The Jose Torres Vortex


Jurgen Klinsmann has now officially cast off as skipper of the US national team. A three game tenure mere prologue to what will be a fact-finding, player-finding mission leading up to qualifying and the World Cup in 2014.

Yet, as much as the camps of late 2010 will not be remembered much when 2014 dawns, at present, they are starkly in contrast to the complexion–in results, personnel and more–to the Bob Bradley era.

And in the early going there is no more polarizing figure than Jose Torres.

So tightly is the theme of Jose Torres woven into current USMNT storylines, that the name “Jose Torres” isn’t descriptive enough; it needs a few different modifiers depending on the discussion as themes of style of play, possession, and ethnicity swirl around the player who often rooms at US camps with a dribbler and passer that should be getting more of the headlines, Clint Dempsey.

It’s all even somewhat ironic in that Torres is a slight of frame, softer spoken individual who doesn’t purport to be a “star.” This isn’t Lebron James and Carson, CA is not South Beach.

What created this “vortex” is complicated in dissection, but we’ll make a go of it.

First there is “Torres the Player” of course.

A proverbial fly in Bob Bradley’s USA soup during the previous cycle who somehow continued to find the open window to chances after Bradley perennially swatted him away.

An owner of only four national team starts during Bradley’s reign, it was a start–a loss–against Costa Rica on the road in World Cup qualifying that initiated the national team drama for the diminutive midfielder. Tasked with working the left flank, Torres was deficient on defense with two miscues ultimately leading to two chances and two scores. He would be banished to the bench for awhile.

Bradley did take Paco as he is known to the World Cup, naively starting him against a seasoned Slovenia side relying that his son Michael could provide cover for Torres average tackling in the center of the pitch. While film will show that it was the younger Bradley who was flawed in his coverage that game–perhaps being tasked with too much–it was Torres who was beaten on tackles a few times who got the hook from the game at the half. Thus would end Torres’s volatile action during the Bradley era.

Now? The herr to the US hot seat, Jurgen Klinsmann has seen fit to make Torres a staple on the teamsheet in his early matches, starting him in all three matches and flipping him the keys in the center of the pitch.

There is “Torres the Representative.” That is that the Mexican-American player represents the Hispanic influence–a certain type of player, type of skillset–that Jurgen Klinsmann cited as missing in his introductory press conference. Attack-oriented, possession-oriented more so.

And finally there is “Torres the Conductor.” The hypothesis here being that the United States has enough talent to attempt that more possessive, attack-focused game with a 23-year-old pulling the strings from the central midfield spot.

Torres is a deft passer who is equals parts trickery and velvety with the ball when he’s on. Whereas a player like Luka Modric or Cesc Fabregas might make short runs in possession to maintain it and create opportunity, Torres is more similar to a Xavi, reluctant to create for himself, neglectful of running into the box and tasked with being more of a “hub.”

Like Xavi, he will never be accused of being a defensive stopper.


And now finally, during the early term of Klinsmann’s rule, Torres the Player, Torres the Representative and Torres the Conductor have coalesced to create a perfect storm of storylines and questioning around just how the new manager will build his team.

And might there just be a few morsels of the grand scheme that have leaked out?

On Friday night, Torres was paired with Landon Donovan in the center of the pitch. Tuesday, it was Clint Dempsey. Neither US superstar–Donovan or Dempsey–had their best game–and that is to be expected–under the new coach. Sure, there was unfamiliarity with their roles and with their positioning, but both players were more tethered than they had been during the Bob Bradley era.

In yesteryear, the pair would fine themselves often as the middle “2” of a 4-2-2-2, responsible for covering the flanks when necessary but often tasked with a higher responsibility of ball carriage and igniting the attack in the middle of the field.

With Torres noodling around the middle, and Donovan and Dempsey both play centrally, neither attacker had that space that comes from the seeing the field from the interior edge of the flank. Sure, both players had less defensive responsibilities, but that doesn’t necessarily breed options.

In fact–and it’s somewhat surprising that the broadcasters didn’t pick up on this–Friday saw Landon Donovan more than any game in recent memory receive the ball with his back to the goal and have to attempt turn-and-gos. This may be the surest way to defend Donovan.

It was on the flanks however that positive ratings came in for players. Brek Shea was blasted across media channels as revelatory–he of the toeing the touchline skillset wide to the left. Edgar Castillo got forward; Jozy Altidore checked to the flank more frequently as did Juan Agudelo.

All looking to–perhaps though not exclusively–play off the distribution of the vortex in the middle of the pitch.

Now take a look into the recesses of the US developmental pool–it is flush with wing prospects. Names like Josh Gatt, Joseph Gyau to add to Brek Shea and Timmy Chandler already in the stable.

Might there be just a mere glimpse at what Klinsmann sees bubbling up from below?

However, this eruption of wide talent might also burn those that don’t heed the environment.

How many times have you seen Xavi be relied on for a defensive stand?

The US is and won’t be for some time, Spain or Brazil where players grow up on beaches and barrios practicing ball control skills. The US at present is still the land of the Big Boom. The long pass a favorite of youth ball up to high school.

Of course, that will change with time, but is it wise to take on the rest of the world in game they are already more proficient in?

At the very least, it’s entertaining and educational to make a go of it. And that’s precisely the latitude that Jurgen Klinsmann was offered with the US head role and seized upon.

And that’s exactly why it’s still hurricane season for the Jose Torres Vortex.

For now.

112 responses to this post.

  1. another great read from the brains at the shinguardian


  2. Posted by rambo on 2011/09/07 at 1:39 PM

    Does Torres keep his place in this team when everyone is healthy and playing? I just don’t see him starting when Bradley, Clint, Donovan and Holden are all healthy.


  3. Posted by rambo on 2011/09/07 at 1:39 PM

    If Holden regains his form I should add.


  4. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/07 at 1:43 PM

    Torres could have the skill to be Xavi with more time and experience. But if that means we are to play with the spanish possession syle, we need to find the right plays to fit in. And as this article points out Where do Donavon and Dempsey fit in? Can Donavon adapt his game to be Inesta or Messi like? Can Dempsey fit in like David Villa? Also don’t forget that Barcelona can effectively shutdown most attacks with just 2 Central Defenders and 1 CDM.


    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 2:39 PM

      maybe we should really try and avoid the analogy of xavi to torres or really anything barcalona, because this is not the us team and trying to fit the usa game into this is not a good or effective way to manage the us national team. if spain wants to try and play like barca, then it is a better comparison. fans want the usa to play like barcalona, but how realistic and feesable is this.


  5. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 1:43 PM

    well, lalas did say that if you are going to commit to the torres style, then you have to go all the way with it. so usa has a german coach, taking a mexican american, that plays more like a mexican and we will see what happens. can a nation really change its style of play anyway, and if so, does anyone know of a nation that has changed its style during one cycle? i sure hope nobody says the german team of 2006.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 2:45 PM

      In one cycle we won’t change it to the point of being favorites but I do think that we can get past coin flip against all teams by not playing bunker and counter in one cycle. Also its worth noting that the US played great attacking football at the WC just not until they were down and tactical changes were made/chances were taken.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 3:33 PM

        bernie, i guess my point is that national teams dont really change their style. style of a national teams is based on the country itself. coach klinsmann said as much when he talked about nuturing the style that would be unique to america. maybe after just a couple of games, americans might see a little of what happened with mexico under sven and even england under capello. coach klinsmann is much more american than sven was mexican or capello is english, so that is a good thing.

        it does not seem like usa is a coin flip against most teams, i give our country a little more credit than that.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 3:36 PM

          Have to disagree there, teams change their style all the time on the international scene.

          Just this past World Cup, Brazil played a much more defensive game than ever before–got their coach canned in fact.

          The Netherlands as well–went from Total Football to the total inverse bunker and counter if you can.

          Chile — many iterations with Bielsa.


          • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/07 at 4:27 PM

            well, dunga probably got the axe because he took nilmar instead of neymar. two letters made all the difference. international teams can play with different formations and different players, but they are not just changing the style with which they play, because style is something that comes from a deeper place. brasil is still samba, even if the 2010 version was oriented towards defense.


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/07 at 6:56 PM

              All football, club and international has changed over the years – it has evolved to the point where 4-2-3-1 is the current fad. It has also become more technical and tactical.

          • Posted by Thrasymachus on 2011/09/08 at 7:21 AM

            What a vacuous post. Really, Samba? What does that even mean? And really? Brazil’s poor showing coupled with their much more physical and less attractive style had nothing to do with Dunga’s dismissal? Just no Neymar?


            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/08 at 2:41 PM

              i dont know what vacuous means, but it does not sound good. dunga did play on a world cup winning side. maybe brasilians say, oh, that was our ugly win, with a chuckle of course. if it is not style, then what is it that identifies us with any particlular national side? are you saying it is just the jersey color. it is sort of funny that kaka was a brasilian who got a red card in this past world cup. dunga made him do it. get well socrates.

        • Posted by Seybold on 2011/09/07 at 9:31 PM

          Klinsmann altered Germany’s style in 1/2 a qualifying cycle, from 2004 to 2006.


          • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 4:08 AM

            That’s technically a full qualifying cycle in Europe. The other 2 years of the 4 between World Cups is Euro qualifying.


          • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/08 at 2:43 PM

            i thought low was in charge of germanys tactics?


  6. Posted by crow on 2011/09/07 at 2:01 PM

    I like what i see from Tiered. I guess I’ve always been a moderate supporter of him. But how highly esteemed is he at Pachuca? Is there any interest in him from Europe? That is not the best way to judge the quality of a player but it is always interesting to have that outside view. I really want to see how torres and holden work together.

    btw- any updates on Joseph Gyau? It’s cool to see so many people on the Josh Gatt bandwagon. Yanks abroad is a great site for finding out about potential prospects way in advance.


  7. Posted by David on 2011/09/07 at 2:24 PM

    If you want to play a 4-3-3

    Dempsey – Altidore – Donovan
    —-Torres ————Holden—


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 2:37 PM

      I know this is sacralige but I don’t think you can take Shea off the field to accomodate Donovan based on form (and age) at this point in time.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 2:43 PM

      What about:

      Shea – Dempsey – Donovan

      Since we aren’t hoofing it do we really need a target forward? Dempsey is good in the air, plus it ain’t like we have a long line of alternatives.


      • Posted by Herc on 2011/09/07 at 3:05 PM

        Why don’t we run that as the midfield in a 4-2-3-1? With Jozy up top. Looks like what I’d like to see at some point.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 3:11 PM

        In any system that uses either 1 or 3 up top. It’s imperative to have a true target forward or someone who can play the target effectively. This play is supposed to play within the hash marks so as not to disrupt the space in the corners (if it’s a 3 set-up up top).

        Dempsey is not that guy. He’ll get killed by opposing defenders trying to receive the ball.

        The US needs to find a target forward which is why Buddle came in for Mexico and Agudelo, Altidore and Bunbury were all in camp.

        Note, you didn’t see Herc, Findley or CD9 (he’s not even close to ready) because they don’t really fit the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1.

        To me, Agudelo is the most exciting. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he understands how to effectively control (Jozy’s first touch is lousy) and distribute. Altidore is all or nothing right now–either he’s going to hit that one-touch pass for a give and go or he’s going to take it himself. He needs to learn quite a bit.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 4:25 PM

          One thing that I noticed in the Belgium game was that Agudelo seems to do much better in the middle third of the field getting the ball and distributing it particularly with his back to goal. When he is looking at goal in the final third things are different.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/07 at 4:35 PM

          I have to disagree that Dempsey couldn’t handle the target forward role if Klinsi continues with this type of style. The US isn’t lumping the ball forward but playing it on the ground. It would also mean that he would have to be joined in the attack by the wingers much more than Jozy is a lot of the time. It would be similar to the way the US looked in the second half against Mexico with Agudelo ahead of Shea, Donovan and Rogers.

          I’m not going to compare the US to Barca in terms of skill but if you look at the development of the game more and more teams are attempting that type of style. Barca play with Villa, Messi and Pedro up front. Which of them is the target forward? Man Utd have started to play with Rooney up front alone in big matches and he’s not exactly Drogba. Even Liverpool who just spent a huge amount on a traditional target man in Carroll look their most dangerous without him. Arsenal play a 4-3-3 with Van Persie as the main striker and I don’t consider him a target man but it works with their style.


          • It’s not even the target forward role so much as the fact that Dempsey does his best work in the hole behind the target striker. Clint can’t be Clint if he’s the one at the top of the formation.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 5:50 PM

          Isnt Messi the target forward for Barca. Fernando Torres is the target forward (sometimes) at Chelsea.

          I think the role of the one is very different in a passing the ball up the field versus a hoofing it up the field offense.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 6:00 PM

            There is no real target forward at Barca and you’d be hard pressed to call their system anything more than an interchanging front 4.

            Barca is a bad example of any traditional system — most because they are being extremely progressive right now. Villa is the lone striker there.

            Drogba would be be considered the target forward at Chelsea but Torres is a great example of a forward like PERLAZA that can combine speed and hold up play. Both are excellent with their back to the goal and can play in a single striker set. (Quick aside..yes, love affair with Perlaza, but the only reason that midfield looks good this year is because he opens space.)


            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 6:54 PM

              I am sure I am rationalizing but I feel like Dempsey can do a better Fernando Torres (old days not current) imitation than Altidore can do a Drogba imitation. I feel Dempsey plays well with his back to the goal and often gets the ball in that situation and can turn on guys with the dribble (mostly in MF). Not sure Agudelo is any physically stronger or less likely to get killed then Dempsey.

              You are right a target forward would be ideal though. At this point I feel that the forward is a bigger hole than LB.

            • Posted by jwrandolph on 2011/09/07 at 7:06 PM

              I actually find this conversation really interesting. There was a really cool piece at recently about one of Barca’s experimental formations…

              *Barca ends European Supercup with 6 central midfielders: *

              And I think that if we are going to move into a swarm up front, then maybe thats the best way to think about a 4-3-3 for the US, where you have something like Donovan/Dempsey/Shea/Holden/Torres/Bradley (or pick your 6) with no target striker, sitting back a little further and attacking with numbers. The numbers in attack is a huge part of why we aren’t creating chances. Plus, with Chandler and potentially Lichaj making overlapping runs from the back, we’d be able to get so many more folks into the box for them to aim at.

              Anyway, since the target striker format doesn’t seem to be creating too many chances…

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/07 at 7:34 PM

              I mentioned evolution above. How long do you think it will be before the ‘traditional’ No. 9 becomes extinct?

              Matt mentioned Barcelona’s interchanging front offensive four. And I think you’ll hear the term 9 1/2 more – somebody like Rooney who can play both the 9 [target forward]and 10 [second striker] – in tournament football where you need the flexibility within the squad to play different systems depending on the opponent / situation.

              People talk about 4-2-3-1, but this will morph into a defensive 6 [reasonably fixed, maybe fullbacks overlapping] and an offensive four [variable / free-flow / micro-total-offensive-football]. l did not like the way the US couldn’t transition the ball quickly yesterday, whether it was a circulation issue, lack of movement, thought process… Klinsmann has his work cut out. But I think somebody needed to initiate change, and move the US away from relying on ‘physicality’ and ‘athleticism’. Like we’ve seen in the last two cycles, it only takes you so far.

              Hopefully, Klinsmann can organise a US A-team vs. Germany, because I honestly think the balance that they have is fantastic.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 7:57 PM

              I don’t ever want to go back to the 4-2-3-1. I don’t understand how 2 CDM can help our struggling offense. A 4-2-3-1 should be used as a defensive shift. The US needs 5 in attack and 5 in defense. With 4 attacking players the US just doesn’t cut it if the team packs it in and absorbs the pressure. I don’t see how taking off Torres and adding Beckerman/Bradley/Jones to the side in Belgium is supposed to help them score.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/09/07 at 8:13 PM

              The formation is not the problem – the lack of technical and creative players are. If I was the US manager, I would never commit to what you’re sugesting because the US cannot keep the ball well enough, *at the moment*.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 4:13 AM

              Bernie, in the 4-2-3-1 the 2 don’t have to be strictly defensive midfielders that was just the way that it worked out with Bob. Compare with the style that the Germans played at the last World Cup with Schweinsteiger and Khedira as the 2. Neither of them is a true defensive midfielder. I think we could play the 4-2-3-1 with Holden and Torres as the 2 if Holden returns to his form from last year with Bolton. He made quite a few tackles for them in addition to what we’re used to with his skill on the ball.

              Obviously that would be more of an issue when going up against better opposition but I think it would work just fine in Concacaf where most teams bunker against the US.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/08 at 5:15 AM

              Jared, by definition aren’t Torres and Holden playing in the third band? How far into the attacking side of the field will the third band go?

              If Torres or Holden are regularly in the opponents final third then we aren’t really playing a 4-2-3-1 we are playing a 4-1-4-1 where Holden and Torres are alternating in the 4 band.

              I stand behind my comment that if we have two players playing as deep as Edu did the last two games then we won’t have enough guys in the final third. If one of the two “deep” players is constantly getting forward like Torres has been the past two games we are playing what Grant Wahl has been calling a 4-1-4-1. I am probably being too rigid in my system names. I really don’t want to see 6 back in defense in a tie or trailing position.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 6:35 AM

              Bernie, that’s why I’m advocating using Holden and Torres in the 2 instead of Edu. I don’t think you’d see either of them staying deep the way Edu has done. I don’t think it’s a big deal if Holden or Torres are that far forward while in possession if they both drop back to the 2 in defense. To me most of these formations are very interchangeable depending on the situation so in some instances that formation looks 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-2 or even 4-5-1. I just used the example of Germany because Schweinsteiger and Khedira are likely to move into the band of 3 just as Holden and Torres would probably do.

              We both agree that we need more going forward and don’t usually need that many players defending when in possession.

  8. Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 2:33 PM

    One thing that I didn’t really understand when the Klinsman change happened was how much a load of crap the whole “he still has the same talent” line was.

    Torres is the perfect example. In a 4-2-2-2 he had no place on the field. He couldn’t be in the back 2 as a CDM nor was he really in the class to be on the wing competing with the likes of Donovan and Dempsey. In a 4-1-2-3 he fits perfectly in the 2 band.

    The other thing that has shocked me (positively) after the three games in the Klinsman era is that the whole we need to keep 6 back in D we saw under Bradley was a farce. I actually think our defense has looked better because we can take some pressure off by possession and attack (I use that not as in goal scoring because we lack that but in being in the opponents half to third). Bradley brainwashed me into thinking that without 2 CDM and our outside backs tethered to the CBs we would be giving up 6 in goals a game.


  9. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 2:34 PM

    BTW. The US has yet to win a shame that Torres has started. I think he’s started maybe 7 matches.

    Not a big deal but interesting.


    • Posted by rambo on 2011/09/07 at 2:56 PM

      Only started 2 before this I believe Costa RIca Wc qualifier, and World cup game.


    • Posted by Aaron on 2011/09/07 at 7:29 PM

      Poor lil’ fella. Too nice of a guy to have a curse attached to him. A win might do wonders for his confidence. A goal could turn him into a monster. I’d like to see him take more shots from the top of the box; the technique is certainly there.


  10. Posted by Jake C. on 2011/09/07 at 2:51 PM

    I’m in love with Torres and I don’t care who knows it. This is my first official man-crush on an attacking US player, btw.

    A couple things: 1) I think Torres has started to flourish during the past several games under Klinsmann. He and Shea were the two big revelations for him during the September friendlies.

    2) Torres has shown a renewed commitment to defense under Klinsmann. There were several instances Monday where he tracked back and either won the ball or otherwise stopped the play. He’s no defensive stalwart, to be sure, but I think it’s no small observation that he was making those challenges after playing Friday as well.


    • Posted by Paul on 2011/09/07 at 5:50 PM

      I think you’re not the only one with a crush on Torres. I don’t think Torres is as limited defensively as TSG thinks–remember that game he had against Turkey (can’t find highlights of his impressive defending that game). Admittedly, he will never be a defensive midfielder, but his positioning and tactical sensibilities need to be improved to encourage our improved play in the middle third to be translated into more chances and goals in the final third.

      It is odd to see how well the US has played–relative to previous games under Bradley–while on the ball in the middle third. The US hasn’t been able to translate attacks, either from the flank or through the midfield, into chances when facing teams with men behind the ball and a defense that is set. A bit more aggression from Torres in the 18–looking to play the ball into the box and cut inside, instead of playing the ball back out–might be key.

      The US looks like a lion cub attempting to complete its first kill. Skill has brought the prey to the feet of the hunter, except the cub can’t figure out how to finish off the still hobbling prey. Let’s not make flawed arguments–believing we either “…take on the rest of the world in game they are already more proficient in?” or go back to Bradley’s combination of long ball and twin defensive mids. The US will be forced to play teams that are proficient in possession, and it won’t be because we aren’t as good in the “possession game” that will dictate why we lose. Just because Klinsi tweaks the US system to include more possession, and we still might not be as good as others even after such tweaks, doesn’t mean that the system should be abandoned or rejected. I think we can play two more attack-minded players in the midfield, deploying one defensive mid instead of two, once the system is familiar and other players, especially Holden, can be paired in midfield.


    • Posted by Tabare on 2011/09/07 at 8:21 PM

      Torres is small. He has limits on defense.

      But the passing? A joy to watch. And something our team has been crying out for. To think, a player with vision who maintain possession and pass through the center of the midfield…

      Bradley’s failure to really integrate Torres — to give him any serious run in the team — was truly mind-boggling. (Bradley yanking Torres twice after two halves in which he acquitted himself just fine was amazing. The goals against the Slovenes, both were on Onyewu. The goals down in Costa Rica, as much on the wing back as Torres.)

      Here’s hoping Holden comes back from this injury and carries on with his impressive play. I am chomping at the bit to see Torres and Holden together.

      As excited as I have been about our side in ages.


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/07 at 10:33 PM


        “Bradley’s failure to really integrate Torres — to give him any serious run in the team — was truly mind-boggling. (Bradley yanking Torres twice after two halves in which he acquitted himself just fine was amazing. The goals against the Slovenes, both were on Onyewu. The goals down in Costa Rica, as much on the wing back as Torres.)”

        Mind-boggling? Not really.

        As the article above points out, Torres seems to have a canceling effect on Donovan and Dempsey. One thing Bradley figured out a long time ago, his two best players, his bread and butter, were the Glimmer twins and the US was going to go as far as they would take it.

        And Dempsey and Donovan have given the US far more production than Torres has so that was a simple choice. Everything was built around maximizing those two and why not?

        Klinsmann is in a different situation than Bradley; he knows the Dynamic Duo, Yogi and Booboo, are on the wrong side of their death curve so now is the time to experiment with trying to get more balanced production from the rest of the team.

        It’s not an exact analogy but when Ruud Van Nistelrooy took all those goals with him to Real Madrid, Man U scored more goals the next season without directly replacing him; they just got a few more goals from a few more players, spreading it around so to speak.

        People are reading way too much into these three games. So many people are already picking lineups for 2014 when Klinsmann still has quite a large numbers of players to get a read on. All we know is that Klinsmann is committed to a more up-tempo, attacking style.

        Torres is one player who is benefiting and getting a second look but, if the team keeps losing, Torres may find himself with a reduced role. His skills are great but they are not irreplaceable and Klinsmann will find others if JFT can’t help them win.

        And make no mistake, despite that sunny positive exterior, as Klinsmann himself said the other night, he is a poor loser.

        It seems like most people here only followed him since his 2006 re-emergence.

        As a player he was ruthless and would do anything to win. After all he practically introduced diving to England. The 1990 German team he played on when they won the World Cup, watch some of their games some time; if you can stomach it. They were a very pragmatic, very physical, some would say cynical side and never hesitated to get down to basics. They featured wonderful defenders like Guido Buchwald, Juergen Kohler and Klaus Augenthaler, hard men every one of them.

        Klinsmann may have evolved but make no mistake he is well versed in the dark side, the take no prisoners and offer no apologies aspect of the “cynical“game.

        He will not put up with pretty play but no results for very long.


        • Posted by Tabare on 2011/09/08 at 5:10 AM

          Don’t buy it.

          I don’t think Torres has a “cancelling effect” on Donovan and Dempsey.

          Bradley gave Torres two important starts (Costa Rica and Slovenia). We conceded goals in both — in the first half. Each time Torres was not the principal culprit responsible for the goals. Each time Bradley took Torres out after 45 minutes — and did not play him again for a very long time. After the Slovenia game, never again.

          This, for me, qualifies as the coach failing to develop and integrate into the team one of the most promising players we’ve got.

          You might even turn the argument around. Couldn’t it be the case that Donovan and Dempsey are diminished when they play with central midfielders who lack top class vision and touch and passing ability? You know, the wonders of a Michael Bradley and Rico Clark tandem…


          • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/08 at 1:43 PM


            I see you are set on the notion that Torres is some kind of victim of Bradley.
            When he first came up I was excited by Torres’ potential but unlike you, I am more inclined to think Torres had as much, if not more, to do with his failure to thrive on the USMNT, as Bradley did.

            And that makes sense if you follow his club career.

            One would think with all that undeniable skill Torres would be a star for Pachuca. He has 111 appearances over 5 years, with 3 goals and 5 assists. There were periods when he was a second half sub followed by stretches where he was a starter. This is a good career but not a great one; this is not a club career that screams “super star in waiting”. Unless you are talking about a minnow nation, which the US is not, very rarely do you have an average club player become a star for his national team.

            Rather it tells me that Torres and his managers were still figuring out how best to use his considerable skills.

            And if you read interviews with him just before the World Cup he spoke of how he was still having trouble shifting over to the international game from the Mexican league. This was quite evident in the famous “Stu and Nigel, BFF” game against Holland where the Dutch basically ran over JFT. Of course, they do run over a lot of midfielders.

            And you act as if Torres got only got two games and that was it. Torres was on the roster for the entire 2009 Confederations Cup though he did not play. And Torres has been in camp many times. A more reasonable explanation would be that he did not show well in practice.

            Now you can go for the conspiracy theory that Bradley was trying to protect Michael’s place on the team or that he was anti-Mexican ( interesting in light of this quote today from MLS soccer:

            “Bradley is also currently being considered by Mexican top-flighters Santos Laguna. On Monday, Bradley’s agent confirmed that Bradley was in Mexico to meet with club officials.
            However, the struggling Pharoahs have remained consistent in their pursuit, which began shortly after Bradley’s dismissal more than a month ago. An EFA spokesman reiterated that the erstwhile US coach was the federation’s choice to take over for the most successful boss in Egypt history, Hassan Shehata.
            “Yes, everything is still here for Bob Bradley,” EFA press officer Azmi Megahed told on Thursday afternoon. “We hope, maybe, we can have the answer next week. We hope he will be the coach.””)

            by putting Torres down but that borders on paranoia in extremis. Put yourself in Bradley’s shoes. If you really wanted to protect Michael’s place or hated Latinos why not just give JFT a token call up and then never call him up again? Why not ignore him like he ignored Convey? Why bring him to high profile tournaments in South Africa, not once but twice? Two years in row.

            That is a pretty half hearted way to bury any opposition to your son.

            As the article points out, there are issues getting the most out of Donovan and/or Dempsey when they are on the field at the same time as Torres.
            Now if Torres were a Xavi as his fans love to think he is, then yes, you shake up the team to fit him in; but he hadn’t even proved that to the people at Pachuca. They did not build their team around him. Why did you expect Bradley to?

            And while he looks good now, the jury is still out. We may find Torres is a late bloomer; I’ve seen about as many interviews with him as the average USMNT fan and I never got the feeling he had the kind of confident swagger and arrogance of guys like Mathis, Dempsey, Donovan and others. Now that he has JK showing him the love and he is older more experienced, he seems more self assured. So maybe he just needed more time to get comfortable.

            “You might even turn the argument around. Couldn’t it be the case that Donovan and Dempsey are diminished when they play with central midfielders who lack top class vision and touch and passing ability? You know, the wonders of a Michael Bradley and Rico Clark tandem…”

            The facts don’t support you. In the Slovenia game Clark did not play:

            Lineups vs Slovenia 2010:
            USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 5-Oguchi Onyewu (9-Herculez Gomez, 80), 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 8-Clint Dempsey, 4-Michael Bradley, 16-Jose Torres (19-Maurice Edu, 46), 10-Landon Donovan; 20-Robbie Findley (22-Benny Feilhaber, 46), 17-Jozy Altidore
            Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Stuart Holden, 12-Jonathan Bornstein, 13 -Ricardo Clark, 14-Edson Buddle, 18-Brad Guzan, 21-Clarence Goodson, 23-Marcus Hahnemann

            Torres and Findley were replaced by Edu and Benny. If Benny is a direct replacement for Torres Edu then allowed Donovan to push up and replace Findley. The US played better probably because Donovan was freed up and Edu tightened up the midfield.


            • Posted by SuperChivo on 2011/09/08 at 7:11 PM

              Props, your post is superior to the article it supports. I like JFT; I like how he plays and I like that he came here over Mexico, not that he was getting any love from Mexico. This was a positive outing on him but it puts him more in the “keeps getting called up and monitored” category than “new starter” or “American Xavi.” Most of the JFT euphoria needs to be seen through the lens of Bradley hatred; the Bradley haters would like to think that he will replace Mikey and justify their negativity toward Bradley, who was a successful coach even if he didn’t play the style or lineup they wanted.

            • Posted by Tabare on 2011/09/08 at 8:37 PM

              Hey Martin and company,

              I think you misunderstand me and maybe others. I don’t think anyone sensible is saying that there was a conspiracy against Torres. Or that Bob Bradley was somehow animated by anti-Mexican sentiment. Or that Bradley was scheming to advance the career of his son. Or that Torres is a superstar simply tearing up the Mexican League.

              It’s all more prosaic. Bob Bradley was conservative to a fault. He favored a set up with two robust and more or less defensive midfielders. He didn’t know how to incorporate Torres soon enough (ditto Holden). His own son — unsurprisingly, really — was a close fit to what Bradley looked for and identified with in players.

              Coach Bradley strikes me as a good guy. A mediocre coach, a mediocre judge of talent, but a good person. None of this is about “hating” him.

              As for the details, we all know who was on the field for the game against Slovenia. The reference to Bradley-Clark pairings is to the various other occasions when we were treated to these two.


            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/08 at 9:03 PM

              is it possible that bob bradley was a bad person and actually a good judge of talent, and a good coach. does a good coach have to be a good person, or does a great coach have to be a good person?

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/08 at 11:18 PM


              Let me put this another way for you:

              “Bob Bradley was conservative to a fault. He favored a set up with two robust and more or less defensive midfielders. “

              In the second half of the Belgium game, Klinsmann introduced Beckerman to help Edu ( I’m pretty sure they are both thought of as two robust, more or less defensive midfielders) tighten up the midfield. Kyle helped stabilize what was an overrrun US midfield and the US played better. Bradley is not the only manager who uses two defensive midfielders. Many fine managers use two defensive midfielders. Some use three. Clearly you don’t like the idea, but it often works.

              “He didn’t know how to incorporate Torres soon enough
              (ditto Holden). “

              Sure he did. But Torres was not consistent enough. He didn’t incorporate Torres because Torres didn’t pick up the nuances of the system soon enough and wasn’t good enough to have the system altered just for him.

              A system is just a frame work . The manager gives his players instructions on how he wants them to make the system work but it is up to the players to actually make it work. That is why they are called “players” and Bradley is called “the Manager”. Torres could not do that consistently enough. At some point, a player has to take responsibility for his own performance.

              It was Bradley who brought Torres into the US system in the first place and brought him along even though he did not work out right away. Bradley does not forget his players. You may remember how he brought back Freddy Adu after Adu finally figured it out. And I’m pretty sure you all thought he was crazy to do so. Had Bradley stayed on the Adu situation proves that he might have eventually brought Torres back if he was playing better with is club.
              Maybe the light bulb finally went off in Torres’ head like it did for Freddy. Maybe he is finally ready.

              As for Holden, aside from a fine run with the B team Gold Cup team in 2009 look at Holden’s appearances for the US team and you will find them unremarkable. His career has been blighted by bad timing with his injuries. He has yet to prove that he can be a standout player for the US.

              Everyone needs to give Holden time to actually heal and prove he can get back to his best. It is entirely possible he will never be what he was again. Have you learned nothing from the premature returns of Gooch and Davies?

              The Holden everyone loves today did not emerge until after the World Cup and during his extended run at Bolton.
              Just because you do well at your club, and Holden has only done it for one year, it does not mean you will reproduce that form for your country. Jermaine Jones has an excellent track record with his clubs in the Bundesliga and did well with Blackburn. He is a proven Bundelisga standout but has yet to show the same ability on a consistent basis for the US.

              “A mediocre coach, a mediocre judge of talent, but a good person. None of this is about “hating” him.”

              We have no idea whether BB is a good person or not.It’s really none of your business.

              In terms of Bradley’s ability to judge talent I notice about 98 percent if not 100 percent of the players Klinsmann is using and is likely to use in the near future were either capped by Bradley or where on his radar screen before he got fired. When he capped Shea many of you said the kid should never wear the shirt again. Same for Bedoya. Same for Beckerman. And he didn’t have much use for Castillo and Fiscal. Guess who are you all bitching and moaning about today?

              Klinsmann has frequently praised Bradley’s abilities as a manager. Bradley may well finish up as the most accomplished American manager ever.

              “As for the details, we all know who was on the field for the game against Slovenia. The reference to Bradley-Clark pairings is to the various other occasions when we were treated to these two.”

              I know what you mean. I can think of three fairly recent games where you were treated to the paired Clark and Bradley, the 2009 victories against Egypt and Spain and the 2010 WC berth clinching qualifier win against Honduras.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/09 at 3:55 AM

              Martin, Bob actually did forget about Torres to the point where he didn’t speak to him for a year. From the World Cup up until the point that he was fired they did not speak at all. Compare that to the coddling he gave Freddy and I’d say he was more than happy to forget about Torres.

              I think you forgot the most recent pairing of Bradley and Clark under Bob. I believe it lasted 30 minutes before Clark showed that he didn’t belong on the field against Ghana.

              Just because Bradley and Klinsmann have used similar players doesn’t mean that Bob is a great judge of talent. It’s a national team and there are only so many players to choose from.

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/09 at 12:06 PM


              “Martin, Bob actually did forget about Torres to the point where he didn’t speak to him for a year. From the World Cup up until the point that he was fired they did not speak at all. “

              I think I read the same article you did about Torres not hearing from BB for a while. My reaction was:

              So what? My boss never calls me at home unless there is a work related emergency.. Why would you expect Bradley to call Torres?

              Torres was BB’s player not his mistress. Check with Pachuca because after the World Cup. Torres suffered a loss of form and also spent some time injured. He only recently got back to getting more playing time. Which is one reason why BB may not have had him in mind for the Gold Cup.

              Do you or anyone have any records of how frequently Bradley called or spoke with all of his players?
              Do you or anyone know how frequently national team managers call or talk to their players?

              Because if it is the accepted practice for national team managers to call all their players once a day/month /week/ then maybe you have something there. But if it isn’t then so what?

              Depending on whatever tournament happens to be going on and how well they do the US team averages roughly 14 games per year as opposed to most clubs which start at about 30 games and just head on up. In the 2010 season when Dempsey missed a number of games with a knee injury he still played about 44 games for Fulham in all competitions or about three times what he would have done for the US. The point being, unless BB was going to call in Clint why would he call him? Clint is a busy man.

              “Compare that to the coddling he gave Freddy and I’d say he was more than happy to forget about Torres. “

              Coddling? What coddling? Adu and Torres both got invited to the Confederations Cup and both did not play a minute. Both were then invited to the subsequent Gold Cup tournament and Freddy went for one or two games while Torres declined for unspecified health reasons. After that Adu couldn’t get arrested when it came to the national team and apparently that was when BB told him to go out and get more playing time. And Torres went on the play in the World Cup. If there was any coddling it seems to me Torres got the better of that deal.

              And when Adu was called in for this last Gold Cup BB admitted to evaluating him via DVD’s and other means , not in person.

              Do you have any records of how much BB kept in touch with Adu during all that time because I’ve never read anything anywhere about them staying in touch?. I did read about BB telling Adu he had to get more playing time but that was a couple of years ago.

              Had Torres been absolutely tearing up the Mexican league all this time then maybe you have a case. But if you have not been an established player for either club or country and haven’t played particularly well for the US and are sitting on the bench for your club (or are out injured) you don’t really need someone to tell you what you need to do to get back into the National team picture.

              “I think you forgot the most recent pairing of Bradley and Clark under Bob. I believe it lasted 30 minutes before Clark showed that he didn’t belong on the field against Ghana.”

              I did not include it because it was too brief an appearance.

              Just because Bradley and Klinsmann have used similar players doesn’t mean that Bob is a great judge of talent. It’s a national team and there are only so many players to choose from.

              They are not using “similar” players, they are using the exact same players. And while it is way too early to be certain who will wind up as Klinsmann regulars, to date he has certainly given very strong public endorsements (look them up) to Howard, Boca, Dolo,Chandler, Shea, Agudelo, Dempsey, Donovan and yes Torres. Except for Torres all of these guys were pretty clearly scheduled for significant roles had Bradley stayed. That’s eight out of nine.

              Are there nine better players out there? Yes. Are there nine better American players out there? I don’t know.

            • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/09 at 12:29 PM

              That’s hilarious that you didn’t include Bradly/Clark pairing against Ghana because it was too brief. It was too brief because it was a disaster and Clark was awful.

              Adu has stated that he spoke with Bob regarding moves that he made in his career including the move to Turkey. He was told that he would get back into the national team if he played. Compare that to Torres who has a tough run out at the World Cup and is unceremoniously tossed on the trash heap.

              Compare that even to Clark who had shown in the World Cup that he wasn’t good enough yet was given the shot against Ghana and yet Bradley defended him. While I do not have their phone records there are statements made by players regarding conversations with the coaching staff. Most do not go from playing in a World Cup to not hearing from the guy again.

              He doesn’t need to call Clint because it’s obvious to Clint that he’s in Bob’s plans and will be a starter. For a guy like Torres who is on the fringes in a similar way to Adu it’s not the best man management to not speak to him after a poor World Cup showing. Even if it’s just a simple text/email to state that he’s watching him play for his club. We all know from Bob’s statements that he went to extremes to find online streams to watch Adu.

              I doubt Shea would have featured nearly as much for Bob as he has for Klinsmann. We would have seen Deuce and Donovan on the wings with MB90 in the middle with Jones or Edu with 2 up front. If not that then we would have seen 1 on front with Jones, Edu and Bradley all clogging up the middle with Deuce and Donovan out wide.

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/09 at 3:00 PM


              “Adu has stated that he spoke with Bob regarding moves that he made in his career including the move to Turkey. He was told that he would get back into the national team if he played. Compare that to Torres who has a tough run out at the World Cup and is unceremoniously tossed on the trash heap. “

              Should there have been a ceremony when he tossed him on the trash heap? Okay…So are you saying that if Torres hit a run of great form for Pachuca and Bob had called him into the team Torres would have said

              ” no way, you never write and you never call we’re over!”

              Like I said, the man is a supposed to be a pro not Bradley’s mistress. And if he would have reacted like that then he needs to grow up.

              If Torres had any bottle (as the Brits say)or cojones , if you prefer a more ethnically appropriate term ( USMNT discussions always devolve to race), he would do his best to prove BB wrong and play the hell out of it.

              And maybe that’s what BB was thinking. Players are no different from anyone else; some need a kick in the ass, some need to be hugged. If that is what BB was doing then I would guess he has a better idea of how to handle his guys than either of us do.

              “That’s hilarious that you didn’t include Bradly/Clark pairing against Ghana because it was too brief. It was too brief because it was a disaster and Clark was awful.”
              “Compare that even to Clark who had shown in the World Cup that he wasn’t good enough yet was given the shot against Ghana and yet Bradley defended him. “

              BB should have defended Clark.He also should have explained his reasons for starting Rico. I have never read anywhere where Bradley gave a reason for starting Clark. I’ve never read anywhere where Edu said if he knew why Clark started . When you don’t explain why you did something then that leaves you open to all kinds of wacko speculation which is exactly what happened.
              BB did say he pulled Clark not because he wasn’t good enough but because he had gotten a yellow card in the 7th minute, perhaps upset over the mistake with the goal, and was in danger of getting a second yellow and a subsequent red card. Interestingly enough that was exactly what I thought BB was doing when he pulled Clark and I thought it was a very smart tactical move.
              I always find the hysteria over Clark in this game somewhat ironic because::
              · Edu might have given that ball away like Clark did. He had been playing well but he wasn’t exactly Mr.Wonderful first touch up to that point.
              · The first goal was a team mistake. Clark gave the ball away yes but he was at the halfway circle when Bradley (the initial mistake ) gave him a hospital ball. Still he was not in the box, the point being there was time for others to shut down Boateng but Demerit did a crap job of shutting him down or jockeying him to the outside. Instead he wound up partially screening a poorly positioned Howard ( who was asleep) on what was a average shot that somehow snuck by him into the near post, a cardinal sin and a soft goal for a keeper to allow. As I said a team mistake, with lots of blame to go around but how Bradley , Demerit and Howard don’t get as much if not more crap about it than Rico shows you how lazy US fans are.
              · The goal didn’t lose the game for the US because they came back strong and tied the game and really were very unlucky not to beat Ghana in what was overwhemingly a home advantage game for Ghana.
              · Clark was not on the field when Ghana scored the winning goal (with more help from Demerit and Howard) so that’s one more reason why I see people who blame Clark for the loss as just a tad lazy with their judgements.

              “While I do not have their phone records there are statements made by players regarding conversations with the coaching staff. Most do not go from playing in a World Cup to not hearing from the guy again. “
              How do you know that?

              “He doesn’t need to call Clint because it’s obvious to Clint that he’s in Bob’s plans and will be a starter. “

              My point exactly. Torres didn’t need a phone call to tell him he needed to turn it up to get back on the team.

              “For a guy like Torres who is on the fringes in a similar way to Adu it’s not the best man management to not speak to him after a poor World Cup showing. Even if it’s just a simple text/email to state that he’s watching him play for his club.”

              I assume you aren’t a personal friend of JFT which means that this statement relfects how you might have handled the situation but you don’t know the man or the inner workings of the situation so you don’t really know how effective your proposed strategy would be.

              “We all know from Bob’s statements that he went to extremes to find online streams to watch Adu. “

              You could say the same thing about harry, an Adu extremist who used post on SBI and I’m sure he’s not alone. What disturbs you about that?

              “I doubt Shea would have featured nearly as much for Bob as he has for Klinsmann. We would have seen Deuce and Donovan on the wings with MB90 in the middle with Jones or Edu with 2 up front. If not that then we would have seen 1 on front with Jones, Edu and Bradley all clogging up the middle with Deuce and Donovan out wide.”

              That’s speculation on your part. You don’t really know, not that it matters.

              I’ll bet you didn’t think Bradley would call in Adu for the Gold Cup , or that Bradley would start the Gold Cup final with a Roma 4-6-0,, or that he would sit Donovan when he did.

              Or that BB would pull Gooch in the 80th minute for Gomez in the World Cup Slovenia game. Two minutes later Gomez would make a vital decoy run that helped free up Jozy and Bradley to combine for the tying goal.

              BB is not as predictable as you seem to think he is.

  11. Posted by rambo on 2011/09/07 at 2:56 PM

    I am just happy that we no longer give up a goal in the first 20 minutes. That is a positive.


  12. One thing I am not liking and it has always been a USA type of game is the lone wolf up top. Sadly, all of our forwards aren’t skilled with the ball to take on defenders by themselves. I’ve seen too many turns with the ball and the ball just escapes the feet of our players.


  13. Posted by ghettobooty on 2011/09/07 at 3:33 PM

    Brek Shea has been the most consistent “new era” player to come out of these first three games.

    Eric Lichaj was a positive from the Gold Cup, and some of Adu’s playing. Tim Ream wasn’t so bad either

    Michael Bradley should still trump Torres or Beckerman.

    And Holden maybe useful if he ever gets back and stays unhurt

    and this lone striker thing isn’t working at all


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/07 at 4:37 PM

      Bradley has to do a lot of work to fit into the style that Klinsi wants if it is truly a player that will just shield the defense (Beckerman) or be the distributor (Torres). MB90’s strength has never been his discipline in defense or his ability to pick a pass.


  14. Posted by CJ on 2011/09/07 at 3:39 PM

    I’d be curious to know how other teams in Concacaf are reacting to the style change… are they seeing the US as making ourselves vulnerable by becoming more creative or more dangerous like a true snake, ready to strike. The Donovan run in the WC where he slammed the ball from near the touchline over the goalies head has left me salivating for me play like that. The transition moving forward is I hope to see that coming from a fast series of short passes from Howard-Goodson-Torres-Eduback to Torres-who springs Donovan rather than a simple bomb up from our keeper… I hope that was logical sounding.

    Another good read TSG, keep it up guys!


    • Posted by Sean on 2011/09/07 at 4:30 PM

      It unfortunate, we need a CB that can distribute and defend, both 1v1 and with good positioning. It was painful watching Boca and Goodson play, with neither comfortable with the ball at their feet. Boca is ahead in terms of this, but maybe J.A. Brooks is a guy to get in camp when he gets healthy.

      Obviously Klinnsman doesn’t like Ream, two camps now no games played. And Orozco is physically defecient.


      • Posted by Aaron on 2011/09/07 at 7:09 PM

        Ream wouldn’t be in the camps if Klinnsman didn’t think he could contribute to the national team (present or future).

        I’m certain his superior distribution skill and overall potentional is not lost on him but Ream needs another productive year or two to refine some of the fundamentals before he will be a viable starter. Working alongside Marquez will do nothing but speed this process up

        Unless somebody named George or Whitbred starts making some noise during the upcoming camps, I could see the Boca-Goodson pairing sticking through the beginning of the cycle and I’m comfortable with that.


      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/07 at 7:16 PM

        I am pretty sure its one camp. I think we will see Ream in again in the next camp and getting playing time. He deserves a look. One camp to learn what is going on and one camp to play. I think we see Goodson and Ream next camp with either John called in.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 4:24 AM

          One thing to remember with Ream as well is that he will be available for the January MLS camp as he’s an MLS player. Klinsmann has only a few opportunities with his non MLS players so it may be that Ream is further down the list for those reasons and that may also be why John and Gonzalez (still not sold that he has the movement to be an international caliber defender) have yet to be called in.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/08 at 5:25 AM

            Great point. I don’t think we can read anything into Ream not playing the last two games at this time.


            • Posted by Sean on 2011/09/08 at 8:23 AM

              I’m not saying that we should read into it, just that he isn’t ready for the big show yet. Goodson offers a few good qualities, namely size and aerial strength. Goodson is slightly better at helping to possess the ball out of the back. And Boca is better than him at that aspect. All I’m saying is that if the number 6 player is supposed to be able to link with the 10, then the two CBs need to be more comfortable with the ball at their feet.

              I suppose me saying that Klinnsman doesn’t like Ream is harsh, he’s just not ready yet for the international scene. Regardless, we need someone that has a mix of his and Boca’s attributes in the CB position.

  15. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/07 at 7:02 PM

    Great read once again and many thanks TSG for the invested time.

    I agree that he fits a few of Klinsi’s stated wants right now (ball possession/Hispanic market/etc) and given the right tools around him can grow into a solid CMF with the tools he has. Was also impressed at his desire to defend which means that the coach is in his head.


  16. Posted by wixson on 2011/09/07 at 7:05 PM

    Gotta say that i don’t think i’ve seen any US player in recent memory to have the technical skills that Torres has (Deuce excluded). He does have several negatives, but it’s nice to watch what he brings. Some of those 40-yard driven balls he plays to switch the fields or up to an advancing wingers will help us tremendously.

    If he plays, it needs to be in the middle. Too bad he gets pushed too much though, and too bad that our midfield is stacked.


  17. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/07 at 8:36 PM

    Separate note here. GeorgeCross pointed out that the US really struggled transitioning on Tuesday and that’s true.

    Part of the reason for that is the numbers that were dropped defensively, but another reason is the terribly inconsistent play and movement of Altidore.

    At some point the excuses of fitness and whatever else need to stop. Chandler, Boca and others had just as far to travel. No other player Adu, Chandler, Holden included needs to develop and show this season than Jozy.

    Oh and John Anthony Brooks is further along in his club career I would say than Ream at present.


  18. Posted by crow on 2011/09/07 at 9:54 PM

    Off topic but what a crazy game for the Union. Hopefully they woke up tonight. Wouldn’t mind seeing Adu and Mwanga team up for a goal for the National team someday, hopefully.

    Another random note. Here’s a new feature I’d seriously like to see occasionally on TSG: interview with TSG commenter. I for one would like to know more about George Cross. I’m sure he has stories to tell from going to Highbury and Stanford Bridge regularly growing up.


  19. Posted by Jake Claro on 2011/09/07 at 10:21 PM

    Fantastic read! Well done TSG. I have nothing further to say because after reading all the comments form the TSG community, I realize I have nothing further to add nor have any desire to adulterate the outstanding analysis that has commenced on these pages…and trust me, I’m not normally this effusive with praise : )

    Matthew–agree about Jozy fitness, and I’m guilty of using that as an excuse. I think form is perhaps more appropriate, and my previous defense has been merely due to the fact that he just recently started getting full-time first team football. However, I can remember when he was at Hull, commentators being dejected by Jozy’s inability to go the full 90. Perhaps his hulking frame has made it difficult on the young man’s legs…who knows, but it certainly is distressing. Juan is ever so close to overtaking him on the depth chart.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 4:28 AM

      What hulking frame? He’s only 6’1 and 175 lbs per US Soccer with Agudelo at 6′ and 180. It’s more likely that he’s just fragile. Shea has played a crazy amount of minutes lately and he’s bigger than Altidore.

      I think Shea should get a look in the middle going forward with Dempsey and Donovan alongside him.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/08 at 4:34 AM

        If you watched the U-20 disasters a few years ago, you would repeal that Shea comment. :>

        Needs to play on the wing — terrible with his back to the basket.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 4:37 AM

          Well, if I watched him a couple years ago I would have been sure that he wasn’t national team caliber either. I think the need for a guy to be good with his back to the basket is going to be less important if the US is going to play through the middle rather than lump it forward.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/08 at 4:46 AM

            I’m not sure why folks have this misconception that a target striker is one that just receives the ball out of the air from the back.

            If you look at any quality team–save Barca–they all have a player who provides hold-up and a target. Especially in a single striker set.

            Chelsea: Drogba or Torres (they play the ball through the middle)
            Liverpool: Saurez
            Arsenal: Van Persie
            Man United: They use Rooney or Berbatov in this role
            Milan: Ibra
            Spurs: Adebayor
            Stoke: Now Peter Crouch

            A player is just not going to “run-on” in the center of the pitch.

            If you look at Klinsmann that’s precisely what he is/was looking for or Edson Buddle never would have made the trip to the Mexico game from Germany.

            All three true forwards in camp for Jurgen: Bunbury, Agudelo, Altidore have that ability or he wants them too.

            I would even expect to see a Conor Doyle call-up here in the next year or so to get a look here.


            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/08 at 5:17 AM

              now stoke is a quality team? come on. kevin davies, there is a quintessential target striker, along with brian mcbride. americans have become fixated on the target striker role precisely because of mcbride. isnt it kind of funny that with the usa trying to move away from route1 ball we still value that target role. it aint easy to change a national team style, that much should be certain.

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/08 at 5:57 AM

              There’s a difference between having a “target striker” while playing a certain style, and having a target striker receiving long balls from the back all game long.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/08 at 7:06 AM

              I don’t disagree with you Matt, where we should probably agree to disagree is that if F Torres, Van Persie, Rooney, and Suarez from your list can be “target” forwards I don’t see why Clint can’t because he will be destroyed. I am not saying that Clint is as good as those 4 just saying that having watched most of them extensively (haven’t seen as much of Suarez as the others) I think Clint can do a better job in that role than Atlidore or Agudelo currently is.

              Altidore to me isn’t ready yet (maybe in a couple years, maybe never), Agudelo isn’t ready either. Bunburry = withhold judgement until we see him get a game or two not in a Jan camp.

              I will be quiet now as I am probably the least knowledgable voice.

  20. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/07 at 10:51 PM

    Hardest working caption writers in the business right here at TSG people. Wouldn’t mind it one bit if Jürgen became The Meteorologist permanently. Always smiling, always positive even when its 110º and on fire, the weekend outlook promises better. And while he’s not the sports guy, he specializes in witty repartee with the sports guy.

    PS. the fact that El Gringo is the vorTEX is not lost.


  21. Posted by Gino on 2011/09/07 at 11:30 PM

    I think it’s a good thing that Klinsmann is giving Torres a good run out at CM. Even if JFT falls short (physical limitations and/or defensive shortcomings), he is the type of player the US needs to develop if the Nats ever want to evolve into a top tier footballing nation. This is an oversimplification but it’s kinda like Torres is that 10 year old kid that AYSO coaches overlook because he’s not big and fast. A savvy club coach notices the ordinary looking kid who plays with his head up, runs into space and makes passes the other kids waste by not knowing where to run.

    I’m not saying Bob Bradley is an AYSO coach, just that we have far too many youth coaches who aren’t teaching kids the right way to play the game. Torres is a step in the right direction. Only when we start producing more players like Torres, Donovan, Dempsey, etc. will we take off and have a more realistic chance of competing with the Spains, Brazils and Germanys of the world.

    BTW Matthew, any chance of a TSG Fantasy Champions League? I know TSG already has MLS and EPL fantasy leagues going on but, well, it’s the Champions League!! and Soccernet both have fantasy leagues and while UEFA’s seems more challenging, either one would do.


  22. Posted by Catamount on 2011/09/08 at 8:51 AM

    Big boom soccer needs to die as quickly as possible as does a naive conception of defense as tackling and ball winning. Torres plays excellent defense as does Landon Donovan. They pay attention to options and tendencies, forcing opponents into less than optimal decisions. US Soccer has always been about rigid systems. If one player misses a tackle they are a “bad defender.” Never mind that they slowed the attack took away options, applied pressure at an optimal position for attack, etc. The best defenders never leave their feet, they separate opponents from their options and eventually the ball. That kind of defense requires other players that also read the game. It isn’t a system, it’s a philosophy. Players like Torres, Dempsey, Holden and Donovan will shine with this approach. Problem is there may not be enough other players who can “see the game” to support them for a while. It has nothing to do with ethnicity, just soccer at a different level.


    • Posted by GJD on 2011/09/08 at 10:32 AM

      Incredibly well-put and I would add that Chandler does this tremendously – cuts down angles, anticipates the pass-through, and puts himself in position to disrupt and shut-down both the counter-attack and the regular old attack in order to (and most importantly) position the team for the counter-move. I find criticism of his defense mind-boggling – even when he’s looked slightly off (against Costa Rica), he’s still as advanced a defender as anyone we’ve got.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/08 at 10:48 AM

        Agreed GJD. I’m amazed at how fundamentally sound Chandler is yet still raw. He lacks a certain smoothness right now–and I’m not talking about his herky-jerky style of play.

        It’s somewhat amazing to see him on his first touch. He looks like he’s going to totally duff it, but the ball sits exactly where he wants it to.

        Perhaps another article for another time, but he kind of reminds me of Kevin Garnett in some ways. Came into the NBA with a ton of raw talent and great fundamentals and then as he learned the nuances he became devastating defensively.

        (BTW, can’t stand Kevin Garnett, but you get my point.)


        • Posted by mbw on 2011/09/08 at 2:13 PM

          Spot on. It was interesting to watch Cherundolo on Tuesday after seeing Chandler on Friday. ‘Dolo has that “smoothness” in spades; but you watch them both and you think, man, that’s a guy who knows how to play football.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/09/08 at 2:58 PM

          imagine if garnett did not spend so much time with the twolves. that would have been devistating.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/08 at 1:55 PM

      But for the first time we have more than one or two guys that fit that mold. Yes we need 11 but the old days of Reyna and JOB as skilled and 8 other unskilled field players working their asses off are gone. I feel confident that we could have 8 or 9 skilled field players by 2014 (sadly I am not sure F will be one of them).


  23. Posted by ghettobooty on 2011/09/08 at 11:47 AM

    The U.S. versus Honduras game, because its an international fixture, meaning we will have the best from MLS and internationally, should be a better showing of Klinnsman’s new look team.

    If the U.S. doesn’t get a good result, then Jurgen has to move on from these fringe players i.e. Castillo, Rogers. No excuses this time. It wasn’t pretty, but Bradley got results.

    I’m finding it humorous that people on this comment section are just eschewing Michael Bradley from playing on this team after being one of the most consistent and hard working players in the last four years.

    Keep in mind that the Klinnsman approach has only really worked in the first twenty minutes or so in each game they played, so its not like its working for sure.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/08 at 12:14 PM

      The past two friendlies were also international dates so he had his pick as well. He managed to piss of Jozy’s club coach because of that exact issue.

      I have doubts about how Bradley will fit into this new system. Can you tell me which role he would play in the new system? Is he disciplined enough to play as the true holding mid? Does he have the range of passing that Klinsi wants in the role that Torres has played? That’s not to say that Bradley can’t play in the system but until he does it successfully then I think it’s fair to question especially since he played in the Mexico game in a further forward role and was not good.


      • Posted by ghettobooty on 2011/09/09 at 12:20 AM

        what “new system” are you talking about? There is no new system yet as far as I know. A 4-3-3? An “attacking style of play” is not a new system its just a sound bite. So theyre building the team around Torres’ experiences of a handful of caps? He can play, but he’s not Xavi.

        No, MB should play the role he’s been playing as a defensive midfielder. What they call a “destroyer.” He’s the guy that did a lot of the dirty work for the past four, five years, and consistently.

        Something like a 4-1-3-2


        • Posted by ghettobooty on 2011/09/09 at 12:31 AM

          I am more concerned that JK hasnt brought any new strikers into camps yet anyway, especially with the glut of midfielders we have


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/09 at 4:15 AM

          I’m not talking about a sound bite. Have you watched the games? There is clearly a different system taking shape that involves moving the ball around without just lumping it forward on a counterattack. There have been times when the counterattack has clearly been shied away from by the players.

          I also don’t feel like the formation has been a 4-3-3. Edu has clearly been further back than Torres or Donovan/Dempsey so I’d say it’s a 4-1-2-3 or a 4-1-4-1 right now.

          I’m not saying that Bradley won’t be the guy that plays as the destroyer but that role requires discipline that Bradley has not always shown. He also has played once for Klinsmann and was one of the attacking band of midfielders. It remains to be seen where Klinsmann thinks he can play the best.


  24. It seems that Jurgen has told the team not to counterattack.

    Juan Mata’s dad told him not to use his strong right foot so he could better develop his weak left one. One of the most noticeable things about him is that he doesn’t have a weak one now.

    This team will still be able to break and counter. I don’t think Jurgen or the team cares about the results of these games – they’d like to win, of course, but i think passing the ball around midfield as the clock wound down against Belgium said it all.

    Despite the attacking style pledge, i don’t think that’s where Jurgen has started to put his mark on this team. This team has markedly improved it’s defending in transition. Despite conceding 3 goals in 3 games, the team has put in their best defensive performances in some time by working together well together as a team. He played a smaller, faster CB instead of the two big slow ones in his first two games and drilled his players to cover for other players who leave their defensive responsibilities in the attacking phase. This just didn’t happen under Bradley – those areas where just left unattended and we hoped for the best.

    We all think of Bradley as a “defensive manager”, but the problem was he never put out a team that defended very well. He seemed to put 6 defensive players on the pitch and rather than let them know how they were expected to function on the pitch, he’d simply say “good luck”. That’s the biggest knock on him, in my opinion. With the exception of one game against Spain, his defensive team was a defensive shambles.

    Under Jurgen, we haven’t conceded a counter-attacking goal. All the goals conceded have come after poor clearances/inability to retain possession coming out of the back. Jurgen’s focus on proficiency in keeping possession and playing the ball quickly away from pressure out of the back will do a lot to address a big source of the goals we tend to concede.

    In your own half of the field, giving the ball away is giving the other team a scoring chance. Having a player like Torres, who has the vision and range of passing to quickly find the player in space, is a key part of his vision. It’s not as simple as “his defense is a problem”** when possession is defense.

    Like almost any manager coming into a team that has been conceding more than it’s share of goals, Jurgen is focusing on defence first. The moment to go bombing up the pitch will come when we no longer have a weak foot.

    **Only if you equate lots of slide tackles with good defending.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/09 at 1:35 PM

      Conjoined thought here Tuesday. You could say that “the” reason the team hasn’t given up a counterattack is either because a) they themselves are not counterattacking and b) thus they are all together as a unit.

      B I think is a very important point.

      If you were to watch the Final of the Gold Cup the amount of space conceded–the shape lost by the US–was grounds in and of itself for terminating Bradley. That was juvenile stuff. (I kid, but it was that bad.)

      What I like that Klinsmann has done is that he’s added an extra guy in the middle of the pitch and given his flankers license…or mandate to get forward–this only makes sense with many teams playing a 4-2-3-1 today and the US not having a lot of striker capability.

      He’s made two of those central players offensive which I do think has hurt on occassion. I think it was telling when Beckerman came in in the “2” role of the 4-1-2-3 on Tuesday against Belgium.

      Now the key will be…if you have Shea (who is an ideal player for the system) on one wing. Altidore or Agudelo in the middle. How do you play Dempsey and Donovan. That should be interesting when the two in fact play together.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/09 at 1:42 PM

        I should also add, that it will be very interesting to see where Bedoya–if he is in Jurgens plans–plays in this system.

        Bedoya like Dempsey are more inverted winger types, often looking to come central quickly in their dribbling–those types *won’t* normally be given a lot of looks I think in Jurgen’s system (for now that is.)


        • Posted by Union on 2011/09/09 at 3:58 PM

          FWIW, just listened to the SI podcast. Wahl thinks the best lineup (and I tend to agree) is probably a 4-1-3-2 with Dempsey and Altidore/Agudelo playing up top. Bradley as the holding mid. Donovan on the right wing, Shea on the left and Holden in the middle. This, obviously, would leave Torres out of the equation in our “A Team” lineup.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/10 at 8:14 AM

            That shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Klinsmann’s system unfortunately.

            The challenge will be how to get the US best players on the field. But a 4-1-3-2 set up that way makes little sense.

            Where does Dempsey move? Would he be on the same side as Donovan? If he’s on the other side is he really going to be the guy moving off Shea?

            Two striker systems rarely if ever work without a player leading the line. Agudelo, Altidore, and Dempsey aren’t the guys to do that. A guy like Welbeck, Chicharito, Robbie Findley (gasp) is.
            That’s why Charlie Davies worked well with Altidore. He stretched the defense.

            You’d have players in this case (Dempsey and Shea) or (Donovan and Dempsey) fighting for the same space.

            Also, that takes out the one guy that could actually make that system work in Torres (who needs little space and makes few runs) out of the equation. Then you’re hoping that Stu Holden is your hub–which may work, but he has never really played centrally by himself.

            On defense you have a positionally undisciplined Michael Bradley who is not as fast as Edu in a holding role. That would be a nightmare.

            Everyone wants to put Clint Dempsey up top. But he’s never played there for club and country with effectiveness. He’s always better at being more of a Rooney/False 9 and coming from underneath.

            The challenge Klinsmann is going to have –and I need to write a piece on this–is–if you’re being true to Klinsmann’s system–there is a real challenge to putting Donovan and Dempsey on the field in their most effective roles.

            That’s why Bradley loved the 4-2-2-2 — it gave Dempsey and Donovan creative license.

            Fascinating times…

            And this was a run-on comment.


      • Makes sense to learn how to cover while constraining the counter-attacking before you really let those raging waters flow, no?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/09 at 5:20 PM

          Agreed completely.

          I would love to know–and I’ve asked around–if Bob was ever asked by Sunil: “Hey, do you have a plan for all of USSF?”
          From everyone I’ve talked to, it was all and only results with Bob.

          You have to wonder if that tight leash–getting a result every game possible (think Argentina even this year)–actually stunted the growth of players.
          It sure seems that Klinsmann is going the route to try to actually use the system to develop players–a big “no,no,no” under Bradley.


          • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/10 at 9:15 PM


            Did Klinsmann negotiate a longer, more flexible leash from the USSF than what BB had?

            One would have to assume the answer to that would be yes.

            Since Sunil obviously has wanted JK for some time then the negotiating for the parameters of that “leash” would presumably have been with the other 14 voting members of the USSF who did not want JK the last go round.

            I would not say the “results” issue stunted the growth of the players.

            They will develop outside the context of the USMNT where they get the vast majority of their training and instruction anyway. Brek Shea’s promise, Timmy Chandler’s and Dolo’s excellent fundamental soundness as players, have very little to do with the time they have spent with the USMNT. Just do the math.

            Credit Hyndmann and Dallas for Shea and the Bundesliga for Chandler and Dolo.

            In the context of a national team the orientation towards results that you speak of means there is no time to work on team growth and development, which is what JK is working on now.

            JK isn’t developing these guys. He’s trying to find out what the available players can do and figure out which of them best fit into how he wants the US to play. If for example,Fiscal, can’t do what he wants, JK and his staff do not have the time to teach him the skills he might lack.

            They will find someone who can do the job. Of course if they all fail then you get into a Bornstein situation, but that seems unlikely.

            That’s not developing the players.

            Which is probably why there was a tendency for BB, like many national team managers, and some club managers under the gun, to fall back on favorites or as I like to call them, players the manager knows he can trust to do certain things.

            Ever notice how Carvalho follows Mourinho everywhere? Or ever wonder why Capello brought Beckham back into the England team? Maybe it had something to do with the fact he was the one player that Capello knew very well and trusted?

            Besides the fact that he wouldn’t have the job, ask yourself how different would be it for JK if the US had to prepare for the Confederations Cup as well as WC Qualifying? He would certainly be under greater pressure for results now would he not?

            I bet you’d be seeing quite a few more friendlies furiously being arranged.


      • Demps or LD in the middle?

        It seems that Klinsy will be playing Torres centrally for the foreseeable future. Thus 1 of Donovan or Dempsey in the middle. Jurgen might favor Donovan centrally but Demps should be given a spot centrally before LD. I think even Jurgen will see the benefit of that. Only problem is Torres and Demps are both way better on the left. Interesting how lineups will change in the upcoming friendlies for sure. Who will get a chance at RW?

        If he sticks to the 4-1-2-3. Wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this work later in the year:

        Shea ———– Agudelo —– Donovan

        —- Demps —— Holden —-


        Excited to see how Torres develops though hopefully with a better overall lineup around him each successive match. For now maybe Torres and Demps in the “2”


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/10 at 8:15 AM

          Agree with this comment.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/10 at 8:31 AM

            Although Michael Bradley will need to make serious strides in positional discipline and shading if he’s hoping to be the lone holder. (Not to mention improve his tackling and speed.)


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/10 at 8:29 AM

          I love this formation as Donovan is best running at people and he won’t get many opportunities to do that in the middle of the pitch. Also Dempsey always wants to cut in so its not like he can’t work in the middle. Lastly I am for letting Altidore do his thing at AZ for a while and try others (just not sure Agudelo is ready but the time might be a down payment for 2014).


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/09 at 4:00 PM

      Mr. Tuesday

      You make some very good points.

      JK was sharp enough to have his team do the 30 minute Barca display against Costa Rica. Of course no team can maintain the tempo that the US did in that 30 minute span for 90 minutes. It may have seemed Barca- like but the real Barca know how to pace themselves in subtle ways that most of the US players couldn’t possibly know now. And of course, you need to score so you can manage the tempo even more comprehensively.

      Klinsmann knows that. The sort of thing Barca does, not that the US should realistically aspire to that, takes time and years together. And of course, Barca and Spain share many players so the understanding of that core group is even greater given the massive amount of time they play together. In a recent interview David Silva, no slouch himself, spoke about how the Barca style was something those guys had been working on for years. And he should know.

      There is a very long way to go. I would not be surprised if more than half of the present group of players we are seeing now does not make the 2014 squad, assuming we qualify. Read the many quotes JK has been putting out lately. He’s been very open about what he is doing. He’s doing this one piece at a time

      Here in America Klinsmann gets lauded a lot for his 2006 WC attacking philsophy but perhaps most here forget how utterly ruthless he was as a player.

      As he said the other night, he is not a good loser. After all, Klinsmann practically introduced diving to the English game. He played on some of the most physical, cynical sides the game has seen. His 1990 World Cup winning team had hard men like Buchwald, Augenthaler and Kohler. When they beat Argentina they managed to get the Argies to draw not just one but two red cards; no team had ever had even one player red carded in a World Cup final before. Klinsmann does understand the dark side of the game and the true meaning of the word “pragmatic” as it applies to soccer and winning. That 1990 team won but they were , for me, a pretty dour,brutal, cynical side.

      After the 2010 World Cup Donovan said that the US players had the talent but were lacking the savvy, the knowledge of the important little things that wingames. Klinsmann’s 1990 side had that in spades. It may be no accident that Reyna, Dooley and Ramos, some of the leading lights of the last batch of USMNT players that had that savvy are now part of JK’s brain trust.

      It’s almost as if Klinsmann has decided to teach the team in a series of seminars each about 30 minutes long. There was the play like Barca seminar, then the 4-3-3 morphing to the 4-4-2 seminar. In spite of the poor loser comment I agree that he doesn’t care about results right now just the teaching, Fascinating. He must be having a ball.

      Uli Hoeness had it right when he said Klinsmann was best suited to be a national team manager not a club manager. He would be hard press to find a club job with the kind of long leash he has with the US team.

      This USMNT has a long way to go and it seems JK isn’t going to take any shortcuts. I expect nothing less from him. His players on the other hand, well, we’ll see.


  25. Posted by Union on 2011/09/09 at 3:59 PM

    This would leave, Adu and F. Johnson out of the MF mix. I still think you’ll see Johnson at MF before you see him at left back, and honestly, I think he is going to push for a starting spot immediately. The kid is talented.


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

      Have you seen him play? Can you give a brief rundown on him?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/10 at 8:26 AM

      I would be money that Johnson gets the next chance at leftback.

      Depending on how you slice it, you have Shea and Dempsey both vying for left wing under some circumstances with no LB in sight.

      Klinsmann seems committed to doing a Michel Bastos-for-Brazil. That is employing a proficient player going forward who can play the left and then using that threat of offense to push that flank back as a defensive measure (see: Castillo, Edgar).

      So I think you’ll see Johnson at LB before MF.


  26. […] a well-balanced blog post on the midfielder, The Shin Guardian came up with three titles – “Player,” […]


  27. […] Jurgen Klinsmann’s coronation and The Reclamation Project that will always be known as Jose Torres. The moment narrowly eclipsed “Megan Rapinoe-to-Abby Wambach” which would have easily […]


  28. […] no denying that Jose Torres has a unique skillset for the US player pool. At Barcelona, they call it “La Pausa,” the ability to receive […]


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