Just two days away from the match against Poland (March 31 live on ESPN2, 1:30 p.m ET), U.S. Assistant Coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick breaks down a Polish side that enters the contest on a serious roll ...
Poland traditionally plays from a 4-4-2 formation, regardless of the personnel available. They have a similar balance to our team with regards to the mix of international-based and domestic-based players. Right now, they are a team playing with a lot of confidence, having won their last seven matches, including an impressive 3-1 victory against Italy last November. Poland could set a national record for consecutive wins Wednesday night, which is added motivation for what is expected to be a sold-out crowd in the intimate stadium in Plock.
Poland’s strengths begin in the goal with Jerzy Dudek, a very experienced international and starting goalkeeper at Liverpool. Poland is not a team possessing any exceptional individuals, but rather their success has been based on solid principles of organization, team defense, and counter-attacking. Not possessing a traditional play-making midfielder, much of their creativity has been generated from their flank midfielders, who play with a great deal of freedom. The two central midfielders, irrespective of the personnel, have been workers whose main job is protecting the back four. Throughout their winning streak, they have gotten very balanced scoring from five different forwards and their wide midfield players. Additionally, as they demonstrated against the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup, Poland is a constant threat to score from restarts.
Another strength of the Polish team is continuity, in that the roster features five players from Wisla Krakow. As one of the richest clubs in Poland, Wisla Krakow typically can afford to buy the best players Poland has to offer, and provides the national team with a regular compliment of players who have already developed good chemistry.On the flip side, Poland possesses average speed and athleticism at the back. They prefer not to push their backline too close to midfield for fear of exposing space behind their defense, and we will look for opportunities to exploit one-on-one situations. Since their outside backs are often willing to join the attack, we will emphasize trying to play the ball forward early to prevent them from getting numbers behind the ball.
They are a patient, organized and disciplined team, and an up-tempo game would suit us best.
Always using recent matches as a reference point, increased possession and creating more scoring opportunities is paramount as we begin preparing for the upcoming qualifying campaign. The home-and-away matches with Poland are a vital element to that effort.