USMNT Report: Back to Normalcy, For Now

In Columbus, the United States trounced Guatemala 4-0 — a welcomed victory after a defeat last week
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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

What a difference a weekend makes.

On Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio, the United States trounced Guatemala 4-0 in a game that looked a lot like a match between these two teams should, with the USA dominating completely. Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore all netted goals in the victory.

With just a few changes to the starting lineup, the USMNT showcased its true ability to succeed in the CONCACAF region.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael Bradley — You can’t say Bradley had a game on his own. Thanks to the efforts of defensive midfielder Kyle Beckerman, the Toronto FC star had a chance to push forward and lead the attack without worrying about defending too heavily in the back. Bradley’s runs were well calculated, and he had a superb free-kick cross to Geoff Cameron for the second goal.

ANALYSIS: The USMNT looks to be the team we thought it was.

Coming off a 2-0 loss to Guatemala just last Friday, the USMNT saw this return match at home as a revenge game. Losing would put the Americans in serious jeopardy of not qualifying for the Hexagonal round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. 

Thankfully for American soccer fans, the United States responded beautifully.

That starts at the top with coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who made a significant amount of changes to his starting lineup to give the US the fighting foot in needed to succeed. 

The biggest move, by far, was placing Beckerman into the game behind Bradley. This easily gave Bradley more opportunities to push forward, which led to at least two of the goals. Beckerman also did well to track back and act as a fifth defender, something that he did very well in the 2014 World Cup.

Similarly, USMNT veteran Zusi has a good showing up in the attack. He pushed forward when he needed to and definitely stretched the Guatemalan defense thin on multiple occasions. It was good to see the SKC midfielder back in the game, and he did well with his opportunities.

Many of the other moves Klinsmann made helped the team stay vibrant and fresh. Putting DeAndre Yedlin in the right back spot couldn’t have been more useful, and slotting Geoff Cameron into that center back role helped matters a lot, too. It was also refreshing to see newer faces Ethan Finlay and Christian Pulisic — a 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund product who made his USMNT debut — take the field. It would have been nice to see Finlay’s offside goal — that wasn’t offside by any stretch — count in his home stadium.

And, as mentioned earlier, Dempsey and Bradley — who were horrendous in the Guatemala lost — rebounded with a pair of great games. It was good to see Dempsey score a goal and make attacking runs, giving the USA the jolt in needed to win this game.

Despite this apparent success, there were some glaring issues. Gyasi Zardes was invisible on the wing, and Jozy Altidore botched a number of attempts in the second half. And though he wasn’t tested much, Steve Birnbaum could use a little more experience with the USMNT before he gets a starting role in an important game. Had he been given some more attention, the game might have devolved.

But signs are surely pointing forward for the USA, and it looks the best of the bunch have the tools necessary to succeed in CONCACAF. Klinsmann’s coaching still isn’t perfect — we know, probably, this lineup won’t stick come this summer — but he showed tonight he’s willing to make the necessary changes when the team is in trouble.

This is a night of celebration for the United States soccer fan. Things seem to be back to normal. We’ll see this summer if it’ll stick.

NEXT UP: Friendly — United States vs. Ecuador, Frisco, Texas. 8 p.m. EST, TBD. 


UMass Amherst
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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.