through, but he also showed some of the weak points in his game, including his hold-up play and first-touch. He wasn’t able to physically dominate Canada the way he did Martinique, and the ability of Canada’s defenders to neutralize the Orlando City striker provided a needed reminder that, while Dike has been an exciting prospect to watch in recent months, and clearly has the talent to enjoy a bright future with the national team, he is far from the finished product.

In fact, it was Gyasi Zardes who looked the sharper of the two when it came to hold-up play, and putting himself into good positions to facilitate attacking movements. Zardes did so despite having to operate in wide channels in order to give Dike the central area to work in. To be clear, Zardes didn’t have a dazzling showing either on a day when the USMNT failed to register a shot on goal after the early goal, but if Berhalter only starts one of the two in the quarterfinals, Sunday’s performances should give Zardes the edge.


Sands shows off his intriguing versatility


When James Sands started setting up shop in the USMNT midfield, at least a few observers had to wonder if he was making a mistake, but nope, the New York City FC was very clearly instructed to set up in midfield when the Americans had the ball, and drop deep when it was time to defend.

For the first 30 minutes, that libero-esque position suited Sands perfectly and he played it as well as Berhalter could have wanted. Sands gave the Americans a clear advantage in midfield, and the Canadians struggled to deal with it before making their own tactical adjustment to push more numbers into central midfield.

Sands influence in the match faded though, as he became one of the players clearly affected by the hot conditions at Children’s Mercy Park, but he still showed more than enough to leave Berhalter excited at the possibilities he has with Sands emerging as an option for World Cup qualifying.

What Sands give Berhalter is the kind of calm distributor and organizer in the heart of a 5-3-2 that can allow him to play the system when the full-strength USMNT squad is together, and the rest of the Gold Cup will give Sands a chance to strengthen his case for not only making the World Cup qualifying squad, but starting on that team.


Shaq Moore keeps momentum going


When Reggie Cannon announced that he was back to 100 percent on Saturday, that sounded like it would signal the end of Shaq Moore’s run at the Gold Cup, but instead, it was Moore who made his third straight start on Sunday, and he responded by scoring a goal just 20 seconds into the match.

Moore held up well playing as a right wingback and only served to strengthen his already-impressive Gold Cup. He showed off both his attacking quality and defensive strengths, and did so against a clearly stronger opponent than his previous two matches.

Will that be enough to keep earning starts when Cannon is back in action now? That will be difficult, but the fact we are even asking the question tells you just how far Moore has come in the past two weeks.

Comments

  1. Through the group phase of the tournament there have only been 3 players who’ve had their stock rise and a couple who’ve been able to tread water…keeping their same spot in the pecking order.
    On the Rise:
    Robinson – Been very consistent. Shown good positional awareness, quickness, and decent distribution. Could see him included with the “A-Team” going forwards.
    Sands – Very impressed with his play so far. I could easily see him become the back-up to Adams at the CDM position. His reading of the game has been excellent. I’ve more trust in him after 2+ games than I do Yueill after 12+ games.
    Moore – Has taken advantage of Cannon’s injury and shown he can be an option at RB. Not saying he’s going to be a long term solution, but in a pinch he could be a decent choice.
    Treading Water –
    Lletget – While he’s not my 1st choice…nor do I think he should be in the 23 when everyone is healthy/available he’s OK for a 3rd string CM.
    Hoppe/Dike – About what I expected from each of them. Both are decent depth options, but neither are ready for starts with the A-Team.
    Busio – Still more of a project for after 2022. Shows flashes of ability, but isn’t ready for the A-Team.
    Turner – Decent…but not sure if he’s shown enough to hold onto the 3rd keeper position.

    Rest of the squad is performing about where I expected them to. Namely if the European players were available they shouldn’t be anywhere near a call-up.

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  2. This game yesterday in KC reminded me so much of the game in Toronto where we lost. In both cases we failed to hold any possession in midfield after the first 25-30 minutes. What was very frustrating about both games was that so many times the loss of possession was a self-inflicted wound. How many times did we see a bad first touch, or someone carrying it forward into six Canadian defenders only to lose the ball, or a poor pass that went to one of the Canadian defenders? It wasn’t like we were being pressed to death by Canada. They tried to trap and pressure at key points, but it wasn’t an overwhelming amount of space denial and closing guys down so hard they had no options. In both games, once that downward spiral started, it got worse and worse.

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    • What really annoyed me is that when we were able to get the ball back, most of the time there would be one or two dribbles, maybe a short pass, and then a long kick upfield to Canada. We rarely retained possession for long. In fact, they didn’t even try to do so very often.

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  3. In addition to B,C team selections severely lacking creativity… the prevailing repeated theme/issue I see with our team match after match after match- whether its our A,B or C team is no width. We have no width, we have no width! Every player is trying to occupy the same space in the middle on the offensive end. This is super easy to defend… was a huge part of what killed Dike yesterday along with him running his rear of pressing the entire 1st half. What space is he supposed to run into??? Where are the crosses for him to feed on??? Who on this roster besides Shaq Moore poses any threat to get by anyone wide and put in a decent cross? No one. Even with our A squad- we see the same thing and no adjustments made to spread the field- give our players room to operate. Dest, Pulisic, Reyna- most of our wide players love to run inside. We managed to get through NL in spite of this, but its not ideal moving forward.

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    • his standard 433 the pinching in kills all width except pushing the wingbacks up. you could get width if you had reyna and pulisic out on the chalk like elis does for honduras. bluntly i prefer reyna and pulisic in space over creating lanes for wingbacks. that’s backwards. why pinch in and hide your best 2 players?

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    • i think he’s been trying his 343 and 352 because he figured out his 433 had no wide options upfield and basically forces you to try and foolishly build right up the middle with ground passes, which is nuts. i think it’s also one reason he loves his “passing 6s” even though they can’t actually play 6 and are worse passers than any AM you could push back. if they will be relied on that much in the buildup.

      i saw the wide problem yesterday as we could get at them with the wingbacks but if they got back before we could — which they generally did — we didn’t have much of a plan B. if you send the forwards wide then we have one forward left central to pass to. and yet we did that a lot.

      personally i feel like our personnel screams for a 451 or 442. we have lots of wide talent. could use to have both a low and high wide option. 352 is just one wide option per side. 343 is more wide options but dangerously pushed high. 451 is a similar shape but more balanced in terms of how high up.

      i don’t even know why we’re bothering with 352 because how could you play it with reyna and pulisic? they would be redundant of the wingbacks or the forwards. i have suggested playing them middle but we might consider before we play lame tactics to fill the field for GC whether the formation could ever work with the A team, which this can’t unless they push reyna and pulisic middle as AMs. which i am fine with but realize what you’re doing. to me the coach makes it up as he goes along and increasingly is flailing about.

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  4. GGG just showing again that any positive result is IN SPITE of his “coaching” instead of BECAUSE of it. Poor roster selection. Poor lineup selection. Poor adjustments when Canada changed their formation. It’ embarrassing and will cost us in this upcoming WC campaign, especially his reliance on MLS lifers who aren’t in Europe for a reason. And while I am still confident that we have the talent to qualify, I know that once we get into the tournament, GGG will get outcoached by pretty much EVERY one he faces. It still amazes me that literally EVERYONE else could tell that midfield was getting killed
    and that the Zardes/Dike pairing wasn’t working…yet our “genius” coach can’t get Hoppe more than 15 minutes and hangs Williamson out to dry???

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    • I’ve never understood this idea that the team wins “in spite” of Greg, it doesn’t make sense and will never make sense to me, but what does sink in is the need to diminish and point out what some see as unforgivable by Greg thus the lame nicknames. At the end of the day this team continues to get results, even when we aren’t at our best, so to me that means something good is happening and right now while we’re building towards WCQ it means everything! Some of the things people continue to whine about because they aren’t getting what they want in terms of lineups and formations, will sort itself out

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  5. Haven’t watched DC this season so don’t know how Pines has looked in MLS. He came on in this match and dominated Larin in his first 3-4 duels in 5 minutes. After that no one wanted to tangle with him. Unfortunately playing around him or waiting for a bad touch was easy enough. Hope he doesn’t get written off before given a chance to develop. I’m an old but he reminded a bit of Marvell Wynne from the 2008 men’s Olympic team. Insane athlete that other teams have to respect, but not awesome at soccer.

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    • Pines looks to be an asset in the box, marking big bodies, stifling crosses, but we have much better assets that mold to fill that role. Open field- he has the athleticism to intervene on passes…. holding a high line, recovery runs facing goal, distribution, ball handling…. the way our team is asking our CBs to play? Don’t see that ever being his kind of game. We soooooooo dodged a bullet with him not being exploited further. In some ways Canada pinning us back was a blessing for him. If we had the energy to press high or sustain offensive pressure in the 2nd half or asked any more of him in possession from the back- he verrrrry likely would have been torched on a counter.

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  6. Why did GB pick Pines instead of other MLS players? Here’s my question, why did he feel the need to stick only MLS players? We still haven’t seen Palmer-Brown in an international game under Berhalter, nor Alvarado, to name a couple. I can’t believe all the US defenders who are on break couldn’t come into camp. As far as Di8ke and Busio, I was warning people to not get so carried away. Even CONCACAF is a more intense level of play than MLS. International play is another level up and CONCACAF has gotten much better over the last decade. Mexico had trouble with El Salvador last night. I had been thinking GB should have made subs sooner than he did since it was clear some players were struggling. I was very surprised he took out Zardes and kept Dike in since it was clear to me that Dike was clearly dragging while Zardes wasn’t. It may be why Dike was injured a little later in the game. I find it unusual that Busio and Dike were having trouble with the heat since Busio plays in KC and Dike plays in Orlando, so it’s not like they are unused to the heat and humidity. Meanwhile, the Canadian players didn’t seem to be as bothered. Those Canadian summers must be Hell. Finally, at the start of this I wondered if Berhalter would be flexible enough to adjust his formation to best fit his players. He answered that question with a resounding NO.

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    • EPB needs to find a loan because his loan ended, as did CCV’s, so it made no sense to bring in players with unsettled club situations, when they would be better off starting their preseasons with their clubs on the right footing, this is the same reason GB didn’t call in Julian Green and De La Torre! Alvarado? That ship has sailed I think because he has been too up and down with his play and has switched teams a few times I believe, which would seem to suggest he’s not a consistent player

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  7. The errors in selecting a roster- balanced with players at each position, capable of filling needed roles and capable of playing the way GB wants them to is glaring. And inexcusable… setting up your players to fail. Not enough CBs, a single now injured winger in a non threatening Arriola, and only one FB capable of getting forward a posing a threat. Lletget, Roldan, Acosta, Yueill… a plethora of similar vanilla, side passing midfielders incapable of breaking down a defense and then leave one of the few that poses in threat Williamson, sitting. Who on this roster is going to provide service? You can trot that midfield out 1,000 times and it will still plod along, toothless and impotent. Additional reps doing something poorly is not valuable experience- it is missed opportunity to give more talented players suited to play the way you want them to experience. RThe good news is I am really happy and hopeful about what we are seeing from Sands, Robinson, Williamson, Moore… the potential of Dike and Busio down the road but… I am increasingly concerned that GB is apparently blind to the obvious… unable or unwilling to adjust, put together a well rounded roster…. judge talent suited/able to carry out his vision.

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  8. Busio is not Kyle Beckerman, nor should he have ever been expected to be. Better player selection would have alleviated some of the issues this team is facing in the midfield. Didn’t get it when the roster was released and still don’t get it now.

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  9. Re. Busio, fun to watch him. He’s physically got a ways to go, and tactically he tried to make too many tackles in midfield instead of digggin in and staying in front, and so got turned too many times. He got tired too, you could see it. But for all of that, it was GREAT to see him get that experience, feel what he needs to get better at, and his strength and conditioning are exactly those things, along with the understanding at the 6 that you can’t get turned. But not bad for a teenager. Yes his game is imperfect, but he brings some nice things and I’m looking forward to watching him grow, and hope he evolves becasue he’s obviously not there yet but could get there imo. Sands is another who has been doing some good things out there, confident on the ball and quick in mind and foot in the middle of everything, played his role well snuffing out problems and not getting turned, and with his releases too to settle control or initiate the attack. Shaq is a keeper. Dike’s first half was not good, lost almost every ball played to him and defensively might as well have been on the bench he did so little, 2nd half better; each long ball or second ball he wins is an immediate chance to get into the final 3rd with numbers but few and far between yesterday when it was needed to get out of the bunker, so hope to see improved effort in those specific areas from him, I like him

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    • Shaq, has not shown any crossing ability or touch on finding teammates in the box? Justin Che has much better vision and passing ability. Although, some of the runs into the box are lame.
      FB/ Wingers need to see the field and open teams up with the pass.

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      • Shaq played some nice balls in and also not, yes imperfect. he gets up and down with intention, love that. He’s in the mix whoever you prefer or others, that’s all. It’s great to add players into the mix. Vines too. I want to see both play in the next knockout, see what happens, same with Busio.

  10. GB just cannot pick mids worth a crap. the backs except Pines are solid (though I could have suggested better ones). the forwards save Lewis would knock them in if they got service. the keeper is good. but he messed up the engine so the backs get little cover and the forwards little service. and so we whoop up on lousy 0-3 martinique 4-0 and the teams that won something in the group we all beat 1-0 on early goals.

    the theme of the “contested” games was we looked good with the wingbacks overlapping fast down the chalk to deliver balls behind the defense but lousy in the planned, water torture, slow possession buildup playing half court soccer on a defense that has gotten back.

    i also think we keep falling in and out of love with the Formation of the Week because we want for some sort of tactics to work and look good, and he has a tendency not so much to match tactics to opponents — or adjust in games — as find a new toy and play with it exhaustively til bored.

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    • Better than Robinson? Better than Sands? Better than Vines? When you finish your essay, those three could not have been bested by any of your ‘suggestions’.

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      • Yeah- Vines looked pretty solid defensively- that is definitely his wheelhouse. Ask a lot of him going forward or to play as a wingback and the wheels come off the cart on both ends. He’s just not that player. Bello- is much younger with potential to develop into that kind of player- but not quite ready at this level.

      • dude, CCV and richards are at least that good, and probably EPB too. and you’re leaving out pines, which is a slot right there. richards can also play wingback. i think the affection for zimmerman sands etc. is based on group play and we have to see how they level up. i also think it’s thirsty people drinking mud. wow, we can play defense. trust me, we can play it even better.

  11. For once, I would like to hear an announcer or commentator say, “Ooh, Zardes’ first touch really let him down again.” It’s like he has cement blocks instead of feet.

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  12. My main takeaway was Berhalters regulars or his core group who play with the A team let him down. Minus the cross resulting in a goal Lletget was not effective and for 89:40 of the match never asserted himself on the ball. Drives me crazy when the ball is going into the midfield with possibility of creating a numbers advantage or one on one matchups with an accelerated dribble or quick pass and one your skilled guys slows up when they receive the ball. No defense wants to defend when retreating and on there heels.
    Zardes did the best he could with little of the ball and lack of possession.
    Roldan and Yueill did little to impact the match. Cannon should have scored or at least got a shot on frame?
    The subs should have provided some juice to the attack but did not raise the level of play. These are guys Berhalter rates for first time minutes? Also, why pigeonhole a formation without the personal?
    The youngster Busio just lacked pace on his passes right from the start. When he advanced the ball with a pass, they were poorly weighted and players had to wait for the ball. He needs to be sharper and dictate tempo when he pushes the ball.
    Kind of ironic seeing Williamson sitting on the bench by himself. Dude had to be thinking I play against these guys getting minutes in front of me and I out play them in MLS. Anyone of the midfielders can make a poor pass in the defensive third but few of them can unlock the defense like Williamson.

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    • he either cannot talent evaluate — reads too many spreadsheets instead of watches tape — or he actually believes that experience in a system trumps talent. which is goofy if we barely play the same formation twice.

      most of his favorites would not get 5 minutes from any other coach. out of all the available americans in the world, roldan? yeuill? acosta? lewis? nico? pines? guzan?

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      • Acosta has shown enough versatility and skill in the NL and this tournament to justify his inclusion.

        I’m less concerned about the selctions as this tournament is specifically for fringe players with a few MLS based veterans to provide leadership. Lletget is the only player I think berhalter consistently rates to highly. I am more concerned that he is always slow to make tactical adjustments in game. You can build a defense about his decisions for this game, ” I had to burn subs on injuries, and that was the best line up defensively, and it was limiting Canada to very low quality chances despite ceding possession etc.” But I’d like him to maker that argument if that is what he thinks because I think he simply freezes up.

    • Re Williamson: I don’t think you can assume that club play automatically equals national team play. That said, the player who has the right to make this gripe even more would be Roldan–who does everything for a team that hasn’t lost this season (well, when he’s present anyway).
      I’d like to see Roldan AND Williamson start in front of Acosta and Sands if we’re playing with three centerbacks. If we play with two centerbacks, I’d move Williamson next to Acosta with Lletget and Roldan in front of them.

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  13. Dike needs service and after it switched from the very early “wingback driven” fast attack to more of a “forward crossing” slow buildup he was starved. They were good with the forwards running into empty space. They were less effective whacking balls into the box for strikers with defenders back. The attack lacked speed. They also lacked a precision element, as well as wings willing to “invert” and cut across. If they are sitting on the endline run, you can cut across into the middle and shoot or pass. You don’t have to just whack it into the gut of the defender.

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  14. Busio looked exhausted and I wondered why the coach left him out there another 15 after I noticed, when it was a group round game with no OT where he was getting run by. He was like jogging around looking gassed for that whole second half stint he was in.

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  15. At some point does GB get that “poor experience” is like no experience at all. So what if Pines plays 3 backs. He sucks. Pretty much anyone picked for talent would be better.

    FWIW if we play a 352 then other than your wingback up higher it’s not that much different than a 4 back system. You do have to be ready to play more “island defense” if the wing gets caught up, but that’s more about defensive chops, mobility, than “experience.” We overrate experience on this team. Some of the best players in this bunch haven’t been capped in years or are pretty new.

    If we’re going to parrot the coach can we parrot his successful choices? What’s successful this tournament is not “experience,” or “scheme understanding,” it’s “talent” as in some new people in camp.

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    • 3 CBs allows better cover against the counter so your WBs can get forward with more aggression and the 6s don’t have to cover as much ground on the flank on the counter. the weakside WB has to do a lot of running in this setup, or the 6 or 8, to cover the gap behind the weakside CB, but that’s true in the 4 back too, but with 3 there is that extra body vs. the quick counter, and in todays game with winbacks getting forward that gap in behind them was getting exposed, one big reason 3 backs are en vogue again

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      • sorry, no, having played a 352, it is not better cover than 4 backs. that is myth. it is true if it becomes a 5 man backline in which case you lost all width upfield and most of your offense. as a former “3 back person” when my wingbacks head upfield like mids or forwards — and i have played that wing slot too and that’s how far upfield i would get — i am on an island if they get caught high and countered. it also runs the gas out of that wingback FAST. you’re the whole wing play. run up, track back. no wingback to slough on. very easy to get caught high.

        i tend to view 3 back formations as graduation from 4 backs. you need people who can defend on an island because your wings will get caught too high up if they are getting forward at all. you can either cope or not. brooks and ream would never cope. they would get shredded. this bunch, somewhat, though we haven’t played anyone awesome yet.

        reminder — mexico got 2 goals on the 343. 3-2 in OT. end to end stuff. not controlled 5 back soccer.

      • IV, you’re wrong. That’s why it’s en vogue. This is not an opinion, it’s fact. I coach, we all talk about it,it’s not a mystery…3 CBs have evolved to this point becasue they provide better cover vs. the quick counter when your attack gets your WBs high…truth

      • Dude, “truth” is playing a “352” or “343” as opposed to a “433” or some other 4 back formation, sets the wings, as a default, as mids. Where 4 backs sets them as backs. When I need constant defensive help, or when you are constantly getting caught up, that 15-20 yards of difference matters. You can call me an old man all you want. It’s the difference between help to my side or my nominal wing help being acres upfield.

        Now, the right wings can cover their men, and the right backs can defend on an island. I could pretty well handle myself in 3 backs. But good luck with Brooks Ream Miazga doing this. That can’t even hack 4 backs.

        And if I send my backs way up like Moore is, don’t depend they are cover for the backs. We will get countered. In my experience even with attentive wings you end up playing a lot of one on one defending or even odd man rushes where you are outnumbered. It is big boy defending because you often do get in situations with little or no help. It is not some self-protecting defensive scheme. The whole point is how high the wings can get — which is the attacking sales pitch. But that can have a defensive price, and it leaves you with one man covering endline to endline wide.

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