Jurgen Klinsmann: 5 Questions for the US Boss Following His Debut Game

Louis Hamwey@thecriterionmanAnalyst IIIAugust 11, 2011

Jurgen Klinsmann: 5 Questions for the US Boss Following His Debut Game

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    Jurgen Klinsmann managed his first game for the USA men's national team Wednesday against Mexico. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, with Mexico dominating the first half and the US making a late surge to win.

    Both teams played without full squads as Clint Dempsey was absent from the US and Javier Hernandez from Mexico. Even without these stars, the game started in the same fashion as the Gold Cup final.

    Mexico held possession for most of the first half and would score a wondrous goal off a short corner. Forward Oribe Peralta would deflect a ball in off his leg from a tight angle while wrestling with Michael Bradley. More opportunities would come for Mexico as the US were clearly outplayed.

    The second half saw more of the same until Klinsmann would introduce subs Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo, and Robbie Rogers. The three would almost create a goal alone as they caught Mexico sleeping on a throw in.

    From that point, the US would apply more and more pressure but ultimately were not able to capitalize.

    The result was positive for the team and coach, but overall there are still some questions that need to be answered.

Where Will the Offense Come From?

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    Recently, the US problems have mostly lied the in offensive third. They are a static group who lack creativity and are unable to finish the few chances they have.

    Playing without Clint Dempsey, Edson Buddle got the start up top as a lone center forward. His performance was lame and inept. He provided nearly nothing in way of creating offense and barely had any meaningful touches on the ball.

    On a particular Mexican turnover he ran to the center of the box, when instead he should have run near post to give a clear target for Donovan to cross to an unmarked Jermaine Jones.

    Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea would come on in the second half and incite some movement to the front line. Their pace and energy was refreshing to see but ultimately was not enough.

    The goal that the US scored was a break that they got from a lackadaisical Mexican side. To their credit, they took the opportunity and finished it. But they have to be able to create more from open play.

    As the game progressed, they had more chances, but they were more off of Mexican errors than their own creation. Not to mention that the US's two best forwards were going against a very depleted Mexican back line.

    Klinsmann has promised a more inspired offense from this traditionally mundane side. If he is to keep this promise, he will have to continue to work with these youngsters to develop them into the type of player he envisions.

Why Is Bradley in an Attacking Role?

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    Klinsmann's decision to start Michael Bradley in a central attacking midfield role is by far the most bewildering of his early days as manager.

    Bradley has developed into a very capable holding midfielder under his father. Many times he has been the best player on the team and a great point of transition from defense to offense. He has done well in stymieing opponents' counter attacks and taking on some of the game's best midfielders.

    On the other end of the field, he looks uncomfortable. He does not do well with the ball at his feet and makes poor decisions under pressure. He is not a particularly good shooter or finisher. His passing does not have the pinpoint quality that is required of the role. He really just does not have the mind for attack.

    In one particular play last night, he had the ball, was the forward most player and had the defender on his heels. Instead of running at the player, he stalled up and let the rest of the defense catch up. A player hungry for goal would have his mind set on the goal and nothing else.

    Perhaps this was just a trial, and if that is true, this is the time to try it out. But we still have to wonder what the purpose of the experiment was.

How Are Your Tactics Going to Make Up for Lack of Talent?

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    You could see the new dynamic brought to the team by Klinsmann in the teams decision making tonight. But the ability to actually do what Klinsmann asks is a whole different story.

    The first half was a dull affair, mostly because the US could not keep posession. Mexico had all the ball, all the attacks and all the threat. When the US would get the ball they would turn it over quickly.

    Klinsmann's style of play requires the ball to be held and worked up into the attack. But to do so, the US must be capable of connecting a string of passes, especially under pressure.

    The second half saw them being to turn this around, but they still struggled with possession that was not leading into a quick counter. There is talent out on the field, but those players just need to find one another and connect.

    Klinsmann's subs was the story of this game. Next time he will have to find a group earlier that can connect and hold possession.

How Will You Stop Threats from the Wing?

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    Perhaps it was the 4-2-3-1 formation that left the wings exposed, but Mexico was finding far too much room on the outside. This was the same thing that happened in the Gold Cup final.

    The US cannot continue to play a tight rope game where they allow the opponents to play freely with the ball out wide.

    Better sides will break this down easily and work the ball to center forwards for east tap in goals. If Javier Hernandez had been out there with Giovanni dos Santos, we could have seen a repeat of the Gold Cup.

    Klinsmann has to put more trust in the fullbacks to take wingers on or more trust in his center backs to mark alone.

    If Klinsmann's idea of stopping the threat from the wings is to have his own wingers help back on defense, it will take away the counter, which Wednesday, was the best thing the US showed.

How Are You Going to Beat Mexico?

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    Wednesday's 1-1 tie was not the worse of situations. The team was dominated in the first half, but adjustments were made that reversed the run of play.

    Even though the US would end the game with more scoring opportunities, they were unable to capitalize.

    A few weeks to prepare is not nearly enough time to fix the errors that led to the 4-2 thrashing in June. But not enough was shown tonight to prove that they are ready to reclaim CONCACAF.


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    Overall the result tonight was one that fans should be happy about. The second-half subs gave the US a spark they desperately needed.

    Klinsmann stated in a post game interview that he is content with the result. Of course, he would have liked a win, but he successfully reversed the string of losses that the US has had against Mexico recently.

    Landon Donovan was stellar as usual. Juan Aguedlo continued to perform well in the US jersey. And youngsters Robbie Rogers and Brek Shea thanked the German for calling them up by connecting for a goal.

    But let's be realistic about the situation. This was a Mexican side that was missing much more than the US were. Once Rafa Marquez came off the field, Mexico moved some players out of their normal positions and the defense fell apart.

    It is good to see the US able to take advantage of opportunities, but they must create them on their own and not rely on opponents mistakes.

    All in all, Klinsmann's first step as the US manager was a forward one.


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