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At last, the U.S. offense breaks out
by Mike Woitalla, November 15th, 2011 2:41PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[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. ...

(Click here for U.S. Player Ratings.)

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).
Att.: 8,140.



15 comments
  1. David Huff
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 6:07 p.m.
    Ein Volk, Ein Klinsmann, Ein USA!! Sehr gut! :-)

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
    I don't know what MW and John Harkes talking about a great Bradley.Didn't they watch the game? Although I am not a Beckerman favorite for the National Team, but he was holding the defensive midfield to the best of his abilities. Probably one of his better games in Tational Team jersey. But Bradley was nowhere to be find at that post.I believe in the Slovenia's second goal Bradley was ball watching. And in the offensive midfield it was Dempsey Johnson and playing big time (especially Johnson). Then the second half Bradley really fell back along with the whole defensive midfield. Bradley wasn't great he was just OK at best, but to play in the MNT tou have to be a least OK. Why not just let him play and do not overrate him, he doesn't need a defense lawyer and he will be most likely OK. While I am happy with the win let's not go overboard. We were close to loose it in the second half and Slovenia is not a world beater team.

  1. James Madison
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
    4-1-2-1-2 or 4-diamond-2, if you want to talk "formations." You need a pair of all-purpose midfielders to bring off such an arrangment.

  1. Edgar Soudek
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 6:51 p.m.
    Mr. Huff: any allusions to Nazi slogans - even if only in jest - should better be avoided at any time, and most certainly in context with sports!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
    Two front attackers was an improvement. Altidore had another good match, Dempsey did what he does, clearly the best we had. Buddle did well keeping the Solvenia defense on edge. Bradley was OK, Johnson I thought played a super game an maybe another attacking piece to be added in the MF with Donovan. Defensively, we were OK. I thought the first Solvenia goal was offside.Chandler is still learning, Beckerman was OK. Goodson was solid for the most part. Howard was his usual brilliant self. I felt the weak point was Bocanegro down the middle. Shea had no influence.My concern mostly was how we struggled to see out the game in the second half.Overall, a good solid win for USA

  1. Mark Grody
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 7:09 p.m.
    I've liked the 0-2-1-3-4 since I was little.

  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.
    I watched the whole game. Edson Buddle had a great game and Bradley did well enough to get kudos from Harkes and Ian Darke as they were doing the commentary on the game and from the three in the booth (at halftime and after the game). True, Slovenia is not a world beater team, but, according to USA Today (this morning's issue), "Slovenia is ranked 27th, seven places above the USA." France is ranked 15th. We played an exciting first half and then got a little cautious in the second (besides the changes to the dynamic when Klinsman made his substitutions. It was a very satisfying win...even though one can see that they still have a lot to work on.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
    Any time one hears the duo of Harkes and Darke offering their "expertise" brings shivers especially when it comes to one kid named Bradley and then to have Beckerman being praised, with Goodson also... well, pilgrims, this causes lots of concern, but none so great that Coach Klinsi won't hesitate to change. Good game for the USA, and indeed a morale booster!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: November 15, 2011 at 8:49 p.m.
    Oh and BTW, I saw the Spain-Costa Rica game played in a torrential rain, but what was more enjoyable was to hear the minimal comments from the tv guys, just saying enough to enjoy the game and not continuously tell the viewer what is going on, a-la some Spanish language guys (Univision) and even Andres Cantor's prattling on, and for sure not as utterly boring as some English commentators who will lull a sleeping cat to deep sleep. As for Harkes and Darke.... I'd say cut down your mindless chatter to one third.... then maybe I'll stay tuned to your channel instead of switching to Spanish language - or I'll just click on the mute button... anyhow, just a thought!

  1. Adam Cohen
    commented on: November 16, 2011 at 1:25 a.m.
    did anyone else notice how completely lost Beckerman appears in the video? he looked like a cone at my kids' practice.

  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: November 16, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
    Not sure what game Antonio was watching. Beckerman was a complete disaster out there, again. He just can't tackle at the international level. Bradley was poised and confident on the ball. Edu is no Gattuso but he's a significant upgrade over Beckerman as holding mid; he can at least successfully challenge for the ball as a player is running at him with it. Not sure, however, where a healthy Torres and Holden leave Bradley.

  1. David Mozeshtam
    commented on: November 16, 2011 at 12:27 p.m.
    Bradley had Bornstein. Klinsmann has Beckerman. I guess it's a must for a coach to have a player whose continuous selection makes for a lot of scratched heads.

  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: November 16, 2011 at 1 p.m.
    Thanks, Ric, for bringing up the inane chatter of some of our ESPN English commentators. Someone needs to tell Ian Darke that we don't care about the hangnail that a player in some other league has. I'm watching the game as an American; if you must talk about the players, talk about the USMT (mostly) and the opposing team's players (some). And since Klinsman's taken the names off of the men's jerseys, tell me who has the ball and who it's getting passed to. I'm sorry, I've never memorized their numbers, although I do recognize a lot of them by their distinctive running styles. Tell me who blocked the ball and who stole it. Tell me about the nutmegs, volleys, half-volleys, scissor kicks (I don't see many of those on the open field...I lived in San Diego many years ago [before MLS] with season tickets to the indoor Sockers where lots of goals were scored by scissors), rainbows, cruiffs, and all those wonderful moves that make up the joy and magic of soccer!

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: November 16, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
    Very entertaining game in the first half, unfortunately, the USMNT took the foot off the pedal and made the opposition a better side in the second half. As for John Harkes' commentary, it is irrelavent, winded, mostly nonessential and at times pretty stupid. He brings nothing to the table, with garbage verbage and no ability to use a short phrase about the postive/negative...he's a stinker and nauseating.

  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: November 18, 2011 at 12:37 a.m.
    The only reason that people are obsessed with Bradley is because of the abomination we had to live with for so long with him being the featured player while his father was coach. As a defensive minded role player, he has some use. I'd give him a shot as a defender, he seems well suited for that, alho' his father will be spinning in his sarcophagus if that ever came to pass


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