We've all heard the expression "bleeding in some new talent," but U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann seems to have cut the jugular vein. Using lineups infused with younger players in two extremely unimpressive matches over the last five days, the Americans have lost twice on goals by defenders—Costa Rica's Rodney Wallace and Belguim's Nicolas Lombaerts.
Yes, these matches are exhibitions and there's much to be said for looking to the future. But trashing the present for results down the road can go too far. In Tuesday's 1-0 loss against Belgium (a team the college basketball world would probably refer to as a mid-major at best), four players had less than five caps each—Brek Shea (4), Tim Chandler (3), Michael Orozco Fiscal (3) and Jeff Larentowicz (1)—and the starting No. 10, Jose Torres, was playing in just his 13th match.
The two efforts this week were not only defeats, but hard to watch at times—way too many forced passes being intercepted, Jozy Altidore being left out to dry and having to go at the defense by himself, little cohesiveness and the lack of a real leader.
The U.S. managed only six shots on goal and seven corners in the two matches. These are friendlies and you'd expect a little more free-wheeling, especially when the foes are Costa Rica and Belgium.
Putting in a greenhorn or two can be quite effective, but let's not lose sight of the fact that the goal is still to score goals and win. The United States didn't do either. Most people, with the exception of Brazilians and Dutchmen, can be happy with a slogging performance if it's a win.
You can't forget about the fans, even if the matches are friendlies against the not the most appealing opponents. They pay for performances and to see talented players compete at the top level.