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Monday, June 05, 2023

When Team USA takes on Slovenia, everything will be on the line.

After a 1-1 draw against  England, the Yanks need to defeat Slovenia on Friday at 10 a.m. in Ellis Park Stadium to take hold of Group C in the 2010 World Cup.

Lose or tie, and the Americans’ likelihood of advancing takes a big hit.

If the magnitude of the match wasn’t enough, trash talk has filled the tabloids this week as Slovenia’s Andrej Komac guaranteed victory.

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard responded.

“Talk is cheap. They’ve got to stand toe to toe with us for 90 minutes,” he said. “And if he’s still standing, then I’ll take my hat off to him. But a lot of boxers talk, too, and they’re looking up at the lights. And the next thing they know, they’re trying to figure out how they got there.”

Well, at least the U.S. seems focused.

While guile and grit propelled the U.S. to a draw in its opening match, to defeat Slovenia, the Yanks need to have precision and control.

After the England match, Team USA coach Bob Bradley commented that the Slovenia match would be much different, saying it would be more like a game of chess.

Bradley’s first move in the proverbial chess match could be a lineup change.

While Ricardo Clark was responsible for England’s only goal, he still played stellar defense, but he offers nothing in terms of holding the ball or pushing forward. Look for young Jose Torres to take Clark’s spot in the central midfield.

“Torres’ quick, quiet feet on the ball calmed the U.S. during its friendly with Turkey, and he could have a very similar impact against Slovenia,” ESPN soccer analyst Luke Cyphers said.

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Another possible adjustment in the U.S. lineup will be a change up top. The pairing of Jozy Altidore and speedy Robbie Findley was awkward, at best, in the opener.

While Bradley has fallen in love with the traditional 4-4-2 style, inserting a skilled winger like Stuart Holden could allow the U.S. to play a more possession-oriented game with more actual chances on goal. The formation would be more of a 4-5-1; think Germany’s 4-0 win four days ago against Australia.

Slovenia plays a compact, tight style and only counter-attacks as a means to score.

Patience will be a key for the USA.

The Yanks must take advantage of their opportunities and score off set-pieces, or they run the chance of failing to advance out of group play.

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