Many of the United States’ players have publicly voiced their admiration and fear of the great Cristiano Ronaldo. However, United States’ defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones feels differently about taking on the world ranked number four Portugal. Jones said, “The NBA Finals showed how it works. The San Antonio Spurs were the better team, and that is why they won the championship.” Jones would later compare Ronaldo to Lebron James, saying how both teams are only built around one player, where the Spurs were a group of players with a strong bond and inconceivable teamwork. For the team of American players, there are three keys to a win that would send them to the Knockout Stage.
Get Ronaldo Frustrated:
To anyone who watched the Germany vs Portugal match, they would know that Ronaldo was practically a non factor. The Portuguese man wanted the whole team to rely on him. The Portuguese game plan seemed to be get the ball to Ronaldo. As Jermaine Jones said, a team beats one or two player any day, so that was why Germany dominated the entire game. If Ronaldo is being bothered, fouled, and not allowed to get his feel for the game, the United States will have a much better chance at winning. Germany did an amazing job disrupting Ronaldo and making sure that he didn’t get the ball. This caused Ronaldo to get angry, and brought down the whole communication of his team. Therefore, Germany has taught the Yanks a lesson: shut down Ronaldo, and you shut down the whole Portugal attack and communication.
The real Michael Bradley needs to show up:
The ex-Roma man played one of his worst games ever in a nation team shirt last Monday vs Ghana. Bradley was supposed to play at the top of the diamond in midfield, but was often found behind the two centre halves. The positive that the United States can take out of Bradley playing bad is that they still won without their key play maker. When Bradley is playing well, he is a world class player. Yes, that seems extreme for an MLS player, but when Bradley plays with the confidence and comfort he does with the national team, he is a standout star. With Pepe’s red card and Fabio Coentrao‘s injury, Bradley will be looking to pick apart the weakened Portugal defense.
Attack Portugal’s left flank:
If anything is similar to the game against Germany, Cristiano Ronaldo will play very minimal defense. Against Germany, Ronaldo was lined up as a left midfielder. However, he played as almost a second striker, which created large amounts of room to play on the left side. An injury to Fabio Coentrao sees the starting left full back out as well, which makes an even weaker flank. The United States needs to attack Portugal by deploying left back Fabian Johnson into advanced right positions. Some of the only times the United States looks threatening against Ghana was when Fabian Johnson aided in the attack. Also expect to see Graham Zusi on the right wing instead of Bedoya, who, in combination with Johnson’s overlapping runs, can create a very threatening attack.
If the United States can manage to do all three of these key factors, they may be able to squeak out a win against the fourth ranked team in the world.