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Donovan: Tactical plan to blame for U.S. World Cup loss

Jurgen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan


It was the same result for U.S. Men’s National Team: An exit in the Round of 16. Only this time, Landon Donovan, who had played such a pivotal role last time, had to watch it on TV.

Donovan, who was controversially cut from coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup roster, had been offering his pre-game analysis to ESPN throughout the tournament. But after the USMNT’s disheartening exit from the competition Tuesday, Donovan seemed to put the blame squarely on the coaching staff.

“I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday. I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint,” Donovan told “I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”

The U.S. had lost 2-1 to Belgium, even despite a record-setting 16 saves from goalkeeper Tim Howard. The Americans appeared to be under siege for the vast majority of the match. They took precious few shots for the first 90 minutes as shots pummeled Howard and only finally attacked hard in extra time after going down a goal.

Donovan voiced disagreement with the roles given to Michael Bradley, who he said should’ve played deeper in the middle, and Clint Dempsey, who he said plays better with a partner up top. For Donovan, it all was part of a change that had been made tactically but didn’t work.

“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. “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.”

With the loss, the team did no better than they had in 2010, when Donovan helped propel the USMNT out of the group stage with a late goal to win over Algeria. Donovan also represented the USMNT in 2002 and 2006, when the U.S. exited in the quarterfinals and group stage respectively.

Immediately after being unceremoniously cut from the national team before the World Cup, Donovan said he was committed to promoting soccer in the U.S. and left the door open to returning to the USMNT if called upon. Asked about that possibility again on Wednesday, Donovan sounded unsure.

“That depends on a lot of conversations that would have to be held,” he said.


  1. What annoys me the most about this whole World Cup is that we spend so much time talking about Landon Donovan. Meanwhile, we have an incredible story in Damarcus Beasley who was incredible at LB the whole tourney, playing in his 4th WC, and came in the same time as Donovan. How about we talk about him instead of listening to Donovan’s sour grapes.

      • Ask him what? He played Beasley there the whole tourney and was a revelation. He also played Brooks (won is a game), Yedlin (played incredible), and Julian Green (who scored a goal and put is back in the Belgium game).

        I think ol’ beachbum may just have a bunch of Donovan jerseys and doesn’t want them to become obsolete. He’s done. Wave goodbye.

        And prepare to hear him whine and complain about it on TV for the next 15 years.

    • Beasley was basically one of JK’s finds. Nobody had him on their lists at the start of the cycle and certainly not at LB. Beckerman is another player that most people said wasn’t good enough even through the end of qualifying.

      • Big ups to Beckermen. I am sure you guys could go back and find comments I have made calling Beckermen a waste. Now I am anxiously awaiting his jersey to come.

      • Agree about Beckerman, but I think Beasley at LB had more to do with nobody being able to step into that position from 2010-2014 combined with the fact that we were unable to find a serviceable RB after Dolo went down so it forced Fab to go right, vacating his LB spot. I dont even think RUN-DMB thought he would be the starting LB in Brazil 18 months ago. I wonder how it wouldve been if Yedlin was a starter at RB and Fab at LB, with RUN-DMB maurauding down the left flank.

    • Beasley has done more (4 World Cups, MLS, EPL, SPL, Bundesliga, Mexico) than Donovan, yet nobody from the mainstream media ever refers to him as best player ever produced by US.

      Even guys like McBride and Dempsey have reached higher levels than
      Landycakes but mainstream media just talks about Landon being the US Soccer poster boy?

      • Because they didnt reach higher levels in a nat team Jersey? Which record do those guys hold in Goals Scored and assists?

      • He’s not the BEST player, by far. But he sure is the most reliable, self sacrificing, and durable and that speaks for alot. My personal Top 3 US players are 3–LD, 2–Brad Friedel, 1–Tab Ramos. Tab was about 15 years ahead of his time.

  2. Bleacher Report just put out a story that Aron J is going to have an ankle procedure done.
    No mention of whether it was an ongoing issue or something that happened during the World Cup.

    Could explain why Wondo was preferred, could also be a factor in starting with the 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1)
    If Aron wasn’t available-or not 100% due to injury- That’s a tough call to start Wondo and Deuce for the full 90 with no more subs at forward.

    I’m sure we’ll know more very soon…

      • I notice that nobody is discussing this and how it may have impacted the lineup selections and potential use of subs.
        If you’re down to 2 forwards, does starting a 4-5-1 seem more plausible now? Wondo did go almost 60 minutes or so…
        And if so, does Landon still make the comment that if he were in the locker room and that was the formation he would be disappointed?
        Does he still say we were set up to fail?

      • So all the Jozy talk and having him run was not a feint to make Belgium think he might play, but rather a smokescreen to keep attention away from Aron’s ankle?

        Hmmm, do I now “forgive” JK’s lineup? I dunno. I wasn’t opposed to the 4-5-1 in the first place. As I said elsewhere, I was opposed to Zusi+Bedoya at the same time and Cameron-over-Beckerman. And I wanted to see Mix start this game more than I wanted Aron.

        If reports surface that Kyle was injured/exhausted then obviously I’ll change my mind.

      • Ha! U know how I feel about conspiracy theories…
        I also was opposed to starting both Zusi and Bedoya, felt they are too similar…but agreed with Cam for this game. I sincerely don’t think Beck vs Cam would have influenced this game’s possession-or the outcome-Cams def stats were strong… I think Zusi and Bedoya killed us where we needed the most… and Fabians injury cost us a lot more than just one sub…

        The real point of my post was if AJ couldn’t go 100%, leaving us even less starting options & sub rotation options, does that affect Donovans comments about saying we weren’t going for it and we were set up to fail?

        I’ve reserved my opinion on Donovans comments for now the same way I said the other day about Klinsmann… which is to look at the totality of the situation..
        Like I said.. I don’t subscribe to revisionist history…

        Too much anger, finger pointing, irrational blame game, and emotional responses
        But I do find it intriguing that one of the most scathing write ups is from Ives-and hardly anyone said a word..but took rapid fire 12 gauge blasts at anyone else…

      • Bac, sorry I wans’t clear, but I got your point—and it was a good point: assuming Donovan didn’t know about Aron’s ankle, then maybe if he had known he would have felt differently about our lineup.

        That said, what I was getting at is that it still seems as though we weren’t “going for it” as much as we could have. Start Yedlin and push him or FabJo to RM in place of Bedoya/Zusi. Or start Mix and have a more skilled, less run-and-gun midfield. Bring Green on in the 65th minute (and have him, among other duties, run straight at Kompany who was already sitting on a yellow).

        Any of those would have been more daring moves than JK’s decision and would have indicated a more aggressive, attacking stance.

        But I think the real key to playing attacking soccer is not how many forwards you bring, it’s how many midfielders.

      • Yea I’d say the point we agree upon-the starting of both Zusi and Bedoya-says we’re on the same page there… btw I got your point… even if it didn’t involve jetpacks.

  3. As others have pointed out this attitude is probably why LD rated so poorly with JK. I give credit to LD for doing his job as an analyst and saying what he thinks, but its pretty clear that LD was never one of JKs supporters from the get go. In a lot of ways, hiring JK was a repudiation of everything that had come before and JK made no bones about wanting to change everything about the way football is played in the US. Well, who is/was the person most closely associated with US soccer at the time of the hiring? Hint: it’s not Sunil Gulati. It shouldn’t be a surprise that old guard leader LD, was not an eager convert. Even before the little sabbatical to Cambodia, LD was turning down call-ups, citing schedule conflicts, health concerns, etc. And this was at a time when a lot of people were highly critical of the results JK and the team under him were producing. JK could have had a serious boost had LD given him a vote of confidence, but instead it looked like LD was waiting for him to fail.

    The line I think is amusing is his response to whether he’ll ever represent the USMNT again. “That depends on a lot of conversations that would have to be held,” he said.” That doesn’t sound like someone who is ready to surrender. It sounds like someone who thinks he has the leverage to dictate terms. I’d say he is done as long as JK is the coach.

  4. We can all criticize tactics and formations until the cows come home. It comes down to players making plays on the field. Offensively speaking we remain challenged in that area. There was nothing wrong with JK’s tactics, he just didn’t have the weapons.

    • Tooo trite. The team was not set up to succeed. Players need the protection of a system, something to rely on. Didnt have the weapons is a poor excuse. good coaches will adapt to the weapons they have at the moment. Even an idiot like Maradona can get decent results with the horses in Argentina. . But VanGall taking off VanPersie was about real coaching and dealing with whats going on, not with what you dont have and using it as an excuse.

      • I’d like to see “an idiot like Maradona” get results with this or any US side. A blind parakeet could occasionally get results with ARG. That what it means to be stacked.

    • Totally agree with you, you can have issues with JK’s squad selection; but at the end of the day we are preparing for Argentina if Wondo takes his chance.

  5. Cameron was worthless in the midfield, Cameron failed destroy Belgium’s tempo, Belgium was target practing from the midfield too, Cameron needs to be sub out.

    Now Brad Davis over Donovan or Corona was “WTF” moment. Brad Davis has mediocre history with USNT.

  6. So people all over this site and indeed the country are fine to second guess Jurgen but if Landon does it he is somehow bitter? For the World Cup he has been moonlighting as a paid analyst so why are people surprised / outraged when he gives an opinion? I think he has been mostly positive BTW but it’s hard to analyze getting eliminated without ruffling somebody’s feathers.

    • I don’t know—and I really don’t care—whether or not Landon is (still) bitter. But hopefully you see a fundamental difference between “people all over this site and indeed the country” and Landon Donovan: Klinsmann dropped him.

      P.S. The accused comments were not made while acting in his role as analyst.

  7. Part of coaching is dealing with “what ifs”. This was poorly done by JK. Given his ego and attitude, he apparently does not allow much input from others.There can NEVER be one player to depend on (Altdore or CR or Messi) Everyone has to have a replacement. If you want possession you must include those type players, (Beckerman) instead of Gonzales , and JK decided to defend, which is his perogative. The amount of running by Bradley ( most of any player in WC) and Jones (#3 of any player) precluded any semblance of possesion in midfield. Bradley ran 10 miles, Messi ran 6.5 miles. Who will be more effective at the end of the game? The tactics were poor, leaving too much up to the players.

  8. Something that has plagued this team for a long time and I think that will continue to hurt them with the way that we play tactically is the lack of a wide scoring threat. Julian flashed the talent in his cameo appearance but it was just that a cameo. Instead we had to rely of Zusi and Bedoya as our wide “threats”. Tactically this was a good game. Playing more like a 3-4-3 in attack and 4-5-1 in defense. The wide areas of the field were exposed for Belgium and we made the most of this, but we did not have the horses to take advantage.

    I think that Cameron was the right call his job was to muscle up on Fellani and Witsel, which is a hard task in itself and to slide back and play as a third CB when Beas and Fabian/Yedlin bombed forward. Which was a great call . The problem again comes off of the ineffectiveness of Zusi and Bedoya for this game. As Beasley and Fabian/Yedlin come up the field, Z and B have to pinch in and have some sort of creative influence to combine with Dempsey or at least go at somebody, which is what Green did. This would have also allowed Bradley to play a little further back, where is more comfortable. A circa 2010 LD would have been great but alas he does not exist exept in his own mind. Could Johnannson provide that wide spark? That may have been what I would have tried, but I am unsure how comfortable he is in that role, but he does posses a willingness to go at a defense.

    I really think that the plan for this tournament was to have Dempsey sit in that wide role and come in for creativity and combine with the overlapping fullbacks and Altidore, but obviously the injury prevented that. Should we have had another hold up type ST, probably and I think the Eddie could have had a good chance at making an impact given the fact Jozy went down, but what if Jozy doesn’t do down, would EJ be a team player or just sit and whine on the bench? Was Boyd ready to make an impact on that level?

  9. I also think Donovan fails to consider why those tactics were what they were. The loss of Altidore meant that Dempsey had to move up top and prevented him from helping with possession in the midfield. Arguably, he was far more effective in that possession role.

    Donovan’s comments are misguided because he fails to understand that the change in tactics were due to a change in personnel. If Altidore was in as that hold-up striker and Dempsey was in more of a midfield role, then the options can change and the tactics can change.

    Donovan had a chance to be on the roster. He chose to take a sabbatical when everyone else went to work to earn a spot. I have no sympathy for him and am happy he was left off the roster.

    • So let me get this straight. Donovan is failing to realize the causation? What about Klinsmans lack of fore site? We were forced into a drastic formation change DUE TO A SINGLE INJURY. Is that Donovans fault as well? People need to stop treating Klinsmann with kid gloves and actually criticize him. Being a fan does not mean blindly supporting everything about the team and its staff

      • I don’t believe anyone said someone’s injury was Donovan’s fault. Where you got that is beyond me.

        Can you please name for me another striker that we have that plays like Altidore and has had his kind of impact on the international level? I can’t find any.

    • That sure was a big mistake. You have to assess the coaches mentality before you do that. Maybe another coach would have been OK with that But not JK who is all about emotion and Psychology

      • Except for the fact that Klinsmann didnt even follow his own standards. He said he wanted players playing in top leagues and in form, he played an extremely out of form Dempsey after a return to MLS. Insisted on starting an under performing Bradley after a return to MLS. Brought in a 4th division reserve. Klinsmann is a hypocrite who only says things that he thinks justify his decisions and then changes that opinion when it no longer agreed with his roster selection

      • So bringing Donovan from MLS when he was not in top form would have been more in line with his philosophy?

      • When Donovan outperformed every single player on the US team including Wodow less than a year ago in the Gold cup absolutely. Not to mention stats showing Donovan creating more US scoring chances over the past year than any other 2 players combined? absolutely

      • Vlad, this kind of nitpicking is why most coaches speak in nothing more than broad platitudes. If you want to ruin a team, just go ahead and force a coach to be 100% consistent with everything he/she has ever said. You’ll have a 100% failure rate.

  10. I don’t see this is as sour grapes at all. It’s honest, and maybe not what some of the Klinsmann worshipers want to hear. I like Klinsmann overall, and love how he has expanded the talent pool from which we draw. However, in this World Cup, he made some significant personnel and tactical errors. Phillip Lahm said the same thing about Klinsmann when he was at Bayern Munich, that tactical decision making and advice was lacking. Klinsmann is not a god, folks, and should be open to criticism just like everyone else. The fact remains that we had players that were not in their ideal roles in this tournament, and it showed on the field. Michael Bradley is a major example. If you don’t agree with me, then look at the stats, because they don’t lie. The US ranked 31st of 32 teams in the tournament in ball possession. That HAS to improve if we are ever to be a legitimate threat at a World Cup.

  11. Actually there were some good thru balls to Yedlin but very few penetrating passes to the attackers. Just innefective crosses from Zusi Crosses being the most inneficient way to attack.

  12. Too much emotion in these statements.JK did the best he could given his limitations regarding tactical preparation. His strength is psychology and emotion And he taps into the inate desire of the players not to fail. LD is pretty much correct in his assesment also. He certainly didnt say anything radical and if anyone thinks that players dont constantly secondguess their coaches, they live in a fantasy world of video soccer. A couple of points 1. The Belgians did NOT press, so posession should have been possible.It did not occur because a coach telling you to possess is not enough. There was no framework for it on the field(no coaching) Because the was no Beckerman, the 2 central defenders were in a constant panic with no one to give it to. They are very bad technically,
    so the long ball givaways were inevitable. I did not see any 4 v 2 type support or thru balls in a structured way. 2. Bradley ran 10 miles against Belgium! Why ? because he had to because of midfield disorganization (coaching) He worked the MOST of ANY midfielder in all ANY of the games of all teams in the WC.
    So lets give him a break please. With Bradley #1 and Jones #3 in terms of distance covered in the whole WC. It shows why it was so hard to have a good attack, Too much crazy running, Too tired to be very effective Messi , on the other hand , is averaging 6.5 miles per game. Better coaching and on field organization.3. Regarding substitutes, Coming on when Belgium is tired is no way to assess the long term ability of any player. One player scoring or missing doesnt mean too much.4. Dempsey alone up front was a waste of talent.

    • I know… People are acting like JK told them to give the ball away in sloppy positions and that Johnson was planned to get injured. Lose our most effective attacking player in the first 30 minutes. Sureee everything was going to plan.

      Donovan can either think before he talks or shut up. Belgium wanted to counter and “attacking more” lets them counter more. So fine Donovan lets do exactly what the other team wants. Foolish.

      • Or the coach can make the right Roster selections and bring true depth instead of role players like every other team in the world cup has done. One of the best midfielders in the world in Schweinsteiger was injured but that didnt stop Germany from having an equivalent player to slot in either in place of, or along side of him.

      • Um, that is a terrible example. We don’t have a Schweinsteiger on the bench…

        Even Belgium didn’t have a direct replacement for Benteke…

  13. The comments above blasting LD are ridiculous. One thing that’s always been true about LD is that he’ll give an honest answer to whatever he’s asked instead of spouting some platitudes or trying to be PC. Lots of people have made these same criticisms of JK, whether you agree with them or not.

  14. For all of those ripping on Landon, did the 4-5-1 ever work for us ?
    No (maybe against Portg). We always switched to the 4-4-2 in the second half and saw better results in qualifying, repeatedly.

    Did Bradley play well in his new position ?
    No. Not Bradley-esque at all.

    Was Clint a factor up top ?
    Not like we needed. When he moved back in the Belgium game, things started to click.

    Bitter or correct. Probably both.

      • I agree. The change in tactics was brought on because we lost our primary striker 20 minutes into the tournament and it changed the fundamental philosophy of the team. It’s easier to possess when Dempsey and drop into midfield and help out. Once he had to be moved up top, the tactics had to change. Donovan would not have helped that in the least.

  15. There is one player that has been involved in almost all of the USMNT amazing comeback runs, even big team upsets, with perfect understanding of Bradley and Clint, a player whose even second half inclusion would have caused major problems for all the teams we encountered was cut and left off the plane to Brazil (and DEEP down we all know it)…….if you pick a US team good enough to leave behind “an experienced Landon Donovan” then you have a team good enough to shoot for the semi-finals, not the round of 16….. bar none.

  16. So for how many players do you guys think that the Belgium game was that their last international match?

    • Last international match? Probably none… I think many of them will be around to help out with the transition, especially with major tournaments coming up each of the next three seasons.

      But last World Cup match? Quite a few, actually… Howard, Beasley, Beckerman, Jones and Wondo all likely won’t be around four years from now. I’m doubtful about Dempsey, Zusi and Bedoya. Hopefully Bradley is on that list as well, because it’ll mean we’ve developed a central midfielder capable of controlling the ball, with a quality first touch and a calmness on the ball. I remember watching the final 45 minutes of the Belgium game and being struck at how rarely players would pass the ball to Bradley, even they’d lost confidence in his ability to do something positive with it.

      I spent some time thinking about our possible lineup for 2018, and I’m really encouraged by the possibilities… My ideal lineup would see us going to a five-man back line with the two outside backs serving more as wingbacks and providing the width in attack, a strong central midfield trio with a quality first touch, quality on the ball and creativity to do something positive with it, coupled with a strong attacking pair. I’m thinking something along these lines…


      There’s a host of young players coming up with the abilities needed to compete – Packwood, Gil, Trapp, Palmer-Brown… it’s time to start phasing out the players of the Arena/Bradley generation.

      • Don’t forget guys like Rowe, Fagundez and McInerney. I wouldn’t even rule out Lee Nguyen (will be 31 by next World Cup) and Freddy Adu getting recalled.

  17. I’m not going to blame Donovan for his comments, as I do think he is trying to be honest. But he deserves criticism for accepting this analyst role and the timing of it. He is still an active player and perhaps can contribute still to the USMNT as a player. Seems like he is intentionally burning that bridge and its hard not to see it as a little payback to JK, which is really counterproductive for helping grow our sport and team.

    And I disagree about the “tactics” comment anyway. I believe if we would have played with two forwards, Belgium would have completely overrun us and scored 3 or 4 in regulation. If we had 2 Jozys, then maybe, but fact is we didn’t even have one. We did what we had to do (played defensive) to hang in and give ourselves a chance to win. And we had some chances, and didn’t take them. Belgium was the better team and deserved the win, no shame in that, they’re good enough to win the whole thing.

    • I actually think the US line up against Belgium was based on a desire to win. That is why Beckerman was not in the starting line up. We needed to move forward not to concentrate on shutting down the other team.

      I actually think JK’s tactics were okay. They got the US out of the group on goal differential. Isn’t that why Beckerman is in the game?

      When we get the group stage, we have to expand a little more, and the safest way to do so is to try to get the midfield a little help moving forward, and i think Cameron in place of Beckerman was an offensive sub.

  18. We had more possession because Gonzalez would hold the ball for as long as he could and then pass the ball back to Howard almost every time

  19. Funny how those saying the team won’t get out of group now jump up and down because we didn’t beat a better team. Anything to criticize.

    • US getting through was more dependent on Germany beating Portugal 4-0 than us being that great. We beat Ghana by a thread, a team that we are ranked well above. We tied a Portugal team (kudos to the USA, no complaints). And Germany didn’t really care to beat us.
      As I have said since day 1, the thing I criticize is the roster selection. Totally beating a dead horse, but Klinsmann told me to do it. Wondo should not have been anywhere near brazil. No arguments can be made. His shot wasnt anywhere near the goal. If he got in on a target and it didnt go in, fine because Curtios was closing in. But he didnt even come within 10 feet of the goal. No defense other than he couldnt handle the pressure. Davis was a waste of a spot too. He was brought in for his “magical” left foot, yet did not get the chance to cross the ball once. Why, you may ask? because he is nowhere near the level of being able to make enough space for himself to get a cross in against this level of competition. And everyone knew that, except Klinsmann.

      Now, given Klinsmann’s poor roster selections, he did an excellent job of tactics with that team for the first 3 games. Altidore going down was a huge loss. Not having a like for like replacement for him goes back to my point in number 1. But Klinsmass found a strategy that worked, and we got thru the group of death. The Belgium game’s game plan was pretty poor. Although Donovan was a little (a lot) aggressive with his comments, he was right. Unless the USA’s game plan was to have Howard make 16 saves, we did not play good soccer. Klinsmann deviated from what had worked in the last 3 games and tried something new that just failed. The only reason we were in that game was because of Belgiums awful shooting and Tim Howard. The USA was not dangerous until Belgium bunkered in, something they clearly are not good at.

      With better roster selection, I believe the USA would have done so much better in a soccer sense. Would we have gone farther had Davis and Wondo been replaced with better options? Can’t say. But what I can say is that the soccer would have been much nicer. There would have been more of the progressive, attacking soccer Klinsmann has been preaching about. Still, kudos to Klinsmann for finding a way.

      • “US getting through was more dependent on Germany beating Portugal 4-0 than us being that great.”

        That’s incredibly misleading. Portugal has tons of talent and could have played better so that they did not end up with such a goal deficit. The US beat the team they had to beat, tied a team with superior talent (a game they should have won), and kept it close to one of the tournament favorites.

        That’s called getting the job done. They didn’t have to be great, they had to get out of the group. Often, getting out of the group can come down to taking advantage of an opportunity. The US had an opportunity to get out of the group because they executed their plan and did not lay an egg like Portugal.

        So did Portugal’s performance have an impact on the US advancing? Sure, but the US doing what they needed to had a larger impact.

      • Nope. Already 2-0 when Pepe was red carded. Even if nothing had happened in that match, the US still would have had better GD than POR.

      • Right, and if Portugal had received a second red card, then the US could have stayed in their hotel and still qualified out of the group!

      • So that’s your problem? 2 of 23 roster spots? Two players who played maybe 120 minutes between them?

        You’re really building a house of cards for your complaints.

  20. Klinsmann did make one very big mistake. He didn’t play Julian Green sooner. Why?

    Every other player in the 23 knew Julian should have been on the field. I am still p*ssed about it.

    • Julian Green came on after the game was lost because Klinsman needed to confirm his US participation in the future. Green shanked his shot and it luckily went in. Green was on the field to prepare for 2018, nothing more.

      • A commenter said it yesterday. Julian’s play (run+finish) was what every other member of the U.S player pool could only dream of. It was a world-class play.

        Sorry that you simply will not accept it.

      • Ive seen Dempsey make plenty of plays like that. We get it, you have a hard on for Julian Green. No need to go over the top

      • Professional run, gets a touch, scores on shank. Great timing by Green. Question though is why did Klinnsman wait until we were down 2-0? He either quit, had no confidence in guys he brought, or forgot he had a sub. To me, any of those three are unforgivable.

      • He came on in the 2nd OT period. That’s 105 minutes in. Your response answers none of the above. If JA was unavailable it provides some cover for Klinnsman. Green was thrown on to cap him. That’s it.
        It’s been posted that JK was looking towards 2018 before the WC began. If the point was to capture Green and maybe even Zelalem than maybe the man has a real plan. Since he seems to say whatever is on his mind, I can’t see this being the case but, here’s hoping that’s what is happening.

      • The second goal was scored at 105′, and the next stoppage after the celebration and a ceremonial kickoff was the end of ET1. Green was sighted warming up before the goal and was back getting final instructions when the goal was scored Thus, when JK decided to sub JG, the score was actually 1-0. It just so happened that in the time between the decision to send him in and green actually getting into the game Belgium scored again.

        That happens. It’s not hockey or LAX where you can make free subs.

      • Mason- fair enough but what did Bedoya offer us? Was JK thinking of PKs at that point and that’s a legit thought. Also to support your point, Jones had just gotten kicked in the face and had been sidelined. So, there’s room to support Klinnsman but he isn’t the genius he has sold himself as.

      • Bedoya worked tirelessly on defense. It looks like Green was sent in with the freedom to ignore any defensive responsibilities, but it’s hard so say if he would have received the same instructions if he’d gotten in before the goal changed the game state.

      • Accept what? Green made a good run. . . yes; good to see the young man do that. Nice to see that he sees the game.

        Could Aron Johannson made that same run? I think so. I was extremely happy to see Green score, but don’t act like it wasn’t lucky that the ball went in or that he is some kind of savant who knew exactly how to have the ball skim off the top of his boot while taking a full swing. Lets hope that he is a good option 4 years from now.

        Hey, what about Michael Bradley making a tremendous touch pass to get the ball to Green?

      • Considering that AJ was apparently nursing an ankle injury, it’s unclear if he could have made that run and scored that goal.

      • Aron J is scheduled for ankle surgery, announced today. First reported this afternoon by Bleacher Report. No word yet if the injury was a lingering issue or something that happened during the cup.

        He wasn’t making anything up.

  21. Donovan getting slack for being honest. Classic. Stays in LA because he wants to grow USA soccer, gets slack. Comes out with honesty that he needs to rediscover himself and step away from soccer, gets slack. Admits to being shocked when he did not make the team even though he thinks he should start, gets slack. Admits to wanting the USA to win by only 1-0 so that the USA doesn’t look good, but still wins, gets slack. Honestly tells us that the USA’s tactical plan was flawed ever since Altidore’s hammy gave out, gets slack.
    Really hope you guys could be easier on the guy. You should be encouraged by his honesty, not use it against him. Its rare to see an honest guy like that in sports and quite frankly I hope more players are like that.
    Of course there is quite a dig at Klinsmann, but come on, Donovan totally hits the nail on the head. He also took a dig at Klinsmann which is kinda lame, but what do you expect from a guy who just watched his replacement get the USA knocked out of the world cup?

  22. Donovan may have preferred different tactics, but his notion that Klinsmann’s tactics were something less than a “real effort” is ludicrous on its face and comes across as a misguided personal attack. In fact, Donovan’s shot falls apart if Wondo had simply put his foot in a slightly different place. Its also false because we had more possession than Belgium, even if we had much poorer possession than them. That’s largely because we still don’t have the mass of world class attacking players necessary to create consistent chances and hold the ball in the final third. Bedoya and Zusi aren’t at that level, Jozy might be close but was hurt, and Dempsey can’t finish every chance. Klinsmann recognized that, which is why we played with 3 central kids who are better defenders than anything else and Bedoya, who also defends better than he gets forward. We got out of the Group and went 120 minutes with a much more talented Belgium team using those tactics, Donovan’s sour grapes notwithstanding.

    • I agree with the comments that our wide players were overmatched. Zusi and Bedoya were the weak spots for our team. That being said, I really don’t know who else might have taken their places. Any suggestions?

      • No suggestions because there wasn’t a better choice. Absent world class attacking wingers and against better talent, it was better tactics to start wingers whose peak skill is defending/workrate rather than weaker attackers who don’t defend or track back well. That’s also how we ended up with someone next to Jones., e.g., Beckerman next to Jones provided better defense than some other combination would have provided offense. Those tactics and Howard’s great day got us a misplaced foot from the quarterfinals.

  23. How about showing some class and just admitting Belgium was the better team. Tactics or not their players are just superior to ours. Its MLS vs EPL and it showed during the game. We don’t need to over-analyze every loss. Sometimes the other team is just better. Congratulate them and move on. Show some class.

  24. This is Ives Article on Goal this morning, titled “Donovan Comes Off Bitter In Klinsmann Slam”

    Landon Donovan decided to join the chorus of critics criticizing Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S. national team’s World Cup exit, and came off sounding bitter.
    SALVADOR, Brazil — Jurgen Klinsmann has come under his share of criticism following the U.S. national team’s exit from the 2014 World Cup after Tuesday’s loss to Belgium, but perhaps none of the criticism was quite as scathing as what came from none other than U.S. all-time leading scorer and World Cup snub Landon Donovan.

    Speaking to media after LA Galaxy practice on Wednesday, Donovan unleashed a barrage of pointed comments about Klinsmann’s blame in the U.S. team’s exit from the World Cup, and the team’s struggles in Brazil.

    “I think we’re all disappointed in what happened yesterday, Donovan told MLS Soccer on Wednesday. “I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.”

    Cut from the World Cup squad in late May in a surprise move that prevented him from playing in his fourth World Cup, Donovan has never been one to mince words, but his detailed assault on the U.S. World Cup team’s flaws, and Klinsmann’s role in the developing of those flaws, was still pretty shocking.

    “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. “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.”

    Donovan pointed specifically to how Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, the U.S. team’s two best field players, were used at the World Cup.

    “Michael was put in the wrong position,” Donovan said. “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.”

    While Donovan seemed like an extreme long shot to ever play for the U.S. national team again, he all but slammed the door shut on any possibility of a return after his comments on Wednesday. Comments that came off sounding as much about bitterness stemming from his exclusion from the World Cup as they were about real criticism of Klinsmann’s tactics and decision making.

    That isn’t to say there isn’t truth in some of the things Donovan said. Bradley absolutely did struggle in a more advanced role, and Dempsey did appear to be limited by his role as a lone forward in the team’s final three World Cup matches. Donovan also touched on the absence of Kyle Beckerman in the Belgium game, something Klinsmann has been rightfully criticized for.

    What made Donovan’s comments sound like sour grapes are the circumstances surrounding his exclusion from the U.S. World Cup team. He expressed shock at being left off, and has admitted in recent weeks to being bitter about the snub, even going so far as to admitting part of him hoped the U.S. team would struggle without him there. Comments he said later were taken out of context.

    There will no taking his latest comments out of context. Whether driven by anger at seeing his friends, and his national team, miss a golden opportunity to make a deep World Cup run, or driven by continued resentment at being denied his chance at playing in a fourth World Cup, and playing on the sport’s biggest stage one final time, Donovan decided to join the folks bashing Klinsmann rather than taking the high road and letting the court of public opinion cast a verdict on Klinsmann’s performance as coach.

    it may have felt like something Donovan had to do, but in the end it smacked of petulance and bitterness and not the actions of someone who once said that he would be the U.S. team’s biggest fan even if he were left off the World Cup team.

    • thanks for posting this over here, because i don’t comment at Goal.

      “Whether driven by anger at seeing his friends, and his national team, miss a golden opportunity to make a deep World Cup run, or driven by continued resentment at being denied his chance at playing in a fourth World Cup”

      because those are the only two reasons someone could criticize klinsmann.

      “not the actions of someone who once said that he would be the U.S. team’s biggest fan”

      because if you’re a big fan, that means you can’t criticize the coaching.

      not sure if this is an example of us soccer media carrying water for the management, but i really didn’t expect this from ives.

      • Agreed. +1. Klinsmann is no more a sacred cow than Donovan to U.S. Soccer. The media is putting a favorable spin on this for Klinsmann, but he really did a lousy job.

      • Sure it is. Donovan still believes he can be the USA’s #10. He can’t, but the fact that he wasn’t allowed to is the font of most of this criticism.

      • no, it isn’t. ives actually gave credence to some of donovan’s criticisms. but ives’ point was to cast aspersions on donovan for his criticism, simply as a matter of principle.

  25. There is a real false narrative emerging on the Belgium game, which is that we tried to bunker and counter. In fact, I think the opposite occurred. We tried to take the fight to Belgium and failed. Ghana was a bunker ball performance – they were sitting in the final third peppering balls into the box. Most of Belgium’s chances came off of counters emerging out of failed efforts to go forward by the US. We won the possession stats. It’s just that one team could possess and the other could not.

    The European commentary on the game has been far more informative. They saw it as was it was – a grossly overmatched US team tried to go toe-to-toe with the Belgians rather than adopting a defensive posture. The Belgians took advantage and played their best game of the tournament and still couldn’t break down Howard.

    Folks have squad selection criticisms of Klinsmann. I don’t. You can’t take like-for-like at every position because we don’t have it. In theory, Terrence Boyd is a hold-up forward but he has never shown it for the US and apparently did not show it on the 30. We did not plan on Jozy Altidore going down 15 minutes into our first game but when it happened, we adjusted. We bring in our best poacher of goals and he has a chance to poach one to put us in the QFs. That’s an execution issue, not a squad selection issue.

    Every other “questionable roster decision” Klinsmann made has been fully vindicated in my eyes, save Brad Davis. Beckerman – whined about, great tourney; F. Johnson, Yedlin, Brooks, J. Jones all played wonderfully. Obviously J. Green showed us what he can do. And, yes, Landon Donovan has now proven once and for all why he didn’t go. It didn’t have much to do with physical ability (he would have slotted in the B. Davis role nicely, in theory) – it had to do with putting a ticking time bomb in the locker room and on the pitch. We would have set ourselves up for a Ghana/Ireland-esque meltdown with a senior player getting sent home.

    • Excellent analysis. I recall worrying several times in the game whether we could get back on D and retain the shape. This in my mind shows we tried to get forward more, not bunker. Even Gonzalez strayed past midfield a few times making us all nervous.

      • except we didnt have the tactical setup to do that. we played with 3 defensive midfielders, 1 attacking midfielder playing striker and no real threat on the wings other than our fullbacks. graham zusi was invisible for large swaths of games (except when he was providing pretty god awful service on setpieces…. with 2 exceptions), brad davis was a terrible choice, bedoya… hustled a lot… chris wondolowski was deemed more useful than a bunch of people who could have backed up jozy (but instead we brought no back up for him). dont get me wrong, some of klinsman’s decisions were good (okay really just yedlin… bringing in brooks wasnt a good decision.. .it was an injury replacement). in the end if this team had any interest in playing possession attacking football, klinsman was a major failure. brought the wrong team, started an incredibly defensive lineup and couldnt seem to convince that lineup to play for 90 minutes like they played for the last 15 against Belgium. That is ALL on the coach. you can complain about landon being bitter, or not saying anything till after (for what its worth, of course you dont say anything while the team is in the cup… no distractions like that), but what you CANT do is claim that Landon was WRONG. He most certainly was right. Not to mention he also buries belgium where wondo skied it. End of story.

      • The Guardian is the best soccer news site. Listen to the Football Weekly podcast from the day after the Belgium game. They went into depth and called it one of the most exciting games they’d ever seen.

        Also, Strauss’s article for ESPN after the game said the same thing – the US tried like heck to attack and Howard paid the price for it. I’ve got no problem with our tactics. Maybe – only maybe – I think I’d rather have had Beckerman in over Cameron. Sometimes I think what if we had gone mad and went
        Beasley/Bess/Omar/F. Johnson

        That lineup might have resulted in 50-60 saves for Howard rather than what occurred but it would have been crazy to watch.

    • it’s not a false narrative; we did try to bunker and counter. it’s just that belgium also was playing on the counter. it’s why our defense had more time on the ball throughout the game, and why possession stats at the end of regulation were even.

      • We just have to disagree then I guess. We tried to possess the ball in the midfield and push forward and we failed. I think the idea behind the lineup was giving us a chance to track back when Belgium countered and that we had not seen a second forward do anything this tournament other than run (Wondo). I just haven’t seen any evidence that Johannsson, much less Boyd, Donovan, EJ, or Agudelo would have done a good enough job in that role to justify starting two forwards against the best team we have played in this tournament. Our best attacks have been Yeldin/F. Johnson moving down the flanks with balls coming into the box or, on the other side, Jermaine Jones making runs.

        Putting in Beckerman, whose performances I loved this tourney, would have been a more defensive posture and would have hurt Bradley by pushing him too far forward.

        Bradley had one of his best games in a US jersey. He was flying box to box and trying to set up attacks. Belgium’s midfield was just dispossessing us because they are technically better at every single position by a wide, wide margin. There are no players we could have brought to change this equation (including LD). There was a time when Landon Donovan would have had the skills to make a big difference for us on the wings but that time has passed.

        As we say all this, the last time Belgium lost a competitive match was in October of 2011. They are the best team we played in this tournament. Whether they have the moxie to keep going against the big boys in the knockout rounds is a question to me, but, to me, their attack is more threatening than Germany and their midfield and backline are far better defensively.

    • We had 3 defensive midfielders playing on the field. Much of the time we had 5 to 6 players playing on the back line. There was no player to outlet the ball to pretty much the entire game. I don’t really know how much more defensive we could have been in that game.

    • The 2nd Portugal goal was the beginning of the end. Some guys needed to be rested against Germany but that wasn’t possible after the extra time POR goal. The US had a lack of sharpness that really showed for most of the Belgium game, IMO.

    • I completely agree. This cup was very similar to other cups, the players had opportunities to win the game (or at least tie it back against Belgium) and didn’t execute. Everyone always blames the coach.

      Conventional wisdom and studies show it comes down to the quality of the players for winning percentages.

      People say there should have been other players selected and they give examples. That’s great. But all these other players are in the same boat, they all have their liabilities, and if they are so great why aren’t the European teams knocking on their door to play for them? JK had maybe 30-50 (just throwing numbers out here) OKAY players to choose from, and he took 23. To say he should’ve picked one average player over another is silly and tedious and dumb and these message boards are bloated with these topics.

    • Agree for the most part Alabama,
      although nothing in LDs,
      past has shown that once put to task he wouldn’t have been anything but a true professional.
      He’s always sucked it up and done everything he could for team and country.

      btw, great insight and analysis all around,
      Pele, says everybody gets a + 10 for participation.
      Thanks for playing.

  26. Petulant. Passive-aggressive.

    The reason we didn’t deploy two forwards, I’d imagine, is because JK didn’t feel we have two forwards capable of attacking the opposing defenses successfully.

  27. The failure of the tactics grew out of the failure of the squad selection, a failure by no means limited to Donovan’s exclusion. Donovan is not the only person saying this, and once the excitement of the Cup wears off, you’re going to hear it more and more.

    • True. The failure of tactics was what I remember reading about what players in Germany said about him. He did do some things well, but he was trying to put square pegs in round holes. It didn’t work out in the end. There is a talent gap between US and other countries, but he also put what talent we had in odd places at times. Guys like Wondo and Davis shouldn’t have been there. That shot Wondo took was a typical Wondo shot when the pressure is on…he couldn’t decide full volley or on the bounce quickly enough and ended up doing neither…it should have been Boyd taking that shot.

    • I am not sure how you say that there was a failure of tactics. It seemed to me that JK had a different game plan in mind for each group game. In the end, we got throught the group that many called the toughest.

      I think that final 16 is probably where the US is right now. I don’t think that we are final 8, although I would love to be. As a further analogy, I think the US would regularly qualify out of Europe, either as a group winner or through a tough play-off as a runner up.

  28. as usual, donovan brings up some good points worth consideration, even though i don’t really agree with his overall view.

    mainly, his point about us playing in an extremely defensive posture after years of playing mostly attacking soccer:

    i don’t have a problem with klinsmann playing a bunker/counter approach against some of the top teams in the world–in fact, i agree with it; i think it was a practical move to get us as far as we could go in the tournament, aesthetics be damned. the problem is that our team seemed entirely uncomfortable and ineffective in the system, likely due to the fact that we’d made a point of *not* playing that way for years now.

    the solution may be a trade-off: do we want to play pretty soccer against lesser teams for 3 years, or advance further in the world cup every 4th year? not saying those are strictly the only two choices, or that they’re mutually exclusive, but, as i said, it’s worth considering.

    • You have to get good at pretty soccer against the minnows before you can do it against the big boys in a WC. That’s the progress being made. We’re showing better against the teams we should beat. The hope is that soon we’ll be playing effective pretty soccer against the teams on our level and eventually we’ll be capable of playing pretty soccer against the top tier. The WC is all about results though. And sometimes you have to change tactics to get results.

      Organization was good. Possession wasn’t. And much of the lost possession was, as Ballack pointed out, just a function of lesser technical skill.

      • i think everything you’re saying is true. however, with your last sentence, you imply we just don’t have the players right now to play pretty soccer (an implication i agree with). that being the case, wouldn’t it have been more practical to consistently play a style that does suit our players’ skill levels, so that when we get to the big stage, we’re comfortable with what we’re doing?

      • No. Klinsmann is transitioning the USMNT from the old absorb and counter strategy to an attacking possession style. We are clearly good enough to compete in CONCACAF with the new style, but trying to play possession soccer would not have resulted in advancing to the knockout stage from the group of death.

        Klinsmann is doing a very good job and has more than earned the opportunity to see his transition through Russia 2018.

      • my argument wasn’t that we should have played possession soccer this cup; it was that, if we were going to play a very defensive style in this cup, it might’ve been more effective if we had been practicing that for the last three years.

      • to add more coherence to my reply, i would contend that ‘organization was good’ only when defending; not when countering. we were awful on the counter.

      • I think to get to the long-term goals, you have to play pretty soccer as often as you can–like we did in the Belgium friendly last year to disastrous results. Otherwise the players don’t get better at it. We did shift to more defensive stances in the warm-up friendlies, but it’s really hard to schedule a friendly against a team that plays with the style and ability that Germany and Belgium have. And when you’re in the friendly, it doesn’t make sense to focus entirely on defensive form and bunkering when the other team isn’t even as good as you with possession. There’s a balancing act between the long game and the short game. I think at most we’re–the SBI crowd, not LD who obviously has a personal agenda to knock down JK at this point–disagreeing at the margins with Jurgen’s balance. Do you believe the end result this week (a Round of 16 loss to Belgium) would have been different if he’d tilted the balance more heavily toward the short term? If no, then shouldn’t we concede that he made the right balance in maximizing both the long term and short term goals?

        It’s a really tough transition we’re going through, and it’s a long process. Thankfully the signs are there that we’re further along in the process than we were 12 years ago, in spite of the better “result” of making the quarterfinals.* The good news is that our expectations are shifting because we’re progressing. It is now completely unacceptable to NOT qualify for the WCF. It is now expected that we qualify 1 or 2 in the Hex, and only 2 if Mexico is on a particularly strong cycle. It was NOT acceptable to miss the London games. It will not be acceptable to fail to qualify for 2016, and it will not be acceptable to fail to reach the Gold Cup final. The “swing” result, as I believe Roger Bennett called it, should now be the R16 of the World Cup Final. If we don’t get there, it’s a bad WCF. If we advance to the quarterfinals, it’s a good WCF. If we end at R16, it’s what we expected. In several more cycles of meeting that expectation, the swing result should shift to reaching the quarterfinals.

        And to consolidate responses: Probably a fair point about organization on the counter-attack. I don’t think it was awful, but it needs to be much better to beat teams like Germany and Belgium.

        *And on that point, anybody who doesn’t account for the luck of drawing Mexico in that R16 game is kidding themselves.

      • agreed on all accounts. i think the overarching answer is that klinsmann has indeed been looking forward to 2018. not sure exactly how i feel about that, and i guess we won’t know how wise that is until around four years from now.

      • Honestly, we probably won’t even have to wait four years. The next four years have Gold Cup, Olympic, Copa America Centenario, Gold Cup, Confed Cup quals and Confed Cup.

        Oh… and WCQ.

      • Without Altidore the counter bogged down but main reason was when a ball was played through Zusi. His lack of touch and on the ball reaction was not up to level of skill or play on the field. Bedoya lacked technical aspects as well but made up for it with speed but still lacked and dangerous play in the final third. The left backs and right backs were the most dangerous bombing forward the entire tournament but only FabJ has the skills needed in the final third.

  29. In retrospect we only played one good match the entire tournament, against Portugal, we were thoroughly outplayed in every other game. We actually finished with a worse record than 2010

    • We also played freakin’ Slovenia, England, and 2010 Algeria and still needed a last minute goal to save us. And don’t forget how we got that draw with England. It’s kinda pointless to compare such similar records.

  30. Personally, I really don’t see LD making that much of an impact in the game when there was questions about his fitness. Had a feeling that we would lose when Fabian came off with his injury. Though the real problem was the midfield battle. Beckerman or Mix could have been a better substitution than Wondo in hindsight.

  31. They did everything which is possible for them to do. Overall they played well throughout the tournament. But their defensive plan doesn’t work for them against Belgium and I think their defensive approach is the major cause of their defeat.

    • they got owned in every game, except maybe portugal. they played ultra defensive like they ‘ve always done in international competition and went 1-1-2, sorry , but they didn’t play well. howard had a monster WC and saved the usa multiple times from getting blown out.

    • They played like junk and were dominated in 3 of their 4 matches. The results were acceptable but the way we played was a step down (or three) down from what good coaching would create.

  32. LD is right to an extent. the proof is how many shots on goal we allowed. Belgium (and Portugal) were allowed to break down our defense too easily. we knew going in that the back line was weak. we did better than I thought we would. Besler did well overall and Beasley did well. but without Howard, what would the score have been? with Ronaldo 100%, would we have advanced? I really doubt it but I guess JK wanted more firepower vesus Belgium and opted that 4-4-3. so it was a tactical gamble fueled by the lack of offense against Germany. it just didnt work because our defense couldnt stop many attacks. LD knows he is done with the USMNT and so he can say these things now. someone has to say it might as well be him

  33. Donovan is right. No problem with this. Why would klinsmann use two formations we never really used. Injuries are not an excuse. As a coach you have to be ready and have a plan for everything and obviously klinsmann wasn’t. There’s so many examples but one is putting Cameron at right mid. Has he ever played that position in his career? Klinsmanns logic “ive never tried this before let’s give it ago at the world cup” mind boggling.

    • Well, things change during a world cup and you have to adjust. Injuries create a lot of problems and sometimes cause formations to change. Also, maybe Klinsmann was looking for a tactical surprise. Every team we played against had far superior talent than our team, and through awesome coaching and instilling a belief in this team, we got out of arguably the toughest.

      Cameron has played cm mid before for club and country. He showed well in that position for both and is capable of playing there. Where he does not belong, at the world cup level is right back. Despite playing there for club, a lot, he doesn’t fit in our tactics of making serious runs like Johnson or Yedlin. Stoke uses more of a rigid tactic with their defenders, which is why he can play there for club.

      Donovan is not right, and is an absolute poor sport. It was the right decision to leave him off. His attitude has shown to be poor with his exclusion. Boyd didn’t come out and say this kind of garbage. Donovan sounds and acts like whiney teenager.

    • agreed. donovan has every right to critisize klinsman. firstly, he has been hired to be an analyst and probably has a bright future in that role. we want our analysts to ‘call em as they see em,’ right? secondly, he has an inside and enlightened view of the usa soccer world and the name of the game in that world is to challenge players (and coaches) to improve their game. so why shouldn’t klinsman be challenged? (and we should be suspicious of a media writers who toe the usa party line. the role of our press is not to toe the party line!) thirdly, donovan is clearly not a nay sayer trolling usa soccer. he is honest about his emotions — thank him for that — and measured in his comments.

      following klinsmans own program of usa improvement, he deserves criticism. he is not all-knowing despite his ample ego. he would do well to listen carefully to landons comments. some of the decisions he made were creative and clear sighted and bold. others were real head scratchers and probably held the team back.

      • Kind of agree. the problem is Landy didn’t make these comments when he was sitting in the analyst chair for ESPN. When asked pointed questions by Ley or Lalas, he gave vanilla answers at best.

        Also, if you’re going to criticize, please be more specific about what you would have done. Who you would have played. How you would have set up the team. What he would have done given some of the early injuries.

        Supposedly, he had the inside insight b/c he knew these players and had spent time at Camp Stanford. Well, tell us who you would have played and what roles they would have given them.

        If you’re just going to say “tactics were the problem” and “we should have been more attack oriented” and nothing else, then shut up.

        If you’re going to say who played well and “who had no so great performances” then tell us who and why.

        Give an opinion and back it up or shut

        Imagine the SBI banter if one of us simply said “It was the tactics that screwed us”.

      • “Also, if you’re going to criticize, please be more specific about what you would have done. ”

        Perhaps you should go read the original article, the one that has all of his quotes.

      • BJR, did i miss the quotes about what he would done differently? Whom he would have played and it what positions..given the injuries? Whom did he say played poorly and whom played well?

  34. Landon sounds like a spoil brat but he does make a couple of points that we all have thought about. Clint not a target forward and Bradley should be a DM not a CAM. I’m not too big with the 3 DM’s in the middle. But it did make it hard for Belgium and Germany to crack thru the middle. I don’t think anybody can criticized the coaching staff for the great run we had. Jurgen getting offers from clubs that Bradley and Brucey wish a 2 level club would get

  35. Such nonsense, does Donovan point out any single thing we could have done better? Can Klinsmann make Zusi or Bradley control the ball better? What does Landon think we should have done? How were we to set up? What was the tactical set up and who should have played it? Landon, like, truthfully, many of the old Bayern players, have issued old and empty criticisms of a coach they don’t like, but the thing is, is that there dislike has little to do with tactics. Not in Lahm’s book, not is any account, are there specific criticism made of Klinsi’s tactics, only the utterly meaningless, “we didn’t win, lets blame tactics.” Low has just played Lahm in the middle this whole tournament and Germany hasn’t looked great, until he was made a right back again, and it was widely commend on how they looked more dangerous, yet no one will ever questions Low’s tactical nous. It’s really just a joke at this point.

    • We’ve played some of our best soccer with two forwards. That could be what Donovan was implying.

      In any case, Bedoya and Zuzi are not big scoring threats.

      I actually really wish we had stuck with the diamond.

      It sounds crazy, but I would have done something like:


      • Not nearly enough defensive workers. We can’t have two players stand off and not defend. We’re not that good.

      • Wondo not at the 90 minute level of skill! Even with Dempsey playing under Wondo that set up fails. Wondo needs a target forward to play off of. All his goals and shots at SJ come off of Lenhart and Gordon being targets forwards laying balls off for Wondo.

      • Oh and this where LD has pie on his face by always promoting his guys in his MLS Bruce Arena camp. If LD said Jurgen would have been smart to include a similar backup to Altidore such as Boyd or even EJohnson. Tactically the US would have had options to play the style they prepared for using Altidore as a holding player and security blanket for the midfiled and goal kicks to be played into.

      • Wondo’s gaffe against Belgium, and his poor heading techniques against Azerbaijan have not convinced you? All he had to do was volley in the ball instead of side footing it and leaning back, and there would have been no need for extra time.

        Dude is too old to be given any more chances to prove himself. Give them to younger guys like Boyd or Johansson.

  36. And we wonder why Landon wasn’t included. There it is, plain as day.

    If a player isn’t bought in, as a coach, you can’t bring him, because subtly or otherwise, he’s going to undermine you and poison your locker room.

    Dumb move by Donovan. He still had a shot at being one of the 23 in the 2016 Olympics – each nation is allowed 3 overage players – and he would have been great in that role. It would have been a fitting end to his career and I think a lot of people would have lobbied for it, and I think Klinsmann would have been happy to give it to him.

    Now…nope. Stick a fork in him, Donovan’s career as a USA International is well and truly Done.

    • It’s almost like no one remembers even Bruce Arena didn’t like Donovan at one point. Landon, just because he is willing to tell the press whatever their ears will hear, gets a pass for being “honest.” Oh, you’ll give me a story? I’ll call you honest.

      • The press is bashing Donovan. I don’t know what you’ve been reading. At the same time they are trying to snuggle with Jurgen, they take Donovan’s discussion about tactical mistakes as if it directly offends the constitution.

    • Nothing particularly wrong with his points…. But yes he must have made a decision that he won’t be doing the USMNT thing under JK (or been informed that this would be the case). The timing was a bit wack too. This was not part of his ESPN gig… didn’t need to say anything to draw attention to himself when the team is still collecting plaudits for their effort. Seems like he could have said any of these things a week later (or not at all) and come off a bit better. Too bad– like you I thought JK would absolutely have had a look at him but unlikely now.

      Not necessarily relevant, but does anybody know who will be coaching the Olympic team should we qualify? Will Klinsmann do this himself? Or let Ramos take the head coaching role and stay behind the scenes? I’d assume he would at least want to be involved in selection and planning, but he may also see it as a “reward” to allow Ramos to stay at the helm as he has been largely for this group of players through the youth levels.

    • Yup. The true colors have been revealed.

      The dude never bought in to what Jurgen wanted him to do and now we’re seeing the petulance and spoiled-rotten reality of the character of Landon Donovan.

      It’s sad. I liked him a lot as a player at from 2002-2010. Was brilliant for us in the 2009 Confed Cup and really gave us years of amazing service.

      Now he’s already thrust himself into the group of loud-mouthed, delusional voices like Wynalda. Disgraceful and I think he will grow to regret it.

      • Wait a second. How is what Donovan said disgraceful? He was asked a question, and good or bad, he answers it. Donovan owes nothing to . . . well anyone, not to say what is on his mind.

        That being said, I agree that this type of “truthfulness” is what kept him off the team. It is too difficult to compete in the World Cup with a dissenting opinion . . . either by rolling of eyes, comments to the press, etc. Look at Ghana.

      • Donovan’s complaints aren’t half of the criticism that guys like Lalas gave Bob Bradley. Call Donovan what you will, the fact is Jurgen isn’t the god everyone wants him to be. He made mistakes. I’m glad someone came out and said it. It at least allows people to take a more honest assessment of what we did well, and what we didn’t. There was some of both. Donovan called out some of each. What is being highlight are those that included criticism, but he had a balance of good and bad. A balance is almost always the most accurate assessment.

      • “A balance is almost always the most accurate assessment.”

        Nope. That’s not even true. That statement brings to mind the Jon Oliver segment on “false balance”.

      • No idea. Didn’t see it, but I certainly stand by my statement. I think it is true when some people are saying Jurgen is “God”, literally people on these boards are saying that. Other people are saying Jurgen is a complete idiot who knows nothing about tactics.
        They are on the extremes and neither is correct. The balanced position that Jurgen has done some things well and somethings not so well is correct.

      • Correlating balance to accuracy of a statement is tautological. Any accurate statement will have opposing inaccurate extremes.

        You’re right, Jesse, that Klinsmann is somewhere between a god and a devil, but that’s right because it is right, not because it is balanced.

        btw, why compare Lalas’ comments on Bradley to Donovan’s comments on Klinsmann. Totally different scenarios: Lalas never played for Bradley.

      • You’re hitting me with vocabulary above my grade level there King.
        I’m not following exactly what you and Mason are after in my comment. Is it a grammar lesson, or do you believe I’m wrong in my conveyance that extreme positions are usually wrong. The truth is most people, places and things have strengths and weaknesses, positives and negatives.

      • We believe that you are improperly conflating “accuracy” and “balance”.

        A statement can be accurate and balanced, or accurate and unbalanced balanced, or inaccurate and balanced or inaccurate and unbalanced. The two are independent concepts.

        Just go watch the Jon Oliver segment. It’s funny and informative.

      • Jesse,

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to “give you a lesson.” I wouldn’t have even written anything if not for your response to Mason.

        My comment about “balance” was purely an aside; i.e., not soccer related. You made an accurate statement about JK’s performance, but tried to strengthen your argument by pointing out its balance. That’s not relevant to your argument. You are right about Klinsmann because he was both good and bad, not because you chose to be balanced.

        And you are correct that most things have strengths and weaknesses. But to say that “extreme positions are usually wrong” is a tautology (aka circular argument). For example:

        “Jim is right.”
        “How do you know that?”
        “Because he told me that he is never wrong.”

        Another example (this time the tautology is implied):

        “I don’t like cauliflower.”
        “Why not?”
        “Because it’s gross.”
        “Well, you just haven’t had it prepared the right way then.”

        And then your example:

        “Extreme positions are usually inaccurate.”
        “How so?”
        “Because they’re extreme.”

      • I’m happy to get a vocabulary or grammar lesson. Nothing wrong with education. I see your point about the words I used, but I guess it isn’t really how I intended them to be interpreted.

      • Go watch the segment on youtube or something. It’s very funny and very clearly points out the difference between “balance” and “accuracy.”

    • If Brian Straus named Donovan as his article source, would he still be writing for Sporting News? I think if he did and Donovan was his source, LD would still be in the same position he is now.

      • I was thinking the same thing!
        Also, think LD represents the Bruce Arena camp of opinion in the direction of where the USMNT should go.
        Two bitter man!

      • I absolutely believe Donovan was the unnamed team source for the Strauss piece. I also believe Klinsmann and the rest of the team know that he was the source. His sabbatical coincided with the when the article came out.

        Anyone of you who believe being honest with your boss is a good stragegy, I’d suggest you try it on them ASAP and see how long you keep your job. Walk into your their office and say you can’t work hard 12 out of 12 days. Tell them that their management style is wrong. Gripe to others that they have no clue what they are doing.

      • It’s starting to look that way. He’s done it before Strauss and he’s done it since. It’s not that hard to impute that he did it then, too.

        The only thing that doesn’t track is that Strauss’s source was anon. LD doesn’t seem to care if he takes heat.

      • I think that part was unclear. I read it as one direct source saying other people in the locker room shared his sentiment. Only one person talking to the reporter though. I could have misinterpreted though. Boca loves to talk about “the guys”, “we”, “people”, he uses those terms all the time.

      • Man, you Donovan haters jump at anything. Don’t you have anything better to do? Donovan might or might not have been that source. I kind of would like to hear Bradley’s take on the US team.

        Donovan is spot on in his assessment.

      • How could he be the source? He hadn’t been with the team (or in camp) for months! It came out before the Hexagonal round and he had barely played in the 3rd round of qualifying.

      • I think Bocanegra was the source. He was the captain, so he would be the most in tune with what was going on with the players. He was unceremoniously benched before the Honduras game (immediately after the article) and hasn’t been seen since.

      • Really?!?! A guy who was captain America, never said a ill word towards the team, coaches or players all of the sudden talks to the press? A guy who hasn’t said ill word to the press against the team or the coach since. Let’s overlook the 1000 pound gorilla in the room! The guy who already aired his dirty laundry over Beckham to Grant Wahl. The guy in the last 2 months said whatever he wanted to the press, he can’t train hard 12 days in a row, he should have been in Brazil and should of been a starter, hoped the team wouldn’t do well in the send games and now raises the same tactical and coaching criticisms now that the Strauss article had. Yeah right! It was Boca?!?!?

      • Luke, wait a second! Breathe… and think.
        You just completely made the case that it was Boca. Look at what you are saying, Donovan always comes out and says what he thinks. Boca continues try to protect his public rep.

        Who do you think would be more likely to demand to be “unnamed”?

      • Or another way to consider it is that Donovan learned to keep certain things in after the Beckham controversy. I would be surprised if the source was Donovan but I doubt he’s the only one who felt that way… If he did at all.

  37. Oh joy! A complete thread about Landycakes and his sour grapes. He must be thrilled the team crashed out of the World Cup. 4-3-2-1 Que all the Landycakes apologists.

    • How about Wondo apologists? Are they doing better after Tuesday? Should have been LD taking that shot.

      • Any yet, because of his being a huge piece of genitalia, I’m glad he wasn’t. After distinctly saying he was disappointed, but would only support the team, he has admitted to lying and rooting against the US in the send off series, and then continued to comment on the team, even taking money to do it. However, every US soccer reporter gives him a pass, because LANDON!

      • + 1

        Yup, spot on as far as I’m concerned. He should have commented about the tactics all along the way instead of waiting for elimination…

      • So Landon is half as bad as Jurgen. Half the liar, half the spoiled brat, half the attention whor3.

        Most Landon apologist have always conceded that he has some personality flaws. You know what, so does Neymar, so does Balotelli, Suarez, Giroud, Joel Campbell etc. Those coaches made decisions to put up with the antics of their stars. On the flip side Tevez and Nasri were left off their teams for the same reasons as Donovan.
        Our coach made his bed, now he has to accept the criticism of people who feel strongly that he made the wrong decision and cost this team a chance to make the quarterfinals. The French and Argentine’s made the Quarterfinal without their stars, we did not.

      • which is why we need to work harder to make sure our best athletes buy into our vision rather than tossing them out with the bath water.

      • They aren’t babies. They’re grown men who can either chose to buy in or they can be cast off.

      • That attitude leaves you with a mans team, but with less talent. I’m not saying it is wrong, it is one way to go.
        I prefer a coach with some emotional intelligence and who knows how to get buy in from his most talented players as well. Bradley is a better leader in my opinion than Klinsmann. There is more to coaching than just being a good leader, and understanding players. There are personnel decisions, tactical decisions. Bradley’s short comings were in those departments.

      • That’s well and good, but some people are refusniks. They won’t buy in no matter how much emotional IQ the leader has. At that point the leader has to either bring them along and risk resentment within the ranks or cut them loose.

        I’m from the Belichick school of cut the DAMF ASAP.

      • There are some players out there too crazy to be saved. I agree. Donovan has a personality that would be trying to a manager, Bocanegra to a lesser extent too. I don’t think either are so bat sh*t crazy they couldn’t be brought on board. JK was either unwilling or unable to do that work.

    • These comments convince me further Klinsmann did the right thing.
      Landon would have griped and been a distraction if not starting. He was left off in part due to his attitude..

      • Totally agree. The dude said nothing negative about Bob Bradely’s bunkerball tactics against the likes of Slovenia after the last WC and now he is blasting Klinsmann for playing too conservatively in the group of death and uber talented Belgian team? None of the players on the team blamed the coaches for the loss or criticized the tactics.

      • Of course players on the team didn’t criticize tactics. Jurgen made sure he only brought “yes men” with him.
        However, Howard came awfully close to doing so in some of his interviews. He kept avoiding questions about tactics or answering them by praising effort of his guys. It is quite clear Howard disagreed with at least some of JK’s decisions.

      • I’m okay with JK only bringing yes men. At the end of the day, I would rather have a team of 23 unified players than 21 commited players and a couple of “I know better”. Just ask Ghana.

      • not saying that is invalid, you want people who share your vision on the bus. In my opinion, a better leader finds a way to help everyone buy into his vision. That is Jurgens biggest failure.

      • Even if you could sell ice to Inuits, there are some people who just aren’t going to buy. If unity is your goal, once those people demonstrate lack of buy-in, they have to be cast out.

      • LD was so delusional that he even thought he was going to be a starter in the tournament before he found out he was left off the team.

        He doesn’t even dominate MLS anymore. Is he better than one of the top attacking midfielders in the league (Valeri) ? Ha!

    • Klinsmann’s snub of Donovan was sickening. So he can have all the sour grapes he wants. I have them, too. But he actually doesn’t have any. Proud of him for speaking the truth.

    • I wouldn’t put much stock in anything Philip Lahm says anymore. Look at the way he has basically decided he wants to play in mid field, announced it to the public, and Germany is getting slaughtered on their back line because he isn’t there.

      So Lahm is apparently a guy who wants the “tactics” to suit him rather than the team.

      • Ditto. When I lived in Germany, there was a lot of talk Lahm talks too much and wants to essentially be a coach. He is a great player, but he is better for the team at fullback. Khedeira is a better DCM.

    • But a “forward” LD, who called him a forward?, would have scored on the 92nd minute, and we would be in QF. Wondo choked. A huge mistake by JK even though we don’t have a better coach at this point.

      • Give Wondo a break, he had one shot there and Courtois had all the angles covered anyway. Scapegoating the guy while the team couldn’t bring any offensive creativity ALL GAME. Simply outclassed and outplayed, I have higher hopes for next cycle.

      • I completely agree. Looking at another camera angle, I became apparent that Wondo would have had to control the ball first before shooting at the goal. There was no time for that. As long as the US loves scapegoats, there will not be a win for the USMNT in the offing. Soccer is really a team sport. What again was very apparent was that jealousies interfered with team spirit. The type of set up Klinsmann used had never been done in that way before. He should have used the same set-up that was used for the Korea game. At least then the team would not have been so totally lost in their formation. The tactical mistakes K. made with Bayern in Germany should have taught him that. But since K. is the boss he didn’t have to be afraid of any other management to interfere with his ideas.

      • You are the number one scapegoater! How many times have you argued that Jozy Altidore should be replaced by Wondo because he couldnt score? Well, you got your wish and now look what happened. Now you want to make excuses? It was entirely predictable. Wondo missed a wide open sitter against Panama in the gold cup under Bradley, who never called him again.

        As for the shot itself, he had to one time it. He had room in the corner to hit it hard and low off the half volley, as the keeper was airborne. Patrick Kluivert scored a goal like that in Euro 2000 v. Yugoslavia. But Wondo failed to even hit the target. Nerves of a 31 year old world cup rookie who was out of his depth, never having played against a team of Belgium’s quality, nor in a game of such significance. landon donovan finishes that shot.

        Had you not been so hyper critical of Altidore, I could see your point, but your failure to even admit any fault on Wondo just proves your personal biases.

      • I know it would have been a brilliant play in the spur of the moment, but he did have Clint 5 feet to his left that would have resulted in an easy tap in if he played it over to him. Now I wouldn’t expect a poacher like Wondo to play that ball, but I also wouldn’t expect him to miss that shot… But Zusi was in a similar position in the Portugal game and was able to make the play under pressure for Clint to score on.

  38. Each team we played had superior talent than us. And yet we never got blown out. The tactics were not the problem. The players just got out played. LD trollin hard.

    • we didn’t get blown out, because we bunkered most of the time (and because TIMMY). nothing wrong with that, as long as you score more than the other team, but to say “we never got blown out” isn’t really something to hang your hat on.

      • +1, Thanks Nate. A blow out is so rare. That’s really sooooo easy to avoid. Actually playing soccer is the tough part. I have to pipe up on behalf of, I’m sure, at least some of the guys on the Nat team…

        I mean, really, don’t you guys (and gals) think that a lot of the U.S. players are pretty disillusioned with the the game plan that was executed? Don’t you think some of them are scratching their heads wondering where their next striker was game after game? Don’t you think Howard is at least wondering that? To compliment his skill, he sure could have used a goal or two on the other end of the pitch!

        Wondo played something like 15 minutes-ish over the course of 4 matches. We’re only left to conclude that Klinsmann didn’t have faith in him (and Mix and Johannsson)… Going to a W.C. with one useable striker who then gets injured? Really? I’ve never seen that in my 30 years of watching the Cup…

        I really do love that so many comments pop up when Nat team articles are published. I think it’s great so I say the following with all due respect: I think a lot of you guys are living in a fantasy about the “success” of the U.S. team.

        Praising their American “spirit” and “hard work” only serves to inculcate and mask the dilemma that there was not a lot of genuine soccer being played.

      • +infinity… Klinsmann has his strengths and his faults… going to have to live with him… He should have played Iceman instead of Wondo… I believe he brought Wondo to playcate MLS only explaination… Anyway, we always had to get lucky, and whether it was with Boyd, Donovan, Iceman, whoever, we were going to need to get lucky. As much as I can criticize Klinsmann for his bonhead coaching moves, I must applaud him for playing Yedlin, Brooks and Green, I wouldn’t have and he did and now we have 3 PLAYERS who are young and I’m excited… If we can find a true ~10 I’m actually starting to believe in 2018 and I’m not even kidding

      • Couldn’t we also say that (With the exception of Green, who switched late) Klinsmann should have given these players more time before the World Cup if he really thought so highly of them. Yedlin subbed on for Evans twice, and then was behind Beltran, even though Betran wasn’t originally called in for the Mexico game. If Yedlin was going to the World Cup, why didn’t he get more time? I guess my question is, were these great surprising moves by Klinsmann, or did he fail to integrate them sooner (I know it couldn’t be that much sooner, but Yedlin looked good out the gate, so that gives him a year to be integrated, or at least right after the U-20 cup)? I don’t know the answer, but I believe it is a valid question.

      • where will you find a true 10 though? They don’t grow on trees.
        I think the choice of Wondo was to physical push tired Belgium defenders. I agree that Johannson would have been the better play. A huge deficiency of the team as a whole was a lack of pace. That is what we need to combat a tired Belgium defense but there were no strikers on this team to possess that. EJ would have been the perfect sub. A physical presence to attack a tired Belgium defense.

      • 10s don’t grow on trees? Man… I said that yesterday…

        But EJ? No. He’s. Playing. Badly. He has one goal in 13 matches.

      • It actually may be wrong, they seem to grow on Amazon trees just fine. It’s our forest here in the US that aren’t producing #10’s, just #2 pencils.

      • I like the tree trading idea. Maybe a few of us should take one for the country and marry Brazilians.

      • A lot of good points, especially the part the having brought along substitutes that he really didnt have faith in them to play them……..How can Altidore get hurt and the whole attack/formation goes down hill? 5 midfielders after having lost a striker? How come we didnt have a player for player sub for him….in Eddie Johnson or Terrence Boyd? Or just put in what we had? We had to change up our formation to a LONE striker, which never use to work even with Altidore , because he didnt bring anyone worth playing up top with clint. Then why bring them?
        It wasn’t about playing attack minded soccer, it was about preventing a blowout, an embarassment, with 3 DM’s on the field in the middle at all time’s. It has been clear this whole tournament if you sit back and wait, if you try to do damage control and wait for counters you are going home

      • I think a lot of “it” was about marketing the game to a (fairly) unknowledgeable fandom. Pains me to say this because it feels so cynical, but true.

        Take a minute and re-imagine that final free-kick sequence in the Belgium game. Talk about inventive and imaginitive! Particularly at the end of a 120 minute match!… These guys have ideas in their heads and we took such a conservative approach to these matches. It’s such a big bummer.

      • I don’t think that free kick is getting talked about enough. If Deuce shoots on his second touch he probably scores, and all a sudden that play goes down in USMNT lore for its beauty and creativity and genius. I was in awe by that set piece.

      • that set piece was amazing, the single best moment of coaching under JK’s tenure. Dempsey took to big of a touch, but why didn’t we see more creativity and attacking prowess in this tournament. That is what is disappointing.

      • Here’s my piece I wrote on another blog. It’s long but I think you guys and gals may find it useful and possibly provocative it.

        The New Deal – by Fútbolisimo

        Almost every player on all the Round-of-16 teams in this World Cup has been trained in academies to be a professional fútboler since roughly 8-12 years old. Some even earlier, I would imagine. In the past 24 years, since the 1990 Cup in Italy, guess how many native-born American World Cup players have had this kind of exposure and pedigree? One. John O’Brien, who began his apprenticeship at Ajax Amsterdam at the over-the-hill age of 14.

        What the U.S. faces is really a cultural dilemma that involves truly embracing the vocational trade-school system of fútbol which is employed all over the world: academy training schools which are tied intimately into youth and amateur teams that feed pro teams in leagues driven by promotion and relegation, often referred to as the “fútbol pyramid.”

        The American Dream is driven by the idea of limitless and boundless opportunities for our children. And in this vein, it is also driven by the illusion of a society in which so-called upward mobility is almost a birthright and just one college degree away. Fútbol in the American landscape is dominated by the middle class. And within the ideology of the American Dream, the middle class has its feet planted firmly with much at stake.

        Why would middle class parents send their kids off to academy to suffer loneliness, hardship at a tender age, and a reduced set of life and career options? Outside of an extraordinarily driven and precocious child, there is no discernible reason.

        American families relish the luxury of sending their children off to play college soccer on scholarship, maybe getting a PDL or MLS contract if they’re lucky, or if that doesn’t work taking a gap year to frolic and ski in Aspen, all while maintaining the eventual option to go to graduate school and pursue white-collar careers. Early, dedicated vocational-skill training is just too risky for the middle class.

        So, it may be perverse to suggest the following, but for now suspend socio-cultural habit and think of it as a thought experiment. As in most other sports in the U.S., fútbol must migrate to the working class in order for it genuinely to flourish (of course, all in the context of the academy-to-pro system). The game, as it does everywhere else on the planet, must offer something of concrete value to the American working class: job-training for actual jobs. The dilemma can only be solved with something akin to a federal works project. I’m not kidding.

        The U.S. must experience losing with home-grown talent until it can bear winning fruit. In a country of over 300 million, it will pay unimaginable dividends. Winning World Cup matches – or, seemingly almost winning – with what is effectively a make-shift squad is merely a cheap ploy or smoke and mirrors, if you will, that serves only to market the game to a fandom that is largely unaware of the true nature of our failings (and I mean no offense by this). It is a shallow exercise. It is a mechanism of illusory development that merely achieves wins at the cost of meaningful long-term success.

        I understand that these are likely sensitive talking points for the American psyche. However, I have faith. Americans hate to lose and that is one of their greatest assets heading into the long-view.

      • Spare me the intellectual essay that explains why the U.S. lost in the Round of 16. This is not original and always is a favorite topic when the US are knocked out of the World Cup. And we call it soccer in this country, not futbol. But i see your attempt to try and sound as smart as you can. In america – don’t be afraid to say soccer! (sorry, pet peeve).

        The last time I checked, England has plenty in top academies and those kids are raised to play “football”. They did really well in 2014, didnt they? Did well in 2010 too? Oh, ’06?

        Quick question – how many major sports do kids aspire to play in Germany, Brazil, Spain, Italy? Now, ask that same question about the U.S. Soccer competes with a number of different sports for youth attention. And the dreamers currently want to be the next LeBron or Russell Wilson, etc.

        My passion is soccer and the US games are my “Super Bowl”. But I am not the majority. It is getting better every year and I see it every four years. If you would have told me 10 years ago that the USMNT was going to be on Good Morning America almost every morning, i would have said you were crazy.

        Soccer in this country is on the biggest upswing ever. This is the U-S-A and you will see that soon enough, we will be at the highest level – with guys from all different classes!
        Notice, I say BE at the highest level, not competing. We are already competing.

        What is getting lost in all of this is the fact that we were extremely close to winning that game in the 90+ minute. If Wondo puts it in, this essay that you have is at least delayed for a week.

        Belgium is an extremely talented team. We did not lose to Ghana in the knockouts, we lost to a darkhorse favorite that has the talent to win the title.

        Countries around the world have solely focused on soccer. And in reality, literally a handful of countries have a legit shot at winning the World Cup consistently. Tough nut to crack and we will get to that point.

        So, thank you for your efforts. If we were not qualifying for the World Cup or consistently not advancing out of the group stage, I would say you have a point.

        What I keep saying to my friends that are not regular soccer fans and hopped on the bandwagon, start watching friendlies and games between now and the next World Cup. Get permanently behind this team and learn the game.

        U-S-A – we are a soccer nation!

      • Last time I checked, we live in a free country, so I don’t see why the game can’t be referred to as futbol.

      • Because it’s a tad bit annoying. Calling it “futbol” (or “calcio” when the Cup is hosted in Italy) once is fine—twice if your handle is “futbolisimo”—but more than that seems like trying to hard.

        On the other hand, Kev griping about not calling it “soccer” is also annoying. Synonyms are our friends!!

      • You may refer to the game however you like, but We the People reserve the right to call your preferred reference a dumb affectation.

      • +1 on the “futbol” comment, it’s annoying to me. Here we call it soccer. It’s like we have to prove our fanhood to rest of the world by calling it football, see we know what the sport’s called!

      • I wouldn’t even mind “football” too much. But “futbol”? The ‘o’ is two keys to the right of the ‘u’ and you just have to hit it one more time you lazy git.

      • Really, in all seriousness, not one of you has said anything of any real substance as to why the U.S. is galaxies away from playing the kind of SOCCER that needs to be played to win La Copa Mundial.

      • Futbalisimo,
        There is a lot of truth in your article,
        thank you.
        However soccer has begun and can continue to surpass some of this if our talent evaluation is unbiased, honest, and forthright. politics/favoritism/ignorance etc undermine this.
        We need players who have a handle, they can dribble, pass, and penetrate(drive to the hoop/goal, the way you see Green ala Hazard, Robben and Messi etc)

        Now Kev, a little while back there was a good article on the history of football/Soccer, and in fact it originally was called soccer by the British,
        so rubbish.

      • Not bringing Boyd or EJ was the biggest question in my mind when JK picked the 23. We talked about “What happens if Jozy gets hurt?” Now we know. The whole game plan goes out the window. My preference based on current form, and his age would have been Boyd on the build for the future program.
        This more than any other is the mistake for which I am critical of Klinsmann.

      • You’ve never seen a team without sufficient back-up strikers? Really?

        How about us four years ago, with no one to replace Charlie Davies? How about Uruguay this year? Though not a striker, what happens to Argentina if Messi pulls a hamstring?

        Having Germany-like depth (or skill) would be great, but that’s more the exception than the rule. We’re not terrible, and probably somewhere around the 16th best national side on the planet, which means we ought to be 50-50 to get out of group. That’s a lot of development from where we were 20 years ago. I think a lot of folks have developed some unrealistic expectations.

      • correct, Paul was saying that many countries don’t have backup strikers. He included Argentina as an example. I said it is a bad example.

      • Higuain and Aguero both started up top together. Higuain has been invisible the whole tournament and should have been replaced, but they don’t have anyone else! Lavezzi has taken the Aguero’s spot up front, but he’s not a true striker, either.

      • “I think a lot of you guys are living in a fantasy about the “success” of the U.S. team.”

        I totally disagree with this statement. I see your intent with the lack of “soccer” being played and generally agree with that but take exception to the fact it isn’t put in context to our history judged by how much “soccer” our this 23 or even any 23 anyone would care to pick from our talent pool could realistically achieve. Instead you and many others seem to be judging how the US played against Germany and Belgium and judging it a failure but that seems totally unfair to me given that even 4 years ago we wouldn’t even attempt to play out on the ground and possess. Portugal wouldn’t have happened nor would 54% possession against Belgium (not possession with a purpose but still possession). I find that to be progress that should be deemed a short term success on the path to getting where you and every other US fan wants to be, dictating play constantly like Germany or Brazil.

        However I do agree that overall we didn’t play quality technical possession soccer a majority of the time. However I disagree with anyone (you don’t mention it but many do) that the reason we didn’t in the Belgium game was because of defensive tactics. We most certainly went less defensive, got possession, and simply couldn’t do anything with it. The failure was not having enough technical soccer players to do anything with the possession (at least against a team full of elite players like Belgium). I’m glad we tried even if we failed and I find our ability to attempt it and still come close to a result a positive sign for the future but it frustrates me that not only do JK and the team not get credit for trying to play more positive soccer than in the past, JK also gets hammered because many fans don’t know enough to know we tried.

      • If anything a purely results based fan should be hammering JK for not going defensive enough considering our fatigue level and the level of technical ability on the team.

      • Not hanging my hat on that.

        Nate if were coach do you try to go toe to toe with Germany and Belgium??..I think we lose by a large margin If we open up.

        We played that way to give our selves a chance at the end. If wondo makes that goal…then what?

        Reality is Belgium has better players. We did the best we could and not having LD on the team doesnt make us better than Belgium.

        We tried. We gave a good fight. Belgium is a better team. Kudos to them. Lets try and get better

      • if Timmy doesn’t set records in goal, then what?

        the fact Wondo missed doesn’t help your position btw

      • If timmy doesnt set record then we still lose.

        What tactics do you suggest beachbum? We Bunkered accorrding to most amd still got hammered on.

        What do we do then? You play openly the whole game?

        We were agressive at the end because we had no choice.

        If wondo makes that goal then the tactics Worked. We held and scored.

        Your LD fan boy goggles on to tight.

      • beachbum: if Timmy hadn’t set the record in goal, then the US would have been down a goal, fought back like ligers, and won that game. It’s all Timmy’s fault.

      • Wait, i thought it was Bradley’s fault..or clark..or Reyna..Oh, Agoos and David Regis..

        just having fun

    • Same thing could be said of 94. But there we were knocked out by the eventual winners Brazil. Seems to me there are two sets of fans:

      1) We have horrible players, and the only chance of success is to have everyone defend and hope for the best. And, Klinsmann is wonderful for getting us to where we were before by doing what we did before to the extreme (Even more defensive, less posession, and giving him credit for our fitness and never say die attitude that has always been there).

      2) We have the players to compete with the best (Just many of them were at home watching the game on TV), but Klinsmann still conceded, decided to defend and hope for the best. If Costa Rica can play Italy and uruguay straight up, why can’t we?

  39. Big surprise… But on a different note, how weird would that be for him to think “I could have actually been on the field where this game is going on, playing for this team, but instead i’m watching it on TV with the rest of the country.” it would just be a really weird experience i think. I’ve never experienced something like that, that had that level of popularity.

    • Which is why people saying he is being bitter are actually wrong… he expressed his opinion and has every right to do so…

      Funny thing is…most agree that he was right about Bradley… he should have played a deeper role… Bacon should have been on with Dempsey and they could have shared the role of the hole behind the front man…

      • +1, Jurgen had his reasons for the tactical choices he made. Some worked at the World Cup some didn’t. Donovan pointed out some that didn’t, they are true statements.

      • Bacon did not do that great when he came on after Jozy went down. Honestly, he is a sub for Clint in they both play better with another forward playing further upfield. Jozy did not have a substitute: EJ plays facing the goal. Boyd was apparently not ready, but I still would have brought him and LD instead of Boyd and Wondo.

      • To bring LD and Boyd, you need to drop Wondo and someone else (since you listed Boyd twice). Did you mean Davis?

    • I supported Jurgens decision to leave Landon off the team, and now that he is no longer in the picture i think Landon has every right to be candid and to be brutally his opinions.

      I don’t see his comments as sour grapes at all, from years of listening to him I believe Landon is saying what he believes.

      • Donovan has always been brutally honest…and that was part of his downfall. He openly talked about his inability to play and train at the same intensity as when he was younger…but what 32 year old hasn’t lost a step? You think Tim Duncan would say he’s as powerful as when he was drafted? But both of them are smarter now and can still be difference makers on championship teams.
        I think the biggest mistake JK made was not bringing a back-up for Altidore, but letting a chip on his shoulder help make a decision about Donovan was a major shortcoming. It’s also insulting to see JK now saying that the players are too timid and mentally weak…the same guys that ran their asses off with broken noses. JK did a lot of great things in the run-up to the WC…but I think his handling of the team selection, player positioning, and tactics was sub par. Germany realized he’s not worth it, Bayern realized it too…at some point the US might see through all of his talk about players needing to be more aggressive while he starts three defensive minded midfielders and plays the entire front four out of position.

      • +1
        I don’t think we were timid or gave too much respect to Germany. I think the game plan was to park the bus, and we did a great job of that. They could not break us down and got a really good shot off of a block/

      • Beautifully said and I would only add that there is nothing wrong with defending deep and counterattacking. The problem is, there was no counter against Germany or Belgium, per ESPN 11 shots in the 180 minutes of football up until extra time, and that is not acceptable. All 10 players not wearing Number 1 and the coaching staff should be deeply embarrassed at giving up on their keeper like that. The Belgium match was a shameful performance.

      • Tom check your facts please. Germany had enough of it? You are talking as if Germany fired Klinsmann. They didn’t fire him they wanted to keep him because were happy with the job he as doing but Klinsmann himself declined an extension and resigned

      • -1

        There may have been minor mistakes in player selection. Boyd might have been a like for like replacement for altidore instead of rejigging the whole team but he also may not have been able to pive up to that role. Either a vast majority of the bench was used and produced so that cant possibly be construed as a failure unless youre being totally biased.

        Tactically Jk did s similar job. Arguably some minor mistakes here and there but overall he put the players he had to work with in a system that for the most part played to their strengths and minimized their weaknesses. Bradley and possibly Dempsey stick out as possible exceptions however we have 0 true CAMs in the player pool so someone was going to have to take that bullet and when injuries occur only the deepest of teams can slot in new players without missing a beat.

        Despite all that and the travel and the heat we made it out of the toughest group we have ever survived and for stretches took it to even the favorites using possression not route 1 counters. That is definitive success and progress.

        we lost to belgium and got dominiated by germany not because of jk or any one playet but because we just arent as good. Jks personel decisions and tactics ad well as the players togetherness, fighting spirit, and effort closed the gap enought to get us out of the group but eventually that isnt enough and it showed. Ballack got it exactly right.

        now we can improve upon many things and need to long term but pointing out that bradley should have possessed the ball in tight spaces and found forward passes like xavi ignores the fact he isnt xavi and isnt constructive. The same goes for wondering why we didnt line up in a 4-3-3like Belgium when we have no wingers or why we didnt press with 8 or 9 guys all game like we did the final 15 when no team has the energy to do that for 90 and we already allowed something like 38 shots keeping 5 or 6 guys back regularly.

        My point is the team and coached camt be judged by a german standard because we dont have the talent pool. They should be judged based on what they can realistically achieve and I think we were pretty darn close to that. Jk, the team, and the fans shoiluld be proud of that and work to improve the talent pool so we can set out sights higher realistically.

      • In addition I defend jk remarks about timidness as well. It was only when we had our backs against the wall that you saw a majority of the players being willing to take almost any risks. Cameron got rid of the ball almost immediately all game against belgium but in that final 15 he suddenly realized he could carry into midfield to draw pressure before releasing a pass. Certainly game state could and should change how risky you play but it cant be near 0 even when winning by 5. Still that is a minor complaint and probably due to the talent gap once again.

      • I don’t think the pool of players can be blamed for timidness. Team mentality falls on the coach. It comes from formations, positioning, and tactics.

        I think you should listen to this.
        I defended the teams play and JK until I heard this podcast. The first 15 minutes is good. They made some good points and left me thinking about a lot.

      • Couldn’t listen past the first 10 minutes because I 100% disagree with their starting premises and so disagree with 100% of their resulting analysis.

      • One of the first things they said was we didn’t get our wingers in behind Belgium’s D. Well we have 0 international level wingers in our talent pool unless you want to play Yedlin on the right and Green on the left all game but at that point our D would be even more exposed than they already were. WE DON’T HAVE THE PERSONNEL TO DO THAT. THANKS FOR YOUR WORTHLESS THOUGHT MR. ANALYST. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

        Sorry I’m wound up I just have heard tons of podcasters and writers say similarly worthless things (in my mind of course) and I’m just tired of hearing what I think is criticism against a gold standard we simply can’t measure up to right now.

        The total soccer show is really the only one I’ve heard that has realistic things to say. I love their work.

      • As for your point about team mentality I have to disagree a little. Certainly formation, posititioning and tactics have a large effect on team mentality but the soccer IQ and mentality of individuals can still cause a balanced or even an aggressive layout to collapse if they aren’t willing or able to take some risks with the ball. Pulling a team’s defense out of shape requires accepting some pressure and then being able to play it out of those tight spaces without dumping it backwards or sideways all the time. I think we dump it back more often than we need to because when our back is against the wall those same guys who dump it back regularly suddenly sidestep or shield pressure more often in order to make more forward passes. Perhaps JK said to take very little risk but judging by his comments on temerity I doubt it.

      • This reeks of resentment. He says it’s not the guys’ fault, but Klinsi’s as he is responsible for tactics. He’s giving a free pass for all the under performers (Bradley, Wondo) while ignoring the fact that if Wondo could have put away his easy chance or if Dempsey had put away his in extra team, we could be having a very different problem.

        Everyone forgets that everyone before the World Cup wanted to see Bradley get the creative top of the diamond role Klinsi gave him. Now that it failed, everyone is pretending like it was a horrible idea. Playing “out of position” also doesn’t excuse you from losing possession or missed passes.

        Our loss was a combination of coaching faults (delayed substitutions), player faults (missed chances, Zusi’s horrible game), and random factors (injuries, a horrible schedule, the worst travel conditions).

        Donovan wants to focus on Klinsi because he’s bitter. That’s fine, petty and ignorant, but fine.

      • disagree…and everything LD said is EXACTY what many of us have been saying…because it’s TRUE

      • + 10 Beachbum,
        Regarding MB,
        Josh D. I disagree, many of us had a few discussions about this back before the WC started.
        And some of the more insightful posters realize that MB, is a CM/DM,
        never going to be a AM/F9 type.
        Just does not have that skill set.
        I would go further to say that it lacks a true understanding of what an advanced mid should be capable of in talent, quality, and over all skill set.

      • regards Mason,
        You talking to me?,
        I would say we don’t have that kind of player at the moment so they would have had to compensate with another style and or formation all together.
        The best option in imo, would have been to have JG, and FJ, on the left and Yedlin, and Chandler, on the right. stick MB at CDM,
        with a target striker and a trequartista, (pseudo 10 type, that would have been LDs role). also Mix would have been the only other option there.
        In the end they need more,
        so still looking for Pele.
        Parker, and Zelalem, among others next cycle?. also Pulicic, Mason Wolff on the horizon.
        No worries It’s happening.

      • Thank you Mason! Exactly what I’ve been thinking this whole time. Poster 1: Bradley shouldn’t be playing CAM.
        Me: Who should?
        Poster 1: ….Gil, Mix
        Me: Ah so bench one of our best players and play someone nowhere near as international ready and who would lower the work rate and defense we desperately need since our defense isn’t stocked with world class talent either just so we have a guy that fits the CAM mold. Good call. We’d loose by a couple extra goals but we *might* have slightly more possession in our final third. You should be coach!

      • yeah, he says the truth and instead of people responding to the points they label the voice as sour. You know what, Donovan is a little bit bitter, but that doesn’t make these comments untrue.

        Fact is in previous World Cup’s I rarely remember us getting outclassed and looking as bad as we did against Belgium and Germany. JK completely disregarded everything he worked on over the past 2 years. We were no longer an attacking team, we were a bunkered team. That can be a reasonable strategy when the talent is stacked against you, but if that is your tactical play, you have to put players on the field who can counter attack. He left our best counter attacker at home and failed to put any pace on the wings. We never looked dangerous. That is what is so disappointing from this World Cup. Only against Portugal, 1 of 4 games did we look like a good, competitive team.

      • Sure, but how many competitive games do we play against this level of competition?

        I’d even add Spain in Confed ’09, because even though it was a 2-0 win, we got absolutely shelled.

      • I don’t include the Spain game. We looked dangerous on the counter in that game. It felt different like we were the underdog, but we were there to compete.

      • Better on the counter, but we were still thoroughly outclassed, badly out posessed, and under siege pretty much all night.

        Jozy’s goal was nice, but the second was a gift on par with POR’s first goal.

      • We were outclassed in the second half of the Portugal match in ’02. We didn’t exactly play beautifully against Korea. Poland was a nightmare. There were plenty of stretches in the Mexico match in ’02 where we were on our heels and outclassed technically. Against the Czechs in ’06 we were abysmal. We were technically inferior against England in 2010. Slovenia put us on our heels before we woke up and stormed back. We were far from inspiring against Algeria.
        More often than not, the U.S. has looked technically inferior to its opposition. Historically, our fitness, physicality, speed, and play on set pieces are what made us competitive. It’s only in the past few years that we’ve actually looked to play out of the back rather than boot the ball upfield.

      • The 2009 Confed Cup game against Spain was against arguably the greatest national team of all time. No shame being outclassed there

      • Jesse, + 10 for parts of Pele forgotten.
        The 3 or 4 players I feel we really could have used
        in order. LD, Boyd, Edu, JB Corona?.
        Not going to get into who they should have replaced,
        at least not at this time.

      • In 2010 we got dominated by England who the most talented in the group by far from a favorite to win the cup and a freebie by Green gifted us the draw.

        We struggled to defend or produce offense against Slovenia until we were down 2 goals and just barely tied it up.

        Then we couldn’t produce any offense against Algeria and Donovan barely saved us with a 90+1 minute route 1 counter goal. That is made even worse by the fact that if we hadn’t gotten that counter opportunity (we certainly didn’t force any issues offensively) then we would have not made it out of that soft group.

        Compare that to this year where we certainly didn’t dictate action consistently but when we did score it was because we played through on the ground and generated our own chance and held decent possession in most games against Ghana, Portugal, Germany, and Belgium.

        Even if you go by your logic and say we only looked like a good competitive team in one game its one more than in 2010 and against better competition than anyone we faced in 2010.

      • It’s been 4 years, but didn’t Demps have a goal waived off for a questionable offside vs Algeria? … and then hit the post on another shot later? It certainly didn’t seem like it was going to be our night, but Algeria also looked content to simply play for a draw and be happy to keep us from advancing. I’m not sure we were outclassed that game… created chances against a team not playing to win… just my opinion though! Cheers… have a Happy 4th of July everyone!

      • Its been 4 years for me as well but before JK + the new players he brought in our most common MO was that we defend with two banks of 4 and for the most part boot the ball out of danger. Our offense would then consist of hoping a forward or wide midfielder came down with the clearance and could counter immediately with whoever happened to be streaking toward goal with them. If the team we were playing had talent and/or discipline that meant we’d get lucky and generate one or two chances but only if someone on the opposing team happened to be caught forward. This meant we even struggled against inferior teams to generate offense which is why even if there were a couple of attempts besides the goal against Algeria it never really felt like it was inevitable we would break them down at least not like it felt in that last 15 against Belgium or when we played Portugal.

      • As I recall, most of those who “wanted to see Bradley get the creative top of the diamond role” envisioned two distinct differences from how Klinsmann ran it:

        1) Bradley would still be a CDM (i.e., most people viewed him as one of the “2” in a 4-2-3-1)


        2) the US would play with two forwards (one of which would be Dempsey, who roams about so much that Bradley still would not be pushed high all the time).

        Either way, the hope was that Bradley would be free to move up high as he pleased, not that he would be stuck there always.

        Regardless, no one ever begged for a position switch on the condition that even if it didn’t work we would keep doing it anyway.

      • Josh D, one more thing:

        “while ignoring the fact that if Wondo could have put away his easy chance”

        You only read Caitlin’s excerpt from the article. If you follow the link she provided, you will see that Donovan actually discussed Wondo’s missed chance.

      • you might want to read all of Donovan’s comments before reaming him for giving “free passes”.

      • I agree. I saw so many people demanding that Bradley be more involved in the attack. Unfortunately it didnt work.

        Donovan wants to act like we didnt do something in the world cup. We shocked everyone making it out of our group. If Bradley doesnt give the ball away against Portugal we end winning 2 of 3 and that isnt Jurgen’s fault.

        Lets face it we had no business having a chance in the Belgium game. Thankfully Tim Howard is ours and too bad that someone other than Wondo wasnt chosen. Would they have made it 100% on that last second shot- no but I have a feeling they would have been better suited to play more.

        The one glaring mistake is not bringing Boyd or Eddie Johnson. Heck another big bodied striker would have been great to bruise and hold the ball up. Clint would have been free to roam and do his normal thing.

        Honestly I couldnt be more proud of this team . Belgium game couldve been a win had we not had a sitter. It happens I guess and now we move on.

        It seems like Landon is being honest in what he thinks. His think is flawed though. We played with what we had. It backfired after 97 minutes and we were sent packing by a superior team. I guess Im not upset because I tempered my expectations before this tournament began.

        One of the best parts for me were that the 3 youngsters that were questioned by so many people, actually had an impact. Brooks played well and scored the winner, Green gave us a chance, and Yedlin played well enough that he is being talked about around the globe as a transfer target with great potential. Plus had a hand in the second goal against Portugal. Its too bad Eddie wasnt around to try and get on the end of some of his crosses.

      • Agree. Everyone wants to think the tactics will make such a huge difference, but it is the quality of the players. Yes the US exited the World Cup in the same round of 16, but our group was way harder this time then in 2010. Sure Klinsmann made some mistakes, the biggest for me being not takng a backup for Altidore, but what about all the other good decisions like having faith in Jermaine Jones (when everyone thought he would be no good.)?

      • I think he is wrong. There is too.
        much focus on two forwards. I think that we were trying to go forward . Intent doesn’t always turn into results. Tactics had nothing to do with them winning a lot of ball with their physicality. They had better players and more rested players. Tactics and an attack mentality will not 8 or 9 times out of 10 overcome that. He was going to criticize Jurgen no matter how we played. Self absorbed narcissist.

      • smh they had more rested players because JK brought the wrong 23 to the dance! The first 11 were fine but the next 12 deserves to be second guessed. So much stock is put in Juergen being a European player/coach and knowing better than anyone we’ve had running the program before him but he got alot of the back ups wrong and he deserves to be called on it! To put all your hopes on Jozy scoring the goals for this team and not accounting for the possibility of fatigue or injuries and no capable backup in that situation speaks of naivety and ego and to let that cloud his judgment has done the USMNT a disservice regardless of the effort they put in

      • Only 2 of his 12 subs didn’t really pan out while 5 had major contributions. No sub had scored for the US before this world cup and in this one we had 2 do so. JK’s player selection didn’t cost us games it gave us goals.

    • Oh, I don’t know… I think you’re misinterpreting the comment. I’m sure he checked his bitterness long ago… The truth is that the U.S. played a terribly dull game in the Cup. It was very much a concession of sorts. Kudos to Donovan for piping up and lament things.

      • Thanks dude. Maybe you’re interested in my little piece below – “The New Deal.” Comments, thoughts, reflections, welcome.

      • Donovan’s right. As much as I’m excited about our 2018 future, we really only played one good game + 10 minutes of another. Ghana, Germany and 99% of the Belgium game utilized Bob’s old strategy of defend, defend, counter.

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. I have the exact same sentiments. I’m excited about our team, I love international soccer and the US team. Donovan is right though. Only against Portugal did we look like a respectable team.

      • I’m not really adding, just agreeing. I was so excited to see this new style Klinsmann was supposed to roll out for this cup. Instead we played exactly how I’ve seen us play a million times before, absorb pressure and try to counter or get goals off set plays. Just because you say its a new look system doesn’t mean it is.

      • I think that JK played that way because of the disparity in midfield. The Portugal midfield was a joke compared to Ghana, Germany and Belgium. You open up against those teams and we would have be torn to shreds (even more than we were). Germany and Belgium (honestly) are 2 of the best 3 midfields in the world.

        Listen, everyone makes mistakes, and I am sure JK did. However, we did not get bounced because of that. We got bounced because Belgium was better. Germany was better and (honestly) Germany was better with exception of 1 defender – who is young and talented (and was responsible for both of our goals and their own goal vs Portugal). The only thing we could have done is pushed the defensive line up, but they did not do that.

      • If we were going down (which I concede we likely were) I would have at least liked our team to look like a threat to score.

      • and the team did. Four goals in the group of death, with only one of them off of a set piece.
        The team is technically deficient. You can criticize JK for the tactics all you want — he certainly deserves criticism, — but you also have to acknowledge that American players are not at the same level as the opposition they faced.
        JK had the team playing a very high line early on against Belgium. Johnson and Beas were almost at the halfway line, with Omar and Besler the only players in defense. He wanted the team to attack. Cameron pushed forward as soon as he had the ball (unlike Beckerman whose job was to stay back and break up the other team’s attacks). This was not a plan to bunker.
        Unfortunately, bad passes and turnovers are what did the team in.

      • SBI should poll the readers and I’d bet the majority would agree with Donovan. Clint all alone up front was a foreseen disaster and leaving Eddie Johnson home a clear error.

      • DCU fan here!

        Eddie Johnson is terrible right now. He’s not an adequate replacement for JA just because he’s tall and black.

      • Except that Wondo is actually scoring goals in MLS and EJ isn’t. Physical tools are great, but you have to do something with them. EJ’s rut is so deep that he needs a periscope to see the goal.

      • Clutch is the most underrated characteristic of any player. When the moment is important do you rise to the occasion or fall apart under the pressure. Wondo has a history of caving. Donovan and EJ have a history of rising to the moment and winning important games in the US jersey.

      • Clutches are car parts

        I don’t even want EJ in black and red, much less red, white, and blue. He’s that bad right now. Like a lost child.

      • SBI polling the readers would be some excellent comedy. Expat might die of heart failure from repetitive voting.

      • What are we arguing about here? Wondo choked. That’s a simple fact. We don’t know what EJ would have done. We do know that in 2010 on the 91st minute LD did not. So based on these two fact, and everything else is speculation, whom would you prefer with the ball 2 feet from the goal vs Belgium: Wondo or LD? We would still be playing Argentina. Now. 2018 is so far in the future that is simply irrelevant.

      • That’s a highly speculative, yet still confident, conclusion for someone named “Only Results Matter.”

    • I did not agree with leaving Landon off the team. But, think this type of candid comment is why Landon was left off of the team. Not that he is right or wrong, but as a coach you want everyone on the same page and in support of the plan, without a dissent, either by the rolling of eyes, what about me comments or the press distracting the players.

      Look at what happened to Ghana. Landon has the reputation of saying what he thinks. I don’t think Jurgen was willing to have that on his team.

      • I think if there was ever a time to reflect and throw some criticism out there it would be now. Landon could have easily said these things after the Group play games and didn’t. There is nothing to distract the team from at this point which is why I think he is speaking out now.

      • No disagreement with your points . . . but if JK didn’t think that Landon was a good “locker room” guy, why bring him to Brazil. A typical “honest” comment from Landon as part of the 23 in Brazil to a reporter – “I wish I would get on the field” or “Aaron did not play well after coming on for Jozy” would have caused a riff in the locker room.

      • Yes, I don’t see anything negative about his quote in the article. This type of commentary is usually qualified as “constructive criticism.” I’d love to hear more from Donovan. Lest we forget, he’s one of the most experienced players in the history of the U.S. game? Maybe he knows something. 😉

      • My point is that if JK thought Landon might (MIGHT) be a distraction, why bring him? Landon doesn’t have to say anything more to the press than, “I wanted to play today” and there is a topic of controversy while the team is in Brazil.

      • Ben, he had several points of criticism both before and during the world cup. He said as much on the Dan Patrick show before he took the ESPN gig, on ESPN during several spots, and on radio.
        He had both direct and indirect criticism of JK, the lineup selections, the performance of the team, the training. Several times he mentioned that he still had friends in that locker room, that he was talking to players, and even once said there was problems not being reported by the press(though that was never followed up on).

        Whether he was right or wrong isn’t the point..
        Whether he should have been in the spotlight or not isn’t the point..

        But to say he waited until after we were knocked out to state any criticism is false.

    • I really hope Landon never puts on a National team jersey again. This is the kind of behavior that probably put him in Klinsmanns dog house. He has this delusion that it’s always about him and what he thinks. Boyd, EJ, Goodson, Evans, Corona, Edu and Parkhurst have all been supporting the team and moved on. LD seems to reason as if the national team jersey was made for him. He wasn’t even on the team to know anything about tactics or what factors influenced the tactics and he still opens his big mouth and tries to take light jabs at the team.

      • Totally agree. LD should stop making blanket statements and put his money where is mouth is. Tell us exactly what was wrong, who should have played where….. Not just, “the tactics were wrong”.
        If we tried to go toe to toe against these more skillful European sides we would have been beat 5-0.
        US players do not have the same skill sets as the Belgians and Germans and it’s obvious. Why do we keep pretending that we do?
        Let’s just be proud that we gave our best efforts and lost to better teams and We Are Improving!!

      • But failing to going toe to toe with the Europeans got the players criticized by Klinsmann…so if we’re going to call out Donovan for those statements lets also say the coach was out of line for shifting the blame. He put an incredibly defensive lineup out there with the front four all playing unnatural styles/positions…then he criticized them for not being aggressive enough or controlling the game enough.

      • +50,000,000 its amazing how hes not taking responsibility for a classic fail. He picked the team, picked the starters and sent out a defensive team. It’s JKs fault we were not in the game

      • -1000000

        JK actually went more aggressive with Belgium and it showed. We played more of a 4-1-4-1 on D (part of the reason Cameron was a DM instead of Beckerman, more side to side movement was required). Therefore our possession against a strong team went up while our defense started leaking much more. Why did it look like we were getting owned when we actually had more than 50% of the ball? Because our possession couldn’t move into the final 3rd reliably. That is mostly due to the fact we have no wingers or CAMs in the player pool so our offense regularly runs out of ideas and our wingbacks have to provide the unpredictability that leads to openings. However a team can still overcome such short comings through solid team passing and movement. That requires at least a few people in a sequence to draw some pressure before releasing a ball in the space vacated by the pressuring player and trusting someone will be running into that space. Our players rarely were confident enough to hold or carry until pressure came so there were rarely openings going forward, at least until we were down and caution could be thrown to the wind. Some of that is not trusting your teammates will make the run (part of our talent gap is a lack of elite level soccer IQ throughout the team). However some of it is not trusting their own ability to side step pressure or make the pass against a superior opponent. That is timidness. Yedlin really stood out because he was totally fearless in that regard. Not all his moves came off but he certainly was willing to attempt take ons or to dribble to a position where a more threatening pass/cross could be attempted.

        I’m not saying the players were total crap but that was a small issue that had consequences. If you’re going to attempt to be proactive you need to take a few risks for it to have a decent chance to succeed and not enough people were willing until we were loosing. That isn’t really a new issue either so JK wasn’t wrong, nor was he saying that is the sole reason we lost. He was simply saying we need to improve on that in order to show better.

      • I realize the frustration over Donovan’s comments, and they do sound a bit like sour grapes because they are coming from him, but I don’t think he is wrong.

        JayAre – You don’t need to be on the team to observe the tactics. I think it was pretty obvious that tactically, the offense was designed around Jozy playing up top as a holding forward, allowing Dempsey to float and make runs beneath, have Jones & Zusi/Bedoya penetrating the lanes, while DMB and Johnson crashed down the wings. This allows Bradley to orchestrate from his central midfield position with tons of options. This plays to everyone’s strengths.

        Then Jozy went down. Without the holding forward, the tactics didn’t change. JK just pushed Dempsey up further, and asked him to take on that role, then played with five midfielders, pushing Bradley further up. Tactically, this did not play to their strengths. Dempsey is better facing goal than with his back to it, and with Bradley so high, he has to possess the ball longer for his players to develop their runs. Possession is not Bradley’s strong suit, its his work-rate, intelligence, and distribution that make him a good player (see Green’s goal).

        Marc – I agree that our current players are not as skilled as the Belgians, or Germans, or Portuguese, but that doesn’t mean our only option is to rely on bunker and counter. We aren’t that much worse, and are getting better. However, our grit and determination are what define us. If we are determined to play a more controlling game of soccer, even against high quality opponents, we can if we allow our players to play a tactically efficient game that utilizes our individual players assets. I don’t think JK changed the offense enough tactically once Jozy went down.

        In this case, I think Donovan is correct, even if it sounds like sour grapes.

        Sorry for the long reply.

      • Dude, your disliking of LD is blinding you terribly. That or your understanding of soccer is limited or small… LD’s comments or ‘critics’ are spot on and I’m glad someone with as much following and importance as him is calling JK and the teams performance out. It’s your train thought that a lot of people have that are hurting US soccer and JK’s strategy at least in the WC have left a really bad record for the USMNT.

        And it has nothing to do with “having the same skill sets as the Euro teams… Do you think MX is at the same level as Brazil, Croatia, Holland? Heck no! Do you think CR has the same skill sets as Italy, England, or Uruguay? Also very much NO… However, they went out on the pitch and gave it their best, played forward and they came out 1st in their group. MX showed some real quality against Brazil (and I’m talking about their offense) as well as with Croatia and they were one up against Holland.

        So the question I think Donovan is implying is, had JK ordered a more offensive stand, could we have given these teams some trouble? I think the last 10 minutes against Belgium proved that. That was a terrible game, it was dramatic and full of emotions, but not necessarily in a good way.

        And I certainly believe that unless we accept that a) we played pretty crappy, b) we have a lot more talent than what was utilized and c) that we are better than the other team in concacaf, and that we should of at least expect our guys to do as well if not more than they did, we won’t continue to grow.

        MX got 10th place in the tourney, above us mind you, and they weren’t even supposed to be there and CR is in quarter finals, and we have to settle for a record breaking performance by our goalie! LD is spot on if you ask me.

      • They sound smart in a vacuum.

        Back here on earth where JK has to consider the actual players in the actual pool, LD sounds like a moron.

      • tru_patriot, real good insight and analysis there.
        particularly about the growth and understanding of the game.
        We will not grow, if we continue to make excuses for lousy tactics and play etc.

      • “a) we played pretty crappy, b) we have a lot more talent than what was utilized and c) that we are better than the other team in concacaf”

        Yes. No. Debatable.

        What additional talent would you have called in to change that no into a yes?

      • Mexico has more technical ability all over the field than we do. Its not longer an overwhelming gap so our other strengths and compensate much more often now but I think most neutral pundits would rate Mexico higher than the US on technical ability. So yes they are better at moving possession up the field on the ground.

        Costa Rica certainly didn’t play proactively either. They defended with 5 and managed to play an offside trap with that many people and then had the skill to counter quickly and nick goals when their opponent made a mistake or got caught forward just like we used to play. They didn’t have an edge in possession in any of the games they played including against Greece. Good on them and I loved to see them succeed to help the regions rep but they did not dictate play as you seem to imply. Maybe in the 3rd game they did, I was watching Italy v Uruguay.

        Our lack of offense is in large part due to us not having even Mexican level technical ability let alone elite level South American or European technical ability. Much of the remainder is due to not having a team with world class defensive talent so constant support from the midfield is a must so no one is ever 1v1.

        Talent is our issue not tactics.

      • LD should shut up and focus on winning games or titles with his team.

        Why couldn’t he help his team beat Carolina Railhawks in the US Open Cup last week? Why was he shut down by Pierazzi whenever he tried dribbling past him last weekend?

        LOL at all the Donovan supporters who have no idea that 2002 LD is not 2014 LD. They probably tune in every 4 yrs and fed info by the mainstream media that he is the best soccer player ever produced by the US.

      • +1 LD is still living in the past you would think the Carolina rail hawks game would put things in perspective for him. People saying LD would have made a difference against Belgium are being delusional LDs greats attribute was his speed and he’s lost that. He would have be smoked against Belgium those guys are big fast and strong!

      • Results are all that matter! The way you and all the other Landycakes fanboys have made out how he’d have scored and scored often in the WC. He should have scored a hat trick even as a sub against a minor league team or was this one of his days he just couldn’t perform at his peak?

      • Played well??? if LD was still the LD of 2002 they’d never lose. so playing well against a bottom feeder team doesn’t cut it

      • It’s a travesty that donovan had to waste away playing against the freaking railhawks while the stars and stripes bunker down in brazil, desperate for someone with his inventiveness and ability.

        I’ve barely been able to focus at work during the world cup – of course donovan’s heart wasn’t in the open cup.

      • I didn’t see the Railhawks game as I don’t think it was on LA TV. However, I rarely miss a Galaxy game and you are full of it. Of course Donovan isn’t the same as he was before, but he is still faster and better than both Brad Davis and Wondolowski. People seem to forget that he has the career national team assist record and he and Robbie keane form a deadly combination because of their passing back and forth. So, he has lost a step, but he is still an excellent passer and still has above average speed and can shoot well with either foot. I doubt he would have missed the sitter that Wondo did against Belgium.

      • I have seen LD miss a few sitters in games I have seen live of both the Galaxy and USMNT. He isn’t perfect and might not have even been in the spot where Wondo was.

      • “He has this delusion that it’s always about him and what he thinks.” Except that when he’s giving his opinion as a TV analyst, it is about what he thinks.

      • Analyst?…please. He’s on there to make statements that will create “BUZZ” on ESPN. This dude “Analysis” is to say JK is wrong that he would of done the opposite of what JK did. He was a horrible “Analyst”. LD has enough Sour Grapes to make “Whine”.

        He’s probably happy the team lost.

      • just because you like to be abused, and don’t want to speak up, doesn’t mean others feel the same. Sometimes when you are being taking advantage of, or being given the short end of the stick the right thing to do is to speak up.
        He didn’t know the tactics? I’m sorry, was that a joke? We all watched the game. The tactics played out in front of our eyes.

      • Yes we watch the game but a lot goes on behind the scenes that we don’t know. For example Johansson has to get ankle surgery. So he wasn’t playing because he wasn’t fully fit. Gonzales wasn’t a 100% yet that’s why he wasn’t playing. As a coach in a big tournament you keep you card close to you chest and play them wisely. But LD cannot keep contradicting himself if he wants to be a part of the team he needs to shut up and play hard for his club team like everyone else. If not he can retire from the national team and say whatever he likes. Ussoccer pay these guys and Americans players need the extra money more than euro players. If he wasn’t to talk bad about the team he should at least get off payroll permanently.

      • pretty sure Donovan already knows he will never be called back in under Jurgen. No reason to worry about that.

    • There’s something to his points, but… the tactics must not have been terrible because we were in a position to steal a World Cup knockout win against what clearly was a stronger team.

      I agree Bradley back deeper is better, and I’ve always thought that Dempsey does better floating up and central out of a wing position. But in the end, we don’t have a clear CAM right now, and the only striker who JK seemed to like up top by himself only had 20 minutes in him this World Cup. We can argue for years about whether the set-up was right or adjustments that should have been made. However, we got out of group and made a knockout game against a top opponent more exciting than it probably should have been (Belgium may not be the best team in Brazil, but will be a tough out for anyone left).

      • That game was ugly, not what I would refer to as “exciting”. The 2nd overtime was the only time the US showed any life. For 105 minutes we got our tails handed to us.

      • +1

        It’s tough cuz you know the USMNT and soccer as a whole will grow in fandom thanks to these games where heroics and luck gave us some “exciting” plays. But the reality is we played bunker, put the bus back and it was only “exciting” cuz Howard is out of this world and the Belgians didn’t execute better on like half of those shots. Otherwise it would have been a total crime scene.

        I wouldn’t be pissed if our soccer reality was one where we absolutely could not do anything other than defend for 90 minutes. But that’s so wrong. We could have at minimum controlled the ball a little more than 30%, and we could definitely have been more aggressive and at least give some positive excitement rather than watching a heart stopping game only because they FREAKING SHOT 16+ TIMES ON GOAL!

        I totally agree with LD. regardless of his current or previous game level.

      • You really need to check your possession stats. Even though BEL was more dangerous, they actually had the ball for less than half the match.

      • possession starts were really off for one simple reason. Whenever Belgium had the ball they immediately found huge open shooting lanes. They had no reason to keep possession. So of course we kept getting goal kicks and possession piled up in our favor.

      • This is true, and that’s a problem with raw possession stats. The much better possession stat is the possession vs location crosstab.

        That said, the US had the ball significantly more than 30% of the time.

      • We had more possesion. We just couldnt get forward. JK should of made more offensive subs earlier.

      • I’m sorry but you don’t know what you’re talking about man. JK lined us up to be more proactive and we had *more than 50%* of the possession to show for it. As a result of the formation and tactics we didn’t keep all our outside players back a majority of the time and Belgium had lanes to exploit on the counter. Had we truly bunkered we would have seen a game like Ghana or Germany where our opponents had a ton of possession but few quality looks.

        We did not bunker we just weren’t good enough to move our possession into our attacking third reliably.

      • It was exciting for those of us who were rooting for the US. Instead of exciting, would riveting be better?

      • torture is what I was thinking. We were surviving blow after blow. Painful to get hammered and still cling to hope. I felt like William Wallace ready to scream out “freedom” before finally succumbing.

      • Seriously. When your keeper is breaking records for saves in a world cup, that doesn’t mean it was an even game.

    • Well, I read an article today where Klinsmann was saying that the big problem is that US players aren’t held accountable. He cited specifically Wondo missing the open net and said when he gets back people should hold him accountable. Klinsmann told about when he was at AC Milan, after they lost a big game for the next week when he went out in public people would berate and insult him and he was implying US players should face the same kind of pressure. So, Klinsmann is shirking accountability himself. Before the game I said the US should play 2 up top and go after Belgium. It’s win or go home and they weren’t going to win without scoring goals. Yet Klinsmann didn’t start two up top. I think Donovan has a valid point. Also, is Klinsmann going to take accountability for putting Wondo ;in as a late substitute when he could have had Donovan available for that role? I feared that there would be a situation like that where Donovan’s big game experience and coolness under pressure would be missed. Under the circumstances, I think Donovan has been quite restrained. By the way, I think in most everything Klinsmann has been right and some things I disagreed with he was proven correct, but to my dying day I will be convinced that leaving Donovan home was a big mistake. Whether it would have made the difference we will never know, but he should have been available and on that field the last 45 minutes or so at the least.


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