Condederations Cup Semi-Final: USA 2-0 Spain (or: Why Every Team in the World Should Play 4-4-2)

24 06 2009

First of all, stop rubbing your eyes. This really happened.

The USA (the team that looked all but mathematically out after losing their first two games) just beat Spain (you know, the team that won Euro 2008 and recently set the record for most consecutive international wins with fifteen and tied Brazil by going 35 games unbeaten) 2-0.


Here’s the proof:

In the 26th minute Jozy Altidore muscled/turned his Villarreal teammate Joan Capdevila and hit a shot that Iker Casillas could only parry onto the post and into the back of the net.

Then in the 74th minute Benny Feilhaber skipped through the Spanish defence and played Landon Donovan down the right hand channel. Donovan squared it, Puique deflected it, Sergio Ramso thought he had all the time in the world, Clint Dempsey disagreed.

Before, after and inbetween those goals it was all about Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and Tim Howard. The USA’s central defensive duo made header after header and last dicth tackle after last ditch tackle to deny David Villa and Fernando Torres. And when Spain did managed a shot at goal, Tim Howard was there to keep it out.

The US lost central midfielder Michael Bradley to a red card for this foul in the final ten minutes:

A little harsh maybe? But seems like Bradley, Clark and Klejstan are making sure Bob Bradley rotates his central midfield by taking turns getting red carded. Michael Bradley will miss the final through suspension, so it will be someone else’s turn to play center mid and get sent off.

But the real story for me is the USA’s formation. Playing 4-5-1/4-4-1-1 in their first two games, the US were woeful and deserved the 3-1 and 3-0 beatings that Italy and Brazil handed to them. But bringing in Charlie Davies to partner Jozy Altidore in a 4-4-2, they’ve now beaten Egypt 3-0 and Spain 2-0.

Basically, 4-4-2 is magic. The #1 team in the world was using it, and the first team to beat them in 35 games did so by using it.

Yes, the US spent most of this game defending. But they showed that you can defend just as well with 4-4-2 as with 4-5-1, but also maintain a threat going forward at the same time.

So how about it every team in the world? What say we ditch the one up front, get as many men as we can in midfield approach, and everyone goes back to playing 4-4-2? That way even games where we all think we know the winner before kick-off can still be enjoyable to watch.

Speaking of which… it’s Brazil vs South Africa in the other semi-final tomorrow. Kickoff is 8:30pm local, 7:30pm UK time, 2:30pm US Eastern. We’ll be LiveBlogging the game here on the front page from about 30 minutes before kickoff.

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