The USA closes out its 2014 campaign with a game against Ireland on Tuesday in Dublin (live at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Univision).
, DeAndre Yedlin
, Lee Nguyen
and DaMarcus Beasley
, who all played in Friday's 2-1 loss to Colombia, have returned home, leaving Jurgen Klinsmann
with 21 players. Here are three
big storylines to follow for Tuesday's game. 1. How loud will the alarm bells be?
The USA is coming off its worst run under Klinsmann
-- one win in its last seven games -- and worst run since the immediate post-2010 World Cup under Bob Bradley
, which did not survive the USA's loss to Mexico in
the 2011 Gold Cup final.
It's hard to believe that Klinsmann is in jeopardy of losing his job like Bradley was after the 2010 World Cup, but the current form is very, very worrying.
Klinsmann's high-intensity style helped the USA achieve lots of success in 2013 and through the first two games, at least, at the World Cup, but when the pressure is off, what does the USA have?
In each of the four games since the World Cup, the USA has faded in the second half. How the USA does in the second half on Tuesday will set the tone for how loud the alarm bells will ring
heading into the winter break. 2. What's wrong with the German-Americans?
The four German-Americans in the Bundesliga, all members of
the 2014 World Cup team, are off to poor starts to the new league season: three at new clubs -- Fabian Johnson
(Borussia Moenchengladbach), Timmy Chandler
(Eintracht Frankfurt) and Julian Green
(Hamburg) -- and one back at his old club, and still in and out of the
doghouse -- John Brooks
Klinsmann's explanation that they got late starts after returning from the World Cup sounds like an
excuse. Whatever the reasons, the decline in form was apparent in the cases of Johnson and Green against Colombia. It's hard to remember Johnson having had a worse game. Green, the great promise only
six months ago, was left on the bench until late and looked overmatched against the Colombians during his few minutes on the field.
Johnson and Chandler will likely start against Ireland.
Green should come off the bench. Brooks should give way to the Matt Besler
tandem, reunited for the first
time since the Portugal game at the World Cup. 3. Rubio Rubin earns another chance.
One player who did not look overmatched against
Colombia was 18-year-old Rubio Rubin
, playing and starting his first game for the USA. He played his poise, linked up well up front with Jozy Altidore
and with a little luck could have had a goal.
With no other real second forward in the squad -- Clint
is resting up for the MLS conference finals -- Rubin should again start against the Irish. He certainly earned another chance. U.S.
Roster: GOALKEEPERS (4):
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
Matt Besler (Sporting KC), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Ein. Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Tijuana), Fabian
Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach). MIDFIELDERS (5):
Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green
(Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt). FORWARDS (6):
Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minn. United), Jordan Morris (Stanford Univ.), Rubio
Rubin (FC Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).
Its too pre-mature to talk about releasing Klinsmann since he's in until 2018, having said that, losing to Colombia 2-1 is not the end of the world. Although I am not a fan of Klinsmann, I want to see his players that he wants actually develop and that is not happening at the moment. Brooks, Green, Johnson, and even Jones have either decreased playing times or have gone to a lower level team, this is a concern since Klinsmann was brought in to revamp US Soccer.
Paranoia about coach Ks status? Nguyen gets 13 minutes against Colombia? And Ibarra gets zero minutes. K needs to find a solid play-maker and forget about Wondo et al who showed little, if any, efficacy at WC 2014. Time for K to start the new blood process with total gusto, not short cameo appearances by the newcomers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see if a player has the right metal to perform.
The question was asked - what is wrong with the German Americans? The answer is that they do not get enough playing time. JK is still obsessed with the idea that sitting on the bench of a 2nd or 3rd tier Bundesliga team is better than getting a lot of play tim on an MLS team or middle of pack EPL team. JK has done nothing to develop the team nor advance the US National Program. HIs contact demeaning of the American players and slurs against MLS have not helped. HIs constant experimenting with new players to see if we can find a hidden gem is not working. He needs to develop what he has. If he cannot develop players and help them perform at a heightened level, then he is not performing as he promised. In answer to the question, what is wrong with the German Americans is Klinsmann.
Roland Barral gets a +1
Klinsi is not on any hotseat. US Soccer has way to much invested in him. He could go on a 10 game losing streak and he'd be fine. The issue is the tactical direction he's trying to take the team, and is his process working. We all know the old physical American, pack it in & pray style doesn't work if you're going to compete against the best. But he doesn't have the horses yet, to play a quicker, ball-possession style. So he has to experiment with all these new young guys to see who can take him there in the next 2-3 years. It can be an ugly, bumpy process, but this is how a fundamental change looks. Now I do think these new guys need to play full matches, not 15 minutes here & there, that's pointless.
Good grief, you guys! It's almost 4 years until the next World Cup! Now is exactly the time to fiddle, experiment, try different things and personnel. Klinsmann said clearly, and I (for whatever that's worth) totally agree that he wants to use the older guys who will certainly not be there in the next cup to mentor the newbies. Americans tend to be very impatient (everything instant!) and superficial.
Totally agree with Zoe. There's plenty of time and it's about player development, not winning every match. That's the American mentality that you must win every game.
Also, Mr. Maddock's statement was spot on, "we all know the old physical American, pack it in & pray style doesn't work if you're going to compete against the best". A team at the international level needs players skilled in soccer, not a group of bigger athletic guys playing a game of dump-n-chase. To develop world class players, I also feel it's important to have a leader whose been there and Klinsmann is the first international we've had in this position, so let's give him the support and freedom to make some changes to the program.
Perhaps the European managers' evaluations of the US players are more-or-less correct. We do not have many (any?) world-class players -- do OK with what we have.
In re the three storylines to watch:
1. The rumblings/grumblings got louder.
2. The Germans looked like they didn't belong.
3. Rubin lived up to his billing.