The United States and Canada were both involved in international friendly action on Tuesday with both teams coming away with a result. The Canadian Men's National Team wrapped up their camp in Austria by battling to a 1-1 draw against Moldova. The Americans on the other hand kicked off their World Cup warmups with a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan.
Between the two games there was only one Toronto FC player in action and that was Michael Bradley who went the full 90 for the US. Bradley was used essentially as an attacking midfielder as he served as the top of Jurgen Klinsmann's midfield diamond.
The diamond midfield was the same formation that had allowed Bradley to shine against Mexico earlier this year but against Azerbaijan it just did not seem to be clicking. That may in large part have to do with the fact that Bradley and Jermaine Jones are not ideal partners for one another in the middle of the park or with the fact that Bradley was tasked with breaking down 11 opposition defenders.
While Bradley has done well in the diamond in the past it has been with a partner in the middle who has been content to stay at home and play that deep role leaving Bradley with the freedom to roam about the middle of the park finding space to work in. That role seems to be something that Kyle Beckerman is better suited to than Jones as the latter seemed to want to get forward on a regular basis.
It was not all bad though for Bradley as he was one of the most active players for the USMNT on the evening. He managed to take five shots and was involved in one of the goals as his shot was cleared off the line before Mix Diskerud popped home the rebound. Maybe it is a good idea to have Bradley in the box on set pieces rather than waste him on taking corners.
If Klinsmann is going to try and bring the diamond to Brazil it is going to need some work. Giving Bradley the freedom to attack is certainly something TFC fans have been hoping for but the success of that formation will have less to do with him than with whoever is playing in behind him in the middle of the park. If the Jones-Bradley partnership starts to click over the next two games the diamond would give Bradley the best chance to shine at the World Cup which will be key for the US's hopes of making it out of a very tough group. For more on the tactics and the American perspective (if that is your thing) Kevin McCauley has you covered over on SBNation soccer.
For TFC fans seeing Bradley in that more advanced role was another taste of what could be for the club when he returns from the World Cup. It is unlikely that we will see Ryan Nelsen trotting out a diamond midfield but with someone like Collen Warner beside him in the midfield we could see a more liberated Bradley which based on his performances for the USMNT would be a joy to watch.
For Canada, it was another tough day at the office against Moldova. The stream for the game was down far more than it was up leaving fans back home unable to really follow the game by any means other than twitter. The good news is that there were some people in Austria to cover the game. Max Bell was one of those on the scene and he provides a good recap of the match over on Red Nation.
Canada got their lone goal of the game off the foot of Tosaint Ricketts as they managed to find the back of the net in the followup from a corner kick. Combine that with Atiba Hutchinson's penalty kick goal against Bulgaria. The goal can at a key time in the match as Canada had just gone down 1-0 in the early minutes. After that the Canadians took control of the match for the most part but continued to lack that needed bit of quality in the final third to put opponents away.
It seems that Floro is starting to turn the corner with his team and is now looking to make a serious push to come away with results each time out. For the second straight match he played a lineup built around more experienced players and came away with a draw. There were minutes for some of the young kids off the bench and a start for Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé who looked good filling in for David Edgar who left camp to get married this past weekend.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes for the team and just how they look when Floro actually brings together a squad that features all of his top players. Could 2014 actually include a win for Canada and a few goals from the run of play? Anything is possible.