Since Klinsmann took over the USMNT, he has repeatedly promised to bring forth a more attractive style of play and the U.S. has put much more of an emphasis on possessing the ball.
However, one wonders, against Portugal, will that even be possible?
Portugal boasts a midfield full of stars including, among others, Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles. Klinsmann will have a difficult decision ahead of him. Should he trust his five-man midifield (likely Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi) to hold possession and limit Portugal’s chances going forward? Or, should Klinsmann concede that the U.S. cannot possibly win the possession battle and instead bunker in?
Trying to hold possession presents two big problems. First of all, it’s entirely unclear whether or not it would work. Second, if the U.S. does try to work the ball up the field and squanders possession cheaply (certainly not an implausible scenario), it will be open to dangerous counterattacks.
Considering the U.S.’s personnel, a bunker in strategy seems the better choice. While everyone wants to see the U.S. develop a more attractive style of play, in this instance, being pragmatic is more important—and more likely to work.
Jermaine Jones, despite his inconsistent performances, is best when he stays back, and Michael Bradley has proved repeatedly that he is a great destroyer as well. With those two protecting the U.S. back line, not to mention two unproven center-backs, the U.S. is more likely to succeed.