August 20, 2008

Guatemala v. USA: Play time is over

We're not playing Barbados anymore, I don't think Guatemala has to put up ads looking for players on their federation website.

The semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying begins tonight, with the US playing probably its most difficult game of the round first. Guatemala should advance with the US into the Hex, and this game will be a chance to gauge where both teams stand.

First off, who should play tonight?

Tim Howard has shown that he is by far the best goalkeeper we have. If it wasn't clear before, the Argentina game sealed the deal for now. El Guzano isn't quite at that level just yet.

In the back, it seems like (from right to left) Cherundolo, Gooch, Bocanegra, and Pearce will start. HeyDude and DeMerit provide options as well, but those four seem to be the best unit currently.

Here's where it gets tricky. I think Mastroeni has been playing well enough lately to get in the starting lineup. Plus, his experience will be very valuable tonight. But, who else plays in the midfield and up top?

I'm assuming Donovan, Dempsey, and Beasley will lineup somewhere. I'd probably go for a 4-5-1 tonight, with Chingy up top. Donovan can play in the center behind him, Deuce slides out to the right and Beasley to the left. That leaves someone to partner with Mastroeni behind Donovan, with Baby Bradley probably getting the nod over travel weary Mo Edu. Personally, I'd prefer Edu, but I don't think he'll have 90 minutes in him tonight.

Eddie Johnson can provide a late game sub with his speed, Sacha can come on in midfield if needed, and Eddie Lewis can be brought to in a few spots as well.

We'll see what The Bob does tonight, game time is 10:00 pm eastern on ESPN2.

Not going to go into detail here, I'm sure that will be done by lots of people tonight and tomorrow, but here's a few quick thoughts about the big win tonight...
  • Gutty performance against a team that played not to lose, it wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.
  • Cherundolo has to be smarter, he picked up two stupid yellows and hurt the team.
  • Nasty crimson mask on Eddie Lewis, good job by the referee to eject the Guatemalan player for the unnecessary foul.
  • I would not want Timmy Howard in my face ready to kick my ass.
  • Baby Bradley put in a good effort tonight, his best in a while.
  • I miss the old Clint Dempsey, he really has done much in a long time. Where's Deuce?
Good stuff overall, I'll take the three points and be very happy. Win the home games now, and we should be solid to go into the Hex.

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