US Men’s National Team Mauls the Minnow Guatemala 4-nil

This should have been the repeat headline from last week – and thankfully the last week headline wasn’t a repeat this week!

I’ll be the first (probably 100th though) person to congratulate the players on their performance yesterday – well done lads!

Now the grist – with the caveat “I’m still frustrated”!  🙂

It’s my view there’s a critical failure in US Soccer when the Head Coach can get the tactics and player selections and what positions they play that wrong in a game.

When it comes to head to head matches, where the tactics and selections are limited in their adjustment given three substitutions (unlike in an away and home leg setup) I wonder how much confidence there is in the ability of our head coach to get it right the first time?

For me, this 4-nil win is NOT a ‘bye’ for Jurgen Klinsmann!

So – next up statistics; shame on me!

I usually hold true to the form that individual statistics, even when added up – on their own – don’t tell a reasonable story about the game.

Proof is the pudding when viewing my last article and my references to crosses should make my point.

Like last game, the US offered up a number of crosses this game – none of them – I repeat none of them were successful in open play.  Yes the USMNT won 4-nil.

What can we take away from this?

I’d offer two things:

  1. It’s a slap on the wrist, to me, for falling into the statistics trap without the full context, and
  2. It’s another way to reinforce that the general tactical approach, the players selected, and what positions they played were completely pear-shaped in game 1 last week!

I’ve learned my lesson – has Jurgen Klinsmann learned his?

In closing:

  • The USMNT can’t afford to get tactics wrong in the first of two games against opponents in the future.
  • Second chances are rare in this game – even those on the pitch.
  • Jurgen Klinsmann needs to settle on a set group of starters who maximize options in tactics, not maximize options in versatility of players to play completely different positions.

Since I was pretty harsh in my previous article, about the leadership of Jurgen Klinsmann, it’s only fair I offer who I feel or think (without seeing these guys train on a regular basis) who should suit up for the USMNT.  

This isn’t about me being right or wrong – it’s about me offering up, my views, so others can throw sticks and stones at me.  🙂

  • I think DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson should be the starting fullbacks – who starts at center-back is a toss-up given injuries but seeing John Brooks and Geoff Cameron as the starters with Matt Besler and perhaps Steve Birnbaum in the wings is reasonable as well.  Personally I would like to see Jorge Villafana called back into the national team; otherwise this country is extremely weak at the fullback position – and MLS continuing to ignore that position (on a regular basis) when offering up their Best XI exacerbates the problem.
  • Hard choices to be made in midfield:
    • Is Darlington Nagbe a top choice over Michael Bradley – given the recent game?  He’s NOW a true box-to-box midfielder who’s got a great first touch with top flight passing, turning, and dribbling skills, who’s also got very good vision and improved tackling skills.
    • After seeing Michael Bradley play for three years now I simply don’t see him offering the same level of skills nor the ability to maximize tactical adjustments Klinsmann might make – however infrequent that might be.  It’s a bold move to bench Bradley – but it’s a worthy move if you want to have a better game of possession and/or penetration.
    • Others, in the mix, adding value should include Alejandro Bedoya, Lee Nguyen, Kyle Beckerman, PerryKitchen, Wil Trapp, and Graham Zusi – with perhaps Matt Polster and Luis Gil.
    • Where has Sasha Kljestan gone – and what about Benny Feilhaber?
  • Likewise at the forward position:
    • No true #9 exists in the USMNT; that’s five years now that the US has failed to produce a true #9… wow…
    • As for the others – Clint Dempsey continues to show value, and perhaps Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes add value with their width.  I, however, would prefer to see more of Ethan Finley (he does play for one of the best possession-based teams in MLS) as well as Chris Wondolowski (he usually has a knack for scoring).
  • Goal Keepers – Make up your bloody mind Jurgen Klinsmann – wow!
    • I used to think Brad Guzan was a reasonable replacement – now I’m not so sure.  Not only hasn’t he gotten the head-nod to regularly start USMNT games he’s mired with a team that is being relegated for the first time in a very long time…  His confidence is surely lacking!  New blood now might be a good thing.
  • Wild cards?:
    • Gedion Zelalem – Midfield
    • Rubio Rubin – Forward
    • Julian Green – Forward /// a continued unknown who got tons of press but has shown very little substance
    • Jordan Morris – Forward
    • Khiry Shelton – Forward /// perhaps the player who most physically represents what a #9 looks like – but I don’t think he plays with his back to goal – others may know that better than me
    • Matt Miazga – Center-back
    • Any others?

Bottom line at the bottom.

We live in a huge country and Gedion Zelalem is a great example of a player who flew completely under that radar – how many more are like him?

I wonder (with soccer almost being an exclusive sport now because of the travel and training costs) how many really talented players continue to go unnoticed?

You would have thought, that over a five year period of time, the United States would be able to find at least two to three players who could play a traditional #9 position!

Best, Chris

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