Sam's Soccer Safe Space for Stoolies
We have discussed the Wales game at length at this point in blogs, social media and the latest podcast but these three tweets sum things up pretty quickly and concisely…
After the final whistle:
The result (a scoreless draw) was not nearly as encouraging as the fact we had a bunch of glorified teenagers out there playing damn good soccer against seasoned European competition. It’s just a start – but a good one.
Reminder: positive vibes only. Now on to today’s game.
USMNT vs Panama
Greggg doesn’t typically make wholesale changes to his XI from one game to another in the same international window so safe to expect there will be a lot of the same faces out there that we saw versus Wales. HOWEVER, importantly, he basically confirmed that he WILL be playing with a real live actual striker this game – either Sebastian Soto or Nicholas Gioacchini – so that’s cool!
This is my best guess for the XI that GB is likely to throw out there:
Points of contention:
(a) I assume that Dest will start on the left (for Robinson) and Cannon will play right back
(b) Not sure if GB will stick with Matt Miazga next to John Brooks or give Chris Richards a shot. Either would be fine but I’d lean towards giving the youngin a look.
(c) GB brought Richy Ledezma to the pregame press conference over the weekend, which people are taking as a clue that he will start. No qualms with that. Kid is playing great with PSV. The question is who he plays for. I’ll go out on a limb and say he plays for Musah and Reyna shifts inside to more of a 10-like central playmaker. Ledezma could just as easily slot into the middle as well. Both have the potential to be become the kind of elite playmaker this squad has been missing for years… arguably since The Babyjesus Jr's dad was roaming the midfield. Anyway, I’ll also take a shot in the dark and say Uly Llanez gets slotted into the XI ahead of Konrad, but either of them would be fine as well. This midfield is so damn stacked. Hard not to be extremely excited about the amount of talent we got at our disposal these days.
(d) Soto or Gioacchini up top? I’m not sure but I’d prefer Soto as an F U to Chile and also because GB gave Gioacchini some run against Wales.
THINGS TO WATCH
- Production in the final third. Even if it doesn't lead to a million goals, we had a ton of possession and passing in the final third that generated a whole lot of nothing. It was really the only thing missing against Wales. Might have been how unfamiliar the guys were (and probably still are) with one another. Might have been the weather. Might have been playing without a real 9. Can’t do too much about the first one other than call the same guys into camp over and over but hopefully the latter two will improve things.
- Less cheap giveaways by defenders, notably the full backs.
- Steffen made the only big save he was asked to but looking for more consistency on the distribution front (same for Ethan Horvath if he gets the nod)
NOTES ON OPPONENT
Panama is Panama. They are currently ranked #77 in the FIFA World Rankings, which is a lot lower than the US (#22) – not that the rankings are all that accurate.
As a quick reminder, the Panamanians were the fortunate recipient of our rightful spot in World Cup 2018 after that highly unfortunate sequence of ridiculous events was capped off by the loss to T&T. I have tried for years to remind myself not to hold that against them… to varying degrees of success depending on how spiteful I am feeling at any given time.
That was then and this is now. Panama is – like any country at the beginning of a new cycle – working a bunch of younger players into the squad so there may not be a ton of familiar faces out there. That said there is at least one MLS veteran in Nashville’s Anibal Godoy, Juan Tejada of USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, and a handful of dudes playing for various clubs in Europe (eg, Anderlecht, Girona and Maccabi Tel Aviv). They are exactly what you would expect from an upper middle class CONCACAF opponent: solid but not scary unless we totally shit the bed. Panama is fresh off a 0-1 to Japan on Friday, though to their credit the game could have gone either way.
Long story short, we should dominate possession and are not likely to be too troubled on defense other than some counter attacks here and there (which we can minimize by not giving the ball away cheaply in the midfield this time around).
We are a much better team. Just gotta put it all together in the final third this time around. I have faith.
Prediction: USMNT win 2-0 – not that the final score should matter even a little bit.
So there we have it. That’s it for the international break. GB talking about doing another MNT camp in December… though it would likely be mostly MLS guys so would look a lottttttttt different. Either way I’ll be back with a weekend preview in a few days. Stay tuned ya beautiful babies!