Thoughts: France Teaches Klinsamerica A Lesson

Tough one.

Can’t call them “snap judgments” because they took way too long. TSG’s Tuesday will be along shortly with the official review.

Here are some thoughts that I want to spill out on the screen. We’ll give it the “Good, Bad, Ugly” treatment because it works well here.

Gloves? Off.

The Good

• Bunker?! Take horse, go to barn….

I’ve read a few places that the United States came out and bunkered yesterday. If that phrase graced your notebook yesterday for the game review, you should be led out to pasture and put out of your misery or at least give me some of what you’re having because the street value must be absolutely tremendous.

For a positive from the United States yesterday, look at the first 45 minutes of the match.

The United States pressed up the pitch on the defense. They deployed a a 4-4-2 from dead ball situations in France’s end.

Here at the 9:10 mark, the US is establishing its defense--HIGH UP THE PITCH. Instead of following runners, the US has effectively said, "We're claiming this area. If you can get it through us, bully for you. If not, over the top you go." Yann M'Vila elects to try and sneak a long pass to a France linking player up the pitch that Beckerman intercepts. As the US continued to press up the pitch, France would adjust and drop players into the midfield for linking and working on the Yanks' right rib cage. -- Ian Darke right afterward on-point, "There's a problem *with the offense*, but nothing wrong defensively"

Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore chased down defenders looking to manage possession and multiple times both Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu made “sprinting jabs” to meet either M’Vila or Diarra who were providing the link to up the pitch.

(Were you watching? Well if you weren’t or called it “bunkering”–just take a look at the heat maps of US backline here OR the defensive tackling of Shea and Altidore here or the origination passing of Bocanegra and Goodson here. You get the picture.)

In this sequence, Kyle Beckerman has already forced a back pass to the wing, where Dempsey pursues. Though late, Edu will react (need to be quicker buddy) and come cover the central player, Altidore is putting pressure high up the on Koscielny. This would qualify as *not bunkering*

With the US advanced, they did a fantastic job of keeping cohesion.

Tim Howard was not forced into making a save until the 22-minute mark against attackers from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and PSG. He made two “plays” in the first half–though speedy PSG winger Jeremy Menez–who had a terrible haircut and whose game reminded me of Theo Walcott–skied a ball badly on a pivot in the box that a striker would have more than likely deposited in the mesh behind Howard.

That’s three legitimate opportunities. Two of those came after the 37-minute mark and were due to fatigue by Tim Chandler and Steve Cherundolo respectively.

Yes, US didn’t generate chances. We’ll get to that.

For the first 45 minutes however, they forced France to work hard to move the ball out of their own end. France struggled from dead ball positions; they needed quick transitions up Franck Ribery’s flank that put pressure on Clarence Goodson and Steve Cherundolo.

(*Note, you don’t go to Loic Remy in the 2nd half to stretch the defense if you’re not facing pressure in your defensive kitchen and need the opportunity that the over-the-top or the long ball presents….and as the US succumbed to.)

• Without getting hyperbolic, quality from the Dutch man

Jozy Altidore looked like a man focused for a full game for the first time in his international career on Friday or rather perhaps since Rustenburg and with Three Lions running around.

That’s a huge positive for the player TSG refers to as “The Drifter”….in and out of games that is.

Even better? Altidore, in-control, but somewhat manic on defense chasing down defenders in possession. When was the last time you saw Altidore actively look to win possession–consistently? Maybe the Charlie Davies RFK match from October 2009?

Finally, Altidore looked much better at bringing down the ball in traffic. Of course, he looked better when he went up against the less-imposing Laurence Koscielny yesterday, but at one part around the 56th minute he made a phenomenal “catch” in traffic, realized he didn’t have support and turned inward to the only spatial opening.

High marks for Altidore, BUT as TSG’s Jay Bell says, “Caution is advised.” Can he do it for two efforts in a row?

• Piston pressure

Both Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman made excellent decisions on when to pursue midielders who were attempting to link into the backfield during the match.

And on Beckerman, consider this? The US is now deploying a single holder instead of dual holders and Beckerman was dreddy-on-the-spot on multiple occasions Friday. (And as for the RSL’s man’s overall play, not as tidy in possession with four passes eschew in his own end (24 for 31 overall),

The Bad

'Dolo, ebbing...

• Steve Cherundolo needed perennial cover

Steve Cherundolo–as we mentioned in the preview–seems to be on an ebb of form right now. Of course, as he ages, those ebbs will become more pronounced. In fact, for Hannover he’s been sitting out a fair amount of games this year.

There are number of challenges that Cherundolo’s average to below-average form presents.

One, it forces the RM (Danny Williams) to do a massive amount of shuttle covering and moves him back on the pitch. Next it draws the holder over–just like when a boxer starts dropping his guard after getting hit in the ribs too much.

That happened with Kyle Beckerman who had to shade centrally when it in the defensive set as a volley of attacks kept coming from the interplay of Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema drawing Clarence Goodson wider than he wanted to be.

Finally, when the turnover does happen–and if your main offensive cog (Clint Dempsey) is being marked out of the game–there are little passing options.

It is time–regardless of what happen on the left side of the pitch–to move Tim Chandler over.

Be ruthless like they are in other countries. If you’re not playing at the best level, you need to sit if there is a better option.

(And note to that same writer who suggested that a match-up to watch was Ribery vs. Beckerman–I don’t know how you don’t know that Ribery is a wide swinging left winger. Give up the game my friend.)

Danny Williams

• The damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t midfield selections

You’re not going to convince me that Mixx Diskerud or Sacha Kljestan make this game better for the States. You may convince me Michael Bradley does, but I doubt it.

Here’s why: Klinsmann was committed to keeping as quick a rate of both defensive attacking and passing as possible.

Klinsmann has himself said that we wants the States to play at a fast tempo and both practice and play “with energy.”

Kljestan & Diskerud are not the fastest or quickest players. So if you’re planning on pressing up the pitch and manning up each pass, you’re not giving your team the best shot.

So in essence, you can’t execute your defensive scheme.

What’s clear is that Edu and Williams seem to be two of the faster off-ball and on-ball players. It almost seems like Klinsmann is saying, “This is the minimum viable speed that our midfielders need to play with even if there offensive game is limited.”

Is this acceptable at this juncture? Well, what are you success metrics for the team?

You have to believe that Klinsmann witnesses that Edu and Williams are woeful miscast in the current States scheme–so much so that they compromised the team despite their speed and quickness. Maybe Klinsmann just thought that Williams could reproduce Landon Donovan’s speed so the team could get a feel for Landon’s impact on his return. (Okay, that’s a stretch, but you get the point.)

While Williams was challenged in possession for a number of reasons, the final stats still land with a thud: 6 of 16 passes, 15 balls lost in possession. You can’t charge a defensive midfielder with initiating attacks on the wing.

The question then is, “What’s the end game here?”

• That pesky CB situation


Quite obvious to see why Klinsmann wants Michael Orozco-Fiscal in there–for when the advanced defense breaks down and teams are running at the States backline. Clarence Goodson helped up except for his goof. Carlos Bocanegra was woefully positioned all day and had France nailed one or two of their chances where he had gone walkabout, there might be more questioning heading his way.

(And a soft point, if Tim Ream or Orozco-Fiscal make that error the Klinsmann makes, message boards light up like a Chevy Chase Christmas Tree.)

The Ugly

• The US cannot break down a defense on Klinsmann watch

The US got overrun in the midfield yesterday.

The US could not manufacture chances.

The US has a few problems.

First, there is Clint Dempsey and then there is Clint Dempsey.

The Deuce is the lone player right now that can make something out of nothing. He’s the long player that can be dealt a terrible hand–bad field position, no support, two players closing down, whatever–and occasionally make lemonade out of it. Sure, Brek Shea is excellent, but he, right now and like Donovan, needs either service, positioning or a run-on position to be a difference-maker.

With Yann M’Vila marking Dempsey out of the game, with Brek Shea both off game pace and still green on off-ball movement, the States had Altidore (if he was available) or bust.

The second, and more troubling aspect here–independent of player selection and deployment–is….there didn’t seem to be a plan on offense for when the States gained the ball back.

Consider this, the States are playing with one less holding midfielder than last year, they won the ball higher up the field, they expected to win the ball higher up the field, where was the attack plan? Remember this is team–the United States–that only has scored proficiently through the counter over the past five years–they can’t rely on old fashioned know-how here.

The Walkaway

Neither you, nor I know the success metrics that Jurgen Klinsmann has, both in terms of his job and on a game by game basis.

Maybe he’s taking a sequential approach to developing the team. It’s hard to teach multiple concepts at once (both offense and defense) at once.

If anything in that regard Klinsmann has been consistent as has his teams with a series of fair to above-average defensive performances and 1-0 scorelines.

What may bring some concern is the shock to the system of going from a winning culture to an educational one and how long the team will buy in, in the absence of success.

119 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scipio on 2011/11/12 at 10:18 PM

    I never really considered the fact that we have never really had a way to attack a defense set in their half compared to taking advantage of space during a counter. Developing an executing an attack plan would certainly explain the growing pains and lack of scoring we’ve seen so far.

    However, it doesn’t seem like they are getting any real practice because our forwards suffer from two defensive midfielders who have difficulty moving the ball forward with any regularity (this is putting it lightly. My opinion is that Edu is so lacking in terms of positional awareness, off the ball movement, composure and passing ability that he will never have a net positive impact).

    In any case, it seems counterproductive in teaching a new attack strategy to use such offensively challenged players. Bradley for all his faults has moments of brilliance in getting the ball up to the wingers.

    Maybe getting a defensive mid that can handle himself on the ball, like Holden, or moving Danny Williams to the middle (I think this is the most perplexing Klinsi decision for me) would open up the attack and lead to goals. But you can’t attack if your only way of moving the ball forward is a lob from Howard or the back four.


    • Posted by scipio on 2011/11/12 at 10:26 PM

      God I sound like an idiot when I’m drunk. Nothing like getting up at 3am for college game day only to watch your team get crushed. Lagunitas please.

      Forgot to say that this was an excellent read. Some great observations here.


    • Posted by Two Cents on 2011/11/13 at 12:41 AM

      I respectfully disagree regarding Edu. I feel that way about Beckerman however. EIther way, it’s difficult to see their usefulness if they play together. The two DM system is killing us because we can’t move the ball well enough. Also, the addition of Buddle opened up the field of play. Jozy, as good or bad as people seem to think he is, needs help. He is not a lone striker, even on his best day, so a tandem of Jozy and Buddle from the start would be nice to see.

      I also have been thinking the same as the article states relating to Cherundolo. He’s very solid and will never really be making mistakes. However, his continual decline in pace is worrisome. I figure we can put in Morales at RB and leave Chandler on the left for now.

      I watched the Spain v England game and noticed the biggest difference between our play and Spain, besides skill, is their off the ball movement. Sometimes we get overly concerned with passing percentages and things of that nature, when it’s the things stats don’t pick up that really matter. Half the reason we screw up passing is because no one is open. Every time I watched Iniesta make a pass, he was bolting to another spot, getting a pass back and then noticing Villa or Silva moving elsewhere. That’s what we are missing. We are too stagnant and obvious moving forward. Creativity in midfield will help, but we still need our players to be in constant motion as opposed to standing still until the ball is at their feet.

      Anyways, just my opinion. Obviously I’m an internet coach, but sometimes I wish I could pick the roster and game day starting 11 and see what happens lol.

      As for Slovenia, I would personally like to see us revert back to the 4-4-2/4-1-3-2 but with only one DM.


      Subs: Edu, Jones, Bradley, Goodson, Hamid, Beasley


      • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 6:40 AM

        I disagree about Jozy not being a lone striker. I thought he was great in that role today. The problem was that he had zero support. Drogba in his prime would struggle with the level of support that Jozy had against France.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/11/13 at 6:58 AM

          I thought he did very well under the circumstances, but I still wouldn’t consider him a lone striker. Using the Drogba parallel is misleading, because it just concludes that Drogba isn’t a lone striker too.


        • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/11/13 at 10:28 AM

          I agree with the Jozy assessment, he is not a lone striker, so he had a decent game for once in hold up play. I’d take Agudelo over him in this role. I think that its important to try to different systems but I too prefer a revert to the 4-4-2 for some opponents, especially since we don’t have a true lone stiker forward. I know I’ll get blasted for this but we need someone like a Kevin Doyle if we’re going with a lone wolf up top (Sorry Blackmon!!).
          The analysis of the game was great but I’m getting tired of trying to anticipate Kiinsman’s metrics, or the USMNT’s aims & objectives. I need to see some Godamn goals fer christsakes. We need to allay the ADHD American Beast in fandom (ok in me). All this talk and we still play like crap. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes we need to get laid, forget about making progress, reaching goals ( 1st, 2nd base, etc). There’s no such thing as bad sex to a prisoner or a high school adolescent (or me; wife’s pregnant again!). Lets put Buddle up there with Jozy and go with 1 holding DM ( I’ll take Beckerman or Edu here but I prefer Jones, he only plays for Schalke). We need to build some confidence in our attack and nothing does that better scoring.
          Anyway thank you for providing a forum for my thoughts, I feel better now that I’ve dumped them on everyone! Now I don’t feel isolated like our lone striker!


          • Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/11/13 at 7:08 PM

            Sex is not contraindicated for the pregnant couple. Just thought you should know that. Doggystyle is prefered though brcaise it does induce the pains of labor.


            • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/11/13 at 8:30 PM

              Dude I love your comment but in the words of my esteemed Bronx born philosopher Cano, “dude if you’re in the room when she’s giving birth, don’t look down, otherwise it will never be the same!”
              Sorry everyone for the tangent I’m jonesing for soccer, forget the Jet game.

            • Posted by kaya on 2011/11/13 at 11:03 PM

              More than that, sex is required during pregnancy. Sadly, no one is putting out these days. I hope you’re doing better for your wife than the USMNT is doing for us.

          • Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/11/14 at 2:27 PM

            Hey at least you won’t have some German doctor beckoning over 30 even German-er medical students to look at your wife while she’s in stirrups.

            Kaya I wouldnt say sex is required. But that’s another conversation for another post. Although sex is sex! And the USMNT aint puttin out -__-


        • In regards to Jozy being a lone striker or not: Can’t it be argued that his best moments were when he had CD9 out there chasing everything that moved? I know there aren’t any options like CD9 pre-accident, but still. Jozy has the muscle, just need the speed.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/11/14 at 9:24 AM

            But that’s just the thing. In a competitive game there is no way you’d play Dempsey in that midfield band. If he’s fit, then he plays in a more offensive role. So, if he wanted to look at other options, that’s fine, bench Dempsey. But don’t experiment like that when you could have given Bradley some minutes in a position that’s more suited to him.

            Still think your offensive four are:


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/14 at 2:29 PM

            Jozy clearly plays better with a 2nd striker and did with Charlie. He also said as such at Hull and does at Eredivisie.

            However, two things:
            1) The US brought Robbie Findley for just this reason to World Cup 2010 and look what happened
            2) Jozy could solve some of his own problems by moving better off the ball and putting himself in position to score. He got better during the French match, but he still needs to be more active off the ball.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/12 at 10:35 PM

    I think Sacha Kljestan has improved and has a great deal of creativity. With that disclaimer, I wonder how many people remember just how slow he looked versus Spain in Foxboro earlier this year. Or even against Panama the 2nd time during the Gold Cup.

    Time to remind, “You can’t look at observations in isolation. You need to look at the whole body of work.”


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 9:51 AM

      Given all this discussion about our midfield’s ability to move the ball around can you tell me if you have access to a different telecast than the rest of us or do you know how we could get one?

      I ask because the current telecasts make it hard to see the whole field like you can when you are there. Maybe others can, but without such a view I find it hard to get a very consistent, accurate idea of the passing options that are actually available to our players when they finally get the ball.

      In the dying days of the Bradley suzerainity I remember watching Michael Bradley frequently get the ball somewhere around the center circle, look up , put his head down, dribble around in a semi-circle and then basically hand the ball off to another player maybe five yards away. This is the equivalent of the QB throwing the ball out of bounds when no one is open. Maybe that is what Klinsmann sees when he think about MB playing at a high tempo.

      Was this because, as so many others have pointed out, US off the ball movement is not what it should be and therefore MB had no good options or it is because, as many other critics have claimed, Bradley (and other US midfielders) can’t pass the ball to save their lives?

      I’ve seen M Bradley have some games at BMG where his passing skills seemed just fine. Other US midfielders also play at reasonably high level and it’s reasonable to assume they have had success at their clubs completing passes longer than 10 yards. So I tend towards the idea that no one is open because this iteration is still developing their off the ball movement.

      One of the effects of not having Donovan around for so many of the JK games is that he was the one US attacking player who was adept at getting open and available for passes. Think of how often he was the one constant in any counterattack.

      Whether that is because he is better than everyone else at it or because he simply has been around so long and is so familiar, who knows? It was once said of Bobby Moore that he was an England player playing for West Ham and I think it’s fair to regard Donovan as a USMNT player who just happens to play for the Galaxy, notwithstanding his recent decision to focus on the MLS final.

      I have advocated dropping him recently but I was wrong and it’s apparent, especially with all these new faces now, the US needs him more than ever. He is one of those players who make others play and look better. When you talk about intangibles, Clint is a great player but he does not have the experience at taking over a team and a game like Donovan can.


      • Posted by Kay20 on 2011/11/13 at 2:51 PM

        Fantastic post Martin. And I’m coming to the same conclusions you are. Yes, he’s been off form, but take LD away, and look at the result. A very distinct lack of scoring. He’s our leading assist generator for a reason.

        Clint is a fantastic player, that creates for himself. He makes something out of nothing for himself. But he is a lone wolf – as Clint Dempsey goes, Clint goes. As LD goes, the entire team goes.

        That is so very apparent to me right now.

        That ISN’T to say LD is our savior, it is to say I’m realizing how much of an impact he had. And if he comes back still off form, we’ll need someone else to step up for the TEAM to create. Based on this so far though, have no idea who that will be.


  3. Posted by kaya on 2011/11/12 at 11:37 PM

    I knew Jozy was ready from the way he didn’t even bother to stay long enough for the team photo. The way he jumped up a half second before everyone else to shake his limbs out said a lot to me.


  4. Posted by scweeb on 2011/11/13 at 12:30 AM

    With the mid field situation i think JK got dealt a blow he didn’t see coming by having both Torres and Holden both out. If JK had either of these two back do you think we would be seeing more progression from the nats then what we are seeing now?
    Also again having Landon out also might be throwing a wrench in the whole building process. Cause really when your mids get injured then one of your creator’s says no thanks i am staying home for mls it kinds makes you go ok so what can i do to progress my team with these guys out of the picture.


    • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/13 at 9:44 AM

      i tend to agree. Torres was starting for Klinsmann since he plays that deeper distribution role well and I think we can all agree that Stu would have some sort of role to play in this system. Possibly in the Edu role?

      Either way, if this is true, it shows how shallow the depth is for Klinsmann’s system then. If you lose two guys and your system falls apart, maybe we should by looking at a different system?


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 10:06 AM

        Since Holden never played for Klinsmann and actually has never been a regular starter for the US (his best games have been for Bolton), it’s unlikely that JK built his system around Stu.

        Holden will have to battle to get back to his best form in time for the World Cup. so I’m sure JK isn’t worrying too much about him at the moment.


        • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/13 at 10:15 AM

          Probably true, but I think it’s worth noting that Stu’s abilities match up very well with what Klinsmann is looking for in his center mids.That said, who knows when Stu will actually be fully healthy and playing again.


  5. Posted by kaya on 2011/11/13 at 12:56 AM

    So who do you put on the right midfield if not Williams? Who would you start on the left if you play Chandler on the right?
    I know why Klinnsman went with Edu and Beckerman in the end, but I can’t see why Jones comes in 2nd half and not Bradley. At some point I’d like to see if MB90 can be reformed.
    Boca had a few good moves early in the game, but he fades fast it seems, I wonder what made Klinsmann finally back off Orozco Fiscal.


    • Posted by kaya on 2011/11/13 at 1:54 PM

      So just if I’m to understand correctly: DMB on the right, move Williams to Edu or Beckerman’s spot… then I guess Bornstein to left back? If Cherundolo is 2nd choice at RB, who’s first on the left side?
      Chandler has had a recent dip in form, and I think Cherundolo is unfortunately in sync with him, but no way I see Chandler moving to the right until Lichaj is back in form.


      • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 2:49 PM

        At left back Lichaj at his best was inferior to Chandler. Should Dolo’s current dip in form remain permanent the right back slot, based on history, would seem to be a lot easier to fill. I’d give Williams and Morales a shot at it.

        The USMNT has spent at least six agonizing years searching
        for a competent left back. Leave Chandler exactly where he is until someone better comes around.


        • Posted by Kay20 on 2011/11/13 at 2:54 PM

          Agree here as well. We have other RB options: Lichaj, even Loyd! Until we have another LB option, Chandler’s going nowhere.


        • Posted by kaya on 2011/11/13 at 3:22 PM

          I agree Chandler should be LB, too, but what Matt’s saying about ‘dolo moving behind Chandler on the RB depth chart made me scratch my head about what our last several year of ABB (anybody but bornstein) have been for.
          According to my bundesliga following friends, Chandler started off well and jsut hasn’t been on the past 3 weeks. Hopefully this is a temporary form fart.


    • Posted by kaya on 2011/11/13 at 2:04 PM

      In case it wasn’t clear, the Bornstien thing was a joke. But Matt states that Chandler starts ahead of ‘dolo on the right, but that leaves an obvious question!


  6. The problem with forcing the game into the other team’s half is that it makes it almost impossible to get good chances on the counter. Like it or not, counterattack and set pieces have been the Nats’ only offensive game against quality opponents, and we’ve seen no evidence to date that they can generate good chances with possession football. Will it come? Perhaps, but the US is not exactly deep in creative ballhandlers that can take it to a quality team in the final third. I’m beginning to worry that the US will never score more than one goal per game under Klinsmann’s system.


  7. We really need to stop counting on Holden. And if Klinsi was, it was a mistake. It’s very questionable whether he’ll find his previous form.

    And while Beckerman has been useful in his role, he’s not exactly young. I really can’t imagine he will be playing at this level (which isn’t exactly all that impressive) by the time qualifying is over.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 6:42 AM

      I’ve put Holden into the John O’Brien role for the US at this point. I’ll take whatever he can give us as he’s one of the best technical players we have but I’m not holding my breath waiting for him to take the field.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 7:26 AM

      I think Beckerman is stop gap until either:

      a) Michael Bradley changes his disposition or…

      b) Stu Holden returns. Though Holden can play the Edu-Torres role I think–given how Klinsmann wants to play the midfield–Holden is his guy there.

      But again, best not to think of Holden for at least a year.


      • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/11/13 at 11:53 AM

        Matt I agree with your statement about MB I think MB as much as I think we need him, needs to sit and do a little each time out with USMNT and that coupled with his time with Chievo, to get those old habits out of him (pertaining to his role & patterns under his Dad & previous USMNT games). His last time out he reverted to form and the team deferred to him as well, although we don’t know the role assigned to him at the time, It was painfull to watch.
        I can see him in the Edu role ahead of Beckerman/Jones (if he doesn’t try to take MBs role). Maybe we coould do something like put a collar around his neck that zaps him everytime he drifts back deeper or puts his head down and ruts like a swine looking for a truffle.It will be like an old episode of Star Trek where Capt Kirk gets zapped when he tried to escape.


      • Posted by kaya on 2011/11/13 at 3:26 PM

        Can I take DeJong to the ICC to get my last 1.5 years of potential USMNT play back?


  8. Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 6:52 AM

    I get what you’re saying about only one holding midfielder but when the personnel is Edu and Beckerman we are getting essentially at best 1.5 holding mids because Edu doesn’t have the passing range to provide the support necessary from that role. Of the guys that were on the squad, I think MB90 or Williams deserve a shot at the Edu role.

    MB90 does improve the team in one major way. His set pieces and corners have been great for Chievo this season. Right now, the US has just been wasting both of those because of poor service. It was the major way that the US scored under Bob and it seems to be ignored under Klinsmann (I hope he’s not going to follow his former manager Wenger in terms of the way set pieces are practically ignored).

    Here’s a crazy thought but wouldn’t the US have been better off starting Beasley on the right instead of Williams? He certainly has the speed to help Cherundolo and he’s willing to do the dirty work. The US isn’t at this point working on putting in a lot of crosses so the fact that he’s left footed wouldn’t hurt as much because an inverted winger could provide as much support as a regular wide midfielder. I think that works better than putting a central/defensive mid on the right.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 7:07 AM

      Spot-on Jared with Beasley. In fact, I think you’ll see him there against Slovenia.

      That said, an obvservation I had vs. Ecuador is that Beasley freelanced way too much on defense. I think it’s his defensive composure/positioning that’s holding him back, imo.


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 10:27 AM

        I think we will see Fabian Johnson in for Williams He came in as a sub and I think he gets a start.


      • Posted by Excellency on 2011/11/13 at 12:49 PM

        You may recall that Arenas switched Donovan and Beasley’s sides for his (Arenas) last ever World Cup match. Beasley to the right, Donovan to the left.

        Any tape around on what Arenas’ reaction was after the game?


  9. Posted by Dougs on 2011/11/13 at 9:16 AM

    To say we only knew how to counter1 attack under Pre-Klinsmann seems like an excuse for Klinsmann’s system’s failure to generate offense and is just factually wrong. We may have looked that way when playing Spain or Brazil. But against middling European and any Concacaf opponent we attacked as a team and frequently with creativity. And I thought Klinsmann’s system was supposed to be about generating offense. Keeping High caliber teams to a 1-0 Scoreline is something we have been able to do for decades. Scoring on Them at home would be a change and we were not even threatening.
    Lastly, I remember when this site used to be a haven from condescension and scoffing responses to ideas not as “enlightened” as the author’s. I’m disappointed with the tone of this article and hope it does not reflect a permanent change to a less- friendly atmosphere on this site. That would certainly keep me from it, for what that matters.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 9:25 AM

      I don’t remember the US ever having attacked with creativity under Bob or even under Arena in the later years.

      I don’t see any change to a less-friendly atmosphere even when I have posted things disagreeing completely with the authors regarding Beckerman or MOF. I love this site and think it promotes free discussion and friendly disagreement.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/11/13 at 10:33 AM

        I think Matthew “The Edge” sf foreshadowed his tone is one of his Twitter posts on here yesterday. Something about having an edge and hoping no one pushed him too hard. Probably stayed up late watching Taxi Driver on Friday night.

        I noticed the edge a bit as well but chalk it up to a busy guy with a family and other interests who I’m sure get’s deadline-weary with driving this fantastically well run site.

        Kudos to you, matthew, for a well thought out review and again for the simple joy of organized thought provoking insight from you and TSG fam (even you dlk: ))


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 11:18 AM


      I disagree about the USMNT’s defense. After the Confederations Cup in 2009 the US lost first Demerit and then Gooch and never really replaced them before Bradley was axed. Consequently, the defense was never the same. You may remember all that criticism about giving up an early goal? Regardless of what JK said his first priority was to address the shaky US defense. Increased emphasis on possession and increasing the tempo of play are all part of JK’s apparent strategies to have the team take more of the initiative. The more you attack them the less defending you have to do. Of course implementing that takes time and the last thing that comes around, as is now apparent, is the goal scoring.

      I’m not sure how Jared defines “attacked with creativity” but I agree with your sentiment about “But against middling European and any Concacaf opponent we attacked as a team and frequently with creativity”.

      As for a less friendly atmosphere, anytime soccer discussions start to involve the kind of technical tactical jargon that articles on TSG have featured recently it is easy for those who aren’t that into jargon to feel somewhat excluded. It does give the discussion a bit of a holier than thou, cliquey, insiders only feel.

      That is the nature of that sort of discussion but it’s unlikely that it is a move towards being intentionally less friendly or welcoming.


      • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2011/11/13 at 11:45 AM

        In defense of Doug, (not that he needs defending, he makes excellent points), I don’t think it is the tactical discussion Doug is referring to but rather commments such as “you should be led out to pasture and put out of your misery” referring to some other sites author, well it just sounds condescending.

        You make a very good point about losing Demerit and Gooch. What I don’t understand is that Klinsmann solved this by rolling out a strict #6 in Beckerman to shield the back 4, playing with not 4 but 5 defenders. A simple fix, and something that Bradley did not do, so let’s give him credit. But solving the ‘D’ by adding another defender should leave you time to fix your ‘possession’ game. Klinsy does not seem to have done this.

        Now moving to Mathew’s analysis. I could not disagree more on the Dolo opinion. Dolo was simply the best defender of the night. I don’t understand how Matthew can say that Beckerman was covering for Dolo when the heat maps point out that Beckerman was shading left as was Edu. Both were there covering for Chandlere who was caught out of position so often he limited Shea’s ability to involve himself in the game. Was Dolo helped at times, well yes….that was Franck Ribery on the other side….but Dolo held up marvelously. Chandler did not have a good game.

        Again look at the heat maps. Beckerman was playing in front of Edu, 2 Defensive CM is not a way to build an offense. If ball possession is what you are after you don’t do it at the feet of two players who’s best position is the #6.

        Klinsmann deserves some heat. AND WAY MORE THAN HE IS GETTING. This article seems to be searching for a rational way to explain why he called in 6-7 DM, (if you place Morales here), that somehow doing so can be justified. It can’t. And the results bear this out.

        Klinsmmann was brought in change the way we played. The France game was ‘much of the same’.


        • Posted by Excellency on 2011/11/13 at 12:57 PM

          Dolo is not our problem.

          Chandler/Shea’s lack of impact on offence may have something to do with the fact that there was no fwd threat at all on the right side.


          • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 2:06 PM

            Edu and Williams were our problem. Chandler didn’t have a great game. Boca continues to lose a step as does Dolo. Those are minor nit picky issues. I thought Dolo was our best player at the WC and was great at the GC. A step below that is more than serviceable.


        • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 3:47 PM

          I read a response on SBI from the man himself recently to TSG ‘s article on Fiscal’s inclusion. Curious but I make it a policy to stay out of such things.

          Williams was included in this game to help hold down Ribery and it seems to have worked. If you saw England’s 1- 0 win over Spain, they had a five man midfield and one striker, the idea being to shut down the Spanish midfield and keep them from playing. Sound familiar?

          It seems like England did about as much attacking as we did (they got their goal on a set piece) and used Phil Jones, the Man U centerhalf/right back as their fifth guy in midfield. So JK’s approach to this game was hardly unusual .

          As for Dolo his offense was slighlty off but his defending was good as usual.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/11/13 at 7:41 PM

            I think Capello was a) testing out Jones’ versatility, and b) fielding a somewhat experimental team to hide behind if ENgland got spanked…


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 4:06 PM

          I thought Dolo need a lot of help from Williams and Goodson on the evening.

          In fact, if you noticed France exclusively attacked down Dolo’s side until Remy came in.

          Beckerman was much, much more central than he should have been. I’m not sure the heat maps reflect that well (but I can’t only use them to my benefit).

          I was amazed at how deep Beckerman played at that was more part of covering for Goodson who was drawn out wide.

          On Dolo–I wouldn’t say he’s problem.

          My issue is, you’re weakening “the future” by playing Chandler on the left. Dolo is off-form.

          Maybe it’s disrespectful to move Dolo to the left, but that would at least keep one position very strong.


      • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 12:30 PM

        I remember most of our goals being scored under Bradley as coming from counter attacks or set pieces. Which was why we would struggle to score against teams like Honduras who would play deep restricting the US ability to counterattack. I don’t consider that style to be particularly creative or a team oriented attack.


        • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/11/13 at 12:50 PM

          Yes remember the creative flair of Bornstein’s header that propelled Honduras to the WC. He floated through the malestrom of thorny defenders, He purposely timed his leap, and with a snap of his neck muscles, a tightening of his mandible sinews, and wisp of his brunette locks and protruding brow, he headed home the object of Coach Sweat’s ardouous dryboard machinations! the goal!!


        • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 6:25 PM


          You may not mean to but you make it sound as if scoring goals off of set pieces and counters is easy and to be discounted. In truth it takes great skill and creativity to scoring any goal, even ones off of set pieces and counters. Just consider how skillful the person taking the free kick has to be to place the ball either in the goal or right where a teammate can score.

          Dougs said “against middling European and any Concacaf opponent we attacked as a team and frequently with creativity.”

          While the US under Bradley and Arena were not prolific goal scorers it is not as if they have never scored goals by means other than set pieces or counter attacks.

          A couple of goals scored during the Bradley era. Quotes from match reports on the 2010 Gold Cup.

          The opening minutes belonged to the U.S. and in the 15th minute Bradley’s team broke through with a flowing move that spread the length of the field. Ream won the ball and released Bradley near the edge of the USA penalty area. Bradley carried the ball with purpose before finding Donovan streaking into Canada’s half with plenty of space on the right wing. Donovan’s well weighted pass found Altidore and the forward did the rest, taking one touch before firing a shot to the near post that had too much venom for Canada goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld. It was goal number 11 for Altidore and assist number 46 for Donovan in their respective national team careers.

          Despite the danger on the defensive end, the USA put together a flowing attacking play to double their lead in the 20th minute. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, Adu turned his man before laying the ball off to Clint Dempsey 30 yards from goal. The U.S. midfielder took a touch before slipping a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of a streaking Donovan. After timing his run superbly, Donovan took one touch before placing a left-footed shot into the goal at the near post.”.


          • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/14 at 5:54 AM

            I’m not trying to make scoring goals that way seem easy but it’s not creative the way the US would do it. They weren’t doing any of those crazy set pieces where a guy stands at the wall and gets a ball chipped over for a finish. It was all your standard lump it to the big man set pieces which were very effective and which I think the US needs to work on with Klinsmann which is why I think MB90 should be getting more run in midfield because he can provide quality set piece delivery.

            I’m not saying that the US never produced creative moves but if you remember most of the games against Concacaf opponents it was the typical US attacks. I just don’t consider the US to be a very creative team and I think most people would agree.


            • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/14 at 7:37 PM


              The US has never been a “creative” team. But that has never bothered me.

              We view the USMNT through two different prisms.

              You have certain things you like to see on a soccer field, things having to do with entertainment and style.

              Your reply tells me that you think having Gooch score off a free kick with his head is not “creative” while having Dempsey bend a ball over the wall and around the keeper into the goal would be. I don’t know if a US player has ever actually scored that way but I know I’ve seen Dempsey try.

              I find both entertaining.

              I have been following the USMNT since 1990 and can remember when playing a team like the French side they met the other night might have resulted in a 10-0 score if the French were really interested. We’re a long way from those days but not that long away.

              Good for you for having higher standards but unlike you I care only about competitive results when it comes to the USMNT; I don’t care about the score line in what I call “training friendlies”. Maybe we’re not as pretty, but we can win our World Cup group and make it to the knockout rounds. There a lot of more creative teams who could not do that.

              I think I understand what JK is trying to do and given that, the scoring is probably going to be the last thing that starts to come around. Once he gets his much ballyhooed “core group” straightened out, then the off the ball movement will improve and the goals will start to come. Maybe.

              I can appreciate your desire to see your idea of entertaining, creative football but if you expect it on any sort of regular basis from the US, you most likely will be disappointed.

              The first requirement for creative football is creative players and the US has none; except for , maybe, Clint and Freddy A.

              But wait you say, what about Torres, Holden, Benny, and Sacha, for example? Those guys are highly, maybe even exceptionally, skilled with the ball, maybe more so than some of their USMNT teamates, but that by itself, does not make them creative. C. Ronaldo, for example, is fantastically skilled, talented, powerful and productive but he’s not particularly creative.
              Here is one definition of creative:
              “ resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.; imaginative: creative writing.”
              In soccer terms that means a creative player is one who on a more or less regular basis is capable of doing something original, something that makes you say “ What did he just do? How did he do that” and of course it has to work.

              Examples would be Dempsey’s goal against Juventus for Fulham, Ronaldinho’s goal against England in the 2002 World Cup, and just about anything George Best, Pele and Maradona ever did.

              I based this on years of watching entertaining “creative” teams like the Best- Law- Charlton Man. United, Pele’s 1970 Brazil, Cruyff’s Clockwork Orange side, Beckenbauer’s German machines ( Bayern and National teams, the Gullit-Van Basten-Riijkard Milan sides, Diego Maradona, Red Star Belgrade ( lots of Yugoslavian players whose names I can’t spell or remember) and so on. If that sounds like a lot of older teams it’s no coincidence.

              True creativity has been drummed out of most players in favor of speed, power, athleticism,and efficient tactics and teamwork (exactly the kind of team JK is trying to put together). And it’s been done because truly creative players are, for the most part, rare, usually tempermental and unreliable and just all around pains in the ass.

              So yes, the US has never been particularly creative but for me they have always been entertaining, even though I know they are basically a second to third tier team with mostly third to fourth tier level talent. And in recent years they have been increasingly competitive. If I want to see creativity I just go to You Tube. Arjen Robben, who should know, said it best when after the Holden broken leg friendly he said, to paraphrase him, that the US were a very fit, tough disciplined team who were very hard to beat but had no talent. Laurent Blanc said basically the same thing the other night. And they are right.

              You’ll just have to keep a really close eye on Dempsey (or Fred A if he ever gets himself sorted out at Philly) if you wish to see creative stuff from the USMNT.

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 1:27 PM

      I think that’s a fair criticism Doug.

      The only thing I really take umbrage with is when someone writing/speaking for an entity with a large reach make incorrect–not subjective–observations about the game because they don’t know it.

      They then berate others or are highly critical of others even though their own observations are incorrect–again not subjective.

      I feel there is a large responsibility to educate though appropriately on soccer from the major outlets. I think SI does a fantastic job as does MLS

      I was irked by some writing and discussion of a writer with a large audience who is irresponsible with it.
      Apologies for the tone.


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 2:12 PM

        Now I am curious with who it is. I have some suspicions but I keep my USMNT soccer reading to here, no short corners, SI


      • Posted by Dougs on 2011/11/13 at 3:34 PM

        Thanks for the explanation Matthew. That certainly puts it in context. I love your site including the comments section, largely for its thoughtful and well-presented analysis. Which is why I was surprised by the tenor of this one. As the lead author, you set the tone for the whole site and I would hate to see the substance lost behind vitriol. I agree with all the above posts that thank you for the time and effort you put forth here at TSG.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 3:58 PM

          No worries — and thanks everyone. An open forum makes this a great site and I appreciate the reminder on the quality and tone.


      • Posted by Jose on 2011/11/13 at 3:42 PM

        I agree with you 1 million percent on that certain writer for a very big publication who wrote a piece before the France-US game about “5 Matchups Worth Watching.” Disgraceful that he would write something as silly as Ribery vs. Beckerman as a one of the five matchups. The same writer, who always tiptoed around Bob Bradley’s failings, did a hatchet job after the game on Beckerman, Edu and even Klinsmann with his Player/Coach Ratings. He gave Klinsmann a 2. Unlike Doug and PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo, I think you did the right thing, matthewsf, in mentioning that writer and that silly statement.

        As a side note, I find that I tend to agree most often with player ratings from Steven Goff of the Washington Post.


        • Posted by Paul on 2011/11/13 at 4:08 PM

          Goff’s work for the Washington Post is, in my view, an anomaly amongst soccer reporting by newspapermen and women. I look for my reviews online: the best reviews, ones that best fit my post-match intuitions, usually come from Robert Wagman at soccertimes.


  10. Posted by Eric on 2011/11/13 at 9:55 AM

    Not sure I agree with the author here on Chandler. I thought Chandler had a rough game. He obviously has potential and is probably the right back for the future but I have trouble saying he was great. If nothing else, his passing killed a lot of attacks and kept putting himself and the backline under pressure when they went astray.


    • Posted by Kay20 on 2011/11/13 at 2:57 PM

      Chandler had a bad day at the office. But his skill set and potential are so exciting, I’m willing to give him one of these in a friendly. Happens.

      He’s still in the starting XI for me, and I still cap him asap as soon as I get the chance. Even on crutches.


  11. […] the perfect set of players with which to unleash an oddly simple and repetitive narrative. Now we’ve moved into AMC territory and even the bright moments are tinged with some underlying depression or fear. Which brings me to […]


  12. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/11/13 at 10:41 AM

    Regarding the match, I have to agree with msf and others here that I have a sense that there is an overall plan afoot that I’m comfortable trusting in for a while longer.
    Though i get just as frustrated watching Edu jump a half second late to cover or piss the ball away in possession and am perplexed as to why Williams is obviously deployed way out of his comfort zone or skill set i do also see that the MNT are being trained to play in a different way.
    I know that many will disagree and think Klinsi’s role was overrated (with Loew being the true mastermind) but I don’t think it’s an accident that Germany’s “style overhaul” began under JKs tenure and the results and reviews were not pleasant prior to WC 2010. Here’s hoping that maybe we’re witnessing the sausage-making process and will get to taste a similar finished product in a few years.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 11:35 AM

      Wiliam’s short first team career has been characterized by versatility.

      He is young and technically sound. This was a great opportunity to see just how versatile the kid really is.


      • But why is he not playing in Edu’s spot, with Fabian out right? He’s obviously serviceable on defense; he tracked back well multiple times to help with Ribery (the fact that Dolo was asked to cover one of the most dangerous left wingers in the world probably had something to do with him not looking all that great) and seems to have – to put it in what I believe is a rather British description – some iron in him.

        It’s quite obvious he’s not a great attacking threat on the wing, the most frustrating things I saw were Williams giving the ball away on the dribble and with poor passing in the attacking third and Chandler trying to run through multiple challenges instead of controlling the ball and not simply treating it like a game of FIFA and holding the sprint trigger.


  13. Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 10:53 AM

    I have to say that Williams doesn’t concern me as he is clearly a placeholder for Landon. Yes Landon is getting older and we need to transition but Williams is good enough to get us to the Hex. The Hex is over 12 months away and when you look at how Shea and Chandler came on I feel that one of the u23s will be ready by then (assuming Williams doesn’t improve).

    I am also not concerned about Edu as he is really a placeholder for Torres/Holden. I am frustrated that Klinsi doesn’t try someone else. I think we all know what Edu brings in the 8 role. Why not try kljestian or feilhaber or even williams. Kljestan, and Benny have the offense but maybe not enough D. Maybe Williams is worse than Edu but why not experiment.


    • Posted by Eric on 2011/11/13 at 12:08 PM

      I’m usually against those people who push for extremely young players or players in their first season to be pushed into the starting lineup of the national team simply because they’re new, but I somewhat wonder if Gatt or Gyau might be worth a look at the right winger position. Landon, for whatever reason, hasn’t been quite on form in my opinion and it seems clear that we lack depth behind him anyways (as seen by using Williams in an unfamiliar position) so why not bring them in for a look? I understand Klinsmann’s plan to work kids through the youth programs first (in this case the Olympic team) but I almost wonder how long we can afford to wait when we seem to lack depth all over the field.

      The lack of depth isn’t just at the wings. Also forward (for a while now) and attacking mid. I mean, beyond Clint, who do we have for there?


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 12:45 PM

        I wonder how much of this is a timeframe thing. If Klinsman thinks that the best thing for Gatt’s development is to play at the U23 level for sometime to allow him to best develop why rush it for a “meaningless” friendly. Let him play for the U23 through the Olympics which ends right around the first round qualifying games. Right now it’s all about development for 2013 and 2014. Not saying I agree with having players wait but I can see the line of thinking towards letting someone understand the system in a low pressure environment.


        • Posted by Kay20 on 2011/11/13 at 3:00 PM

          I agree with this thought. Landon even in his off form can get us through initial qualifying (and for what it’s worth, I think he’ll come back from injury just fine nad look better, he’s had a weird year). Hopefully he’s back to himself, but in the meantime, you’ve let the younger guys develop appropriately. Throwing them into the deep end may harm them, and I think we have enough newbies for now – Williams, Johnson, Chandler, even Edu, Altidore (yes, still a newbie), Shea, whoever is going to be at CB.

          RM is not where we need to be going young at this point imo. Let Gatt play the Olympics and we’ll go from there. It’s the exact way we handled LD way back in 2000-2002.


      • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/11/13 at 12:52 PM

        Can we get the stats of Robbie Rogers trial at right wing and compare them to Danny Williams. It might shine some light on the position or their abiliities.


  14. […] accurate shots into actual goals. Defensively, opponents seem to be wasting more shots (perhaps resultant from maintaining a high line? The average French shot was from 23 yards, which while better than the Nats’ 33 yards is not […]


  15. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 1:29 PM

    Two questions:

    1) To follow-up on Dolo-Chandler. Why weaken two positions instead of just one by deploying them as currently.

    2) I have to wonder if all the German call-ins while in Europe are a marketing effort for others who qualify and haven’t made up their minds.


    • Posted by Kay20 on 2011/11/13 at 3:02 PM

      Cause matthew, who the heck else is there to play LB right now? In all honesty… who?


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 3:28 PM

        While I don’t agree that a switch is necessary at this time people need to remember that the formation naturally shade to help Dolo as Williams plays much deeper than Shea and that tactic must be designed to help Dolo. That helps cover for what you see on the tv.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 7:46 PM

        I’d like the US to flip-flop Dolo and Chandler if the form of Dolo holds for 5 or 6 more games.


    • 1 – because if you’re dropping off going from Chandler to Dolo (which I don’t think you are, if both are healthy. I’m fairly convinced Stevie C is not 100% at the moment), it’s not going to be as big a swing as the one you get going to Castillo/Bornstein/insert your ulcer-inducing LB here.

      2- if it is, well done by Klinsi. I think what some people are forgetting is how many players Coach Sweats looked at leading up to 2010 (something ludicrously high, like 90 different players in camp over the four years before the cup, right?). The American player pool is not dry, but the young guys who will be making the difference in three and seven years are better served playing with each other right now. The majority of the older players are, more or less, known quantities. But if Klinsi can start getting dual-citizen type players to take more interest in playing for us, which I think he’s already started to do, then that player pool suddenly has a chance to have a deep end which wasn’t previously there. Seriously, look at the talent of the dual-citizen guys – Chandler and Johnson alone are probably more likely to have starting jobs for the next seven years than any other two players on the current roster (assuming – knock on wood – that they get capped by us before Germany gets them). We’ve got some good players, but American talent development is still decades behind that of the Spains, Germanys and Frances of the world.


  16. Posted by Excellency on 2011/11/13 at 1:44 PM

    I thought we had a big hole at left back when Boca slowed and were overjoyed that Chandler could fill the slot so well, which allowed us to concentrate on the next step in the process of building from the back.

    You want to move Dolo out, put Chandler in his spot and begin a long and arduous discussion on whether person X at left back, whoever it might be, is accountable for this or that problem?

    OK, I’m guessing you have somebody particular in mind for LB: Who is it?


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 2:17 PM

      Lichaj should fit in the RB/LB rotation when he is healthy and should shine given the emphasis on getting forward.


      • Posted by Paul on 2011/11/13 at 2:49 PM

        I agree that Lichaj should help once he gets fit. Perhaps he fits in better at left back than Chandler does, although Chandler’s play has been pretty good given that he is playing out of position (as Lichaj would be).

        @ Matt: keeping Chandler at left back isn’t, strictly speaking, “weaking two positions instead of one.” Yes, sliding Chandler over to right back would, assuming ‘Dolo’s form continues to slide, allow for one position to be stablized. But consider who would play on the left? Would it be better, all things being equal, to play our best two backs, one out of position but playing well at that position, instead of hoping that an untested left back can play as well as Chandler on the left (or for Boca to slide out to left), at least better than ‘Dolo, the level of play one will miss by pushing Chandler to the right? Yes seems to be the best answer to this question.

        Klinsi deserves blame for not sharing Bradley’s best quality, his desire to experiment with a variety of different players. Perhaps he wants to create a core who will buy into his coaching, and expand his range of players from this central core. Your point might be tenable if there was a player who could replace ‘Dolo’s level of play at right back, assuming that Chander’s play is slightly better at right than left back.

        Further, I think there is a flexibility the US gains by being ambidexterious: attacks can come from both flanks, forcing opponents to not shade towards the right side of the field. This is an underappreciated aspect of playing both ‘Dolo and Chandler rather than Chandler and another left back–‘Boca or Pearce or Lichaj–whose attacking skills are relatively limited.


  17. Posted by Cory on 2011/11/13 at 2:37 PM

    Just looking at our player pool, the most glaring offensive deficiencies of our national side is that we have too many similar players at CMF and that without Donovan and an in-form Cherundolo our flank play is mediocre. Do we have any CMFs that are threatening driving forward with the ball? It’s too easy for opposing defences to shield the ball from Dempsey in the hole if they aren’t worried about giving space to Edu, Beckerman, Jones, or Bradley. Too early to start reminiscing about Bob’s pragmatic approach?


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 2:44 PM

      I think we’ll see an adjustment to a more pragmatic approach when games start to matter if the team doesn’t start to perform better once qualifying begins. Luckily for Jurgen, he’s had and still has time before that even starts.


  18. Posted by Deuce4Prez on 2011/11/13 at 4:05 PM

    My tactical nous for soccer is novice at best, aside from what I have gleaned from countless hours playing FIFA, so with that caveat…

    Does anyone think that there is a significant impact on our offensive impotence based on our new-found ability to protect a nil-nil score beyond the first 15 min?

    Under Bradley we were constantly coming from behind, often and early. Early deficits forced our offensive strategy; we were always playing catch up. We were forced to take more risks pushing up the pitch, make sure a counter attack was focused and efficient, and found some lucky passes with run and boot. Now that we don’t have to constantly play from behind (early) and need to create and offense, we struggle.

    Just talking out loud really.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 4:08 PM

      Countless hours on FIFA?! You’re well ahead of Ruud Gullit then and he’s had numerous coaching gigs.


  19. Posted by Arisrules on 2011/11/13 at 4:23 PM

    I have a question for everybody here.

    the article lauds the defense in this game, but witness this reality: we have a fifth defender in Beckermann who added nothing going forward. Farther up the pitch we have two athletic d-mids were pressing higher up the field, and helped take some of the heat off the defense. Neither of them add anything to the attack, and don’t really support the idea of maintaining possession.

    My question then is that we all seem to assume that Landon Donovan and Holden/Torres will slot in for those two aforementioned d-mids.

    How will the team structure work at that point? I don’t think we will be giving up only one goal in these games if we go from having 5 defenders with two d-mids pressuring farther up field to 5 defenders.

    having said that I thought France thoroughly outplayed us. I felt it was only a matter of time before they scored a goal. I also felt that they should have scored more, but several players on their team were very careless on the ball in the first half, and second half. To me they just seemed really comfortable out there. They knew it was going to come, and they won. I thought that was a very professional performance on their end.


    • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/11/13 at 4:30 PM

      If I could start an 11 right now it would be this:


      We sink or swim with Howard, that much is still evident to me.

      I think Omar Gonzalez needs to be on this side. I also think we should be seeing Geoff Cameron on the field, or involved with the squad. I am not sure who should be the LB. Chandler is not the answer. France was very comfortable going down his wing. Cherundulo has lost a step. He may still be injured, but in 6 months he’s gone from our best defender by a country mile, to looking relatively easy to expose with any pace. Boca has also lost a step. I still think Ream slots in here eventually. He showed very well in the playoffs, and there are rumors he is leaving. Hopefully this happnes. His distribution game is key.

      Dempsey should be in the hole. LD does not belong here (I assume JK wants him in this spot running off of Jozy eventually, who the hell knows). We need somebody like Feilheiber in the midfield though. Somebody who can be a release valve. Receive the ball, move it. At the d-mid slots I want JJ and MB there. If Holden is healthy, then he slots next to MB. I know the “pulley” system has its drawbacks, but it could work. I would also think that a change to the system, whereby you push MB a bit farther up the field with JJ shielding the back two more consistently would work as well.

      Up top it’s basically Jozy or bust at this point.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 4:32 PM

      I am not that concerned about that change as we aren’t going to be regularly playing teams with the attacking talent that France possesses during qualification. Also, Holden at Bolton when healthy was leading the Premier League in tackles so he can do his share of the dirty work while still providing quality passes and aiding in the possession. Donovan while obviously not a defensive midfielder is no slouch with the effort that he puts in on the defensive side of the ball.

      With the addition of Holden and Donovan to those positions we also benefit more from their offensive capabilities. This would help in the transition from defense to attack even if it is just a handful of counterattacks.


      • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/11/13 at 5:10 PM

        I disagree. The thing everybody is lauding about Klinsmann is the defensive stability of the team. most of that is due to the fact that we have 5 defenders and 2 d-mids masquerading as attacking midfielders.

        I do not think that same rigidity will exist when you add Donovan and Torres (lets be honest, how will either of these players look in six months time? can we really rely on them?).

        My BIGGEST problem with Klinsmann right now is that he is trying to develop a squad. He wants to slot in somebody like Torres and Donovan into the field. Why hasn’t he been experimenting with somewhat similar players. Why not roll Kleijstan or Feilheiber into the Torres role. Why not try out Chandler in the LD role. He’s a defender. He’s a better attacker than Williams. What do you have to lose?


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/11/13 at 5:22 PM

          I think Williams hurt the US more than he helped against France defensively. His passing stats were awful in that game (16 successful and 15 tackled/unsuccessful) so for whatever he provided in additional defense he gave back in terms of wasted possession. Give me LD and his outlet work plus his ability to track back over that type of poor passing any day.

          You can’t put Chandler in the LD role because then you have a huge question mark in the left back position. Not to mention that it’s a waste as Chandler is going to be the right back for the USMNT for the next decade or so (and the time is coming more and more quickly as Dolo slips).

          You won’t get an argument from me over his callups. They are a bit baffling to me and it seems like he’s already made decisions about players without giving them a shot to prove that they belong.


          • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/11/13 at 5:26 PM

            Didn’t Chandler play RM with Cherundulo?

            But that’s my point, we should be rolling through guys at LB right now. Call up Dunivant. Try out Lichaj again. Do anything. I don’t think Chandler is the answer there, and we need to figure something out, because as you noted, Cherundulo looks pretty baked.


            • There was a game where Chandler player in front of Lichaj on the right side. I wanna say it was last April, but I’m not sure about that.

            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 7:10 PM

              Argentina. It was late in the game when the US was making an offensive push.

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 7:45 PM


            • Posted by Martin on 2011/11/13 at 9:19 PM


              JK’s quote From the USSF website:

              On the play of Timmy Chandler:
              “In Timothy Chandler you have a highly talented player who is growing into the left back position. And still he’s a raw talent. He still has to learn a lot of things. He knows that. And there’s a lot of upside in his game that can develop. But for right now, he has that starting position. It’s his. And he’s moving along in that process.”

              Chandler, and Dolo remain our most fundamentally sound fullbacks by a very big margin. They are proven first team regulars in the Bundesliga. A guy like Lichaj has yet to win a first team job, though Leeds would probably give him one. And his hip injury is no small thing.

              Still Dolo and Chandler are a class above their other competitors in the pool. Chandler had a bad game against France and Dolo has not been sharp lately. I’m not convinced the sub par performance of either player is permanent.

              Chandler appears to have the best chance of anyone to fill a hole that has existed arguably since David Regis let the scene. By comparison, should Dolo have to step down there is a long list of suitable candidates to replace him starting with Williams and Morales.

        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/11/13 at 6:20 PM

          Possession helps the defense as does attacking. Our defense can not defend for 90 minutes without a break. Against France it was probably 75 minutes of defense and 15 minutes of attack (I know possession stats weren’t that bad) While not very scientific we tend to give up goals late so a little more posession and attack would seem to help.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/13 at 7:44 PM

          A note:

          * First the US actually did not play a 4-4-2 the majority of time during WCQ. Hard to believe but true. And during WC, they played a 4-4-2 only 65% of the time.

          While I think you have a fair perspective, it’s not apples to apples here.

          In the broadest stroke, the US typically defended with 8 backed up in their own end. Klinsmann team on Friday actually kind of defended with 6…up the pitch.

          Also Bradley’s team never defended up the pitch.

          The biggest problem with Bradley’s defense was the over-reliance on his son and the other holder as the lone CMs tasked with way too much.

          The majority of goals against the United States–I would estimate 70% or more–came because of a turnover in the midfield because the team was too stretched OR on a counter attack opportunity where the midfield was again stretched.

          Countless examples — Honduras Chicago 2009, Dempsey get dispossessed, score. Honduras, game to go, 2009 away, Onyewu turnover up the pitch then score.

          The Slovenia goal, the US woefully out of position on and of course the Gold Cup Final.

          I’ve been impressed with both the shape of the defense under Klinsmann as well as team ethic to it of recognition where the help is.


  20. Posted by EFG on 2011/11/13 at 7:47 PM

    I’ll admit it. I was guilty of initially accusing the US of sitting back and bunkering when I watched the match Friday afternoon. That being said, I’ll also admit that I did break my record for number of PBRs during a USMNT match from opening kick to final whistle (some records are better left untouched).

    After reading reviews of the match, including this one, on Saturday morning, I was confused as to what I had missed when I kept seeing positive recap after positive recap. I just rewatched it and my initial take was flat wrong. In the sober light of Sunday evening, I can see that the US did not sit back as I initially thought but I was tricked by the fluidity that France was able to exhibit throughout the final third while the US couldn’t seem to find that same link. I won’t make the same mistake Tuesday.


  21. Posted by Shawn on 2011/11/13 at 9:58 PM

    I know this is not on topic of the France game specifically, but one thing that has been consistent for us since 2009 Confederations Cup, is Timmy Howard. I mean Everton isn’t a small club or anything, but how is this guy not picked up by a top European club? He makes some amazing saves and does well at communicating to his defense on a constant basis. Is there still some hesitancy with other clubs and maybe Howard himself because of the problems when he was with Man U?


  22. Posted by scweeb on 2011/11/13 at 10:30 PM

    So is the u-23 squad using the same tactics JK is using now? Cause i would hope the younger guys are still being put threw the tactics and style Jk is using so when we get to 2014 are younger guys can step in and feel more comfortable at his style.


  23. I know I may get bombarded for this, but what about Bradley moving to the central defender role? He’s tough, good at marking, and can be extremely effective as an extra spark when the play switches to offense.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/11/14 at 12:06 PM

      I have been contemplating that as an answer for how to play a high line without having to use MOF. I like the idea particularly in light of players like Jones at ManU and how they can get forward and change the game. Its a tough transition though to go from MF to CB as a regular (Edu was more like an emergency down by a goal move) without any PT that at the club level.


      • In the 4-4-2 role I can see him being a very effective “stopper” of sorts. I’ve seen this type of move done very successfully. And if the defensive mid could cover during the times he goes offensive, it could be a secret weapon. I just honestly hate seeing all his experience and knowledge of the game going to waste on the bench. Not to mention, he does have a cannon of a shot when he is feeling it.


  24. Posted by Scottie on 2011/11/14 at 9:36 AM

    I look at the current Klinsy situation like this:

    Klinsy is like the Herb Brooks of the US Soccer Program, or at least I am hoping. When he took over in 1978, he told the directors of the program that in order to compete and beat the Soviets, the entire thinking of all involved had to be altered. Sure, we can stay status quo and really hope with a few bounces we may advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup. However, if we radically change the program and thinking, we may someday be able to beat them. Take the game that the big programs are using and throw it right back in their face.

    Brooks famous line: “We’re not looking for the best players, we’re looking for the right ones.” I think Jurgen is using the same thinking. Gonzalez may be a better player than other CB’s, but he may not be the right one for this team.

    I have no idea how this will work out. It could set us back years, but then again, where were we headed with Bingo Bob? I want to do damage on the international stage in the future, not just stay average.

    I’m not saying we’re going to win a World Cup, but something had to change.


  25. Posted by Durant Durant on 2011/11/14 at 11:00 AM

    Please don’t kill me for asking this, but why is Freddy Adu no longer an option? I know he has some defensive liabilities, but he is one of the few offensive creative forces we have.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/14 at 11:07 AM

      It’s a fair question and I would guess because he is not in gain shape and is not strong defensively as of yet, though he has made gains.

      I think you’ll see him in January.


  26. Posted by Union on 2011/11/14 at 11:37 AM

    Matt, feel free to remove this post if you’d like ( I know you aren’t a big fan of us linking to external articles in the commen section). For any of you on twitter, I imagine you have seen this as it has been passed around, but a great read for anyone (me) who was on the ledge after the France game.

    I was one of the many frustrated posters claiming to be off the Jurgen bandwagon. I take that back. Not that I’m on the bangwagon, but that I’m willing to give him a much longer time than the 3 months he has been given.

    Tremendous post by the way. I think the most crucial thing to think about it is how much longer Jurgen will depend on the “old guard” to contribute. It’s becoming more and more clear that both ‘Dolo and Boca are huge long shots for the 2014 WC, and maybe even long shots to be big contributors for qualifying.

    I think its safe to say that at least 2-3, maybe more, of the U-23’s will be senior team contributors after the Olympics. Outside of John Anthony Brooks, I’m not sure who these players will be. But I imagine Boyd and the other Ger-Americans will be transitioned sooner rather than later.

    I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned following my post-France tempertantrum is that this is probably the biggest transitionary period that US soccer has faced in a long time. And consequently, its silly to jump to conclusions about what the player pool should be, and what it will be going forward. I think we are still 6 months away from having a clue as to where Jurgen’s head is.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/14 at 11:54 AM

      That’s fine on linking. General rule on linking is: (a) you must have status in the TSG community–you can’t come here and post a link your first time, (b) it shouldn’t be to content that is identical/similar to TSG–if it is–like this piece–an interesting point of view that augments/refutes–that’s fine. Not accepted links would be: other game reviews (mostly), other previews (mostly).


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/11/14 at 12:23 PM

      There are a couple questions I keep thinking about and this article gets at the heart of a number of them:

      1) We know that Dolo was going to retire internationally pre-GC. So maybe Klinsi instead of Bradley changed his mind but what is the end game (he most likely won’t make it to the WC, and maybe not to the Hex)?

      2) If Klinsman has a preferred style of playing (for example a high defensive line) and thought he would have the players in 2012 or 2013 (say Brooks) would it make sense to keep troting out MOF and get the team used to playing that way rather than try to revamp everything to incorp a new guy in the middle of qualifying? Not necessairly just a Brooks question, you could ask the same thing about Beckerman in DMid (since I don’t think he is the long term answer either).

      3) Does the player pool change dramatically post Olympics when those players have nothing left to play for at the U23 level (understand some of the younger players may still be eligible but a majority of them don’t have another US outlet)?


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/11/14 at 2:37 PM

        Re #3: I think what will happen Is the old guarde will realize that they are the old guarde and come to a self-realization that they aren’t performing well(or maybe they are performing decent enough) and tthey’ll call it quits. Klinnsy doesn’t seem like the type to just leave someone off a roster like Bob did Ching for the WC without having a nice long talk with them about the future of the US program (lol).


  27. Posted by ben h on 2011/11/14 at 12:03 PM

    Excellent summary. I thought France was very defensive when you would have expected them to be a bit more wide open.


  28. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/14 at 12:11 PM

    Just saw this. Think it very apropos for this review:

    Klinsmann Friday on the France match:

    On what is the best strategy to play against a team that is fast, technical and have a lot of the ball:

    “If you sit back and react to a team like that, you might once every ten games beat them with a counter-break. I come from a different point of view. If you want to compete with these types of teams, whether it’s a France, Holland, Germany , or other teams of that level ,you have to go at them. You have to really try and push them back and push up your defense. You could see in the first half they were getting more confident and pushing higher up, and suddenly they were making some mistakes. Over time, for us the learning process is to adapt to that speed of play. You can only play that speed of play if you are extremely fit, if you are tactically very aware and sharp, and the team finds a rhythm really where everybody works for each other. [You need] an understanding that develops between several key elements. This kind of instinctive understanding comes with time. I believe if we want to get to that level one day, we have to adjust to what the best in the world are doing. They are playing that game at a very high tempo, so sooner or later we have to learn to go at that high tempo.”


  29. […] Shin Guardian saw some positives from the performance, with a higher line of defense and tactical shift of flooding area, forcing the opponent to play […]


  30. […] to a defend and counter-attack approach. It is true that other sites have astutely pointed out that the Americans at least positionally took a more aggressive posture. But that posture didn’t seem to impact the manner in which the game was played. And for that […]


  31. […] Against France, the U.S. played higher up the pitch than they ever did with Bob Bradley, something well-noted by the Shin Guardian. And while it didn’t pay off against France, this pressure was directly […]


  32. […] and cap the midfield with an unbalanced formation has proven to dramatically improve the defense (the US’s advanced efforts against France was a particularly solid effort), but in parallel has completely decapitated the US’s counter attacking strength and much of […]


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