Watson, Adu reunited to take on brilliant Brazil
After experimenting heavily with his squad in the final Group D match against Spain, U.S. coach John Ellinger will throw everything he has in his arsenal at fancied Brazil. Hoping his strongest eleven can muster enough guts and good football to drop the South American aristocrats in an intriguing quarter-final in Turku, he will look squarely at his battling strike force of Freddy Adu and Jamie Watson for inspiration.
After a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Iberians, the likeable boss will need his boys to up the tempo against the undefeated tournament favourites.
After watching his young team surrender massive amounts of possession to the Spaniards, and finally crumble under serious pressure from a tactically and technically superior side, some changes are necessary if the North Americans are to pull off a famous victory over the Auriverde.
“I think if we play the game we know how to play and hold onto the ball we can do well.” He said. “But if we give possession away cheaply like we did against Sierra Leone and Spain, we could be in for some serious hurt against Brazil.”
Adu - with two yellow cards to his name - sat on the sidelines for most of the match against Spain, but could potentially make all the difference against Brazil.
“I think we could have probably done much better against Spain if Freddy had played from the start,” he said. “But I couldn’t really risk him getting another caution and then lose him for the quarter-final.”
Watson found himself a lonely man for most of the match, wandering around up front against the cultured Spanish defenders without his strike partner and best mate Adu. Ellinger sees the terrific twosome as far more than the sum of their parts.
“Freddy is a big part of Jamie, and vice versa,” he said. “They stay close together and have a tremendous understanding…they make each other better.”
“Playing with Freddy has taught me a lot about myself as a player. It makes my job a lot easier, because we work so well together. Over the last two months, we've kind of exploded, and the chemistry we have on and off the field helps us to know where each other is and what we are thinking,” said Watson. “I stick up for Freddy sometimes when he starts getting beat up,” the irascible, spiky-haired Texan added. “I know he would do the same thing for me. He's the type of player who can win a game for us himself, or he can turn around and help by putting someone else into a chance to score. If you're going to stop him one way, he's going to beat you another way. He's a Houdini-type player.”
“We haven't played a South American team yet in the tournament,” said current finals topscorer Adu. “You never know what to expect from a team like Brazil, because they are very skilful and they know how to play the game very well. We're going to be prepared to put our best team out there, and give our best performance.”
Ellinger is making all the preparations he can to be ready for the Samba masters.
“We've had a coach who has scouted them for three games, so we have some of their tendencies. If you're going to be successful against Brazil, you have to deal with their two outside players… Winning 5-0 against Portugal and 3-0 against Yemen, they are a dangerous, extremely talented team and we know we have our hands full.”
The U.S. will have their hands full to be sure. But if the reunited Freddy and Jamie have their way, the Brazilians will have their own set of substantial worries.