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Brazil 4, USMNT 1: The SBI Breakdown

Bobby Wood USMNT Brazil 21

photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports


FOXBORO, Mass. — This was not only a punch to the gut or a blow in confidence. It was just about the worst way to finish preparing for what’s to come.

The U.S. Men’s National Team played its final friendly on Tuesday before taking on Mexico in October in the CONCACAF Cup, and the result was a nightmarish 4-1 loss to Brazil. Even worse than the unflattering scoreline was the performance, which was largely flat and did little to convince the growing number of fans skeptical of the Americans’ chances to pick up a win next month.

The post-game reflecting at Gillette Stadium was not much better. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was once again reluctant to place blame on himself, choosing instead to point the finger at his players for struggling to cope with the technical Brazilians. Klinsmann even failed to acknowledge his role in starting Alejandro Bedoya out of position at defensive midfielder.

It was all in all – to borrow a word from Bedoya –  a “(crap)” night. Sure, the U.S. learned some lessons that could come in handy next month vs. Mexico, but the sooner this defeat is put in the rearview mirror the better.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the rout the Americans suffered:


This one was obvious from the start.

After shutting down the notion of experimenting just days prior to the Brazil game, Jurgen Klinsmann went with a lineup that once again differed from other recent ones. Worse yet was the fact that several players were not put in positions to succeed, and it showed almost immediately.

The most obvious case was Alejandro Bedoya, who was asked to serve as a defensive midfielder so as to allow both Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley (more on them later) to have more freedom in the attack. Bedoya not only struggled in a spot that was more natural for someone like Danny Williams, but was yanked out of the game by Klinsmann after just 36 minutes for Williams and then later given less-than-positive reviews by a head coach who is either tone-deaf or incapable of self-criticism (more on that later as well).

Another example was Jozy Altidore. Despite showing on numerous occasions that he plays better with a forward partner, Altidore was deployed as a lone striker. He unsurprisingly did not fare well, starved of service for much of his 57-minute shift and left to fight mostly for 50-50 balls that still did not yield much when he won them due to the lack of numbers around him.

It’s true that Klinsmann was left shorthanded up top by the injury to Clint Dempsey, but he had Aron Johannsson and Bobby Wood both available on the bench. Pairing one of them with Altidore would have meant figuring something else out in the midfield, but it still likely would have given the Americans a better chance at coming up with some semblance of ideas in the attacking third.

Going with a centerback tandem of Michael Orozco and Ventura Alvarado was also a head-scratcher. Yes, John Brooks was unavailable because of a slight knock, but Omar Gonzalez was healthy and available. If Klinsmann wanted to see someone other than Gonzalez next to Alvarado, he could have easily gone with Geoff Cameron, who is finally playing at centerback these days for Stoke City but was used at right back against the speedy and technical Brazilians.


This was not just a problem in the Brazil game. Heck, it was not just a problem in the Peru game either.

Even before the failed CONCACAF Gold Cup started, the U.S. has lacked a real identity. Formations and personnel have changed drastically over the course of 2015, and it has been very hard to tell what exactly the Americans are trying to do on the field. The game against Brazil only emphasized this point.

Are they looking to play a possession game? Do they prefer to be more direct and counterattack with the speed they have on the wings? Is the high press still a preferred tactic or is it more of a priority to stay organized and compact?

There might be answers to those questions, but you’d be hard-pressed to know based on what we are seeing on the field. Not only have the Americans looked out of sorts tactically, but they have also seemed to lose a bit of the hard-working mentality and never-say-die attitude that have been staples of the squad for so many years. It’s pretty much up to Bradley and Clint Dempsey to have monster games these days. Otherwise, the U.S. has a hard time figuring out how to come out on top.

That goes against the idea of having a “proactive” style of play, but that buzzword has peculiarly and perhaps not coincidentally gone missing for much of these last few months. If Klinsmann is ready to put that approach on hold, that’s fine. He just needs to figure out something that works, and stick with it for the sake of consistency.


If Bradley and Jones are both healthy come the Oct. 10 meeting with Mexico like they were vs. Brazil, many observers would agree that both should be among the first names penciled into the starting lineup.

How to effectively play them together is a big question that remains.

Bradley and Jones have played a lot of games together in the U.S. midfield in recent years, but there still is no real answer for how to pair them in the center of the park. Both veterans like to get on the ball and jump into the attack, and figuring out when each one of them does that while the other stays back has proven troublesome. It is seemingly why – like on Tuesday – Klinsmann has almost always had another player standing behind them, one who is more willing to stay put and do the dirty work for the entire 90 minutes.

Still, having a midfield triangle presents a problem of its own. It subtracts an attacking option, and when you consider that Dempsey is expected to return up top next to Altidore in the CONCACAF Cup, removing an advanced position for a defensive one seems improbable.

In an ideal situation, Bradley and Jones could work like a pulley system as central midfielder partners and be disciplined enough to take turns attacking and defending. That is easier said than done, though, and Klinsmann’s preference to have Bradley pull the strings as the playmaker only further complicates matters.


As far as team players go, Bedoya has to be near the top of the list. The veteran has played all across the midfield for the past two years, seen some time at fullback, and done it all without complaint.

That is why it is worrisome that Klinsmann was so critical about Bedoya’s performance post-game when the coach himself should have at least shouldered some of the blame for fielding the midfielder out of position in a match against one of the best nations in the world.

What made matters worse was that Klinsmann passed up on another chance to fess up to his own mistakes by saying the tempo was too high for his players. He also indirectly criticized Cameron by saying how badly the Americans need usual starting right back Fabian Johnson healthy next month.

It goes without saying that such callous disregard for his players – especially in the public sphere – and lack of self awareness could really damage team morale and create resentment. In fact, let’s not forget the far-too-coincidental tweet from 2012 that Altidore published and deleted shortly after an ESPN article in which Klinsmann criticized the forward was posted.

Klinsmann has never had a problem telling it how it is when talking about MLS, his players, or the state of U.S. Soccer. For the good of his locker room, it is time he starts doing the same with his own performances.


  1. funny, i went to school with ralph cox, saw him play many times, know his story. and i understand your point about actual vs perceived, show me the evidence/quality, etc.

    like i said, i don’t buy it. i think the ‘actual’ is far more fluid than either of us know–meaning there are many players in the pool who are skilled enough and could surprise with the right support. remember, your ‘actual’ is also a perception…yours.

    as you pointed out, brooks did well with the right players, not necessarily the best players. and we all would be very happy with a miracle on grass right now–and to johnnyrazor–if we get one, who’s to say we can’t get another, even if its with a different coach? it’s becoming evident to me that JK is not that coach. he at least needs a right hand man who can fulfill that role.

    • Wow! How ironic is that… the most heartbroken dude in 1980.
      Nobody has ever guessed the Timmy Harrar question BTW.
      Ok, so agree to disagree on certain points.Fair enough.
      1. At least one can have a civil discussion
      2. I should have also added (which I forgot) that when MB is on, we’re more competitive, regardless of position- (If we can’t trap the ball within 10 yards, or only play passes that are like Nolan Ryan fastballs- doesn’t matter)
      3. I continue to throw out that hypothetical question, because I think it demonstrates my point. You know the 4 answers I’ve gotten the last few months?
      -Either Zardes or Lleget
      -And… we’ve never had that type of player but that shouldn’t matter
      Seriously..That’s it… (I think someone may have said Fabian, at which point I asked when he’s put a shot on goal like that and got no answer)
      I wish everyone would have seen Ray Hudson’s interview on BeIN after the Gold Cup. It was 30 mins of tactical breakdown about us and our players.
      (It wasn’t 90% JK bashing with 1 chalkboard screenshot and zero solutions like we see in the main press)
      When asked about JK, he talked about specific things he disagreed with, he cited those examples-& he didn’t hold back, then when he was asked if JK should still be the coach he said absolutely 100%.

      At least you responded rationally, and didn’t label me fanboy…
      Most choose to not answer the questions I raise, or completely shift the paradigm to avoid them.

  2. Franco- superb article. I was surprised to see it written frankly, after mostly glass half full coverage of USMNT games. I see the excuse bingo in full effect from the JK fanboys- it’s the players abilities, it doesn’t count, MLS, youth system, players are not hungry/fit enough, blah blah blah

    This team has been walking dead since the World Cup. The wins against Holland and Germany were fantastic but I would have traded those for a Gold Cup win and a ticket to Confed Cup. Why? Because I’d rather see USMNT face those teams with something on the line…. I don’t think JK is the worst coach ever, but I do think he is not different enough from prior coaches to warrant his pay and has now workout his welcome which happens to national team coaches everywhere after a full WC cycle

  3. responding to bac…

    sorry bac, i reject your mediocre player pool argument. i have what people sometimes call a naive can-do optimism. when JK came peddling his plan for taking american soccer to world class status, i believed it was more than just possible. even with the rag-tag outfits of old, we could do it with good leadership and by working together. herb brooks, miracle on ice, all that.

    now, with new talent bubbling up every day and excellent scouting and the growth of mls and the keys handed over to revamp the youth system, why the hell not?

    the missing ingredient is not player talent as JK wants us to believe. many teams have done well on the world stage with players no more skilled than ours (turkey, south korea, costa rica, bulgaria). the missing ingredient is leadership IMHO. it’s clear that JK is in over his head. he needs help in the leadership depArtment and he needs it now.

    • All those teams you mentioned were one hit wonders, they hit with a great group of players and then immediately faded from the world stage. Even the US Hockey team you also mentioned.

    • You have every right to your opinion about our player pool.
      But what are you basing your opinion on? What you think we are, or what you want us to be?
      What is your answer, and what specific reasons can you give me?
      (More players doesn’t mean more better players)

      I’ve used Herb Brooks analogies before, but what’s the difference? Herbie had 13 months to work with a group. He also said he wants the right players, not the best players.
      Do you know who Timmy Harrar is? Ralph Cox?
      Anyone can peak at the right time,, but if you want to reject the argument (which you have every right to do) what questions I laid out are you prepared to answer to support your response? Specifically?

      Can you name me a starting lineup, or 23 man roster that resembles anyone else’s?
      I believe this is who we are:
      I believe we are a team with some good players, and a few very good players, and no great players.
      I believe we are a group that has ZERO room for error-We need everyone healthy, in form, and without scheduling issues in order to be competitive.
      Here’s how I back up my opinion:
      1. Name me a time when we had all those elements and didn’t compete?
      2. If you’re rebuttal is we should be deep enough at this point, then re-read my original post

      Answer me the following question which I’ve asked many times, and recd 4 responses:
      Your tournament life is on the line-
      You have a US player attacking 35 yards out on the flank going at his defender-
      He MUST either beat him 1v1 to the outside and deliver a good cross, or beat his man and cut inside and create his own shot on goal….
      Name me that player……..

      I look forward to your responses

  4. It’s amazing that people are making excuses that the USA is missing 4 -5 of its to players. The only solid starters missing were Johnson and Dempsey. Beas greatest asset was his speed. Does anyone remember the last time he took the pitch in a US Jersey? Have you guys been watching his performance in the MLS? Chandler is not worth the space his name occupies in this article. I am not shocked by this result. I’ve read articles where people refer to JK trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Guys, he is out of his element. He cannot and does not know what it takes to rectify the mess he has created. I heard Charlie on Sirrus say JK told him they’ll get it right for the playoff and that he is confident. JK we are not blind mices chasing cheese down a hole. Miracles do happen and that’s what it will take to beat Mexico. I’m angry because I see the Teams in CONCACAF making progress. I see a stagnant USA Team that has regressed. Gulati and his boy need to go.

  5. We always discuss call-ups I say we think about poteintal coaches for this team. I’m not really sure if any of the MLS guys would be the best option so who else is there?

  6. One thing we can all agree on is lazy/Jozy Altidore should NOT be starting, or even playing much. He is just a lumbering lazy hulk who lacks any decent ball skills. Why the media or JK seems to constantly rely on him is a mystery to me. Start Aron Johansson at forward. He is a starter in the Bundesliga, and, isn’t that what JK always says, that playing in Europe is better than playing in MLS? Yet he starts Altidore who could not cut it overseas and plays in MLS over Johansson. He only gave AJ 10 minutes against Brazil. Why?????

  7. I think what it comes down to is one thing for most people more than results.

    They don’t like JKs personality.
    -When the US wins it was luck, or another countries B Team, or just the players American attitude
    -When we lose terrible tactics, the coach wasn’t supportive, devious back room conspiracies to destroy American soccer

  8. —————————————AJ————————





    Lazy Altidore on the bench in favor of a proven goal scorer in Dempsey, and AJ gets the nod because he will shine playing with a “proper lineup/squad” and work well with Dempsey.
    Bradley at the 6 where he is comfortable and has time to play the ball (he struggles with quick decision making in tight spaces as an AM. Love him playing long balls out the back and coming in for a back pass to smash on frame). Mix is the only guy in the current squad who wants to move the ball quickly in the offensive third. He is on and off the ball quick which benefits our Forwards. Just like Bedoya, Mix continually gets put in a bad spot. Bedoya on the right wing with Cameron to account for Camerons slower pace. Zardes and Fabian should cause havoc on the left side. Besler and Gonzo are our only proven CB at this point…play them. Howard still trumps Guzan.

    • Have you seen Mix with NYCFC? He looks decent for about 20 minutes but then absolutely disappears, like he’s not even out there. Maybe you can bring him off the bench but that’s it.

  9. Nice article. For me, the timing of so much useless experimenting on the eve of the Confed Cup playoff and WQ qualifying is the most disturbing thing, against an opponent like Brazil. Perhaps the team will rebound against Mexico and Klinsmann will look like a mad genius. But this was so much the wrong place, wrong time. There were several more sensible lineups and formations available with the players he had. But if Klinsmann thinks he can learn something by shooting himself in both feet, and then chopping them off well so be it. I just hope Gulati is not married to his statement of Klinsmann being the coach thru 2018.

  10. As much complaining as I’ve read, Here’s a few observations:
    1- Who is more inconsistent- Klinsmann or his critics?
    I mean both fans and the press. Even just in this article there’s zero agreement on potential solutions.
    There isn’t 2 people who can remotely agree on any potential alternatives to what we have.
    If you did a poll-and everyone was healthy-Name me one starter with 100% consensus other than Fabian-Then tell me what position he’d play and that poll would go out the window.
    2- Who do you think makes up our roster?
    To listen to all this complaining, it sounds like we have a group of world class players, and JK is the one messing it all up. Tell me which of our players could crack the 23 of any of the top teams in the world.
    3- People complain about the constant “tinkering” etc.
    Between injuries, MLS scheduling, Intl issues re release of players,
    tell me the last time we had close to all of our players available.
    4- A common theme is also this argument that JK either sticks with too many older players, and not giving the next group a shot.
    There’s too many guys out of consideration because JK won’t give them a shot.
    Well… which is it? Can any of you agree?

    That’s just a few observations-

    I think the fact is, we have some good players, we have a few really good players, and we have no great ones.
    Just because there’s MORE players to choose from, that doesn’t mean we have MORE GOOD ONES to choose from.
    Nobody wants to accept that our talent pool is thin- Instead, people are assessing everything and everyone that they WANT us to be, not who we really are.
    There’s a huge difference between your perceived self vs. your actual self.
    And to listen to this doomsday talk, one would think we are France from 2010, loaded with talent but cursed by the coach.

    I don’t like the way JK communicates sometimes… but so what.
    People obsess over one thing and it grows into its own animal.
    This time it’s Bedoya. Ok fine, he should have played Williams…. fine.
    But everyone has short term selective memory:
    -Why is he calling in Wood and Morris? -> Why isn’t he playing Wood or Morris
    – Why is he making DMB a LB? -> We need DMB at LB
    – Why does he keep calling Beckerman? -> Why isn’t he starting Beckerman
    – Deuce should never be called in again after assaulting the refs notebook->We need Deuce
    -Omar always has one huge gaff-> Why isn’t Omar starting
    I could go on and on

    I challenge anyone to give rational counterpoints to the observations above without name calling

    • Hey Bac,

      I don’t think people are really disillusioned with the quality of our player pool. Nobody is saying we should have beaten Brazil.

      Since people can’t agree on where to play FabJo they should just shut their mouths?
      It’s okay for people to have different opinions, right?
      If two people agree on a problem, but have different ideas for a solution, that debate doesn’t invalidate the problem.

      Having your opinion change over time isn’t hypocrisy or even being inconsistent.
      Most people actually want consistency here, so of course once Beckerman is our CDM for awhile and we identify with that, same with Gonzo at RCB. We’re aware of their flaws but they’ve put in their time and hopefully developed a chemistry/understanding with their teammates.

      • AMPhibian

        I don’t think Bac is talking about legitimate discussions about players like Fabian. There is a pretty continuous waffling from the loudest posters on here where they will change their advice from one extreme to the other all while blasting Klinsman for tinkering too much with the lineup. For example AJ was one of the most criticized players after the GC now since he played little against Brazil he should automatically start against Mexico. That’s not legitimate discussion its being negative for the sake of being negative.

      • Thanks for the response AMP.
        No, they shouldn’t shut their mouths, nor did I imply that.
        My point being, if the debate was just about a few players, I believe it would make for a more valid argument.
        And if there was at least a little consistency about the solutions, I believe it would make for a more valid argument.
        But they’re all over the place.
        And I do think that people are overestimating our pool. Why do I say that? Because I read the criticism on sites AND from the press. And I think it’s easier to just blame JK.
        Can I give one example? (I could give a lot)
        Twellman on TV harped on Jones not being an Intl caliber mid.
        He then talked about his disagreement with JK.
        Not ONCE did he mention he’s coming off surgery and may not be 100% yet. A few people called him on it via his Twitter afterwards, and his answers were weak.
        When Darke asked him about solutions re: both mid and the backline, he first danced then said he’d go with players who had success vs Mexico, and then mentioned Beckerman over Jones. Did he see Beckerman in the Gold Cup????
        Why is 80-90% of all the airtime about JK? And why do those guys constantly give half the story?
        I think 2 reasons:
        1- They’ve hated JK since he cut Landon
        2- They won’t criticize our pool, in fact they state we have more players available than ever. Well just because we have more doesn’t mean more Good ones.
        Like I said, big difference between perceived self vs actual self.

        And yes, I’ve also changed my mind, opinions, and thoughts re all these issues

      • To be fair it was mentioned during the Peru broadcast many times that Jones was coming off injury and I think during the Brazil game as well but I might be combining the two.

      • Different broadcasters, different networks.
        In this example, why on earth would TT harp on Jones “no longer being an intl caliber midfielder” then suggest that since JK says we need JJ, why would TT then bring up the failed CB experiment 9 months ago? And not mention his surgery?… Then only to address it on Twitter-not when everyone is watching?
        I could give dozens of legit examples.
        Like the opening soliloquy by Lalas on Fox before Germany/Holland games. Why are they spending 90% of their time talking about him-then in turn can’t give any thought to what they’d like to see.(I don’t need to hear a 10 minute lecture on how much he loves this team & how it’s been “made clear” to him that he and JK disagree about everything)
        I want analysis-I want Jon Gruden tactical discussions, I don’t want 90% of the little broadcast time spent on him.
        But That’s against their narrative!!
        Because it goes back to my original post.

      • Lex is just being Lex, he likes the attention, he knows he’s trying to entertain.

        I think Taylor assumed most of the fans know Jones has been hurt and is just getting back. If you were still watching at that point either you love Neymar or your a pretty educated fan.

      • Ha, that’s funny.
        I actually severely dislike Ney-Less.
        I base my thoughts on an old habit I learned many years ago-the most important thing is information. So I watch read listen etc, & I have a memory like an elephant. And I remember the big head Red head shows-where they didn’t hold back. The rhetoric was brutal before Brazil, the opinion after LD was cut was that it was a conspiracy going all the way to Berti Vogts-It was like an area 51 convention. And they haven’t changed their tune. And they’re the 2 loudest voices in a small population.
        I only say this because I don’t just base my original paragraph on the last week, but on the narrative as a whole.
        BTW, that includes admitting my own errors on certain decisions, but once you’re branded a fanboy you’re tuned out.
        People listen to their own radio station, WIIFM- What’s In It For Me

    • “1- Who is more inconsistent- Klinsmann or his critics?”

      are you really wondering that the views of thousands of people would be more variable than the views of one person? i haven’t seen anyone complaining that all the “fans and the press” can’t determine a starting 11, or 18, or whatever, because that’s ridiculous and pointless.

      “2- Who do you think makes up our roster?”

      i haven’t seen anyone comment that we should’ve beaten–or even tied–brasil. i’ve actually been pretty impressed that most comments have shown realistic expectations, and are focused on how our guys played, rather than on the final result of a friendly.

      “3- People complain about the constant “tinkering” etc.”

      klinsmann doesn’t need “all of our players available” to instill at least a vague idea of who should be playing where if everyone is healthy. no national team ever has all of its players available, but you can usually name most of the starting lineup and, more importantly, where they’ll play. (the only team i can think of where the player selection reminds me of klinsmann’s is mexico, and they’re a goddamn mess.)

      sure, there is something to be said for unpredictability–it keeps the opponents guessing before the game, and keeps our players from getting complacent–but what’s more important, at least on a national team, is the familiarity that players have with each other and with the system that they’re playing. i think it’s become evident that our players are missing that familiarity.

      “4- A common theme is also this argument that JK either sticks with too many older players, and not giving the next group a shot.
      There’s too many guys out of consideration because JK won’t give them a shot.
      Well… which is it? Can any of you agree?”

      those two options sound the same to me, and can be boiled down to: klinsmann likes who he likes. sure, he may give a token callup here or there (hi lichaj!), but he’s got his guys (whether old like dempsey, or new like morris), and anyone else has to do something truly amazing to break through, or more likely–with our player pool–just show that the team is worse without them (e.g. bradley, jozy).

      hope that wasn’t too much name-calling for you.

      • Thanks Nate
        I don’t care about the thousands of permutations of fans or the media, but here’s my point- If there was any similarity, it would make the issue of lineups/tinkering etc. more valid. But for example if you read articles, opinion pieces, Twitter posts etc from all the “experts” any solutions are all over the place.
        To me that’s a very telling sign. Which relates to my player pool issue- That he keeps trying everything in the book because there’s little separation of who should be playing, and where.
        Here’s an example that makes the bickering more valid- He stayed with Alvarado in the GC even though he looked like he wasn’t ready, I believe he screwed that up.
        Then the counterpoint that I’m pointing out is the alternatives are all over the place. That’s just an example of the point I’m trying to make.
        You said nobody had unrealistic expectations about beating Brazil, my point is if you read the reaction by all the “experts”-and most fans- you’d think the world is collapsing.

        Some people don’t get too high when we beat Germany/Holland- nor too low when we lose to Brazil. You sound like that.. but I don’t think the majority have responded like that

  11. What a surprise. There are about half a dozen lineups suggested and they are all different. But I thought finding the best XI was easy.

    • i’d hate to think you’re wilfully misreading these comments, but it’s pretty obvious that people aren’t saying that *everybody* should agree on a best 11, but that one person–the guy who’s job it is–should be close to one at some given point in time.

      (i’m of the opinion that having a best 11–or even 18–is overrated, since injuries and loss of form happen; but i do think it’s important to give national team players as much consistency as possible, or at least put them in the position they’re most likely to succeed.)

  12. No way with Altidore. He should be Outthedoor! Aron Johannsson at forward. And Tim Howard should be in goal over Guzan. With Brek Shea at left back. If healthy, Timmy Chandler at right back.

  13. ——-Altidore———–Johannson——

  14. I like Aron Johansson as the striker (and not Altidiore). Beasley is too old, small, and frail (although has speed) for the left back position. Brek Shea is a much better fit.

    • ok, but if you need to choose a lineup right now for the Mexico game, what would it be? We’re not talking what we want to see or even what it will be in a few months, but what is practical at this point in time based on the reality of the situation.

      • You ask, and Turkmenbashy delivers… sorry about the crickets, I am going pesticide free…


        — I would use AJ as a sub for Altidore, Wood if we bring off a MF late for attack.
        –I would use Yedlin to sub for Bedoya by 60… or to start and run that Wing.
        –it would have been nice to have williams and bedoya together in the middle there, but not happening anymore…

  15. Overall I don’t have much problem with that line up, but I am not sure Clint can play that position anymore. He would be called upon to play a lot of defense. Its also pretty narrow, I think Dos Santos would have a ton of space on the wing to run at DMB. I like the Brooks Besler combo but they are both left footed which some people say is not good.

    • You’re correct on the width. I’m trusting that Johnson and Beasley can run up and down all game long. If not, Yedlin could spell one of them in the second half or Ream if defense is the priority at that point.

    • First, Altidore needs to start. Lets not fool ourselves, in any two-forward setup he is our best striker, and there is no one in our camp who can play lone forward. Period.

      Next, I don’t like the diamond midfield with our guys. If our guys don’t have the discipline to pulley (or double pivot — not sure there’s a difference), then the coach needs to stiffen their spines. I don’t care how he does it, he can be Pep or Jose or Louis for all I care as long as he gets the players to play like a team. Which brings us to

      Three, I have been a JK fanboy but I am losing confidence in his player management. Player management is his first responsibility, and if he continues to field teams that look like they are confused, out of position, or unmotivated, then we will need to consider a different manager.

      Why not a diamond? We do not have the back line for it, simply enough. We need wingers for the width so we can effectively maintain three back. For a diamond, you need center backs who can stand alone and hold off counter attacks while the fullbacks return. You need to be able to play forward from the back third, not just dump balls to midfield. It is a matter of personel, and we need to optimize what we have.
      Jozy and AJ up front.
      Zardes, Bedoya, Clint, or Yedlin on the wings
      Bradley and JJ on the pivots
      Johnson, Besler, Brooks, and (your choice here).
      Guzan or Timmy.

      Beckerman, Williams, Wood on the bench.

      • That is a fair statement regarding the back line, but I think you may be overestimating Mexico and underestimating our back line with Johnson, Besler, Brooks, Beasley. Also, I may be overestimating our midfield, but with the line up I have I do think we can have some possession. These guys are pretty solid on the ball. I’m not saying there dynamic, but they may be able to control the ball long enough to give our defense much needed time.

  16. Hopeful 11 v. Mex.


    These are our best players on the ball at this point. Maybe we can actually have some possesion. This lineup can defend when needed and push forward when needed, especially with these fullbacks. Off the bench, we can bring in Yedlin, Mix and/or Zardes if we need some extra creativity/speed as the game progresses. Bring in Jones or Williams for Johannson/Altidore and drop to two D mids if more defense is needed.

    • I really like this. It seems to be the best with where we are now. Would like to see the Besler Brooks combo. (Though do you mean Beasley on the left and Fabian on the right?) You could slot Williams in for Beckerman if he isn’t sharp enough. Normally Dempsey doesn’t work in this role, but with a number of other more natural CMs behind him, it might work out better.

    • I’d like to add that I don’t think this is a good lineup for the longer term or even a few months from now, just that it’s one of the better lineups we can choose at this point in time looking at where our players are.

      • Completely agreed. This lineup (formation and players) can help win this match. Going forward there are players that are more dynamic that need to be included as starters.

      • Gio and Chichirito score at least 3 goals against this line up so I hope they can score. If Johnson and Beasley push forward as the do, you are leaving no one on the flank to cover, Bedoya and Bradley are supposed to drop from the middle to the outside or a slow Beckerman is going to race at full speed and try to cut off Gio before he hits Javier cutting in front of Omar. If you watched the game against Argentina, basically what Mexico did was draw Argentina up and then butcher them on the counter.

  17. Solid article. I am one who is (was, maybe) in the JK camp but he has failed to win one of the main target titles on the calendar this year and things are not looking so good heading into our last chance saloon.

    But results aside (losing to Jamaica still pisses me off, and dropping the fourth game match the way we did just boils my blood) this team lacks an identity. I have no idea what our style is. I have no idea why he lines guys up the way he does from half to half (not to mention game to game). Plus what is rally rubbing me wrong is the way he is starting to treat his players publicly. This has all the makings of a disaster that could impact qualifying a bit (I mean we do have a cake group in that first round).

    I am really starting to doubt if JK is the man we need at the helm right now. I still like him as a Technical Director type, but I am not liking him as our coach right now. Even if the cake group helps build momentum up again and we have a great hex, I don’t think he knows how to use our team to challenge the big boys at the next WC. I am…having…doubts.

    • The Us and Mexico have split the last 8 Gold Cups and have only played each other 3 of those 8 times so we act like the Gold Cup is this be all end all when it has never been that. Its only been the last two that you could even see all the games on regular cable tv.

      • It’s our regional championship. You play to win things and right now it is the one thing we can realistically expect to win. So I have no idea what you are going on about here.

        Other managers have lost their jobs for failing in that competition so playing it down or minimizing it’s importance to justify JK’s failures (or if you were to ask him – his team’s failures) makes no sense to me.

      • Other managers have lost their jobs, what you mean is one manager lost his job. I don’t know anyone who honestly thinks we tried to lose the Gold Cup, and yes teams lose from time to time. Brazil didn’t win Copa America, Argentina hasn’t won in 22 years are they firing their managers. I’m just saying have some perspective one bad tournament doesn’t mean our Soccer program is in disarray.

  18. the risk to US Soccer in all this is that fans will begin to wander off — find other teams to cheer on. i have been following US Soccer since the days of marcelo balboa and thomas dooley. it’s alwAys been an up and down experience rooting for the USA but lately it’s a whole lot of down–more like the disappointment following sampson and the usa-iran fiasco. the coach is meant to motivate, bring cohesion, make the sum bigger than the parts. if it becomes about ego and one man’s ‘brillient formula’, who’s right, skirmishes with the media and various players, it does not bode well for the growth of US Soccer. JK needs to get his act together and Gulati should help him do it.

  19. just a terrible place to be right now.. and then Mexico nearly beats Argentina and looks like a much more disciplined and potent team right after.

    The player selection is just stupid; Alvarado & Orozco vs Brazil? The game looked worse than 4-1. we looked like a amateur team afraid to dribble, pass and develop anything vs a team that was just having fun working around us with ease. I would be less worried about this if we at least tried to play our game, like the games vs. Chile and Colombia, or played like Costa Rica and were relatively successful keeping them out of the box and grinded out an difficult 0-1 loss.

    the USMNT has been burned more than a few times in the past few years and usually bounces back pretty well each time. I am thinking of at Ireland (1-4) and at Ukraine (0-2) in 2014, vs. Belgium (2-4) in 2013, vs Brazil (1-4) in 2012 and vs Spain (0-4) in 2011. All with their own contexts but I recall a lot of the similar questions being asked each time. Generally the team has rebounded in the next set of games and uses the humiliation as a good reset. –> trying to be optimistic.

    The one thing I wanted answered from this camp was the center-back pairing, and to get some positive momentum going… We left with neither.

  20. ———————–Guzan—————————–
    Subs: Altidore, Yedlin, Wood/Morris, Ream, Alvarado, Howard, Jones

  21. These are grown men they can handle the critique of their coach and if they can’t they aren’t going to be able to hack it in the pressure of international soccer anyway. So its not Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena’s style so what, look at the top managers in the world Mourinho even throws his physio under the bus and Van Gaal is just as bad if not worse. And I don’t think saying Bedoya never found his rhythm is by any means throwing him under the bus. I liked the 2 year old Jozy story as proof, very few people at the time thought Jozy should be called in and even fewer now think he should be called in but since Juergen said he needs to play better, JK doesn’t know how to coach.

    Two weeks ago before the roster was announced the boards were full of “these friendlies are for experimenting, bring Benny,Ngyuen,Finlay, Lletget,even a few wanted Bruin or to bring back Gordon. People were calling for Bedoya to play the #10 so Bradley could be the #8 (which doesn’t really work tactically by the way if you also want Jones as the #6). Calls were for Omar, Besler, Cameron, and Ream on the backline. So JK calls in a roster full of WC, and GC players and gets criticized because its not experimental and then he does experiment with the roster he has and gets criticized.

    • as i said in my comment above (to the unmistakeable ronaldinho), i think people would tolerate more experimenting if there was more logic behind it. we don’t have unlimited friendlies, so klinsmann can’t just throw players in new positions (against the top teams in the world, no less) helter-skelter in the faint hope that he unearths some latent genius.

      example: you say bedoya wouldn’t work as the advanced mid alongside bradley and jones. i say, that’s at least a worthy experiment–especially if you don’t have dempsey available–considering all 3 players are very familiar with their respective roles.

      • In that situation you have to drop either a forward or a defender and I don’t think either of those options work well for us. Bedoya played the AM role against Peru and didn’t do well there either. We aren’t at training maybe Bedoya looked great in DM. It wasn’t helter skelter ONE guy was playing a position he doesn’t regularly play (Bradley plays same role for Toronto and has for 2 years, Cameron and Ream have played those positions regularly as well for club), its not like Guzan playing forward as people were suggesting yesterday. And 4-5-1 is a pretty common formation so I’m sure they were all pretty aware of the basic configuration.

    • I don’t think you need to be an a***hole to be a good coach, but yelling and screaming at players who deserve it is certainly justified. Sir Alex was famous for what the players called “the hair dryer.” You have to be a bit of a psychologist. Some players respond better to the tough love approach, some need coddling and encouragement. Is Klinsmann using the right approach for each individual player? Nobody here knows and I doubt anyone knows unless it is a psychologist who has studied the psyche of each player.

  22. We should get rid of Jozy Altidore and give more playing time to Aron Johansson. And forget about Beasley at left back. He’s too old. Brek Shea is a much better option.!

  23. I’ve been a pro Klinsmann advocate for the past few years, and I don’t have a problem with him experimenting. I understand that friendlies are a good way to test players (perhaps even testing players out of position), but the problem I’m having as of late is the lack of identity issue. Or the commitment to find an identity.

    Formational shifts are fine, but I haven’t seen us commit to a style of play. I find that we play attacking soccer against teams from CONCACAF, but when it’s time to really challenge ourselves, we fall back into a lone-striker formation. I would like to see us commit to an attacking style of soccer like he promised when he was first hired. I’d rather see us lose 7-3, but at least have shots on goal, create chances with players in the box, looking to keep possession, pressing teams higher up the field with at least two forwards, and just having a real go at teams. I would feel more proud of our team if we lost that way rather than losing 4-1 with us trying to counter, sitting back and letting teams come to us and then when we do attack, we have one or two players pressing into the box.

    • We’ve played that way since I started watching the national team in ’94, two different styles for the different competition. I would say watching more international soccer now that its available on basic cable its the way most non powers play. Watching Nigeria vs Ethiopia is different than Nigeria vs Spain.

      Honestly, I don’t think we have the midfield for an attacking style against even the top Concacaf teams right now, no matter how you line them up. Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, Bedoya, Diskerud, cannot link up with each other, the wingers or the forwards, we have to depend on hopeful balls over the top from Brooks or Gonzalez or Chandler and Yedlin sending in crosses. You can complain that these guys are playing out of position but they’ve all played together and with the exception of the other night in the same spots for almost 2 years and this group of CMs cannot connect passes or hold any possession against any sort of pressure.

      • I’m definitely not complaining about players playing out of position. I completely understand that. what i’m complaining about is the commitment to a style of play. If we are told we are going to play an attacking style, then let’s commit to it even if there are bumps along the way. if we are going to commit to a counter-attacking style of play then so be it. I understand that our midfield isn’t the type of midfield to possess like the Spains and the Brazils of the world, but I do think our midfield is very capable of attacking. Bradley is very capable of making runs a la Kaka in his prime up the middle of the field (we’ve seen it), Dempsey statistically was his best when he made his trailing runs up the middle behind his forwards, Zardes and Yedlin are very capable of taking players on 1v1 or at least running with the ball on the wings(even if they’re still raw technically speaking and need polishing on their final product), Johannsson and Altidore together can be dangerous in and around the box if they get service or at least defenses to be stretched a bit.

        If we played with more urgency when we had the ball in attack, if we can get guys like Fabian Johnson to come out of the back and help our attack, get Jones or Beckerman to hold the midfield, then we could be dangerous, but the problem is that we haven’t committed to it. We’ve committed to it against CONCACAF, but not against traditional powers and that’s what I’m saying.

      • I get what you’re saying I just don’t think those veterans are those guys anymore. Jones doesn’t want to play DM and at least on current form doesn’t have the legs for it but that may change as he recovers, I can’t see Clint as a CAM anymore he can’t put in that kind of workload at least in tournaments, and I am still not convinced Bradley has the legs to go box to box like he used to either he hasn’t shown it for awhile.

      • i hear ya! i do look forward to seeing what the “next generation” of players will be like. will they be more technical than our current crop of players? will they have the attacking characteristics to push the tempo of the game? or not? haha

      • There are goals and then there are realities. We certainly played the way you described against Holland and Germany. Neither of those teams played very well when we played them. Sometimes the team can execute the goal, sometimes it can’t. In the ccase of the Brazil game, the talent gap was so wide, IMHO, that there was no way the US could have successfully employed an attacking style. I’d like to also bring up the WC game against Belgium. Belgium is comparable in that their players at just about every position are better than our players. It was purely a fluke that the US came as close as we did. Belgium missed lots of easy chances (and I’m not talking about Howard’s saves, but times he was beaten and Belgium missed a half open net). That game could have easily been 4 or 5 to 1. Just like with the Brazil game, what style or formation we played really didn’t matter. If the other team played well we were doomed. Belgium didn’t, so we had a chance. Brazil did, so we didn’t have a chance.

      • Not disagreeing with anything you say here Gary, but I have another theory. While everybody — quite understandably — focuses on this game from the standpoint of what the US did or didn’t do, or should or shouldn’t do, I looked at what Brazil did and didn’t do, which made the result not only understandable, but inevitable.

        I watched Brazil’s 1-0 win over Ticos. Ticos are a good side, but not necessarily better than the US man for man. They played better against Brazil because Brazil backed off against them, allowed them to run their offense, and allowed them to maintain their defensive shape.

        My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that wasn’t good enough for Dunga, and that he told his players to disrupt everything the US tried to do, with the ball or without it. I have little doubt that Brazil could have — and would have — done the same thing to Ticos, had they chosen to.

        The talent gap — and the experience gap — between the US and Brazil is too great for any coach to overcome. It appears that some fans have not grasped that reality.

        Take Willian for example. Not only was he an elite youth player in Brazil, he played six years for Lucescu at Shakhtar and now he plays for Mourinho. Who the hell who has ever played for the US has a pedigree like that? And they subbed him off at the half and put in Neymar???? And people blame Klinsmann somehow? SMH.

  24. “Klinsmann has never had a problem telling it how it is when talking about MLS, his players, or the state of U.S. Soccer. For the good of his locker room, it is time he starts doing the same with his own performances.”

    Telling it like it is….IN HIS OWN MIND.
    Give me a break. He needs to move on. He is too good for us. Move on. Replacement will be as good, will appreciate the job and will be found with no effort.

    I wasn’t a get JK out guy. I am now. Bye-bye, no hard feelings, except the Gold Cup was so pathetic it will be hard to forget. Not just the losses, the wins too.
    So, so, so pathetic.

    Other than that, US progressed, thanks, move on. Next.

  25. Nice article Franco but you could’ve written it two years ago. Things with Klinsmann, this team and the players are the same as they ever were. He is a complete failure who has been constantly bailed out by his players.

      • It is the never say die, fight to the death team attitude of the veteran players that have allowed JKs results be good enough for some, and allowed him to escape accountability. After his poor start to the World Cup qualifying campaign and the Strauss article, it was the players who got the team to regroup and get back on track.

      • Were you in the locker room and at the training sessions, have you had private conversations with players. Only the inner circle knows what truly goes on. Putting a lot of faith in unnamed sources, if Strauss comes out and names Eddie Johnson as the source suddenly its meaningless. Without knowing who said what you don’t know it wasn’t just sour grapes from a bad apple.

      • Are you denying that there are issues with Klinsmann’s leadership and guidance at this point? The way the team played the other night was embarrassing. They have looked unorganized and lacking in identity for a long time now, but the Brazil game was just fully embarrassing. Is everything with Klinsmann fine in your eyes?

      • Of course not, but these are grown men, who are responsible for their own actions, the only player that has any right to complain is Bedoya. These are the same guys or at least 75% who were at the world cup or have been playing regularly in the past year and with the exception of Brazil have played in the same spots with the same tactics for most of that time. After the World Cup all the pundits said oh I guess Strauss was wrong, and now everyone has forgotten about how well we played in 2014 (maybe the best year ever in US history) and say oh it was just the players overcoming the coach is a huge stretch. He used a formation that he hoped would surprise and confuse Brazil and help us to win. It didn’t work I don’t think it left the team so rattled they couldn’t have put forth some effort.

      • I would phrase it like this… “sometimes the players succeed in spite of him, not because of him.” Takes me back to my daughters HS soccer coach. Same thing was oh so true

    • Bradley did not play well at the WC and hasn’t been consistent for a long time. He refuses to cover anyone on defense, so if he isn’t over-contributing to the attack, then he is a liability. Pirlo would get away with it at Juve; Bradley is not getting away with it here. He works hard, but if he doesn’t win the first ball, he’s done and will just run around in empty green space. This used to happen under Bob too. Anyone remember the 2011 GC Final v Mexico? It’s classic Michael Bradley defensively and I’m sure Mexico’s midfielders were thrilled.

      • In all fairness, Bradley gets hot and cold, usually he gets hot in friendlies and cold during games that count. This Brazil game he looked slow, same with Jones.

      • “Bradley did not play well at the WC [when playing out of position] and hasn’t been consistent for a long time [when playing out of position].”

        that’s really interesting. hope klinsmann can figure out what’s going on with him.

      • Fair enough. I am not saying he is a poor player. His contribution has been poor. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been limited to when Klinsmann is the coach. I was at the Vancouver – TFC game and watched Bradley closely. Same issue. Roma has been my favorite Euro team since Falcao played there. So I cheered him vigorously when he was there. The same thing happened at times. It begs the question of what is his best position and how to maximize his potential. We all seem to be in violent agreement that it’s not happening now.

      • yeah, i just don’t think it’s that tricky. he’s a box-to-box mid (#8, if you like numbers). decent at defense, great at organizing/facilitating, and will chip in with a goal every now and then. could be a nice utility player on a great team (like roma).

        maybe people (including klinsmann) were just hoping that he could become this top-class player if he was simply moved to the right position? i mean, no matter what, he’s still one of greatest american players ever. the problem right now is: i’m pretty sure he was *already* maximizing his potential, at least before he was moved to the attacking mid role.

        as it is, he’s being held back. one of my friends is convinced that klinsmann is playing bradley out of position so that he can more easily drop him later. i think that’s b.s. because (a) he also just named him the captain and (b) i just don’t think klinsmann’s the mastermind that other people do. *but*–if that is klinsmann’s goal, i can’t really think of a better way.

  26. Yes it is time to stop the “experiment.” Pick your top 11 and let them play together consistently, Then pick the next best players to back them up. He has had plenty of time to look at his depth. It is time to field a team and let them develop chemistry. Go through qualifing with a unified team.

    • Try getting people here to agree who our best XI are and then good luck having them all healthy and available at the same time. Saying it is one thing, carrying it out is another.

    • At first I was happy to see him take over our program. I didn’t put too much weight on the Bayern comments. But now I’m starting to see what the issue is with him. At times, he coaches like an AYSO coach in the sideline, worrying about every play and NOT managing the over all game, like timely substitution, player’s position, saying one thing and doing another. NEVER having the buck stop with him, it is always somebody else’s fault.

  27. People…its going to be ok. Klinsmann tried some things and they didn’t work.

    IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD! We will still beat Mexico.

    (Aaron Rodgers voice): r-e-l-a-x.

  28. Brazil’s team B still got to score 4 goals. Match looked like a college team playing JV boys. Zero speed from Klinsmann’s boys, Brazil was better regardless of who he played.

      • No one is saying you have to beat Brazil – obviously they are better than us. They were bringing on subs that play at PSG and Barca while our subs play for Stanford and Birmingham. But we should expect a better performance than what we saw Tuesday. And it’s not like that was the only abject performance we’ve seen from the USMNT this summer.

    • This was not the B team this was the NEW ‘A’ team. Younger and faster. I don’t think we would have conceded 4 against the old “A” team.

  29. Criticism of Klinsmann’s experimentation in this game is the ultimate armchair quarterback situation. He was missing 4/5 of his legitimate starting players while another couple were clearly not match fit. Whatever lineup he trotted out was going to be somewhat experimental.

    Also, I felt the test of Bedoya in the middle with Yedlin/Zardes on the wings was long overdue. Obviously it failed miserably, but on paper I really liked the idea for playing against teams who will control possession against us. Probably our 3 most technically strong and hard working midfielders doing their best to break up play and keep the ball with Zardes and Yedlin’s speed on the wings to spring the counter when we win the ball back. It really wasn’t such a crazy thought as people are making it out to be.

    Fact of the matter is that Brazil is truly leagues above us talent wise and were really on their game Tuesday night. That combined with our injuries and terrible outings from just about everyone is a recipe for what we saw. Brazil can do that to just about anyone when they’re on fire like that though. It happens. Time to pick ourselves off the mat and get it straight for the game that actually matters. People keep acting like these friendlies count…They are friendlies designed for testing your squad. That is exactly what happened and we found out plenty in those 2 games. Surely we won’t see Bedoya at the 6, Yedlin starting or Jozy alone up top when there is actually a result on the line.

    I’ve been a critic of Klinsmann at times as well, but lets not go overboard because we got whipped by Brazil. This article really should have waited until after Mexico.

    • This article is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Brazil game. If you noticed he uses words like “persists” and “remains. This team has looked confused since before the Gold Cup and right down uninterested against Brazil. A Brazil team that has looked pretty mediocre lately but looked wold class against us
      There is no way around it, this team doesn’t believe in Klinsmann anymore. It happens. Time for him to move on.

      • Yes, it is absolutely a knee jerk reaction. The Gold Cup was really bad. No doubt about it. This was a friendly to prepare for our next game vs Mexico and we learned plenty to help Klinsmann construct our lineup for that game. Bedoya, Jones, Bradley central 3 does not work. Like I said before, on paper this trio makes perfect sense. Not in reality. Yedlin/Zardes on the wings. Again on paper it looked like it could be dangerous. I don’t think we will be seeing Yedlin starting vs Mexico now. Given the injuries we were dealing with, I have 0 problem with the experimental lineup. It taught us plenty which only makes us more prepared for Mexico. Don’t lose sight of what our true goal is here….

      • At what point would you decide that a change is needed at the top? What is your criterion? Would *anything* be enough, in your mind, to warrant JK’s dismissal?

      • Its truly impossible to say given that all of us have about 0 perspective on the situation on the inside. None of us know the way the locker room feels or the goals given to Klinsmann by US Soccer. I’m not going to shed a tear for Klinsmann if he loses to Mexico and is sent packing by the USSF, but I won’t blame them for sticking to their long term plan with him despite hitting a couple speed bumps along the way.
        I do think canning him before Mexico would be a mistake though.

      • According to Bedoya he has never played that position before as a professional so why does it make perfect sense to ask him to play there against Brazil. Meanwhile, a perfectly good defensive mid – Williams – starts on the bench. He has MB playing behind Altidore in a role Dempsey will almost certainly be playing against Mexico.

        Personally, I’m ready for JK to stop playing mad scientist and put our best players on the field in positions they are familiar with and which give them the best chance to succeed. If he does that and they lose then so be it, I guess they’re not good enough. But I’ve had enough of a manager who actively hurts the team with poor roster selection and bizarre tactical decisions.

        But what do I know? I’m just a dumb American who doesn’t understand soccer and reacts in “knee jerk” fashion.

      • “Bedoya, Jones, Bradley central 3 does not work.”

        no, we still don’t know that–we only know that it doesn’t work when bedoya’s playing a d-mid role in that formation. do we also need a friendly to determine whether yedlin can play centerback?

        i mean, sure, friendlies are for experimenting, but it’s not like we have an unlimited amount of them. a more practical experiment would’ve been to see if a midfield 3 of bradley–bedoya–jones would work with bedoya in an advanced mid role. after all, that’s a position he’s actually played before.

        i’m all for experimenting, as long as it’s not mindless.

      • I agree that swapping Bradley and Bedoya in the formation is the better option, but didn’t want to open the can of worms with the ‘where to play Bradley’ conversation. The setup of the team needs lots of work and we have 0 time to figure it out before Mexico. Still more questions than answers. I just don’t think we need to all jump off the bridge yet.

      • yeah, i really try not to get worked up about friendlies either way, but what you said–“The setup of the team needs lots of work and we have 0 time to figure it out before Mexico.”–is what people are upset about.

        klinsmann has frittered away opportunities in some cases by useless experimenting (e.g. bedoya) and in others by rigid commitments (e.g. bradley as #10).

        i still think he’s the guy for us as a technical director, but as manager, he’s paid to get those decisions right.

      • The real problem is that his experiment didn’t work. If it had, theres a good chance we would see a similar lineup against Mexico. The players failed the test though. Klinsmann can now revert back to what he knows best or surprise everyone with his selection again vs Mexico. Don’t be shocked to see either. Everything will hinge upon the result/performance though.

        If we fired him after the Gold Cup then that would have been fine and fair. We decided to stick with him through at least Mexico now. We aren’t going to ditch him because of a couple bad friendlies… thats really what I don’t understand.

      • “The real problem is that his experiment didn’t work.”

        of course that’s the problem, and the underlying issue is that it was a bad experiment. what exactly was klinsmann expecting when fielding an average player as essentially the lone d-mid for the first time against maybe the best group of attacking players in the world?

        “The players failed the test though.”

        klinsmann’s gotten to you. sure, bedoya “failed the test”, in the same way jones might “fail the test” as a striker. point being: our national team manager should’ve been able to figure that out without putting the player in that situation.

      • Bedoya wasn’t the only failure on the night by a long shot.
        -Yedlin loses the ball in simple situations far too often and put us in some bad spots/ killed some of our few attacks.
        -Bobby Wood was an absolute mess out there
        – Cameron gave away a silly penalty that really opened the second half floodgates.
        ect ect

        These are players who were given a shot to prove they deserved a starting spot/more pt and they didn’t represent well for Klinsmann at all. Everyone had a part to play in the loss other than Guzan I suppose but these 3 really had a chance to prove something in the game and did not pass their test.

      • not sure why you’re bringing up other players. i don’t recall too much complaining about the choices of cameron, yedlin, and wood, probably since those selections made some sort of sense.

        so if i wasn’t clear: i do not have a problem with experimenting per se.

        cameron, yedlin, and wood were put in positions where they could reasonably–at the very least–not humiliate themselves; their failure is on them. bedoya was not; his failure is on klinsmann.

    • Bedoya as attacking mid sure, but sitting back and being the destroyer was never what he was good at.

      This article was timely in that it points out what has happened over the course of a few months. If you do not wondering if the emperor’s (JK) actually wearing clothes now, then when do you suggest people notice he seems naked of any useful tactical ideas.

      • Your #6 doesn’t have to be flying into tackles and leaving a trail of bodies to be effective. Like I said, Bedoya is one of our most hard working, technically sound and intelligent players. I agree it was an attempt to shoehorn him, Zardes and Yedlin into the same 11, but I think the idea was a solid one. It didn’t work at all and we won’t see it again. It isn’t ideal preparation for Mexico but I think it allows us to erase that idea from the drawing board. Again, judge Klinsmann by the games that count. If he gets it wrong vs Mexico then we are right to look back and say he did a poor job preparing. I am not terribly optimistic about our prospects in that game, but it has little to do with the Brazil game.

      • So judge him by the games that count but don’t judge him by the pathetic Gold Cup performance? And I don’t just mean Jamaica because anything can happen in a one-off game. Other than the Cuba game, every performance at the Gold Cup was dreadful.

      • Also were you saying don’t worry about friendly results when the USMNT beat Germany and Holland? I seem to remember a lot of JK fanboys acting like those results showed we were making great progress and JK was a genius.

      • As bad as the JK fanboys were for those results, the JK haters are worse for these. I’m no fan of Klinsmann’s but I’m not going to call for his head because we have had mixed results in the first year after a world cup. That is the ultimate transition period for any national team. I don’t think he has done a great job by any means but the reaction to this game has been extreme. I understand people’s concerns, but lets see if he can right the ship vs Mexico before we lose our minds over a few bad performances over the summer.

      • Slowleft… judge him by the games that count… just don’t act like not scoring 6 goals a game is a failure. I think everyone is underestimating how good CONCACAF is getting. Jamaica is not the pushover they once were… neither is Panama (as Mexico found out last time round)… Also, its tough to win 6-0 when the other team just kicks you for fun from the moment you get into the tunnel until the moment you step off the field after the final whistle… so yeah, 1-0, 2-1 wins under those circumstances… those are good wins.

      • ” but I think the idea was a solid one” NOT if you have an in-form Williams sitting on the bench. Bedoya may be a regular in this team but I question this move. Is an out of position Bedoya better than a player that only plays that position?
        Williams is faster and stronger than Bedoya and has a rocket of a shot, yet, in JK’s eyes Bedoya was the clear better player to play the “6”. SMH.

      • Clearly Williams is the better option there. I’m just pointing out that Klinsman was attempting to keep his 3 best midfielders in the game while putting Zardes/Yedlin on the wing to counter Brazil. That in itself isn’t a terrible idea, but it didn’t work and Williams was immediately inserted. Lesson learned and the team is now better for it

      • For all the debate time taken up by the decision to play Bedoya instead of Williams, the score — regardless of how much Brazil completely dominated play — was still only 1-0. The half-time subs are what killed us. Zardes played defense. An out of position Wood did not. Cameron was badly burned and committed an obvious PK. The defense was exposed on the next two goals as well.

        We are also talking about losing 4-1 to Brazil, the same score we lost to them at home under BB. I’m more embarrassed at losing 4-1 to a shite Ireland side.

        This was a FRIENDLY. The Mexico match is what matters. Win and all this debate is essentially meaningless. Lose and the call for JK’s ouster intensify.

        Twellman was both right and wrong in his post match analysis. True, you have to beat the elite teams of the world to make it to the quarters and the semis of a WC. But it’s also true that you would play different tactically in a game that counts rather than a friendly and your lineup would reflect the competitiveness of the match itself, which IMO would mean that Howard should be starting.

      • If we had won the Gold Cup and had this result against Brazil I for one would not be complaining much and neither would most people. We are in large part reacting to a pathetic Gold Cup performance in games that mattered. Other than Cuba, we got five straight pathetic performances and there’s no excuse against the teams we were facing. I’m sorry, we have better players than Honduras, Panama, Haiti and Jamaica and we should be beating them.

        I agree Howard should be starting but JK has already declared he won’t. Yet another mistake.

      • Im sorry but Bedoya as an AM is not even close to Benny or Lee N. JK may love him but if he’s not playing outside mid then he should sit

    • “This article really should have waited until after Mexico.”

      No, this article is about JK’s woeful preparation for the Mexico game, embodied in a woeful performance against Brazil.

    • You make some valid points here; but my biggest area of agreement with Franco’s assessment is in the point that JK never deflects blame away from his players onto himself. Even the most arrogant coaches in the world take blame at times, to help team morale. Look at Mourinho, after his recent loss. He criticized all his players, the ref, and then himself. He even admitted that he needed to go back to the drawing board and figure out something else; that his tactics weren’t working. He’s one of the most egotistical coaches in all of sports, yet even he knows when to take blame.

      I just don’t see how Klinsmann can motivate players when he doesn’t publicly take responsibility for losses.

    • This is one of the first comments that made complete sense, admitting USMNT shortcomings too. I love our passion for soccer, but our IQ and talent is not quite there yet. What US player could play for Chelsea (of last year), Barca, any Man X Team? If we played Korea in basketball, no one is saying that the matchup of ‘fill in the blank’ Korean Player is stopping LBJ. (That Lorean Coach might also push his players to play in the NBA). Also, people seem to be fairly unaware of all the injuries, Gonzo’s terrible game against Peru, and the hopes of trying to slow down and create havoc for Brazil with speedy wingers. The experiment had a lot of moving parts – Bedoya, Yedlin, and Zardes. JK was also hoping that Orozco would have another Azteca game and be a better fit bc of his Liga MX experience. It was always going to be a steep learning curve, but we did not park the bus and actually had great possession! In the end it didn’t work, but it did make a lot more sense than people are giving credit to. If, there was another world class Coach out there, I’d be willing to give him a try, but he would have an uphill battle too. He would experiment and cajole every ounce of talent he could as well. Yes, JK is far from perfect, needs more accountability, and another tactician alongside of him, but there is progress and an expanding player pool.

    • I can picture Gary Page right now in a dark corner of his home, sitting on the floor under the table traumatized, holding his knees and shaking his head with tears coming out of his eyes murmuring to himself, “No no no no but its Klinsmann how’s this possible no no no no”.

      • Oh, please. Yes the US could have and should have played better, but the only likely difference would have been how many goals we lost by. I will ask this again. If Dunga were the US coach and Klinsmann the Brazil coach and they had the same set of players that took the field Tuesday, does any sane person really think the result would have been markedly different? Oh all you smart ones out there, how many players for the US on Tuesday would have been good enough to play for Brazil on Tuesday? I don’t know about their GK, but outside of that I can’t think of a one. Who would you choose? This was like a mediocre mid major team in college basketball playing against a Duke team that played 5 HS All Americans. The outcome was never in doubt, only the difference in score. Anyone who can’t recognize this has their head in the sand. I can’t remember if it was Bedoya or someone else who said this. He said that the Brazilian players were so fast and skilled that the US couldn’t even get close enough to try to tackle them. I stand by what I said before the game, which was the result didn’t matter. What mattered was how well the US played compared to how well they could play. I criticized the team for not being tough enough and not having enough intensity. Klinsmann has responsibility for that. But, if all the changes advocated in this article had been made, I truly doubt that the result would have been better. For example, taking out another defensive mid to put another striker on top is supposed to help? You would have had two players up top starved for service and the US would have been over run even more. The US lost the battle in the midfield, not because of one striker. Williams should have started instead of Bedoya if the intent was to keep as close to Brazil as possible, but Brazil scored more after Williams was in than before, so Williams, though not the problem, wasn’t enough. Too much Neymar in the second half was the problem. People are so focused on finding fault with the US that they overlook the obvious. If the US had had all their best players and had played a conservative, defensive game, the best they could have hoped for was maybe to lose 3-1 or 2-1, with the former being much more likely.

      • Totally agree. Look at the record against Brazil. Why do people think that the USA is a top soccer nation and should be beating world powers on a regelular did the Germany and Netherlands games spoil everyone. They have gotten better and I see a lot of good young players coming through. Be patient and realistic people the USA has and still is improving

      • Gary, why can’t you ever respond with a short paragraph like 95% of the posters on this site? Geez. Now you force me to respond with a long post.

        Before the game we both said that the result didn’t matter as much as how we played. Well how we played was a disgrace.

        The thing about your post above is that, it is pointless to answer all the questions you posed. You know why? Because people give you answers or their opinion of what the answers to those questions are almost every day but you shoot them down and basically say “Klinsmann knows best”. So what’s the point? You are too deeply entrenched in the pro-Klinsmann camp and aren’t the type to admit when you are wrong or at least at odds with the general consensus.

        Once again, has Klinsmann been horrible? No. Is he the worst manager ever? No. Has he been good? No. He has been average/ par for the course, but more was expected of him. There is a reason his salary is what it is compared to previous U.S. managers. He has ebbed and flowed like most managers and players, but right now he seems to be getting everything wrong and he seems to be losing the players. And this has been going on for an alarmingly long stretch now (the exception being the glimmer of hope that was Hol & Ger).

        Look I have tickets to the USA-Mex game at the Rosebowl and I will surely be taking abuse from a misbehaved, majority Mexico crowd. I really want the U.S. to win this game so I am hoping Klinsmann and the players can figure it out. If Klinsmann doesn’t scr3w up this experience for me and all the U.S. fans that will be at the Rose Bowl then all will be forgiven. Forgiven until further notice.. But if we lose and lose playing badly, then I want him out of there!

      • Gary: No one can reasonably dispute that man-for-man, position-by-position, the Brazilian players are far superior to ours. Nor can there be any doubt that, regardless of coach, this Brazil team would beat the U.S. almost every time. But “if Dunga were the US coach and Klinsmann the Brazil coach and they had the same set of players that took the field Tuesday,” we would certainly have seen a very different (and more encouraging) game than the pitiful display we saw.

      • All your comments have has some merits, but the main problem is lack of organization and misunderstanding how the game should be played. There are 11 to 11 on both sides, but our team was running around aimless on the field without playing man-to-man all night. We all know, from Basketball, Hockey or American Football, that every player need to play man-to-man for the team to be successful. If you do not stay with a basketball shooter, you cannot stop him or her when he or she is in the process of shooting the ball. The players were roaming aimlessly on the field giving room to the Brazilians to do what ever they wanted. In other words, the team was not properly coached. I blamed the coach. When they get the ball, they did not know how to make accurate pass, instead they passed the ball back to the Brazilian. I do think, lots of the US players are not ready for prime time world class soccer. We need to use players from the MLS: they are tested, know how to control and pass the ball, and defend man-to-man. What has the US team learn from the World Cup in Brazil? Nothing, they are worst now than before. They need to be taught the fundamentals of the game and how to play defense. Non of the players show they deserve to be on the field. It was a total collapse. Winning is not important at this stage but progress is the key. Are we improving as a team? No. Finally, I will recommend using the team that beat the Germans in Germany because, the play man-to-man in the second half after running around in the first half and won the game. Making adjustment is the name of the game, but there was non. The coach need to take the responsibility.

      • Gary Page: What you have said made a lot of sense. I totally agreed. The difference in quality of the player pool between Brazil (Germany, Argentina, Belgium, etc……) and US is so big that the ONLY way the USMNT can make a game against these top soccer powers is to bunker in and play counter. The US fans are now getting over-optimistic on how good we are and are dreaming or in denial that the US can play head to head with the top soccer countries, at least not yet!


        You don’t learn how to stop playing bunker ball except by stopping playing bunker ball!!! sure we are going to have it handed to us… that is a teaching opportunity and you hope that next time its 2-1, or 2-2…

  30. According to JK we are just dumb Americans who aren’t able to analyze soccer. For all we know, the performance against Brazil might actually have been awesome, just like the Jamaica game.

    • Klinsmann told the Post. “The biggest educational problem is people think it’s a coaches’ game in the United States. It’s not. It’s a players’ game.

      In other words, don’t look at me, it’s not my fault

      • Wow. Then why are we paying him four times what BB was paid? I guess fans in “educated” soccer countries never complain about their national team coach.

      • I’d like to address this point. He also talked about over coaching. Some of the best coaches of all time weren’t great tacticians. Take, for example, John Wooden and Vince Lombardi. In both cases they emphasized teaching players the fundamentals and honing them. They did not do much in the way of in game adjustments and they won on the basis of how their teams practiced. Wooden, in fact, eschewed making any changes to the team in a game and had quirks like refusing to be the first coach to call a time out. Not all successful coaches use the same approach, but good managers usually do not micromanage. As an organizational manager who studied this and had some seminars and graduate study in this field, I found that research showed that the most effective management style is to provide overall direction and guidelines, delegate and then monitor. A manager should be a combination teacher and cheerleader is how it has been described. A good manager should be able to be absent and still have the organization function at a high level. In other sports there are often stoppages in play when the manager or coach can talk to his team to provide encouragement and made adjustments, set up plays, etc. In soccer you only have the half time in most games. Usually stoppages are too brief and don’t allow for that. So, in soccer, it seems to me, you have to have players on the field who can act without direction. You need coaches on the field. I don’t know if this is what he meant when he made his remarks. But what he said is not inconsistent with what research has found to be an effective management style.

      • That’s great but do the management books say anything about putting people in position to succeed? For example, not playing someone at a new position for the first time against Brazil? Or not persisting in playing your best player out of position? Or not leaving the best player in the history of the country you’re coaching off the world cup roster because you don’t like him?

        I think it’s clear what he meant: “the players stink and I can’t be held responsible for their performances.” Total pass the buck attitude.

      • He shouldn’t talk so much, true, but to be fair – American fans all want to win a world cup and every game we play but we simple can’t. Our players are very average.

        His job is to take our team to a new level. Get it out of perpetual mediocrity. How do you do that without great players? What do you tell demanding fans? Nothing? His only option is to try things, unearth talent with raw potential but high ceilings. It hasn’t always worked, but if we want to be among the best he has no choice but to try.

        It’s a lose-lose for Klinsmann. I like him because I don’t think he really cares.

      • But the coach picks the players and assigns them positions so it is the coach that failed against Brazil. It was his job to develop a plan where we would be competitive. He didnt.

  31. All great points, Franco. Klinsmann needs to get his “(crap)” together, and fast, if we will have any chance of beating Mexico in a month’s time. He needs to pick a system and stick with it, regardless of who’s healthy (I think it should be the 4-4-2 diamond, with Bradley at the tip and Williams at the 6). Lineups may have to change based on who is available, but we finally have a player pool that supports this. When Johnson and Beasley (and thus our best overlapping FBs) are unavailable, we should trust their backups and stick with the 4-4-2 dimaond. Instead, Klinsmann gets nervous and tries to get our best available XI on the pitch regardless of position, and he thus switches to a single striker formation with wide midfielders. That suggests little faith in the backups (and then JK consistently affirms this with his comments to the press).

    Let’s say that our FBs are still hurt for the Mexico match, as well as Brooks, Dempsey, Altidore, and even Bradley, just to pick a few random starters. We could still go with something like this:

    ———— Dempsey ——- Johannsson ——–
    ———————— Jones ————————
    —– Zardes ————————– Bedoya —–
    ———————– Williams ———————-
    Shea ——- Besler —– Gonzalez —- Yedlin
    ——————— Guzan ————————-

    This may not get our 11 best players on the field to start (for example, Cameron is left out). But it’s a strong lineup despite the injuries, it’s a formation the team knows well, and, maybe most importantly, has everyone playing positions that they actually play with their clubs and the USMNT. I’d have more faith in this group potentially beating Mexico than a lineup and formation and that, for example, shoehorns Bedoya into the 6, Bradley into the10, and Altidore into a lone striker.

      • Dempsey just played about 80 minutes for Seattle, scored and had an assist. Not so sure his “injury” is that big a deal.

      • Whoops, nice catch, DLOA. No, in my hypothetical scenario, I obviously would have to go with Zardes up top and someone else (Zusi, Mix, Corona, etc.) as a MF shuttler. My point remains, though: even if we have half our starters injured, JK has the pool to stay with the same formation and put together a lineup that could beat Mexico.

      • My bad — I missed that. He is asking us to *assume* Bradley is injured. If he is available, though, how do you decide between Bradley and JJ?

      • Easy decision, actually. It’s Bradley. Less than a year ago, Jones was told he may have to play CB to extend his international life. Now he’s just told he may need to assume a sub role. Jones coming on as a shuttler/No. 8 to help protect a lead is a nice luxury.

    • At this point Yedlin at RB worries me. If he plays a season there at Sunderland and gets a lot of minutes, then it would probably be okay in a year’s time. But he is still so raw at defense.

  32. Great article Franco – everything here is on point. Klinsy’s “experimentation” and his view that people need to fight for their places is undoing the team. Competition is good, but playing people out of position/changing the lineup every day is overkill – teams need to know how to play together. It’s as if Klinsy wants to shake things up so much that he is destroying the team.

  33. Even the pro Klinsmann crowd is starting to turn on him. Jurgen says one thing and and then does something completely different. Everything he says must be taken with a grain of salt at this point. A coach needs to put his players in a position to succeed while identifying the best players available. Klinsmann has done neither, and at this point it seems that he is actively holding this team back from succeeding. I would prefer to see Klinsmann in the technical director role and have someone more pragmatic (and with better common sense) managing the national team.

    • This exactly. He has shown himself to be a poor manager both in the tactical/positional choices he has made, and in his overall player management (blaming players, egoism, grudge-holding, etc). I really think he has been losing the team for some time now and I don’t see them coming back to him. I find myself hoping they lose to Mexico if that’s really our chance to get rid of him.

      • I suspect JK is going to hang around through next World Cup, but if Gulati is swayed by soccer message boards, then bring on Boca!

        We tried a philosopher. Now its time for the jackal.

    • “prefer to see Klinsmann in the technical director role”

      I’ll assume you know he is already in that role. He is even worse at the TD role than he is as a coach. I would argue “Common sense” in that role is even more important.

    • I was originally ecstatic when Klinsmann took over the national team. It would be fair for me to say that I don’t despise him or love him as a coach, but I am leaning more to the negative, seemingly each roster selection and game. To be fair, he has brought in some players that we may never have had if we hired a different coach. On the other hand, he has been consistently confusing/angering me with roster selections and starting lineups. While a lot of player inclusions are what anyone would expect, there are just those inclusions, or lack thereof, that seem mind boggling. How do you play Bedoya at CDM? Why are Alvarado and Orozco playing together? Mind you, this is against Brazil, not Peru. Regardless, these were supposed to prep us for Mexico, so using similar players and formations seems logical. That didn’t happen either. Then there is the roster in and of itself. Like many have mentioned, no Feilhaber or Lichaj in the roster is also somewhat strange. While you can make the case for or against them or their replacements, it is still odd that they are seemingly not considered. The potential grudge factor (I know it is over and done with, but still pissed about the lack of LD in Brazil). I like to include the younger players for growth and overall camaraderie with veteran players, but why bring in Wooten when you could have brought Lichaj (I realize they play different positions, just referring to opening up spots)? Why Morales or Corona and not Feilhaber or Nguyen? Like I said, you can make an argument for either side, but just thoughts I have when you look at current playing time, fitness, performance, etc.

      The Brazil game was an utter failure. While we were missing a lot of starters (Dempsey, FJ, Chandler, and DMB for example), that just can’t happen. You can’t go into a formation we rarely use, put players on the field that don’t play together, and put players in positions they aren’t used to playing, against Brazil. Doesn’t make any sense. Too late now, but I hope we have a fully healthy roster against Mexico and use players and a formation that makes sense.

    • ——-Altidore———–Johannson——


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