U.S. Men's National Team

A special night for Williams for multiple reasons

DannyWilliamsJAM (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com


COLUMBUS, Ohio– On the 11-year anniversary of Sept. 11th, every American at Crew Stadium had their own story for how they remember that fateful day. For Danny Williams, the tragedy was burned into his memory as a young boy in Germany watching his American father cry as they watched the images on television. Williams couldn’t really understand why the images on the TV brought his father to tears and left his mother frozen, but he knew something devastating and tragic had happened.  

 “My father was shocked because he grew up in New York and New Jersey,” Williams said, remembering 9/11. “My mom was also frozen, watching the TV. I saw these pictures on the TV and all these people in New York were running because of the dust. I had to keep on thinking and go to training that night even though I didn’t want to go.”

Eleven years later, Williams was in a U.S. national team uniform, representing the United States on the anniversary of 9/11 and that fact, as well as the energy from an inspired crowd at Crew Stadium, helped give Williams and his U.S. teammates the push they needed to secure a vital victory.

Williams was a key figure in Tuesday’s victory, flourishing in the defensive midfield role he has been begging to play since joining the national team a year ago. Having been deployed mostly as a right winger in past national team appearances, Williams never quite had the impact for the U.S. he had on Tuesday night, when he anchored the midfield as the deep-lying midfielder in a 4-1-3-2.

The role suited Williams perfectly as he enjoyed a Man of the Match-caliber performance. He distributed the ball well, broke up Jamaican attacks and also sparked American attacks with his passing out of the back.

“I said I will play wherever the coach wants me to play but I had a couple of talks with the coaches and assistant coaches and I said I think I can help the team the most when I play in this position because I’m used to playing this position,” Williams said. “I grew up there in the midfield, and I think the people who saw me today saw why I feel so comfortable in this situation.”

Williams has grown accustomed to being tried at positions other than his preferred role, including a prolonged stint at right back with Freiburg, but he has recently found consistent time at Hoffenheim in defensive midfield, and after Tuesday’s showing for the U.S., he can expect to play more there for the Americans.

“The funny thing is every coach I tell them I’m a defensive midfielder but they say ‘yeah, yeah, we know’,” said Williams. “In Freiburg it was my age. They said ‘oh, you’re only 19 years old. It’s too young’ and I’d say no, it’s not too young. Give me a chance at least, because on the outside, right back or right wing, it’s not my position and I don’t feel comfortable there. 

“I think when a player doesn’t feel comfortable in a position you can see it,” Williams said. When I feel comfortable on the pitch, in my position, then the people can also see it and I can help the team.”

Williams was effective both in the attack, and in helping support a U.S. defense that had little trouble with Jamaica on Tuesday.

“He’s been talking about how much he’s a No. 6 and a lot of people have been saying he has those qualities and he showed it tonight,” Tim Howard said of Williams. “He was really good on the ball and, more than anything, he kept the ball moving, he kept the rhythm. He didn’t take too many touches. He didn’t get stuck with the ball, didn’t spin himself into circles. 

 “He got it and moved it and that’s what you need to do.”

Klinsmann praised Williams performance, and also defended his decision to wait this long to play him in defensive midfield, citing the depth the U.S. has at the position.

“It has also to do with the competition,” Klinsmann said. “I know from his club coach is that his preferred role is the No. 6 role, but we have players who are really good there too. We can play Jermaine (Jones) there. We have Kyle (Beckerman) and Mo (Edu), and all are doing well. It’s not that there’s a big difference so we have to consult with the other elements.

“I’m sure that wasn’t the last time you’ll see Danny playing the No. 6 for us.”

Klinsmann also pointed out the fact that Williams was excited about being cap-tied for the United States, which he was after last Friday’s appearance in the qualifying loss to Jamaica in Kingston. Williams pointed out that his excitement had more to do with finally playing in a match that mattered for the United States.

“Friendly matches are not the same, not like (qualifiers),” Williams said. “In friendly matches of course you want to win, but if you lose you still keep on going. This game on Friday I knew it was my first real match, and at my position also. I think the more and more I play with the team I have more confidence in myself and I think they also trust me more. When I play in this position I think I can help the team a lot.”

Williams also made it clear that he was committed to sticking with the U.S. national team even before being cap-tied last week. Though he was born in Germany, his connection to his father and his love for the United States has endured for years, and was only galvanized on Tuesday night, as a stadium full of Americans cheered him on.

“I already said when I played my first game in Miami against Honduras, I was sure already that I would play for this team because I’m proud to play for this national team and I’m proud to represent this country, especially on this day,” Williams said. “I know it’s big for all the American people and I know it’s big for my dad also because on that day I was 12 years old and he was crying in front of the TV.

“I’m happy for the team because I think we played a great game and the crowd was fantastic tonight.” 

  • THomas

    Good luck Antigua and Barbuda and Guatamala and Mehico and Jamaica and Canada and Honduras and Cost Ricaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!







  • Raymon

    LOVED THE COLUMBUS SPIRIT LAST NIGHT. Way to go Ohio, AO, Sam’s Army, and everyone else. GREAT show of support.


  • Rlw2020

    Really wish williams’ goalazo went in, would have been a great goal. All in all good game but after hitting the post 3 times and dominating the first 60 min we kinda fell apart. A better team would have given us problems in the last 30 min.

    The crowd lastest 90! Wish i could have been there


  • jones

    ugh, I know! Removing Torres and then bringing on Edu for Zusi (thus bumping Williams over to the side) really F-ed up the rhythm of the team and made us much more vulnerable.

    Sure, Jamaica started taking it to the US more, but the US also became sloppier and gave it away in dangerous areas (EDU!!!). I was worried we would let one in, but I think having Boca and Dolo in the back was helpful. I liked the part where they showed a replay of Boca telling Cameron to calm down. A player with his experience brings this important stabilizing trait to the field.

    In the future I’d like to see Williams tried with Bradley in the midfield, or if it’s 3 men in the middle, with these two and Jones.


  • Brett

    First time I’ve been pleased with Williams… Not coincidentally, the first time he’s been used in his proper position. He’s not a winger, and neither is Torres. Stop asking them to be what they aren’t

    The attack was noticeably stagnant after Zusi was subbed out. He had a very good game.

    Dempsey, I thought, had one of the worst performances I can recall from him at the MNT level. I really hope he gets his form back when he gets into the squad at Spurs.


  • RNG

    To me, it’s more a question of attitude. We have the skill to possess the ball (up to a point), but it seems as if our attitude after we score a goal is to sit back and stop attacking, rather than to push forward and finish the other team off. And that’s when things start looking dangerous. Plus, goal differential matters.

    In fact, the US women’s team has done a much better job of this–attacking through the end of the game.


  • philmatt24


    Jozy didn’t look great, but hardly had time to get settled, and as pointed out in previous comments, the whole team was a bit out of sorts after the subs.


  • jones

    Based on what I’ve seen from him in the past, the problem is that Altidore does not make a great super-sub type player – he needs time to acclimate (and this is not a trait you want in someone you expect to make an immediate impact with 10 minutes left). Not saying he should start, but if he doesn’t, put him in with at least 15-20 left if you want something out of him.

    He spent the first 7 minutes trying to be cute with the ball and losing it (probably a misguided way of trying to make a case for his starting spot back) and then realized he was supposed to be holding up the ball to keep the team in possession.

    I have been watching him evolve at his club, and while there are still annoying stretches where he is not involved/is inactive, he has better focus and makes better decisions with the ball – creating space for himself or playing the right pass.


  • Steve

    Klinsman needs to accept that this team has the most depth at DM or the #6 and come to terms that means a a player who is better than other players is going to be left out. Its just a fact.

    In my opinion it goes like this: Bradley, Jones, then a step down to Williams (a little higher on upside), and then a step down to Edu and Beckerman. They can all play the #6 any night for us. But some of them cannot play other positions. Edu can cover CB in a pinch. So leave Beckerman at home.

    Its a luxury, not a tactical philosophy for this team.


  • biff

    Agree with that. Klinsmann should let Gyau get settled at St. Pauli and win a starting spot and not touch him in October or November, but maybe Camp Cupcake. I think the 2. Bundesliga shuts down shortly before Xmas and does not resume until first weekend in February, so Camp Cupcake would be a perfect time to bring in Gyau, assuming he does well this autumn at St. Pauli.


  • Matt

    It’s really refreshing seeing someone who absolutely wants to play for the US national team. cough cough


  • Hiho

    Danny did a good job last night, but- this could be fun..






  • SBI Troll

    Please don’t mention Holden, he hasn’t played in years. If he begins to play well for club, then we can talk


  • Soccertes

    Has Johnson played left MF for his club team? If he has/does and with good results, then fine. If not, he should play left back. Moving players out of their natural positions has never worked out well (see Williams at MF, DMB at left back, and IMO, Edu at CB) and should be used only in emergency gap-filling situations, which also never work out well. Plus, we’ve spent the better part of the last decade grappling with the Left Back Problem and have finally been gifted a top-class player at that position in Fabian Johnson. Let us not question the Soccer Gods in the face of that gift, but humbly bow our heads in reverence and carry on.

    That said, my starting XI for Oct would look more like this:






    —————-D. Yeldell**—————-

    *=Reluctant on this; Shea has yet to prove to me he belongs
    **=Just kidding! Howard, of course. Couldn’t resist.


  • Soccertes

    Sorry, I know my 4-4-3, while innovative, will not work. :) That’s supposed to be Bradley where Williams is. Williams would be a good sub, although Bradley’s engine would likely not require it much. I also think Williams could play in front of Bradley, but not sure how to configure other personnel to make that happen.


  • Soccertes

    On further thought:






    …where Dempsey cuts in and links up with strikers and overlapping Johnson, who also provides the width on that side. Donovan could play out wide on the right for added width there, and provide service to Gomes and others. Williams sits behind Bradley or the two take turns holding and marauding forward depending on the situation.


  • steve-o

    +1… this is the perfect balanced line-up. Zusi & Dolo combined well. Now let’s get Donovan working with Fabian. Depending on the game and opponent, sub in Boyd for more hold up play, Jones for more defense, Shea for width, Altidore for offense… maybe Adu for some flair?!!?!


  • TomG

    Agree with everything here. I’m done with Torres out wide. He’s not good there, neither is Williams. Dolo and Zusi combined so well on the right. We need someone on the left who can do that with Fabian. I’d like to see Torres at CM some time, though I’d also like to see Mixx, Sacha and Corona get looks there too


  • #10 poser

    Hey all, my first post, but with all the talk of the win last night, here is a future lineup I would like to see. Feel free to tear into it!


  • Mike

    Actually, I think I’d prefer something closer to this:


    Let Bradley and Jones combine like they did so well against Scotland, and give them Wiliams at DM to grant them the cover to get forward freely.

    Let Dempsey roam free underneath the strikers, and put Donovan and Gomez up top to stretch the field, make runs in behind defenders, and just generally look dangerous.

    Sensible subs out of this formation would be Shea on for Dempsey if he tires…in the process, sliding Shea out wider to utilize his pace and bringing off Gomez for Altidore or Boyd to be a bigger target.

    Another option would be to go more defensive, swapping Gomez off for Edu or Beckerman, leaving Dempsey alone up top, with Landon underneath. And inserting that 2nd DM alongside Williams in front of the back 4.

    Or could always go more offensive out of this base formation. Sub off Jones for Zusi, slide Dempsey out a bit wider Left, and bring on Boyd or Altidore up top for Gomez or Landon, depending on who needs the rest worse.


  • Brooklyn D

    Williams has a European passport, Edu and Beckerman don’t.

    If Beckerman had a German passport, he would have toiled in the Bundesliga 2 and eventually gotten a Bundesliga shot.

    Ditto Edu. Edu is good enough to play in the premiership, I don’t think there is a question there.

    Having said all that, I really like Williams, and judging on what we’ve seen so far, I’d say he could fit as the starting defensive mid with Bradley and Jones, alongside or in front of him. Actually my ideal USMNT midfield would be five-man: Bradley and Williams behind Donovan Holden Dempsey. But of course we have no idea if Holden ever gets healthy or returns to peak form. Sadly unlikely I guess.


  • Boise

    Agree; I’d love to see Bradley at attacking CM and Williams sweeping up behind him. I believe Jones can contribute on the flanks. Pleased to see Zusi’s vision and creativity in the game as well–


  • Boise

    If I were constructing the lineup and needed to put Edu in there somewhere, I’d put him out on the flanks. I agree with above and earlier comments that his distributions are all too often turnovers to the opponent. I’d much prefer to have CMs who are good distributors, and that’s what I think you have in Bradley, Williams–and even Jones to a certain extent.


  • Andrew

    Making the runs IS important, even if you’re just trying to lock down the game. Possession is the best defense, and against any half-decent national team, you’re not going to keep possession by standing around. Williams didn’t necessarily have to run forward, but no matter what, he still needed to find enough space to not lose the ball.

    There were giant spaces for Williams to run into after he moved to RM, and we saw teammates either 1) playing the ball into it expecting him to get there and keep possession (Altidore, Dempsey, Edu, and Jones), or 2) standing on the ball because they had no passing options (Cherundolo).


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