With the upcoming friendly staged against Argentina, it is time for InsideThe18 to make some predections about how USMNT Coach Bob Bradley plans to shut down World Player of the Year Leo Messi. The Barcelona star leads La Liga (ok officially tied with Real Madrid’s C. Ronaldo) in goals (27), and has thrived with a proper center forward in David Villa to spearhead the Barcelona attack and to maximize his inward drives from a wide berth.
Moving towards the center of the pitch from wide areas seems to be Messi’s most deadly skill and many critics have wondered why he has yet to replicate the same feets while wearing his Argentina National shirt. New Argentina head coach Sergio Batista will hope to utilize the US friendly as an experiment towards this goal.
However, it will be up to Bobby B to establish a strong midfield and back four to counter Messi’s runs. I look to see a 2 man defensive midfield deployed, consisting of newcomer Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu (with Bradley, JR. missing out due to decreased playing time while on loan at Aston Villa). Both are seeing regular playing time for at the club level, and should sit in tightly infront of the back four to maintain order in the event of Messi drifting central. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey should expect to start in their respective wide midfield births and it will be a combination Jozy Altidore/Juan Agudelo/Edson Buddle/Mikkel Diskeruud leading the line. Because of Stuart Holden’s Absence, I would hope to see Diskeruud’s inclusion slightly behind or ahead of Altidore (who seems the safer selection ahead of the wildcard Agudelo).
The back four should seem mostly familiar with Coach Bradley likely to pair Jay DeMerit with Carlos Bocanegra in central defense in front of Tim Howard between the sticks. However, do not be surprised to see Tim Ream get minutes should Bocanegra be pushed to a wider defensive position. At right and left backs, a combination of Jonathan Spector and newcomer Timothy Chandler seems most intriguing, yet do not be shocked to see Jonathan Borstein deployed on the left side regardless of his performances in previous stints in that position.
Combine a crop of newcomers with so many members of Sam’s Army playing new positions and for new teams at the club level, and the Bradley should have his handsful come selection time.
I would not be surprised if the final roster includes several shockers as well as several snores, but I expect exciting matches either way. Would you agree? Disagree?
Written By: WB
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