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U.S. Men's National Team

Costa Rica 4, USMNT 0: The SBI Breakdown

brooks

Actions speak significantly louder than words and the U.S. Men’s National Team’s actions, or lack thereof, spoke volumes on Tuesday night.

Just days after being dealt a backbreaking defeat by rival Mexico, the USMNT laid a major egg in Costa Rica and, to be honest, that’s putting it quite charitably. It was a 4-0 shellacking, a beatdown of historic proportions for a team that absolutely needed a confidence-infusing performance.

It certainly didn’t come. The USMNT defense was repeatedly overrun by the Costa Rican attack, not due to some superhuman technical ability on the other end but rather its own incompetence. The USMNT attack was listless as the central midfield caved time and time again in the face of pressure.

Tuesday was a truly shocking performance for a team now in crisis, as two straight losses have suddenly pushed the U.S. into panic mode four months before the return of Hexagonal play.

With that in mind, here’s a look at several key takeaways from Tuesday’s match:

BROOKS TURNS IN WORST PERFORMANCE OF USMNT CAREER

With Geoff Cameron out of action, John Brooks needed to step up and be a leader on the backline. The Hertha Berlin defender needed to rise up and elevate his game while sealing his role as the USMNT’s most dominant centerback.

He did nothing of the sort and almost certainly turned in one of the worst performances of his career.

Brooks had a part to play on all four of Costa Rica’s goals, and the USMNT defender was lucky not to cause a few more. Giveaways, nutmegs, momentary lapses, you name it, Brooks showed it. It was an awful, awful game from a player that has grown so much over the past year.

His partner, Omar Gonzalez, did himself no favors either. The Pachuca centerback was slow to cover on Costa Rica’s first goal and was routinely beaten by the Ticos attack. Against Costa Rica’s setup, the lanky, physical Gonzalez was set up to fail. Rather, the more athletic Steve Birnbaum would have likely been a better selection, and it certainly showed as Gonzalez struggled to play the right game.

Cameron has never looked so important. Without the Stoke City defender marshalling the U.S. backline, everything was way, way off. It was the worst performance by a U.S. defense in recent memory, and that includes another 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Argentina at the Copa America Centenario.

In the long term, Brooks’ ceiling is still high as they come. But on Tuesday he, like the rest of the defense, was very, very bad.

TEAM SELECTION, SUBSTITUTIONS QUESTIONABLE YET AGAIN

Tactics have never really been Jurgen Klinsmann’s strength. The manager has long been hailed as a man-motivator, someone who gets the best out of the players at his disposal. Once again, though, Tuesday’s tactics and selections proved to be quite damning to the USMNT.

Let’s start with the starting lineup. Matt Besler, a centerback, was jammed at left back in a game where it was vital for the USMNT fullbacks to get forward and keep Costa Rica honest. Still battling back from a 13-week absence, Jermaine Jones was deployed in the central midfield alongside Michael Bradley, a player that simply does not play well with Jones alongside him. The USMNT’s best fullback, Fabian Johnson, was deployed at right mid, although he repeatedly tracked back to cover for a gung-ho Timmy Chandler.

It was clear early that things weren’t right but, as the game wore on, nothing changed. The system didn’t flip. There was no added wrinkle. Nothing. Just the pounding of sand.

When Klinsmann finally did turn to the substitute bench, he took off Christian Pulisic, one of the only bright spots on the day for the U.S. In his stead came Lynden Gooch, a player that offers virtually every single characteristic that Pulisic does at a significantly lower level. What did that accomplish, besides cap-tying Gooch going forward?

If that’s the plan, why wasn’t Cameron Carter-Vickers inserted with the game well out of hand? What took so long to get Sacha Kljestan, one of the team’s only creative outlets, onto the field?

The tactics were nearly as bad as the execution on Tuesday night, as the U.S. was set up to fail and was certainly never helped by any sort of adjustment from the man in charge.

CHANDLER ONCE AGAIN FLOUNDERS IN U.S. JERSEY

Timmy Chandler, fairly or unfairly, has been a lightning rod for criticism. He more than earned the flak with yet another frustrating performance on Tuesday.

On the club level, Chandler is one of the most in-form players in the USMNT pool. With Eintracht Frankfurt, Chandler has routinely turned in big game after big game while helping lead the team to several Bundesliga victories.

His run of poor performances with the U.S. continued on Tuesday. Chandler was caught well out of position on Costa Rica’s opener, a theme throughout the night. Chandler was routinely late to track back and fell asleep completely on several Costa Rica attacks. Chandler looked like a player who really didn’t want to be there on a team full of players who really, really didn’t want to be there.

For years, Chandler has been a player that’s been significantly better for club than for country, and he’s not the only one. Knowing that, and looking back at his international résumé, Chandler’s tenure as even an occasional starter for the U.S. should be over for a very, very long time.

STILL PLENTY OF HOPE TO ADVANCE

The U.S. couldn’t have started worse. Zero wins from two games, a minus-five goal differential and plenty of egg on their faces. Still, the USMNT is far from dead when it comes to Russia 2018.

CONCACAF’s Hexagonal is meant to be forgiving. As many as four of the six teams can move on to the World Cup, making it more than possible to bounce back from a few blunders. Just last cycle, Mexico won just two of 10 matches en route to Brazil.

With eight games remaining, the U.S. isn’t dead. Two of the three toughest matches are now out of the way. Clashes with Honduras and Panama loom, both of which are very winnable by U.S. standards. Will performances need to improve? Absolutely, but any self-respecting USMNT group should take care of business against two of the three weaker teams in the field.

If the USMNT doesn’t, it will then be time to panic. The Hex provides each team with several mulligans; the U.S. just used its very, very early.

46 comments
  • Andy in Atlanta

    If you are going to have liabilities at the back… at least have them provide something going forward… I have been a big proponent of Timmy Chandler never playing for the USMNT again (I think my feelings were vindicated last night)… he is tactically clueless, has minimal skill and if you want fast.. just play Yedlin..

    Fabian Johnson should be at left back… it sucks but that is what we are dealing with.

    It is going to take a Blancoesque rescue by Clint Dempsey to get this team back on track in the Spring.

    Like

  • bizzy

    I said it I said it I said it:
    Altidore plays lone striker – Mexico/Costa Rica wins (That will produce absolutely zero goals up top)
    Bradley and Jones tandem in the Midfield – Mexico/Costa Rica wins (this has proven to leave the USMNT toothless and defending all game long)
    Altidore and Wood tandem up top – Mexico /Costa Rica wins (has never worked before against strong opposition, and even though klinsmann will play them, it will not work)
    Howard out, Guzan in = Goals (not that we haven’t been playing bad at times, it’s just that Timmy has been there to save us – 14 saves in a world cup match).
    If the chosen CBs are not in sync (Gonzo with Brooks, Besler or Birnbaum) – Mexico/Costa wins…big
    Imagine if a soccer loving nation like Mexico or England or Brazil or Ghana lost to ANYONE after having a coach for almost 6 years lost like this……just imagine!!!!

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    • Turkmenbashy

      “Bradley and Jones tandem in the Midfield – Mexico/Costa Rica wins (this has proven to leave the USMNT toothless and defending all game long)” “Altidore and Wood tandem up top – Mexico /Costa Rica wins (has never worked before against strong opposition, and even though klinsmann will play them, it will not work)”

      so why is this so assured given Copa America? Those pairings worked and the US looked great this summer…

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      • Turkmenbashy

        Don’t give me that shit. We looked great at Copa America (until we got crushed by Argentina, and even then it wasn’t the full team). Even in 2 defeats to Colombia we looked great. We really played with them. The gap showed, but it was totally different than this crap we have seen over the past 5 days.

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      • bizzy

        You must be watching another play…we have never looked GREAT under Klinsmann. I don’t know what flavor Kool-Aid you’re drinking.

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    • johnnyrazor

      Can’t blame Guzan in this one. I don’t care if it was Courtouis, Bufon, or a young Edwin Van der Sar those goals were all going in. Guzan kept it from being 3 or 4 nothing at half time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Turkmenbashy

        I agree, but Guzan doesn’t have the command/presence/ jenesequa that Howard does. Its tough, I can’t put my finger on it. He is athletic and makes great saves, but at the same time… his record isn’t good… its weird, maybe the communication isn’t there… maybe he doesn’t give the players the same warm blanket of security… I’m not sure. But there is something there and Guzan isn’t as good as Howard.

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  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    Wow.
    Omar and Brooks were terrible. Feel for them, but how many mistakes can Omar make, he should be done. Brooks, I have only seen him a few times away from US games, just wasn’t good enough in those games. I realize people want him to be, I do too. No. His game was a catastrophe.

    I blame getting crushed in the midfield on Jurgen. I believe Jones was first injured in his camp, something that keeps happening. Over and over and over. JJ hasn’t played enough to be in there, but there he is for a second game in a row. He won’t chose some players because they are in his dog house. And he doesn’t have any answers.

    Jozy, if he is going to track back like that, should be replaced by someone that can actually do that. Morris was injured, but much better answer.

    It isn’t lost, but most are going to think the first step is getting rid of the coach. I don’t disagree.

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    • johnnyrazor

      Jozy at least showed some actual care you could see him several times calling the midfield forward trying to get them to pressure the ball.

      Brooks has been very good this season for Hertha, but his team is very disciplined and play as a very cohesive unit. That lack of cohesion last night with his fellow defenders left him exposed one on one over and over again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nate Dollars

      “I blame getting crushed in the midfield on Jurgen.”

      agreed, with one caveat (later).

      first of all, for all the criticism that bradley is (deservedly) getting, jones was worse; he wasn’t even remotely ready for this game. he should’ve been taken off at the half, whether klinsmann blamed it on cards, fitness, whatever.

      second, a 2-man central midfield is always going to be outnumbered by a 3-man central midfield–simple arithmetic. and you could see the effects through all of the 50-50 balls won by costa rica–they were simply increasing the odds of benefiting from the sloppy play of both sides. the way to get around that is either good “route 1” passing from our defenders, which obviously didn’t happen, or one of jozy and bobby dropping back to help out.

      the caveat is that maybe klinsmann told jozy or bobby to drop back, and they didn’t listen, but that’s just guesswork at this point.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Gary Page

        One thing about Zardes is that he would drop back to help out, has a great work rate, and is very tenacious. When he gets back and if Cameron gets back, I think when we go back to Fabian on the left, Brooks and Cameron in the middle and Yedlin on the right with Pulisic and Zardes on the wings, we will be much better. Replace J Jones with Kljestan for some passing. I just wish Bradley were playing better. He has seriously regressed. His free kicks, especially, have been woeful.

        Liked by 1 person

  • bizzy

    We lack a coach, plain and simple. When players on the USMNT look lost on the field, don’t seem like they are improving, can do very well for their club but suck when they play for the National team…. It means there is a serious lack of coaching on the National team.

    What is coaching? Coaching is developing a person’s skills and abilities, and boosting their performance. It is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their performance. An effective Coach identifies the stage at which an individual is at, then tries to use the right sort of language to help them grow and move to the next stage. Who has developed in the last 5 years for being on the national team? Who has elevated to the next level because of being on the National team? Not a single player. We should have seen this coming, Howard only delayed this result!!!!
    Why is improvement lacking in the USMNT camp? Why are we okay with mediocracy (we should have seen a pattern after 3-4 years)? Why don’t we learn from our female counterparts? The USWNT are always dominant because their coaches keep on, building comradery, developing and playing the best players for key position / formations, not just the best big name Stars or players with the highest number of caps …. whether they play for Stanford or NWSL or abroad it doesn’t matter, the right fit gets the spot and its working……as a young soccer nation, IT’S WORKING.

    What coach anywhere in Europe or south America can comfortably admit in an interview that he told his players: “…. I told the players it won’t be the last 4 nil defeat of their careers” AND STILL BE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR JOB. That means you have no fear and give zero F@#%$ of losing your job. After 6 years of Klinsmann taking over the USMNT we are not better as a team, so why the “foreign” coach?? Why not get a coach that can boost up “the size of the fight in the dog”, that bleeds the stars and stripes, that feels these losses as much as the players and fans or that feels like he is pretty much the 12th player on the field???? Is that too much to ask for? At this point, ANYONE WILL DO BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY IS UP!!!!!

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    • Turkmenbashy

      Bizzy, This ain’t on JK.

      1) don’t bring the women into this. American women are the best (both physically and talent) female soccer players on earth. Women’s soccer isn’t great because of coaching… Women’s soccer is great because of title IX and women playing in college and High School.

      2) “Who has developed in the last 5 years for being on the national team?” I disagree with the premise. The national team is not where you develop. You develop at a club, where a coach works with you day in, day out. Its not JK’s job to hold everyone’s hand.

      3) I agree with you that JK’s job is to boost the performance, and put people in positions to succeed. But I ask you this, assume JK wanted to be aggressive in these first two games… (yes it backfired in the first 20 minutes against MX) but just assume that for a minute. Who on that field was out of position? Besler? He was hardly the problem in either game. FJ? we have been beggin for 6+ months to do something to put him into the MF where he plays for his club. Bradley? Jones? Gonzo? Chandler? who? Who was not given every opportunity to succeed? If a player who has played soccer every waking moment of their lives since puberty can’t figure out spacing in a 3-5-2… what that is the coaches fault? If people don’t run, pass, or play defense… that is the coaches fault?

      The only spot where I think JK is to blame is that he moved away from the 4-3-3 that we played so well with in the Copa this summer. But I understand why he did it. It is hard to play 4-3-3 when the other side goes 5 in the MF and has the ability to pass the ball… in those scenarios you end up playing a 4-5-1 or 2-5-3… JK tried to flood the MF high to break up MX possession… Mexico answered by going direct and bypassing the MF entirely… and it worked. Vs. CR, he gave in to Bradley… that also didn’t work. tough, but I don’t see how you blame JK.

      And BTW, see my comment below… I think JK made some horrific subs. But losing the game isn’t his fault.

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      • Nate Dollars

        “If a player who has played soccer every waking moment of their lives since puberty can’t figure out spacing in a 3-5-2… what that is the coaches fault?”

        yes, if the coach still puts them out in a 3-5-2. the issue was never that 3-5-2 as a formation just wouldn’t work against mexico, or even with our player pool. the issue is that it was so obvious that the players out there weren’t comfortable with this formation, that throwing it out there for the first time against mexico(!), in a wcq match(!!) smacks of gross incompetence.

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      • Turkmenbashy

        how do you know? Were you at the practices? DURING THE GAME it became obvious that they couldn’t do it… and the formation changed… Again, that last minute goal from Marquez… not JK’s fault. He can’t sub in for Altidore and mark Marquez… he can’t tell Guzan to put a guy on the back post or (worse yet) cheat to the front post when he has a player there, but no one on the back post. That second goal… Guzan needed to stand still. He stands still, that header comes right to him. He also can’t sub in for Bradley and have him pass the ball to wood in the offensive half either. So yeah. That’s my view. If there is something I don’t know, rumors of people hating him in the locker room, he has a crack cocaine addiction… whatever, then maybe I change my mind. But its not the coaches fault when players give up, or are incapable of showing any flexibility in their game.

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      • the unmistakeable Ronaldinho

        The 3-5-2 debacle is all about perspective. If you remember in the 2002 World Cup we surprised Mexico with 3-5-2 that we hadn’t used all tournament and played our best player Claudio Reyna at RM. It was a crazy idea, but worked and was a tactical masterpiece. Sometimes you have to take chances. Klinsmann was let down by the players not executing.

        I agree blame has to go Klinsmann’s way. The buck stops with him, but many are ignoring the terrible performances by several players. Even if we’re in a 3-5-2 that should not make completing simple passes impossible because a player is so confused by the setup we are in.

        Chandler, Brooks, Gonzo, Jones were sooo bad last night. Fabian Johnson was completely invisible in his supposed favorite role in midfield. Klinsmann has nothing to do with players who don’t run back, put their teammates under pressure or make stupid decisions. However, he is at major fault for not making changes sooner. We were being dominated and clearly needed to mix it up and no sub came until it was too late. Thats on Klinsmann all the way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • bizzy

        Turkmenbashy if you think Klinsmann is not to blame….then I don’t know what to tell you

        “don’t bring the women into this”
        …..why not? They are running a successful US program. So why shouldn’t we learn from them?

        “The national team is not where you develop. You develop at a club, where a coach works with you day in, day out.”
        …..wrong, there is a reason why players come to camp early…to develop comradery and gel together, and that’s through coaching, hence the reason he is a coach (Look up the meaning of coaching)

        “Who was not given every opportunity to succeed?”
        everyone!!! Everyone !!!! Putting the wrong group of players together means setting everyone up for failure. If coaching was not necessary then why do we need anyone there?? Why not just let the players FIGURE IT OUT???

        “The only spot where I think JK is to blame is that he moved away from the 4-3-3”…..
        The only area to blame??? Really??? when you can’t get the formations right, you can’t get the player selection right, you can’t see any development or the sense of team on the field….and that’s the only area you see fault in Klinsmann??

        Wow…..

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      • Turkmenbashy

        Why not bring the women into this? I did mention why not. something about how they are the best footballers on earth in that gender… and how that is apples to oranges here. But ok, ignore that. You come to camp early to get a game plan, have a couple practices, see who is in form, or not… how much influence do you think a coach has when he sees his players once every couple of months for a week? you say he put the wrong group of players in there… who? who exactly was wrong (and who is the replacement)? Who was played out of position? can’t get formation right… I love that. Every American thinks formation is the way to win games. If you just have the right formation the Houston Dynamo could beat Argentina… name a healthy player that would have made (for sure) a difference in that debacle in Costa Rica. I dare you to say Accosta, or Yedlin, or Nagbe. bullshit. Nagbe had chances to make a difference in Copa America (when we were playing well) and was absent. Zusi? Over Pulisic, or Fabian? Beckerman? Birnbaum? I dare you to say these guys would have made a difference. And to blame poor play on formation is ridiculous. They would have had a week of practice and they are professional soccer players. Its not some HS team. These are guys who play in top flight leagues and get paid millions… yeah, but a formation is too much to handle. I’ll add that JK was at fault on his subs in the CR game and for not sticking with the 4-3-3 from the start (I have no idea whether that was due to Morris getting hurt, not trusting Green, or stupidity). But to act like its JKs fault that professionals didn’t show up to play is ridiculous. I get that coaches get fired over things like that. I won’t be suprised if he does get fired. But I always have thought it was unfair. Would you have fired the MX coach after the Chile game this summer?

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      • Nate Dollars

        no, turk; i wasn’t at the practices.

        i guess it may seem harsh–maybe even unfair–but one of the jobs of a manager is to translate what works in practice to what works in, say, a world cup qualifier against the best team in our region who also happens to be our bitter rival.

        for example, one way to do that would be to test it out in previous games; say, for instance, a friendly tournament where competition is talented but the stakes aren’t that high.

        and those other examples you gave of players not performing–i absolutely agree with you, that’s on the players. but that was when they weren’t being handcuffed by a piss-poor experiment. i actually thought we didn’t look too bad in the second half, and if not for the disaster of the first 30 minutes, we could’ve at least come away with a point.

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      • Turkmenbashy

        no, no if not for the last minute botched header we would have come away with a point. and I fully agree that JK should have run out his 3-5-2 in a friendly, or the last game against Colombia… but even for the greats sometimes things backfire. He was taking a chance and it backfired… neither game was lost because of a strategy fuck-up (Mexico wasn’t great, but we dominated, had plenty of chances to go up more, lost a sub and our starting keeper AND fell asleep in the 80th minute. That is not a strategy failure).

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      • bizzy

        Turk’
        Do you even understand what a coach’s job is? Two coaches with the same 18 man roster will obtain different results. When most coaches are fired do you think they just go in and change the whole roster?? According to you why not, Its the players fault too right? That’s not how it works

        ” something about how they are the best footballers on earth in that gender”….I guess you missed the point where there is a reason why they are the best and that the mens side should follow suit (we’ll get there tho).

        “name a healthy player that would have made (for sure) a difference in that debacle in Costa Rica”…How about the same group of players on the 18 man roster with a better coach actually. If Klinsmann was going to draw from the same group of players in the US pool why fire Bradley….its the players fault right? They are just not good enough right? Nope…Because they thought klinsmann would come in and do a better job and he sucks

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      • Turkmenbashy

        Bizzy, the women are not the best because of coaching. The women are the best because of title IX and the fact that US women have played more soccer for longer than in any other country on earth. Its because the US is the only place on earth with a developed professional league and a developed feeder system to train women for 4 years and have a constant pipeline. As for not understanding what a coaches job is… I understand 2 coaches with the same team will get different results. What I am saying is this: people are criticizing JK for player selection and using them out of position. Those arguments are B… S… at least in these two games. IF one has been all about firing JK for more than a year… I understand, not disputing that he has had setbacks and maybe his experimentation was not helpful. I can see that argument. But in THESE (btw, not yelling, I’m too depressed to be angry… just all caps for emphasis b/c there is no italics) two games, he played everyone in their normal position, he selected what most people considered to be the best available 11, and they came out and stank. I understand people scapegoating coaches, it happens, its an understandable reaction. But unless you know something I don’t about the mental state of the team during this week, or about losing the locker room, or about what happened at practice… then its not his fault.

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      • Gary Page

        I will have no problem with the coach being fired. However, too many people are using him as a convenient scapegoat. Regardless of the coach’s mistakes, there is no excuse for not playing as hard and as well as you can, especially when you are a professional. The ultimate onus is on the players who don’t perform. Too many players didn’t perform. And if they can’t get motivated for a WC qualifier, they shouldn’t be playing professionally. The coach can facilitate players doing well, but a real failure like this is due to players really screwing up. Consider different roles one sees in society–parent, teacher, manager. When you are in one of those positions of authority, you can provide guidance, mete out punishment and rewards, encourage success, teach how to correct mistakes, and so on. But the ultimate success achieved by a person or a group is up to the individual and individuals in the group. Any psychologist will tell you you can’t change a person unless they want to change. Study some management. The best manager is one who sets goals, delegates, encourages, provides general guidelines, and then kind of gets out of the way except to check if their subordinates need help with a task. You can’t make someone succeed, they have to want to. A 1-0 defeat because of a poor formation on a free kick can be assigned to a coach. But when you lose to a team that has a roster no better than yours by a score of 4-0, that’s on the players.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Turkmenbashy

    I’m more than a little depressed. 1) given the outcome, how do you not cap-tie CCV… especially if just to send a message to gonzales/Brooks that they can’t play that shitty and keep their jobs? 2) down 2-0… how do you not go Green for Besler, push FJ back… Yedlin for Chandler… and Jones for Klejstan? You don’t like Green or Klejstan? fine… Gooch. you think Jones played slightly better than Bradley? fine, take Bradley out instead. But to pull Pulisic out, then put Zusi in… it smacked of giving up. I hate that they gave up.

    Thinking about it, I feel like this was JK letting Bradley do it his way… you don’t like my formations? You think that’s the problem? fine… lets go out in the same, old 4-4-2 and see how it goes. Now, he’s having a chat with him… well, I guess that didn’t work huh? Maybe we keep doing things my way?

    I think Chandler is not as good as he seems in the Bundesliga… he must have a better team, or more freedom, or something, because he just doesn’t do well in concacaf. I think Yedlin has earned the spot come hell or high water from here on out. That’s not me saying that he shouldn’t have been given the chance. He has been playing lights out in a top league. You gotta give him the chance or you lose the locker-room. But he has squandered the chance… so back to Yedlin.

    Also, when Cameron was hurt, I said it was just about the worst thing that could happen to this team ahead of these games… people joked and said there were worse… but there aren’t. We just saw the drop off in quality for 2 straight games when Cameron is not around. And for god’s sakes, I never want to see Bozo, ahem, I mean Gonzo, again. The just lackadaisical play, the poor distribution, the slow movement of the ball… like I said, I would have sent a message with CCV.

    As for the game… Gonzo and Brooks are totally responsible for the first goal, not only did he make a terrible pass to Bradley after taking like 15 touches on the ball, putting Bradley in a tough spot… so he hammers it to Brooks, who can’t handle it because by now CR knows where the ball is going… That isn’t JK’s fault. If the team don’t run or pass… there is nothing the manager can do. Second goal… Brooks’ and Chandler’s fault. Brooks because he didn’t pass the runner off to Gonzo… though I think he was gun shy given the lack of effort to that point. Chandler because for fuck’s sake man… Get in front of your mark… RUN. Then Brooks was 100% responsible for the third goal… shouldn’t even have to talk about it.

    Rest of the game… CR clogged the MF and Besler/Brooks/Gonzo provided zero passing to begin the play. THE ENTIRE GAME. That is it. nothing else to say..

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  • johnnyrazor

    1. Putting Fabian Johnson in midfield doesn’t make us better. Having to use one of the other options at LB makes us weaker not stronger. Yes, Besler is a CB, but Chandler was poor at his preferred RB, Villafana has been benched for an 18 year old on the team that has clinched 16th place in Liga MX, Lichaj has made three starts there this season and but has not played there regularly for several years. That leaves the US with several MLS journeyman such as Justin Morrow, Robbie Rogers, Taylor Kemp, or Chris Tierney.

    2. Has Nagbe won the game of chicken? Although he hasn’t shown much for club or country since the Bolivia Copa warm up, the US CM lack of creativity or ability to link with Altidore and Wood was glaring in both matches. With Zelalem and Hyndman playing reserve football Nagbe seems the only CM with a chance to put some life into the position.

    3. If you are known as the motivator and your team comes out flat in your first two final round qualifiers for the World Cup its time for a change. After Friday we were told the team “was angry” and ready for the Costa Rica game. The only way that team could be considered angry, was perhaps they were angry that they had to be there. Klinsman must go, the team will probably scrape out a 4th place finish and squeak out a home and away with Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia, but is that what the US should be hoping for?

    Liked by 1 person

    • bizzy

      Sorry Johnnyrazor but the excuse of “we don’t have the players” is not going to fly anymore
      .
      Miguel Layún – plays for Porto, 1-2 goals this season, torches the USMNT
      Rafael Márquez, 37 years old, plays for Atlas (ranked 14th in LIGA MX!!!) – torches USMNT

      Johan Venegas – plays for MONTREL IMPACT in MLS, 1 goal / 1 assist, not even a top 20 player, used as a substitute IN MLS!!! – torches the USMNT

      Christian Bolaños – Plays for VANCOUVER WHITECAPS in MLS, 5 goals / 7 assists, not a top 20 player, used to torch the USMNT

      Joel Campbell – Plays for Sporting, only 10 appearances this year, has only gone full 90 for his team only twice, scores 2 goals, nutmegs Brooks – torches the USMNT

      When countries are using players FROM OUR LEAGUES (or other league that we have players playing in), that can’t even make ALLSTAR list, that would be passed up by our very own coaching staff, to defeat us…. sorry there is no excuse. “Player pool” is one excuse that won’t fly anymore

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      • johnnyrazor

        Did you read the third paragraph? And to put all the blame on the manager and none on the players who with the exception of Besler were all playing their “preferred” position in a formation that they all are very used to playing with the national team (our preferred formation since at least 1994) is folly. Stating we don’t have a quality LB to replace Johnson isn’t an excuse its stating the obvious. Saying that our CM pairing of Bradley and Jones is three years past its prime is equally so.

        Side note: Miguel Layun is a very good player, plays regularly in the Champions League, and plays for one of the three best teams in the 7th best league in Europe (far above the level of MLS) Yes, he’s scored two goals this season and 5 last season, because he’s a defender.

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      • bizzy

        Did you read the third paragraph?”
        “yes I did Johnnyrazor,

        “Villafana has been benched for an 18 year old on the team that has clinched 16th place in Liga MX, Lichaj has made three starts there this season and but has not played there regularly for several years. That leaves the US with several MLS journeyman such as Justin Morrow, Robbie Rogers, Taylor Kemp, or Chris Tierney.”
        Now sorry if I miss understood but…..if that doesn’t scream “we don’t have anything good in our left back pool” I don’t know what does, hence the comeback that teams torch us with MLS players, even ones that come off the bench.

        “Yes, he’s scored two goals this season and 5 last season, because he’s a defender”
        Negative, Miguel Layún is a midfielder not a defender (Not even a DM at that). He comes in usually for Oliver Torres who plays LM or LCM in Porto’s formation

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      • johnnyrazor

        The article was breaking down the match last night.

        Here were my points our LB pool is very very shallow, our CM can’t link the ball from defense to the forwards, our manager has no idea what to do about either of these problems.

        Guess what the first job of what will hopefully be a new manager by Christmas? Finding a solution for LB and figuring out either through formation or substitution how to move the ball from one end of the field to the other.

        From the Porto website Miguel Layun (Defender), Soccerway Miguel Layun (Defender), Whoscored(your favorite) Miguel Layun 10 matches RB, 1 match LB, 3 Subs (he’s also rated as the #2 RB in all of the Primeira Liga)

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      • johnnyrazor

        We are on the same side this time Bizz. We both want a new manager, I’m just trying to look past that and get to how the next guy fixes it.

        Like

    • mike zissou (@mikezissou)

      also not getting the best out of Bradley has to be one of the issues, Bradley hasn’t played well but hes always playing a different role its hard for him to have any consistency. The USMNT doesnt have the level of player where u just roll the balls out and play and they can hang with anyone, maybe pulsiic will be there one day.
      They need a game plan tailored to their strengths for each and every opponent and situation. I think bradley would thrive in that situation, but having open-ended rolls he will continue to struggle….. and thats on the coaching staff

      Like

  • Phil in Wilmington

    To those who have not heard the Total Soccer Show podcasts breaking down the last 2 games, I highly recommend them, as they really talk about how god players can be set up for poor performances due to poor tactics and preparation.

    As far as my own opinion… in a nutshell–JK (since Copa America) has been unable to get the best out of the players, either because they are not being given sufficient preparation or his previous motivation tactics are no longer working. I think it’s fair to agree that is one of the deepest pools the US has had in terms of seasoned, high-quality, technical players who are in good form at their clubs… and for awhile now, none of them have risen to that “next level” when playing for the US. When so many player are playing relatively poorly over a stretch of games, that’s more than coincidence.

    I can accept a coach/manager who’s philosophy is to have players “work it out” in the game as well as a manager who is more about motivation and less about tactics, and for awhile I was willing to accept that this culture was what the US players needed to evolve to that next level of real time tactical thinking and problem solving on the field… but to everything there is a season, and I think for this pool of players, that approach is just not cutting it anymore.

    JK has had ample time to find that “Jogi Lowe” type to augment the weaknesses in his skill set (we all have them), but for whatever reason he has not found that person and brought him on to the staff. So, rather than making an adjustment or an addition, I think it’s time to move on and hire new leadership.

    I’m not thrilled with the idea of a Bruce Arena as a plan B, but right now I think that kind of a change will steady the ship.

    Like

  • DJ

    At the end of the day, the USMNTgenerally goes as MB goes (copa maybe an exception), and IMHO MB has just been flat out BAD. 2 wasted corners, 2 wasted free kicks (maybe more I lost count). Set pieces used to be a big US advantage, and now you could probably say they are a disadvantage. A big part of this is lazy defense on set pieces, but just as big is the fact that MB hasn’t hit a good dead ball in 3 years.

    I really don’t understand the kid glove treatment of MB. I get that we have no depth at the spot, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s losing us games.

    Like

  • Dennis

    Whatever else you may say, Costa Rica made the US play their game and the US is not as good as them at making many quick short passes interspersed with some accurate longer balls.

    The lack of an attacking CM and pairing Bradley with Jones ensured that the US central midfield would be out numbered and lose out to the quickness of Costa Rica. Having Atidore track back to help out in the midfield was never going to work against those quick short passes. Besler is not an attack-minded fullback and he could never seem to find Pulisic in front of him, Chandler and Johnson did not work together very well either. The number of passes Pulisic had aimed at him was too small and Wood suffered the same fate, Johnson was more involved only because he tracked to help defensively.

    JK by and large put players in positions where their lack of success was almost a foregone conclusion. (Perhaps Chandler Brooks and Gonzo were in their best positions, but two tall not too quick centerbacks to deal with quick forwards was not wise, why not Birnbaum or Besler instead?)

    Like

    • mike zissou (@mikezissou)

      I read an article on espn talking about how jozy and wood work well together because jozy dropping deep to play a creator roll was effective.

      I thought i was being trolled, but no it was a real article. Maybe a 4-2-3-1 with Kljestan in for one of the two CF’s. Just a thought. Cause it seemed like there were times on the field where Wood and Jozy were playing the same position and there was a massive gap between them and bradley/jones just calling out to be filled up by Kljestan.(or nagbe or whomever) The best player in that role in the past has been dempsey, but hes got bigger problems….get well soon deuce!

      Like

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