Klinsmann’s Depth Chart: October 2011 Edition

The Krew...

Two games, one win, one loss from October Camp.

TSG goes diving again into the USMNT...

And now the US will embark for Europe in early-mid November for friendlies against France and Slovenia. Though Slovenia was presumably only chosen because other European nations had commitments, the US finds itself challenged by two vastly different systems and talent levels.

France run a similar 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 if you prefer set to the new States deployment while Slovenia features the tried-but-true 4-4-2, using their top two forwards to both check back and create space for their central midfielders.

An easy turn at this month’s depth chart before those November friendlies. We go, per usual:

• Observations

• The Depth Chart


• A Tale of Two Disciplines

It’s funny to actually look at a Klinsman line-up and strategy and say the following, “I remember when Bob Bradley used to do that.”

If you take at look at last year’s Send Off Series before the World Cup–matches versus Turkey and the Czech Republic–you saw the Yanks go with Clint Dempsey as a withdrawn forward with Jozy Altidore fore of him. In that set-up, Dempsey would usually be found wide of Altidore on the strong side (the US right flank).

The US looked to pound the ball into the living room of the opponent’s leftback. (Against the Czech Republic, it was Edson Buddle up top with none other than Eddie Johnson behind him playing a central forward-striker role).

The US pushed up the field in both games hoping that they could box in the other team and use the possession chops of Altidore and Dempsey to create opportunities and push the opponent back.

If the ball got reversed quickly, Landon Donovan (Turkey) or DaMarcus Beasley (Czech Republic) would be there for an open field-green field quick attack from the weak side. The US played a high line with Clarence Goodson pushing near midfield against the Czechs. It was Jay DeMerit in Philly against Turkey. (No need to rehash the first goal in that game.)

Klinsmann's scratchwork vs. Honduras...For Bob Bradley against Turkey last year, flip this. Shea & Altidore represents Dempsey and Altidore while push Clint name to the right and that's Landon.

Fast forward to October 2011 and–courtesy the screenshot from the  Atlantic Magazine on the right–what should appear? Jurgen Klinsmann’s formation mirrors Bradley’s; inverted to the left side however.

Whereas in this camp, Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore would be up top and the ball would be pushed into the opponent’s rightback position.

Danny Williams is playing the Beasley-Donovan role in this one. (In fact, if you went back to our reviews we scolded Klinsmann for Edu not helping out in the Ecuador match. Turns out that may not have been Edu’s role. You have to tell us about these things in advance, Jurgy! Though we still think you left too much space there for linking passes.)

Both Bradley and Klinsmann used the formation as a defensive strategy in different ways.

For the former, this was an attempt to protect the Yanks weak left flank–the side where concrete-cleated Carlos Bocanegra would man the leftback slot (oh my did he still play well into the box against Aaron Lennon) and the recovering Oguchi Onyewu would be on the left.

For the later, it appeared Klinsmann did used this strategy to beat back Antonio Valencia and Cuchu Benitez in the Ecuador game (the diagram on the right if the set-up versus Honduras), however the Yanks attempted to move the ball through interactions between Danny Williams and Steve Cherundolo on the right…which may signal…

Landon, pushing the ball against the Ticos...

• Speaking of the right side, is that where Donovan fits in.

…Landon Donovan in that spot.

Anyone else think that Williams looked awkward away from the center of the pitch where he is more used to linking and destroying?

Good, glad we got that cleared up.

That interplay seems like the role that Donovan will slot into when he returns. Acres of space and the familiar Cherundolo to work off of.

The next data point in this question? November call-ins.

• Six of one & half dozen of the other, + Bradley, + Beckerman, + Orozo-Fiscal

Loaded and confusing bullet title here, but we’ll press on.

And first beat a decaying horse horse.

Biggest difference of the Klinsmann Era deployment wise has been stacking the midfield with three players instead of two like his predecessor did. Though Klinsmann has also pushed two of those AM’s up the pitch. For Ecuador it was Edu and Dempsey.

As with his predecessor, Jurgen Klinsmann’s midfield (and the defense behind it) still has work to do in order to more effectively protect counterattacks and keep the opponent penned in. Take that last statement away as the important one from this segment.

For Bob Bradley, it was a deployment of Michael Bradley in essentially the push or “contain” role with Jermaine Jones providing the big stick behind it. Let’s call this the “Funnel & Smack” type play in the central midfield. It’s not unlike a linebacker cleaning up a blocker and routing a RB for the strong safety to come up and make the tackle in American football, if that analogy makes it more more clear.

(And oh by the way, this terminology shouldn’t really be truly called “a bucket” central midfield as is commonly a misnomer about Bradley’s reign. Bradley was typically fore of Jermaine Jones, not parallel with him in defense.)

Bob Bradley's defensive shutdown on a break left the back door open when Michael Bradley overpursued or Jermaine Jones got caught up field...

The challenge with Bradley’s midfield were dualfold. First, too often Jermaine Jones would go walkabout or be caught up on the attack, removing the “stick” part of that equation. And secondly, for all Michael Bradley’s positive CM attributes; his biggest weakness was perhaps thinking he could accomplish too much. Often Bradley would either be too sharp with his angle or attempt to make the stick himself and the weakside would be left open after a less than ideal angle was taken.

The group-stage Panama match showcased Jones challenged his role, while the Gold Cup Final showcased Michael Bradley getting stretched as he both tired and came up to make plays when the US went behind. (Note: A Herculean effort is needed if you are both the main midfielder in possession and tasked with funneling the opponent’s attack.)

For Klinsmann’s it’s midfield trouble of another beast–and it’s why Michael Orozco-Fiscal keeps getting runouts. (And if you’re paying attention, it’s why Heath Pearce got invites to the past few camps.)

In Klinsmann’s system, Beckerman has been tasked with the loan holding role. He’s not necessarily looking to make the smackdown that Jones did. His job is to divert the attack until help comes.

So far this strategy has worked better for the US as they’ve moved more in unison and eliminated chances. The challenge here comes when the US is not playing a high enough line. To play a higher line, the US centerback pairing needs someone with speed to track wayward, space-making runs by an opposing striker.

Klinsmann's desperate hope to find a CB with both wheels and handles has incorrectly led him to Orozco-Fiscal...

In Game 1, Klinsmann played a higher line against Honduras with Orozco-Fiscal in the RCB role. One problem, Orozco-Fiscal is not a very good technical defender so the US gave up more changes than they should have.

In Game 2, Klinsmann was forced to drop the line slightly with “speedsters” Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra paired. As Beckerman tired at the end of the first half and for a bulk of the second, more chances were found in the highlighted area.

Finally Klinsmann installed Michael Bradley, who despite some more “I’m going to win this ball”-type angles, helped out Beckerman on the defensive side of the ball acting as a complementary holder.

One problem, now with two holders the US now lacked drive up the pitch.

As was written in the Ecuador review, the central midfield–other than Beckerman–will be an area of the field to watch in the November series.

Well that, an of course, what happens with that centerback pairing. The desire for Klinsmann to play with holder and with Carlos Bocanegra entrenched at LCB ahead of the stumlbing Tim Ream is likely why–at this time–you’re not seeing other “like-Onyewu” RCBs brought in. Klinsmann already has enough in Goodson and Onyewu. What Gonzalez and John possess is more of the same. This is also why TSG has argued for a Geoff Cameron call-in at RCB.

The Depth Chart

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

The skinny: Klinsmann has stated that Hamid is his #2. That seems a bit hasty when a player like Sean Johnson is lurking. An interesting justaposition for Johnson and Hamid this past weekend as Johnson’s Fire beat Hamid’s DC United in a critical game. It was Hamid’s backline that broke down at the end of that one.

It is a crime if Sean Johnson doesn’t get a chance to compete for that back-up role.

LFB: (1) Timothy Chandler, (2) Eric Lichaj (inj.)

The skinny: Let me go on record right now and say. I hate Tim Chandler at leftback. I know, I know, I’m speaking to card-carrying members of the “Anybody But Bornstein” club and Chandler’s got skillz.

That said, in every other burgeoning soccer nation, there is always a battle per position. In due time Chandler will more appropriately be moved to the right side.

It’s great he shored up the left side, but it just seems like the US is prolonging a problem with a band-aid.

Why not just keep trotting out different options there–at least for a half? No?

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

The skinny: Carlos is the captain so he gets this role for right now.

Ream made a single mistake but seems to be being groomed for the role.

Brooks can qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Keep waiting here. Nothing’s changed from last depth chart.

RCB: (1) Michael Orozco-Fiscal, (2) Oguchi Onyewu, (3) Clarence Goodson, (4) Heath Pearce

The skinny:  In Klinsmann’s eyes it’s Orozco-Fiscal, Goodson, Onyewu and probably Pearce though he’s been injured.

RFB: (1) Steve Cherundolo, (2) Timmy Chandler

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

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

That’s what I wrote last time and I still feel it has merit.

That said, Cherundolo didn’t has as nearly bad an Ecuador match as has been made out. With Danny Williams learning tactically where he needed to be Cherundolo did his best to cut down an infinite number of angles and only got beat where he should get beat, where a RB is taught to push wingers–as wide right as possible.

Funny that the lone US concession in that match game after Jonathan Spector was playing now-you-see-now-you-don’t-defense at RB….

….which by the way makes Tim Ream’s ultimate mistake all the more glaring. He knew that Spector was getting beaten up and should have expected either a cross or an oncoming attacker–both which would have put him between his man and the ball.


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

The skinny: Despite being perhaps an unpopular choice (not here), Beckerman owns this spot currently. Edu will battle with Michael Bradley and others for the other CM spot.

CAM-Hub: (1) Fabian Johnson, (2) Danny Williams, (3) Maurice Edu (4) Michael Bradley

The skinny: Probably the most difficult depth chart to predict. Reading between the lines in the Ecuador game where the US struggled in the central midfield, you had Klinsmann praising the work of Beckerman and lamenting the absence of Johnson.

Where does Johnson fit? I don’t have many observations of him save a single game and multiple You Tube clips. What I see if a very attacking player who stil has some stick.

Edu is second and for now Michael Bradley–who still needs to accept the new complementary role–is third. Bradley has to think to be more attacking if he wants to climb up the chart.

(Injured candidates for this role include Jose Torres & Stu Holden)

LW: (1) Brek Shea, (2) DaMarcus Beasley

The skinny: The growth of Shea and his hair continues. Beasley is an acceptable if scatter-brained assistant. His defense in the Ecuador match reminded me of a frustrated Ronaldo chasing around Barca players last year in just about every match.

RM: (1) Landon Donovan (2) Williams or Johnson (3) Josh Gatt

The skinny: This is likely Landon’s role here and if watched Dempsey’s action in the past two matches, he really didn’t go deep into the right– that was more Altidore’s role. Williams or Johnson deputizes. I’ve included Josh Gatt if only that multiple folks who I respect say he’s the best US player they’ve seen. He’s broken the, uh, Molde–that was terrible. Either way, Klinsmann loves speed so there you have it.

He's got the FW cottage all to himself...

FW: (1) Clint Dempsey (2)

The skinny: Poor Chris Pontius. This is an ideal role for him. Now he’s gone away with yet another unfortunate injury and DC United’s season is hanging on by some convenience store fishing line. (Funny how that DeRo MVP talk has ebbed.)

No idea after Clint? Landon? Who?

STR: (1) Jozy Altidore, (2) Juan Agudelo, (3) Edson Buddle

The skinny:  Jozy “The Drifter,” “Mr. 2nd Touch” Altidore in at one.

Juan “I shouldn’t be tweeting pictures of private jets when my season is going down the tubes” Agudelo on line two.

Edson Buddle, third? For those curious, Buddle is just a stop-gap as Teal Bunbury would be playing if Klinsmann thought he were ready.

79 responses to this post.

  1. For anyone who still needs to be introduced to Josh Gatt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7amYArEdQM&feature=related.

    Look out, world.


  2. Posted by Drew on 2011/10/19 at 10:17 AM

    Where do you see Joe Corona if he accepts a US call-up?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/19 at 10:19 AM

      Don’t have enough observations of him to make a call on that.

      I think he’s developmental, much like Agudelo right now. So in camp, but probably not starting. But again, I haven’t witnessed enough of his game–I’m going mostly on reports from Jeff Carlisle and others.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/19 at 10:19 AM

      But–since I’m not sure I answered your question-I’d imagine he’s an understudy to the Donovan role.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/10/19 at 11:24 AM

        He says he’s been playing the #10 role at Tijuana recently.


        • Posted by Union on 2011/10/19 at 11:30 AM

          Rumor is that Corona probably isn’t good enough for the senior squad right now. Or that is what I’ve read. At the same time, if Agudelo is being called up, Corona is probably deserving.

          Also, per Brian Sciaretta’s twitter, reports are coming out of the Eredivisie that AZ’s coach is not happy with Altidore and he is consequently being replaced in the starting XI


          • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/19 at 1:06 PM

            I’d call up Corona as soon as he can play for the US (is he a guy that has to do a one time switch deal or is he good to go?) just so that he’s tied that much more (even if it doesn’t actually tie him up). The way I see it with Klinsmann’s system, we can never have too many attacking players.

            Only a matter of time with Jozy before he played his way out of the starting 11. All the reports I’ve heard since he stopped his scoring binge are that his poor touch doesn’t fit in with the style that AZ tries to play.


  3. Posted by Union on 2011/10/19 at 11:14 AM

    Big fan of this post Matt. Agree with just about everything. Especially happy to see someone finally making the point that I’ve been making for awhile: Fabian Johnson will be a starter so long as Jurgen is the coach and Holden is out injured. Hell, I’d even make the argument that Danny Williams will be starting (in the Beckerman role).

    Honestly, I think if WC qualifying startered tomorrow, the full strength squad would be.

    D: Dolo, Gooch, Boca, Chandler

    CDM: Danny Williams
    CAM: Fabian Johnson
    LW: Brek Shea
    RW: Landon Donovan
    F1: Dempsey
    F2: Jozy

    And BTW, I really like that lineup. Not a single person in there that can’t play at the same tempo as everyone else.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/19 at 1:27 PM

      I would be pretty happy if Johnson and Williams are both able to come in and take over in central midfield. I do think MB90 will get his shot as the CDM if he continues to progress in Italy.

      I think we’ll see Chandler slowly start taking that role from Dolo in the next 2 years depending on Lichaj’s injuries/development away from Villa. Lichaj’s done very well in that role for the USMNT.


  4. Posted by dth on 2011/10/19 at 11:28 AM

    Time for me to insert raw Josh Gatt is raw disclaimer? Yeah, it’s time.

    Love Josh Gatt. Supreme aggression that will remind you of Clint Dempsey. Dude just loves to try and kill you. He’s got some skill….but he’s really raw. Raw on defense, raw on linking up, raw (especially) with shooting the ball. It’s going to take some time, but I think we’ll really like what we see. Especially since he’s being taught by Ole Gunnar for a team that’s cruising for its first Tippeligaen title. How many Americans are important contributors for title-winning squads aged 20 and below? Not too many.

    Re: Porter. Love the rumor. I believe I may have suggested this somewhere else, but I think it fits. As a college coach, he doesn’t have much to do anyway, so it’s not as if we’re asking some guy to leave his job (or, worse, is jobless). He plays the right way. He’s someone you can definitely envision as the head honcho in the future.

    Developing coaches is just as important as developing players. (Or, more accurately: the one and the other aren’t separate.)


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/19 at 1:29 PM

      Shhhh, you’re not allowed to rain on the parade of American soccer fans when it comes to a young player in Europe especially when he has youtube highlight reels like Gatt.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/10/19 at 4:02 PM

        Yeah, I feel like this is a Brek Shea thing waiting to happen. This time last year people were talking all sorts of stuff about Brek Shea….now, of course, you won’t hear a negative word about the guy. If Gatt’s debut is sputtering, it won’t be because of Shea’s tentativeness issues…it’ll be because he runs down blind alleys, etc.


    • Posted by Alex on 2011/10/19 at 1:46 PM

      Caleb Porter is one of my coaching idols. I watch Akron and I always come away impressed. I watch most other college units and I’m just bored. He just knows the game and wants it played his way, and to do that with a team that has so few returning members, is very impressive.


  5. Posted by John on 2011/10/19 at 12:00 PM

    It has to be said that Jozy some times reminds me of Jackie Moon when he is out there playing….

    “I’m going Rover, Coach!”

    No Jozy! Just run the play!

    “I’m just going Rover!”


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/19 at 12:19 PM

      I watch the Ajax game and I was not impressed with Altidore.

      He didn’t hustle–he just camped out up top. When he did decide to hustle there was a lot of effort, just too far and infrequent.

      His 1st touch–that game–was awful.

      But before drawing the conclusions it seems that the technical director and coach have been at odds over Altidore since his signing.


      • Posted by John on 2011/10/19 at 12:27 PM


        “didn’t hustle–he just camped out up top. When he did decide to hustle there was a lot of effort, just too far and infrequent.
        His 1st touch–that game–was awful.”

        Sums up 85 to 90% of the games I have watched him play, USA or Club.


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/10/19 at 4:02 PM

        Glad I’m not the only one that noticed how hirrible his touch. He was having a very hard time trapping the ball. Its like he wasnt focused or something because against Ecuador he was money


      • Posted by crow on 2011/10/20 at 8:35 AM

        The Ajax game was very disappointing after the progress Jozy seemed to be making. Can’t someone at Ajax just drill him on his first touch.


  6. I think Klinsmann is less interested in a “Best-11” than finding options for various opponents.

    To whit: The right center back will sometimes be Orozco-Fiscal, sometimes Gooch, depending on what Klinsmann’s looking for from his backline for that specific opponent. If crosses are coming in, we’ll see Gooch. If it’s interplay and attempts to play balls in behind, we’ll see Orozco-Fiscal.

    As for our left center back, Boca looks to me to be stumbling into one of his poorer runs of form after a good spell at the top of his game. I think the chances we see Orozco-Onyewu pairing at some point soon are quite good. Onyewu’s last match definitely impressed, and his physical attributes and aerial ability are greater than Boca’s right now.

    That said, I’m not sure if Orozco plays against UEFA opposition. I expect Klinsmann to be realistic and look for the better possession game a higher defensive line aids more against lesser opposition.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/19 at 12:18 PM

      Wholly possible here, but also begs the question: Are you preparing for WCQ or the World Cup? and when does that change?

      You think Orozco-Fiscal is called in for November? I would think so.

      I’ll go on record as I think swapping out CBs and not developing a pair is a poor idea, though JK seems hamstrung with his current options right now.

      I also imagine–if healthy–Heath Pearce gets a runout there.


      • I think Klinsmann sees Orozco-Fiscal as a player capable of bridging the gap to the level of his team-mates. From what I’ve seen of him during the US games, he’s really not the terrible defender he’s been made out to be. Ok, he was terrible in MLS. Look at an MLS match. Look at the lad. Hardly a surprise he would struggle.

        From what I see, his positioning is solid. He seems to deal fairly well with the trickier players that give Goodson/Boca/Onyewu fits when they get past a full backs/holding midfielders (which isn’t happening with the same frequency these days). He sweeps up well behind a bigger center back. He tracks runs in a way that allows the other CB to be more aggressive stepping out to pressure creative players in space between the lines. He’s composed on the ball and passes well. He’s not Jay DeMerit – he contains and slows down the opponents and limits attacking options instead of diving in with challenges. He’s not the usual big, tall guy that’ll win every ball in the air. But that’s sometimes less important now that we actually have fullbacks that can defend.

        So he got beat by Carlos Costly in the third minute against Costa Rica. He did the smart thing with the foul and then adjusted so it didn’t happen again. He’s not played at this level before and he’s coped with it well. Hopefully it’ll help him grow into a better player.

        But let’s put this in numbers – Orozco-Fiscal was on the pitch for both goals scored so far during the Klinsmann era. For reasons previously expressed, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. He’s also been on the pitch for two of the goals conceded. So:

        2 goals conceded in 225 minutes vs 4 in 450 minutes for the entire team.

        Doesn’t exactly suggest he’s a defensive liability on a team that’s managed to really tighten up at the back at the same time that he was introduced to the team, does it?

        In 2014, Onyewu will be 32 and Bocanegra will be 35. That’s not the likeliest centerback pairing in Brazil. Boca’s purpose is to contribute continuity of on-field leadership for Klinsmann right now. Onyewu is finally playing again and is more a possibility if he stay healthy. Orozco-Fiscal looks like will have a shot to be there in qualifying and make a spot his own when his talents are needed. There are obviously other possible guys coming up and I’m sure we’ll see them when Klinsmann thinks they’re a good option.

        Finally, I think having multiple center back pairings that are experienced playing together at the international level is better than having one pairing, especially in the long road to qualification, given suspensions and injuries. Tournaments are a slightly different story. It’s having a pairing that has never played together that’s the real problem.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/10/19 at 2:17 PM

      I agree with your horses-for-courses sentiment. Not sure I agree with this applying to the back-5.

      But I think we can all agree that Klinsmann has an aging back line that’s beginning to creak, that needs some restoration.


  7. Posted by Luke S on 2011/10/19 at 12:23 PM

    you really think orozco’s a starter for klinsmann after his last game, followed by not being put in the 18? i sure hope not. also, absurd to say michael bradley could be 4th on the depth chart


    • The problem with Michael Bradley is tactical. No one doubts that he’s one of the best US players. But managers of many national sides have left one of their best players at home over the years because they didn’t fit into their concept of the team.

      In a two-man midfield, Mikey’s tendencies when paired with a holding player make for a very negative central midfield. When he’s paired with a more attacking player, our center backs are very exposed by his occasional lapses.

      He’s been better as part of a midfield three, but doesn’t have the forward drive of an Edu, who despite his many limitations is willing to turn and move up the pitch with the ball. He doesn’t have the passing of a Torres or the passing and defensive commitment of Holden.

      The function within the team of the shuttling role he’s being asked to play is getting the ball from the defensive players, turning and playing it forward to the attacking players. The shuttling player needs to get in positions to receive the ball from the holding player or defenders and turn to play it up the pitch. All three of the other players I’ve mentioned, plus Danny Williams and presumably Fabian Johnson are capable of this.

      For all his talents, Bradley just doesn’t do this key part of the role where he seems to otherwise fit best. At times he’s shown himself unwilling to turn upfield in shocking amounts of space. Hopefully he can grow into this role.


      • I concur with Tuesday here.

        Bradley is an excellent player.

        But offensively, his role on the USMNT was to first maintain possession, second don’t make a poor turnover and third attack.
        In that order.

        If you take a look at the Gold Cup 2011, the USMNT got found out. What did the smart teams, Panama and MExico do?

        The opened up acres of space for Bradley to dribble into knowing full well he is not a creator with the ball at his foot.

        Seriously, watch the tape of Mex and Panama and look at the inviting gaps that were made. They’re apparent for most of both matches.

        In Klinsmann’s offense, the forward pass (under duress or not) is valued more at an 80% clip over taking care of the ball and going backwards at a 97% success rate.

        And this isn’t unique to Klinsmann obviously, many teams play this way, Real Madrid, Manchester United (not Barca though.)

        Defensively, Bradley as destroyer was something that Bob Bradley valued. There are numerous times that Bradley was caught out on attacks because he was too aggressive in his angle or he missed the tackle.

        And–frankly–this isn’t Michael’s fault. He was tasked with too much under his father as coach.

        As you saw in the Ecuador game, Bradley (and Beasley, though he plays on the flank) over-pursued way too often at the risk of losing shape.

        Klinsmann–it would appear thus far–has a defensive mantra of “first containment, then tackle.”

        I believe this is why he values Beckerman so much. Beckerman typically knows when to choose.

        Bradley is an excellent player. He may yet be an excellent player in Kinsmann’s system.

        However his mindset–not his talent–has to change.


        • And oh BTW, I think Bradley should be given at least a runout at RCB under Klinsmann.

          Look at Bradley’s strengths:

          1) His passing, specifically his over-the-top ball in the air
          2) His physical stature
          3) His relentless tackling –better at playing face-up mind you.
          4) His speed
          5) His leadership

          As a fan, would you feel better of a pairing of say Bradley-Boca, Bradley-Gooch or Gonzo or whoever.

          At least worth a shot, no?


          • Posted by dth on 2011/10/19 at 1:28 PM

            It might be interesting, but after that Edu thing I’m wondering whether these quickie conversions are the best. Especially to CB, which is a position that disproportionately rewards experience.

            I think Bradley’s a smarter player than Edu, so maybe the conversion is more seamless…


            • Explain “quickie conversions?”

              Agree on the need for seasoning at CB; this is just wishful thinking on our accord.

              Agree Bradley is a smarter player than Edu, but he needs to change his mindset.

              That Ecuador game was really fascinating for me to watch on replay.

              Bradley was extremely sharp in his passing; it just wasn’t forwarded….and then at one time he was nearly parallel with the backline and those around him had this look on his face of “what’s he doing back here.”

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/10/19 at 3:21 PM

              Was Edu even a quickie conversion or was he more of a “if we are down and need to throw another man into the attack, Edu can defend well enough, we are losing anyways and he might just help us get a goal”

              I felt like Edu and Feilhaber were both the if we are down screw the system and try to get back in it moves.

          • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/19 at 1:39 PM

            I would not feel that comfortable with MB90 as a central defender. One of the weaknesses that was identified in the article (and I think one of MB90’s biggest weaknesses with the US) was that he can take poor angles. As a central defender, the angle that you take to intercept a ball or a player is that much more important because if you blow it there isn’t a line of defenders behind you.

            If my options though are MB90 or Tim Ream then I’ll take MB90 any day of the week.


            • Think of MB90 in that role as, cough, Marvell Wynne. He just needs to stay with the striker. The angles when you are standing up a player are less important.

              This is all tongue-in-cheek. Thank you for everyone raining on my dream today. :>

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/10/19 at 2:12 PM

              I tend to agree. When you look at Bradley’s strengths that Matt list above, apart from tackling, I don’t see these as important primary attributes for a centre back. What about positioning and marking? Or jumping from a standing position [rather than getting the run up that offensive players get]? Then there’s timing, reading and anticipation.

              Happy to be proved wrong, but don’t see it ever happening to be perfectly honest.

              And re. the over the top pass, isn’t that missing the point when playing this formation with the 3 [or 2 + 1] in the middle. Sort of begs for the shorter passing / possession style, no?

              I think *if* he gets into the starting XI, it will be as one of the holding midfielders – it certainly won’t be as one of the offensive four.

          • Let’s hope someone in Italy thinks of it, because such a conversion project can’t take place in the limited amounts of time available to an international manager. Let’s not forget that Edu had played CB at a reasonably high level before. I don’t think Bradley has done that.


          • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/10/19 at 3:23 PM

            I love this idea, particularly given the lack of a quick CB option and the trend of CBs going forward (Jones for ManU) late. The going forward late is a MB specialty.


            • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/19 at 3:46 PM

              I think the going forward late was a specialty of MB90. He doesn’t seem to be doing it nearly as well lately either under Bob or Klinsi.

            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/10/19 at 4:55 PM

              Great point. Its been a while since MB put one in on a late crash the box move.

      • Posted by scweeb on 2011/10/19 at 1:09 PM

        Thank you!! Bradley was a beast in his dads system. But he hasn’t come around yet to the new system.
        So question is the new system were bradley who is a really good player but isn’t involved yet better then the JK era were i think more of are offensive players are fitting better.


        • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/10/19 at 7:03 PM

          Well we have forgotten an important element here. Bradley serves better FKs and CKs than anybody else on the Nats. Donovan is garbage.

          Obviously he’s not perfect, but I think he brings too much to the table not to start him.


        • Posted by ex_sweeper on 2011/10/20 at 8:43 AM

          Agree! In Chievo’s game with Juventus last weekend, Bradley took all the free kicks and they were on the money. Beasley and Cherundolo are good corner-kick takers. Donovan’s free kicks have been embarrassingly bad for the US the past few games — most don’t even make it over the first line of defense.


          • Posted by Arisrules on 2011/10/20 at 11:18 AM

            The problem with Donovan is that he is very inconsistent. He’ll serve up a good ball or a good FK every now and then, but for the vast majority, they are woeful.

            I also think people underestimate what Bradley adds to the offense. He has a ridiculous amount of goals, from lining up in a primarily defensive slot. He has also scored a lot of big goals for the nats. His biggest contribution for me has been very smart outlet passes that have triggered many big goals. He just knows the game better than anybody in CM we have right now.

            To me he has always been a gamer and a battler. Sometimes you need guys like that.

            All I know is that if I am in a war, I want Bradley on my side. I know he will never quit. The Nats are in that positoin, and Klinsmann should stop kidding himself wiht his nonsense about style and what not. He needs to get the team ready to play the style we all know is coming: which is the same one we have been playing for 20 years. We are going to play defensive. We are going to try to pick up goals on the counter and on set pieces. We need to be disciplined.

            For all of Bob Bradley’s inadequacies, his tournament success makes him the most successful coach in US history by a long shot. He made so many finals in meaningful competitions, and advanced far many other times. My view has always been that a healthy Davies and Oneywu at the WC definitely would have gotten us past Ghana, and then who knows after that.


          • Replace “few games” with “the last twelve months” and you’re dead on the money. I don’t think we’ve converted one of his set pieces since the WC.


  8. Posted by Tony on 2011/10/19 at 1:25 PM

    Very good observation re: Bunbury. I wonder if it’s related to Bunbury not being technically ready or does he remind Klinnsman of Youri Djorkaeff. For those who pay attention to how often Klinnsman talked about Wenger patiently-or not so patiently- brought Djorkaeff along at Monaco. Bunbury might be that player that frustrates Klinsmann with the talent that he has, but hasn’t gotten “it” yet.


  9. Posted by amh on 2011/10/19 at 1:26 PM

    I assumed Klinsmann had his eye on Fabian Johnson for left back, moving Chandler to the right.


    • Hi Amh — I think having Chandler there signals that he’s the present, at least for now.

      From everything I’ve seen of Fabian Johnson he’s much more an advancing central mid rather than a LB.

      He played at LB in his youth, but I’m not sure he starts out there with the States.

      (Note: We had Johnson at LB in our September Depth Chart before doing some homework.)

      It’s possible though.


      • Posted by Union on 2011/10/19 at 1:49 PM

        0 chance, IMO, that Jurgen uses Fabian Johnson as a left back. Attacking player all the way.

        And I agree with Matt and Tuesday’s comments on Bradley. Some vastly overrate the guy, some vastly underrate the guy, I’m somewhere in the middle. But I just don’t see, with all of his negative passes, how he is a fit for Jurgen’s system before the 60 minute mark. I’m glad TSG has caught on to this. Most other soccer prognosticators (cough….Ives…cough) have not.


        • Posted by Excellency on 2011/10/20 at 3:19 AM

          i watched Chievo/Juventus last Sunday. Bradley had one surprise run down the right wing and crossed into the box with a nice pass.

          His short ground game should improve with playing time in Serie A


  10. Posted by John on 2011/10/19 at 1:31 PM

    Incidentally these posts are my favorite to look back on in two and a half years… You never fully know what is going to happen in a WCQ cycle.


  11. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/10/19 at 1:34 PM

    yet people want to put fabian johnson, who is currently injured , ahead of both stuart holden and michael bradley. does that really make any bit of sense? of course we are being told that fabian johnson is better than jermaine jones.


    • I agree that Fabian Johnson was a gambit. As the post notes, neither Jose Torres, who is obviously way up the depth chart, or Stu Holden were included for injury reasons.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/10/19 at 2:49 PM

        yeah, thats fair enough, im just over the past couple years seeing these guys like jones and now more players coming into the fold and it sounds like they are being gifted spots. to me, that is an alarming trend. time will tell. really, usa should be looking at the 3-5-2. we have to see this formation soon, it only makes sense. boca, gooch, and chandler or marvell wynne on the back line, preferably the hungry beast.


  12. Posted by Alex on 2011/10/19 at 1:40 PM

    One thing regarding your comments about the Turkey friendly during WC send-off time, I could’ve sworn that Donovan was on the right wing (or strong side wing). And Feilhaber was on the left. For the first half. And we were having a problem because Feilhaber was too central and too deep as a left mid left winger that we couldn’t easily switch the point of attack. That changed in the 2nd half when Torres came on as a passing mid, Clint moved to LW, and Findley became that speed forward stretching the play. Thats how I remember it at least.


    • You are correct.

      Feilhaber was on the left and then flipped with Donovan as he wasn’t a threat. You are correct. They flipped after 0 minutes or so.

      The 2nd half the US played a little more suck-and-counter and thus Findley’s speed proved vital.


  13. The rumor of Caleb Porter as USA Olympic coach has me as excited to see our Olympic team as I am to watch the USMNT friendlies. He is an amazing coach and clearly knows how to work with and develop young players from his success at Akron. The more we can get him involved with the National team set-up the better off we are.


  14. Posted by WatertownMA on 2011/10/19 at 3:11 PM

    What about Adu behind Donovan on depth chart and Holden behind Dempsey? I’m interest to hear your thoughts.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/10/19 at 3:28 PM

      Holden isn’t really a scorer. Holden needs to be in the hub role as he has a great blend of passing and defense. Moving him higher doesn’t maximize what he has.

      Matt didn’t give Dempsey a back-up but I would have to think it would be Adu and/or Feilhaber. Sort of hard to put people who haven’t been called in yet on the depth chart but…


      • Posted by dth on 2011/10/19 at 4:05 PM

        Correct. Every time I see the words “creative” and “Holden” in close proximity I bang my head against the wall. He’s not creative in that way, guys!

        Our lives as US fans would be much saner if we didn’t build up unrealistic expectations.


        • Blame FIFA. The game lists him as a CAM – at least, it did in 11. I haven’t picked up the new one yet so I don’t know where he falls in that one.


  15. Posted by DougS on 2011/10/19 at 9:48 PM

    I take issue with two of the comments re: Bradley — one that is not a creator of offense. When tasks with that role, he is frequently making tight passes under or over that break out a play. I’m not one of you that can cite to specific instances from my memory, but I have many memories of him doing that.

    Second, that he fits only a possessor role and is too negative. Bradley sees the game better than anyone currently on the team (can’t judge Fabian as right now he is just an amazingly-hyped player who has played nay a minute in the red, white and blue). IF, he is asked by the coach to play a role, I suspect he does that and does it well. Therefore, when he was playing it negatively in the Ecuador game, I suspect it was because Klinsmann told him that he wanted him to slow it down and maintain possession. He was giving him instructions on the sideline before he went in after all. Do you really think Bradley was just nodding his head and then went in and said, “forget that coach, I know better?”

    I think Bradley works into the system in the way he is asked. Coaches see that he has amazing endurance and work rate and is very delicate with his touch. Therefore, they frequently demand that he play defense and possession first. When a coach gives him the freedom to move forward to support the attack, he does that as well, as he proved at Herenveen .

    I just don’t think it is fair to describe him as one-dimensional or as having an inflexible mind-set that has yet to catch on to Klinsmann’s genius. That just doesn’t fit what I have seen of him.

    also, re: Beasley — Matt, you have a flare with words, but sometimes I think you are willing to oversimplify a player or their play in order to be clever. Beasley’s strength is his harassing defense and he is far better than Shea in that respect. If you want to criticize him, do it for his inability to take much of a shot.


    • On Beasley — yes poor shooting, but no coach wants you pinballing between one player than another with a ball like you are wreaking havoc.


    • I also think given Bradley’s talent, that if he already had adopted Klinsmann’s system and been what Klinsmann wanted he’d be starting.

      It’s that simple.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/10/19 at 10:49 PM

        “its that simple” that resolves it. “if” junior grasps the system, will his starting every game be that simple also?


      • Posted by Excellency on 2011/10/20 at 3:52 AM

        “….if he’d adopted Klinsi’s style he’d be starting…..”

        When Klinsmann took over he encouraged everybody to get involved with the creation of the USA’s style of play under his tenure.

        The actual talk, however, since his takeover, has been about re-doing the entire USA style from K-12 in a regimented fashion where everybody works hard and the season is 367 days a year and everybody plays the same formation which I think is 4-3-3.

        I don’t know what to make of it all. Is the Olympics coach going to be picked on the basis of his accommodation to Klinsmann’s style of play or on the basis of what new things he can bring to the game for USA?

        As for Bradley, if Donovan isn’t playing in the november friendlies, I could see trying Bradley at right mid where Williams was playing against Honduras/Ecuador.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/10/20 at 4:35 AM

          I hope we don’t see Bradley at RM as he has a tendency to drift centrally and sit deep. The US formation needs a RB that can stay wide and get forward like Shea does on the left (see when he came in against Ecuador).

          I also agree with Matt. In my mind MB is a much better player than Beckerman.


          • Posted by Excellency on 2011/10/20 at 9:38 AM

            Well, we expect to see LD back in that spot (or right wing) eventually. I’d just like to see if/how MBradley would advance the ball. He could be switched mid-game back into central defence as needed. This is assuming LD isn’t available. It’s possible JK has Fabian in mind as sub for LD when needed. I believe Fabian is ambidextrous like Chandler so it’s hard to know what JK has in mind for him, if he actually shows. Right mid will not work out for Williams.


  16. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/10/19 at 11:41 PM

    Eric “the body” Lichaj is where? He and Chandler are your 1 2 choices at both left and right back (depending on how fast you see Dolos star fading). Place Chandler first based on opponent as he is better on both sides of the ball at both positions, slot in Lichaj opposite.


    • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/20 at 4:51 AM

      Are you saying they should be swapped back and forth depending on the opponent’s stronger wingers? We already saw what happens when you move Lichaj back and forth in game so let’s not try that.

      Chandler is the next right back. It’s his position and Lichaj will just have to work on being a left back if he wants time at full back for the US.


      • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/10/20 at 6:34 AM

        Yes I am suggesting that, but not mid game in a tournament final when the swapping player isn’t Chandler and due to an injury. it’s more a conscious decision about which flank will carry the attack.. Both for offensive and defensive reasons. These two guys make it possible to have flexibility there as they are 1 and 2 on the depth chart on left AND right in my opinion.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/20 at 7:08 AM

          I think for defensive stability, it’s best to keep players in set positions unless that lineup isn’t working. I’d rather that Chandler come into national team camp focused on right back (when the time comes that he takes over) and Lichaj (or other player) comes in focused on left back. I think that makes it easier on them and doesn’t require as much work on the training ground because they would begin to build up understanding with the wide midfielder/winger ahead of them and the central defender closest to them.


        • Posted by Jared on 2011/10/20 at 7:09 AM

          I just don’t think there is enough time together in national team camp for that to be worked on without it causing some problems.


  17. […] The Shin Guardian presents Jurgen Klinsmann’s depth chart, the October 2011 edition. […]


  18. Posted by Micky on 2011/10/20 at 7:09 AM

    This s/b labeded “Lack of Depth Chart”. If you pick-up any of USMNT rosters from now until just before WC 2014 qualifying (which by the way starts next year) — I can’t see us seriously competing. We don’t have the talent. Klinsmann said we need 10 Donovans. We only have one . . . and he will be on downside of age curve by 2014. I don’t see any Donovan’s on the horizon. Just more average Joes.

    Good to be a USMNT fan, but keep it in perspective please. Our neighbor to the south is doing quite well and I expect them to get to semi finals. Agree with other posts that 2018 is more realistic for USMNT. Starts with getting more players to Europe and better youth identification starting around U13 – U15.


  19. Posted by crow on 2011/10/20 at 8:46 AM

    Can’t wait for the Olympics or even details about the qualifying. Attending the qualifiers in 2000 in Hershey, PA is what got me really interested in soccer. I have a feeling that the Olympic team is going to make a run much like the US Hockey team did.

    I’m torn about Chandler at LB. He is not as explosive on that side and his excellent crossing is lost, but he shutdown Hazard and Valencia and he has a good rapport with Shea.


  20. Matt, something to consider down the road – if and when the time comes to replace Landon in the lineup, do we bump Lichaj/Chandler forward to right mid if Gatt isn’t ready yet?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/10/20 at 11:46 AM

      I think right now it’s a triumvirate of three at the fullbacks – Chandler, Dolo and Lichaj when he is fit.

      Those that are on the fringe are Zach Loyd and Jonathan Spector (pity the US if Spector needs to be used at RB in a critical match going forward.) Up and comer to look at maybe Sean Cunningham of Molde

      As for RM, I think there are plenty of options whether Gatt is ready or not. I don’t think Rogers is a terrible option–though I don’t think he’ll improve what so ever.

      There is Pontius who may be able to play in that role, maybe Adu as well.

      Given Klinsmann desire to really push the fullbacks (he loves that strategy) I think you’ll see quality kept on the corners in the back. I think it’s killing Klinsmann that Castillo wasn’t the answer and that he has to use Chandler there since that completely compromises his strategy on one flank.


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