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Five takeaways from the USMNT’s Copa America run

Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports

The dust has settled. The Copa America is over, and the U.S. Men’s National Team emerged with a fourth-place finish that produced legitimate highs to go with excruciating lows.

After finishing top of a qualifying group that included Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, the U.S. sealed a statement knockout victory over Ecuador to advance to the tournament’s semifinals. A 4-0 walloping from Argentina soon followed, while the U.S. narrowly missed out on third-place in a 1-0 defeat to Colombia in their final match.

It was a tournament that saw the U.S. play at both their best and their worst. A 4-0 shellacking of Costa Rica served as one of the most dominant USMNT performances in recent memory, while brawls against Paraguay and Ecuador showed that the U.S. still has the ability to grind out results against dangerous teams. However, a disinterested performance against Argentina saw the U.S. squander their chance to make a true statement to the world.

Several players rose, several players fell, but the USMNT picture was made a bit clearer by the Copa America. Here’s a look at several takeaways from this summer’s tournament:


John Brooks was not the only USMNT player to shine at the Copa America, but no stock rose higher than that of the Hertha Berlin centerback.

Throughout the USMNT’s Copa America run, Brooks emerged as a bonafide star. From his dazzling performance against Paraguay to his strength against Ecuador, Brooks proved that he is not just the USMNT’s defender of the future, but rather the USMNT’s defender of the present.

Brooks broke through with his memorable winner against Ghana in Brazil, but years of rocky performances followed. His struggles came to a head in the Gold Cup, where he faltered alongside Ventura Alvarado. He wasn’t ready and, given the amount of mistakes made, it wasn’t truly clear if he ever would be. He was athletic and strong, but would he ever be a proper defender and leader required to marshal the backline?

It seems so long ago that Brooks faced those questions. After a standout year with his club, Brooks’ form continued to this summer’s tournament. Big clubs should come knocking, while his place with the national team is all but solidified.

From this point forward Brooks, should be one of the first names on the team sheet. He should be a centerpiece at centerback. He should be a mainstay and a player the U.S. can turn to when a victory is required.

Brooks made the leap. After years searching for a competent defender to lead from the back, the U.S. has found their answer and, he’s only going to get better.


Bobby Wood is for real. If you didn’t believe it after his wonder-season in Germany, you certainly believe it now. With that in mind, the U.S. now faces some decisions with how to manage its forward pool going forward.

With Wood, the USMNT has a legitimate forward option that appears ready to lead the line on the international stage. Possessing a combination of speed, strength and creativity in the box, Wood can function as a typical hold-up striker or a more dynamic option atop the field. The 23-year-old striker may not always get the goals expected of him, but his ability to dictate play and find chances will be valuable asset as he continues to improve following his move to Hamburg.

Still, the USMNT has a dilemma. Jozy Altidore, the USMNT’s primary forward for the past several years, remains waiting in the wings. Jordan Morris is faring well in MLS, despite his Copa America exclusion. Aron Johannsson is a bit of a forgotten man due to a series of hip injuries, but the Werder Bremen forward will remains a valued option should he return from his ailments as the same player. Gyasi Zardes remains a forward option, even if his best work is likely on the wing.

For the first time in a long time, the U.S. has a stable of young, hungry forward options. The U.S. is no longer solely depended on Altidore, whose injury derailed the 2014 World Cup just as soon as it began. There are dynamic young players making a push for a competition, a fact that must please Klinsmann as World Cup qualifying continues.

Still, the U.S. does have to figure out how Clint Dempsey fits into the picture. Still the USMNT’s most lethal option, Dempsey cannot be put out to pasture as things stand. He’s too good, too important. At one point, it appeared Dempsey’s international career was moving towards its conclusion, but it has never been more evident that Dempsey needs to remain a part of the picture. It’s no slight on the other forwards; merely recognition that, even at his advancing age, Dempsey is still just that good.

Can Dempsey play a bit deeper? Possibly. Can players like Wood and Morris be shuffled out wide to accommodate Dempsey down the middle? Sure. Those decisions are for Klinsmann to make, and he will need to make them quickly with qualifying looming.

Still, those decisions will be welcome because, for the first time in a long time, Klinsmann has the luxury of making them. The U.S. has legitimate forward options, and the competition for them will be something to watch in the lead up to the 2018 World Cup.


Michael Bradley has long been the engine in the USMNT midfield, the man who made the pieces around him move. But after another lackluster tournament performance, Bradley’s role with the U.S. is truly up for debate.

For the third tournament in as many years, Bradley has failed to rise to the occasion when his team needed him most. Overall, it was an entirely unconvincing string of performances, as Bradley continuously struggled to make his mark on games in any positive way.

With his continued struggles, Bradley’s place with the U.S. is being questioned, and rightfully so. At the end of the day, no player should truly feel entirely safe, even the captain. In teams around the world, spots are entirely up for grabs, as players rise and fall in and out of the game’s top level.

Bradley shouldn’t be seen any different, no matter how well he has shown in years past. Since joining Toronto FC, Bradley has never truly looked up to par. Call it a lack of competition, sharpness, or motivation, but Bradley’s aura has disappeared since departing Roma.

In the USMNT’s third-place clash, Bradley was brought to the bench early in the second half in what many saw as a message to the midfielder. The team could continue without him, if only for just one game.

The issue remains in replacing him, as Klinsmann has no true Plan B. The USMNT’s most consistent midfielder, Jermaine Jones, is on the wrong side of his prime and may not be on the plane to Russia should the U.S. qualify. Kyle Beckerman’s USMNT career is all but done, while Klinsmann has yet to show any sort of faith in either Perry Kitchen or Darlington Nagbe. Danny Williams, once regarded as the heir apparent to the No. 6 position, remains in purgatory. It leaves Klinsmann with few options, as Bradley, in many ways, remains the USMNT’s best option, even if he has been playing far from his best.

Michael Bradley may or may not be the USMNT’s best midfielder. He may or may not be the answer heading to Russia, and he may or may not be vital to the team’s hopes of getting there in the first place. But one thing is now certain: Bradley’s role deserves discussion. Let the debate begin.


People love comparisons. Are things better than they were? Are they as good as they could be? Jurgen Klinsmann is no exception, but the question of how he compares depends on what exactly you compare him to.

If you compare Klinsmann’s latest run through the Copa America to the USMNT’s performances since Brazil, it’s hard to view this summer’s tournament as anything but a success. The U.S. reached their goal, and toppled some damn good teams along the way, in what was widely regarded as a expectation-meeting performance from Klinsmann’s team. After years of tinkering, Klinsmann found his formula and stuck to it while getting the most out of his team since the 2014 World Cup.

But if you’re comparing Klinsmann to his predecessors, the German-born manager’s resume is still lacking. Klinsmann’s USMNT is 0-5-1 against the world’s top 10 in official competition. The three managers prior to him? 5-15-2. Despite his preachings of proactive soccer, Klinsmann’s U.S. has struggled to take it to the world’s best more than any regime in recent memory.

It’s difficult to measure what that all means in relation to Klinsmann’s current status. The current USMNT head coach works in a much different environment than Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena, for better or for worse. The expectations and pressure have risen, even if the results haven’t in several ways.

For the time being, Klisnmann is safe. Barring a Miguel Herrera-like incident, Klinsmann will lead the USMNT back into World Cup qualifying this fall. However, despite reaching his goal, the fire remains on his feet, as the U.S. looks to take that next step that was promised when he took the job in 2011.


The U.S. Men’s National Team is good. They’re not bad and they’re certainly not great, a fact that was most evident throughout the Copa America.

When all was said and done, the USMNT finished the Copa America with a respectable 3-3 record. Victories over Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador served as impressive results, while Argentina and Colombia proved too much to handle for the U.S. in their three losses.

Putting everything in perspective, the U.S. should be commended for taking care of business. Even if they were favorites in each of the three matches, the USMNT’s victories remain quite impressive. Ecuador, in particular, has proven to be one of the best South America has to offer, while Costa Rica is a legitimate side that has given the U.S. fits in recent years. The losses, meanwhile, were expected, as Argentina and Colombia rank in FIFA’s top five for a reason.

The USMNT, in reality, remains in the middle of the pack when it comes to major international tournaments. They’re good enough to give most elite teams difficult matches, and most top teams would admit that they’d prefer not to come up against the U.S. in tournament play. However, they are also prone to blowout losses and upsets, as the U.S. is still prone to the occasional stinker that rarely plagues a team considered on top of the sport.

In many ways, the difference is consistency. Until the U.S. can string together convincing performance after convincing performance, they will never be counted among the world’s elite. Consistency is what keeps you among the world’s best, not individual results. Upsets happen for a reason, but they remain just that: upsets. Until the U.S. can consistently compete, and defeat, top teams in meaningful competition, the debate of their world status should remain close.

Has progress been made? Arguably, yes. Is it enough for the U.S. to demand more respect? Not yet. Two years remain before the World Cup, the USMNT’s next great chance at proving their mettle against the world’s best.

For now at least, the U.S. remains what they are: a good team capable of winning or losing on any given day.


  1. No where else to put this so…

    Rubin scored two goals in a friendly today for Utrecht, the other team was some small club from Utrecht not even sure they were pros.

  2. I think that whatever progress USMNT has been making since 1994 has flat out stalled out and not just because USMNT is not getting better and the youth system no producing higher quality talent, but because the rest of the world has stepped up talent and skill development to the next level, leaving US talent pool in as big of a deficit as was there 20-25 years ago

    In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and especially mid 2000’s USMNT starters were already getting playing time in the top European leagues -this isn’t a recent phenomenon

    In 2002, when USMNT took it to Germany in the QF of a World Cup, the team was hailed as finally arriving on the main stage- that was FOURTEEN years ago. In 2009, USMNT beat the best team in the world and was up 2-0 on Brazil at half- that was SEVEN year ago. This year, USMNT beat Costa Rica, Equador and Paraguay, got demolished by Argentina, walked over by Colombia once and the second time USMNT looked better, but still lost.

    USMNT is a third tier team in the world- cannot be discussed as one of the favorites for the WC with any seriousness (Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Italy) and is not even close enough to have 1-2-3 players take it close enough to that discussion, like other second tier powers have with their Golden Generations like Spain, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal had.

    There are 15-25 teams that can upset a second tier team or have a close loss to the top teams just like USMNT, so for US fans to claim we are already at second tier is myopic

    Once two dozen USMNT players are regular starters in Europe and Champions League clubs are in bidding wars for at least 4-5 of those players, its hard to make a case for USMNT as anything above that

  3. Klinsmann is the coach we needed at the time. I believe he is still a good coach but his inability to admit fault is a big problem. His decision making is shaky too: Wondolowski? No Donovan at WC? WTF?

      • history revision at its finest…do you need me to post LDs accomplishments in 2014? or those in 2013 after JK invited him back into the fray?
        I didn’t think so

      • Landon had gone eleven MLS games including the his first 7 of the MLS season in the Spring of 2014 without a goal and with only 2 assists against lowly Chivas entering into camp. To say he was in the form of the Gold Cup of 2013 or his MLS form he hit after being cut is also revisionist. Over that same time period Brad Davis had 2 goals and 7 assists and Wondo had 6 goals (Julian Green had 5 goals, but hard to compare the Regionalia and the season don’t match up).

        Interesting that signing Landon was a major reason why JK was fired by Bayern and some here use not bringing LD to WC as proof he doesn’t know what he’s doing and should be fired here. Listening to Landon on his Copa coverage it sure sounds like he’s over it, maybe his fans should move on too.

  4. I think the typical US soccer fan’s expectations are way too high. Realistically you cannot expect a team with ZERO players from a Champions League level club teams to play with squads like Argentina and Colombia and win consistently in big tournaments. We don’t even have a single starter in our front six who started in a top 4 league in Europe this past year (Wood will be next year but was in 2.Bundesliga this past year). You guys are asking the impossible. Beyond Bayern Munich and the USA Klinsmann is high regarded as having done quite well given the talent availabe, and his name keeps coming up as a possible replacement anytime any mid tier EPL job opens.

    For all the Klinsmann haters out there, I’d love to hear who you would find as a replacement. Once you think of a good name ask yourself, would this guy really want to coach this team with this level of talent. The best coaches/managers always go where the talent is they don’t want to fight an up hill battle unless you pay them well above market value.

    • To be fair the back 5 all started in a top four league, and Ligue 1 was rated as 5th last year so Bedoya was close FJ started in a front six in a top league just not in our front six. Overall I agree with your point though.

  5. At this point in the cycle 4 years ago we decked Scotland, Brazil returned the favor, and then a draw at Canada. all friendlies before starting Qualifying with a win and a draw over Antigua and Guatemala. Later that summer it we won at Azteca.

    Yedlin about to turn pro, Brooks was a prospect not yet caped by the US, Pulisic was in 6th grade. Cherundolo, Goodson, Boca, Edu, Gomez all still starters and Boyd, Gatt, Mix and Agudelo were our top young guys off the bench.

    This tournament was an absolute improvement over a couple of up and down friendlies. If anything this makes the Gold Cup, previously all we had between WCs, look like nothing. The games vs our “equals” (Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Colombia) were very encouraging and we were once again reminded that we have no business thinking that we can play against the elite in official games. Biggest addition was the attention that we gained across the country that was typically only collected in WC years. We did not disappoint but we were proven to be second rate – hopefully this inspired the masses like I was years ago.

    At times it feels like we are surging forward others sliding back but it’s really a slow march thru time building history and experience. we may think we know the prospects, when the vets will be phased out, etc but there is always a surprise out there and US Soccer remains entertaining to follow.

  6. If the US took this same team to the 2018 World Cup, its average age would be higher than any team in the 2014 World Cup.
    Now it’s unlikely that this roster will survive unchanged, but it is easy to lose sight of how old this team is and accordingly how little has been done to develop young talent.

  7. Just to show where this program is heading with Klinsmann in charge… Bruce Arena’s favorite players were Eddie Pope, Reyna, and McBride. Bob Bradley’s favorite players were Donovan and Dempsey. Klinsmann’s favorite players is Jermaine Jones, who is not really good at anything but running around a lot, being nasty, and stepping on other players’ toes. Grinder, as Klinsmann called him, meaning not someone who works hard, but who actually grinds (i.e. physically assaults) the other team’s players.

    Jones is also very good at acting. He should’ve been redcarded in the 3rd place game after elbowing a Colombian player in the face. However, he managed to get away with just a yellow after spending a minute on the ground clutching his own face even though he wasn’t even touched.

    • That’s not what being a grinder means, someone who fights all the why through 90 minutes and may not look pretty but can come out on top at the end.

      It has to be an intentional elbow to the head to be a straight red card, Jones was watching the ball the whole why and never looked to the side to see the other player was there.

    • I disagree 100%. Jones is the one guy that competes equally against the very best players we face. He doesn’t back down one inch nor show deference to Messi, Neymar or anyone else. He is the guy that competes ferociously for the 50-50 balls. The bigger the game the better he plays. He is the ONLY guy in the USMNT that you know what you are going to get in a big game. Yes he is going to turn the ball over more than we would like. But he is also going to go touch line to touchline to win it back. I don’t understand why the US fan base doesn’t embrace him. He is American through and through. HUGE heart, great athlete(even at 34), a fighter, and has a chip on his shoulder. All of those are what we are famous for. I for one, would put his name in the line up every time. Without a question. He brings so much more to the team than just possession for possession sake. Yes he is a bit reckless, but man does he get into a tackle. NOBODY wants to play against him.

  8. I’m 39 and the U.S. will not win a World Cup in my lifetime. I came to terms with that a long time ago. What I still can’t come to terms with is why SBI doesn’t hire better writers, or at least an editor.

    • Are you kidding? You are a Fooo!!! You have been listing to too many goofs or you are one of them. Are you expecting a short life then? Of course they can win it. Nobody knows how good or bad they will be in 2, 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now. They could be a powerhouse; they could be just as good as they are now; they may be a top 10 team or they may win it all. I guess you don’t believe in longevity, meathead..

  9. People need to have some perspective when it comes to international soccer. Only 8 teams have ever won the World Cup. At any given moment there are maybe 4 teams in the world that have a legit shot of winning the World Cup. The US achieves results that lots of countries around the world Would kill for. We always qualify for the WC and we have gotten out of the group in 3 of the last 4 world cups. What does it take to have a legit shot to win the World Cup? 4-5 top top players and 18 really really good players with no obvious weaknesses at any particular position. There is no magic bullet to creat that (heck even Brazil doesn’t have that right now).

    Klinsman has several issues that tend to plague any long term coach (he is too attached to certain players/ideas). Overall during his tenure I think the US has slightly under achieved because of Klinsman but not by much.

  10. Did anybody see the copa best xi on and the worst xi, Bradley made best and yedlin made worst. Not sure what they were watching but Bradley was awful and yedlin had his moments but he was definitely not the worst right back. What a joke

    • Did you see the actual COPA XI team they just took 6 players from Chile and 5 from Argentina, or maybe vis a versa. No one from any other team.

  11. Sixth takeaway: Klinsmann is a tactical ignoramus who neither knows what he has on his roster, nor knows how to use it. Bradley is a perfect example. If he leaves Bradley alone (i.e., stop trying to shoehorn him into an offensive role he no longer can play) and puts him in Beckerman’s role, Bradley will excel. I believe Klinsmann killed Bradley’s confidence by constantly playing him out of position.

    College football and college basketball are filled with coaches like Klinsmann: great recruiters who can lure and collect talent but can’t do anything with it once it comes to campus.

    People are talking as if the United States is making incremental progress. Not only is the MNT stagnating, it’s regressing, despite the development of Brooks and Wood and the addition of Pulisic. If Klinsmann were coaching any other national team in the world, he would have been fired a long time ago, and deservedly so. He wouldn’t have lasted more than six months in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, England, Germany, France, the Netherlands or anywhere else. Only Gulati’s cone of invulnerability protects him from accountability.

    • Joe, I find a lot of your points interesting and valid. Between ODP and youth national teams I have been going at this for over 26 years. I used to share a lot of people’s unbridled optimism. It is getting a little better but for a country of our resources, c’mon, it has to get better. We can’t keep measuring ourselves just on full team international results. We have to look underneath the surface to see how many young prospects we are developing, how many players we have playing on top clubs in the world and what our plan is for developing players. Iceland has a plan. Belgium has a plan. Germany had a plan. So did Spain, France and Portugal. I am in this everyday. Trust me we have no plan and, like H-Town alluded to, JK is the Technical Director. This falls on his shoulders. He can spew all of the propaganda that he wants but the development program in place is not getting us any further. We have to start taking this serious.

      • hey Sepp, I hear you. just with our little club, we’d done some planning with a few teams. coming from a smaller base we had to build the psycho social aspect big without the resources of population and a bunch of kids to choose from. it was about 5 years of being committed to this plan with other families, developing the talent from a young age, looking to build something meaningful. Our teams did well with the club growing and then boom, the age change thing was thrown in there. Now I see the idea behind aligning ages with ODP and the world but the implementation was thoughtless. Instead of phasing in the age change and beginning with the youngest and moving forward, they implemented how they did, all at once for all age groups, and teams were busted up just like that. it’s still tough to deal with it. a ton of energy had to be spent and continues to be spent dealing with all the chaos that caused psycho socially. the big boys don’t care as much, they have lots of kids to choose from and cream from the top anyway…from smaller regional folks and city clubs who develop talent as it matriculates up…the smaller clubs that the age change implementation wreaked some havoc on

    • Good point Joe about college recruiters, but your playing Bradley out of position. Did you watch the games, Bradley started in the #6 role you called for and played terrible against Colombia, then he was moved to a box to box role (that we’ve heard is his real position because he doesn’t tackle well enough to be an enforcer) when we switched to the 442, he was not in offensive position Jones was higher up the field than he was for a vast majority of the time. I didn’t think MB was that bad against Colombia part 2, I think that early knock effected his mobility, but he still put in a good shift containing James for the most part. Klinnsman had to decide keep Bradley as a #6 and play Dempsey out of position (our best scoring chance) or play Dempsey and Wood out of position and put Bradley where he is better suited. I guess that’s why he makes 4 million a year and we don’t, well at least I don’t not sure what you do for a living.

      • @ johhny, I think Joseph’s point was that JK has played Bradley out of position for years now and that he’s screwed him up by doing so instead of helping him. I agree and have been saying this for years. just because JK played him where he should play him, finally, and Bradley wasn’t amazing, does not change the very accurate point Joseph made. JK screwed with his confidence imo, and some of MBs prime years have been lost for the USMNT by being shoehorned out of position

        To me, Bradley has fallen on his sword for JK and should be praised for it. Brazil came, JK had no player or system to help a player in that role, so instead panicked before Brazil and inserted MB in that spot.

        Regarding big $$$, who are you talking about actually earning it?

      • Jurgen gets the big bucks, but I suppose you could say MB as well. I see your point, I assumed since Joe said it was sixth takeaway he was talking about the games this Summer, could be wrong.

        JK’s playing of Bradley as the point of the midfield diamond didn’t work, but I don’t think you can tie it to his current form. I place that on both JK and Bob Bradley, Michael has put too many miles on the tires, he played virtually every national team game from 2007 on when he has been fit. A lot of players begin only playing the friendlies on the continent they played professionally, Bradley was constantly flying back and forth no matter where a match was. He’s only 28, but with all the internationals he’s played at both the full and youth levels (at the same time in 2007 and 2008) its like he’s played an extra five seasons. Altidore came in at about the same time and has played 28 fewer caps, Dempsey since 2007 MB’s first full season with the US has played 10 fewer matches, Tim Howard the only other Nat around that long has played 25 fewer matches. MB played 10 more US matches than LD from 2007 to 2013. He’s been the work horse for both his father and JK and he needs a break, but he won’t ask for it and JK won’t offer it so we’ll all watch wary of the car crash that just might happen before our eyes.

        I also think Bradley puts a lot of pressure on himself, he played that higher midfield play maker role for Toronto for two seasons. You have to believe he didn’t want to be the highest paid DM in MLS, but wanted to contribute offensively and be the key for the squad. When it wasn’t successful in year one they brought in Jozy and Giovinco, and having two targets didn’t really improve MBs play.

        And I’ll say it, I don’t care how strong a character you have, if your dad gets fired and you have to then play for the next guy that’s got to be incredibly hard. Especially, when similar results don’t get said new guy canned. He just rarely seems to be enjoying himself, but then again his dad rarely cracked a smile either.

        Beachbum I linked the Fringes handball video on the thread yesterday for you.

      • thank you for the thoughtful reply

        of course he’s not Giovinco man, that’s the point. whatever money he’s making doesn’t change that. miscast is miscast, though I’ve seen him play a lot of holding for Toronto nicely, and the USMNT

        you question MBs heart for the team. Again, you make my point. At 28, the prime of a player’s career, and instead misused and gracefully goes for it anyway, for the privilege of having his heart for the team challenged by you. seriously that’s rich my man!

        thanks for the link

      • At one point – just over two years ago – no one was questioning Michael Bradley as a number 10.

        or, by Klinsmann’s most fanatical hater –

        “I think that Klinsmann hit on something good with this one.”

        So, basically, he can be great or bad at any position, and everybody is probably wrong as soon as they settle on an opinion..

      • Slow down Beachbum I think you misunderstood.

        Yes, he’s switched this year to the holding role for Toronto and has been much more successful. Bringing in Johnson to TFC has allowed Bradley to move deeper and be more effective. I don’t criticize him for making 6 million a year, get what you can get. If my boss comes to me and says I’m giving you a raise I’m not turning it down either. I’m saying Michael put more pressure on himself because of it.

        Sorry I wasn’t very clear, I don’t question his heart at all. He is going to give you his all in every game. His body just can’t do what it used to (he can’t lead the World Cup in meters run anymore) and yes I don’t think he believes in JK’s “plan” and that effects you no matter who you are (but that’s mind not heart). If you don’t believe in what you are doing, you are more likely to not be successful. Some people might thrive with “step on their toes” I don’t think Michael is one of those.

        I don’t think he should be dropped from the team or even the starting lineup, I just would like to see him get a break once in a while, like next Summer’s GC and the January camp. Perhaps bring him in for just the GC knock out rounds, or even just sub him out at half of friendlies.

      • @Concorde, really don;t care what others say about it. I never thought it was a good idea, and time has proven me right and those you linked wrong.

      • @johhny, I misunderstood nothing! I responded in kind to your post. You have since restated some of those things. My friend, I suggest you slow down 🙂

        moving on, please have the last word here

      • So you defend Bradley by saying he’s so mentally week he can’t play a more attacking role

        “I think Joseph’s point was that JK has played Bradley out of position for years now and that he’s screwed him up by doing so instead of helping him.”

        I defend him by saying he’s been overplayed and can’t cover the incredible amount of ground he used to, his greatest asset, and I’m the one whose insulting him.

        “I don’t question his heart at all. He is going to give you his all in every game. His body just can’t do what it used to”

        You can hate Klinnsman and still not blame him for everything that goes wrong, and you can hold Michael accountable for some of his struggles (of which I don’t think there really have been that many) and still believe he has a spot on this team. Thanks for letting me have the last word. Here goes.

        Michael if you’re reading this, I’m sorry those who claim to be your biggest fans think you are so sensitive and mentally week that playing higher up the field last Summer made you play poorly against Colombia and Argentina, when it really had to do with James and Mascherano (its amazing that he’s able to play in the midfield since its not his club position he must be so emotionally torn he takes out that confusion on opponents) being really, really, really good.

  12. There are tow takeaways.

    1. Bradley is and has always been pure swill.
    2. Guzan does not deserve to play professional soccer

    This team will never become competitive enough to win on the big stage

  13. I won’t retread a lot that’s been said, but will make the following points:

    1. my expectations were exceeded.
    2. Wondo/Beckerman are done and I would have been happier if we lost 7-0 (ahem) with younger players in semi.
    3. I understand JK slowness on CP.
    4. I remember mentally saying before the semi (after JK said to be meaner): Please no one injure Messi. That matters.
    5. This was definitely not a friendly Tournament, especially a. when I see the world number one collapse post match and say he’s quitting national team (any of our guys do that?…it mattered to the world number 1) b. A hard fought physical final where I thought I would see body bags c. A full COL squad in 3P match
    6. JK plays favorites, and THAT is a problem.
    7. The US and Mexico are at a relative disadvantage due to their a. Relatively week regional national leagues b. Relatively week domestic leagues c. Work Visa disadvantages (for homegrown talent, with exceptions)
    8. I have many German friends (very, very close and we talk a lot about it) and they feel JK made huge positive changes for Germany, but was NOT the tactics guy.
    9. The best games we played had continuity in the line up, no? Enough said.
    10. Game plans, organization, teamwork matter (see Iceland v Eng)

    Sorry, I’m on Mobile and had a few beers. Hard to edit.

  14. Ultimately this tournament showed the grit & determination that has been a cornerstone of the USMNT program. It showed flashes of the potential that this team has of playing attractive attacking soccer. But it also showed the continuing difficulties that will need to be overcome in the next 12-18 months.
    Playing with 10 men in two successive games and still managing to win proved that the US still has that never say die attitude. This is something that coaches can’t really teach. It is something that comes from the heart of the players on the field. The rebound performance in the 3rd place match again showed commitment to seeing things through….even if we did lose the game we created chances and fought to the end.
    We have a number of young talent that showed well during this tournament. Brooks, Wood, Pulisic, & Yedlin all took a major step forward. They now have another 18 months to continue growing as players. Paired with mainstays like Guzan, Fabian, Cameron, Bradley, Besler, Jozy & Bedoya and elder statesmen like Howard, Jones & Dempsey we have a good core of players heading into the Hex.
    We still struggle when we need to replace core players. The drop in talent between the starting XI was never more evident than when we played against Argentina. Part of this was due to squad selections from JK, some of it is just lack of quality depth within the player pool. Considering the age of some of our notable players (Howard, Jones, & Dempsey) this is a real issue. We need several more players to step up over the next year. Players like Nagbe, Williams, Morales, Hyndman, Miazga, Villafana, Alvarado, Rubin, etc… need to make that next step in their level of play. We need players to fulfill their potential and become serious contributors to the team.

  15. Bedoya, Wood, Pulisic, Cameron, Brooks all had very very very good tournaments. That’s a huge success in my book. I hope they all stay healthy and continue to find good club situations.

    Jones and Dempsey are not only relevant, but essential to the continued success of this team through 2018. I hope they stay healthy.

    Zusi and Besler’s stock did not drop. But if other folks club the ladder higher than them that’s OK.

    Guzan had an OK tournament. I wish he could find a better club situation.

    Beckerman and Wondo deserve testimonials and gold watches. I’m not saying they don’t have value, but there are younger players that need time with the senior side now (Danny Williams, Gideon Zelalem, Emerson Hyndeman to name a few)

    There are definitely a few things that need to change if we’re going to improve by 2018:

    1. MB either needs to become strictly a #6 (meaning a DMF that sits between the center backs) or he needs to sit. He is simply not a box to box, and he is not the enforcer type that Jones is. It seems like every time he is asked to be more than that against top 10 teams he disappears.

    2. I know that we have limited options at left back, but Fabian Johnson needs to be be further up the pitch. He’s a world class player that is wasted on the back line. In my opinion, he should be starting where Zardes starts. I would rather see a more defensive minded fullback in the lineup and true 2-way offensive threats lining up closer to goal (or you know, where they play all year long for their club).

    3. DeAndre Yedlin needs a new move in his bag of tricks beyond the shoulder fake and sprint to the end-line or he needs to make a quantum leap as a defender. EVERYONE has figured him out, and he’s not yet a good enough defender to make up for that. he’s going to become useless very soon against better teams. His technical limitations are a liability.

    4. Speaking of being limited by technical limitations, GYASI ZARDES. I love the guy’s hustle, but his feet are where building momentum goes to die…

    5. Jurgen Klinsmann needs a to hire a “Jogi Lowe” type. He’s a great vision guy, but vision guys need a detail oriented counterpart to truly execute their vision More and more I’m convinced he is just not a tactician. His subs, his formations, his lineups…. they just all seem very… hopeful. On one hand it’s good for our players to learn how to “figure out” the details on their own, as it makes them better players in the long run… but a better tactician that gives them clearer roles and better preparation for sees them get a lot further through the rest of this cycle. Clapping on the sideline and yelling at people to step on toes is not really helping.

    • Klinsmann complains about the level of professional soccer in the United States, yet if he treats his players as anything but the professionals they are. He seems to behave like a volunteer coach in the AYSO Challenger division. OK, I over-exaggerate but you get my point.

      He pulled this same garbage at Bayern Munich, lost the locker room in short order and got canned relatively quickly.

  16. Ives, can you set a predict the roster for 2018 WC. I like to see all the players choose. Maybe the winner gets a USMNT jersey of their favorite player.


    Of course, it’s the American-way to expect first place in every sport we participate in, but “greatness” the type or rhetoric that needs to be tempered with reality. Until we start producing multiple Landon Donovan’s in the same generation this type of quest is futile and absurd.

    Competitive and capable of knocking off top ranked teams? Sure, but “great”…relax.

    • And let’s temper our admiration for Donovan, too. He was great for the US and in the MLS, but he never consistently played in the Bundesliga and did well for 2 half seasons for Everton, a mid level team. His club career is not as good as Dempsey’s or even MB. I was a Donovan fan, but you need to be realistic. He had speed, could shoot very well with either foot, and was a good passer. He was best running at defenders at speed, but his ball skills were actually kind of limited. How often do you remember him dribbling out of trouble because of his skill? I don’t remember and I watched the vast majority of his Galaxy games and probably at least 90% of his USMNT games.

      • Donovan’s half season at Everton is much more respectable than any of MBs. Dutch league does not equal Premier League.

      • 76 matches in Bundesliga and oddly 76 matches in Serie A, 16 league goals in those six combined seasons, Landon Donovan’s two half seasons at Everton don’t compare to that.

      • Donovan’s European career doesn’t even come close to MB’s. Two partial seasons for Everton? Please. As someone else pointed out, MB was a well-established player in the Bundesliga and Serie A. Donovan never came close.

      • @ Gary, LDs greatest skills, that which most US players struggle with so brutally, were his off the ball movement in the passing game coupled with awesome first touch and great great vision. it was these skills that allowed his speed and ability to finish or assist with either foot to flourish. Revealing to me that you didn’t mention those skills–off the ball movement, great first touch and vision–after watching him 90% of his games. and he was a good wing defender too. anyway, just wanted to set the record straight on what you were saying we should all temper

      • re. club careers, I disagree that Dempsey’s is more accomplished, or MBs. all 3 have done well in their own right. Championships matter in the final analysis, not just games played in the bundesliga or Serie A…which are awesome achievements of course! I’m not slighting their careers at all!! That’s the difference, I respect all of their accomplishments, all 3, and all 3 very different, and don’t have to slight one to boost another.

  18. 1. over 30 year old failures at then World Cup = will be failures at the Copa America.

    2. stop players out their natural positions.

    3. Summers hurt USNT.

    4. youth moment.

    5. Klinsmann’s USNT cycle is done!

  19. Every soccer writer has referenced how Dempsey “clearly still have a lot in the tank,” and “still the US’ most lethal option,” or some other rendition of this. The same goes for Jones. He is just a “workhorse” out there and “covers so much ground.” These sentiments may be true; they also may not be. However, how can we possibly judge this objectively. In every game that mattered for the last 5+ years, Dempsey has been in the vicinity of center forward and Jones has been “covering ground” in the center of the midfield (along with Bradley). All the pretenders to their thrones are thrown on to the field around these guys, typically in positions that do not suit them at all (or they never see the field). How can we say that these guys are clearly still so good when we have nothing to compare it to. Literally, name a game in recent memory when someone besides Bradley, Jones, or Dempsey played creator–a game in which close to our best 11 played, it mattered, there was some cohesion from prior games/friendlies. I seem to remember Lee Nguyen looking pretty solid creating chances. Ethan Finlay looks very dangerous every time on the ball. Nagbe looks like the most dynamic midfielder we have ever had every time he (briefly) see the field. However, more often than not, these guys get played in friendlies or get thrown in games that are already decided. In other words, it really seems like Jurgen is almost putting them in no-win situations and then saying see: “this is why we tell them, you may be good at things (possession, creating chances, being a very good soccer player), but at the international level you need to also defend (i.e. foul people a lot and get cards, “step on their toes,” look mean).

    Please Ives and others, the next time you say “still the best (whatever)” in reference to Bradley, Jones, and Dempsey, add the caveat that “this statement is relative to no other players besides Beckerman, Zusi, and Wondo.”

    • I get the frustration, and share it to some degree, but I’m pretty convinced there are not any better options than what we’ve seen. In regards to the Dempsey comment, I don’t see how anyone could argue he is not the “most lethal” goalscorer we have. No one in the US pool, and I mean NO ONE is even close to him at finishing. If Wood, who most are saying is our best striker, was half as clinical then he would have had 2 against Colombia and we maybe win that match. As for Nagbe, who I was high on as well, it seems he has some growing to do at the international level. When he came on for a fatigued Bradley in that same match, there was a definite dropoff. JK has commented that Nagbe has to improve defensively before he’s ready for a bigger role, and that looked to be the case in the Copa. We fans have to accept that the talent isn’t there yet to step up with the big boys. If it helps, there does seem to be quite a few American teenagers catching on with big clubs. I think the future is brighter but it is 4 or 5 years away.

      • I just don’t see how you can draw those conclusions regarding Nagbe based on two games where he played for a combined 20 min. What we may lose with him defensively, we gain by maintaining possession of the ball. He is head and shoulders above any of our midfielders at maintaining possession and completing passes.

        I do not question the talent of Dempsey and Jones necessarily. I question the logic of relying 100% on these old guys when we understand perfectly what these guys bring to the table. Looking forward, I don’t see Jurgen moving away from either player before the WC. At best, they maintain their current level, which is pretty clearly reduced compared to even recent years. If that is the case (and unlikely), we will get another gritty American effort at the world cup, and win a couple of games so that we can say “hey, we didn’t absolutely suck.” But, assuredly, we will get smoked by another Argentina, and everyone will say that these teams are just better than us. We all know that Argentina is better than us. In particular, we know that teams like Argentina are definitely better than the Bradley-Jones-Dempsey squad (I know Jones didn’t play in that game). We also know that Mexico is better than that squad (see Concacaf cup). Would we be worse off with different players, maybe. But, is it not insane to just keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result?

        I’m not saying throw the young ones to the wolves. I am saying, it wouldn’t kill us to sit Bradley, Jones, or Dempsey once in a while (just one so as not to completely upset the applecart) to get someone else (besides Mix) experience, an idea of the defensive requirements, and to give us a different look from time to time. Are we that fragile of a team that removing just one of those players occasionally would result in certain doom. Or would these players’ egos be so shattered as to render them useless thereafter? We’ve been seeing basically the same team for 2 years now, and we know what it is–a few shades better than mediocre.

    • Well, you can consider their club careers in evaluating their talent and worth. Dempsey, while playing mostly in the midfield, is the all time leading scorer for Fulham in the EPL and his best year was 4th in the whole league. Jones was a consistent starter for Schalke for quite a while while they were a Championship League caliber team. Nagbe has played for the Timbers. And both Dempsey and Jones have been moved around for both club and country.

  20. My biggest takeaways:

    -The US might just have a world class defense for the first time ever.
    -Bobby Wood should become the first choice striker.
    -The US is still too reliant on the old guard- JJ is indispensable.
    -Bradley needs to figure things out and do better for the US to excel.

  21. 1. Brooks certainly appears to be ready to anchor the defense, Hertha were also much better when he was fit, even if no move is made I look forward to seeing JAB in the Europa League this season. Still hoping for the Wall of Brooks standing in front of the yellow wall for BvB, but doesn’t seem like that is going to happen at this point.

    2. Let’s see if this forward group can go a year without major injury? Boyd, AJ, Jozy all have missed significant time over the past few years. Will any of the youngsters step up at the club level to earn some caps Wright, Arriola, Vasquez, Rubin, Perez?

    3. Unless we hear of a captain change I don’t see Bradley’s spot as really being open. The problem becomes putting him in his better spot in an odd man midfield, limits Nagbe’s playing time because then you need two strong tacklers to make up for MBs lack of tackling in the final third. Name Brooks captain and watch it stay for the next 6 years, maybe?

    4. I think its Klinnsman’s promises and salary that cause him the most pressure. People would be ok with the status quo if he wasn’t being paid so much to do it. He really can’t win with the internet crowd, plays a consistent lineup/ why aren’t the young kids getting time, talks about how well his players played in defeat/ he’s delusional, criticizes players mistakes/he’s throwing his players under the bus.

    5. The back line is good enough and with quality youngsters in the wings at least at CB I think we are closer than people think. Wish we could find a LB so FJ can move forward. If Pulisic and Wood can continue to grow that gives us two scoring threats that can keep teams defenses on the back foot instead of pounding us from the wings a la Argentina and Colombia.

    • I opined a couple of days ago that our back 4 may be the best in the western hemisphere. We still need a top striker who scores consistently (like 12 to 14 goals per season) for a team in a top 5 league that at least makes the Europa league. And what i wouldn’t give if we had a Diego Valeri in our midfield. Add a good defensive enforcer in the midfield with these other additions and we would have a pretty good team.

      • Regarding the back 4, maybe an exaggeration–I said maybe. But consider how good Brooks and Fabian Johnson are, two of the best in the Bundesliga, Geoff Cameron has been a regular for Stoke for quite a while now, and Yedlin seems to have locked down a starting role for sunderland in the EPL. Of the top teams in Copa, I think only Argentina’s back 4 has an equivalent resume. 2 of Chile’s back 4 in the final play in the Chilean league. Because Uruguay and Brazil went out early, I don’t recall who their back 4 are and I’m too lazy to look it up now, but our back line certainly compares to just about anyone else’s in North or South America.

      • This year yes, but Chile’s back four are all pretty old aren’t they. At least 2 or 3 of them are over 30, so ours should be better going forward, assuming we can find a replacement for Cameron.

  22. All in all, who here thought they would make the semis? Who here thinks they could beat col or arg? USA fans should hope more than expect to win until they have close to as talented teams as those two

      • only as sad i get when we lose a friendly (not very). this was basically a friendly tournament. there’s a reason even the conmebol nations were torn on whether this copa america edition was as important as the olympics.

      • I thought the same as you before the tournament, but I think there was too much pressure on JK going in, so he played to win as many games as he could. I still would have liked to see us play more young players, but it was also nice to see the team do as well as they did. As was said, it’s good for team morale and confidence.

      • Besides Brazil who didn’t bring a full squad? Mexico, arguable, but Gio and Vela have been off the list for months/years in Vela’s case. Colombia not bringing an aged off form and never fully recovered from injury Falcao?

  23. I love this new stat that was put out by about 5-15-2. Yes, the 2002 victory over Portugal’s aging but still golden generation was tremendous and the 2-0 breaking of Spain’s win streak were great matches. However, ’95 Copa victory over Argentina’s reserves (had already clinched knockout round and rested almost everyone), the ’98 Gold Cup over Brazil’s B/C team (they had tied Jamaica and Guatemala in the group stage) and ’99 Confed Cup (first time it was held outside S.Arabia and before it was the preview of the WC) victory over a German B team were little more than friendlies with only 3 subs. Also, 60% of those wins against the Top 10 came from Steve Sampson, who would consider him to be our most successful manager?

    • As someone who used to do this stuff, called comparative analysis, you have to be really careful in drawing conclusions, because there are so many variables in play that you need to control for. Especially unhelpful is just looking at gross data, in this case the won-lost record, in isolation. Each data point is a discrete event that needs to be analyzed so that we can see how many variables are similar when comparing to other data points. In short, without further, much more detailed analysis, this kind of statistic is pretty meaningless. I see this done all the time in politics where someone will take a gross figure, like annual Federal expenditures from 2015, for example, compared to 1960 say, and show how, even adjusted for inflation the expenditures have gone up so much more. Again, that is meaningless because it may leave out things like expenditures increasing for social security because of an aging population, the fact that Medicare didn’t exist in the base year, and so on. As Mark Twain said, there are 3 kinds of lies–lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    • so the counterargument is that USMNT with JK is not significantly worse in competitions against top teams, as this data would show, but only marginally worse? or about the same with your proposed adjustments to criteria?
      Should we penalize JK for beating and tying Mexico in the HEX because Mexico also lost and tied at home to other CONCACAF teams?

  24. My biggest concern is that which you’ve highlighted with regards to the midfield. I’m not convinced Bradley is done, but I do think Jones is, and especially will be by 2018. That JK hasn’t groomed any replacements at all, let alone with any consistency will haunt the team in the next couple years. As a Portlander I’m partial to Nagbe because of what I’ve seen of him here. Regardless, this is an example of JK’s biggest fault; by shuffling the deck every game, connections don’t grow. What will the engine room look like when JJ and maybe MB are done?

    • Marquez is 37 and still an integral part of Mexico, how can you say Jones can’t be a part for the US going forward. If the US plays the 433 going forward Nagbe will find plenty of time in the next two years, if we stay with the 442 to keep Dempsey on the field he will have to improve his defense. I’m not saying he’s a poor defender, but compared to Jones and Bedoya he’s not as good.

      • Marquez moved to center back in his latter years so that he wouldn’t have to run as much. Same with Mattheus and Beckenbauer (both of which were better than Marquez). That’s why JK tried Jones at centerback after the WC 2014, because he knew JJ couldn’t run forever. But for that move to work, the player has to buy into his new duties, and JJ is not ready to stop surging forward anytime soon.

        But I will grant you that JJ has continued to run longer than any of us could have guessed.

      • Marquez was able to shift into the MF against us in Pasadena last fall. We should probably take into account JJ hasn’t played a full MLS season the last two years, last year due to injury and this year because of the suspension early on has save his legs some. At his age it can go quickly, but I don’t see how after this tournament and how well he’s played for Colorado, anyone could just write him off.

      • “Marquez is 37 and still an integral part of Mexico, how can you say Jones can’t be a part for the US going forward.”

        because they’re not the same type of player? unless jones can convert himself into a stay-at-home defender who can pick out a nice pass, no, i don’t see him lasting as long as marquez. (or if he does, then our depth options are far worse than we think.)

      • I’m just saying throwing him out just because he’s going to be 36 in 2018 is idiotic. If he does fall off in play then yes replace him, but as long as he still is playing like our best midfielder which he clearly was, he should keep being played. Do college basketball teams stop playing seniors in the NCAA Tournament because hey they won’t be here next year you’ve got to get the freshmen ready for big minutes next year? That coach would be run out of town on a rail.

      • your college ball analogy doesn’t really work because those players are only getting better as seniors (hopefully), but on the larger point, sure: play your best players until they stop being your best. however, you can usually predict (in a general sense) the age where players of a certain type (like an all-action, run-your-heart-out midfielder) start to become less effective.

      • Since most college ball players will never play beyond college, no I don’t think they are probably getting much better by the end of their senior year. You could also go with PSG should have benched Zlatan the last 3 months of the year because everyone knew he wasn’t coming back.

    • Midfield options include Pulisic, Nagbe, Bedoya, Zardes, Kitchen, Hyndman, Zelalem, Williams, maybe Will Trapp, maybe lletget, maybe Finlay, maybe a lot of people.Two years ago a lot of people thought Brooks wasn’t anything. A lot can happen between now and the next World Cup. No reason to panic yet.

      • I agree with your don’t panic statement, but it isn’t quite as rosy as you make it out to be based on players that could play Jones position in the 433 or flat 442. If we go back to the 442 Diamond then yes it opens up more choices (please no please please please no)

        CMs: Nagbe, Zelalem, Hyndman (Bedoya is 30)
        Hybrid: Williams, Morales
        DMs: Kitchen, Trapp

        Pulisic played a CAM or false 9 for U17s and may get back there is he gets stronger, we’ll see where BvB uses him after some of their transfers

        Wide Midfielders: Lletget (looking more like a bust than the star he showed last season), Finlay (terrible start to the season, played as CF last weekend) Zardes is not a replacement for Jones in the formations we used this Summer.

      • Assuming JK moves away from Bradley, I think a temporary solution is to play Bedoya centrally. I thought Bedoya had a great Copa, and that we missed him against Argentina just as much as Jones and Wood. For the future, I would bet on Hyndman as a centermid engine. He has a vision and technique beyond any of our current players that would serve us well, but he isn’t seasoned enough yet, and his size may hurt him at the highest level. I don’t know what to think of Nagbe yet.

      • Another option I left out is that if we can get a solid LB, or decide to use Besler there, then you can move Fabian into the midfield. I remember when he had a few really good games in a row some here were saying he should be a CAM, or take over for Bradley. The US is improving, but it’s not like we have stars at every position, let’s keep that in mind. Until we find someone else, Bradley will have to do. He played okay vs. Colombia the second time around.

      • JB — thank you! I am a big fan of Bedoya and think he has been the forgotten man for a long time. He came into his own in this tournament because he was surrounded by better passers. He doesn’t make the headlines because of his defensive responsibilities and because in his few opportunities to score he has missed it.

    • Looking at age, for Russia perhaps, but based on recent form, it is difficult to conclude that Jones is done while Bradley is not. We really, really do need to develop options, but… as it stands today, on form rather than rep, I honestly think we could do quite well with Jones as our CM (Bradley as his backup) and Nagbe at CAM. CONCACAF level comp in WC quals is a good place to give Nagbe a run. Knowing MB’s fire…. I would be surprised to not see a jolt- w/ marked improvement…. in which case you re-evaluate.

  25. For me the most amazing part of this interesting retrospective piece is that last year, four years into JK’s tenure, he had Ventura Alvarado at CB in a major competition. The second most amazing thing was that in 2016, we’re still saying that “Kyle Beckerman’s career as a USMNT player is all but done.”

    • Is the Gold Cup a major international competition? Does anyone outside of the region even pay attention to it? At the time Alvarado had seen regular minutes with Club America who were the Liga Mx Champs and won the CCL so Alvarado at CB is not that great of a leap, even if he was playing in 3 CB formation with CA and 2 CB formation with US. I believe he played in 2 CB formation with Necaxa the season before.

      • The Gold Cup is the regional championship. Maybe you, and lots of others, don’t care, but it’s the only regional championship we have,

        My point about Alvarado was that he was another one of JK’s ultimately unsuccessful “let’s see how this works out” ideas.

      • I understand its the regional championship and I do care about it and want us to win every time, but its no where near the competition of the Copa or a Confed Cup.

        You’ve proven my point that Klinnsman can’t win with some fans, he plays Alvarado last year (blooding a young up and comer who was starting for the best club in Concacaf) and he’s criticized for playing him, this year he plays gasp 30 year old Geoff Cameron and he’s playing it safe and hurting development by not starting Miazga who has played 4 games total since October.

      • That was not my point at all, Johnny, and I think you know it. With training, video of club play, and friendlies, JK has plenty of opportunities other than competitive matches to decide who fits best in which positions. And too often, in my view, he has taken too long to get that decision right.

      • for what it’s worth, i don’t think it was necessarily a bad call to start alvarado at the gold cup (although i would’ve pulled the plug on him a little earlier); he had just had a solid season for a good team in liga mx.

        what i didn’t agree with was starting him and brooks together in a major tournament. it’s incredibly rare that two young centerbacks will form a solid partnership, as it’s one of those positions where experience can often trump raw talent.

        klinsmann got it right with this tournament, and i’m willing to bet that brooks wouldn’t have been quite so awful with cameron beside him in the gold cup — you know, the tournament that matters. it’s just disappointing that he made such a stupid mistake in the first place.

      • Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. A lot of people complain that he stays too long with older players and doesn’t give younger players a chance. Well, Alvarado was a younger player who seemed to have promise. Same with Brooks. One worked out the other didn’t. Green hasn’t worked out. . .yet. Alvarado may still develop into a good CB because he’s still so young. You roll the dice and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. When you look at the totality of young guys JK has brought in and played, I think he has been right more often than wrong.

      • People are frustrated because he left off veterans that they liked (Donovan) in 2014 because he was looking to build for the future. Now JK knows there is no future past 2018 so why build beyond that. Jones, Dempsey, Cameron, Bedoya, Zusi, aren’t going to make it beyond Russia, but what does he care as long as they get him there. He loaded the cupboard in Germany by bringing in young players and now Low gets all the credit because they won with him.

      • @Johnny, excuse my frankness but you can’t say Jurgen was building for the future by leaving Donovan off the roster when you consider he brought 4-5 other players that were the same age or older than LD to Rio in Davis, Wondo, Dempsey, JJ and Beckerman. The sooner people accept that LD’s omission was personal the better.

      • Sorry Ronniet those where two separate thoughts that I mushed together, left off a favorite, and also brought young players to build for the next cycle Green, Brooks, and Yedlin. However, all the players you named are younger than LD, although Beckerman by only a few days. LD also began pro soccer years before all of those guys except Jones, meaning more miles on the tires no matter what age.

        And I would disagree the sooner people let it go the better, it does no good to dwell on LD not making the WC his inclusion would have made no difference on the level we reached. He wouldn’t have made a difference in either game in which we lost and perhaps he helps us beat Portugal, but we still end up in the same round of 16 game.

  26. JK is ultimately a victim of his promises…promises we all know deep down would take years to come to fruition, if ever.

    We are never going to be a soccer power. Fans need to realize this.

    • “JK is ultimately a victim of his promises…promises we all know deep down would take years to come to fruition, if ever.”

      correct. i don’t blame klinsmann for getting hired, i blame gulati and co. for buying into his shtick.

    • Never is a very long time. How about we can’t be a great team within the next decade? Within 20 years I think we can consistently be a top 10 team. I think the foundation has been laid, MLS keeps improving, soccer is growing in popularity, soon top US athletes may begin to choose soccer over other options they have available.

      • this is particularly true with many parents of young children recognizing the physical and mental damage involved in the more violent contact sports, such as american football and ice hockey. soccer, golf, tennis, and swimming become much more attractive sports activities.

  27. Maybe, instead of expecting a coach to work miracles with a very limited amount of talent in the player pool we could start talking about how we just don’t develop enough good players to make it any further than we do.
    It has to happen eventually.

    • Isn’t Klinsmann also getting paid to work on the development side as Technical Director of USSF? Just sayin’. We didn’t qulaify for the Olympics yet again, and the youth teams haven’t shown much overall improvement.

      • Nigeria has had the best youth teams for over a decade and it hasn’t translated to international success on the full Nat level.

      • You know that’s a racist comment right? I understand not intentional, but its still racist.

        Everyone that plays in the FIFA Youth Tournaments has genetic testing done to determine if their age is accurate.

      • Really, playing the race card? Could we stop with that, it only breeds more hate. This was just pointing out something factual. Some countries cheat, the Chinese use under age girls in gymnastics, Russian and US athletes have a history of using steroids/HGH and Nigerian’s have a history of using over aged players in youth tournaments… it’s just the truth, please stop trying to project a negative image on people over a cute, innocent and factual one liner.

  28. One of the biggest takeaway is that if JK stops tinkering so much, the USMNT can play and win as a team. I saw a team that looked much more like the USMNT of 2002 and 2010, who worked hard together and never quit. And on occasion, we saw flashes of what JK promised, the flare, the possession, taking it to the other team rather than just playing the counter. Mind you, I’m not giving JK credit for our players developing that way, that’s something that happens at the club level.

    But I give JK credit for not panicking after the first Colombia game. He stayed the course and it paid off. I think US fans, as well as posters on this site, react way too quickly and try to draw major conclusions for “one-game streaks”. Let’s face it, we are stuck with JK through WC 2018, so let’s make the best of it. If the biggest change is that he has found a solid core of 7-8 players (something that Arena and Bob Bradley managed to do much earlier in their tenure), then that’s progress.

    And I’m excited about the younger guys stepping up and performing at a better level, such as Brooks, Wood, Yedlin, Zardes. Even Cameron, who isn’t so young, was rock solid.

    I’m of the opinion that Bradley still very much belongs on this team. Until you can find someone better than him (not named Jones), he’s the best we’ve got, and I happen to think he had a solid tournament against some pretty tough teams.

    • Ya, despite people clamoring for Bradley to be left off the roster, I really don’t see anyone on the depth chart behind him anywhere close to his level. Kitchen has done nothing compared to Bradley and his long career. Being on the 3rd best team in the SPL does not instill confidence in me yet. Maybe give him some friendly games to see where he is at, but unless he has improved leaps and bounds (which I’m sure the coaching staff can or can’t see in practice) then Bradley gets the nod for qualifiers.

      • I like though that Kitchen was willing to challenge himself by leaving the MLS and going to Europe to try and “make it”. Unlike others highlighted in a recent Washington Post article who left Europe to come back to the MLS to play against inferior competition (Shea, Altidore, Bradley, Ricardo Clark (remember him), Mixx, Sacha, Aguedelo) Kitchen is actually attempting to challenge himself. I see better things for him within the USMNT system in the future, particularly as Jones and Beckerman phase out.

      • All of those players did exactly what you are asking for. They went and challenged themselves but it didn’t work out. It is still way too early to know if Kitchen will work out or if he will just be another name added to the list you just posted. In Bradley’s case, I think he believed he had proven enough to warrant coming home. I’m sure as a top prideful athlete he assumed his form would continue and he wouldn’t experience a significant decline. Unfortunately, it looks like complacency may finally be catching up to him. I also think it is kind of silly to say that players in MLS are not challenging themselves.

      • There are literally about 30 other central midfielders I’d rather seen play than Bradley. We know what we have and it isn’t good. We didn’t have anyone after Donovan yet we went with Julian Green and did fine. This time, CDM is our deepest position and there are plenty of options. Bradley isn’t even in the top 20 central midfielders in MLS. Literally anyone could have shown up and done a better job.

    • Tinkering is not without its advantages. He learns, we all learn, what doesn’t work. We learned that many supposed attacking options, including MLS’s most prolific active American goalscorer, don’t produce at the international level. He found Bobby Wood, who didn’t play well at first but the coach stuck with him and instilled confidence. He found Jordan Morris, whose time may or may not come. He integrated John Brooks, but again he wasn’t great at first so we needed to try other things. None of those worked, so you may choose to use those experiments against him but without last year’s Gold Cup failure JB may not have been as good this time around. He uses Bradley in different spots and to me the verdict is still out where he is best. I think he gets complacent at defensive midfield. And when he is there we don’t have an offensive threat – against great teams, the ones people are hopelessly desperate to beat – in front of him. Up to the last world cup Bradley was playing tremendously in a more attacking role. Everyone forgets his Mexico game where for 60 minutes ago he completely dictated the game from the top of a diamond, in a way no American midfield player ever has. “Bradley looked as if he was the best player in the world,” Miguel Herrera said.

      Nagbe, he is right there, but not playing enough for people’s liking, and reasons were given why not. He isn’t an impact player yet. It is true that he connects all his passes, but he doesn’t make many penetrating runs either (nor for Portland, for that matter). A number 10 has to do that ! So we have to find one. For a while this year people seemed to think Fabian Johnson is our playmaker. All I see is a very good utility player. So he moves Johnson around but is very clear why – we don’t have another left back good enough. Again, you can choose whether to believe the coach or not, but his reasoning is clear enough. And as a backup plan he played a guy there who no one else would have thought capable, but Matt Besler played very well and helped get us to the semifinal. Tinkering.

      Only results count, but there is also no magic formula and for a team with limited quality pieces like ours – including quite a few players who aren’t accustomed to playing the highest level of the game – we have experiment in order to arrive at definitive conclusions. Maybe some guys have that level in them but we just don’t know for sure, or they need to be developed during the 90 minutes of an international game, which is a rather odd concept for a nation aspiring to win a world cup..

      • “Everyone forgets his Mexico game where for 60 minutes ago he completely dictated the game from the top of a diamond, in a way no American midfield player ever has.”

        closer to 45 than 60; but no, we just also remember that mexico then made adjustments at halftime which rendered bradley anonymous for the rest of the game. they simply weren’t expecting bradley as the #10 and it caught them off-guard; take away the element of surprise, and he isn’t very good there.

    • I’d drop Yedlin from that list for now. He showed throughout this tourney that he is exactly where Brooks was during the Gold Cup. Very exciting prospect but no more. He has many raw areas in his game. Some we can let slide since we don’t have the talent of the elite teams but at the very least he needs to get more consistent with his defensive positioning and awareness, decision making when challenging a player, and decision making on when deciding when to get forward. Those three deficiencies caused at least 2 goals directly and earned him a red card.

      To make him more than a solid defender he needs to learn how to cross the ball and how to take on the last defender as well. Right now he’s just a mediocre defender with some speed.

      • Don’t get me wrong though. There is no reason he can’t take the next step given more playing time in the EPL and he still gets the start for the US as no one else is good enough to truly challenge him for the spot.

  29. The one take away from this Copa America despite mixed results is that we now know what the ceiling is for Klinsmann with the USMNT. We will beat the teams we are supposed to beat, and lose to the teams that are clearly better than us. Gone are the times of surprise results against the world’s elite with this coach.

    We will qualify for Russia 2018, we will most likely make it through the group, and depending on match ups, make it to the quarters. However, as the level of talent increases into the final 16, I do not see us making it to the semi-finals yet again.

    Copa America showed us we will not surprise anyone under Jurgen Klinsmann. We will continue to hit that ceiling against the traditional soccer powers.

    • It is almost like we were the #31 ranked team playing against the #1 & #3 ranked teams…I forgot our tremendous record against teams in the top 5. Thanks for the perspective on JKs limitations.


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