USMNT Daily Update

USMNT Daily Update: How Klinsmann has embraced the 'empty bucket' philosophy without actually playing it

KlinsmannList (Getty)

When Jurgen Klinsmann became U.S. Men's National Team head coach more than a year ago, there was a widely-held belief that he was going to usher in a new era of attack-minded American soccer, and he would do away with the perceived ultra-defensive approach Bob Bradley was deemed guilty of subjecting U.S. fans to.

Anyone who has watched Klinsmann's U.S. team play over the course of the past year knows that the wave of attacking soccer we thought we might see never happened, and if anything, a case can be made Klinsmann has been even more defensive-minded than Bradley.

That isn't the general public perception about Klinsmann's tenure, at least not yet. And how has he avoided that label to this point, despite such clear evidence that he has embraced a philosphy that surely does resemble the one we saw during the Bob Bradley era? Klinsmann has avoided the label by trotting out any number of formations, from 4-3-3, to 4-1-3-2, to 4-2-3-1. He has managed to play a bit of a shell game by moving players around in a way that they manage to still play a very similar style to the one seen during the Bradley era while avoiding lining up in a 4-4-2 with two deep-lying midfield.

This became very clear during the last U.S. national team match, the vital 1-0 victory against Jamaica. The Americans played a 4-4-2, though anyone associated with diseminating that information for the national team made it clear to state that it was, in fact, a 4-1-3-2. That might seem like semantics, but not if you're trying your best to distance yourself from the approach of the previous coaching regime.

And what exactly is the difference between the 4-1-3-2 we saw the U.S. play against Jamaica and the 4-4-2 of the Bob Bradley era? The reality is there wasn't much of one.

In theory, the main difference is that, in Klinsmann's system, the one midfielder is assigned the deep-lying anchor role, the No. 6 role as it were, which Danny Williams played against Jamaica, while another midfielder plays in the more advanced No. 8 role, which Jermaine Jones played. In Bradley's 4-4-2, the two central midfielders alternated between covering the defense and surging forward into the attack, with both players having similar responsibilities. The system earned the label "The Empty Bucket" from critics of Bradley's coaching approach who felt playing two defensive-minded midfielders in the middle led to defensive-minded soccer.

It might seem like there is a pretty distinct difference between the system, but it really isn't when you are using the same kind of players in both cases. If you play a natural ball-winner in the more advanced role they don't magically become a playmaker, and anyone who has watched Jones handle a more advanced role has figured out long ago that this transformation isn't happening. Also, Williams wasn't exactly chained the space in front of the centerbacks against Jamaica. He did well to get forward and join the attack, and looked more impressive as an attacking option doing that than he ever looked during the multiple times he was deployed as a right winger in past matches.

In other words, we were told that the U.S. was playing a 4-1-3-2, when for all intents and purposes, we were watching a 4-4-2.

Klinsmann does deserve some credit for really trying to implement a 4-3-3 during his first year in charge, but it has become clear that deploying that system just isn't practical for important qualifying matches. It is clear he has already started to work on variations of the 4-4-2, but a lack of wide midfield options has made it difficult to really play a style that can be considered attack-minded. This, along with Landon Donovan's many absences from the national team over the past year, has led to Klinsmann using players like Danny Williams and Jose Torres as "wide' midfielders.

So what does it all mean? What exactly is the point of going down this road? It is to let you know that, while you may hear any number of formation variations, there is a reason the current U.S. national team approach might seem familiar to you. It will seem familiar because some things haven't changed since the time Bob Bradley was head coach. We still don't have a dominant American playmaker who can be plugged into the middle of the park, and the U.S. pool is still overflowing with central midfielders who are more defensive-minded than attack-minded.

So we have a new coach, trotting out seemingly different formations, but the soccer looks the same, and many of the players look the same. That isn't a knock on Klinsmann as much as it's stating what might be lost on some who have actually bought into the notion that the U.S. national team has undergone some sort of transformation.

Ultimately, Klinsmann is a prisoner of the talent pool at his disposal, no matter how he tries to spin it and no matter how many varied formations he trots out. Could there eventually come a day when we actually start seeing real changes and a real shift in philosophy with the U.S. national team? Sure, but that day hasn't come yet and it doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

So before you go saying "Man, I'm glad the days of the 'Empty Bucket' are over", you might want to consider that those days are very much still here. And rather than looking at the 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders as some sort of curse, we might want to consider the possibility that, at least for the immediate future, it is the best system and approach for the kind of players we have right now.

Bob Bradley realized that a long time ago, and Klinsmann clearly has realized the same thing, though it seems he isn't in a hurry to admit it.

  • Bryan V

    My 22:

    GK: Howard; Guzan

    DEF: Chandler; Gonzalez; Cameron; Johnson; Lichaj; John; Ream; Castillo

    MID: Donovan; Jones; Bradley; Dempsey; Gatt; Williams; Edu; Torres

    FW: Gomez; Altidore; Boyd; Johannsson


  • BamaMan

    Jesus H. Christ,

    There is an orchestrated effort by some within the US Soccer community – including some on this blog – to undermine Klinsmann. I am not talking about criticism of his tactics, which in some instances has been well-deserved while others not so much. Folks like Grant Wahl have practiced actual journalism in this respect. This site has crossed the line into advocacy. For example, this entry claims that Klinsmann has engaged in all manner of different formations in an effort to trick the average soccer fan into believing that his style is more attacking when it is in fact more defensive. The more logical explanation might be that Klinsmann has tried and tried to force the USMNT to be more attacking only to revert back to a more defensive style when it was the only thing that worked.

    Is Klinsmann the right coach for the USMNT? I don’t know and nobody will until this cycle is over. I know he’s the most accomplished coach we’ve ever had at the helm. The only criteria on which Klinsmann can fairly be judged are a) our performance at the World Cup and b) our performance in the Gold Cup. Until either one of those possibilities are foreclosed, I really don’t care. Everyone in Germany was absolutely convinced the German team was a disaster under his leadership then they redefined German football and made a semifinal run at the same time. Can he do it here? I don’t know but I know I’m going to wait before I say one way or the other.

    (SBI- Do me a favor and tell me where in my piece, or in the comments section, I say either A) Klinsmann is doing a bad job, B) Klinsmann is not the man to lead the USMNT, or C) he will never get things to work? Oh right, I never said any of those things. Given that, where exactly am I “crossing the line between journalism and advocacy?” I expressed an opinion that Klinsmann is getting credit for creating change when there really hasn’t been much change yet. You can agree or disagree, but to suggest that somehow simply stating that opinion is “advocacy” tells me you don’t have the first clue what journalism is, or the role of columnists and opinion writers. Feel free to say he’s an amazing coach, already weaving his magic, but please spare me the notion that I’m wrong for expressing an opinion that such a notion is silly.

    It really is amazing how people can read a piece and infer so many things that simply aren’t there. I think Klinsmann could wind up being an excellent coach, but I also think some folks heaping praise on him ALREADY are pretty misguided and missing what many see, which is that he’s doing a lot of the same things his predecessor did. I say, and I think many agree with me, that we should save the praise for when real change actually happens because as it stands, the folks creating this alternative reality where Klinsmann has already turned things around are looking pretty foolish.)


  • PetedeLA

    The basic premise is true.

    One thing I will say on Klinsmann’s behalf is his willingness to make Dempsey the center piece of his diamond.

    I LOVED seeing Dempsey (wearing the #10) behind two forwards. I’m not saying this is necessarily the way forward, but it was definitely something we never saw under Bob.

    I was never a Bob Bradley basher. In fact, you can probably still see my comments defending him on the Anti Bob Bradley facebook page. It was a stupid bandwagon that a bunch of idiots latched onto. If anything, Bob was a pragmatist.

    How do we move forward? As far as I’m concerned the only thing I’m worried about is the lack of another creative player who can instill fear in the final third. We have Donovan (who is pretty hot and cold these days), Dempsey (Thank goodness!!!),and then there’s a huge drop off by the time you get to Brek Shea. Zuzi is good, but I don’t see him making huge improvement at his age. I’m really hoping some young attacking midfielders are coming through the pipeline because both Donovan and Dempsey are getting long in the tooth.

    I’m glad you’re writing these pieces Ives. Fun reading.


  • Ben

    Ives, thank you! thank you! thank you!

    I really appreciated this piece. You must have known that it would not be a popular position to take yet you did it anyway and defended it articulately and with the facts to back it up.

    Although I am not sure you meant to make this piece a defense of Bradley’s coaching prowess (and if I am not mistaken you were equally quick to criticize him when you felt it was warranted) I feel that the points you make here really support a revision of opinion by those who always said that Bradley was “bunker-Bob” and incapable of playing the attacking possession-oriented soccer of the Barca’s of the world. I always felt that that opinion did not give him enough credit. I remember numerous times when we were playing lesser opposition that Bradley’s team did a good job of possessing and imposing the US rhythm on the other team. A couple examples would include the Egypt game in the Confederations cup and the Slovenia game in the world cup (yes, we started slowly, but imposed our play in the second half to tie/win the game).

    Bob’s defense first counter-attack style which he played against the stronger teams was lauded by Sir Alex Ferguson and also used effectively by other teams in the world cup. Repeatedly other coaches described Bob’s squads as “very disciplined” and “difficult to break down.” Those qualities and the “never say die” attitude he instilled in his team were what made the US a delight to watch in the world cup. Admittedly, they were frustrating to watch when a single player (e.g., Rico Clark) would make a mental mistake that led to an early goal. But those mistakes are inherent in any less than top quality world team with ambitions to be a top quality world team.

    Getting back to the point of your article, which is that although people thought it would just take new coach (and a European one at that) to make the US a possession-oriented attacking team, there is clearly more to it than that. Like Bradley, Klinsmann is finding that there are some frustrating limitations to the depth and breadth of the U.S. player pool. And arguably much slower than Bradley (probably because he was less familiar with the pool when he first started), he is having to make adjustments to play to the strengths of the players.

    I would even take your points one step further and argue that, although we may someday see an improved style of play (which could also have been said of a longer Bradley regime), to date what we have really seen is European coach struggling to understand the limitions and strengths of his pool and also failing to do as he said he would. That is, build upon the strengths of what his predecessor left him–a disciplined squad with a never say die attitude.


  • Ben

    Well, I think we can judge his performance after four World Cup qualifying games. Those are the ones that count and so far, our performances under Klinsmann have been far from impressive and, arguably very concerning. If this team doesn’t gel more and find a way to get 3 points in A&B, we may not have a Hexagonal, much less a world cup upon which to judge him.


  • DCP

    There are always going to be players missing due to injuries and suspensions, so I don’t really accept the notion stated in many of the comments to this post that Klinsmann has been mostly playing with a less than full strength squad. The reality is that our days with a fully healthy, committed, and international quality Donovan may be running out. In my opinion, the concept of a full strength squad is relative to all of the players available for a particular game, so I think it is time for Klinsmann to make serious efforts to find an understudy(or understudies) for Donovan (not Williams) and for us to accept that a full strength squad may not always include him.


  • David JS

    I agree with you. There are some real interesting and valid points raised in the article, but the tone of it and of the subsequent follow up comments make it obvious that Ives is defending Bob by tearing down Jurgen. Regardless of the similarities in the formation, it’s naive to say that formation=tactics/philosophy and tactics/philosophy=formation. It’s impossible to differentiate the evolution of the individuals in the player pool from the evolution of the philosophy of the head coach. Like I said, I agree with a lot of the points of the article, particularly about anyone who believes we’re seeing free-flowing attacking soccer being delusional, but the unequivocal refusal to give Jurgen ANY credit for ANYTHING that has changed since he took over damages the overall ethos of the argument because it’s so clearly one motivated primarily to defend Bob instead of having a honest assessment of the progress (or lack there of) of the USMNT.

    (SBI-Sorry man, but “defending Bob” was never ever the point of the piece. I think Klinsmann deserves some credit for doing some things, but there is clearly a section of the U.S. Soccer fan base that sees progress that just hasn’t happened. That was pretty clear in some of the comments posted after, and I’m sure I could have let the piece stand on its own, but some of the points made by some people were the very thing that led to the piece in the first place, so I felt compelled to discuss them.

    Since you brought up Bradley, I just think it’s interesting that some of the very same people who hated Bradley now find any excuse to praise Klinsmann, when not all that much has changed just yet. At no point here did I say Bradley was an amazing coach who was wrongly fired. I never even touch on that, so I don’t really get anything here could be seen as being done to “defend Bob”.

    I do find it thoroughly fascinating that simply suggesting that Klinsmann is getting more credit than he deserves is perceived by some to be ripping him or saying he’s a bad coach. I suppose some people just live in worlds where only extremes exist. If anything, I think the reaction of some people in the comments here only served to prove my point, that there clearly are people who see far more progress than actually has happened. I know that isn’t all fans, and I’ll stand right alongside those who haven’t seen all this progress, and who say “We need to see much more before we go calling Klinsmann a success just yet.)


  • Old School

    We lost because of Bornstein. Plain and simple.

    Mexico is well aware of our weakest link and immediately and routinely attacked that side. That alone was the downfall.


  • David JS

    fair enough SBI. I really totally agree with the lack of “transformation” as some envisioned Jurgen bringing, I suppose I may have misattributed portions of your justification as the “only factors” in writing the piece as opposed to specific rebuttals to incorrect assertions. Mea culpa. I just would like to say, and this is difficult to justify/verify by any measure other than pure eye-test, that I think Klinsmann’s teams are more sound than Bradley’s. That is to say I think the, admittedly minor, tweaks to the style of the USMNT as of today have made us a team that would win more games on the whole as opposed to a like-for-like Bradley squad. But this is obviously only my opinion, and time will tell. I agree, a relatively large portion of the fan base had an unreasonable expectation of complete transformation of the team, and that evolution simply has not happened. On the other hand, I would be willing to debate that Bob and Jurgen’s approaches to the job are not significantly different. Ultimately, I don’t think our opinions of the current state of the USMNT are too different, so I recant my earlier disregard for the argument. I think Bob was so irrationally criticized for his struggles, and Klinsmann is so irrational praised for his, that it makes getting lost in the semantics of the discussion easy. Truth be told, this is a situation that, we as USMNT fans, will be in for the long haul and it won’t be an overnight evolution. I do want to conclude by saying that, in my opinion, I think Jurgen’s ideas and vision for US Soccer is the best, and rationally the next, step that our federation could have taken and will ultimately pay significant dividends. Come on, you Yanks!


  • Shawn


    I’m sorry, but I have to disagree sharply when you minimize the importance of a not having LD/Deuce/MB play together for even a half yet under Klinsmann. He has not had, for a variety of reasons, anything resembling a true First XI in his first year. And yes, I do think that makes a substantial difference.

    “Most” of the squad are role players who more or less can be covered with someone else with minimal drop. Those 3+Howard are the stars of the team, and anyone playing their position is a MARKED drop in quality.


  • Dan

    It’s interesting that Klinsmann’s team has been giving up fewer goals and also scoring fewer goals. I think Fabian Johnson has a lot to do with the better defensive play and you could argue that one defined defensive mid does stay back more on Klinsmann’s teams when compared to Bradley’s empty bucket (although there is obviously still interchange). But in the end I think you have to look at the almost absurd number of defensive players on the field for a lot of these games and just chalk it up to that.


  • Dennis

    Agreed. I never believed Klinsmann would work any magic, but I was surprised that he was able to express a vision (while it was not much different from what Bradley said in more private situations) better in press conferences than the Princeton graduate.


  • Dennis

    Yes it is much more true in soccer than in say American football that it is the players who determine what happens on the field, not the coach.
    Both Bradley and Klinsmann searched casting as wide a net as possible looking for better players (Bradley called over 100 different players into various camps in only one year, Klinsmann has perhaps relied more on scouts than calling in as many players to observe them in camps, but both search(ed) for better players.)

    The talent pool in the USA is improving and as it does, whoever the coach is 4 years from now or 8 years from now, I expect he will get credit for the improving players.

    In truth, a national team coach does not “improve players, he basically selects the best players he can who will fit together as a team. In the USA, that is still a jigsaw puzzle with too few pieces, contrary to say Brazil where there is a wealth of very talented players and the coach’s job is more one of selecting those who can play the style he would like, rather than one of finding players who can perform at the international level in any way.


  • Dennis

    I think Ives let you off the hook with the “agree to disagree” comment. Ives is right and well, you’re not.


  • biff

    I cannot argue with the assessment that Klinsmann has failed to deliver the high expectations many of us had when he took over last summer. In my mind, he has shown a real lack of courage in testing guys who play as attacking midfielders at the club level, instead sticking with his love affair for guys who play generally as defensive midfieders at the club level. I also am not happy with his penchant for playing other players out of their club positions, such as Danny Williams at right winger and even poor little Jose Torres at left back, for Gosh sakes.

    I lost my patience after the Jamaica match earlier this month in Kingston, when Klinsmann fielded the now infamous three defensive midfield and it ended in disaster. That said, Klinsmann was smart enough to change tactics to a more attack-minded strategy four days later in Columbus, and the team looked excellent in the first half and got the must-win.

    But I do disagree with the assessment above that “at least for the immediate future, it is the best system and approach for the kind of players we have right now.” I think we have guys in the talent pool who are able now to play an exciting brand of attacking soccer. Klinsmann simply needs to call in some new faces and test them. Unfortunately, he wasted a full year of friendlies sticking with his defensive minded system and the same old players without testing other players.

    But the past is past, as they say, and the big question now is how Klinsmann operates in the future. He needs to quit being a wimp, worrying about hurting the feelings of Player A or the fans who adore Player A or worry about the angering the fans of Bob Bradley who are still unhappy BB was fired and are desperately hoping for Klinsmann’s downfall no matter what he does and who he plays. He needs to show the courage to take some chances and do what he feels is right, put guys on the roster who he feels can play attacking soccer and and leave off those guys he truly does not want on the team. The key to success of any team is chemistry and Klinsmann needs to make sure team chemistry is right.


  • Ussoccerfan12

    Lets see the Federation spent how much more on Klinsmann to get the same end product, seems like a waste of money.


  • Shchors

    The biggest upgrade for the US Nats under Klinsi has been in defense. With the addition of Cameron and Johnson, the defense became more athletic and able to defend on their own, without the need for constant support from two holding mids. This reduces the risk when playing a higher line and pressing further up-field. Unfortunately, the US pipeline has not been able to groom replacements for Donovan and Dempsey, nor has it produced any creativity in the wide or center mids. Thus, we win the ball higher up, but cannot get it to our forwards in dangerous positions to put the opposing defense under pressure. Under Bradley, the center of our defense was a sieve and required defensive mids w/o quality ball control to plug access to the goal area. Furthermore, the lack of a worthy left back required Donovan or Dempsey to spend too much time in out own third, helping to contain the opposing right sided attackers.


  • CenCal

    Loved the article IVES
    I love these excuses by theses readers about not having a full squad… do people not remember South Africa? if bradley has holden,davies,gooch and jones all healthy then that USA squad gets past ghana and proabably uruguay


  • CenCal

    not a full strength squad is a weak excuse. the point is, reader, bob bradley didnt have a full squad team for South Africa and Id argue that with holden,davies,gooch and jones healthy we advance past ghana. waaaa


  • Vic

    People seem to be to worried about replacing Donovan and Dempsey. Both have at least two good years left and you never know who will emerge. No one could have predicted the emergence for Herculez Gomez. Dempsey also emerged to the top level later in his career. We have plenty of young talent: Boyd, Altidore, Gatt, Gyau, Corona, Diskerkud, George, Wooten, Lichaj, Johnson etc. Many more that are younger that can still emerge.


  • Andy

    This is the lineup we need to bring possession based attacking soccer to the US:



  • PD

    Wow, this was more than clickbait… This was clickchum! I think this article is an observation on what JK had done and a critique of over hopeful fans. Pretty straightforward op-Ed stuff. Not sure why some folks are so slow to get the point…


  • Sgc

    A) In that 1-0 victory, we did dominate the possession and tempo. The stats were eye-popping, Barca-esque. We had 79% of the possession in the first half, to their 21%.

    B) The scoreline doesn’t necessarily relate to the same point. Spain quite regularly wins 1-0 scoring only a late goal but having utterly dominated the flow of play.


  • Stan Collins

    My reply is something more like:

    You don’t go out there and just ‘play more offensively’, that’s not how this game works. Possession itself has to be earned.

    And a lot of times, it works backwards: the most defensive strategies out there begin with forwards doing a lot of defending, and the most offensive strategies begin with the center backs.

    To that end, I think Klinsmann has tried harder to play CBs who are reasonably good with their feet than Bob Bradley would. If Geoff Cameron works out, maybe we’ve got a guy who both fits his philosophy and might be good enough to actually start for this team.

    I think the second phase is having your holding mids be better at ‘stepping on the ball’ and being better at distribution. I think this is why JK likes Kyle Beckerman more than Bradley did. Unfortunately, unlike Cameron, I think Beckerman’s probably not good enough to start, he just seems to lack a half step of pace that he’d need. But even there, it seems that Michael Bradley is evolving in his club play to the type of player JK would want, and so setting the tone stylistically with Beckerman might not be that bad.

    Then you need the “#10”, the advanced midfielder who can both hold the ball and make killer passes. This is the one the player pool simply hasn’t offered Klinsmann many options as of yet. Corona might become that sort of guy, but it’s very early, and I see precious few others in this generation.


  • jlm

    duly noted. very nice analysis. very good point about bob’s style being an extension of arena’s (although I think bob tried to go away from that style at the very beginning of his tenure without seeing much potency in a possession game).

    ultimately, this is the time we should be STARTING to judge Klinsmann. anything that has happened over his first year was too early in his tenure to judge (good or bad) considering his lack of experience with the US team, the big changes he is trying to make, and also considering the unimportance of those games. NOW is the time we can begin to criticize or praise, in my opinion


  • PD

    If we as fans hold JK true to his word and his expressed intentions for the long term reorganization of the US Development pipeline, and if we take US Soccer at their word that are going to actually implement and hold true to what JK’s “vision” is, the JK’s legacy will be fully assessed not in 2014, but in coming generations of players. It’s a grandiose vision, but in truth it’s pretty un-sexy stuff. Progress will inch along until it reaches a tipping point, but we’re definitely in the “inch along” phase.

    In the meantime it’s about winning each match as they come, utilizing players that are coming into their own, and growing the love of the game and the visibility of the game.

    The USA will not become Barcelona (or Germany’s national squad) overnight. That will come when we have every player that puts on the Red, White and Blue are starting on top level clubs week in and week out. Plus, one only has to look at the recent rise in form of Jozy Altidore or Michael Bradley to know that getting to the right club has a HUGE impact on player development, perhaps more than any national pipeline could ever accomplish on it’s own.

    I personally think the gamble and the investment is worth it, if for no other reason than having a coach like JK means US Soccer has an international level of visibility, but we need to remain clear on what the gamble is and the nature of how long term this investment is.


  • PD

    In my opinion Donovan has NOT been a core player in qualifying thus far, and anyone that considers him so is living in wishful-thinking-land as opposed to assess-reality-ville To call a player that is not playing on your team a core member is like considering Holden as a possible answer for the #10 question when he’s not even at match level fitness let alone game speed. It’s not any kind of dig on LD as a player (he’s brilliant) but he’s just not in the formula right now and shouldn’t be used as reason of a lack of offense until he’s starting regularly again. Assuming he’s gonna make it that far he’s not going to be around past 2014, so the discussion of our offense should be moving on, even while he still has much to contirbute.


  • White Kix

    I do not always agree with you, but thank you for doing a piece that includes some criticism, or least shows the hypocrisy between Klinsman’s words and actions. I find most American Soccer journalism to blindly promote the team, coach, etc… I have been a loyal supporter of the USMNT for 20 years, and I am also highly critical of them, but only because I know we are capable of having a much better team.

    As far as your conclusion that Klinsman’s team does not play any different than Bradley’s team. You are wrong. Bradley always played 2 defensive midfielders. Klinsman plays 3 (or more). You are correct in that the formation is not nearly as important as the personal, and no matter what position you put them in, defensive midfielders will play like defensive midfielders.

    Another difference between Klinsman and Bradley, is that Bradley knew who to use as an attacking midfielder in the few occasions he decided to use one. In the World Cup, we were outscored 1-4 when Feilhaber was on the bench, but outscored our opponents 4-1 when he was on the field. It made no sense that Bradley refused to start him. However, it makes even less sense for Klinsman to continue to ignore one of the few players who can help this team score. Also, Bradley finally figured out that Adu is one of the few other US players that can consistently create chances. Klinsman came in and ignored Adu as well. I know that Adu and Fielhaber are two players that people love to hate, but they have both proven they can create chances at the national level. However, Klinsman continues to give Torres opportunities, but he never producers (to be fair to Torres, he is less of an attacking player and more of a smaller, weaker defending Michael Bradley, can sit in front of the defenders make the simple passes, and the occasional nice through ball, but is more of a keep possesion type of player than break down the defense type of player).

    Finally, I do see that Klinsman does usually have his players pressure higher up the field (he says to be closer to the goal when we get it). However, with so many defensive orriented players on the field, it doesn’t matter where we get the ball, they can’t do anything with it. I would rather have Fielhaber get the ball in his own half and have the opportunity to play a through ball to LD with 50 yards to run into than Beckerman have the ball in the attacking half.
    Thanks for the article.


  • Thatpageguy

    O’Brien was absolutely outstanding when he played in the WC for the US, but then he got injured and was never the same. I thought he was better than Reyna ever was. Glad to run into someone who appreciates him.


  • Thatpageguy

    Agree with a lot of what White Kix said above. We have good play makers in Feilhaber and Adu. Maybe they don’t play defense well enough for Klinsmann? Certainly they have made good things happen in the past. The best bet would be a healthy Stuart Holden as he is a pretty good all around midfielder and excellent passer and crosser. Wish he would recover from his injury. Donovan has the capability to also be a center mid creator, but then you lose his wing play. I think that having that play maker in the middle is what is holding back the US attack. I think Klinsmann has been counting on Torres, but Torres hasn’t seized his opportunity like many of us had hoped. He looked good at times, and then disappears other times. I good coach/manager has to adapt to the strengths of the players he has to work with. I think Klinsmann is doing that and that has limited what he can do versus what he wants to do.


  • biff

    Agree that Klinsmann is adapting to the strengths of the players he has to work with. But he is the one choosing the rosters and I think he could do a better job of choosing. There are potential attacking players in the pool, but Klinsmann is not testing any of them and is instead sticking with the same old stuff.


  • beachbum

    this side should be better than Bradley’s; deficient talent levels or not today compared to other nations, compared to the US team 5 years ago it’s already vastly better in depth and available player options with varied skills allowing varied tactics.

    Fabian is perhaps the biggest in this regard becasue of the position he plays and the everlasting gobstopper hole LB has been for the USMNT.

    But perhpas a better example of how the pool has progressed is that a player like Benny, who has a proven track record of positive contributions and role playing, is not rated. The pool is bigger and better now, the team should hopefully follow suit, requiring Coach and staff to decipher the best pieces for the optimal unit with more parts to choose from than ever before


  • DCP

    I agree with what your saying, but I see no reason why Klinsmann shouldn’t at least be trying to bring players into camp who could fill in for Dempsey and/or especially Donovan if those players aren’t available (granted no one in our pool can truly fill in for them). Maybe such fill-in players will emerge into great players over the next two years, maybe not, but I just don’t think Williams is the best possible replacement for Donovan when Donovan can’t go. Besides, you say Donovan will be around for at least two more years,but he has hardly been around for the last year, so I think it would be wise for Klinsmann to be exploring back-up plans.


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