US vs. Costa Rica: Live Commentary

"Hey buddy, it's really nice having you around here"

Boy it’s getting late over there on the East Coast.

Last time you folks stayed up this late for drama on the West Coast, OJ made the white Ford Bronco brand depreciate.

Game 2 of the Klinsmann Era about to get under way.

Game 3 of the Timmy Chandler Era about to get underway.

Jose Torres and Sacha Kljestan perhaps in the midfield?

Starting line-up shortly!

ESPN 2 and ESPN 3. Note, if you have an alternate stream for the folks watching overseas please submit it.

And away we go….

Goal predictions?

201 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 6:32 PM

    Curious to see:

    1) Donovan without defensive responsibilities
    2) How Altidore’s new confidence translates

    That said, I am not that excited for this game. I don’t know if it’s a familiar opponent, the late EST start, soccer overload from the start of Europe leagues or what but…


  2. Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 7:07 PM


  3. Posted by Wallace on 2011/09/02 at 7:18 PM

    gunna miss Kljestan but.. alright


  4. Posted by Scweeb on 2011/09/02 at 7:18 PM

    Can’t wait for the game. Also can’t wait to see what he does with a full squad


  5. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/02 at 7:33 PM

    Disappointing that Pontius isn’t dressing.


  6. Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2011/09/02 at 8:03 PM

    Tennis on ESPN2 & it hasn’t come up on ESPN3 yet. Anybody else found it yet?


    • Posted by DTOM on 2011/09/02 at 8:06 PM

      Same prob here Turd


      • Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2011/09/02 at 8:13 PM

        Seems weird that it hasn’t even started on ESPN3. Hopefully that’s not a bad sign.


    • Posted by chris on 2011/09/02 at 8:11 PM

      Hurry up Roddick! Beat this 12 year old already.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 8:13 PM

        He’s actually 18.

        My brother played him a couple of times when they were both 14. #tangentialfacts


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 8:14 PM

        Roddick’s career has been a steady decline ever since blowing that Wimbledon final to Federer. Oh wait we’re here for soccer! Get the message ESPN! I’m glad you put such priority on our National Team.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 8:15 PM

          Well, he’s getting old.

          Roddick’s had a nice career; he’s just Villarreal in an era of Barcelona and Real Madrid.


          • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 8:17 PM

            so true. Another era and he’d have a couple majors. Another era and Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic would even have more than they do.


        • Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2011/09/02 at 8:17 PM

          Or maybe he scored Brooklyn Decker & he’s just put it on cruise control.


  7. Posted by acoupstick on 2011/09/02 at 8:15 PM

    On Galavision “en espanol” if all else fails….


  8. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/02 at 8:16 PM

    You’d think with the already ridiculously late east coast start time, they would actually try to get this game underway close to the hour.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 8:18 PM

      Well, except that’s not quite the role they’ve envisioned for the game/schedule. The key is maximizing good advertising time relative to the alternatives. What would they be showing at this hour, anyway? Some rerun? Meh, right?


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 8:18 PM

      I know I was at the computer at 8 PM ET thinking this is early, and then I realized its 8 PM PT and of course its more like 8:30 PT.


  9. Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2011/09/02 at 8:20 PM

    Did Torres go for a quick swim before the match?


  10. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 8:22 PM

    Leander is doing the live ESPN chat! Trying to determine whether I should throw a comment in by “Crow” to the chat


  11. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/02 at 8:22 PM

    Pretend it’s the early time slot from world cup in Korea Japan crack open bacon eggs and beer. Settle in for an all nighter. Go!


    • Posted by Matthew on 2011/09/02 at 8:27 PM

      I like where your heads at.


    • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/02 at 9:18 PM

      Keep the window open with that mixture! My sentiments on the EPSN commentary.Harkes really does live up to the vitriol that is found online. What a negative guy.


  12. Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2011/09/02 at 8:28 PM

    That’s some pretty football. Can’t believe Landon put that wide.


  13. Posted by Scweeb on 2011/09/02 at 8:29 PM

    Love this attacking


  14. Posted by Jen on 2011/09/02 at 8:31 PM

    Anyone know what’s up with Boca and wearing #5 instead of his #3?


    • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2011/09/02 at 9:29 PM

      It’s part of Jurgen’s scheme to make everyone ‘work for their shirt’. Since Boca plays the LCM he gets the #5, with the 2 FB gettting #2 & #3. Klinsman likes this as part of educating the populace to the role,


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 6:46 AM

        “It’s part of Jurgen’s scheme to make everyone ‘work for their shirt’. Since Boca plays the LCM he gets the #5, with the 2 FB gettting #2 & #3. Klinsman likes this as part of educating the populace to the role,”


        Boca plays center back not center midfield.

        Not to get too pedantic but the traditional numbering system had nothing to say about LCM or RCM. It designated the following positions:

        1 Keeper
        2 Right fullback
        3 Left fullback
        4 Right halfback
        5 Center halfback
        6 Left halfback
        7 Right winger
        8 Right inside forward
        9 Center forward
        10 Left inside forward
        11 Left winger

        These terms are now obsolete.

        When twin center backs started to be the norm they usually took #5 and 6. In the 1966 England World Cup winning side Charlton was #5 and Moore, his partner in central defense, so to speak, was #6. That was strictly a matter of personal preference (the manager’s or the player’s,we don’t know), though it seems like the more traditional center half ( the big tough guy) was #5 and the more mobile, cerebral type wore the halfback number (4,6).

        But this was not always true. In the great German sides of the 70’s Schwarzenbeck ( a big tough guy)wore #4 and Beckenbauer wore #5.

        The EPL did not officially move to the squad numbering system until the early 90’s while international teams loosened restrictions much earlier.

        For example in the 1974 World Cup final Germany was numbered this way:

        Germany FR
        · [1] Sepp MAIER (GK)
        · [2] Berti VOGTS
        · [3] Paul BREITNER
        · [4] Hans Georg SCHWARZENBECK
        · [5] Franz BECKENBAUER (C)
        · [9] Juergen GRABOWSKI
        · [12] Wolfgang OVERATH
        · [13] Gerd MUELLER
        · [14] Uli HOENESS
        · [16] Rainer BONHOF
        · [17] Bernd HOELZENBEIN

        · [6] Horst-Dieter HOETTGES
        · [7] Herbert WIMMER
        · [8] Bernd CULLMANN
        · [10] Guenter NETZER
        · [11] Jupp HEYNCKES
        · [15] Heinz FLOHE
        · [18] Dieter HERZOG
        · [19] Jupp KAPPELLMANN
        · [20] Helmut KREMERS
        · [21] Norbert NIGBUR
        · [22] Wolfgang KLEFF
        Helmut SCHOEN (GER)


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/03 at 8:01 AM

          martin, it looks like pancho meant to say center half, which is the same a a central defender. the kaiser played center half, or sweeper and thats why he wore number 5. whats your point? so boca played center half and wore the more traditional number for the position. did rogers wear number seven last night?


          • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 8:44 AM

            “martin, it looks like pancho meant to say center half, which is the same a a central defender. the kaiser played center half, or sweeper and thats why he wore number 5. whats your point? so boca played center half and wore the more traditional number for the position. did rogers wear number seven last night?”


            If that is what Pancho meant to say, and I’m sure he did, then that is what he should write. Center midfield is very different from Center back.

            My issue with Pancho is he seems to be implying that the traditonal numbers defined what side of the field one played on. They do that only in a very general sense ( usually with flank players, George Best wore # 7 but occasionaly wore # 11 when Willie Morgan would play the right wing. Best also sometimes wore #8 when he was assigned to play a more inside role) and in the case of center backs, not at all.

            There is a very big difference between the center half position and what Beckenbauer did. Beckenbauer invented the “libero” role, sitting behind the defense as a playmaking sweeper. When the time was right he would regularly glide up the midfield to direct play further up the field.

            He wore #5 when he played this role for West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final. Interestingly, when he appeared in the 1966 World Cup final, playing a more traditional halfback role for West Germany, he wore #4.
            To reiterate, numbers have defined player’s roles on the field only in the most general way, not in anywhere as confining a sense as Pancho seemed to be implying.

            Last night,Rogers wore #7 the traditional number for the right winger.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/05 at 7:43 PM

          Martin: The EPL only started in the early 90s. Difficult to move to squad numbering in the 80s when it did not exist.

          Nice google search and cut and paste, btw.

          If people want to read about this topic in further detail, I. Suggest reading “inverting the pyramid” by Jonathan Wilson.


  15. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 8:39 PM

    I think I am drunk… The US team is dominating possession, playing out of the back, passing the ball around quickly, and looking flaccid on corners.


  16. Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 8:44 PM

    Sad we can’t have Beckerman instead of Edu as the anchor. Kind of frustrating to watch him play there.


  17. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 8:50 PM

    It will be nice having Stu back for the midfield, and it will be nice to have his delivery for set pieces.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 8:55 PM

      For a while under Bradley I thought the strategy was bunker and then try to score off a set piece. BTW this is so enjoyable to watch.


  18. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 8:51 PM

    Stupid thought but…. since Holden was a very good tackler could he play in the role Edu is playing tonight? I am liking Torres


  19. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 9:03 PM

    Anyone have a question for Leander? 🙂


  20. Posted by Andy on 2011/09/02 at 9:05 PM

    I prefer John Harkes as a player vs commentator…true he was busy having affairs with his teammates’ wives, but he wasn’t doing it in my living room.


  21. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 9:13 PM

    Torres and Castillo look better; Rogers looks like rogers, Donovan is back to post-World Cup funk Donovan; Edu is pretty invisible; Shea faded; Chandler looks good. I liked the quick ball movement in the first 25 minutes, but c’mon guys- lets get going in the final 1/3


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 9:20 PM

      Got to take it easy on Edu. He is the DCM. Given how much possession we have had and the part of the field it has been in he should be invisible.

      Thats like saying Howard had a bad game because he was invisible for the first 45 minutes (had two average saves in extra time).


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 9:23 PM

        That’s not what I meant- I guess it sounded bad. I was trying to say that I don’t really know how to judge Edu’s first half performance. I forgot he was on the field for awhile.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 9:44 PM

          100% agree. While I think he has played well not enough opportunities so far to really judge.


  22. Posted by Turd Ferguson on 2011/09/02 at 9:13 PM

    Promising start but things kinda fizzled out there as the half wore on. Somebody is gonna have to whip out a Mortal Kombat finishing move in the second half. And you can’t be happy with those chances that Costa Rica had at the end of the half.


  23. Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 9:16 PM

    Kljestan for Rogers, Donovan to the wing.


  24. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 9:19 PM

    This is taken straight from the ESPN chat:

    Comment From Joe from MI
    if u had to put a percent on it, how likely is it that charlie davies plays for the USMNT by the end of 2012?

    Leander Schaerlaeckens: 65 percent. If not 65.214 percent.

    Do I feel smarter just participating in the TSG forums? Yes, yes I do.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 9:21 PM


      I mean, we’ve all seen Charlie Davies at this point, right? Right? Like, we all realize Josh Wolff has been better than Davies this year, right?


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 9:22 PM

      Not to mention–it’s kind of odd, as a probabilistic thing, to rate anyone with that high a percentage.

      The only guy I’d even contemplate going that high on is Tim Howard.


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/02 at 10:25 PM

        I would naturally read that question as “what are the odds that Davies makes at least one appearance for the USMNT by the end of 2012”. By that standard Schaerlaecken’s answer doesn’t seem that outlandish to me. I wouldn’t put it at 65% personally, but I could see Davies getting a Cupcake invite.


    • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/02 at 9:26 PM

      OMG Why are they talking anout CD now? talk about about Castillo needs to chug some coronas and chow down more good ole American White casztle burgers to fill out his frame. He’s getting the calls now when pushed off the ball but the ref will overlook one later in the game when its crucial. Talk about how we need Holden’s quality crosses or heck let Rogers do it, our service has really poor on crosses, set pieces and corners.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 9:31 PM

        Good to know that I am not the only one that thought that Castillo was abnormally skinny.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 9:32 PM

        While size is important, it’s not everything. David Silva is smaller than Castillo, but you need a crowbar to get the ball off of him.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/02 at 9:38 PM

          I am having visions of him getting pushed to the ground in Azteca or Saprissa and not getting the call he deserves as we lose 1-0.


      • Posted by Rich on 2011/09/03 at 9:37 AM

        Re: Castillo, I’m less concerned about him getting knocked down every time he is touched than the fact that 100% of his passes either go backwards, go directly to the opponent, or both. When he runs with the ball, his only move is straight ahead until he loses possession.

        Watching him with the ball is like watching an 8-year-old with a quarter in front of a row of gumball machines. Call this kid back in a year if he really lights his club league on fire. Otherwise, bring in somebody else.


  25. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/02 at 9:23 PM

    I have to agree with Harkes ( ! ) the difficulty in the first half was miscommunication on the wings between the backs and midfielders on their overlapping runs.. especially on the right. And that cause mistiming with the forwards.

    If Castillo can keep improving, I’m stoked to see more Lichaj RB and Chandler on the right side of midfield. Them boys will giddyup .


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 9:26 PM

      I loved the USA/Paraguay game with Lichaj at RB and Chandler at RM. Both bombing up the wing and overlapping. Both can deliver “telling crosses”. Was that the last time Lichaj played RB? Does anyone have an update on Lichaj’s fitness?


  26. Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/02 at 9:27 PM

    Hey Cross, ask this on EPSN under the name Troll, “Think Ian Darke is worried about his wife around Harkes?”


  27. Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 10:19 PM



    • Posted by Scweeb on 2011/09/02 at 10:20 PM

      Trolling right??


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/02 at 10:22 PM

      More seriously:

      thought Edu and Rogers were not satisfactory; Donovan needs to be wide…

      Torres was the best player, but he needs to be tested in a high-tempo, high-pressing match. That’s what I worry about.


      • Posted by naray on 2011/09/02 at 10:55 PM

        I agree with you regarding Torres – I just think we should reserve judgement until he gets a run of games in that role. I haven’t watched Belgium much, but I would guess they might try and bring some pressure. I think this would be too early a game for Torres to be measured on. Your thoughts on that?


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 7:37 AM

          Torres needs some time to prove himself in different conditions but there is plenty of time before the games count.

          Edu I thought played well enough..

          Rogers is sub only, not a problem because Duece slides in there (or in the middle with Dempsey sliding into that spot.

          While I liked the passing out of the back, Castillo needs to go and I am not sold on Orozco. Want to see if Goodson can move the ball and whether or not Fabian Johnson can play LB.


          • These are all on the money about Torres, IMO. He looks good if he doesn’t play in a game where he is pressured the moment he touches the ball. If he gets time to make a decision, it’s often a good one…but it takes time for him to make that decision. I haven’t seen him play well against a hard-pressing opponent with quality players, but that’s partially a function of him playing in the Mexican league and partially him not having many national team reps. I’m more hopeful after tonight that he might be WC material, but I don’t think he’s getting into the XI.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 7:06 AM

      Egypt hasn’t yet hired Bradley officially so it may not be too late.


  28. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 10:25 PM

    My favorite Leander quotes of the night other than the 65.34% chance that Charlie Davies is at the World Cup.

    Leander Schaerlaeckens: That’s a desperate shame, the U.S. fails to put away its chances and might lose a game it dominated throughout.

    Jeff Carlisle: Edu has been playing safe and simple so far. I like it.

    Leander Schaerlaeckens: Like re-finding your bunny PJ’s?

    Leander Schaerlaeckens: Big fan of the “that’s what she said”.

    Comment From BENNY
    thanks Leander. you are doing a swell job tonight 😉

    Leander Schaerlaeckens: A non-hater! A banner night for me.

    “Crow” did not get a single comment posted and I was not trolling. I was typing legitimate comments.


  29. Posted by JohnnyF on 2011/09/02 at 10:26 PM

    Ok despite the loss….i really like the look of this team so far under JK. Torres (they call him “El Gringo Torres” on the Mexican station) was excellent both on the ball and defensively. Jozy is holding the ball up really well. Brek Shea will start on the wing for us in Brazil. Castillo, though, was not good. Too many times he put players in bad positions with tricky balls up the wing- including one which led to a goal. And finally Landon…. Where good attacks went to die tonight.

    Again, you never want to lose but most importantly this team really has some spark and verve now.


  30. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/02 at 10:29 PM

    Kind of disappointed by Chandler. He made a few great runs forward in the first 25 minutes, but then kind of disappeared. And his service was pretty poor all night.

    I think “panicky” is the most apt word for the team’s performance as a whole after the strong start.


  31. Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/02 at 10:29 PM

    I must save my judgments for tomorrow when I’m emotionally sober. Right now I feel like a guy who swore he was gonna get laid with this hot chick for about as long as a Fat Man Scoop mix at the club but her friends just bum rushed me and took her away, “Saying she has to go home now or miss her ride” And despite my gentlemanly offers and protestations, she waves bye as she fades into the strobe lights and fog.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 10:35 PM

      I literally laughed out loud and woke up my dog. There have been some incredible comments tonight.


  32. imo
    edu < beckerman
    castillo < lichaj
    orozco < goodson

    to me this team is formidable:

    chandler/dolo goodson boca lichaj
    holden dempsey torres donovan shea


  33. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 10:34 PM

    Bob Bradley is smiling somewhere. Seriously, kind of a disturbing night. A wonderful first 25 minutes but there really wasn’t a great scoring chance other than Landon’s blown shot.

    A little confused why there weren’t substitutions made earlier when it was evident the USA had lost the momentum at the end of the first half. Especially after the first 10 minutes or so in the 2nd half. But there were few options off the bench. I guess Klinnsmann just wanted to see the players he selected play.

    Take back anything positive I said about Castillo. At his best he doesn’t offer much and at his worst he looks like a Bornstein clone. Fabian Johnson- get your paperwork turned in, and Eric Lichaj get healthy.

    What does Landon Donovan need in order to get back to the level of play he had during the World Cup? (other than a few bright moments in the last Mexico game). He was killing scoring chances left and right and his set piece delivery has deteriorated dramatically (and this is not a recent development). What happened to the guy taking corners for Everton? I can’t wait for Holden to be back for set pieces. I’ll even take Torres taking them.

    Torres looked good and I think he can have a place on a team with a crowded midfield.

    Kljestan and Edu haven’t impressed me in awhile. I’m starting to like the idea of a Holden/Torres midfield as well with Shea/Dempsey/Donovan in front.

    Next set of friendlies hopefully we can see many more fresh faces: George John, Gatt, Diskeruud, etc.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 10:37 PM

      And I’ve seen enough of Robbie Rogers.

      Great quote by Jeff Carlisle: Robbie Rogers may be JK’s Jonny Bornstein. Let’s hope not.


    • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/02 at 10:50 PM

      Not following the Donovan analysis. Did you see that ball he put into Agudelo? Just didn’t think that he was emphasized enough in the offense, would probably have been better on the wing cutting centrally, and I think Costa Rica parked the bus for long stretches neutralizing his speed in open space.


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 11:04 PM

        Okay I can acknowledge that but there were SEVERAL times when the USA should have got a good shot on goal and Donovan had a big hand in killing the attack.

        Donovan has just looked off in nearly every National Team game since the World Cup. I hope he turns it around.


        • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/02 at 11:29 PM

          A few things to consider:

          Landon was very good against Mexico last game, and even in the 4-2 loss. Also remember that he was battling illness during the nascent stages of the GC

          Also, factor in that Landon plays in nearly every USMNT game, regardless of the situation. The guy has been playing full bore for many years now, for club and country, so its understandable that he isn’t going to be spectacular on every occasion, particularly immediately after a WC year.

          Because Donovan’s game is based on speed and space, I think it lags a bit when he’s not at optimum fitness, and if he’s playing without the help of Dempsey on the other wing in attack. With that being said, I still don’t think he was an attack “killer” tonight. He missed a golden chance, yes, but I don’t think he was clogging the US attach overall. I actually thought that the attack did not move through him enough tonight, and his distribution when it did was quite good.

          No doubt he got stuffed a few times, but that happens when you try to pressure a defense. I think CR did a good job overall of cutting space out from him, diabling his penetrating runs to a large extent before he even had a chance to make them. I agree with you, however, that his service from set pieces has not been very good since the WC. Stu Holden may win that duty as he gets back into the squad.


  34. Posted by s44 on 2011/09/02 at 10:34 PM

    So Ian Darke kept telling me we were playing Honduras. Fire both announcers.

    Have we totally forgotten how to use the corner space in attack? Aguedelo stirred things up when he came just by running more to the left flag (to which Brek seemed allergic).


  35. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/02 at 10:39 PM

    Remember when we were unbeatable against CONCACAF competition at home? What was it, 53 straight games, or something? Now we’ve lost three of the last seven.

    How many shots did we put on goal this game? One, by my count.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/02 at 11:13 PM

      I was thinking about that during the Gold Cup


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 8:10 AM

      These games don’t matter. If the US learns lessons and builds a better team by 2013-14 then its worth it. Just think Bradley would have played defense first and we would be looking at a 0-0 draw. Germany went through early struggles and then finished 3rd at the WC under Klinsi.


  36. Posted by naray on 2011/09/02 at 10:43 PM

    I have always thought we have been one of the fittest teams out there – Jurgen’s got us playing a different pace though, and we looked tired in the 2nd half , even towards the end of the first. Did other people see the same thing? it seemed like the passes, even simple ones, slowed down by more than usual in the 2nd half. Fitness seemed to be more of an issue than I thought it would be.

    That said, I am pretty encouraged by the performances. Castillo, however, has to improve in a hurry. The whole backline suffers because of him right now. I will save judging Orozco-Fiscal until after Castillo either improves or an improved replacement is brought in. Shea and Torres suffered because of Castillo as well.

    Lot of promising stuff though in my mind despite the result.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 7:04 AM

      “I have always thought we have been one of the fittest teams out there – Jurgen’s got us playing a different pace though, and we looked tired in the 2nd half , even towards the end of the first. Did other people see the same thing? it seemed like the passes, even simple ones, slowed down by more than usual in the 2nd half. Fitness seemed to be more of an issue than I thought it would be. “


      The USMNT is as fit as anyone.

      However, USMNT fans have this idea that you can play at the tempo the US set in the first half for 90 minutes and if you don’t you are “lazy”.

      That is an urban legend, a myth, BS, whatever you care to call it. No team can keep up that pace for 90 minutes.

      Which is why it is so important to score when you are dominant like that. Scoring allows you to then slow down the game and take a rest for a bit.

      Since the US did not score, they had to keep their foot on the gas. They could not really manage the kind of slow-slow-quick-quick German tempo they would have liked.

      I suspect that is why JK did so few substitutions; perhaps he wanted the core group to figure out how to get back into the game even when you are gassed as they were.

      In any event, hopefully a valuable lesson was learned. They did enough to win or tie but US players have always been sloppy and have lost games because they did not pay enough attention to the little details. This game was another example of that.


    • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/03 at 8:30 AM

      I think a major fact that is overlooked here in terms of “fitness” is the US was getting beaten down with fouls and challenges without yellows. Because it was a friendly and refs as well some of us, want an even match to better assess talent & watch (What would we learn if if Costa Rica was down to 10 men, could our players being reasonably assessed against a weakened team?) The cummulative effect of getting knocked eventually slows down the fittest of players, and then the anticipation of getting hit also makes one not go in as hard, especially when you can’t count on a ref to protect you. My disclaimer is not all the US care about that and go in hard no matter what, but I think that the US were getting hammered every chance they got, and the cummulative effect was that later in the game, that extra break away step was gone. I do think that combined with maybe not being used to the quick tempo spurts sort of drained the life out of them.
      I am not sure why Klinsman left them in there as long as he did, unless he wanted to see who pushes through and does something. I would’ve wanted some changes earlier in the 2nd half.
      And I think Costa Rica adjusted in the 2nd half to the US formation so spacing was now limited.


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 10:34 AM

        We’ve alrady had the Klinsmann knows nothing about tactics comments (Phillip Lahm).

        We’re getting the RR and Castillo are JK’s Bornstein comments.

        Soon we’ll be getting the Klinsmann doesn’t know how to use his subs comments.

        This is starting to sound familiar. Nice to know some things never change.


        • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/03 at 11:42 AM

          I think you have a point. Its a West Wing world. Its all about the ” Narrative”. Klinsman will have these criticisms (just or not) stick if he does not address them at some point. I think Klinsman is underestimated greatly, watch; you will see if not today then in a very few days, a PR conference in which his reasoning in letting the players out there for long as he did, as well, as the inclusion of RR & Castillo in the starting line-up. The Lahm comments I sort of take as some sort of resentment/anger on his part but I was not there so who knows. I think the Klinsman doesn’t know tatics narrative is still out there ( I don’t believe it). I think that a few victories even in a friendly will change some of that narrative and others. Until then the questions out there will remain,( justly or unjustly),until we reach a tipping point, where there will be a Klinsman is a great mantra going on or a Fire the pretender chant. (wait till the panic of WCQ builds in)
          Unfortunately like politics, football in the US has evolved into this black or white, or gold or no medal, thinking which inhibits development and growth as well as recognizing the good productive accomplishments.(the sky isn’t falling!)
          I hope(dream) Klinsman or his minions read this site and act fast to get their message out before the dominating narratives described above, take up all the headlines. I am available to assist in this endeavor! US Soccer press hatchman! yay


          • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 12:56 PM

            From MLS soccer:
            And with 10 minutes to play in the half, the US suddenly seemed to run out of gas.
            “To keep up that pace, the players are starting now to learn what it means that if you really want to play your way through and keep a very high tempo and a high pace, it’s difficult,” Klinsmann said. “It’s difficult to carry that through 90 minutes.”
            Many managers would see the sudden lurch as a sign to make a change at the break. But Klinsmann didn’t make any substitutions until the 63rd minute, when he brought on New York striker Juan Agudelo. In the end, he only used three subs, despite the fact that he could’ve used six.
            “I want them to go through those down periods as well,” Klinsmann said. “We saw here and there the players getting tired or their heads for a couple of minutes struggling. But they need to go through those minutes. They need to fight their way through it.
            “Then they got a second breath or third breath, and they did excellent. The way we combined the way people were looking for each other, and the way they passed their way out very difficult tight spaces was good to see.
            Despite the scoreline, Klinsmann shrugging away any questions about the strikers’ inability to finish – a problem under his predecessor, as well. All that mattered to the new “dude” in charge was the performance.
            “From a performance point of view, it was very, very positive what we saw,” he said.


            • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/03 at 1:05 PM

              By the way, does anyone else think that Sacha is a dead ringer for the Gary Oldman character in “The Fifth Element”?

            • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/03 at 2:03 PM

              Thanks, the MLS article was a good read, I have to find out the time stamp so I can pretend to be a genius, or idiot stating something that everyone already knows. I am probably more of the latter but delusional thinking leads me the first!

  37. Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/02 at 10:43 PM

    Torres was very good, though he got a little careless at times in the defensive third of the field. Overall, however, I thought he controlled and distributed very well.

    Tough call on Edu. He closed down really well, made some decent tackles, but he doesn’t offer much in possession and I think a lot of the responsibility fell upon Torres as a result. Really interested to see the role that Holden fills on this team. Also, interesting to think that we haven’t seen Dempsey yet during the Jurgen era. Dempsey seems well suited to a higher tempo attacking style.

    Castillo is like a rich man’s Bornstein i.e. ultimately not the solution on the left–definitely need to get Lichaj or Fabian over there on the left, or when at full depth, perhaps even Shea if need be.

    As for the result…Meh. Rather see these flukie 1-0 losses now than during actual qualifying. Overall, I think the team is settling into Jurgen’s more attacking style quite well, and despite the loss, the US dictated play as they should and just need to keep focus for the full 90–and be more efficient in the final third. Things that won’t necessarily change with coaching, but my feeling is that the technical efficiency and focus will come under Jurgen.

    Also, I can’t stand the refereeing in CONCACAF. It’s really disgusting.

    Looking forward to Belgium and seeing how the team bounces back. A win would go a long way in demonstrating that the team is progressing and that the Jurgen experiment is actually starting to work.


  38. Posted by mbw on 2011/09/02 at 10:46 PM

    Summary judgments: I thought Mo did OK but kept getting pulled out of position (which wasn’t surprising, because he’s not actually a #6). Rodgers should not be on the pitch before the 65th minute. Castillo should not be on the pitch, period. Orozco isn’t awful, but he’s a pretty good distance behind John and Goodson at this point. Chandler is a very good player who had an off night. Shea will be a good international player if he ever gets his touch under control.

    The bright spot for me was Altidore. Had the three guys around him not played below their standard, he could have had a big night.


    • Posted by jb on 2011/09/03 at 7:31 AM

      Agree with most of this, particularly on Altidore. You lost me a little when comparing Orozco to a player that has never been capped by an international team. Klinsman seems to have a different take stylistically on defenders than Bradley. Klinsi is willing to sacrifice some solid defensive instincts in order to get defenders with better technical abilities to play out of the back (why we’ve seen so much Orozco and Castillo). I think the first 25 minutes of the game we saw a glimpse of what this can mean in terms of attacking by building out of the back. And then, later, we saw the downside (at least in short-term), when defensive blunders by these players led to Costa Rica’s chances and then their goal. I’m going on record saying that Castillo is too reckless with the ball in his own half and makes too many mistakes to be playing left back, but I can see why Klinsi is trying to make him work. And all this aside, we’ve only given up 2 goals in 2 games. Maybe we should be more worried about our own lack of goals.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/03 at 8:07 AM

        very good points here and I too really appreciate the TSG community’s ability to step back and watch these matches in their appropriate context.
        I too started to fall into the “where’s the subs mode?!!” and remembered that what JK is doing is instilling/installing an entirely different tactical mentality here. I think that explains the Castillo role, where you are willing to struggle through his possession challenges to get his willingness to go forward. Not the greatest but he models the role better than others can.
        Shea is a 60 min guy at best for a while. I’m hoping that others are wrong about Rogerers being JK’s Bornstein but starting him and keeping him on that long in the 2nd half was not productive for the team. His touch is nonexistent and his imagination and instincts are not intl quality.
        Torres is another “model” role player, I think where he’s willing to take his lumps with him now to get the team thinking differently about possession and distribution. He flagged as the game went on and I’d like to hear DTH’s thoughts on why that was. I agree that Holden would be a much better support for him than Edu was tonight.
        Altidore looked bright eyed IMO which is always a good thing. But they could have used a Gomez type poacher tonight and in this set up generally. Not enough goal hunger.
        Agudelo’s youth is showing quite a bit lately. Not sure what that means to his PT. Did have his usual few bright moments but was otherwise lacking in physicality with his back to goal.


        • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/03 at 8:42 AM

          * On a side note: Ironically the US needs to bring in an expert at hoofing up the field,maybe call in Big SAM, The US players’ attempts at panic clearances were awful. If you are going to just hoof it out of daner while under dangerous pressure, then godamn it, due it right! Up and out, not a line drive into an opposing player or your own team mate, gee doesn’t anyone around here really now how panic appropriately anymore? SacaLe Afuera!


        • Posted by dth on 2011/09/03 at 12:07 PM

          Agudelo needs reps to work through his issues, and license to mess up and grow in his own way.

          His trouble with the Red Bulls is that Backe wants a specific and somewhat confining tactical role from him–that’s why Luke Rodgers is so much better for New York than Agudelo. In the long run, Agudelo does have to incorporate those elements into his game. In the short run, he does need space to try out his own thing. It’s sort of a good thing, with this in mind, that he’s playing so much for the U.S. relative to his NYRB minutes–he gets to do both things a certain amount.


          • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/06 at 5:44 AM

            in all fairness, hans backe did say at the start of the season that the winner of the regular season, was in his mind the champion. it will be so sweet to see him get s canned.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/09/03 at 12:12 PM

          In the role and context of last night’s game, Torres is as good as the options he has to distribute to. So the reason he was less effective was that his teammates weren’t making themselves as open. So, in that particular instance, not the best thing to judge him by. What you should judge Torres by is when he encounters a team that’s systematic and organized about its pressure and whether he’s able to manufacture space and keep the ball moving in a timely fashion.

          As to Holden/Edu…Edu’s been used as an anchor player under Klinsmann. For Bolton, Holden was more advanced and played a role more analogous to Torres’s. I think playing Holden and Torres together might run into similar issues as “can you play Gerrard and Lampard at the same time together?” or “who’s Michael Bradley’s best partner?”


          • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/09/05 at 10:12 AM

            Holden >>>>> Torres. Especially tactically. Torres sits around a lot when the ball is going the other way.

            I think Holden playing farther up in the torres role, with Bradley dropped back as the sole d-mid is the way to go. Bradley is just a much better player than Edu ( and younger as well).


  39. Posted by Adam on 2011/09/02 at 11:00 PM

    I just want to thank all of you for your calm and level-headed analysis. TSG helped restore my sanity after being on bigsoccer during the game. That’s the last time I do that.


    • Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/02 at 11:16 PM

      Haha…yeah Adam, usually the internet or a John Harkes analysis is where sanity goes to die, but TSG is the exception. Results obviously matter, but so does context. The older and more mature I get (contrary to what my girlfriend probably thinks) the more that I realize how hyperbolic peoples responses can be to insignificant things (curb your enthusiasm I like to say to myself). And, as the TSG adage goes, an observation is not a trend–but then, not everyone has been privy to that statistical insight. We have only two data points at this juncture, and its certainly worth waiting to see how the overall plan comes together over the coming months prior to qualification.

      To me, these games are like preseason football. You’ve got a new coach trying to implement new ideas, and working on specific small goals that are meant to progress towards a greater whole. We’ll see what that whole is in about a year during games where results do actually matter–and they will matter because of the context. I don’t know, perhaps a little rant-tangent here, but context has been lost on many perhaps because of the oversensationalism that we are exposed to daily with shallow self-indulgent news coverage etc.

      There’s a lot of good things occurring right now, at least in my view, and hopefully a loss like this will sharpen the focus and desire of the USMNT under the incipient Jurgen regime.


  40. can TSG do an article on this positional labelling system #6, #9 etc..
    its starting to make more sense, but id love to know the whole list.
    is there a site or a wiki page?


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 8:13 AM

      Its covered very well in Jonathan Wilson’s book Inverting the Pyramid which is a great read if you are into the tactical side of soccer. The numbers don’t make much sense unless you understand how the positions have evolved over time.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/03 at 12:04 PM

      They change depending on what country’s using them.

      An English #10 is Jermaine Defoe. Everyone’s else’s is Zidane. This may or may not helpfully summarize all of the deficiencies in the English game.*

      * Interestingly, our #10–Donovan–seems sometimes caught between the two different ideas of a number #10. At his best he’s what the Germans call an “all-arounder.” This may be one of the salutary benefits of sending decent chunks of our player pool there–I’m looking at you, Bobby Wood.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/05 at 10:58 PM

      We’ll get on it. Wilson does a good job in his book, but there’s also a lot of subjectivity involved.


  41. Posted by soccernst on 2011/09/02 at 11:16 PM

    Here betting the squad looks better – Landon and + Clint


    • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/09/05 at 10:13 AM

      If Landon is played as a CAM, the squad will be weak against good competition. Any fan knows Landon isn’t the player you build a team around. Klinsmann will find that out.


  42. Posted by Scweeb on 2011/09/02 at 11:33 PM

    I would rather lose and play attaching soccer like that then play boring defense and still lose


  43. Posted by Alex on 2011/09/02 at 11:34 PM

    The most noticeable problem was lack of decent service. Many crosses just weren’t making it past the first defender, or woefully overhit. Also kinda disappointed that neither Bunbury or Pontius made the bench, it seemed like we need some more attacking options on the bench for this game.

    But, the AO was awesome today and it was a blast can’t wait to do it again!!


  44. Posted by Fellaini's_Fro on 2011/09/03 at 12:19 AM

    Was at the game and I can say that the crowd was definitely overwhelming Pro-USA. So we had that going for us. Which was nice. The best part was there were many ethnicity’s representing and wearing the Red, White and Blue thus dispelling the fallacy that Latino’s will not support the USMNT.

    Officiating was horrible. Many times the AR’s and Center Ref were on two different planets. I can honestly say that there was half a dozen absolutely horrible calls including a couple that should have lead to penalty kicks. The worst was when Brek was speeding down the sideline and the Ref should have allowed advantage, but called the ball back.

    The first 30 minutes was the type of futbol that many have been clamoring for years. Possession and attacking, though as mentioned in earlier posts it disappeared after the first 30 minutes. It was as if a switch was pulled and they lost the ability to maintain excellent first touches. As the game progressed their first touch required them to re-collect the ball, thus cutting off their passing lanes as the defenders closed on them much easier and faster.

    I don’t know how many times Torres lost the ball and then just stood there looking like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulled the ball away. He did not personify Klinsi’s edict that if we lose the ball, everyone becomes a defender.

    Chandler is the real deal. You don’t know how many attacks he stuffed just by anticipating and breaking up a run or cutting off passing lanes. Never was caught ball watching and once saw him take on two players who looked stuck as what to do with him in front of them. Attacking wise, he is strong and fast, but too often the ball was late getting to him. He’s looking to get forward but the ball gets too him about 2-3 seconds too late and then his space and options are cut down.

    I thought Edu had a strong match. If his job was to link between the back and front and help keep the middle locked down, then he did his job.

    Brek tried to get cute way to many times. Always going for the spectacular versus the safe play.

    Could have easily been a draw, though if the US had capitalized on all it’s chances, they should have come away with a W.


    • the switch was costa rica started to pressure


    • “I don’t know how many times Torres lost the ball and then just stood there looking like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulled the ball away. He did not personify Klinsi’s edict that if we lose the ball, everyone becomes a defender.”

      after hearing so many hail torres’ night that he was a bright spot in the game, i too was think the same thing


      • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/09/05 at 10:15 AM


        Torres game is flawed and soft. He’s a good player to have, and should be in the squad. But I feel there are many rough edges to his game that have to be polished.


  45. Posted by Brian on 2011/09/03 at 1:21 AM

    Just wondering…

    Is anyone here interested in trying Tim Ream at LB? Personally, I would like to see what he could do there with his passing skills, but I am afraid he would not have the speed to defend out there.


    • its lichajs to lose imo


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 8:15 AM

      No. Ream barely has the speed to be a CB (see Gold Cup). LB requires more speed than CB.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/09/03 at 8:22 AM

        That’s not quite true. Ream is pretty fast; he’s weak aerially.

        Ream’s weak when put on the corner
        and doesn’t make the barnstorming runs you expect from a fullback.

        The reason Ream dropped to the second round, btw, was because they made him play LB at the combine. Why anyone would take much of anything from a combine in soccer, no less, is beyond me.


        • Ream’s offensive game is not what you’d expect from a fullback – he’s not going to get to the corner to dump a cross in (see Stevie C), and he’s not going to slide inside the winger to make a foray towards the box (see Lichaj). He’s comfortable on the ball and finds a good, smart pass to make, but his role in attack is much like a center starting a fast break – pull down the rebound and get it to the point guard so he can push up the floor.


  46. Posted by dth on 2011/09/03 at 8:07 AM

    One disturbing note: this was a very weakened Costa Rica side. No Bryan Ruiz, no Celso Borges, and no Joel Campbell. Combine that with the home field advantage and the result looks worse.

    The counterargument is that results don’t matter in friendlies but I disagree; results aren’t all important but they do tell you something.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/09/03 at 9:05 AM

      No Dempsey, Bradley, Cherundolo, Holden for us, though.

      But, yeah, when both teams have their full squad, I don’t really see us dominating Costa Rica like a lot of our soccer punditocracy seems to think we should.


  47. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 8:22 AM

    I know we have finally all gotten on the same page with Holden not being an attacking MF but could he play in the MB90/Jones/Edu role as a CDM.

    That would give us a 4-3-3 that would look like:

    Chandler/Dolo — Goodson – Boca – Johnson


  48. Posted by Shawn on 2011/09/03 at 8:52 AM

    I know Castillo is not the solution at LB has been already overstated, but I’m curious as to why players are used at positions they’ve already failed at with their club teams. Castillo has been played at left mid at Club America – I still don’t want him at that position because he’s just too slight. Spector is another example, doesn’t make a good defensive back for his Club, but the old coach kept playing him there. Dempsey is an example of being used effectively at multiple positions at his club team, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him at different spots on the national team. At this point, I would rather have Boca at left back then Castillo every day. For the rest of the friendlies I would use a different left back every time to get a good look at them. What’s our depth at that spot?


  49. Posted by Fellaini's_Fro on 2011/09/03 at 9:14 AM

    After sleeping on it. Things do not seem as bad in the morning. This is only the first significant camp where Klinsi had time to do an evaluation of what he’s got and to instruct the players in his ways.

    Positives. He is willing to try different things et al a 4-5-1 versus Mexico, a 4-3-3 versus Costa Rica and stick with it and not panic and switch after 15 minutes. Although I had forgotten that when Kljestan came on I saw him indicate to Donavon to move up so it became a 4-4-2. Despite the mistakes, getting used to a new coach and new systems it was actually a good night at the Home Depot Center. The team for the majority of the time looked dangerous, they looked to get forward and not bunker down and if not for horrendous refereeing and being unlucky it could have been a better night.

    Regarding Donavon. He was really off last night. He had at least 4 legitimate chances to score last night and just missed it by that much. Like any great athlete an off night happens and hopefully he bounces back for Belgium.


  50. Posted by K on 2011/09/03 at 9:47 AM

    Someone said Torres was not hard working and didn’t portray Jurgen’s everyone presses attitutde?


    First off, Torres barely ever lost the ball, and he had 3 brilliant tackles, and was great defensively all night. You people are just blinded by his size and automaticallt think he’s bad defensively


    • Posted by SamT on 2011/09/04 at 6:02 AM

      Disagree. One of the things I looked for in this game was how players responded to JK’s directive in training that “it’s OK to take on defenders 1v1 in the attacking third, only… when you lose possession, it’s 11 men behind the ball.” Or something to that effect.

      In that regard, while it wasn’t often, a few times times when Torres lost the ball in the middle of the pitch (not even attacking third) and had a pause before remembering to track back. That was not in line with the players’ instructions. And those are the kinds of mistakes where a quick counterattack with a solid finish can lead to a goal.

      Overall, agree with you that Torres had a wonderful game holding possession and dictating tempo. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have areas for improvement, however.

      And as an aside, Shea I thought did a fantastic job trying to take on players 1v1 in the attacking third. Most of them didn’t come off, but on almost every occasion (possibly every one?) he immediately switched into ball winning mode to pressure Costa Rica’s possession. Difficult to criticize him for doing exactly as instructed.


  51. Posted by Rich on 2011/09/03 at 10:08 AM

    Overall, we saw that this group can put together some nice passes when not under pressure. It would have been nice to see the wingers (and FB’s pushing forward) exploit the corners more, but what’s the point when you can’t make a decent cross? It was nice to see the FB’s willing to push forward, but they weren’t impressive when they did so. I don’t like Harkes, but agreed with him that the team needed to make earlier, more incisive passes forward.

    Player evaluations:

    1. Howard was solid as always.

    2. Chandler looked great early, especially on defense.

    3. Castillo is atrocious in possession and didn’t show much on defense either. I don’t see any potential there.

    4. Orozco’s distribution might have been OK early (I didn’t really notice) but was terrible late.

    5. Bocanegra was solid as always. He’s fine at CB, but we need him at LB.

    6. Edu was solid on defense but not inspiring with his distribution. All his passes were backward.

    7. Rodgers has no creativity or touch, as has been stated here. Probably good as a pace injection late in the game, but not starter material.

    8. Torres was the only player who showed any real brilliance, though he did fade late.

    9. Altidore looked good in the #9 jersey.

    10. Donovan was good but not his best. He didn’t make any dangerous runs and wasn’t aggressive in the attack, aside from missing the great chance early.

    11. Shea showed a couple of glimmers of brilliance but his crosses weren’t good.

    16. Klejstan is an adequate fill-in but that’s about it.

    18. Agudelo was good, but as the ESPN crew said, might have done better if partnered with Altidore to draw off defenders.


  52. Posted by Izzy on 2011/09/03 at 10:45 AM

    I thought the 4-3-3 that Klinsmann was playing was pretty interesting. It seemed like Landon would shuttle between being level with the Torres, Shea, and Rogers in a 4-1-4-1 on defense and playing behind or just off of Altidore in attack. It was somthing like this:

    I liked it a lot, actually, but part of the problem didn’t actually seem to be with the team’s shape. Instead, it was more of a problem to do with not such great decision-making in the final third. Juergen and the players he has brought into camp have all talked about having the freedom to express themselves. That was certainly on show last night, and it led to some very good plays. However, it also led to plays, particularly in wide areas, where the simple play was there, and we decided to overdo it. I like that the team is starting to get a rhythm and flow to their play, but we can’t throw simpler plays out the window.

    The other thing I liked but also led to problems was our approach on defense. For most of the first half, we pressed and got in Costa Rica’s faces, making it difficult for them to get into the match. However, towards the end of the first half and for a lot of the second, our pressing faded. My guess is that the team simply got tired, which is very common for any team that presses like we did. The issue is that we kept playing a high line. Any time you play a high line, you concede space in behind, and any time you stand off of an opponent, you give them time on the ball. Basically, Costa Rica had time to play passes, and spaces to play them into – that is a deadly combination no matter how mediocre the team you face.

    All of that being said, we showed a new approach to attacking, and a new approach to defending, and for a while there, we looked damn good at both. Our pressing didn’t give their attacking players time to expose our defense, and our ability to keep possession made it tougher for them to get the ball back anyways. I remember a post TSG had after Klinsmann’s debut how Mexico use their energy to win the ball back and possession to keep it so that they can mask their defensive deficiencies, and how the USA might want to at least try the same approach. I think we saw that approach is very plausible for the USA, and I honestly believe that if we bring in our best players with everybody in shape, we’re able to keep up that pressing for much longer, especially with options off the bench. I’m excited, not going to lie


  53. Posted by Union on 2011/09/03 at 12:50 PM

    I’m admittedly one of those fans that gets himself all riled up when the USMT loses to subpar opponents. However, I went to the game last night, and I have to say that I’m feeling pretty optimistic about what Jurgen is doing. Sure, I understand the point of those who says “if Bradley was still managing, everyone would be calling for his head”. So maybe its just me buying into the Klinsmann doctrine, but I haven’t seen the US play that kind of attacking soccer in awhile. I care far less about losing a friendly to a mediocre CONCACAF B-side than I do about Jurgen installing a new approach and figuring out who fits in.

    That being said, if players like Rogers, Fiscal and Castillo are called into future camps and given starting roles, some eyebrows have to be raised bc those guys are just so blatantly overwhelmed at the international level. Most people go after Castillo and I think that’s fair, but at least in terms of technique, Castillo might actually be the best of the 3. His only move is cutting inside and attacking, but he is damn good at it. But he has no concept of positioning and his passing out of the back is just terrible. A few of his crosses were cringeworthy. Fiscal didn’t necessarily make big mistakes, but you have to wonder what he brings to the team that Gonzalez, Ream, George John don’t do better. Rogers I’ve never been a fan of. Some of his first touches were ATROCIOUS. He gets back behind the ball well on defense and we all know he is fast, but his technique is bad. He never seems to be able to keep up with the speed of an international game. He really shouldn’t be on the field before the 65th minute.

    That being said, a few players really stuck out to me (not sure how they looked on TV). Torres had a great game, though there were times when Donovan and other players on the field were yelling at him to get more involved in the attack. But his technique is there and thats why I think Jurgen will keep him in his plans going forward. If the 4-2-3-1 continues, you’d have to think Torres will have a role. Agudelo, had limited minutes, but I still love what he brings. At 18, he definitely screws up from time to time, but he seems to have that attacking instinct (in terms of making well timed runs, anticipating where the ball is going and solid dribbling technique) that I’ve always wanted to see in Altidore. Shea had a good game too, though he was gassed in the second half. I hope he gets a chance to play in Europe come January. He has all the raw ability, but it still needs to be refined. I also really liked Chandler. This was an off game for him, but he still showed flashes of what can be expected. Some of his crosses were bad, but overall, he had the right side locked down. He’s very quick and very powerful. A lot of people want to keep starting Dolo in that spot, but unless we’re in a serious fight for WC qualifying, I don’t understand why you don’t give Chandler the minutes. Dolo is a big long shot for 2014 and you want to keep Timmy in the mix.

    Lastly, on Jozy, he seems to be getting a lot of praise from the pundits. But, I thought he had a mediocre game. It’s not that he is a bad player, he’s still very good. It’s more that he has the ability to be more than very good. His ball skills have improved, but his decision making is very frustrating. I just don’t see how he can excel as a lone striker. Sure his strength on the ball is great, but he still just SITs up top and rarely makes runs off the ball. ANd when he does make a run off the ball, he poorly times it and gets caught offside. I guess you could blame the timing on the guy passing him the ball, but on that offside goal that Rogers scored, Jozy was just lazy. No reason he should have been offside on that play.

    Anyways, I’ll stop the ranting now. I still think good things are ahead. I’m very excited to see what Fabian Johnson brings.


    • Posted by Union on 2011/09/03 at 12:55 PM

      Sorry, I guess it was technically a 4-3-3, but from my vantage point on the sideline, it looked more like a 4-2-3-1 or something hahah. Maybe that’s not a good thing. Edu was the clear defensive mid, but Torres seemed to play way behind Shea/Kljestan/Rogers/Donovan.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 4:11 PM

        It was not unlike a Barca 4-3-3 with Donovan as the forward of the mid 3 in the Iniesta role, Torres in the middle with Xavi, and Edu in the Bousquets role.

        Edu did well but that is not his best role going forward (although I am not really sure what his best role is). Despite my earlier hung over thoughts Holden can’t play that role for us but would need to be in the Torres role.

        I really enjoyed the 4-3-3 and think that with Rogers out and Dempsey in (sad we won’t see that on Tuesday) the offense should look better.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 4:38 PM

        Torres did sit a little deeper than Xavi does although it was the first game in the new formation so we need to give it time.


        • Posted by Union on 2011/09/03 at 5:02 PM

          Based off of what Jurgen says he wants in his players, you’d have to think Torres just pushed himself into the gameday roster on a more permanent basis. And I agree that Dempsey instead of Rogers would have made a huge difference (I’m sorry, Rogers is such a non factor as a stater at the international level that it might as well be 11 v 10). I think Holden, if he can regain his form, will take the role from Torres, but Torres is not a bad option on the bench.

          My one big worry that I forgot to mention in earlier posts is that going forward, and no one seems to be talking about this, no one is emerging to replace Donovan and Dempsey. For all intents and purposes, our best two players (outside of Howard) have been the same two guys for the past 8 years. While they will be on the 2014 roster, just how big of a role can they play? Is anyone on the radar to replace them? If so, let me know.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/03 at 7:27 PM

            Sorry in advance for the long post.

            Maybe at those two positions…. but I am much more glass half full….

            Old stars (I excluded Howard since goalies have different age periods)
            Dempsey 28
            Donovan 29
            Dolo 32 (sorry but he on par with if not ahead of Dempsey and Donovan in my mind)
            Boca 32 (clearly a step below but worthy of inclusion)

            New Stars
            Holden 26
            Bradley 24
            Torres 23
            George John 24 (speculative)
            Sasha 25
            Davies 25 (probably doesn’t belong on this list but again I am a glass half full person)
            Ream 23

            While this group don’t have the attacking players that the “old stars” group has Holden could easily have a better career in Europe than either of those two (not saying it will happen just that it is possible).

            When looking at Bradley you have to remember at 24 Dempsey was still playing for the Revs (he would be heading to Fulham in Jan). When he first went to Fulham Dempsey was a sub for a bottom level premier league team. On the other hand Bradley has a number of years in Europe under his belt including a 15 goal season and is now (hopefully) playing for a mid-level Serie A team and 2 years to improve.

            Ream is in the same spot Boca was at his age.

            I could see this group being equal to the group ahead of them a couple years from now (Holden = Dempsey as the Euro star, Bradley = Donovan as the USMNT mainstay that has been there forever and a day, Ream = Boca).

            I would wait until after the Olymics because while our 24-28 has struggled (although Holden and Bradley are studs) Our U23 Olympic team is stacked in comparison to prior years.

            Olympic team (younger so obviously some won’t work out)
            Shea 21
            Chandler 21
            Gatt 20
            Altidore 21
            Adu 22
            Mixx 20
            Omar Gonzalez 22
            Gil 17
            Agudelo 18

            Please note that this is not meant to be an all inclusive list and I know that I missed a number of people like Brooks, Wood, Gyau, etc but I don’t have my own opinion on them so…

            I think for 2014 the USMNT will have the type of depth we have never seen before… possibly the two at every position playing in a top league that Klinsi was talking about


            • Posted by jwrandolph on 2011/09/03 at 10:11 PM

              Good post, and I definitely share your attitude. Its natural to worry about who could replace folks like Dempsy and Donovan who have been so pivotal, and I definitely do worry about which players from the current youth crop might grow into world-class status. But its impossible to imagine the circumstances this team will see that allow such American standouts to emerge. Its important to remember that heading into the 2010 world cup there were a huge number of American fans questioning the quality of Donovan (who cemented his status forever against algeria) and Dempsey (who only “ascended” after his phenomenal season at Fulham last year). You have to imagine that at least a few out of Shea, Bradley, Torres, Altidore, et al will have (or continue having) positive careers in euro club circuit and with the USMNT. I still see progress, although I think it’ll be awhile before I get as excited about a US team as I was pre-WC2010.

  54. Posted by Union on 2011/09/03 at 8:10 PM

    Definitely a fair response and I like the optimism. I agree in that the quality of our player pool is definitely growing. My only counterpoint would be that it’s really tough to compare Landon to the current crop as he has been a phenom since he was 17. He arguably is the most gifted US player of all time and likely could have had a long career in Europe if he wanted. I know certain things (the Galaxy/Everton situation and Bayern refusing to extend his loan) were out of his control, but many decisions were. But I digress. My point is, is there a player of his caliber in the current crop? I’m not saying we need one, but everyone keeps talking about his decline in performance and I just think its something US fans need to get used to. There are a lot of miles on those legs.

    In terms of the 23 and over crop you mentioned, I’m only high on Holden, Torres and Bradley. But I actually think Holden could be one of the better players in recent memory if he can stay healthy and get minutes with the team. I’d also add Fabian Johnson to that list, bc I think he has just as much potential as anyone if he commits to the team.

    As for the Olympic team, I agree in that it should be the deepest squad we’ve fielded in years. Your U-20 team was supposed to be one of the most talented U-20 squads the US had fielded in awhile despite failing to qualify for the World Cup.

    What’s the deal with the Olympic team btw? The guys you listed that are already on the senior team won’t play for our Olympic team right? Bc of WC qualifying…or am I missing something?


    • Posted by scweeb on 2011/09/03 at 9:06 PM

      Only wanted to add that Landon isn’t the most gifted US player of all time my hero McBride comes to mind as someone far more tallented then Landon.


      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/05 at 7:11 AM

        I love McBride as much as anyone but there is no chance that he is as talented as Landon. McBride just got far more out of his more limited talent than Landon due to his willingness to do whatever it took to get to the next level. If Landon had half the heart and desire of McBride he could have been a world superstar instead of the MLS poster boy that he is.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/04 at 6:18 AM

      I was using the Olympic squad as a cut off for age purposes because many of those guys may not participate for various reasons. I imagine that it will give us a chance to unearth some players that we don’t regularly see.

      While Donovan is the most talented American ever he also IMHO failed to live up to much of that potential. I really believe that Donovan could have been one of the best players in the world.

      Also I think that a number of people from the Olympic list above could exceed Donovan’s actual achievements (not potential) before everything is said and done. Chandler is starting for a Budesliga team at 21. Altidore at 21 has a season in the EPL and a season in La Liga behind him. I doubt Gatt is at Molde or Shea is at FC Dallas come this time next year.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/05 at 8:06 AM

      Of course we need a player of Landon’s caliber. In fact, we need multiple players of Landon’s caliber/potential/whatever.

      I don’t think such a player has revealed himself yet.


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/05 at 8:44 AM

      if you are american and you are under 23 years of age, and you are a stud baller, you are in line to play for the olympic team. having senior caps does not factor in to it. and in the last olympics three over age players were also added, old man mcbride, being one of the three. not real wise to waste a spot on an olympic team on a guy seeking one last shot at glory, but mcbride has the golden boy image, so he gets his way.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/05 at 11:43 AM

        Different countries take the Olympics differently. Some countries would call in someone like Chandler and Altidore (who play on the senior team) others use it for the people on the fringe of the senior team (because its a level of play lower and overlaps with WCQ). Its unknown how Klinsman will treat it.


        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2011/09/05 at 11:57 AM

          Are national team coaches in charge of the olympic teams? It makes sense for them to be.


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/05 at 12:25 PM


        You make it sound like McBride used his status inappropriately to get a spot on the 2008 Olympic team. I’m not sure that was the case.

        I don’t have any inside info but from what I read Nowak was in discussions for some time to get Mcbride, who had just left Fulham and was heading for the Fire, so it’s not as if he was completely burned out.

        The roster makes interesting reading (Michael Orozoco is now Fiscal) :

        2008 U.S. MEN’S OLYMPIC TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (all play in M.L.S., unless noted otherwise)
        GOALKEEPERS Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
        DEFENDERS Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis/Mexico), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
        MIDFIELDERS Freddy Adu (SL Benfica/Portugal), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen/the Netherlands), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County/England), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio/Italy)
        FORWARDS Jozy Altidore (Villarreal/Spain), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF/Sweden), Brian McBride (out of contract), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

        As I understand it the idea was for McBride to mentor what was a pretty young and raw group at the time.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/05 at 12:28 PM

        Wow. Way to get one last angry man shot in at Brian McBride of all people. Hardest working true intl quality forward we’ve ever seen for USMNT who trailblazed his way into EPL football as well. And you remember him as a golden boy who gets his way?….how often do you visit your home planet?


        • Posted by dth on 2011/09/05 at 2:03 PM

          True international quality forward? I suppose it depends on how much you rate the intangibles that he brings to the table, because on goal/90 minutes Jozy’s got him beat:

          Altidore: .44 goals/90 minutes
          McBride (from 2004-6 because am too lazy to find statistics prior): .36 goals/90 minutes. His goals/appearances ratio of .31 suggests that the rest of his national team career was not especially more prolific.

          I think Altidore gets a bum rap for three things: 1) the hype; 2) his relatively weak 2010; 3) the fact that the backup strikers are so impotent. In 2011 so far, the rest of the strikers’ goal/90 minutes looks like this: .11. And, at 736 minutes post-Gold Cup but pre-Klinsmann, that represents a significant chunk of time for such poor play.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/05 at 2:23 PM

            That said, if we were to make a list of the all time starting 11 USMNT (post 1989) McBride has to be the #1 striker right? The only other person that seems close would be Wynalda.


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/05 at 2:32 PM

              If we’re talking yesteryear, he is not a classic centre forward or prolific goal scorer, but how you could use a Roy Wegerle right now. He would be great in the hole, and playing between the lines…

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/05 at 4:21 PM

              Wegerle should be in the discussion but I can’t put him ahead of either McBride or Wynalda who each have about 100 caps, 30+ goals and distinguished European careers.

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/05 at 6:10 PM


          Wynalda played 57 games in the Bundesliga 2 and 23 games in the Bundesliga. That is 80 games. He scored 21 goals in Bundesliga 2 and 2 goals in the Bundesliga.

          He played 107 games for the USMNT and scored 34 goals.

          Roy Wegerle played a total of 181 games in the old English First and Second Divisions. He scored 53 goals.

          He played 41 games for the US and scored 7 goals.

          Wegerle was more of an attacking midfielder, with-drawn forward type while Wynalda was more of an all out forward.

          I saw both play and you greatly underestimate Wegerle.

          I do know that if Klinsmann could have them in their prime he would take both in a New York minute.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/05 at 6:41 PM

            Perhaps I didn’t word my post as well as I could have. I was really talking about a starting 11 that were not necessarily the “best players” but were the largest contributors to the USMNT and/or US Soccer in general.

            It may be that I was younger when Wegerle was playing but he isn’t that memorable and I question his impact on American’s overseas. He became an American late in his career and had 7 goals for the USMNT.

            I don’t want to get into a who is an American debate but I do think that McBride’s experience in the EPL did more for changing the mindset towards American players than Wegerle’s success (that should count for something). McBride and Wynalda are also second and third in USMNT goals all time.

            Matt, I think the all-time USMNT starting 11 might make for an interesting article during the slow season. It would likely get a great comment section going. I actually don’t think I have ever seen that article.


            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/06 at 8:05 AM

              BB, great article idea…so I’ll kick it off…
              F- McBride /Wynalda
              Def-J Bornstein/Balboa/Lalas/Cherundolo
              GK- Howard

              Just kidding about JB of course…LB has never been a strong suit so let’s go for the popularity vote….Frankie Hedjuk takes it…

  55. Posted by Guest on 2011/09/04 at 1:07 AM

    On the formation note, much to my surprise Jurgen mentioned in an article on the formation was actually a: 4-1-2-3

    Back line
    Rogers – Altidore – Shea

    That puts LD firmly in the CAM/#10 role (that’s a change), and definitely emphasizes flank play in the attack.


  56. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/05 at 3:40 PM

    the ultimate point about mcbride being on the olympic team was that he was so much older and really out of touch with the other players. not to mention the fact that a late summer event for an older player, in his mid to late 30s is a recipe for failure. that spot that mcbride coveted, and im not saying nowak was any genius either for thinking it was a good move, but that spot could have gone to a player in his mid 20s who could have used the reps and maybe benefited from the move and in turn benefited the us mens team.

    the mcbride pick was over the top and hopefully the usa will not make the same mistake next summer and take a player that is too much older, thats if we even qualify. the perfect example of who not to take to england would be steve cherundolo, who does in many ways happen to be another golden boy, who would probably be a fan favorite. full me once, shame on you, fully me twice, ahh, you know what im saying, it aint gonna happen again. (4)


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/05 at 5:35 PM


      If Nowak didn’t want McBride on the team he wouldn’t have been on the team. I don’t see why you seem to be so outraged over this move.

      As for Dolo, just because it didn’t work out with Bake, it doesn’t mean the mentoring thing wouldn’t work out with Dolo.

      “that spot could have gone to a player in his mid 20s who could have used the reps and maybe benefited from the move and in turn benefited the us mens team.”

      You mean like EJ?

      The idea behind McBride was they were short on forwards. Maybe the mid twenties guys were better off being somewhere where they could earn a job. Or maybe the mid twenties guys weren’t good enough.

      It’s not as if the US was overflowing with either 18 year old or 25 year old forward prospects at the time. And if you aren’t a special player, just putting you on an Olympic roster isn’t automatically going to make you better. Maybe you forget that players are supposed to earn their way onto these rosters; maybe there weren’t enough good young forwards earning their way.

      Better to give it to an over age guy who can actually play. Who knew McBride wouldn’t work out? At the time I thought it was a great idea.

      I don’t know what the personnel options were, but unlike you, I tend to think Nowak and his bosses had the benefit of the USMNT always in the forefront. Why wouldn’t they? Would they risk their jobs to give the old warhorse one last run around the track? I doubt that. Those guys are as selfish as anyone.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/05 at 8:14 PM

        you know martin, i cant help but focus on your last paragraph, which talks about nowak having the benefit of the national team in the forefront, and it makes me think about nowak leaving his post with the national team to take the job at filthy. so no, i dont think nowak always had the teams best interest at heart. i think it was a little chicago reach around. it does not matter though, what matters is that usa does not make this same mistake again.

        yes, of course mcbrides spot should have gone to ej and davies probably should have seen the field a little bit more and nowak probably should have gone with an over aged player that offered more than parkhurst. zak whitebread maybe, and finally, edu in central defense. i dont know, it all added up to failure, even though the team was very close to advancing. lets learn from the mistakes and lets not let them happen again.


  57. Posted by Union on 2011/09/05 at 4:46 PM

    I’m fairly certain the US has already qualified.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/05 at 4:58 PM

      Canada, Mexico and the United States will be joined by five qualifiers and play-out the two teams who will qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was announced on January 17, 2011 that the United States will host the event in March 2012.[2]

      Qualified teams:

      United States


      • Posted by dth on 2011/09/05 at 5:24 PM

        Yeah, it’s going to be very difficult for the U.S. to qualify. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team didn’t qualify. Consider that: a) European-based players probably won’t be able to make it; b) the U.S. and Mexico haven’t gone together since 1996–when the U.S. hosted the Olympics; c) probably the most talented U.S. olympic squad ever–in 2004–was bounced in qualifying.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/05 at 5:48 PM

          That would be very disappointing. With the Olympics falling in the off season it would have been a nice chance to see guys like Mixx, Brooks, Gatt, etc who are very hard to catch with their club teams (or playing in the reserves) for a full game instead of highlights when they score.


          • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/05 at 9:15 PM

            Ok Guys speaking of qualifying. I will prognosticate that Puerto Rico will Beat Canada tomorrow. Yes, to all concerned, call me delusional, crazy, a real bleacher report reading pretender with a poster of Toney Meola in a Jets uniform above my headboard. But I will persist in my assertion that Canada will be shocked as will many others, somehow I feel like Linus awating the Great Pumpkin on Halloween but I remain steadfast.
            PR has has always been decent at home even in the lean 12 years of Federation mismanagement, chaos, and player delusionment. This time around they will be tough to beat at home, especially with Canada’s hot or cold offense.
            Ok I’m out but cuiadado!


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