In last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with England, the United States—Tablet Magazine’s official soccer team—did not play any of its three Jewish members (maybe that’s why it was only a draw!). However, the dynamics of the American side’s match-up with Slovenia, which it plays tomorrow at 9:30 am E.S.T., makes it likely that we will see one of the Jewish players hit the pitch.
Slovenia plays a defense-minded 4-4-2, you see, whose strategy is almost identical to the United States’s: Pack it in on defense, requiring the opponent to bring more men toward the box; defend well; and use this imbalance to your advantage on quick counterattacks.
Against an offensively-minded England, it made sense to start defense-oriented Ricardo Clark opposite Michael Bradley at midfield. Against Slovenia, however, more of a two-way midfielder is preferable, which is why I have heard and read many (for example, Sports Illustrated’s Steve Davis, here) suggest that Clark be replaced by … Benny Feilhaber, whose grandparents fled from the Nazis to Brazil, and who plays midfield for a good squad in the Dutch league.
Which is bad news for the Slovenians. And better news for the ladies: Feilhaber is not particularly difficult on the eyes.