USA v. Honduras Goes Live Right Now, Cue Klinsmann Eval Time

Hey! We gettin' points down here!

Hey! We gettin’ points down here!

The Hex is here. Will it break Klinsmann or will the German striker ripple the CONCACAF tourney from the touchline?

The US starting line-up shortly and the battle to get to Brazil about to begin in earnest.

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149 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 11:29 AM

    From Leander: Am told lineup for the US against Honduras is: Howard; Chandler, Cameron, Bocanegra, Johnson; Williams, Jones, Bradley, Zusi; Dempsey, Gomez

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/02/06 at 1:05 PM

      It’s official:

      Howard ©; Chandler, Gonzalez, Cameron, F. Johnson; Williams, Jones, Bradley, E. Johnson; Dempsey, Altidore

      Reply

      • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/02/06 at 1:06 PM

        Well, didn’t mean to put that in a reply, but I can’t say I’m shocked that Leander was wildly off.

        Reply

        • Posted by mbw on 2013/02/06 at 1:22 PM

          The poor guy. At least they got Wahl too.

          To be fair, I think Leander has gotten better.

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      • Posted by Jared on 2013/02/06 at 1:29 PM

        That’s a pretty ballsy lineup. That could be our backline for the next 2 world cups.

        Excited to see Jozy back up top. Now is the time to step up.

        Reply

    • Posted by Paul on 2013/02/06 at 4:13 PM

      Not really shocked to see Leander get this one wrong. BUT here’s where I’d pay for one of his, “What wrong with this team?” questions. It’s justified now.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 11:35 AM

    So 4-3-3, prob staggered like this. Gotta be honest. I’m not a big fan of Jozy or Gomez, but Jozy deserves this start. Regardless of what Gomez brought during qualifying. Jozy has done what Jurgen asked for his club, time he gets put in the lineup.

    Formation?

    ———————————————Gomez—————————–
    ——————Dempsey—————————————————Zusi
    ————————————————-Bradley—————————
    ——————–Jones——————————————————–
    ——————————Williams———————————————
    Johnson————————————————————————
    ——— ————–Cameron—————–Boca —————-Chandler

    Reply

    • Posted by Nick on 2013/02/06 at 11:49 AM

      Not sure I agree on the Jozy point for this match. He’s not a typical target forward in a single-forward set up – it works in Holland because of their wingers, but Zusi and Dempsey aren’t traditional 4-3-3 wingers…

      Gomez up top for at least the first 45-60 minutes to harry the Hondurans and then Jozy for the last 30 or so would be the conservative way to approach this, and I assume it’s what Klinsi is thinking.

      Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/02/06 at 12:15 PM

      What does your formation look like when you don’t have the ball?

      Reply

      • I think that’s meant to cover both with and without the ball situations. Johnson will likely push up more, thus forcing both Jones and Williams to cover hist side of the field.

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        • Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 12:29 PM

          Yea. I expect the formation to stagger in a way that has Dempsey pinch in (sometimes operating directly behind Gomez), with Fabian making runs up the left and Jones covering for him. And Nick, I like that formation a lot. Whats tough is that it doesn’t really offer any width at all. I don’t think the US can depend solely on its defenders to provide width.

          Reply

  3. Posted by Damon on 2013/02/06 at 12:07 PM

    I like this formation as it does give the ability for Williams to drop back to form a hybrid 3 man backline and let the Fullbacks get forward to provide width. I posted this a few days ago and obviously I prefer Altidore to Gomez but I still like it.

    http://this11.com/topics/add/abEaJjsadD

    I think this formation puts everyone in position to do what they do best though there will be some adjustments of learning to shift across to accommodate the 3 man back line.

    Reply

  4. Posted by cj23 on 2013/02/06 at 12:24 PM

    This photo tweeted by the USSoccer awhile ago makes the starting lineup look a little different. Maybe the numbers are different? http://twitter.yfrog.com/z/gzwxbelj

    Reply

  5. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 12:27 PM

    I get that and agree that Jozy doesn’t make the sort of runs needed to be a target guy. I’ve been very harsh of Jozy in the past, but yesterday (in laziness at work), I was watching a lot of the highlights from the 2010 WC qualifying run and was quickly reminded of the type of talent Jozy can be if he’s put in a position to succeed. He’s still incredibly talented, as this season in Netherlands has shown. But, he will never be the target striker that everyone wants him to be. He needs to be put in a position whereupon the team can leverage his talent.I think we have a player pool that can do that. But its not this lineup. He needs another striker to work off of. The US has always been at its best when they use that approach.

    By the way, in a true 4-3-3 (which the US doesn’t really utilize because we don’t have the winger talent), Jozy as the striker can work. But in this weird..4-1-2-3-1 that Jurgen uses, the target striker is just kind of in no mans land.The only way he is a factor is on set pieces or counters. And by the way, Gomez doesn’t have the speed/ball skill to be a factor in counters, he’s really only a threat in set pieces and in those few opportunities where his wingers can get in the box and make something happen. So I guess my point is, this formation is essentially acknowledging that our striker is there to poach/make a play on set pieces. Maybe that works for this game. I dunno. Just seems like the US needs to move beyond that. Sorry if I’m being harsh on Gomez. I love the dude. I just think Jozy has made some big strides and offers more talent-wise.

    Reply

    • Union, you’ve got 11 field plays in that Jurgen formation. You mean a 4-1-2-2-1?

      Reply

    • Posted by Nick on 2013/02/06 at 12:37 PM

      I think we’re on the same page, but maybe the terminology is tripping me up.

      I see a target striker as the true #9 who plays with their back to goal and brings others into the play, someone like McBride.

      I see Jozy as more the center spear of a trident (especially in a 4-3-3) who’s better when facing the goal. Don’t get me wrong Jozy has shown ability in the target role in the past (WC match against Slovenia 2nd Half) but he’s not consistent with it and when he’s not on top of his game in that role he becomes more of a liability on the field.

      I concur that Jozy needs someone to work off of, be it a speedster who creates space for Jozy to operate in, or a target for him to run off of. Both of these situations would help with our width problem as Altidore tends to drift out wide a la Henry.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 12:34 PM

    Hah. Yea sorry. Yea. You nailed what i was going for. I think Jurgen calls that a 4-3-3, but I think it usually works itself out as a 4-1-2-2-1.

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  7. Posted by Keith on 2013/02/06 at 12:58 PM

    For those of us that forgot that yellow cards carry over from the previous round:
    “Five USA players are currently carrying yellow cards in World Cup qualifying: Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson and Graham Zusi. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.”

    Very important considering next game is likely a must-win home game against costa rica.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Crow on 2013/02/06 at 1:10 PM

    Given the personnel available I absolutely love the starting lineup. This is the new backline for Brazil- let them mesh during the Hex. Love EJ, Dempsey and Altidore over Gomez and Zusi. Of course on the road you’re going to have Williams, Jones, and Bradley. I like Williams over Edu even those his club form/playing time has not been great. Wouldn’t change a thing.

    Time to leave for the AO Watch Party in San Francisco- Giordano Bros. (in the Mission)

    Reply

    • Posted by Nelson on 2013/02/06 at 1:58 PM

      hipsters, unite…my brother lived in the mission because it was affordable. that should be crazy considering how many central american immigrants live there.stay safe and go yanks

      Reply

  9. Posted by twewlife on 2013/02/06 at 2:19 PM

    these long balls are reminding me of my high school…

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  10. Posted by Munch on 2013/02/06 at 2:29 PM

    Anyone have a live stream?

    Reply

  11. Posted by Schematic on 2013/02/06 at 2:35 PM

    Anyone have a live stream?

    +1

    Reply

  12. Posted by Ufficio on 2013/02/06 at 3:04 PM

    Can we un-cap tie Chandler somehow, and convince Germany to take him from us?

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  13. Posted by dth on 2013/02/06 at 3:18 PM

    Edu, seriously? Gaghhhhhhh

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  14. Posted by dth on 2013/02/06 at 3:44 PM

    And this is what a post-Landon Donovan world looks like! thanks development system!

    (Jurgs didn’t help much with the setup, but the fundamentals are the fundamentals.)

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  15. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 3:57 PM

    US looks bad. I only watched the second half but god. The worst part? The biggest problem seems to be talent related. Not sure how you fix it. The fundamentals on this squad are just straight up worrisome. Donovan is needed, but you can’t depend on him anymore.

    Reply

    • Posted by Steven on 2013/02/06 at 4:11 PM

      I think the talent is there. The players seemed very tired and slow in the second half. I think they underestimated the effects of the heat and humidity. Chandler and Johnson especially as they weren’t as involved on the offense as usual and Chandler got baptized several times to the CONCACAF. The one thing I think we are missing is the improvement by teams in the CONCACAF and the lack of improvement by the US. The gap is closing between the top and mid-tier teams in the CONCACAF. All is not lost, but the game coming up in Denver becomes much more important with the Azteca waiting next.

      Reply

    • Posted by s44 on 2013/02/06 at 4:22 PM

      I thought the midfield mostly kept its shape, which is something. We just didn’t have creativity in the last third, because that’s the talent pool.

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      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2013/02/07 at 12:57 PM

        Ok, I know this is a little rant-ish but its not that we don’t have the talent/creativity in the last third it is that we don’t play what we have. I am almost starting to look at the empty bucket fondly. At least JJ was not considered an attacking player.

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  16. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 4:03 PM

    Matt – know you are going after JK decisions, and I get that. Subs were strange, but very attack oriented. Central midfield looked gassed at the end. US went back to the MLS style of kicking balls 40-50 yards up the field and hoping something good happens.

    All I’m saying is – look at how the US has fared against CONCACAF countries recently when matches actually matter. Really, really poorly. And btw, you could easily make the case that Costa Rica is a better team.

    We can blame development failures all we want, but this might have been the best squad JK can call in outside of Donovan, and in my personal opinion – Gatt and Boyd. Maybe an on form Brek Shea. What the hell do they do?

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  17. We have a serious midfield talent deficiency. Our ticket to Brazil is officially in jeopardy. We need to start begging Landon to come back ASAP.

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  18. Posted by Eric on 2013/02/06 at 4:14 PM

    First of all, I’d appreciate someone helping me call my over reactive US fan side which is freaking out at the fact that we took no points from this game. Anyone who can reassure me since I’m more than a few drinks in would be very appreciated.

    Second, I was beginning to question Klinsmann’s decision to not bring in more wide players as the game progressed. The US can’t keep playing so narrow and relying on Chandler/Johnson to provide width. However, I began to realize there aren’t a lot of actual dynamic wide players in the US pool. Donovan has effectively removed himself for the time being (although hopefully this shocks him back into being available), Shea hasn’t been healthy or in form, Gatt is still so young and raw, and Gyau doesn’t look near ready enough. Does the US have any wide options in actuality?

    Again, just random thoughts and I’d appreciate anybody else chiming in while I grab another drink.

    Reply

    • I’m as distressed as anyone, but the reality is we lost on the road in a 6-team playoff where the top 3 go through and the 4th place has a playoff with (most likely) New Zealand to get through. So, can we still finish 4th? 3rd? Absolutely. 2nd? Not that hard. 1st? Challenging, but still plausible. Plus, Honduras is really pretty good (and that first goal was world class).

      Reply

    • Posted by Eric on 2013/02/06 at 4:25 PM

      Also, I don’t count Zusi as a true, dynamic wing player to provide a lot of width. Same with Eddie Johnson, he can do a little out there but it’s certainly not ideal. Again, wonder if anyone sees something I’m missing here.

      Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2013/02/06 at 4:58 PM

      Don’t know if this will help, but the historical pattern is that the US loses two games on the road in the Hex, but qualifies nonetheless.

      Reply

    • Posted by justin on 2013/02/06 at 6:30 PM

      When it comes to width coming from the fullbacks, it is impossible to have if we can’t hold the ball in the middle of the field. Espinoza & friends tore us up in the middle. It was 3 v 4 the most of the time. Although Jones had some world class passes, he also gave it up more than not. Between him and Williams, Bradley was usually helpless in keeping the ball.

      And the 3 times were were able to keep hold of it in the middle for more than 3 minutes, something good usually happened, aka allowing Jones to get the ball 40 yards out to pick out a sublime pass.

      When playing narrow you have to be able to hold the ball long enough to have your FBs get up the field.

      Reply

  19. Posted by s44 on 2013/02/06 at 4:19 PM

    I mentally entered this result when Donovan didn’t transfer. He is and always has been the indispensable player on attack. Blame MLS, or Everton, or his own head, or whatever.

    But on the decisive play, the two CBs and Howard looked like guys who’d never played a match together before. Oh, right, they were…

    Klejstan is just as useless as we all remember him being from before. Guess we should root for Mexico now tonight. Ugh.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2013/02/06 at 4:32 PM

      I don’t remember Kljestan being useless at all. I do remember him playing out of position. He’s not a winger, though Klinsmann seems to be obsessed with playing central midfielders in wide positions. Graham Zusi also stunk today, but that wasn’t either of their faults — neither are natural wingers and shouldn’t be asked to be one.

      Klinsmann is just a guy who refuses to learn obvious lessons in anything resembling a timely manner. While Edu wasn’t a disaster out there, he’s been bad so often that it’s quite puzzling as to how he keeps on getting PT (especially since he’s not playing with Stoke.)

      Reply

      • I don’t know – the reality is there were a ton of chances created (I think in particular of those 2 or 3 “almosts” that Dempsey & Bradley had in the 2nd half in particular). I don’t disagree with the larger criticisms of Klinsmann and tactics, but the reality is this game was lost by one backline breakdown too many (including twice in the same play – if Gonzalez doesn’t give up on the play and start rubbernecking he still has a chance to clear). That said, felt like the second goal was inevitable for a long time. Sorry, I’m realizing I don’t really have a coherent point – mostly just typing out loud and should probably just delete this and walk away.

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        • I don’t agree that the game was lost on the one breakdown.

          The second goal came on the breakdown. The first goal came as the direct result of one of about 10 awful giveaways by the usual culprits.

          We didn’t deserve a point, and it wasn’t because of defensive breakdowns. The back-line cleaned up many more mistakes than they made.

          We lost because our midfield couldn’t even compete all day.

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          • Fair enough. However, I thought there were stretches in the second half where the midfield looked alright. There were some solid moments of possession where we strung together 5-10 passes and gave time for an attack to take shape. It didn’t end up resulting in anything, but there were some good ideas forming.

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    • Sacha Kljestan…the Showstopper.

      Reply

  20. Posted by mbw on 2013/02/06 at 4:23 PM

    This was always going to be a difficult game, between the heat, the flights, the pitch, the lack of prep time, the quality of the opponent. . . . Bottom line is, had we made one more play, we would have come out of it with a good result. Denver will be very different.

    That said, major concerns do exist. This game provided convincing evidence of something we all should have known, which is that there’s a big drop off from Cherundolo to Chandler (at least at the international level). We still possess no viable wing option on either flank, really, but especially on the left. And then there’s the central defense, which will give us all nightmares at least until March.

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  21. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 4:55 PM

    I think Chandler gets better as he adapts. ‘Dolo is great, but lets remember he was a lot older than 21 when he started to really cement his spot on the national team. We just need to give Chandler some time and remember that it’s a lot harder to create as a right back when you don’t have a legit winger to work with on the flank.

    Listen, the biggest problem for the US is the problem that has plagued us forever. Goals. We just can’t score enough of them. Giving up 2 goals away, it isn’t the worst thing in the world. Especially when one goal was the result of a mental mistake. The problem is the US doesn’t pose any real threat offensively. They don’t have a player to bring off the bench that is going to scare teams. They’ve depended on the same two guys for the past 10 years to score goals. Half of the team is playing out of position, which isn’t entirely Jurgen”s fault…its simply the players he has. There is no offensive chemistry and its really worrisome. And by the way, this lack of offensive capability impacts the defense because of the amount of times the US players get caught in possession, make a poor pass, or just simply do the classic MLS style …KICK THE BALL 30 YARDS UP THE FIELD AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS.

    Not sure what the solution is, but its clear the current lineup isn’t working and honestly, it hasn’t been working (at least in meaningful games) for the past year. Might as well bring in some youth and see what happens. And cross our fingers that Donovan comes back for one last cycle (I think he will) and guys like Holden/Shea get healthy and in form.

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  22. Posted by twh on 2013/02/06 at 4:59 PM

    The bright side … no yellow cards. Not even Jones. And no major injuries.
    And that’s about it for non-darkness.

    The first half was just weak. We were totally outplayed. Lucky to only give up one goal. Nothing but long balls, except for a couple counters. I was glad Altidore started, and hoped he could carry his league success into this match. Didn’t happen. EJ was a bit better than Jozy, but not enough.

    Second half looked better. We actually had some possession. JK used all his subs at once, and left Jozy on. I think that was a mistake.

    In the end, same old same old. Our central defense still isn’t good. (Omar’s young, I know. Hopefully he’ll get better.) We need to score more than 1 goal per match to make up for it, and we didn’t.

    Man of the Match goes to the head of the security team. Unless the locker room got robbed during the match.

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  23. Posted by Ufficio on 2013/02/06 at 5:09 PM

    It’s not so much the result that’s depressing, but the way we played. It feels like this team hit a plateau 11 years ago and hasn’t made any progress since. We’ll probably qualify for the World Cup, even if we need to scrape by New Zealand to do so. A team that can’t string three or four passes together against powerhouse Honduras, generates maybe one and a half scoring chances, and then can’t even sniff the ball for ten minutes when they go down a goal isn’t doing shit in Brazil, though.

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    • Exactly. My dejection is not because we didn’t get a point in Honduras. It’s because we looked completely inept. We need Landon back posthaste.

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      • Posted by scweeb on 2013/02/08 at 10:23 PM

        Let Landon go we have had his.services for a long time and if.we don’t have a replacement for him by now then that’s just good old youth.academy fault.

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    • Posted by Anything but Gatorade on 2013/02/06 at 8:02 PM

      I wasn’t pleased either, but in their defense I will say I noticed some fairly good possession by the midfield in spots. There were a few sequences where I was really impressed with the way we held up the ball and completed a bunch of passes in the middle third of the field. Unfortunately, they never really went anywhere. I also noticed what seemed like a lack of hustle, which is bad, and may be a reflection on the conditions or the fact that parts of this team has never really played together.

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  24. Posted by Union on 2013/02/06 at 5:24 PM

    If Shea can’t return to form anytime soon, I’d prefer to see Fabian Johnson play his natural position as left winger and let Chandler take over left back. People are down on Chandler today, but every young player will have tough games here and there. Left back isn’t his best position, but he’s capable of doing it. And it will allow Fabian to give us some offense/creativity.

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  25. Posted by Harrison on 2013/02/06 at 5:33 PM

    Keeping apocalyptic views aside (for now), hopefully this match can give Jurgen a sufficient “to do” list on what has to be addressed before Denver. It might be too late (impossible) to manufacture any creative quality in the final third, but maybe a straight swap of a healthy Boca for Omar can keep the back line calamities from occurring again (prayerfully). This maybe counterintuitive to some players development, but maybe Jurgen should just say “F*&! IT” and bloody our young attacking/creative players just to see what they have to offer……….

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    • Posted by s44 on 2013/02/07 at 8:40 AM

      Reflexively going with Boca leaves us open to *another* kind of back-line calamity, since he’s in steep decline physically (and wasn’t so hot there two years ago either).

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  26. Posted by KHRiZZY on 2013/02/06 at 5:36 PM

    Benny Feilhaber, Freddy Adu, Eric Lichaj gimme skill and wins tired of hearing about character etc. learn to manage egos! i cant watch the product we put out on the feild anymore ( oh yeah please god let Stu get back to form)
    If all were healthy:
    Howard
    Eric Lichaj – Cameron – Boca – FJ
    Bradley – Feilhaber – Holden
    Dempsey
    Adu – Gomez
    = Profit/Wins I gurantee

    Reply

    • Posted by Kirk on 2013/02/06 at 7:04 PM

      Bradley-Feilhaber-Holden….. Who is your D-mid? Unless you have Holden and Bradley sitting back with Feilhaber further forward? Feilhaber works better where you have Dempsey quite frankly. Take Demps and put him in the hole behind Altidore and remove Adu (c’mon now) and Gomez. Personally I think a 4-2-3-1 might work best. Forget having 3 deep lying mids jammed in there the way he does with Jones-Williams-Bradley. Go with two. Then put wingers with speed on either side of Dempsey (Gatt and Shea would work nice). Alitdore is a CF. Period. Klinsman should stop asking the guy to do things he isn’t good at. If Altidore played with REAL wingers with Demps behind him we’d see some goals.

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      • Posted by KHRiZZY on 2013/02/06 at 7:57 PM

        Bradley is a defensive midfielder that can get forward in select spots…a Holden/Feilhaber midfield can maintain possession and have freedom to interchange…until Jozy can show his work rate can match Gomez’s I’d prefer him being the target. Dempsey can sit underneath the forward…and was I the only one that witnessed Adu in bob Bradley’s last game against Mexico? He got wide took on defenders ( was drawing multiple defenders, stretching the defense and showed confidence and skill on the ball.)

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        • Posted by themaninthehighcastle on 2013/02/06 at 9:45 PM

          Bradley is reemerging as a box-to-box midfielder for his club. Holden may never play at a high level again. Feilhaber hasn’t been playing well. And I am sorry, but Adu is just a shadow now. (BTW I have the Mexico game you’re talking about recorded, and Adu really wasn’t that great. People keep talking about it and the tale grows in the telling, but if you go back and LOOK at it you will not be impressed.)

          You are wrong about Jozy. He works hard, but he must be asked to do things he can do or he gets lost. Good coaches do that; JK has not been doing that. JK had better learn how.

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        • Posted by s44 on 2013/02/07 at 8:49 AM

          It’s sad and shocking that Freddy never learned — or, seemingly, wanted to learn — to use space. You’d think he’d have recognized the limitations of Hero Ball early on.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2013/02/07 at 9:40 AM

          As soon as I see someone list Adu as a possibility I think they must have been hitting that hookah with Adu and it wasn’t just tobacco that they were smoking. Forget Adu. He should be like Voldemort at this point, a name that’s never spoken aloud.

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  27. Posted by Freegle on 2013/02/06 at 7:50 PM

    I was pleased when the lineup came out because I feel that it put all of our best available players on the field. Now, I feel like all of our best available players are redundant in this system. No width, no possession, and if I recall correctly, one of the main tenets of the JK era was “playing out of the back.” I didn’t see too much of that. Too many guys who are all good at the same things. No variety.

    Also, i know this is semi-blasphemous but I thought Howard was poor tonight. He was up to the task with his reaction saves but he didn’t seem to come out of his goal aggressively, especially on the Fab Johnson clearance in the first half and on the second goal. I know that he was playing with a completely new back four also so chemistry was off, but he needed to be the voice of organization and attack the bal in his own area and I just didn’t see it.

    Silver linings: played poorly and still had chances to get points. Blooded some new young talent. I think this was the perfect venue to introduce our young German-American players to CONCACAF qualifying. I can guarantee that they have NEVER eperienced a scene like San Pedro Sula and I can only hope that it opened their eyes a little bit and will help them grow and recognize how things go in this region.

    Bottom line… Disappointing but all is not lost. Hopefully, we will be calling this a learning experience in a couple of months.

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  28. Posted by TGP on 2013/02/06 at 7:58 PM

    Klinsmann has been in charge for 18 months at this point. He has failed to bed in enough players so that he has 4 players at the back with very limited experience and no one on the bench who could come on and really threaten honduras. The US has consistently looked bad in the midfield with no cohesion between attack and midfield. We play with zero width or creativity and no speed of attack. The same issues continue to exist with selection and tactics and thats a problem. Get Klinsmann a new assistant coach who can evaluate tactics and player ability. The man needs help.

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    • Posted by Byrdman on 2013/02/06 at 8:14 PM

      I agree with your summary of the team. But…. what would you do with what there is. Let’s be honest. We don’t have anyone that can play LMid or RMid in the teamright now. I love the potential of Gatt and Shea, but they aren’t international caliber YET. The only thing I think JK can do, is move Fabian to a wing, and find a different Lback. Hate to weaken one position to strengthen another, but… Not much else out there.

      Can’t blame the back line on JK. Boca is old, his body is breaking down, and JK doesn’t know where the fountain of youth is. The player pool is what it is. Ream, John, Onyewu, have not been up to the task. J.A. Brooks has potential for the future, but now Germany is banging on his door. A lot of questions and not many people who can answer them.

      I thought we looked lethargic all day. Maybe because we were trying to conserve energy. Mentally they were passive. Mental passivity leads to mental laziness. That’s what happened to Gonzo on the second goal, stopped to watch the play, then had to react to the pass and he wasn’t as quick as the other guy. Bradley didn’t attack much today. But then we didn’t have the ball that much.

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      • Posted by Jared on 2013/02/07 at 9:48 AM

        We may not have anyone that can play left or right mid but we do have players with more creativity that can play in central midfield. Joe Corona/Diskerud/any type of non Jermaine Jones player should have been given more of a shot to play in central midfield instead of Jermaine Jones who could be dropped back to shield the defense if he has to play. Every game it’s been the same horrible midfield that provides nothing in attack and isn’t that great in covering for the defense either that leaves us with a shape that makes no sense.

        Here’s a crazy idea for the left mid/back situation. Play Castillo at one of those positions. He’s been better lately for the national team and plays more regularly for club as well.

        Klinsmann’s lineups are so obvious now that it is easy for other teams to prepare for the game. Everyone knows it will be 3 central midfielders, MB90, Jones and either Edu/Williams/Beckerman. The rest of the midfield will be made up of Dempsey doing Dempsey things with either Zusi/Johnson/other non wide player. Opposing teams just need to fill the central midfield area and we have no ability to break them down.

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        • Posted by Gregorio on 2013/02/07 at 1:00 PM

          He’s Tan, He’s Rested, He’s Ready; ROBBIE ROGERS!!!
          ok don’t laugh but he is a winger, watch the rehabilitation begin. If he gets minutes he will be back, at least he will stretch the field. Ok I’m done for now, let the casting of barbs begin.

          Reply

  29. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/02/06 at 9:27 PM

    Everybody seems to be questioning Klinsmann. And yes, he needs to shoulder much responsibility. But to me, there were just too many dismal performances, and not enough quality on the bench to make changes. Tactics and formation gripes cannot hide the cheap turnovers and poor positional play, especially in the defensive third.
    US were lucky – correct offside decisions were made, but you got caught badly, it wad more a function of them effing things up more than anything.
    In addition, I think I was correct with my concern regarding getting over-manned in midfield.
    Good thing there are 27 points still to play for and 3/6 qualify.

    Reply

    • Posted by Paul on 2013/02/06 at 10:01 PM

      Come on, George. In terms of “quality on the bench,” Klinsmann is partially to blame for not doing a better job of integrating the talent he has with the various players he knows will start. And he didn’t bring on players haunting the USL Pro league: he brought on players with significant international and club experience. This US squad has enough talent that the product on the pitch today was unwarranted and inexcusable.

      I do agree that there were too many dismal performances. But these are the same performances, from the same players, in roughly the same positions, utilizing the same tactics, that Klinsmann has trotted out since he became gaffer. His job was to improve the positional play, namely, to help guide the team from its grinding style under Bradley into a more free-flowing, possession-orientated side. Jermaine Jones has not looked like a starter for a top German side while playing for the US–his play seems to better fit in a division or two lower in the Bundesliga. Bradley and Deuce, for all of their talents, sparkle like two jewels missing their native crown. Jamaica, in the belly of Mordor, had a better sense of positioning, created more chances, and offered fewer opportunities than the US did today, as a far inferior squad facing a far superior opponent.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ufficio on 2013/02/07 at 4:55 AM

        Spot on, Paul. The quality excuse would fly against Mexico and Brazil. Not so much against Honduras minus three of their best players. And it’s the same thing we saw against Jamaica, Guatemala and A and B on the road (although mercifully a last-second goal saved us from embarrassment in the last one). No cohesiveness, no tactical awareness.

        Bradley, Dempsey, Cameron, Altidore, F. Johnson etc, aren’t world-beaters, but they’re accomplished professionals. There’s some nice talent to work with there. I have to think a different coach would be able to get better results in CONCACAF with that group.

        Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/02/07 at 8:03 AM

        The fact that this US squad has enough talent is my point – they, the players (all of them), did not perform anywhere near the standard that we know they can. And with respect, if you thought Bradley and Dempsey sparkled yesterday, then I must have watched a different game – they were marginally better. Dempsey’s goal was class, no doubt about it, but his performance over 90 minutes wasn’t.
        I was surprised at Gonzales’ inclusion, but I would say his errors were uncharacteristic. Maybe Klinsmann should have gone for experience rather than youth?
        The other thing was not packing the midfield, putting men behind the ball, and denying space and perhaps settling for a point. That would have been undeserved, but at 1-1, I would’ve been happy with it.
        Like I implied, it’s not all doom and gloom, some perspective is required – still 27 points to play for, 15 of which are at home.

        Reply

        • Posted by Paul on 2013/02/07 at 10:42 AM

          Gotcha. I was considering that for all of their individual talents, too often Dempsey and Bradley have moments of brilliance, which are either wasted or disconnected from the rest of an attacking movement.

          I would have been fine with playing for a draw. In retrospect, I would have preferred showing a decent defensive performance only to be beaten by a wonder strike.

          In short, not all doom and gloom, but we have seen this play time and again from Klinsmann’s teams. Deuce and Bradley have spurts of brilliance but cannot lead a coherent attack. Jozy is gets the ball and heads upfield against four opponents. Poor distribution out of the back, Howard included. Simple defensive errors piled on top of one another. Again, I wouldn’t mind as much losing a close, well-fought game, a defensive game where Klinsmann tried from the start to play for a draw. The tactics seemed to be for a win, then possibly a draw (after about the 70th minute, before the second goal). Neither worked–and neither has worked with Klinsmann as coach.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/19 at 3:39 AM

          Told you guys it was not doom and gloom – and that there was a lot of points to play for!!

          Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2013/02/07 at 9:59 AM

        You nailed it in terms of integration. He brings in players like Corona, Diskerud, Kljestan, etc for friendlies/earlier qualifiers then trots out the same horrible midfield trio of MB90, JJ and Edu/Williams/Beckerman. Jones has been average at best in the position he is asked to play. If Klinsmann thinks it necessary to play him then slot him in as the shield and allow a more offensive minded midfielder to play with MB90. Why weren’t the more creative players given opportunities when they could have been?

        As for the defensive issues and positional problems, that’s on Klinsmann as well. That defensive 4 had never played together. Is he really so thick that he thought they could figure out positioning after 3 days of training? He should have gone with Boca for this game and then brought in Omar when there was more time to integrate in a camp.

        The US performances were poor but Klinsmann needed to factor in the short time together and the difficult environment more when making his team selections. I think it’s pretty clear that he underestimates Concacaf competition and the conditions.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/02/07 at 1:04 PM

          Yeah, maybe. Maybe Klinsmann needs to be more realistic with the system he wants to play vs. the players he has available. Or maybe too many players had an off day.

          Reply

  30. Jamaica just tied Mexico in Azteca 0-0? Man, they must have played with like 5 defensive midfielders… I mean… that’s the only way to find success in the modern game… right?

    Or maybe the Jamaicans have better motivational speakers?

    Dear Jurgen, you are not the smartest guy in the room. Stop pretending that you are.

    Play a f%&*ing 4-4-2 and call it a day. And stopping using the phrase “the next level”.

    Reply

    • Posted by Nick on 2013/02/07 at 1:19 PM

      Jamaica actually tried taking it to El Tri and if not for some woeful finishing would’ve lead 2-0 at halftime. I’ll be honest Mexico looks beatable, but both had their lucky breaks last night to keep that as a 0-0 game. I didn’t watch the Panama-Costa Rica game, but it appears this Hex is wide open.

      Reply

  31. When Klinnsmann took over for Bradley, he made a couple simple promises.
    1) Define an American style of play
    2) Deliver a better possession based offense
    3) Develop an American confidence, where we believe we can go anywhere, play anyone and win

    So far Klinnsmann has only had moderate success with exactly one thing, delivering a better possession based offense. However every time I watch this team play I become more and more convinced that they don’t know what to do with the ball. Klinnsmann seems to have forgotten what makes any possession offense successful, creativity and fluidity. More and more often it looks as if Klinnsmann tells the team to play one or two touch soccer and he expects everything else will fall into place. Klinnsmann hasn’t made clear that in order to create, there needs to be movement. Klinnsmann has failed to install the singular most important aspect of a possession offense: pass and MOVE. Two of the biggest foils to any possession offense is an inability to make constant off ball runs and not taking enough risks. The USMNT has been prone to one or both of these in many games under Klinnsmann.

    Reply

  32. Posted by Jake on 2013/02/06 at 11:59 PM

    I am still behind Klinsmann but he is becoming more and more frustrating as time passes. He talks a great game but when push comes to shove, I’m dismayed by his choices. Why sub Edu for Williams? We needed better possession and connection to the forwards so why not take Williams out for Zusi and then move Jones or Bradley back where Williams was playing?

    Reply

    • Posted by Nick on 2013/02/07 at 1:22 PM

      I think the hope was that Edu could facilitate a Barca like formation where Chandler and Johnson push up and Edu because CB#3. However, Chandler looked like Frankenstein trying to run out there and Johnson’s service really suffered as he grew tired. Klejstan should’ve come on for Williams with Jones sitting deeper, Sacha in Bradley’s position and Mikey “out wide” which is where you see him playing for Roma – note not as a winger, but doing his thing more off-center.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2013/02/07 at 1:29 PM

        Isn’t off center where he played for Chievo as well? I thought I remember him playing as the right central mid in a 4-3-2-1 type formation for Chievo.

        Reply

  33. Posted by gino744 on 2013/02/07 at 12:34 AM

    Missed the game but sounds like the U.S. should concede qualification and just concentrate on winning the Gold Cup. I mean, the Nats have NEVER lost in San Pedro Sula during WCQ, right? It’s not as if Honduras has even qualified for the World Cup in recent memory. And Klinsmann, why don’t we just cut him loose now and bring in another coach from the good ol’ USofA? Seems as if we’ve got quite a few people posting here who’ve got it all figured out so lets hire from within!

    At the risk of being crucified, maybe we should calm down a little and put things into perspective. Would you rather lose a road game in the first of ten games in the Hex or tie at home with 45,000+ whistling “supporters” booing you on? Yeah, its not going to be easy with two of the next three also on the road but I like our chances in the next match at home against Costa Rica. Furthermore, we close WCQ with four of the last six at home. I’d like to think that by the time that stretch of games comes up, our newcomers in the US shirt will have been blooded properly and JK will have figured out who best fits into the starting rotation.

    Reply

    • Posted by Soccertes on 2013/02/07 at 9:38 AM

      +1, as they say. Spot on.

      Reply

    • +1 more, thanks for this.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2013/02/07 at 10:14 AM

      I’m not saying that the sky is falling but I’d doubt very much that Klinsmann figures out who fits best in his starting rotation considering he still thinks a midfield of MB90/Jones and then Edu/Williams/Beckerman with no actual wide players works.

      Reply

      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2013/02/07 at 1:08 PM

        This gets my +1, as long as Klinsman keeps trying a D-Mid as RMF and wondering why we don’t have a good attack we are somewhat doomed. I don’t mind any of the D-Mids individually (although Jones gets a decent bit of wrath from me). That said we saw Danny Williams play two games at RMF and look lost. We saw Edu play as an attacking MF and our offense looked lost. We experimented with a 4-3-2-1 and looked lost. We saw Jones play RMF and we looked lost. How many more times do we have to try this? I get it Landon isn’t there. If the question is who comes closest to doing what Landon does and the answer is Jones then you sir are very wrong.

        Its great that we have incredible depth at D-Mid. That said, I have never thought you know what our offense needs lets take out Landon and put in Edu.

        JK realized this when he burned all his subs to make a normal MF. It would be excusable if this was the first time it happened but by my count it is at least the 6th time.

        Reply

      • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/02/08 at 5:58 PM

        Jared,

        If that scheme does not work then how did the US get into the Hex?

        If the US does qualify using that scheme , and it seems likely that that will be the case, then how can you say that it does not work?

        When you say it does not work does that mean you don’t like it or that the US loses when they use that scheme?
        .
        If they get results (win or tie) the majority of the time using it then it seems to me that it works.

        Reply

    • Your points are fair, but the key to them is your opening statement. You didn’t see the game.

      The tone of the most negative posts are from people who saw the game. It was atrocious.

      There is legitimate cause for concern, though the events of the evening certainly helped lower the collective blood pressure.

      Reply

      • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/02/08 at 6:13 PM

        daveyaward,

        Never mind the score, it was worst game of I’ve seen them play under JK. JJ had a nice chip and Deuce had an awesome finish and I thought EJ looked promising but , overall it was garbage. They reminded me of Porter’s Under 23 wussies vs El Salvador ,and that is saying something.

        Which is why I am optimistic. Honduras should be the hardest away game. Azteca is won’t be easy but at least the US has won there lately and El Tri’s aura of invincibility took a little hit the other day.

        Our much ballyhooed backline of the future has now been blooded and if they have anything at all in them they can’t play that bad again.

        Now everyone is on notice and there are no more excuses so it should be fun. The best part is we should know right away in Denver whether this group have any testicular fortitude. Should Ruiz beat the US there it will be Fulham’s revenge on Deuce.

        Reply

  34. Posted by Alex on 2013/02/07 at 3:15 AM

    Remember, last cycle we lost horribly to Costa Rica on their turf. And we were fine. It’s not the end of the world

    Reply

    • Posted by s44 on 2013/02/07 at 8:43 AM

      Costa Rica has a much bigger homefield advantage than Honduras. We’ve still got that to look forward to.

      Reply

  35. Posted by CJ on 2013/02/07 at 5:06 AM

    I don’t think the performance was as bad as most of you are making it out to be. You win some, you lose some, no? A lot of our first touches were thrown off by that 8′ grass. Crazy high, half the players feet were missing in it. Have any of you recently played in 84 degree, high humidity, long grass conditions? It is not conducive to anything pretty. The goal we scored was off a volley if that tells you anything.

    There were many moments in the second half where we were dominant in possession and a simple bad first touch after 5-6 good ones turned over and put us on our heals in an exhausting effort to cover back. Not a single player about 2/3 the way through the first half looked energetic for the US. We’re one of the most fit teams in the world. Remember when Jones bent over, followed by like 4 other guys and the announcer said “I don’t think they’re all adjusting their socks”?

    You cannot prepare for everything. We aren’t amazing, okay, but we do have a style and the opponent forced us into making plays that weren’t our style. Bradley looked to carry out of the back (in long grass, which makes the distance seem twice as far) and had to hammer the ball to the next player, who had to do the same. There’s no beautiful touch in that crap.

    I think if we were to create a style against that similar situation of heat and grass, the best thing would have been to actually play MORE of an MLS style rather than continue to try to ticky-tacka (or w.e. it is) up the field. The pitch was just wayyy too slow.

    Reply

    • Posted by Eric on 2013/02/07 at 6:03 AM

      I agree that conditions might not have been idea but that’s always going to be the case on the road in CONCACAF. Teams are going to go out of their way to make things as unbearable for the US as possible and we have to be able to adjust. We can’t keep blaming weather and field conditions for poor performances. At a certain point, someone needs to man up and simply say, “That wasn’t good enough and we will do better next time.”

      To be honest, I’m not sure how much blame rests on Klinsmann and how much rests on the players. Yes, Klinsmann probably got some of his tactics wrong but that doesn’t excuse the lack of energy and just poor plays of the team. If the grass is long like that then you don’t keep trying to play short little passes, you adjust your game plan and go a little more direct. Soccer is a game of adjusting on the fly and neither Klinsmann or the players seem to have done that as well as they should have.

      Reply

      • Posted by CJ on 2013/02/07 at 7:22 AM

        I can get down with that. I think our big difference compared to say other countries is look at the size of our country. Coaches and players in CT and those in CA are in completely different worlds. Then you got HS vs Club vs College vs Semi Pro elsewhere vs Dual citizenships learning elsewhere. My point is I think it’s harder for us to prepare and adapt for an opponent on such short notice and simply saying “just do it” is a huge understatement to the difficulty of bringing all the moving pieces together. How big is Honduras? How many different “styles” of soccer can a 5-15 yr old learn there. So they all think a lot, respond to instruction a like and play alike.

        I think that’s what makes Concacaf so tougj and why I don’t hold the US to the fire in a game like that. How many meaningful games have Caneron and Gonzalez played together? So many factors at play here. I love that pairing by the eay and like the trial by fire Klinsmann put them in.

        Reply

        • Posted by Eric on 2013/02/07 at 9:27 AM

          I agree that the US’ size and the uniqueness of how young players learn to play here is both a blessing and a curse but that’s what WCQ is going to be: having to adapt at short notice to hostile conditions and prove you’re the more talented team. This isn’t to say that the US should have gone out and won this game. I personally would have been thrilled with a draw but the US simply showed a lack of ability to adapt which is all the more frustrating due to the fact that Klinsmann has talked about a more proactive approach which forces teams to adapt to us. At the very least, I would hope that Klinsmann could adjust his gameplan better than he did yesterday.

          As a coach, you sometimes have to expect players to have a bad game or conditions to be worse than you thought and change your plans accordingly and I”m not sure JK did that. It makes me question how well he was prepared for this game at times. I’m a JK fan, especially when I read his interviews and how he tries to approach things with this team but I do wonder how much of this actually sticks with the players.

          That said, I do think he’s dealing with more of a player pool issue than we might have all orriginally though (See my post below.)

          Reply

  36. Posted by Soccernst on 2013/02/07 at 8:22 AM

    I’m with the calls for width. What about Chandler and FJ wide right left. Dolo/Lichaj behind. 442. Altidore and deuce up top.

    Unlike the sweatpants days, there would be the threat of attack out left to help mitigate a johnnyb expressway to the goal.

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2013/02/07 at 12:10 PM

      I loved the (Paraguay game was it) that had Lichaj at RB and Chandler at RW. The US was just bombing down the right flank.

      Reply

  37. Posted by Eric on 2013/02/07 at 9:22 AM

    Just a thought that occurred to me a little while ago but how much of a missed opportunity has Chris Pontius been? I’m not blaming Klinsmann by any means for this one since it has clearly been Pontius’ own injuries at unfortunate times getting in the way but I thinke he could have been valuable here.

    We’ve all be calling for more width but let’s all be honest for a second here: there are not a lot of international level wingers in the US pool. I think that’s part of the reason JK has chosen to play so narrow at times, because he doesn’t fell like the US has a good enough winger to provide it otherwise. Dempsey isn’t a winger, neither is Zusi in the truest since. Shea is out of form, Donovan is wherever, and Gyau and Gatt are still extremely raw. It’s probably this reason that Robbie Rogers got so many looks at the beginning of JK’s term and Shea has kept getting run-outs whenever healthy or moderately in form. The pool is, quite frankly, weak at the winger position.

    What I’m saying is that Pontius would have been able to provide width, speed and a nose for goal from the flank position. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that he would have been on this roster had he not gotten injured and pulled out of camp. By that same line of thinking, Nick DeLeon might be in the running for a roster spot sooner rather than later as well. Between the two DC wingers right there, the US could at least possibly get a little more natural attacking width.

    This is at least my explanation of why the US plays so narrow. I doubt Klinsmann is oblivious to the fact that the US needs width but I think he looks at the pool and fails to see anyone capable of playing wide at the international level. I don’t necessarily agree with how he’s choosing to handle it (maybe he would have played Chandler higher had Cherundolo been healthy) but I’m at least trying to find some rational for all this. Any thoughts?

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2013/02/07 at 10:45 AM

      Agreed Pontious should get a look and its quite a shame that he didn’t go to Janruary camp. Gotta wonder how many more opportunities he’ll have to actually be a contributor.

      Reply

      • Posted by JGD on 2013/02/08 at 11:09 AM

        Pontius wasn’t at full health in time for the January camp, if I’m mistaken. Otherwise, I’m sure he plays against Canada and potentially makes the roster against Honduras.

        Reply

  38. Posted by Union on 2013/02/07 at 10:28 AM

    Time to move Fabian Johnson to the left wing. You can’t win if you can’t get service to your forwards and he can at least do that.

    Reply

    • Posted by John Mosby on 2013/02/07 at 12:14 PM

      Union are we going to call hoffrnheim and ask them to play Fabian in a more attacking role as well?

      Reply

      • Posted by Union on 2013/02/07 at 3:04 PM

        I didn’t realize a player needed to play the same position for both club and country. If thats the case, we should probably call Stoke, Seattle, Roma and Tottenham and let them know.

        Fabian’s natural position is as a winger. Thats what he played while growing up, and he’s played it for Hoffenheim as well. Thing is – he is also a good left back and there aren’t many good left backs in the world today. But there are a ton of left wingers. Both Hoffenheim and the US are in the same position with Fabian.

        Reply

        • Posted by John Mosby on 2013/02/07 at 4:00 PM

          Union. I challenge you to go look up the games Fabian played at left mid for hoffrnheim and tell us why he was a majority of the time in those games the first player subbed out. Why would his so positive performance see him being first to be subbed? And why would he be moved to left back if he was so positive in midfield? Because he did have five assist last season from midfield.

          As far a Geoff Cameron goes, maybe a lot of his issue is in fact that he has not played center half for stoke this season, Though he has played just about every where else.

          Reply

          • Posted by John Mosby on 2013/02/07 at 4:03 PM

            And Ej really should not be playing a wide midfield role because his defense is not up to it. Junior is different also because he is m

            Reply

            • Posted by John Mosby on 2013/02/07 at 4:08 PM

              Junior is pretty much always the smartest Player on the field, and can play just about anywhere

            • Posted by Union on 2013/02/07 at 5:25 PM

              There are plenty of reasons someone can be subbed off for a specific game. I can’t give a reason unless I watch the game. And this isn’t a crazy idea by the way. Brian Sciaretta has been saying this for awhile now.

              The larger point isn’t what is Fabian’s perfect position. It is, where can he help the US most. And while he is a great option at left back, he’s very positive going forward. He’s a better option on the left wing than anyone in the player pool not named Brek Shea circa 2011. And I get that we don’t have many alternative options at left back either (and have been searching for a left back for some time), but I’m fairly positive that a healthy Cherundolo at right back (yes, I know he’s injured) and Chandler at left back, with Fabian in the midfield would be a suitable compromise.

              You just can’t be a successful team (no matter the level) if your wingers can’t race down the flanks and play dangerous or even reasonably dangerous balls into the box. By the way, Fabian is probably the only player on yesterday’s roster capable of beating a man 1 v 1 off the dribble. And yes Mosby, I’ve seen him do this. I think he needs to be used in the attack.

          • Posted by Freegle on 2013/02/07 at 5:14 PM

            without actually looking up the statistics, if your contention is correct and Fab was one of the first subs in the matches that he played on the wings, I would venture a guess that it’s because the position requires more running and perhaps he was subbed for fresher legs. regardless, the point is irrelevant. The question is not whether or not hes better than Hoff’s, but better than the USMNT’s other options at the position. I think that at this point, he is.

            Reply

            • Posted by john mosby on 2013/02/07 at 10:37 PM

              both of your points are noted about fabian in attack. he is good. however, there is a point, if he is first subbed. there are two wingers on hoffenhiem, so riddle me that. this is like a math problem, how much do you lose taking fabian out of left back, and how much do you gain. now our friend at NSC thinks that michael parkhurst would not be much of a drop off, maybe not. parkhurst is in a bigger league now, so we willl get a better apples to apples comparision.

              i can think of one player that i would in fact prefer to see at left wing, and im not thinking freddy adu, but maybe it would have been nice to see that at some time over the past eighteen months. no, im thinking landon donovan would be prefered to fabian johnson at left wing, left mid, left whatever attacking position you wanna label it.

              so thats simple as that, fabian johnson stays at left back, and all this turkey nonsensical BS about our left back moving back to the position of his youth ends. TODAY!!!!!!!!

              are you guys crazy or something, i mean jesus. no, i dont want to watch the usa honduras game

            • Posted by john mosby on 2013/02/08 at 12:09 AM

              union and freegle, im sorry, but that third paragraph was not really directed at you two. thank you for understanding.

        • Union,

          When Fabian first came to the USMNT his regular spot was on the right side of midfield.

          “For now, it remains to be seen how Klinsmann will use the versatile Hoffenheim regular. Johnson currently lines up in the team’s 4-4-2 empty bucket at right midfield, though he often swaps sides during a contest. During his time with hometown club 1860 Munich and Wolfsburg, Johnson was largely used at right back or defensive midfield.”

          Reply

    • Posted by gino744 on 2013/02/07 at 6:06 PM

      It wasn’t too long ago that there was a HUGE sucking sound for the US at LB. I mean there was a giant void at that position for years. Then came Fabian Johnson. While some might argue that ‘you can’t be a successful team if your wingers can’t race down the flanks and play dangerous balls into the box’, I’d argue that you can’t be successful if your outside backs are getting toasted by the likes of a Fabian Johnson bombing down the sidelines. Anybody remember Johnny Bornstein? I don’t believe Tim Chandler’s first cap with the Nats should have been at on the left when he typically plays on the right. Besides, from what I understand, Chandler was underwhelming against Honduras anyway. Wouldn’t he have fared even worse out left?

      Reply

      • Posted by Union on 2013/02/07 at 7:13 PM

        I understand. Know that chandler played left back for his first couple starts with the US and did fine. He isn’t a better option than Fabian, but he worked out fine.

        Btw, Marc Pelosi got called into Liverpool’s first team for their Europa League game. Doubt he’ll see the field, but it’s a positive development for the 18 year old and likely the reason why Liverpool wouldn’t release him for U-20 WC qualifying. Point being, he’s left footed and can play on the wing.

        Reply

        • Posted by gino744 on 2013/02/08 at 12:42 AM

          I’m just a big believer in defense. Pelosi’s development would be good for the Nats.

          Reply

      • gino744,

        It seems you don’t like Jonny Bornstein.

        But there had to be a reason he was such a regular player from about 2008 until the end of 2010.

        Care to guess what the USMNT’s record was when Bornstein appeared with them during that period?

        15 wins, 10 losses and 1 draw.

        In non- friendlies, i.e competitive matches such as WC qualifiying, World Cup, Gold Cup, Confed Cup and so on the record is:

        8 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw.

        It seems BB was very results oriented.

        Reply

        • Posted by gino744 on 2013/02/11 at 10:15 PM

          If I ran into Jonathan Bornstein in a bar, I wouldn’t think twice about sharing a pitcher with him. Hell, it’d be my treat! That said, Bornstein, Heath Pearce, DaMarcus Beasley, Eddie Lewis, Bobby Convey, et al were all damp, limp bandages on the lingering open wound that was left back for the USMNT since around 2007. The only time I didn’t think we were very vulnerable at that position was when Bocanegra played there. I’m talking about the Boca from around 2006.

          As for the records you noted above, I’d like to think most USA fans would aspire to something more than just a shade better than average. Its not Bornstein’s fault that there weren’t a lot of options at left back during his “heyday”. He had stamina and desire. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the talent required of an international level LB.

          Reply

          • gino744,

            I don’t disagree with you.

            My point is people seem to regard Bornstein as the devil incarnate and as if his absence would have dramatically improved the USMNT.

            My point in mentioning the record was it’s not that simple.

            I thought when he was good no one noticed and when he was bad he was spectacularly bad. In other words, a convenient scapegoat.

            What I notice is USMNT fans ignore intangibles. This is unfortunate. It’s as if the USMNT is a fantasy league construct and how all those pieces actually fit together in the real world don’t matter.

            It seems BB was willing to suffer Jonny B’s flaws because he thought the team played at least marginally better with him rather than his alternatives. Maybe he was great in the locker room, like they say about Beckerman. I don’t know. Since Bradley or the players never talk about this stuff, we’ll never really know the rationale.

            The US was and is not “international level”, whatever that means, at a lot if not most positions.

            The USMNT is, and has been for a while now, a second or third tier team. To me that means, in the World Cup they could make some significant noise if things work out. On the other hand, they could fail to qualify for the World Cup and it would not surprise me.

            The USMNT at present and going back to Bradley’s Confederations Cup side are/were talented enough overall to make noise in a serious tournament but only if they always bring their “A” or at least their “B+” game. Spain or Germany can maybe get away with less than 100% but not the US.

            Bornstein and the alternatives to him were just about equal (Pearce or Convey were spectacularly average or less), and were not the reason, by themselves, why the US has failed to do better than it has. In English, BB played the left back who was the lesser evil.

            “As for the records you noted above, I’d like to think most USA fans would aspire to something more than just a shade better than average.”

            Sure, but are you saying that JK and Bradley before him are/were not aspiring to a better record? Because in Bornstein’s case, since he played so much, his record is pretty much the USMNT’s record during that time frame.

            The reason Bradley’s team was not more successful is simple, lack of depth, which gets back to my point about the US not being up to “international standard “ at a lot of positions.

            The 2009 Confederations Cup team was poised to make a real impression. Unfortunately, injuries took Davies, Demerit and Onyewu. Demerit and Onyewu came back but were at a lot less than their best in the World Cup. Overall, this left the US soft right down the middle. You could also throw in the promising Holden’s broken leg though he was less of a proven asset at that point.

            Without these injuries or if the US had had suitable replacements I see the US beating Ghana and then maybe beating Uruguay which would have been historic.

            Reply

            • You make a lot of good points and I don’t disagree with any of them. What I meant with the “average” statement was that Bornstein’s/USA’s record together is not impressive. My greater point from my original post is that we need to keep playing Fabian Johnson at LB and not push him up to LM.

          • gino744,

            I agree. The back four needs all the stability it can get.

            Fabian played the right side of the empty bucket in central midfield before Hoffenheim moved him to left back.

            The US has several midfield /wingback /winger types they need to find out about.

            Reply

  39. Posted by Henning on 2013/02/07 at 12:31 PM

    Is Bobby Shou Wood on the radar? Since he has recovered from last year’s longterm injury he’s been looking really good for 1860 Munich, playing very lively on the wing either left or right. Mind you, that’s the second Bundesliga, not the highest level surely. But then, Klinsmann tried out Boyd who was in the 4th BL at the time.
    Anyway if there was a second 1860 youth product at the USMNT besides FJ it would surely become my no.2 team to support after Germany. Fingers crossed, may his positive development continue!

    Reply

  40. Posted by chris on 2013/02/07 at 1:07 PM

    I’m stunned most by the USMNT’s lack of defensive intensity. There was absolutely no urgency in closing down the ball and engaging Honduran attackers. It was truly bizarre how nonchalantly we “defended” in our own half. We weren’t trying to disrupt passes or cause turnovers. It sounds obvious, but we simply can’t afford to give opposing teams that much space/time to operate in our own defensive half.

    Reply

    • What you’re singling out is perhaps the most consistent trait of ours in games that we lose.

      When we come out aggressive, we tend to do well. When we come out passive, giving the opposition all day on the ball, we tend to lose.

      The “why’s” are probably more complicated, but the “how’s” sure arent.

      Reply

  41. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/02/07 at 2:10 PM

    I am willing to say that this loss had nothing to do with tactics. I actually though the tactics were solid. The best they have been in a while. I think the problem was all down to fitness. The US players were all clearly tired. I don’t blame them: Games Sunday, Flight to Miami, Flight to Honduras, Strange Hotel Rooms, Crazy Crowd, and Super Humid/Hot is a lot to handle.

    Here are my thoughts as to what was wrong (I am not using hindsight as these are the comments I made during the game to a couple friends I watched with).

    1. At game start: “I think starting Cameron at LCB is going to cause issues given his time at Stoke at RB” And it was true, Cameron looked out of sync and kept making plays that you would expect a RB to make, Stepping up, and getting dragged out right. I thought that we should have started a Pair. If you Wanted to throw Gonzalez in I would have put Besler next to him. Want to Start Cameron put Boca next to him. Yes the future is now and also likely Cameron and Gonzalez is the best pairing, but give them a longer camp to get used to each other. Given this game I would have gone Boca and Cameron. Mainly because Chandler, Cameron, Boca and Johnson played together in Russia, not because I think Boca>Gonzalez.

    2. Slightly before half: “Williams is playing terrible and Jozy is gassed, put Edu in at the Half and give Jozy til 60 and if he can’t find the game put Gomez in” Klinsmann gave williams a little extra chance in the second half, which is fine, but then failed to sub Jozy instead subbing Eddie Johnson, who I thought was finally starting to find something. Edu for Williams was ok, but I actually though Williams had calmed down a bit and was playing better. But by the 55 min mark Jozy was clearly done. I would have left Clint (who was also gassed) In but put him Central behind a striker, Brought Gomez in for Jozy and played him up top. After that, I am a little less clear about what I would do but Kljestan or Zusi for Jones is what I am remembering. We needed someone to take free kicks. So given my half time switch of Williams for Edu, that would have left me the following front 6:

    EJ—–Gomez——–
    ——–Dempsey—-Zusi
    —Edu——-Bradley—

    I think that Wins this game.

    One last statement: My critic is on small details, I thought everyone is doing what they can with the pieces they have. No fringe players not included here would have changed this result. I think the Tactics were great, actually an interesting way to use Clint and Jozy. This came down to tired legs.

    Sorry for the length.

    Reply

    • In a game like that where there’s not much midfield service to speak of (which is unfortunately a lot of the USMNT games recently) Jozy isn’t especially useful. That second half was screaming for a swap for Gomez, who works his ass off to track back to find the ball and pounches on little mistakes by defenders.

      Reply

  42. Posted by twh on 2013/02/08 at 5:18 AM

    I think the main reason we lost was because most of the Honduras squad had been together for a month, while we got together for a day. Huge advantage for them.

    The formation was fine. We knew they were going to play a 4-2-2-2, so JK set our back line up with a CDM so we could outnumber their attack 5v4. Unfortunately, their 4 outplayed our 5. Add in their 2 CMs outplaying our 2 CMs (Bradley and Jones) and we were doomed. I actually like the way JK is using Eddie Johnson- he’s being used as a forward, not a MF, and was probably the most dangerous man on the pitch for us.

    The hard truth is that our central defense is weak, has been for years, and likely will be for at least a couple more. They need help in the form of a CDM, and that limits what we can do everywhere else. Yes, JK screwed up throwing Omar in with no practice time. (The move had to be made eventually, but he should have waited until March or even June.) Did anyone expect Williams to play that badly? Did anyone expect Espinoza to outplay Bradley?

    I fault JK for benching Boca this early, but the rest was on the players, conditions, and a very good Honduras team

    Reply

    • TWH,

      Good post.

      My only disagreement is over the use of Gonzo.

      This is going to be a difficult Hex and it is unlikely that there will be any throw away games at the end.

      We don’t know what condition Boca is in. He seems to have had a number of niggling injuries lately. It is possible he was healthy enough to play but not really “100% “. Hamstrings are very temperamental.

      The reality is Gonzo was going to have to be blooded sooner or later. This game is probably the hardest away game the US will have. Azteca will still be hard but it is not the fortress it used to was and that Jamaica tie did not help Mexico’s aura there. The US may well need a result when they go there. And it is early yet. If Gonzo was going to screw up better now than later so he can have time to correct before we really, really need him.

      Given all that this was probably the game to throw Gonzo into the deep end. Better now than later.

      What screwed this up was that Cameron was actually worse than Gonzo. Of course he only has 6 caps and is was a WC qualifying rookie.

      So the positive is Cameron- Gonzo have been blooded and should be better going forward. And if Boca was injured, he now has time to heal. I’m not convinced he is healthy. And if C & G have to go again they should be better.

      Reply

  43. Posted by KickinNames... on 2013/02/08 at 10:00 AM

    The MNT always gets TSG at the top of its game…great perspectives here from all sides…
    I’ve taken a few days to let this one simmer to avoid the knee jerk reaction which was “that was god awful soccer and WHY is Espinoza or any one of their MF’ers consistently receiving the ball 35 yds from goal with NO ONE near them? “….

    I am more comfortable in hindsight with the fact that the large number of negative variables could have conspired to undermine what looked like an interesting and agressive lineup by Klinsi. 1 day together for a brand new back line on the road in heat/humidity after significant intl travel is a bit much to ask.

    I agree that although Boca is slowed, his presence and near mythical “leadership” could have impacted the game. Gonzalez’ mistake on the 2nd goal was pure big eyes in a big moment IMO. He forgot his instincts and got lost in the moment. The problem is there always seems to be one of those waiting to happen with the US defensive corps.

    No Donovan reduces this team’s attacking threat by a huge amount. Like Zusi as a piece but you just can’t reproduce what vintage Landon on his game can and does bring.

    Deuce’s goal was pure class and he shows what he can do with service. Where does service come from without Landy?

    The hope here is that you blood the young guys and hope to god that you can get the results you need. Strengthen and figure out the right CMF/DMF combo and sacrifice one CMF to somehow mix in a Torres/Feilhaber or SOMEONE who can consistently retain possession, dictate game flow and unlock a packed in defense which we will see throughout CONCACAF.

    That’s how I’m getting to sleep tonight….great stuff all.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/02/08 at 1:50 PM

      You honestly think the second goal was down to Gonzales? Yes, he could have done better by anticipating, but by the way Cameron slowed, I think he got a shout from Howard. If there was a shout, then Howard has to collect. If Cameron has any doubt, then he needs to clear the ball.
      For the first goal, I am still wondering how the Honduran player managed to chest it it, unopposed, back across goal. Not even going mention the defending to the prior corner.

      Reply

      • The second goal was clearly a comedy of errors involving Cameron, then Howard and finally Omar Goodson. Since Omar was the last guy, who, had he responded properly, could have made a difference, he should get the lion’s share of the blame. But all three screwed up.

        As for the bicycle kick you have a valid point about the player not being harassed. However, it’s also likely that that shot goes over the bar nine times out of ten. So give him just a little credit.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/02/08 at 4:15 PM

          To be honest — a ball on the floor that close to goal just shouldn’t happen at the midfield level. I haven’t watched the reply, but if’ you’re face-up guarding your man, a straight through ball just shouldn’t happen.

          That was really mistake #1.

          As for Howard / Cameron. That’s on Howard I think. Cameron wasn’t on his man, but he likely clears that if he’s told to. Or maybe he didn’t want to go to ground in the box. Some culpability I guess on both.

          And yes, we know Omar should have cleared.

          At the end of the day. That was a comedy of errors, but the US tactical game plan did them in. No excuses there for Klinsmann. None.

          Reply

          • matthewsf,

            Let me put it this way.

            As the manager JK is responsible for this performance. He is responsible for the loss.

            But you want to let the players off the hook and I don’t . I expect more.

            Howard is a highly paid veteran. He was the captain.

            Cameron is a highly paid EPL professional.

            Gonzo is so highly touted Bruce Arena felt compelled to bitch, as only he can, about how Gonzo’s inclusion in this team was long overdue. And that just about sums up how strongly most of the internet crowd have been screaming for Gonzo’s inclusion.

            They each made an indidual error.

            To let them off the hook with a mild slap on the wrist like “Some culpability I guess on both” just doesn’t cut it. That’s like saying since everyone screwed up then no one screwed up, so lets blame the coach.

            As screwed up as everything was, the game was tied and this team had a chance to preserve the one point had they just risen above their own mediocrity. But none of them did. Which tells me they are mediocre.

            Tim, Geoff, and Omar should be ashamed of themselves.They don’t know how to win. I’m not blaming JK for their brain farts.

            Reply

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/02/09 at 12:20 AM

              Have to disagree. First, the players are culpable. That said, Honduras should have had at least one goal (a sterling Howard save on a poor high line from Gonzalez) and possibly another when I believe Bengston missed one.

              The players should neither feel ashamed of themselves nor are they infallible. I think that’s the part that most people miss.

              The US–against Jamaica at home, against Mexico at the Gold Cup in 2011–was in the game. They had moments of dictating play.

              The US was not in the game Wednesday at all. They wanted to get the FBs into the offense.

              They didn’t.

              The wanted to sit back and then control the play on a change of possession; they didn’t they kind of half counter attacked, rushing shots are Honduras regressed into a cocoon.

              Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones were swapped positionally for the game, with Jones pushing forward a lot more than he is used to. Is it any wonder that there were challenges on when to step to a guy in midfield.

              The US is a much better and deeper team now then they were last cycle–even without Landon Donovan, yet they couldn’t control the play against a talented, but ultimately less or evenly skilled side even for stretches. They had two shots on goal.

              Players make mistakes. And on the goal above all of those players were culpable, *even though Cameron and Gonzalez practiced twice together and neither of them is adept at calling a line.

              But a good game plan minimizes those mistakes while creating opportunity. The US game plan did not do that and this sits exclusively on Klinsmann’s shoulders and no one elses.

              It was a poor game plan in my opinion and it was terrible that a coach who instilled it squarely put the blame on his players.

              Jobi McAnuff–an excellent player–missed a sitter for a Jamaica. Is he responsible? Sure is, but Jamaica’s game plan put him in position to succeed.

              Gio Dos Santos wasn’t working for Mexico because he dawdled on the ball on the ball. In came Javier Aquino after half time and Mexico counter-attacked with verve as the game plan was tweaked.

              The US did none of this. They put their wide players in position to fail because of the heat–it would appear–and then when the width was compromised due to fatigue the players were neither replaced, nor did they change their game plan insisting on using Sacha Kljestan of all people (in for a still active Eddie Johnson), Kljestan did not have a single successful dribble losing the ball eight times in possession and the only passes he completed save one were negative passes.

              That is the coach’s fault. Not the player who was tasked with “creating” on the wing.
              I could go on…..

            • Posted by john mosby on 2013/02/09 at 1:31 AM

              USA was hard on the eyes under coach bradley, without landon donovan, and now, they are hard on the eyes , in the new regime, under coach klinsmann, without landon donovan. we need to be able to admit that and then tell our boy how much we love him and how much his country really needs him, because thats what he needs to hear.

            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2013/02/09 at 2:36 AM

              matthewsf,

              Then you agree with me, the manager was responsible for the loss and the players are culpable.

              Your comparison of Mexico’s situation with the US’ is much more to the point.

              They have a proven system in place and the players that fit it.

              JK has the basics of his system and is not anywhere near as sure yet, as the Mexicans, if the available players fit that system or what he has fits the old system better and maybe they should go back to it for qualifying purposes.

              When tough times hit you go back to what you do best and right now it seems this USMNT group is caught in the transition phase, which makes them tentative.

              That is what makes Donovan is so important, he is the one guy who can bridge the gap, play either “system” , the one JK would like and the one from the previous management and get others to play it as well. Neither Clint nor Mikey is as good at that particular thing as LD is. Clint is primarily a scorer and Mikey is a good soldier but he is not as versatile as LD over the course of the game.

              I am assuming LD’s ship has sailed and that in the next five,six weeks JK , his staff and the players will figure out what “system” or “identity” they want to assume going forward.

              If they don’t figure it out then they will not qualify.

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/02/09 at 4:14 PM

              I think problem with Klinsmann is that his system demands something that’s not even on the horizon for the US.

              His system demands high pressure, galavanting fullbacks, a possessive-based but defensive midfield, and a roving playmaker (the last one being a nice-to-have.)

              Klinsmann doesn’t have this at the international level. Neither Chandler or Fab Johnson are world beaters and certainly not on the international level.

              To push fullbacks forward you need dominant centerbacks. The US has someone who is very good but needs reps in seasoning.

              Only Michael Bradley in the midfield can effectively manage possession – so that possesses both problems for the centerbacks and for the fullbacks that have trouble consistently pushing forward.

              When Germany realized after 2008 that they really didn’t have the midfield that they did with the incomparable Frings, Schweinsteger and Ballack, they opened up their system inserting Ozil to receive and carry a ball further up the pitch.

              That’s not Clint Dempsey, he’s a withdrawn forward who Klinsmann is using to manage possession. That’s never been his strong suit.

              You are seeing this with the Lakers now. You have coaches who have a system and will shoehorn players into it. You have coaches (Germany’s Low, Hiddink, maybe Gaurdiola, Mourinho) who tweak their systems.

              I don’t think Klinsmann is an expert on tactics (as we’ve seen). He can’t tweak his current system to dictate the game (A&B away, Jamaica away, Honduras away, Canada at home/twice) and he can’t change his system.

              You want him to input Germany 2005 (Klinsmann was largely a figurehead by the World Cup), fine, hire him to be technical director and start with the U-23′s, but you have players at the senior level that need to be maximized. This is not happening.

            • Posted by john mosby on 2013/02/09 at 7:02 AM

              schmutzdeck, all im going to comment about is your use of pronouns, because it is off. you refer to the team as they. you say “if they dont figure it out then they will not qualify”

              my friend, its not they, its WE. if we dont figure it out, we might not qualify. get it right please. and i guess i am making the assumption that you are a fan of the team.

            • John,

              I like a lot of teams but the USMNT, who I have followed since before 1990, are the only team that I really care about.

              Compared to most club teams the roster is fairly stable so I don’t feel like I’m rooting for “laundry”

              Bradley and JK were and are interesting characters and, it seems, decent men.
              I follow Egypt as best as I can and I followed JK when he was a player, which is one reason why his moves with the US seem predictable to me, at least in retrospect. He’s always been a risk taker..

              Compared to other sports teams it seems as if the players do not have too many sociopaths, rapists, drug addicts and murderers on the roster. In general, they seem easy to relate to and likable. From the outside it appears like a very together bunch, especially when compared to some other national teams I am familiar with.

              And as a fan of the Maryland Terrapins there are a lot of Terps in the player pool.

              Frankie Hejduk is my favorite all time USMNT player.

              As for pronouns, I think you’ll find like most lame fans it’s “we” when we win and “they” when they lose..

              Actually, I try to use “they ” all the time because they are the ones doing all the work not me. They deserve all the credit and all the blame., however it goes.

            • matthewsf,

              Everything you say may be true but the fact remains the game was tied until the 78th minute when Timmy, Geoff and Gonzo decided to give it away.

              And Gonzo was inches away from tying the game in stoppage time. He probably should have.

              So we have a US team that put on possibly the worst performance I can remember them putting on against a Honduran team, at home, that played the best I can remember and the US still should have tied the game.

              Tactics, formations, systems, all that stuff may be as you point out less than what they should be.

              But the US did not need them to tie Honduras; they just needed someone to make a play, to rise above as it were.

              Timmy, Geoff and Gonzo had a chance to do that on the Honduran’s second goal. And Gonzo had a chance to do that on the corner. Next time, maybe he will.

              In the past Donovan would have been that guy.

              Now that he is gone someone needs to take responsibility, someone needs to rise above their own mediocrity. They have until Denver to find that guy.
              In the end it is first, last and always about the players.

  44. Posted by Berniebernier on 2013/02/08 at 6:04 PM

    I don’t get all the Fabian up to midfield posts I honestly thought the rotation of Duece and EJ faired well swapping in that roll. We has some good forays through the left side.

    On the other hand other than the goal (I know goals are what matters) nothing came up the right side over the first 60 minutes. Sub jones for someone that can provide more offense and you have a 4-3-3 hybrid with Dempsey Bradley and Williams playing in the MF in the destroyer-linker-attacker mode and EJ, Altidore, ?

    The problem is at the current time the ? is Landon. I would rather Zusi to Jones but Zusi is not the droid you are looking for.

    Reply

  45. Posted by mark on 2013/02/10 at 10:07 AM

    Bradley had one of the not-so-horrible performances for the U.S. against Honduras, i.e. calm, steady, but in leading the attack out of the back I thought he was taking way too long making the initial pass. Instead of making a quick pass to get the transition going, he was dwelling on the ball, allowing the defense to get set, narrowing the passing options further. Part of that may have had to do with Bradley taking over more responsibility from the inexperienced back line. Still, I’d like to see him get the attack going faster, or continue dribbling up field until he draws a defender.

    Then again, I’m the one who recommended starting Klesjtan for this game, believing he could provide some of the much-needed passing skill in midfield missing with Donovan absent. At least we learned one thing, he won’t see much more playing time even if he’s called in again. Regardless of whether he’s playing out of position, he’s got to possess the ball better than that. Is the Jupiler league that soft? Whatever seasoning he’s had playing in Belgium doesn’t show at the national level.

    Reply

    • Posted by Nick on 2013/02/10 at 9:32 PM

      It’s hard to blame Bradley for the slow-movement of the ball in this match; his game is predicated on people moving around him and the rest of the team wasn’t as helpful as you’d want. I’m not saying this as a Bradley sympathizer because for the longest time I was against his inclusion in the lineup (mainly under his dad), but if you watch him play for the US when they’re on or Roma (specifically this past weekend’s match against Sampdoria) he’s always getting rid of the ball quickly when the option is there. Granted your point about him receiving the ball too deeply is spot on; I think if you flip Bradley and Jones vertically on the field you’ll see a better Bradley and possibly a better Jones.

      Reply

  46. Posted by Josh on 2013/02/13 at 2:31 PM

    Is it me or does the result in Honduras speak to one overarching fact – which is true for every team in every sport:

    You are generally as good – or bad – as your talent. And the current US talent while better on paper than most in the Hex, isn’t so much better a result like last week’s should be surprising.

    I know this is obvious and I assume has been mentioned in this thread (and I’m far from a soccer expert). But amid the predictable din of lineup, tactics, etc discussion – I think basic facts like the US simply remain a middling soccer power – at best – gets lost in the conversation. JK can talk all he wants about 24/7 players, playing proactively, out of the back, blah blah blah – he’s got the much the same talent level – and sometimes worse in the case of no Landon – as Bradley & Arena had to work with.

    To me JK’s greatest value will be instilling a new mindset in US soccer culture, one which will hopefully lead to a better talent pool for 2022 & 2026, perhaps 2018. 2014 it’s too late – we’re stuck with what we have and what we have isn’t great.

    Reply

    • Josh,

      Excellent post.

      “current US talent” .

      US talent is a combination of the physical talent and, to use your word, “mindset”.
      Your observation is pretty much the same one Landon made in an interview shortly after the 2010 World Cup where, in explaining why we did not beat Ghana, he said the US had the physical skills, the talent, but were not “savvy” enough.

      I took this to mean US players in general are lacking in big game experience.

      To put it another way, the Oklahoma City Thunder last year had enough “talent” to beat the Miami Heat but the Heat knew better than them how to win. As a result of that experience, this year OKT are a much more serious threat to win it all.

      In this regard, the bad thing is a lot of the USMNT guys in that Ghana game won’t be relevant for 2014. This makes it hard for the US to carry over the “experience benefit” to the next World Cup team.

      Unlike Spain, for example, the US is on a four year big prize cycle.

      The Spanish are on a two year cycle with the Euros and then the World Cup.

      I don’t think anyone considers winning the Gold Cup on par with winning the Euros. I am hoping CONCACAF and CONMEBOL can get together on those rumored Copa America dealings. Such a tournament could be of enormous benefit to the USMNT. A million friendlies cannot make up for one serious tournament of that stature.

      The US is a second or third tier team meaning that the US can beat anyone on any given day (or do serious damage in a serious tournament) but only if they bring their “A” or at least their “B+” game.

      Honduras, who are not a minnow especially at home, under those circumstances required the US to bring their “A “game and it did not happen for any number of reasons. Most of these reasons we, the general public, will probably never know but the US now has nine more chances to bring that “A” game to the table.

      It’s clear to me that JK is focusing primarily on that mindset; one reason Jones is an ever present. We have no other players who are regulars in a contending team in the Champion’s league (I would not call Anderlecht a serious contender).

      It’s also why JK is so insistent about pushing his guys to get the toughest competition they can with their clubs. The US will never get to the next level if players don’t take some risks.

      We should know pretty soon how successful he will be.

      Reply

  47. Posted by Josh on 2013/03/04 at 7:37 AM

    schmutzdeck,

    Thanks for the props.

    Yeah, I like keeping my analysis simple whenever possible. And as someone who knows little about soccer specifics vis a vis tactics, lineup selection/positioning, etc. – but I’m slowly learning – my analysis can only be simple. But sometimes simple cuts through the unimportant and gets to the heart of the matter.

    I attended the ’11 Gold Cup final (and semi final and group matches v. Panama) in the away-home Rose Bowl venue with my girlfriend. She knows even less about soccer than me, but one thing she said about Gio Dos Santos – which reminds me of the Honduras match – stands out: “he was like Speedy Gonzales.” Perhaps not the best choice of words concerning a Mexican footballer, and I apologize if anyone finds that offensive. Trust me their was no mal-intent on her part nor any here repeating it – she just mentioned it describing what Dos Santos looked like in comparison to the US team.

    And I agreed with her. Dos Santos was noticeably fleeter of feet than any American on the field that day. Both his short-term burst/acceleration and longer-run speed seemed greater than any American. And I assume many of those in attendance and who could maybe see on TV, saw similarly and would agree. Were our collective eyes lying? I don’t think so. Were mine lying vs. Honduras? I don’t think so.

    Fact is Mexico & Honduras often ran circles around the US two years ago and early last month. That is a problem. Maybe the US possesses some fine talent, but the talent is specific. Is the US as athletic, technical/good on the ball as lower-ranked nations? In more than a few cases, I think not. In other areas and on the whole the US is better than those teams, hence the rankings. But on a sweltering, humid San Pedro Sula afternoon with US players flying in/acclimated to 30-degree weather – the US was exposed as not athletic enough – and/or tired v the acclimated – better rested? – Hondurans.

    Honduras are a good side, not enough US media pointed that out.

    Reply

    • Posted by Josh on 2013/03/04 at 7:42 AM

      Then again LA/California was previously part of Mexico as Alta California of course, so truly it deserved to be the Mexican home venue that it was in effect. Alas, as it were it’s a CONCACAF tournament so if anything it should be a neutral site. Tho that ain’t happening considering top-heavy CONCACAF with Mexico & US.

      Reply

      • Josh,

        I’m sure it was more complex but during the Bradley years it seemed to me the main thing was get the ball to Donovan and he will make something happen.

        Then JK takes over and the offense grinds to a halt.

        Clint is still scoring, he can score out of nothing, but he’s not the kind of player who can get others going offensively. He’s a terminator not a creator. So naturally everyone blames the drought on JK and his “three central defensive midfielders”.

        I just think it’s a simple as bringing back your only consistent, legitimate, “make things happen on offense for me and everyone else” player. Donovan is the only USMNT player to fit that bill since JOB and Reyna turned in their boots.

        The US is in transition and until the newer blood can come through, the US was always going to need Donovan to assist in the transition.

        For example, Jozy has 13 goals for the US, none under JK. Donovan assisted on 6 of those goals. I’ll bet Jozy would have done much better if LD were around.

        As for speed you are right the US has always been slow but speed per se can be dealt with. Everyone is dying to flush guys like Boca down the drain because he is old and slow; never mind that he was always slow.

        I think the problem with Boca is, since the Rangers imploded, he has been unsettled and has been unable to retain the kind of sharpness an older, slower player needs to deal with younger faster players.

        Johann Cruyff always said the faster player is the one who starts running first; but Tom Dooley can explain it better than me:

        http://www.ussoccer.com/News/U-20-MNT/2013/03/Dooley-Helping-U20-MNT-
        Defensive-Picture.aspx

        “Anticipation and Visualization

        Defensive players are regularly asked to defend some of the fastest players in the world. As a player, Dooley initially thought that you needed to match speed for speed to have success. But during his professional career in Germany, he understood that quickness actually is not the most important intangible.

        “After we won a German championship in Kaiserslautern, I wanted to get a little bit faster,” Dooley said. “I had an opportunity to play in the U.S. because they found me over there, so I told myself that I needed to get faster for the first four or five yards. My coach explained to me that some of the fastest players in the league don’t anticipate – they react when something happens. He taught me to react to something that will happen in the next two or three seconds. So that’s what I’m trying to get this team to do. I’ve played against some of the fastest players, but if you slow down the motion and anticipate where the ball will be in a space or look at a player’s body language, you know what he wants to do, you can take off and you’ll be several yards in front of him.”

        Dooley is also preaching to this U-20 MNT team that the ability to visualize situations and your opponent will put you steps ahead in a game.

        “Eighty percent of a player’s focus is generally looking at the ball and 20 percent is looking at the space,” Dooley said. “It actually should be the opposite: 80 percent should be scanning the field and 20 percent you’re looking at the ball. You need to ask yourself what you are doing next. That is something you need to develop and visualize – how you’ll tackle a player, how you react if he’s running toward the near post. We have everything on video, every single touch of every single player. If you analyze a player and know he makes two or three moves like he does on the video, he will probably do the same thing. And I guarantee you that if that happens in the game, your reaction is 10 times quicker than if you’re playing somebody you’ve never seen before.”

        Note that what Dooley is talking about requires a little bit of stability for a player and his teamates and the back four has certainly been anything but stable.

        Reply

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