Klinsmann’s Depth Chart: September 2011

Klinsmann, looking on with great interest...

That’s it.

TSG goes diving again into the USMNT...

A mere three matches in the books for the Herr to the throne; time to pass judgments and make ridiculous prognostications on how the US will fare in 2014 and who will be there.

Truth be told, the most recently concluded USMNT September camps did give US fans a very visible look-in on what to expect going forward with the team, not least of which is a measured and educational approach by the headman.

What doesn’t matter thus far is the results. In fact, US fans should care less if the US loses by the score of 4-0 or 40-o. Unless there is some mandate from USSF from a marketing perspective to “keep it close,” frivolous experimental matches before qualifying should not be used to push a winning mentality (or more appropriately  “build” mentality) and being on the wrong side of the scoreline should not measure the coach.

New formations and new players should and are being explored with attempts to move the ball and play defense a certain way. And note, this a luxury probably never afforded to Bob Bradley whose entire tenure was marked by a results-oriented approach probably because of Sunil Gulati’s desire to replace him.

The question must be asked is: Did the previous cycle’s results-oriented approach in any way stunt or compromise the growth of the team? The answer in hindsight will be never be known, but that’s exactly the latitude that Bradley’s successor has.

Let’s get right to our dive chart:

We’ll break it down with:

• Observations

• The Depth Chart

• Playing Mourinho

Go:

Observations:

• Can the US counter? It sure can. So why rely on it in these matches instead of figuring out the other ways it can play.

Shea...holding something back?

Step back for a second and ask yourself this question: How many times–I counted at least seven–over two games did you see Brek Shea with a full head of steam hold up the play and drop a pass back for Maurice Edu, Jose Torres or another player, thus negating a counterattack scoring chance?

Other players held up as well.

Why? It sure seemed like a directive from Klinsmann was “Don’t Counterattack.” Actually, revisiting the game against Mexico in August, Klinsmann himself illuminated his early stage strategy.

“We want to build from the back” was the thrust of his post-game conference.

That instruction from the coach had two effects on team.

First, it forced the players to move off the ball and move within a system to bring the ball up the pitch.

A criticism of the Bradley era was the laggard off the ball movement of the front six.

Sure, that continued quite a bit in these matches, but movement was also noticeably better–notably Jozy Altidore off the ball.

Second and perhaps more importantly, when a team doesn’t counterattack, it reduces the chances of succumbing to the counter themselves.

Are you looking for the biggest difference in the three-match regime change here thus far on the pitch?

That would be the United States moving more uniformly as one–reducing the “lost shape” and “stretching” that is devastating for a team defending in transition.

The United States coughed up three clean sheets in their past three matches, only one–Costa Rica–was in transition–that from a blown defensive assignment by Jose Torres and because the defense actually was tardy in coming up to support the team and remove excess spacing.

Contrast that to the Gold Cup–especially the Final match–where the US employed their own counterattack and was shot down unmercifully in their two losses–to Panama and Mexico respectively–on the counter.

The US was stretched in those games–criminally–against Mexico with a tournament-weary Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones frantically attempting to catch up to the play most of the time.

Klinsmann has added an extra man in the center of the pitch and is developing “the slow approach” to bringing up the ball–and that has improved the Yanks defense in return.

Media pundits scolded the US for the lack of chances and the fact that the counter attack was gone.

Does.

Not.

Matter.

This is a team that really since the days of John O’Brien and Claudio Reyna collectively controlling the tempo has not been able to consistently dictate the game to opponents–and more worrisome hasn’t been able to do it against weaker ones.

The US can counterattack. That is known.

Remember when, at the end of the NBA season, LeBron James was harangued for being an incomplete player because he didn’t have a post-up game.

Exactly.

Landon, pushing the ball against the Ticos...

• Did anyone else catch that Donovan and Dempsey played the same role in different matches and weren’t particularly effective?

There is a classic question that the media loves to knead like pizza dough. It goes like this: “What will the US do after the Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey era? Who will replace them?”

A fair question indeed and Klinsmann gave fans a little morsel, a little taste of what he was thinking in these two matches.

With Brek Shea (looking capable on the left) and Robbie Rogers (not looking like the answer on the right), the US created width up the field. A quick note here: To employ a classic two-striker system here would pretty much collapse what the US is trying to do up top, if it’s not a speedy striker-CF type alignment.

Landon Donovan on the dribble against Costa Rica...

Back to our point. With the two younger wingers split out wide to the right. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan both played the attacking midfielder in the second band of the 4-3-3. Donovan’s dribbles against Costa Rica (see chart on right) showcase his positioning (although as a manner of habit he tended to drift out to the right back to his more comfortable position in the 4-2-2-2 under Bob Bradley).

Neither Dempsey or Donovan–in this case Dempsey less so–are true wingers in the Jurgen Klinsmann system that we are seeing right now.

Neither player loves to expressly take it wide–Dempsey loves to cut in from the left more so while Donovan prefers to take a direct angle right at goal from a wide right position.

In fact, the question will be how will both fit on the field for the US in the coming months and years in this system.

Sacrilegious? Wait, didn’t we want to find the answer after the double “D’s” up top?

With Shea looking futuristic on the left, that may leave–if Jose Torres is a mainstay, and we’ll get to this point–right attacking midfield role and right wing position for Donovan and Dempsey.

In the past, the players haven’t thrived playing on the same side together because they both like to dominate the ball in the attacking third.

And a major sub-point here, with Dempsey’s best position being “incutting from the left wing”, he is further compromised in the US system currently by the lack of a left back option. When he drags defenders in from the left, just who threatens the opponents up the wing?

This was the case last cycle and more so the case this cycle in that Klinsmann’s system favors width and wing play more than Bradley’s.

Should the US ensure that the new system they develop hold both Donovan and Dempsey as it’s key figures? No.

Good players (and their coaches) have a way of getting players on the field. As both players age, it’s wise to take advantage of a system that complements the future. Players like Shea, Joseph Gyau, Tim Chandler and Josh Gatt.

• Line-ups and player roles

Jeff Larentowicz on MLS’s Soccer ExtraTimeRadio this past week supported the theories behind Jurgen Klinsmann’s numbering, nameless jersey move. In short, it wasn’t just about “team.”

Edu, "The #6" .... Run wild and free John Harkes....

Here was Larentowicz answering Greg Lalas’s question on the radio program in regards to USMNT roles:

“…He [Klinsmann]…I’m not sure that people have noticed…the starters wear number one thru 11…and he wants distinct roles based on those numbers. The back four and ‘the #6′ is the role that Maurice has been playing. And he put a slide up and showed the depth chart of the players in each position and where you were on the field. And when we’re in training he trained specifically for each person to understand the role of each number on the field.”

John Harkes just wept in celebration.

With that nugget of information in mind, here’s how we break down…

The Depth Chart

The top of Jurgen Klinsmann's depth chart.

GK: (1) Tim Howard, (2) Bill Hamid

The skinny: This position on the depth chart seems set for now with Hamid playing long-term apprentice to Tim Howard. I can see other young keepers coming in here like Sean Johnson and Cody Cropper to challenge for Hamid’s role in the coming months though.

This analysis leads me to this (not-too-bold) prediction:

Bold Prediction #1: Brad Guzan does not get another call-in in 2010 and will not get a call-in next year unless he is playing fulltime for a club.

Fabian: Vaulting--actually bunny-hopping--to near the top of the leftback chart.

LFB: (1) Eric Lichaj (inj.), (2) Fabian Johnson, (3) Edgar Castillo, (4) Zach Loyd

The skinny: But we haven’t even seen Fabian Johnson! Maybe he’s an Edgar Castillo in German Adidas! Maybe, maybe. But probably not as we remember that Castillo have been but a part time starter south of the Rio Grande and a streaky player at best.

At World Cup 2010, Brazil skipper Dunga used Michel Bastos–arguably a very offensive player in the mold of a poor man’s Florent Malouda–to beat back opponents on the left flank with the threat of his attacks. I think Klinsmann is thinking along the same lines here as in offensive chops will help compensate for defensive inabilities.

Quick, name the last true leftback star for the States? Don’t forget to eat, sleep, get your Christmas presents and pay your taxes while you sleuth.

Eric Lichaj gets dealt into the mix as soon as he’s healthy.

LCB: (1) Carlos Bocanegra, (2) Tim Ream, (3) John Anthony Brooks.

John Anthony Brooks: "Look out Timmy. I've got a four year contract and I hope to get some runouts with the senior side this year....and I'm not even 20 yet!"

The skinny: What do three camps and no starts behind the Captain tell you? That means your a puppy and you’re in grooming but we’re hoping you’re a defensive German Shepard at some point with a touch like Van Gogh. Step forward young Tim Ream….when you’re ready.

John Anthony Brooks? A 4-year deal with the senior side at Hertha Berlin? I imagine you’ll start hearing his name a lot more somewhere in the next two to four months.

RCB: (1) Clarence Goodson, (2) Michael Orozco Fiscal, (3) George John (4) Omar Gonzalez

The skinny: You’ve got me here. And I think you’ve got Klinsy boy as well.

The run outs by somebody older like Orozco Fiscal–he’ll be almost 30 at World Cup 2014–probably tell us that Klinsmann is not overly confident in Goodson, especially with the Danish Leaguer’s composure under duress.

No Omar Gonzalez yet. Reason? Not strong enough distribution perhaps, but I also think Klinsmann wants a bit of Cannavaro in here and a little less Nesta.

George John? Wild card. No idea.

RFB: (1) Steve Cherundolo, (2) Timmy Chandler, (3) Danny Williams

The skinny: Stevie C hasn’t started the campaign all that strong yet for Hannover. Bold prediction time? Yes.

Here it goes: Tim Chandler will start more games in World Cup qualifying at rightback than Cherundolo.

CDM: (1) Maurice Edu, (2) Kyle Beckerman, (3) Jeff Larentowicz

The skinny: The so-called “#6 role.” An aggressive move by Klinsmann to attempt to cover with one over the backline; the coach hoping that an extra man in the middle plus “moving as one” would provide relief for the lone Ranger Edu.

Edu still got a big workout. Right now it’s his spot because of his ability and age, but Beckerman’s abilities on the ball make it a close race.

LW: (1) Brek Shea

The skinny: The skinny? Yeah, the skinny tall guy with blond misfit cut is a player it turns out. Pondered a question on Twitter last week. Brek Shea, more Gareth Bale, Ashley Young or Thomas Muller. Going with Bale for now–Shea’s long first step and his ability get wide on the left must have Klinsmann salivating right now.

Who’s #2? An in-cutting Clint Dempsey in the 2nd half perhaps?

Needs many more of "these" (Photo credit: Matt Mathai)

CM-Hub: (1) Jose Torres, Stu Holden (inj./?)

The skinny: Maybe stop and think that Joe Torres is holding Stu-S-A Holden’s role–just a thought? As much as everyone–including TSG–likes to make of Torres, you would be blind to think that Torres should be mainstay in the offense. If his role were just to circulate the ball–that is not be tasked with the incisive pass–then you’re better off having Michael Bradley or Kyle Beckerman in there.

Seriously.

And bit of a concern here. Torres hasn’t won yet in a US kit and has not really set Pachuca on fire in the Primera. Look around that US team. Nearly every other player has once played in or plays in a winning program. Not a notion to slough off.

And of course when Torres gets injured–and his frame he has in the past and will–what happens next?

AM/CM: (1) Clint Dempsey (Landon) (2) Stu Holden *inj* (3) Michael Bradley

The skinny: The second half of the Belgium match gave some insight that Klinsmann will make this role very fluid depending on what the opponent’s tactics and game situation dictates. Kyle Beckerman entered the match and Robbie Rogers was sacrificed. This moved Clint Dempsey out wide and the US was now using more of a  dual holding system with Beckerman and Torres attempting to keep order in the middle of the pitch.

This position could be more offensive–seeing Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan in the internal attacking mid role or you could see Stu Holden, Michael Bradley or Kyle Beckerman in that role.

Worth 1000 words....

RW: (1) Landon Donovan, (2) Josh Gatt, (3) Robbie Rogers

The skinny: Landon, can he play wide. He probably will. He’s floating out there anyway.

Might Robbie Rogers have been a good comp for the late 2011 introduction of youngster Josh Gatt who is an emerging player in a similar mold?

I would think so.

Striker: (1a) Jozy Altidore, (1b) Juan Agudelo, (2) Teal Bunbury

The guy knows a thing or two about timing and strikers. Haircuts? That's a wait-and-see.

The skinny: When you get to a “C” level executive in business, choosing your role and knowing when to choose your role (what company, what industry) is as important for you success and image as actually doing a good job.

Great case in point? Terry Semel, former CEO of Yahoo. Under Semel’s watch Yahoo made great strides in the early to mid 2000’s. Semel was revered for leadership. One problem.

A careful analysis showed that Semel’s Yahoo lagged the growth of tech companies who were finally experiencing their Renaissance.

Klinsmann’s got the US job and in Jozy Altidore–perhaps maturing in his fourth season in Europe, Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury (perhaps the US’s best option coming within the hashmarks), there’s actually some hope for a true striker.

Klinsmann made Adidas famous in the late 1980s-early 1990’s–can he make the US strikers fashionable here in the 2010’s?

Playing Mourinho

We haven’t done our Mourinho column in awhile. So we’ll keep it brief here.

Best US line-up using Klinsmann’s 4-3-3 line-up? We offer that below. The Latin influence naturally offered here by Scottish-American Stu Holden.

A few notes here. First, there seems be much love for the 4-4-2, especially from my colleague Taylor Twellman.

Don’t understand it for a number of reasons.

First, I’ll qualify and say a 1-1 set-up up top (4-4-1-1) makes more sense than a 4-4-2.

That said, two up top makes little sense in Klinsmann’s width-based system for a few reasons.

First, the deep flanks are where the wide forwards and defenders aspire to get to. In a 4-4-2, this space is eaten up by down the line runs of strikers which are less necessary for Klinsmann.

Second, the US has no true speed option. Unlike a Manchester United who sees Rooney float below Chicharito or Spain who sees David Villa float ahead of any number of attackers, the US doesn’t have that player right now. Haven’t had it since Charlie Davies pre-injury.

Klinsmann’s current camp invitations speak to that notion and his desire to employ a single-striker target-player system. Edson Buddle, Teal Bunbury, Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo all can play the point themselves. When Klinsmann has brought in Agudelo in games; it’s been to replace Altidore, not in concert with.

Finally–speaking to Twellman’s desire for the 4-4-2–his comments were that the US needs someone to get on the other end of crosses. Well, yes if you’re coming down the right flank and either Cherundolo or Chandler is lofting one in. But in that case you have Shea on the other end as well as Altidore and perhaps Dempsey.

Flip the ball over to the left side, crossing to the right and….well, the Yanks don’t really have a strong left foot option save Shea right now who has been relied on more to gain the corner in an attack.

Our go at a potential “Klinsmannesque” line-up.

Look, it's line-up and perhaps Chandler shouldn't start over Dolo. But let's keep Dolo rested and build for the future. TSG expects to be taken to task for that one.

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118 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Freddie Footballer on 2011/09/13 at 9:06 AM

    As usual, excellent analysis that you can only find here, so keep up the good work!

    Some observations:
    1) Do you think the lone striker formation will work given our options? I love JA-Squared, but I’m not sure about their technical abilities in this system…Also, hearing some noise about Terrence Boyd at Dortmund II – thoughts?

    2) Where is Jermaine Jones? No mention of him at all in your article. I know he’s getting no love at Schalke, but isn’t he better than Larentowicz?

    3) I think Bradley is better suited at the CDM role as opposed to an attacking role. I wish his vision and passes were better, although I do think he is useful making runs into the box and getting on the end of crosses, free kicks, etc.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:16 AM

      1. Can’t comment on Terrence Boyd yet…and I’d like to see him do some consistent damage above the Bundesliga 4 league before making any conclusions.

      2 .On Jermaine Jones, my worry is his inconsistency and speed. He’ll shortly be 30, did you know that? (I didn’t either until I looked it up)…which means he’ll be 33 at World Cup 2014 in a central role that is always very demanding.

      I think his injuries and inconsistent play have robbed him of some of his best years unfortunately.

      3. I worry about Bradley’s defensive positioning. He’s also less of a tackler than Maurice Edu. I think until he develops one thing that he does really well (besides “run” or “hard work”), he’s going to struggle for an identity.

      I can see him in that other CM role…that’s where Klinsmann had him against Mexico…but let’s see what role Chievo Verona give him.

      Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/13 at 10:52 AM

      I personally don’t care to see anymore of Jermaine Jones. I am intrigued by Terrence Boyd, though.

      Reply

  2. Posted by drizzl on 2011/09/13 at 9:06 AM

    I’m struggling to see your fascination with Beckerman. He really is just a poor man’s Bradley or Edu. It works in the MLS, but won’t on the international stage.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:12 AM

      I think you have a fair point for sure. I think what I do like about Beckerman is the following:

      1) He plays the precise holding role the US needs in that formation. That is, stay at home 90% of the time and he has excellent on the ball skills in both keeping possession and moving the ball.

      In that respect he’s better than Michael Bradley who is challenged in keeping possession.

      The weaknesses *could be pronounced for Beckerman and–I’ll call myself out–at the 2010 Camp Cupcake game against Honduras here’s what I had to say about Beckerman:

      DM: Kyle Beckerman: 4.5

      An average one for the RSL man. Created nothing on offense and didn’t destroy the middle on defense. Played a step slow against “B” level competition. Showed for outlet passes and didn’t make dumb mistakes though.


      Difference…three men in the middle of the pitch instead of two.

      I still worry a little bit about his speed at the international level but he’s already playing the #6 role that Klinsmann wants.

      Time will tell, but I think you have a fair criticism.

      Reply

      • Posted by jwrandolph on 2011/09/13 at 11:38 AM

        I really really liked what we saw with Beckerman on the pitch the last few games in red white and blue. It feels like it may be one of those situations where Beckerman is not necessarily the better player than Edu, but sometimes serves a a better heartbeat for the team, which is more of a stylistic compatibility with the players around you than a measure of your quality as a player. Very tough call though. I like Edu a lot, but his style has been more destroyer w/ the USMNT, whereas Beckerman I thought was better moving the ball upfield.

        Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/13 at 1:00 PM

        In addition to MB being challenged in keeping possession, he’s also challenged at keeping position. He doesn’t sit in front of the defense he goes after the ball sideline to sideline with at times little concern for what that will do to the shape of the team. From what we’ve seen so far under Klinsmann he expects that player to stay at home. Does Bradley have the discipline to do that?

        Reply

        • Posted by AdamFromMich on 2011/09/14 at 10:34 AM

          I agree, positional discipline is Bradley’s biggest challenge (to play in Klinsman’s system). Its also the area that I think he will improve the most while in Italy. But we will see. As Matthew said above, “let’s see what role Chievo Verona give him”.

          Reply

  3. Posted by deezy on 2011/09/13 at 9:20 AM

    Excellent. But I think bradley will challenge mightely for that #6 role. and are you thinking jozy could become a super sub of sorts? I could see juan running defenses to death and jozy coming in to bully around…

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:33 AM

      I think Jozy Altidore is really going to need to progress his game to become anything more than let’s say the DJ Campbell (minus the off field stuff) of the USMNT.

      He shows flashes, but the US needs consistency up there. Altidore gets frustrated too easily and drifts in and out of games.

      Contrast that to Juan Agudelo who continually works when he comes in…though he still has a ways to go to boss people. There is nothing perhaps as humorous as Agudelo’s face when he attempts beat a good defender off the dribble on international duty and he can’t do it.

      He seems perplexed, but he keeps trying.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2011/09/13 at 11:18 AM

        To me Agudelo’s dribbling is the key thing to watch. He keeps on trying and failing against international players, which might not be so bad–on the other hand, he’s not that much better against MLS players.

        Reply

        • Posted by Union on 2011/09/13 at 12:14 PM

          Good point, but he is better than Jozy. And, well, other than Adu (who seems to be strangely left out of Matt’s piece entirely), is there anyone in the player pool who can beat someone off the dribble? Donovan can’t. Dempsey thinks he can. But I’m not really sure there is anyone outside of Freddy. Who btw, I think should still be given consideration despite the fact that his form is inconsistent. I agree with Matt’s roster almost entirely, but I think that Freddy’s creative energy is still needed and can really benefit the team. Especially as a sub at the 60 minute mark. I also think that people might be a little too optimistic on Fabian’s positioning. I’m not sure what the precedent is here, but you’d have to think that Fabian would be much more comfortable in playing MF, not left back. And by the way, I think he is going to really impress when he gets this eligibility stuff figured out. In a perfect world, he plays at left back. I’m just not sure it will play out that way, but we’ll see.

          Reply

          • Posted by Union on 2011/09/13 at 12:15 PM

            Better than Jozy at dribbling* I meant to add. I didn’t mean to say he was a better player overall, that argument is to be had a few years from now.

            Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2011/09/13 at 1:15 PM

            Hm, I disagree. Jozy’s an excellent, but more selective dribbler. Jozy pulls out and succeeds with moves that I’ve never seen Juan try.

            Reply

  4. Posted by EFG on 2011/09/13 at 9:24 AM

    So we’re all in on Fabian Johnson, are we?

    I’ve been staring at the first Starting XI for the better part of the past five minutes and I must say I do like it (aside from F. Johnson as I know nothing of him except that he’s the next in a long line of “it” players).

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:30 AM

      Just at this point in the cycle, I’m willing to try out everyone from Homey the Clown to Pat Onstad in that role to find something “passable.”

      If Johnson is going to grow and has a left foot…well let’s take a look.

      Reply

      • Posted by EFG on 2011/09/13 at 9:49 AM

        I was always under the impresion that “Homey don’t play that” with “that” being LB…and we have aged ourselves.

        But seriously, I would like to see the kid at least once.

        Reply

  5. Posted by deezy on 2011/09/13 at 9:34 AM

    And btw- I’m a huge fan of beckerman as well. Always have been, and I was talking to me. Twellman at the philly game, and he told me that 90% of mls players will tell you he is probably the best cdm in the league.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:35 AM

      I think MLS players have two guys they hold up at the top of the CDM list. Alonso & Beckerman. Everyone else falls in line afterward.

      Reply

  6. Just a quick thought. I was wondering what it would be like with Holden in the Beckerman role with Torres inserted a little higher up in the role that he’s been playing. I haven’t been able to see many of Holden’s games with Bolton (not that there has been many) but I believe that its been more in a deep-lying role in the midfield. Or is a Holden-Torres “2” line in a 4-2-3-1 (approximate) too aggressive?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:42 AM

      I don’t think Holden/Torres is too aggressive.

      I will get made fun of for saying this, but Holden plays the advanced CDM role at Bolton. He funnels and initiates the first tackle with Fabrice Muamba cleaning up behind him.

      In essence at Bolton, he plays the same role that Michael Bradley played in front of Jermaine Jones at the Gold Cup. (Those who dismissed Bob Bradley’s system as a bucket system were woefully inaccurate).

      Holden will be playing that role for some time. In the clean-up role, I worry about his slight figure since it’s already been shone that he is injury prone.

      So that’s why I dismiss him in that role. I could see–as another commenter pointed out here–Michael Bradley assume that role if he gets some reps at Chievo in a similar role.

      Reply

      • Posted by Alex Yang on 2011/09/13 at 12:42 PM

        What about a “double pivot”, as discussed on ZonalMarking.com, with Holden and Bradley as the 2 in a 4231? In this situation they trade off being the advanced CDM and the cleaner CDM; a prime example being Jack Wilshere and Alex Song for Arsenal. This system allows us to have more fluidity in our mid 3.

        I still think that Bradley is one of the better midfielders in our pool and I stand by it. And I do believe he will begin to have playing time at Chievo, but I’m not a fan of his abilities at that CM/AM role you’ve put him in the depth chart. While he does knock in goals by making really powerful late runs, I don’t think his dribbling and final 3rd passing are up to par for that position.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 1:35 PM

          I think Bradley is compromised in a single holding system from Klinsmann. Currently that is. Make it a 4-2-3-1 and I think Bradley has more opportunity.

          I think the accompanying CM role tithe Torres “hub” role sees a competition between Bradley and Holden if Donovan & Dempsey are moved elsewhere.

          Reply

          • Posted by Alex Yang on 2011/09/13 at 3:25 PM

            In my opinion, having Bradley, Torres, Holden (and I’m going to throw Diskerud here too) all fighting for one position takes away from putting our best 11 players on the field, which is something we’ve seen from Bradley a few times. I hope I’m not in the minority of fans who think that Edu, Beckerman, and others are better soccer players than Bradley.

            I guess it comes down to an arguement of playing the best 11 fitting a system, or fitting a system to the best 11 players in the pool. There isn’t much as discrepency between the two as there was due to an ever expanding pool of talents, but there is enough to merit some griping.

            I like your Mourinho line-up, but only with Bradley replacing Beckerman and converting to more of a 4-2-3-1 as I stated above. Just me though.

            Reply

      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/09/13 at 1:11 PM

        I wouldn’t say Holden is injury prone. I mean both of the tackles that put him out for a while were horrendous. Not even Iron man Bradley would surrive those

        Reply

        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/09/13 at 8:41 PM

          I don’t think either injury had anything to do with his physique. His immaturity in chasing every ball is probably a better place to look for improvement. Both balls were poor touches that ended up in no mans land that he dove in for himself. The fact that both Jonny Evans and Nigel DeJonng are P’sOS is besides the point. I know I know Evans called and apologized but this is the team that allowed (and celebrated) Roy Keane’s disgusting antics for years, Paul Scholes (oops I’m late again!) and the rest.

          Reply

  7. With Holden [hopefully] returning to form, where would he slide in? Who would be sacrificed? It’s hard to see Dempsey going to the bench, but things are heading that way soon enough anyways. You would think we would start to try to use Torres with him.

    Also, I don’t see Beckerman being used much in truth. Good for now, yes, but as people have been asking about Jones and commenting on his age…you know Beckerman is also 29, right? He’s quite old too. He might be used in some WCQ matches, but don’t see him in Brazil.

    I still think Altidore gets the start over Agudelo due to the simple fact of playing time. Altidore is playing often now for AZ and playing well, whereas Agudelo does not always get time in an MLS side. Sure, he’s behind Henry, but until he get’s consistent minutes I don’t see Klinsmann using him over Jozy.

    I do like the backline, though, again, age will catch up soon with Boca. Not sure who will replace him…Ream, Omar, Orozco-Fiscal, or maybe a resurgent Agbossoumonde, still young. And, like most others, haven’t seen Johnson play.

    Things are shaping up, and am intrigued to see the Starting XI on FIFA 12 in 2 weeks! Haha.

    Reply

  8. Posted by larnzell on 2011/09/13 at 10:13 AM

    im i right to compare torres role on the usmnt to how beckham is currently being played with the la galaxy, just hitting players with the ball from a distance but not really advancing up the field much? almost like with the role he’s been given he’s directed not to really adavance up the field and thats why maybe he’s not creating like some people think he should , basically he’s told to stay in the middles of the park and just hit people from a distance with the ball, let me know what ya think

    Reply

    • I would think it’s a little bit closer to Juninho. Beckham really has a “cush” role. He tucks in from right midfield–doesn’t have defensive responsibilities and is responsible for the threat of the long ball (and the long ball) which opens up the center.

      If you’re looking for a comparative, I would say Torres is to Juninho as Jermaine Jones is to Beckham if he were playing the #6 role.

      Best I can do there.

      Reply

  9. Posted by larnzell on 2011/09/13 at 10:15 AM

    btw great piece … it was worth the 2 day wait

    Reply

  10. Posted by JohnC on 2011/09/13 at 10:18 AM

    Why do we continue to say Klinnsman is experimenting and bringing in all this new blood when in truth he has yet to cap a new person yet? Bob Bradley capped an incredible number of people, nearly 2x as much as Bruce Arena, he went out on a limb with Agudelo, Gale, Chandler, Jones and was bringing in Corona. You present Gatt and Brooks but it appears Bradley would have been more likely to call them in than Klinsmann. I’m not saying Bradley is better or worst as a coach but I laugh every time someone cites Klinnsman as experimenting, however, he has up to now been looking at Bradley’s trash and realizing it is still trash (Castillo and MOF). Torres has a new role and Beckerman had chances and looked decent but in a two deep lying midfield you want two guys who can go box to box which Bradley, Edu, Clark and Jones were better than Beckerman at.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 10:45 AM

      Well I would say Klinsmann is experimenting–or you would have never seen Castillo at leftback and bombing up the left side.

      Just because it’s not new players, doesn’t mean he’s not trying to play differently and see what works.

      Putting Landon Donovan at a true CM role? That’s true experimentation (and it failed mind you).

      Bob Bradley did a great job capping new players. I believe over 18 Latinos were capped under Bradley–Klinsmann won’t match that…can’t possibly.

      But we’re three games in and I’m sure new players will arrive.

      The US hasn’t played a two-deep lying central midfield yet–and I presume when they do there will be an extra CM playing above it.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Fitz on 2011/09/13 at 10:21 AM

    Where’s Alejandro “The Ambassador” Bedoya on the chart? Omitted intentionally or fallen off the radar?

    Reply

    • Posted by swedust on 2011/09/13 at 12:10 PM

      Yes and Klejstan too; can’t they at least deputy on the chart at LW since there is nobody else listed there?

      Neither is a “lock” but they have both shown ability to contribute at least as much as most included here.

      Reply

  12. Posted by J-Ro on 2011/09/13 at 10:41 AM

    Stuart Holden needs to stay healthy. He’s great. As for LB, Eric needs to stay healthy too because Castillo is terrible (from the three games I’ve seen).

    Reply

  13. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/13 at 10:51 AM

    I’ve been looking forward to this column for some time after the Twitter tease and it didn’t disappoint! Hopefully, “Moneyball” will do the same.

    Seriously, I love the lineup presented at the end of the article. That is what I like to see. If some of the younger CB prospects develop, substitue them in and use guys like Altidore, Gatt, etc. to come off the bench. I think the lineup would work well for qualifying in 2012 and beyond.

    Thank you for the comments on how the “player roles” are being assigned..

    Reply

  14. Posted by djpeisner on 2011/09/13 at 11:01 AM

    You make a lot of good points here. I’d second that last comment about the absence of Bedoya. He was very impressive at the Gold Cup, and was tearing it up in Sweden before his transfer to Rangers. Assuming he can find regular minutes in Scotland (and granted, that’s not a given), I think he could even be challenging for a spot as a starting wing midfielder. Also, I’ve got to believe Freddy Adu will get a look from Klinsmann. When his head is screwed on straight, Adu brings creativity and an offensive skill set that is not exactly in abundance on this team. I’d also put in a word for Sasha Klejstan: He’s been inconsistent in a US jersey, but he is the kind of creative, risk-taking offensive player that JK says he wants.

    Defensively, I remain forever befuddled as to why Zak Whitbread can’t get so much as an invite to the US camp. I’m not sure he brings much to the table that Goodson (or Demerit or Onyewu) doesn’t, but he’s a capable central defender and in a team that–as you mention in your post–isn’t exactly overflowing with good choices there it would seem to make sense to give him a look.

    I’d also bet that Jonathan Spector’s versatility (and what is looking like a stable starting job in B’ham’s midfield) will continue to get him at least a spot on JK’s bench.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex Yang on 2011/09/13 at 3:45 PM

      The issue with Whitbread is that he’s always hurt. He was going to get called up for the spring friendlies this year but he wasn’t released by his club due to injury. And, I’m pretty sure he’s slower than Goodson, Demerit, and Onyewu

      Regarding Bedoya; I think he can be a good winger, defensive winger. The problem I’ve noticed with him is his ability to send in a consistent and dangerous final ball. He makes the right run to stretch the defense or put himself in a good spot but his final ball is always off. Hopefully he can get that consistensy with playing time with Rangers.

      Reply

  15. Yeah, did we forget about Bedoya? Did he play on the wing or more of an ACM for his club in Sweeden? I will really be disappointed if he is not included in the October friendlies. I think he is right up there with Shea battling for a starting spot.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 1:06 PM

      I “may” have forgotten about Bedoya — put what’s great is the dive chart gets updated again in October.

      He just hasn’t been in a Klinsmann camp yet.

      Reply

  16. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/13 at 11:27 AM

    I am interested to see how Bradley continues to develop. I could see him becoming more like a Frank Lampard style player than anything else. Covering ground and playing clean up around the goal.

    I also don’t like the arrangement of the middle 3 in any 4-3-3 we have been talking about. We have been talking Defendive Mid, Attacking Mid and Distributer. Those are still more of a 4-5-1 approach as it makes the wing forwards have to drop very deep as the central midfielders pile in narrow. Also the system becomes perdictable in where the attack will be coming from. This is what I like: Def Distributor Mid (beckermann,spector), Free Mid(Bradley,Edu) and Ball Carrier(Holden,Torres). But putting the whole team together with Donavon and Dempsey is problematic in any 4-3-3, unless you move it to a 4-5-1 which I think makes us too weak in attack.
    I think something 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 might be the best thing for this Team. See below:
    _Left Forward_________Right Forward_
    _________Attacking Midfielder_______
    Left Wing____Distributor____Right Wing
    ________Defensive Midfielder________
    __Left Def____Cen Def____Righ Def__

    -One reason for this type of formation is the new international level phenomenon of the withdrawn forward. With this player running between the lines, someone needs to track him at all times. That requires the defensive midfielder. But then with a 4 man back line you can end up with 5 players always behind the ball. Because Our current central defenders aren’t good enough to take on a high quality striker and this floater on their own. Our flank defenders end up pulled back defending too often, leaving our offense starved of players.
    -Also I would play this without a true center forward/Striker. I would want the two forwards to both start wide and pull into the middle. I think this could confuse the defense with the wing pushed up and the forward pulling out or in as play dictated.
    -The left and right defenders would be held back, but still somewhat speedy to deal with any attacking wide players. The DM needs to be able to drop into the back line and the distributor then should fill in between the other midfielders and the defensive line.
    -The personnel I would use are:
    L Fwd: Dempsey, R Fwd: Donavon, Amid: Bradley, LW: Shea, Dist: Holden, RW: Bedoya, DMid: Beckermann, LDef: Boca, CDef: Goodson, RDef: Chandler

    Reply

    • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/09/13 at 11:30 AM

      Sorry for long posts and crazy formations. I gues I like to be out of the box.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 1:53 PM

        I saw your last comment chazcar2 — I use simple PPTs for our formations. We’re going to try and build a technology here that allows cooler line-ups…when we get funding. :>

        Reply

  17. Holden sure can strike the ball, but a lot of his play is simple tempo and possession stuff. At Bolton he isn’t asked to create, but to bring those around him into the game.

    Torres didn’t have that kind of steady player next to him in Donovan or Dempsey (who both drift around finding space) which put more pressure on him to be “the guy” playing penetrative passes. I think pairing him with Holden takes some of that pressure off and allows the US to dictate the midfield more effectively while also being more solid in the middle. (It is difficult to see where exactly Mikey fits into this system besides in the same role as Holden. I wouldn’t rate Bradley’s work-rate, distribution or delivery higher than Stu.)

    But then there’s the question of getting Dempsey and Donovan on the pitch at the same time. Does Torres give way for Holden and we ask Dempsey to play the attacking midfield role? Donovan can play an expansive game on the right wing very effectively – he did it at Everton, but Dempsey doesn’t play expansively on the left. Does having a truly attacking left back mean Brek Shea can be sacrificed for Dempsey who will get into the box? Holden pulling out to the right from central midfield to hit far-post crosses at Dempsey’s head from deep seems like it would be a fruitful route to goal.

    In our Brekthusiasm, have we forgotten about Bedoya? Imagine he’ll be involved again once he starts seeing time at Rangers. At some point, we need our wide forwards to both create width and get into the box given none of our striking options are world-class finishers. He’s also probably got the highest work-rate, and fits the dirk kuyt mold of the defensive winger.

    While, I think Jurgen will eventually be forced to make some of the same compromises that Bob did, he seems determined to cultivate many more options. This exercise already points to the idea that Jurgen isn’t trying to identify one best starting 11, rather the options available to come up with the starting 11 best suited to a given opponent. He should be applauded.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 1:27 PM

      I think that’s a fair point on Holden and Torres for sure.

      Tough question if both Torres & Holden are on the pitch is how to fit in Shea, Dempsey and Donovan.

      And yes I added Shea there in that he’s a lefty, he’s young, and needs the reps.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/13 at 3:32 PM

        I think that Torres and Holden would be a good pairing for what Klinsmann wants in terms of maintaining possession. Could we try a 4-2-3-1 with Torres and Holden being in the 2? I think it’s worth a try against the weaker teams in Concacaf. That would allow LD, Deuce and Shea to be the 3 and interchange. I

        Shea should definitely be in there based on his recent performances. Kid gets it right now.

        Reply

  18. Posted by Union on 2011/09/13 at 12:46 PM

    As I stated in a post above, I like this, my only objection is that Adu is left out of the mix (for better or worse, I’ll never give up that dude). My one comment would be, and I’ve made this before, is that at some point Jurgen is going to have to look at who is going to replace Donovan/Dempsey/Boca. At the moment, everything is balanced out fine. While Donovan’s form has been a inconsistent internationally, there is nothing to indicate he is on the decline yet. Same for Dempsey. Boca, I’m not so sure. CB’s have a longer shelf life, but Boca’s lost a bit off his first step. He’s solid for now, but at some point Jurgen needs to phase in some more options. It’s understandable that he, so far, has brought in the best available players for each match. He’s indicated that he would like to bring in the best roster for every game the USMT plays. I’m not sure if that will happen, but its an interesting concept. I guess the pros would be, the ‘A Team’ will be well accustomed to playing with each other by the time important games roll around. Also, for a new coach, bringing the best roster into each camp allows Jurgen to figure out who the “A Team’ actually consists of. In other words, we’ll probably see a foundation of 10-12 guys for most camps, with 5-6 switching in and out. The flip side is, at what point does Jurgen see what he has at the younger levels? The US program, probably more than most countries, gives its younger players copious opportunities with the senior team. Part of this is due to philosophy, part of it is due to our thin talent pool. Jurgen has said that he doesn’t want to rush anyone along. My only issue with that is, Donovan and Dempsey will be 32/31 respectfully when 2014 rolls around. I’m not saying that is too old to be an impact. Not at all. But I do think that is fairly old if you’re being counted on as the two primary goal creators/goal scorers. I think Jurgen is going to give some young guys a chance to show they are capable of stepping into some rather big shoes and I think we are seeing evidence of that with Chandler, Shea and Agudelo. This is good news bc personally, I just don’t think you can’t rely on Donovan and Dempsey to shoulder the load when they are 32 years old. It will be interesting to see what Jurgen does.

    Reply

  19. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 1:30 PM

    Ok TSG folk, I missed Bedoya, Adu and Kljestan in the Depth Chart. Where do they go and who else did I miss or misplace and why?

    Reply

    • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/09/13 at 2:00 PM

      Agree with your analysis (the inside of Klinsmann’s head looks the same from my vantage).

      As for changes to the chart only one:
      • Left Back — I think Chandler and Lichaj need to be in both the left back and right back columns. On the left they are competing with each other and possibly Fabian Johnson. On the right, with Dolo. Amongst these 4 guys you have your wing backs IMO.

      Left Mid — I think you are right on. If Shea goes down it is the hardest position to fill without changing the way Klinsmann wants to play (wide wide wide). Probably next is Bedoya (?) wonder if DMB would ever get a runout here if he can further resurrect his game in mexico, maybe? It is amazing how indispensable Shea has become in 3 games!

      Reply

    • Posted by jtwb11@gmail.com on 2011/09/13 at 2:04 PM

      Thanks for leaving Kljestan off. Bedoya needs more minutes and a better identity in a 4-3-3. You mentioned Joe Gyau but left him off of the depth chart most likely b/c he has had a call up to the full team. He may be a 2018 guy anyway but at some point he will be scoring goals and doing the cookin’ dance for the full team. Adu is our best option outside of Donovan and Rogers is too streaky.

      Reply

    • Posted by Freddie Footballer on 2011/09/13 at 3:33 PM

      I think a lot of folks are high on Mix Diskerud. He can play that attacking mid you mention in the article, perhaps the CM “hub” as you call it too.

      Reply

    • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/13 at 7:50 PM

      PERLAzA!

      Reply

  20. Posted by jtwb11@gmail.com on 2011/09/13 at 1:51 PM

    It’s far to early to tell but by 2014 these are my players in Brazil (4-3-3)
    CF Agudelo (or the shocking entry of a German-American CF)
    LW Shea (A given if he holds form)
    RW Donovan (Adu, Gatt, or Gyau at 60 min)
    ACM Fabian Johnson (Just watch Hoffenheim footage on footytube.com He makes plays from a midfield position)
    CM Holden (Torres if he shows more promise. Torres’ skillful-intelligent game has not been able to overcome his lack of athleticism/defensive prowess against top teams. I truly wish it would but I agree he just isn’t a winner.)
    DCM Edu (There is absolutely nothing that Beckerman or Bradley does that he doesn’t do better. I would love for someone to show me what either does better.)
    LB Lichaj
    CB Gonzales
    CB John Anthony Brooks (Ream or George John may be acceptable at either CB position lets just say the jury is out on this one)
    RB Chandler

    GK Howard (It Doesn’t matter who we put at GK b/c we have the deepest stable in the world. FACT)

    Dempsey will travel as well and will be used at any forward position depending who we play. If we play an Un-athletic yet savvy defense don’t be surprised to see him start and one of my starters up top come in later in the match.

    Dolo or Bocanegra will travel as well but not both.

    Reply

    • Posted by John Henry on 2011/09/13 at 2:39 PM

      nit-picky, but i think casillas, reina, and valdes would discredit your fact.

      Reply

    • Posted by Union on 2011/09/13 at 3:37 PM

      I agree. Anyone who watches Fabian Johnson play for Hoffenheim knows that he is a waste at left back.

      Just a random clip I found, I’m sure there are better examples. Cut to 2:38, 4:38 and 6:30 to see a few examples. The guy, IMO, would be competing for an attacking MF role from Day 1. Lets hope he goes through with the eligibility switch.

      http://www.footytube.com/video/hannover-96-hoffenheim-aug06-86595?ref=tchan_ov_vidgrid

      Reply

    • Posted by Alex Yang on 2011/09/13 at 3:40 PM

      Think its a little early to say the Brooks will start for us in 2014. 2018 is far more likely, but the kid is still a kid and even though he’s been impressive and looks very good, he still hasn’t made a Hertha 1st minute yet. Guys like John, Ream, maybe Cameron are far more likely to be called up and to play with the USMNT.

      Almost exploded on you for leaving off Dempsey but just saw that you have him in a supersub role. Interesting, but I think Dempsey is the perfect fit for the AM role here. He’s a threat to score goals off crosses and from the run of play when he’s central, he’s creative with his passing, and he’s probably one of the best 1 vs 1 attackers on our senior team. I believe he’s younger than Donovan too, and his game isn’t based around speed so come 2014 I can’t see him not starting, barring things I will refuse to say…

      Reply

    • Posted by SamT on 2011/09/14 at 8:11 AM

      On the DCM role, one thing Beckerman has done better in the recent friendlies is move horizontally across the backline to provide an easy pass for all 4 defenders. Edu tends to stay more centrally and not move as quickly or as wide to support the outside backs in possession.

      That said, Edu is younger, quicker, more dangerous as a set piece target… a lot going for him. I’m also wondering if we may be catching Beckerman at a peak-form period in his career, and Edu at a not-peak-form period at the moment.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/14 at 8:41 AM

        Edu may be a danger on set pieces but will he ever have a goal that isn’t called back by a phantom call?

        Reply

  21. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2011/09/13 at 1:59 PM

    Herr to the throne – oof!

    I like it. :)

    Reply

  22. Posted by Excellency on 2011/09/13 at 2:18 PM

    @Matthewsf –

    suppose JK were to say “Adu is our best first pass on attack and I want him in the game somehow”.

    Where do you put him and who does he play with?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 2:23 PM

      Adu was always meant to play the role that both Donovan and Dempsey recently. However he seems a little bit positionally undisciplined for it.

      I would say in JK’s system though that’s probably where he goes.

      Reply

      • Posted by Excellency on 2011/09/13 at 2:38 PM

        I was thinking of making him CF, nominally, mainly in deference to his limited defensive role – because as you say, he is positionally undisciplined. My sense is that he is being kept in reserve because he will be put into games when we are behind late and must have a goal and nobody is getting anything going.
        At such times, positioning tends to have become more ad hoc anyway and he will be sent in to play with very specific instructions.

        However, for Honduras or Ecuador, it would be interesting to see him play a half at CF just to see how he links up with Shea, Agudelo, others.

        Reply

  23. Posted by kaya on 2011/09/13 at 2:32 PM

    I’m both happy and sad to see Michael Bradley so far down the depth chart. He’s always been a mediocre, at best, creative player. The MB90 monopoly was the single biggest fiasco of the Sweatpants era IMO.
    I never understood why he couldn’t be a CDM as I think his ball handling is better than Edu’s. Maybe daddy always told him he was too important to the attack to worry about defensive positioning?

    Reply

  24. Posted by Gino on 2011/09/13 at 3:53 PM

    Nice article. It’s always fun to speculate. When will TSG score it’s own personal interview with Klinsmann. Now that’s an article I can’t wait for.

    I also agree that Bedoya should still be considered on the right. Maybe he was excluded because of the system. Has he played at the top of a 4-3-3 before? Since Landon will be around 31 in Brazil ’14 and thus more susceptible to injury, could he be an option to back up Donovan?

    I like what I’ve seen of Beckerman recently but maybe Edu should be developed ahead of him. He’s younger, quicker and has more experience at a higher level both at a club and international level.

    Reply

  25. Posted by Union on 2011/09/13 at 4:11 PM

    Please watch Fabian Johnson play and tell me he is a left back. I mean, have people watched any of his games? http://www.footytube.com/video/mainz-0-4-hoffenheim-10-09-11-90101?ref=wv_relbox

    Dude is an attacking player. Go to 2:30, 3:40.

    Reply

    • Posted by Union on 2011/09/13 at 4:12 PM

      Note: This is not a knock at all on Matt or anyone else’s opinions. I myself just found this stuff and was thoroughly impressed.

      Reply

      • The lazy answer is that Dani Alves is an attacking player and is a fullback…but that’s Barca, where they field 11 midfielders and somehow still manage to maintain a solid defense.

        The kid can obviously come forward…the only question I have is whether he’s better suited out on the wing or in the middle. If the answer is the wing, he stays at leftback, because he’ll be fighting with Shea for minutes otherwise, and if Deuce is playing out left than he overlaps with him quite nicely. If he’s better suited to play the middle…well, I dunno who’s spot he takes. But he should be getting a run out, especially if that’s his usual form.

        Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/14 at 3:04 PM

      Many top teams have players who are nominally defenders who find a way to attack a lot, Ashley Cole, Gareth Bale, Maicon, Roberto Carlos, Philip Lahm, Sergio Ramos, Leighton Baines, Owen Hargreaves (when he could play) the list is quite long and extensive.

      If you watched 2002 World Cup the US was sparked by Tony Sanneh’s runs from the back. Imagine having a Bornstein who could actually beat people, shoot well, cross well and be reasonably good at getting back on defense and playing it well.

      If Johnson is like that, and I haven’t seen him play, what’s not to like?

      Reply

      • Posted by Union on 2011/09/14 at 4:21 PM

        I’m with you in terms of the generalities. If a defender can be an actual asset on the attack, what’s not to like? I think its tough to put Bale in that group bc he was bumped up to left wing (where he blossomed) in large part bc his attacking talent was a waste at left back. But that’s besides the point.

        I admittedly don’t know a HUGE amount about Fabian, but I’ve watched him play at Hoffenheim as much as the internet provides and its immediately clear he’d be an asset to our squad. On top of his ability to get to goal and create for himself, he is very good at creating for others. And I’m just not sure if the US system/skill level will allow for that type of talent to be utilized as a left back. Maybe I’m way off there.

        Regardless, this is a good problem to have. It’s also somewhat moot until FIFA authorizes his switch and he becomes healthy. He just got a bad neck injury in training, potentially a herniated disk, and he is out 4 weeks. Hopefully he heals quick and its not a chronic thing (as many herniated disks are).

        Reply

  26. Posted by Travis on 2011/09/13 at 7:38 PM

    At what point do we bring Davies back in? He was by far the most promising forward before his injury. Hopefully he will fully recover

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/13 at 8:00 PM

      I’m about as big of a Davies fan as anybody, and I really want to see him back, but I don’t know if he fits the system JK wants. It seems like he would do better in a 4-4-2.

      Reply

  27. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/13 at 7:59 PM

    Isn’t the TSG community awesome? Wasn’t the emphasis on not counter-attacking brought up in the comment section of another post?

    Here’s what I’m curious about- who will be the coach and what will the roster be for the Olympic team? I am very excited about the Olympics.

    Also- who is going to be called into the October friendlies? I’d like to see Rogers, Castillo, and Orozco Fiscal NOT called in, and some fresh faces instead in their places.

    Reply

  28. Posted by Eugene on 2011/09/13 at 8:03 PM

    Nice article still think Adu needs to be considered we dont have a
    Person on the roster with the ability to hold onto the ball and create
    Not really sure but hope Klinsman gives him a chance
    Thoughts?

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/14 at 4:52 PM

      “we dont have a Person on the roster with the ability to hold onto the ball and create”

      Even if that were true, and I don’t think it is, it is an 11 man game and you can create attacking chances without a player like Adu.

      The biggest problem with a guy like Adu (or Dempsey) is he has to have players who are on the same wavelength and can take advantage of the unexpected stuff they pull out of their rear ends. And that will take a little time.

      But we are three games into Klinsmann’s reign and it is far too early to be ruling anyone or anything out.

      Reply

  29. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/13 at 8:16 PM

    Read goal.com’s EXCLUSIVE interview with Brek Shea where Brek “tells all”!

    http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/news?slug=goal-breksheathenextamericansupe

    Makes me wish TSG could get an interview with him.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/13 at 9:06 PM

      Uh buddy we did early on.

      Reply

      • Posted by crow on 2011/09/13 at 9:53 PM

        I know. It was a joke comparing the quality of TSG to goal.com. sometimes I forget tone of voice or thought does not translate over the internet.

        I just couldn’t stop laughing after seeing EXCLUSIVE interview in the header and then discovering how little was said.

        I think the interviews on TSG are more interesting, introspective, and informative than on any other sports site or magazine. And I’m talking all of sports. Maybe when soccer becomes popular enough in the country, you can start your own “60 Minutes- esque” soccer show. That is if you don’t have a coaching gig somewhere.

        Reply

        • And we need to do more. We’ve been tardy.

          Reply

          • Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/14 at 7:28 AM

            I’ll volunteer to assist in the building of a cheesy TV studio set, and bad music & promos, ” Go the Mat with Matt at TSG” MAtt & TSG anchors attire are provided by Perlaza Productions.

            Reply

            • Posted by Crow on 2011/09/15 at 6:09 AM

              Sounds like it would be pretty much better than anything on Fox Soccer Channel! I kid.

  30. Posted by Bob on 2011/09/13 at 9:21 PM

    Awesome article! I am wondering if Gooch gets another look if he keeps getting minutes in Portugal. Also, will Soares pass Ream on this list?

    Reply

    • I don’t see either making it onto the depth chart soon.

      Soares could maybe in a year or two, but I’m not sure what his ceiling is.

      The challenge with Onyewu is that unless he is the dominating figure on defense he once was–and that was more raw athletic ability because he tends to fall asleep positionally on the job–his passing handles are just too weak.

      I don’t see him back in contention again.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/14 at 5:11 AM

      I hope Gooch doesn’t come back. I’d be shocked if he did to be honest. He made up for a lot of positional and technical deficiencies by being stronger and faster than people. That’s gone now and he still can’t pass the ball. Gotta be able to pass the ball if you want to play for Klinsmann going forward.

      Reply

      • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/14 at 2:35 PM

        If Gooch manages to get regular playing time for a team like Sporting one would have to assume his passing was reasonable enough and that his aerial dominance, allegedly one reason Sporting got him, is back.

        Klnsmann has an attacking reputation but if you look at the defenders he played with and managed, they are a pretty rough tough crew. The center backs JK used in 2006 were Mertesacker, 6’6″, Metzelder, 6’4″ and backups Nowotny, 6′;and Huth, 6’3″ all of whom are “physical” players, all good in the air. And if you look at the defenders from his 1990 World Cup team (Kohler, Augenthaler, Buchwald, Berthold and Reuter) they were all similarly big, strong, physical types good in the air and I’m sure good enough on the ball (Huth maybe not so much ).

        From what I remember of them they were all far better defenders and players in general than Tim Ream, just to give you one example. And of course, Mertesacker, Dolo’s old team mate, is now at Arsenal, which should tell you something.

        It’s way too early but Klinsmann is clearly concerned about the team’s defensive shape. So its too early to rule out Gooch, unless of course he rules himself out by becoming a bench warmer at Sporting.

        Reply

  31. Posted by dude on 2011/09/13 at 9:21 PM

    I think Landon can be forced to play wider, as he did with Everton.

    Also, not entirely counting out Onyewu just yet. Got his first start recently, and if he can keep the trend going, he’s got more than enough solid ability to win back a spot without too much fuss. Let’s face it, we’re trying to replace him anyway.

    Reply

  32. Posted by F4NGOR on 2011/09/14 at 5:16 AM

    -Onyewu won’t make it with Klinsy. He can’t pass.
    -I actually liked how Beckerman played over the last couple games, but I think Edu trumps him on age (Beckerman=29), skill, and ability to get clutch goals (which are, strangely, usually called back).

    Reply

  33. Posted by Jared on 2011/09/14 at 7:06 AM

    I guess I’m the first one to raise the panic here. Tony Sanneh was retweeted by Brian Strauss that Jogi Loew is headed to Nurnberg to speak with Timmy Chandler regarding playing for die Mannschaft.

    Klinsi better be getting on a plane to Germany ASAP.

    Reply

    • Posted by EFG on 2011/09/14 at 7:27 AM

      You beat me to it, but I’m panicking a bit.

      Reply

    • Posted by Brian on 2011/09/14 at 7:40 AM

      Noooooo!!! Hopefully Timmy turns them down. Definitely panicking, but hopefully JK keeps him aboard the USA ship.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/14 at 8:48 AM

        Now Greg Seltzer is posting that he spoke with the German press officer who stated that Low isn’t in Nurnberg and hasn’t spoken with Chandler. Maybe that means he was turned down or it was all bs in the first place.

        Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/14 at 2:46 PM

          Klinsmann has stated several times in print that he an “Jogi” are very good friends and speak about once a week if not more. He has also said that one of the “conditions” of his resignation was that Jogi get the job.

          Now maybe this is all so much BS but if true then I’m sure JK knows about this alleged “hijacking” attempt ( if that is true). In any event, Chandler will do whatever he feels best, which is fine with me. In this country you all give Rossi all kinds of stupid abuse; imagine how infinitely harder it might be for Chandler in Germany.

          Reply

    • I wouldn’t worry here. Chandler is an impossible position. He owes his career to Nuremburg manager Dieter Hecking who practically lifted him himself off the scrap heap.

      He’s going to play in the Bundesliga for a long time — perhaps his whole career–what’s he going to say, “I don’t want to play for Germany.”

      I wouldn’t worry…yet. Wouldn’t worry until Chandler himself issues a statement.

      Reply

  34. Posted by rambo on 2011/09/14 at 7:44 AM

    Anyone know of the RB depth for Germany? I know Lahm recently went back to LB, but I thought there were quite a few RB’s coming through that Germany could use.

    Reply

  35. Posted by Union on 2011/09/14 at 9:11 AM

    I followed this drama before getting to work. Seems overblown. I don’t think Chandler ever logged a single minute for Germany’s youth teams either. Even if he were in Loew’s plans, the chance he gets a cap anytime soon are very small. Plus, don’t forget that Jurgen and Loew have a close relationship. Klinsmann was very influential in getting Loew the head coaching job. Or at least that is what has been reported. I’d be more worried about getting Johnson under our umbrella considering he played a lot of minutes for Germany’s youth teams.

    I don’t see Chandler switching, but it should be noted what these young German guys go through when they switch allegiances. I mean, just look at what we do to Rossi and the US isn’t even considered a “soccer country”. It’d be very interesting to hear what Chandler/Johnson’s teammates say to them. I’m just speculating here, but you have to imagine there is a bit of insecurity that comes with changing to federations. Especially when you have such little connection with the other country (US).

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/14 at 10:06 AM

      I would think it would be relatively easy for guys choosing teams other than Germany. If you look at the makeup of their national team there are guys that have chosen to play for Germany who could play for Ghana, Turkey, Poland and I’m sure there are a few others. At the same time guys have gone the other way including Sahin, the Altintops, KP Boateng. They seem to have the most well adjusted team in terms of choosing where to play as I can’t really remember hearing too much trouble for any of those guys with the exception of Boateng but that had more to do with Ballack’s injury than anything else.

      Reply

  36. Posted by Gregorio on 2011/09/14 at 10:16 AM

    I think a subterfuge to allegiance issues that perhaps is overlooked(or not pertient)is the factor of race. Caveat it is not always an issue for some, but I think that perhaps a player of mixed heritage such as German- Afircan American or some other vairation might be more inclined to be with the US not just for a greater opportunity of making the team.But feeling more aligned with the cultural heritage of the US and or their ancestry. That is to say that perhaps an person of African American heritage or some other ethnic variation might find the US more accepting of them than other countries. Now this is only a thought on my part and there are certainly examples where thus doesn’t come into play like OZIL but I do think it might play a part, especially with players whoose talents don’t exceed the ethnic bias against them in certain countries.
    PS This can be totally bunk and I’m just caught in the old world where things like this mattered, maybe the world is more accepting than my percpetions.

    Reply

    • Posted by Martin on 2011/09/14 at 2:50 PM

      Jermaine Jones said as much though it seemed to not be so much about color as about culture.

      Google Jones and look up interviews with him around the time he first declared for the US if you want more specifics.

      Reply

  37. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/14 at 10:42 AM

    Even though Steve Zakuani has played for Congo he is not tied to them. I saw this little report:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/soundersfcblog/2016090590_zakuani_on_his_national_team_f.html

    Kind of intriguing. Obviously he had a serious injury and I do not believe he is not eligible yet, but with JK’s preference for wingers, I think Zakuani could be valuable. I remember Landon Donovan saying he would be a huge boost to the team. The thing I find strange is I thought before that Zakuani said that he would not play for the States.

    I’d love to see a Zakuani-Adu-Mwanga partnership someday. (I know Adu is from Ghana and the other two hail from Congo).

    Reply

  38. Posted by anon on 2011/09/14 at 11:30 AM

    I like it, I like it a lot. Question is: who are best ball-handlers in the midfield? Answers: Torres, Beckerman and Holden. Therefore, they should all start in the midfield. Diskeruud, Adu and Shea will all fight for a fourth slot. Edu, Bradley and Jones – not sure what to make of them yet, whether they fit into Klinsi’s system.

    Reply

  39. Posted by Paula on 2011/09/14 at 12:31 PM

    Re Chandler:

    Holy emotional crapstorm, Batman!

    But why would Sanneh retweet something like that without having any confirmed details?

    Reply

  40. Posted by Union on 2011/09/14 at 1:35 PM

    Hasn’t the German federation denied this? I think they have and people are saying ‘well of course they are going to! They don’t want Jurgen to know!”. Uh, Jurgen is fairly close with Loew. As I’ve said, Jurgen lobbied hard for Loew to get appointed coach after Jurgen resigned. Poaching a player, no matter what nationality he is, is a big deal after the kid plays 4 games for the senior squad, even if the games don’t cap tie him. Loew taking on Chandler, a 21 year old with no previous showings for any German team (senior or junior), would be a huge public embarrassment for Klinsmann. Furthermore, look at the German player pool. They are stacked on defense. If anything, they need some young strikers. I understand if Chandler chooses Germany, honestly, I think Germany should be his first choice. Just like I think the US should have been Rossi’s first choice. But, in terms of getting secure playing time, it doesn’t really make sense. Looking at Ives blog, it seems everyone is riled up. Saying that this kid is a huge surprise and is going to be a transfer target for the best European teams come January. Uhhh, I hope that is true, but I don’t think so. He’s still rough around the edges with a lot of room to grow. Sure he’s playing well in the Bundesliga, but so are a lot of young Germans who have played for Germany at U-17, U-20 and U-23. I’m sorry, I just don’t see him bailing. It would be a huge surprise. Sanneh made an irresponsible tweet IMO, that’s all there is to it.

    As I said above, I’d be more worried about getting Fabian Johnson in the mix. He just hurt himself, unfortunately, and will be out for 4 weeks. A nasty neck injury too, which blows. But, the kid is real good and rep’d Germany at the youth level. I hope he puts on a US kit soon.

    Reply

    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/09/14 at 4:10 PM

      I am under the impression that Johnson filed his one time switch paperwork so he is tied to the US forever whether he likes it or not.

      Reply

  41. Posted by Izzy on 2011/09/14 at 2:29 PM

    Anyone vying for a 4-4-2 and at the same time saying we should play possession needs to check their tactics. The key to possession is having more numbers in the central midfield so you can have one player who has time on the ball. This player preferably should be playing deep so that even if the opponent tries to close him down, it pushes the whole team up and creates space in behind for a pacy player to run into. Something that is also very useful in possession is having width from somewhere on the field. This is why Barcelona value attacking wingback Dani Alves so much – he provides width on the right so the rest of the team can narrow up and drag the opponent centrally, allowing Alves to receive the ball in space. Zonal Marking’s explanation of Barcelona’s tactics are brilliant, and should be read:

    http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/09/17/barcelona-5-1-panathinaikos-tactics/

    My issue more about how we’re going to open up the opponent. The benefit of our 4-4-2/4-2-2-2 counter-attacking system was that

    A) teams are naturally opened up after they attack, making the counter attack dangerous if you have the right players.

    B) The movement of our forwards into the channels between fullback and center back either pinned back the fullback and made space for Donovan and Dempsey to roam, dragged the centerback out of the center to create a massive hole in the backline, or put the forward in space to receive if the fullback DID advance into the attack ( Check out Michael Bradley’s ball to Charlie Davies out on the left against Spain on the first goal – Sergio Ramos was Spain’s source of width, and Davies’ movement into their right back zone gave the USA an outball )

    The 4-3-3 we’re playing doesn’t offer much like that. With most sides playing a back four, our front three are outnumbered, meaning movement is key (Messi’s movement from target striking positions into deeper areas drags defenders out of postions and creates holes in the backline for Villa and Pedro to exploit). However, our front three doesn’t really offer anything special in movement, and only one of our central midfielders seems to be getting into advanced positions ( Donovan against Costa Rica, Dempsey against Belgium). If we’re going to procede with anything resembling a 4-3-3, I’d say we go with this:

    #################

    The shape is something of a 4-4-2/4-3-3. Dempsey plays as a hybrid of a right winger and a second forward – drifting wide right on defense, and dropping into the hole or pushing in to the box when his side have the ball. Donovan is somewhat the same in that he is a hybrid of a right midfielder and a central midfielder – He forms a central trio with Torres and Jones on defense, and has freedom to break through the middle or drift wide in attack. It gives us numbers in the central midfield, numbers in attack, width from Shea, and brings Donovan and Dempsey pretty close together, which can’t be a bad thing. Donovan and Dempsey could switch roles, as you guys seem to like Donovan playing higher than Dempsey, which I imagine is for the pace he offers in attack.

    Reply

    • Posted by Izzy on 2011/09/14 at 2:51 PM

      Wait, why are we not allowed to link to This11.com again?

      Reply

      • Sorry — meant to email got waylaid — we’re pretty flexible on the site. We just have some reasons for that. Thanks for understanding.

        (Note, don’t generally like links in the commentary, but in 98 percent of cases we let it go.)

        Reply

  42. Posted by Jared on 2011/09/21 at 11:51 AM

    MB90 starts today for Chievo. He’s wearing #6. Coincidence or is he trying to let Klinsmann know that he’s the guy for the #6 spot that Klinsmann seems so keen on.

    Reply

  43. [...] dissected much of what we learned from Klinsmann recently here, in our overarching “Depth Chart” [...]

    Reply

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