[SLOVENIA-USA] It's what we've been waiting for since Jurgen Klinsmann took the helm in July: An entertaining, attack-minded performance from the USA. Here's why we're much more optimistic about Klinsmann's rebuilding process after the 3-2 win at Slovenia on Tuesday. ...
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GOALS, THANK GOODNESS. The Americans, who had scored only twice in Klinsmann’s first six games, entered the game with a 234-minute scoreless streak. Edson Buddle broke the drought in the 9th minute against Slovenia when he hammered home from 25 yards after delivery from Clint Dempsey, who had stripped Darijan Matic of the ball. After Slovenia equalized, Dempsey headed in Michael Bradley’s corner kick in the 41st minute and Jozy Altidore converted a 43rd minute penalty kick after Fabian Johnson was fouled. Hitting the net -- and finishing a frustrating year with a win -- injects a crucial boost of confidence into a team that’s supposed to be rebuilt and well-tuned when World Cup qualifying starts next summer.
TWO STRIKERS A MUST. Such is the sad state of modern soccer that it’s news when a team fields two true strikers. After a catenaccio look in last Friday’s 1-0 loss to France, Klinsmann simply had to field a more attack-minded formation. Pairing Buddle and Altidore on the frontline, and giving Dempsey a free role behind them, resulted not only in goals, but enabled the Americans to play more of the game in the opponents’ half. A lone forward lineup should never again be considered for a U.S. national team.
BRADLEY IMPROVES MIDFIELD. Kyle Beckerman returned as a deep-lying defensive central midfielder at the bottom of a diamond that had Dempsey on top, Johnson on the left, and Bradley on the right. Returning the veteran Bradley to the starting lineup paid off because he combined well with Dempsey and often steered the U.S. attacks through the middle. With Bradley and Johnson, who looks the most promising of the German products, the USA played less predictably than in the previous games when storming down the wings seemed to be the main strategy.
FUN TO WATCH. Seconds after kickoff, Johnson, with a 20-yard volley, forced a save from keeper Samir Handanovic and the Slovenians responded with a chance shortly after that keeper Tim Howard handled – and from there the game lived up to its promising start. We had plenty of end-to-end action and scoring chances, such as Dempsey’s diving header that went just wide in the 36th minute. The Slovenians hit the woodwork twice and had a ball cleared off the line before Tim Matavz scored his second goal to make it 3-2 in the 61st minute, but the USA held on for its first win on European soil since March 2008, a 3-0 victory at Poland.
A good performance and a good result is the best of both worlds -- and especially satisfying is that Klinsmann’s team finally entertained.
Nov. 15 in Ljubljana
Slovenia 2 USA 3. Goals: Matavz 26, 61; Buddle 9, Dempsey 41, Altidore (pen.) 43.
Slovenia -- S.Handanovic, Brecko, Jokic, Cesar, Matic (Krhin, 46); Bacinovic (Lazarevic, 88), Kirm (Vrsic, 70), Ilicic (Birsa, 46), Ljubijankic (Pecnik, 80); Matavz (Dedic, 79), Suler.
USA -- Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Chandler (Williams, 82); Beckerman (Jones, 89), Bradley (Rogers, 90), Johnson (Shea, 61), Dempsey; Buddle (Edu, 78), Altidore.
Referee: Robert Schoergenhofer (Austria).