USMNT v. Brazil – Match Day Preview

Thinking about the US lineup for tonight’s match against Brazil, we tweeted earlier this morning that a similar, Christmas tree style 4-3-3 run out that we saw on Saturday would be suicide against a young Brazil team that makes a living of exploiting space on the wing and punishing teams foolish enough to go shot for shot when it comes to forward movement.

The rationale being, we’d probably see something similar to the 4-4-1-1 that stole a historic victory from Genoa this past leap day.  That lineup in theory is a more prudent option if you’re expecting high pressure and prolonged periods of defending like we’ll see tonight from the Selecao.

However, Klinsmann has shown himself to be nothing if not practical in terms of fitting the system to the players and not vice versa.  While the 4-3-3 is his national vision, he’s a smart enough manager to not mortgage the present for a future that may be a decade off.

In Italy, he had access to Clint Dempsey & Jozy Altidore – two players able to produce quality hold up play and possession in the attacking third.  If a 4-4-1-1 is used tonight, with access to neither of the aforementioned two to start (based on reports this week), his starting forward pair would likely be Boyd/Gomez.  Admirable players in their own right but not two you’d expect to keep sustained pressure against a much better back line than what we saw in Scotland on Saturday.

Not to mention, gambling on a 2nd/3rd choice striking pair means mortgaging one of Saturday’s excellent midfield players that’ll desperately be needed tonight to shield the back line and disrupt Brazilian attacking play through the middle and the wings.  Opening up space in the midfield isn’t the best idea for tonight, to say the least.

So here’s what we’re expecting to see get run out for the Stars & Stripes:

Notes & Sundry

– Two big reasons the offensive explosion against Scotland was as big as it was was the fact that Jermaine Jones and, in particular, Michael Bradley were freed from their Bradley era “empty bucket” holding midfield responsibilities and were put in a position where their full skill set was taken advantage of.

– With the play likely to be dictated to the US tonight, look for those two to sit back closer to destroyer Maurice Edu.  Bradley will have more license to go forward and fill in on the right side of midfield in the “central winger” role.

– Dempsey has confirmed via twitter he’ll be seeing action tonight.  Almost assuredly in the 2nd half as a substitute.

– Fabian Johnson was impressive going forward as a wing back against Scotland – we won’t see him pushing as far up against Brazil but he’ll be the most active defender in the attack with Steve Cherundolo more than likely filling in on spot duty when gaps open up.

That’s all for now.  If you’re in the Buffalo area, go watch the game with the local AO Chapter at The Library in Amherst.  

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