Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA

By Ridge Mahoney

The cycle leading up to the 2018 World Cup started off with an encouraging victory in Prague during which head coach Jurgen Klinsmann used 17 players, only one of whom -- goalie Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake -- plays in MLS. Considering the little time many of the players have shared in a match, breakdowns were relatively few and some polished play was shown.

Here are three thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the match.

GYAU’S GOT GAME. Thought he started off rather shakily by knocking a ball over the sideline as he launched a dribbling run, debutant Joe Gyau used the 90 minutes granted him by Klinsmann to enhance his reputation.

Playing mostly on the right wing of a 4-3-3 formation, Gyau ran at the Czech Republic on numerous occasions but didn’t rely solely on speed. There were looks inside to find teammates though he seldom veered into the middle as did Julian Green. And unlike Green, he didn’t prompt a promising attack by the Czechs by losing the ball as did Green in the first half.

Gyau showed his skill and confidence by tight-roping along the sideline while using juggles and flicks to keep a ball in play and under his control. Gyau got the first U.S. shot on goal though Petr Cech easily stopped his right-footed effort in the 17th minute, and the Czech keeper also held a driving cross from Gyau a few minutes later.

Despite his advanced position, Gyau did some effective work defensively. In the 61st minute, after a poor U.S. clearance of a free kick, Gyau raced back to put a shoulder into Ladislav Krecjl as he got off a shot that Rimando saved with his left foot. His speed at times forced a hasty opposing pass that was picked off by a teammate and he kept up his energy level for most of the match.

Gyau, 21, plays for Borussia Dortmund II in the third tier of German soccer. As he has done several times in the past and continues to do so, Klinsmann is not reluctant to pluck players from the lower divisions, and he has plenty of time to bring young talent along slowly. There are many holes in Gyau’s game and he’s certainly raw but against the Czechs he showed some sense of reading the game, especially going forward, which as a winger in a 4-3-3 is his primary responsibility.

GOOD FEET IN THE BACK. The match began with the U.S. centerbacks John Brooks, stationed in the left-central slot, and Michael Orozco playing the ball between them and looking to move it forward at the appropriate moment. They seldom opted for the long ball, preferring to get it wide or to a central midfielder, such as Mix Diskerud, and let the attack develop further up the field.

Like Matt Besler, Brooks has a strong left foot, and in Prague he showed a touch that had only been seen sporadically since he debuted for the U.S. under-20s against Paraguay four years ago. He dribbled upfield several times to break Czech pressure and get balls to the midfielders, and one of the early USA shots was was a Brooks attempt that buzzed past the post. He defused a threatening situation by sliding to clear a centering pass off the foot of Vaclav Pilar that Krecjl was waiting on to smash into the net. Like Gyau, Brooks went the full 90, and is obviously a player Klinsmann needs to develop to build and increase the depth of the national-team pool.

Klinsmann paired Brooks with another lefty, Tim Ream, for much of the second half. The angles available for passes out of the back increase with players who can use both feet -- as can starting outside backs Tim Chandler and Fabian Johnson -- and if Klinsmann is to instill a bonafide possession game, it must start among the defenders.

GOOD GAMES FOR MIX AND NICK. Improvement on the defensive side by Mix Diskerud has been unspectacular yet steady over the past year or so. He doesn’t rattle an opponent’s teeth when he challenges for balls but he can win them, and did just that to make space for a shot that was saved and bounced perfectly for Alejandro Bedoya to bang into an open net.

Diskerud also brings range and a good work rate to the table, and along with his guile and skill that makes him a viable box-to-box option going forward. He’s talented and clever enough to unlock defenses but casting him strictly as a playmaker, as many have done, is off-base. He works both sides of the ball for Rosenborg.

Don’t tell Rimando that Brad Guzan has an inside track to take over as No. 1 during Tim Howard’s national team hiatus. Rimando brings his infectious enthusiasm and zealous work habits to every training session, and he’s still got the instincts and reflexes that have earned him the distinction as the MLS all-time shutout king. A gap at the edge of the U.S. defensive third provided the Czechs opportunities in the second half that Rimando repelled.

He kept the zero in Prague with a few excellent saves, including that left-footed stop, and as he does regularly for whichever team he plays for, Rimando exuded that invaluable confidence a team desperately needs in its goalie.


13 comments about "Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA".
  1. Jeff Gingold, September 3, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.

    Nice match by US. I was pleasantly surprised by the play, particularly in the first half. Agree that Gyau and Diskerud stood out and Rimando saved it in the second half. You can see Klinsmann's method in these guys --- young, fast, hungry. Did not see a lot of walking around and waiting. Yeah it's a friendly, but it was a really good win and I'm excited to continue watching what comes of this new pool of talent. It could be a lot of fun! I would venture a guess that no one has an inside track under this regime, and I think that's good. Nice job, Jurgen!

  2. Santiago 1314, September 3, 2014 at 10:10 p.m.

    OMGyau…Houston!!! We have a Triple Threat…\\... Green**Altidore**Gyau…-- …Dempsey**Bradley**Jones…--…//…Johnson**Cameron**Brooks**Yedlin…//** GK**WHO Cares…They All ROCK!!!! I liked to hear that JK agrees with ME… we Could have//SHOULD HAVE, at Least, gone to the Semi-Finals in Brazil*** RE-POST,,,commented on: July 7, 2014 at 12:32 a.m…”” The "IFs" DO matter, "IF" you are Spending MILLIONS of Dollars on Games and Training Camps and paying a Coach MILLIONS of Dollars, and he Drops People off the Team because of "Control" Issues (Boyd, Donovan, E. Johnson)...Then we get Wondo, instead of Eddie or Landon sitting on the 6, for an easy Tap-In...Wondo is the Epitome of "The Peter Principle"(He rose to the Level of his Incompetency ) Not really his Fault, why do you think he was so easily Traded by Dynamo, We saw him miss those chances, Year, After Year, AFTER YEAR!!!...TICOS did do Better than USA, Never said they didn't... Shows what a Coach, who takes His Inferior Talent, and BELIEVES THAT HE CAN WIN, Can instill In His Players... With the Poor Quality(Mundane, Average ability )of players in this World Cup, Even Costa Rica, could have Won It.. What "IF"JK had not taken the "Spunk" out of Dempsey, by Isolating him to the Lone Ranger Forward, (Something Dempsey is not suited to; Physically or Psychologically)...JK F@cked up Dempsey's Mindset and He went "Houdini " as you so aptly Described it... But again, those of us who have watched Clint, since he was 12, could have told you how to Shut Him Down...Don't let him see the ball, and he will Pout and Shut Down, and Become Disinterested... Shame, that it was our Own MILLION dollar Coach that did it to him... Waste of a Truly Gifted Talent.. All because JK didn't bring a SUB for Jozy, Probably because he was afraid that Jozy(another Pouter) Would have had his "Feelings" Hurt... THE "IFs" Do Matter, "IF" you could have snuck in The Backdoor, and Won a World Cup, devoid of Quality... Costa Rica almost did it with a "HIGH SCHOOL" Offside Trap... But JK couldn't even anticipate that Lukaku was going to run over Besler...2 days before the game, I was posting,in here, that Brooks, should start over Besler... “” *** I am Just waiting for the Apology, from JK, for Leaving off Donovan and Boyd, Then I will Totally Forgive him… GOOD GAME U.S.A...WE BELIEVE THAT WE CAN WIN!!!!

  3. Walt Pericciuoli, September 4, 2014 at 9:36 a.m.

    Encouraging outing. Nice to see the young players playing without fear. 1st half showed what they could do. 2nd half, too many subs for the team to absorb and play became disjointed, thankfully Rimando rose to the occasion and secured the win. I liked what I saw.

  4. BJ Genovese, September 4, 2014 at 10 a.m.

    Real encouraging for any US non-dual citizenship players... playing for your country is surely within reach right???

  5. James Froehlich, September 4, 2014 at 10:01 a.m.

    Very impressed and happy with the level of possession play and play out of the back. There were several sequences on the sideline where the US maintained possession in a way that Barca would have approved.

  6. Miguel Dedo, September 4, 2014 at 3:47 p.m.

    I keep hoping we (the US) will produce a really world-class player. JK is still charged with making chicken salad without any real chickens.

  7. Ginger Peeler, September 5, 2014 at 1:37 p.m.

    To see Altidore, our team captain show his disdain for the country he should feel honored to play for...I mean, really? Shades of Tommie Smith and John Carlos! Surely Jozie can at least have the guts and honesty of his oft-times teammate over the years, Landon Donovan, and tell us what and why he is protesting. He was born a citizen of the United States. There are rules for US citizens regarding behavior during the national anthem: stand and place your right hand over your heart (look it up). Do you really want someone who dislikes your country playing for you? If all you care about is winning, I know the answer. But if you care about honor, you'll have to at least give it a second thought.

  8. Santiago 1314, September 5, 2014 at 6:59 p.m.

    I missed That!!! I hope it's not True!!! Not Sure about the Rules thing for the National Anthem...Customs, Norms,Yes...I don't think that a Person can be Forced to Place his Hand over his Heart..After all, It's Constitutional to Burn the Flag(Unfortunately)

  9. Alex G. Sicre, September 6, 2014 at 6:19 p.m.

    Right on Ginger. I have been thinking the same exact thing. When you play for the U.S.A., it is a privilege to wear that jersey, and should have the decency to at least put your hand over your heart like the rest of the team. I don't know what he is protesting about either, but he is showing disrespect for the players and the country he represents. Santiago I completely disregard your comments. He was the captain for Gods sake!

  10. Scott O'Connor, September 7, 2014 at 11:34 a.m.

    National anthem - This has been a pet peeve of mine for many years. It seems our best players are too cool for singing the anthem. Landon never did. Clint doesn't. Jozy doesn't. Beasley nope. Hell even Klinsmann was singing the anthem in Brazil. I don't get these guys at all. I can forgive the foreign-born players, at least they didn't sing the German anthem when we played Deutchland in Brazil. Cudos to Michael Bradley and Tim Howard for always singing the anthem and seeming like it means something to them. I think there should be a twitter campaign or something #SingTheAnthem to call attention to this issue. I always watch the anthems for both teams in an International match. I like to see what the other team is bringing. Most teams really belt it out and show that they really care about who they are representing on the field.

  11. Santiago 1314, September 7, 2014 at 11:41 p.m.

    @Alex.,,I thought I Posted my follow up to @Ginger here, but I don't see it... It's over in the Player Ratings... I do Agree with you all... I was only stating that there is no "Rule""Law", about Civilians having to place their hand over their heart during National Anthem.... As someone who HAS Represented the USA in some Dangerous situation, I find Jozy's Behavior TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!! I'll try to move that post over here...

  12. Rick Estupinan, September 8, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.

    Well,I guess,... the only thing I can think of at the moment is that,maybe Altidore fells himself been more Haitian than American.

  13. Santiago 1314, September 8, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.

    I Found it,.. They have taken everything down???..commented on: September 6, 2014 at 2:10 p.m.
    -0-.-0-.-0-. For Altidore(Team Captain)???...@Ginger Pointed this Out...@Ginger,,, I went back and Watched the Tape, Unfortunately, You are CORRECT!!!...Jozy did NOT put his Hand Over his Heart...UNACCEPTABLE for a USA Player, ESPECIALLY THE CAPTAIN, to do that...All the other Players did, (Yes, @BJ, Even those Pesky German and Mexican Players)...Maybe JOZY is incapable of Holding a Banner and a Piece of Paper AND having to Place the other Hand over his Heart...He sure Butchered, whatever he was supposed to be reading...If he does it again, I would Substitute him, ONE MINUTE INTO THE GAME, for TOTAL Emphasis...Having Represented this Country, All over this World,(in some very Dangerous Places).. I AM DISGUSTED...It was bad enough putting up with his Pouting and Laziness, But this is beyond the Pale...USSF Needs to leave him off for the next game...Don't leave it up to JK...You Listening SUNIL

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