The United States won their first match, and now have a much better shot at making it out of the group. It helps that Portugal were terrible.
So, the United States won with the diamond right?
Yes, and no. The team actually spent most of the game playing with a flat 4 in the midfield once Jozy Altidore left the game with an injured hamstring. This explains a lot of what looked different about the United States, and why some of the common topics people are discussing about the US’s performance as slightly mistaken.
Michael Bradley had a bad game.
While it’s true that Michael Bradley wasn’t his usual ball distributing, game managing self, part of that was because he was playing in the central midfield next to Beckerman. He wasn’t playing underneath the forwards. In fact, no one was, which meant he didn’t have great options to distribute the ball to. Once the US went up right away, and Altidore went out, the US was happy to play defensively. The flat 4 in the midfield put 8 players in defense between the ball and the goal, but left them with few options going forward.
Beasley had a terrible game.
While Beasley did not have a great game, Jermaine Jones did not provide much support on the wing for Ghana. While Ghana had a couple decent crosses, most were dealt with easily by the 4 in the center, Cameron, Besley/Brooks, Beckerman and Bradley. The US’s plan was to shut down the center of the field, and they were able to do that for almost all of the game.
Aron Johannsson had a terrible game.
In truth, Dempsey spent most of the game injured with a broken nose and unable to contest balls or press or really make many runs. If the US hadn’t had to use any subs for the other injuries, Dempsey probably wouldn’t have played the entire match. As such, Johannsson had no partner up top to play off of. While Altidore would have had a bit more success, there was nothing they could do with Dempsey a non-factor.
The next game is against Portugal on Sunday at 5 CST. Will the US be able to continue to find opportunistic goals? Can they shut down Christian Ronaldo?