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Dempsey eases the $30 pain
by Mike Woitalla, June 13th, 2012 1:29PM

TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014

Predictably, we heard -- after the tie against a team that has never reached the World Cup -- that picking up a point on the road is a good result. There's truth to that, but I imagine many U.S. fans woke up on Wednesday with a $30 hangover, wishing they'd waited to watch the very few highlights of the Guatemala-USA game on Internet video instead of shelling out for the pay-per-view.

Fear not, the USA starting its World Cup qualifying campaign with a couple of unimpressive performances doesn't portend much.

The qualifying campaign for the best U.S. performance at a World Cup, when it reached the quarterfinals in 2002, started with a 1-1 tie in Guatemala and a 2-1 loss at Costa Rica -- and Coach Bruce Arena’s team won just half of its 16 games in qualifying.

Now we have Jurgen Klinsmann at the helm and after nearly a year in charge he’s finally coached his first two official games. A 3-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda and Tuesday’s 1-1 tie at Guatemala.

Neither performance concerns me much when it comes to U.S. prospects of qualifying for the World Cup. A&B ended up tying Jamaica, 0-0, on Tuesday, reminding us how easy it is for the USA to advance – because its opponents always take enough points from each other to allow the USA to waltz through on home wins.

The USA will easily reach the Hexagonal, the final round, from which three of the six teams qualify for the World Cup and the fourth-place earns an intra-regional playoff to reach Brazil 2014.

Last time, though, under Coach Bob Bradley, the USA started the semifinal round with a 1-0 win at Guatemala. So we’re still waiting for signs that the new coach is taking the team to a higher level than his predecessors.

The best we’ve seen so far under Klinsmann has been a 1-0 friendly win at Italy, thanks to a goal by Clint Dempsey. There was also the 5-1 friendly win over woeful Scotland that came thanks to a hat trick by Landon Donovan and a super strike from another veteran, Michael Bradley.

Klinsmann, like his predecessors, depends on the U.S. talent available and we’ve now had a year to see that it’s hardly different than what Bob Bradley and Arena had at their disposal. Who can name players Klinsmann has neglected who are better than those he's fielded?

The Klinsmann results and the quality of soccer that his team plays will continue to resemble what we've seen for nearly two decades until the country produces more players like Dempsey, whose jukes made two defenders stumble before he hammered home the U.S. goal against Guatemala.

Thanks to Dempsey – playing under his third national team coach – those fans who paid $30 got some of their money's worth.

  1. Bob Escobar
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.
    $30 to watch garbage? waited a few minutes to watch the very few highlights...cost? = zero

  1. Rich Lomanto
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.
    YA KNOW....Your constant negative responses to everything Jurgen does is sad! Yes they did not play worth a crud last night, blame Howard....he froze and gave it up on a Golazo! period... this negativity always coming from a site called "socceramerica" is sad...I,ll be un-subscribing from all you emails... Jurgen is the best thing to happen to US soccer, given the time, he will turn the US into a competitive team. no doubt at all...the best thing he does is play the kids that play out of the MLS...The MLS is polluted now, its all players from South America, Central America, and Africa....blame the system...and no I,m not German!

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.
    Getting results is all we need to get to the World Cup, although I must admit watching the last couple of games against Brazil and Antigua do not look very convincing. Against Brazil, the US showed major weaknesses in the defense and against barbados a lack of finishing and Oneywu just didn't look good at all. I still would like to see a 3-5-2, (Bocanegra-Goodsen, Cherundolo, Bradley, Jones, Feilhaber, Donovan, Torres, Altidore and Dempsey)this would be ideal and just wondering if this will happen.

  1. Geno Genowicz
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
    I thoroughly enjoyed last night's match and am happy I paid the $30. We made an incremental step forward by playing with urgency throughout most of the match. Now we have to get better at it, one step at a time. I agree that many paid writers and bloggers are negative in their approach. Decades ago we didn't qualify and were a rag-tag bunch of ustawas college players. Comparing the team we fielded last night to the teams we field decades ago is just silly—and negative.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.
    Match stats possession: US 67% Guatemala 32%. Would you have seen that in any Bradley or Arena coached US game against anyone?

  1. Aris Protopapadakis
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.
    I would never shell out $30 to watch this team at this stage of the tournament. It is a disgrace that US soccer can't make a TV deal to broadcast these game. It isn't like the US team is overburdened with fans. As for Jurgen, absent a soccer fairy he has a limited pools of players to choose from. Coaches can get good players to play well together and win (as di Matteo at Chelsea and Sutter with the Kings) but he can't manufacture better players --though Jurgen has tried). As for the Brazil game: Brazil tends to expose weaknesses in all the teams, it doesn't mean anything for the U.S.; we are in the same league.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
    "Who can name players Klinsmann has neglected who are better than those he's fielded?" We have to get better and younger in back. Obvious names who deserve more time are Eric Leija (sp?), Tim Ream, and time to try Maurice Edu at Center Back. Given our size and strength, have to get more from set pieces. Donovan's restarts and corners no longer up to snuff, time to give Brad Davis a shot. Sure he's old and slow, but he's also smart, reliable, a class act, and a golden left foot.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 3:37 p.m.
    How can we determine that we don't have better players if we don't scout for them in the obvious places or continue to reward those that can pay only?

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 4:15 p.m.
    When I go to the grocery store and look for apples I don't look at the same apples over and over. I pick up one, and if it looks good I put it in my basket. I pick up the next and if it looks bad, I place it aside, but not back in the stack with the others. That is all Luis is asking, except his apples are peppers.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 13, 2012 at 4:52 p.m.
    I am still a Klinsi fan.I don't think we can judge his impact on the US soccer scene until more youth players come thru the system.They are perhaps 13-14 now. As you say "Klinsmann results and the quality of soccer that his team plays will continue to resemble what we've seen for nearly two decades until the country produces more players like Dempsey" In the meantime,he has to make do with what he has,and he has to qualify the team for the WC 2014. I think he has already brought lots' of new faces to the squad and I don't for a second believe he has finished searching.

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: June 14, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
    The backs need to get sorted out and fast. We are too slow in the back. Maurice Edu might be better served in the central back. Jermaine Jones is a leg breaker and not much else. Personally, I would rather move forward without him!

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