Although Jurgen Klinsmann has been at the helm of the United States men's national team for two-and-a-half years and 46 games, his reign as head coach can still be considered an enigma. While he has led the U.S. to a first-place finish in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the 2013 Gold Cup and impressive friendly wins over Italy, Mexico, Germany and Bosnia, questions still remain.
The team has had more than its share of lackluster performances under Klinsmann, competes in a region largely considered one of the weakest in the world and won the Gold Cup this summer over "B" and "C" sides. The coach has also been inconsistent in his demands of the players, insisting that they be in good club form for call-ups while clearly ignoring that principle for many players. He has also seemingly favored other players, regardless of repeated poor performances with the national team.
To try and take an unbiased look at the U.S.'s performance under Klinsmann, let's examine the statistics. While the old adage that "numbers don't lie" is, ironically, far from the truth, perhaps some deeper understanding can be gained by delving into the raw data (all statistics taken from U.S. Soccer and compiled in a spreadsheet here).
There aren't many surprises when looking at the Americans among the leaders in minutes played with Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore at the top. Klinsmann recently named those exact five players as the "spine" of his team.
One surprise, however, is that cast-off and former captain Carlos Bocanegra is still 12th in minutes played and Steve Cherundolo, who has been missing from the team for over a year with injuries, is still 13th in minutes.
Again, there aren't many surprises among the U.S.'s top goalscorers with Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Altidore, Chris Wondolowski and Eddie Johnson rounding out the leaders, in that order. Donovan and Dempsey have been the team's top attacking threats for years and have combined for 25 goals in the Klinsmann era.
Wondolowski's total of eight goals is impressive, but contrarians would point out that all eight were scored against "B" sides.
One interesting stat from the goalscorers is that defender Michael Orozco is tied for seventh on the team in goals with three.
At the top of the assist chart is Donovan, followed by Bradley and Fabian Johnson in a tie for second and Dempsey, Jones and Alejandro Bedoya all tied for the fourth spot. The fact that Donovan has more than twice as many assists as Dempsey, especially considering Donovan has played 600 less minutes than Dempsey, is a compelling argument to play Donovan in the No. 10 role for the U.S.
Interestingly enough, World Cup hopeful Brad Davis, who many consider a long shot to make the team, is seventh in assists and has tallied three of the U.S. team's last five assists.
Using a two points for a goal, one point for an assist format, Donovan and Dempsey tie for the points lead with 32. Altidore comes in third at 21, followed by Wondolowski and Eddie Johnson, in that order.
Where Does That Leave Us?
It's certainly hard to come to any hard conclusions from the data gathered as is, other than that Klinsmann's most often used players have found the most success. But when looking at the data by points per 90 minutes, a couple of players—otherwise unnoticed—stand out. The points per 90 minutes leader (with a minimum of 180 minutes played) is Wondolowski, followed by Donovan, Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Altidore. But after that are several players that many U.S. fans have clamored to see more of.
|Joe Corona||0.82||7th place|
|Terrence Boyd||0.81||8th place|
|Brad Davis||0.80||9th place|
|Aron Johannsson||0.76||10th place|
At the No. 7 position in points per minute is Joe Corona. He is followed by Terrence Boyd at No. 8, Brad Davis at No. 9 and Aron Johannsson at No. 10. Those are four players that the numbers say Klinsmann should be giving more of an opportunity to with the World Cup rapidly approaching.
Follow me on Twitter @JohnDHalloran
Follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/AmericanTouchline