Three takeaways from Chile-USA

By Ridge Mahoney

In their first match of 2015, the Americans twice took the lead on the road but were unable to avert a 3-2 loss to a Chilean team returning just two players from its 2014 World Cup squad.

Here are three impressions from the match, which was the USA's third straight defeat.

1. Wide men Shea and Yedlin need work.

Playing a skillful team like Chile on the road was always going to be a daunting task, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knew this well. Still, he sent out his players, as expected, in a 3-5-2 formation with Jermaine Jones in the back flanked by Matt Besler on the left and debutant Steve Birnbaum on the right.

Also as expected, DeAndre Yedlin played on the right flank and Brek Shea took the left side. Shea stunned the Chilean crowd, and more than a few American fans as well, by stinging a shot inside the far post to open the scoring. Yedlin supplied plenty of attacking push and set up the second U.S. goal by working a nice combination play with Mix Diskerud from a throw-in.

Neither wide player looked confident or comfortable defending in the first half and even when the Americans switched to a 4-4-2 in the second half that pulled them deep into outside back positions, they labored to measure up. Still, Shea at least battled for balls in the air --- he'd been overpowered when he went up late for a ball in the first half -- and both he and Yedlin snuffed out more plays after halftime. Both lasted the full 90 minutes, with Yedlin -- who started training with Tottenham Jan. 1 -- running fairly strongly towards the end of the match.

This looked like a training match for several players, forced into unfamiliar roles and situations by a new formation. Chile injected more energy into their game after halftime and though Shea and Yedlin were playing deeper they still needed to do a lot of running. The demands of defending out wide, whether in a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, at the international level are challenges both of these players will face.  Games like this are part of the learning curve.

2.  USA remains too dependent on Jones.

If Klinsmann's reasoning for moving Jones into the back line  is partly based on reducing his workload, the player apparently didn't get the memo.

In the 3-5-2, he often fronted Besler and Birnbaum and rather than holding his spot when the U.S. gained possession, he repeatedly pushed into midfield to get on the ball and do something with it. He hit several good balls and also committed some costly turnovers, such as the atrocious giveaway that only a swatted save by Nick Rimando rescued in the 37th minute. As Michael Bradley picked his spots to attack, Jones stormed around the field aggressively and a couple of times was stranded near the midfield line as Chile raced forward. Yet the USA's aggression paid off in a pair of nice goals even as the defensive shape took a beating.

Jones played his usual robust role in the second half as substitutes Lee Nguyen and Wil Trapp were brought into midfield, and only seldom were the Americans able to hold the ball and stem Chile's momentum. Jones may be 33 and a longshot to play in the next World Cup, and perhaps in a year or two Klinsmann will begin weaning the team off his range and spirit and dynamic persona. Until then, there is a significant dependence on his presence and performance.

3. Streaks are for stat nerds.

A third straight loss leaves the Americans winless in their last five games and with just one victory in their last nine. Klinsmann and his players don't seem all that concerned.

Clint Dempsey didn't get all bubbly -- at least publicly -- when the USA registered an historic 1-0 defeat of Italy in Genoa, and during a postgame interview on Fox Sports 1 Jozy Altidore focused on the next game against Panama rather than his goal.

If poor results start to erode the players' confidence -- nothing seems to shake Klinsmann's buoyant mood -- and performance there will be cause for concern. This game had plenty to criticize. But clever passing and crisp finishing produced the goals and three players got their first caps -- Birnbaum, Trapp and Gyasi Zardes -- in difficult circumstances. This was a disappointment, not a disaster.

TRIVIA. The USA has now allowed nine goals in its last three games, the most in three games since 1993.

Jan. 28 in Rancagua
Chile 3 USA 2. Goals: Gutierrez 10, M.Gonzalez 66, 75; Shea 6, Altidore 31.
USA -- Rimando; Birnbaum, Jones, Besler; Yedlin, Bradley, Dempsey (Zardes, 68), Diskerud (Trapp, 60), Shea, Wood (Nguyen, 46), Altidore (Wondolowski, 75)
Chile -- Herrera; O.Gonzalez, Rojas, Cornejo; Espinoza (Fierro, 72), Pulgar, Medel (Diaz, 79), Valdes (Delgado, 60); Carrasco, Gutierrez (Vilches, 90+4), M.Gonzalez (Sagal, 90).
10 comments about "Three takeaways from Chile-USA".
  1. James Madison, January 28, 2015 at 11:21 p.m.

    When it came to defending, Yedlin looked lost and Shea lackadasical. Neither Trapp nor Nguyen impressed. Bradley made far too many unforced errors. Jones was full of zest and sloppiness. Except for his goal, Altidore showed why Spurs benched him. All in all, a retrograde showing.

  2. The Exporter, January 29, 2015 at 4:57 a.m.

    Great News... pleased to see all this.

  3. Kent James, January 29, 2015 at 9:31 a.m.

    It's to Klinsmann's credit that he schedules tough matches and is willing to try new formations (as well as a few new players), but it does mean we struggle for coherence. I'm also starting to think Dempsey may be past his prime...

  4. scot williamson, January 29, 2015 at 10:31 a.m.

    One thing is for sure, they have to get back line figured out first, the ladies squad could score on them now. If anyone watched world cup and MLS this last year I would hope you would agree with me when I say, Bradley has shown no consistency at this level and has far underperformed. A good offense starts with a sound defense and a strong middle, USA has niether with player combinations Klingsman has put on field.

  5. Tim Brown, January 29, 2015 at 11:07 a.m.

    Just wanted to add that In general the USMNT shows no joy or excitement when they play. Is this cool indifferent JK coaching style with seemingly no team cohesion seen by others here. I am glad that we are playing better teams in these types of matches and Chile has many good players even on their B squad. But our second half collapses continue and Bradley has not performed well in some time. Give Shea some credit as at least he has the confidence to take on players one on one.Yedlin will continue to get better as well. Glad to see them try something new but I agree with Alexi Lalas in the post game show. Stick with it. We looked overclassed again.We had a very difficult time in possession of the ball with far too many giveaways and we just look uninspired.

  6. charles davenport, January 29, 2015 at 11:16 a.m.

    USA didn't look comfortable playing out of the back?

  7. Gunther Charles, January 29, 2015 at 12:04 p.m.

    Just a couple of players met the test. Jones-so so, really looked lost at times, get rid of the stupid hair he is sporting and things will be better. What is wrong with a clean looking team? Altidore, yes he scored a goal my Grand Pa could have done, he also looks lost, I really don't know if he knows why he is out there to start with, he is out of shape no wonder he does not play or has played in Premiere League

  8. Rick Estupinan, January 29, 2015 at 3 p.m.

    commented on: January 29, 2015 at 2:57 p.m.
    So am I,Jbapper,but with the players JK has at the present time there is little he can do.Altidore,Dempsey,Bradly,they are way passed their time,even BShea,and Diskerud.The US team is so inconsistent,7 out 10 times,they would play like a bunch of idiots,who don't have any notion of how to play the game.Chile has always been a South American power house,so no wonder the result.This was the only thing good about this confrontation.The US was not playing against El Salvador or Jamaica,so aside from the loss it was a good experience.But there is hope.Today there are millions of kids watching and playing the game the way it is suppose to be play.Donovan said it well,"if you did not play the game since a very early age,(5 or 6) you will never be good at it".You can not teach an old dog no tricks.And I believe this is the problem with most of our present players,they turn to Football,(Soccer) at 15 years of age or more,and this not the way.So I do believe that in a five to ten years from now the USA will have plenty of good talented players,that can compete with the world's best.

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  9. Walter Crawford, February 1, 2015 at 12:25 p.m.

    Put people where they are most comfortable.
    Shea is an example, if he knows he will play on the left side as a half and the people he will be playing off are there as well , he will do well. When he played at Dallas he played the left side and you knew he would do something when he got the ball. He did. The players need to settle in a position.

  10. Andrew Kear, February 5, 2015 at 8:25 a.m.

    Like a vampire, Klinesman has sucked the soul out of this team.

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