Photo by John Todd/ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
Landon Donovan’s harsh critique of coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s performance at the World Cup has certainly intensified the debate over whether Klinsmann made the right choices at the helm of the U.S. Men’s National Team in Brazil.
But DeAndre Yedlin, the young right back who was one of the U.S. team’s pleasant surprises in Brazil, shot down Donovan’s criticisms.
“I don’t agree with that,” Yedlin said when asked by Sports Illustrated if he agreed with “any part” of Donovan’s controversial comments. “I think Jurgen did a great job with us. Ultimately it’s up to us to decide what we do on the field, so he doesn’t really have a say in that.”
“But I think he did his part,” Yedlin continued. “He did well. I think he put the right players on the field at the right times and I was glad he was our coach.”
Donovan’s review of Klinsmann’s choices was less glowing. While Donovan said the players’ performances were a mixed bag, the team had never been on a path toward success due to Klinsmann’s tactical plan.
“If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed,” Donovan said from training with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday. “They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they’ve been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking — trying to do that. And the team’s been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know.”
For Yedlin, 20, the World Cup turned out to be a breakout moment. He was long a right back for the Seattle Sounders and USMNT, but Klinsmann made a surprise substitution against Portugal in the group stage, bringing Yedlin in as a flank midfielder to replace a beat-up Alejandro Bedoya.
Afterward, Yedlin admitted he had never trained as a midfielder for the USMNT. But the move seemed to be a stroke of brilliance from Klinsmann as Yedlin was able to race in behind defenses and put balls in the box, generating some of the best chances all game. He played a role in the USMNT’s second goal, which would prove crucial in leaving the match with a draw.
But Donovan said veterans Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey had been used all wrong and failed to make the impact they could have.
“Michael was put in the wrong position,” Donovan told MLSSoccer.com. “He was put in a position that he’s not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green’s goal, being in a deeper position and having someone in a front of him. Someone to help Clint also makes him that much better because he’s got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error.”
Watch Yedlin’s interview below: