Attacking lineup fails to produce

[CANADA-USA] The USA and Canada played to a 0-0 tie in their final friendly before the start of World Cup 2014 qualifying on Friday. It was the least inspiring performance by the USA in its three friendlies. Its best chance came in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Canada goalie Lars Hirschfeld tipped Clarence Goodson's header over the bar. Next up: Antigua & Barbuda Friday in the opening qualifier, then on to Guatemala for the most important of the five-game series. What will the USA have left in the tank when it takes to the field at Mateo Flores Stadium?

WHERE'S THE ATTACK? For the first time in the Jurgen Klinsmann era, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey started in the same game as part of the most attack-minded lineup Klinsmann has put on the field. But the USA's 4-4-2 formation produced far less penetration into the Canadian third than the Americans did against either Scotland or Brazil. The USA had 29 combined shots in its first two games but only managed nine on Sunday in Toronto. Coming back from a late-season injury, Dempsey doesn't look like the player that scored 17 goals for Fulham. And neither Donovan nor Jose Torres scored the combination play they did in the opening game of the USA's friendly series when it hammered Scotland, 5-1.

BIG TEST FOR CASTILLO. Fabian Johnson's late scratch with a calf strain is bad news for the USA. His ability to get up and down the left flank has been a revelation in the USA's previous three games, dating back to February's Italy friendly, and he will be missed in the upcoming qualifiers if he is unavailable. His replacement, Edgar Castillo, didn't have a bad game against Canada, but he simply doesn't have pace. The New Mexican product will face the biggest test of his U.S. career if he is called upon the start against Guatemala on June 12.

STARTING XI FOR TAMPA. The road to Brazil begins Friday night in Tampa. Here's one take on a probable starting XI: Tim Howard in goal; Steve CherundoloCarlos Bocanegra, Goodson and Castillo (assuming Johnson can't go) on the backline; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Donovan and Torres in midfield; and Jozy Altidore and Dempsey up front.

THE FITNESS ISSUE. Klinsmann has said the five-game series is all about results. A 1-1-1 record in the three friendlies is not what he was counting on, but it is irrelevant in the big picture. Wins over Scotland, Brazil and Canada wouldn't matter if the USA can't get out Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City with at least a point. Klinsmann noted after Sunday's game that his players were tired after three games and almost three weeks of work. "We can clearly see they have 18, 19 days of hard work in their legs," he said. The key will be how those legs will be in Guatemala game when the Chapines with the crowd behind them throw everything at the Americans.

June 3 in Toronto
Canada 0 USA 0.
Canada -- Hirschfeld; Jazic (Klukowski 87), Hainault, McKenna, Edgar; Johnson, de Guzman (Piette 85), Ledgerwood (Pacheco 72); De Rosario, Occean (Jackson, 65), Ricketts (Hume 85).
USA -- Howard; Cherundolo (Parkhurst 80), Goodson, Bocanegra (Onyewu 62), Castillo; Bradley, Jones, Donovan (Edu 73), Torres (Altidore 62); Dempsey, Gomez (Wondolowski 79).
Referee: Mauricio Morales (Mexico).
Att.: 15,247.

18 comments about "Attacking lineup fails to produce".
  1. Kent James, June 4, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.

    Although I have had reservations about both players, I thought both Castillo and Goodson had good games. Castillo was one of the few players active with the ball, and Goodson was strong in the air (as expected) but also did not get knocked around nor did he seem slow, and was better with the ball than in games past. I think Torres needs to be in the middle to be effective; he doesn't have the pace (nor the mentality) to be an outside mid. Not a great showing by the US. But I guess if you're going to have a bad game, do it against Canada in a friendly...

  2. David Mont, June 4, 2012 at 7:40 a.m.

    It was really stupid to schedule three friendlies in eight days, (and a total of five games in eighteen days) and play basically the same players who had just finished long European seasons all the time. And to add to this non-stop practices. By the Guatemala game they'll be barely able to move. A really stupid idea of a five-game mini-tournament in such a short period of time.

  3. John Hooper, June 4, 2012 at 12:17 p.m.

    I'm sure fatigue played a role, but I was left a little angry by that clueless second half display. Once Klinsmann started making his substituions the shape of the team fell apart and no one looked as though they knew what the fromationw as supposed to be. For a while, I'm pretty sure we had Dempsey at CF, but dropping way too deep, Jozy on the left wing, and Gomes on the right wing. That's jsut crazy and it's no surprise that lineup couldn't produce anything. It got a bit better once the three center midfielders settled down and Wondolowski came in for Gomez, but we still played the last fifteen minutes or so trying to play a 4-3-2-1 (I think) but neither Jozy nor Wondo seemed to know who was supposed to be the "1" up front and Dempsey just decided to go whatever he wanted int he midfield to get the ball. Overall, the second half was an undiscplined, poorly planned mess, and I think we can lay that at the feet of both the on-pitch leaders and the coaching staff.

  4. David Bakke, June 4, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.

    I'm just not as high on Torres as everyone else seems to be...given performances and capability to date my line would be: Howard, 'dolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Johnson, Donovan, Bradley, Jones, Dempsey, Herc, Altidore.

    Start it as a 4-3-3 (Herc and Donovan up with Jose) or as a 4-2-3-1 (Herc on the right Donovan on the left and Dempsey in the middle of the 3) against overmatched or evenly matched teams, and shift it to a 4-5-1 against a top 5 or 10 in the world team.

    Has anyone else noticed how well Herc is coming back to help defend and close down space, lanes, and opposition on the ball??? It has been awesome. He needs to be on the field.

  5. Luis Arreola, June 4, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

    Where is the article on Mexico's big win vs Brazil? You know the team that destroyed USA a few days ago.

  6. Eddie A Garcia, M.D., June 4, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.

    C'mon, Luis, as "LanDo" said, that was just a "harsh scoreline" the other day. Now were hearing a whole slew of other excuses (see above). The sad truth is that US soccer is rapidly stagnating into mediocrity. It's not difficult to detect the subtle indignation of most of us USMNT fans to squeaking out a scoreless draw against a side that, if we believe the commentators and sportswriters, we have been dominating for the last 14 years. Of course, they fail to acknowledge that Canada has improved, as would be suggested by their U23 knocking our U23 out of the Olympics with the subsequent draw vs El Salvador (plenty of excuses went around on that one too). The sooner we realize that we cannot just throw money at this problem, though our nation is blessed with more disposable capital than all other American nations that beat us in soccer regularly combined, the sooner we can really start to develop the sport here to a level where excuses will not be necessary over and over.

  7. Nathan Mckenzie, June 4, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.

    Castillo's problem isn't that he 'doesn't have pace'. It's that he's inconsistent in both decision making and execution. Everyone makes errors but his tend to be in unpredictable ways that teammates can't cover.

  8. Paul Lorinczi, June 4, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.

    I think everyone is being pretty harsh on this topic. The whole point of treating it as a mini-tournament was to see where we are and how we would handle the games. JK got his answers with little risk. 5 days rest should get them ready for the next round.

  9. Stuart d. Warner, June 4, 2012 at 3:42 p.m.

    If Johnson can't go, don't be surprised if Bocanegra plays left back with Gooch and Goodson in the middle. Castillo is not an international player--period.

  10. Raveen Rama, June 4, 2012 at 4:07 p.m.

    It is always easier to see things and make comments after the fact. I am sure if JK knew the outcomes of these games beforehand he would have made the appropriate changes! If we had won two games noone would have complained about the number of games in the short period of time. Like all of us I think JK knows what went wrong and what adjustments need to be made.
    As for the lineup I think Castillo did pretty well, and I think he should remain in that spot, and let Johnson play defensive mid pushing Bradley up. I believe Johnson is the guy who can control the midfield better than anyone else.

  11. P Van, June 4, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.

    I agree Castillo's play yesterday was inconsistent. He made the gaffe that led (had it not been disallowed) to Canada's "goal." At the same time, he pummeled a shot from 40 yards and looked dangerous (in a good way!) on the dribble. His decision making is suspect, granted, but that pretty much covered more than half the team yesterday. The tired legs showed on everyone. What else can explain solid movement in the two previous games, and next to none yesterday. Certainly not Canada?! What are the take-aways from these three games ultimately? Gomez deserves time on the field; Johnson does too; right now it should be Goodsen in the back along with Boca.

  12. David Sirias, June 4, 2012 at 4:46 p.m.

    Two things stand out, 1) Castillo has pace. And is s decent dribbler. His problem is that he is a mediocre passer of the ball. His gaffe led to a goal that should have counted. I still think his future will be as a backup wide mid, not LB. We will have a real LB (hopefully a converted Brek Shae) by 2014, freeing up Johnson to be the main left sided winger, which is what this teams really needs. Torres is a central player. He is not a winger, even as a wide forward in 433. 2) Donovan is pretty much useless now as a wide player against good teams. Scotland NOT a good team. He was simply taking minutes off against Canada. And even if he had been motivated, a Canada calibur team with a good gameplan and a decent left back can mark Donovan out of the game just as Brazil did. Against good teams, donovan either comes off the bench when things have opened up and he has space, or he starts as a withdrawn free 2nd striker. There is no other option for Donovan with the USMNT. Klinsmann needs to figure this out ... and pronto.

  13. Amos Annan, June 4, 2012 at 6:50 p.m.

    How come everyone here knows more about soccer than the guys who are coaching the national team? Maybe they should select the person with the best comment on SoccerAmerica Daily as the next coach instead of wasting time with Klinsmann.

  14. Mike Gaynes, June 4, 2012 at 6:56 p.m.

    Castillo has no pace, no judgement, no ballwinning ability, no physical presence, no ability to man-mark and no business wearing a US uniform, ever. He belongs in minor-league oblivion with Pearce and Bornstein. And the idea of converting an attacking midfielder to LB is a nightmare that haunts anyone who saw the Eddie Lewis experiment at Germany 2006. No, the US will need a real left back to deal with the speedy young attackers they'll face in this qualifying campaign, and that means Johnson, Eric Lichaj or, if he signs up, Timothy Chandler. No Sunday league players or converts, thank you.

  15. David Sirias, June 4, 2012 at 7:20 p.m.

    Oh, and one last thing. Bradley as the No. 6 Dmid is NOT EVER an "attacking lineup" Bradley needs to be the box to box No. 8 with two real forwards or three attacking players above him in the Klinsmann 433 for the lineup to remotely resemble "attacking."

  16. Rick Taylor, June 4, 2012 at 11:49 p.m.

    Castillo isn't the biggest problem on defense. He is young and needs experience, but he has potential-- it is good he gets play time in friendlies. For as much as I hate to say it, Gooch has yet to regain his form from before his injury. He is not the shut door he once was and can't recover fast enough when caught out of place, which is happening more than it used to. Would Castillo do better if he wasn't tracking back to the center? I'm afraid it is time for Gooch to walk away like Lalas should have done before his last world cup.

  17. Walt Pericciuoli, June 5, 2012 at 9:35 a.m.

    Needless to say, USA put on a very uninspired performance.The 0-0 scoreline might have been flattering.Perhaps we can just write that one off? Nevertheless,I am concerned about the deployment of a couple of our players.First,M.Bradley should never be the deep holding MF.He rarely gets back into the space in front of the 2 CFB and he is too far removed from the attack. I can't believe I am saying this, but he may be our best attacking CMF right now.Gooch is too slow and clumsy, he needs to be retired from the MNT. Bocanegra is on his last legs, we should have been grooming a replacement, but for now, he is the best leader on the field and we need him out there.We just need someone to cover for his lack of pace.Lando needs to decide if he wants to continue his international career. He is just going through the motions.Gomez needs someone to get the ball to him, he will finish.Is it Jones or Edu as the other CMF with Bradley. I don't think Jones and Bradley play well together, they are both trying to do the same role.Jones may solve the problem anyway,how long will he able to stay on the pitch.If our performance does not improve,our WC hopes will go the way as our Olympic dreams.

  18. Luis Arreola, June 5, 2012 at 11 a.m.

    Now the excuse will be too many games in few days, mini tourney, blah blah blah. Anybody notice Mexico playing 2 games vs good opponents and winning them?? Not to mention U23s winning Olympic preparation tourney for Mexico. Mexico beat Brazil right after a tough match vs Wales. Excuses. We are an advanced and rich country that has done nothing lately but make excuses where our 3rd world country neighbors are dishing out results. USA s problem is player identification and development. It took Mexico 20 years of strict Mexican league club player development policies to now have a consistent showing as a top soccer country as of late. USA is choosing to ignore this and looking to German y for 2nd tier players to put on usnnt. Why 2nd tier?? Do you think that a great soccer player with dual citizenship for USA and Germany would pick USA 1st?? We pissed off Rossi. Enough said. Lets waste all this energy and money here in USA in every corner and barrio instead.

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