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USMNT 2, Germany 1: The SBI Breakdown

Germany v USA - International Friendly


You can put all kind of disclaimers on the U.S. Men’s National Team’s recent win against Germany if you want, but there is no denying the fact it was a big-time result for a young squad that needed some confidence-building after all the disappointing results of the past year.

Germany did field a B team, but so did the Americans. It was just a friendly, but still an important chance for young German players to impress head coach Jogi Low, so any notion that the Germans weren’t all that interested in the match was pretty silly. The German team lacked its usual star power, but still boasted plenty of talent, which we saw in the dominant first 35 minutes of the match.

The U.S. eventually found a good rhythm and eventually took control of the match, particularly in the second half when Kyle Beckerman’s insertion allowed the American midfield to wrest the possession away from the Germans.

By the time Bobby Wood scored the winning goal, the U.S. had put together the kind of half that could have beaten a good number of teams, and several players stepped their games up to show Jurgen Klinsmann they are viable options for the Gold Cup and beyond.

For a closer look at the key takeaways from the big U.S. victory, you can read my breakdown, as well as my stock report on which U.S. players boosted their standing, and hurt their standing, in the recent friendlies.

Here are some more thoughts on the U.S. victory against Germany:

Chandler at left back was a quiet improvement

If you believe the idea that Fabian Johnson is needed as a wing midfielder given the current makeup of the U.S. player pool, then Tim Chandler would seem like the obvious choice to start at right back going forward. DeAndre Yedlin lacks match sharpness, Geoff Cameron is in the USMNT wilderness (partly because Klinsmann doesn’t rate him as a right back) and no other option really stands out.

That made Chandler’s lackluster showings at right back this past week all the more disappointing. He wasn’t “Get him off the field” bad, but he didn’t exactly lock things down. The consolation came in the second half of the Germany match, which saw Chandler moved to left back. He looked more comfortable there, which had to bring some relief for Klinsmann, who must be feeling at least some uncertainty about left back, as evidenced by the news that he included DaMarcus Beasley in his Gold Cup preliminary roster.

If Klinsmann decides he can afford to put Johnson at right back, then Chandler might be the best bet at left back. Assuming he beats out Greg Garza, who may be the best natural option at that spot.

Klinsmann needs to keep Bradley and Beckerman together

This one might be a no-brainer by this point, but it bears repeating, especially considering the fact it wasn’t too long ago Beckerman was considered too old to be a realistic option in 2015 and beyond.

Not only has Beckerman put that to rest, he has been a big help in Bradley maximizing his impact. Beckerman’s discipline in the No. 6 role gives Bradley the freedom to roam, and whether Bradley plays at the top of a diamond or deeper in a 4-2-3-1, having Beckerman on the field with Bradley will allow Bradley to drive the attack because he knows he can count on Beckerman to do the dirty work.

Beckerman isn’t just a grinder though. He facilitates the attack from deep, and is so good at reading the game that he consistently provides a passing outlets from teammates, be they defenders or midfielders.

At this point, Klinsmann’s big task will be building a lineup around Bradley and Beckerman that can also make full use of Clint Dempsey’s strengths. A 4-1-4-1 could be the answer, but regardless of the formation, Bradley and Beckerman should be part of it together.

Alvarado isn’t ready to unseat Gonzalez just yet

Few players in the U.S. pool have had more of a whirlwind past year than Alvarado, who went from the Club America bench to starting on a Liga MX and CONCACAF Champions League-winning team. When he committed to the U.S., the sense was he had the skill set and young age to be groomed into a 2018 World Cup option.

That may still wind up being the case, but Alvarado showed his naivete during his starts this past week. Against Germany, it was Alvarado who lost his mark on Mario Goetze before Germany’s opening goal.

To his credit, Alvarado eventually settled in and had a decent rest of the match, and his confidence in possession surely has Klinsmann impressed. The question now is can he be counted on to avoid big mistakes at the Gold Cup?

Omar Gonzalez makes his share of errors with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but with the USMNT he has been consistently reliable. He is a more imposing presence in the air than Alvarado, though not as good on the ball as the Club America defender.

One option for Klinsmann at the Gold Cup will be to give Alvarado the group stage before bringing in Gonzalez for the knockout rounds.

Long term, what may work in Alvarado’s favor is the fact Gonzalez tends to play better with an organizer next to him, which is why his partnership with Matt Besler has worked well. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, John Brooks stands a very good chance of unseating Besler as the starting left center back, and the Gonzalez-Brooks tandem doesn’t appear to be one Klinsmann is very high on.

Jordan Morris can help at the Gold Cup

When the Jordan Morris hype train first hit full speed after his performance against Mexico in April, the notion he could be a Gold Cup option seemed ambitious at best and overzealous at worst. After watching him make a significant impact off the bench against both the Netherlands and Germany, Morris suddenly looks like as good a bench forward option as there is in the pool.

Morris has difference-making speed, and though he is still raw in some ways, you can see him learning and growing as a player. His dummy run to free up Bobby Wood for the winner against Germany as a veteran’s move, and his fearlessness in both matches had to leave Klinsmann feeling confident that Morris could handle the pressure of the Gold Cup if called upon.

With Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson and Gyasi Zardes looking like the frontrunners at forward, Morris could absolutely beat out the likes of Juan Agudelo and Chris Wondolowski for a Gold Cup place, even if it’s just for part of the tournament.


What was your biggest takeaway from the Germany win? Which player surprised you the most? Who do you see falling out of the player pool after the recent friendlies? Think Morris is ready for prime time?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. The fact the Wondo is mentioned for Gold Cup is ass stupid. The guy shouldn’t have been in Brazil. Also why doesn’t the press ever sack up and ask Klinsi WTF with Lichaj. He invites Tim Ream. And please don’t give me this nonsense that Nottingham finished mid-table, so did former premiere sides Bolton, Reading and Fulham. Still those sides on the better the most Mexican and MLS teams. Why does Klinsi have such a hard on for certain players? Lichaj has shown better in his limited appearances than Timmy (I have Rocky Denison’s head) Chandler has in his. Do these guys put on jock straps and give Klinsi some sort of Sproketesque lap dance. Come on Ives, sack up and ask tis German turd satchel some tough questions.

  2. “it was Alvarado who lost his mark on Mario Goetze….”

    Not so fast. Yes, Alvarado was marking Gotze before Alvarado stepped over to help Brooks double-team Rudy. But I don’t know what was said between Alvarado and Chandler before Alvarado stepped off Gotze. Chandler wasn’t marking anyone on that play, so it seems plausible that Alvarado called him to take over Gotze—but Chandler just lollygagged around and did nothing.

    Chandler either shares blame equally with Alvarado, or Chandler actually shoulders more blame. Alvarado was, at some point, marking someone!

    Chandler looks disinterested like a kid who only plays because his dad makes him.

      • GW, quite the opposite: Gotze scored because Chandler wasn’t playing. He was on the field, but he wasn’t playing.

      • I do not see what Lichaj has to do with anything I wrote. Why did you infer that conclusion?

      • It seems clear that you believe Chandler was entirely at fault for that goal and that if any one else had been there instead of Chandler, be it Loyd, Cameron, Birnbaum, Marvell Wynne, Tony Franklin, etc., the goal would never have happened.

        Eric is just as good as anyone else in your scenario.

      • GW: I can’t tell if I struck a nerve somehow, but I can tell that you’re reading a whole lot into my words. Look carefully at what I wrote compared to what you think I wrote:

        You: “It seems clear that you believe Chandler was entirely at fault for that goal.” (emphasis added)

        I: “Chandler either shares blame equally with Alvarado, or Chandler actually shoulders more blame.” (emphasis added)

        My statement is expressly in contrast to your interpretation. There’s no way to go from “shares equally”/”more” to “entirely.” Shares equally is 50%; entirely is 100%.

        You wrote: “It seems clear that you believe…that if any one else had been there…the goal would never have happened.”

        Nonsense. I never suggested replacing Chandler or even hinted that he was incapable of doing what was necessary to prevent Gotze’s goal. The “anyone else” I wanted to be there was “Chandler,” and the “there” where I wanted him to be was “marking someone/anyone; e.g., Gotze.”

        You wrote: Eric is just as good as anyone else in your scenario.”

        Not my scenario, GW; your scenario, because you invented it upon misreading my comment.

  3. I agree with Ives assessment in the article that Klinsmann has learned from the fall friendlies. One thing that I think has happened is he has paid more attention to getting the back 4 organized. Whether he did that himself or had an assistant handle it, I have no clue.

    Despite all the hype about the goals the US scored, I think it was the increased resilience of the defense that was the big difference, it allowed the midfield to play in the midfield and that, in turn, allowed the forwards to actually attack. (The first half of the Germany game the midfielders were still retreating too much, probably nervous about the back line and maybe rightly so, but for whatever reason the back firmed up and the midfield began playing better, as Ives says, especially after Beckerman came in).

  4. I’m a little confused about the Yedlin lacking game sharpness comment. I know he hasn’t played much at Tottenham but in the 2 games he played here, he challenged for the best on the field and really helped change the game. Not to mention he had a game winning assist, almost had another to Bradley against Germany and tracked back extremely well.

  5. I want to know who the idiots were that though JK should be let go awhile back?….oh yeah, the same morons who thought Bradley was on this team because of nepotism!!!!

  6. I don’t understand how Chandler can be considered an option at any position. He’s absolutely disastrous on defense. And of course since he won’t fly to games in Central America, how can he be counted on?

    • “And of course since he won’t fly to games in Central America, how can he be counted on?”

      What makes you say that?

      • haha right, he was probably assuming based off a story saying Chandler had a fear of flying. I think he’s reading into it a little too much

      • Easy: Yedlin.

        (Unless you’re getting really technical, in which case Yedlin can’t start because he’s contracted with Spurs. But he’s better than Chandler.)

  7. I’m glad someone is finally giving Beckerman some credit. I had to laugh at the announcers who were going on and on about how “moving Zardes up front” was such a brilliant halftime move by JK after the Germany match. The difference in the two halves was possession, and that all began with the introduction of Beckerman for Williams. I wrote last week that Williams was close to supplanting Beckerman…boy was I wrong about that. Night and day.

    I’m not sure I remember a player ever having such a large contribution while receiving such little understanding from fans as does Beckerman.

  8. “Omar Gonzalez makes his share of errors with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but with the USMNT he has been consistently reliable.”

    Wasn’t he tremendously inconsistent in the months prior to the World Cup?

  9. Ives, with all due respect to your contributors, this piece reminds us why we all frequent the SBI site.

    Operative words: “By Ives.”

    We miss you buddy.

  10. Here is my takeaway. Michael Bradley is the greatest American soccer player ever. Better and more influential than Donovan. There, I said it.

    • I completely agree. Donovan was great. Bradley is better. His soccer IQ is crazy high. In the Germany match, he orchestrated a 43 pass sequence that led to to the Mix goal in the first half. You can see his wheels turning all the time.

      • The difference between Donovan and Bradley is that while they both have very high “soccer IQ’s”, LD was able to translate what was in his head into reality better and quicker than Mikey.

        LD did it more consistently and longer than Mikey, who was/is a more limited player.

        The biggest advantage Mikey has over LD is that when LD was out of it the USMNT was playing with ten men. When Mikey was bad he was still able to have some positive effect on the game.

        Mikey actually does not belong in the same sentence as LD.

      • I see Donovan as a great player to have when playing for counters, but in any other approach he seems more limited than Bradley to me. Bradley is a quality international who can play effectively, when healthy, in more variety of tactical approaches.

        In that sense, it probably should have been expected that JK would develop some friction with Donovan. JK came in saying he wanted to transform the USMNT away from its previous reliance on counters.

      • JK built this team around Mikey and not LD because:Mikey is younger and a central midfielder.

        It was not sensible to build a team around an aging, striker/winger.

      • you’re correct but Paul’s point seemed to be that, regardless of whom he was building the team around, he was trying to move away from the “counter-culture” that the US had used so heavily; just that alone was enough to show JK didn’t rate LD highly (considering LD’s skills fit best with that counter style). not arguing here cuz i agree but just pointing that out.

      • Exactly right, Paul. To say Michael Bradley is superior to Donovan is not take anything from Landon. Donovan is the greatest counter-attacker we’ve ever had. The Confederation Cup counter in South Africa against Brazil stands, in my mind, as his greatest moment ever on the international stage. MB at his best can impose his will on the game. For half of the game Wednesday, he was the best player on the field, German or American.

      • PDX_JB

        “ To say Michael Bradley is superior to Donovan is not take anything from Landon. Donovan is the greatest counter-attacker we’ve ever had.”

        That is ridiculous. Of course it takes away from Donovan.

        Todd originally wrote:

        “Michael Bradley is the greatest American soccer player ever. Better and more influential than Donovan. There, I said it.”

        That is unambiguous. There are no qualifiers on that statement. No “ best backpasser ever” ,”best left footed player ever” ,“best throw in ever” , “ best corner kick taker ever ”, “best penalty taker ever”, “best to lead a come back from 1-0 down ever ”, “best player after taking a leading ever, “best media interview ever” , etc., etc.”.

        Todd wasn’t talking about the Oscars.
        He said Mikey was the greatest American soccer player ever. That is very clear.

        And that is simply untrue.

      • and more, it takes nothing away from MB to note that LD is the greatest American player ever. good grief
        oh, and the narrative that LD cannot play possession soccer is the BIGGEST jar of cheese in the group think tank. revisionist group think

      • “[PDX_JB

        “ To say Michael Bradley is superior to Donovan is not take anything from Landon. Donovan is the greatest counter-attacker we’ve ever had.”

        That is ridiculous. Of course it takes away from Donovan. ] ”

        just clarifying: so saying Player A is better than Player B takes away from Player B?

        So saying Lebron is better than Jordan somehow makes Jordan less amazing?…

      • Donavon and Bradley are both great. It is as pointless saying one is better than the other than saying VanBasten is better that VanNistelroy, the choice says more about the person doing the ranking than about the players.

        Donavon clearly had more quickness than Bradley, and can dribble in tight spaces better than Bradley
        Bradley clearly is a more tenacious defender, is bigger and stronger and can carry the ball through tackles that would have felled Donavon.
        Donavon was smart enough early in his career to use RunDMB to open up defenses with insightful passes.
        Bradley has shown the smarts to find open players 40-70 yards away with well placed passes.
        Both were able to combine with teammates well,
        I think Bradley does more than Donavon to help out teammates who are in trouble and he is less likely to disappear from a match than Donavon was.

        But, one better than the other, not so much.

      • +1, i’ll say he just needs to at least keep this level going for a few more years to come to that conclusion tho. If he leads the US to a strong WC in ’18 then i’ll put my stamp on it, lol

    • I don’t agree. Guys that great his playing great but lets not forget that he disappeared in the WC. If he wants to be in Donovan stage then he needs to carry this team when it counts.

  11. I think everyone has been harsh on the fullback situation. Klinsmann is asking a lot more out of the position getting forward then has in the past. I think most of the options can handle themselves in the Gold Cup.

  12. I don’t understand why Besler is being shunned by the USMNT. He’s been the steadiest, most reliable of the center backs in most games in which he’s played.

    • I like Besler but i feel he does have certain ceiling that some of our young options could surpass, I think he’ll stick around for a couple years but by ’18 either Gonz or Besler won’t be the starter (or neither will start).

      Sidenote: I’m curious to how Brooks and Besler would work out; I can’t remember if they’ve started together already tho. They’re both good on the ball, good passers and both are at least solid in the air (Brooks not so much, and Besler isn’t the tallest but he goes for it)

      to me the depth chart is
      Carter-vickers (he has TONS of potential, and he looks strong already.

    • Shunned?

      He hasn’t been playing that well since the World Cup and has been injured. He’s one of the older CB candidates.

      When he is in top form he is fine but he hasn’t been and we may have already seen the best of him. Brooks is younger, healthier and has greater potential going forward, the same thing with Alvarado.

      I have no doubt that if Besler gets back to his best he starts. After all JK brought back Beckerman.

      But in this period betweeen the World Cup and the Gold Cup , it was JK’s duty to look for a successor to Matt.

      • Matt Besler may be one of the older CB’s, but he is 28. Lots of years left in him. He is/was also one of the fastest players on the USMNT (according to SBI during the pre WC camp). I think we’ll be seeing plenty more from him once he gets back to full health.

      • whatever one’s thoughts on Besler or Brooks, your pojnt about age is off target seems to me in arguing for Brooks; CBs with experience are often preferred as long as they are skilled and healthy still, of course so reasons besides age involved in Klinsmann’s dutiful decision on this one, whatever they are seems to me

      • Besler had a good WC but he has not looked good in the US games I’ve seen since then.

        I believe he was injured and probably suffering from the dreaded WC hangover. I don’t see a lot of SKC but when I have he hasn’t looked fantastic there either.

        I’m sure he will get back to his best and if he does I’m sure JK will bring him back like he did with Beckerman.

        I have no problem giving Brooks a shot at unseating him And yes, age does matter. Or maybe you’ve forgotten how Boca just ran out of time. The best case scenario is to have Besler, Brooks and everyone else fighting like dogs for their spot.
        My guess would be that Besler is just itching to win his spot back.

        Thirty one year old centerbacks are common in the game but there is nothing wrong with CB’s in their early 20’s either. You play the one who fits your needs better.

  13. The player that surprised me the most was Beckerman, though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. I’m still waiting for midnight and his carriage to turn into a pumpkin (Beckerman to return to decent MLS player but not international quality), but he seems to have found a way to stop time – both in the Cinderella and the old age senses of the term. I have to admit this looks like a different man under those dreads.

    By the way, I thought this was one of the better articles I’ve read in a while.

  14. This “B team stuff” is getting ridiculous. It’s like if you have 4/5 top choice starters missing, you’re automatically a “B/C team”, which is a term that used to imply a selection of 23 that has nearly zero first choice players. Teams used to play “B internationals”.

    Make no mistake, the German lineup plus bench had tons of players who would make their 23 if the WC roster had to be announced today. Rarely do you have *every* player available for selection, so the concept of an A team is pretty fluid and an impossible standard.

    It isn’t like we beat Germany in a World Cup match, and yes, they had several key pieces missing from the selection and a few debutants. We also gave meaningful minutes to a college player. So what. They were both about as representative a side as you’re going to get from both countries at this stage of a cycle.

    • Completely agree. It takes away from the efforts of the team and implies that Germany fielded reserve players. Not only that but this is the team that Germany is taking into Euro Qualifying this weekend, so it’s a team From which they expect results.

    • B Team?

      The way I look at it is that there is a real good chance that all 11 of the German starting eleven, before the game, would have started over the 11 American starters.

      At the very least it would have been a close call. It wasn’t like the USMNT was playing Stanford University.

    • Agreed 100%. The B-team is, roughly, the 24-47 players in your pool. It doesn’t mean some, or even many, of your regular starters are out.

    • B-team is what mexico sent to copa america. There is a full 23 above not playing. Germany might have been shorthanded but not as much as the USMNT! The best 11 that we could field beat their best 11 they could field.

      • Yeah agree. The B-team is the most silly comment out there about this German team. All of them play in big clubs and our team was mostly MLS.

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