Former US National Team midfielder John O’brien wrote an article for the New York Times regarding his thoughts on where the US team stands.
He comes off as quite critical when he states, “none of our players would break the starting lineup on any championship contender team,” and also when he continues, “Against a condensed defense with little space to use our speed and flair, the ability to skillfully create chances out of possession is just not good enough.”
He also insightfully adds, “Handling the ball under pressure and making good things happen is the difference between good players and better players, the difference between M.L.S. and the Premier League.”
In his piece, O’brien is blunt, brutal, and honest. He talks about the weaknesses of the US National Team, and he is spot on with his review. It’s true that no American starter currently would find themselves as a starter for say Barcelona or Chelsea. He is also right in pointing out that the US greatest strength is their speed and organization.
What I fault him on, however, is his failure to point out that in the past 4 years this group of players has brought their technical skills up significantly. No they can’t match the technique of a Netherlands or Brazil, but when they are at their best and add their speed and organization the US team can be very dangerous.
O’brien ends his article with some advice he received during his playing career, which I find to be a nice addition and a look deeper into his playing past. Because he spent so much time in Holland, much of what he talks about is skewed in the Dutch style. It is obvious he would like the US to play a similar style as the Dutch, whether to view that positively or negatively is up for discussion.
My thoughts are this: The US team could use an infusion of the technical and tactical brilliance that has been the Netherlands for the past few decades, but at the expense of grit, hard-work, and organization? I say no way.
All in all, it’s a great read so check out the full story here: Fair Trade.