USA-Algeria: Positional Breakdown

Americans hold the edge, but can they avoid another slow start?


 



Caught uncharasteristically flat-footed on one Slovenia goal, Tim Howard will surely make extra effort to be on his toes against an Algeria side not shy about shooting from beyond the area (17 attempts in two games).

GOALKEEPING

 

With regular No.1 Faouzi Chaouchi hobbled and at fault against Slovenia, Algeria turned to previously once-capped Rais M'Bouli. All he did was shut out England with five saves in his first international start.

Center backs Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu have made early mistakes, then rallied to finish strong in both games. Wide men Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo have been solid, but can offer a little more going forward.

DEFENDERS


Suddenly a tough unit to crack. Center backs Rafik Halliche and Anthar Yahia are hot transfer topics. Left-sider Nadir Belhadj and Rangers' Madjid Bougherra have even bigger suitors. A 3-5-2 sees Foued Kadir bookend Belhadj.

There promises to be at least one central change in this unit, but aces Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan will continue working build and back track. If Clint Dempsey moves to forward, we could see DaMarcus Beasley.

MIDFIELDERS

With Algeria reportedly considering a 3-5-2, the central set-up here is up in the air. What is certain is that Hassan Yebda will be a two-way handful. Free wandering trickster Karim Ziani is battling a toe problem, but should play.

Jozy Altidore will again lead the line, but the sidekick is a mystery. The coach will likely either run out Edson Buddle or slide Dempsey over from midfield. Either way, someone will help Jozy physically work the defense.

FORWARDS

AEK Athens forward Rafik Djebbour has all the physical tools, but lacks savvy played alone at this level. Algerian buzz says he could get a partner  with Abdelkader Ghezzal and grizzled vet Rafik Saifi the options.

For the third time in 11 days, Bob Bradley faces the biggest test of his coaching career. He's endured plenty of criticism through the cycle and needs a win here, but now should have his ideal team to potentially top Group C with a victory.

MANAGER

Rabah Saâdane has his Beatles answer; Algeria still loves him at 64. In his fifth stint at the Desert Foxes helm, the manager custom tailors his approach to the opponent and situation, rarely playing an unchanged line-up.

Though it's not quite clear who all will be in reserve, Bradley will have a very balanced bench. Watch out for second half alterations to midfield, a USMNT habit. Herc Gomez seems the designated late goal hunter.

BENCH

Algeria have few potential subs worth worrying about. Young midfielders Ryad Boudebouz and Adlène Guedioura offer quick feet. Saifi is a wily forward with loads of experience. Carl Medjani is the defensive handyman.
Though capable of finding a high level, this too often doesn't happen until after they've conceded. With a bit more early focus and intent, they have enough to repeat the type of 3-0 blanking applied to Egypt last summer.

OVERALL

Algeria are inconsistent and will suffer talent deficits over much of the field - but the defense and team spirit makes them a threat to end the US run. Can  the 'Nats avoid falling behind for a seventh straight World Cup game?