Jamaica 2, USA 1: The States Now Must Spliff The Difference


Look everyone has a rough day at The Office now and then. (Ouch…)

With Jamaica riding two free kicks to victory Friday night in the Caribbean, it’s up to the USA to author their own Redemption Song Tuesday in Columbus. The arrangement tonight was sour for the States to the tune of a 2-1 loss to the Reggae Boyz who celebrated their country’s national independence by liberating Jamaica from its winless streak against the visitors.

Okay, poor word play out of the way, let’s get to the real punchline.

The US lost on the road in CONCACAF Friday not because they were the inferior team talent-wise, not because they were missing two of their best players (though that certainly contributed) and not even because they made a few poor fouls….

The US lost in Jamaica because Tappa Whitmore outcoached Jurgen Klinsmann. The US coach pretty much turned everything he touched to a dull, scratchy pewter instead of gold.

Let’s me just get the stream of consciousness out in the open:

» Lies, Statistics…and just plain freaking counting!

The US beat Jamaica at the 2011 Gold Cup because they outmanned them in the midfield 5-2 ruthlessly cut up the Jamaican defense.

This time the battle was again in the midfield with Jamaica holding a 4-3 advantage there–for the US Dempsey played more of an advanced role and the Jamaicans had support from three forwards ahead of them instead of one or two.

This may or may not be Rodolph Austin in this picture….

The unheralded Reggae Boy Rodolph Austin ran the show.

You’ve never heard of him because most times the Jamaicans wish they had someone better. Merely a matter of numbers here led to Austin being the night’s symphonic conductor.

Well that and the US’s failure to adjust. Moving on….

» Not-so-deep thoughts on a deep line.

Jamaica adjusted its formation to a 3-4-3.

Meanwhile, the US (vs. France, vs. Mexico, vs. Scotland) authored healthy doses of high pressure injections on opponents over the past year.

This game begged for more high pressure from the States on Jamaica’s weakest ball handlers. Where was the that?

The US decided to play a deep line fearing the speed of Jamaica over the top more than their ability to suffocate Jamaica’s defenders.

How many times did Jamaica win the battle over the top with the States? Just once, an effort that Tim Howard cleaned up (and also paid for).

Now, given that the US didn’t play a tight, high pressure game, it made little sense that the best US organizer at the back, Carlos Bocanegra was left on the bench. Was Klinsmann that fearful of Jamaica’s speed as to drop the line and bench his now-former captain? It makes no sense.

This strategy–to drop the line with a more inexperienced pairing–had three damning effects.

“Does anyone have any idea what we’re supposed to be doing out here now that we’ve scored?”

» » First, it exposed Kyle Beckerman as a lone holder. Beckerman does just fine (see Mexico at the Azteca) when the line is high and he’s funneling into an awaiting Jamison Olave at RSL or Bocanegra for that matter. With time in space, Jamaica exposed the not-the-fleetest-of-feet Beckerman. The centerbacks behind him were slow to step up. Cameron through inexperience; Goodson through, well it’s not quite clear.

Jamaica had more than three open shots from the top of the key, thankfully for the States they were skeet-shooting on the night.

» » Second, it asked Beckerman to do an offensive role that he is neither accustomed to nor is his strong suit. Ball carriage.

Beckerman is best when he circulates the ball simply or makes forward passes under duress. This match gave him acres of space with the States’ deep line. So, hello?

» » Third, it trapped Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones–who were either overburdened or without their roles clearly defined–into keeping an eye on the space around Beckerman,. This dropped both from them from their own marks and, voila, space in the middle of the pitch. Lovely.

Moving on and slowly up the pitch as the States did…

» Clint Dempsey is not a #10. Clint Dempsey is not a #10. And again. Clint Dempsey is not a #10.

“Look, I’m not going to touch that thing unless I can shoot, mkay?”

For over a year now Klinsmann has been trying to smash, squeeze Dempsey into this role as an attacking savant, decrypting opponent’s defense and surgically launching strikes.

He’s from Texas!

Deuce is  about as subtle and nuanced as Jerry Jones was when he announced the plans for the new Cowboys Stadium. Dempsey is a volume shooter and touch guy. He’s not related to David Ferreira, Chris Brunt, Luka Modric or take-your-pick.

My colleague on MLS’s March To The Match podcast Matt Doyle called it aptly in advance of the game:

“Key tonight will be where Dempsey picks up the ball. If he has to drop deep, it’s going to be ugly. If he can stay high… that’s a bingo.”

No new shoes for grandma.

There was Dempsey in the 35th minute–about 10 minutes after the States lost the momentum–with a “Hi! How the hell are you? How’s the weather in Stoke?” to Geoff Cameron.

Sadly enough for the running-gag-that-has-become-Jose Francisco Torres–though he may not have taken the dribbling initiative–this is the one game where Torres could have gotten the ball in space with some time and Klinsmann decided to use him as goalie? Poor joke, any who.

» What movie did Herculez Gomez and Jozy Altidore watch while they waited to play ball?

Our normal disclaimer here on Gomez in that he’s become a friend of TSG (and a writer here for that matter.) That said, Gomez had a good game. He tried to stay within the bounds of what the tactics called for but made himself available linking north up the field and actually created four chances on the night, the first of which of course led to the US’s lone goal.

If it’s not clear that Gomez not only belongs starting, but also should be getting a lot more press, it should be after this one.

Jozy Altidore–perhaps tasked to stay higher up the pitch–did much less than Gomez, but then again he didn’t see the ball until verifying its existence when being subbed out late in the second half.

With the tactical mess that was the USMNT today, the worse part of all this…

» Klinsmann never adjusted his game plan.

Klinsmann is used to goading the team to press up the pitch at all costs against the likes of France and Brazil.

Against Jamaica the team sat, and when Klinsmann subbed, it was predominantly like for like despite deficiencies in the game plan.

Had Klinsmann been wearing a beeper like I bet he did back in the late eighties, I would have texted the phone number to Peter Vermes or Eric Wynalda and begged them to dial at will.

That’s probably the most flummoxing thing of all to fans here; no adjustments. How does that not happen?!!

The simple substitution that changes the complexion of the game? Jozy Altidore for Jose Torres or Graham Zusi. More on that in a bit.

And with the very juvenile double exclamation point we end the stream of consciousness.

More nuanced bulletpoints:

• The US players were not bad; they just weren’t put in a position to succeed.

For 25 minutes the US actually looked decent in a system that didn’t real play to its strengths. The first minute brought about a goal before the first joint was even finished and then for the next 24, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones were active linking with a central Clint Dempsey and Michael Parkurst even got a look at what the Jamaican 18-yard-box looked like up close. (Take a look at the tape, the US defended well up the pitch and combined well–primarily through Michael Parkhurst–down the right.)

Then Jamaica’s numbers in the midfield started to overrun Edu and Jones.

Then Jamaica was controlling the tempo and the possession.

Then the Reggae Boyz were doing work up the pitch and Parkurst and Fabian Johnson–who incredulously spent more time threatening Brazil this year then Jamaica–were pinned back deep as Jamaica, JAMAICA, circulated the ball around the US’s defensive perimeter.

There were few mistakes made today by the players themselves–though the ones that were made, were costly. Jermaine Jones played a poor linking  pass to Maurice Edu (because you know he didn’t have another option in the midfield) and turned it over. Somewhere Ricardo Clark bristled as Kyle Beckerman took a poor foul and Rodolf Austin (“The Great”) stepped up and played 5-hole with Beckerman to pinball it past Tim Howard–who looked like he was either dressed for a Jay-Z white party or Wimbledon … take your pick.

The second mistake was Maurice Edu–who must’ve watched the tape of Tim Ream on Blas Perez in last year’s Gold Cup group stage game against Panama–flailing miserably at Luton Shelton on what looked like an innocuous possession.

Tonya Harding called, Maurice, she wants her cleat back.

A fantastic free kick–to the right of Howard’s leg that had just taken a chop I might add–put Jamaica ahead for the good. Ball game.

Good efforts were had by Geoff Cameron, Michael Parkhurst and the aforementioned Gomez in Yea’Mon.

• Landon Donovan was missed. Michael Bradley was missed and truly needed. Graham Zusi was, in fact, on the bench.

Please fast-forward to the 43:10 time stamp on dial. Kyle Beckerman, in possession, on the right hash mark at the gateway to the attacking third.

There’s a space in the center.

No wait that’s not right.

There’s a plot of land.

There’s a freaking Dallas Cowboys Stadium football field, gaping, beckoning, in the middle of the pitch where a herd of #10 could roam.

I felt his pain.

Like Shawn Kemp at a Planned Parenthood Convention, no one showed up. (Look, it’s late. I’m leaving that one in there. Sue me.)

The US was devoid of creative midfielder the entire game with Dempsey doing his best “well I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night” in the role and Jermaine Jones doing what Jermaine Jones does.

Landon was missed, but mostly, only in the few transition moments.

“Tuesday. Columbus. Does FIFA allow that? No, I won’t wear a shirt with Spector on the back.”

Michael Bradley was missed. Actually, let’s come back to that.

Graham Zusi–even Joe Corona–were sitting on the bench while Jozy Altidore was picking daisies somewhere near Mariappa (probably on direction of Jose Torres but that’s neither here nor there.).  Why in the name of Jonathan Wilson were neither trotted out there?

Look Zusi may not be able to convert his penalty kicks, but he’s one of the best in the game at forcing the defender to either respect the three pointer or concede the drive to the hoop. Jerry Jones was even crying.

Back to Michael Bradley. Bradley was an oh-so-key absentee tonight for two massive reasons.

One, his driver and three-wood game are at their apex–with the midfield crowded out defensively, Altidore in a dangerous position still would have been possible on the fly.

Second, Bradley’s pace of play is probably the fastest–save Dempsey?–of any USMNT player. Merely moving the ball left to right–fast!–would have created a lot more opportunities for the Yanks.

• Flunk the flank

Not much more is really needed here. Jamaica owned the shoulders tonight. Of course, the US didn’t really have anyone out there in available positions, but given the numbering in the midfield. The US’s best attacking option lately has been Fabian Johnson, who really didn’t peak under the hood of the Jamaican defense.

That has to change in round two.

Ok, all this said, I got our preview here almost completely wrong with a ton of misspellings. So everyone has a rough day at the office now and then.

129 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 12:51 AM

    One last question: What possesses Clarence Goodson to think, “you know what I’ve had this ball for a few moments, let’s give it to the yellow guy 5 yards ahead of me who wants to abuse me?”



    • Posted by Alex on 2012/09/08 at 2:05 AM

      I saw that too. Just ridiculous. No pressure on him at all.


    • Posted by euroman on 2012/09/09 at 6:58 AM

      Wow what a silly comment. To say anything about Goodson or Cameron shows a lack of fairness since those two were really the only bright spots on a difficult night. They gave nothing up in the run of play, had no outlets to pass to in a very stationary midfield and to sight one play to caste a negative is just …well silly and not very insightful.


      • Posted by mbw on 2012/09/09 at 9:05 AM

        Good players treat the ball with respect. It’s absolutely fair to point out that Goodson didn’t meet his own standards in that regard. And the fact that he played well defensively is irrelevant here — the original comment didn’t refer to his defensive play.


  2. Posted by Tammyinlalaland on 2012/09/08 at 1:02 AM

    You didn’t rant about the fact that JK has outsourced our national team. We are playing inferior 3rd string at best Germans as opposed to Americans tearing their leagues a la Sacha.

    First of all, if those guys are not good enough for the German national team, then they should not be good enough for the the US team. We need top talent and not rejects from other countries. How can we be ready to be other countries when they cherry picked over our team.

    What’s worse is that we are sacrificing American talent for das booted germans. Sacha, Wando, hell Boca and Lichaj would have helped significantly tonight. where is the development of young us players? why would they choose to play soccer When their are just going to lose their shirts to inferior foreign players


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 5:50 AM

      I disagree that players not good enough for Germany should be excluded from the US. Germany is a top 10 team for decades, we are not. Fabian Johnson wasn’t his usual dynamic attacking self but he’s been one of the better US players since he showed up.

      Here’s a question for you regarding Sacha. What string would he be for the Germans? He wouldn’t even be close to the team. I think he belongs on the US squad and would play him over Edu or Jones in the positions they were in tonight.

      The problem isn’t the outsourcing. It’s the coaching. The tactics are bewildering against all but the best teams.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 5:56 AM

      Are you talking about Bocanegra? He was on the bench and replaced by Goodson. Goodson was born and raised in Virginia.

      How does Wondo help in this game? He would have received the same zero service that American born Jozy Altidore received.

      Are you really going to argue that Lichaj is better than Fabian Johnson?


    • Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 7:52 AM

      Your argument is nonsense especialy because you put Wondo in there. Now iof you had put Chris Pontius name in there I would acknowledge that Pontius needs to be in this team.


      • Posted by Tammyinlalaland on 2012/09/09 at 5:31 AM

        I completely agree on Pontius… Completely agree and Omar Gonzales at the back


      • Posted by cornet76 on 2012/09/10 at 5:54 PM

        Since basket ball seems to be a popular metaphor here, what the team needed was a point guard like Steve Nash.

        Actually, I hear he’s a pretty good soccer player.of course he is Canadian.

        Pontius is a shooting guard. And kind of a raw one at that.


    • This is the SECOND time you have posted highly xenophobic and ignorant comments here. Please reconsider the next time you do so.


      • Posted by Tammyinlalaland on 2012/09/09 at 5:30 AM

        this is the FIRST time that I’ve ever posted here and did so at the direct request of TSG.

        Secondly, you understand that this is a national team and directly dictates nationalism. You grasp that the entire global system is based the belief, “our country v. their country.” You are supposed have foreigners on your team. The concept at is xenophobic under your definition.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/09 at 5:59 AM

          There’s a difference between national teams vs. national team and what you posted. You referred to our players as Germans. They are all Americans by virtue of birth. They are no different than Wondo, Sacha and Lichaj except that they were soccer raised in Germany. Many of them even lived in the US at some point in their lives.


    • Posted by michael on 2012/09/08 at 11:23 PM

      Sasha isn’t exactly “tearing up his league”. In fact he’s not even playing that much so far this season.


  3. Posted by Tammyinlalaland on 2012/09/08 at 1:07 AM

    Please note post above was written at 1:00 AM on my phone. Sorry for the typos


  4. Posted by RNG on 2012/09/08 at 5:19 AM

    The typos aren’t the problem. The xenophobic comments don’t help. No one you mentioned would have made the difference. The author was right above. The issue wasn’t the players, it was the formation. Johnson played well within his scope of duty. Jones and Williams played ok–not brilliantly, but ok. We just had no midfield threat.


    • Posted by B T on 2012/09/08 at 6:15 AM

      I remember seeing a tweet during the game stating if they were any tighter in the midfield the formation would’ve be a 4-1-1-1-1-1-1 and I couldn’t agree more… can’t use holding midfielders if they can’t distribute to anyone… coaching huge issue that needs to be cleaned and in a hurry


  5. Posted by Freegle on 2012/09/08 at 5:24 AM

    Klinsmann screwed the pooch on this right from the beginning. If he was going to set the team up based on his fear of Jamaica’s speed on the wings, the game screamed for Lichaj. He also handicapped his team by not having anyone who can break down a defense… Benny, (gulp) Freddy Adu, or even Sacha (who I dont even rate but could have been successful with the space they offered in the midfield).

    I have been living in fear that Jermiane Jones was going to do something undisciplined to ruin an important match by getting an early red card at an important time. Last night’s match did nothing to allay those fears. I’m not sure he is emotionally equipped to deal with the horrible officiating, pitch conditions, fan environments, and general chippiness of every CONCACAF WCQ match. He will cost us eventually.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 5:52 AM

      Where does the Jermaine Jones that plays for Schalke go when he suits up for the US? We only get the bad half that involves bad tackles and red cards. The actual skill seems to be missing.


  6. Posted by Kyle on 2012/09/08 at 6:34 AM

    Blows my mind that we cannot find one player in the entire United States that is better then Jones, Beckerman or Edu? Between the three they have no vision to make the killer pass. I know Bradley is our man in the middle, but when he’s out someone has to step up. Klinsmann really struggled last night, but so did our players. Jamaica was the better team last night and probably will be again Tuesday. Time to sound the alarms. Imagine if we fail to move out of this round. Soccer in the US would be set back even more. Edu will be out of Stoke by November…


    • interesting about edu, and i kind of agree
      stole either forces him to have a better touch on the ball
      or expsoses that its impossible for him and hes out


      • Posted by cpjuengel on 2012/09/08 at 9:32 AM



      • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 9:49 AM

        Well, it’s not like Stoke has Xavi and Iniesta in midfield. They have a bunch of English journeymen types.

        I still think we should be trying guys like Corona in there. Do we really need 3 holding midfielders that can’t pass? I know that he’s inexperienced but if he’s going to be brought in then he can’t be worse when it comes to making aggressive passes than those 3 last night.


  7. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 7:04 AM

    We have now given up 3 free kick goals in 3 games. 3 free kicks that were direct goals so we aren’t even talking about free kicks thrown into the mixer and something popping out. Obviously the fouls are our fault but to some degree are the goals just bad luck. It feels like 50% of free kicks for 25 yards out have been goals against us. I also feel like a 25 yard free kick goal is a rare event (5% maybe). Any thoughts? This has been eating at me all morning.


    • Posted by cpjuengel on 2012/09/08 at 9:33 AM

      i agree. everyone is saying “they only talk aobut messi’s free kicks like that”\
      and there is a reason for that


  8. Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 8:01 AM

    Just not encouraging all around. I would expect to see some changes going into Columbus i.e. Zusi and Shea starting along with Boca.

    Second- Klinsmann “needs” to call in more attack minded players period after Tuesday. Chris Pontius, Gatt, Eddie Gaven, DeLeon and obviously Donovan and Bradley(who has been more attack minded with Roma.) Hell I wouldn’t even mind seeing Kljestan brought back in. Edu and Jones are just not getting it done. I would like to see more of Danny Williams at CDM. And really I think going forward Bradley and Williams could be the right combo at CM and CDM.

    The U.S. lost because they couldn’t control the midfield or the flow of the game. This is where MB was greatly missed.


    • Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 8:06 AM

      MB is clearly the best CM in the player pool. No doubt about it.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 9:51 AM

      He just needs to play more attack minded players. Shea, Corona and Zusi all could have provided that type of mentality and even some width. I still don’t understand why he didn’t replace Gatt on the roster with a similar type of attacker.


      • Posted by cornet76 on 2012/09/10 at 5:59 PM

        It’s worth remembering that without those set pieces, this is either a bore draw or a dour 1-0 grind it out win.


  9. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 8:14 AM

    Probably a worthwhile discussion at this point: lets split the MFs into three groups (defensive, attacking, wings). I am curious others take but we need to start thinking of the roster as if MF is three positions not one when we look at roster/line-up…

    Defensive: Beckerman, Williams, Edu, Jones, Sasha(?), Bradley(?), Holden
    Attacking: Dempsey, Landon, Feilhaber, Zusi(?), Corona, Torres(?)
    Wing: Shea, Gatt, Pontius, Gyau

    Bradley is probably more of a hybrid “linking” MF than a defensive but given the desire to put him in one or the other defensive seemed like a better fit given his predication to hang back and help the #6.

    The interesting thing here is that we are really really weak on the wings and not as weak as I suspected attacking. Sitting in 3rd in the group I know this is risky to say but I would really like to see a meaningful game where we a 4-4-2 diamong MF of:

    Shea ———-Gatt


    • Posted by Nelson on 2012/09/08 at 8:34 AM

      what about a 4-5-1? Didn’t we learn Dempsey can’t play that linking role in the mid so if we did play a diomand we would need Zusi or even Torres at the top of it.


      • Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 8:48 AM

        Bradley is no longer a CDM. He doesn’t play it for Roma. He is a box to box mid, and needs to play there for the USMNT as well. Torres is not an attacking middie neither.

        I would add: Eddie Gaven, Nick DeLeon to the winger section as well.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 8:49 AM

          The funny thing though is that Bradley wants to be a CDM, it’s his preferred role.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 9:09 AM

          What role exactly does Torres play if its not attacking? He doesn’t play wide and he doesn’t tackle well.


          • Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 9:19 AM

            With the USMNT Torres doesn’t have a role. He has failed at LW, he has failed at CM, and he has failed at CAM. He just doesn’t fit.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/09/08 at 9:47 AM

      I would play one forward and give Dempsey a free role behind, to find the pockets of space and play on the half-turn he does so well. That would also enable you to have another midfielder in the centre and not get over-manned.

      You need 3 points desperately. One has to think Guatemala beats A&B on Tuesday.
      Things just got very interesting. Somewhere, Bob Bradley is probably smirking…


  10. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 8:47 AM

    While I do think that the D-Mid question is legit, I think this game was solely lost on the tactics vs. personnel question. Not just personnel.

    If the US plays a high line against Jamaica *with the personnel out there, they probably win the match. Both fouls came when the US was sitting back.

    If you are going to defend deep, Kyle Beckerman is not your single holder. That makes no sense. And I love Beckerman.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 8:48 AM

      And it’s hard for me to believe an argument that the Jamaicanas are that lethal over the top.

      They never got loose behind the backline (yes the US played deeper so that might ruin the point) but Frank and Belgium are nearly as fast vertically and the US played high pressure just fine versus both.


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 9:14 AM

        Not to be argumentative but I am not sure a high line fixes the issues we saw last night. Yes Beckerman plays better with a high line but there was no offense and no possession with attacking intent. I don’t see how the line fixes that.

        Yes both goals came as a result of the deep line but what was the US’s best created scoring chance? Maybe, Dempsey’s shot that was saved. If you have one or two scoring chances then you deserve to lose.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 9:20 AM

          Fair point. Just think defending with more space and less numbers to your opponent in the midfield makes no sense.

          To your point, if you have two forwards and you’re not going to punt the ball up and over said midfield, what’s the point?


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 9:55 AM

          Well at least theoretically with a high line you should create more chances because you pressure the opposition more. Ideally that would create more turnovers because they oppsition has less space to build an attack. If pressure is applied correctly then there shouldn’t be any time to hit that over the top ball.

          This was the style that I though Klinsmann wanted to bring into the team. He’s backed off it quite a bit and showing this type of respect to Jamaica is way too cautious. We shouldn’t be reacting to Jamaica. They should be reacting to the US.


          • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 10:12 AM

            I 100% agree with the reacting comment.

            Yes the high line and pressure creates more turnovers but the offense can’t be predicated on creating turnovers as the only option. You may get 2 or 3 chances from turnovers at the most per game.


            • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/09/08 at 10:38 AM

              I tend to agree with Matt on Beckerman being exposed by the tatics. Beckerman whom I dont like, is starting to grow on me. I believe with the deep drop, his lack of pace exposed him. His foul was his lame/late attempt to close down. I think edu should’ve been in that role to sweep up balls over the top on a high line since he has the most athleticism and close down speed. Beckerman made his erors but geesh Edu was downright horrendous, couldn’t trap, hold possesion , errant passes, etc. having too many like minded players in the middle of the park, sitting back, being reactive instead of proactive, is a disaster waiting to happen.
              Kind of perplexing as well since it wasn’t gooch or Boca in the back who need cover since they lack speed but Cameron & goodson & johnson, Parkhurst was actually decent, reminded me of Spector when he’s confident.
              I think the personell might not have wrong but the tatic to sit back was, did we play for 1pt instead or 3? too late to insert Shea as well at least Bob would’ve thrown in Feilhaber at half time. Zusi should’ve came in for Edu, and play a higher line of defense.
              We’ll see what happens Tuesday.

  11. Posted by Union on 2012/09/08 at 9:03 AM

    Someone above mentioned that we should have called in Adu. Yep!

    I don’t care that he stinks it up game-in, game-out for the Union. He doesn’t do it for the national team and he kills CONCACAF teams.

    I’m a big JK fan. He knows that for the US to be successful long term that need to completely change their system from the top down. I think he also knows this transition inevitably leads to bad results. The question is: is forcing a system on a group of players who CANT play it, worth not qualifying? Bc that is what it is coming down to.

    Adu is one of those situations where you can’t call him in bc it sets a terrible precedent, but you should call him in bc he brings something to the squad that NO ONE else has.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 9:22 AM

      Freddy Adu deserves to be nowhere near the national team until he proves consistency. You have to do it every game or it’s hard to count on someone for their effort.

      The US already has one player like that in Jozy Altidore.

      Plus Adu plays no defense. If you thought Beckerman was exposed last night….if Adu was in there?


      • Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 9:33 AM

        Meh comaring Beckerman and Adu really. Two totally different players. When you play Adu at CAM you put two players behind him i.e. Bradley and whoever else. Not really saying Adu deserves to be called in, but right now I am open to anything that can help jumpstart the USMNT offense. And lets be clear Adu has abilities that no other player has. This argument that Adu plays no defense is old. I saw play plenty of defense in the Gold Cup and olympic qualifying tournament, and really you wnat Adu out there for his attacking prowess anyways.


        • Posted by Union on 2012/09/08 at 10:05 AM

          I get that Matt, I do. But I think in terms of the national team, Freddy has actually been consistent when given minutes. And like 2tone said – no one in the player pool has his skill set.

          I’ll forever be defensive of Adu bc I drank the kool aid and it tasted so good. But I do think he can help this team.

          Also – I never thought Freddy in the MLS made sense. Its a league that plays a brand of soccer diametrically opposed to the type of soccer Freddy is good at. I get that this is a shitty excuse and is an argument easily taken down, but its my gut feeling.


          • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 10:26 AM

            As a Union fan even I do kind of agree with your sentiment. Freddy plays well when he is interested. He was the best player on the field for the USA at the Gold Cup Final. It is so frustrating to watch him continue to underachieve. The thing is, though, that he underachieved with the Olympic Team as well. Until he starts getting regular minutes anywhere, I think its hard to call him in.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 12:53 PM

          My comment was that Beckerman was exposed with good defenders in front of him because of the game plan. Introducing #Adu’ntit would have made that worse.


        • Posted by Zack G. on 2012/09/09 at 8:47 PM

          Gotta agree with the Adu shouts. He’s our Gio dos Santos.

          Freddy has an incisive, creative edge to him that nobody in the pool has short of Donovan (and Torres and Benny F. on occasion). He can slot a final ball through in a way that makes him invaluable to a squad that, right now, looks rather impotent 30+ yards from goal.

          Of course Matt’s right — the main knocks on him are consistency and a lack of defensive ability… and there’s good reason why he shouldn’t be rewarded for those things, especially with Klinsmann placing so much importance on his depth chart scheme (i.e. if you don’t do it on a consistent basis for your club, you don’t get a squad number. Period). That being said, I don’t see a reason to not incorporate him in the group. Even if you don’t gamble and start him, he’s a wonderful option to have off the bench. Put him in the 18 and you’ll be glad to have him around. No downside to giving him another look… but I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon because of JK’s stubbornness when it comes to putting in quality performances for your club side.

          I love Klinsmann and I think his system is actually quite astute for building a much better, more battle-tested, battle-ready side in 2014. The loss — and the bumps we’ve had so far in WCQ — remind me a lot of his early struggles managing Germany… the thing is, they never had to qualify for anything. We do. So, it’s got to be a focus on here and now just as much as there and then.

          For that reason, I think you need to look at the practical reality of the Freddy situation like Mexico had to look at Gio a few years back. He’s a player who can make an impact in the right situations — and while he might hurt you defensively or lose the ball more than he should, or not play enough quality minutes for his club side, he still offers something nobody else has. That’s very important — and Klinsmann of all people should be able to understand that with the way he used players like David Odonkor and, to a lesser extent, Mike Hanke in 2006. We’ve got some gems in our player pool that aren’t being used right now because maybe on a depth chart, they’re not the 7th or 8th best all-around midfielder… but they provide a certain tactical je ne sais quoi. I’m confident those are the kinds of players that sneak into the 23 in tournaments — the impact players and those who can offer something unique (the Trevor Sinclair pick in 2002, or… a bit closer to home… the Beasley selection last time around). I’m of the mind that we should be getting these players involved NOW — and this ‘depth chart’ nonsense is really what’s keeping them from ever getting meaningful minutes with the Nats.

          As I said before, I like Klinsi… and I think a ‘depth chart’ is a great tool for the two years between a World Cup and the next qualifying cycle — and even in the months after the draw — but you can’t determine your sides just purely based on a system like that when you’re in a competitive atmosphere.

          I’m of the mind that a BIG reason why we started 3 defensively-minded midfielders and had such dire shape was because Klinsmann is a man manager and not enough of a tactics guy (the age ol’ JK-Jogi argument). And that meant that he went with his most ‘in form’ lineup, rather than the RIGHT one… which is a problem for all the reasons Matt listed.

          If the Jamaica game snaps him out of that mindset, then it was worth it. Let’s not forget that if those two free kicks don’t go in, we’d probably be saying that it was a “good, gritty, grind-it-out win”… when, in reality, we would be wrong. Because it was awful. And, in some ways, while I’m bummed we lost, it may be a long-term boost that the score reflected that.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/09 at 8:56 PM

            Fantastic comment. Then I looked who wrote it and I should have expected it.


            • Posted by Zack G. on 2012/09/10 at 5:14 AM

              Cheers, buddy. Goes without saying, but there’s not soccer site on the planet — US or elsewhere — that has such consistent, concentrated quality. Always wonderful articles and always intelligent, respectful discourse from the members of the community to match. Just remarkable. Kudos — you built that.

            • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/09/10 at 7:05 AM

              you two might want to get a room there….

              great work Matt.

  12. Posted by wixson on 2012/09/08 at 9:05 AM

    Brek Shea. In my opinion, it was a dreadful 20 minutes for him. 3 beers and a shoddy TV feed showed about 7 possessions with 6 of them direct giveaways. 1 was nice drive to touchline and cross, the rest were embarrassing at best. He’s dreadful, and shame on JK for calling him, dressing him, and playing him. He’s just not good enough.

    Ok, I feel better now.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 9:21 AM

      Disagree. Shea at least tried to take people on. He had a few crosses. Admittedly I’m a Shea fan, so this commentary could be colored.

      Just not sure besides an advanced Fabian Johnson and the Gatt-we-are-still-waiting-on who’s better.


      • Posted by Union on 2012/09/08 at 10:13 AM

        Yea you need Shea in the game, he’s the only player (gasp) in the pool that gives width unless Fabian is bumped up to MF (which might happen sooner than later).


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 10:24 AM

        There is nobody better and Shea needs to get out of MLS and start growing his game again. He was terrible last night- I was glad to see him come into the game but it was pathetic how he was being pushed off the ball/losing the ball so easily. The US desperately needed him last night and he didn’t deliver.


        • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/09/09 at 8:52 AM

          Seems the MLS was fine last month when Shea played Mexico.
          If anything, we need more USMNT’s in the MLS rather than in Germany.


          • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/09 at 9:03 AM

            No, Shea has needed to get out of MLS and/or the dysfunctional situation in Dallas in particular that has been stunting this growth for quite some time.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 10:14 AM

      Shea is not great but he does bring something that we desparately need. When he was in the offense at least had promise. He tried to attack, tried to get to the line and center. Before he entered I honestly couldn’t tell you what we were trying to do offensively.


  13. Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 9:27 AM

    Your rant is unjustified. There was “no’ attacking balnce for the USMNT when Shea came on. There was “no” attacking player on the right side that took attention away from Shea. It’s hard to be succeesful when Jamaica doubled and triple teamed Shea last night. Johnson never overlapped when Shea came in which would have opened up more space for Shea to operate. To single out Shea just shows your bias towards him.


    • Posted by wixson on 2012/09/08 at 10:16 AM

      Did I log into The Shea Guardian.. (Pats self on back).


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/08 at 12:56 PM

      Actually your comment is off
      The US has often played an unbalanced formation under Klinsmann and been successful. Bob Bradley did that too with success when Boca was used as a left back.

      There doesn’t need be easy west symmetry on the pitch, just an understanding of complementing roles


  14. Well, TSG summarized quite neatly the key points in the above article. So now all that’s left is to make prescriptions:

    1) We were flat-out bossed in midfield. The Jamaican midfielders aren’t exactly world-beaters. But this is what happens when you play three DMs at once, none of whom are very adept at moving the ball forward and all of whom are content at sitting back and conceding ground. It may rankle some to hear this, but we need Torres in central midfield. Not as an attacking midfielder or left midfielder (the positions in which he’s failed). But as a pure CM, his natural position, where he can dictate tempo and make the touch passes. It’s when Torres is forced to play higher-up the pitch that he runs into problems. Let him sit in the middle of the park and do his job. Torres replaces Edu.

    2) Zero play down the wings. This has been a recurring problem under Klinsmann (as part and parcel of his insistence on playing three DMs). We’ve been able to mask this problem somewhat through runs up-the-flank by Johnson and Cherundolo/Parkhurst. But they couldn’t get forward yesterday. As a result, there was zero linkage play on the outside. I’m not completely sold on starting Shea at this point. I think it’s time to play Spector at left-back (gasp! though he’s much better than y’all give him credit for) and move Johnson up to left-midfield (credit goes to Brian Sciaretta for that). Gomez has really been great since Klinsmann brought him back to the team and can play in Donovan’s customary role out on the right wing with relative ease. If Dempsey isn’t ready to go, Gomez tucks in behind the striker* and Zusi/Corona comes in to play RW.

    * As a side note, I often get the roles up-top mixed-up. I know Altidore likes to play with a man in front of him. If Gomez and Boyd are playing together, who plays withdrawn, Gomez or Boyd? I always saw Gomez playing the withdrawn role with Boyd holding-up play up-top. Appreciate if someone could clear this up for me.

    3) Though link-up play to the top men was awful last night, I again saw absolutely nothing from Altidore. To his credit, he did track-back into midfield to help on defense at times. But I could tell he wasn’t in it. Not that Boyd looked much better in his limited time, but the latter at least knows how to use his body and fight for the ball. Altidore is still a huge underachiever in this regard. For his great size, Altidore is frustratingly soft. Boyd has impressed in his limited time with the U.S. team and is playing very well for Rapid Vienna. He *should* get the start on Tuesday. I also rate Boyd’s hold-up play much better than Altidore’s at this point.

    4) As a whole, I thought the back four played pretty well last night. I’d like to see Bocanegra back in the line-up though. Goodson performed fine but Boca is this team’s captain, a role which shouldn’t be understated. He’ll be able to sit back and allow Cameron to make some runs forward to link-up with Torres.


    Essentially, a 4-5-1 that plays like a 4-3-3 (with Gomez playing higher and Dempsey making runs in from the left). That gives us one DM (do we really need more than that?) and one CM (Torres) who can distribute more effectively than Jones, Edu, or Beckerman.


    • Posted by Union on 2012/09/08 at 10:16 AM

      I could easily see the above lineup being the one that JK throw out there. The only issue will be if Spector can keep up with the Jamaican wingers, being conceding early goals on the counter-attack would be brutal on Tuesday. But I do like that lineup. The only other issue would be that Torres is incapable of playing defense and if Jones is the CDM, well. There goes the whole “dont concede fouls in dangerous areas” mantra.


      • I hear what you’re saying. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Danny Williams get the start at DM in place of Jones. I think he has a lot to offer now that Klinsmann has decided it’s okay to play him in his natural (and only) position.


      • Posted by Tab on 2012/09/09 at 1:24 PM

        A contrasting view: Torres is capable of playing defense.

        Torres is not going to muscle people off the ball or out run the fastest players. But he can close off lanes, harry, and harass just fine. In fact, he’s had some quite fine games for us (nevermind Pachuca) defensively — based on positional sense.

        To stir the pot a little, the argument that Torres cannot play defense reminds me of an interview Xabi Alonso gave not so long ago.

        Here goes:

        “There is a pause as Alonso reaches, again, the crux of the issue. A single English word he returns to that, unpacked, analysed and investigated, explains much. “I don’t think tackling is a quality,” he says. “It is a recurso, something you have to resort to, not a characteristic of your game. At Liverpool I used to read the matchday programme and you’d read an interview with a lad from the youth team. They’d ask: age, heroes, strong points, etc. He’d reply: ‘Shooting and tackling’. I can’t get into my head that football development would educate tackling as a quality, something to learn, to teach, a characteristic of your play. How can that be a way of seeing the game? I just don’t understand football in those terms. Tackling is a [last] resort, and you will need it, but it isn’t a quality to aspire to, a definition. It’s hard to change because it’s so rooted in the English football culture, but I don’t understand it.”


    • Posted by Owen Coyle on 2012/09/08 at 11:25 AM

      Has it sunk so low that we are injecting the thought of Spector in the starting 11? Wow. Clearly the tactics don’t support the players or is it a case where the players dont support the tactics? Ponder that as you sip 12 year scotch as you watch reruns of the Spain Confederation Cup. That said, whomever is tasked with scouting the Jamaican team and briefing the brain trust as to tactic merging with available player pool has failed so miserably they make the cat that thought the “empty chair “RNC thingie look brilliant, Dos Equis marketing brilliant. “I usually don’t start 3 holding mf, but when I do, we drop three points in a lackluster effort that’s harkens the days of the 1990 WC. Stay yearning my friends!”

      So for clarity, does JK mean Jurgen Klinsmen or just kidding? I was excitred to hear JK was taking the helm of US soccer. Then last night happened and I’m reminded……out managed and the players did not support your tactic nor did the tactic support the players. Please dazzle me on Tuesday…..please. Hooray beer!


      • Again, I don’t believe Spector to be as poor as many make him out to be. His last few performances for the U.S. have been quite good actually. Spector’s not the player you want playing regularly against top competition, but against Jamaica? I wouldn’t mind giving him the start at LB especially if it means we can push Johnson up to LM and get him on the ball more.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/09/08 at 3:01 PM

          Spector against Jamaica scares me quite a bit. His problem has always been pace. He has none which is why playing him at fullback has been tough.


    • Just can’t see Spector getting the starting nod at this point. Maybe that lineup but Johnson at his LB spot and Shea starts


  15. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 11:11 AM

    There probably isn’t much left to be said. I’m just glad I spent so much time and effort trying to find a place to watch this game. I don’t remember a more listless performance by the National Team since the Costa Rica WCQ in 2009 (in Costa Rica).

    Ironically, I thought the first half wasn’t as bad as some were making it out to be- however the 2nd half was completely putrid. Still, if you take away those awful fouls and nice free kicks (I also immediately thought of the 2008 Olympics with the first) we might be talking about how generic/poor the USMNT was instead of reacting like the sky is falling. I didn’t think about the dangerous position the USA was in if they would lose until halftime. I spent the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half begging for a substitution to be made before Jamaica took the lead. I do agree that JK was completely outcoached in this game and the lack of adjustments in the 2nd half was embarrassing. The worrying thing about JK is he seems to have “Freddy Adu Syndrome”. In big games against big teams he brings his ‘A’ game, but in smaller games he seems to lose focus/not have a good game plan for whatever reason. I’ll take comfort in the fact that he looked really, really pissed at the end of the game and hopefully some of that anger is at himself. I saw Sunil on the beIN Sport broadcast at the beginning and he can’t be happy.

    I’ve always been a fan of Beckerman and couldn’t understand the majority’s hate towards him but I think I’ve seen enough. I can see Beckerman wasn’t put in position to succeed, etc, but is he really a guy you want starting at the World Cup? NO. It was refreshing to see Danny Williams actually get to play his natural role- I wouldn’t mind him getting a few run outs to see if he is worthy of starting or not. For years, I’ve been a Maurice Edu apologist/supporter but I’ve about had it with him. Edu has been clearly regressing for a few years now. Rangers actually hurt his career- he probably would have been better off sticking with Toronto FC. I’m really curious to see what kind of playing time he gets at Stoke (especially with Cameron being used in the midfield). I’ve had enough of Jermaine Jones as well but who else is there in the once/supposedly deep midfield pool? Jones at his best for the MNT is never as good as he should be for a player of his ‘caliber’ and at his worst is a dangerous player to have on the field. Can we please take Stuart Holden to a special healing well and pray he can return to his prior form with Bolton? It breaks my heart everytime as a USMNT fan I read a “Whatever you do today, make it count!!!” tweet from Stu. We need you Stu!!!!

    I was surprised at some of the comments about the backline. I thought Cameron and Johnson were fantastic. However, its disappointing that Johnson has not been able to get forward the last few games, and that we are ‘wasting’ his attacking talents by having him in the back. It is so nice to have a dependable defender at LB, though. Cameron has been great and I wish he could get actual CB reps with Stoke. Goodson and Parkhurst were okay but I would like to see others going forward.

    As for the forwards- I know Herc made a nice play to create the goal but you have to pass to a wide open Clint or Jozy instead of taking that shot. Very fortunate the shot fell to Dempsey. Jozy is so frustrating. He wasn’t as bad as some are saying because he didn’t really get a chance to do anything, but after watching some of these Dutch games, I’d really like to see Jozy take ownership and put his stamp on a game. Boyd never really had a chance after coming in either.

    Well, obviously a huge game on Tuesday. Unbelievable to think that a DRAW or loss on Tuesday would mean that the USA would face two must wins just to reach the HEX. Very nervous times- we saw what happened with the Olympic team.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/09/08 at 2:02 PM

      Beckerman is fine in a possession system, but can’t deal with counters due to a lack of athleticism–which means you can’t have guys giving away the ball cheaply in the center of the park. Which means, why in god’s sake would you play him with plays who value the ball as cheaply as Edu and Goodson do?


    • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/09/09 at 11:06 AM

      Great post, Crow. Great points all around.


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/11 at 8:41 AM


        I like to think that participating in the TSG community is helping me become a more observant sports fan in general, and temper my strong emotional/passionate sports background that can sometimes cloud judgment.


  16. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 11:24 AM

    One more thing- I don’t care how ‘easy’ Deuce’s goal was. Has there ever been anyone on the USMNT with more composure in the box than Deuce? I don’t think so. Such a calm shot. I”m wondering if Jozy would have just blasted the same shot over the goal or into a defender.


    • In the air, probably McBride. But with the ball either at his feet or in the middle of a mad scramble, there’s nobody close. I don’t know if the game moves slightly slower for him than the rest of our attack or if his instincts are just stronger for the net, but he’s ice cold.


  17. Posted by TGP on 2012/09/08 at 11:25 AM

    Klinsmann was supposed to bring in more assistant coaches to handle some of the tactical issues that he was weak on. That hasnt happened. Say what you want about Bradley but the guy could really adjust in game. Klinsmann is really starting to scare me with his personnel and tactical choices. His general reforms seem to be moving in a good direction but his actual coaching of the USMNT has been suspect.


    • Posted by 2tone on 2012/09/08 at 11:46 AM

      Thats why a lot of supporters felt that Klinsmann would have been better off as a technical director of the USMNT program, and not the coach.


      • Starting to agree with that sentiment, 2tone. I guess we should have heeded what the Germans were telling us, seems Low was really the one calling the shots tactically for the national team while Klinsmann was there.


        • Posted by CJ on 2012/09/08 at 2:12 PM

          I’m starting to be of the opinion that JK is developing as a coach at the the international level as much as the player pool is. Unfortunately if that is fully true then that’s going to put us in games where JK is flawed, games where the players are flawed, games where both are flawed and games where we shine and it all clicks. I don’t mind stumbling through qualifying if it means the coach and team are firing on all cylinders come the finals. With that said, to achieve that would mean in the next game vs Jamaica we will need to see evidence that JK actually is learning from his mistakes, the players too.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 2:12 PM

      I think there is definitely some truth in your statement. You would almost have to be in complete denial to not acknowledge the fact after last night’s game. However, I think that Bob Bradley certainly made some repeatedly poor/bizarre personnel/tactical decisions at times. So far, Bradley does seem like he was more capable of making practical changes.

      What happens if the US fails to qualify or even after a successful 2014 World Cup? Will a new coach be brought in and Klinsmann sent to an ‘executive’ role?


  18. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/09/08 at 11:53 AM

    Hey lets turn this gloom and doom into something positive. submit your colorful brief description of your summation of the USA’s game vs jamaica.
    ex . I like shitfest but my irish friend’s “shitefest” with his lyrical accent has so much more gravitas.


  19. Very broad observation, based more on the build-up to the game and some comments from those who saw it—as I didn’t see : (

    I think way too much was made of Jamaica’s speed. Like, that somehow having a great sprint team is an uncontainable force. We’ve got good athletes, and sure the backline isn’t moving at hyperspeed, but good positioning, pressing, and awareness can cancel out pure speed in any sport. You see this in the NFL all the time, in which pure speed at WR is not any kind of guarantee of success. Cancel out the runs with anticipation and sides with speed tend to burn themselves down because they lack the ability to create in possession.

    I think Jurgen would possibly argue that, hey, we didn’t get beat in the run of play but rather on set-pieces—fair enough, but to counter, you also anesthetized the offense. He’s shown that he can squeak out 1-0 victories against good overal attacking teams, but using the same tactical approach to teams that are not at the same level runs counter to everything Jurgen has claimed he wants to change with US soccer. We should’ve bossed this team, and done so with more aggression.

    Giving weaker sides respect is tantamount to handing them confidence—a particularly dangerous gesture on the road. You can be aggressive and yet defensively aware of what the trade-offs of doing so are with sound positioning and forcing quick decisions via pressing—it’s not an either/or. That means having a more attack minded mid-fielder in the 3—and perhaps Jurgen thinks Jones can be that guy but it’s clearly not the case. I would prefer Jones, Williams or Edu fighting out for the holding role right now, with perhaps even Torres and Zusi as the advanced central pairing. That’s not ideal and reflects a poor choice of players for this camp, some of it was forced, but really, this was a time to bring Sacha in. Or, a little more conservative would be Edu/Williams, Williams/Jones, or Jones/Edu pairing with Torres playing the role of primary distributor, and Dempsey playing slightly behind and centrally to the two forwards. Or maybe even Dempsey wide right and Shea left, with one up top and Deuce given freedom to drift centrally and Gomez with his work rate moving out wide when necessary (even Altidore who has been successful when playing wide with the ball or balls played wide into space for him to run onto.

    We are playing scared if we throw three defensive minded midfielders into the line-up and that’s the way of the past—a way that continues, however, to creep into the present, and will hopefully be extinguished shortly in the near, pending, future i.e. Tuesday.


  20. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 2:14 PM

    I might be in the minority as I know many oppose on field celebrations, but I did think it was pretty cool seeing how happy the Jamaican fans were.

    I’m so glad that turd of a game wasn’t played vs a team I can’t stand like Mexico, etc.


  21. Posted by Crow on 2012/09/08 at 2:35 PM

    As I think more about the game- as bad as it was attacking wise/creating chances/dictating play- I never felt threatened by Jamaica. It wasn’t like the USMNT under Bradley giving up chances like it was going out of style vs the El Salvadors of the world. If it wasn’t for those two brilliant free kicks Jamaica would not have come close to scoring. It is ironic that JK has made the team more sound defensively, yet possibly less dynamic offensively (which was one of the big promises of this regime) than his predecessor.

    What worries me is this quote from the press sheet:

    On footing the blame for Friday’s loss:
    “You can blame me, no problem. There was no over confidence. There was excitement coming out of Mexico City, but we expected a very difficult match tonight. We watched Jamaica a couple times on tape, we had scouts come down here. They have a good side. They were physical and prepared and hungry. They got back in the game with a free kick and they won the game with another free kick. You don’t even have to talk about tactics. It has nothing to do with whether you play a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 , you lost the game because of two free kicks and that’s what you have to accept and you’ve got to turn it around in a couple of days.”

    JK seems to be very defensive when it comes to tactical matters- probably because the flack he took at Bayern and with the German team. I don’t think the tactical decisions ’caused’ the two goals but they certainly help cause the putrid performance as a whole, and JK doesn’t want to take any responsibility for that (“It has NOTHING to do whether you play a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. You don’t even have to talk about tactics.) Sounds like someone is in denial.


    • It’s a good point you raise. When Jamaica did look threatening, they were either dispossessed by Cameron and Goodson or they skied it over the bar from 30 yards.

      The problem was tactical in the sense that the DM Triumvirate was content conceding the midfield and playing further back, allowing Jamaica to come at them. Jamaica should never have been in the position to take those free kicks. And the speed of the Reggae Boyz down the middle with space to run was too much. Jones and Beckerman especially had some ugly fouls where they were simply too slow to catch-up.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/09/09 at 5:45 AM

      You don’t even have to talk about tactics. It has nothing to do with whether you play a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 , you lost the game because of two free kicks and that’s what you have to accept and you’ve got to turn it around in a couple of days.”

      Well, at least Klinsmann really gets it.


    • Posted by cornet76 on 2012/09/10 at 8:32 PM

      I don’t see JK being defensive about tactics. That particular criticism has followed him since 2006. And from what I have seen he has always been upfront about his staff having more to do with the nuts and bolts of the tactical side while he focuses more on the being the front man and the motivator.
      He is a former high level player who believes the players are more important than the tactics. And this game was lost by errors that might have been committed regardless of the formation used.
      In fact without those two fouls and resultant set pieces, the US might well have won the game with the early goal.
      Jamaica certainly gave no indication that they capable of scoring from open play. So if you look at it from JK’s point of view, the tactics worked but the game was lost on mistakes.


  22. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/09/08 at 3:34 PM

    I assume it’s not for the next game but Jones’ is going to eventually get suspense for yellow card accumulation. No doubt that he will be pickin up his third of this round in Columbus.


  23. I think that 3 Dmids could potentially work (and it has before) if only one of those 3 are Beckerman / Edu / Williams. My ideal combination (if we’ve gotta have 3 destroyers or semi-destroyers) would be Jones and Bradley with one of those three staying more at home. I think with the 3 defensive minded central players, you’ve also got to invert the attacking trio so that your width isn’t stranded up field.

    That being said I think we could have played a better formation for the players we started. If we go with Beckerman and Edu in front of the defense with Jones pushed up, then pushed Dempsey out to one wing and Gomez to the other, I think we could have been much more successful.


    While I don’t think this is really the right place on the field for Jones, Parkhurst, or Gomez, and we clearly have too many DCM on the field, I do think we wouldn’t have looked quite as awful.


    • Posted by su81im3 on 2012/09/08 at 3:51 PM

      BTW this is how it looked like we were lined up for comparison.



  24. So it seems to me that the problem is now abundantly clear: we need to be able to connect our midfield with our strikers. IMO the answer is to play a 4-3-1-2. If you play with two strikers at the top (take your pick of 2 strikers on this mysterious striking depth chart) and put Clint right under them in the hole, all that’s left is who to support them. This allows Clint some freedom to get on the ball and… Be Clint. You want Dempsey near the goal and like noted above Dempsey isn’t the guy who’s going to run your offense. He is not your typical playmaker, but make no mistake about it he makes plays and changes games. Unfortunately he’s not the type of player that makes others around him better. Midfielders with the ability to move the ball with confidence are still needed. Three Defensive midfielders , as good as they may be, will not get the job done on the offensive end.

    Down the road I would like to see Bradley and Donovan in CM. I’m a little skeptical about whether Donovan and Bradley would be able to accept and execute those roles, but if it works it could pay huge dividends.

    Q: Which DM could best shut down opposing attacks and cover the most ground? Someone who can really accept and hone his responsibility of being a pest in midfield.


    • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/09/09 at 9:39 AM

      Sorry Kevin – that was the EXACT formation we played. Two Forwards and Duece underneath them. It didn’t work. Dempsey is a ‘9 1/2’ an Attacker, but not a distributor. He needs to play the point in a 4-5-1 or the Supporting Striker role in a 4-4-2 Else let him make runs off the left wing as he did so often with Fulham.


      • It’s not about formation it was about the players in place and the task given to them. I’m not asking Dempsey to play the role of distributor, I want him to find space and score goals in that slight pocket of space of 2 strikers. Think of it as a 4-3-3 but instead of one striker and two wingers, two strikers and one withdrawn free roam attacker. It would effectively be the same as if you said to play the 4-3-3 with Dempsey-Altidore-Herc across the top. What Dempsey excelled at with Fulham wasn’t necessarily s starting point, it was that he had a nose for goal and made his way to it. Let’s face it we all want Dempsey with the ball in and around the box.


  25. Kevin—I agree on the role of Dempsey. He needs to sit behind the strikers so that he has some space, ideally between the mid-field band and back four, in effect playing advanced and receiving the game in the attacking third and not looking for the ball deeper in the midfield.

    Also, I do want to note that it’s interesting how quickly the “Donovan is washed up” crowd dissipates after a game like this. Just sayin : ).


  26. Also, as to your question, I think D-Will is the guy to be the pest. He has a lot of athleticism and is physical yet skilled enough to fulfill that MF role. Bradley, when there, is the guy who circulates, and my god, Holden if healthy would be ideal. That would be a very capable MF.

    However, in that set-up, it would be critical that the fullbacks get forward for width.


    • I can’t help but disagree with the players mentioned as the ideal defensive midfielder. Ideally you want a younger Jones, Bradley, Rico type. I’m not sure we really have anyone like that right know. Bradley is currently developing his offensive game as a box to box midfielder. Jones’ best days might be behind him, and Rico is barely settling in with his new former club. The only reason Holden capably plays defense is because he’s smart enough and understands the game well enough to be able to recognize that was part of his responsibilities with Bolton. He is in no way a defensive midfielder. You really want Holden to fill one of Bradley/Donovan’s spots in midfield. Maybe if healthy, Donovan-Holden with Bradley behind them.

      We’re at a point where we need to try out new CM’s. Our midfield, while talented, won’t cut it as a collective unit.


      • Kevin—No, I was only referring to Williams as the DMD. I was saying if he played that role and was in a midfield with Bradley and Holden it would be ideal.


  27. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/09 at 6:51 AM

    Rewatched the game last night.

    Even the free kicks may have been preventable.

    On the first, Austin takes a straight ahead approach to the ball. That should signal a power shot, not a bending one. No reason to jump.

    On the second, Shelton takes an extremely slanted run-up. That should signal a bending or curling ball — the wall should jump — perhaps shy from the first experience. They didn’t jump.

    That’s either lack of Boca (usually one guy jumps up and everyone interlocked follows suit or not–it’s why you see walls that are not homogenous across) or lack of coaching.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/09/09 at 8:04 AM

      Very interesting observation.

      That’s all well and good when you know who is taking the free kick, but what about when you don’t?


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/09/09 at 8:15 AM

        I think Matthew was referring to reacting to the run-up itself.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/09/09 at 8:29 AM

          I was talking in general. What happens if they lay the ball off and your wall jumps, just because of a slainted approach? The wall jumps and are out of the game for a few seconds…


          • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/09/09 at 11:11 AM

            I see. Good point.


            • Posted by Paul on 2012/09/09 at 7:57 PM

              George, good thought. Matt’s review of the goals is valid.

              The first goal is a classic free kick blast. Austin, the Jamaican striking the ball, is the only man in yellow within ten yards of the kick; his teammates behind have obviously ceded the shot to him, and other teammates, to his left, are covered by the US. The wall never sets itself–it is moving, creeping forward for a united leap. Clumsy organization, confused execution.

              The second goal applies George’s question: how do you react to two players being in range of the free kick? In the second goal, two Jamaican players look to be possible takers. Sheldon’s angle is slanted; it looks obvious that he is going to try to put it in the near corner. The wall does not completely jump–a player in the center gives a halfhearted leap. A full wall leap does not, unfortunately, stop this excellent shot, the result of a brainless challenge by Edu.

              In both cases, the US is set up to defend against a chip or short pass. All the men are covered. In the second goal, a man is stationed to the right of the wall, to handle a short pass; a man is also stationed to the left of the wall, also to defend against the short pass or a cross into the box. The wall should, to the greatest degree possible, help defend against a shot. More to George’s question, other defenders should be positioned so as to discourage any other options while the wall players are momentarily incapacitated–a contextual matter that is partially resolved by how the attacking players arrange themselves.

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/09 at 9:13 PM

            Good points George. In general though, forcing a pass on a free kick is a smart idea. Two touches (or two non-mistakes) to put in the net.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/09/09 at 9:08 AM

      Ouch… watched that game again. I hope you had some alcohol.

      After giving up 3 important goals on free kicks in front of the box (and all three in games where the opposing team never created any serious chances so there was no need to be nervous and desperate defensively) JK better be threatening to bench anyone who commits a stupid foul like that going forward… or some other kind of deterrent- no more JK power-broker help to European clubs for transfers/trials for the offender, etc.

      Whose responsibility is it to direct the wall- is it the captain or Howard’s or a select member of the D (obviously Howard served as Captain in Jamaica as well)??


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/09/09 at 9:56 AM

        Keeper sets the wall. He needs to set his anchor and you can only do that from the near post … Anchor is usually pre-determined in practice etc. He is the one he usually communicates with the keeper.

        Keeper will also decide how many players to have in the wall, more extreme the angle usually means less bodies in the wall.


        • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/10 at 5:25 AM

          You’re right that it’s usually the keeper (and I think in the case of the US it’s usually Howard as well) but there are instances where a coach will designate another player to set up the wall with the keeper only deciding how many players he wants in it. For example, I’ve seen teams who have a forward come back and stand behind the freekick where the other team’s players are and adust the wall from there. Doing that allows the keeper to organize the rest of the team and to focus on his positioning more.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/09 at 9:16 PM

        Just as a note, set pieces have gotten to so good that GKs these days are setting the wall and then cheating to the spot over the wall. Since the all is typically set for the near post (or nearly always) similarly you’re forcing the ball to travel farther and to be more precise.

        It’s a fascinating trend and I wonder what is next.

        Either way, the US’s set piece defense was horrendous.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/09/10 at 7:28 AM

          Eric – yes, sometimes a forward is used so the keeper isnt out of position too long.

          Matt – Exactly. Unless the free kick is “neutral” it sort of has to be near post otherwise your almost giving the opposition a free shot oh goal or the very least, a much much easier shot on goal. Commentators don’t mention it, but a badly positioned wall can do more harm than good.
          Plus, it is much harder than it looks to get the ball over the wall and under the bar, with pace and direction. Especially to beat a keeper of Howard’s quality.


          • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/10 at 8:55 AM

            I just thought I’d point it out since discussions here seem to branch out so often beyond what the original point was.


  28. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/09 at 9:17 PM

    And *another* point. There’s a single US writer out there is horrible– I won’t name his name, reaching his writing is like listening for hours on end to nails on a chalkboard.

    Anywho, the point was made that the fullbacks needed to get up the pitch Friday.

    Yes and true. HOWEVER.

    Jamaica defended where they had numbers and two wide forwards meant the fullbacks were pinned back if the States–and they proved–could not move through the midfield.


  29. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/09 at 9:20 PM

    And *another* point for fun tonight.

    If you knew this pitch was going to be crappy and you knew that Jamaica was going to press and overload the attack.

    You should have played Terrence Boyd and or you should have played just a single forward and then adjusted. That’s what makes Dempsey so valuable. He can be played as a forward or midfielder.


  30. Posted by Eric on 2012/09/10 at 5:32 AM

    Not sure if this has been brought up yet, but Klinsmann’s roster selection needs to be questioned here, specifically his decision to to bring in a replacement for Gatt. I’m not saying that the roster choices were horrible given the injuries and opponent but why would you not bring in another player to replace an injured Gatt? I mean, why limit your options? The worst case scenario is that you don’t use the player but it doesn’t make sense to limit yourself like that.

    I’m not even talking about Sacha because I don’t think JK would have called him anyways but it would have been nice to see a Pontius or someone at least called in as a replacement. Even Bedoya might have been useful given how non-existant the wing play for the US has been.


  31. Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/10 at 7:12 AM

    My take: A 4-4-2 diamond would make sense for us to play if either of the box to box midfielders could run some possession. Edu and Jones both failed horribly in that sense. Look back at Slovenia in November of 2011. A lot of the same pieces in the USA team in the same formation but with MB90 and Johnson at the sides of the diamond and it worked great. Edu continues to have a heavy touch and poor close ball control. Jones just is too reckless with the ball and in tackles.

    As a note: I love all the attention to Clint being in a transfer saga, but what about Edu? The only game he played since the “5-game tournament” was against Mexico, as a center-back. With his low level of touch normally, I can only imagine not playing a lot would make that worse.

    For the next game:
    We need some wing play. Given what is on the roster I would Start Shea to fill that need. Given Shea likes to occupy the left wing, we need a right wing. I would move johnson there (similar to mexico). Shea and Johnson can not run on the same wing, we saw that quite a bit in the Italy game.

    For the next game my formation of choice is a 3-5-2 with the following players(won’t be used but I can hope):

    What we might actually play?
    a “4-4-2”

    or “4-3-3”


    • Posted by Eric on 2012/09/10 at 8:48 AM

      My personal opinion is that going to a three man back line would be a mistake against a team like Jamaica. The fact that they ran with three up top, along with their speed on the outside, means that the US would be in trouble tactically. A three man back line can be effective but it does leave space on the outside corners because of the backs naturally having to play very narrow and shift from one side to the other like so:


      Notice the space on the outsides (Sorry, used to showing this to players on a whiteboard). The way you deal with that is usually to drop one of your holding mids into the back line as the centerbacks shift one way, or you have your wings track back a lot more. If you went with the latter then you’re basically wasting a winger since Jamaica will always have three up top, with two playing high and wide that will need to be accounted for. The US needs to stick with four the back, at least for this match.

      As for the rest of your stuff, not sure it’s worth moving Fabian out of the back for now. Although I think Jurgen got overly worried about the speed, I think it’s still an issue and the options at left back without Fabian there are a little worrying. I’d actually see it as a possible option if we had Lichaj or even Castillo in camp. My guess is we’ll see something more along the lines of this:


      This is just want I can see Klinsmann doing, not neccesarily what I would like to see. Personally, I think Zusi could be useful at one of the spots but it’ll be interesting to see what JK does next match.


      • Posted by Chazcar2 on 2012/09/10 at 12:24 PM

        I think of a three man back line a bit oddly. Maybe because I don’t have a ton of formal soccer training, more just looking at statistical studies and feelings I get from watching games

        My three man back line goals/thoughts
        1. Concede the corners, let the wingers stay outside the box. A “cross” from outside the box to a successful shot on goal is a low percentage play. Stop them from coming inside
        2. Don’t play three “Centerbacks”. The outside players should be a hybrid between a centerback and fullback. This is obviously related to personnel available. The USA three man back line argument isn’t because I think its a “better” formation, its because the players on the roster are suited to it.
        3. The outside mid or wingback that is not ball side needs to track the outside player from that side, not have a defensive midfielder drop into the backline.

        There is a lot of nuance to playing 3 across the back, something that can’t just be thrown out there, so I don’t think we can sucessfully transition to it for tomorrow. But I my alternate reality we have been working it into our game plan for the last year.


  32. Posted by Eric on 2012/09/10 at 8:52 AM

    Klinsmann discussing the match and giving analysis:

    He doesn’t look as cheerful as he normally does in these interviews. He has the look of someone who certainly has a lot on his mind. Any thoughts?


  33. Posted by GH on 2012/09/10 at 10:27 AM

    I think johnson needs to be moved to LM, he offers way too much offensively, and his runs from LB haven’t produced goals. Why not move Boca to LB? He has played there just fine in the past, and though he doesn’t have the pace he certainly has the positional awareness to play it. Move Edu back to CB next to Cameron, and it will get Torres in a CM position which many of you have argued he should be playing.


  34. Yeah that’s my bad on the misinterpretation, but I can’t say I’m sold on Williams yet. There’s no harm in giving him a run out in a friendly, but first I’m legitimately concerned with Jamaica in Columbus.

    To put Bradley and Holden in those attacking roles, is to assume that not only will Holden be healthy, but Donovan will not be up to snuff in CM.

    Another possibility I hadn’t considered for midfield is Brad Davis. (Please note my obvious bias) Honestly at LM Davis was a good MLS player and nothing more, but pinched in at CM really brings out his strengths. Davis is good on the ball and working off of other people. In the center of midfield, he has more people and more room to work with. Davis makes people around him better in CM. Not to mention if the attacking work is on him and say Bradley or Donovan, Clint doesn’t have to worry about trying to let the offense flow through him, he can worry about finding holes in the defense. Additionally, Davis has a high work rate on both sides of the ball. He’ll put in the work on defense and not be a liability.

    I don’t think Davis is a perfect fit, at this point I’m not sure who is, but down the road he is definitely worth a shot.


    • Posted by Zack G. on 2012/09/10 at 6:52 PM

      I, too, do not think that Davis is a perfect fit for either CM or LM roles, but he’s a relatively unexplored option that certainly merits further inspection. Particularly as a wide player.

      I don’t think he provides much upside in the middle for us. He doesn’t usually play that many dangerous balls into space from that position from the run of play, though his spacing, movement, and work rate are tremendous in that central role. For me, he’s most compelling as a wide option. He plays the best dead ball out of anyone in the player pool (bar none) and we haven’t had a quality set-piece taker in years (Convey and Stewart are the premier ones of the past decade in my opinion, though I may be missing a few). I think we float far too many crosses into the box without an end product, rather than driving balls across the face of goal, and I think he could be an interesting solution to that problem.

      Ultimately, I’m not so sure where he fits into the team. Should be a fringe player at best for the Nats, but I think he could play the Ralston role of the 2006 cycle. Sometimes you just need a guy who can do it for you in CONCACAF. I see Davis as maybe being that guy.


    • Posted by Nelson on 2012/09/10 at 8:55 PM

      the dude can whip a cross in…maybe Geoff can put a good word in….how old is Davis?

      Dynamo Dynamo Dynamo


      • Yes he can whip in a good cross, yes he provides good set piece delivery, but that alone does not warrant the USMNT. Until seeing him in the 4-3-3, I didn’t believe he provided enough to be successful at that next level. He is really much better when he has others to work off of in the heart of the midfield and drift out wide as needed than when he is isolated on the left drifting inside. The more people at Davis’ disposal the better.


  35. […] example, Matthew noted in the comments of his last post that the US wall seemed to be ignorant to indicators within Jamaica free kick […]


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