USA has short- and long-term issues on outside

[THREE THOUGHTS ON ... USA-Guatemala] The U.S. national team completed its fourth week together on Sunday as it flew off to Guatemala City. It seems like an eternity to gather for two games, Friday's Antigua & Barbuda game and Tuesday's key World Cup 2014 qualifier against Guatemala. After looking sharp in the opening friendly against Scotland, the U.S. play has looked increasingly ragged. The lack of movement off the ball was a key issue against Antigua & Barbuda, and it was the mark of a tired team. For more on the USA ahead of Tuesday's game ...

THE LEFT BACK JINX. Jurgen Klinsmann assured everyone there is no shortage of options at left back.

“We always have left backs. Anybody can play left back,” Klinsmann said with a laugh. “We had [assistant coach] Andy Herzog play left back, [but] he doesn’t have an American passport. We’ll figure it out. We’ll find solutions.”

Unfortunately, this was before Jose Torres went down with an ankle injury.

Options at left back for Tuesday's game include bringing back Fabian Johnson, injured in warm-ups before the Canada friendly, moving Carlos Bocanegra over from center back or going with Michael Parkhurst.

Klinsmann is likely to go with the latter option, even if left back is a position at which Parkhurst has only played occasionally for Danish champion FC Nordsjaelland.

It would be risky to bring back Johnson, while there are not exactly many choices to replace Bocanegra in the middle.

There is no way Klinsmann is going with a repeat of the move he made after Torres got hurt and start Oguchi Onyewu in the middle. The only other player available to play alongside Clarence Goodson in the back is Geoff Cameron, and Klinsmann hasn't played him since the first game against Scotland.

THE RIGHT BACK FUTURE. Some may say left back wouldn't be a problem if Tim Chandler had committed to the USA, but it says here he is needed at right back, not left back, perhaps not now, but soon.

Steve Cherundolo has been perhaps the most underrated U.S. player of the last decade, but he is getting up there in years. He'll be 35 by the 2014 World Cup.

He's played all four games at right back and has been quieter than usual.

Chandler on the right and Johnson on the left would be a great combo on the outside that the USA could run with for a decade.

FEAR FACTOR. How much should the USA fear Guatemala? After all, the USA has not lost to the Chapines in almost a quarter of a century, a streak of 17 games.

It's traveled to Mateo Flores Stadium three times for World Cup qualifiers and has never lost. The most recent game came four years ago at the same stage of Concacaf qualifying, and the USA won, 1-0.

But there was the sense that Tuesday's game is a game the USA fears -- even if Guatemala is coming off a 2-1 loss to Jamaica in its opening qualifier and lost three key players in a game-fixing investigation.

"We have to give Guatemala a real fight," said Klinsmann after the Antigua & Barbuda game.

His words didn't exactly smack of confidence.

21 comments about "USA has short- and long-term issues on outside".
  1. C. Zee, June 11, 2012 at 8:18 a.m.

    Italy played Spain with 3 in the back and drew 1:1.

    Klinsmann should exude more confidence - after all, if the USA play attacking football, there will not be a problem in defending.

    Interestingly how most recent US team coaches (Samson, Arena & Bradley) begin their USA career attack minded and fade to ultra defensive strategy. Why ?

  2. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2012 at 8:42 a.m.

    I have always asked for a 3-5-2 for the USA. This formation strengthens our defense and takes all the attacking responsibilities away from those 3 backs. They would just need to sit in the entire game and defend, no overlapping runs, no getting caught out of position, no midfielders scrambling to cover for out of position defenders.

  3. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2012 at 8:43 a.m.

    I know the US will play four backs on Tuesday. With the limited options available at this point, it would be suicide to go with any other lineup except this: Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Parkhurst.

  4. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2012 at 8:44 a.m.

    If anybody gets injured Cameron fills in. Under no circumstances should Oguchi Onyewu be allowed to board the plane for Guatemala.

  5. Kent James, June 11, 2012 at 8:52 a.m.

    C'mon Bill, let Gooch on the plane. His service for the US has been so admirable over the years, and he seems like the kind of guy who'd be good to have in the locker room. Don't let him on the field during a match, but he deserves to be with the team (at least until this series of games is over).

  6. Walt Pericciuoli, June 11, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.

    We cannot add any players for those injured?

  7. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2012 at 9:16 a.m.

    It was my understanding that the team could add players during this round of qualification with 24 hours notice before kick. I don't know for sure. I doubt Klinsmann would add players that were not in camp.

  8. Mike Gaynes, June 11, 2012 at 9:27 a.m.

    Kennedy is correct about the best options for the US at outside back long-term -- and if Chandler doesn't commit to the US, Eric Lichaj should be next on the list -- but Kennedy ignores the even worse long-term problem in the middle. Bocanegra will also be 35 in 2014, and he's still faster than Goodson. Onywewu is clearly done, Cameron and Parkhurst have shown nothing. This, not outside back, is the major issue for the US now.

  9. Mike Gaynes, June 11, 2012 at 9:41 a.m.

    Bill and C.Zee, Klinsmann has never coached the 3-5-2, and the US doesn't have the appropriate players for it. The 3-5-2 requires speedy outside midfielders who can track back with opposing wingers, like Giacccherini and Maggio for Italy, and the current US wing attackers -- Donovan, Dempsey, Torres etc. -- don't fit the bill. And the 3-5-2 requires a true #10 behind the strikers, a genuine distributor/orchestrator like Pirlo. The US has really only one player who has ever shown that gift, the still-injured Stuart Holden.

  10. Jack Niner, June 11, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.

    The same old news for the USMNT - it seems to never change.

  11. Mike Gaire, June 11, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.

    Why isn't bringing Todd Dunivant in to play left back an option???!!!!

  12. Soccer Soccer, June 11, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.

    Klinsman needs 2 start lookin at sum of the younger players, that r natural left footers,that have skill,speed,and aren't afraid 2 push up n give service or take players on!

  13. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.

    Mike Gaynes, Brek Shea at FC Dallas could play the left side midfielder in a 3-5-2.

  14. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.

    and Josh Gatt on the right?

  15. Lloyd Elling, June 11, 2012 at 3:14 p.m.

    Play Carlos Bocanegra at left back...he looked terrific subbing in it the last match. Goodsen, Cameron or Onyewu can cover the middle. Leave Cherundolo at left. Edu & Bradley need to step up their play. We have a world class goalkeeper. Gomez has been our most consistant player. Dempsey & Donovan need to play 100% for 90 minutes. Jones is a full field player who gives 90 minutes.

    Get the 3 points and take a bow!

  16. Mike Gaynes, June 11, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.

    Bill Anderson, at the moment Brek Shea can't even handle his job in MLS. His form has fallen off a cliff and he was not even called in for camp by Klinsmann this time around. I'm sure Chandler and Johnson could also handle those flank spots, and from what I've seen Graham Zusi probably could also, but it's irrelevant... Klinsmann, like Bradley and Arena before him, almost never deploys the 3-5-2. The US has almost always had four in the back.

  17. Mike Gaynes, June 11, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.

    Lloyd Elling, it amazes me that you've been watching the games and you still think that Onyewu and Cameron can "cover the middle"... it's been made clear to just about everyone but you that they cannot. With either of them on the field, I see no chance of taking 3 points or any bows at all.

  18. Mike Gaynes, June 11, 2012 at 4:08 p.m.

    Ric Fonseca, in his time coaching Germany and Bayern, Klinsmann never, as far as I can recall, sent out a side in a 3-5-2 alignment. Not once. Regarding Dunivant, I too would like to see him brought in as a potential reserve for the US, but I doubt it will happen. Klinsmann likes outside fullbacks who can really drive an attack. That's not Dunivant's game.

  19. Paolo Jacobs, June 11, 2012 at 8:47 p.m.

    I know one thing, the US better not beat 1 vs 1 in the back, its a troubling situation as of late... We don't have much pace in the back, so it really sucks that Timmy chandler decided against suiting up anymore..Hopefully Jones and Bradley will clean up alot of the passes...

  20. Phil Love, June 12, 2012 at 9:52 a.m.

    Brek Shea is struggling right now for a depleted FC Dallas team, but he could be the outside midfielder in a 3-5-2. Even during his struggles he continues to work hard and tracks back well. I'd like to see Lichaj and some of the better MLS fullbacks get a chance. Dunivant, George John, Seattle has a good left back. I'm looking forward to the post-game chat after the Guatemala game. Will there be any? Is anyone going to watch it? How?

  21. Robert Kiernan, June 12, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.

    Mike Gaynes, while I think Dunivant should have seen far more time with the NATS several years ago, he is now 31 years old and while he could serve in a pinch, long term if we are going to have understudies for our older guys, they are NOT going to be in their 30's. As far as Onyewu, he has had maybe one strong match since his injury in 2009, and has NEVER had great "finesse", no his game is strength tightly marking a large target player one to one, his zone play simply is not great and when he hesitates he gets in trouble, in short his liabilities out weigh his strong points now. I think that Lichaj or Williams is likely to be tried out at CB sooner or later, but other than say George John or Tim Ream, who else do we have in the pipeline? Alfredo Morales in another player who likely to get a look as well... I'd think that Joshua Gatt is in line to see time either at midfield or at wing back on the right as well. ... (ICE)

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