Hopefully this series, Visual Breakdown (trademark pending) becomes a regular thing I'm able to do, so to copy what I introduced in my breakdown of USA-Colombia: The idea for this series is pretty simple: five video clips to show what I took away from a match, whether it's positive, negative or somewhere in-between. These aren't the most important moments in the match per say, just moments that told me something, whether it be tactical decisions, about a player's performance or traits, so on and so forth. The goal here is to provide evidence of claims in a visually pleasing way and stray away from the generic, cliche-filled post match content that you can find almost anywhere. That's the hope, anyways!
1. John Brooks is Our God.
I'm not going to bore you. Just go ahead and watch this clip. Again. And again. And again.
2. Gyasi Zardes was effective.
Look, he's not the most aesthetically pleasing to watch. I get that. However, biases aside, Gyasi Zardes was a perfect fit in the U.S.' counter attacking 4-4-2, and later 4-4-1. Zardes didn't only offer persistent closing down and energy off the ball, but was a spark going forward using his pace and dribbling ability in the acres of space left to exploit with Paraguay getting more and more aggressive as the match went on. The other big contribution Zardes made was linking the midfield and attack as a wide target man, as seen in the clip above.
3. Fabian Johnson is lost in this system.
If you're one of the people who never watch Fabian Johnson at Gladbach, you may be wondering how he's a first team player at a top club. The answer is pretty simple: this system is a bad fit for him. Johnson is a gifted wide player going forward, overlapping and cutting inside with creative freedom to roam. Playing as a strict defensive fullback in a 4-4-2 doesn't allow him to do these things. In the clip above, it's clear that Johnson's first responsibility is to stay structured defensively rather than join the attack. He can play left back, sure. The problem is a fullback doesn't have the same role in every system. I fully believe Johnson would shine as a left or right mid in Klinsmann's 4-4-2, however I expect him to stick at left back and remain relatively quiet, focusing mainly on his defensive duties.
4. Bobby Wood, number 9.
If you aren't sold yet, I don't know what to tell you. Bobby Wood is the best forward in the talent pool. To the shock of nobody, Wood has looked more comfortable centrally than when he was forced to do a makeshift job on the left. When DeAndre Yedlin picked up a red early in the second half, Wood was given the painstaking task of playing up top alone with ten men. He responded by using his physicality to be a pain in Paraguay's side by closing down, forcing mistakes, earning fouls and holding up play in the few instances he had support. Bobby Wood is here to stay. Get your Wood, no. 9, jersey as soon as possible.
5. Brad Guzan was solid.
If you've been watching the Euros you'll be able to testify - goalkeeping is not easy, even at the highest level. In a game where the U.S. sat back almost exclusively, a commanding presence at the back was needed. Brad Guzan was exactly that. Questioned by many after a poor season with Premier League dwellers Aston Villa, Guzan restored the faith in the boss' selection of him with a strong performance.