USMNT / World / World Cup

US v. Slovenia Preview

I’ll be watching the game at the 700 in Northern Liberties, the game starts at 10 am so come on down if you can. This is the most important game of the group stage for the US because it is the one they have to win. The only was this wouldn’t have been the most important match of the group stage was if the US had beat England.

The US have to beat or tie Slovenia because a loss would give them one point going into the last match with England presumably having 4, Slovenia 6, and Algeria 0. This would make the Algeria game meaningless because the English would surely tie or beat Slovenia.

On paper the US has an advantage at pretty much every position on the field and as a team as a whole. The SPI ranks the US at 14 and Slovenia at 25. The problem with Slovenia is that they are a very defensive and well organized team. They could tempt the US to overreach in attack, which could allow the Slovenians to score on the counterattack.

It will be difficult for the US to break the Slovenians down, and the Slovenians will most likely be looking for a tie. Their win against Algeria gives them the confidence to just aim for a tie. That would give them four points and put them presumably tied with England on 4 points going into the last game in 1st or 2nd place in the group.

The Slovenians didn’t show much that the US needs to worry about in their win against Algeria. Tim Howard isn’t going to let in a soft goal like the Algerian keeper did. The Slovenians also don’t appear to have the speed to trouble the US too much on a counterattack either. Of course one good play perhaps a nice pass by Robert Koren could unlock the American defense while they are pressing forward looking for a win.

The US needs to look to get the ball wide and whip crosses into the box. Even if they don’t score directly, the US will most likely get corner kicks. The Americans have the size and ability to put in a goal from a set piece. This is normally the best way to break down a packed defense. Most likely the Slovenians will make it nearly impossible for the US to get a goal from the run of play.

Expect the US to have the majority of possession but not many chances in the final third of the pitch. The team would probably be best served by putting Dempsey up top and putting DaMarcus Beasley on the left wing. Beasley is good at crossing the ball and also has the speed to get the crosses off past the slower Slovenian defenders. Dempsey doesn’t have the speed and drifts towards the center, which will most likely be packed. Also adding Jose Francisco Torres into the center of midfield for Ricardo Clark makes sense because we don’t need the extra defensive cover, Bradley can shut down Robert Koren, and Torres has the passing ability to unlock the Slovenian defense. Findley also probably isn’t needed because his speed won’t be needed to open up the pitch as the Slovenians will probably defend deep regardless.

I suspect that the final score will be 2-0 US with the US scoring their first goal off a set piece. Where will you be watching the game and what do you think of the Slovenians?

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