United States Men's National Team: 11 Thoughts from US vs. France
On Friday night, France defeated the United States Men's National Team 1-0 on a second-half goal in the 72nd minute. After being outshot five to 14, the USMNT's record in the Klinsmann era is now a paltry 1-4-1.
With another match coming up this Tuesday against Slovenia, here are 11 things that U.S. fans learned.
Klinsmann Is Struggling to Pick the Right Roster
While it has been nice to see Jurgen Klinsmann bring in a number of German-American players and solidify the commitment of Timothy Chandler, he has continued to make a number of baffling roster selections including Michael Orozco Fiscal, Kyle Beckerman and Robbie Rogers.
All three have repeatedly proved they are not reliable international players while proven and/or promising internationals like Freddy Adu, Alejandro Bedoya, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Michael Parkhurst and Omar Gonzalez are ignored.
With the selections of Beckerman and Rogers, it should be pointed out that a good MLS player does not equal a good international player. The continued selection of Orozco Fiscal is even more confusing as he washed out of MLS.
Klinsmann is struggling to put the right XI on the field
Taking the good with the bad, it should be recognized that Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Timothy Chandler, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey have been, and should be, regular starters (for those out there who are still Jozy haters, see slide No. 11).
Overall, nine of the 11 Klinsmann chose were the right players, but unfortunately for the U.S., they needed 11 proven players in the right spots to compete against a team like France.
In the Bob Bradley era, there were many things he got right such as playing a more defensive/counter-attacking style, but his continued selections of players like Jonathan Bornstein, Ricardo Clark and Robbie Findley ultimately cost him his job.
Klinsmann, while under no danger of losing his job, is taking the U.S. down the same path to underperforming efforts with his lineup mistakes.
Klinsmann is right to put Clarence Goodson on the field with Gooch hurt
Clarence Goodson was back in the lineup and, while he struggled with France’s pace, is still the U.S.’s most proven centre-back after Bocanegra and Gooch. And to be fair, most centre-backs would struggle with the pace the French attackers had.
Goodson also provides good leadership characteristics and is a consistent threat on set pieces when he gets decent service.
Until someone at U.S. Soccer takes the time to get some video of Michael Parkhurst in front of Klinsmann and get Parkhurst a shot, Goodson will remain the team’s best backup option.
Danny Williams Is Not an Outside Midfielder
Danny Williams got another shot, which many fans surely were happy to see after some decent outings in the October friendlies, but he was very poor against France and either needs to be moved to the center of the midfield or to the bench.
Bedoya, Adu, Feilhaber or Kljestan would all be better options.
Williams was barely involved in the play, he repeatedly passed the ball into traffic, directly to the opposition or without enough pace. He also put his teammates in dangerous positions by leading them into hard tackles. He is clearly not a natural outside midfielder.
Kyle Beckerman has no business starting for the U.S.
The only person who thinks Kyle Beckerman is a better player than Michael Bradley is Jurgen Klinsmann.
Beckerman simply cannot get it done at this level. He has now had multiple poor performances in a row and proven that, while a solid MLS player and having a great workmanlike attitude, he does not have the skill to settle the U.S. midfield the way Bradley does.
Jozy Altidore Has Gotten Much Better
Coming off many good performances with his new club AZ Alkmaar, Jozy looks more composed up front than ever. His touch is better, he has better ideas with the ball and better hold-up play.
He should have drawn a penalty after being taken down in the box in the first half when he used a nifty touch to beat his defender. He could have drawn a red after being hauled down in the closing minutes and he also created the best chance of the night for the Americans when he put Dempsey in behind the French defense with a nifty back heel late in the second half.
The U.S. Would Be in Bad Shape Without Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard
Play after play, game after game, these two men are consistently the best performers for the U.S. God help the U.S. when they retire.
Could French Soccer Be Associated with Any Less Class?
Coming off an embarrassing World Cup qualifying in which they needed to cheat to get in and a World Cup where the team went on strike, groups of French fans thought it was a good idea to shoot laser pens in the faces of players from both teams throughout the game on Friday night.
Brek Shea Had a Quiet Night
Maybe it was being starved of service, maybe it was simply a much better side, but Brek Shea struggled to do much of note on the night.
To his credit, he did very well defensively working back to help Timothy Chandler, which allowed Chandler to get forward well several times in the first half.
If Friendlies Are About Improvement, It Hasn’t Happened Yet
The Klinsmann era now consists of four defeats in six games and two goals in 450 minutes of play. While the play, at times, has looked better, the results have been terrible.
The “friendlies don’t matter” mantra will play for a little while longer, but sooner rather than later, serious questions are going to start to be asked on Klinsmann.
Klinsmann’s 4-5-1 Isn’t Working
Jozy Altidore, while much improved, is not good enough to take on four defenders on his own. However, Klinsmann’s preferred formation over six games has done just that, stranding him on an island up top.
The U.S. plays much, much better when it deploys two strikers in a 4-2-2-2 or a single striker with plenty of close help in a 4-2-3-1. In both formations, the U.S. keeps six players behind the ball, staying compact and looking to counter.
In six games, Klinsmann’s 4-5-1 has proven two things.
1. The U.S. can’t score goals in it.
2. The U.S. can’t shutout opponents in it.
Not too many games are won with that formula.
Recently, former Klinsmann player Philip Lahm heavily criticized Klinsmann’s lack of tactical knowledge. The more the U.S. plays, the more it looks like Lahm might be right.
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