Noob question alert: ok, haven't asked a noob question in a while but we have seen Jurgy's stubbornness to use wings and have wide play..I thought getting the ball wide to work in or swing in on a cross was a template for good soccer? Are there any notable teams who have success without wide play? TIA
Soccer is ultimately about space management. You chose which spaces to occupy, and you attempt to force your opponent into whatever space you dictate (or allow) to them. You can't cover it all.
By using players on the outside (either wide midfielders or overlapping backs) you force your opponent to defend along the sidelines and in the box (on crosses). You concede space on the counter attack, but you're conceding it on the wings, and essentially, forcing your opponent to do what you better than you do it.
Of course, this played into the US' hands for many years. Big center backs, forwards who were good in the air, speed out on the wings (and questionable central midfielders). Force the play out wide. Pushing forward with Donovan and Beasley, overlapping with the Cherundolos, Hejduks, Bornsteins and Pearces of the world. Push your opponent out and make them defend that space.
Contrast that with what we've seen in the last few qualifiers. No width in the midfield, and less forward push from the outside backs. As you try to 1-2 your way up the field, your midfield gets pushed further up the field, creating a gap to exploit between midfield and defense. How many times did Espinoza and Bonek Garcia run unchallenged from the center stripe to the 18?
We're trying to play through the middle against teams that are packing the middle, and conceding space in the most crucial area, in front of the back four.