USA 0, Mexico 0: A Look Back

Michael Bradley

Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

MEXICO CITY– It wasn’t a beautiful game by any means, and any hopes of seeing the U.S. Men’s National Team boss Mexico in Estadio Azteca were probably always unrealistic, but style points don’t matter all that much when history is being written and when American fans think back to Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier.

What will be remembered, and should be remembered is how a U.S. team missing nearly half of the players who would be considered regular starters, and several others who would have been called upon to fill in, still showed enough quality to frustrate and stand up to a dangerous Mexico side in an intimidating environment that had overwhelmed U.S. teams in the past.

What should be remembered is the night two young centerbacks came together to play one of the best games by a young American centerback tandem in years. What should be remembered is that a relatively young U.S. team walked into Estadio Azteca and showed no fear, even if they were outplayed for stretches. What should be remembered was the sight of Michael Bradley bossing the middle of the park in Mexico City in a way no American before him ever did.

What should be remembered is that, for the first time in almost three years, a span of 42 matches, the U.S. used all American-born players, sending a message that perhaps the notion that the American player development system isn’t producing talent might just be a bit misleading.

Were there goals on Tuesday? No. Were there long passing sequences and waves of attacking soccer from the U.S.? No. What there was in abundance was discipline, organization, confidence and a real sense that these players are playing for each other, and playing like a team united rather than a team divided.

Here are some more observations from Tuesday’s match, and the state of the U.S. Men’s National Team after the recent qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico:

GONZALEZ LOOKS LIKE A CENTERBACK TO BUILD AROUND

When Gonzalez turned in a shaky performance against Honduras in his first World Cup qualifier in February, there was a sense that maybe he wasn’t ready for prime time. All he has done in the two qualifiers since is look like a sure-fire starter for the rest of qualifying, and next year for the World Cup if the U.S. qualifies.

Gonzalez has been able to translate the dominant form that made him the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year and 2012 MLS Cup Final MVP. He has been a beast in the air against Costa Rica and Mexico, and his confidence has clearly sky-rocketed. You can pencil him in as a USMNT starter for the foreseeable future.

BRADLEY SET THE TONE IN THE MIDDLE

The early part of Tuesday’s match saw some nervous moments for the U.S., but one stabilizing force throughout the match was Michael Bradley, who was able to keep the ball moving, and deliver passes under pressure even as Mexico tried to put the U.S. under pressure.

How efficient was Bradley in midfield? He completed 57 of 58 passes, the kind of percentage normally reserved for the Xavis and Pirlos of the world. Not only did he help the Americans relieve pressure by being an almost-perfect passing conduit, Bradley was also a force defensively. He made nine key defensive plays in Mexico’s final third, helping provide support for a back-line that saw Mexico throw numbers at them all night.

Bradley isn’t the team’s captain yet, but it is clear he is one of the team’s leaders.

ALL-AMERICAN EFFORT

A total of 14 players took the field for the United States on Tuesday night, and for the first time since June 5, 2010, a span of 42 matches, not a single foreign-born player took the field for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Injuries and illness led to German-born fixtures Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams, and Timmy Chandler missing Tuesday’s match, and even players like Brazilian-born Benny Feilhaber and Colombian-born Juan Agudelo were out of the mix.

Pointing out that interesting stat isn’t meant to suggest Jurgen Klinsmann shouldn’t consider his German-American contingent. Those players have put in their time and are absolutely viable options. The point of noting the All-American squad is because it shows that there is American-born talent coming through the pipeline. It is also an interesting note considering former U.S. head coach and current LA Galaxy boss Bruce Arena’s comments suggesting that all U.S. Men’s National Team players should be American born.

“Players on the national team should be — and this is my own feeling — they should be Americans,” Arena told ESPN the Magazine. “If they’re all born in other countries, I don’t think we can say we are making progress.”

On Tuesday, with players like Brad Guzan, Bradley, Gonzalez, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi turning in strong showings, it was tough to not think “we” are making progress.

KLINSMANN HAS EARNED SOME LEEWAY

When the controversial Sporting News article surfaced a week ago slamming Klinsmann as being an ill-equipped head coach with overmatched coaching staff behind him, it helped shed light on long-rumbling notions that Klinsmann wasn’t capable of doing a good job with the U.S.

His job is far from done, but after securing four points from two matches and pushing the Americans through a pair of memorable results despite missing several starters due to injury, Klinsmann has earned some breathing room and deserves some credit for the work he did.

He started Beasley at left back, and gave Matt Besler a start at Estadio Azteca, two moves that few would have imagined or suggested a few weeks ago. No, Klinsmann’s moves haven’t been perfect. His decisions in putting a team together to face Honduras didn’t work out, and you can argue he would have been better off starting someone other than Maurice Edu, but he has the team playing confidently as it heads into a June qualifying schedule that features three very winnable games.

This past week’s results have the U.S. heading toward June’s qualifiers riding a wave of confidence, and when you throw in the fact the team has four of their final seven qualifiers at home, you suddenly have a U.S. team that looks like a good bet to qualify for their 11th straight World Cup.

GUZAN PUSHING HOWARD

As much as some fans believe Brad Guzan has overtaken Tim Howard as the U.S. team’s first-choice goalkeeper, the reality is nothing has changed in that regard.  When healthy, Howard is still the first-choice goalkeeper for the United States. Brad Guzan has been excellent playing in place of Howard, and he has earned the confidence in his ability from his teammates this past week.

All that said, Howard is a leader on this team who happens to still be one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. What has changed is the gap between Howard and Guzan. If Howard were to struggle to return, or suffer a dip in form, Klinsmann now has a back-up goalkeeper who has faced the toughest competition in CONCACAF and come through with flying colors.

Having two top-class goalkeeping options is hardly a bad thing. It is a luxury the team really hasn’t had since Kasey Keller was at his peak nearly a decade ago, when a young Tim Howard was his back-up. The 28-year-old Guzan should help push the 34-year-old Howard, and it isn’t difficult to envision Guzan eventually taking over the No. 1 role, but anyone thinking Howard has lost his starting job based on two games from Guzan has forgotten the outstanding work Howard has consistently put in for the U.S.

BEASLEY IS BACK

Forget anything you read about DaMarcus Beasley having a bad game against Mexico. The fact is he weathered relentless attacks and more than held his own against some of the best midfield talent in CONCACAF and did his part to preserve the shutout.

That makes two good to very good qualifying games in a week for Beasley, who rewarded Klinsmann’s faith in him, which wasn’t a given for a player who hadn’t started for the national team in almost three years.

Is Beasley a long-term option at left back? Not really. Fabian Johnson remains the first-choice option there, and Edgar Castillo should be the back-up once he returns from facial fractures, but Beasley has given the team some added depth and he just might play his way onto the roster going forward as a sort of jack-of-all-trade option.

CAMERON JUST MIGHT STAY AT RIGHT BACK

When Klinsmann moved Cameron away from his regular centerback role, there was some concern about whether he was playing Cameron out of position, but what he showed at right back in the past week’s qualifiers are exactly why Stoke City have played him regularly at right back.

Cameron is fast, athletic, and his size gives the U.S. yet another big body to defend set pieces. There is no denying that Cameron is one of the best centerback options in the pool, but with Gonzalez blossoming and Matt Besler looking like he could be a perfect long-term partner for Gonzalez, Klinsmann could be tempted to move Cameron to right back for the long term. That move makes sense especially if Stoke City continues to play him at right back.

And what of Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler? A healthy Cherundolo is still the best right back in the pool, because of his ability to defend and provide an attacking threat, but he is also 34 and showing signs of wearing down. As for Chandler, he has yet to show any consistency on the international level and he just might wind up being a better right wing option for a U.S. team that is still a bit thin on the flanks.

IS IT TIME TO START ANOTHER FORWARD BESIDES JOZY?

The short answer is no. While you can make the argument that he was invisible offensively against Mexico, you can’t say that without pointing out the fact that the entire U.S. midfield was too busy providing defensive support for the back-line to generate any sort of effective service for Altidore.

What Altidore did do in the past two qualifiers is try to provide pressure from the front, helping put pressure on opponents when they have the ball in their own third. it should also be noted that he helped set up the game-winning goal against Costa Rica by sending in a hard shot that was deflected for a winner. That effort was part of a good night in the snow for Altidore, who is showing a stronger willingness to put in the defensive work that he has long been criticized for not doing.

The U.S. has two home qualifiers coming up against Panama and Honduras in June, and those games should allow Klinsmann to field a more attack-minded team, a team better-equipped to make the most of Altidore’s strengths. Judging Altidore on a pair of road qualifiers where the midfield was largely ineffective, sandwiched around a snow-covered home game, isn’t really fair.

All that said, Altidore is going to have to start producing eventually, and this summer will not only be a great chance for him to break through, but also a chance for other forwards to impress Klinsmann. With some friendlies on the docket, and the Gold Cup looming in June, players like Terrence Boyd and Eddie Johnson could take advantage if Altidore continues his goal drought.

———-

What do you think of these observations? Agree with any of them? Disagree with any of them? What was your biggest takeaway from the U.S. team’s 0-0 tie vs. Mexico?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, Featured, Mexican Soccer, U.S. Men's National Team, Uncategorized, World Cup Qualifying. Bookmark the permalink.

187 Responses to USA 0, Mexico 0: A Look Back

  1. jaime says:

    dempsey still provides absolutely nothing to the attack. the dude was just walking around, loosing the ball, and not even defending. he should be in the bench.

    • chris says:

      hahaha good one. Scoring 7 out of the 8 WCQ goals is nothing now?

    • Ben says:

      I truly hope this is sarcasm.

    • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

      -1

    • Paul says:

      I agree to an extent. He’s invisible too much for my liking. The good thing is he shows up for a brief second to score goals. Just like people expected more from LD, they should expect way more than what Duece brings.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      I think lots are forgetting Dempsey was out w/ an injury, has not done 90 mins for Spurs in some time…. he’s not fit. I was surprised he was in for the full 90.

      • hifivinmofos says:

        +1. He missed three weeks with Spurs with an injury, and had only played 45 minutes before he played two full matches four days apart. I thought when EJ was coming on Dempsey was coming off. That should have been the sub instead of Gomez.

    • Gary Page says:

      You must be a pro-Mexican troll trying to sabotage the US. That is the only rational explanation for such a post,.

    • Sean C says:

      yeah it really sucks when people “loose” things.

    • Swanny says:

      He was bad this week, but that’s partly due to just returning from injury for Spurs and being thrust into two full 90s. I do agree to a small extent though. LD is clearly more important to our attack as shown by his absence.

    • louis z says:

      I see you are making a comment of his performance in the game and people come back to your remarks with past accomplishments. Dempsey is not a prototypical CF, CAM or winger of a player, he is not fast, he doesn’t continue they flow of an attacking sequence, he doesn’t defend well but…he does score, if he didn’t score he wouldn’t be in anyone’s team, maybe that is why bigger clubs passed on him. When Dempsey scores is usually in the first 35 minutes of a game. I just don’t know why he almost never gets subbed out for the nationals no matter how bad he plays. I would start him in every game but always sub him out around minute 70.

      • PD says:

        I agree with your assessment that he should have been subbed v. Mexico, but to deny the fact that he is most legitimate offense threat that is both backed up by goal production and the attention that gets put on him by opponents is silly. Would I prefer that there be another equally big threat on the pitch to free him up from a central role? Of course, but I don’t see anyone in the pool (including LD) that fits the bill better than Dempsey. Not sure what you are basing your criticism on, an ideal world or the reality that a coach can work with?

        • louis z says:

          Well, past performances. I don’t think there is many players like him even abroad, his excellent scoring ratio vs the liability of not making a team better. Now don’t confuse making a team better with wining games for the team, those two are not necessarily the same. He is very valuable to us but has time passes by during a game and hasn’t score, he becomes a liability. I’m not convinced that a tired, immobile Dempsey is always better than a fresh Agudelo or Corona.

          • GW says:

            louis z.

            If you are the opposing coach who on the USMNT do you worry about?

            Two names, Donovan and Dempsey. No other American is even close to those two when it comes to proven ability to finish on the international level. No one.

            In Dempsey’s case he has proven he can score early or late and can disappear for 88 minutes and then score in the 90th minute. Fresh or tired it doesn’t matter. If you are tied or leading and pull him in the 70th minute and Donovan is not on the field then it tells the opposing manager you are going for the tie or will try to sit on the lead. Pulling him in the 70th minute tells everyone in the stadium that you’ve given up your most reliable scoring option. That frees up opposing defenders and allows them to go on the offensive.

            Am I saying the US can’t score w/o Dempsey on the field? No, but having him on the field greatly increases the US’ chances of scoring, even if he is just a decoy.

            • louis z says:

              I sense that you are over valuing a players reputation alone to carry on. I remember reading someone’s comment about Landon…he claimed that Donovan made Everton a better team even after he left, even though he left them in the same league position as he found them. Not sure if Dempsey has scored for us late in games, all the games that I can remember him scoring had been early on. I’m a believer that a team can overcome, overachieve even when they are not at full strength, case in point these last two qualifiers, anything less is just people’s perception that they can not play without them.

    • PD says:

      He is a proven goal scorer for the national side who commands enough respect from his opponent to be double teamed whenever the ball gets near him. Same goes for Jozy. Against Mexico the team spent about 85% of the time in defense. When he and Jozy got the ball they held up play and looked for a chance. The generated one of maybe two real chances we had in that match. Don’t understand how you came to such a conclusion. Have you ever played? Are you new to the sport? Do you watch too many movies?

    • Dennis says:

      Agree, this was very far from the kind of game Dempsey is capable of. Some of that was the US’s lack of possession and reluctance to get too many players forward, some of it must be laid at Dempsey’s feet. I always have the feeling that when Dempsey is tired he finds it difficult to play well, long trips to the US and in this case a lot of effort expended in the snow a few days earlier coupled with a bit of detraining due to his injury probably contributed. (His best games for the US have mostly come in european based games or when he has had several days to recover from travel, like the Confed Cup, WC, and GoldCup.)

    • evan says:

      USA will qualify for their 7th strait World Cup, not 11th

    • Chris H says:

      LOL, I can’t believe nobody else got this. Jaime is saying about Dempsey the same exact thing people have been saying about Altidore. Dempsey had the kind of anonymous performance that people always accuse Jozy of having for the same reason…lack of service. Dempsey had no chance to impact the game from a midfield role because he didn’t see the ball, but when Jozy has no chance to impact the game from a striker role because he doesn’t see the ball then people hang him out to dry. Well played jaime, well played indeed.

  2. Eric says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

  3. Mig says:

    Interesting note: I agree with everything in this piece fully or at least don’t disagree. Enjoyable read. I always like reading Ives’ work but it’s rare that you agree 100% with anybody else’s thinking on a game. This is as close to it as it comes. Cheers, Ives.

  4. Sandtrout says:

    Mexico has lost its swagger. El Tri no longer has the intimidating characters like Rafa Marquez, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, even Torrado. They’re good, and I don’t mind the games being more peaceful, but Mexico doesn’t have that edge.

    • CroCajun1003 says:

      Dos Santos disappeared. That being said, they’re a very talented group that can’t be underestimated.

      • Paul says:

        As did Guardado. Cheech needs more quality service then he he’s provided. Still almost scored on the few chances he got

        • WK says:

          Andres needs to take a drug test. And wear a larger shirt. Or get a hair cut. All that combined makes for an ugly east german female track star. but yeah, he’s pretty good.

    • skyman says:

      I disagree 99%. They could use a Blanco, true, but they still are very dangerous, and it showed last night with their play. Honestly the score coulda/shoulda been 3-1 Mexico.

  5. Jeff says:

    Bradley did not turn the ball over but that is easier to do when it seems that over half your passes are backwards. A good ball for an assist is worth several other incomplete passes. Maybe that is not his job but it needs to be someone’s job.

    • CroCajun1003 says:

      The ability to pass the ball out of the back under pressure and start an attack can earn you millions of dollars in Europe. Never question THE BALD EAGLE!! (Trademark).

    • cmills000 says:

      Haters gonna hate

      • rainORshine says:

        i dont see this as hating on bradley. without a guy like kljestan or maybe torres there will continue to be very little in the way of offensive inspiration.

        3 hex games, 3 shots on goal. pretty staggering statistic, despite the adverse conditions/circumstances

        • Amru says:

          Wow I didn’t even know it was that bad. That’s pretty pathetic.

        • keithbabs79 says:

          JK has given Torres so many opportunities, and every time he looks scared and lacks confidence to play up to his ability. I’ve never liked Kljestan, but I’ll give him the benefit of being played out of position.

          • bryan says:

            Torres hasn’t been played in his position either though. Always being deployed on the left.

    • run says:

      I have no problem with Bradley’s possession passing at Azteca. The longer we have the ball the less Mexico gets into a rhythm. That said, I would like to see the midfield/forward connection develop. Bradley has the vision and skill to thread slicing passes through the defense. For that to happen, he has to be looking and the forwards have to make the runs. I’m not expecting Xavi to Messi here, just growth in the ability to break down defenses.

      Thanks for the fantastic read Ives

      • Natsalways says:

        I hate to say this, but it a changes when/if Donovan comes back. He is the best link to the forwards we have and his speed breaks down defenses like no one else in the pool.

        The biggest thing, though, is he makes everyone around him better. Praying he comes back.

    • Mike says:

      +1 not to mention he was stripped of the ball a couple of times. But by and large he has been terrific

    • keithbabs79 says:

      You must be thinking of the other players. Bradley always wants the ball at his feet. And most of our attacks are long, pinpoint passes from Bradley. He’s an assist machine waiting to happen once we learn to finish.

    • James says:

      This is a ridiculous statement. In this type of environment, a CM’s job is to control the ball, and keep it for as long as possible. Probing for attack is obviously a plus, but it’s much more important to keep the ball, catch your wind, take pressure off your defense, and force Mexico out of their rhythm.

      There was minimal support going forward and Bradley did exactly what he should of done, control the ball, take the air out of the game and control the pace when he can. Pressing forward of 4 vs 8 is not a recipe for success, and “an assist is worth several incomplete passes” is not true at all in the middle third of the field.

  6. DanO says:

    Any chance we see a 3 man backline of Cameron, gonzo, and besler in the future? I’m not a huge fan of the 3-5-2, but it may work with our player pool. Get Jozy and herc up top, Dempsey in the hole, Bradley and jones playing deeper, and some combo of Fabian, Shea, zusi, chandler, Donovan, and Beasley on the wings. Ej is your forward sub, edu your d mid sub. Thoughts?

    • Ross says:

      That is basically how we play when we attack. Johnson pushes up from the back line. 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 4-3-3 , they are really just formations drawn up on paper. I’m sure Klinsman has told the fullbacks when they get a chance to push forward.

      • David JS says:

        agreed 100% that the formation is largely semantics. After seeing Gonzalez & Besler form such a strong tandem at CB in Azteca, I’m interested to see where that leaves Cameron. He has been solid at RB, but when Dolo and Chandler are healthy, does one of them return to RB? and does that mean Cameron moves to CB or CDM or the subs’ bench? I’m not sure what Jurgen has in mind but I’m curious to see.

      • DanO says:

        I see the semantics point. Also agree that jk has some options. One would be to play with wingers higher up the pitch and 2 true forwards, which we have not seen yet.

  7. Murph says:

    3 big games in June! Looking forward to them.

    Bradley was great. Besler really surprised me. Could have used Landon on the left side last night.

    Need to get the offense going in June. I think they will.

    One thing I wish the US did better last night was take advantage of the few corners and free kicks they had. I know they didn’t have many but they had that one header by Cameron when he was called for a foul. The others didn’t result in any chances. I was hoping big Omar G could have scored off of one of them.

    1 point is good enough at this stage especially considering the injuries… Need to get revenge vs. Honduras in June.

    • chris says:

      Gomez should not be taking any set pieces

      • GW says:

        He was bad last night but he scores a lot of his goals that way.

      • Murph says:

        Yeah what was up with that? I couldn’t believe that. Zusi should have taken them all. I wanted Brad Davis to get a chance to take one late.

        • louis z says:

          I don’t think Davis is going to get too many invites when everyone is healthy. He didn’t do enough in my opinion.

      • RB says:

        Gomez scored the lone goal in that crucial 1-0 win over Jamaica in Columbus last year off a set piece, didnt he?

      • keithbabs79 says:

        Honestly, the USMNT have never had a good set piece kicker. Donovan was average at best. I hate to say it, but Adu is probably the most threatening I’ve seen.

    • CroCajun1003 says:

      Adding Donovan to this team immediately doubles, maybe triples the offensive output. He is the American David Silva.

      Every night Klinsman goes home dreams about a Donovan, Deuce, Altidore, Bradley attack. Add in Jones and flavor of the month midfielder and that’s a serious attack.

      • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

        I would argue that he’s actually the American Landon Donovan.

        He and Silva have very little in common.

        • crocajun says:

          Short. Quick. Good ball control. Good vision. Crisp passing. Ability to finish. Ability to boss the game in the attacking 3rd. I think they have some similar qualities.

          I have agree with you though… LD is the American LD. The resemblance is uncanny.

        • Lil' Zeke says:

          Why argue, when you can quip!

  8. Luis Reyes says:

    Arena has his head up his rear. The only definition of “American” that anyone associated with, or a fan of, the US Men’s National Team is FIFA’s. The rest is just tubthumping.

  9. 2tone says:

    Look it’s awesome to have homegrown talent, but it’s becoming worrisome that this whole German-American Versus American debate is getting a little overblown. There is a total of 5 German-Americans in the US squad it’s not like the entire USMNT is foreign born Americans.

    Can’t wait for June now!

    • chris says:

      There is many more in the system that people drool over because theyre european. Boyd, Jones and FJ are the only ones who have showed anything worthy of more call ups. Also dont want to burst everyones bubble but JAB will not be capped tied anytime soon. Hes been playing for Germanys U-20’s and will only choose the US if Germany doesnt work out. Dont want that type of player on this team

      • jim in Atlanta says:

        link to sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net

        Nice wristband huh? And when has brooks ever said that he wants to wait for Germany over the US? I know never. He has said repeatedly that he prefers the US, his dad, prefers the US, and that he hopes to even make the us world cup team. People need to stop with this nonsense about “not wanting that type of player” smh. Sorry, but what the hell are you talking about. Last time I checked he missed the Germany U21 game due to ”flu” ….(cough). Get off your soap box Arena.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      I agree, I don’t like to see anything that is divisive or initiates a debate that German-Americans don’t care as much as American born players…that line of thinking is complete BS. The best players will wind up on the field. It is not just about speed or technical skills…Nobody is going to make the roster that doesn’t give their all for the crest.

  10. Evil says:

    Omar Gonzalez graduated last night. And Matt Besler earned himself a roster spot to the WC. I thought we were weak defensively, but after last night, I think Gonzalez, Besler and Cameron as center backs are better than the Lalas-Balboa, Bocanegra-Onyewu, Agoos-Llamosa backlines we’ve ever had. All of the sudden it looks like we might have the strongest backline in U.S. soccer history.

    2014 World Cup defensive line:
    Chandler Gonzalez-Cameron/Besler Johnson

    With a pool of Castillo, Lijai (who can play both sides), Justin Morrow.
    So far also add Goodson to the center-bak pool.

    Its looking like Boca and Cherundolo will not be making it. (They’ll be 34 and 35 next year).

    I think Donovan needs to get off his soap-box and grow some balls because we could use him.

    Just imagine our starting line-up against Germany in the June:

    Howard/Guzan

    Gonzalez Cameron
    Chandler Johnson

    Bradley Edu/Jones

    Donovan Shea

    Dempsey

    Altidore/Gomez/EJ

    • Anthony says:

      Good line up. Though I did fall in love with the Gonzo – Besler pairing last night. Looked like instant chemistry.

    • pancholama says:

      This is nowhere near an official report on his whereabouts, or the whys and wherefores of Landon’s absence. But, intuitively I get that he needed mental, emotional and physical repair. Time for a little R and R.
      I imagine that he is taking time for himself, for his body-mind to retune, and tune up.
      He is putting his “wheels” back on.
      He will come back healthy, diamond eyed and strong, ready to contribute.
      In the best case scenario – instead of overworking himself, and burning out completely on the way to Brazil and being a non-factor in the WC – he will return refreshed and renewed, rejoin the USMNT in the final half of qualifying, reintegrate into the team and come Brazil, will be part of a team starting to fire on all cylinders, healthy, fit and ready to contribute in a big way.

      • Joe Dirt says:

        Awesome point here. I’ve often wondered if this Donovan sabitical was all masterminded by Klinsmann to force the team to learn to play without Donovan who has created nearly all of our offense the past two WC cycles.

        It would be amazing if Klinsmann finds a way to raise the level of the rest of the team so that it wasn’t completely dependent on Donovan having a good day.

        Then after achieving this insert a fresh and focused Donovan back into the lineup to let him raise us to the next level. Brilliant if thats really the plan.

    • Lil' Zeke says:

      Zoiks! “strongest backline in U.S. soccer history”

      Is it a soccer blog thing or just a blog thing when people decide the rest of their lives based on observations made over a five day period?

      Get off your soap box and grow some balls

  11. GW says:

    “All of the sudden it looks like we might have the strongest backline in U.S. soccer history.”

    What makes you say that?

    • Paul says:

      Youth, depth, talent. It’s all there unless last night turns out to be a one-off

      • Lil' Zeke says:

        That’s why the Hall of Fame inductions must happen now!!!

      • CroCajun1003 says:

        I’m still not sold on Besler. He was FANTASTIC in Azteca, but one game does not a career make. I’d have to see him over a longer period.

        • TheFrenchOne says:

          yeah, i love how people make these sweeping statement about a player based on one game. let’s chill just a little and be savor the knowledge that Besler might grow into something special, but needs significant seasoning to be considered a solid prospect for 2014

  12. PetedeLA says:

    Good points. But for me, the elephant in the room is that we desperately need a Landon Donovan.

    A healthy Dempsey will always be a goal scoring threat, and Bradley does a great job of connecting players in the midfield, but we need a playmaker. The funny thing is, early in the Klinsmann era Dempsey was wearing the #10 and he was actually doing a great job of creating for others. I don’t know if the numbers played a role, coincidence, or if the competition was just really crappy, but since then he hasn’t really been able to set up anyone else but himself.

    Here’s hoping Donovan or maybe Holden can become part of this team.

    I remember something Donovan once said in an interview about Beckham. Something along the lines of “When I know David has the ball my eyes light up because I know something special is going to happen.” That’s what Donovan can provide for us. It would be fine if the team could consistently create chances without him. But a forward like Altidore needs a player like Donovan.
    Just my two cents.

    • MikeG says:

      Good post. Donovan and Beasley can dribble, pass, and score goals while making runs into the final third. Dempsey = poacher. Do not let Dempsey stop poaching. He is like Wile E Coyote. I quote Wile E Coyote, ” Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Wile E. Coyote, genius. I am not selling anything nor am I working my way through college. I score goals”.

    • Gary Page says:

      I think a healthy Stuart Holden could be just as valuable.

      • Kelso says:

        It’s very speculative to think Holden can provide what we’re missing in Landon’s absence. He’s been hurt for years and was never near landycakes’ level before anyways. Definitely showed promise before his injuries though.

  13. Duderson says:

    While I won’t go so far as to say Guzan should start over Howard, for whatever reason I felt more confident in our goalkeeping seeing Guzan in there.

    • I think that’s due to their personalities. Guzan is intense and seemingly calm. Howard is intense and in your face, pissed.

      • josh says:

        I agree with this. Sometimes Howard seems a bit more manic, while Guzan does seem more at ease. Both are great, but I’m really positive on Guzan right now.

  14. chris says:

    Going forward Lichaj, George John, Gatt, and Connor O’Brien should get some serious looks. O’Brien is a CM with good technique and passing ability. Something needed to help out this attack

  15. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    Not only were all of the players American, but they all had MLS experience. That is even more important to me than the “born in the USA” hooplah.

    • RB says:

      I never get this: all the players who play for the USMNT are always by definition Americans. Always. All of them.

      I’m not out to get you, but people keep saying things like this, and at least some of them seem to mean it (as opposed to just being careless with their wording or something).

      All of them are always American. No need to even check, ever. You can bank on it.

      • Lil' Zeke says:

        I like where you’re coming from, but I think you’re missing a nuance. Having homegrown players means there’s home-growth going on. Being able to field a successful team all of whom cut their teeth right in our very own system means we have a successful system. I do think that’s a milestone worth marking.

        Add our spectacular Americans Abroad and you’ve really got something!

        • RB says:

          Yeah I do get that. And again LSU Chris’s comment here was not a particularly clear or prime example of what I was speaking to. But it’s the persistent bias (really no other word for it) especially these days about the players who also have some German background that I don’t get. Like the other day, someone here said Klinsi should play more American players. But of course American players are all he can ever play.

          If you look after the fact and say, “Hey, that was a solid effort and all those players were raised/trained in an American setting in an American system,” well yes, that’s a good point for the American system and we can be proud and happy about that (without excluding or negating the value of other players). And that’s pretty much exactly what is stated above in the article.

          But if we start taking some sort of non-soccer approach to the selection of players, trying to judge which eligible players are “really” American (or not) because of perceptions about their backgrounds, and therefore which players are somehow “really” appropriate (or not) in terms of playing on the team, that’s really (no scare quotes!) a problem. And that’s where Arena’s comments are ambiguous: “should” could mean either of these two, if you read what he says there…

  16. Paul Miller says:

    Howard is a leader, but he’s also a bit over-rated in keeper skills. His distribution is far from great. And he isn’t immune from mistakes. Like the winning Ghana goal – from outside the box and beat Howard near post. Or like the winning Honduras goal – he misjudged his time to come out and grab a ball, so he never got to it. Yes, Gonzalez also was at fault, but in Gonzo’s defense, he saw the keeper break toward it, so it wasn’t completely illogical to think Howard would get there.

    Howard is a great athlete, and there’s no denying his shot-stopping abilities. But when you’re 34 with broken bones in your back, you have to wonder how long your athleticism is going to be there. And he has old hands. How long has it been since anyone has seen Howard try to hold a hard shot? It happens with a lot of older keepers (Buffon makes an art of deflecting every shot down and catching it on the bounce).

    I’m 50-50 on whether Guzan should have won himself the job.

    • Kelso says:

      To be fair ill just point out the winning goal to clinch the group in South Africa, a counter attack sprung completely by Howard. Not to mention all the great saves he’s made over the years. I say let them battle it out, if Howard can’t hack it go with brad

      • Lil' Zeke says:

        “Distribution: brilliant!”

      • Paul Miller says:

        I’m not saying Howard is poor and absolutely should lose the starting position. He’s still a very good keeper, as is Guzan. I just question whether Howard is (or ever has been) a great keeper. So, I agree, let them battle it out. And a few years down the road, after Howard retires, I’ll say the same about Guzan and Johnson (or whoever the heir apparent looks to be).

        I like Howard a lot. Great story, positive leadership and a true role model for younger players. But if there’s a better fit for this team, that’s who we ought to play.

      • GW says:

        Kelso,

        You are referring to Timmy throwing the ball out to LD who then sent Jozy down the right wing from where he crossed to Clint who arrived at the ball at the same time as two Algerians. After the ensuing collision the ball rolled out to Landon who blasted it into the net for THAT goal.
        It was a great play by everyone involved but that does not mean Timmy’s distribution is always great.

        I see it as average.

        Guzan’s emergence means Timmy now has real competition. He has not had any since Keller left and that was bad.

        He had a mediocre to crap 2010 World Cup. Had he given the US a Friedel level performance I’m certain they beat Ghana and who knows how far they might have gone.

        Regardless, at least now I know the USMNT keeper in Brazil, if we get there, will have been severely tested and will be starting based on merit.

    • MemRook says:

      To be fair, Howard’s distribution is widely acknowledged by almost everyone to be one of his assets, strengths.

      • Paul Miller says:

        Then, in my view, everyone is wrong. Mostly I see him throwing those 50/50 balls out over the midfield. Yes, over the course of his career, you can find examples of where he springs effective counters. Same is true of any keeper who has played that many games.

  17. Richard says:

    I disagree with your comments on Bradley and Klinsmann. Although Bradley showed good form at moments of the game and moved the ball efficiently, he looked lost defensively and was consistently out of position, forcing him to playing catch up. He has shown much better form in previous contests, although not recently, and needs to regain the swag and confidence that got him to Roma. My problem with Klinsmann was use and choice of subs. Beasley should have came out at half, or sooner, Jozy was subbed entirely too early and bringing in Shea and Davis was idiotic. There is a lot to like about Jurgen, and it’s tough to argue with his latest results, but his moves at times are highly questionable.

  18. beachbum says:

    enjoyed the thoughtful article, thank you, and agree with your points. seeing the same things

    LD is training with the Galaxy this week and may play Saturday vs. TFC, his return will help make Coach look even better now that the blizzard and Azteca are history. On Jozy, while he worked hard the lone striker role again seemed to find him misplayed, appears he needs a partner or his talents aren’t best utilized; if we play the lone striker it might be best for another to do it as much as I love Jozy, or change systems

    GREAT to see the home grown talent stand up and be counted!!!

  19. MikeG says:

    I hear lots of Gonzo Besler pairing compliments. I compliment them too. Let’s see how they do when they have a bad game and give up a bad goal or even lose a game because of a mistake. Fear the own goal. Lot’s of players have good and bad games, but most are consistent good games. I do not believe one game makes a player(s). Let’s look at 5 more games with Gonzo or Besler and evaluate again. I will admit they have a positive upside.

    • Tex says:

      I agree, let’s not jump to any conclusions. Remain patient and hope that Klinsy maintains some consistency in the line up. For me the stock of Jozy, Gomez, EJ, Zusi,Beasley (mid), and Kljestan (give the guy some minutes) will go up or down over the next 4-5 matches.

    • louis z says:

      makes sense.

    • josh says:

      While this is a good point regarding the pair, Gonzo certainly has already had his bad moment just recently in Honduras, and seems to have recovered well.

  20. Colin in MT says:

    Speaking of the June qualifiers and the fact that we had some non-first choice guys in the lineup for the last two qualifiers, I’d love to see a piece on a projected gold cup squad similar to the regular predictions on WC 2014 squad.

    Predictions are always fun and getting a list of 2nd/3rd string guys together could be interesting.

    • Tex says:

      I try to keep an eye on all of the players in the US system. I compared the performance of loads of players to Dempsey’s results at their age and given the club. I found these three players to be achieving Dempsey’s results:

      1. Will Bruin
      2. Terrence Boyd
      3. Josh Gatt

      Interesting note, a kid named Cristian Mata in OK averaged 1.6 goals per game in high school, Donovan averaged 1 goal/ game in high school at the same age. Not saying the kid is the next Donovan, but I would keep an eye on him.

  21. cmills000 says:

    I thought the US did manage to string some passes together an hold possession more than I expected (but way less than they needed to). One thing that struck me was not so much the errant passes (though there were plenty) it was the passes played which put a teammate in an impossible position that forced them to bomb it long or otherwise turn it over.

  22. wilyboy says:

    Jozy has been much more lively and sharp in the past two qualifiers. One was in a blizzard, and his dangerous shot led to the goal. The other was in Azteca, and he did a great job keeping the ball one passing. Neither of these situations is a good place to actually score. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t get on the score sheet in June, if the team ever finds an attacking rhythm.

  23. Seth says:

    The all American-born thing is solid, and also that they all got their start in MLS, fully products of the American system. Great to add American talent of whatever background, but this is a solid core of US-developed talent

  24. rainORshine says:

    beasley is back? forget others who think he was a liability on tuesday? sorry, until i see justin morrow given an opportunity ill continue to assume he is better option at LB than beasley…

    as far as cameron at RB – he had a shot to stake a claim to that job, but just did not make much of it. have to think he is firmly behind chandler and cherundolo at this point. if you are looking for a jack-of-all trades, (please) forget beasley – cameron is your man…

  25. Matt says:

    A central midfielders performance can ABSOLUTELY NOT be called dominating when the other team controlled the middle of the pitch 80% of the game. A few bright minutes does not make it a dominating performance, the only “Dominating performance” would go to Gonzales.

    • Mexico kept more possession but it was pseudo possession for large portions of the match. They weren’t able to generate effective attacking opportunities and started resorting to long range efforts. That’s due to a midfield general defensively bossing the game. Welcome to the italian art.

  26. MikeG says:

    A look forward: I hope to see Donovan back in his withdrawn striker role where he is not really playing as a midfielder or forward, but playing in between. This position is similar to an attacking central midfielder too. Dempsey is similar, but I like him playing that way in the penalty area.

    • Kelso says:

      For me we need him on the wing, adding the speed and countering ability out there we’ve lost entirely

      • MikeG says:

        That worked with the empty bucket with Donovan on one wing and Dempsey on the other wing. When Donovan is on the wing he is too far from goal. From a central position he is closer. Donovan has assists and goals for a reason. Donovan is not really a forward or a midfielder he plays best in between. Against Scotland Donovan played as a right side forward, Boyd central, and Torres left forward. Donovan, as I recall, got a hat trick from playing closer towards the penalty area. Both Dempsey and Donovan are not really a midfielder or forward, but a hybrid of the two positions. Donovan is best with space to play into and Dempsey is very similar, but more effective in the penalty area (poacher). In a two forward set-up Dempsey would benefit more from a player that can hold up play and have his back towards goal ala Altidore and Boyd. It would be wise to put Dempsey and Donovan at there best natural positions. The midfield would need two wide and fast wingers to compliment Donovan in the middle while Jones and Bradley play as dual DM/CM. The midfield would look like a pentagon, but be flexible enough to play with two forwards with Donovan as a withdrawn forward. I know Beasley can handle the LM spot and is responsible enough on defense in that LM position. The flexible part is Dempsey can take the RM spot and cut in towards goal allowing Altidore to play. We have friendlies coming up and these are good games to try tactics.

        • MikeG says:

          We’re going to need a good intelligent recipe against Germany.

          • MikeG says:

            PS playing against Germany will really show strength and weaknesses on the USMNT.

          • Fredo says:

            When did Germany join CONCACAF?

            • MikeG says:

              Friendlies coming up. Fredo, you are the one who thinks Germany joined Concacaf..not me. We got friendlies on May 29 against Belgium and June 2 against Germany. We need to get our midfield put together for the rest of qualifying and we can use the friendlies in the way I suggested. Stay on course.

  27. Tim Landrum says:

    Thanks for sticking up for Beasley’s performance, Ives. He played a pretty great game, especially when you look at how many more attacks came down his side and how much more dangerous Aquino looked than Guardado. Numerous reports and ratings on other sites knocked his game, which is pretty much crap.

    • Hawk says:

      I agree. He looked out of place a few times but recovered well many times and got us out of some jams.

    • rainORshine says:

      easy to look dangerous when playing against an incompetent defender.

      the attacks came down beasleys side? aquino looked dangerous? yea, i guess those hings have nothing to do with beasley being a poor defender

      • Tim Landrum says:

        There were more attacks on Beasley’s side because Mexico made them there. Aquino kept tight along the touch line, while Guardado moved centrally pretty often. Whether its because they always attack that side more or if its because they thought Beasley was the weaker defender is beside the point. Beasly stood up to the pressure and Mexico didn’t score from down that side. You can pull up Opta and compare Beasley and Cameron’s defensive stats; there’s no drop off between the two. Yeah, Beasley got pretty beat up doing it, but, to me, that just makes his performance more impressive.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        Or it could have something to do with Javier Aquino being one of the best wingers in CONCACAF. Give it a rest. We get it, you don’t rate Beasley, but your weak attempts to try and paint a picture where Beasley was terrible are missing the mark. How many dangerous crosses and shots did Aquino actually get off? He gave Beasley trouble but the reality is he would have given anybody who the U.S. could have put at left back trouble, but Beasley actually held his own and made plenty of vital interventions.

  28. Robert says:

    Shouldn’t it say the US looks like a good bet to qualify for their 7th not 11th straight world cup?

  29. Raymon says:

    “How efficient was Bradley in midfield? He completed 57 of 58 passes, the kind of percentage normally reserved for the Xavis and Pirlos of the world.”

    Wow, and the context was that this was in a tough road game too! Any chance he can get more minutes in Roma or move to a team where he can?

  30. Councildood says:

    Nice piece, Ives. I appreciate the analysis and think you’re spot on.

  31. Hawk says:

    Glad to see people finally acknowledging the impact of Donovan. He is greatly missed. I believe we can still qualify without him but there is no chance we advance at the WC without him. He makes us much more dangerous in set pieces too.

    As for the match last night, I didn’t think Altidore did that poorly. When provided the opportunity, he won some balls and held up things pretty well. I don’t believe his lack of involvement was his fault at all. I too thought he should have been left on.

    My thoughts on the back 4 are that the only replacement for Chandler at RB should be Cherundolo at this point (although I still like Parkhurst too). I don’t care to ever see Chandler out there again after his last performance. I think we have much better options there. I also think that Cameron deserves to be in the mix at all times. If JK intends to stay with the Gonzo/Besler pairing, as I hope he does, I’d like to see Cameron at either LB, RB or deployed somewhere just in front of the back 4. I think he’s proven with the national team and at Stoke that having him in the lineup somewhere is a must.

    Finally, I don’t care what anybody says, I’ll take Gomez in my lineup any day. His work rate is tremendous and he offers so much all over the field. There may be other players that are potentially better attacking options but I think he more than makes up for that with his help defensively.

  32. Benny says:

    If the U.S. is healthy in June, they will win all three games.

  33. boosted335 says:

    Cameron is fools gold ANYWHERE along the backline but yes, if he has to be there, than RB is his best spot. Stock be damned, Cameron’s best position is clearly CM or CDM. Its no accident that when Stoke picked him up he had been moved from CB (where he was sucking) to CM by Houston. Ideally If he cant win a spot for us at CM then he be a backline utility sub.

    Gonzalez is who we thought he was. Nothing more nothing less. He will get exposed in a footrace but in the other 97% of his workday he will be money.

    Besler is a great guy and a good player but is clearly an overachiever. He is a good player but if you think he is starter material you will be proved wrong soon enough. He had a good game but lets not forget 1. he let a player split him (and beasly) and walk in on goal 2. He was beat for position on (what should have been) a tap in goal 3. He whiffed on a clearance that could have easily led to ANOTHER tap in goal. He was solid, well positioned, and certainly didnt look as “shook” as he did his first cap but he was also VERY lucky Chicarito sucks vs. the USA (a la Camerons performance vs Mexico a couple months back)

    Bottom line the backline is still suspect and we’ve only found 1 of the two starters (assuming we want to do more than just GET to Brazil) Soon enough George John will be partnered with Gonzalez and we’ll have the CB’s set and capable to deal with the leakage coming from the wings but again the back-line is and will be suspect until we get Gonzalez an equally dominant partner like John and some outside backs who won’t shut off periodically

  34. chris_thebassplayer says:

    I completely agree regarding JK. Give him some credit, get off his back and let him do his thing. It is a work in progress. He’s navigating a difficult transition within the team well. I think we’re going to see some very solid attacking football in the June home qualifiers.

  35. Fredo says:

    No American bossed the midfield last night.

    • Big Red says:

      Like + 1,000,000. You could say Edu was kind of a boss throwing around Chicharito on set pieces but no US player controlled the midfield. It showed in the possession percentages. Both Bradley and Edu had to do a lot of running around and Clint Dempsey had to track back a lot to help because, mostly Bradley, was not delivering and linking the ball to the forwards.

    • MikeG says:

      Just Bradley, but feel free to troll

      • beachbum says:

        +1

      • GW says:

        Mikey didn’t really boss the midfield in the classic sense.

        He had Reyna’s old job, the circulating time keeper. Give him the ball and let him determine the best time to start rotating it around the US players..

        I thought of it as managing the “rope a dope”.

  36. Bac says:

    My fellow SBI addicts, please think about the following about the issues raised in this post:
    1. Every time we get a new guy or 2 have a breakout performance, someone on here names him the next starter in 2014 Brazil. It happenned when Stu was rising, then got hurt before he could prove it to us. Happenned to Shea a few games, then his 1st touch looked like a rock. Happenned to Aguedelo when he scored 2 goals in 3 games, then couldnt even start for an average MLS team. Then Adu has 1 great half in the Gold Cup, and he’s all of a sudden arrived, only to fizzle out. The current “somebody” is Zusi, who had a few games like a bulldog, and then has been getting mixed reviews on here. Now Beasley is re-annointed.
    These guys go in cycles, and its tough to pencil in the next Donovan or Lalas or McBride or OBrien or whoever so fast……

    2. As far as the non born US players, give it a rest…I love they are getting through the mix now. The only smart thing that 4th Mexican commentator said last night was if you get a call up, and you decline it, you’re out. Its a pride thing to play for your country-Then the response was that if someone didnt want to represent the country theyre playing for,”where the name on the front was a hell of lot more important than the one on the back”, then eventually they will basically select themselves out by their actions on or off the pitch. These guys have been in the rotation now for a while, and thats VERY different than the David Regis issue back in 98, and lets not forget a few of em came in through Bradley. My parents were born in Greece, and if I were so skilled and couldnt make the US team, I would have tremendous pride playing as a 1st generation Greek even though Im born here and my Greek is barely passable and cant even write it – In the end, JK will put out the squad with the best “team”

    3. Now that weve got 4 points, and with a bunch of injuries ready to heal, and a certain guy playing his way back into the public’s view, I think the June call ups will be not only the most anticipated we have seen in our lifetime, but the most important in this qualifying cycle…. Let that banter REALLY begin guys….

    Just my 2 cents….

    P.S. Stop criticizing Deuce. In that 4-2-3-1 with no true wingers and no true partner for MB, he’s in a no man’s land against almost any team, much less a more talented one when the guy just came off missing 5 matches for an injury… that guy’s got red white and blue pumpin through and through .. with enough heart to make up for all 11 guys we were missing….

    done..and done

    • TheFrenchOne says:

      amen to #1 above. i made a similar comment above. we, as presumably knowledeable fans, need to stop making these sweeping comments after a new player has a great game. just sounds silly

  37. todd38 says:

    I respectfully disagree with Ives on Jozy Altidore about him “providing pressure from the front.”

    Throughout Jozy’s entire USMNT career, in my opinion, he has put very little pressure on the opponent in their third of the field. In fact, many have accused him of being lazy b/c if an opponent is 3 yards away from him he will choose just to watch instead of applying pressure and try and force a turnover or a bad pass.

    Moreover, he never goes in hard for 50/50 balls or jump to challenge for headers. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to expose himself to injury.

  38. David M says:

    Replacing Jozy won’t solve anything. Simply put, we don’t have a better striker, and the reason he’s not scoring now is because this US team under Klinsmann is apparently not allowed to attack. In three hex qualifiers so far, the US team produced a grand total of 3 shots on goal. The only impressive thing about this is that we’re very effective: 2 goals on 3 shots. But 3 shots in 3 games is beyond pitiful.

    It’s ironic the kind of coach Klinsmann is given what a great striker he was in his playing days!

    By the way, has anyone noticed that Bob Bradley’s Egypt is running away with their group, with 3 wins in 3 games having scored 7 goals?

    • biff says:

      We will not know, David M, whether replacing Jozy will solve anything until Klinsmann tries another forward. Might do wonders. You never know.

      As for Egypt, I saw 25 minutes the game on Tuesday and Egypt looks good. It is a team that knows how to counter-attack, which is a key part of the game that Klinsmann has totally ignored. I asked this question the other day: Can anyone remember one true counter-attacking goal under Klinsmann? I cannot recollect one. Against Mexico, I noticed several times when we had the potential to counter, players passed the ball back instead of quickly going forward.

      • David M says:

        Yeah, that was so frustrating. We don’t counter attack and we don’t attack. I felt that Mexican defense was very suspect, especially in the middle, and we had a number of opportunities to test them, yet never did. Must’ve established some kind of world record for the number of passes back in the opponent’s half. It was truly maddening.

        Klinsmann seems to be perfectly content to eek out 1-0 wins at home and go for scoreless draws on the road regardless of the opponent.

      • David M says:

        Yeah, that was so frustrating. We don’t counter attack and we don’t attack. I felt that Mexican defense was very suspect, especially in the middle, and we had a number of opportunities to test them, yet never did. Must’ve established some kind of world record for the number of passes back in the opponent’s half. It was truly maddening.

        Klinsmann seems to be perfectly content to eek out 1-0 wins at home and go for scoreless draws on the road regardless of the opponent.

      • Chris H says:

        Yes, because EJ did such a better job once he replaced Jozy in Mexico…

  39. biff says:

    Nice article, particularly glad to see mention of the effort by a team of US-born players and that the clock is ticking for Jozy. I think US fans have gotten carried away with the desire to search the world for potential foreign born players who might be eligible for a US passport. Worse, many fans seem to automatically believe Not Made in the USA players are better than those Made in the USA. I think we can be glad to have Jones, Fabian, Williams and Boyd on board. But as we saw with the Sporting News articles, it is a fine balance and Klinsmann needs to be more sensitive going forward to potential problems, not to mention better aware of the heart and fighting-spirit factor that we saw these past two games–guys that sweat blood for the points and don’t turn down call-ups because of the long trip for Europe (and don’t need to be convinced with countless hand-holding telephone calls from Klinsmann to committ to the team).

    As for Jozy, I am a big fan and cheer for him every week at club level. But 16 games without a non-PK goal dating back to June 2011 and I am starting think the chemistry simply is not there between Jozy and Klinsmann and/or the rest of the guys. We got to be ready for WC 2014 and Klinsmann now needs to find forwards with the right teamchemistry who can get the job done. Maybe the WCQs will be the moment of truth(s) for Jozy and he can succeed in getting it together. Would be great. If not…

    • David M says:

      It’s interesting that there have been no comments on something that Jorge Ramos said during the pre-game (or was it halftime?) show on ESPN. I guess as an immigrant he could afford to say something politically incorrect but true.

      The discussion was about Mexican-American players, specifically the ones on the U-20 teams, and Ramos said that he had talked to a number of them and they all indicated to him that Mexico was their preferred choice. That they would play for the US only if Mexico didn’t select them. So, here we have players who in most cases were born and grew up in the US, yet their allegiance is with Mexico. Now, how good would the US team be if it were made up of those for whom the US was just a second choice? (And of course the same goes for the Germans.)

      • GW says:

        Have you ever been around teenagers?

        I get the impression they say a lot of things and then change their minds.

        Funny how that works.

    • Chris H says:

      When exactly biff, was the last time a true forward scored a goal in the run of play under Klinsmann? Dempsey has scored every goal (2 of them) for us this year. Russian goals were scored by Bradley and Mixx. Guatemala goals by Deuce (2) and Boca. EJ scored 2 goals against A&B…except that he was deployed as a left winger…not as a forward. Going further back, we have Gomez scoring…from a set piece (Jamaica), Orozco Fiscal’s goal (Mexico), another Deuce effort (Guatemala), and then we FINALLY hit it Boca, Deuce and Herc scored at home against A&B on June 8 2012. The only other goals scored by forwards in the Klinsmann era were Herc against Brazil (in garbage time), Buddle against Slovenia, and Altidore against Slovenia (PK). So, since Klinsmann took over, we have had a grand total of 3 goals from forwards. So out of the 30 goals in the Klinsmann era, a whopping grand total of 3 of them have been scored in the run of play by forwards. No forward has performed well in this system, so stop criticizing Jozy for his “lack of chemistry” when the truth is that the Klinsmann system “Lacks chemistry” for every forward. The ironic part is the man was a forward himself, he should understand this better.

      • biff says:

        That is an interesting comment, Chris H. Would be interesting, though, to know how many of those goal-less forward minutes involved Jozy.

      • GW says:

        Semantics,

        Dempsey has spent a lot of his USMNT time playing striker, forward whatever you want to call it. I couldn’t tell you if he was in that spot when he scored but I’m sure he was for one or two of his goals over the last year or two.

        I’ll bet JK will tell you who scores is irrelevant.

  40. biff says:

    So many positives to take away from these two games, possibly the biggest shock surprise being Besler’s outstanding rookie performance. And the heart-warming comeback of DeMarcus Beasley. The line-up to a big step toward ossification this week and I think Gonzeles and Besler as starting centerbacks is now carved in stone, with Fabian Johnson or Edgar Castillo at left back. Right back is still open, but goes to Dolo if he can regain pre-injury form. After that, can anyone explain to me why Timothy Chandler has a lock on the spot after only two USMNT games in 18 months, one of them an absolute gutless, heartless performance against Honduras? Much rather see Cameron there giving all than the prima donna Chandler. And, please, I have seen Chandler play right wing for Nurnberg and he is not impressive at all in that role.

    I have a hunch that DeMarcus Beasley has earned the chance to start in June as left winger to show what he can do. I think with Beasley at left wing ahead of Fabian or Castillo could be explosive. Dempsey and Gomez are key pieces of the puzzle, both are sure starters–but where. Dempsey could play either forward or CAM, while Gomez could play forward or right wing.

    • Dick Tracy says:

      I’d like to see more Edgar Castillo, he has the pace of a Beasley, without the LB inexperience… and… wait for it… youth!

  41. biff says:

    One last thought. In my mind, the biggest revelation of these two games is Mikey Bradley at the Deep Six distributer/defender position. People are forgetting that the Costa Rica game is the first time Klinsmann put MB back there, and, wow, did it work so much better than having Williams or Edu or Beckerman there. I disagree with those who want MB to be a the box-to-box player frequently joining in the attack. We have much better attackers and I think Klinsmann sees this. MB’s strength is anchoring deep as The Distributor and he proved this beyond any shadow of doubt these past two games.

    Top choice for an MB pairing is Jones, and I thought for the first time they worked great together against Costa Rica. If those two can put their past childish spats behind them, I think Bradley is as much to blame as Jones, then I think we can have a D-mid set similar as Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira at Mardrid and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez at FC Bayern. I am not saying JJ-MB would be as good as either of those two, only saying that it can be the same concept and very damn good.

    Other options to pair with MB might be Corona or Danny Williams. Will be interesting to see what Klinsmann does, but I have no doubt that MB is now locked into that deep slot.

    • biff says:

      And to add to that, Klinsmann kept a clean sheet for two hard-fought games using a 4-2-3-1 in each game. Everyone clamoring for two forwards need to realize that to bring up a second forward means sacrificing on defense and hardly any team in the world now plays with two forwards and there or logical defensive reasons why my most teams, like Madrid and Bayern, play with two number Sixes and only one forward.

      • Dennis says:

        The use of 2 defensive midfielders is something that lots of people were faulting Bradley for. I can sympathize that using 6 players in defensive postures is unlikely to result in a team scoring lots of goals (Brazil has done that, but 3 or 4 of those defensive players were capable and allowed to get forward in the attack).
        In fact in high stakes games like WC and qualifiers, it makes lots of sense to try to ensure your opponents can’t score thereby you will do no worse than tie. But it does not make for terribly exciting soccer.
        Klinsmann promised more attacking soccer, he is recanting that by his actions, if not his words. I can’t fault him for doing what is most likely to produce positive results, but he is a bit disingenuous in how he choses to speak about it.

        • biff says:

          But, Dennis, I think that all depends on how you define defensive midfiedlers and how they are played. Of course, you can have 2-mids in the line up and plant them in front of the back line with orders to stay put and never move forward. Or, you can have two d-mids who not only have a green light to attack when opportunities arise, but are encouraged to do so. And that is what we see with Real Madrid and FC Bayern, two of the most exciting teams in the world and they both use a 4-2-3-1 formation with two defensive midfielders who consistently join in the attack. But the element they have that we don’t is tgat they both counterattack–and beautifully.

          And it could be that Klinsmann was playing MB and Jones as attacking midfielders earlier in order to hone their attacking skills before moving them back to their preferred DM positions. And as for the current lack of counterattacking in the USMNT, it could be that Klinsmann is going one step at a time, building from the back forward, letting the guys know they can back pass to hold position and at some point he will start to stree counterattacking, which I think you just gotta have if you are going to be successful in the World Cup–defining success for the USMNT as reaching the quarter final or beyond.

          • beachbum says:

            biff, the dual Dmids is very similar to what Bradley did, having them both hold. very similar roles. Bob used to send MB crashing forward when the US needed a goal, but otherwise they played similar roles as to now

            originally JK was experimenting with the lone destroyer in the pocket above the CBs, but he’s gone away from that

  42. DC Josh says:

    Gotta agree with everything you said Ives, especially criticism incorrectly aimed at Beasley and Altidore after Tuesday night. Both players did as best they could with the problems they faced. I can’t wait to see Jozy with an attacking midfield behind him. Once he breaks his national team scoring drought, he will light nets on fire with goals.

    Beasley isn’t the long-term left back option, but he is in the mix in a pinch and should be on every future roster as long as he maintains his current level of play. Of all the players from the last two games, I was most impressed and surprised by Beasley.

    Lastly, Klinsmann deserves credit for bringing in players and getting them to contribute. With a large majority of starters out of the roster, he still got two great results.

  43. Dick Tracy says:

    This is my WC 2014 starting XI as of today:

    —————–Jozy——————
    Gomez————————-Zusi
    —————Deuce—————–
    ———————–Bradley——-
    ———Jones————————
    Castillo—————Cherundolo
    ———Besler-Gonzalez———
    —————–Guzan—————-

    subs: Howard, Shea, Agudelo, Diskerud, Cameron, Boyd, F. Johnson

    • Dick Tracy says:

      wishful thinking* – Holden in place of Diskerud

    • biff says:

      Like it, Dick Tracy. I would pull Jozy and move Gomez to forward and put DeMarcus Beasley at left wing. And then I would have MB and Jones switch places. And maybe Landon will be back for right wing.

      But wait just a cotton pickin’ second, Dick Tracy. Are you serious about leaving Timothy Chandler off the roster? When you consider how much he has sacrificed to help us so far in World Cup qualifying last summer and last autumn and all he has done so far this year in some tough, tough games, do you really think we can make it to the World Cup without ol’ Timothy on the roster? And don’t you think with all he is doing to help that he deserves a spot of one of the other guys to be in Brazil next summer. Maybe Cameron should stay home or Dolo to make room for Chandler.

    • chris says:

      Its wishful thinking to even have Diskerud making the squad

  44. Dennis says:

    The results give Klinsmann some breathing room and he will now be the US coach through at least WC qualifying whether the US qualifies (as I expect) or not. As for any great insight he showed in picking the starting 11, well, Gonzales and Besler, MVP in MLS final and MLS defender of the year, he could have just looked at press clippings. Cameron playing in the position he plays for his club is hardly an innovation and other than calling in Boca, who besides Beasley would he have played at LB? Amongst the attacking players, except for Zusi, he used guys Bradley used and has not really changed that. He typically uses lineups that are pretty much like those Bradley used (Beckermann, Rogers, Bornstein, Clark are minor differences since in the end neither was totally wed to those choices), is that because that is the best kind of player the US can muster, or is it lack of imagination on Klinsmann’s part? I remain unconvinced about Klinsmann.

    • GW says:

      Dennis,

      “I remain unconvinced by Klinsmann.”

      And you always will be.

      The player pool was never going to change dramatically from what BB would have had so your criticisms of JK on that score would apply to anyone else who succeeded BB. However, go back and look at the 2011 Gold Cup Final starting lineup. Only two of those guys (Clint, Mikey) started at Azteca. And if you think just anyone could have gotten the results JK got from this motley crew in Denver and Azteca then I would say you are a little naive.

      JK’s biggest flaw is his big mouth. The first thing he said was overpromise about this attacking style business. His second statement was that said style would take some time to implement but no one ever listens to the second thing you say. He has under delivered on the style business and I remain convinced that until he delivers on that if he ever does, he will be considered a failure regardless of what else he does.

      As for DMB, that is an example of JK’s good coaching . He could have moved Cameron to left back and started Orozco Fiscal at right back, and moved Edu to center back, moves I was sure he was going to make.

      Fiscal is after all a “real” right back and certainly familiar with Azteca and Cameron has been played at left back for Stoke. He’s certainly played there more than DMB.
      DMB started out shaky but as the game went on he got better and it was important that he stay in because his ability to carry the ball out of defense on the ground and into the Mexican half kept Mexico from building the pressure up too much. Neither Cameron nor Fiscal can do that as well as RunDMB.

  45. Jeff says:

    Jozy is certainly an international level goal scorer, just not in the American system, unfortunately. Just look at his career stats, in 181 club appearances he has 66 goals, while playing in the US, Spain, England, Turkey, and the Netherlands, and the dude is 23 years old. Look at his stats at AZ – 82 appearances, 43 goals in less than two seasons (still 2 games left this year). His problem is not that he can’t score goals playing at a high level.

    I think his problem is that he doesn’t have the same type of dynamic midfield flooding forward that he has at AZ. You can see this if you watch any of his games there, he holds the ball up well about 25 yards out, hits one of the midfielders charging through the middle, then makes a great run off the ball to space. When has the US ever used this strategy. The one time I have seen it recently was with MB charging through at Mexico in what may have been the best US chance at a goal at Azteca Tuesday night.

    If you want to make a criticism of Jozy, I would say it is inability to adapt his game to different situations. The US prefers to flood the wings (I say flood with a little bit of hyperbole), not the middle. We don’t possess the dynamic central attacking midfielder that is comfortable in traffic dribbling through and pulling defenders with him.

    Criticize Jozy all you want, I don’t think he is the best fit for the USMNT either. I would rather see us try someone else who is more adaptable, but claiming that Jozy is not an international caliber player is simply foolish.

    • Dennis says:

      Jeff is pretty much spot on. Jozy is an outstanding player. Now whether or not a particular player is a good fit for a particular team is a whole other question The best team is not always made up of the best 11 players available. Deciding how to makeup the team is the coach’s responsibility; when a particular player who is outstanding fails to contribute to the team effort, it is most often because the coach put the player in a situation that does not complement that player’s strengths.

  46. chris says:

    Led the team in WCQ goals last cycle. Scored against spain in the confederation cup. Scored 2 goals in the most recent gold cup. 13 international goals at age 23. Yeah doesn’t sound like international quality to me. Just because JK doesn’t know how to use his players doesn’t mean they are bad.

  47. Adi from Oregon says:

    I totally agree with your assessment of Jozy. He is simply too stiff and doesn’t have good ball skills to be a top-notch striker. Germany has a similar issue because their younger striker Gomez plays the same way. So Loew relies a lot more on Klose who is a lot older but has much better ball skills, is very fast in the first couple of steps and plays very smart. Now they have even an even better prospect striker in the very young Reus who Jozy should compare himself to.

  48. Joseph James-Brown says:

    WOW!!! LOL!!! But it was expected. No comment on the penalty call that should have gone to Mexico.

    I guess CONCACAF referees can no longer be called “cheats”

    • GW says:

      If controversial call goes against US, blind cheats.
      If controversial call goes for US, good judgement .

  49. sdkb says:

    altidore shouldn’t be allowed on the us national team. he isn’t loyal to our country. observe his indifference during the national anthem. he will never play with any heart.

    • GW says:

      sdkb,

      I’ve said this before.

      Jozy is an agitator. His not really a crouch half bent knees stance during the team picture has now spread to other US players. The man is a subversive and is bent on undermining the good character of his USMNT teammates. Now they may be buying into to his sick, revolutionary, non-conformist agenda. It starts with the aforementioned pose. Soon no one will be putting their hands over their hearts or singing the anthem.

      He needs to be stopped before he can pose again.

      Where will it end?

  50. GW says:

    BK,

    He’s in a slump for his new manager JK and a new team. His favorite assist guy, LD, is AWOL.However, Donovan has announced he will try to work his way back into USMNT favor. So let’s see what that does for Jozy.assuming he still gets called up.

    So his offensive struggles are hardly surprising. And he may never get it going for JK.
    Hardly the first time a good player hasn’t fit in with a new team.

    However, Jozy has 13 goals for the US. That means he is an international level scorer. If these goals don’t count then you’re implying the US isn’t really a legitimate international team something I disagree with.