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USMNT 2, Panama 0: The SBI Breakdown

USMNT vs. Panama 1 (USA TODAY Sports)


After five months without a victory, and some recent horrendous defensive displays, the U.S. Men’s National Team restored some faith and gave fans some reasons for optimism after Sunday’s 2-0 win vs. Panama.

From U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s shift back to a more familiar formation to the strong performances of the likes of Michael Bradley and Gyasi Zardes, the Americans learned quite a bit about themselves before dispersing until they reconvene for their next camp in March.

As you could expect, there were plenty of positives for Klinsmann and his side to take from the shutout victory. But it was not all rosy either, as there are questions that still remain with regards to tactics and personnel.

Here are SBI’s biggest takeaways following the U.S. team’s 2-0 win against Panama:


There has been much discussion in recent months as to where Bradley is best-suited to play for the U.S., but Sunday’s game gave more ammunition to those who think he does not need to serve high up the field to be very effective.

With Klinsmann opting to go back to a 4-2-3-1, Bradley was used in his more customary box-to-box role against Panama. Bradley was not perfect coming out of the gates, but was active early on and settled into the match. After a mixed first 20 minutes, Bradley found the game. He dropped deep at times to find the ball and help build up attacks, and moved to more advanced positions in other instances to try and break down the Panamanian defense.

It should come as no surprise then that this was one of Bradley’s best performances in recent memory, and it was fitting that it was he who scored the game’s winner on an incredible and rare Olimpico.


Forget the perfectly weighted-ball that set up Clint Dempsey’s insurance goal for a second. Zardes still did enough encouraging things during the rest of his 89 minutes on the field to garner more looks from Klinsmann. Deployed on the right side of the midfield in his first start for the U.S., Zardes showed no signs of nervousness and did solid work on both sides of the ball. He covered passing lanes, intercepted passes and showed the poise of a veteran when in possession of the ball.

On one eye-opening play in the first half, Jozy Altidore swung a cross from the left in Zardes’ direction. Rather than bringing it down, playing it safe and possibly killing the attack’s momentum, Zardes astutely chested the ball in one smooth motion into the path of Bradley for a shot on goal from the top of the penalty area. Bradley did not get enough on his shot to test Jaime Penedo, but the veteran midfielder made sure to give a big high-five to Zardes for the heads-up play.

It’s early, but the returns so far on Zardes are promising.


DeAndre Yedlin’s day ended unceremoniously, with an injury forcing him out of a game in which he was the weakest link across the U.S. back line. The speedy youngster reverted to his natural right back spot in this one, but struggled in the first half with both his defending and distribution before the U.S. took control of the game and eased off some pressure from the defense.

While the injury Yedlin sustained is not deemed to be serious, what role he has with the U.S. over the next few months is unclear. His defensive skills still need a lot of polish and he needs to work off some offseason rust, but he will not be able to work on any of that in competitive matches until he breaks into Tottenham’s game-day roster. That seems like a tall task considering Spurs are mere points away from a coveted UEFA Champions League spot, but one he will have to overcome in order to avoid falling a step behind his in-form teammates.


Miguel Ibarra has been a regular among Klinsmann’s selections ever since earning his first call-up last October, but the Minnesota United winger will need to do more than he did Sunday in order for that to keep being the case.

Ibarra received his first start in just his second appearance for the U.S., but his showing against Panama left a lot to be desired despite Klinsmann’s positive postgame review. Ibarra, to his credit, showed a couple of flashes early on – including cleverly dribbling past a defender near midfield – but did not do much else. The few crosses he had fizzled, and he was not able to provide much of a threat from the left flank.

At 24, Ibarra still has plenty of promise. He just might not be ready for the international scene as of now.


No, Panama’s attack isn’t quite as good as Chile’s, but the U.S. defense looked more at ease playing with four men at the back than three.

That should not come as much of a surprise given that the 3-5-2 look is an experiment that still needs plenty of fine-tuning, but the structure of a four-man back line gave an added benefit to the U.S. that was clear to see.

With the American defenders being a little more familiar with their roles, what areas to mark and who would cover for them on any given play, the defense pitched its first cleansheet since the U.S. last won a game in September. Yedlin had his troubles on the right, but left back Brek Shea built on his defensive showing with Chile while the central tandem of Jermaine Jones and Matt Besler was solid.

A three-man back line is still likely in the cards, and Klinsmann will now need to think long and hard about what is his best defensive approach for March’s pair of European friendlies.


  1. By the way, what’s with the Wondo hate campaign? This was not a good game. A game cannot become good unless all the players are generous about allowing other players to shine. Look at the Warriors basketball right now. The reason why things work is because everyone is looking to pass to the person who has the best shot. The two goals for the US team were lucky. The US has to be a lot more aggressive to win against really good teams. Patting yourself on the back because of luck as in the Bradley corner kick is a fluke. And Dempsey’s goal could have been just as easily off-side.

    • Birgit, with due respect, there was nothing lucky about the Dempsey goal. Dempsey’s run created space for Zardes, who then put the ball exactly where and when it needed to be. Dempsey then finished skillfully past the keeper. It’s certainly true, as you suggest, that if the pass had been delayed any further, Dempsey would have been offside. It’s also true, of course, that if the pass had been a little to the left or right Dempsey might not have controlled it. But impeccable timing and passing accuracy are among the skills that define a quality player. For me, the timing and accuracy of that pass was a matter of skill and not luck.

      While there was certainly an element of luck on Bradley’s goal, it’s grossly unfair for you to refer to it as “a fluke.” Bradley put that ball exactly where he intended. On that kick, as with the corner Bradley had taken earlier, the US put some big guys in the goal mouth and Bradley placed the ball high near the post, where it would create the most chaos. Panama was fortunate to keep the first one out. It its failure to keep the second one out doesn’t turn a well-taken kick into a fluke.

    • Fluke?

      Not hardly. This latest generation of balls bends easier than previous generations so the real question is why it doesn’t happen more frequently.

      And the answer is that most keepers are not like Penedo who is comparatively little and not very good with crosses. Nicky Rimando is also short but he is pretty strong and he usually has more than a few defenders who are good in the air.

      If Panama had Guzan and a bunch of tall tree defenders then maybe Mikey doesn’t even try to do this.

  2. Wondo played very well. He could have had a little bit more to do. As long as everyone coasts starting at half-time, the only thing left to do for the offense was to make sure that the opposing midfield doesn’t pass the ball to Blas Perez. But he was gone by then, and Panama also displayed their vacation mode. Not a pretty sight. What Wondo did was keep the defense busy. Generally, as usual, during the second half every one was even slower than in the first. It’s delusional to think that that was a good game. As soon as they meet Denmark, they’ll see how a real team plays.

  3. Bradley did great but his goal was a fluke. If that hadn’t gone in, the score would only be 1-0 and we would be complaining. Although I’m happy with the result, I’m not that happy.

  4. My general impression was that the whole team was slow, especially after having watched France beat the US women. It seems that everyone was on vacation. I thought Ibarra was one of the faster players. I do not think their energy level was as high as it had been during the Chilean game. The fact that they won is no real excuse for not putting on a better show. The two goals were nice but considering that Panama also was playing slow, it remains to be seen how things evolve in the next few friendlies.

  5. Apart from Bradley and Dempsey’s goals, the USMNT looked unconvincing against a very weak Panamanian team. I think even with the European and Mexican-based players that we can beat
    the likes of Denmark, etc.
    JK is NOT a miraculous coach.

      • haha right? you can’t disregard 2 goals to prove a point, braun. hahaha people on here crack me up…..

        e.g., besides the dropping of the A-bombs, the US was unconvincing during WWII…….

        perhaps i chose a bad analogy but the point should still ring thru:

    • Most people are going to bash you but I agree with you. This was a weak panama team that we really should have looked better against. Then again a majority of the games we have played under JK the team seemed lack any identity. I think people are waiting for the “AHA!” moment where everything clicks, but I don’t believe that it’s coming. It’s been three years guys this is as good as its going to get while JK is the coach.

  6. Really wanted to see more of Hedges, looked to me like his 18 minutes were pretty good…hopefully he’ll feature in some of the pre Gold Cup friendlies and can solidify his spot with the team during the busy summer.

  7. Not bad. I want to see a US team that will step on a throat after they are up. I feel they got the lead and stopped pressing. A 2 goal lead is no longer good enough, so they need to keep scoring or pressuring.
    Who on this team that played will be replaced come the Gold Cup? I know that FJ and Brooks will be called in, but who will actually start those games. I don’t think the team that just beat Panama can beat Mexico or Costa Rica…

    • Players that will likely be on the Gold Cup roster that did take part in the January camp: Fabian, Cameron, Guzan, Garza, Johansson, Chandler, Bedoya, Gonzalez. Definite maybes include: Danny Williams, Morales, Green, Wood, Rubin (might be with the U-20s, though), Orozco, Corona. Dark horses are: Alvarado, Castillo, and Zelalem.

    • As Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders once said, “Just win, baby!” There are no style points in soccer and you get 3 points for a win, whether it’s 1-0 or 5-0.

    • “I want to see a US team that will step on a throat after they are up. I feel they got the lead and stopped pressing.”

      there are different ways to kill off a game. our guys very effectively did that by slowing down the tempo and not allowing panama chances to counter–in my opinion, that was way more effective than pressuring would’ve been, since our defense was not the greatest.

      • Nate Dollars: The as you say “stopped pressing” may have been more of a result of the wholesale changes that JK made in the 2nd half. I’m certain that his instructions during the break were to play as they did while adjusting to the many player subs..

  8. Good breakdown, Franco. The site has missed this level of analysis recently. Whether we agree, I appreciate your thoughts on the game. Keep it up!

    • Luis will have his chance. He is going to be a linchpin of the Olympic effort, a tournament that all involved have placed high priority on. Gil controls his own destiny right now, which is a good place to be, if you can handle it.

    • I mean me too… but it wasn’t going to happen. He was in camp as a lynchpin for the olympic team but he’s still sitting behind a bunch of central midfielders. One gets the feeling this is a big season for Luis as it seems like Cassar is running out of excuses not to use him and what is supposed to be a solid olympic campaign looms. One imagines the 10 minute cameo was to reward him for coming in and working hard.

    • gets a young player acclimated to the pace of the game, with the added advantage of fresh legs, so that (hopefully) when he gets more meaningful minutes, he won’t have quite the nerves that usually go along with it. even though he’s already been capped before, i thought it was a great idea for a player like gil.

    • Reward for coming to camp and making the team. Chance to show he can play for 10 minutes and not mess up. There are people like Luis Robles who have imploded before our eyes in a single cap (the Haiti tie) and disappeared. If he makes the summer teams maybe he progresses to getting more time or a start.

      All fairness though he did not have a Zardes type moment where I’m like, wow, he would make an immediate impact. Unless someone is special or plays a need spot I’m not a fan of giving a bunch of chances to workmanlike performers. It’s an all star setting that has to be earned by showing me something.

  9. Let’s not forget Panama was full under 20’s guy, and by the same token USNT players aren’t full rhythm of completion, or USNT would won 3-0.

      • i would have brought up the fact that something like 8 uncapped Panama players played rather than how many U20s there were…. the gist of your point remains tho.

  10. This site bogs down my entire computer, and I have a Mac. . . . Ives, Franc, get these trash ads off here pleez because I cannot visit this site until it changes.
    Au revoir

    • If you use Safari, you can set your preferences so that Flash files won’t play/ must be started by you in. That definitely helps.

    • What does having a Mac have to do with, exactly?

      I’m on a somewhat crappy workstation at work, using Firefox, and the site isn’t terrible for me. Try Dalomismo’s suggestion.

      • I had the same problem forever… but if you run Chrome w/ ad blocker, all of the problems go away. It is a “must” if you visit SBI regularly.

  11. Disappointed in the amount of minutes JK gave Lee yesterday. On top of that, what has JK done to him in this camp? He is playing like a player that looks afraid to make a mistake out there. Safe, quick passes and nothing more. He is capable of so much more but not if parked on the outside and not in 15 minutes. I don’t know how many minutes Dempsey played but do we really need to see him in that slot for the majority of the game? We know what he brings… these friendlies should be to try newer players, not the likes of Dempsey, Jozy, Bradley who we already know well. And giving any minutes to Wondo in a friendly is totally crazy. IDK why he is even in this camp. Is he trying out for an enforcer role now?

    One last comment. Yedlin is fine as long as he doesnt have to play defense. I think his career in England will mirror Shea’s. They dont need to develop players there. There are plenty ready now

    • On top of that, what has JK done to him in this camp?

      The beautiful sound of the world’s smallest violin on a Monday morning.

    • Agree, Nguyen should have had way more minutes than Deuce. And, Nguyen should have been played centrally, not at RM. Also, agree that there was no need to see Wondo.

      • And if Dempsey had not been there to score the second goal, I’ll bet a lot of the fans would have been excoriating Klinsmann because the US only scored once. The US doesn’t win and people comp[lain, so he plays his best players available and gets the win and people complain. I guess it comnes with the job.

      • “The US doesn’t win and people comp[lain, so he plays his best players available”

        if klinsmann’s indeed taking cues on lineups from fans, then maybe he does need to be fired.

  12. Kudo’s to you, Franco, for separating your praise of Bradley’s afternoon from praise of his fortunate olimpico. However, beautiful it might’ve been, the goal was still a glorious, one-in-a-thousand accident. Ditto with Besler’s slip. It’s good to see the analyses moving beyond the wunderstrikes and gaffes (low hanging fruit).

    • I agree with you to a certain extent on Bradley’s goal. However, the strategy was clearly to crowd the area right in front of the goal and hopefully force the goalkeeper into a blunder. On Bradley’s first in-swinger, a defender had to clear the ball off the line or it was going in; on the second, everyone on Panama’s goal line defense was completely confused and the ball ended up in the net. Was the goal fortunate? Yes. But don’t discount the fact that Bradley executed a strategy to perfection, which was to cause havoc for a goalkeeper who struggles with crosses, and ended up with the best possible result.

      • +1… Exactly. The preceding corner demonstrated the strategy. Even if the second hadn’t sailed into the top corner, It was going to be big-time trouble for Panama to deal with.

      • See my comment yesterday under the video of the goal. Mia Hamm did the same thing once. It’s a happy fluke.

      • fluke? perhaps, but my eyes saw two back to back corners that were heading into the goal, one was headed out near post, one went in far post. its not a fluke to hit a corner kick that would go in goal if untouched but perhaps a fluke that it was untouched…..

    • Was it? I mean the corner right before it, Bradly tries the near post and almost gets it but for a solid headed clearance by the Defender. He then goes back post where that defender isn’t and gets it. Not to mention 3 US attackers crowding Jaime to limit his movement. That seemed pretty clearly to be a set play to me, based on what the US team knew about a keeper they had seen a lot of in MLS..

  13. Zardes was the only new player to show exceptionally well. He’s what you hold January camp for is to find people who stand out.

    Over the two games the usual suspects (Jozy, Dempsey, and Bradley) remade their claims to A team status. I don’t know about Mix though, he’s slipping.

    Yedlin and Shea looked awful. I don’t know how attacking oriented players keep a spot when they can’t hit the cross or play defense.

    • Mix is not a DM and not a shuttler. He shines in the offensive third. He is wasted playing in the back. Having said that, he is not slipping. He wins balls and passes accurately and quickly. Panama clogged the midfield last night, making long balls to the forwards the best way to move forward. too bad drek shea and yedlin were the ones to try and hit those balls.

    • Shea had a beautiful cross that Wondo flubbed. Any other player on the team finishes that. Not saying he hits a good one every time, but he had a couple yesterday. Shea was also surprisingly solid on defense. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a left back. But man, I know there are stock responses we are supposed to have about players, but try to adjust them to the game that actually happened. Dempsey had a great goal, but disappeared for huge stretches. Thought I guess we are used to that when we struggle in possession like we did for the first 25 mins or so. Mix started slow but had a solid match as a 2-way midfielder. He actually worked pretty nicely with Bradley this match when we didn’t try to force Bradley to be more of the AM than Mix.

      • All respect I watched Shea flub several crosses like he has in a few off games. That he hit one nice one that Wondo flubbed doesn’t even it out IMO.

      • Great observation about Wondo. As long as nobody passed a ball to him he made himself useful by keeping the defense busy.

  14. “Polish?” Yedlin is a fast kid willing to run around but he has a naive sense of how to play defense and while some of it can be taught, some of it is inherent and what shuffles you on the offensive or defensive end.

  15. Good piece, Franco. I think I pretty much concur with all your points.

    My only questions are about Ibarra…. I think your points express much of the same ambivalence I am seeing. Thing is– he isn’t “bad”. If anything, I’d say Klinsmann is creating a mini-me of Alejandro Bedoya in Ibarra… so much so that their positioning, style, and even body language looked borderline identical yesterday.

    I think what JK wants out of players like Bedoya (and perhaps Ibarra) is something of the American equivalent of James Milner, which I’m sure excites nobody. And yet there is value in this sort of player, even if it doesn’t often make you “ooh and ahh”. Strong engine, good 2-way positional awareness, versatility, and team-first ethos are good qualities to build around. While I don’t see Ibarra as a “star in the making”, I wouldn’t mind seeing him find his way into the Gold Cup roster based on these qualities.

    • Concur 100%. Ibarra, at this point, is a slightly faster but (significantly?) less-complete version of Alejandro. A poor man’s Bedoya, if you will. He won’t light the world on fire (like Milner doesn’t) but that type of player can play a valuable role.

      I don’t mind him being relatively high on the left wing depth chart, but we will need to see more from him before we know for sure.

      • +1 he does bring similar attributes to DMB as well as Bedoya.

        good role player; his pace & tempo were appreciated.

        not too many other wing players in the domestic leagues that I would say are above him..

      • Not nearly, nearly, nearly as fast as a 20 yo DMB. Some of you have NO idea how insanely fast he was. He made a deep Champions League run as a starter based almost completely on unmatchable speed.

      • +1, but Ibarra is pretty darn fast… there was a ball rolling towards the end line where the Panamanian player was going to escort it out for a goal kick and Ibarrs chased it down and if I’m not mistaken won a corner out of it. perhaps the corner that MB scored on (if not then it was the almost goal on the previous corner)

      • oops…misread what you were saying, agree with your comments and think it is sad that nobody would get excited if there was an american james milner on the rise

    • JK wants to play a high pressing game with wingers marauding up and down the flanks. This requires players, especially wingers, who can run all day. Hence his preference for Ibarra. As for comparisons with Milner, I would love it if we had 11 Milner types. He’s not exciting, but how many Americans are good enough to play for Man City?

      • Thinking about it, I would propose that this is what JK has in mind when he talks about fitness, which is a lot different from what most people think of. He wants guys who are just as fast and fresh in the 90th minute as they are in the first.

      • +1 he’s not questioning our heart just our literal fitness. when people refer to the USMNT history of playing hard it had more to do with heart than fitness. so while “fitness” has been a big part of our team, it was more of the “fight in the dog” type of fitness; i.e. never giving up, always trying your hardest.

  16. And one more thing…
    I’ve never seen Ibarra play outside of a few minutes with the USMNT. Can someone explain how he’s good enough for the US, but apparently can’t break into the MLS?
    Are their contract issues?

    • I think he’s talented but like Wood has been elevated faster than he merits for whatever reason. JK wanted to send a message about NASL or something.

      Ibarra is under contract for at least 2015 and I’d be interested if MLS will buy him or just wait out NASL. I think we won’t know if Ibarra is very special until he plays in MLS or an equivalent league for a bit. I thought he showed flashes these couple weeks but basically looked workmanlike. He didn’t blow our minds like Zardes.

      • Reality check: during the half-time break of the Chile game, the commentators from Univision slammed the USMNTs scouting network, especially the domestic network here in the USA. Their take on Ibarra was, “Ibarra?, why him, there are better players than him at the college level here in the US – and many more at the MLS level.”
        Zardes looked like he belonged, Ibarra looked like he did not. Plain and simple.

      • As an authority on the topic, to what extent does Univision know our scouting system aside from the same observations you and I make.

        Any idea?

      • Well, Univision is a national TV network in the U.S. that does show a lot of soccer, so they just might know a bit.

      • Keep in mind that Ibarra was playing on the same side as Shea yesterday. I think you could get away with either playing Shea at LB with a more established winger in front of him or playing Ibarra at LW with a more dependable LB behind him, but trying to play both players at once on the same side was probably asking too much. I don’t know yet whether Ibarra belongs, it’s quite possible that he doesn’t. But I would take what we saw yesterday with a grain of salt.

    • It has nothing to do with “breaking into MLS” because he’s under contract with MNU. Roumors are that MNU wanted $2mil when NYRB were looking. That amount would put him in the DP category.

  17. By the way, did anyone else notice that Defoe has 2 goals in his first 3 games?
    Shocking…it is possible for strikers on Sunderland to score.
    Can we please stop making excuses for Jozy, and admit he may finally be in the right place?

    • The right place being second on the depth chart behind Zardes for the nats. That kid can play, and is smart. That gives him two points up on Jozy. jozy hit every one of his weak passes five feet behind his target killing at least three build ups.

      • I’m all for competition but lets hold off on anointing anyone as a replacement for Altidore after a single match (against Panama no less).

        There’s a lot to be desired on the club level from Altidore, and I do mean a lot. However, Altidore has been a solid contributor on the international level even when his club form is abysmal.

        I think the move to TFC will do wonders for Altidore’s confidence, form and hopefully production at every level. I’m excited for competition at every spot but let’s not get the Backup Quarterback Syndrome as fans so often do.

      • +1, well said.

        i’d actually like to see zardes alongside jozy up top, since zardes can actually win aerial battles. don’t think that happens unless dempsey is out or we go back to the 3-5-2, though.

      • Agreed. Zardes kind of reminds me of Eddie Johnson with a higher soccer IQ and smaller ego. Having that athleticism up top next to Jozy (or coming in from the wing like he was yesterday) could be pretty exciting.

      • What’s funny-or discouraging- is that another “soccer writer” elsewhere said he played well despite being played out of position. If I recall, he lined up outside plenty of times with LAG

      • The Galaxy has principally played Zardes up top along side Robbie Keane. He has sometimes been moved to left mid — allowing Donovan to partner with Keane or when Gordon has been added to the attack late in a game. Since he played most of yesterday’s game at right mid, “out of position” seems a fair description to me.

      • Ok Advocate.. that’s fair, yes they would deploy him left. It just seems there’s a few writers out there that will stoke the flames & look for a reason to bash u know who no matter what…

      • Bac, I’m among those who would bash JK if I thought there was a reason. He frequently seems to play guys out of position when there is little reason to do so — needlessly undermining their confidence. In this case, however, I think Klinsmann deserves applause. By playing Zardes at right mid he was able to give him a start he would not otherwise have had.

      • Old School, i’m happily shocked that you are, more or less, sticking up for Jozy instead of insisting “its over” for Jozy’s apologists…

    • I’ve never seen anyone on here claim Jozy is better than Defoe. That doesnt mean we have a striker who is obviously superior to Jozy. Who in the US pool do you think could consistently score for Sunderland.

      • here? maybe on other sites, but here i’ve just seen people say that strikers *haven’t* been able to score for sunderland, mostly due to them using a lone forward as a pure hold-up player. so they switch to 2 up top, and strikers start scoring. weird!

        and again, as old school and wood chip zip have stated, jozy has done well for the usmnt, even while struggling with sunderland. i’m all for giving other strikers opportunities, but with the full knowledge that they’re going to have to consistently perform pretty goddamn well to unseat jozy as our top striker.

      • Come rain or shine, the Jozy trolls will show up regardless of whether it’s appropriate or not. Bringing up Defoe in a usmnt match is a clear indication that you have absolutely nothing to talk about. How miserable and sad must your lives be? It makes me sorry for you.

      • Perhaps we should conclude that it’s easier to score in the PL than in MLS. Defoe was underwhelming with TFC.

      • By your reasoning if Jozy were to start scoring at a higher rate than Defoe in MLS, does that make him a better striker than Defoe? Perhaps Sunderland formation plays to Defoe strength. I am not saying this to defend Jozy’s form at Sunderland, it was horrendous, as a USNT fan, I wanted him to do well there, but it just was not going to happen and I think after a while it became more mental than anything else. Similar to Torres at Chelsea, some players just get on a bad way with a team and cannot psychologically get out of it (see Balotelli at Liverpool) as they start pressing and getting out of sort. Altidore should have stayed in Holland, his skills and confidence would have improved greatly and the USNT would have been benefited from his improved form. Please spare me the Eredivisie being a weak league, plenty of good players there and not all are scoring at the rate Jozy did while there, it was simply a good fit for him.

      • I have mentioned in the past that the strike rates for Sunderland forwards was not great while Jozy played there. Conner Whickham last season and Dafoe on his return are the exceptions.

        Old School and Del may not want me to bring this up, but I will also point out that Sunderland appears to me to be playing a 4-4-2 with Dafoe.

        Don’t crucify me as ignoring facts, because I will admit that playing a 4-4-2 may not have cured Jozy’s inability to score,. It just did not work out for Jozy with the Mackems – clearly. I still like Jozy as a player and I hope things work out for him at Toronto.

      • I’m done with stating why or why not Altidore failed in the EPL. It’s all about focusing on TFC now for him…and us.

    • Who cares? In the last few months, Altidore has scored against Ecuador and Chile and had an active first half yesterday before being pulled for precautionary reasons. If he’s playing well for us (and for most of the last year, really, he has been), who cares what an English player on a team Jozy doesn’t even play for anymore is doing?

      Jozy failed at Sunderland for any number of reasons, some of which are attributable to his weaknesses as a player, some of which aren’t. Sure, he’s horrible as a traditional target forward (something that was obvious well before Sunderland signed him, by the way) and blew his share of goal-scoring opportunities, but, with the exception of a hot streak from Wickham late last year, you could say the same for pretty much all of Sunderland’s strikers. Altidore has his limitations and I’ve never seen anyone here argue otherwise, but let’s not get it twisted: Sunderland is a bad team. It’s possible for both of those things to be true at once.

    • It’s a little ridiculous to continue to compare Defoe to Jozy.

      Jozy and for that matter, Wickham and Fletcher, are not in the same conversation with Defoe when the topic is “striker”. Just glance at their records.

      Even now at 32, Defoe is at a different level as a goal scorer from all three. He always has been.

      The question is, can Jozy at 25, develop to become more of a scorer like Defoe.

  18. “No, Panama’s attack isn’t quite as good as Chile’s, but the U.S. defense looked more at ease playing with four men at the back than three.”

    Umm, you think? Bit of an understatement?
    The only thing worst than over-reacting after a loss is over-reacting after a win.
    If the US had played with three back in this game, they probably would have looked good against Panama. ‘If they had played four back against Chile, they would have looked bad against Chile.
    It’s pretty simple…the US is much better than Panama, and worse than Chile.
    I would have liked for them to stick to the 3 man back line, and see how it worked against a lesser team.

    • I would argue that JK’s formation strategy for these two games was backwards and worked against him.

      For an away game, against a stronger opponent, first game during a camp where you want momentum – senses tell you to play a formation that your team is familiar with.
      Then, vs a familiar, weaker opponent at home, we experiment.

      Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but I think if the game strategies were reverse – vs Chile – less goals scored overall, tighter, giving us a better chance to win. Then vs Panama, I believe it would have been more open but I think we score more than 2 goals on them and be more dominant offensively. Yes, maybe we give up a goal but I would rather take chances vs an opponent that is less likely to hurt you on mistakes.

      We know we can beat CONCACAF teams. Why not experiment vs them instead?
      Its against other teams worldwide where we need to improve on.

      JK just does not seem to have any strategy in what he does.

      • Kev,

        You have it bassackwards.

        If your 3-5-2 works vs Panama what does that prove? Absolutely nothing.

        If that US team played that Panama team 10 times they should be 10-0 against them regardless of what formation the US uses.

        If I’m the manager, this is what I tell my US team: ” The positive thing is Chile was a very good team, at home, and you guys,using an unfamiliar formation and playing together for the first time twice took the lead, scoring two very nice goals, playing this formation”.

        That is something tangible you can build on and is more useful than blitzing a sacrificial goat like Panama.


      • to add, doesn’t Chile use a 352 as well and panama uses a 4man back line? not uncommon for teams to counter formations with a like formation.

    • agreed. i feel like this game was a morale booster. easy win in a comfortable setting.. didn’t really make any progress other than providing meaningful minutes to new guys like Kitchen, Hedges, Ibarra and Zardes

  19. Great game, a bit disappointed with this breakdown!

    Ibarra didn’t light the field on fire and he had a few bad passes but he certainly looks useful at this level. Yedlin, hopefully Spurs teach him to defend. Shea and Zardes boosted their stock with good games. The big names; Bradley, Jones, Besler, Jozy and Dempsey all did well. But don’t go saying that this game proved anything! Of course they are more comfortable at home, vs Panama (w/o some key players) .. They could have looked just as comfortable in any formation vs that attack. Looking forward to the games in March, April hopefully the MLS players will be out of their preseason by then.

    • Agree on Ibarra. Was encouraged by his showing. Unfortunately, due to Brek Shea’s tactical cluelessness, we did not see much of him after about minute 30.

      • Really? From what I remember, Ibarra showed a lead foot on plenty of touches, was terrible on crosses and didn’t beat a single man on the dribble, Meanwhile Klinsi spent most of the match trying to convince Ibarra to come inside so the “clueless” Shea had room to get forward. Excepting Yedlin, Ibarra was the worst player on the US team by a pretty large margin.

      • I thought Wondo was the worst player by a wide margin. No question, Ibarra’s touch was poor yesterday, but he was an absolute pest in pressure and showed a fantastic engine. There is a value in that. He gave us a bit of what Bedoya gives us in terms of energy and pressure and defensive responsibility and putting himself in good spots.

      • spot on assessment. i’ve always viewed soccer as this” you have 11 guys on a team on the field, not ALL of them can actually have an amazing game. I’d say it’s fair to say Ibarra “put in a shift” at worst. he didn’t make any glaring mistakes but just because he didn’t WOW doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get call ups as some would argue.

      • Agree.. Ibarra was the clueless one, failing multiple times to complete any significant runs to support Shea’s distribution. His touch on the ball was ultra tentative.. Hopefully his nerves can now settle after this cap and his confidence will improve so that he can play better controlled possession. JK could spend some time in the film study with him. to further teach him options for running for the ball in space.

      • i’d say ibarra’s ‘tactical cluelessness’ was worse than shea’s, considering he couldn’t figure out how to cut inside so that shea could overlap. (it’s also a very basic tactic; not sure if it was nerves or whatever keeping him from thinking straight.)

      • Ibarra showed a huge engine and a lot of relentlessness. He’s also got decent speed.

        What surprised me is that I had always heard he was some sort of super-technical dribbler with close control. Didn’t see that part of his game…though when guys are pressing and playing under pressure and trying REALLY HARD to believe they belong there, you don’t always see them at their best and the first thing that goes is usually their touch.

        So I’m intrigued. If he’s indeed a technician and he can relax and start showing it, in addition to that big engine, maybe Klinsi is onto something there. For durn sure he obviously likes the guy or he wouldn’t keep calling him.

      • This was Ibarra’s first start. He comes from somewhere fairly close to Stub Hub so I’m sure he had lots of friends and family there. I thought he might have been trying a little too hard.

        Comparing him to Shea, I remember Shea’s first cap. He was putrid. He looked like a horse that had just escaped from a slaughterhouse..

        I also remember Mikey’s first couple of caps. He went to ground so much and so quickly on sliding tackles I thought it was his uncle the baseball player instead of Mikey. I figured BB was going to sit him down or the ref would throw him out. He looked like red card machine.

        Then again, I also remember Dax McCarty’s first cap, I think it was his first, and in his case I was sure he was going to become one of BB’s regular guys.

        Boyd keeps getting called in and everyone wants him to do well but he has done very little when he put on that US Shirt. And now that Zardes is looking good Terrance has his work cut out for him if he ever wants to feature for the USMNT.

        It’s a bit like draft choices, you have to wait a bit on most guys to see how they turn out in the long run.

        Ibarra, seems to have the basics and he plays a position of need so if he keeps improving , he’ll get his chances. .

      • “Ibarra, seems to have the basics and he plays a position of need”……
        I’m all for giving players a chance and would not necessarily be against Ibarra getting another “B” team call up (against Mexico) to see if he settles down. However there are a number of possible players who could fill the role of Attacking Winger when the Full Team is available. Fabian, Bedoya, Johannsson, Zusi, Rubin, Green, Shea, Green, Wood, Gyau & Gatt (when/if healthy).

    • Yeah, I thought Mix was a great partner for MB. They were both cool on the ball and bossed the midfield. Mix had a ton of interceptions, recoveries and tackles. That was a big key. It’s nice to have 2 guys in the middle who can make a key pass, cover ground, and take the ball away. He’s becoming a true box-to-box guy.

    • I’m a Galaxy fan, but thinking about it since yesterday, I think Klinsmann should get on the phone with his European contacts and see if he can’t get some interest in Zardes from a Big 4 league. I have been touting Zardes for quite a while and would love to see him stay with the Galaxy, but he really should go to a good European league to develop further. I think he has as much upside as any US player in the last decade or so and the national team and Zardes himself would be best served if he goes to Europe.

      • Gary Page.. I totally concur about Zardes advancing to Europe’s better competition, HOWEVER, I selfishly hope that for LAGal’s sake, he remains in MLS.. The factor being fear of him going to the EPL/Bund/Liga, etc only to sit! If he’s not going to get regular playing time, he should continue his development between MLS and the MNT camps.

        Look at Yedlin.. do you think he’ll actually see the pitch at Spurs? I don’t want to see Zardes in that situation.

      • Yes. Lets turn Zardes into Altidore quick before he manages to help the US in any actual competitions. Call Sunderland and see if they’re interested or 1860 or Fulham or some other disaster situation.

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