[USA CONFIDENTIAL] In the immediate aftermath of Jurgen Klinsmann’s debut as U.S. national team head coach, here's
what we learned about him and his player selections ...
THE COACH’S PERSONA. After a stodgy beginning, the USA took on the bright, energetic personality of its coach to push forward zealously, equalize and nearly steal a winning goal in the final minutes.
When Robbie Rogers equalized, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann jumped along the sideline, pumped his fists, and did everything he did as a goalscorer except launch into a full-length belly slide. He fairly bubbled in his postgame interview on ESPN2, and a string of sweeping attacks in the final half an hour certainly merited such enthusiasm.
Not so noticeable but just as vital was some resilient central defensive play by Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Orozco Fiscal, who blocked numerous crosses and picked off threatening diagonal balls after Mexico had breached the flanks. While Klinsmann has preached his devotion to attacking play, he is acutely aware of organization and discipline in the defensive third and despite a vast advantage in possession for much of the match, Mexico carved open only a few good chances, and were scrambling to hold off the USA in the final minutes.
FORMATION WAS NOT AT FAULT. The 4-2-3-1 formation, ineffective in the first half, blossomed with the insertion of Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea and then Robbie Rogers, and the move of Jose Francisco Torres and Landon Donovan to central positions.
As the subs showed, the formation, per se, was not at fault. Constant breakdowns were due to Edson Buddle’s labors while marooned up front, giveaways by left back Edgar Castillo and others, and Michael Bradley’s inability to slip balls through tight spaces. Bradley played several good balls to the wings but could not break through pressure into the attacking third on a few promising sequences.
The subs increased the aggressiveness and sharpness in the U.S. team and took advantage of numerous changes by Mexico, including the removal of centerback Rafael Marquez, wing Pablo Barrera and goalscorer Oribe Peralta.
BUILD THE TEAM AROUND …. DONOVAN. Fans, journalists and pundits believe that Torres can be the attacking fulcrum of the national team, and he may grow into that role one day.
But as Donovan showed even while the USA struggled in the first half, he is the catalyst par excellence. Often stuck on the wing by previous head coach Bob Bradley, mostly for lack of better options, he started the match out wide, then saw more of the ball in the middle and threatened repeatedly with a livelier forward (Agudelo), incisive wing play (Shea and Rogers), and better communication with the two central mids supporting him, Torres and Kyle Beckerman.
Torres is more suited to a spot on the left side of midfield, where he often plays for his club team Pachuca, and looked more confident in the second half with Shea driving up the sideline. When Clint Dempsey and Stuart Holden come back into the team, Klinsmann will have plenty of options for the attacking slots whether he sticks with the one-forward alignment, switches to a 4-3-3, or plays with two up top.
LOST ON THE LEFT. Using Torres and Castillo on the left flank in the first half condemned the Americans Barrera repeatedly flying toward the endline to serve square balls and crosses when both labored to take up good positions and use the ball effectively. Andres Guardado also gave the USA problems on the other side, yet somehow it managed to ride out the first half conceding only one goal,
Barrera help set up the goal when he returned a corner kick to Guardado, whose driven ball into the goalmouth produced a spectacular shot by Peralta. Despite being tightly marked by Bradley, he stuck out his right foot to re-direct the ball inside the far post and scored from a far more unlikely situation than those created by Mexico during the run of play.
It was a rough night for Castillo, who earned just his second cap, yet Klinsmann kept him out there for the full 90 minutes and he finished stronger than he started. Marking Barrera can test just about any defender, but one of Castillo’s attributes is skill on the ball, and those unforced errors have to be corrected.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED. Castillo is 24, so he doesn't have the excuse of youth even though the Mexico game was just his second cap. Nervousness affected his play, but not so his younger teammates.
As Agudelo (18) showed, a very young player can ascend the learning curve quickly. Shea, also 21, faltered in his national-team debut last year yet jumped right into the fray and looked strong, sharp and dangerous.
All three players, as well as Holden and several others while early in their pro careers, were brought into the national-team program during the four and half-year reign of Bob Bradley. They form just one layer of the foundation that Klinsmann says he’s excited to build upon.
Aug. 10 in Philadelphia
USA 1 Mexico 1. Goals: Rogers 73; Peralta 17.
USA -- Howard, Cherundolo, Orozco Fiscal, Bocanegra, Castillo, Jones (Shea, 59), Beckerman, Donovan, Bradley (Rogers, 72), Torres (Clark, 85); Buddle (Agudelo, 59).
Mexico -- Ochoa, Juarez (Aguilar, 78), Marquez (Rodriguez, 69), Moreno, Salcido, Torrado, Castro, Barrera (Bermudez, 72), Naelson (dos Santos, 55), Guardado, Peralta (Arellano, 63).
Referee: Raymond Bogle (Jamaica).
First, it should be noted that the decision for ESPN2 to show Little League baseball instead of the first 20 minutes of the game was horrendous. There weren't even fans in the stands of the baseball game. I can't imagine the explanation for that one (or was did it have something to do with the announcement about NBC?). I was disappointed that JK started 3 players I would consider defensive midfielders (Bradley, Beckerman and Jones). We were fortunate to be only down a goal by half, but to be fair to the team, we did not concede many good chances (but Mexico did not play nearly as well as they did in the Gold Cup final). Our defense looked a bit shaky at times, but we survived and its probably good that JK left the young players in to give them a chance to get the experience. Buddle was okay up top, but he had no help (not sure why Donovan and Torres weren'te able to provide enough support; too much defense?). Jones is pedestrian at best, so I'm not sure why he continues to get time. Bradley is not an offensive center mid (though he was usually part of what little offense we did have in the first half, mainly by playing some good balls to the right flank). I'd like to see Bradley as a defensive center mid and Torres as the more offensive center mid. I've generally not been impressed with Rogers, but he played well last night. I don't think it matters whether Donovan is out wide or central, but what does matter is he needs to get the ball when he can dribble at speed at the defense with some options (as he did in the 2nd half last night). It should also be mentioned that the Mexican central defender who took down Rogers should have been ejected. Situations like that were exactly why the law was created; the defender clearly knew Rogers was going past him and would be unhindered going in on goal, and made the calculated decision to take him down. Textbook. Overall a good night for the US under some difficult circumstances, and a great start for Klinsmann.
Not sure why ESPN persist with a failed GM of two MLS clubs for their expert insight.
I loved JK enthousiasm after the game which we have never saw from sour BB. Even at half time he was optimistic and at the end he has given credit to players desrved it. This was very uncharesteristc of the US coaches before. Very impressive a moral booster for fans and players alike. If for nothing else JK deserves all the merit. Also I have always said that Donovan has to behind the attacker/s. BTW get rid of that idiot Harkes still giving BB the credit for foundation he has built. Wht foundation? It was downhill all the way. Harkes stop insulting our intelligence please you are a moron to think that we US fans are idiots. I have lost my respect for you I have expected more from you as you were a good player. Kudos to Jorge Ramos finally an intelligent commentator also he had the courage and the descency to call the sade spade.
Hey, Kent...there was a pregame show on one of the other ESPN stations...I believe it was 207 on Directv. They stuck with the game on that station until the Little League game (which was running long) was over. Then the network switched over to ESPN2.
Love your comment, Mark...
All in all a good debut for the new coach. Mexico did dominate the first half and our defenders had trouble pasing out of the back, but give credit here, Mexico had very few clear chances at our goal. Sometimes defending can't be pretty, but it has to be effective. Toward the end of the 1st half and most of the second, I thought the US took over the match and we were unlucky not to put away a winner late in the game. I thought the subs were timely and worked well. I too don't see the need to have 3 holding mid field players. Our game improved as soon as Jones and Bradley were taken out and Torres and Donovan started seing more of the ball in the center. Especially Donovan. Even our back line seemed more poised and grew in confidence as the game wore on.
Man! I'm inpressed with the US for the first time they actually looked like a team.. I'm a mexi an fan sense I was a little kid.. I tried to folllow the US but now the US looked great... so maybe I can start to follow them.
I loved the way they attacked and touched the ball more.. this defence was the best one sofar not to big with better ball handling... GO USA!
When you are you going to stop make believing you actually know the game of soccer?
michael Bradley wasn't even looking at the ball when Peralta scored. If you are going to mark someone in the box, the most important job is to not let them get to the ball first. Bradley failed in doing this and the other important job is to make sure you know where the ball is.
Bradley did a horrible job as the CAM and I hope that experiment is over!
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY THE FORMATION WORKED AFTER SUBS WERE BROUGT IN? IT IS BECAUSE BRADLEY HIT THE BENCH WHERE HE BELONGS, TORRES WAS MOVED TO THE MIDDLE WHERE HE BELONGS AND THE SPEED AND PACE OF AGUDELO AND SHAE WORE MEXICO'S DEFENSE OUT.
TORRES WAS ABLE TO CONTROL THE BALL AND PUT IT IN PLACES THAT BRADLEY COULD ONLY DREAM ABOUT DOING.
I though beckerman coughed up the ball far too many times. I counted 5 turnovers by him. He is way down on the depth charts. I couldn't stand Harkes commentary. He is so negative it makes me want to puke!! He obviously dislikes J. Jones. I personlly think players are only as good as the teamates around them. Therefore jones was average while playing next to beckerman.
Shae and Agudelo showed us that we have talent coming up and I didnt' mind Castillo in the back. After all this squad hadn't played with each other before and managed a tie with a pretty good Mexico squad.
Antonio,if Harkes is a moron,then you are an idiot.Bradley did build the foundation of this team.
A good start for the US. Lots of work to be done in the next two years to get ready for stiffer competition. Total screwup by the ref on the yellow/red card mistake. He was correct not giving the first PK call, but Donovan was hacked down, and he should have given that one especially since it was the second close call in the box. He also missed some calls on the US that would have given Mexico score free kicks. A little too inconsistent there.
Four points things I think in order of importance.
1. I think this was JK seeing if Bob's guys could play like JK wanted them to. The answer is no. Epic fail for Bradley and Jones. Why did Beckerman stay in? Because JK soccer resembles Jason Kreis soccer and that's what Beckerman is used to (maybe not so much the formation but the committment to one and two touch possession and attacking from back to front on the ground and not over the top) Jones is a world class destroyer if he has world class wide player and attackers showing for the ball. But not for this team. He rarely combined with Beckerman. Although Beckerman showed for the ball often. Bradley just won't cut it for JK. The dye has been cast.
2) LD and JFT need to be central. If Clark of Edu can defend AND play triangles better than Beckerman, they will supplant him as the third D-midfielder. That's your midfield under JK --LD higher, JFT lower but willing to turn forward and not do another backpass, and the destroyer.
3) Agudelo has a terrible habit of holding the ball too long and getting dispossesed. But he brings world class energy. Hopefully JK can fix this weakness. Shae is the future left wide. Rogers has been given a 2nd life under JK. Let's see if he seizes the opportunity that he could not under Bob.
4) The attacks stalled in the first half because Castillo, the lone forward, and Cherundolo were poor. Yes even Dolo was very slow of thought up high and was dispossed at least three times in very good positions for us. Chandler will probably supplant Dolo soon. Castillo, to everyone's dismay, will get another chance becauase at least his positioning was decent and he CAN play much better.
I think that the new coach was doing what he had to do to figure out what the players were capable of, now is his time to try new things with different players in different positions, etc...an, I believe Twellman had it dead on at half time about Buddle up top all alone..no way could he be effective by himself against 3 defenders...an attacking mid or another forward up top with him would have been much more effective. To me, the team USA seemed to pick up more steam as the game progressed, the longer they played, the better they played. I do NOT believe in building a team around ONE player, but building a team that can play with anyONE, I have yet to see a team that depends on ONE player be successful for a long period of time...we can not have a team that falls apart when one player is not playing....I think Klinsman has a plan, let us give him his chance to show it...I am a believer in his overall developement of youth soccer in this country an how it has to work to be internationally competitive...ie, u-17 nat team, u-20 nat team, etcc...they are not what we want at this stage now...something different has to take place..what do they offer for future USA national team? We need to take a close look at the players on these youth teams an determine what or who is to be replaced..a dismal international showing if left unchecked will certianly lead to a poor showing later on. The most talented players do not have to come from academies where money has to do with players belonging to them...several really fine players are developed by just self determination an hard work in small clubs or odp programs. Scouting from ALL sources is the best way to find talent, mho..
For the first time in a long time I saw a USMNT that had plenty of fire in the belly and a spark in the way they played. I also saw a USMNT that engaged in more of a short passing possession type of game rather than the typical English longball approach that we have all come to know and despise, it still needs work obviously but the impact of Klinsmann is already showing in this area. As time went on they increased the pressure on the Mexicans through a combination of speed, agression and physicality, something that (as noted by Donovan) the Mexicans are notorious for being uncomfortable with when they have been subjected to that type of treatment in the past by the US. It is key to defeating Mexico and other Latin teams by bringing such "steel" against them, it takes away their technical skills advantage that they hold over the US. I believe Klinsmann will be able to blend such "steel" with a heightened emphasis on US player technical skills to help usher in the development of the "US Style" that everyone has been clamoring for, a blend of the best aspects of the European and Latin games. I believe that in Klinsmann, someone who knows how to read the field, make appropriate lineup and substitution decisions, we have a coach that may finally bring us victory in the Azteca. In this regard, the USSF needs to condition the FMF's well-established use of the US for its fundraising cash-cow tour of "friendlies" by demanding that in exchange that they furnish a friendly opportunity for the US to play in the Azteca rather than having to wait once every 4 years to play them there during WC qualification. We can finally then, remove the Azteca "monkey" off our backs by winning there for once and removing Mexico's claim of being unbeaten by the US in that storied venue. And if we can win in the Azteca then we can win anywhere in the world. On ESPN's decision to continue with Little League baseball rather than switching (per schedule) to the much anticipated inaugural debut of our new coach it was abysmal, their coverage decision deserves an 'F'and exposes them for their 'baseball-friendly' approach. The USSF needs a network that is committed first to the USMNT rather than the cause of baseball, ESPN/ABC should be replaced. Thank God at least for the Univision alternative with its creative coverage. And, on a closing note . . . Ein Volk, Ein USA, Ein Klinsmann!! Viva "El Aleman"!!
Enjoyed all the comments. Believe a key for the US (I'm a broken record on this) will be playing skilled players, i.e., those who can trap/control the ball when receiving. Those who presently cannot include Bradley and Beckerman, who both gave up numerous balls they could have possessed and then created opportunities. Watching Torres collect crisp passes dead on his foot, and then immediately make his next move, is what the entire team needs to be able to do. Although I agree with the idea that Donovan is central to the team's success when he has more possession, developing/finding more Donovan/Torres types will elevate the US to the next level. Shea was other-worldly ... hope he can keep it up. Final note re defense: although the US defense as a "unit" was seemingly fragile at times, Boca was an absolute stud - not perfect, but a warrior in the back, especially needed when Dolo had one of his less inspiring outings (is he still recovering?). And ESPN gets the "Heidi" award!
John F: In the press conference, the coach heaped nothing but praise on Beckerman. Dont know which game you were watching, but Beckerman did very well. His give-aways were few, his postioning was excellent. He was muted in the first half because, his partners ( Jones and Bradley) would not show for the ball. Look what happened when Bradley and Jones left. The USA suddenly looked like RSL in form. Beckerman's RSL. Jones either does not like or was too tired to play the short triangles out of the back with Beckerman, something Beckerman does for a living, and obviously a skillset the JK likes. And Jason Kreis likes.
My dear man Vic Flegel the only idiot is you who failed to see truth, and seems to be that you are the one without soccer intelligence. The foundation have built by our players at youth level and many of their coaches. For instance Bradley has done more harm to Donovan then helped him. The only player benefited from his coaching is his son. Can you please name oneplayer Bradley has developed you ignoramous. Read some of the other comments and Ric Fonseca's especially. But besides that I was a pro player in Italy in France before you were born. How do I know that? Of your very acknowledgment (high esteem) of Bradley or anyone at that level anyone that understands and played the game seriously will attest to that. Once again I bring up Jorge Ramos comments and soccer intelligence. Learn from him and all the others above.
II do not want to waste my time anymore inanely with such a futile person as you are!
VIC: Are you kidding me? Harkes has no business commentating. He is the most negative comentator i have heard. LIsten to him again. NO commentator has any business singling players out and degrading them. Harkes should know better than this. He is supposed to be neutral.
Harkes and Lalas are in the same boat in my opinion. They both don't belong in the commentators booth.
What a JOKE, BRADLEY BUILT A FOUNDATION FOR THE TEAM? How? What proof? Where are the fruits of his labor?
runner up the confed's cup is not proof. Making it out of group play is not proof. Qualifying for first in CONCACAF is not proof.
Bradley did not develope players. he play favorites while leaving better players off the squad.
Bradley did more harm to the USMNT than good. Why would you start a player who rides the pine for his club then rides the pine for the team you were loaned to? The only explanation is that the player was the coaches son. Now both bradleys are jobless!
Klinsmann will take this the USMNT to new levels. It is about soccer intelegence and not just about speed and size. It is about the European influence and not the MLS influence.
Hold on my friends. Let Klinsmann have time to figure out who is capable and who is not. I for one have called Bob Jr. out on this thread for a long time. Let Klinsmann have time to work with him before we throw him away. If he can't change, then yes Klinsmann owes none of these players anything and will get rid of them, but poor form left over from the Bob Sr. regime may take more than 90 minutes to be corrected.
Reality? Bob Jr. is probably not capable of playing at a high enough level to maintain a spot on the team, but he like all of the rest need to be given a chance. Converseley, players who shine now need to be given their credit. All of the MLS players rocked last night. Donovan was in good form, Rodgers scored and troubled Mexico all over the field, Aguedelo set up Shea for the assist on a good one touch and showed energy up top, Shea was a BEAST and is the now and future at left mid, and Kyle Beckermann was good enough at holding mid (looked great once Bob Jr. and J Jones left the field). Credit Given Where Due!
David Sirias, you are spot on about Beckermann. Every team needs this type of player, I only hope he is not too old to help in Brazil.
I am almost giddy--well, as giddy as a 68 year old OF can be! I haven't watched the MNT in months because I was so fed up with BB and the US style (lack of) that I couldn't watch without going ballistic. Last night my wife was concerned when I said I planned on watching but I promised that win or lose, I just wanted to get a feel for whether JK would have an immediate impact. I wasn't disappointed!!! Even if they failed, they were at last TRYING to play skillfully. For me that was enough. Quick comments: one, Harkes is a terrible announcer. He should join BB in Egypt. Two, give JK a break on his line-ups. The rest of this year is pure experimentation. Three, Donovan and Torres may indeed be the midfield creativity solution. Too soon to tell. Four, I have never been a fan of Beckerman BUT his performance last night has forced me to reassess that. More time needed. Five, Brek Shea was truly impressive. Must see much more of him. Six, don't give up on Castillo. He needs to relax. I think that JK's overall attitude will be his secret weapon. For far too long the USMNT has played scared. Afraid to try the skillful thing for fear it would fail instead of anticipating the joy and rewards of success. Lots to feel good about but too early to celebrate!!
Article misses two several key points...first half saw the Yanks not organized, team shape was awkward and a few of the balls by Bradley to the right flank were too lazy without the proper pace. Bradley's back was turned to the service which produced the Mexican goal, that is totally unacceptable...secon half saw better team shape and a lot more energy...LD decided to reappear and Castillo kept having difficulties as left back...right side was thoroughly exploited by the tri-colors, but defense seemed to reorganize better...one big flaw, not too much movement off the ball which creates space...better but not enough movement in the 2nd half...as usual John Harkes did his yada-yada act blowing smoke over the airwaves.
Ridge, who has played better than Castillo and Torres on the left side in the past under Bradley? You sure are nailing these guys as much as you can. Problem is nobody agrees with you. Do you drink too much when watching these games?
I was so excited with what I saw last night. JK is going to be great for US Soccer. I think BB did as well as he could but he was not, in my opinion, the right guy for the job and I don't believe in any way JK benefitted from BB "foundation building." I agree with so many of you that Harkes and Lalas were just plain annoying to listen to and frankly I thought they were both way off in their commentary. I found myself thinking would you guys just stop talking. I didn't think Twellmen had much to offer that was useful either. I think JK figured out something in 3 practices that past National Team coaches couldn't and that was defensive organization is critical to international success. We finally have that. I truly think JK is going to be great for the US. I also think this is the end of the road for Bradley on the national team as well. I have always thought he was overrated and that he hurt this team. He was out of position most of the time and it was impossible for the US to ever have a good defending shape in the midfield when he played. His work rate was always good, I will give him that but he won't be on the national team much longer I suspect.
And where was Adu? Would he not fit into this group of attacking young and exciting midfielders?
Superman, I hear you. I'm not sure why disagreements about who's playing well and who's not have to be pared with comments about how stupid anyone who holds the opposing opinion is. Good players can also have bad games. I actually think Harkes is a good commentator (I also thought Jones played poorly, but Harkes was a bit hard on him). I don't think Harkes is generally negative. While Lallas' mannerisms can be annoying, I think what he says is generally worth hearing (but it's probably best in short doses, like at halftime). Twellman lacks experience, but seems to be pretty insightful. I used to like Ian Darke's commentary, but I think he's losing it. I couldn't understand why he thought Cherundolo should have been thrown out (and that was something he would not let go, kind of like Harkes' criticism of Jones). From what I could see, Cherundolo kind of pushed the Mexican player in the chest (it looked like Cherundolo was trying to take the ball from him or something); I didn't see him put his hand in his face as Darke claimed (but maybe he could see different angles?). Jorge Ramos had some good interesting observations about the Mexican players (what did he say about Dos Santos, that he has only one speed?). Anyway, I like seeing different people's opinions (David Sirias, I think your observations about Beckermann's short-passing abilities were very insightful, and David Huff, likewise your observations about the importance of playing in Azteca and the importance of playing high pressure defense against the Mexicans), but I'd like to see fewer references to how little people know about soccer.
@Kent, agree with you on maintaining better decorum and civility on these Boards, now that the Bradley regime is gone I can personally say that I'm brimming with positive energy rather than some of the negatism that was borne of despair in the past. To me Harkes was 'ok' but Lalas was his typical annoying self, he should not be an announcer. I liked Twellman, he just needs some more time in the broadcast booth, he feels an affinity for these players, if it was not for his concussion injuries he might very well be out there playing with them now. Darke was annoying during the Women's WC and his behavior continued with this game. Playing high pressure defense against Mexico (and for that matter against Brasil and Argentina) is critical because it partially takes away the technical skills edge that they possess, they don't like being knocked around. That said, we will also need to improve our own player technical skills to help close the gap with those countries or at least make the difference smaller. Winning in the Azteca to me will signal that our country's program has 'arrived', only Costa Rica has beatem them there before, if we can win in Azteca then we can win anywhere. I look forward to such a day. :-) @ James F, you crack me up but seriously I share your giddiness, its nice to have a sense of comfort knowing that your team is going in a positive direction with an effort to take it to a new level. And finally, my now traditional closing comment . . . . Ein Volk, Ein USA, Ein Klinsmann!! Viva El Aleman! :-)
Not that much different... a little luckier and more enthusiasm. If Bradley had gotten this same result, you guys would be complaining about something else.
Brek Shea was the player of the game and
is the future star of the (Americans) National team.
Amos, of all people you should know that Bradley could never beat Ghana but Klinsmann will be able to if we meet them again. Feeling a little nervous for your old country??
Amos, my African first then American friend, Bradley is and always be Bradley and Klins is and will be Klins. You of all people? Do you get the picture now? American huh? So the difference wasn't how much better they played with Torres and Castillo? Time will wake you up from you're "American" dream. By the way, every other "American" notices how much better USA is and can be when they use more Hispanics on the USA team. Remember "Americans " always want to win first. Mexico U20s are now in World Cup semis, won U17 and are Concacaf kings. Not to mention that they are top 10 in the world according to Klins. More Hispanics on team, better results. Get used to it. You're in for a long ride. Lets see if soccer "America" really does their job this time and gives Mexico, an American team, a nice recognition on its worldly high output in soccer. Clearly it looks like the USA doesn't have to look so far for an example from a top world country. We're nest door!! This should definitely change the immigration laws toward Mexicans.