USA vs. Germany Preview: Fingerspitzengefühl!

"Okay, how does that work again Jogi?"

“Okay, how does that work again Jogi?”

Can we all agree that friendlies are friendlies?

Like single game player observations, goals scored and more, “friendlies” in soccer are cruel hangover-inducing hallucinogenics often for fans.

And when you talk about friendlies involving the national team–a team that averages less than 25 observations per year and a rotating cast of players, opponents and stadiums–those friendlies can be downright mind…messing.

At this time last year, the US was whupping Scotland… in a friendly; 5-0 the tune in a game where Landon Donovan questioned his desire beforehand and then proceeded to pocket a hat trick.

Donovan, of couse, looked disinterested in nearly every game after that for Jurgen Klinsmann and is only now rekindling his affinity for wearing the badge.

Changed haircut; changed player. (Both better.)

Changed haircut; changed player. (Both better.)

More than four years ago, a hat trick got fans percolating–it was Sacha Kljestan’s footwork that turned that one and had fans salivating at the prospect of a Bradley-Kljestan or Kljestan-Feilhaber pairing in central midfield for years to come. This past Wednesday marked Kljestan’s first start for the US under the new regime.

Likewise Wednesday’s results–Germany’s 20-minute thrashing of Ecuador who looked like they couldn’t wait to take their lack of talents back to South Beach and the US’s 4-2 defensive undressing at the hands of Belgium–can’t really be looked at in terms of team measurement gauges.

The success of this friendly series will be measured by the Yanks’ point total following the US’s battles with Jamaica, Panama and Honduras in the June games that count.

And should the States get run by Germany on Sunday–a plausible possibility–the result should be only viewed in through the lens of the entire June series.

Heading into the Sunday’s game, the States should really focus its onfield investigation on: (1) continuing to try and solve their inability to find chances from the run of play (more on this in a bit) and (2) getting reps in for their would-be central back pairing–the unfamiliarity as well as uncomplementary nature of Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson was evident from the moment the team sheet was made public against Belgium.

In Germany, the US will face a “B +” team with a fistful of players with something to prove. It will still be contending with class players, like Podolski, Klose and Kruse, but the first eleven will obviously not be the humming mannschaft that a team gearing up for three critical qualifiers should be the equal of.

Without further Freddy Adu, we go to our customary preview.

As usual, it goes:

About The Opponent: Germany

TSG: What Are We Looking For

11 At The Whistle

(Germany 4 – Ecuador 2, from Wednesday)

About the Opponent: Germany

Under Joachim Löw, Germany is executing a subtle identity change that likely has Jurgen Klinsmann drooling with envy. Die Mannshaft bolted through Euro 2012 until they banged up against Italy’s Azzurri.

Jogi-Master. Jogi-San.

Jogi-Master. Jogi-San.

It was that match–a 2-1 defeat at the feet of Mario Balotelli–that toggled the lightswitch for Löw. In the 2010 World Cup and for the predominance of this tournament, Germany sat deep against teams and ignited vicious counterattacks. In this match the lack of forward pressure meant Italian maestro Andres Pirlo could ping passes forward and the sitting deep failed to put the correct pressure on Antonio Cassano who made himself available between the lines.

Low, who had largely been aggressive–some thought borderline arrogant–in his player selection and tactics was faced with the realization that he wasn’t squeezing all that was possible out of his club by merely playing defend and counter.

Before the next competitive match in September of 2012, here was Low’s sentiments on the UEFA web site:

“We will have to completely change our tactics – which used to be, ‘if we have the ball we are active, if not we drop back’.”

“Our aim in the next months will be to play a high pressing game, even against attacking sides. We have to be more active when defending without the ball.

Obviously this may sound familiar to US fans as well.

Since that time, the goals have been plentiful for Germany though the back, as expected with a higher line and new tactics, has also conceded a shade more. Against Ecuador on Wednesday–a disinterested Ecuador–Germany did just that as Lukas Podolski notched the first goal for the adidas men just nine seconds into the match with pressure on Ecuador’s centerbacks.

The US will likely see more of the same on Saturday. High pressure from the Germans. Further, Löw’s team has gotten so good at that high pressure and teams so worried to protect the middle that Germany is largely outmanning their opponents on the flanks–and that’s where the bulk of their scoring opportunities have come from.

La Tri was constantly outnumbered from the hashmarks out in the attacking third on Wednesday as they refused to vacate the middle to contend with German’s quick and precise passing. Twenty-two minutes later, four goals was the tally as Germany either authored crosses or penetrating balls from their flanks in the three goals after Podolski’s pick-pocket.

Where can the US take advantage?

It’s with their own forward pressure.

German will muster a back five of Rene Adler between the sticks with Benedik Höwedes, Per Mertesacker, Heiko Westermann and Marcell Jansen across the back. The back four are resolute defenders, but none are world beaters in the mode of Badstuber or Lahm. If you can have a howler in a 4-2 friendly drubbing,  Höwedes work on the right flank attempted that on Wednesday. The US will need to get aggressive off-ball movement going and it would seem after the left flank combinations played against Belgium that they can attack the Höwedes-Mertesacker in Germany’s right rear guard.

The front six will likely change in complexion and configuration from the Ecuador match. Podolski will undoubtedly start up top with MaxKruse, both pistoning depending upon the flow behind them

The midfield quartet of Julian Draxler, Lars Bender, Roman Neustädter, and Sidney Sam will likely see one or two of these players sacrificed. What’s interesting is that Löw used Sam and Draxler on their weaker fooks on the flank at the outset against La Tri–perhaps hoping to collapse La Tri’s middle with incutting. Draxler–all 19 years of him–will could give way for the man who broke England’s heart, Aaron Hunt, on one wing.

Depending on the US selection, a midfield pairing of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley would be superior to the Bender-Neustädter pairing for the Germans. Even just one of these veterans for the US should enable the States to at least battle for control of that central midfield.

Defensively, the States back four will have to track runners expertly–something they failed to do against the Red Devils and be wary of trailers as Germany likes to flood centrally for cutbacks to Bender particularly.

A possible German runout:

G: Adler

DEF: Höwedes, Mertesacker, Westermann, Jansen

MF: Sam, Bender, Neustädter, Hunt

FW: Podolski, Kruse (though the ancient one, Miraslav Klose might get a ceremonial runout, no?)

TSG: What We’re Looking For

• “Maybe I pushed him too hard…”

For matches and years, TSG has called into question the focus of Jozy Altidore.

No Kwame. No Kwame. No Kwame. STOP! (Read on...)

No Kwame. No Kwame. No Kwame. STOP! (Read on…)

The burly striker appeared to turn a corner last year when he started hitting the back of the net with consistency in the Eredivisie.

Altidore talked of maturing as a player and it seemed that the stable hand of former USMNTer Ernie Stewart in AZ Alkmaar’s front office turned the knob on Altidore’s career from “potential” to “realized.”.

Yet, for the States, the inverse happened. Jurgen Klinsmann was dissatisfied with Altidore’s national team product in 2012, and rightfully so.

Following a lackluster and awful performance from Altidore where the US drop it’s first game in Jamaica in qualifying ever, Altidore was banished, returning against Russia late last year with a very public challenge–and soft vote of confidence–from the coach.

Yet 2013 has not led the US to it’s Altidore Moment. A poor performance on the road against Honduras was followed up by somewhat strong work in the snow against Costa Rica in the Denver highlands only to see Altidore again be silent days later against El Tri at the Azteca.

While it’s clear that Klinsmann’s US system operates like a white blood cell, gobbling up “free” and “radical” scoring chances at the expense of protecting the overall defensive health, Altidore’s ability to be a difference maker in 2014 seems to be teetering in the balance right now.

The system surely doesn’t fit. Altidore can’t grasp his offensive responsibilities and his defensive work and commitment is still wanting.

Additionally the Jozy-Jurgen relationship seems to be one ebbing dangerously closer to the Michael Jordan-Kwame Brown end of coach-player spectrum rather than the Harbaugh-Kapernick end.

Klinsmann seems to be unduly hard on Altidore while pushing him to excel at a role where he’s just not a fit. Altidore’s continually questioned fitness and aforementioned unfocused game play only revs the vicious frustration cycle.

Will Altidore start on Saturday with an away game against Jamaica–the very match he underwhelmed in last round–just a few days later or will Klinsman audition Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson or Terrence Boyd with an eye on the next few games?

• About The Offensive Offense…

The problems of course with bucketing chances extend well beyond the Altidore-Klinsmann relationship.

Save a few nice DaMarcus Beasley dribbles and and a few late through balls that found Eddie Johnson on the edge of the box (well after Belgium were content with the result), the States again manufactured scant to nothing threatening from the run of play.

Compare the chalkboards below; they tell the tale. The charts show all US and Belgium on-ball/in-possession events by the all starting field players save the centerbacks of each side on Wednesday. While Belgium consistently pushed the ball into dangerous positions and was able to manuver in between the hashmarks so to speak, the US got into few positions in the attacking half that weren’t wide on the flanks. The US either couldn’t find the pass or the offball movement wasn’t there or the defense pressure was too intense to get central. More the former two…

Screen shot 2013-05-31 at 7.36.14 AM

Belgium’s front eight in possession on Wednesday.

Screen shot 2013-05-31 at 7.35.45 AM

US front eight in possession on Wednesday

The work of Clint Dempsey as a #10 continues to beg for more while the lack of a dynamic corner player (EJ being doing the best work Wednesday) leaves the US with no player in possession who can make a defense capitulate. Add in the weak Altidore hold-up play and Klinsmann’s penchant lately to provide cover-focused wide midfielders rather than those that run at defenders and the results are of little surprise.

Worse however is the US is not building and improving on a system that works. With a year left to Brazil, the US should be at the point of looking to build on roles and develop chemistry, not still looking to solve the system.

• CB Heebie Jeebies

Taylor Twellman for all his excellent points on Wednesday’s broadcast likely wishes he had one maybe “half” back–that is the one where he said that Omar Gonzalez needs the right partner in order to succeed at centerback for the US. Twellman referenced Gonzalez’s success with his Galaxy and collegiate partner AJ De La Garza.

Gonzo'd....

Gonzo’d….

Twellman’s right of course, the centerback pairing needs match skill sets and that Gonzalez specifically needs the right complement however it’s unclear that the US should build its defense around Gonzalez and complement his particular skill set. (In fairness to Twellman, he did add, “If you don’t complement him that you don’t use him.”)

In fact, when meshed with what Klinsmann is trying up the field, Wednesday’s selection was troubling.

Klinsmann has acknowledged that he needs to move to a double pivot in the midfield to attempt to jumpstart the attack–which in turn leaves one less cover over the centerbacks.

Combine that notion with the US attempting to play a higher line to remain compact and the tactics would dictate that Klinsmann’s centerbacks must defensively be: (1) solid at maintaining their line and (2) have some speed to contend with errant runs.

Yet Klinsmann chose a pairing of Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson.

Gonzalez is average at best at keeping line while Goodson is well, well below average. Neither Gonzalez or Goodson possess the necessary speed as well to close down errant runs (like De La Garza does when playing with Gonzalez with the Galaxy.) The first and third Belgium tallies were a clear result of an improper pairing in the back.

It’s perplexing that Klinsmann choose neither Geoff Cameron or Matt Besler to partner Gonzalez or Goodson on Wednesday. Perhaps Klinsmann is resigned to Cameron as cover on the right or Besler was not back to full fitness, but should the Goodson-Gonzalez pairing be trotted out again Saturday, it would be a real head scratcher.

In fact, though Klinsmann will likely shun the potential solution, based upon observations to date, Cameron and Besler should be tried together in central defense as both possess the necessary recovery speed and aerial prowess to effectively handle the role. Beyond Blas Perez–who can be managed–there is no abject aerial threat in the box in CONCACAF that Cameron and Besler would be overmatched against.

A possible US deployment.

A possible US deployment.

11 At The Whistle:

(Remember, this who we think Klinsmann will deploy.)

G: Tim Howard

The skinny: Howard gets the start–though Guzan is more than his equal right now. With Howard’s experience, his selection is the safe, if not necessarily clear cut, choice.

DEF: Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley

The skinny: Goodson is sacrificed for Besler. Speaking of, Besler catch-up tackle on Christian Benteke late in the second half Wednesday is one of the best recovery defensive plays you’ll see from a CB in any league. Go watch it again if you can. After going 90′–incredulously–a Beasley runout would be a bad idea–you can pretty much count on Beasley’s experience and speed being the choice when the US heads south to face the Reggae Boyz. But maybe the veteran gets in a 45-minutes shift.

CM: Michael Bradley, Danny Williams

The skinny: Jones sits afte going the distance against Belgium. Bradley plays a half. Williams gets tested against quality competition to measure just how much he’ll have to offer over the June stretch. Williams covers deep on defense, while Bradley is the quarterback when the ball flips to the States.

RM/LM: Graham Zusi, Fabian Johnson

The skinny: Zusi may go or Davis may deputize for him. Fabian Johnson’s given a runout up the field and asked to replicate the left flank incutting that dissected Slovenia in the US’s second most prolific goal count game, a 3-2 Slovenia win, under Klinsman.

Dempsey, looking to rise higher against Die Mannschaft.

Dempsey, looking to rise higher against Die Mannschaft.

CM: Clint Dempsey

The skinny: He may not be the answer in the #10 role, but outside of Joe Corona (maybe) the US has no #10 back-up. It’s possible Dempsey is given a day off as well for and the US goes two forwards.

STR: Herculez Gomez

The skinny: It’s hard-pressed to see Altidore getting another start Sunday after his work against the Red Devils. If the US goes two strikers, it just may be Gomez and Boyd paired up top.

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65 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Scweeb on 2013/05/31 at 8:53 AM

    Also wouldn’t mind seeing EJ some place there. He showed that he wanted to attack and was one of the only ones i saw making any sorta runs off the ball or making anything of his time out there.

    Reply

  2. Posted by KickinNames.... on 2013/05/31 at 9:00 AM

    You simply leave the rest in the dust. Great insightful commentary with just the right level of sarcasm needed. Bravo!

    Reply

    • Posted by jwran on 2013/05/31 at 9:15 AM

      Amen!

      “CB Heebie Jeebies.” (?!) Thats Hall of Fame stuff.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 10:11 AM

      Too kind — apologies content hasn’t been plentiful. Hectic professional like taking a toll. TSG will be in full effect for the US games though.

      Reply

      • Posted by Wixson on 2013/06/01 at 11:10 AM

        Good, this read is..

        Would much rather have an article before/after each game. Anything more isnt needed. Keep up the great work.

        Reply

  3. Guzan’s Villa form vs Howard’s Everton form – “close” is being kind to Tim.

    Guzan USA form vs. Howard USA form – Still Tim Howard every single time. Its still not close. Howard doesn’t give up the corner that Belgium’s third came from, and if he does, he blocks Fellaini’s header. Howard is still the clean #1 choice between the sticks, although I bet (/hope) we see Guzan second half.

    Reply

    • Posted by Alex on 2013/05/31 at 9:46 AM

      I thinking wasting a sub for a GK is stupid. Let them get into the flow of the game for 90 instead of someone cold off the bench for the 2nd 45 minutes. Just ask Sean Johnson and Caleb Porter if thats a good idea…

      Reply

      • Posted by Cornelius on 2013/05/31 at 4:56 PM

        Depends how many subs you get, in my opinion. Usually have plenty of subs in a friendly, so why not use one on a goal-keeper? I think it was useful to see how Guzan would perform in comparison to Howard. I agree with jwran above.

        Reply

  4. Posted by Jared on 2013/05/31 at 9:50 AM

    I don’t understand why we would play Fabian Johnson at left mid and DMB at left back. Johnson is a better left back than DMB by far and I don’t think the drop off between the two at left mid is that drastic.

    Also, Cameron needs to play in the center for the US if we expect to have any offensive production from the run of play. He’s not good enough in the attacking sense so unless we turn into Stoke and just blast balls long then we need a more offensive right back. I understand that there are injury issues but I feel like playing Cameron at right back weakens both the right back and center of the defense.

    Reply

    • Posted by Scweeb on 2013/05/31 at 10:06 AM

      Cause Fabian has been playing LM at his club and DMB i don’t think has the legs anymore to play LM and he has been doing decent there.

      Reply

      • Posted by Scweeb on 2013/05/31 at 10:22 AM

        But to be honest I think we can say DMB can play the LB spot if we need him to. What i would like to see is maybe a Fabion LB and EJ LM combo or even Shae at LM when he is healthy. And do we not have anyone that we can call on to play RM? That spot seems to be not the best.

        Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 10:22 AM

      Jared. Would have agreed with you about year ago on the DMB-Fab J assessment.

      However a few observations.

      – DMB was absolutely scandalous in tracking back in the Mex friendly last year at LM and had been when deployed with Klinsmann.

      – For some reason, DMB gets that he’s last man back when tasked with defense. I think BB saw the same thing, but at that time DMB just wasn’t a very good defender.

      – FJ has been moved around at his club and for the US he’s looked positionally lost and been turned a number of times. I can remember at least 4 Geoff Cameron emergency defending episodes with FJ out wide. If you recall it was his silly foul on Pappa that also led to the Guatemala draw last year.

      – Additionally FJ is good in possession and can use either foot off the left. DMB did a nice job of dragging inward against Belgium but we was left without his own options once the d collapsed on Wednesday.

      Just some things to think about.

      I think your argument certainly has merit though and it’s not clear cut that stacking FJ ahead of DMB will work either.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2013/05/31 at 12:20 PM

        I have the perfect idea then. Start FJ ahead in first half switch at half time.

        That is a good point regarding FJ’s ability to use either feet as long as DMB moves up the wing outside of him.

        Reply

  5. Posted by James H on 2013/05/31 at 10:48 AM

    Playing Clint in the hole as the #10 is creating more problems than Klinsmann probably cares to admit. Coach needs to realize what Spurs and Fulham figured out; Clint is most productive coming in from the left side. He gets marked too easily when deposited in central and he doesn’t link up play well enough to the striker as the tip of a three man midfield (which may be contributing somewhat to Altidore’s uselessness). Klinsmann needs to kill two birds here and slide Clint over to left mid and either try to develop/identify a better passing #10 in the hole or switch to a two-striker formation. Personally, I’d like to JK work towards a Jones-Holden-Bradley trifecta with MB pushed up. As an alternaitve, I’ve seen Gomez play in the hole for Santos and I wonder how he would do in that spot for the US Gomez is faster and looks to have a high work rate so he might be more effective than Clint there. Just a thought…

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 10:54 AM

      Not sure I agree on coming in from the left — though that is productive for him…though I certainly agree with him not being in that #10 role.

      The Spurs started having all their success this season when Adebayor went down and Clint was asked to play a withdrawn striker role. Jonathan Wilson incredibly attributed it to having Lloris in, his argument (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/feb/26/gareth-bale-sensation-tottenham-style) made little sense.

      It was Clint vacating the spaces that Bale wanted to get to and drawing a defender with him that did the trick, imho.

      I think Clint in the US system is somewhat stuck. JK is really using his wide players more as cover against good teams (which is why you see Zusi, Davis in there often now as ball servers) so playing him left may take Clint too far away from goal.

      I’d like to see him left if he doesn’t have to protect behind him.

      Klinsmann really needs to figure out if he just wants to play extremely negative football –meaning not even look to score or if he wants balance. Because his current system doesn’t do the latter, imo.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/05/31 at 11:07 AM

    True 4-3-3
    Beasley———Altidore—————-Zusi
    ——–Dempsey———-Jones————
    ——————-Bradley———————
    FJohnson–Besler–Gonzalez–Cameron
    ——————-Howard———————
    Sub at Half: Beasley with E Johnson, Zusi with Gomez and Jones with Holden.
    Sub at 60: Altidore with Boyd, Cameron with Parkhurst
    (maybe sub Dempsey with Davis depending on desire to keep Clint fresh for WCQ)

    Other option:
    4-4-2 diamond
    ——-Altidore————Gomez———–
    —————–Dempsey——————-
    —–F Johnson———Jones————-
    —————–Bradley———————
    Beasley–Besler–Cameron–Parkhurst

    Sub at Half: Jones with Evans, Dempsey with Zusi
    Sub at 60: Altidore with Boyd/E Johnson, Beasley with Davis-move F Johnson to LB

    The point of these plans would be to give the offense a different personnel around Altidore to see if there is something to get him going. Also to use an alternative striker to see if its just Altidore. Also Beasley, Dempsey and Jones all went 90 last game and shouldn’t go 90 here, except Dempsey as captain is difficult. If he has an assist or goal I say take him off.

    Reply

    • Posted by James H on 2013/05/31 at 11:50 AM

      Seems unlikely Klinsy will switch formations going up against Germany. They are likey to field a 4-2-3-1 as well, so he’ll want to match. In any case, this squad is definitely not ready to implement a true 4-3-3. The 4-4-2 diamond would be interesting, but he doesn’t really have the personnel for it. I think we are stuck with the 4-2-3-1, whether we like it or not. The key to this is getting the right “3 and 1″ up top. Only Dempsey has shown any consistency over the last year. Zusi, Davis, Altidore, Shea, Johnson – no one seems to be able to lock down a spot. It is probably high time for JK to kiss and make up with Donovan and get him back in camp.

      Reply

      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2013/05/31 at 12:51 PM

        The 4-2-3-1 is a more specific/strict way to say 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Its a 4-4-2 if you withdraw a forward and press wingers or a 4-3-3 if you drop wide forwards and have attacking mid. Its a fine difference. Clint usually plays a 4-2-3-1 as a withdrawn forward. I would like to see him given more licence to freelance. More time with the ball with more options in front of him. I thought he did well in the snow acting as more of an attacking mid, but that game is hard to judge much.

        The point is to get together an midfield three that can control the ball. Honestly the weak link in that is Jones. His game is not ball retention. That’s what makes me frustrated by is automatic starter status. He is a ball winner/Hollywood ball player. Actually fits Bob Bradley’s formation more than Klinsmann’s.

        My other thought would to play Clint as a false 9.

        E Johnson—–Dempsey—————-Zusi
        ——–Davis—————–Kljestan——–
        ——————-Bradley———————
        FJohnson–Besler–Cameron–Parkhurst

        although I really want to play a 3-4-3, but I am crazy.

        Reply

        • Posted by James H on 2013/05/31 at 1:49 PM

          Jones really does get too much playing time. He’ll occasionally play a nice through ball but generally he is detrimental to possession. If he concerned himself with linking up more effectively with the other mids he’d be more effectived. But he is apparently one of JK’s favorites so it looks like we are stuck with Mr Yellow Card himself.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/01 at 5:45 AM

          I think formation talk / playing between the lines are moot points – I see Germany dominating possession and the US reduced to two banks of four.
          Transition will be interesting, but if you cannot keep hold of the ball long enough, I do not see how the US will morph into the formation in Matt’s graphic (which I agree with personnel-wise).

          I hope I am wrong.

          Reply

  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 11:23 AM

    By the by, surprised no one asked about the German word used in the title.

    Here’s the background: http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2008/07/wotd-fingerspitzengefhl.html

    Reply

  8. Posted by James H on 2013/05/31 at 11:33 AM

    That is true – if you slot Clint at left mid you will give up some defensive cover. But honestly, at this point with our back four I don’t think it will matter much. But Klinsmann must figure out a way to get the anemic US attack going. To my eyes, Clint has always looked most comfortable working in from the left side; he’s always been more of a scoring threat as opposed to a facilatator. And playing as incutting left mid allows Clint to threaten more and worry less about setting up those around him. Of course Klinsmann could just bite the bullet and solve his striker issues for good and start Clint up top – can’t be any worse than Jozy.

    However, as for Spurs I think their success is far more attributable to Bale being moved into the hole and AVB giving him free reign as opposed to anything Clint did (with Dempsey generally starting as the left mid once AVB made that switch). As a Spurs fan, I watched every match this season and Clint’s performance has been irratic at best. He’s had some nice highs with a handful of timely goals yes, but he has had numerous issues meshing with Spurs style as well.

    Reply

  9. Anything that puts Gomez back up top makes me happy! He’s great in his ability to cheat the back line and if Johnson and Zusi plus Bradley are back… he can make those CBs have to work more than when Altidore is there. Lets be honest… Altidore is not going to outrun many teams and if he doesn’t use all of his physical attributes, then its wasted opportunities like that pass into him vs. Belgium by Dempsey.

    I’d argue that if you start two up to to start Gomez and EJ together. They are both more athletic and have shown better skill on the ball than Altidore/Boyd to this point. Example: EJ sent a great pass to Boyd last game and Boyd threw out his leg when he should have tried to head the pass toward goal. He just didn’t read the pass very well. Still learning in my opinion.

    Reply

  10. Posted by dth on 2013/05/31 at 1:22 PM

    Terrible Gold Cup preliminary roster. Can someone please take this German off of our hands?

    Reply

    • Posted by Cornelius on 2013/05/31 at 5:13 PM

      GOALKEEPERS- Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Nick Rimando, Tally Hall

      DEFENDERS- Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson, Edgar Castillo, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Parkhurst, Corey Ashe, Tony Beltran, Michael Orozco

      MIDFIELDERS- Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi, Brek Shea, Joe Corona, Stuart Holden, Brad Davis, Alejandro Bedoya, Mikkel Diskerud, Brad Evans, Josh Gatt, Benny Feilhaber, Eddie Johnson, Jose Torres

      FORWARDS- Will Bruin, Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon, Jack McInerney, Chris Wondolowski, Bobby Wood

      (Copy and pasted from http://www.soccerbyives.net/2013/05/donovan-provisional-roster.html)

      I would have preferred to keep Cameron and Boyd in the mix and bring in Lichaj and Adu (dropping Ashe, Beltran, Evans, Gordon, and/or Wondo). But overall, I thought it was pretty darn good. What do you think is wrong with it?

      Reply

      • Posted by Cornelius on 2013/05/31 at 5:15 PM

        Sorry, I forgot to write that Agudelo should have been including too.

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2013/05/31 at 6:56 PM

        Rimando, Onyewu, Goodson, Beasley, Ashe, Beltran, Orozco, Davis, Evans, Torres, Windo, and Gordon are all WTF? picks for various reasons. The off year Gold Cup is for:

        1) looking at fringe players
        2) looking at young players

        That is, looking at players who stand a decent chance of actually playing for the senior team in the near future. I have no clue what the heck Evans or Gordon are doing here — they’re not good now, will never be good, and so are utterly wasting space. Those are the most egregious; the other ones are wrong for other (though less egregious reasons.)

        Here are the no-brainer players who should’ve been on the team: Agudelo, Conor O’Brien, Okugo .. that is, young players coming up, playing really well, who should get a shot. I mean, Okugo is better than Brad Evans right now, let alone five years from now. It makes no sense, as Klinsmann’s moves increasingly are.

        (I can think of other players if given time, but these are the dumbest omissions and the dumbest selections.)

        Reply

        • Posted by BW on 2013/05/31 at 8:59 PM

          did I read somewhere that there is no ‘off’ year for gold cup anymore? I thought I saw that the winners (assuming there are two) of the two cups play each other for the right to go to the confederations cup. can anyone verify?

          Reply

        • Posted by Crow on 2013/05/31 at 10:37 PM

          I do agree that agudelo should definitely be there. Ridiculous. I also think okugo should be there but think he’s been exposed this year. Want to see him back in the midfield. I wouldn’t mind seeing O’Brien and brooks if possible but I think it’s a decent roster. Glad jack mac gatt Holden Donovan etc are there. I agree some of those guys have no business being near the roster but I think kklinsy just wants to win the tournament.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2013/06/01 at 7:05 AM

            Well, if he wanted to call up a winning roster, why not call up a better one? It’s just kind of mediocre the whole way through.

            (Thought of another player I wouldn’t mind getting called up: DeLeon, who’s been very interesting as a Dembele-esque central midfielder for DC United. An interesting experiment would be throwing him in to see what he does with better players.)

            Reply

            • Posted by Crow on 2013/06/02 at 10:55 AM

              No I agree I just realized Lichaj isnt on the gold Cup roster which is ridiculous. Guys like Evans, etc dont have a future with the team and there are better replacements right now. The more I look at the roster the less i like it. I’m just glad my favorites- Holden and Gatt are on it.

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2013/06/01 at 7:25 AM

      While I don’t agree with the picks they don’t surprise me. I really think Klinsman is sort of a slave to his depth chart. Wondo, Gordon, etc were on the depth chart. He brings someone in and they can pass him.

      This is the only thing that allows me to comprehend Goodson and Gonzo starting against Belgium. Goodson was ahead of Besler (an assumption since Besler was basically the new guy) prior to being hurt in Mexico. I see JK saying you can’t lose your spot to injury. Hopefully he lost his spot to Besler due to his play.

      I am reserving judgement until we see the final 23.

      Reply

  11. Posted by PatO on 2013/05/31 at 1:32 PM

    Woud like to see more minutes given to Holden and, in particularly, a chance to link with Bradley – that could be cool to watch (or not).

    Reply

  12. Posted by Tom Patton on 2013/05/31 at 3:21 PM

    We just do not have the horses no matter how you position them to play with the top echelon teams of the world. I think Klinsmann knows that now and all his touch and motivation speeches and all the new age training and diet regimes just can not fix that.

    Quite simply put- we do not have the technical acumen to hang with the big boys. Grinding out results and scoring of set pieces is the best we can do for the time being.

    Why this comes as a shock to Klinsmann and others who love our US Nats like I do……….. well …………I do not understand.

    PS- The arguments for Guzan over Howard are pointless and stupid. True Howard is far from the best 5 GK’s in the world but Guzan, at this point and time, is even farther.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 3:55 PM

      In terms of your first point, agree that the US does not have the thoroughbreds like other nations (Belgium, Germany).

      That said, that doesn’t mean that they can’t run the race better and place 3rd just a few lengths off rather than 7th.

      (Can’t believe I just made a horse-racing analogy.)

      In terms of Howard vs. Guzan, there is a little bit of the grass-is-greener thing going on, but Howard’s going to be 35 at the World Cup next year and has shown some stumbles–not enough to sit yet for Guzan.

      Only 3 teams at the World Cup employed a goalkeeper who was 35 or older. North Korea to ill effect, Australia where Schwarzer was solid, and England who inserted David James after Robert “Was Too” Green stumbled.

      So it’s not implausible to consider the options–which is fair.

      Reply

      • Howard was inconsistent in the last World Cup. His primary flaw was his tendency to occasionally lose concentration. This sometimes led to bad things like soft goals. It’s probably the reason he lost his job at Man U.

        He got better with Everton. With the US leading up to the 2010 World Cup he had no competition, not since Keller left

        Guzan’s job is to provide a credible threat to Timmy and put Timmy under pressure so he keeps his focus.

        Timmy is still #1 because of his superior experience but now he knows if he has the kind of walkabout he can sometimes be prone to, then JK will pull the plug that fast.
        I suspect that was one of the underlying messages JK sent to everyone with his treatment of He- Who Shall not be Named.

        It is why Guzan got a half against Belgium. An argument could be made that Guzan is playing better now but he will be okay as a backup whereas I’m not so sure Timmy would handle it well. I’ve never been a Howard fan but so far, what I’ve seen is Timmy responding well to the challenge.

        Reply

  13. How crazy would it be if DaMarcus Beasley is the US starting left back at the 2014 world cup? talk about a career renaissance.

    Reply

  14. Posted by dude on 2013/05/31 at 8:20 PM

    So the brilliant insight of Jozy haters expounded into an article, complete with a hint that Eddie Johnson would be a better option.

    BS.

    Eddie Johnson looked lively only when he was shifted to the wing- (as in Azteca), he didn’t get anything done at that position, and was transferred to a position where he could use his pace in the left hand channel. I don’t think people give Jozy enough credit for his play in Azteca- he held up the ball, allowed the US to have possession, and was involved in every positive play. This is not an exaggeration, watch the tape again. When he was taken out in favor of Eddie, that was the exact minute that all play shifted into our defensive end, with brief and sputtering forays snuffed with vicious finality.

    Eddie isn’t the solution. Boyd is good, but he’s not as good as Jozy. Altidore’s play for AZ shows that he’s developing into a good modern striker. His problem is we still expect our target striker to be Brian McBride, who actually received the type of service he wanted int he way of repeated crosses into the box. We shouldn’t be furrowing our brow because our target man isn’t out-muscling and out hustling the entire back line and making due with two, maybe three good chances. We should be asking when the US is going to graduate into the new era of attacking soccer, even a little bit. I don’t think Jozy’s lazy or inept. I think he wishes Donovan were back, just so that SOMEONE could do something creative, or open up space, or make a telling pass. Right now, the wing options are so bad even McBride would lose confidence.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 8:38 PM

      I don’t think that is what is said. Anyone around the team knows that a) Jozy and Klinsmann don’t get along and b) the system doesn’t amplify his skill set.

      Also anyone around as well can tell you that Jozy doesn’t execute the role. JFT, Brek Shea, Dempsey in the #10 role, Gonzalez were all given lots of rope. Don’t you think it makes sense with the striker pool & Altidore’s abilities for Klinsmann to do likewise?

      I’ll concede the lack of service argument, but still you have to be proactive & remain involved–that’s why Herc is still on the team.

      It’s not “hate” — it’s an observation.

      Reply

      • Posted by dude on 2013/05/31 at 9:05 PM

        I lumped you into the haters because of the following statement: “Altidore can’t grasp his offensive responsibilities and his defensive work and commitment is still wanting.” Also, saying that Eddie Johnson should get the nod, but I already went into that.

        What offensive responsibilities? To be a wall for Dempsey (and whatever other player decides to pass to him) to ping a ball off him, to grind up against defenders all day, to run around a lot to show he’s not lazy? He isn’t defending- I’m a DC United fan, if I hear one more comment about how a striker should be more concerned with defense than offense, I’m going to lose it. His name is Pajoy, he does all the above things, and he gives the title of “forward” a bad name. You want Jozy to occupy that pocket and disrupt the defense? It would help if there was some offense so that the distinction between possession might actually be seen.

        Jozy’s commitment is not above questioning, but in the past three games, it shouldn’t be. He’s worked hard, especially against Costa Rica and Mexico. He was overwhelmed by Company and Vermalen, but he didn’t actually get a chance to run at or past them, either, and he got one good cross.

        My exact point is that expectations surrounding Jozy are preposterous. Gomez is a hard worker, but he hasn’t scored for the US in a long time as well. I’m more than happy to see Gomez and Johnson (Fabian, if possible) on the wings, and see if something happens. But when the first place you go when talking about the offense is Jozy, yes, I absolutely think that your perception is off, that it isn’t looking in the right place.

        I am usually a much bigger fan of your observations; this time, I think you’re championing a view point that JK himself holds- which is why the real issue is never addressed.

        Reply

        • Posted by dude on 2013/05/31 at 9:07 PM

          Kompany.

          Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 9:12 PM

          Fair enough, but agree to disagree. But, I’ll tell. Saw numerous times–whether it was the flu or not–that Jozy was lazy on defense on Wednesday. Did not see the same from Boyd (who had his own issues) or Johnson.

          Let’s remember as well Alfonso Alves & Blaise Nkufo burned up the goal charts in the Eredivisie as well.

          Altidore is certainly a class above. Just give me Jozy against Slovenia in 2010 and 2011–that’s all. Plenty for me.

          Reply

          • Posted by Berniebernier on 2013/06/01 at 7:06 AM

            I love Dempsey but I am starting to feel that he is part of the problem. It doesn’t seem to me IMHO that we have enough offensive horses to handle both Altidore and Dempsey at the same time. They seem to play different games. Dempsey plays best as a withdrawn striker (in say a 4-4-1-1) being opportunistic. Lots of Dempsey’s goals seem to be due to him floating around and being in the right place at the right time. Altidore seems to thrive more as a component of the attack passing and interacting with other offensive players. His best game was at top of the 4-4-2 diamond with Fabian Johnson really getting forward (possible to call it a unbalanced 4-3-3?).

            I would love to see a 4-2-3-1 on Sunday that can prove me wrong (FJ – Deuce – Zusi) and work well with Altidore but I am beginning to feel that we can have either Demspey or Altidore in the line-up at a time.

            This left mid-fielder swing forward thing that JK seems to be trying isn’t working in my mind. Seems to be trying to help Altidore but still allow Deuce to be Deuce.

            Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2013/05/31 at 9:17 PM

          And thanks kindly for the discourse. One more note, everyone affiliated with Bob Bradley thought that he was too easy on Jozy but that Bradley let a lot slide because he thought Altidore was his best striker by far.

          When Agudelo swiped some chops, Bradley was lighting-like in trying to get him reps and involved

          Reply

          • Posted by dude on 2013/05/31 at 9:43 PM

            I’ve enjoyed the discourse as well. But to be clear, there’s no one in the squad who really challenges Jozy at this point like Agudelo did when he first appeared. I thought Boyd would be that guy six months ago, but he still has a long way to go to translate his talents to this level. Jozy is at the right level, in the wrong circumstance. Anyway, thanks for responding.

            Reply

            • Posted by CJ on 2013/06/01 at 8:32 AM

              I think the Altidore and Dempsey different playing styles comment is spot on. Two players who have very specific needs within the system they play that don’t mesh. Both are the best option we have but, they each take away from the other rather than enhance. Occasionally it works but, not enough to keep using it. Probably Klinsmann’s hardest problem to solve now that Donovan isn’t there to provide that 3rd intangible that needs to be defended, who can run at defenders and make precision passes/crosses. Without Donovan we’re not going far. And this wasn’t even meant to be about him.

              I wonder eith Altidore how much responsibility we should put on the coach for putting him in an undeal setup to his talents and how much responsibility we should put on Jozy for not adapting his game to become effective in this system. How many games has he played for the US now? And he still can’t produce?

  15. Posted by mark on 2013/06/01 at 11:34 AM

    I think Klinsmann should remain committed to figuring out how to get Altidore playing better since he’s still the most talented U.S. striker. It’s that level of ability that could make the difference in drawing or winning a World Cup match. Eddie Johnson might help the U.S. get through the qualifiers but he won’t be able to deliver against more elite competition. Hopefully when Donovan returns he’ll help solve the issue of getting Jozy the ball in dangerous positions, playing the ball to his feet facing the goal. Without Donovan, the midfield just doesn’t seem to move the ball fast enough to put Jozy in a position to run at goal or pass off to Dempsey or another teammate. Bradley to Donovan to Jozy or Dempsey is how you’d like to see the attack flow.

    Reply

  16. Posted by Carlos on 2013/06/01 at 12:10 PM

    A lot of good comments of what Jozy can & doesn’t do for the USMNT. I’m quite fed up with Jozy, & it’s taken me a long time to get to this position. I don’t hate, I just don’t think he meshes well for us on lots of different levels that have been remunerated above. I don’t see enough skill in Jozy (although he has gotten much, much better at controlling & trapping) at this level. But apparently there is no one better then him right now. I wish there was… but we would have sniffed out an up & comer by now.

    So my question is do we stick with helping Jozy by placing personnel and/or formation that better compliments Jozy? Or do we abandon Jozy & try something else; like Dempsey as a stricker? He is far better then Jozy, smarter on & off the ball & we get our most proficient goal scorer closer to goal.

    Reply

  17. […] is a bit more tricky. There’s great analysis on the Jozy-Klinsmann relationship and what exactly is happening there over at The Shin Guardian and it&#…. Herculez Gomez, if not limited by the minor injury that kept him out of the Belgium match, would […]

    Reply

  18. Posted by dth on 2013/06/01 at 4:44 PM

    I’ve grown tired of the Jozy debate — it’s a distraction. He’s playing not-so-well, I’ll agree, and his effort is not exactly maniacal. And maybe he doen’t fit Klinsmann’s “system,” whatever the hell that is. I’ll stipulate all that, for fairness.

    But if that’s the case, who does fit Klinsmann’s system? What forward is scoring freely for the U.S.? I hear a lot of people saying that the Eredivisie is easy to score in, but there are two easy retorts here: a) most CONCACAF defenses are worse than Eredivisie defenses; I doubt the transfer lines are burning down for Costa Rica’s CB pairing; b) there are, at the moment, tons of forwards scoring semi-frequently in their leagues — Gomez, in Liga Mx; Dempsey, in EPL; various MLS forwards, in MLS; Boyd, in Austria, etc. And yet none of them are scoring for the U.S.! Magic!

    The only players who approximate their club form on the USMNT on a regular basis are Bradley and Dempsey. Graham Zusi is an especially sad example — he’s become a boring worker bee for USMNT while getting increasingly inventive and aggressive for SKC. Given that all this is the case, there’s one extremely obvious person to blame here. HINT: it starts with “Jur” and ends with “gen Klinsmann.”

    Reply

  19. […] The Shin Guardian have their preview of the match […]

    Reply

  20. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/02 at 11:41 AM

    Just hope the Germans in the USMNT, don’t forget what team they’re on and pass to Germany.

    Reply

  21. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/02 at 11:55 AM

    Wow a great strike. You know if Ronaldo or Messi hit that, it would make the highlight clip globally. Great first time ball in too.

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2013/06/02 at 1:37 PM

      Jozy seems to come up with some of the most impressive looking goals at times (the
      Gold Cup 2011 goal). I wonder if Schalke will be interested after his great overall game.

      BTW congrats on the EPL George!

      Reply

  22. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2013/06/02 at 12:05 PM

    Besler has to be careful with sticking out a lazy leg in the area like that. It is very naive and begging for the forward to manufacture a penalty for himself.

    Reply

  23. Posted by jwran on 2013/06/02 at 1:34 PM

    Woo-HOOOOOOOOO!!! A great win for the USMNT.

    Saw some great goals on the offense, some strong hearts in D, and the game that we all want to see from Jozy and Clint every time. Congrats, now lets get ready for the games that count!!!

    Reply

  24. Posted by dth on 2013/06/02 at 3:45 PM

    Credit for an overall nice performance.

    Speaking of other people who should be called up: Kelyn Rowe. I promise I started writing this before he scored that stunner against Galaxy.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2013/06/02 at 3:46 PM

      And I mean “should be called up for Gold Cup”.

      Reply

    • Posted by mbw on 2013/06/02 at 3:56 PM

      No kidding — love that player. Farrell has also been terrific, and Caldwell has done well. And there’s Fagundez, obviously.

      I’ve been burned by the Revs before, but this time it feels like they’re for real. Just a shame they only get one shot with Agudelo.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2013/06/02 at 3:58 PM

        Caldwell’s doing his best Uri Rosell impression. Helps that Rowe and Nguyen are willing to do so much work for the team. Not sure why Toja’s been getting starts over Rowe recently? Injury?

        I like Farrell, but he’s CB all the way for me. Especially since Revs are choosing between Soares and McCarthy at the other CB option, I’d be burning the phone lines trying to find a pair of FBs (and allow me to move Farrell centrally).

        Reply

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

          I bet they’re planning to move Farrell to CB, but not for a year or two, and in the meantime will make a run at Boca or Goodson.

          Depth is still a big issue — even one absence and they have to field a Ryan Guy or Clyde Simms. They’re fortunate that young talent was declared verboten for the GC squad.

          Reply

  25. Posted by dth on 2013/06/02 at 3:47 PM

    It’s not comprehensive immigration reform unless Darlington Nagbe and Diego Fagundez get citizenship too.

    Reply

  26. […] John Daly at a country club Sunday buffet for club, finally scored a goal for Jurgen Klinsmann, whose relationship with the young Floridian forward had grown increasingly strained. Altidore added a goal and an assist on a divine Clint Dempsey goal, and although it was just a […]

    Reply

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