USA v. Belgium: Go Time

Not the best option for the US if it goes down today...

Not the best option for the US if it goes down today…

The US–here four years ago–has a chance to advance to its further point in the World Cup in more than a decade. Belgium? A very beatable opponent. Can Klinsmann get it right?

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69 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 11:36 AM

    Do It!

    Reply

  2. Posted by ATroy on 2014/07/01 at 11:38 AM

    Jozy not starting, according to Jurgen per Jeremy Schaap.

    Reply

  3. Seen on ESPNFC Boot Room: U.S. (4-3-3): Howard; Johnson, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley; Cameron, Bradley, Jones; Zusi, Dempsey (c), Bedoya

    Is it Johnson or Cameron in midfield then?

    Reply

  4. It’s listed as a 4-3-3, but won’t this really be more of a 4-5-1 or 4-3-2-1 with Zusi/Bedoya being attack-minded outside midfielders, with 3 more defensive-minded mids behind?

    Reply

    • Posted by twewlife on 2014/07/01 at 12:14 PM

      bingo. Kind of bummed about this. Was hoping we’d roll the dice and put Wondo up top in a 4-2-1-1 / 4-1-2-1…Guess not. At the same time, I can’t really doubt Klinsi’s picks this late in the game…Yehaw!

      Reply

    • Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 12:20 PM

      Guessing It’ll Play Like A 4-2-3-1 With Cameron And Jones behind Bradley. Jk Working His Midas Touch Again I Hope And Pray.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Troy on 2014/07/01 at 12:12 PM

    CAMERON AT MIDFIELD. *head explodes* Oh Jurgen, you Schlaufuchs.

    Reply

    • Posted by jeppley on 2014/07/01 at 12:20 PM

      Sooooo, three defensive center midfielders who like to make long runs forward? (I haven’t seen Cameron do this for the Nats, but it was how he played the position for Houston.)

      Reply

      • Posted by Seybold on 2014/07/01 at 12:36 PM

        Cameron was very disciplined in the holding role in the home qualifier against Panama.

        Reply

  6. Bit nerve racking this is. I kind of want Beckerman but I don’t know who I want to take out.

    Reply

  7. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 2:43 PM

    84Th Minute. only A Matter Of Time Before We succumb To This Onslaught

    Reply

  8. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 2:57 PM

    Everyone Looks Like They Hope The Ball Doesn’t Come To Then Cuz They’re So Tired. The ReF’s Whistle Couldn’t Have Come Sooner. Maybe OuR Famed Fitness Makes The Difference Now.

    Reply

  9. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 3:16 PM

    It Must Be Over If Green Is Coming In.

    Reply

  10. My thoughts:

    1) Really tough to talk about the US in this WC without mentioning the fact that Jozy’s injury really hurt the team. I’m a defender of Jurgen and what he got out of this squad, but not having a plan B for Jozy was a problem. It wasn’t Donovan, for me it was Boyd. I guess you could argue Eddie Johnson too but I don’t buy that he is as big of an asset as TSG does.

    2) Biggest difference for the US, again, is their lack of technical ability. But whatever, we’ve always known that, I won’t dwell on it.

    3) Bradley. Defend him however you want. He puts everything into the game. And he was partially responsible for the goal. But he was poor in a lot of moments. He is NOT the goat however.

    4) Yedlin, was positive, but he left the US vulnerable so many times. He literally just stopped tracking back at a certain point which is kind of insane for a full back.

    5) For me, this was the first game that JK got wrong. He talked about attacking, he talked about possession, and then the squad selection was so safe. So conservative. Zusi was just completely out of his element. Not tracking back, no composure on the ball. And if you don’t have a target forward, you can’t have wingers with no venom. Same from Bedoya. He was better than Zusi, but again, no threat in the final 3rd. I understood the Beckerman omission. I understood how Fabian Johnson ruined some plans. But at some point, you need to attack. Thats the way you beat teams like Belgium. You don’t sit back and hope for penalty kicks or a miracle goal. For me, Aron should have been the sub, not Wondo. Wondo missed a couple chances in the final few minutes that a better player would have put away. And I think Green should have come on immediately when the US went down a goal. They needed a spark. Why sit on that sub?

    Also, I’m just so happy that Julian Green shut up a lot of these critics who thought he was a useless roster spot. We’re lucky he’s on our team now and going forward. JK should have showed more faith in him.

    The good news?? Julian Green, Joe Gyau, Ben Lederman, Gedion Zelalem, DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Aron Johannsson and a bunch of other players are going to be coming up through the ranks for the US in the next 4 years. I think the love of the sport is here to stay. US could be the next Belgium. But with 100 million more people and a lot more global influence. Onwards!

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2014/07/01 at 7:40 PM

      Are we sure Zelalem will opt for the US?

      Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/07/01 at 8:36 PM

      The fact that Green was not even considered to contribute until the second OT period of the fourth match is the whole point of most peoples complaints about him being included. Dempsey had to play every minute because there wasn’t a trusted forward brought to the roster. This isn’t a personal thing with Julian Green it’s simply a matter of roster selection and value to the match.
      He took a very good chance for his goal but this team lost mostly because it had nothing to give at the end when it mattered because the roster was only 10-12 players deep.

      Reply

      • Posted by KMac on 2014/07/02 at 9:17 AM

        and how about that ball that Michael Bradley put right on the money to reward Greens inventive run. No MB90, no goal. Period.

        Reply

    • Posted by reanalyst on 2014/07/02 at 10:27 AM

      100 million more people? More like about 300 million. The pop of Belgium is under 12 million.

      Reply

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2014/07/02 at 6:41 PM

      To be honest I think that Jozy’s injury hurt the US more than most people understand. You could see how much better Clint was when Wondo came in and he dropped back to withdrawn striker. I attribute Bradley’s bad tournament (by his standards) to the fact that he was asked to do much more offensively than he is cut out to do. He is a deep lying midfielder who can make plays from their not a true 10. He was basically playing withdrawn striker, this the same guy that got criticized just a couple years ago for only passing backwards and sideways.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Dr Duh on 2014/07/01 at 3:58 PM

    I thought that was the whole point of bringing Wondo? To poach, to be in the right place at the right time, to hit open sitters in the box? Landon would have put it in the back of the net and the US into the quarters…

    I give Klinsy a ton of credit for his decision making… except for two choices, taking Wondo instead of Boyd who would have been a much better back up to Jozy and bringing the immortal Brad Davis instead of Donovan.

    Reply

    • Fair enough. But 3 more of his “controversial” picks worked out great (Brooks, YEDLIN, Green). 3 v 2, He’s still ahead, I’ll take that ratio. No manager is perfect.

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      • Posted by UnionFan on 2014/07/01 at 4:42 PM

        Green worked out, but JK didn’t have the confidence to go all in. If Green is a difference maker, he has to be on in the last 10 minutes against Germany, or at the start of the extra time to change the game ( see Lukaku, R). It’s not much of a consolation to find out the kid could contribute after our world cup was basically over.

        Reply

        • Posted by CJ on 2014/07/02 at 10:45 AM

          I agree UnionFan. I think Klinsmann got lucky. Had we not been out of the tournament Green never would’ve played. Michael bradley contributing a quality through ball to a runner while in possession for extended periods of time? Where did that come from all tourney??? It came from Belgium playing turtle. Green was put on when we needed little to know defensive work from him and when we did his legs were the freshest in the tournament.

          The Donovan omission proved to be Klinsmann’s greatest weakness with his selection. Either Zusi (who I feel played a weak tournament), Aron Johannson, Green or Mix should’ve been left behind in his stead. And yes 2 of those 3 are midfielders Klinsmann.

          It’s hard to tell someone to go home. It’s hard to pick one player over another, but dropping Donovan was a mistake. Would we have gone out differently? Who knows. What I do know is that we’re better with Dempsey and Donovan on the pitch than Dempsey and AJo or Dempsey and Wondo proved to be. Shit, he could’ve subbed on for Dempsey once it was clear the 30 yr old was dogged tired.

          Anyways, I’m no die hard Donovan fan. It just seems obvious. What a helluva tournament though.

          Reply

    • Posted by evan on 2014/07/01 at 4:56 PM

      weird that the Wondolowski flub in added time was wrongly called offside. if he had finished that chance, and still been called offside, imagine the scandalized outrageous fury… were the refs trying to job us again??
      but yeah, Donovan would have probly buried that. nice try Wondo. and nice job with the roster Kilinsy. and what was with all the hamstring injuries?? i wonder if Donovan regrets his sabbatical now…

      Reply

      • Posted by Paul on 2014/07/08 at 11:21 AM

        There’s a lot of speculation that the linesman was signaling for a goal kick, not offsides. Especially considering every replay in the world showed both Wondo and Dempsey clearly onside. I was at the match and didn’t notice the linesman’s call at all, which makes me think no one in the stadium thought there was an offsides flag up either.

        Reply

      • Not to excuse Wondo but I have seen better players than him miss easier chances. Clint Dempsey for example..

        Reply

  12. Posted by kurtosis on 2014/07/01 at 4:20 PM

    Two biggest weak spots were bad first touches and runners who zigged when the passers zagged. Couldn’t believe how little understanding there was between attacking players. The gap in technical ability between teams was bigger than expected. Maybe nerves. Zusi had a solid tournament but he just wasn’t physically strong enough when he got the ball in dangerous positions against Belgium.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2014/07/01 at 7:43 PM

      I think it may be more of a confidence thing than anything else. A lot of really panicky decisions when guys had enough time to do something better. Hardly saw any of that from Belgium.

      Reply

  13. Posted by Mark on 2014/07/01 at 4:54 PM

    I agree. Why is that guys who have played so many games together often seem to lack any familiarity with each other’s tendencies. “Chemistry” isn’t a word that comes to mind when you watch the U.S. players. Dempsey and Jones, in particular, never seemed to be on the same wave length, and it cost them on some counterattacks. They really never looked dangerous in the final third tonight until Green scored his goal. Yedlin got a lot of crosses into the box but none that found anyone’s head. And there were no through-balls from Bradley or anyone else into the box.

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  14. Posted by Sean on 2014/07/01 at 5:43 PM

    No technical ability? I dont buy and it’s driving me crazy that Lalas and others keep saying that. We have plenty of technical players. Jones, Johnson, Dempsey, Bradley, Beasley, Cameron, Johansson, Altidore, Green, Brooks, Chandler, Diskerud, etc all play or have played in top leagues in Europe. You can’t do that without technical ability. Davis and Zusi are MLS players known for their technical abilities. Enough with the talk tgat we don’t have technical players.

    In my view, the major problem for the US is we come into these games with the wrong mindset. We always think defense first, minimize mistakes, counter, score on free kicks and corners. We never play to go at a team, outside of Dempsey we gave no one willing to take chances, to create scoring opportunities. We are just as good, or better than, Costa Rica, Algeria, and Switzerland. Outside of Shaqiri for Switzerland, I dont think they gave better players. But Costa Rica is in the QF and Algeria and Switzerland could’ve one their games against Germany and Argentina. Why? Because they don’t sit back and defend. They played their game and looked to attack.

    That being said, it killed us not having Altidore. I love everything Dempsey has done for U.S. Soccer but he’s not the strongest on the ball or the hardest working player off the ball. Boyd wouldve been an option, but if technical is what you want he’s far from that.

    The mentality needs to change. We need a killer instinct. We need to try and go at teams.

    Reply

    • Posted by LC on 2014/07/02 at 7:48 AM

      You need to distinguish between the baseline level of technical competence necessary to compete in a good European league and being a truly technical player. We have plenty of the former but few of the latter and the latter are what Lalas et al are talking about.

      Of all the shortcomings this team had, mindset was not even close to being one of them. Frankly, it’s probably our greatest strength, in that it maximizes our very limited capabilities.

      No, the reason we were so defensive against Germany and Belgium is because they’re so much freaking better than us. 5 out of our front 6 yesterday were defense-first players: Cameron, Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, and Zusi. None of them have many offensive ideas and–surprise, surprise!–none of them are truly technical players.

      You can argue, if you’d like, that we should’ve started more offensive-minded players (Mix, ArJo, Wondo, Green) but none of them are good or dangerous enough that it would’ve compensated for the defensive loss.

      Reply

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2014/07/02 at 6:52 PM

      I 1000% DISAGREE. We have the mentality we don’t have the technical players.

      I love Dempsey but at Spurs (a team competing for a CL place) he was a squad player.

      Bradley was a rotation player/starter but not a difference maker at Roma (another team trying to qualify for CL).

      Cameron is far from a PL standout, he is good but not CL good. No top team is dropping the big bucks on him

      Mix (again love him) but is his current team much better than a MLS team (I think not).

      Altidore did well at AZ (not a top top tier team) and struggled on a bad PL team. Not the end of the world but not a Lukaku, Neymar, James Rodriguez, Muller, Benzema, Messi (just a sample of the strikers left).

      I could go on but I think you get the point. The US is a top 12/16 team at this point. That is the level of players we have. Lets not fool ourselves that there is a big gulf between us and the top 6 or so teams in the world.

      IMO, the the top WC teams are the Real, Barca, Man City, PSG’s of the world the US is Spurs.

      Reply

  15. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 6:20 PM

    Back home now from watching at a sports bar. It was excruciating and exhilarating all at the same time. This is a game we could have stolen but deserved to lose. As noted in the some of the above comments, there’s still a talent gap that needs closing. The second half and most of the first extra time exposed this. It was like we time warped back to when Bob Bradley was coach and we played Condition Red defense during the Confederations Cup.

    Just the same, Tim Howard was a monster! If they could ever retire a #1 jersey then Howard’s name would have to be on it. He’s raised the bar for every American goalkeeper to follow. This game could have been like 7-0 at the end of regulation. Everton should be ecstatic they signed him to another contract because they’ve got themselves a Real American Hero.

    Just when I started to lose some faith after Belgium’s second goal, I told my friend at the bar “well, there’s still 15 minutes”, albeit a little halfheartedly. Just like that Julian Green beats Courtois and the US were re-energized. Belgium started to look like we did in the 2nd half. When I walked out of the bar amongst a sea of US fans all over the streets, I felt really good about US soccer. Not just today but for tomorrow. We will be a heavyweight within one more generation of players and ESPN will lead with soccer not just every four years.

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  16. After a little decompression time…

    We spend so much time talking about the group stage. There are 32 teams, and two advance. We were second. By this measure round of 16 is where we were “expected” to go out based on our performance. I think that’s fair. As a nation a 9-16 world ranking is reasonable. Moving forward achieving is no longer getting out of the group. Par is getting to the round of 16. Quarterfinals is success. Understanding this is not an exacting science and Costa Rica are not top 8 in the world but I think progress is being made. In that regards this world cup should be viewed a success, but the bar has been raised.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Mike on 2014/07/01 at 7:00 PM

    By the way, Lukaku is everything I wish, hope, and pray Altidore will be. Then I realize Lukaku is younger.

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  18. Posted by twewlife on 2014/07/01 at 7:48 PM

    To Matt and the rest of the TSG crowd:

    You guys are awesome.

    See you in two years when the cycle begins anew.

    And Matt. Please let me and the rest of the TSG community know if there is any way we could compensate you for all the hard work you put into this site. Seriously. I would gladly pay for this content, be it through merchandise, kickstarter, fundraising campaign, etc.

    Thanks,

    Tristan

    Reply

    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2014/07/02 at 6:54 PM

      Amen, found this site last WC and would definitely buy merch or donate to the cause. Love the site. I don’t come all the time but it is where I come when I want to have a serious conversation with serious people who know their sh*t.

      Reply

  19. Posted by JW on 2014/07/01 at 7:51 PM

    I’m tired of this narrative.

    “The USA shows that it can hang with the big boys and deserves to be taken seriously on the world stage. It’s made great progress in the last few years, and the future looks bright.”

    Let me fix that:

    “The USA shows, yet again, for the fourth or fifth time, that it can hang with the big boys and deserves to be taken seriously on the world stage. It’s made progress in the past few years and the future looks bright, but they’ve only made it as far as they usually do.”

    I HATE that tired narrative. It’s an old narrative that’s been played out several times since 2002 when we were an uncalled rabbit-punch on the goal line away from taking down a perennial title contender. It’s a story that is deeply engrained in American culture and how we see ourselves as a nation, but soccer has been there and we shouldn’t be content with this narrative any more. We’ve watched our Rocky cassette so much that the spools creak when we play it, “ADRIAAANNNN” accompanied by the squealing of an over-played performance using a dated system. Where the hell can we get a copy of Rocky II?

    Sour grapes, you’ll say; my point remains – this team, once again, failed to take the next step for American soccer. It showed deeply American qualities, and performed at a level we can be proud of, but it failed to make progress that will get us out of this repetitious narrative. We didn’t deserve to win against Belgium, they were better than us, and until we were behind two goals (and this is the part that hurts the most), they seemed to want it more. Maybe more was on the line for them, and maybe they’ve had better training, but we had a chance to look fondly back upon our past and leave it behind, but today we’re still living in the same epoch of US Soccer, and this World Cup showed that.

    Well, it’s nice here, after all. Even when the team loses, there’s a narrative that lionizes it: “Tim Howard had one of the greatest goalkeeping performances of all time.” “We were runners-up in a Confederations Cup.” “We won our group for the first time ever.” You shouldn’t be satisfied with those any more. You can be proud – nobody said we didn’t give our best, but to be completely cliché: “Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and f*ck the prom queen!” (The Rock, 1996). With a black eye we’re going home alone, pummeled by a better side. We stood up and got our faces bashed in, and even though we gave them a fight with the blood streaming down our faces, it didn’t get us any further than the last time.

    We’re stronger than before, we’re just not there yet – there’s still a large gap and we need to keep working.

    Whether we’re performing for our country, for a city, a college, a prep program, recreational or youth team, we keep playing and coaching and promoting is because the only way we ever walk into the World Cup, as a country, with the other nations not just mindful, but scared sh*tless at the prospect of playing us. That’s the next step. You and I, everyone who participates in soccer in America, needs to keep going and pushing to build a soccer culture that produces the best play. We are getting stronger, and I believe that we will win. Soccer is growing in America because we are building it, and our talent is getting deeper with every generation. So talk about it, encourage people to play it, and let everyone know you love it.

    Just don’t be satisfied. The next step is coming, just not today. Stay hungry.

    Reply

    • The difference this time is that although we bowed out at the same stage as we did in 2010, and didn’t get as far as 2002, it feels different this time. Why? Simple.

      In 2010, we knew what the ceiling of the guys on that squad were, we played to the max of our abilities, and we overachieved by sneaking out of our group and losing after a hard fight to Ghana.

      Oddly enough, 2006 and 2002 to me were mirror opposites. I actually don’t feel like the teams for both those WCs were all that different in terms of achievement. Both times we had teams that we largely were aware of their ceilings, and they largely played to that max potential. We just got a TON of lucky breaks in 2002 (and 2002 was a historically wacky WC). 2006 was the flipside – similar squad, same core of players, same effort, just terribly bad luck. 2002 was a flukey, lucky run and so 2006 balanced it out.

      Nobody left South Africa in 2010 feeling like anyone on the squad was a revelation waiting to happen. Same with 2006. There was some hope after 2002 with Landon but we all know how that went out. Basically, it’s been awhile since we left a WC with not just one, but SEVERAL youngsters that we still don’t know how good they were be. “Promising future” may be a cliche BUT its a cliche we didnt have after the 2010 and 2006 Cups. We left those knowing we went as far as the group of guys we took would ever take us. It was a bleak, hopeless feeling of mediocrity. I don’t feel that this time.

      Not with the TWO first-touch wundergoals from Brooks AND green, both playing at top level competition and not old enough to buy a drink yet. Not with 20 yr old Deandre Yedlin basically negating the influence of none other than Eden Friggin Hazard today and serving in great crosses after blasting thru the side of Belgium’s defense. Not with future talent like Gedion, Gyau, Gil, Flores, coming up through top Euro youth systems. It’s different this time, and I strongly believe we just witnessed the beginning/origin tale/creation myth of the Julian Green generation of the USMNT.

      Reply

      • Posted by JW on 2014/07/01 at 9:09 PM

        I hear you on a lot of that. It’s nice to think about that generation coming around, but remember that they’ll have starts and fits, too (Shea, Agudelo… Adu………..). Let’s hope a few of them turn into top class talent and make us more than proud, and let’s keep building a soccer culture and an America that produces them.

        Reply

      • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2014/07/06 at 7:20 AM

        It’s not just the kids.

        It’s also the idea that this team might actually know how to build an attack, know how to score by other than the counter or through Lalas approved set pieces.

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        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/07/07 at 5:46 AM

          “Lalas-approved set pieces”….now that’s funny….hope you didn’t mind if I borrowed your parantheses for a few….

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          • Feel free.

            Have you ever heard Alexi comment intelligently on a goal that was scored during the run of play because I can’t remember him ever doing so.

            In a way I feel bad for him because he is so clearly being out shined by every other commentator fluent in English or not, that I’ve seen ESPN bring to this WC party. They look like they are lining up LD to replace Lalas but my money is Stu Holden.

            LD and Alexi at their best ,combined, have less charisma wattage than Stuey.on a bad day.

            Reply

            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/07/08 at 2:23 PM

              Alexi Lalas=Soccer/Football’s Bill Walton….that guy you just hope you don’t get stuck next toin an airplane seat….

              I actually have come to tolerate Ballack’s input as he seems to be earnestly trying to not sound like such a dick…

  20. Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/07/01 at 8:29 PM

    For some perspective we were beaten by a team that had 8-10 players who play in the top leagues in Europe and their subs would be considered top stars on the US squad. The reality is that Rocky is what we have right now and for the next few years until a stronger technical skill set is trained into our UXX programs.
    The Dutch, Belgians and a whole host of other countries with much older and stronger footballing cultures fight their way into this tournament every four years and don’t get out of their groups and often haven’t even qualified.
    IMO our midfield depth and talent was a limiting factor in this tournament as you cannot ask all 3 of your primary MF’s and Dempsey to play 360+ mins in under 2 wks with the trae and temperature issues. I believe that we’ll hear about an injury or knock that Bradley was carrying as his subpar showing in most phases of his game other than running was glaring and very difficult for the team to overcome. Jones was a beast and a warrior.

    Still unclear as to why Green sub was held until 2nd OT period when the squad clearly needed fresh legs from75 mins on. That sub in regulation could have ended it.
    Wondo won’t be sleeping well for a while methinks…unfortunate and still can’t believe he didn’t close that out….oh well….

    Thanks for the fantastic coverage Matt, Much appreciated.

    Reply

  21. Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/01 at 10:25 PM

    My bad, thanks Matthew and cohorts for all the time and effort you’ve put into this site. We sometimes forget that TSG is a labor of love and that everyone involved have day jobs, Mrs. TSG’s and baby TSG’s that deservedly preoccupy them. I really don’t know how you do it but MUCH appreciated.

    BTW twewlife, hopefully you don’t have to wait two years to return here. The Shin Guardian has provided excellent material on the English Premier League, Major League Soccer and other assorted topics for going on six years I believe. So long as the contributors keep plugging away, feel free to visit so as to be enlightened and enriched. Oh yeah, and tell a friend.

    Reply

  22. Posted by Spiritof76 on 2014/07/02 at 6:04 AM

    Gutted. Thanks to Matt, biggySF and the rest of the TSG community for making this cycle so wonderful. I just can’t wait till the next round of international games so we can get some more of those legendary TSG game previews.

    Howard is now unchallenged as the greatest American keeper, IMO. Never to be challenged. American keepers can only hope to be equal. It would also be SUPER nice, in the future, for our goalkeepers not to be such an important part of our successes.

    Besler was a monster. Great game from him. Cameron did an incredible amount of unheralded work today at CDM, especially out of possession, actually running more Out Of Possession than Bradley. That said, has anybody ever run farther in a World Cup game than Michael Bradley today? 10.37 miles, or 16,689 meters. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    Jurgen – mostly – vindicated. Its always a game of probabilities, and he made the wrong gamble on the forwards and banking on Jozy not blowing a hammy 20 minutes in. Honestly, he took the forwards I’d have taken at the time.

    More than anything, I want to see us play every game in the posture that we played the last 20 minutes last night. I don’t think there is a team in the world that wouldn’t be terrified to play against that USMNT.

    God speed and enjoy the rest of the WC!

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  23. Posted by scweeb on 2014/07/02 at 6:35 AM

    My take on the WC over all and what happened is that we had 1 game plan and we brought a squad for that 1 game plan. The reason for this 1 game plan is that we just don’t have the depth off talent to have a plan B to face the type of teams we did. And unfortinatly that all was depending on Jozy being healthy. He was suppose to be out out let valve that worked with Dempsey to make it so are out side back and out side mids had the time to look up and make runs. Unfortinatly that didn’t happen cause of that early injury we had to scrap up a new way to play with out a good release valve.

    Cause in my eye the formation we were forced to play a line up that you really couldn’t see players like mix being subed in for Bradley, or davis who doesn’t play the most defensive game come in and work, or chandler who is a more stay at home defender come in. Or Johanson who could come in for say Clint and give a speedy burst at the end with Jozy still dishing the ball off.

    Now i know Boyd is the closest thing we have to a Jozy replacement but is Boyd really that good at hold up right now against the competition he would have faced. NO. Would LD have made a the shots the Wondo missed. Who really knows. All in all we played our selves out of the group of death with a team we brought to play one formation and the main and vital component for the line up got hurt.

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  24. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2014/07/02 at 12:10 PM

    My one though specifically on this game was that Zusi should not have been the sub. While watching live I thought Jones looked completely gassed (rightfully so), while Zusi wasn’t playing well, he did seem to have a bunch left in the tank. They weren’t dominating in the middle, they were beating us on the wing. I thought Wondo for Jones would have been better. Dempsey dropped deeper to keep numbers in the middle and Zusi still playing pretty good defense on the wing. I thought Zusi was growing into the game more.

    Then I watched the tactical camera and I feel this is even more true. Jones was ridiculously tough in what he did the rest of the game, but he was so tired. Completely worn out. With Dempsey and Bradley also pretty worn out, fresher legs were needed. Zusi and Bedoya both hadn’t played nearly as much as Jones to this time.

    When green came on I didn’t think much about it, but even bedoya had a lot more left to give than jones. I get that jones has quality, but at that point quality was less important than freshness.

    That is the only sour grapes/complaining I got. Honestly, what Klinsmann did almost worked. Wondo doesn’t shank that shot into space and we are talking about how to beat Argentina.

    Reply

  25. Posted by jon on 2014/07/02 at 1:23 PM

    I have read way too many comments about how Wondo’s miss was so “uncharacteristic” to leave this unsaid. Prior to 20014, I had seen Wondo miss more sitters for the USMNT than he had goals (yes, I counted). He missed two open headers against Azerbaijan and then he misses point blank against Belgium. It was a tricky finish, but one that a professional should convert 9/10 times. This was not Wondo’s 1 time, it was, by my count, 8th time, and completely characteristic of his record. That said, he was not to blame for the US loss.

    Reply

    • Posted by Dave on 2014/07/03 at 10:54 AM

      The idea that Wondo is a poacher has always seemed wrong to me. Even in MLS, he’s not been that good of a finisher, except for one statistical outlier season where he couldn’t miss. He’s good at creating chances, and he got himself in the right spot to win the game. If he could finish all the chances he makes, he’d have ascended as a pro long before he did and moved up from MLS.

      Reply

    • Jon,

      Wondo was not to blame for the loss, it is true but he could have won the game for the US and he did not. In effect, is that the same thing? Hard to say.

      He’ll have to live with that.

      Reply

  26. Posted by Berniebernier on 2014/07/02 at 7:07 PM

    Know this is probably a dying thread but I wanted to throw something out there and see if there was any feedback/thoughts…

    Should the US system going forward of either a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-4-2 (diamond) with outside backs bombing up the flanks. I see a lot in the press about shifting to a 4-3-3 as if that is a magical elixir for things. I like the idea of a MF shielding the back 4 (in someways more aggressive than a 4-2-3-1 which has two shielding) and that leaves 5 in attack (plus possibly the two outside backs). The shielding MF then can split the two CBs and leave us a lot less exposed. Trade a Bedoya (who had a good tournament) for someone that can bring a little more in attack and you have some going forward presence.

    Thinking a little like Barca with the back 4 but not necessarily tiki taka in the front.

    Reply

    • Posted by ATroy on 2014/07/03 at 10:44 AM

      I like the idea of using more of a 3 centerback system with two wingbacks. Guys like Fabian Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, Greg Garza, even Timmy Chandler, are more of an attacking type of fullback. If you can put together Besler, Gonzalez, Cameron, Brooks, etc. as your three centerbacks, and have Johnson, Yedlin, et al flying up and down the flanks, then the need for outright wingers (which the US program currently lacks) isn’t quite as great. So possibly more of a 3-5-2/5-3-2 setup, or even 3-4-3.

      At this point, I just want the US to step back, take a look at the talent they have (where they are strong and where they are lacking), and devise a system that will allow them to play proactively, have the ball and be dangerous, yet compact and hard to break down defensively. Is that too much to ask lol?!?!

      They seem deep at centerback, and deep at more of an attacking type of outside defender. They’ve got good holding mids/destroyers, but still looking to develop a world-class #10. Could that be Gil, Flores, Rubin? Jozy, Johannson, Agudelo, Green, and many others would work well as players able to run at a defense from up top.

      There is tons of talent coming up through the pipeline – now it is time to pick a direction and GO!

      Reply

  27. Posted by Swa on 2014/07/03 at 8:26 AM

    Looking forward to the TSG post-mortem of Belgium and the WC as a whole. Re-watched the game a few times now and have a lot of thoughts.

    Reply

  28. Posted by tupedio on 2014/07/03 at 11:29 AM

    Everyone is in a blissful haze about how great this cup was for the US. While I agree the results were good (escaping the group of death, taking belgium to extra time), I don’t agree that Jurgen has been vindicated at all.

    We were 1-1-2 and were outplayed in 3 of our 4 games. Massively outplayed. The only reason we got out of the group is because Germany hammered Portugal. Only old fashioned American heroic defending kept those games close. Not exactly the new brand of attacking soccer JK promised.

    It’s clear we had no backup plan for Jozy, and that’s on Jurgen. His squad selection was poor and that resulted in us having to play 2 of our best players out of position (Deuce alone up top, and Bradley too high) for all but 20 minutes of the tournament. I don’t see how anyone could argue that leaving Donovan out was the right move (unless there is locker room drama of which we are all unaware). The “donovan is only a forward” line was BS. He has played a hybrid mid/attacking role his entire career and would have been an improvement over Brad Davis’s* largely useless 60 minutes and a backup plan for having to play without a holding striker. Also, of course, Boyd or Johnson would have provided a like-for-like sub for Jozy.
    As soon as Jozy went down, our cup became a test of “how long can we hold on?” rather than going out and taking the game to our opponents. It’s irritating to hear Jurgen say things like “we have to go eye-to-eye” and “we give too much respect” when he’s the one who put Dempsey on an island in a 4-5-1 v Belgium. It was his decisions and tactics that forced us into defending like it was 2002.

    Apologies for the rant. I actually like Jurgen and think he’s good for the long term progress of American soccer, but he’s not above reproach. I proud of the players, proud of the fans, and even proud of what the coaching staff was able to get out of this squad. Yet, it was, unfortunately, a less successful tournament on the field than everyone seems to think. When the Tim Howard honeymoon ends, Jurgen should have to answer some tough questions, and we shouldn’t be afraid to pose them. If he’s the coach we think he is, he’ll be able to answer them with aplomb.

    * no hate, I love Brad Davis, but I don’t see any advantage to bringing him over Donovan.

    Reply

    • I think it’s hard to compare to past World Cups because the competition was so good. Some people think Portugal and Ghana weren’t very good b/c of injuries and discord but I think these are good teams struggling in a tough group. Ghana finished with 1 point but I put them in almost any other group and I think they are a threat to get through. Germany probably wins any group you put them in and many think this is the best team they have had in years. Germany didn’t need to hammer Portugal 2-0 still gets the US through. I agree that Davis didn’t work and that Donovan may have been better, but I don’t think the US would exert any more control with him on the pitch. I’m pretty skeptical of the ability for either EJ or Boyd to fill in for Jozy. That being said I think they were capable of playing more proactive. Their was a lot of panic and just lack of composure particularly in transition. The back line didn’t push forward with clearances leaving acres of space for the midfield to cover and making it hard to win the ball back. I think this is about the ceiling for this team until they can develop some more technical ability. With the right draw they will win some more games maybe advance another round.

      Reply

    • Posted by gino744 on 2014/07/04 at 12:46 PM

      I just want to remind everyone who the US went 1-1-2 against in this World Cup. Ghana, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. Maybe it needs to be repeated…Ghana, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. As of this moment. Germany and Belgium are still undefeated in this tournament. Ghana and Portugal weren’t so lucky because they were in THE toughest group at this World Cup. A group that…the US progressed from.

      I still think Ghana were the second best team in our group and a lot of people would agree with that point. The only time Germany trailed in this tournament was against a very talented Ghana. We were fortunate to beat them. I was surprised that THEY were one of the typical African teams to suffer from Self-inflicted Implosion Syndrome because they were the class of their continent. If they would have been in any other group, including Group D, they advance.

      Portugal were exposed as being a little too one-dimensional but when CR9 is on your team it’s not surprising to focus your efforts through him. I don’t admire Ronaldo but I respect his talent. He will be considered one of the all-time greats many years from now. Unfortunately for him, his coach and his teammates he was visibly injured/compromised. Paulo Bento had no suitable Plan B and it cost them. Portugal without a fit Ronaldo was at least if not more diminished more than the US not having Altidore.

      So Belgium hasn’t played a great tournament. Save Colombia, nobody has particularly shined so far in Brazil. Still, they went undefeated in group play and haven’t lost in 15 games. They’ve one of the most talented and expensive squads in the World Cup. No shame in taking them to extra time.

      I guess it’s good that Americans start to expect more from our soccer because that means more of us are becoming fans. I just wanted to add a bit more perspective to their accomplishment/shortcoming. We did better than Spain, Italy, England, Ivory Coast and other countries that had higher expectations.

      Reply

  29. When Jozy went down all the plans went with him. Our attack lacked a hard edge, Bradley and Dempsey had to play out of position and we were forced to absorb continuous pressure because of a lack of a hold up player. Another killer was giving up a late goal to Portugal. We could have rested players, which would have given us a better chance against a superior Belgium team. All that said, as a long suffering soccer fan in America (I go all the way back to “Soccer Made in Germany” on PBS), I was delighted to see thousands of fans filling plazas and stadiums all over the country. Sports talk forced to recognize the World Cup and even the inevitable derisive screeds of American sports purists became silly and stale. Even all the discussion of roster choices here and elsewhere is a sign of a deep entrenchment of world football in this countries Zeitgeist.

    One last thing, I’ve been high on Yedlin since the first match he played for the Sounders. He made a positive difference every time he was on the field. He showed his quality on the biggest stage. Most important may be the path he has laid out for other American players coming up. He is the first MLS homegrown player to make a World Cup squad. He’s not foreign born and didn’t go to a European accadamy. I have no objection to such players, but it’s nice know the path exists for a domestic player to develop in this country.

    Reply

    • Posted by Swa on 2014/07/03 at 3:22 PM

      Brad, that’s a phenomenal point that hopefully will get more press as time goes on. The biggest thing that has to happen for the U.S. to approach becoming a world football power is for MLS to become a “dream” for little kids. Right now they all want to be LeBron or Calvin Johnson or Bryce Harper, but the more kids know the story of someone like DeAndre Yedlin and get into their local MLS academies at a young age and develop right here at home, the better the odds are that we develop more world class players. It’s a numbers game and we SHOULD have the most options, even if MLS remains fifth in popularity among professional leagues here. We’ve had massive youth participation for decades now, but it’s a recreational thing that maybe turns into a college scholarship. MLS academies finding and teaching players (and not forcing them to move across an ocean at age 12) has to be the answer. But I don’t think anyone is opposed to opening 25 military bases in Brazil next week.

      Reply

      • Posted by Paul on 2014/07/08 at 11:54 AM

        Hell yes! I’ll volunteer to take a military post in Rio . . . . might even be talked into producing some future dual nationals . . . ! ; )

        Reply

  30. Posted by John Mosby on 2014/07/03 at 3:42 PM

    Two things, one, we really could have used Landon Donovan this summer. And before Donovan, we could have used JOB back in 06, and before him, we certainly could have used john harkes back in 98. We have lost our best players to apathy, injury, and mis matrimony over the years.

    There is one person to blame for Donovans absence this summer, and that person is Landon Donovan. And that is so unfortunate. Where was the advice after 2010. Donovan, 2014 is your last chance, make these next four years be a build up to one final shot at glory. Instead we get Cambodia and a hahahaha. It hurts!!!

    My second beef is with this idea that we should be trying to play like Barcelona, or the Dutch, or whatever. How about we make our own style and embrace it, and then teach it to the children. I mean barca is so passé anyway, and the Dutch are never has beens.

    In the core of the American people is defense, and I think our history shows that we are a counter attacking nation. This is our formula for success. Counter attacking doesn’t mean you’re defending for 80% of the time,and it doesn’t mean you can’t have possession, it means you control the game from a certain posture, and it ain’t some ticky tacky, like a bullfight, because that is Spain, not the USA.

    We can reach great heights, but we need to have a common understanding about what the American style is, so that it can become ingrained in the thought process of every fan and every player, top to bottom.

    We have some massive players coming through the pipeline, players like jack Mac, or Conor Donovan, and if we can give these guys some common cause, they can and will do great things.

    Reply

    • Posted by Josh on 2014/07/03 at 5:42 PM

      I think I understand your point about “the core of the American people is defense,” but I tend to agree with Klinsi more regarding this area. I see the American spirit and sports culture as much about attacking as I do defending. I know I, for one, prefer my sports team to be attack-minded first. Does it mean I don’t love defense, too? No, I love me some defense particularly in American football. But in a way great defense in American football jibes with great attacking – great defense is nothing more than great attacking of the opposing offense. So I dunno, maybe I’m not making sense here. I just prefer a sports team that is about attacking on both sides of the ball – physical, aggressive, but also supremely talented and technically gifted. And I think that’s what most of America likes. And I think Klinsi has it right that we as Americans want to see a team that is playing on the front foot, going after the opposition, putting it under pressure vs. counter-attacking. Like Ghana, Germany & Belgium mostly did to us.

      Reply

  31. Posted by schmutzdeck on 2014/07/06 at 10:39 AM

    Josh,

    If you watched Netherlands vs. Costa Rica you saw a classic rope a dope strategy; take their best shot , until late when their legs start to go and then take it to them.

    It almost worked. It was also probably more or less what the US was trying to do with Belgium.

    Costa Rica did better than the US because they were a little more cautious, were a little better at holding their shape, were a little more efficient at retaining possession, and Wondo missed.

    Costa Rica’s players are not necessarily superior to the US but they had their Jozy (Campbell) and were just a little more disciplined. Of course, Netherlands are markedly better than Belgium so the Ticos caution made perfect sense.

    World Cup winners are almost always solid defensively first. In 2010 Spain won their last four games by 1-0 scores Tiki taka is an inherently defensive strategy.

    1. If you have the ball then they don’t and they can’t attack you.
    2. Chasing the ball is more draining than holding it, another way to wear down the other team.

    The US just needs a few more skilled players with the right attitude and I see no reason those guys won’t show up in the next cycle.

    Reply

  32. Posted by Paul on 2014/07/08 at 12:06 PM

    There were mistakes. Of course there were, because if we go mistake-free, this team had the potential and the ability to reach a semi. I had plenty of Brazilians tell me two weeks ago, non-jokingly, that they’d see us at the final.

    I still think the biggest roster issue was no Boyd/Johnson. Donovan would have contributed for sure, but he doesn’t solve the problems. And who really expected Zusi to play as down as he did?

    Great point above about how this year feels very different at the end – because the future looks very bright. Yedlin, Green, Brooks, Zelalem, and the others who will fill in as we lose our current 30+year-old players. We as a soccer nation have a serious historical self-consciousness and a bit of a nervous inferiority complex. American fans are often caught fretting because our team is imperfect, and has flaws. Well so do the other teams. If you look at the press, the systems, and the organizations in other “big” nations, they have their warts and their issues too. We have no reason to think of ourselves outside of the top 12 sides in the world, and the next couple of cups should vindicate that.

    One great yet undiscussed point about the Copa America in ’16 as well – it gives us full competitive matches against top sides form a high-ranked confederation. That’s a prime opportunity for the USA to pump up their FIFA ranking and become the next surprise seeded team at Russia 2018, a la Switzerland or maybe Belgium this time around. What a cup that will be if we go in as the *favorite* to win our group!

    There is reason to feel badly about our missed opportunities. But there is also reason to feel great at what we achieved and the potential to make excellent progress in the next cycle. Go team.

    Reply

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