It's been a rough start to the Klinsmann campaign as the US has netted only two goals in it's six appearances since the late-summer coaching change. Despite a massive change in personnel and strategy, the same old lackluster US offense remains with an un-athletic defense attempting to save the day. After a tough loss to France on Friday, the Stars and Stripes now look to end their two-game losing streak against one-game rival Slovenia on Tuesday night.
What does the USMNT need to do to better to get back on the right track? Click through to see.
Unfortunately the “Big Man” machismo attitude that America holds in almost every other sport is not relevant in soccer, as the USMNT seems tentative and scared to assert its presence against competitive teams.
Defenders get muscled off the ball constantly and the USMNT center midfielders look more willing to be manhandled than fight for positioning and win the ball. Apart from Dempsey, the USMNT mainly puts out ten players uninterested in giving a little shove or throwing an elbow when necessary, which is not the attitude that fans should accept after struggling performances. When your back is against the wall, the expectation is that you will do whatever is necessary physically to succeed, and that is exactly what the USMNT needs to do against Slovenia.
One of the main causes of fans’ concern in the Bob Bradley regime was his inability to start games off well. The US almost always came out flat in contests and was forced to fight back to salvage a draw. Although the often-late heroics were exciting to watch, it is really not a healthy way for a competitive team to be run.
However, a change to the USMNT’s lack of early form did not seem to coincide with the coaching change, as the team is still failing to impress during the first minutes of the half. The US is going to need to turn that around if they have any chance at getting out of this rut.
Although the US couldn’t generate any offense on the wings against a disciplined French side, Klinsmann must remain confident in his wide men on Tuesday night. Although Shea and Williams were somewhat sluggish on Friday night, the “Big Play” ability of both the players means that the USMNT can’t afford to simply rely on Altidore and Dempsey up the middle like they did in their previous match. A better performance can be expected from the wingers against Slovenia, the USMNT now just needs to be confident in that statement.
One of the most alarming and common revelations of USMNT fans against France was that the defense can be so easily exposed by balls over the top. Multiple times France got into key positions due to the US center backs poor positioning and speed in the defending third. Whether that means, the US should switch to a Stopper/Sweeper type role or Klinsmann just needs to find more athletic center backs, the current play of the defenders needs to change.
Although the US didn’t have many chances to finish against France on Friday, the team has been guilty of missing a few sitters the last couple of games that could have shifted the momentum in the right direction. If you need proof, look no further than Oguchi Onyewu’s wonder-miss against Honduras that makes Fernando Torres look like an absolute stud with his left foot.
Of course, the USMNT will still have problems creating opportunities, like always, but that just means that the ones they do create mean even more and can’t afford to be missed. The USMNT has had the chances to bag more than two goals in their last six games, they just haven’t been capitalizing. That must change against Slovenia.