The USMNT got the job done, but another flat performance is a cause for concern

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

They went to Antigua in search of three points, and as far as the ultimate task was concerned, Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. Men’s National Team accomplished that on Friday night.

The Americans didn’t just earn a vital victory. They also found a new scoring threat in Eddie Johnson, who made an impressive return to the national team fold, and repaid Klinsmann’s confidence in the process.

As encouraging as Johnson’s performance was, and as important as securing three points was, it was tough to come away from Friday’s 2-1 U.S. victory feeling very encouraged about the American team’s performance. Yes, you can point to injuries, and you can certainly point to awful playing conditions, and even to the painfully narrow playing surface that squeezed everything into a crowded and slippery mess of a field, but excuses like those for poor play by the U.S. have been worn out throughout this qualifying round by a team that has managed just one very good half of soccer in five matches.

No, style points don’t really matter in the final standings, and the U.S. team’s struggles in this qualifying round are likely to be forgotten as soon as the team dives into the Hexagonal round, but the team’s continued inability to find a rhythm and really show improvement is a cause for concern as an even more difficult challenge awaits in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The angst being felt by a good portion of American fans isn’t about the close call on Friday, or even about the fact the Americans won’t secure their place in the Hex until the final match day. The worry is born out of unmet expectations by a team that was supposed to blossom under Klinsmann.

Much the same way players can be criticized, and even dropped for poor play (Jozy Altidore anybody?), Klinsmann can certainly face some criticism for a team that just hasn’t played well. Friday’s conditions were extreme, to be sure, but there were as many questionable decisions made by Klinsmann as there were good ones.

Calling up and starting Johnson obviously looks like a stroke of genius. He deployed him essentially as a left forward in a three-forward attack and Johnson punished Antigua with back-post runs. Klinsmann also brought on Alan Gordon as a second-half sub, a move clearly worked out as he set up Johnson’s winning goal.

Those were the positives for Klinsmann. Now let us consider Klinsmann’s mis-steps on Friday:

He turned to Carlos Bocanegra to play left back rather than Michael Parkhurst and Bocanegra struggled with Antigua & Barbuda’s pace.

He started Clarence Goodson at centerback instead of Bocanegra and Goodson spent the night looking like Bambi trying to walk on ice. He was muscled out of the way on Antigua & Barbuda’s goal and never looked all that confident despite facing a team that never got much of the ball.

He inserted Jermaine Jones for Danny Williams in the second half and Jones promptly struggled. Bad passes, clumsy challenges and a yellow card that will keep him out of the Guatemala match on Tuesday were all Klinsmann had to show for bringing in a player who probably should have been rested after coming into camp with an injury.

These transgressions didn’t wind up costing the USA because Johnson delivered two goals, but they are mistakes Klinsmann must learn from and eliminate once the Hex begins, because there will be tougher opponents and less margin for error.

More worrisome than questionable moves by Klinsmann on Friday is a continued overall sense that this U.S. team just hasn’t improved all that much since he took over. Historic friendly wins against Italy and Mexico in 2012 have helped boost Klinsmann’s profile, and provided some sense that progress is being made, but those results have also distracted from the fact that the quality of soccer being played by the U.S. has been far from impressive.

There have been plenty of excuses given for the rash of subpar qualifying performances. Bad weather, injuries, poor officiating, terrible field conditions and even plain bad luck. Hearings these once or twice is one thing, but after a while excuses like those start to ring hollow.

To be fair to Klinsmann, he isn’t the first U.S. coach to have trouble with CONCACAF qualifying. Twelve years ago Bruce Arena led his team into the final match of this same group stage needing a win to secure a place in the Hexagonal. The Americans won that match handily, went on to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and reached the quarterfinals of that tournament.

As underwhelming as the U.S. has been for the majority of this qualifying round, they still head into Tuesday’s group stage finale against Guatemala in good shape to reach the Hex. Both Klinsmann and his team have picked up some lessons along the way and it will up to both to learn from them and improve.

Klinsmann does deserve some credit for not being afraid to try new things. He knew the team hadn’t been good enough in qualifying and set out to shake things up with the selections of Johnson and Alan Gordon (and the snub of Jozy Altidore). His decision to not only call in Kljestan, but bring him into Friday’s match with the game on the line, showed us a coach who is willing to adapt.

The real question is when will this U.S. team start playing like the team we thought we would see when Klinsmann took over? Perhaps we can get a glimpse on Tuesday against Guatemala. The field won’t be narrow, and the grass at Livestrong Sporting Park will be well manicured. There will still be some American players missing due to injury, but there will be more than enough talent available to finally register not only a victory, but an entertaining and confidence-building display of soccer.

Yes, securing the result needed to qualify for the next round is what will matter most for the U.S. national team, but after a group stage filled with lackluster performances, Klinsmann’s team need a convincing victory for a variety of reasons. Not only to provide momentum heading into 2013, but to give U.S. national team fans a reason to believe better days lie ahead for the Klinsmann era.

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142 Responses to The USMNT got the job done, but another flat performance is a cause for concern

  1. Damian says:

    Great article Ives. Loved the Bambi compairison towards Goodson… spot on :D

  2. Kevin_Amold says:

    While pitch size, pitch quality, and injuries play a role in today’s game, none of these things will be remembered beyond a year from now. All we’ll remember is that the US needed a late late goal to avoid a very embarrassing draw.

    I used to have more concern for our short term than our long term future, but I’m becoming concerned for the long term too. I just don’t believe we have the players to play the way Klinsman wants us to play. Our youth system does not produce players that play this type of game, in my opinion.

    • Nate says:

      Really Kevin in all honesty, if we qualify for WC14, we won’t even be thinking about A&B because all the near heart-attacks we’re given during the Hex will push it far from memory ;)

  3. PD says:

    Soccer is a funny game.

    Once you’re on the pitch, all bets are off. I think those of use who remember the entire confederations cup, not just the win against Spain, will remember that just a few days before that historic win, the US needed a miracle result againt Egypt plus some help from Italy to even be in a position to play that match. A lot of folks thought that tournament would see Senior Bradley get fired, not make history.

    This team will play a fluid attacking brand of soccer once it has the opportunity to. let’s be honest, throwing 11 behind the ball on a pitch narrower than Jen-Weld will make any style of soccer look constipated.

    JK’s biggest mistake last night was not having Boca in the middle. Cameron and Goodson are not good enough or experienced enough to keep compass for a full 90, and Boca is too slow to be on the flank. That choice essentially put us down two players on the play which led to the goal – we missed a speedy flank player and we missed having a brain at center back.

    It was ugly, but the USA made it through. This is CONCACAF.

    • Nate says:

      “It was ugly, but the USA made it through. This is CONCACAF.”

      I would of also excepted “This. Is. CONCACAF.” or “Ladies and Gentlemen your 2014 CONCACAF Qualifying.”

  4. Brett says:

    Even though we dominated possession we were EXTREMELY fortunate to get the 3 points. The lack of shots from forwards has been and continues to be alarming.

    This game also made it abundandly clear that Bocanegra is not the left back we need to play the style that Klinsy wants. Why he’s even slotted in that position sort of baffles me. Several times the left channel was WIDE open and he was nowhere to be found.

    Welcome back GAM. I thought Eddie had a great game. A few errant touches/passes, but he dropped back to hold the ball pretty well and made his trademark runs up both channels… and of course, the goals. Zusi with another solid performance as well, showing his passing touch and field vision. He and Bradley might be our only good playmakers.

    I’m sort of pleased that Jones is out. His work rate is very good but he just clogs up too many movements and makes some very dumb challenges.

  5. MemRook says:

    JK v BB arguments are mostly tired and irrelevant, but the one thing that is clear to me is JK isn’t nearly as effective at getting his players to buy in and believe in his “system” as BB was. I’m not saying JK doesn’t have some value and bring his own set of skills and experience to the table. He does. But JK does not get as much out of the same basic player pool as BB did with more or less equal talent. BB was a master at getting his players to believe in his tactics and in themselves. BB got players to play for the shirt as a unit. It wasn’t ultimately sexy and it drove some sector of the fan base nuts. It wasn’t perfect. I just wish JK could find a way to get more heart and self-belief out of his players. That’s all I’m saying. I will support whoever is in charge cuz I want to win and succeed. But it’s ok to point out where coaches need improvement too.

    • Kosh says:

      It could be that MemRook, but I think there is something else going on here. I think we focus too much on formations, lineups and substitues – which I am not excusing by the way.

      I think the one thing that stands out for me is training. I think JK overtrains his players. We are not the most techincal in world – no one will argue that. But what we had and what we are known for is physicality, size, speed and fitness. It used to be that we got a bunch of wins because our counter attacks were just as fast late in games as they were at the start. We would outlast teams and outrun teams (and even bested Mexico many a times this way) due to fitness alone.

      The consistent thing I have been seeing is that our guys come out flat or are the first to get gassed. Why? It’s not like we run around as much as we used to. I mean unless we are playing a power, we have more of the ball tha the opponent lately. So why do we come out flat? Why are we the first to be gassed? Our guys litterally run out of steam faster than before. I think it comes down to training and I think JK is overtraining his guys. I heard crticisms of his training methods when he coached in Germany – and in fact that was the one thing many of his players never bought into, if I recall correctly.

      I mean that’s the way I see it at least.

    • Mig says:

      Well said. It is a less-inspired bunch right now and that does seem to be down to the coach at least in part.

    • GW says:

      Memrook,

      It’s easy to forget that BB had a longer less stressful break in period with a player pool that were essentially his kind of players since in many ways BB was an Arena clone.

      You forgot what 2007-08 looked like.

      You also forget that this group is still basically Bradley’s team only less fluid for one simple reason, the continuing absence of it’s main inspirational player , Donovan.

      Good as they are, Dempsey, Bradley, Howard , Boca and Dolo have never been able to carry the team quite like LD can ( and I am not a Donovan fan).

      As far as I can tell the main difference between this group and Bradley’s teams, besides the missing LD, is JK is far more transparent and more talkative. Which means all of you have clearer targets for criticism.

      JK needs to shut up and get Donovan back.

      Once he qualifies then he can resume the search for Donovan’s successor and the team’s new identity.

      • Roy says:

        Calling Arena and Bradley clones is a bit unfair to both. They coached with a realism regarding the talent they had at hand. But that doesn’t make them clones. Neither does the recognition that MLS has players to offer, probably because they coached in it. I think other top MLS coaches would have approached the team similarly.

        We are probably seeing the difference between MLS coaches who know the league’s players better and Klinsy, who went to Germany before MLS for new faces. It is interesting that he finally is going to MLS now that the team is struggling.

        Klinsy is a lovable guy, but he scares the crap out of me as a fan. Maybe Bradley’s team was slipping at the end due to post-World Cup blues, but Klinsy has not turned it around. Pep talks only go so far. I’m getting the feeling his successes are due to luck more than brilliance.

        • FK PIRIN says:

          Not clones but both with the same tactical decision to use a more direct, counterattacking style suited to our region’s officiating, football pitches, and physicality. In addition it may also play to our players’ strengths.

          JK is using a style that is possession based, and physicality, bad pitches, and poor officiating make using that style very difficult. Of course Mexico seems to make it work. The benefit should come when playing at the World Cup. Our players may be in disagreement with the coach about tactics in CONCACAF.

          • kennybabs says:

            the counterattacking style deployed by BB definitely played to the team’s strengths. Klinsi’s posessiopn based approach by building from out of the back showcases the team’s weaknesses: lack of technical skill on the ball, poor off the ball runs, and lack of creativity. is it any wonder why much of the US’s advantage in possession is square and backward passes?! Klinsis tactical approach has neutered the US offense, who are more concerned playing a ‘safe’ pass than attacking. and when they do have an opportunity to counter they move with no sense of urgency.

          • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

            What Possession-Based style are you talking about? Like how we showed against Mexico? Or like we showed vs Italy?
            Or do you mean the style we show against the CONCACAF nations of under 100K population?
            I recall clearly the same level of possession against similar nations.

        • GW says:

          Clones may be a bit too strong but Bradley was Arena’s assistant and was far more comfortable with and knowledgeable about what he was given than JK was.

          JK immediately spoke of revolutionizing things, always an indiscreet thing to do.

          I’m very tired of this “finally going to MLS now” BS.

          It’s very lazy on your part.

          JK is the guy that vouched for Robbie Rogers, Cameron and Ream in their permit hearings over in England. He’s the guy that played Beckerman , Shea and Rogers in his first game and continues to bring in Wondo, Shea and Beckerman. He’s the guy who saw something in Zusi when none of you did and kept calling him in. He’s the guy who finally gave Cameron his extended chance. He was once a consultant for TFC and he is the guy who called in Gordon and EJ when none of you would have.

          The people who say JK is not familiar with MLS and is reluctant to use it are probably mostly upset that he is not calling in their favorite player.

        • Boz says:

          It’s interesting to note that JK is not a particularly well-regarded coach in Germany. I lived there during his stint at Bayern and visited often afterwards as well. The general consensus (which shouldn’t be trusted as much as it is, especially around here) was that he was a poor tactician and not very capable of managing personalities. Interestingly, like he’s done with the US to some extent, he was the driving factor in both proclaiming the team should play more attacking soccer and bringing in fresh and exciting players with non-traditional backgrounds like Oezil and Khedira. Unfortunately for us, the man who actually made the German team start to really click was his successor, Loew. If you can read German or can find a translation, Franz Beckenbauer had some particularly unkind things to say about him should you be inclined to look.

      • Brolo says:

        Really calling out these guys. Howard is a leader of men..Remember good teams win these types of close games. So much criticism but I guess that’s what forums are for

      • biff says:

        “…JK is far more transparent and more talkative.”

        Yes, JK is more talkative, but a lot of what he says on subsequent reflection or closer inspection is far from transparent, but actually vague and ambiguous and lacking substance and, quite frankly, sometimes just sweet-sounding nonsense. I would encourage anyone who disagrees to simply go back and re-read a few of his interviews.

        • GW says:

          No kidding?

          Do you really expect any manager of any team in any sport to be as transparent with you as if he were your brother in law talking with you about his little league team?

          I’ve read most of what JK has said during his many interviews and given what I understand to be the limitations of the position (i.e. it is unwise for any pro manager to ever be completely candid), I find him to be remarkably consistent and candid. Perhaps you are projecting too much of what you want to hear into what you think he is saying.

          But then again, given your posts, I have a completely different set of expectations than you do.

    • atd says:

      Devil’s advocate: The US has come away with more points per game under Klinsmann this year (2.16) than it did during any year of Bradley’s tenure (highest was 2.07 in 2008, also the third round of WCQ). There are plenty of perfectly good criticisms to be made of Klinsmann, but at least he’s winning.

      • Camjam says:

        Great point. Also, as much as some try to disregard the Italy and Mexico wins (because, as Ives said, the style hasn’t improved by leaps and bounds), this means JK is winning more, and winning big games.

    • Midnight Sprint says:

      JK seems to have a clear vision of what he wants for the program. I don’t know if it’s really about the players not “buying in”, it may just be that the system is better designed for Europe. What top level teams in Europe have to play on tiny, rain soaked, tore up cricket fields?

      Perhaps the system will work better in the Hex? I hope so, or we are going to struggle to even get to Brazil. JK needs to stop with the excuses and relying on the cop-out that “hey, we got the points; that’s what matters.” In the end, points are key; however, struggling against A&B makes it more likely that we get crushed by Mexico or the teams in our group should be even make it to Brazil.

      BB also had LD, Dempsey, and others in their prime. LD has been absent physically or mentally for the entirety of the JK era.

    • Eric says:

      Great point sir.

      • slimkid32 says:

        I’m glad somebody made this point. Klinsi was hired to improve not only our senior team, but the whole system. He gets a bit of bad rap because he hasnt got the instant results we as Americans demand. He inherited a team of aging veterans and nothing else. Who was Bradley grooming to replace the likes of LD, Deuce, Dolo, Boca, and Timmy? The answer is nobody. He coached game to game never looking to the future in addition to the immediate opponent. All the haters are upset because klinsi hasn’t delivered the way we wanted him to in his relatively short tenure, which is in my opinion is a bit premature and unfair. When a coach comes in to change a program as a whole, his work should be judged by the kids coming up in the years to come not the senior players who have been there for years. At the end of the day the majority of the senior team players are what they are and I believe klinsi does whatever he can to field his best, most experienced players no matter what. Is it his fault our best and most experienced mids are all well suited to #6 roles? I think not. But it does make sense to play your proven players. I feel sometimes that the haters will always find the bad; if he fields the beat most experienced players he is crazy because they aren’t offensive enough. Then he goes out and brings 2 unproven MLS guys and he’s crazy because they aren’t proven enough. Then the MLS guys win the match and people are hating on him even more. Klinsi can’t win.

  6. It’s World Cup Qualifying. Why all this angst?

    We got the 3 points. Frankly, that is all that matters.

    Welcome home USMNT!

  7. Dave says:

    Listen, this team looked flat under BB as well, and that includes the World Cup. Even though the US reached the knockout round, does anyone believed they looked great doing so? Remember, they only drew England due to a GK mistake, played horribly against Slovenia in the first half, and got a miracle late goal against Algeria? WOW! Also, Ricardo Clark was awful and yet BB started him against Ghana and how did that work out? When you consistently sub within 30 minutes, that doesn’t peak well of your tactical choices. So, while JK has struggled,

  8. Tim F. says:

    This is a great piece Ives. I do like the fact that Klinsmann is not “afraid to try new things.” That is refreshing and I hope it ultimately pays off, but I agree with you that right now the product does not feel as convincing despite excellent results against Italy and Mexico. I would like to see more goal scoring chances and shutouts by the USMNT in all competitions.

    Landon Donovan was a key US player prior to Klinsmann’s arrival and he hasn’t seen as much play time in the new regime due primarily to injury; moreover Donovan is now past his prime but still better than most who are in their prime.

    The defense looks to have lost a step; more speed and athleticism is needed. I don’t know if the answer is Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler but they need to be in the mix and of course one is sick and one has not shown the commitment.

    It is tough being a NT coach because you only have select periods to work with the players and my sense is, Klinsmann still needs to identify the best, committed players and, after that, they need more time playing together to develop better cohesion.

    I believe if you look at last night’s team and the players on the field when the winning goals were scored against Italy and Mexico earlier this year, there is only one player who represented in all three matches and that is Tim Howard. So, the coach is experimenting, trying to find the right players and then ultimately, when selected, these 23 need to fight for playing time and a core group, among these 23, need more time playing together. I just hope that players like Altidore and Boyd get a second look; that said, I am very happy for EJ and I hope his production continues and also for Dempsey and Gomez.

    • Tim F. says:

      When was the last time we could rattle off names of close to double digit numbers of forwards that could legitimately compete for a spot on the NT squad?

      Dempsey, Gomez, Altidore, Boyd, Johnson, Wondolowski, Gordon, Cooper, Pontius,
      Sapong, Agudelo, Bunbury

      This shows the importance of having a domestic league.

      • Mike R says:

        Of those only Dempsey is quality.

        I really wouldn’t want to see any of the others starting against Mex in a qualifier or in a must win against Honduras much less a Euro team in a wc.

        Johnson was great yest…unfortunately we have seen this show. He has a great game against a poor team, gets everyone’s hopes up , the does nothing against real competition.

        Gomez is a sub for his club team and I don’t want to see any hot those other forwards starting just yet.

        IMO the MLS forwards you mention are very overrated and we haven’t really developed any real offensive players since Landon and Dempsey.

        That’s is a problem in a nutshell and we are getting a glimpse of the ost post Donovan USMNT and I’m not liking what I see. Very little increase in level of talent since the MLS started.

      • Chris says:

        Not Cooper. He is a good MLS forward who benefits immensely from having Henry on the field to distract the defense.

      • Roy says:

        These guys are competing because no two consistently stand out. Some of these guys have potential. I’d like to see Wondolowski given more chances to see if he is more McBride or more Kreis. As we know, Kreis never made the move up in quality.

        A NT coach can’t really improve these guys much, but a good one knows how and when to use them. I give Klinsy credit for sitting Altidore. But can Klinsy do it on a consistent basis?

  9. Nate says:

    Why does Jermaine Jones continue to be an automatic roster selection and why was he the first sub off the bench? His propensity for horrible fouls and regular yellow cards would cause most coaches consider him a huge liability. Klinsi snubbed Jozy for who-knows-what, but he wont send a message to Jones for his consistent bad decisions on the field?

    • Lee D says:

      Great point. He seems to favor the German-board players a bit (understandably) but even that’s got to give at some point.

    • biff says:

      Agreed, last night was not Jermaine Jones’ best moment in a US shirt, but a lot of players last night did not look good. Let’s not forget that a lot of people on this board were touting Danny Williams to start ahead of Jones, and Williams failed miserably and should have come out sooner and I will surprised to see him start ahead of Beckerman or Edu Tuesday in KC .

      Yes, Jones got the yellow card, but his overall performance was still better than Williams. And quite frankly, I don’t see the problem with Jones’ yellow card, as long he didn’t get a second to leave us down a man. And his detractors now should be happy, as he won’t be playing Tuesday. Jones is not the one who lost emotional control last night to put the team at risk, it was Michael Bradley who exploded after he was tackled in the box potentially risking a red card and/or a major team fight that could have been disaster. And if you look at the video, while other players were trying unsuccessfully to calm down MB and get him away from Antigua players, it was Jermaine Jones who jumped in and wrapped his arms around MB and effectively pushed him away from the situation to calm down.

      • Steven says:

        Williams was playing right on top of the pond. You can’t fault him too much. Williams should still start in the next game. I would say that Michael Bradley was firing up the team yesterday. We needed some fire and emotion and motivation and that point in the game. He didn’t lose emotional control. Right after he got in the face of the AB team, he executed a well-controlled shot on goal that forced the AM keeper to make the best save of the night. I agree with Nate. Jozy and JJ have been about equally effective for the USMNT even though they are successful in their clubs, but JK clearly loves Jermaine Jones and is giving some hate to Jozy. JK is kind of erratic with his decisions and talking. Eddie Johnson was awesome yesterday.

      • Beto says:

        Williams’ game was really affected by the conditions more than anyone else, maybe Gomez. I hope both start in KC and play similar to how they played vs Jamaica in a similar environment.

        Bringing Jones into the game was just a terrible idea and it paid off exactly how i thought it would, execpt i thought he would get real yellow not an acidental hand ball yellow.

        The team survived and should be excited to return to the USA where they can play in a more “professional” environment

      • Beto says:

        I was really worried MB was going to get a card. That would be a huge loss vs Guatemala

      • Maverickman874 says:

        Oh god no Edu or Beckerman, I would rather have Williams. If Fabian isn’t fit, I would Boca at center back and Parkhurst at LB. Have Zusi or Sacha at LM and have EJ as CF. Gomez off the bench

    • Ceej says:

      I have been saying this for the last 6 months. Jones sucks and I cant understand why JK rates him so high. He constantly gives the ball away and will be way too old for an athletic Dmid type when the next world cup rolls around.

      It was amazing how much bettter the US looked against Jamaica with Williams in the middle and Jones on the bench. And I have no idea how good Williams is, but he’s certainly better than Jones.

    • JD10UT says:

      He likes the nasty. We need more nasty, remember?

  10. bizzy says:

    This win should not be considered a win, it is an embarassment. It’s like a david and goliath story were david gets his a** beat……that how it was suppose to be. This team was put together by a coach that had such limited amount of players that he had to just field a whole 3rd division team, and to make matter worst it’s a 3rd division team thats in last place in OUR soccer system. Infact none of their goal keepers has seen top professional soccer (one studies at florida institute of technology), their defense has only one player thats decent and he’s not even a starter for Motherwell, in scotland.
    Some people talk about reason, about our injuries, about the pitch and about our talent pool…….A&B fielded a 3rd division USL team that not only scored on us (which implies our midfield and defense is crap/not on the same page) but kept us out until the magic boot of Johnson bailed us out in the dying minute of the match. It’s even worst because of the fact that the goal keeper sucked really bad, their defense really sucks thats why they are in last place but stepped up and our attackers couldn’t combine well enough to drive through a 3rd division team or better to get in position regularly to score.
    Their coach had only Antigua Baracudas for his talent pool(….Antigua baracudas!!!!!), we had our foreign base, MLS, 2nd division USL and the leaders in the 3rd divsion USL to choose from. If that coach can almost upset out National team with a last place 3rd divsion USL team imagine what he’d do if he have Klinsmann’s selection.
    ….and Eddie Johnson saved our skins but scoring against “The Baracudas”…….he has more props scoring in MLS than this game

  11. Hayes says:

    Interesting that JK thanks that you can play a guy out of position and get the most out of him. Johnson got the goals but I think the offense would have been much better with him up top with Gomez instead of playing out wide, especially wide on the left where he would not use his left to cross the ball.

    Dempsey, if anyone has watched him over the past few years, is better playing on the left with the ability to cut into the box. Maybe JK felt he needed Johnson’s speed tracking back to help due to Boca’s lack of speed. That brings me to the second point in that you Boca is a liability against a team that is going to give up possession and try to counter. Playing outside makes it even worse.

    US should win Tuesday and go on but let’s hope that JK gets out of the way and lets the players do what they do best.

    • GW says:

      ” the offense would have been much better with him up top with Gomez instead of playing out wide, especially wide on the left where he would not use his left to cross the ball.”

      What proof do you have? EJ scored two goals. If he had done as you say would he or someone else have scored three? Given the conditions, it was like playing in a cow pasture in the rain. It’s amazing anyone scored.

      As for playing players out of position what makes you think players play their so called natural position at their clubs?

      Dempsey is now playing a slightly different position at Spurs than he did at Fulham, Cameron has been deployed at midfield by Stoke and Houston, where he played all over. Fabian J. and Danny Williams have played all over the midfield and the backline in the last two years. Clubs have more time and flexibilty in terms of positioning players but they also have short term fix needs and periods where they have to have players “fill in” for whatever reason. Look closely at the resume of these US players and you will find many of them have versatile backgrounds. International players often have to be since tournament rosters are so restrictive that players who are specialists are luxuries only the best teams can afford.

      • TomG says:

        I would generally agree. It’s pretty much impossible to predict what anyone would have done in thess conditions. The bottom line is, though, that, as a team, we were very flat.

      • biff says:

        Cameron has been playing right back for Stoke the past 2 or 3 games, not midfield.

        • Hayes says:

          I agree that some of the players are veratile. But Johnson is not really one of them. Both goals came off headers while he was in the box and I believe he had moved to playing up front by the time the second was scored. Dempsey is playing a different role with Spurs but that is also a team that has two true wingers to provide service. This is something the US does not have with this team.

          As far as Fabian J and Williams, they play primarily LB and DM for their club team which I believe has been their most effective positions for the USA.

          Just saying that on a narrow field with the group we have available, I think there was a better tactical use of the players that were used in the attack.

        • Hogatroge says:

          Cameron has played DM and RB for Stoke so far this year.

          I think he also played 1 game at CB as well while either Huth or Shawcross was out, but can’t remember. It may have been some sort of cup game.

  12. bizzy says:

    It’s like firing a coach of a boxer, a boxer with a lot of potential, saying the coach did a good job but we need a coach that can take him to the next level, to be able to complete in the top heavy weight ranks. After sparing with top contenders in pointless exhibition matches (sometimes even winning on points) he starts really fighting title fights. In a fight that was suppose to end in the first round goes the distance and he almost ties with the challenger, an over weight sparing amateur but still manages to get a last minute knock down to win the fight.
    …..And during the interview he looks at the camera and says…I did it…I’m the greatest…

  13. THomas says:

    I really am not one for excuses. They’re all professionals and should win that game under any conditions, and they did. That said, for players used to playing in the best stadiums under the best conditions, that setting at A&B was a complete joke.

    Seriously, a complete joke. CONCACAF/FIFA surely have to have some minimum requirements for hosting a match, don’t they? I found myself watching the field more than the game and the first thing anybody said as they entered the bar was where the hell are the playing and what happened to the field? Why is it so narrow with all of that room around? Why are there gopher holes everywhere? Is that spray paint?

    Glad we were able to pull out the result, I’m not going to put too much stock into the poor performance. It was gutsy in the end that they got the result they needed.

    • ernj says:

      A&B FA made the field the minimum size allowable by FIFA to limit the US advantage in flank play and speed. Apparently US Soccer measured it to make sure it conformed. No excuse for the condition of the pitch, however. I am curious what the field in some CAF qualifiers look like.

      • Jared says:

        You see field conditions like that and understand why club coaches don’t want to release players for national team duty. If FIFA is going to demand that players be released then they need to do their best to ensure the safety of the players.

        • GW says:

          Yeah and after they do that they can clean up the corruption next.

          The field was regulation. Get over it.

  14. Chris says:

    Not sure why you all are assuming next Tuesday is a win. Will be a tough, tough, game.

    • Joamiq says:

      I’m not assuming it’ll be a win, but I doubt it’ll be a particularly tough game either. Both teams advance with a draw. I think both sides will start out giving moderate effort and then settle into 0-0 mode 20 minutes in or so.

  15. mikeandike says:

    as someone who thought Bob Bradley was criticized more than he deserved (he did deserve it, of course for some of the selections), I can admit that the team looked in clear decline after WC 2010. The team looked flat in exhibitions and was sleepwalking through the Gold Cup, even losing to Panama at home and beating Guadelupe 1-0 before getting blown out by Mexico.

    It was clearly time for a change. The question is whether Klinsmann was the right decision. He certainly talked a good game about all the things US fans wanted to hear: attractive, attacking soccer, possession, aspiration to be among the best in the world.

    However, the results show a further decline, or at least none of the improvement in US performance on the field since then. What aspect of the game is this USMNT better at then 2, 3, 4 years ago?

    The player pool deepened recently with all the german-Americans and the progress on the club level by Jozy, Bradley, Dempsey… some like Donovan have regressed and not been around, but to me, at least, the overall quality of the players has improved, but the results on the field have not…

    It seems like Klinsi tried to implement a methodical, possession-oriented, short-passing game early on and then gave up, leaving the team rudderless…

  16. Spencer says:

    The way we play is definitely worrisome, we have had games where our offense looked great against Brazil, Scotland and first half against Jamaica in the US. I just don’t believe Klinsmann really believes much in our team and if he does then our players don’t believe in him enough. We all know what is going to happen against Guatemala. We are going to go out and play great up to the point where we get our first goal. After that he will make the defensive subs and we will defend the rest of the game and may leave with 1-0 or a 1-1. The problem is when you clearly dominate a team there is no need to go more defensive. Our talent pool is superior to every team we play except Mexico and even then its not too far apart. I am sick of us playing for 1-0 wins. We have also got to stop giving up goals 5 minutes after we score.

    • GW says:

      Spencer,

      What exactly did you expect?

      JK spent a lot of time talking up his vision and then he discovered that his best players were unavailable at bad times and even when they were they were more like Stoke than Barca.

      They call that bait and switch.

      Now that he knows better, JK told you he was going to do this. He said it was now time to get down to business and get the six points, by any means possible. Calling in Gordon told you that. If I were him I would have called in Lenhart to make the point crystal clear.

      “We will pound you!”

      If you were in his position I doubt you would do it any different.

      • Spencer says:

        I would actually.
        Altidore
        Adu
        Dempsey-Bradley-Donovan(Zusi)
        Williams
        Johnson-Boca-Cameron-Cherundolo
        Howard

        If you say you want to play offense you must put out an attack minded team and not 3 d-mids. Before any complaints about Adu at the club level people may only be able to point out 1-2 times of his entire MNT games that he actually didn’t have a great impact.

        • Ryan says:

          Adu has to at least be on the bench for every meaningful game the US plays. Fact is, there’s no other US player with a skillet like his. And when we need a goal in a tight game, I’m so tired of having no one on the bench we can bring in. Also, the best games the US have played over the last five years have also featured Feilhaber playing a prominent role. He may not be doing great in MLS,and he may turn the ball over more than we’d like, but it really doesn’t F’ing matter. When he’s been on, he’s been the most important player on the field for us in some huge games. Or we can just keep rolling out these 2 and 3 d-mid lineups and hope things magically change. Either way.

        • Pete says:

          you know what I find absolutely hilarious is for all this talk of possession football and skill football he doesn’t put out the most skill dplayer we have in our stable regardless of what his clubs situation is…
          Team we should beat line up should be
          Altidore
          Dempsey-Adu-Donovon (Bedoya)
          Bradley-Jones
          Johnson-Boca-Cameron-Dolo

          Defensive Game
          Altidore
          Dempsey
          Sasha-Bradley-Donovon
          Jones
          Same Backline

          JK overthinks the situation, he is of 2 many minds. Keep it simple, and theyll do the rest.

          • GW says:

            I would say you are the one doing the overthinking.

            When Joe Morrone Sr. was coach at UCONN, he took advantage of the NCAA rules and would field defensive/ offensive lineups like you suggested

            They were rotated situationally during the game just like you would switch lines in a NHL game. Some players were only on the field in the last 20 minutes. If UCONN were down late he would field a center back as the keeper and have him join the attack. If they scored, then the regular keeper would come back before the game ended.

            Off course it turns out FIFA rules prevent this at the international level. I get the feeling US fans would love that as it is much more familiar feeling to them.

        • DCP says:

          I really want to see Adu get a a nice long run with the team so that 1 of 2 things can happen.

          A) I never have to read about him as some mythical attacking maestro who will make this team better; or

          B) I am proven wrong and we find out that he really his what some people claim he is (a good soccer player).

          I would be happy with either option, but it does get a little tiresome having to read about him when it does not seem that Klinsmann is actually inclined to bring him into camp.

      • TomG says:

        The problem is, GW, that we DIDN’T pound them. We were completely flat up until the last 5 minutes. The point is also that this isn’t the first time we’ve come out flat. It seems to be a pattern lately. Yes, the conditions were awful, and if this performance were a one off, then I wouldn’t be worried, but this happens almost every game, now. There is a team-wide hesitancy as if no one knows what they should be doing or where they should be.

        • Ryan says:

          We’re not “flat,” we’re bad. Look at that lineup we threw out there, how many guys capable of creating we’re there? 2?

    • TomG says:

      Some very good points, Spencer.

  17. Jl says:

    Its always something with the Nats. it’s quite frustrating to have them never play to paper. The comment about those guys playing for Bradley more is interesting, I thought frequently we saw them not play to his tactics, wait til the 70th min and then press and scramble for a late goal. Perhaps they don’t buy into Jk tactics because they are too hard and different from what they became accustomed to, plenty of players resist change because its too hard to break habits at this stage of their careers

    • GW says:

      This is still basically Bradley’s team and if some of them are better playing for him rather than for JK, two very different managers, why is everyone so surprised?

      Many of them will be phased out before the next World Cup, if we make it, for whatever reason.

      He clearly does not have the same regard for Sacha, Adu, Gooch, Benny, Bedoya, Lichaj etc. that BB had. On the other hand he is obviously getting good performances out of Bradley holdovers such as Howard, Jones, MB90. Dempsey, Gomez and Dolo.

      And he has not had the same luck with Jozy, Ream, Chandler, and Donovan that BB had.

      Most of you crucified Bradley about his reluctance to use Torres and now are crucifying JK for his use of Torres. Ironic isn’t it? And besides his Mexican and German Americans he has gotten good use of Cameron, Zusi,Beckerman and Shea,

      It’s been a mixed bag which is about what any rational person should have expected.

      The one constant through all this is that, whatever the issues, JK is expected to qualify the USMNT for the 2014 WC and will be fired if he does not.

      How he does that, as long as it is legal, is not an issue.

      Oh and as for that person who says Beckenbauer has critical things to say about JK, I say really??.

  18. same old same old says:

    Am I the only person old enough to remember the 2010 WC qualifying? We had some pretty tight matches and losses and ties (yes, losses and ties) in Central America and the Caribbean. (I know T&T in theory are better than A&B, but A&B made it this far this time around.) I also remember some Bradley bashing at the time that was remarkably similar to this round of coach bashing. Moan…how could we loose to T&T or ES….moan….players don’t respect him as much as they did Bruce…moan…he’s playing guys out of position…moan…what the hell is a guy like Bornstein doing on the team…etc, etc and etc. Facts are, and some posters have rightly alluded to these, our player pool is still fairly basic, it’s very difficult to play in hellhole fields in Central America and the Caribbean against teams that live to play us, and any coach that gets the right results is doing well. Of course, if JK came out and said that, other than speaking of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, he would be lynched for sacrilege. So he has to speak of the pot of gold while he and his coaches figure out how to build a friggin’ rainbow. Not sure anyone can do it in even two World Cup cycles. US Soccer should update its US Soccer 2010 project (how funny to remember that piece of propaganda!) to 2048. Perhaps 28 years are sufficient to build the proverbial rainbow. In the meantime, here is to qualifying for Brazil in any way and a second round performance there (if stars align, the quarters!). Go US!

  19. Kris says:

    Trashy pitch, trashy weather and trashy play. You fellas better step it up because that simply will not cut it. Glad to take the 3 points, but we shouldn’t need 90 minutes to do it.

  20. Jeb says:

    It was a hard fought game.

  21. robbo says:

    Great comments guys. I have heard these comments from Bayern Munich players after Klinsman left. The players did not understand his selection, strategy, formation and lack of ability to make adjustment during games. He needs a tactician who understand and knows the players, and how to get the best out of them. He is surrounded by the same clown from Bayern. He or members of his coaching staff needs to go. We have a lot of talented players who are struggled under this regime. In all honesty, I think these players are no longer committed to playing for this clown. He may not be able to communicate effectively to his players.

    • squirt-lover says:

      agreed 100%

    • biff says:

      There might be at the very least grains of truth to everything you are saying. Don’t know. But after sleeping the game last night, I am starting to think that Klinsmann needs to call in a new assistant coach. When he was hired last year, I truly thought he would hire one of the young MLS coaches as an assistant. And then we found out he was sticking with the same old thing.

      The game last night was what I call a win in the grey zone, not a solid victory nor a dismal loss. We got a last second goal against a team we should have pounded. We will see what happens Tuesday against Guatemala. But if it is yet another strained effort, a grey-zone victory, then the US Soccer chiefs need to carefully study the situation and all options need to remain open and possible action taken quickly to prepare for the Hex.

      I am not saying it should happen, but just saying that the most severe action would be replacing Klinsmann. But US Soccer also could demand that Klinsmann bring in a new face or two to help out (would love to see Peter Vermes on the bench beside Klinsmann). I do get the feeling there is a major disconnect there and all you have to do is look at the video of the guy Klinsmann brought in to the September camp to motivate the players by tearing telephone books into and bending pans.

      All that said, it was great to see both goals supplies by MLS players and if Klinsmann can build on some of these changes and learn from his many mistakes and we can do better in the Hex, I will be happy.

    • GW says:

      Taking the word of Bayern’s locker room as gospel can be a tricky thing.

      The two players whose perspective on JK and the current situation I would love to hear are Frings and Friedrich.

    • Amru says:

      Yeah I think you are right and so were the Klinsy’s former players, he is an awful coach. Point to whatever excuse you want, there is no reason for our team to look so lost on the pitch. We have no identity under Klinsmann and that is what worries me the most. I’m willing to bet some of our players also believe he is a fool, and Jozy was just dumb enough to admit that publicly.

    • Darwin says:

      Klinsmann is a coach with his eye on the prize. He’s progressive, holistic, and can shake up the USSF. I think in the long haul, with longer youth and development academy seasons, new curriculum for coaches and players, Klinsi will pay off in the future.

      Maybe we should be asking ourselves, What if we fire Sunil Gulati (many wouldn’t mind this) and replace him with Klinsmann after this WC? Let Klinsmann do what he does best and hire a coach with the tactical acumen that so many are asking for.

      • GW says:

        Gulati is the President but he only has one vote out of 14 or 15. In other words, he could not fire BB the last time because he did not have the votes.

        If you believe the USSF is the problem then you have to hold those 14 people, whoever they are accountable not just Sunil.

        The man is a figurehead.

        He could be abducted by aliens tomorrow and the situation with US soccer would not necessarily change dramtically.

    • biff says:

      I do get the feeling there might be a disconnect there. Not sure how bad it might be, but I just can’t see the guys taking seriously the motivation guy Klinsmann brought into the September camp who rips telephone books in two and bends frying pans. That said, Klinsmann is a likable guy and the guys probably do like to be around him and probably have more fun than they did in a Bob Bradley camp.

  22. josh says:

    How is the playing surface not an excuse? Did you see the pictures? It was under water by the end of the match. And they were playing on a pitch that made Portland’s field look wide by comparison (hyperbole, yes I know they are the same size, thanks for your concern). Antigua has been good enough to keep things close. I dont think anyone expected a blowout win

    • biff says:

      True. So true. It was really unfair that the A&B players wore those magical soccer boots so that pitch did not adversely affect them.

      • Beto says:

        Antigua’s goal was to make the game sloppy and disjointed where the US wanted to open up space and play an organized attack. The pitch being a complete mess helped out Antigua sooo much. They were not bothered by the slop becuase they were not trying to build attacks they were just trying to keep us off.

        There is a reason we have struggled in central america and the islands while playing better in more well kept grounds

        • Leo says:

          I can see USMNT players trudging back to their respective teams after failing to qualify for Brazil.

          “Hey, why didn’t you qualify out of CONCACAF?”

          “Our opponents’ fields were too sloppy, you see…”

          Listen, those fields are disgusting. But every CONCACAF team has to play on them. The field and the conditions, as terrible as they are, only serve as an excuse until the next team has to play on it. You don’t see Mexico or their fans complaining about it. Why? Mexico is dominating, home and away.

  23. FK PIRIN says:

    Yeah biggest issue with game was that JK didn’t tell them to play more long balls and crosses. Also he should have told them to stop playing back pasess and get it up the pitch as quickly as possible. The players don’t know when to keep possession and when to launch it forward. They are also not making the proper runs for direct play.

    • homerica7 says:

      Best comment so far. If we would have gone to direct mode sooner, I think we would have scored much more. Passing around the box clearly wasn’t working, except for the two time Gomez ruined good chances with lousy touches. Playing it wide and serving it in every time would have worked as we had the players in the box who can finish headers.

  24. TomG says:

    Insightful analysis, Ives. I can’t disagree with anything there. While I’m not happy about leaving Altidore off the roster and the questionable moves you sighted certainly are factors, it seems as if Klinsi’s good moves tend to balance out the bad. For me, the problem is less about decision making as it is sheer consistency and focus. It seems as if every single match has an entirely different formation, gameplan, style, personnel and roles. Yes players are adaptable to a certain extent, but it certainly seems lately as if players are not completely sure what they should be doing and where they should be at all times. I have to thinkg that this is due, in part if not completely, to Klinsi’s unwillingness to stick to a consistent form. I’m all for creativity, and Klinsi has that in spades, but consistency helps players find their niches, helps them develop confidence in their roles and aids in team chemistry, especially considering that they don’t have that much training time together compared to their club situation. Not only do players have to know their OWN roles and responsibilities, but the also have to know EACH OTHER’S in order for their to be smooth, one-touch passing. How can MB know where everyone on the field is going to be and where they’re making their runs if they are constantly switching things around? Klinsi seems pretty bright, but completely unfocused. Even in the press, he’s constantly contradicting himself and changing his mind. He seems to be changing things up on a whim. Creativity and experimentation are good things but there’s a spectrum here and we’ve shifted all the way over to that end of the spectrum. Klinsi needs a strong #2 man to tell him no. “We’re not going to change this up. We need to let the team settle in and learn THIS before we change to THAT.” We were at our best when Klinsi gradually decided to shift to a 4-4-2 culminating in our best performance in Italy. I thought we were on the right track, but then Klinsi decided to blow everything up and it seems like we haven’t seen any kind of consistent formation or gameplan since then.

    • GW says:

      TomG,

      That was one of the things you all hated about Bradley. His boring tactical formations remember?

      • TomG says:

        I was actually one of the few that was pretty content with BB. I have a ton of respect for him as a person, as a man manager, a details guy and an organizer.

  25. Hincha Tim says:

    I think that expectations on what JK could accomplish in changing the USMNT were overblown. JK wanted to fundamentally change the way the USMNT played. However, in order to do that he first had to have a player pool that had those skills sets to choose from. The US does not have the player pool to provide players to play the way he wants to play. This is different from his time in Germany where there were the players, it was just a matter of selecting them instead of different types of players. Until US Soccer and US Youth Soccer and the MLS fundamentally change its approach to youth development any USMNT coach will struggle to implement a system not based on the traditional American way of playing soccer. The USMNT coach does not have the latitude and the time to develop the type of players he might want. He has to select from a pool that he has no control over as far as development is concerned.
    Suni Gulati should be fired and a FULL TIME president who aggressively pursues an overhaul of the soccer development system in the US, instead of nibbling around the edges, is the only way that the US will take the next step. It is possible to accomplish but will take a concerted effort to overthrow the entrenched bureaucracy of youth clubs and their coaches that while preaching development, favor short term winning over longterm development and cashing in on the pay to play system. Coaches that preach “possession soccer” but that select and coach for size and speed over technique and intelligence.

    • beachbum says:

      the expectations of JK’s tenure were given to us by…JK.

      and back to blaming the youth academies? While there is PLENTY to do at that level and the issue is real, that’s not why this team is struggling right now, or struggled last night.

  26. beachbum says:

    relief, that is my feeling today. glad for the three points

    why the US didn’t fire away from outside the area all night, with a wet bumpy pitch and a shaky keeper, I still don’t understand. They finally started to do it late in the game after Jones had already entered and it helped to open things up.

    most disturbing development to me was all the space A&B found as the game wore on and that the US was lucky not to concede a second goal. The back four were unconvincing at best.

    will certainly take the 3 points tho

    • biff says:

      This is true that Jones’ entry into the game did open things up more and the USMNT became better offensively and yet he is being criticized.

      • beachbum says:

        his handball was just stupid though, no excuse, stupid play.

        When he entered the whole team changed tactics and finally started firing from outside the area. Why that wasn’t the deal from jump with the wet field, bumpy grass and shaky keeper I’ll never understand. It was a tactical mistake that fortunately didn’t burn us. A couple minutes more and it would have but EJ got it done thank goodness.

  27. al17 says:

    WTF!!!! JK, his coaching staff and Sunil should be FIRED and sued for Malpractice after what we witnessed last night. There are no excuses for barely defeating CONCACAF’s version of San Marino, Andorra and Tibet all rolled into one. Stop with the Excuses for this idiot. He doesn’t have a clue and we were very fortunate to have scored based on their inexperience and just flat out Fatigue. I’d have Fired his ass before he returned to the locker room at half time. PEOPLE WAKE UP. The Emperor is Naked.

  28. euroman says:

    I know you have to fill space and have opinions after each USMNT match but it sure is funny to see all the negativity after an important win on the road in WCQ. It is always difficult on the road and ‘fans’ including sports writers have never good enough to experienced it so they don’t know.

  29. Jonathan says:

    We must consider that CONCACAF has gotten much better over the last 12 years. It isn’t a cake walk anymore and I could see that A&B had good structure in the back during stretches. I believe JK is doing a decent job considering the player pool. We need all of our players to give more effort on the field though. Is this the coaches problem? Possibly, but these are GROWN MEN who should be able to motivate themselves especially considering the consequences of winning and losing at this point.

  30. ACS says:

    Very simply need a skilled midfielder upfront who is always attacking…ie Corona, Mix, or Adu, even though they are young I think they would do fine in these type of games, against the better teams right now like a Spain, Brazil or Argentina maybe not, but against the A&B’s, Guatamala’s of the world they would be good.

    • ACS says:

      In a few years though they could be playing well against those top ten teams. Mix will be looking for a new team, better league come January which will help and the more Corona plays the better he will get.

    • Beto says:

      A lot to be excited about with that group but in case you missed the Olympic qualifying run; It did not work. None of them are 90 min starters at the international level. All great potential off the bench but iwouldnt trust them as a group to hold off a counter attack

  31. USMNT Under Water says:

    Where in God’s name is Dempsey. NO where…..NO leadership, NO fire, NO movement, complaining often, at a time when leadership is critical with all the deployed changes. Tired of the lack on inspirational play from HIM and other key vets!

  32. Damian says:

    As for the Kilns issue.

    My opinion isn’t that he’s a bad coach. I just think that he isn’t pragmatic enough. He needs to stay real with what he has at his disposal. Example: face the fact that Jones is a destroyer DM and not an offensive minded player, that Dempsey is NOT a play-maker.

    He’s way too ahead of the processes he’s been wanting to establish. Hence, he’s demanding things out of his current players that aren’t natural to them. At least not just yet. That is why they play with potential but seem to lack confidence, will, power, enthusiasm… he can talk about spirit, effort and “taking it to the next level” all he wants. If a player isn’t meant to be playing in a certain way or position, he just isn’t. Now that doesn’t mean that a player won’t eventually… IF he’s versatile enough and especially young enough. (Michael Bradley evolved well, Altidore, Shea slowly but surely, Zusi, Boyd…) they should keep on doing so. Dempsey won’t, Jones won’t, Donovan won’t, Bekerman won’t

    In my mind he (and Sunil Gulati for that matter) should of had a more progressive approach. Even if it’s been a year ++ , the style he wants to implement in this team just isn’t gonna work until the youngsters get a grasp of it and get on the map… (Mix, Gatt, Adu, Gyau, etc…) His idea might come to life in time for 2014 but that’s assuming they get through the Hex… big risk.

    The organised defense the US had in 2002 and in 2010 (obviously the 2006 WC was a let down) isn’t quite showing against these lesser quality opponents… He should have worked with what the US had at it’s disposal instead of abolishing it all (like trying to work with BB or Arena for instance). That while implementing a more “keep away” approach whenever they get the ball back. As of right now, he’s trying to turn things around in a 360° way that just isn’t working at this time and just might cost us what he is trying to build on in the first place: the 2014 World Cup.

    Many great soccer countries have based their team on a strong defense while still playing an attractive style and work their way up to a higher tempo, possession oriented like manner (Italy 2006, Germany 2002, Brazil 2010 (well… sort of attractive), England 1966, France 1998 (before WC victory))

    Klinsmann has shown he can adapt when needed (Italy, Mexico) but just seems to be very stubborn in his way of doing things. As if he needed to prove everyone wrong. I find him to be more aware of the players’ potential than his predecessors. Otherwise he has a good sens of picking up the right players at the right time (Zusi, Cameron, Johnson…) and brings in a great European influence into the system (and connections).

    I personally would have hated to have the USMNT play the same old way forever… in that sens I’m willing to give Klinsmann more time because a lot of people don’t seem to realize just how much work it takes to build a new style of play. Especially the one he’s aiming for.

    The biggest crime on Jugen’s hands is his idealism. That could cost him and the whole US soccer program. Big time.

  33. Sabella says:

    This was a great piece, Ives and totally valid. At the end of the day though, the players, not the coach, need to step up. We have enough talent to qualify for the World Cup with our “A” or “B” team. I strongly believe that. The two dozen or so guys in the MNT pool need to step up, show the hunger and desire to win. To play with intensity, a killer instinct; not the flat, impotent performances we are continually seeing. It’s their career that’s on the line, that ought to be motivation enough. Every player needs to have the mentality that they want to be the number one for their position. Each player needs to know that if they don’t perform, they get yanked the next game. To Klinsmann’s credit, he has taken that approach but I think he can take it even further. We should have won 6-0 last night. We can blame Klinsi, Bradley, Arena, etc; I’m calling BS. I want to see these guys playing like its their last game.

  34. 2tone says:

    “You play to win the game.” they won on a shotty pitch, during shotty weather conditions, and with a depleted squad. A good team wins when adversity strikes, and adversity struck this team before the game was even played. 4 very quality players were hit with the injury bug and flu. Then they had to play on that horrible pitch during horrible weather conditions. Now it’s on to KC where the pitch is immaculate, and where the U.S. team can move the ball faster and sharper, where they can use the big field to their advantage.

    EJ played himself into a starting role, and I would say the striker starting role against Guate.

    Here is my starting 11.

    ——————–EJ——————–
    Zusi————deuce————-Kljestan
    ——————Bradley—————-
    —————–Williams———————-
    Fabian——Boca—–Cam———-Dolo
    ——————–Howard—————————
    Subs: Guzan, Goodson, Beckerman, Corona, Gomez, Gordon

  35. Enzo says:

    I don’t think they played that bad. Conditions looked awful, and the muddy field was way to small. I don’t think i’ve seen a goalkeeper throw the ball more than half the field.

  36. David St. Hubbins says:

    Playing surface is no excuse.

    The high paid superstars Dempsey, Gomez, Cameron, Bocanegra, and Jones all played like crap while the journeymen MLS players EJ, Zusi, and Gordon saved the day for us.

    I blame the players not JK. JK got a great performance out of those 3 as well as Bradley, Williams, and Klejstan.

    Dempsey Gomez Cameron Bocanegra Jones and Goodson should be embarrassed with themselves they need to sack up and get their stuff together. Bocanegra’s time may be done… Spanish second division what a joke. Gomez may need to step back for a while he can’t even get any minutes with Santos. Goodson and Cameron what a joke falling down against a semi-pro player. Disgusting.

    Dolo’s crossing was absolutely terrible but at least he didn’t let us down defensively.

  37. RP says:

    I want to know how Cameron got beat so badly on that goal.

    Nice to see EJ go big.

  38. Goalscorer24 says:

    I think people tend have romantic memories of the past. Granted Klinsman’s team has not been up to expectations, but I recall many frustrations under BB with the US continually going down with an early goal against us.

    We have to make into the next round by whatever means and then in January Klinsman is going to have to find some other players that can help the US cause. Perhaps players like Gatt etc..

    • beachbum says:

      romantic memories? come on man. We all know and remember the team with Bradley warts and all.

      Bottom line: Klinsmann is getting paid a boatload of cash because he is supposed to be a boatload of an improvement. We are all waiting to see it. Perhaps it breaks loose in KC but so far, not yet.

      GO USA!!!

  39. d says:

    The players who showed they wanted it the most were the MLSers. Most of the others thought they could just mail it in. Johnson, Zusi, and Gordon all showed a team spirit that the others lacked. Maybe the euro-players will get the message that JK is not afraid to mix it up a little, that they’re positions are not necessarily safe and will feel challenged enough by the newcomers to step up their game. The MLS teams represented at the game are the top teams, and teams that all play with a team identity, where they always play for each other. That is the mentality that Klinsman needs to instill in his team. Maybe he should get on a conference call with their coaches and get a few tips from them.

    • d says:

      Having said that, though, EJ should have run over to celebrate his late game-winning goal with Alan Gordon, the guy who served it up for him on a silver platter.

  40. whoop-whoop says:

    Fabian was sorely missed on the defensive end, maybe even more so on offense. The guy is a threat up the sideline, draws the D out wide and puts in a mean cross. Boca put in a valiant effort, but there is no way he should be put at LB again. Ever. At center back, he can make up for his diminished speed with experience and good instincts. Is in a position to boss the back line. LB requires even more speed and being out of position, the instincts aren’t there. Totally absent on offense, except set pieces. Goodsen… while somewhat consistent, serviceable against small teams…looks frail, goes to ground and crumples in the most meager of physical contact. There are a handful of better choices in MLS. Edu needs to spend every last second in training working as a CB to become a solid option.

    Straight up… Donovan’s vision, speed, runs and ambition and imagination passing forward are sorely missed. The lack of viable wingers is dreadfully apparent without Johnson and yes, I’ll say it, Chandler going forward. The state of our midfield begs for backs aggressively going forward or… we end up a motionless lump of midfielders passing side to side and backward with no idea what to do next.

    At this point, I’m just glad to get the 3 points and the chance to live another day. The last week seemed eerily like a conspiracy of events between or precarious position, illness, injury at key positions, weather and then the state of the pitch. Sometimes as these things add up, it’s easy for a team, especially with so many new faces, to think it’s just not their day. It wasn’t pretty, but they kept plugging away and got the job done. We need to get to the next round… a few guys to get healthy, a few to blossom and to start solidifying our line-up so this group of guys can become a team.

  41. David M says:

    The problem with Klinsmann’s coaching is that he’s not really a coach. He had very little coaching experience prior to the US job. A very brief and unsuccessful spell at Bayern, and prior to that leading Germany to a 3rd place in the WC-2006. That, somehow, has been presented as a great achievement. But 3rd place for Germany, playing at home, is the least one would expect. Actually, it was worse than what they achieved in the WC-2002 away from home. And of course it became known later, that Klinsmann was more of a figurehead — Joachim Loew was really the brains of the coaching staff. Moreover, Klinsmann never had to lead a national team through qualifying.

    Yet somehow Klinsmann was viewed by the USSF and many fans in this country as a great coach and the savior of the program. I think it should be quite obvious now that there is a disconnect between the coaching staff and the players. The team has no flow to its game, no thought behind it. I don’t think they know what the coaching staff wants them to do. They just pass the ball around (and usually not very well) and hope for the best.

  42. Dale Chihuly says:

    The facts speak for themselves.. Klinsy is undefeated when EJ starts/plays.. look it up

  43. hudson says:

    That team approach mentioned above is something the U.S. team has always seemed strangely to lack. They often seem a bit out of sync, under both Bradley and Klinsmann. For teams in any sport that can’t rely on a lot of individual talent, a more team-based focus is a natural strategy. Think the “Princeton offense” developed under Princeton basketball coach Pete Carril. Ideally, the U.S. would adapt a soccer version of that where fluid passing and smart positioning is more important than the skills of any single player.

    Klinsmann has stressed in interviews moving the team toward one- and two-touch passing, but the ball still isn’t moving fast enough to break down the bunkering defenses of CONCACAF opponents like Antigua. Granted, field conditions like last night’s waterlogged cricket ground don’t help. But improving the level of passing teamwide is more important than individual player selection or formation without a Messi or Falcao in the pool.

  44. peterjh says:

    Some random thoughts.

    I think the players we’re used to being our best players are starting the down slope on their careers, and the up and comers haven’t hit the pinnacle; ie, we’re in a rebuilding phase.

    What matters is that we qualify, not how impressive it is. Our form 2 years from now is what counts.

    If we don’t think Klinsman is the man for this rebuilding, the time to cut ties is immediately after this round. Don’t drag this out.

  45. Steve-I says:

    Guys, We don’t have to worry about making the hex. Even if we lose to Guatemala, Jamaica has to win by over three goals Against Antiqua. That’s not going to happen. So what we need to worry about is our player pool during the hex.

  46. Steve-o says:

    Guys, We don’t have to worry about making the hex. Even if we lose to Guatemala, Jamaica has to win by over three goals Against Antiqua. That’s not going to happen. So what we need to worry about is our player pool during the hex.

  47. Steve-o says:

    One more thing. The top three teams in the hex will make the World Cup but this year the fourth place team will have to play the winner of Oceana which is probably New Zealand. And if we are fourth-place we can beat New Zealand So it’s very likely that concacaf will have four teams in the World Cup.

  48. Soccer Guy says:

    I think it’s quite possible that if Klinsmann is not replaced almost immediately, the US will not qualify for the world cup. Struggling this badly at this stage of WC qualifying is nuts. We’re not even close to having a good team. Things have been going downhill for a long time now. Mexico will finish first in the final round of qualifying. Is ANYONE sure the US is better than everyone else? At this point I’m not so sure we can beat Canada.

    • Goalscorer24 says:

      Let’s see how we do when we have more of a healthy team.

    • Dale Chihuly says:

      so emotional.. 2 loses and two ties in 12 matches? I’d bet my paycheck that you’ll witness a complete and devastating crushing of Antigua and Barbuda on Tue is KC.

      Try not to cry.. it’ll be Klinsy’s 9th win

      • Soccer Guy says:

        So emotional? What an idiot. That post was made with no emotion whatsoever. Why would it be emotional, and how could you possibly know anyway?

        I guess I’ll send you my address so you can send me your paycheck, fool. You don’t even know who the US is playing. Jamaica is playing Antigua & Barbuda on Tuesday, and I don’t doubt THEY could crush A & B. The US is playing Guatemala and I don’t doubt that Guatemala can come up with the draw they need. So it looks like the team that just beat the US (Jamaica) will be eliminated before they even get to the final round of qualifying. Yes, tell me more about the US record.

        I can only conclude that you know next to nothing about soccer to make such an ignorant post. This isn’t even the final qualifying round and of the three teams in their group the US couldn’t beat Guatemala, they lost to Jamaica, and they came within seconds of not beating Antigua & Barbuda. Most importantly of all, they are playing terrible and show no signs whatsoever of improving.

      • GW says:

        Dale,

        “I’d bet my paycheck that you’ll witness a complete and devastating crushing of Antigua and Barbuda on Tue is KC”

        How much do you make? The US is playing Guatemala on Tudesday in KC so who is going to crush Antigua and Barbuda?

        Will they be the opening act?

  49. MiamiAl says:

    I think people are not giving enough credit to Antigua and Barbuda. They are trying something very new and experimental with that team. I think it warrants a second look. A national team that basically plays all its time as a club/pro team. They spend all their time together which definitely translated to them looking pretty cohesive. In many ways, they were like us not too long ago. That’s what people used to say about us- we had no name players that nobody in the world stage respected, but we played like a cohesive unit almost like a club team, which made us hard to beat. I also think that people are not giving enough respect to the USL 3 division. Clearly the lower US pro divisions have some players in it that can play, and by looking at Antigua and Barbuda the last two games against us, their players easily look like they could play at MLS level. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Antigua and Barbuda someday make the World Cup! CONCACAF is a much improving region. You can see it. Compare back to the early to mid 1990’s and it is light years ahead of where it was.

    We have never had a coach with the pedigree or level of success that Klinsmann has had. We need to give it time. He showed yesterday that he could go into a hostile climate, under poor conditions, with a team with multiple injuries and make the necessary halftime adjustments to get the win. These kind of conditions, if you pass the test, serve as great experience for what awaits us in Brasil. Klinsmann got a raw deal in Germany, and was a victim of soccer politics. Many have tried to cross Beckenbauer, and all have failed. Germany’s loss, OUR GAIN!!!! USA! USA!

  50. Wolfgang Depner says:

    Sentiments that suggest the United States should not be struggling at this stage strike me as justified. While minnows will frequently play their best games against ‘giants’ such as the United States, games like the one yesterday have become routine under Klinsmann. Yes, supporters of his may cite a number of mitigating circumstances such as injuries and the poor pitch. But a team that consists primarily out of players from around the best leagues of Europe should not be struggling in a manner which it did yesterday.

  51. Mat says:

    Bla bla bla. Fact is JK’s team gets the job done. People are talking like the USA used to be Spain or something before JK. We won in Mexico, we won in Italy. We’re on the verge of getting to the next Wcq round. Please save the drama queen material for when its actually warranted. People have short memories. Our best WC result was when we greatly struggled in qualifying 2002. So take a breath and relax a bit. Go USA.

    • beachbum says:

      the drama was delivered in full by the TEAM last night, no queens required :)

      I’m glad we can take a breath and relax, and even more glad that the USMNT’s long time penchant for late game goals continues to display itself in this team also

  52. beachbum says:

    Klinsmann continuing to search and probe the pool at this point can be frustrating because it’s all going down during the quali games, but that’s because of his short tenure which adds some pressure. Nevertheless if all goes down well in KC more time will be won to do the job. The Gordon to EJ winner could be ‘that goal’ that kept it all possible in some amazing run, or not, but maybe. Sasha showed up down the stretch in the pressure situation he entered and Klinsmann made changes from some previous beliefs in this team’s makeup on things that were not working, on Sasha for sure, and it was nice to see the response from all 3 of these players whoever the opponent was. This is WC qualifying and that pressure down the stretch was answered by those 3 new guys to the recipe for these 2 games.

    if fit, Zusi will play inspired ball and I’m looking forward to seeing him play his game in that atmosphere for this game with MB and Williams, EJ and Clint up top with Herc tho I’d like to see Herc come off the bench with his energy and get after tired legs hard. And I expect a big response game from Clint after his performance last night, he’s just that kind of player

    and have to think Sasha will get the pressure minutes down the stretch once again. that’s a big development and responsibility Coach gave him

  53. chris_thebassplayer says:

    The talent pool for JK is fairly thin for the style he wishes to implement. I think things will gradually improve over the next year and a half or so while he transitions away from 2-3 players and adds a few players to the mix. The biggest problem will be finding continuity in the attacking third with the limited number of talented creative players that we have. We’re not going to be hugely improved by the WC, probably half way between BB and the team JK envisions if he had depth and more talent…he doesn’t have the players yet…we’re on the road to semi-pretty soccer.