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USMNT 1, Czech Republic 0: Five Observations

Jozy Altidore, Vaclav Prochazka

Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/


The U.S. Men’s National Team started off the new World Cup cycle with a road win on European soil on Wednesday, and with the victory came plenty of revelations about this young group of Americans.

The U.S. defeated the Czech Republic, 1-0, in Prague in the team’s first post-World Cup friendly courtesy of an Alejandro Bedoya goal, but the manner in which Jurgen Klinsmann’s side performed was equally as noteworthy as the final result. Yes, the Americans needed goalkeeping heroics from Nick Rimando in the second half to maintain their lead, but still showed plenty of positive signs from the run of play throughout the 90 minutes.

A number of youngsters and fringe players also made their U.S. cases to Klinsmann. Some stood out brightly while others showed they still need more work, giving Klinsmann plenty to consider as he moves forward with the team ahead of next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Here are five observations we took away from the national team’s 1-0 triumph over the Czech Republic:


As Joe Gyau shone brightly throughout much of the first half of his international debut, it was easy to forget that he is still just a 21-year-old winger who does not have that many career first-division club appearances to his name. That’s because the speedy Gyau was not overwhelmed by the occasion – as is often the case when a player receives his first cap – and showed off his natural-born confidence by taking on defenders on the dribble before fading in the second half. Gyau has lots to work on to round out his game and his projected lack of first-team playing time at Borussia Dortmund is not ideal. But he demonstrated that he has plenty of promise and is a player worth another look in the not too distant future.


Serving as the U.S. captain, Jozy Altidore worked his tail off yet again but did not see much of the ball in dangerous positions. The service simply wasn’t there for Altidore to be at his most dangerous, begging the question as to if the lone striker system Klinsmann continues to deploy is best utilizing the veteran forward. Altidore has shown he is capable of scoring goals when he receives a steady dose of service, but when he doesn’t he’s stuck with just having to hold the ball up and work hard.


When Tim Howard announced his one-year break from the U.S., the consensus among most fans not from Salt Lake City, Utah was that Brad Guzan would wind up winning the starting goalkeeping spot. Nick Rimando, however, showed that the battle might come down to the wire. The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper was arguably the top American performer against the Czechs, making a number of key saves during his second-half cameo to prevent the U.S. from conceding an equalizer and show he is capable of being a No. 1 goalkeeper at the international level. Brad Guzan, to be fair, was not tested anywhere near as much in his 45 minutes to showcase his skills, but it appears this competition is far from a formality.


Two of the younger players who really showed that they are coming along well in their development were John Brooks and Mix Diskerud.

Brooks was mostly lights out defensively and looked mature beyond his years in his first U.S. match since scoring the dramatic winner vs. Ghana in the World Cup opener. The 21-year-old centerback read the game well, came up with several key clearances and also looked plenty calm and composed on the ball, especially on one occasion when he dribbled out of a tight space.

Diskerud, meanwhile, struggled in the U.S.’s ineffective midfield trio at first before showing that he is capable of making an impact by dropping deeper. Diskerud, 23, was active in the latter parts of the first half and during his brief minutes in the second stanza, serving as a link between the back four and attack. He hit a sublime cross-field ball to Timmy Chandler in the first half that went to waste, and showed impressive alertness when he pounced on the loose ball that helped create the Americans’ winner.


The U.S. was a bit sloppy in possession early on, but where Klinsmann side really stood out was in their ability to press high and suffocate the Czechs. The tactic resulted in several turnovers from the Czech Republic, which gave the Americans possession in more advanced positions. They struggled to get quality scoring chances out of that and also were exposed a bit on the counter, but the way in which the U.S. pressed was still a step in the right direction given that at the World Cup it sat too far deep far too often against talented opposition.


What did you think of Gyau’s performance? Is the lone striker role one that does not best suit Altidore? Like the way the U.S. high pressed?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I agree that Jozy was able to hold the ball up when passed to him several times. But if that is all he can do effectively, then he doesn’t possess enough dynamic qualities to be a starter for the USMNT. Heck, we could call back Kenny Cooper if that’s all the qualities we want in a lone striker.

    Altidore still shies away from going up for headers and continues to pull up at the last second when going in for a challenge or pressuring their defense.

    And honestly, at this point, with over 5 years on the National team, using the excuse for him that he doesn’t get “good service” is so completely tired at this point. At least we’re not still saying, “Give him time…he’s young”

  2. On Jozy: go back to the 2010 World Cup game against England and recall how he turned his defender, dribbled like a man on fire to goal and forced a great save. All of his potential in one play. THAT is how he needs to be used because that is how he is most dangerous. I hope some coach of his wakes up to this reality. He needs to face goal and run to be dangerous and he had the talent to do that. It’s tragic if he isn’t given the chance.

    • He will turn on anybody as long as he can get the ball at his feet with his back to goal anywhere in range of it. The problem is that he has received only a handful of balls in that fashion in the last 12 months.

      • There you have it. don lamb. thank you.

        Jozy is getting table scraps, same as every other striker we’ve ever had in situations where we play top global opposition not named Mexico. Who did better?

        Everybody has a cute tactical solution but it’s as all just levers and pulleys and lipstick and most recently Juan f*cking Agudelo. The market value of our “Most Valuable XI” is about half of what Man U paid for Angel Di Maria. … As such, we are not going to create boatloads of quality chances when we are playing the best teams on the planet. Getting good balls into a center forward isn’t likely when the midfield is clearly outclassed– this is the case 100% of the time with Sunderland and most of the time when the US steps outside of CONCACAF.

  3. I think that if we’re going to play a 4-3-3 like we did yesterday, we can’t have two wide players who are just speedy wingers, at least not with the group we had. One of them has to be an expert at being a link between the midfield and attack and making sure that he can find Jozy, either with a ball into feet and back to goal, or running into the channels – I noticed on one or two occasions that our young guns, eager to make an impact I imagine, were slightly ignorant to some of the off-the-ball movement Altidore was making.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the 4-3-3 again, but we need to make sure that we’ve got someone in front of the defense to help us play out of the back, as well as someone behind the forward who can link play into the attack.

    I’ve always liked Mix. He really does seem to help us manage the game. We’re going to need a bit more physicality/athleticism near him though, because even though he’s improved defensively, our midfield looked a tad overpowered once the Czechs stepped up the pressure. Wouldn’t mind seeing him and Bedoya in the middle again, maybe backed by a possession-savvy destroyer.

  4. Didn’t see a running commentary thread for today, so I will just post it here: U.S. U-20s defeated the Racing Club Reserves, 2-0, with goals from Zach Pfeffer and Romain Gall.

  5. By far, the most significant thing about this game was the formation and fluidity that the players were playing with. Execution was still very poor, but the style of play was what Jurgen has been promising. Jurgen’s era has begun. The previous three years have been an extension of the Arena/Bradley years…

    • I am interested to see how some of the MLS talent will fit in during this next cycle. Zardes, Gil, Yedlin, and other younger players should starting getting long looks; and I am like others on this site: Nguyen, though in his late 20s, deserves a shot, because he is in top form. Fall friendlies should be intriguing.

      • Yes, but there is still much to be done–the way to reach the fullest potential as a player is by playing year round from as young an age as possible surrounded by the highest competition uyour leading edge of development allows. That’s still a work in progress.

        Mixx to France, Portugal, or Mexico. Thoughts?

      • not sure about having to always play against the highest competition in the development years. It’s more about building confidence and igniting and sustaining the fire within each individual kid imo; those are the ones who work out on their own, seek out the challenges, become their own motivator, etc. No need to burn anyone out by overplaying and burying them in the toughest competition at all times imo. It’s different for every kid too I think. Anyway, I like this discussion, cheers

        totally agree about having them play in some sort of year round approach with appropriate time off, etc., but creating opportunities for them to succeed is as important in their development as is playing against the toughest competition. Playing a million tournaments and always pushing 8, 9, 10, 11 year olds all out like that allows for a certain kind of cream to rise at that age but they’re just developing kids, so many other pathways besides that to develop a human and a great soccer player in that part of development phase seems to me

      • I agree with this too, bb. Confidence is as important as anything else. At some point, kids will need to test themselves and find out how good they really are. I think we are getting very close to the time where kids can do that here in the US without having to go abroad at such a young age.

      • hope you’re right about that and believe you are. it can always improve and it is, we’ve already covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, warts and all

      • I, personally, don’t like to think about where a player “should” go since I am so far removed from what the dynamic that exists between the player, his agent, and his suitors. The key, of course, is playing time at the highest level, so wherever that may be…

    • Meh, the question remains whether he tactically reverts in key games still. We were playing more open and then whamo Brazil 3 DMs.

      • Yeah, dropping Donovan and building the team around Jones was basically an admission that we were not really interested in going to Brazil to play the game. Klinsmann is too proud not to try to play the right way though, especially now that the pressure is off.

      • JK has said many times that the open, pressing, attacking style of play he talked about so much was something that the US aspired to but , and he made this very clear quite early on, when it came to a game that had to be won , he was going to do what ever it took.

        He made that very clear early on when he stuck Danny Williams, at right wing nominally but actually another holding midfielder, in midfield to prevent the Italians from overrunning the US midfield as they like to do.

        Not pretty but the US won in Europe against a big team, something JK saw as important for the team’s mindset.

        And JK consistently stuck with that , trying to turn on the style when possible but going ruthless when necessary.

        And you know what, most everyone does that., Except for Brazil vs.Germany in the World Cup and you saw how that worked out..

      • Why wouldn’t he become more defensive tactically against indisputably better personnel? Our players didn’t magically become ten times better already — this will take MANY years. JK doesn’t have magic beans that he can give to the same players we already have.

        Tactics only get you so far… they will not turn our $20 million midfield into Barcelona overnight, although many here seem to think it’s possible, with just a little bit of tinkering and maybe Juan Agudelo in front. It is as though there is some alternate reality, in which our lovable group of fellow Champions League spectators go into a phone booth, and emerge in capes to crush teams like Germany and Belgium with breathless, swashbuckling football that sends Ray Hudson to the hospital.

        Growth is baby steps. JK has also gotten results, which is nice because we are Americans and we will fire him if he doesn’t give us a pacifier that is at least as nice as our old one.

    • co-sign. we saw the future yesterday, and in my opinion, it looks very bright. These guys have 4 years to gel and develop, while incorporating fresh new talent that will approach the game with even more confidence. Team will be very deep in 2018…

  6. fair points. i thought Gyau showed good strength too, he’s really bulked up. i’m hoping Green does the same. Brooks is also a guy who continues to just get bigger and bigger.

    spot on about Jozy, have to get him in a 4-4-2 or just more effective service in that 4-3-3. people can harp on him all they want, and to a point it is fair, but the guy did what he could with what was available. i thought he should good hold up play. unfortunately, that was about all he was able to do. 0 shots is not what you want to see.

    and of course, totally agree with your points on JAB and Mix. JAB got beat pretty good in Berlin’s game against Bayer, but showed in this game he is more than capable. he’ll make mistakes, but as a whole, he’s solid and i’m sure the mistakes will go away with time. well, at least the rate at which they happen will decrease. for Mix, dude needs to get out of Norway otherwise he will start to plateau.

      • in a dream scenario, Spain or Germany. in a more realistic scenario, Netherlands or Portugal. France would be ok too. and trust me, i understand it’s easier said than done to move, i’m simply saying i think he needs to and hope he can find a move in January.

      • It is a tough question, no doubt. It is a very small segment of teams who are looking for a playmaker of “contribute immediately” age who aren’t simply looking for cover. And I doubt he’ll get much interest from NED… they like to sell guys his age, not buy.

        On the flipside, I’m not sure Mix really needs to move that far up the food chain. As you’ve pointed out, Norway does not offer much that he hasn’t already experienced. Even a lateral move might not be so bad…. as much as anything, he needs to diversify his game and competition.

    • Nobody really knows for sure yet. Not surprising for a kid who has less than 10 first class matches to his name at either club or country level yet. For now he is “somewhere on the left and in attack”… which is a winger I suppose. Until we know more.

      But no need to panic. Cristiano Ronaldo still hasn’t settled on a spot either. First world problems… 🙂

  7. A few notes I had
    -Rimando was excellent, kind of think its his job for the moment, but its very tricky with how good guzan has been for villa
    -Brooks looking pretty sharp except for his poor header near the end, i thought he looked confident on the ball and passed very well
    -Both orozco and ream were alright, each had one or two mistakes but not awful by either
    -Chandler was quiet, which isnt a bad thing, garza seemed a step down, but hes young, give him time
    -Fabian was excellent as always, but am I the only one who notices how lazy he is getting back after his runs?
    -Bedoya and Diskeruds movement was great i thought, very unpredictable, but it left us open at times on the counter, due to no real holding or box to box mids in the side, i thought corona wasnt nearly as good as the other two in midfield
    -Morales was quiet, again not a bad thing, hyndman had some good simple passing and actually tackled relatively well
    -Shek Brea was dreadful, its kind of sad actually because i can see what he wants to do, hes just not game fit enough to successfully do it.
    -Both green and gyau struggled, especially in the second half as far as tracking back, both also very raw going forward
    -Altidore did as much as he could do really, would like to see him run at people more, when he plays for sunderland he does that a bit more
    -FINALLY, why does he insist on playing fabian and chandler on opposite sides? Dont get it
    -My 11 for Ecuador, if everyone is available

    -F. Johnson–Besler-Gonzo—-Chandler

    Bench- Guzan, Hamid, Brooks, Ream, Castillo/ Klute/ Garza, Yedlin, Williams/ Edu, Kljestan/ Torres/ Trapp, Green/ Nguyen, Zusi, Johannsson/Magee, Boyd/ Zardes

    • Older players such as Rimando, Dempsey and Jones should only play a lot when we are trying to win the Gold Cup and get into the Confed Cup or during the Copa South America. We need to start transitioning to those players who can play a role in 2018.

  8. For some reason Altidore isn’t where he needs to be, and when he holds up the ball he keeps muscleing his way through. He is still frustrated from his Sunderland experience. I really liked Gyau. Bedoya and Diskerud both played well. Rimando would be the goalie of my choice.

  9. Heres an off subject question for the visitors to this site. If Klinsmann were to suddenly change the formation to a 3-5-2 then how do you think the team would line up? my team would be;

    LCB- Brooks
    CCB- Besler
    RCB- Cameron
    RWB- Johnson
    LWB- Chandler
    CM — Bradley
    CM— Jones
    no10- Diskerud
    ST—- Dempsey
    ST—- Altidore

      • The teams that play the 3-5-2 the best are a 3-5-2 when attacking and a 5-3-2 when defending. With active wing backs like Chandler and Johnson this would play to our strengths.

    • 3 man backlines require implicit trust in the centerbacks not yet apparent or earned. Plus, I think we lack the footspeed to put people on islands.

      • we used to, but i’m not sure that’s true anymore.

        brooks, besler, and cameron are all fast, even though none of them look it. orozco is pretty quick, too.

        still not sure i like the idea, simply because it seems to require good chemistry that is hard to come by on a national team. but with the good performances in brasil by a number of 3-cb backlines, i’m coming around to it.

  10. We played a 4-3-3! We had 3 forwards and Mix pressed high a lot in this game, lets stop making up excuses for Jozy seriously even Brooks charged forward and took a shot, So did Green and Gyau. I don’t remember Jozy taking a single shot as a striker he should at least create one of balance shot for himself. I’m not buying the Jozy didn’t get service talk anymore. When he does get the ball he never takes on his guy instead he passes back to defense and we have to start the act all over again. In a way he was the Czech’s best centerback.

    • the pressing was 4 3 3ish, but playing out of the back and with possession was more lone striker with Jozy up there. have you noticed how the USMNT under JK does this kind of thing, varying formations for attack and defense? it’s interesting, there’s been some discussion of it here before. Don’t know if it’s on purpose or that the team falls into familiar roles in situations, but it seems to occur imo. anyway, what’s your take?

      • this is a good observation. transitioning from defense to offense, Jozy was a lone striker. he then fed the ball back to a midfielder or one of the wingers. looking at the Opta passing graphic, Jozy and Mix had a lot of passing between each other. the only other players he passed to…Gyau, Green, and FJ. once Gyau got it, he always looked for FJ. those two passed between each other CONSTANTLY. biggest connection of the game for the US. so to me, it seemed like once everyone was forward, getting the ball back to Jozy just didn’t happen. here is the graphic i’m referring to:

    • Hmm maybe Brooks, Green and Gyau got shots off cause Jozy was pulling two defenders with him??? But I get it you don’t like Jozy unless he scores a brace.

      • No you don’t get it. I don’t like the Jozy wasn’t getting service excuse its played out and its almost insulting to his teammates like they aren’t good enough to get him the ball. He’s scored 5 goals in 12 months its time we start asking Jozy some questions instead of blaming the people around him.

      • Not to make this a LD thread. But how many goals has Jozy scored when he was playing with the MNT assist leader?

        Plus, we have no idea what Klinsmann wanted him to do. JK could have told him to hold up play and try to draw two defenders to him.

      • I argued for a long time that Jozy’s USMNT scoring drought was very simply due to LD’s absence. Then Zusi and Fabian started giving Jozy assists.

        I’ll bet the bulk of Jozy’ US goals come from assists by those three. Zusi, Fabian and the Half Blood Prince.

    • yeah, but if you look at the shots taken, guess who did the hold up play and layoffs? Jozy. it’s really not that hard to see. i agree he has to be more selfish, but look at Opta and try to make the argument this guy got enough, quality service. the best chance he got was Gyau’s fantastic cross into the box which the Czech defender barely got a touch on to send out for a corner. that’s about the only pass that came into Jozy that i remember thinking, “finally some service.”

      • The service was lacking. BUT Jozy does not create anything for himself. If you like a player that doesn’t create and waits for good service you must love Chris Wondolowski. If you are saying you are happy with Jozy poaching goals off of great crosses, and providing “hold up play” which must mean the three times he boxed out a defender then either was called for a foul or dumped it back to our defense, then there are a lot of people who will disagree.

        See Dempsey for a forward who creates for himself, Johannsson has done it in his limited time, and I’m sure we have other guys who can do it, but do we see them, no, because Jozy is always there providing great hold up play and not showing any danger to the defense,.

      • i totally agree that Jozy needs to create for himself. i’m simply discussing the topic at hand, which is the service Jozy received. lets stay on topic. i don’t think ANYONE disagrees Jozy has to create more for himself. but that is irrelevant when discussing the service he did or did not receive. i said it elsewhere, my criticism for Jozy is being too unselfish and not getting ANY shot off. that cannot happen.

        as for Dempsey, that’s not a fair comparison. Dempsey plays behind Jozy under JK. Dempsey is SUPPOSED to create and run off of Jozy. so it’s no wonder he creates more. under JK, Jozy is playing the hold up guy almost exclusively…which is the exact point being made in the article. it may be time to change that. we saw at AZ what Jozy can do when given the freedom to create and not have his back to goal. we have seen it, albeit limited, with the US and it was successful. so i think it’s time to work on a 4-4-2 or improving the 4-3-3. before, JK was clearly trying to get Bradley/Jones/Beckerman on the field at once, but I think it’s time to move the focus to helping Jozy out. at Sunderland, everytime they move to a 4-4-2, they look much more dangerous. in that setup two games ago, Jozy gets an assist. go figure.

        to summarize, Jozy has to do more in a hold up role, no doubt, but at some point, and what this article is asking, do we need to think about freeing up Jozy from that role? and if so, what is the best way to do that?

      • Well when you say, Jozy got no service, instead of: the wingers played poorly and didnt get any crosses in, and the forward created nothing from in front of the opposing defense, it sounds like making excuses.

        If jozy never got the ball, no one would complain. The fact is he gets the ball and does nothing with it.

      • what? did you even look at the passing graphic i linked to or go to Opta yourself and look. the little service he did get he laid off to others and then never got it back. that’s the point being made.

        we ALL agree that we wish he would be a bit more selfish instead. you know when he is? when he is in a 4-4-2 and given more room to operate and not always have his back to goal.

        but at the same time, i’d like to see better combo play to get the ball back to him. to me, it’s just a faulty system for Jozy. but that was the sacrifice made because we wanted to get Dempsey/Bradley/Jones all on the field. maybe now it’s time for JK to start thinking about systems that work better for Jozy.

      • Del – be as naive as you want. that’s cool, but a system in which you plug players into has a BIG part in how well a team does or does not do. that is soccer 101. don’t play a 5’5″ attacking midfielder as a lone striker. he will fail.

        but it’s cool, we disagree, we’ve made our arguments. nothing wrong with that. lets move on.

      • Klinsy doesn’t trust the quality and athleticism of his players against top euro or south american competition. He puts an uber-premium on hold-up play, as a direct consequence. How he squares this with teaching the american players to “express themselves” I do not know. Anyway, it seems pretty nuts to blame Jozy for dutifully trudging through the unglamorous role he’s been assigned. By the way, the hold-up guy also absorbs more hits and bruises than anybody else out there, just sayin’.

      • totally agree AK48. i can understand why JK sacrificed Jozy in order to make our midfield stronger. he wanted to find a way to get Dempsey, Bradley, Jones, Bedoya, and Beckerman all on the field at once. so he put Jozy alone up top instead of in a 4-4-2.

        now that the WC is over, i think a lot of us would like to see us change to a 4-4-2. a 4-3-3 is interesting as well, but like we saw last night, transitioning from defense to offense in a 4-3-3 can result in similar hold up play being required.

      • This is good stuff AK48.

        A good hold-up striker also lays out the abuse– Jozy makes the opposing CBs work very hard and often times noticeably nervous. Fatih Terim (Turkey coach) observed after the pre-WC friendly (in which Jozy did not score) that Jozy is “the kind of striker who gives defenders nightmares”.

      • Well said
        We need a forward who can create and threaten the defense as well as hold-up. holding up by itself is not good enough.

      • You are not taking into account the physical abuse a forward has to dish out and take.

        It is a vital part of the game for any forward and Jozy is very good at it.

      • Dempsey NEVER creates for himself!! The Ghana goal was the sole, shining exception. You tube all of Dempsey’s goals for the nats, and you will see he is a gary linekar poacher pure and simple. 98% of his goals are one time finishes off crosses, corners, rebounds or defensive mistakes.

        jozy never creates for himself? how about his second goal against nigeria? that was completely out of nothing.

    • It was closer to a 433 but I think that reflected the non-defensive approach. Same system just the midfielders were attacking types and the wing forwards were runners, not plodding crosser types. So the side was built to attack more, and had more ability to get down the flanks with pure speed.

      But if you put two technical wings out there and DMs instead of Mixx types, voila, this summer.

    • While I dispute your conclusion, I do think that Jozy is too unselfish at times and needs to be more aggressive in front of goal. He should also shoot more at Sunderland. Even when he was getting a lot of minutes with Sunderland, he averaged just a little over 1 shot per game.

  11. Altidore seems rusty and wasn’t a true leader, maybe with time Altidore returns 2013’s version.
    Both Mix and Bedoya controlled the Czechs and lead the rookies, when both players left, USNT lost control and was like headless chicken.
    -Green seems not sure what’s his role with USNT.
    -Shea seems rusty and mentality not fit, but still Shea cause some havoc to Czechs.
    -Morales and Hyndmann just needs to develop chemistry with the rest other players, and each other.
    -Gyau deserve another start!

  12. It’s time that we stop making excuses for Jozy. Whether it’s for club or country, how many times have we said that his poor play wasn’t his fault, because he didn’t get good service? Let’s face it…he’s not good at getting into dangerous positions and making the right runs. He simply doesn’t have the instincts needed to be in the perfect place for a pass that top strikers do. He makes straightforward and predictable runs, which is fine for when he has lots of support, but the really good strikers have the skills and soccer sense to make something out of nothing, and that’s simply something he’s never showed.

      • Thanks, I forgot the #2 excuse after “he didn’t get any service”…”his hold-up play was great”.
        Yes, hold-up play is part of his job, but only part. His job is to score goals. After you hold up the ball to get support, you give the ball away and get in a position to score.
        Again, I think he’s a solid player…but if he’s your striker, you’re not going to be a great team.

      • Lol, your eyes deceive you. Prepare for those more knowledgeable to tell you how great Jozy was while he wasn’t on screen. And how he would have scored if someone else pushed the gk away and put the ball right on his foot in front of the goal. You know nothing

      • if he’s expected to play a hold-up role, then “his hold-up play was great” isn’t really an excuse, is it?

        and a hold-up player’s primary job *is not* to score goals, it’s to allow others to get into position to create chances.

        there’s this mindset fans have that a striker is failing if he doesn’t score goals, but that’s not necessarily true–it’s all about what the manager is asking him to do. especially in the last few years, goal-scoring is a team responsibility (much like defending).

        yes, the striker should hopefully be a natural goalscorer, simply because he’s usually the closest in proximity, but i guarantee you: if klinsmann keeps winning games with jozy on the field, he’s not going to complain about who’s getting the goals.

        of course, it’s easier for commenters like del griffin to beat up on those poor straw men.

      • and to clarify, i’m not defending jozy in this specific match; i didn’t think he was all that good, and i’m hoping that some kid will challenge his spot soon.

      • of course he does; i do, too.

        if jozy *never* scored goals, then we should be worried (simply because that’s a heavy burden on the other attackers), but his strike rate isn’t bad with the usmnt. if it was, then a better striker would’ve supplanted him by now.

      • That’s fair, but there’s nothing wrong with admitting that 1) Jozy isn’t the answer, and 2) There’s no one better right now.

      • Matt,

        So what was it about the USMNT in the Czech game that made you think it was “a great team”?

        This was a bunch of guys who had never played together before, playing a very tough team and you expected what exactly?

      • Hold-up Schmold-up I dont want to hear that crap anymore either.
        Top Strikers:
        Van Persie
        Diego Costa

        Lets see…how many pure hold up guys there? Oh wait its cool to have forwards score goals!!! I almost forgot.

      • Van Persie – never a hold up player
        Suarez – dude, come on…
        Aguero – again, not even close
        Falcao – yeah, i do wish Jozy could be Falcao too
        Ibrahimovic – same with Ibra, but he plays with Cavani
        Tevez – admittedly, i don’t know much about how he has played, but again, i certainly wish Jozy had the talent he has
        Diego Costa – for sure, top player
        Lewandowski – would love Jozy be like him, but is it realistic?
        Cavani – not a hold up guy
        Messi – i’ll take what you are smoking if you think he is a hold up striker

        why not add Mandžukić why you’re at it? i think we all wish Jozy was the hold up player some of these guys are, but he never has been and never will. most strikers can only hope to be that good. maybe one day we’ll have that type of elite player, until then…

      • I never said anything about “hold -up Striker”
        Why does USA not need a TOP striker who scores goals?

        Why do we have to limit ourselves to a hold-up striker especially a one dimensional striker who doesn’t do much else but hold-up?

      • ah i see, you weren’t comparing Jozy to what you believed to be top hold up players…you were just trying to ask why Jozy isn’t one of the best players in the world like those you listed…………..

        again, i’ll take what you are smoking because if you think the US has anyone capable of being that elite, it must be awesome stuff. face reality, we have not produced anyone of that caliber yet. so when discussing Jozy, let’s try not to compare him to Messi.

      • Jozy will never be good enough.
        We have run that experiment.
        Yes he palys in the premier league
        No he does not score in the Premier league.

        Perhaps some of our young strikers can do better given the chance,,see?

        I am not comparing anyone to messi, I am saying we need a forward who SCORES GOALS…get it?

      • Dman – repeat it all you want, i disagree and you are in the minority. as i said, your opinion is fine, but lets stop discussing it because disagreement is ok.

        of the guys you listed, Arriola is with the U-20s, Boyd is injured, AJ is injured, Zardes will likely get a call for the MLS friendly, and Rubio had his first senior camp. in fact, Rubio was called into the U-20s which his club rejected. so JK said, “F that,” and called him into the senior squad. he wasn’t going to play in this game.

        and again, you did try to compare Jozy to Messi and all the others in your list. you said here is a list of strikers which can score, unlike Jozy. do you even get how your own comment is making a comparison? and again, you’re ignoring the fact that JOzy is top 5 US goal scores, EVER, and has the record for most goals scored in Europe by an American. so in a conversation about strikers who score goals, you have to include that. once again, we all agree Jozy has to get back it though. the disagreement is taht you are ready to give up on him.

      • “Why do we have to limit ourselves to a hold-up striker especially a one dimensional striker who doesn’t do much else but hold-up?”

        this is literally what we are wondering. we can all see Jozy is decent at hold up play, but it does not get him into the game like we all want/expect. so why do we continue to use that system? Jozy is SO much better when he is making runs off a second striker. say what you will about the defending he faced when at AZ, but he looked so much better when running at players. no one is disagreeing there.

        the disagreement is with people saying dump Jozy because there are others who can fill in. there isn’t. we don’t have a guy who can hold up play like we all would like. hopefully Boyd will provide that eventually as he has personally said that is the type of player he is. Jozy has never said that and, i believe, has specifically said he does not like playing that role but will do whatever to help the team.

      • The point is Jozy is not good enough, We have better talent in the pool now. If JKs goal is the semifinals, we need a dangerous striker to get there.

      • dude, no we don’t. who in the pool would be as good as anyone of those guys listed? who in the pool has done more than Jozy? no one. not a single guy.

      • Its not about what he HAS done its about what that striker can develop into in 4 years…I’ve seen enough Altidore…Dempsy, Johannson, are better now, but really I want to see a creative guy like Rubio Rubin, give Boyd a shot, or Will Bruin, Zardes, Arriola, give them time now…. I dont want to see any more Jozy.

      • Dman – that makes no sense. so you think a 24 year old Jozy is at his peak and will never progress? if so, fine. i disagree though, as do most.

        Dempsey is the best, or second best, US player to ever play. DUH!

        how is AJ better?! he hasn’t done what Jozy did at AZ and i seem to remember EVERYONE harping on him for his terrible hold up play when he replaced Jozy against Ghana. short memory?

        everyone wants to see Rubio play, but he will struggle just as much as Jozy in that role. why? because that isn’t what he plays! he doesn’t play that for his club and he never has.

        Boyd? absolutely, i totally agree it would be nice to see more of him. and you would have seen i thought he should have been at the WC over Wondo. WITHOUT A DOUBT. but he wasn’t and sure enough Jozy gets hurt and we have no one who can attempt to play the hold up role JK had locked the team into.

        again, Bruin, Arriola, and Zardes are not hold up players! put them in Jozy’s situation and i’d guarantee they would do even worse.

        we all want to see Arriola and Zardes, but for them to be effective, a 4-4-2 is needed. this is not difficult. and the whole point is that Jozy in a 4-4-2 IS effective and we see him assisting and scoring goals in that formation.

      • Mr man,

        Current Market Value, give or take:

        Diego Costa 35 million Euros
        Falcao 55 million Euros
        RVP 33 million Euros
        Cavani 57 million Euros

        Jozy was bought for about 5 million Euros and his current value is about 3.5 million Euros

        So why exactly, are you comparing Jozy to these guys?

      • Dman,

        The guys on your list?

        Compare their teams to Sunderland and the USMNT .

        Actually make them play for Sunderland and the USMNT and while I’m sure they will do better than Jozy let’s see how much better.

    • So torn on Jozy, and we got a decent glimpse of his pros and cons in this match. So physically gifted, and his touch and hold up game have improved dramatically, as has his willingness to drop back and defend if called on. Where he falls behind is in linking with other attackers, and his own off-ball movement. There were several times that Jozy received the ball, had Green or Gyau making nice runs and didnt see them or couldnt turn and make a play to them. It would be interesting to see Jozy get some time with a second out and out striker to see what difference it makes if any.

    • When he makes side to side runs he can be useful. He was involved in some holdup play wide. He is also a decent poacher.

      But he tends to just stand around in the middle, and if you’ve ever played on the wings, you know it’s a lot harder to thread a ball through bodies to someone in the middle. The lack of risky passes (“service”) to him may just be good sense, if he’s not going to show to the ball more. Nor do I think whacking crosses in is our strongest suit. I prefered last night’s ground ball possession approach.

      Dribbling backwards towards your own net is not great holdup play, it’s a sign of indecision and lack of quick thinking. In the middle third you really want a forward to just make himself available to the others, get on and off the ball fast. Tempo.

      At least he was not outright losing the ball like usual.

      • Riight…Joe Gyau and Julian Green in ther first and third caps were exercising wise judgment in not “threading” passes to Jozy.

        Tell that to Fabian Johnson, who somehow has managed to combine with Jozy for goals with the national team. Remember his hat trick against Bosnia and his brace against Nigeria…

    • How do you explain the most goals in Europe ever by an American, the hat trick against Bosnia, the brace against Nigeria and the 5th most goals by a national team player while still only 24? I remember before he moved to Alkmaar a lot of people here and elsewhere said he would never amount to anything. He has already shown many people wrong; it’s much too early to give up on him. He has the physical tools. Also, we don’t know what his instructions are at Sunderland or with the US team for all the games.

    • Jozy is not as good as we wish. But, he is, hands down, the best “big forward” in the US pool. No other has his size, strength and shooting power. I guess you could call in Conor Casey to see how much better he is. Can you think of any other player for the US who can play that role better?

  13. I think Goalkeeper is a hard position to evaluate because people tend to just judge them on the number of highlight (game saving) plays they make and not on their game management and positioning. That is not to say that Rimando had a bad game by any means, but sometimes a keeper who was “not active”, like Guzan in the first half, has actually had a very strong game because he stopped chances from arising by either communicating with his back line very well or positioning himself appropriately.

    This game, in particular, was hard to judge because of the defensive switches and formation changes.

    • I don’t quite buy it. Robles’ two Haiti goals showed he wasn’t ready (like Gooch getting burned by Antigua). You can rule yourself out negatively in an isolated situation, even if perhaps you are right that the finer positive distinctions may take more time to play out, eg, Guzan might be capable of the same frenetic effort against the same sort of peppering situation.

      My impression of Guzan over time is he is a roller coaster capable of high quality keeping and basic gaffes. Villa stunk a couple years back but he would also look silly sometimes.

      • “My impression of Guzan over time is he is a roller coaster capable of high quality keeping and basic gaffes”

        That is a perfect description of Timmy Howard, and many other keepers.

    • Guzan may have an age advantage on Rimando, and may be able to simply wait him out. But in a year Howard will be back, and he looked like the second best stopper last night.

      Not to mention, he was trying the same brain dead passes to the center that Cech did that cost them the game. His distribution left much to be desired.

      • How was Guzan second best? Neither got scored on. Rimando was called into action more but that’s due to his defense, which may have been impacted by Rimando not controlling them as much.

        And Guzan’s distribution was fine. Keepers who just punt it down field lose possession. He tried keeping it, like Rimando.

      • People talking about how the second half was harder leave out where that ball gets all the way across to the back post and the guy misses it on the slide: first half. Rimando did have a harder time but half my point would be Guzan made his more of an adventure.

        In short, it was not a breezy claim to the position, it was a little clunky. The door remains open.

        Distribution was fine? I thought our goal was a pretty blatant example of how his tosses to the middle could have been exploited. It’s dangerous passing straight up the gut because I don’t know 100% what’s behind me when I receive the ball.

        Guzan will probably have a few more #1 games because he’s the default choice and didn’t pay for a mistake. But Rimando is gaining on him and looked more interesting IMO.

      • “Distribution was fine? I thought our goal was a pretty blatant example of how his tosses to the middle could have been exploited. It’s dangerous passing straight up the gut because I don’t know 100% what’s behind me when I receive the ball”

        So you are going to criticize the US keepers for a mistake the Czech keeper made?

        Good one.

        If you make a risky play and you get away with it,it is not a mistake.

        If you don’t get away with it, it is a mistake.

      • You make it sound like Guzan just waltzed in to Villa and took over without competition and has done only an adequate job.Villa had an established GK in Shay Given, Ireland’s #1 who had an excellent and long career in the EPL, but Guzan won the job from him by having some outstanding games in numerous cup games. In one shootout, as I recall, he made 3 saves allowing Villa to move on. The first year Guzan had maybe the worst D in the league in front of him. I think he was voted their most valuable player by the fans that year because he almost literally kept their team from being relegated. His GAA in that case and probably since was pretty meaningless. Given is still on the bench and management has not sought any GK’s during the transfer windows to my knowledge. Management at Villa obviously values Gujzan much higher than you do. I think they are in a better position to judge than you are.

    • Rimando will be 39 in 2018. There aren’t too many GK’s playing in the WC at that age. Since Rimando relies so much on quickness and reflexes which are certain to be diminished by then, it makes no sense to play him much when we are getting the national team ready for the next WC. A game like this since it is a meaningless friendly with only some of our regulars playing. When the games begin to count, it only makes sense to play Guzan. This also goes for Howard.A coach can’t afford to be sentimental when wanting to advance in the WC.

  14. Great observations – and focused on the positives. Some concerns with some players:
    – Bedoya had a great goal – but was set up by Dix and fortunate rebound of a world class keeper. Other than than, poor distribution, and no notable improvement after several years of ‘flashes of brilliance’
    – Green / Altidore seemed to occupy same space. Maybe Green is the lone striker.
    – Shea seems to keep getting chances, and then not showing full potential. What happened to his confidence? He has more ability than he realizes.
    Future is bright!
    I still believe!

    • Jozy was poor. He’s a striker yet he plays defensively, passing backward. He needs to score or he’ll end up as our Heskey. Jozy needs to learn how to create his own opportunities. Boyd, Aron and Agudelo will really push him in the next four years.

      Green doesn’t really have a position yet at club or international. He did his best work out left and floating in, giving Chandler space to roam on the wing. He’ll find his way at Hamburg.

      • We do not have Luis Suarez in our pool. Nor Zlatan. There are about 5 players in the world good enough to create their own chances against top global opposition. None are American. For now.

        Agudelo is getting turned away by second division clubs in spite of having no fee. If he has this level of quality, there are a lot of bad scouts out there. Hopefully he will get on a good track, but this is over-the-top.

        Aron is good but the Ghana game should tell you all you need to know about whether he can create his own chances against top opposition. We couldn’t get the ball out of our own half because he wasn’t able able to hold it (in fairness, I doubt he’s ever been asked to play as a hold-up striker and experience is everything). Sure, it sounds like he had a bit of an injury… this would not explain how lost he looked. He needs support as much as anybody.

        GW is right about Heskey. If guys like Juan and Aron come into the fold, I’d bet they’d do well alongside Jozy, rather than in place of him.

      • To be fair Aron was actually injured so I think it’s a little harsh. If you look back to the Bosnia game I think you’ll find AJ could develop into a striker that can make his own chances

      • I acknowledged the possibility of the injury, but it really didn’t explain the general lack of ideas to me. And watching the B&H game, there was another guy out there doing an even better job of creating his own chances.

  15. I like Rimando a lot but I don’t see much of a future upside to him. If JK wants an almost 40 year old goalie in 1998 he could just stick with Tim Howard. I also disagree with all of the adulation that Brooks is getting. If it was deserved we wouldn’t have to be singing Nick Rimando’s praises. Our defenders were the most experienced group of field players and as such they allowed too many opportunities.

    • Fine on Rimando, but there are others that could take over for Guzan. I doubt anyone is worried about the GK position, no matter who ends up on top when the dust settles.

      • Agree 100% with Quit Whining… GK is not a position that we need to worry about as we have great keepers. What we need are guys who will score goals. After all, soccer philosophy is simple: score one more goal than your opponent.

        I’ve been watching SJ Quakes’ Tommy Thompson (#22) who definitely bears scrutiny for USMNT in WC 2018

      • I think the next 4 years will be more interesting than you suggest. This is not Keller/Friedel easy GK. Howard has ruled himself out for a year and is getting older. Guzan is up and down, has not had to prove himself as a 1, does not play for a top side where he is expected to routinely shut people down. Rimando showed something but is older. Hall is hurt. I’m not sold on Hamid or Johnson.

        Of some of the other dark horses, Irwin and Robles have GAA around 1.5, which doesn’t impress me much. I also haven’t forgotten what Robles did against Haiti.

        The one I think might sneak in is Kronberg. Sub 1 GAA, KC helps that but it still bears investigating.

        Any foreign GKs anyone can think of?

      • Not sure what you mean on Guzan. How does the team he plays for define his quality? In fact, playing for a team with defensive weaknesses tests the GK far more.

        But hey, if you’re worried about it, Aston Villa looks to be outperforming Everton so far this year.

      • I think GAA is pretty telling of a keeper but people will give keepers on poorer teams a pass because “it’s Villa” or “their defense stinks.” Though valid to an extent, it can also be an accountability dodge.

        Guzan has generally played for mid-table or poor sides (awfully early in the season to be selling Villa as Gods) and has not been expected to pitch routine shutouts.

        To me, playing for USA is like keeping for a Big Club in Europe, more is expected and excuses are fewer.

        A coaching comparison would be Moyes. Moyes always did a solid job managing midtable to borderline European sides. But his approach did not work for a Big Club, where merely above average and performing most of the time is not enough.

        Guzan has lots of off weeks and I’m not sold he’s of the Keller/ Friedel/ Howard level yet.

      • Really, Moyes had no chance. The MU players he inherited were old before he started and except for VanPersie (who was injured a lot) he had no player whom any other team longed for. Rooney is an OK player, but not the kind of guy you can really build an EPL championship around. Lack of spending by MU in the last 3 or 4 years doomed Moyes before he started.

      • Put differently, Villa’s GAA last year was in excess of 1.5. More like 1.6 or 1.7.

        That’s roughly Robles, MacMath, Kennedy, or Irwin territory.

        He’s always had a Chivas or Villa excuse, he’s not had to win a MLS Cup 1-0 behind a better defense.

        Everton is meh but Howard’s the one who’s already proven himself. Guzan is the one who has to prove he scales up with better support.

      • Mr. Voice,

        Your argument against Guzan is rather flaccid.

        Guzan has proven himself to be at least as good as Howard if not better.

        Timmy just had the best season of his career with Everton and the USMNT and some of that credit goes to :

        1. Having to prove himself again to a new boss at Everton.

        2. Guzan for putting intense pressure on Timmy if he wanted to play in Brazil. Timmy had a putrid 2010 World Cup.

        If you don’t think being the only thing stopping Aston Villa from getting relegated by the same attacking players who face Timmy at Everton is not proving yourself under fire then I don’t know what to tell you. Ask Villa fans what they think of Guzan.

        Everton, a mostly mid table, average side with Moyes -like expectations for most of Timmy’s reign has rarely been under that kind of pressure to be perfect.

        I see no reason to think that Guzan would not have been just as good in the Belgium game as Timmy.

        Regardless, Timmy is unlikely to be back. He needs a challenge to retain his focus and it seems like he wants to move on from playing for the USMNT.

      • Villa’s defense has been in shambles. You can’t point to their goals against average as a knock on Guzan at all.

      • You make it sound like Guzan just waltzed in to Villa and took over without competition and has done only an adequate job.Villa had an established GK in Shay Given, Ireland’s #1 who had an excellent and long career in the EPL, but Guzan won the job from him by having some outstanding games in numerous cup games. In one shootout, as I recall, he made 3 saves allowing Villa to move on. The first year Guzan had maybe the worst D in the league in front of him. I think he was voted their most valuable player by the fans that year because he almost literally kept their team from being relegated. His GAA in that case and probably since was pretty meaningless. Given is still on the bench and management has not sought any GK’s during the transfer windows to my knowledge. Management at Villa obviously values Gujzan much higher than you do. I think they are in a better position to judge than you are.

    • Bears reminding Guzan started and Rimando merely outshone him as the sub. But JK believes in competition — recall his treatment of Jozy or Dempsey — so if Rimando gives him a run for his money I doubt he complains.

      Far as I’m concerned, better to have too much of a good thing than not enough. I was a tad worried we were eroding on the US GK advantage, but we looked fine.

    • Rimando has the best reflexes but I think a majority of that aspect of his game is a result of his size which leads to mistakes. He’s a good keeper (and we (DC) were stupid to get rid of him) but reflexes deteriorate. By 2018 he won’t be as strong whereas Hamid, Cooper, etc will be prime backups.

    • Um…the entire left side of defense and midfield had changed by the time the Czechs started putting pressure on the D. You can’t seriously blame it all on Brooks.

  16. You could see the aggressive nature of this young group. Obviously, several areas of discipline and shape need work, but still not bad for such an inexperienced squad. Brooks definitely looking good in the back and Mix was awesome in the offensive central midfield role. Hope they get more chances. And yeah, I had Guzan penciled in automatically, but Rimando is really putting his case forward. The guy really deserves praise and always seems to be the underdog, and he’d probably be courted by big teams if not for his size and age. Got to love seeing him put his stake and claim on the position in the goalkeeper battle.


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