USMNT: 6 Things Jurgen Klinsmann Should Try Against Italy
Do you know where you are going to be on the night of February 29th? If you are a diehard USMNT fan like me, the couch and remote will be waiting for you, as the Yanks will go head-to-head against Italy in Genoa.
Although Jurgen Klinsmann has learned a number of things about the squad via experimentation the last six months, there is still plenty to test out in the USMNT's upcoming friendly. Here are six things Klinsmann should try against the Azzurri in just two weeks. Enjoy!
Remove Kyle Beckerman from His Starting Role
For some reason, ever since Klinsmann took over last summer, formerly washed-up national team midfielder Kyle Beckerman has been the frequent selection in the center for the Yanks.
Beckerman had fallen out of choice prior to Klinsmann’s takeover, and as most USMNT fans can see from his recent performances, there was a reason. Beckerman has all the capabilities to be a strong central force in the MLS, but when it comes to the national level, he cannot be relied on to plug up the middle.
Whether it is Maurice Edu or Michael Bradley playing in front of the back line with Jones, Klinsmann should reevaluate the qualities he wants in a CDM.
Play Brek Shea, but Only as a Supersub
There is no doubting that Brek Shea is one of the most talented players in the entire USMNT pool. His sheer athletic ability and size make him a force to be reckoned with whenever he steps on the pitch.
However, that is exactly why Klinsmann should use Shea’s game-changing athleticism off the bench instead of starting him on the left wing. No matter who Shea subs on for, the Italian defense will be forced to adjust due to his unique talents relative to other wingers on the roster.
If he subs on for Donovan on the left side, suddenly the Italian right-back will need to alter his physicality and positioning, which is exactly the type of confusion Klinsmann will want to induce on his opponents.
Don’t get me wrong—Shea has the talent to start on this team, but right now, the matchup problems he can create would be far more effective when introduced in the 70th minute than in the first.
Give Adu and Mix Their Deserved Shots
After five months of intense roster experimentation, it is a wonder that prospective stars such as Mix Diskerud and Freddy Adu have yet to be capped in the Klinsmann era.
Adu seemed to be just finding his national team groove last summer at the Gold Cup before the coaching change pushed him off the USMNT radar for the last half year.
As for Mix, the Norwegian-American recently went on loan to Belgian powerhouse Gent as his career begs for a legitimate national team opportunity. Both of these high-potential Americans are destined to break out, so why should Klinsmann wait any longer?
Plant JF Torres in a CAM Role
JF Torres has been such an uncommon selection the last couple of years, but with Stuart Holden still dealing with a pesky knee injury, now is JF’s perfect chance to prove his worth.
Prior to breaking his foot in late September, Torres was playing some of his best football for club and country and had seemingly won over the hearts of many USMNT fans.
With his metatarsal all healed and his starting spot regained at Pachuca, Torres will be looking to solidify himself once again in the USMNT first XI. Klinsmann would be wise to give the little midfielder another cap against Italy.
Pair Up Geoff Cameron and Oguchi Onyweu in the Center
Let's be honest: Italy has a very strong and physical attack. Against Balotelli, Gilardino and Pazzini, Klinsmann has to put out a defense willing to take and give a beating for the entire 90 minutes.
That being said, the two center-backs Klinsmann should feel most comfortable assigning those roles to are Geoff Cameron and Oguchi Onyewu. Cameron played particularly well in his first one-and-a-half halves during the January camp, and Onyewu has been in excellent form for Sporting CP the last couple of months.
Klinsmann's best chance at containing a powerful Italy attack is with these two bruisers in the middle and Bocanegra out on the left.
Be Aggressive on the Attack
Possibly the most essential concept all underdogs must understand before big games is that hiding in your shell and shying away from offense is the wrong approach. If Klinsmann simply tells his team to sit back and defend, the USMNT won’t be able to get any flow on offense and will consistently be penetrated by an Italian offense that is bound to score goals anyway.
The key thing Klinsmann must do is use his three in-form forwards (Altidore, Dempsey and Donovan) and make sure his team is confident on the attack. While a 4-3-3 may be a bit too aggressive, Klinsmann should at least set the team up in a 4-2-1-2-1-type formation to show that they are not willing to be pushed around.
If the USMNT goes into the game planning to camp in the defending third, the result will be no different that that of the Spain embarrassment last June.