USMNT Report: A Sign of Things to Come

USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann tinkers again, and his backline pays the price
by Herb Scribner   |   Monday, June 02, 2014

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States showed a lot of promise Sunday afternoon.

The USA cruised to a 2-1 win over Turkey at a Red Bull Arena that was not only a shining example of an American soccer venue, but was also roaring with enthusiasm for the home side.

But most of the positives came from the offense. And with mere days to go before the 2014 World Cup, USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann still has decisions to make to secure a strong lineup for Brazil.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Clint Dempsey – Not only did Deuce score a goal in the affair, but he was constantly involved in the offense, which was lacking a lot of support from Jozy Altidore. Dempsey is in great form right now, which makes him extremely vital in Brazil.

ANALYSIS: The United States’ win over Turkey is indicative of what the World Cup will be like in a number of ways.

For one, and maybe most importantly, the USA’s backline is uncoordinated and chaotic. No one knows how to play together, especially as they keep switching positions and spots within the backline. Though Timmy Chandler played well to start the match, in the second half he was constantly beat as he continued to switch to his weaker foot, which left him open to the Turkish offense. DeAndre Yedlin did well on the right in terms of work ethic and hustle, but even he was gassed and had to resort to desperate moves to hold off Turkey.

Far too often the Yanks were left susceptible to passes across their own 18-yard box and attacks by Turkey. When that same pressure comes from more threatening Germany, Portugal or Ghana, it makes one wonder if the United States will be able to cope.

But offensively things seemed to click for the US. Clint Dempsey showed his club form can rub off on his national team play. Michael Bradley seemed to struggle with some of his duties but was on-point particularly with his perfectly-placed chipper that led to Fabian Johnson’s goal.

The one offensive player who didn’t perform well was Jozy Altidore. He hustled at times and pressured sporadically, but overall still seemed unsure of himself and ultimately couldn’t find a way to score for the USA. He put one in the goal that was later called back, but it was off a sloppy goal that Altidore only got to because of a deflection and bounce. In many cases, Altidore was not in scoring positions. As a striker, Altidore needs to find form and get goals. Strikers score and he is not doing it for the USA. Simple as that.

Brad Davis and Graham Zusi both breathed freshness into a stale US offense, though it seemed wasteful when they swapped flanks as both are so adept at their own sides. That puzzling move displayed another flaw by Klinsmann, who continues to tinker and experiment with this team when days remain before the World Cup kicks off.

That’s the biggest problem facing the United States right now: Klinsmann’s lineups are still inconsistent and in places downright experimental. It’s not even that the United States is playing total football — where players can play both sides of the ball well. The Americans are drifting in out and of positions, finding each other at odd spots. No one has a clearly defined role, and if so it might change in a game or so, creating far too much chaos.

And no matter what the scoreline suggests, this tactic — if you want to call it that — isn’t working. Turkey had an enormous amount of chances in the box, many of which would have been converted into goals had it been Cristiano Ronaldo or Thomas Muller, who the USA will face in a little over two weeks.

So while there are positives for the USA to take out of this, the problems that the team faced after last week’s game against Azerbaijan still remain. And if the United States can’t fix those issues before this final warm-up game with Nigeria, then this summer’s World Cup may be a short trip for the Americans.

NEXT UP: June 7 – Friendly: United States vs. Nigeria, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida. 6 p.m. EST, ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas.


UMass Amherst
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FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.