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USMNT Notes: Controlling the Nagbe hype; Jones stands out; and more

nagbe T&T

Darlington Nagbe has impressed in his first two U.S. Men’s National Team appearances, but don’t expect his coaches and teammates to pencil him in as a savior quite yet.

The Portland Timbers midfielder entered in the 68th minute for the USMNT, providing a bit of creativity and composure that the team was sorely lacking in the middle of the field. Although it didn’t prove to be enough to create a goal, Nagbe’s performance left Jurgen Klinsmann impressed with what he has seen to this point.

“I think Darlington, as you saw in both games now, we found a player that knows how to play, knows how to take care of the ball,” Klinsmann said. “He’s very comfortable in either direction on the ball and it’s nice to see that he has a bit more flow in the game because he simply connects the passes and that gave it even more life. Next time, we have to score the goal and get three points.”

“I thought he was great. Coming in today, he created some things,” added Geoff Cameron. “You could see he’s tidy and neat on the ball and when he came in, he changed the game for us a bit. He created a few more opportunities for us and he has a bright future ahead of him with the U.S. Men’s National Team, for sure.”

Klinsmann says that Nagbe’s future role with the team is to be determined. Admitting that he sees him as a central player much like Timbers coach Caleb Porter, Klinsmann said that Nagbe is plenty comfortable on the wings and could make an impact there should the U.S. need him out wide.

No matter where he plays, Nagbe has the looks of a valuable contributor going forward, but goalkeeper Tim Howard stressed the importance of keeping expectations level as Nagbe’s young international career continues.

“I hate to overhype him,” Howard said. “I just think America doesn’t produce a lot of those shifty players who get their foot on the ball and make people miss. It’s not always spectacular. It’s just a little shift here or there to unbalance a defense.

“I like him. I like him a lot. I think he’s got a lot of potential and he seems like a good kid.”

Here are some more news and notes from the USMNT’s draw with Trinidad & Tobago:


The midfield pairing of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones has never quite emerged as a fluid partnership, and that was apparent for parts of Tuesday’s draw. Partnered in central midfield, the two box-to-box players struggled with timing and spacing early, leading to a series of sloppy giveaways and lackluster possessions.

“They took a little bit to find their balance in midfield with Michael and Jermaine,” Klinsmann said, “especially going forward because they were too often next to each other instead of actually staggering, so we corrected that after about 25 minutes. I told Michael to go higher up so we could find better outlets there.

“In the middle, especially in the first 20 minutes, we had some issues,” Klinsmann added. “They got better, much better. With Jermaine, it was crucial that he goes through that game all 90 minutes. He had this little injury that he brought in, but he stood in and carried us through all 90 minutes. Kyle was warming up there the whole second half, but we didn’t need to bring him in there as a No. 6. Michael had his ups and downs. He lost some balls, but he’s also the one that makes a surprise move, a surprise pass and suddenly you get a goal going forward.”

While that goal never came, the U.S. as overall content with the performance put in by the midfield unit, especially by Jones.

Carrying that injury, Jones put in Man of the Match performance, locking things down on the defensive end and preventing T&T from ever really creating outside of the opening few moments of the game.

“I thought he did a great job,” Howard said of Jones. “Obviously him and Michael, there’s always that balance and depending on the opponent and what the game looks like, one has to hold and one can go forward. I thought Jermaine did a great job tonight. It was kind of a tactic. He’s so good in the air.

“We really didn’t want to break our back four. Let him compete with the big fella (Kenwyne Jones) and I thought he did great. Yesterday in training, he was outstanding in the air so we kind of knew he was up for it. He even played on when he had no legs. He made that run to cover. He was fantastic.”


He may not have the speed of DeAndre Yedlin or the attacking flair of Fabian Johnson, but Michael Orozco performed just fine at right back Tuesday night.

Penciled in as a more defensive option, Orozco proved sturdy throughout his shift Tuesday night. Never much of an attacking threat, Orozco was included to play lockdown defense against T&T’s tricky wing options, a role he executed to perfection.

“Michael had a strong game as a right back,” Klinsmann said. “Very solid and very focused. No mistakes at all. At the end, he could even go forward a little bit, which was not his job. We told him to make sure he keeps his side under control.”

Orozco also received praise from those that played alongside him, as both Tim Howard and Geoff Cameron stated that players like Orozco are ones that can make all the difference throughout the adventure that is World Cup qualifying.

“He’s Steady Eddie,” Cameron said. “He’s smooth on the ball. He’s confident. He gets stuck in. You look at a guy, he’s not that physical, but he’s strong and mentally tough. He’s smart. He can play out of the back and he’s composed on the ball, and you kind of want that as a right back. He can possess the ball in the back and kind of create things. He can get forward as well. I thought it was a great game for him.”

“I like Mikey. Mikey’s great because every team needs a Michael Orozco,” Howard added. “He’s a guy who buys into the concept of the team, he’s quiet, he doesn’t ruffle any feathers, he’s always there training. You put him in a game like tonight and he’s never out of his depth. He plays in Mexico so he knows what it’s like to play in hostile environments and just fits in really well, so it’s really great for our team.”


What did you think of Nagbe’s performances? What do you see as the USMNT’s best midfield pairing? H0w do you see Orozco fitting in going forward?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. So many on this board miss what Jones brings to the game. He competes for every ball like nobody else in the player pool. He is an out and out fighter. Did you read what Cameron said, we didnt want to break up the back four so we let Jones battle Kenwyne Jones all night.” And he did it very successfully. Jones is not strong going forward and really needs to recognize his strength is defensively, but in my opinion he has to be on the field. Not to mention he shows up for tough games. Maybe the issue isnt Jones, it is that JK hasn’t been able to coordinate the two best players on the team. Bradley is in a slump, playing down to competition week in and week out has taken its toll. I agree with otners, he needs a break from the game.

  2. Wow, I had no idea Jones was playing with a knock.

    That’s a pretty rough tactic to ask an already hurting player do to for 90 minutes. . . “I know you’re a box to box and like to get forward, but we want you to stay back and get in the air early on 50/50 T&T attacking deep balls in order to rough up Kenwyne when he comes to challenge, which is every time, and rough up everybody else while you’re stagnating the attack.”

    And he gave us one of only two serious chances we had all night?

    And he was considered by many including myself to be the MoTM?

    Bravo, and gracias!

    • Neither Jones nor Bradley think of themselves as DM, and both struggle when they have to play back there for long periods. Time to move on from both of them. If this round is so easy, and I think qualifying out of it pretty much is we need to work in the new midfield.

      • I think… due to some of the reasons listed above…. fatigue, age, mostly failed experiment w/ him at CAM, Bradley may be more inclined to warm up to a more deep lying role. Although effort is always warranted, he’s at the point of his career where he can NOT be the guy covering the most ground on the team…. allow that playing smart rather than hard all the time extends energy in a game for when it’s really needed…. and will prolong his career. I hope he does embrace that role as it really is what the team needs. If Nagbe does slide into that central playmaking role (at which he is much better suited than MB) it opens up all kinds of possibilities in putting players where they are best suited. I really do think we are starting to see a group of players better suited to a formation that flows between 433 and 4321 as situation dictates.

  3. i liked what i saw from nagbe. i remember one of his first touches: he took the ball around midfield, turned around and played yedlin into open space on the right wing. yedlin hesitates because nobody in midfield, to this point, had tried to push the envelope. ball ran out of bounds even with yedlin’s speed because of his hesitation and surprise that someone would actually try to “push on the gas”!

  4. Can we all just agree that Yedlin was terrible and should not be starting for this team yet? Guy killed every attack that Bradley didn’t already kill. Seriously, Bradley is in a serious slump. How does a player like Bradley, who against Germany and the Netherlands, made nearly full field runs with the ball at his feet, not look at T&T and say “I can do that here too” and try and take them on? Instead he infuriatingly turned around and passed it back to his defenders. I’m not in the Bradley sucks camp, in fact I think he our best player, but he has lost all confidence. He isn’t making strong runs with the ball and he isn’t executing his beautiful balls over the top like he was when he was in top form. Dude is in a serious slump right now.

    • i agree with everything you just said regarding Bradley. In my opinion he’s burnt out a bit from playing so much, he needs a break badly from the game and if i read correctly he just had another kid?? Fatherhood could be wearing on him too!!

      • I said something very similar after the GC, I think his legs are gone. He’s played almost every Nat game over the last 5 years and played a lot with the various Under teams before that. A lot of people want him to be the old box to box guy he was in 2010, but I just don’t think the tread is left on the tire even at 28. The alternative is to make him the new Beckerman and is that more demeaning, maybe?

  5. Problem is Jones actually wins the ball from opposing players. Bradley almost never does. He can kick it away from a player but actually dispossessing a player and then transitioning forward….It is hard to remember him doing it.

    DId you guys see Deli Alli yesterday? He is 19 and he is doing it in the PL and on the international stage.

    We need players like that to start showing up.

    • People love the old MB90 where Michael just ran around and covered more ground than anybody. His energy made him a fan favorite and once or twice a game he could come flying out of midfield and crack one from the top of the box and it was awesome. He doesn’t seem to be able to cover that kind of ground anymore so he’s moved forward. Since that hasn’t worked out well his supporters figure well if we just move him to DM that will solve it. Even though that’s a position that has never been his preferred position.

  6. I think the problem with the Jones/Bradley midfield is that it’s too similar to what Lampart/Gerrard were. Similar players, with similar traits, but I think having a player like Nagbe paired with Bradley lends itself to a more creative midfield while not losing too much of its bite.

    • Totally agree with you here. Bradley played very deep against SVG and looked better than recently, albeit against a vastly inferior opponent. Twellman made an interesting comment about Yedlin being more comfortable at RB because everything is in front of him at that point. I think Bradley may be the same way in midfield; one of his best skills is playing long balls from deep in midfield, which he could do if he had Nagbe, Johnson, and whoever is playing right midfield in the future (Bedoya? Zardes? Manneh after citizenship is finalized?) in front of him making runs. Jones still looks good out there, but long-term, Bradley and Nagbe in the center looks like an interesting possibility.

      • “played very deep vs SVG” let’s be honest the center backs were 30 yds from goal most of the night so Bradley was at about 23 yds I wouldn’t call that deep.

  7. Jurgen, can you explain to me why Wood didn’t start this game? How do you keep a forward on the bench who has been on a scoring streak? Ridiculous.

    • It was either that or sit Yedlin, who looked shaky at RB against St. Vincent. Zardes had a string of good performances, so he decided to start him at forward, which he plays on LA, alongside Jozy (who had a good game). Six of one half dozen of the other, really,,,

      What you learned is that Michael Orozco is your second best RB option outside FJ. Yedlin, though talented, still needs seasoning.

      • to be accurate, Zardes plays mostly right midfield for the Galaxy, tho the Bruce has him and Gio switch up with Zardes up top occasionally. But he plays on the right flank most of the time on that team

      • I stand corrected. I suppose that it why he looks more comfortable there even though on this board clamor for him to play on top. I have only seen a couple Galaxy games (not my team – actually don’t care of them), and I have seen him play both.

  8. not an exciting performance but quality outings for a lot of players, players who stock rose just enough to solidify them in the first team picture.

    really happy to see Orozco find his spot on the team. Outside of Yedlin (should be with U23’s in March and not a great defensive RB) and Johnson (should be in the midfield) we didn’t have a great option at RB. He did well to take that role.

    4 points, lots of players vying for minutes and no major team concerns at this point in WCQ – not a bad place to be.


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