USA 3 – Antigua & Barbuda 1: Winning Ugly

A painful victory…

It shouldn’t have been in doubt.

And hopefully this review and the game this evening is an anomaly or just poor writing.

In the ultimate warm-up game that was the first stop in World Cup qualifying on the road to Brazil, the US stumbled forward, but forward nonetheless beating Antigua & Barbuda 3-1 on soggy home turf in Tampa.

There are a few different ways to treat a game like this for a regional power like the United States.

The game can be used to build confidence with the favored side teeing off mercilessly on an inferior opponent and exerting their supremacy. Final scorelines in those are typically “my goodness” to “no chance.” USA-Barbadoes, HDC, four years ago to the day is an example.

Another option is to use the game to get players ready who may be counted on to play critical roles down the road or might need to step in in case of an emergency.

A third option is to work on specific of the game that need work and realize that the goals will come, but the team will better for forcing a game plan that will help them practice something they will use down the road. The US did this quite well in Jurgen Klinsmann’s first game, showing new possession chops against Mexico to earn a draw in Philadelphia.

And finally a fourth is to use the game to cap-tie players whose dual nationality may call their allegiance in doubt.

Klinsmann had the menu in front of him and he oddly choose option four.

TSG usually tries to rationale the decision making of the players or coaches during a match. Often–though a goal may not have results or one conceded for the opponent–the strategy had rationale a purpose. TSG also play up our typical axiom that most are probably sick of now “you can’t look at observations in isolation, you have to look at the entire body of work.”

There are two lone positive the US can take from this game. First, the US got a victory–three points–in World Cup qualifying. That’s something that should nearly never be taken for granted.

Second, the US cap-tied Terrence Boyd, a burly striker who has spent nearly his entire life within the borders of Germany but bleeds US.

After those two checkmarks, finding positives on the evening are difficult. You make consider the last two games–a draw against Canada and this 3-1 “victory”–the most challenging consecutive two-game stretch since the US eked its way past Panama and then got rope-a-doped by Mexico in the final two matches of the 2011 Gold Cup.

Let’s run down the list in no particular order. And let’s say this.

This one isn’t on the players in our book.

• The US’s attack was ill-conceived and its rate of play was unsatisfactory.

Dempsey’s opportunities had high degree of difficulty relative to the competition….

Faced with an Antigua & Barbuda defense that leaked goals against such CONCACAF stalwarts as Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago, the US failed to exert its will.

Sure Antigua & Barbuda bunkered in–but the US just has too much talent to only score from the run of play through two rebound goals and a shot from the spot. It is somewhat amazing to consider in fact that the Benna Boys had the lone goal put together through a passing combination.

The US dawdled on the ball. They were reactionary.

When a teammate got the ball, US were typically stagnant and–aside from Herculez Gomez and an occasional Landon Donovan jaunt–remained that way until their defender adjusted to the play.

The US movement could have been simple. The Benna Boys typically went with a 5-man, and sometimes 6-man, backline, but it was flat. Some simple vertical movement–the so-called piston effect–would have opened up space for the Yanks.

As it was space in the attack for the States more often came when A&B fell asleep less then when the US was moving together.

• Jose Torres at LB was a choice without future and merit and the States may have paid for it

What is this? Bizarro World. Your USMNT leftback evening combo…

Face with it’s two prime left backs out for the evening, Jurgen Klinsmann made what can be best said as a peculiar selection in inserting Paco Torres in their stead.

There is almost no defense for this choice.

The single rebuttal is that Klinsmann wanted to maintain width using a left-footer on the left; that notion is backed up the equally poor decision to move Carlos Bocanegra out wide later in the game.

Torres was the stater and has proven through many repetitions that his defense is not his strong suit.

Given that Torres would never–hopefully–see that positional deployment in a critical match, then using him there against a weak opponent gains absolutely nothing. In fact, it takes reps away from other players who could use the game experience–Michael Parkhurst, Geoff Cameron, etc.

The typical media axiom that “Klinsmann has authorized the US to play on the floor and out of the back” doesn’t hold merit with Torres’s selection this evening because the left back typically went backwards with the ball just as frequently. Torres played the safe pass backwards effectively; couldn’tve Cameron or Parkhurst done similarly and gotten a rep?

In the 60th frame–as might have been forecasted–the slight of frame Torres was chopped down on a tackle and may be lost for the rest of the qualifying series. Again the Primera-leaguer Torres isn’t often after to tackle attackers running in possession with a full head of steam on his day job.

Poor decision.

About that bullet….

…lemon juice on the Torres decision?

In the face of some visible and questionable–though not malicious–tackles by Antiguan wingers, what did Klinsmann do upon the injury? He moved his captain. His lone centerback bedrock out to the same flat where the opponent was stomping on shins and ankles.

This is the USMNT…<o> <—and that’s the bullet and I bet you didn’t know how close the US backline came to not dodging it.

Jones, tasked with offensive catalysis

• Three central midfielders is somewhat acceptable….if the team presses up the pitch in this match. What was the game plan?

The US has often played–under Bob Bradley and now under Klinsmann–with three central midfielders. That’s fine. Klinsmann has shown a sneaky disposition to insure that the previously leaky US defense was shored up. A huge positive.

However, the US’s defensive game planing in this one is head-scratching at best.

Through the first 60 minutes, the Benna Boys stranded loan forward Dexter Blackstock up top against Clarence Goodson and Bocanegra. The Boys did little to support Blackstock.

Instead of attempting to win lost balls up the pitch–when a bunkered in A&B was in disarray–the US often sloughed off, electing to pick up the opponent deeper–all but negating the reason on having 3 primarily defensive-minded central midfielders.

If the the game plan were to drop back, wouldn’t it stand to reason–by virtue of its talent superiority–that the US should insert a more attacking central midfielder to be the shuttling and threading passer on the turn?

Of course, it was Jermaine Jones that was often tasked with this, but with a game against a speedy, but not truly physical side, that’s not perhaps the best selection.

Ironically (or not) after Torres was sacrificed for Bocanegra, Tom Curtis mimicked the decision making of his Canadian counterpart and inserted the speedy Peter Byers up top.

With the US now finally pushed up the field, Klinsmann’s selection of a third centerback as opposed to a central midfielder or attacker as replacement, game Curtis all the license that was needed to try and counter against a more molasses backline.

The result? Pay dirt for A&B and sub Peter Byers (remember Simeon Jackson’s missed sitter for the Canucks?) as Oguchi Onyewu was against positionally unaware and saw Byers take the right ankle and speed by him.

Why Onyewu? In a game where the US is now further up the field and after Onyewu has proven his past two matches (and previously) to be susceptible to a forward with pace? What was left to prove?

Why not *test* Geoff Cameron if a centerback was deemed necessary to requirements?

• Was there any preparation for Guatemala?

The US heads down to Central America for game two here of World Cup qualifying and they’ll face what can best be described is as a cagey opponent in Guatemala and an opponent–with their 2-1 loss to Jamaica Friday–that will process in with a “must-win” mindset.

The Guatemalans, their crowd, and their stadium are tough.

Yet Klinsmann didn’t get his team to lay it on tonight, giving him options in the 2nd half to rest players or get other ready.

Steve Cherundolo is now coming off over 360 minutes played over the past two weeks–this after a long Bundesliga season.

Same with the aforementioned Bocanegra who–after Scotland–has been chasing to down speedy forwards for the better part of the past three matches. (Again, how in the world you ask your most critical backline component to hustle up and down the field against inferior competition on a flank where the previous player got cut down is truly beyond me.)

Conversely, Jozy Altidore now does not appear to be a starting option against Guatemala. The AZ Alkmaar forward has gotten less than 30 minutes of run in camp. Herculez Gomez is playing fantastic, but Guatemala is a side where a strong, bulling striker can create problems. Now it seems highly unlikely that Altidore will be a viable starting option–at the very least one that Guatemala has to prepare for.

• Miscellaneous

Donovan faced Marcelo Jr. Jr. in Quinton Griffith tonight…

» Positive: The US finally interchanged up top. Not since Brek Shea was a 90-minute player has the US moved it’s forwards around intra-game. Landon Donovan was all over the pitch tonight and the license to roam took advantage of his skill set a little better even if Donovan didn’t impose himself on the game.

» Negative: Was it by design or freelance? Here is the question I’m asking in the mixed zone line to Clint Dempsey: “Clint, was part of the game plan for you to drop to the defensive line multiple times and pick up the ball?”

Don’t understand. The US needs to find Dempsey in threatening spots further up the pitch.

» Positive: Another strong outing for Clarence Goodson.

» Negative, sort of: My colleague on the March to the Match podcast, Matt Doyle has been extolling virtues of Benny Feilhaber ad nauseum for what feels like a university term. Feilhaber doesn’t possess the defensive disciplines that seem to be favored in the middle of the pitch, but that said are there better options to receive and link up the field than Feilhaber who did it admirably in second halves during the World Cup?

» Herculez Gomez is a forward–either one of the “2’s” in the 4-3-2-1 or a “3” in the 4-3-3. Gomez has been doing yeoman’s work in the striker role, but his full skillset is not being taking advantage of up top.

» Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones again had scintillating passes, but they came only after the opponent tired. Maybe that should be part of the plan?

84 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jermaine on 2012/06/08 at 9:57 PM

    Spot on…and I believe Klinsmann first true 23 is very flawed as well. Hopefully he’ll adapt.

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  2. […] The Fan In You « USA 3 – Antigua & Barbuda 1: Winning Ugly […]

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  3. Posted by Jason on 2012/06/08 at 10:57 PM

    I think… that Klinsmann will continue to do what he’s done, and the US will continue to play as they do. They’ll probably advance and it won’t get any better. This is the way of the US national soccer team. My prediction: Klinsmann will be out before a generation of quality players will make it to the national first team. And it will be everyone’s fault.

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    • Posted by Mark on 2012/06/09 at 11:42 AM

      This. I don’t see any evidence that Klinsmann will change anything. His post match comments were nothing but, ‘we have to play better’. It’s terrifying to imagine, but it’ll probably still be enough to qualify. I’m already somewhat tired of this regime. From their obsession with certain players (Torres) and their tactical tunnel vision, they really aren’t making us that much better.

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  4. Posted by Dave on 2012/06/09 at 1:23 AM

    The questions surrounding the USNT remain the same as they have since the BB days. 1) Aging Defense. Boca, Dolo, Gooch, and Goodson are all 30 and over. It’s very unlikely that any of them would be anthing more that backups come 2014…and only that if we can’t find younger/faster options. Parkhurst is obviously not a real option. I’ve never been impressed with him at the international level…he’s a “B” team player at best. This game highlighted again the need to include Lichaj and Chandler, young…speedy….quality outside backs who can play either side and are possitive forward players who can defend. USSF and JK need to call Seb Hines and convince him to file his 1 time switch ASAP. Hines, Cameron, and Ream need to be included going forward same as Lichaj and Chandler. Even if their participation is limited to practices…we need depth all across the back line.
    2) Attacking midfielders wanted. Young players with speed and skill are needed to light a fire under some of these guys. Shea, Gyau, Bedoya, Gatt, Adu, and Mix need inclusion in these types of larger camps. Get them exposed to the team and up to speed to step in when we need them.

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    • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/06/09 at 1:54 AM

      Great points. On #1, wanted to add that Johnson should be a long-time stalwart for us. Even if we don’t cap Chandler, Johnson/Lichaj makes me feel a lot more comfortable moving forward.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 5:22 AM

      Absolutely agree on Seb Hines. No real excuse for not bringing him into the fold already. He’s never going to play for England but at this point I guarantee he’s a better option than the awful Gooch.

      Lichaj not being called into this camp was ridiculous as well considering Klinsmann claimed they would call in 29 players for camp then only called in 27. The weak excuse that Lichaj didn’t get time with Villa until too late in the season was odd considering Gooch had only played I think 3 times in the last 2 or 3 months of the season due to injury. Which is more important, playing a lot early in the season then sitting out for 3 months or sitting out early in the season but being on form going into the camp? Seems pretty obvious to me.

      Spot on about Parkhurst as well. He’s just not full international quality and it will be painfully obvious when he’s torn apart in the Champions League next season.

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      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/09 at 11:43 AM

        Can’t say I agree on Seb Hines. If you look at the top squads typically their backline is made up of players in–at worst–the top 3/4’s of the top division of the domestic league (let’s say top 12 domestic leagues.)

        Not saying he shouldn’t be brought in, but expecting him to be much better than Ream or Lichaj? Not so sure.

        England hasn’t had him in camp since 2009 and frankly their 3rd string at the Euros *this year* is Martin Kelly.

        Great to have him in, but expecting much more than say Bocanegra II, not so sure.

        Happy to be proven wrong.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 11:59 AM

          Hines is 24 and playing regularly for Boro in the Championship. When Boca was 24 he was playing for Chicago Fire. 2003 MLS vs. 2012 Championship isn’t even close in terms of quality.

          If you’ve followed the commentary regarding Kelly being brought in for England you would see that most people think that pick is crazy and only brought about because the FA/Hodgson are cowards regarding the Terry racism incident.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 12:02 PM

          Ream has had 1 season in MLS where people thought he was good. Since then he’s been terrible in MLS and average at best in the Premier League on a team that got relegated. I think there is a very good chance that Hines is better.

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          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/09 at 12:10 PM

            I wouldn’t say there is a great chance that Hines is better because Bolton would have bought Hines from them instead of Wheater.

            That said, great to bring him in, but like Edgar Castillo before him, Heath Pearce at one point, Zak Whitbread, etc., yes brought in, but they need to prove out.

            Very difficult to say one player is definitely better than another. It’s a shame Hines is a year too old for the Olymp….forget ti.

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    • Posted by Jermaine on 2012/06/09 at 7:57 AM

      Absolutely correct sir.

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  5. Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/06/09 at 1:50 AM

    Fantastic review. Big blow losing Torres, but I didn’t mind the selection as much. Hindsight, obviously 20-20, but heres a devil’s advocate view.

    Two outside backs are out. For me, Parkhurst starting would be a nail-biting throwback to the the bad old Bornstein-ian days. We don’t want to go there against a team like A&B. I haven’t watched a lot of Parkhurst at his club, but haven’t been impressed when he’s come on for the nats. We know that Jurgen wants Torres to be a part of the attack of this squad, and we know that against A&B that the US plans to attack pretty much the entire game, spending the vast majority of the game in the attacking half, knowing A&B will bunker. We have 3 defensively capable Dmids/Centermids sitting above the back four, giving us some defensive solidity. When attacking, using Torres should theoretically have allowed us to use more of the vertical movement you spoke about to pull out defenders, while also allowing us to add numbers, quality, and tactical diversity to our attack. We know we’ll be playing higher up the pitch and playing an extremely offensive game. Now, to say USMN≠Barcelona and Torres≠Alves is a huge understatement, but I think thats a rough estimation of what Coach K was expecting positionally from Torres when the rubber hit the road on the field. Its not like Torres was going to have to spend the entire game desperately throwing his body in front of shots and blasting the ball out from deep within our own half.

    Now, I think it may be fair to say that it wasn’t a great run-out for Torres (injury aside), but the selection – given the options – wasn’t necessarily that bad, and potentially the best of some not-great options.

    The far worse decision was to move Bocanegra out-wide and insert Gooch, and tactically thats the one that actually hurt us.

    Anyways, love seeing TSG being so productive lately. Having a blast reading all the new content and the very thoughtful comments. My thanks to Matthew and the gang.

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  6. Posted by Sean on 2012/06/09 at 3:35 AM

    The idea that we would like to keep a left footer at left back is asinine. Fabian Johnson is right footed. Tim Chandler is right footed. Castillo is the only left footed fullback in the pool (Bornstein doesn’t count). It comes down to roster selections. Johnson is probably better suited to play midfield or left wing. So play someone techinically sound on defense, and attack down the right. I also would have liked to see more subs used in the previous games. Why bring Cameron and Parkhurst, or even Corona if you aren’t going to test them?

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    • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/06/09 at 4:22 AM

      Well, it depends on your team selection. But I think its hard to argue that Torres played like a true left back last night. Torres was almost never behind Bradley (at least in the 1st half), and he was often our furthest player forward. What we played was more like a 3-4-3 or even a 2-1-4-3 with our outside backs playing more like midfield wingers and Edu sitting in front of the back two.

      Agreed on the poor use of substitutions and questionable original 23 selection. Still unlucky to lose Johnson and Castillo in the same week.

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      • Posted by Sean on 2012/06/09 at 5:17 AM

        Absolutely unlucky. However, if the plan was to have three a day training sessions from the get go, you should at least have backups to each position. You could argue that Castillo isn’t really a left back as he played much of his club season in the midfield. Regardless of selection, playing guys like Cherundolo in the three friendly’s as much as he did wasn’t the best move. Besides, Gooch has been shaky at best, and I wasn’t suprised to see him make a mistake that led to a goal. That is why he didn’t transfer to Newcastle.

        Finally we played Bradley in a role further up, and let Edu clean up behind him and Jones. Shame that he was passing to Antigua’s forwards.

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        • Posted by Sean on 2012/06/09 at 5:20 AM

          Also, since when do we need to dribble the ball to the 6 yard box to score? I have to wonder why there was so much insistence on using the give and go option at the top of the box. While we got through on some occasions, we didn’t take a shot from outside the 18 until late in the second half when Dempsey let one go. If the other team is going to give us the space, we should make it count more.

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          • Posted by Spiritof76 on 2012/06/09 at 11:45 AM

            Well, speaking just of the backs (because I agree with you on most points), lots of folks – myself included – were clamoring for Lichaj. His exclusion now seems like not only an error but a huge missed opportunity. Same with Chandler, only that was his own business and not the coaching staff’s fault.

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  7. Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 5:31 AM

    Further proof that the people that run Sportscenter somehow continue to not get soccer even as the overall attitude towards the sport has changed at ESPN. Headline on the sideboard on Sportscenter “Big Win for USA” while showing highlights of the A&B game. All the ESPN soccer experts were predicting big wins (as we all were) and Latham who wrote their grades column on ESPN.com states that it left “plenty of doubts”.

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  8. Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 5:33 AM

    Is there a rule that the US can’t call in another player for the Guatemala game? I don’t know how the qualifiers work if these are grouped together so it works like a tournament where you release the squad and it gets locked in at a certain point. If they can call in someone else then Lichaj should get called in at the very least to sit on the bench to provide some depth.

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  9. Posted by JGD on 2012/06/09 at 6:14 AM

    I can’t help but feeling that this roster could have used Jonathan Spector. I know he’s one of 2 fan-derided ‘Jonathans’ in U.S. soccer, but he’s one of the few players in the pool capable of playing both LB and RB. Filled-in admirably against Italy and shut-down the flanks for the last 15 minutes or so. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the top substitute fullback for this team.

    The last few games have been extremely troubling. 3-1 is a comfortable victory, but we should’ve scored at least 1 more and not allowed any against a side like A&B. I’ll say it now, I won’t be surprised if Guatemala steals a point or 3 next week the way we’re playing.

    I hate to say it, but Onyewu needs to fall down the depth chart at CB. Goodson is the starter next to Bocanegra going forward and both Cameron and Parkhurst should get reps before Onyewu again. I hesitate to put Bocanegra at LB against Guatemala because that will effectively kill any offensive generation down the left flank. But he’s the only player with significant international experience at that spot. But if Cameron comes on at CB I think he’d form a nice compliment to Goodson and give us some prowess moving forward from central defense.

    Either Boyd or Altidore needs to start next to Gomez up top. We should be pounding teams like A&B and Guatemala into submission, not pulling off suspect victories. Yes, that’d mean playing more of a 4-4-2 (though it’ll look a lot like a 4-3-3 with Dempsey roaming where he pleases). As TSG points out, Guatemala can’t take much heat from physical forwards (which describes Boyd to a T). And Gomez is simply too good of a goal poacher to take off the field. Both Bradley and Jones are playing box-to-box roles in my scheme here:

    ————————–Boyd————————–
    ———————–Gomez————————–
    Dempsey———————————–Donovan
    —————Jones——-Bradley——————-
    Bocanegra—Cameron–Goodson–Cherundolo
    ———————–Howard————————-

    Either do this or replicate the line-up from the Scotland game completely, simply adjusting the back-line as so and switching Dempsey for Torres.

    All this assuming Johnson isn’t good to go against Guatemala. If he plays, Boca switches to his normal LCB and Cameron comes off. Though I’d really like to see Cameron and Goodson start together and let Boca rest.

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    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/09 at 7:08 AM

      valid point especially in qualifying games against so so opponents. Could use some versatility behind the starting group to give Landon, Dolo and others a break while not dropping off the cliff in ability.

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    • Posted by Martin on 2012/06/09 at 8:53 AM

      JGD,

      Spector is injured.

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/06/09 at 8:56 AM

      I can’t jam on the “>” symbol for long enough to express how much better Eric Lichaj is than Jonathan Spector. Playing Spector at fullback is just asking to get toasted, over and over again, on the wing, with few offensive positives to make up for it. Spector’s a centerback who somehow everyone in England thinks is a fullback. It’s mysterious to me.

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      • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 10:03 AM

        dth nailed it. Lichaj belongs as the guy who can play anywhere along the back line way before Spector gets called in. Lichaj has shown he can play the position in the Premier League and at international level which Spector never has.

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        • Posted by JGD on 2012/06/09 at 10:22 AM

          @Martin

          Correct, but I’d have to imagine Castillo never would have gotten a call-up had Spector not been injured.

          @dth

          Actually Spector’s a wide midfield player continually slotted as a fullback. He was impressive playing RM for West Ham a couple years ago.

          @Jared

          I believe that Lichaj is good enough to be the starter of the future at RB and a better fullback than Spector. But I’d say 15 appearances for Aston and 8 for the USMNT are hardly enough to judge him by. Spector’s played enough for his club sides (including 100+ caps in the Premier League) and the U.S. team (34 caps) to know exactly what we’re gonna get from him. He’s not going to blow anyone away, but he’s a solid performer at RB and good enough to play LB in a pinch. Lichaj and Johnson are the heirs at fullback, but Spector deserves a call-up as 1st-choice back-up every time.

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          • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 11:27 AM

            I’ve never seen a performance by Spector that has inspired confidence at any level. He’s just not fast enough to play fullback. The only difference between Spector and Parkhurst is that Spector was “discovered” at a young age by Man Utd so he’s had an advantage over his career. They are pretty close to the same player with the same weaknesses when played as a fullback.

            Johnson’s not the heir at fullback. He is the starting left back when healthy.

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            • Posted by JGD on 2012/06/09 at 12:16 PM

              I guess we’ll agree to disagree about Spector. Good commentary for the sake of the team and it’s telling that we have fans capable of debating the merits of back-up players lol.

              FWIW, fullback denotes both LB and RB.

  10. Posted by Owen Coyle on 2012/06/09 at 6:24 AM

    Quick observations:

    1. Sooooo Slooowwww tooo move the friggen ball and to switch fields. Did Nike introduce new concrete boots?
    2. Paco will be sore. Horrible win loss record when he starts….jus sayin. Wonder if he had to googlle the term “defense” before his run out?
    3. Gooch needs to bring his neck pillow from here on out, as he should never leave the bench again…..that also includes warm up and hitting the tunnel at halftime.
    4. Edu, see point number 1.
    5. Odd that Gomez has such a high voive even tho he showed the biggest bollocks!

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 10:04 AM

      Gooch needs to learn the different ways to get US Soccer tickets on presale as the only way he should be at the games in the future is if he buys a ticket. Maybe he can start the American Outlaws Lisbon division.

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  11. Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/06/09 at 6:54 AM

    Something I have been thinking about…

    Should a coach 1) Play the formation we are normally going to play against a team like last night so that we can “get reps” and work out the kinks (remember its the second game Donovan and Dempsey played together and probably the second time we saw Edu/Jone/MB with Edu in the #6) or do we play a line-up we don’t expect to play normally because “we can” such as taking Jones out and putting Feilhaber in (assuming Feilhaber was available). Yes Benny gives us something that we could have used last night (although we did get the three points) but I don’t want Benny in CM against Guatemala on Tuesday.

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    • Posted by CJ on 2012/06/09 at 8:53 AM

      I have to agree with what you’re saying about playing the same group. Maybe the thought for Klinsmann was 1. let’s get this 11 used to each other (Torres being #12 but we had the injuries to deal with) and 2. Like you said below, don’t get hurt.

      The USA used to be known for its heart and dedication to “outrunning” (being the fitter athletes) on the pitch. I can’t say these days that’s still the case with how this team has played, especially yesterday. This game was embarrassing as a fan, for me.

      We should have been able to beat these guys using nothing but our heels… running, passing, shooting, w.e.

      Can we make a lesser opponent feel like a lesser opponent or what?

      JK, step it up!

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      • Posted by CJ on 2012/06/09 at 8:59 AM

        In addition, our players mindset was summed up by that throw in late down the right flank to Jones when he had to do a slight inside-of-the-foot one-touch back to the thrower and gaffed it, missing his man by about 8 feet. Afterwards he waved his hand as if to say “My bad”. Damn right! your bad. That was poor.

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      • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 10:09 AM

        Playing down to the opposition is not something that started with Jurgen. It’s been an issue with this group of players for several years. How many games did the US squeak out under Bob against teams of this caliber? It has to be close to double digits.

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  12. Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/06/09 at 6:56 AM

    Another game comment. It looked like once the US got up they sort of decided to play not to get hurt via an ugly tackle. There looked like a couple 50/50 balls that we didn’t even go in on.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 10:10 AM

      Good. I’d rather the US win 3-1 and stay healthy than win 5-1 but get injured. A&B made a lot of poor tackles last night.

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    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/09 at 11:06 PM

      50/50 balls are often called hospital balls for a reason. And when you are playing a physical, amped up side like A& B, who could have served as a template for for a team most likely to tackle recklessly, then it is time to take the long view, especially when you are leading, have another vital game in 3-4 days,and the conditions are garbage.

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  13. Gooch has officially joined Bornstein on my nightmare backline. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a string of such horrible performances. He looks like a USLPro player out there.

    To take a slightly positive spin, I think the last few matches highlights what a huge addition Fab Johnson has been at LB. The game has completely changed for us without him. Though I thought Castillo did a good job defensively in his run-outs, he wasn’t half the threat going forward that Fab is, which is part of how we dictated the game against Scotland. Hopefully he can be back for Tuesday.

    Against A&B our squad seemed to lack a real burning passion to bury the ball into the back of the net. Way too much passing atop the 18 yard box when chances to put the ball on frame were present.

    Great analysis by all those commenting – glad I visited this morning!

    Reply

  14. Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/09 at 7:03 AM

    Demps is letting his Bad Deuce leak out more and more and it really isn’t helping this squad. We’ve seen this before when he comes in feeling all Deuce’like about himself and then begins to play outside of the team and tactics. No value to him receiving the ball behind the half line other than to say that he isn’t happy with his service and will do whatever the hell he wants. That’s the message I took from his all over the map and not particularly interested approach to the game.
    Lots of little cute touches in the second half when a good hold, turn and dish would have opened things up in a congested midfield. He rarely gets criticized but I’m seeing bad trends developing similar to how Mikey used to play under Bob.
    Agree with many that Edu would benefit hugely from playing in an uptempo league under pressure. He labors to turn and plays way too negative. I did like his digging into tackles later in the match

    Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/09 at 9:04 AM

      Now this is the Dempsey criticism I remember.. I guess being the greatest American player ever only gets you so far.

      He’s still not healthy. And groin injuries are tricky because because they tend to linger. And there is nothing like playing in a soggy muddy slick field with a groin injury to make you tentative. He is also still not match sharp so he goes looking for the ball because he needs the reps. Plus we went ahead early and never were tied. Clint knows how to play with a lead whne your health and form are questionable.

      No one has mentioned the awful, skill neutralizing conditions. Dempsey sent a pass to Donovan on the wing during one breakway and three quarters of the way there the ball just died, got stuck on the turf. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that.

      The man is a professional and this was what you could call a professional win.

      Reply

  15. Posted by JGD on 2012/06/09 at 7:21 AM

    If I’m putting together a roster for the next qualifying cycle (September/October, I believe), here’s who I’m selecting (ignoring league play and club teams holding onto players):

    F: Herculez Gomez, Terrence Boyd, Jozy Altidore

    MF: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Freddy Adu, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley, Danny Williams, Josh Gatt

    DF: Carlos Bocanegra, Fabian Johnson, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron, Eric Lichaj, Jonathan Spector, Seb Hines

    GK: Tim Howard, Nick Rimando, Brad Guzan

    Reply

    • Posted by 2tone on 2012/06/09 at 7:41 AM

      I like it. Especially with the Josh Gatt and Freddy Adu adds. I would replce Beasley with Shea though.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 10:12 AM

      Club teams can’t hold players if it’s for official qualifying/FIFA friendly dates.

      That’s a no on Spector.

      Reply

  16. Posted by 2tone on 2012/06/09 at 7:40 AM

    Klinsmann said that if the WC was today that this would be his squad. Well, I will tell you what; this squad wouldn’t make it out of group play.

    1. His 23 man roster was a problem to begin with. There is absolutely no impact subs in this squad.
    2. No true wingers means no balance in this squad.
    3. Not enough creative players i.e. Adu, Feilhaber, Shea etc….
    4. Still no identity to this USMNT.
    5. Dempsey is dropping to far back, but thats because the CM’s aren’t doing a good enough job in creating with the ball.
    6. Klinsmann’s excuse as to why Lichaj was not added is just down right laughable.
    7. I think the Guatemala game will be much more open which in turn will benefit the USMNT with their quick transition game.
    8. I want to see a better roster selection in September. I also want to see some young guys added when we play Mexico in August i.e. SHea, Adu, Gatt, Pontius etc…
    9. Why is Joe Corona not getting any reps. Klinsmann was praiseing him before this process started saying how creative he is on the ball. Well, why not give him some reps especially against Antigua where more guile was needed.
    10. Klinsmann has not been very good during this stretch. His tactics have been awful, his selections have been bad, he has been ineffective in his game plans, and he is overworking the players with these two-a-days between games. You don’t do two-a-days in season. And right now the USMNT is in season.

    Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/09 at 9:24 AM

      The USMNT has been renowned for it’s fitness since at least the 2002 World Cup.
      However, JK is asking the team to play a more up tempo, pressing style and it seems the players are taking some time to adapt to it.

      Someone else brought up this up but do you really think all this training was aimed at reaching it’s high point for A& B?

      There are lots of familiar faces but this is a new manager,a new style, a new team all together and they just played their first meaningful game. This team will have to develop during qualifying. it’s not ideal. Actually, it will be pretty ugly. The best chances for the team to develop painlessly went to hell when they failed to qualify for the Olympics and the Confederations Cup.

      No doubt Guatemala is a tough away game but with all to respect to them, f++k Guatemala..

      If the US can’t get a result out of these two games (and they are half way there) with the players on hand and with them being a little stale, then they don’t deserve to qualify. Like JK said, its about how you play when the chips are down. I’m not that gutsy but good for him. .

      JK will have to cobble together a team without losing too many points along the way. If he succeeds, great, he will know a lot about this team. If he fails he will get fired and then they can hire you or one of us know it alls to start all over again.

      Right now I see three points and a goal differential of + 2. It could be a lot worse.

      Reply

      • Posted by CJ on 2012/06/09 at 6:27 PM

        Schmutzdeck I have to disagree with some of your points here. With that said, I do agree with your statement “…do you really think all this training was aimed at reaching it’s high point for A& B?” I’d have to believe that the mentality for this game was this is step one of many. So, it kind of buys them an excuse.

        -“The USMNT has been renowned for it’s fitness since at least the 2002 World Cup.” True, but it didn’t show here. The other team played with better legs and more heart. The USA looked like crap against Antigua. Most people are made weak when they are fatigued and their skills suffer because of it. So to say the USMNT has been renowned for its fitness really doesn’t make much sense considering they showed their relative lack of fitness. Whether that be due to over-training/playing or not. It seemed like our Fatigue contributed to making the teams appear closer in skill than it really should have.

        -“JK is asking the team to play a more up tempo, pressing style and it seems the players are taking some time to adapt to it.” This new style will take time to implement, I whole heartedly agree with that. What I’m disappointed with is that against Antigua, it should have looked easier than Scotland. I mean c’mon! Scotland looked like crap against us and they’re a far better opponent than Antigua.

        -“but this is a new manager,a new style, a new team all together” Klinsmann’s been the head coach for almost a year now and he’s practically a sophomore Coach for us by now.

        -“Right now I see three points and a goal differential of + 2. It could be a lot worse.” Yea, we got a result but, it was not in the fashion you’d want. College football teams play against far superior teams to practice their new plays and systems so they’ll be ready against the big fish but, in doing so they still roll over their opponents 54-0 without breaking a sweat. We beat Antigua 21-7, to compare.

        Barcelona is supposed to beat the bottom of the table teams well in hand and when they don’t they deserve to hear it from their fans. That’s what I’m getting at. The USA and Mexico are to CONCACAF as Barca and RM are to La Liga.

        The last thing I want to add is that the players who would play in the Olympics would be from our U23 squad and would mostly exclude everyone who played the other day and the Confed Cup isn’t until next year… so they don’t pertain directly to watch just happened.

        I hope I didn’t take it too hard on you with this reply but, I just can’t buy into any of that rhetoric.

        Reply

        • Posted by CJ on 2012/06/09 at 6:28 PM

          College football teams play far **inferior** (warm up games against weak opponents)

          Reply

        • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/10 at 11:17 AM

          CJ,

          I see what you are saying. I should have made myself clearer. Let me put things this way then:

          “Barcelona is supposed to beat the bottom of the table teams well in hand and when they don’t they deserve to hear it from their fans. That’s what I’m getting at. The USA and Mexico are to CONCACAF as Barca and RM are to La Liga.”

          Forgive me but that is a bad analogy. Mexico just had a hard time beating Guyana 3-1 and neither the US nor Mexico is near as dominant against anyone as Barca can be. Many of Barca’s players came up together in their academies and the current core has been together for a few years’ worth of games and championships. Don’t forget they also play a lot of games together as Spain. They have been working on their style of play for many years now and have been lucky to have it all come together at the right time. It is not easy for anyone to replicate without years of work.
          JK has had 11 months and a bunch of retreads. And after all this talk about a new era how did the US win this game? Burned out Donovan who had a direct hand in all three goals. It will take time.

          “Klinsmann’s been the head coach for almost a year now and he’s practically a sophomore Coach for us by now.” -…. Yea, we got a result but, it was not in the fashion you’d want. College football teams play against far superior teams to practice their new plays and systems so they’ll be ready against the big fish but, in doing so they still roll over their opponents 54-0 without breaking a sweat. We beat Antigua 21-7, to compare.

          By the way, I don’t think managing a college football team compares well with managing the USMNT but I will say that Nick Saban spends a lot more time with his players and Alabama has far more continuity, game to game and season to season, as a team than the USMNT does. Big Time NCAA football makes the USSF (and the national teams of many countries) look amateurish and small time in comparison. Follow the money if you don’t believe me
          It seems you are looking only at the length of time JK has been on the job not the actual number of games, the actual amount of time the team spends together with JK and his staff.
          A lot of USMNT fans evaluate JK as if he was managing a club team. They forget how different the job of a national team manager is from the job of a club manager.
          NT managers spend very little time with their players as a team and with such a long time between games, often have a much harder time establishing a rhythm, a sense of continuity. I believe it was Donovan who said something like every USMNT game was like being brand new again, which has a good side and a bad side.
          If the US were a club and could buy players, maybe JK buys a new back four starting with Mats Hummels, new midfielders like Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Gareth Bale and Miro Klose and RVP to team with Clint. But it doesn’t work that way.
          So when you are trying to change the culture and the style of play of a very different Arena/ Bradley regime without significantly changing the players ( a new club manager usually signals much more significant player changes than what we have seen to date for the USMNT, or are likely to see), a NT manager needs more time.
          Let’s look at a club manager. Take Fulham. To the best of my knowledge, in a span of eleven months, June 2011 to May 2012 they played 55 competitive (League, League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League last year. That does not include any preseason warm up friendlies) games.
          To put that into perspective JK’s first US match was in August of 2011. Including the A& B game, he has managed 17 US games. In roughly the same time frame Martin Jol has managed 55 Fulham games.
          And Jol has the advantage of having all his guys (barring injury) at training between games, something JK can only dream about.
          JK has managed about 3 months’ worth of games in “Fulham time” which would mean he is right now, at best, with the USMNT where Jol was with Fulham in October of 2011. Fulham had played about 22 competitive games by then, 5 more than JK has had.
          At that time Fulham had yet to play in the FA Cup, had been knocked out of the Europa League, the League Cup, and had 7 pts., from 10 games in the EPL. They finished 9th in the league with 52 pts. Seven points out of a possible thirty (10 games) is not a promising start. You could have made a case for firing Jol at that point but he finished up pretty good.
          I feel you underestimate just how big a renovation job this is for Herr Klinsmann.

          _-” they showed their relative lack of fitness. Whether that be due to over-training/playing or not. It seemed like our Fatigue contributed to making the teams appear closer in skill than it really should have….. What I’m disappointed with is that against Antigua, it should have looked easier than Scotland. I mean c’mon! Scotland looked like crap against us and they’re a far better opponent than Antigua.”

          Re Scotland. The US scored early against them which meant they had to come after the US. That is not their game. If that Scottish team showed up at Raymond James instead of the US they tie A& B. or maybe lose because they would underestimate A & B. Since they are also a club team, the Barracudas, A & B are very well organized and do the ten men behind the ball thing very well. They looked big and strong to me and when you combine all that with heavy rain and mud, it spells BORE DRAW with Scotland.

          Re Fitness:
          One thing you always heard about US players, for example during Donovan’s loans and in regards to Holden at Bolton, was how fit they were and how they could run all day.
          However, that new high tempo style JK has been talking about for nearly a year? That is very different from the tempo Arena and Bradley usually dictated. So even if the BB holdovers (most of the squad) were in top shape for BB’s style, JK is raising the bar. If you remember the first USMNT game JK managed they did that up tempo stuff for about 30 minutes and everyone was amazed. However, it is very difficult if not impossible to maintain that tempo for 90 minutes.
          There are limits to fitness. Heavy rain makes for heavy fields which eventually makes for rubbery legs, I don’t care how fit you are.
          Besides you don’t take into account the game situation. We scored in the 8th and 44th minute, Byers scored in the 65th minute and Gomez scored in the 72nd minute. I saw the game and when I look at the score line I think the US had control of this match for the most part and given the conditions, and the fact we lost Torres a little sooner than is ideal in terms of substitution patterns it made sense to me to try to slow the game down. No team can play up tempo 90 minutes non-stop.
          I think what we all saw was a combination of awful conditions, the game situation and maybe players overworked in practice, maybe.

          _______________
          “The last thing I want to add is that the players who would play in the Olympics would be from our U23 squad and would mostly exclude everyone who played the other day and the Confed Cup isn’t until next year… so they don’t pertain directly to watch just happened.””

          Maybe yes maybe no.
          If we make the Olympics the US schedules maybe three or four warm up games like they did for the USWNT. Boyd and Corona and who knows what other over age players go to their Olympic camp and maybe aren’t available for the two qualifiers. Buddle is hurt so who knows who gets called in.
          If JK has the Confederations Cup to work with, maybe he has more room to maneuver with the fringe people he wants to work in like Castillo, Cameron, Parkhurst, Wondo, etc. I don’t know all the personnel ins and outs. I’m just pretty sure that given how vital the 2009 Confed Cup and to a lesser extent, the 2008 Olympics and Copa America 2007, were to our 2010 World Cup showing, it is very reasonable to assume the lack of same is negatively impacting the USMNT team building efforts and the composition of the Qualifying rosters which now represent their only competitive “test bed”.
          Other than that, all JK has is the Gold Cup in 2013, which will probably be a “B” team tournament.

          Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 10:23 AM

      I don’t consider Shea as a creative player. His moves seem to consist of kick it past a player and hope he outruns them.

      Since when has Guatemala played an open game against the US? I seem to remember them parking a bus with flat tires in front of goal.

      Let Adu prove that he belongs. He has yet to do that. He consistently disappears in MLS.

      Feilhaber is another who is not even consistent in MLS. He wasn’t consistent at international level either.

      Reply

  17. Still think we need to play to our narrow strengths and play Dempsey under two true strikers, Altidore and Gomez. Donovan can play sidekick in CM if that’s what he wants.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/06/09 at 8:58 AM

      Emphasis on “narrow,” I guess? I don’t like it. With the results of yesterday, it’s clear playing through a crowded middle is not exactly a U.S. strength.

      Reply

      • Yes but that was the US trying to force it down the middle while playing in a system meant to have an emphasis on wide play and crosses. What ultimately happens is Dempsey either isolated outside or drifting all over the place trying to get the ball. Donovan, content to be the sidekick, will just fade isolated on the right. Our CM doesn’t get a breather because then Klinnsmann expects the CM to create chances but has the wrong people pegged for the job. Not a single one of those CM’s is a catalyst in the attack, excelling more so to work hard win tackles and support playmakers. We need a catalyst in midfield and we need Dempsey to get comfortably on the ball to make something happen. FB’s can provide attacking width with their overlapping runs, but how would the team adjust on defense?

        Reply

  18. Posted by dth on 2012/06/09 at 8:59 AM

    Need to consider other results in qualifying for context for the future. Jamaica beating Guatemala means that a draw probably won’t do for the Guatemalans. They’ll have to go for it and the space should be good for the U.S.–assuming they can defend relatively soundly.

    Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/09 at 9:07 AM

      Since the US defense seems in question lately, the idea then would be to outscore them

      Reply

    • Posted by JGD on 2012/06/09 at 10:28 AM

      I still expect Guatemala to park the bus and counter next week. They know they might be able to take two from A&B and they’ll be getting Jamaica on their home turf in the next leg, having just notched a goal in Kingston. I don’t buy Guatemala feeling the heat having lost 1-2 to a better side.

      Reply

  19. Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/06/09 at 10:46 AM

    Honest question I would like some insight on…

    How the hell is it that Jozy isn’t ready to go 90 minutes? He started any played 65 minutes for AZ in early May. Presumably he was 90 minute ready at that point in time. He then had approximately 3 weeks off before AZ released him. Since then he has had over a week with the US team to get back in shape. Unless his 3 weeks consisted of a Hunter S Thompson style bender I don’t see how you can fall that far out of shape in 3 weeks. I was never an elite athlete so maybe I am missing something but short of a serious injury I don’t see how you can get that out of shape in three weeks.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/09 at 11:31 AM

      Well, Jozy’s never been the hardest working player and from what I’ve heard he was kept back by AZ to go on a team set up holiday to the beach.

      It’s also quite possible that Klinsmann is sending him a message that Jozy needs to push harder to get released by his club.

      Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/09 at 2:02 PM

      They never said Jozy could not go 90. He is not as sharp as Gomez and Boyd at the moment and both of those guys are doing fine. So there is no rush.

      There are plenty of Qualifying games left for Jozy.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/09 at 2:06 PM

      BernieBenier — probably the most loaded question on this board today.

      First, Is Klinsmann merely seeing who wants it by running them to death (three a days after seasons is somewhat…strange)…the US got ran over last night …. by A&B…is that the method.

      AND ….or is is Jozy not working hard.

      The comment from Klinsmann–though I’m not certain–is that “hit fitness isn’t there.” That’s a vague answer too.

      Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/06/09 at 7:56 PM

        Understand the loaded nature of the question. This is just a mystery to me that I haven’t been able to figure out. I guess I just wanted to establish if this is really a fitness thing or something else. Holding judgement for now but if this is a motivation (thinking this will get the best out of Jozy) or strategy (Gomez a better fit given the opponent) or ego massaging (not wanting to say that Jozy lost the starting role to the public) thats a separate issue. I really just wanted to rule out fitness as the actual reason.

        If you are asking me to believe that Jozy is being out worked in practice by Herc and Boyd I can believe that. If you are asking me to believe that Herc is a better fit for the US system I can see that. If JK is saying that Jozy isn’t in good enough shape to play 90 against A+B I don’t believe that (unless someone is going to tell me that fitness is different than I assume).

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/06/09 at 8:42 PM

        The weirdest thing about Klinsmann and Altidore this time around is that he’s been putting Altidore out on the wing. Because that makes perfect sense. It’s especially strange when Altidore gave a really well-rounded performance against Italy, the type of performance we could’ve used, at least off the bench, these past few games–love Gomez, but holding-and-passing isn’t his strong suit.

        Anyway, probably a pretty minor “thing Klinsmann has done that is strange” in the grand scheme of things. I mean, just look at the roster. Look at it. It’s…weird.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/09 at 10:21 PM

          It’s funny on the roster cause it’s simple stuff. The US has lacked width with only Fabian Johnson really providing any, but…

          * there are 6 central midfielders on the roster, 4 who typically start every game.
          * the two wide players on the roster: Joe Corona and Herculez Gomez either aren’t playing or playing in their less familiar spot (Gomez played rightwing all season at Santos)
          ** BTW, Gomez would be just fine in the role Donovan is now–Donovan of course did not impress again.

          And get this, Danny Williams probably won’t play on Tuesday (he’s been injured) so he’s not cap-tied but he ate up a roster spot.

          Reply

          • Posted by narkid on 2012/06/09 at 10:34 PM

            in fairness to coach klinsmann, i think he is going with the players he feels most comfortable with. lets be honest, guatemala city is no place for a joe gyau, josh gatt, or joe corona. corona probably being closest to ready for that atmosphere.

            coach is really only taking his cues from the failures of the last regime, which, number one was giving up early goals, usually right up the middle of the pitch. he has fixed these major problems.

            Reply

          • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/10 at 11:37 AM

            Donovan did not impress but he did have a hand in all three US goals. And re Williams, what roster spots? Didn’t JK leave two open spots on the original 29? S

            Reply

          • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/06/10 at 7:21 PM

            Williams, not being on the roster, is not taking up a roster spot.

            Reply

  20. Posted by Paul on 2012/06/09 at 2:35 PM

    I’m wondering if the type of field the US has played on has affected their play. These football stadiums make for narrow fields. While I think it helped against Brazil, against Antigua the US had less space to show their superior skill and speed. I’m sure the rain played a factor as well. Am I overestimating the importance of a full size field?

    Reply

    • Posted by SC MNT fan on 2012/06/09 at 8:31 PM

      I think you are spot on with this. The BMO field was also the smallest soccer-specific in MLS and may have helped the Brazilians with all the pressure they gave us. The water-logged, SLOW AS HELL pitch kept us from being able to quickly change the point of attack and exploit the few gaps the surprisingly well-organized and disciplined A&B defense gave us. I think the conditions coupled with our overtraining-fatigue to really make us look bad. I’d love to see how we would look against them on a huge, dry, short-cropped(fast) pitch…

      Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/06/09 at 8:47 PM

      I couldn’t say whether the fields are especially narrow–BMO Field in Toronto is soccer-specific, so that’s at least a chunk of your theory. But I think the issue is that the U.S. is eschewing wide play, especially with Johnson out. There’s little forward thrust from the fullbacks, especially now that ‘Dolo is slowing down. Dempsey wants to cut in; Donovan has been listless and refuses to take people on. There’s not enough speed or width on the flanks.

      This is why, even considering how raw Josh Gatt is, he would be very useful. (And I think people underestimate how raw he is. One shanked cross a game from him, guaranteed.) Or Agudelo. Or Joe Corona, who’s been buried after barely getting a shot. (Speaking of cap-tying–why wasn’t there an effort to cap-tie Joe Benny? I’d much rather have cap-tied Joe Benny than Terrence Boyd.)

      Reply

  21. Posted by Arisrules on 2012/06/09 at 3:28 PM

    The one guy who would have been useful last night at LB is DMB. He had a good season this past year, and has improved dramatically from where he was merely a year ago. Plus he’s played a fair amount back at that position, so it’s not like he would have been thrown into the deep-end.

    Two other quick points:

    We started 3 d-mids/box to box mids. The fact that A&B still broke on us, or caused us some problems is my biggest worry. Early on in JK’s tenure, the three d-mids were used primarily to protect the backline. It allowed for us to press a bit higher, because we had amble protection of our backline.

    My other problem with JK is that he screwed up the opening lineup. He didn’t really adjust tactics that well at HT. And then his subbing, even if his hand was forced with Torres, really didn’t change the face of the game. Outside of preparation and team management, that is where a coach is going to earn his big money. Say what you will about BB, but his subbing and HT adjustments were usually spot-on, even if his starting lineups were oftentimes not ideal. What I find troubling about this, is that it again seems to confirm with the thought that JK is not a good tactician.

    What the US needed, wasn’t some sort of new mentality or overall strategy: we are what we are. But rather a coach, whose tactical nous would maximize our potential. JK again, has failed to convince me that he is that guy.

    Reply

    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/06/10 at 11:41 AM

      What you wrote about JK was exactly what people were saying about BB, more or less. Some things never change.

      Reply

  22. Posted by Josh on 2012/06/10 at 10:38 AM

    I think complaining about a decisive victory in a WCQ is folly. A & B earned their way to Tampa; and while inferior wanted to fight and gave a fight.

    JK may have ran the lads too hard the past 3.5 weeks and maybe it showed. He did so because he wants to instill toughness to the Americans. It sounds good, but heavy legs doesn’t cut it in WCQs. He may try some psycho-training about how lucky they are to have the chance to play, instead of physical redress.

    I will always be happy with 3 points in any WCQ. Good on the lads.

    Reply

  23. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2012/06/10 at 2:34 PM

    comparing soccer and American football scores is ridiculous. they do not correlate directly.

    Reply

  24. This is an awful lot of hand-wringing. Does everyone have amnesia? Did everyone forget what World Cup Qualifying looks like after all these glamor friendlies?

    The US dominated the match and scored early on a set piece to make sure the result was never remotely in doubt. After that we kept most of the possession and went on to break down a determined and well-organized opponent that was content to defend and absorb pressure. It isn’t easy to score goals like the third. What else do you want, exactly?

    Torres did really well in his role which was not left fullback as much as a wingback tasked with playing the entire length of the field. I wouldn’t have any qualms about Torres playing there again against sides of this level when he’d be asked to do little defending.

    And speaking of defending, if it’s finally become the clear consensus that post-injury Onyewu is a write-off, then the conceded goal is a positive over the long-term and 3-1 is a great result to build on. Without the nightmarish sight of Onyewu running back towards his own goal, we probably would’ve kept a clean sheet.

    If the US team took their foot off the gas and simply managed out the game instead of busting ass to win by 5, that was the smart decision with an away qualifier coming up. Three goals is a good day, particularly when it isn’t your best day at the office.

    A little late and that is all.

    Reply

    • Posted by Josh on 2012/06/11 at 11:56 AM

      At last: someone who understands the big picture. Well said sir.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/11 at 12:22 PM

      Agree I got a little nit-picky Friday night. That said.

      The game was the inverse of taking their foot off the gas. The US pushed for an early goal (credit), but then when their most activity was in the final 20 minutes and I not talking about Terrence Boyd just trying to be active. All three central midfielders were pushing up and getting stuck in with 20 minutes left.

      What else did we want?

      * No Bocanegra at LB against a winger that was chopping down Yanks like a Red Coat
      I find that indefensible *esp with an away qualifier with Guatemala coming up. Asking your captain and LB to put in mileage up and down the pitch (Boca was making runs, not holding the ball), is hard to rationalize.

      * The US lost over 60% of the one vs. one play. Asking for 50/50 is not too much if you are trying to gain and manage possession.

      For perspective, T&T played this squad in February. They had just shy of 70% possession and scored four times, three through the run of play.

      Klinsmann gets credit for many things, not least of which is shoring up the defense which has not broken down–save Brazil–in some time.

      Here’s the thing though. If Klinsmann tells me he’s treating this is a 5-game tournament how do you not sub out Bocanegra OR is you taking him on the left flank tell him to stay put and “manage possession?”

      And Tuesday, you cannot be serious with Torres at left back. I know you just want to wear the jersey you have. :>

      welcome back.

      Reply

      • Posted by BIG I on 2012/06/25 at 7:51 AM

        That Trinidad team beat the A&B after the English players were substituted in the Second half and the Under-23s were given a run. that would not have been the scoreline if the team that played the first half was still on the field

        Reply

  25. Posted by Josh on 2012/06/11 at 11:55 AM

    The USA should be thanking their lucky stars a world-class footballer of JK’s caliber is leading their side.

    Instead we get the typical anti-American hand wringing on blogs like this.

    Wake up so-called football experts! It is the likes of JK who in spite of your naïveté will take the US program to another level.

    So what we decisively beat AB 3-1 after 2-1. So what.

    Stop questioning tactics and details when you can’t see the bigger picture.

    What truly *sucks* about too much American commentary: you are uninformed about the big picture.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/11 at 12:35 PM

      Thanks for coming by a second time Josh and enlightening us.

      Please try and make your commentary impersonal. That’s what makes this comment section great.

      No one, neither you, “classic TSG” or other knows what the precise plan that Klinsmann has.

      He is under the same scrutiny that any other coach has fallen under. He’s also the first US manager to ever have the entire program under him, so there is no comparable.

      Every US fan sees the big picture and Klinsmann has succeeded once and failed once. This site does a good job of balancing it’s commentary. TSG has won awards for being balanced AND is one of 12 sites globally asked to contribute content to the UK’s Guardian (so maybe you value English commentary and evaluation more than American).

      It’s fair to appropriately question Klinsmann and debate on match tactics. For example:

      “The experiment with Klinsmann was a failure. We were only working on our fitness in training. He didn’t care much for tactical stuff,” he wrote. “It was up to the players to come together before a match and discuss how we were going to play.

      ”All the players knew after about eight weeks that it was not going to work out with Klinsmann. The remainder of that campaign was nothing but limiting the damage.”

      That’s Phillip Lahm of Bayern Munich. No ax to grind; no spot lost during Klinsmann’s reign. World Class player. So he doesn’t share the same sentiment with you, but that’s okay. Maybe he’s right; maybe you are.

      When a former player comes out with a statement like that it add–yup–balance to comments like your invoking or extolling his praises.

      Klinsmann was hired to build the program–and he’ll likely do a tremendous job of it if only because he can impart the German system and he can exchange more players overseas into more challenging environs. (Like putting Robbie Rogers & Kyle Beckerman on loan in Germany over the winter.)

      What has always been in doubt is his in-game tactics and THAT’s what was discussed in this singular piece.

      Please try and be more impersonal next time you come; we’d love to have you in the commentary.

      Reply

  26. […] USA 3 – Antigua & Barbuda 1: Winning Ugly And hopefully this review and the game this evening is an anomaly or just poor writing. In the … Donovan faced Marcelo Jr. Jr. in Quinton Griffith tonight… Read more on The Shin Guardian […]

    Reply

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