USMNT Report: A Clear Road Emerges For USA

The United States dropped its latest two matches late, showing something that manager Jurgen Klinsmann will need to work on moving forward
by Herb Scribner   |   Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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

The United States Men’s National Team suffered one of the biggest drops in results over the last week.

After a 2-1 loss to Colombia in the dying minutes, the United States dropped a 4-1 decision to the Republic of Ireland.

A similar story was told between the two matches, too: The games were close early, but things then fell apart, showing that USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann still has progress to make if the USA is to be a legitimate contender moving forward.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kyle Beckerman — Against Colombia, there was no better player than Beckerman. The Real Salt Lake captain closed down the middle and showed how important the holding midfielder role can be.

ANALYSIS: The United States suffered its worst defeat under Klinsmann with the 4-1 loss to Ireland. This comes just days after almost grabbing a result against one of the most powerful international teams, Colombia.

So, at first glance, there’s little to make of the USA’s recent affairs — except that the USA is having trouble locking down and closing out games.

The United States got off to a hot start against Colombia when striker Jozy Altidore scored off a penalty kick to put the Americans up 1-0. As the game went on, the USA continued to keep the lead, locking down Colombia with stellar defense from Jermaine Jones, who performed well in the backline once more, and Beckerman, whose holding midfielder role controlled the midfield. But then Carlos Bacca notched one in the 60th minute and Teofilo Gutierrez notched another to give Colombia the victory.

On Tuesday, the USA let in an early goal, but then tied it up with a goal from Mix Diskerud in the 39th minute and closed out the half with a 1-1 score. In the second half, it was all Ireland. USMNT goalkeeper Bill Hamid did little to stop the Ireland efforts, which kept coming even late into the half. The USA could do nothing but concede late goals and fall apart in the second half, a running theme for the Americans under Klinsmann.

So where does Klinsmann go from here? It’s clear the United States is facing this tremendous issue of being able to close out games when it matters. Part of that is establishing a consistent backline and defense. Fabian Johnson, for example, played a midfield role against Colombia but then switched to defense against Ireland. Jermaine Jones went back to his club so he wasn’t there, either. The shuffle of the backline left the USA too shaken and indifferent to stay compact and keep Ireland from running rampant on the Americans.

While Klinsmann works on the backline, he also can see the value of the holding midfielder role. Beckerman once again shone against Ireland as he did against Colombia and the World Cup, which shows the role may be more important for the future of the USA. Beckerman will be 36 by the time the next World Cup comes around, so that may be a little old, but he can surely instruct and teach newcomers on how to play that role effectively and give the USA some strength in the midfield. But at least for now, with the Gold Cup and other competitions in mind, Beckerman will surely be a benefit for the side.

The USA knows it needs to work on its defense moving forward and figure out a way to close out games. But for a year where the Americans were put on the map with a decent showing of the World Cup — especially after getting out of a Group of Death that featured eventual World Cup winners Germany — this is a disappointing way to end the year.

But the benefit is clear — Klinsmann now has a roadmap to build the Americans on.

NEXT UP: TBD.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
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.
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