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Defense, restarts are the key

By STEVE TRITTSCHUH
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2002

Steve Trittschuh played on the 1990 U.S. World Cup team. He also played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny of MLS and Tampa Bay Rowdies of the American Professional Soccer League. He spoke with Times staff writer Rodney Page about the U.S.-Mexico game:

The United States is certainly fortunate to advance. I think, and I hope, one of the things U.S. coach Bruce Arena had as a goal before to the Mexico game is working on defensive restarts. I mean, we see it again against Poland, the goals come off restarts and crosses in the box. For some reason they are really struggling with that.

Jeff Agoos hurt himself against Poland, and midfielder Frankie Hejduk is out with two yellow cards. With Hejduk, that might not be so bad because David Regis, I think, will step in and want to prove something. He was pretty much the starting left back until he had a couple of nightmares in qualifying matches. If he proves himself, then that should be okay for the United States.

We'll either see defender Gregg Berhalter or Carlos Llamosa in place of Agoos. Berhalter is better in the air, and you're looking at Mexico now. It's not going to put as many balls in the air as say Poland did. You would probably be better off with Llamosa in there because he has had some success against the Mexicans in qualifying.

I don't think Bruce will change anything despite the 3-1 loss to Poland. Goalkeeper Brad Friedel is clearly his starter and Kasey Keller is the backup. The United States has had some recent success against Mexico. It beat the Mexicans in Columbus in a qualifier and also tied them. The mentality in the second round changes.

Some teams play more conservatively because they don't want to give anything up and if they are confident in their goalkeeper they don't mind going to penalty kicks. But I don't see Bruce getting conservative. Knowing him, he'll play the same way he has and see if teams can beat the Americans.

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