THE US NEEDS ALL THE POINTS V. MALAWI
The quick turnaround between games at the youth tournaments means the US has a quick chance at retribution after Monday night's loss to Spain. That loss was disappointing, and Thursday's game will go a long way towards showing how much it has affected the American psyche for the rest of the tournament.
Malawi is a ready-made opponent for an occasion like this. The Africans are by no means pushovers, and will be primed to play in the afternoon heat, which they seemed to particularly enjoy in their first match versus the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
But the Malawians are as inexperienced as can be, participating in their first ever FIFA World Cup. They displayed an all-too common African characteristic in losing their cool against the UAE, and had two starting defenders sent off in the second half, making them even more vulnerable for this match.
While Malawi did show some good attacking play at times, their finishing was suspect, and if they get forward in too many numbers expect the US to punish them. Taking their goal-scoring chances will be something the Americans will focus on, and if they can get an early goal, the match could get out of hand as the Africans see their chances slipping away.
The US will need to be more organized in defense as well, and I write this they are practicing on the field in front of me. Coach Cabrera is whipping in long balls and the defense is practicing keeping their shape clearing out the long passes, something that didn't happen enough on Monday.
The other drill going on right now is a finishing drill, in which the rest of the players are taking part. It looks pretty good for a group of U-17 players. Hopefully tomorrow that will the case as well.