USMNT Daily Update: How Klinsmann has embraced the ‘empty bucket’ philosophy without actually playing it

KlinsmannList (Getty)

When Jurgen Klinsmann became U.S. Men's National Team head coach more than a year ago, there was a widely-held belief that he was going to usher in a new era of attack-minded American soccer, and he would do away with the perceived ultra-defensive approach Bob Bradley was deemed guilty of subjecting U.S. fans to.

Anyone who has watched Klinsmann's U.S. team play over the course of the past year knows that the wave of attacking soccer we thought we might see never happened, and if anything, a case can be made Klinsmann has been even more defensive-minded than Bradley.

That isn't the general public perception about Klinsmann's tenure, at least not yet. And how has he avoided that label to this point, despite such clear evidence that he has embraced a philosphy that surely does resemble the one we saw during the Bob Bradley era? Klinsmann has avoided the label by trotting out any number of formations, from 4-3-3, to 4-1-3-2, to 4-2-3-1. He has managed to play a bit of a shell game by moving players around in a way that they manage to still play a very similar style to the one seen during the Bradley era while avoiding lining up in a 4-4-2 with two deep-lying midfield.

This became very clear during the last U.S. national team match, the vital 1-0 victory against Jamaica. The Americans played a 4-4-2, though anyone associated with diseminating that information for the national team made it clear to state that it was, in fact, a 4-1-3-2. That might seem like semantics, but not if you're trying your best to distance yourself from the approach of the previous coaching regime.

And what exactly is the difference between the 4-1-3-2 we saw the U.S. play against Jamaica and the 4-4-2 of the Bob Bradley era? The reality is there wasn't much of one.

In theory, the main difference is that, in Klinsmann's system, the one midfielder is assigned the deep-lying anchor role, the No. 6 role as it were, which Danny Williams played against Jamaica, while another midfielder plays in the more advanced No. 8 role, which Jermaine Jones played. In Bradley's 4-4-2, the two central midfielders alternated between covering the defense and surging forward into the attack, with both players having similar responsibilities. The system earned the label "The Empty Bucket" from critics of Bradley's coaching approach who felt playing two defensive-minded midfielders in the middle led to defensive-minded soccer.

It might seem like there is a pretty distinct difference between the system, but it really isn't when you are using the same kind of players in both cases. If you play a natural ball-winner in the more advanced role they don't magically become a playmaker, and anyone who has watched Jones handle a more advanced role has figured out long ago that this transformation isn't happening. Also, Williams wasn't exactly chained the space in front of the centerbacks against Jamaica. He did well to get forward and join the attack, and looked more impressive as an attacking option doing that than he ever looked during the multiple times he was deployed as a right winger in past matches.

In other words, we were told that the U.S. was playing a 4-1-3-2, when for all intents and purposes, we were watching a 4-4-2.

Klinsmann does deserve some credit for really trying to implement a 4-3-3 during his first year in charge, but it has become clear that deploying that system just isn't practical for important qualifying matches. It is clear he has already started to work on variations of the 4-4-2, but a lack of wide midfield options has made it difficult to really play a style that can be considered attack-minded. This, along with Landon Donovan's many absences from the national team over the past year, has led to Klinsmann using players like Danny Williams and Jose Torres as "wide' midfielders.

So what does it all mean? What exactly is the point of going down this road? It is to let you know that, while you may hear any number of formation variations, there is a reason the current U.S. national team approach might seem familiar to you. It will seem familiar because some things haven't changed since the time Bob Bradley was head coach. We still don't have a dominant American playmaker who can be plugged into the middle of the park, and the U.S. pool is still overflowing with central midfielders who are more defensive-minded than attack-minded.

So we have a new coach, trotting out seemingly different formations, but the soccer looks the same, and many of the players look the same. That isn't a knock on Klinsmann as much as it's stating what might be lost on some who have actually bought into the notion that the U.S. national team has undergone some sort of transformation.

Ultimately, Klinsmann is a prisoner of the talent pool at his disposal, no matter how he tries to spin it and no matter how many varied formations he trots out. Could there eventually come a day when we actually start seeing real changes and a real shift in philosophy with the U.S. national team? Sure, but that day hasn't come yet and it doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

So before you go saying "Man, I'm glad the days of the 'Empty Bucket' are over", you might want to consider that those days are very much still here. And rather than looking at the 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders as some sort of curse, we might want to consider the possibility that, at least for the immediate future, it is the best system and approach for the kind of players we have right now.

Bob Bradley realized that a long time ago, and Klinsmann clearly has realized the same thing, though it seems he isn't in a hurry to admit it.

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139 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: How Klinsmann has embraced the ‘empty bucket’ philosophy without actually playing it

  1. Dillon says:

    We must play to the teams strengths. We do not possess a top quality creative midfielder. We do have many very good defensive midfielders. Thus until we have the players to play differently, the midfield should be more defensive minded and the US should play mostly on the counter attack. This is how we have beaten some of the bigger teams in the world. We cannot out pass and out possess teams like Spain and Brazil but we cannot out run and out work them.

    Bottom line, winning is more important than playing attractively.

  2. Pete says:

    Ives
    I’m really not sure what you are trying to say. Any soccer-smart person knows that change takes time. The fact they pressure higher up the field or all the players seem to be on the same page are examples of positive change.
    Based on the last two USMNT Daily updates, are we trying to stir the pot? If so, great but have some substance to the articles, not just complaining.
    Just my take, probably wrong!!!

    (SBI-Do you really think the USMNT didn’t pressure high up the field under Bradley? And you really think players are more “on the same page” now than before Klinsmann? Sorry, but I don’t see these things. And the point of the piece wasn’t to say “Klinsmann hasn’t changed much, he’s terrible” but rather to state that things haven’t really changed all that much no matter how much some (like you apparently) seem to think they have, and maybe, just maybe, things were the way they were under Bradley because of the players we have and not because of Bradley is some ultra-defensive minded coach.

    I agree that changes take time, but I find it funny hearing some people suggest that changes have already happened when they really haven’t. I think it’s a case of people seeing what they want to see because they bought into that early notion that Klinsmann would wave a wand and turn us into Germany or Spain.)

  3. gabe says:

    I think it is worth noting that appearances under Klinsmann by the full-strength team have been EXTREMELY limited vs. the first year of BB’s tenure. Donovan and Dempsey have barely taken the pitch together at all, Michael Bradley has only played a handful of games under Klinsmann, and I think the style of play is a result of the players that have been at Jurgen’s disposal.

    If and when we see a series of consecutive matches with Altidore, Dempsey, Donovan and Michael Bradley in the starting IX, I believe that we will see a strong US attacking force, playing with the same fluidity they did in the first half of the second Jamaica match. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the USMNT play such a good passing and possession half in all my time as a fan.

    I think that this lineup would be a killer under Klinsmann.

    —Dempsey – Altidore – Donovan–
    –Bradley——————-Jones
    ————Williams————-
    Johnson–Bocanegra–Cameron—Cherundolo
    ————–Howard—————

    (SBI-The U.S. attack has the potential to be better than the one we saw during the Bob Bradley era because Clint Dempsey is peaking in his career, Michael Bradley is a year older and that much better, and Jozy Altidore has come into his own. That said, your lineup looks a lot like the same players Bradley used his last year, with Fabian Johnson being a big plus for the current team.

    I don’t think we see true stylistic and philosophical change until after 2014.)

  4. betamale says:

    “Klinsmann could be accused of being even more defensive-minded than Bradley”

    LOL wut?

    (SBI-Not that complicated. He’s fielded lineups with 4-5 defensive midfielders on the field. That seems to suggest to me that those folks who consistently criticized Bradley for fielding two of them would surely think having 4-5 of them would be more even more defensive-minded.

    Clear enough for you?)

  5. vik says:

    The US under Bradley did not pressure high up as often or as consistently as Klinsmann’s team does. Bradley’s team defended deep and narrow and cleared balls out of the air consistently.
    Klinsmann’s attacking philosophy is rooted in winning the ball high up the pitch and attacking before the defense can organize. Our best players in the middle are defensive players, so usually we have a “defensive” lineup. Yes, the US has defended plenty under Klinsmann; but if anything, it is a fascinating analysis of different styles of defense. Other than the majority of the personal, I would not say unequivocally that the US under Klinsmann is “more of the same.”

    (SBI-Sorry vik, but I don’t see it. The USA under Bradley pressured lesser teams and sat back against better teams. That’s what Klinsmann’s team has done. The current team does have some better athletes in the mix like Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams, and a hard-working forward like Herculez Gomez, so that does help the team pressure better, but I recall Bradley’s USMNT pressing well against similar competition. And against teams like Italy, Brazil and Mexico, I don’t recall seeing markedly better high pressure than what we saw from the U.S. taam against similar teams in years past.

    Where was that high pressure against Jamaica in Kingston? You can point to their performance in Columbus, but I would argue that the USA did just as good a job, if not better, pressing Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals in 2011 than they did in Columbus earlier this month.)

  6. Shane says:

    Yes he can. He has on numerous occasions had three defensive mids playing at the same time.

  7. al17 says:

    Thanks for writing this piece, this is 2nd article/conversation I’ve heard from a Soccer journalists in this manner and it’s been a long time coming and I definitely agree with most of what you said.

    I do take issue with “…is a prisoner of the talent pool at his disposal…”. Reason is because he’s the one who was selling his new attacking style of play along with developing youth soccer blah, blah. One could also argue that by not calling up “Sacha Kljestan” he could very well have a better chance of employing the style of play he was supposedly introducing to the U.S.A. nats. We all know things take time and hopefully they will and soon but he came in with alot of hype, hasn’t exactly delivered and more than enough fans whom really wanted him have essentially given him a pass along with alot of soccer journalists in this country who seem to be in love with him.

    Nice to see that SBI is one of the few tries to be objective and fair in their assessments. Hopefully your peers will get better at their jobs when it comes to reporting on the Men’s Nats teams and JK in particular.

  8. Alex says:

    Ives laying the smackdown on the jabronis today.

  9. betamale says:

    Just because you have 4-5 midfielders who *can* play at DMs does not mean he’s playing with 4-5 DMs. Klinsmann’s teams have been dramatically more offensive than Bradleys (though I agree the goals may not be there)

    (SBI-”Dramatically more offensive” is a myth. Take out the five-goal outburst against a sunburned and hungover Scottish team and you have a U.S. team that hasn’t scored goals with any really improved regularity.

    And again, I didn’t say that I think Klinsmann is more defensive minded. I made it pretty clear that people COULD come to that conclusion looking at the lineups he’s fielded and the goals the team has produced.)

  10. DJ says:

    Commenter smackdown! Ives is channeling his inner Ryback today and eating/deleting comments like its the Attiude Era.

    FEED. HIM. MORE.

    Also, appreciated the piece, Ives.

  11. DJ says:

    ^Sorry to mix metaphors with Ryback and the Attitude Era.

  12. Weaksauce says:

    The November Friendly is a chance to get “Undecided” Dual National Players and U-23 players integrated into the National team. This will help us with more Offense.

    *If you want attack minded players, STOP calling up Torres, Edu, and Beckerman

    *Stop Playing Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley together !!!! Bradley doesnt know where to be on the field when paired with jones especially playing against a higher pressure team — PICK ONE

    CALL UP the Dual Nationals – Ricardo Bocanegra (attacking MF), Seb Hines, John Anthony Brooks, Adam Henely

    U-23 – Diskerud, Wooten, Gyau

    Invite our two long shot LB’s – Miguel Ponce and Gotoku Sakai (he almost got cap)

    PUSH FABIAN JOHNSON to Left Wing

    Lets hope we can get Aron Johannsson

  13. broadsthooligans says:

    Agreed, Michael Bradley, and Dempsey are the closest things we have to a “central playmaker, and they have both missed substantial time. Chandler, Shea and Donovan also are assumed to be the best options we have on the wing and all haven’t gotten much time, each for their own reasons. Until first choice players are making regular appearances, we really can’t compare Jurgen to Bob. Jurgen up to this point has done many of the same things Bob would have done with the rosters given him. The important question is what he would do with the actual 18.

    Also, three of those players weren’t called up by Bob Bradley (Williams, Cameron along with Johnson). That’s some pretty substantial change isn’t it SBI?

    (SBI-Williams and Johnson weren’t eligible for the USA when Bradley was coach but both were put on the radar during the Bradley era. As for Cameron, he had been called up before by Bradley, but wasn’t the player at that point that he is now.

    I agree that Klinsmann hasn’t had regular use of the full squad, but he’s had most of his first-choice players for some key games and we’ve seen very similar approaches.

    The national team is changing, but it has more do with the evolution of this pool of players than with anything Klinsmann is doing or has done just yet. He will have his chance to really put his stamp, and his style, on the USMNT, but for my money we just haven’t seen it yet.)

  14. THomas says:

    I’m with you in the sense that you can call a formation whatever you want, but it’s the players in those spots that really tell you what’s going on.

    Until we get away from being obsessed with what formation we’re throwing out there, we’ll never make progress. Obviously there has to be some structure, but I’d rather have 6 d-mids who play well and win together than 2 d-mids, 2 wingers, and 2 forwards who can’t produce results.

  15. broadsthooligans says:

    Can we confirm whether Miguel Ponce has been capped or not? He played for Mexico in the Copa America, presumably that doesn’t count under the Motta ruling, but is that his only senior caps?

  16. THomas says:

    Ives, I don’t think a philosophical change will come until after 2014 either. But I think it has to be cultural, before it can translate into national team success.

    I think it’s going to take until my kids are my age (27) until we can truly see a change. I’d argue it’s more generational changes rather than world cup cycle to world cup cycle.

    (SBI-I agree with that. It’s going to take time, but clearly some folks have bought into the point that they’re already seeing “changes” that just aren’t tangible. Call it the mirage effect.)

  17. THomas says:

    I don’t believe it counts as an “A’ match if you’re invited as a guest to a continental tournament. So he wouldn’t be capped tied from that. Of course, I’m not a FIFA regulations expert. I don’t think anybody is really.

  18. tom v says:

    Not sure I follow… under your argument any formation could be reduced to a 4-4-2.
    Klinnsy hasn’t been the attacking god send that many American fans hoped for – I’ll chalk some of that up to talent pool, some of that up to Klinnsman maybe not being all that great of an attacking mind (verdict is still out there).
    That being said, the idea that the US isn’t playing more positively than it was under Bradley is hard to believe – guys like Gooch and Jozy being passed over for Cameron and Gomez speak to that (not arguing that these guys shouldn’t be playing, but I’m sure Klinnsman reasoning in using other players is because they can play a more fluid style and are less dependent on size/speed). It also can easily be seen in the US generally trying to pass out of the back, control possession, and score from the run of play as opposed to set pieces. I’ll completely agree that we haven’t been as successful at that as I would have hoped, but there is a different philosophy.
    Finally, to your formation argument, anyone who has sat in on a strategy/film session or has seen a drawing board knows that you can’t simply point to one position as a sign of tactics. Do I think danny Williams or jose torres are wingers, no, but at the same time it’s clear that when playing them in outside positions, the outside full backs have more of a license and responsibility to attack. Again,w hether our fullbacks are capable of that is another questions. Similarly, Jones playing in the 3 in a 4-1-3-2 doesn’t make him a play maker automatically, but the idea is that it should change how the wider players in the 3 operate.
    Again, I don’t think klinnsman is perfect, but your positional/formation arguments don’t really make sense since I do think he has changed the style – for better or for worse is yet to be seen as we may not be ready to be something more than an athletic counter-attacking team.

    (SBI-In theory, Jones being in the 3 should change how the wingers play, but you can’t tell me there’s a distinct difference between the 4-1-3-2 we saw vs. Jamaica in Columbus and the 4-4-2 we saw vs. Jamaica in the 2011 Gold Cup. The fullbacks attacked, Bradley and Jones alternated getting forward, and the U.S. created chances. Same as we just saw.

    If you believe the U.S. style has already changed, then we’ll agree to disagree. I’m not saying the style won’t change. I’m saying it really hasn’t and folks who insist that there have already been dramatic changes have healthy imaginations. Just my opinion though.)

  19. Da Truth says:

    That line up would be a disaster

    This would be better

    —Dempsey – Altidore – Boyd–
    –F Johnson————–Donovan
    ————Bradley————-
    Lichaj–Bocanegra–Cameron—Cherundolo
    ————–Howard—————

  20. downintexas says:

    Ives you ask whats the difference between Klinnsman and Bradley against Jamaica is that Bradley would win those games

  21. Weaksauce says:

    Miguel Ponce is not cap-tied because Copa America guest teams are considered friendlies.

    Keep in mind I said “long shot” because of his involvement with the Mexico u-23 and playing for chivas

    He is still on the US radar because at this point I dont think he is in mexico’s plan for first team action anytime soon

  22. Louis Z says:

    after the Scottland’s game success. JK went with the same plan against Brazil and had his head handed to him. It was an entertaining game but it proves the point that we don’t have a midfield to play against the elite teams. At least I give him an “A” for effort to change things around.

  23. Louis Z says:

    Gotoku is so far out in anyones wish list, our only chance is for Japan to continue to overlook him as a starter. I guess we can all dream of a perfect world.

  24. tom v says:

    good point – i think it’s definitely debatable. i’ll admit i thought it was time for bradley to go (i’d argue that very few, if any coaches should have a national team for more than 4 years), but i’m not a klinnsman supporter yet.

    i think he’s trying to make us more of an attacking side, you can see that in some instances, but i totally agree that we haven’t undergone the massive transformation that most fans think we have/are hoping for.

    that being said, i’d still argue we are playing more positively than we were under bradley, though, obviously this hasn’t meant significantly better results

    (SBI-I think the team has shown the ability to play well at times, but I’d argue that part of that has to go to the fact that the current player pool is stronger now than it was a year and a half ago. Dempsey-Bradley-Altidore-Gomez-Cameron all enjoying outstanding moments in their career and Fabian Johnson is an astronomical upgrade from Bradley’s left back options.

    Even with all that though, the U.S. team has struggled to score with regularity. Once all hands are on deck I think the team could be pretty strong, but I’m not convinced it will be playing a style all that dramatically different from the essence of the Bradley style.)

  25. Roy says:

    I don’t blame Ives for expressing his analysis this way. Sometimes I feel old when I write we had attacking players or good passers like Cobi jones, Tab Ramos, Joe-Max Moore, Claudia Reyna, John O’Brien. Too many fans seem to only know these guys when they were past their prime. Guys like Jones and Moore played with a passion that I don’t see from some of today’s guys. They left it on the field every game. Ramos, Reyna, and O’Brien were smart passers. They had their injury problems, but they knew which passes made sense for the team.

    The quality and depth of players comes in waves. We used to have shortage of defensive-minded players, and now we have a surplus. I’m not surprised the USA Men are struggling in some areas. Our past teams weren’t that good in possession, but they played with a passion that now lacks in comparison. Who will be our guys that create momentum? So far we have Bradley and Dempsey, at times. But Klinsmann sometimes seems too caught up in who is technically better rather than who can power than team through. The team needs some guys who have the right proportion of will to win and technical skill.

  26. Chris H says:

    I love the player selections, this lineup is one of the few I’ve seen that would do more than lip service to a commitment to attacking soccer. I would just have one small modification. I would rather have Dempsey play in the hole where he would see more of the ball rather than out on the left wing. Like this:
    —-Altidore—-Boyd—-
    ——–Dempsey——–
    –F Johnson—–Donovan
    ——–Bradley——–
    Lichaj–Boca–Cameron–Dolo
    ——–Howard———

  27. Louis Z says:

    I wouldn’t be so sure. You are comparing a Bradley’s Jamaica against a Klinnsman’s Jamaica. Current Jamaica team would easily beat BB’s era jamaica team.

  28. tom v says:

    last thing i’ll say is that jones being in the 3 should change how the wingers play, but putting torres out on the wing shows to me klinnsman bigger problem – square pegs in round holes.

    bradley, for all his faults in my mind, put players in positions/roles they could easily succeed in. klinnsman is trying to push the team, i see that, but not sure that things like torres or williams out wide are doing anything for us.

  29. BCC says:

    I have a hard time generalizing about Klinsmann’s attacking style. Perhaps the mistake you are making is arguing that he has adopted any style at all.

    In the first Jamaica game, it seems to be that he was after a point. Of course, that backfired. In the second match, he tried to employ a ball-control offense (of which Spain and Barcelona are the gold-standard). That worked okay, and at least created a ton of chances.

    Good coaches do not take a homogenous approach to the game. Do you remember how many people complained about how Mourinho was the wrong coach for Madrid because of his highly defensive orientation? And how many goals did Real Madrid score last year? I would argue that had to do with the differences between La Liga and the EPL as well as differences in the roster. Ronaldo is not Frank Lampard.

    One of the beauties of soccer is that there is no one right way to play. Quality coaches don’t commit to formations or even general philosophies; everything depends on the opponent, the personnel, and the needs of the team. And I am not aware that any championship-winning club has had it’s formation or general mentality engraved on a trophy: the results is what matters most.

    If Klinsmann gets results, no one (except the purists) is going to care how he got them. Say what you will about Bradley, it’s the fact that he didn’t advance farther into big tournaments (well, the World Cup) that led to his firing.

  30. Brain Guy says:

    Ives has clearly released his Inner Analyst these past few days. No one — coach or commenter — is safe. Just stand back and enjoy the fireworks, and avoid looking directly into the glow.

  31. Kevin says:

    This reminds me of a football saying when it comes to winning games / gameplanning – “players, not plays”.

    We can line up in attacking formations all we want, but if we don’t have the players / talent pool to execute, there’s only so much we can hope fore.

    Players win games, and we have to put them in places to succeed by playing to their strengths.

    I’d really like to see how MB does in a more attacking role. Excited to see how we look with MB, Deuce, LD, and Jozy all in form.

  32. gabe says:

    SBI edits seem pretty contentious today, and I usually defend this site. The point is, editor, that Jurgen hasn’t had his top attacking options available at the same time for the bulk of the games he has coached. That would strongly hinder any stylistic changes, no?

    (SBI-He’s only missed Donovan with any regularity, so you’re saying Donovan’s absence alone has been enough to force Klinsmann to revert to a more defensive style? (Yes, both Donovan and Bradley missed the Kingston ame, but anyone who honestly thinks the USA would have attacked Jamaica in Kingston Not buying that one. Yes, we can certainly wait and see how things go, and I’m not saying Klinsmann absolutely won’t change things when all hands are on deck.

    The bigger point I was trying to make is that what we have gotten for the most part in year one of Klinsmann has been more of the same, which seems to go against what some people believe. If and when real changes come, and the team really improves and takes a real step, then Klinsmann will get all the credit, but I just feel like some folks are imagining improvement that hasn’t really happened yet.)

  33. bizzy says:

    I don’t see how we can expect to see anything really different in the USMNT because the core of the line-up is the same….Howard, Donovan, Dempsey, Boca, Bradley, Jones and Edu.

  34. One luxury Klinsmann had with the German team is that they didn’t have to qualify. His team before the World Cup was not performing very well. The Germans feared that they would get embarassed in the World Cup and was very critical of Klinsmann. But he was able to implement his attacking 4-3-3 system without the fear of not qualifying and by the time the World Cup arrived, Germany was running on all cylinders.

    With the USA, we have to qualify, so he has to work with what he has. If we were hosting, then we would see the “real” change.

  35. gabe says:

    have you seen passing and possession as good as the first half of the 2nd jamaica match? I’ve only followed since the arena 2002 era, so it’s hard for me to say, but I don’t recollect that type of quick movement and sharp passing under BB. I wasn’t a BB hater, but style of play goes beyond formation. It has to do with what the players do within the formation. That possession half was a joy to behold and represents strong steps in a different direction stylistically. the finished product isn’t there, but 1 year in with limited availability of the major cogs of the first team, I would say the product is getting closer. a result in italy and mexico can’t be ignored either.

  36. john.q says:

    we have to play to our strengths with the personnel we have. we do not have true attacking mids. we don’t have a xavi or iniesta. not really klinnsman’s fault, although i get a sense he is trying to have our players play both styles at the same time. doesn’t always work obviously.

    the true lasting effect of Klinnsman will be his changes to the structure of US Soccer. how we develop our players and our style of play long term.

    let’s not write him off just yet.

  37. Amru says:

    I could get on board with that formation, though I doubt JK will move johnson from LB. I think we are more likely to see dempsey or gomez up top with Altidore and either Zusi or torres in the middle.

  38. Klinsman says:

    What a useless post. I’d like to see you coach the team, let’s see how you do.

  39. Vic says:

    Brazil got a penalty kick early on which made us push forward even more. Even top teams (Italy, Germany and France) can’t control possession against Brazil. Maybe Spain can but thats about it.

  40. Primoone says:

    I think its really important that you look beneath the surface when analysing or comparing formations. Ideally when you prepare for a team you want to trot out a formation that will 1) minimize the effectiveness of a superior team. 2) maximize your strentghts when opposing an inferior team. When you take a look at the US formations under Bradley, he was notorious for using the 4-4-2. Two DM’s would alternate in the advanced role and ultimately play a two-way game as much as possible but for the most part, there would always be 1 defensive DM in front of the back four. One thing that Bradley always got right was utilizing his selected team in the proper formation. That being said, many (myself included) would not rate his selections high at all however, he knew what he had and what their capabilities were. The main knock on Bradley is not playing attacking football and his innability to influence a portion of the the game from the sideline with any real consistancy. I watch all US games, friendly or not. From what I saw under bradley was a very conservative philosophy. The problem with that was the innability of the players to switch that formation up when the midfield was conceded by the opposition. There really was no room for deviation from that formation because of the conservative approach instilled by Bradley. It made the US very predictable and redundant.

    Take a look at what has been heppenning since. We have played a variety of formations as a result of attempting to impose our will or minimize the oppositions strengths. They range from 4-3-3 to 4-1-3-2 and I hav ealso seen 4-1-3-1-1 in addition to a 4-4-2 in a diamond. The team might be a bit more defensive however, it is in the attacking side of the field in addition to working 2 and even 3 DM however, because they are in the attacking side, you really cannot say they are restricted to containing and ball winning. This was not the case in Bradley’s era. They were strictly there to ball win and contain. 1)Our team looks to pressure high up the field attempting to regain possession 2)The team now looks to distribute from the back using the single DM midfielder. Under Klinsmann, you will notice that the formation changes up as dictated by the game. Just because you happen to see a 4-4-2 does not mean that they intend to play that way. It just happens to come to that because of the interchanging and defending that is happenning. You see this at every level of the proffessional game. It is rare to stay in the same formation and why would you? Chances are you are not pitching a shut out every soccer match soo the game dictates how you approach it and in what formation for that particular stretch. It is a benefit to be able to switch up formations during a game as opposed to sticking with a 4-4-2 from beginning to end.

  41. away goals says:

    Yeah what’s with these kids and their lack of passion?

    I blame iphones and video games. And faux hawks. And all the rap.

  42. biff says:

    hey, let’s be happy. Fabian Johnson just scored another goal and Hoffenheim is up 3-0 against Stuttgart and Steven Cherundolo and Hannover are kicking the bu++s of Nurnberg and prima donna Timothy “I go to bed every night hoping for a phone call from Jogi Low because I am to good to play for the USMNT” Chandler, up 4-0.

  43. JAS says:

    Not sure whether I agree about “more defensive.” My impression is that the defense has become more organized and FAR LESS PRONE to giving away stupid early goals than it was during the Bradley era. That is a necessary predicate for going father than we have before in international soccer. We are not Spain or Brazil or some similar side that is going to go deep in a tournament with 4-2, 3-1 scorelines. I actually very much appreciate the work JK has done with the defense.

  44. Turd bradley says:

    Bros-

    1. Any national team would have serious trouble beating Jamaica on that pitch in a real game. Super bumpy pitch makes the game less and less about soccer. Surprised it was even approved by fifa.

    2. JK has not had a first choice squad yet.

    3. Am I missing something or is the US much more fun to watch under Klinsman. I can’t remember a game I coached where we even attempted to play like that first half vs Jamaica.

    Love,
    Turd Bradley

  45. al17 says:

    Has the number of players called up under Klinsmann increased? I’m asking becuase off hand I don’t really know. Why do I ask? Nothing more than being curious.

  46. al17 says:

    in response to question #3…YES!!!!!
    old Cup Final in Chicago – 2007
    USA (2) v Mexico (1)
    I remember it well and especially Feilhaber’s goal.

    and I also remember our performance against Brasil in the Confeds Cup Final which was damn entertaining despite the final outcome.

  47. Goalscorer24 says:

    I think the more attacking minded team is still in process. But we are no longer giving up the early goal like we use to under BB.

  48. somedude says:

    What’s more exciting than 2 defensive midfielders not creating anything? 3 defensive midfielders!

  49. Aaron in StL says:

    How often has he had his core players all healthy / available at the same time? Bradley, Donovan, and Dempsey have not had many (if any) chances to all be on the field together, which likely leads to a more guarded approach due to the lack of proven and trustworthy replacements.

    Given time (which after not even 18 months yet) the system should improve. There’s been hints here and there and while not a fullscale change, they’re heading in the right direction.

  50. Vic says:

    We have plenty of skilled players: Williams, Jones, Johnson, Donovan, Torres, Corona, Diskerkud, Castillo, Gomez, Adu, Feilhaber, Bedoya. Up and coming players: Gatt and Gyau. There are plenty of reasons to start Altidore, Edu, Beckerman, Dempsey and Shea but don’t expect to win possession with these players against good teams. Dempsey is our best finisher but doesnt do much for possession. Altidore is a top scorer in Holland, doesnt do much for possession. Shea is great at running at defenders but doesn’t have the best touch. Edu is a great tackler and defender but his touch/passing is below average. European players in MLS usually say American players aren’t as technical but are physical and great athletes. However, we do have some players with plenty of skill.

  51. The squad says:

    Great points Ives,

    Unfortunately, the current starting rotation in the men’s national team pool is pretty much set in stone.

    Jurgen’s talk of pushing players for spots and positions has yeilded well.. pretty much the same rotation employed by Bradley.

    Jurgen has obviously attempted to inject some new spirit by affording as many US-eligible players the opportunity to show their worth.

    Unfortunately, the Core group that exists was relatively successful in in major tournaments over the last 8 years.

    One by product is that the bushes were beat and the structure is being established to develop some sort of talent pipeline.

    JK’ legacy may very be decided by the type of national team pool he helped to create.

    One that deftly employs scouting, evaluation and positional battles.

    Bradley, Cherundolo, Donovan, Johnson, Dempsey Howard, Altidore and several others actually make up a pretty strong/experienced core.

    If some player (Shea, Williams et.al) finds time amongst that group then he will definately lead the US towards its goals in ’14 and beyond.

  52. Waterlewd says:

    Two things that come to mind I compare the Bradely 4-4-2 to the Klinnsman 4-4-2 are the lack of wingers and changes in defensive responsibility. And if you’re going to differentiate the two systems with tactical formations, it would make sense to call one a 4-1-3-2 and the other a 4-4-2. Under Klinnsman, the outside midfielders are given less defensive responsibilities and more pressure is put on the fullbacks to handle themselves with Danny Williams sliding over to help instead of the wide midfielders. This is something we didn’t see under Bradley mainly because our fullback options were more Bornstein-esque and less awesome-Johnson. The result is the wide midfielders tracked-back less and didn’t tracked-back as deep versus Jamaica commiting them more to the attack. But when you’re looking at possession and offensive tactics only, yeah, the two systems are really similar. But that’s all we really see when Jaimaica had so little of the ball the first 70 minutes.

  53. Mike r says:

    Klinsman doesn’t really have an attacking central midfielder who can distribute.
    Bradley had Holden but chose to play Clark and flushed away any chance of a quarterfinal birth in the wc.

  54. usmnt says:

    How quickly people forget that BB lost his job for losing the Gold Cup in a wide open 4-2 match, in which he rolled out an overly aggressive lineup. Playing without a true left midfielder was a disaster with mexico bombing up that side every time they got the ball.

    All in all BB put out more attacking lineups than Klinsman has. I agree with Ives point. It doesnt matter what you call it. Putting 7 defensive midfielders on the field at the same time is not an attacking line up.

    We have good d mids and no great attacking c mids. So put two guys in the middle and tell them to lock it down. Then put guys wide that can get up and down, or at least get the outside backs involved overlapping. And put two guys up front that can finish.

    Dempsey Jozy
    LD MB Williams Zusi

  55. Cody says:

    Am I the only one who got a bad taste in their mouth from this article? I never post on here and I do read this site frequently but this rubbed me the wrong way.

    What, by your criteria SBI, would it take in the same time span Jurgen has had with the same talent pool he has for you to say change has occured?

    How many times did our posession in games reach anywhere near what it did against jamaice or our passes completed when Bradley was at the helm? How much variation in the player pool has happened since Bradley left? Does Klinnsman get no credit for these things?

  56. Louis Z says:

    don’t forget mexico, they seem to have their number.

  57. Mike r says:

    I fear you vastly overrate the above players. Dempsey and Donovan are long in the tooth. Williams had one good game. The rest are ok players … But nothing special. We have no Dempseys or Donovan’s in the pipeline. The only young special talent we have is maybe Fabian Johnson and Altidore maybe Sean Johnson.

  58. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Got to agree with Ives – I was going to write much the same article.
    This is ‘the Bucket’ with positive propaganda.

    I do appreciate that Klinsmann is a better interview than Bradley; but to think he’s done something much different in the tactics over the year+ he’s been in charge is giving him more credit than deserved.

  59. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    3…I counted 6 against Mexico: Torres, Williams, Jones, Beckerman, Edu & Cameron

  60. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Be glad to , how about we split your salary 50-50?

  61. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    No, it’s diminished. Bradley proved to be open to calling up a wide range of players, more than any other US MNT coach before him. You need only to look at the roster for the Copa America to see that…and he was roasted for his selections.

  62. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    Kudos. First comment that made sense in pointing out a tactical difference in the Klinsman vs Bradley era.

  63. RLW2020 says:

    correct we can not out possess and out play Spain and Italy so we bunker and counter attack, that makes sense…

    but when we are going up vs. Panama, Canada and Jamaica we shouldn’t have to play to same way!!!

    Also I don’t really feel secure winning 1-0 all the time. For once it would nice to win some games 2-0 or 3-0. To do this we need more support for the attack. Weather it comes from the outside or middle it does not matter but the huge gap between forwards and d-mids just isn’t cutting it.

  64. Karl says:

    Our talent pool is better. Three influential players (Gomez, Johnson, and Williams) were not in the Klinsmann call-ups. In addition to Zusi, and Geoff. However, I do criticize him for not calling up Kliejstan and more offensive minded players. I would love to see Gatt or even a Gyua to add some much needed pace. What I don’t want to see is Edu, and Beckerman both called up. One is understandable, but both would be a crime.

  65. RLW2020 says:

    SBI, do you have knowledge that Scotland was actually sunburned and hungover, because I would 100% agree with that!

    i think Klinsy squads have been better at holding possession but not really any more offensive. Hopefully this is just step 1 in jurgen’s master plan.

    (SBI-Yes. They wanted no part of being in Florida and the heat killed them. They played like it too.)

  66. RLW2020 says:

    do you really think Kljestian is the #10 the US has been waiting for??!!?

  67. bryan says:

    I think it’s a more than fair analysis of the team and JK’s era thus far. I think it’s pretty clear that Ives knows we have yet to see our full team play together with our top players for a long string of games. I think he more than understands that a new style will take time. But I think Ives makes a good point that, as of now, it’s not quite what a lot of fans were hoping for. Maybe those fans had too high of hopes. Maybe JK gave them too much hope with some things he said. Maybe JK himself had too high of hopes. Either way, it would be premature to write off JK at this point. I hope to see some better selections from JK though and I hope the next two games, and the hex if we make it, we start seeing a more confident and assertive US team.

    anyway, love this new feature! i could discuss/debate/learn/read about the USMNT until my eyes fell out.

  68. vik says:

    That’s fair. The results have been mixed. For me, the big game was the loss to France. The first half was defended repeatedly near the halfway line; it struck me at the time as Bradley’s teams always seemed to bunker in the box under pressure. It was only one half, and they couldn’t keep it up for the whole game, but I saw it as a change.
    The new players at key positions changes things too: williams, chandler, and esp Johnson all made/make a big difference.

  69. bryan says:

    why do people keep overlooking the fact that Gatt has been injured often? and once again when he got a call up. and gyau?! he is a nice prospect, but he is hardly playing at the club level. let the kid get his club situation worked out!

    if you want pace, and i know people will flame for it, call in Beasley. no matter what people say, the guy is playing well and can be a good depth option for the USMNT right now.

    i’d also say someone like Adu would make more sense right now than Gyau. i’d also play Corona before Gyau. i’m big on Gyau, but i just don’t think he’s ready to step up and fill a void yet.

  70. atd says:

    I agree with the general spirit of the post. My criticism I guess would be that it tends to conflate “offensive” and “defensive” with “possession-heavy” and “possession-light,” in other words, to suggest that a team that keeps the ball is “offensive” and a team that doesn’t is “defensive.” Bradley’s teams didn’t typically control the ball — in fact, sometimes it seemed like they were actively trying to give it away — and yet they were extremely offensive in the sense that they scored a lot of goals. Klinsmann’s teams try to control the ball more, but they’ve also tended to be more defensive, in the sense that they have gotten their best results by grinding out 1-0 wins.

    Which leads to a second point. There definitely has been a great deal of continuity from Bradley to Klinsmann, which isn’t surprising, considering the continuity in personnel. But Klinsmann has made some important tactical changes. The main problem facing the US when he took over was that we gave up more goals (a lot more goals) than any other team that regularly gets out of the WC group stages. By re-organizing the midfield, Klinsmann has largely solved this problem. His moves have created new challenges, but in my opinion the disease was worse than the cure.

  71. Obby_Oss says:

    Ives you don’t see any way Klinsi’s team is more on the same page than under Bradley? Have you already forgotten how often under Bradley we let a goal in within 15/20 mins? How is that a team playing on one page? Klinsi has plugged the early leaks and chaos.

  72. atd says:

    Goals against average:

    2009: 1.5 goals/game
    2010: 1.5
    2011: 1.2
    2012: 0.8

  73. SuperChivo says:

    It is a good point about using defensive midfielders because we play to our strength but other than that this is a serious letdown from most of the quality Ives puts out. If Klinsmann is just playing to our strengths, and has realized something that Bradley realized a long time ago, why are we SCORING FEWER GOALS AND GETTING POORER RESULTS then we were before? It it due to injuries, poor player selections, a decrease in the ability of the player pool? That is the real story under Klinsmann, how we are different under him than under Bradley, not how we are similar.

  74. Obby_Oss says:

    Ives again I have to wonder if you’re just out to throw criticism on Klinsi. You keep repeating that Klinsi’s attack is only better because he has players peaking under him. That’s a poor excuse as every previous manager can say that including Arena or Klinsi about the current German team. And while the likes of Jozy and Bradley are better now, we have not seen tangible results on the national team. Jozy has stopped scoring and Bradley has always been our best CM player. Dempsey has played wonderfully, but Donovan has gone downhill. It’s balanced. If anything, Klinsi is rebuilding our defense when Bradley had a stacked one of Dolo, Gooch, DeMerit and Boca all at their prime.

  75. al17 says:

    I have no idea if he is the #10 we’d like but seeing how he’s one of the few players in the pool actually playing in Champs league he definitely deserves a few chances. Heck it wasn’t too long ago that many people didn’t think Michael Bradley should be on the team and we know how that’s worked out.
    I tell ya what, I’d take him in a heartbeat over Torres who is not ready for the role despite the numerous opportunities.

  76. beachbum says:

    Ives, the difference I see is the Beckerman/Williams role, whatever the formation as you keenly note

    it’s that destroyer role in front of the back four first and foremost for that role, basically not as flat with the 2 central mids as with Bradley though surges by either central mid did occur with Bradley’s teams; seems Beckerman/Williams are more anchored right in that pocket above the 18

    but I agree with all your smackdown. On style change, it has been handcuffed by player selection and deployment seems to me. Remove those handcuffs and the team will be freed…that’s the idea at least I think, but need the right players deployed correctly and I don’t know if Klinsmann even knows what that lineup is yet, still searching it appears

  77. beachbum says:

    oh boy

  78. beachbum says:

    excellent post

    another difference is lack of true counter attack to scare back the opposition and especially their own outside backs, keep them at home.

    vs. Jamaica in Columbus, Dolo/Zusi did some of this and more up that right flank. Without LD, the US don’t counter well under Klinsmann whatever ‘system’ is used; all Bradley teams were focused on being good at that with or without LD. And so far Klinnsman’s teams don’t get wide and challenge the end line to cross in the ball as much either seems to me

  79. Byrdman says:

    Ives, by reading your response to every post that points out anything favorable about JK, it is obvious that ou have made up your mind on the subject. While some of your responses I agree with, I think the most important idea that comes out is your OPINION of JK.

    Maybe instead of ranting about the Lichaj and Sasha exclusions you could actually ask some questions and find out the facts that are not obvious to all of us. I agree with many of your thoughts but I want answers not more opinions. Just my two cents thanks for the voice

    (SBI-I have asked Klinsmann plenty of these questions, and his answers have been well-documented, if not all that enlightening. And to be clear, nowhere in my post do I say “Klinsmann won’t wind up changing anything.” It’s clear that some people are acting as if dramatic changes have already taken place when there simply hasn’t been much change at all. I find that to be very interesting, which is what led me to write the piece. I didn’t write it so everyone could agree with me, but so we could have a real discussion about it. Obviously some people Klinsmann’s magic is already sinking in, and there are people who look at his tenure to date and see not much in the way of real, tangible change. Nothing wrong with having a healthy conversation about that.)

  80. Byrdman says:

    And they won IN AZTECA. So SSSSSHHHHHHHHH

  81. SuperChivo says:

    You actually inadvertently prove the point. Under Bradley there was a much greater commitment to attack by putting more attack minded players on the pitch and having more players get forward. Under Klinsi true we don’t get scored on early as often but we also don’t score as many goals (more than 50% fewer) because he has every player but Santos Laguna’s backup striker behind the ball.

  82. bizzy says:

    the truth is everyone thought klinsmann was going to bring a new kind of play, from a totally different perspective, but unfortunately he didn’t. From the style of play to the players on the field the USMNT are only a step away from what they were under BB’s rule.
    We know (or should know) that with our player pool and MLS is really improving and that it is possible to bring a different touch to the national team. Adu did it for BB against Panama and Zusi did it against Jamaica, Ben Olsen did it with his selection in the MLS allstar game had non of the prior USMNT selections (Beckerman, Recardo clark, Shea, Agudelo, Rimando, Buddle etc) with the exception of Donovan, wondo and later Zusi yet he was able to trade punches with league champs Chelsea (friendly/pre-season doesn’t matter it’s chelsea…a team better than most if not all the national teams in CONCACAF).
    Yet Olsen used US players like Morrow(SJ), Demerit(Van), Beitashour(SJ) Defense…Donovan, Zusi (SKC), Pontius(DC), Farfan (PHI) and Alonzo Midfield….Wondo and Johnson forwards…in diferent combinations and had a respectable showing agains an elite team.
    There is a receipe/combination of MLS players and our foreign base players that BB and Klinsmann can’t seem to find and thats because both coaches still stick to the same core group of players ….Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore, Boca, Dolo, Jones, Bradley, Howard*, Edu….same players with different coach = only slightly diferent execution. The best players don’t necessarily make the best team

  83. SuperChivo says:

    When did he say Klinsi’s attack is better? If he did he’d better review the numbers. Averaging 50% fewer goals a game under Klinsmann; I don’t see how anyone could construe that as a better attack. If anything, this article is unfair to Bob Bradley, not Klinsmann.

  84. beachbum says:

    nope. Holden was hurt by DeJong, so along with Gooch and Davies, Bradley’s team had to deal with the loss of three starters straight up its spine during the WC buildup

  85. FK Pirin says:

    In regard to the game against Jamaica in Jamaica, I would say that looked very close to the old 4-4-2 under Bob Bradley. However, in many of the other games the US has played under Klinsmann, I do not remember seeing that style of play.

    For me Bob Bradley employed a style that was a continuation of what Bruce Arena employed. It was a defensive minded 4-4-2 that counterattacked and placed a great deal of emphasis on scoring off of set pieces, especially corner kicks. We also tried to use large physical center forwards like Brian Ching and Brian McBride to head in crosses.

    We did not try to maintain possession and we usually did not press high, we also usually kept a deeper back line. We played compact but usually we started applying pressure around the half field line or slightly past. I think the overall strategy made sense considering the talent of the players vs. the level of top teams in the World. Even though we could have played differently in qualifying and friendlies, the end goal was to have a system that could take us out of the Group stage of the World Cup. Bruce Arena accomplished that in the 2002 World Cup.

    Under Klinsmann I see a very different philosophy, although I agree the game in Jamaica looked like the old defensive style. I see big differences since really the Bruce Arena Era as I think Bob Bradley continued with a very similar style, and probably Steve Sampson’s approach was the same if I really think about it.

    1st, Klinsmann has for the most part chosen to play a possession based rather than counterattacking style. That is the big difference in my mind. Sometimes he has played more defensively and some times more attack minded, but he has emphasized trying to maintain possession regardless of how much the team pushes forward.

    2nd Klinsmann has generally played more compact. Our front lines and back lines have been much closer together than I remember in the counterattacking style, when we used to advance up the field, the team loosened up and the back line stayed back.

    3rd Klinsmann has generally played with pressure rather than sitting back and waiting for the other team to make a mistake and counter attack. The US has been more aggressive trying to win the ball back.

    4th Klinsmann has not emphasized set pieces and corner kicks and there have been many fewer goals off of headers in the box from corner kicks.

    5th Klinsmann has not been aiming to just get it down the wing and cross it into the box. There has been more of an emphasis on one touch passing, give and goes, and trying to place a clever pass through the defense. He has spent more time trying to get the team to break down a defense.

    I do agree however, that the personnel that Klinsmann has used in some matches, especially the match down in Jamaica, was very defensive minded. This has contributed to less offense.

    However, although we are not scoring very often, I do believe that under Klinsmann we have had a lot more shots on goal from the run of play than under Bradley, Arena, or Sampson, or even further back Bora Milutinovic. Many of the games I have seen we have had a lot more opportunities to score from the run of play, we just haven’t been able to put it away. I would be curious to see what the stats show from the Bob Bradley years.

    I also think we have seen a lot more possession by the US team. In addition I feel like I have seen more one on one individual plays, clever passes, and attempts pick our game technically. I also think the US has tried to play faster, sometimes successfully. Ok, that’s enough of me talking. Sorry for the verbal explosion, but this is an interesting topic.

  86. Kevin says:

    Ives, why did you feel the need to write this article? I understand your view on the slow development of the usmnt along with the limited player pool. However, it seems as if you’re not only bashing on the team but contradicting yourself as well. Just because you received several comments praising your recent posts doesn’t mean you need to come out with something so out of the ordinary. This is nothing against you or your articles; I check your site daily.

    Klinsmann has done more positive than he has done negative. He had no choice but to work with what Bob left him. What Klinsmann has done is kept most of what was already solid and worked to find solutions to positions where dependability was scarce (LB, CB, ST, True Winger). We can all agree that he has fixed the first three previous issues (bringing in Johnson, Cameron, and Gomez), with wingers being the last real problem for us to fix. The way Klinsmann said he’d implement a positive-styled approach on the field has to do with the risk-taking that he is reminding the players of every single time they’re together.

    How Klinsmann hopes to solve the “last” issue (True Winger) involves his extremely careful dealings with Brek, and I know both of them will show their worth for devoting so much time, effort, and drama. As of now, this is the lineup I’d trot out.

    Altidore Dempsey

    Johnson Williams Bradley Gomez

    Lichaj Bocanegra Cameron Cherundolo
    Howard

    (SBI- How exactly was this piece “bashing the team”? Not really sure how you gather that from the piece. Obviously, based on your comment you actually think he deserves credit for any positive development related to the national team since he took over (like Fabian Johnson, who was coming to the USMNT whether Klinsmann was coach or not). The point of the piece was to point out that things haven’t changed nearly as much as some people want to think. Clearly you’re in the group that believes there have already been dramatic changes relating directly to Klinsmann’s actions. We’ll agree to disagree on that.)

  87. Weaksauce says:

    Yeah Gotaku is a super long shot but I want to players to be invited and make it public if they deny it. Thomas Delaney denied a U-23 olympic call up but is still open to the US if denmark doesnt work out.

    Gotaku was called into the last WQ qualifier but didnt get put in, so he still isnt cap-tied. Always a chance but highly unlikely

  88. bottlcaps says:

    Although JK might give players instructions on using a certain formation, the players themselves usually fall back (or forward) into a position they are familiar and comfortable with. Sometimes the less disciplined players will lose patience and creep out of position, slightly at first, and more later. I have seen Jose Altidore come back to the the midfield area when playing as a lone striker. Conversely I have seen players (midfielders) fall back into defensive positions when in fact they needed to be closer to the strikers.

    You eventually learn a formation, but that comes later than sooner when you play one formation for your club and another for your country. This is especially true of the younger players. They play one position for the club another for the country and usually when they play out of position for the country they make mistakes.

    When the US played in Olympic Qualifying, several players complained later they wer playing in unfamiliar formations and tended to creep back or forward to a more familiar position, which put them out of formation for the formation Porter wanted them to play in. Disaster when Canada and discovered US players out of position and US loses 2-0. Same with El Salvador. Both inferior teams but were able to exploit US gaffes. JK plays older and more experienced players and cna get away with formation switches. But when younger players come in and when players are often paired with unfamiliar/new team mates they frequently are uncomfortable to play out of formation they are used to.

    When JK gets more of the younger/newer players LEARNING how to play effectively in the new formations they do not normally play, only then will the US come out of their “conservative” shell and play exciting aggressive football.

  89. Old School says:

    “You actually inadvertently prove the point. Under Bradley there was a much greater commitment to attack by putting more attack minded players on the pitch and having more players get forward.”

    That’s simply not true. Under BB, we didn’t allow the routine 15-20 minute goal because we were busy attacking.

    Often, they were obvious and simply defensive/concentration lapses.

    How soon we forget…

  90. Obby_Oss says:

    Getting scored on is not a reflection on attacking prowlers, otherwise Antigua would be the most attacking team left. Most of the goals scored in under 20 mins were straight through the middle because under Bradley, players didn’t press. They filled spaces to create a wall. Klinsi has encouraged his team to step up. That’s more offensive defense than under Bradley. Klinsi is building from the back.

  91. Obby_Oss says:

    Attacking options I should have said. And he used the tone that belittled Klinsi because of his options and made Bradley look sympathetic because his options weren’t as good.

  92. AMPhibian says:

    great article!! point well made.

  93. abc says:

    Ives you have really stepped your game up in the last week, bravo sir.

    Anyone who laughs at the idea that Klinsmann’s teams are more defensive than Bradleys needs to look at their goals per game stats over their first year in charge. It’s not even close. But hey let’s ignore facts and listen to Klinsmann ramble on for five hours in various interviews and podcasts, contradicting half the crap he flung at us just the previous week.

    This is a guy who said his ideal central midfield was Jones and Edu (EDU!!) just a few months ago, with no mention of MB90…

  94. The Imperative Voice says:

    All cylinders? By that you mean a German host team failed to make their own final?

  95. The Imperative Voice says:

    The long term trend I see from Klinsi is us moving from an initial continental 451 type approach a la Portugal or something, tilted forward, which was creating lots of possession but only so many chances and very few goals, towards a 451 that tilts backwards, has 3 DMs, and 2 CAMs pushed somewhat wide in lieu of wingers.

    Offensively, the problem is there is not a 10 setting up people nor are there true wings tearing up the flank. Like we saw with Jamaica, even when we have possession we don’t create tons of chances. People underrate the virtue of the Arena/ Bradley 442 counterattack approach, as well as the value of a generation of quality wing play, dating back to the 2002 team.

    In terms of defense, we’ll see when a Klinsi team plays Mexico or Costa Rica on the road what we’re dealing with. Bradley had a pretty good “d” rep until they got their heads handed to them in some road qualis and the Italy Confed game. Then a counternarrative of teams that showed up flat and got their tails kicked abroad starting paralleling. And there were the infamous collapses from the lead, Brazil Confed, Mexico more than once.

    Issue I see — best wings: Dempsey/ Donovan (played there a lot at South Africa); best forwards: probably still Dempsey/ Donovan. Best CAMs: same??? Can’t play ‘em everywhere. Personally I think the best approach was the Bradley South Africa concept of starting them wide then pushing them up late. I think we could get away with playing center mid defensive if the wing quality went up.

    FWIW1: a strong offense could be our best defense. I don’t need 3 DMs if I park on their end with a possession offense.
    FWIW2: if Klinsi doesn’t have a set formation or is more defensive than advertised then he’s not really inculcating a system and he’s only as valuable as his learning curve/ coaching/ results. The qualifying results so far are no better and perhaps worse than the post-94 cycle teams.
    FWIW3: when you have several years to explore the talent pool the argument that I can’t find people to play a certain way seems less defensible and more like Porter U23 excuses. It’s his team and if the pool drives him to tears rather than him hammering something out, how good a coach is he?

  96. Adam M. says:

    The US does not have the range of offensive talent necessary to produce consistent results and will remain hampered by that fact regardless of the manager. Exhibit A is not the US, though, it’s Brasil. Brasil has a wide range of attacking talent, at a level well above the US, but has continued to play with two defensive mids in the middle and has been incredibly inconsistent. Brasil has creative central mids, but they are out of favor. Now if Brasil can’t make a defensive mid style work consistently with its superior talent, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the US is inconsistent and doesn’t score goals with regularity. The best the US can do for now is put its best players on the field at the same time and pressure higher and more often. That is what Klisman has stressed, and I’d argue that this team has more upside that Bradley’s side as a result. But no one should expect we run out and win every game 2-0 or 3-1.

  97. Dave from Charlotte says:

    Another good article….it surprises me that one thing that doesn’t get enough discussion is klinsi’s maddening penchant for playing people out of position….this has had a direct impact on our qualifying record, cohesion, and I think retrenchment by klinsi to Bradley tactics just to get a friggin result.

    Klinsi needs to channel his inner Berthelot and Nietzsche..apply some pragmatism for these next games that matter. I would rather not make a tactical point with a formation on the pitch at the expense of an actual point in the qualifying process.

  98. Lava lamp says:

    Agreed, Klinsman has failed.

  99. Vic says:

    Mexico can’t control possession against Brazil on an neutral venue. Many teams can be Brazil on occassion, USA has beaten them before. Thats different than controlling possession or beating them consistently.

  100. Bryan V says:

    My 22:

    GK: Howard; Guzan

    DEF: Chandler; Gonzalez; Cameron; Johnson; Lichaj; John; Ream; Castillo

    MID: Donovan; Jones; Bradley; Dempsey; Gatt; Williams; Edu; Torres

    FW: Gomez; Altidore; Boyd; Johannsson

  101. BamaMan says:

    Jesus H. Christ,

    There is an orchestrated effort by some within the US Soccer community – including some on this blog – to undermine Klinsmann. I am not talking about criticism of his tactics, which in some instances has been well-deserved while others not so much. Folks like Grant Wahl have practiced actual journalism in this respect. This site has crossed the line into advocacy. For example, this entry claims that Klinsmann has engaged in all manner of different formations in an effort to trick the average soccer fan into believing that his style is more attacking when it is in fact more defensive. The more logical explanation might be that Klinsmann has tried and tried to force the USMNT to be more attacking only to revert back to a more defensive style when it was the only thing that worked.

    Is Klinsmann the right coach for the USMNT? I don’t know and nobody will until this cycle is over. I know he’s the most accomplished coach we’ve ever had at the helm. The only criteria on which Klinsmann can fairly be judged are a) our performance at the World Cup and b) our performance in the Gold Cup. Until either one of those possibilities are foreclosed, I really don’t care. Everyone in Germany was absolutely convinced the German team was a disaster under his leadership then they redefined German football and made a semifinal run at the same time. Can he do it here? I don’t know but I know I’m going to wait before I say one way or the other.

    (SBI- Do me a favor and tell me where in my piece, or in the comments section, I say either A) Klinsmann is doing a bad job, B) Klinsmann is not the man to lead the USMNT, or C) he will never get things to work? Oh right, I never said any of those things. Given that, where exactly am I “crossing the line between journalism and advocacy?” I expressed an opinion that Klinsmann is getting credit for creating change when there really hasn’t been much change yet. You can agree or disagree, but to suggest that somehow simply stating that opinion is “advocacy” tells me you don’t have the first clue what journalism is, or the role of columnists and opinion writers. Feel free to say he’s an amazing coach, already weaving his magic, but please spare me the notion that I’m wrong for expressing an opinion that such a notion is silly.

    It really is amazing how people can read a piece and infer so many things that simply aren’t there. I think Klinsmann could wind up being an excellent coach, but I also think some folks heaping praise on him ALREADY are pretty misguided and missing what many see, which is that he’s doing a lot of the same things his predecessor did. I say, and I think many agree with me, that we should save the praise for when real change actually happens because as it stands, the folks creating this alternative reality where Klinsmann has already turned things around are looking pretty foolish.)

  102. PetedeLA says:

    The basic premise is true.

    One thing I will say on Klinsmann’s behalf is his willingness to make Dempsey the center piece of his diamond.

    I LOVED seeing Dempsey (wearing the #10) behind two forwards. I’m not saying this is necessarily the way forward, but it was definitely something we never saw under Bob.

    I was never a Bob Bradley basher. In fact, you can probably still see my comments defending him on the Anti Bob Bradley facebook page. It was a stupid bandwagon that a bunch of idiots latched onto. If anything, Bob was a pragmatist.

    How do we move forward? As far as I’m concerned the only thing I’m worried about is the lack of another creative player who can instill fear in the final third. We have Donovan (who is pretty hot and cold these days), Dempsey (Thank goodness!!!),and then there’s a huge drop off by the time you get to Brek Shea. Zuzi is good, but I don’t see him making huge improvement at his age. I’m really hoping some young attacking midfielders are coming through the pipeline because both Donovan and Dempsey are getting long in the tooth.

    I’m glad you’re writing these pieces Ives. Fun reading.

  103. Ben says:

    Ives, thank you! thank you! thank you!

    I really appreciated this piece. You must have known that it would not be a popular position to take yet you did it anyway and defended it articulately and with the facts to back it up.

    Although I am not sure you meant to make this piece a defense of Bradley’s coaching prowess (and if I am not mistaken you were equally quick to criticize him when you felt it was warranted) I feel that the points you make here really support a revision of opinion by those who always said that Bradley was “bunker-Bob” and incapable of playing the attacking possession-oriented soccer of the Barca’s of the world. I always felt that that opinion did not give him enough credit. I remember numerous times when we were playing lesser opposition that Bradley’s team did a good job of possessing and imposing the US rhythm on the other team. A couple examples would include the Egypt game in the Confederations cup and the Slovenia game in the world cup (yes, we started slowly, but imposed our play in the second half to tie/win the game).

    Bob’s defense first counter-attack style which he played against the stronger teams was lauded by Sir Alex Ferguson and also used effectively by other teams in the world cup. Repeatedly other coaches described Bob’s squads as “very disciplined” and “difficult to break down.” Those qualities and the “never say die” attitude he instilled in his team were what made the US a delight to watch in the world cup. Admittedly, they were frustrating to watch when a single player (e.g., Rico Clark) would make a mental mistake that led to an early goal. But those mistakes are inherent in any less than top quality world team with ambitions to be a top quality world team.

    Getting back to the point of your article, which is that although people thought it would just take new coach (and a European one at that) to make the US a possession-oriented attacking team, there is clearly more to it than that. Like Bradley, Klinsmann is finding that there are some frustrating limitations to the depth and breadth of the U.S. player pool. And arguably much slower than Bradley (probably because he was less familiar with the pool when he first started), he is having to make adjustments to play to the strengths of the players.

    I would even take your points one step further and argue that, although we may someday see an improved style of play (which could also have been said of a longer Bradley regime), to date what we have really seen is European coach struggling to understand the limitions and strengths of his pool and also failing to do as he said he would. That is, build upon the strengths of what his predecessor left him–a disciplined squad with a never say die attitude.

  104. Ben says:

    Well, I think we can judge his performance after four World Cup qualifying games. Those are the ones that count and so far, our performances under Klinsmann have been far from impressive and, arguably very concerning. If this team doesn’t gel more and find a way to get 3 points in A&B, we may not have a Hexagonal, much less a world cup upon which to judge him.

  105. DCP says:

    There are always going to be players missing due to injuries and suspensions, so I don’t really accept the notion stated in many of the comments to this post that Klinsmann has been mostly playing with a less than full strength squad. The reality is that our days with a fully healthy, committed, and international quality Donovan may be running out. In my opinion, the concept of a full strength squad is relative to all of the players available for a particular game, so I think it is time for Klinsmann to make serious efforts to find an understudy(or understudies) for Donovan (not Williams) and for us to accept that a full strength squad may not always include him.

  106. David JS says:

    I agree with you. There are some real interesting and valid points raised in the article, but the tone of it and of the subsequent follow up comments make it obvious that Ives is defending Bob by tearing down Jurgen. Regardless of the similarities in the formation, it’s naive to say that formation=tactics/philosophy and tactics/philosophy=formation. It’s impossible to differentiate the evolution of the individuals in the player pool from the evolution of the philosophy of the head coach. Like I said, I agree with a lot of the points of the article, particularly about anyone who believes we’re seeing free-flowing attacking soccer being delusional, but the unequivocal refusal to give Jurgen ANY credit for ANYTHING that has changed since he took over damages the overall ethos of the argument because it’s so clearly one motivated primarily to defend Bob instead of having a honest assessment of the progress (or lack there of) of the USMNT.

    (SBI-Sorry man, but “defending Bob” was never ever the point of the piece. I think Klinsmann deserves some credit for doing some things, but there is clearly a section of the U.S. Soccer fan base that sees progress that just hasn’t happened. That was pretty clear in some of the comments posted after, and I’m sure I could have let the piece stand on its own, but some of the points made by some people were the very thing that led to the piece in the first place, so I felt compelled to discuss them.

    Since you brought up Bradley, I just think it’s interesting that some of the very same people who hated Bradley now find any excuse to praise Klinsmann, when not all that much has changed just yet. At no point here did I say Bradley was an amazing coach who was wrongly fired. I never even touch on that, so I don’t really get anything here could be seen as being done to “defend Bob”.

    I do find it thoroughly fascinating that simply suggesting that Klinsmann is getting more credit than he deserves is perceived by some to be ripping him or saying he’s a bad coach. I suppose some people just live in worlds where only extremes exist. If anything, I think the reaction of some people in the comments here only served to prove my point, that there clearly are people who see far more progress than actually has happened. I know that isn’t all fans, and I’ll stand right alongside those who haven’t seen all this progress, and who say “We need to see much more before we go calling Klinsmann a success just yet.)

  107. Old School says:

    We lost because of Bornstein. Plain and simple.

    Mexico is well aware of our weakest link and immediately and routinely attacked that side. That alone was the downfall.

  108. David JS says:

    fair enough SBI. I really totally agree with the lack of “transformation” as some envisioned Jurgen bringing, I suppose I may have misattributed portions of your justification as the “only factors” in writing the piece as opposed to specific rebuttals to incorrect assertions. Mea culpa. I just would like to say, and this is difficult to justify/verify by any measure other than pure eye-test, that I think Klinsmann’s teams are more sound than Bradley’s. That is to say I think the, admittedly minor, tweaks to the style of the USMNT as of today have made us a team that would win more games on the whole as opposed to a like-for-like Bradley squad. But this is obviously only my opinion, and time will tell. I agree, a relatively large portion of the fan base had an unreasonable expectation of complete transformation of the team, and that evolution simply has not happened. On the other hand, I would be willing to debate that Bob and Jurgen’s approaches to the job are not significantly different. Ultimately, I don’t think our opinions of the current state of the USMNT are too different, so I recant my earlier disregard for the argument. I think Bob was so irrationally criticized for his struggles, and Klinsmann is so irrational praised for his, that it makes getting lost in the semantics of the discussion easy. Truth be told, this is a situation that, we as USMNT fans, will be in for the long haul and it won’t be an overnight evolution. I do want to conclude by saying that, in my opinion, I think Jurgen’s ideas and vision for US Soccer is the best, and rationally the next, step that our federation could have taken and will ultimately pay significant dividends. Come on, you Yanks!

  109. Shawn says:

    Ives–

    I’m sorry, but I have to disagree sharply when you minimize the importance of a not having LD/Deuce/MB play together for even a half yet under Klinsmann. He has not had, for a variety of reasons, anything resembling a true First XI in his first year. And yes, I do think that makes a substantial difference.

    “Most” of the squad are role players who more or less can be covered with someone else with minimal drop. Those 3+Howard are the stars of the team, and anyone playing their position is a MARKED drop in quality.

  110. Dan says:

    It’s interesting that Klinsmann’s team has been giving up fewer goals and also scoring fewer goals. I think Fabian Johnson has a lot to do with the better defensive play and you could argue that one defined defensive mid does stay back more on Klinsmann’s teams when compared to Bradley’s empty bucket (although there is obviously still interchange). But in the end I think you have to look at the almost absurd number of defensive players on the field for a lot of these games and just chalk it up to that.

  111. Dennis says:

    Agreed. I never believed Klinsmann would work any magic, but I was surprised that he was able to express a vision (while it was not much different from what Bradley said in more private situations) better in press conferences than the Princeton graduate.

  112. Dennis says:

    Yes it is much more true in soccer than in say American football that it is the players who determine what happens on the field, not the coach.
    Both Bradley and Klinsmann searched casting as wide a net as possible looking for better players (Bradley called over 100 different players into various camps in only one year, Klinsmann has perhaps relied more on scouts than calling in as many players to observe them in camps, but both search(ed) for better players.)

    The talent pool in the USA is improving and as it does, whoever the coach is 4 years from now or 8 years from now, I expect he will get credit for the improving players.

    In truth, a national team coach does not “improve players, he basically selects the best players he can who will fit together as a team. In the USA, that is still a jigsaw puzzle with too few pieces, contrary to say Brazil where there is a wealth of very talented players and the coach’s job is more one of selecting those who can play the style he would like, rather than one of finding players who can perform at the international level in any way.

  113. PD says:

    That’s an overly simplistic assessment of why BB was fired.

  114. Dennis says:

    I think Ives let you off the hook with the “agree to disagree” comment. Ives is right and well, you’re not.

  115. biff says:

    I cannot argue with the assessment that Klinsmann has failed to deliver the high expectations many of us had when he took over last summer. In my mind, he has shown a real lack of courage in testing guys who play as attacking midfielders at the club level, instead sticking with his love affair for guys who play generally as defensive midfieders at the club level. I also am not happy with his penchant for playing other players out of their club positions, such as Danny Williams at right winger and even poor little Jose Torres at left back, for Gosh sakes.

    I lost my patience after the Jamaica match earlier this month in Kingston, when Klinsmann fielded the now infamous three defensive midfield and it ended in disaster. That said, Klinsmann was smart enough to change tactics to a more attack-minded strategy four days later in Columbus, and the team looked excellent in the first half and got the must-win.

    But I do disagree with the assessment above that “at least for the immediate future, it is the best system and approach for the kind of players we have right now.” I think we have guys in the talent pool who are able now to play an exciting brand of attacking soccer. Klinsmann simply needs to call in some new faces and test them. Unfortunately, he wasted a full year of friendlies sticking with his defensive minded system and the same old players without testing other players.

    But the past is past, as they say, and the big question now is how Klinsmann operates in the future. He needs to quit being a wimp, worrying about hurting the feelings of Player A or the fans who adore Player A or worry about the angering the fans of Bob Bradley who are still unhappy BB was fired and are desperately hoping for Klinsmann’s downfall no matter what he does and who he plays. He needs to show the courage to take some chances and do what he feels is right, put guys on the roster who he feels can play attacking soccer and and leave off those guys he truly does not want on the team. The key to success of any team is chemistry and Klinsmann needs to make sure team chemistry is right.

  116. Ussoccerfan12 says:

    Lets see the Federation spent how much more on Klinsmann to get the same end product, seems like a waste of money.

  117. Shchors says:

    The biggest upgrade for the US Nats under Klinsi has been in defense. With the addition of Cameron and Johnson, the defense became more athletic and able to defend on their own, without the need for constant support from two holding mids. This reduces the risk when playing a higher line and pressing further up-field. Unfortunately, the US pipeline has not been able to groom replacements for Donovan and Dempsey, nor has it produced any creativity in the wide or center mids. Thus, we win the ball higher up, but cannot get it to our forwards in dangerous positions to put the opposing defense under pressure. Under Bradley, the center of our defense was a sieve and required defensive mids w/o quality ball control to plug access to the goal area. Furthermore, the lack of a worthy left back required Donovan or Dempsey to spend too much time in out own third, helping to contain the opposing right sided attackers.

  118. CenCal says:

    Loved the article IVES
    I love these excuses by theses readers about not having a full squad… do people not remember South Africa? if bradley has holden,davies,gooch and jones all healthy then that USA squad gets past ghana and proabably uruguay

  119. CenCal says:

    not a full strength squad is a weak excuse. the point is, reader, bob bradley didnt have a full squad team for South Africa and Id argue that with holden,davies,gooch and jones healthy we advance past ghana. waaaa

  120. Andy says:

    Ah gabe good point, that’s the problem! Klinsmann has been starting IX (9) instead XI (11)

  121. Vic says:

    People seem to be to worried about replacing Donovan and Dempsey. Both have at least two good years left and you never know who will emerge. No one could have predicted the emergence for Herculez Gomez. Dempsey also emerged to the top level later in his career. We have plenty of young talent: Boyd, Altidore, Gatt, Gyau, Corona, Diskerkud, George, Wooten, Lichaj, Johnson etc. Many more that are younger that can still emerge.

  122. Andy says:

    This is the lineup we need to bring possession based attacking soccer to the US:

    —Dempsey—Altidore—Donovan–
    –Bradley————–Zusi—-
    ————Williams————-
    Johnson–Bocanegra–Cameron—Cherundolo
    ————–Howard—————

  123. PD says:

    Wow, this was more than clickbait… This was clickchum! I think this article is an observation on what JK had done and a critique of over hopeful fans. Pretty straightforward op-Ed stuff. Not sure why some folks are so slow to get the point…

  124. Sgc says:

    A) In that 1-0 victory, we did dominate the possession and tempo. The stats were eye-popping, Barca-esque. We had 79% of the possession in the first half, to their 21%.

    B) The scoreline doesn’t necessarily relate to the same point. Spain quite regularly wins 1-0 scoring only a late goal but having utterly dominated the flow of play.

  125. Stan Collins says:

    My reply is something more like:

    You don’t go out there and just ‘play more offensively’, that’s not how this game works. Possession itself has to be earned.

    And a lot of times, it works backwards: the most defensive strategies out there begin with forwards doing a lot of defending, and the most offensive strategies begin with the center backs.

    To that end, I think Klinsmann has tried harder to play CBs who are reasonably good with their feet than Bob Bradley would. If Geoff Cameron works out, maybe we’ve got a guy who both fits his philosophy and might be good enough to actually start for this team.

    I think the second phase is having your holding mids be better at ‘stepping on the ball’ and being better at distribution. I think this is why JK likes Kyle Beckerman more than Bradley did. Unfortunately, unlike Cameron, I think Beckerman’s probably not good enough to start, he just seems to lack a half step of pace that he’d need. But even there, it seems that Michael Bradley is evolving in his club play to the type of player JK would want, and so setting the tone stylistically with Beckerman might not be that bad.

    Then you need the “#10″, the advanced midfielder who can both hold the ball and make killer passes. This is the one the player pool simply hasn’t offered Klinsmann many options as of yet. Corona might become that sort of guy, but it’s very early, and I see precious few others in this generation.

  126. jlm says:

    duly noted. very nice analysis. very good point about bob’s style being an extension of arena’s (although I think bob tried to go away from that style at the very beginning of his tenure without seeing much potency in a possession game).

    ultimately, this is the time we should be STARTING to judge Klinsmann. anything that has happened over his first year was too early in his tenure to judge (good or bad) considering his lack of experience with the US team, the big changes he is trying to make, and also considering the unimportance of those games. NOW is the time we can begin to criticize or praise, in my opinion

  127. PD says:

    If we as fans hold JK true to his word and his expressed intentions for the long term reorganization of the US Development pipeline, and if we take US Soccer at their word that are going to actually implement and hold true to what JK’s “vision” is, the JK’s legacy will be fully assessed not in 2014, but in coming generations of players. It’s a grandiose vision, but in truth it’s pretty un-sexy stuff. Progress will inch along until it reaches a tipping point, but we’re definitely in the “inch along” phase.

    In the meantime it’s about winning each match as they come, utilizing players that are coming into their own, and growing the love of the game and the visibility of the game.

    The USA will not become Barcelona (or Germany’s national squad) overnight. That will come when we have every player that puts on the Red, White and Blue are starting on top level clubs week in and week out. Plus, one only has to look at the recent rise in form of Jozy Altidore or Michael Bradley to know that getting to the right club has a HUGE impact on player development, perhaps more than any national pipeline could ever accomplish on it’s own.

    I personally think the gamble and the investment is worth it, if for no other reason than having a coach like JK means US Soccer has an international level of visibility, but we need to remain clear on what the gamble is and the nature of how long term this investment is.

  128. PD says:

    In my opinion Donovan has NOT been a core player in qualifying thus far, and anyone that considers him so is living in wishful-thinking-land as opposed to assess-reality-ville To call a player that is not playing on your team a core member is like considering Holden as a possible answer for the #10 question when he’s not even at match level fitness let alone game speed. It’s not any kind of dig on LD as a player (he’s brilliant) but he’s just not in the formula right now and shouldn’t be used as reason of a lack of offense until he’s starting regularly again. Assuming he’s gonna make it that far he’s not going to be around past 2014, so the discussion of our offense should be moving on, even while he still has much to contirbute.

  129. White Kix says:

    Ives,
    I do not always agree with you, but thank you for doing a piece that includes some criticism, or least shows the hypocrisy between Klinsman’s words and actions. I find most American Soccer journalism to blindly promote the team, coach, etc… I have been a loyal supporter of the USMNT for 20 years, and I am also highly critical of them, but only because I know we are capable of having a much better team.

    As far as your conclusion that Klinsman’s team does not play any different than Bradley’s team. You are wrong. Bradley always played 2 defensive midfielders. Klinsman plays 3 (or more). You are correct in that the formation is not nearly as important as the personal, and no matter what position you put them in, defensive midfielders will play like defensive midfielders.

    Another difference between Klinsman and Bradley, is that Bradley knew who to use as an attacking midfielder in the few occasions he decided to use one. In the World Cup, we were outscored 1-4 when Feilhaber was on the bench, but outscored our opponents 4-1 when he was on the field. It made no sense that Bradley refused to start him. However, it makes even less sense for Klinsman to continue to ignore one of the few players who can help this team score. Also, Bradley finally figured out that Adu is one of the few other US players that can consistently create chances. Klinsman came in and ignored Adu as well. I know that Adu and Fielhaber are two players that people love to hate, but they have both proven they can create chances at the national level. However, Klinsman continues to give Torres opportunities, but he never producers (to be fair to Torres, he is less of an attacking player and more of a smaller, weaker defending Michael Bradley, can sit in front of the defenders make the simple passes, and the occasional nice through ball, but is more of a keep possesion type of player than break down the defense type of player).

    Finally, I do see that Klinsman does usually have his players pressure higher up the field (he says to be closer to the goal when we get it). However, with so many defensive orriented players on the field, it doesn’t matter where we get the ball, they can’t do anything with it. I would rather have Fielhaber get the ball in his own half and have the opportunity to play a through ball to LD with 50 yards to run into than Beckerman have the ball in the attacking half.
    Thanks for the article.

  130. Thatpageguy says:

    Great points since I was going to say the same thing and now I don’t have to. It is too early to tell.

  131. Thatpageguy says:

    O’Brien was absolutely outstanding when he played in the WC for the US, but then he got injured and was never the same. I thought he was better than Reyna ever was. Glad to run into someone who appreciates him.

  132. Thatpageguy says:

    Agree with a lot of what White Kix said above. We have good play makers in Feilhaber and Adu. Maybe they don’t play defense well enough for Klinsmann? Certainly they have made good things happen in the past. The best bet would be a healthy Stuart Holden as he is a pretty good all around midfielder and excellent passer and crosser. Wish he would recover from his injury. Donovan has the capability to also be a center mid creator, but then you lose his wing play. I think that having that play maker in the middle is what is holding back the US attack. I think Klinsmann has been counting on Torres, but Torres hasn’t seized his opportunity like many of us had hoped. He looked good at times, and then disappears other times. I good coach/manager has to adapt to the strengths of the players he has to work with. I think Klinsmann is doing that and that has limited what he can do versus what he wants to do.

  133. biff says:

    Excellent and enlightening comment, White Kix. Enjoyed reading it and hope you post more often.

  134. biff says:

    Agree that Klinsmann is adapting to the strengths of the players he has to work with. But he is the one choosing the rosters and I think he could do a better job of choosing. There are potential attacking players in the pool, but Klinsmann is not testing any of them and is instead sticking with the same old stuff.

  135. beachbum says:

    this side should be better than Bradley’s; deficient talent levels or not today compared to other nations, compared to the US team 5 years ago it’s already vastly better in depth and available player options with varied skills allowing varied tactics.

    Fabian is perhaps the biggest in this regard becasue of the position he plays and the everlasting gobstopper hole LB has been for the USMNT.

    But perhpas a better example of how the pool has progressed is that a player like Benny, who has a proven track record of positive contributions and role playing, is not rated. The pool is bigger and better now, the team should hopefully follow suit, requiring Coach and staff to decipher the best pieces for the optimal unit with more parts to choose from than ever before

  136. DCP says:

    I agree with what your saying, but I see no reason why Klinsmann shouldn’t at least be trying to bring players into camp who could fill in for Dempsey and/or especially Donovan if those players aren’t available (granted no one in our pool can truly fill in for them). Maybe such fill-in players will emerge into great players over the next two years, maybe not, but I just don’t think Williams is the best possible replacement for Donovan when Donovan can’t go. Besides, you say Donovan will be around for at least two more years,but he has hardly been around for the last year, so I think it would be wise for Klinsmann to be exploring back-up plans.