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U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT flops in friendly loss to Ukraine

USAUkraineAction (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN ITEL

The U.S. Men’s National Team might have wished Wednesday’s friendly with Ukraine was canceled after all.

In a lackluster performance — highlighted by the disastrous center back pairing of Oguchi Onyewu and John Brooks — Ukraine jumped all over the USMNT in a 2-0 victory at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus.

For Ukraine, the highest-ranked team not to qualify for this summer’s World Cup, goals by rising star Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Devic on both sides of halftime gave the Eastern European country something to cheer for after being wracked by weeks of violence and political turmoil. The protest-fueled violence led to the relocation of the game from its original location of Kharkiv, leading to doubts that the game would be played at all.

The USMNT lineup of mostly European-based players was largely punchless on the evening, with their best chance at a goal perhaps coming on a beautifully struck volley by second-half substitute Aaron Johannsson off an 87th-minute corner kick.

The U.S. defense struggled mightily, with Edgar Castillo, Onyewu and Brooks all having forgettable performances.

It didn’t take long for Ukraine to exploit the gaps present all across the USMNT back line. In the 12th minute Denys Garmash made a late run out of the midfield and easily broke the USMNT’s high line, collecting a long ball before firing on goal. Howard made the initial stop but without much help from his defenders, Garmash found Yarmolenko who finished into an open net.

Yarmolenko continued to torment the U.S. defense as he zigged and zagged his way past Castillo and Brooks on the right side of the field with quick passes and intelligent runs. The Ukrainians might have been denied a fair goal in the 16th minute when Garmash was ruled back for being offside. Video replay showed him level with the last defender though as the U.S. were slow to leave the box off a corner.

The U.S. were able to break in down the left side in the 32nd minute when Fabian Johnson found Castillo in space, but the Tijuana left back couldn’t find a teammate with a cross. The U.S. had two further chances before halftime but a free kick couldn’t find an American head and a corner kick was eventually headed over the bar.

Following the halftime break, the USMNT came closest to scoring in the 55th minute when Jozy Altidore fired a header from a Geoff Cameron cross just over the bar. Though the U.S. began to improve and were showing a few more positive signs, Ukraine struck again through the middle of the field to destroy the USMNT’s hopes.

In the 68th minute, the substitute Devic ran through the heart of the field, latched on to a long ball, and similarly to the first goal, had multiple attempts to finish, doing so with hardly any USMNT defenders in the area.

From this point on, the U.S. never threatened Ukraine’s goal outside of an impressive volley attempt from Johannsson off a corner kick in the 87th minute. Ukrainian wing back Oleh Gusev was able to clear the shot off the line.

———

What do you think of the U.S. team’s dismal performance? Who were you most disappointed with? Who were you impressed with?

Share your thoughts below.

448 comments
  • rh

    If I were a coach, and I had literally hundreds and hundreds of people to choose from, I’d bench anyone who “doesn’t pressure” or “give their best effort”.

    Is this a kid’s game or something? Do you have to teach adult professional athletes to work hard EVERY game?

    Like

    • usaalltheway

      Think about all the adults in your life. Now, how many of them are mature, responsible, kind, compassionate people who work hard and do the “right thing”?

      Now think about those people getting millions of dollars to play a sport.

      So, the answer to your question is: YES, He needs to teach them every game. Some more than others but yes.

      Like

    • cps

      +1. That’s why I was/am a Herc Gomez fan. The guy never stopped running and applying pressure on the opposition.

      Like

      • EspinDOHla

        Love Herc.

        I think he could sneak into a roster spot if he gets it together. Those forward spots to Brazil are not at all set in stone. I would love to see Herc make the team if he can get back to his scoring ways.

        Like

  • Garth

    Altidore’s touch is terrible. His work rate is continuously disappointing and his attitude is bad. Yes, he’s big and strong and we all hope that he can produce consistently, but I can’t help but compare him to first rate international strikers and be very disappointed. Sure Wondoloski or Aguedelo or Boyd may not have the same physical tools, but I’d rather have them hustling on my team.

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    • GW

      “I can’t help but compare him to first rate international strikers and be very disappointed”

      That is true for the entire player pool except perhaps the keepers.

      So you should just stop making the comparison.

      England-Denmark, Italy -Spain, Netherlands-France, Germany-Chile were all on TV today, Mexico-Nigeria is on tonight .

      Why don’t you watch those games instead?

      Like

  • usaalltheway

    Despite everything, it’s always nice to see Brek play. He isn’t very good but he does more forward and attack. Always.

    The team seems to always be scared and worried. Too timid to get forward.

    This will all be over soon. The team will bomb out in the Cup, JK will leave and the US will get back to playing good but non-sexy football.

    Until then, we just have to suffer through this mess.

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    • Gary Page

      I think you should go into a cave and come out after the WC and either exult or apologize profusely. You offer absolutely nothing to the conversation; a real Johnny One Note.

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      • Lil' Zeke

        And you sir, curl up in a ball and squeeze into a storm drain, where your cheerful chirps can echo for all the molemen to hear

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    • Byrdman

      Have you considered the results this cycle. Have you considered the shambles the defense was in when JK took over. Do you not remember the 3 or 4 dmids we played every game to cover for the back? Thats why Williams was a right side midfielder. Not because he had any chance of adding to attack. To cover our back line.

      Sorry USA, J k is not going anywhere. He isnt the world’s best, but we are definitely better with him this cycle. Next cycle….well we shall see

      Like

  • Dan

    Dump Jozy once and for all. Play Aaron Johansson. And have Brek Shea come off bench in relief in 2nd half, he is good at that. Adding spark when we need it.

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  • Garth

    JK – How about we forget about a true #9 and put Donovan and AJ up top and let the two of them ebb and flow between striker and withdrawn striker?

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    • GW

      Did you see Spain- Italy today?

      Their Jozy is a guy named Costa and he was just gumming up the works.

      Your idea makes sense if you think , Donovan- AJ are comparable to Silva-Iniesta or Silva,- Fabregas or Iniesta -Fabregas.

      Is that what you think?

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    • Fredo

      Landon is a goal scorer. Jozy is rarely going to score with his head. If Klinsi wants triangle passes into the final third, low crosses, and movement, seems like a good idea to me. Then, the question is: who takes Landon’s spot in midfield?

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      • Lil' Zeke

        I think Landon’s more of a poacher these days. And yes an assist machine

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  • Dan

    That is good. AJ up top with Donavon behind him. And sit Jozy down!!!!!! (or don’t even take him to Brazil. Take Wondo, Eddie Johnson, or Hec Gomez instead.).

    Like

    • Nate

      You do know Jozy is #6 in all time US goals, right? How do you not take that player to Brazil?

      Like

      • Advocate

        The same way we don’t take Wynalda (#3), McBride (#4) and Moore (#5). Klinsmann can’t put anyone in his starting lineup or even on the plane based on how they used to perform. I’d include Jozy among the 30 and see if he improves playing with Donovan, the assist machine. But I think Dan is right, that AJ and LD in front of Bradley and the rest of our midfield talent will produce the goals we need, while Jozy seems a much more speculative possibility based on recent performance.

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  • Kfre

    I don’t get it with comments trashing Onyewu… Can anyone actually specify an error he made?? Why are the errors made by Brooks attributed to Onyewu as well?? With the number of interception, clearances and completed passes I believe he showed adequately. All I see are folks blaming the “pairing” thereby scapegoating Onyewu for the poor play of Brooks.

    Anyone saying Castillo had a solid performance should take another viewing. If he plays at LB in Brazil he will be torched.

    Not sure of Bedoya a MOTM… He was invisible the first half. They had zero width which made getting into the offensive third rare. Good adjustments in the second half after the intro of Shea and AJ. MOTM should have gone to Howard.

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    • danny

      Gooch is not very good and shouldn’t have even been in consideration for this game and Brazil. JAB is there cuz he is young and has potential. Both sucked in this game.

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      • GW

        Gooch showed he was mobile and could get through a game without getting hurt. That is progress.

        And you forget just how much experience the man has. This game was a cluster but it was good for Gooch.

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      • danny

        Sure its progress for him personally, but this is about the World Cup. I see your point about his experience, but other players bring that and there are many left off with plenty of experience.

        The type of player he is doesn’t really fit with Klinsman’s possession oriented play and the US has other large/strong defenders as well. Given that, he’s only worth taking/playing if he is close to his 2009 form (the last time he was in peak shape and dominant against good competition).

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      • bryan

        100% disagree. Gooch deserved to be there and looking at his Opta stats, he wasn’t as bad as we all thought.

        the issue was his lack of chemistry with JAB, his failure to communicate with JAB, and being paired with another CB so similar to him.

        i think Goodson and Orozco certainly have the edge, but if Gooch keeps up his form at the club level, he’ll still be in the conversation.

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      • Kfre

        @bryan the definition of NOT being lazy with your analysis. There seems to be a herd point of view on this board at times. I agree that the pairing was not ideal but I don’t believe that was reason for the individual errors by Brooks and Castillo.

        My prior comment was for @danny

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      • beachbum

        on Gooch’s game today, agreed. Ives was mentioning this in the game commentary

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      • Kfre

        As I expected – Nothing tangible backing your comment and you completely avoided the question. I didn’t ask why either Onyewu or JAB was called up for the match.

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      • danny

        2nd goal- did you see how slow he was getting back?- a light jog when if someone had sprinted they could have been there to help Howard after his initial block. Even on the first goal, he was very slow to get back but that’s somewhat forgivable given the situation. Also, positioning didn’t look good overall (sorry can’t be more specific- play by play). Also, he is the more senior CB so JAB bad positioning also reflects on him, who should be leading the line.

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      • Kfre

        So both goals he was at fault for not cleaning up a mistake made by others…particularly on save Howard had no business making (compliment to Timmy) – got it. Other than the high line on the second goal when the whole was pushing forward I don’t follow your positioning criticism. At the senior level each player should be responsible for their own positioning and get off the hook with “well Gooch didn’t tell me where to stand”. Weak. Whatevs, we disagree and I maintain the harsh comments are unwarranted.

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  • Chris

    If anyone is upset about a Castillo-Oneywu-Brooks pairing on the back line not going well than they need to re-evaluate some things.

    Clearly all three of those players were just trimmed from the World Cup squad. Its all good, every team needs to cut the roster down.

    MLS players get a nice opportunity against Mexico to step up and take the spots that a few bums left open tonight (I’d add in Sacha to the list at the very least).

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    • Kfre

      Comments like this are exactly what I’m talking about. Castillo gets torched, Brooks is late on the man making the run and Gooch gets lumped in bc eh why not? Just lazy analysis.

      Like

    • Chris

      Marking free runners through the middle is a collaboration between central defenders. Sorry that my analysis didn’t meet your high standards man.

      You look forward to Oneywu playing in a World Cup match?

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      • Kfre

        The responsibility for man marking depends upon where the player is making the run. The attacker on the first goal made the run between Castillo and Brooks. I’m not sure where you see Gooch failing to mark the man making the run behind Brooks – he can’t play across the entire back line at the same time. Any and everyone can put forward an opinion but its reasonable to have something backing it up.

        Look, if either Besler or Gonzo go down, my preference barring injury and uninterrupted playing time at club level would be Gooch over Goodson, Orozco and JAB.

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  • Hejduk4President

    The amount of misplaced negativity on here is insane. Yes, this was a pretty disappointing result, but lets think about some things.

    A: 3 of the 4 defenders today won’t see the field at the WC.

    B: Ditto most of the midfield, with the exception of Jones and Dueceface

    I do think the concerns about Dempsey are pretty legit, however. He’s had a an off-season break, as well as some consistent EPL training and games but still looks half a step too slow and a little lightweight.

    And as for Jozy…ehh. I guess we all hope he hits some form/confidence in Brazil. When he’s on his game, he’s a serious threat.

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  • Colt

    Shea definitely helped himself today. Not sure if there room for him, but he’s a Klinsi fave.

    Bedoya definitely has a chance to start.

    Jab, Gooch, klestjan, Castillo lost their ticket. Castillo was miserable and Klestjan was worse. JAB will be a star in time, but has done maturing and tactical awareness to develop first.

    My 23 in March:

    Howard, Guzan, Rimando

    Cameron, Chandler, Johnson, Beasley, Gonzo, Besler,

    And one more defender (not a Goodson fan, but Gooch and Jab aren’t ready; Evans isn’t World Cup caliber, don’t want to see Parkhurst there; hoping Cherundolo is healthy but doubtful)

    Bradley, Jones, Williams, Diskerud, Bedoya, Donovan, Dempsey, Zusi, Green, Shea

    Altidore, Boyd, Aron

    Like

  • Expat4455

    biff, you made a statement of fact about Timothy Chandler; “…his (Chandler’s) coach, Verbeek, was saying in December he (Chandler) did not do enough to help Nürnberg, who (Verbeek) wanted to bring in a better right back.”

    Please post a link where what you said can be confirmed. I believe you are full of it. But if you can provide proof of your outrageous accusation well……………

    Like

    • biff

      Now, Expat4455, I would like to respectfully ask you about a statement of fact that you have been perpetuating on the SBI boards numerous times in the past couple of weeks, including yet again above on this thread. You have been saying that Chandler “made the Bundesliga eleven of the week for 2 straight weeks before he was injured.”

      I have checked both Bundesliga.de and Goal.com and could not find Chandler listed as a member of the Bundesliga 11 of the week on either Web site for the first two weeks after the winter break. I am not accusing you of making this up, because maybe I made a mistake in reading Bundesliga.de and Goal.com, or maybe you are referring to other publications. Could you please provide links to a publication (or publications) that lists Chandler as a player of the week for each of the two weeks before he was injured? Thanks.

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      • bryan

        comment in in moderation. but it was Kicker Online’s team of the week for both the weeks Expat is referring to.

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  • Samuel

    Owned by a team that’s not even going to the WC. I can see Portugal beating this bunch of lazy losers by 5-0 with four by Ronaldo; and Germany beating them also 5-0. Ghana will beat them 3-0 because after all they got our number. And then they will go home and Mexico will make it to the semis and the new cycle with Klinsi, the soccer alchemist, will begin again.

    Like

    • Chris

      I guess you didn’t grasp the fact that a whole bunch of the players for the USA in this game won’t be seeing the field in Brazil.

      Like

    • Gary Page

      Did you know that Ukraine was the highest rated team to not make the WC and France needed a late goal at home to advance from their playoff? Ukraine is really pretty good and the US was hurt by not playing first stringers, except for Cameron, in defense.

      Like

  • Chris H

    Bedoya was ok, but my issue with him is that he rarely stretches the other team’s width, he drifts inside, as does FJ, which doesn’t help the team shape. Bedoya has good moments, but I don’t like his passing and movement in tight spaces.

    I honestly am done with the 4-2-3-1 for the US if we don’t have a solid, confident striker who can consistently win and hold up the ball. It should lead to dominating midfield possession but it doesn’t for us. JK needs to go back to a 4-4-2, or at least give it an honest shot. I know we did well in 2013 with the formation, but when we play the higher skilled teams that have solid midfielders (like Ukraine) it seems we end up chasing the game.

    In a 4-4-2 you could play a Donovan, Herc, AJ or Aguedelo up top with a Jozy or Boyd, and actually stretch the defense.

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  • Dan

    Jozy should not be going to Brazil. The guy is a head case. He cannot handle the pressure. And, slow, plodding, lazy! Aaron Johansson up top and Brek Shea for midfield relief and second half spark. Timmy Chandler for right back too, if he gets healthy.

    Jozy….just stay home! You suck!

    Like

  • Samuel

    All of a sudden Eddie Johnson is looking like a savior in that forward position. Id take him and Johannsson only with Deuce as a back up lone striker and beef up the midfield and defense. The hell with Antigoal Agudelo Boyd Hercules Wondo or any other loser striker.

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  • flagermunsen.

    “In a lackluster performance — highlighted by the disastrous center back pairing of Oguchi Onyewu and John Brooks.” This is an over simplification, obfuscation and proclamation that misses out on the point that center backs rarely look bad when their midfielders play well. In the first half the midfield (Kljestan, Dempsey and Jones) consistently turned the ball over in bad areas. Additionally, the midfield was not running with the Ukraine central mids. Even Twellman complained about it several times during the game. If Twellman could see it… I don’t think we can make Brooks and Onyewu the scapegoats for a poor performance tonight. The midfield amplified their poor performance.

    Like

  • Adam M .

    Everyone is too wedded to their physical positions on offense. It’s very A-B-C right now. There needs to be more churn in the final third. Not just overlapping runs, but cutting runs with the ball and runs behind and around the ball. The 4-4-2 would help solve those problems, but I think the 4-3-3 is where we need to go. Williams-Bradley-Jones behind AJ-Altidore-Donovan. Give Bradley, Donovan and AJ freedom to move, overlap with the fullbacks FJ and Cameron. Williams and Jones destroy and cover the backs and look for the odd offensive pass. AJ and Donovan need to run, create space, which is what Jozy needs. Jozy as a lone striker isn’t playing to his strength and trying to force crosses isn’t playing to the team’s strength.

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    • Helium-3

      You are spot on. I was going to post about this then saw your posting.

      Jozy needs to make smarter decisions what to do to make things happen. The way he played last night is how he plays for Sunderland and not how he played at AZ. If he has his back to the goal in the box, and 2 defenders on him, he just stays there waiting for the pass instead of moving out to open the space and bring defenders with him, so someone else or ball can go into the previous space.

      Another example was late in the game when Shea beat a defender just outside the box from the left, and was coming into the box; guy covering Jozy moves away from Jozy and goes to meet Shea, then Jozy instead of going into that space that his defender left, just continues to run straight into the middle of the goal box where there were already 2 US players waiting, among with several other Ukrainians.

      If Jozy went into the space just vacated, all Shea had to do was drop the ball to him and Jozy would had an open shot to the near post. This is just another example of him making bad decisions. He’s a grown ass man and not some rookie, so we would not be expecting this of a national team level player.

      Also, Agudelo made a bad decision when he got a ball just outside the box on the right, and quickly tries to force a pass to Johansson who was double teamed. Agudelo could have just made a beeline for the goal since no defenders was in front of him. But this is expected since he is young, but no excuse for someone like Jozy making bad decisions.

      Like

  • Joamiq

    Man, you know it was a bad game when missed opportunities to cross the ball are noted in the match report.

    I have no idea why on earth we were playing a high line with that centerback pairing. It was suicide from the start. Tactics in friendlies aren’t anything to be concerned about 99% of the time, but stuff like this sometimes makes me wonder if Klinsmann knows what he’s doing.

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    • whoop-whoop

      Because the purpose of the friendly was not to eek out a win bunkered in, it was to answer some questions coming into WC… to determine if fringe players such as Brooks and Gooch are cut out to play the type of system/tactics Klinsman would like to and will deploy in Brasil. Questions answered.

      Like

      • Joamiq

        There was never any question in the first place. Brooks and Gooch cannot run a high line together. I don’t think Besler and Gonzalez can either, so I hope that’s not the plan.

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  • asfa

    ——————————— HOWARD ———————————

    CAMERON —— GONZALES —— BESLER —— F.JOHNSON

    —————————JONES —— BRADLEY ———————

    —————— ZUSI——DONOVAN —— GREEN (we can only hope)

    ——————————JOHANNSSON——————————

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    • Dinho

      I can dig this. I really think Donovan excels in that role in the “hole.”

      And, if not Green, then Beasley/Shea/Bedoya/Zusi battling for those spots.

      Like

  • bryan

    there is a lot of talk (outside of here) stating that MLS players benefited big time from this game. i’m not so sure.

    who really gained though outside of Omar, Besler, and Goodson? Orozco did but he’s not in MLS anyway.

    FJ showed he should be the LB, which hurts Beasley and Castillo. Liga MX players. you could argue that Parkhurst gained by Castillo having a bad game at LB though.

    Kljestan having a bad game benefits Mix, another Euro-based player.

    Williams having a solid showing does not help Beckerman. It hurts him even if he still has the edge. One of those two will not go to Brazil.

    Bedoya’s strong game will put pressure on Zusi. Zusi is still ahead of him, but Bedoya nipping at his heels. Either way, Zusi was always going to Brazil. no gain there.

    Jones showed he needs to start next to Bradley. another negative for Beckerman.

    Cameron showed he is better than Evans. so Evans is likely the back up RB now and could even lose that if Chandler got healthy. so again, he gained nothing.

    Dempsey plays in MLS.

    Jozy is pressured from AJ who is not in MLS.

    LD and Bradley were always going to start, let alone make the roster, so they had nothing to lose and didn’t gain anything.

    point is, Cobi’s post is true about the league being stronger and contributing to the US team more than ever. but i don’t think any MLS player now has a better chance of making the WC roster other than Goodson and maybe Parkhurst. i’d love to hear otherwise.

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    • dman

      Every US citizen now has a better chance because the guys who played today are now out of the pool. My centerback stock went up today I know that for sure.

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      • bryan

        Outside of center back and left back, I don’t think anyone in MLS benefited.

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      • EspinDOHla

        While Cameron didn’t have the best game it’s comical to say he was horrible.

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      • bryan

        Exactly. Watching Evans get destroyed by the South Korean B/C team was a truly “horrible” showing.

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      • Bac

        Well stated Bryan, also important to remember that even though Evans did ok his first few times at a new position, he got worse each of the last 3 qualifiers too… Very slow, behind the play, had to make several desperation slide tackles.. giving up bad free kicks. While Cam has been getting better and plays with a high intensity level…

        JK obviously has seen this, which is why he started at RB.

        Too many fans base their opinions on what happened in the last 24 hours…

        Good post

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      • Increase0

        Horrible crossing but he is a defender sooo I’m not really upset.

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      • bryan

        No, he wasn’t. And my glasses are confirmed by Opta and almost every post game review I’ve read. He lacked on crosses but was solid otherwise.

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      • Brett

        If solid means slow on recovery, I agree. Also, shanking every cross you attempt is a pretty big deal for me. Maybe I just have high expectations.

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  • AMPhibian

    as a team, we didn’t perform very well today, but it was less about individual performances, and more about how the team meshed together. that concerns me, because i worry that even if we do get our best players on the field, they won’t have enough experience with each other/chemistry to score more goals than they concede.

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    • The Imperative Voice

      There is an argument to be made that from either a recent cap number standpoint, or a quality standpoint in many cases, we shouldn’t have expected to see a well-drilled team. Which was compounded by having the two best CAMs called in send sick notes.

      I think it was then about individual performances, and few people made their case. But then that is sometimes the case when you trot out the B or C team. I think a few people like Jones, AJ, and Shea made statements, most of the rest are either skating by on rep (Dempsey, Jozy) or in jeopardy already.

      Like

  • euroman

    WC starting 11 based on current form:

    Johnson

    LD

    Davis Bradley Beckerman Zusi

    Johnson Goodson Gonz Cameron

    Howard

    “CURRENT FORM”

    Like

  • Len

    I can recall games in the not so distant past when the US team couldn’t keep the ball on their foot or complete a pass. I’m amazed at how negative the TV commentators were. I don’t expect homers but you would have thought that they were broadcasting on Ukrainian television. I just didn’t think it was all that bad. First of all, the Ukrainian team was pretty darn good with what appeared to be a number of their first string players and they appeared to be emotionally invested in the game. We had some bad defensive lapses by people who will either not be on the plane or will certainly not start. Even the maligned CB’s made some decent plays (“Other than that Mrs. Lincoln—“). The passing was really not that bad except for Sasha (the one player I believe deserved the bad press).

    Jozy is not that good in the air. For my money, Jones played very well and interestingly enough, I think he was playing more of a true 6. The only problem with that was that Sasha was playing a true 0.

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    • The Imperative Voice

      Fair corrective but I think there was regression back towards Early Klinsmann games in terms of offensive incisiveness — we did possess but to little value — and the defense continues to leak goals. I find the latter more worrisome because that trend holds whether it’s the A team or not, and we have a tough draw. The attacking incisiveness will come back if Klinsi uses the right players when he does have his A team. It’s just a question of how big a hole this defense is going to dig because it’s no one earning the jobs with excellence, it’s who looks like they might mess up least.

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      • Len

        I’ll venture some modest (perhaps) heresy here. At an elite level, attacking players are better than defending players (better touch, better possession, better ball skills). Defenses make mistakes (bad clearing, ball watching, not man marking etc). Offenses take advantage (sometimes they even score without a defensive mistake). I think you are correct regarding our defense but a great part of it will be that the attacking prowess we are facing in the World Cup is so daunting. If Besler and Gonzo are thought to be our best, so be it. I’m hoping for the best and expecting the worst. You never know. Who expected Gooch and Demerit to play the way they did in the Confeds Cup?

        Defending will have to be “all hands on deck”. Watch the first goal. There is a great over the top pass which beats everyone. The attacker hits Howard with the ball (or Howard makes the save). If you watch Castillo and Iarmalenko, Castillo is even or goal side but he jogs and Iarmalenko sprints. Result-goal. We can’t have that. We’ll need luck, all the right bounces, no catastrophic calls, all the stars in alignment.

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      • The Imperative Voice

        Whereas I tend to believe in talent, that give or take effort some incremental level of effort and determination, you are playing the cards you develop and field.

        My basic concern when I look at the US defense is the generation of players who were mainstays in senior-level Europe has gotten old. Boca, Dolo, DeMerit, etc. We’re now fielding people of the same generation who haven’t been flushed (Gooch), junior players who’ve not made their mark yet (Brooks), and then the best MLS has to offer, which is just OK. To me when MLS is the main pipeline to a position you are suffering talent deficit.

        I think at least some of the problem is that the current US trend seems to emphasize distribution skills, composure, and heading ability over the ability to win balls and clatter people. I want to show US coaches tape of Italian teams and point out it’s not mutually exclusive, defense and the ability to work the ball out once it’s won. I don’t think pushing finesse is wrong minded per se it’s just the US’ strength used to be a solid team defense with enough offensive talent to be able to counter.

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  • Brett

    Dempsey and Jozy should be fighting for the same spot, and frankly, Jozy is winning.

    Aron is 2nd forward by some distance, and Donovan and Zusi are our SMFs. Fabian has to play defense because Beasley and Castillo both stink. The back line is a total mess, but will be slightly better with Besler and Gonzalez back. Even at full strength, we are going to give up at least 6 goals in the World Cup if we don’t find a decent set of fullbacks.

    Bedoya is a one trick pony and his one trick isn’t that great. I do like his work rate though and I think he could make a great fullback. He probably has the best curling cross on the team.

    Brooks is too inexperienced to start but I think he is better than Goodson.

    Jones was okay, the shiniest turd on the pile, but I want him nowhere near the field in Brazil (I know he will be there) and Kljestan played his way behind Mix and Beckerman. That’s fine for me.

    In the end there were just too many missed chances, good chances from players who really needed to show well.

    My dream lineup is a 4-1-3-2. Back four is Fabian, Besler, Gonzalez, Bedoya. Bradley maestros from the holding spot. Ahead of him is a midfield trident Beasley, Donovan, Zusi. Up top Jozy works the point and Aron plays the shadow. It’ll never happen, but I think that’s our best eleven. Dempsey fights back in if he can start scoring, but I think he is ill suited for a midfield role at this point. His passing and running are both lazy.

    Like

    • Fair Observer

      surprisingly i dont have a big problem with your lineup, never thought about bedoya at RB but if JK can try B Evans back there he might as well try Bedoya. frees up a spot in midfield

      Like

      • Brett

        Ale Boy has played there before in later stages of matches. He’s got the motor for it, and the crossing ability.

        Like

    • Advocate

      It’s nice to see that someone values Beasley’s talents as a midfielder, as do I. For my money, he’s the best left wing on the roster (at least if Donovan plays elsewhere). That shift also puts Fabian at FB, where he is most natural and can make the best contribution. Of course, in the increasingly unlikely event that Dempsey regains his form, some adjustment would have to be made. In that case, I’d be inclined to sit Jozy, play Aron up front with Donovan and slot Dempsey into the center of your midfield.

      Like

      • Brett

        I’d like that idea if Dempsey had the work rate or midfield play. His passing has never been great either. I think his best role now is as a sub for Jozy, or possibly, his starting spot up top.

        Like

  • David M

    No need to panic. We can always schedule a few home games against the likes of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, so that Klinsmann the Messiah can lead the team to another impressive yearly record.

    Like

  • Jim in Atlanta

    Ok ok ok. If no one else is going to say it then I will.

    Why don’t we play James Milner aka graham zusi at RB?

    I would love to see chandler back at right back because in my eyes neither Cameron nor Evans are not good enough. Cameron is to slow and can hit a cross to save his life and brad Evans…. well, BRAD EVANS!?

    I mean it works for Man city. Why can’t it work for us? He has all the tools to be successful there probably more than Beasley has to play LB.

    So there it is our RBs should be James Milner(zusi) and Timothy Chandler.

    Like

    • Bac

      I bet if you lined up Cam, Zusi, and Evans in a sprint…. Cam wins

      He’s got the experience in the back, and he’s played well this season… ok all but one of his crosses sucked today, but short of a Chandler resurrection..Cams the guy

      Agree with you Evans has no business at RB for the usmnt, Zusi is too slow

      Like

      • Jim in Atlanta

        HOW is zusi too slow? In what world is cam faster than zusi? Are you trolling me?

        Like

      • Matt

        I’d be willing to put my left nut on it that if you did a poll on this site, asking quite simply: If Cam and Zusi were to race from point a to point b, who would win?

        – 75% of the votes would be in favor of Cam. As would I.

        Like

      • John

        The only reason I might give it to Zusi is that run he made in the Azteca to clear out a cross with his head.

        Like

      • Jim in Atlanta

        Then 75% of you are either delusional, high, blind, or don’t know who zusi is lol. There is no way in the world Cameron is faster/quicker than zusi. No, just NO.

        Like

      • RealMenChewGum

        I also think Cam would win a sprint. But Zusi’s strength is in his acceleration. He has a very quick first step, which is probably what you’ve seen out of him.

        Like

      • Bac

        No. I’ve never taken shots at other posters on SBI, never been the internet tough guy. I’ve always said there’s too much wasted energy here in that way if you’ve ever read any of my posts. I was respectfully disagreeing with your point about Zusi, and agreeing with your point about Evans.

        The knock on Zusi has always been that he’s not very quick, or more specifically- not very fast…. and watching Cam- he can run. At 6’3″ and long strides he may not look it, but he can run with every forward he goes against in the PL.

        Zusi isn’t a defender.

        Trolling no. Disagreeing with part of your post and following with rational points, that’s what I always hope to do.

        Like

      • Jim in Atlanta

        Didn’t take a shot at you. Don’t be so sensitive.

        Like

  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    Riddle me this: If Altidore isn’t good as a single striker and if Eddie Johnson is not much better, then why does Klinsmann stick with the same tactics? At this point, change tactics and use the offensive strengths you have (Bradley, Zusi, Donovan and Johannsson) instead of trying to force players to be something they’re not.

    Like

  • John

    What is the point of running Boyd out there for the last 30 seconds of the match? It’s just getting mean of Klinsmann at this point.

    Like

    • Helium-3

      Dempsey should have come off with about 15 mins left for Boyd. Dempsey has definitely lost a step or two at this level. It’s the same Dempsey we saw playing for Seattle last season. He’s not going to get better playing MLS ball.

      Like

    • David M

      Average?? We didn’t even come close to average yesterday. Ukraine was average.

      Like

      • Kevin_H

        I noticed that soccer fans in England will call a team/performance “average” when actually they mean “less than average.”

        Maybe they’re just being nice.

        Like

  • John

    I was hanging on to some hope that Dempsey and Altidore’s club form wouldn’t somehow effect how they play on the national team. The chances of that are looking less and less likely at this point. Perhaps they didn’t get a great deal of service but they also killed a good number of attacks them self.

    Jozy without a goal in 4 US starts now and Clint in 6 (unless you count the PK that bounced off the keeper).

    Like

  • AH

    You’ll have to search long and hard for a worse performance by a centerback pairing.

    The runs that were cutting them apart consisted of one guy running straight up the middle and they could not sort it out. Gooch has long been an awful soccer player and shouldn’t get capped ever again. Brooks may have a future, but it’s a ways off.

    Other thoughts…

    Dempsey was awful. Altidore was pretty bad. Bedoya was a relatively bright spot. Sacha was just terrible. Shea, who is not good at soccer, may go to Brazil just because he is willing to run at people. Edgar Castillo was not good. Cameron is class but his crosses weren’t up to par today.

    Like

    • John

      Shea is such a confusing player. Sometimes he’ll look like he has no idea what’s going, wondering in circles and is scared to touch the ball. Other times he comes on, is making tackles and looks like the fastest most creative player we have. Every time you’re ready to give up on him he gives you this little flash where you just hope he could put it all together.

      Like

    • John

      If Jozy puts that header at least on target as he probably should, or Kljestan get on to the other cross as he probably should I think maybe we are looking at Cameron’s crossing ability in a different light perhaps.

      Like

      • Brett

        2 out of 15 might be a good ratio for pi, but I expect better.

        Like

  • RealMenChewGum

    Here is a smattering of my thoughts regarding this game:

    Overall, it was a very disappointing showing. Not so much because of the poor individual performances (although there were plenty of those), but because of the incredible lack of energy. The U.S. (and also Ukraine, for that matter) had very little urgency in their play. A few players (Dempsey, Bedoya) would try at times to get some uptempo play going, but it never stuck for long. This was the most upsetting part of the game for me. Just not a fun game to watch.

    And now, here are my thoughts on the individuals, roughly in the order of how I think they performed:

    Howard – Didn’t have much to do most of the game. Made excellent first saves on the two goals only to have little help on the rebound.

    Bedoya – Most energetic player for the US. Most of the successful US buildups went through him. He also had a few sloppy giveaways, but for the most part his combination play was quick and incisive. Definitely raised his stock – mostly due to the dearth of good performances around him. It would take quite a free-fall for him to miss the plane to Brazil at this point.

    Jones – Had a few poor touches that killed counterattacks, but overall played very solidly. He was absolutely everywhere defensively. It seemed like he covered for everyone else on the team at some point or another. Distribution was ok but not excellent. To be fair, Klejstan didn’t really help him out with this. I would have like to seem him paired with Williams for longer so he could have more freedom to create offensively.

    Cameron – Other than his horrible crossing, I thought he played very well. He wasn’t caught out of position defensively and I don’t recall him ever getting burned one-on-one. He didn’t contribute much offensively in the first half, but he and Bedoya absolutely shredded the right side of the field for the first 20 mins or so of the second half. I think he has to start for us in Brazil and, as of now, it should be at RB.

    FabJo – While he didn’t have a particularly great game, this match solidified my belief that he absolutely 100% needs to be in our starting XI. His technically ability with the ball at his feet is miles ahead of most of the US players. He had a couple errant passes and didn’t look quite as dangerous going forward as he sometimes does. However, there were many times when he received a poor one-touch pass from a teammate in tight space and managed to save possession with incredibly quick feet and a deft touch. He NEEDS TO start somewhere on the left in the WC.

    Clint – I liked his approach to the game, but his touch and form just don’t seem to be there. He was one of the few players trying to make something happen, and you could hear him trying to lead on the pitch. However, too often his first touch and quick passes careened away from him. He’s obviously still struggling, but I think he’ll find his way back by the time the WC rolls around.

    Castillo – The way he played puzzled me. To me it looked like he was very tense and too afraid of making a mistake to play to his strengths. We know he’s not the most solid defender, but usually you’ll see him barrel down the left wing without abandon a few times a game. That is his strength. He struggled some defensively, but what really bothered me was his lack of aggression up the wing. Maybe Klinsmann told him to reel it in so he doesn’t get caught out of position. Whatever the case, it didn’t work. He’s on the fringe, but at this point I’d still rather see him over Shea as our left-footed-winger option.

    Altidore – Very disappointing showing. It looked like many of the Sunderland games he’s played in this year, except he was even less involved. His first touch was as bad as I’ve seen this season. And he started doing his pouty body language thing. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a huge Altidore fan – I still think he should be our starting striker at the WC – but he really needs to change his habit of throwing his arms up in the air exasperatedly whenever a bad touch kills an attack. I know for a fact he is a mature/selfless person and player but, for whatever reason, he has this one horrible habit. It makes him look like a much worse teammate than he actually is. THIS IS WHY you see so many fans call him ‘lazy’.

    Kljestan – He showed me… nothing. Just nothing. This is it for me. He just doesn’t perform for the national team. At this point, I’d rather not even see him in Brazil as a backup. Take your pick of his bad giveaways in midfield (and one of them led to a goal). I really wish Williams had gotten the start so we could see what he could do with Jones.

    Gooch/Brooks – Just never had any sort of organization or unspoken understanding of position, which is what you want out of your CBs. Both of those runs went right between them, and you can’t just get beat through that part of the pitch as CBs. The runners may have come from the midfield in both cases, and they may not have been able to stop those goals anyway, but they WERE SO SLOW to even notice those runs. The players were already by them when they started to cover. Both their stocks dropped significantly and all other CBs rose by default.

    Subs:

    Johannsson – Solid showing, nothing spectacular. Some people have said he showed particularly well, but I didn’t see anything amazing. Took that volley very well and at least got involved in the play. Solidly cemented as the #2 striker in my book.

    Shea – Decent showing. Got involved in his time on the pitch. But, again, he’ll often make a nice run down the wing and then just look like a deer in the headlights once he gets into the final third. Someone on this site explained it very well a while back: “He’s great at every part of soccer, except the soccer parts.” No change in his WC standing in my opinion.

    Williams – Not really enough time on the pitch to discern much. But if he keeps playing well in the Championship, I definitely want to see more of this guy.

    Agudelo/Boyd – I always feel like I’d love to see these guys get a real shot, but I just don’t see how to fit that in before the WC.

    And, for sharts and giggles, here’s the lineup I’d throw out for the WC right now (keep in mind, this is for the first half):

    —————————————————–Altidore———————————————————–

    ————FabJo——————————–Donovan———————————–Bedoya————

    ——————————–Jones———————————–Bradley————————————-

    ————Beasley——————Besler—————–Gonzalez—————–Cameron————

    —————————————————–Howard————————————————————

    Zusi/Bedoya on the right is pretty close for me right now, but I’m giving it to Bedoya by the slightest margin based on form.

    Like

    • Increase0

      Good Run down. I would play Fabian back against Ghana. I think they have a crazy fast right wing. He can move up vs Portugal but fall back if Rolando Switches sides. I think Beasley could handle Nani.(Just bad right now)

      Like

    • Curtis

      Agree with almost all of your recaps — and I really love Bedoya’s effort and work-rate for this team. Sometimes looks like he is the only one busting his hump, although I know he is just a bit frantic at times.

      IMHO, Bedoya was man of the match for us, just based on work-rate alone.

      Like

  • usaalltheway

    The team has looked completely disjointed for YEARS now. To this very day, we have no idea who are the players that JK wants to be play in Brazil. He mentioned a “spine” but that was only 6 players. What about the rest of the team?

    Who will be the fullbacks? Who do you really want in the midfield? Jones and Bradley don’t work well together and when Bradley is gone, the team is completely lost. Who are our wingers? There are just too many unanswered questions.

    I have watch 99% of the USMNT games since the World Cup in 2010. Since JK took over, the team has lost of it’s old qualities, while gaining no new qualities.

    The team used to be able to handle high caliber teams, counter with pace, defend very well, and boss around lesser teams. There was a sense of community and mutual support and love. You saw it on the field and off. It’s all gone now.

    All in all, I see no positives outside of Tim Howard.

    I think too many of the fans are overly positive. Rose-colored glasses. Too many excuses. Too much resting on this last teams numbers and not on the actual quality of the team or it’s opponents.

    The team is really a total joke right now. The World Cup is going to be a disaster. All one needs to do is just watch the games.

    Like

    • Joe from Philly

      You guys ever notice that no matter what some posters write, it always is the same thing? Yeah, me too.

      Like

    • Curtis

      Really agree on losing the old qualities and not adding any new ones. Klinsi constantly runs down the previous regime in his comments (i.e., “we are taking the program to new heights/levels”; “we are going to play a new, more attractive style of football”, etc.) — and he simply has not backed it up.

      Some good results (if not impressive performances) in Europe notwithstanding — where do we stand now just 3 months from Brazil? We seem to have lost much of our previous identity, and not replaced it with anything — at least not anything discernible to me as an outside observer. They just seem all over the place, and the concerns we had one year ago ( folks not buying into the system, rift with LD, etc.) that seemed to have disappeared may actually have been a portent of things to come.

      This feels a lot like lead-up to 1998 WC.

      Like

  • gtv

    Jozy and Deuce’s off-season moves have really hurt us. I understand their motivations, but from a USMNT standpoint, it is a disaster. Jozy is so rusty now there’s no way he gets back in form by summer and Clint’s move at his age means his days as a world-class player are over. Playing on Astroturf in MLS will not help his injuries or his form. Gooch’s international career is over. No fault of his own, age and injuries will eventually catch up with anyone. Even more concerning, Bradley has left Roma and will also play on Astroturf in the MLS. I hate to be so pessimistic, but I am afraid we may not win a single point in Brasil.

    Like

  • Dirk McQuigley

    Did you ever wonder why Klinsi scheduled this match, originally in hostile conditions, against very good opponents? He wanted to see what his players were made of. And even if that means the match served to ELIMINATE players from making the plane to Brazil, then it was useful.

    We know that Gooch is finished w/ the US MNT. We know that Brooks is not ready for prime time. Maybe in four years, but he does’t deserve a spot on the roster now.We know that Klestjan is a disappointment and that he shouldn’t make the team either. We know that Castillo has no business playing left back. Ever.

    What else did we learn from the match? Howard had an excellent game, save the time he was almost victimized by the 50 yard attempt on goal. That Jones, despite not playing very much at all for the past few months, did not hurt his spot on the team. Yes, he made some mistakes, but he put up maximum effort. I certainly can’t say that about Altidore. I’m very disappointed because he is one of my favorite players on the side but he is on his way to playing himself out of the starting lineup. This isn’t the first match for the Nats where he squandered excellent chances. Definitely against Scotland and a few other games too.

    Dempsey is also playing himself out of the starting lineup. IMO, he shouldn’t be captain either.

    Shea should only be used as a sub. And probably for no more than 30 minutes per game.

    AJ continues to impress. However, he works best when he is paired with a real striker and right now that’s not Jozy. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of options available to make AJ more effective.

    Williams, if he stays fit and in form, might just play himself back onto the roster.

    Goodson is now looking like he is going to make the final 23.

    FJ did nothing at LM IMO. He did have a great game against Panama, but that was Panama and in Seattle mind you.

    I wish we saw Packwood but I think he was just brought in to get a taste of the US MNT experience.

    As bad as the defense played, the offense was, well, offensive. Lots of soft passes getting cut out by Ukraine. Maybe the pitch was responsible for the slow passes early in the match, but they never really developed any cohesion until early in the second half.

    The difference between this match and the matches at Bosnia and Russia was that the offense bailed out the defense. A few inches off on a pass here and there and a few inches off some shots and we would have been talking about three losses rather than a loss, a win, and a tie.

    Again, by their absence, we saw how important MB 90 and LD are. The same could be said of our starting central defenders.

    As disastrous as this match was, it doesn’t count. This isn’t a Group Stage match. Even the upcoming Mexico game and the three before the WC really don’t matter. Yes, good form is good for confidence but again these matches are friendlies.

    If the US is going to get out of the group, then conditions and fitness will be factors — just as they were in Korea. And as poorly as the US played and as much as we have some fundamental problems, the weather and fitness will probably shift things in our favor.

    I’m not saying we are getting out of the group. I am saying that the weather and our fitness level will give us a decent chance against Germany and Portugal.

    Like

    • Brain Guy

      An eminently reasonable assessment. This was like an episode of “Survivor” for some guys, and some of them voted themselves off the island. For a couple of others, if I may use a different metaphor, it was another test grade on the way to the final report card. I’d say that among the field players, Cameron, Johannsson, Johnson, and maybe Williams didn’t hurt themselves too badly.

      Like

  • Curtis

    Quite a disappointing show overall, albeit without five likely starters (LD, Bradley, Gonzo, Besler, Beasley). We really missed MB and LD. Agree that Klinsi didn’t have many too many options in the back, but the CB-tandem was doomed to failure against a team with this kind of movement off the ball, and I do not know why Castillo was called in again at LB. I hope and trust this will be the last time we see Gooch, Klejstan, and Castillo during this cycle. Beg of you. Please.

    FJ/Beasley should compete to be our starting LB going forward, with a nod to FJ. No more experimentation. We need to have a solid backline in Brazil, first and foremost, and I am not overly-impressed with FJ going-forward. Plus, moving him back opens-up that midfield slot for Dempsey/Zusi/LD, or perhaps allows AJo to get on the field with Jozy up top.

    Without overreacting to this result — but rather looking at the entirety of performances over the last couple years — I am concerned. Agree with poster above that Klinsi has taken away some old qualities from this team without much value-added. I am not at all optimistic about Brazil, and sadly foresee a three-and-out scenario as highly-likely. Would love to be proved wrong, but there are just WAY too many question marks with this side at this point:

    solid/experienced CB’s? where do the goals come from? outside backs? how quickly can everyone learn German?

    Like

  • DC Josh

    Klinsmann’s tactics just don’t produce enough scoring chances. His formations don’t provide any continuity up top. Klinsi needs to move Dempsey up next to Jozy, and allow both of them freedom of movement along the backline. But, Klinsmann won’t; he will keep his drab tactics, and we will flop out of the World Cup without scoring a goal.

    Like

    • Curtis

      Agree.

      The thing that cracks me up during almost ever recent game as well: 1) the team has a horrid first half, looking lost and aimless 2) Klinsi makes adjustments at halftime 3) team play improves in second half 4) Klinsi is praised by commentators for his halftime adjustments

      But why doesn’t anyone ever talk about how poorly prepared/motivated the team looked in the first half?!?!

      Like

  • Luke

    Question- Can anyone tell me how much English JAB knows? Not trying to make excuses, but two center backs that have never played together before is a setup for disaster. If they can’t even communicate effectively because of a language barrier, then I honestly would’ve expected it to be even worse (and it was pretty damn bad)

    That said, I think that too much is being made out of the poor defense as opposed to how bad the midfield was. Yes, our back four was horrendous, but it was exacerbated by the amount of times that the midfield just gave the ball up and forced them into action.

    I thought Castillo and Kljestan were awful. I feel like Cameron is not getting nearly the amount of praise he deserves, and I fully believe that he played well enough to show that he is our starting RB for Brazil. I would like to know about the communication between Brooks and Onyewu, but I’d have to say that I think Gooch performed better out of the two and wouldn’t mind him as our backup CB in Brazil. Dempsey and Jozy need to step there game up or we don’t stand a chance out of the group stages.

    A few years ago I never would’ve thought I’d say this, but the MLS based players are going to be crucial to the US’ chances in Brazil

    Like

  • C.R. WELLS

    The worlds cup is not next year, so start using the right guys on the right team and get rid of those who won’t be going to Brazil. How about calling up FREDDY ADU he has more experience than most anyone on the USMNT

    Like

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