UPDATE: Well, I got that one wrong. US 1-0 Panama. I did, however, call the benching of Donovan, the presence of Kljestan and Bedoya, and the formation… not that the presence of Kljestan was effective.
Goal over at the NYT has a horribly titled blog post: The only sense in which the US is peaking is relative. They’re certainly not playing to the best of their ability. It’s more like they’ve pulled themselves out of the ditch they spent group play in.
Anyway. Goal asks two questions about the upcoming US-Panama match:
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Coach Bob Bradley faces a few roster decisions: Landon Donovan is likely to return to the starting lineup after coming on as a second-half substitute against Jamaica. Assuming Donovan starts, who goes to the bench? Sacha Kljestan or Alejandro Bedoya? And with Jozy Altidore likely to miss the match because of a hamstring injury, does Juan Agudelo, who played well against Jamaica, start in his place?
I have answers: Bench Donovan and start Agudelo. Or, if you must play Donovan, for fuck’s sake don’t mess with the formation. Place Donovan on the right for Bedoya or in the middle for Kljestan – Donovan can play either position, and though he’s used to be on the wing, as he gets older and slows down he should move into the middle. Just don’t ditch the 4-2-3-1 that was so effective against Jamaica.
But really, just bench Donovan. He’s got great ability, but it’s a) time to start giving some younger players like Bedoya a chance, and b) time to play the people who are playing well.
As for Agudelo, remind him to slow play down and pass when he’s got two defenders on him. The US attack was effective when he allowed Kljestan, Bedoya and Dempsey to get forward.
It’s all sort of a moot point anyway, as the US team will pull an England
and just sort of not show up. 2-0 Panama.