As the colder months begin to wind down in America, our Mens National Team simultaneously is concluding their training camp. A mix of youth and veterans alike, this camp has been useful for Jurgen Klinsmann and those who are attempting to regain favor with him.
January 28th, Chile:
Strikers: In the Chile match, Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood both received the starting spots. While Altidore looked very impressive in his first since getting transferred to Toronto, Wood looked lost on the pitch. He was not only out of position, but he looked inferior to those on both sides of the ball.
In the second half, Bobby Wood was replaced by Lee Nguyen, who looked extremely impressive in his debut for Coach Klinsmann. Substitute Chris Wondolowski’s creativity looked solid but he failed to slot the ball into the net. While I was disappointed that Julian Green didn’t get any minutes during the winter friendlies, it is vital that he recovers from lingering injuries.
Midfield: In the midfield, the additions of Brek Shea and DeAndre Yedlin proved to good additions on the attacking side of the football, but their poor defense allowed Chile to defeat the States. Brek Shea shocked the Chilean goalkeeper with an excellent goal in the opening minutes. in the Michael Bradley looked decent, but showed signs of rust since foot surgery in the off-season. To be completely honest, I was rather disappointed with Clint Dempsey. He looked to be out of shape and his replacement performed far better.
After swapping with Dempsey, LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes looked very impressive beyond the bleach-blonde mo-hawk. His speed on the field along with his high dribbling ability left American soccer fans with a good impression for the future. Mix Diskerud looked average on the field. Wearing the number ten, which is normally given to the best play maker, I am unsure if Diskerud is deserving of that honor.
Defense: Every rose has it’s thorn, Jurgen Klinsmann’s experimental back three had many thorns. Having only three defenders rather than the traditional four, more opportunities for the opposition are a given. Jermaine Jones looked as if he missed his days as an attacking midfielder. He would often go on runs up the field, leaving Steve Birnbaum and Matt Besler responsible for containing the Chilean attack.
While Jermaine Jones attacked at the rate which we had seen in Brazil, learning the center-back position will be a steep learning curve. American goalie, Nick Rimando, was tested heavily by the Chilean attack. While Rimando played well as an individual, his counterparts are blame for the conceded goals.
February 8th, Panama
Strikers: At the beginning of Sunday’s match-up, the strike force of Jozy Altidore, Miguel Ibarra, and Gyasi Zardes looked very impressive. While none of the three strikers scored, they played well on both offense and on the defensive end of the pitch. Gyasi Zardes looked extremely comfortable and was very productive in his first start for the Men’s National Team. Although, playing in his hometown stadium gave Zardes an advantage over that of his teammates. After getting back in the score sheet against Chile, Jozy Altidore came very close to connecting with Michael Bradley on the set pieces. Altidore has showed that the talent is still there, but his confidence is a work in progress.
After winning the Golden Ball in the NPSL, Miguel Ibarra played a lot better than I had previously expected from him. His runs were solid and controlled the ball very well on the wings. The substitute attackers were Chris Wondolowski and Lee Nguyen. Both had limited roles in the match due to the fact the second half was spent parking the bus to conserving fitness and not risk injuries.
Midfielders: After the defensive lapses versus Chile, coach Klinsmann reverted to the 4-2-3-1 formation which utilized Mix Diskerud, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey. Dempsey and Bradley, cornerstones of the American midfield, provided a huge boost with their scoring.
Bradley opened the scoring with a stunning set piece which bewildered the Panamanian goalie. Ten minutes later, Gyasi Zardes was able to intercept and feed the streaking Clint Dempsey for a relatively easy opportunity against the keeper. Dempsey utilized rapid footwork and was able to catch the goal keeper slipping. Dempsey was able to score his 39th career goal for the USMNT.
While both Bradley and Dempsey played very well, Mix Diskerud was quite the opposite. At many times it felt as if we were playing with ten men. Diskerud seemed invisble more often than not. With this lackluster performance, I wouldn’t be too surprised if he begins to fall out of the favor of Jurgen Klinsmann.
Defense: American soccer fans felt far more confident in their odds after returning to four defenders. After conceding zero goals to their CONCACAF rivals, I have to side with the move. When the Starting XI was released prior to kickoff, I was unsure if Brek Shea and Yedlin would be up for the task as the backs on the wing. Shea was solid, he stopped a close chance in the first half and appeared to be very comfortable returning to the position he once played. Yedlin looked very shaky. Despite the pure speed, he looked quite flustered on the pitch. He nearly conceded an own goal on a poor pass back to Nick Rimando. Thankfully, the ball did not enter the goal.
In the 72nd minute, Yedlin was taken out of the game due to a poor tackle by Luis Ovalle. Yedlin tweeted that he will be okay, but further medical tests will take place upon returning to Tottenham. Jermaine Jones looked very solid. While he looked as if he wanted to attack more, he’s only playing in his second career game at center-back. This transition isn’t tough physically, but developing the correct mental approach will determine his success.
Conclusion: While the new defensive approach is puzzling to many supporters, it is smart that Klinsmann is trying out new formations with new players. While I’m disappointed in the poor performance of Bobby Wood, the failed back three, and Mix Diskerud, I’m very excited with our youth mixing with the seasoned veterans. America should look forward to the future with DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes, Miguel Ibarra and Julian Green, all of which are 21 or younger. I’m happy with the work of Jurgen Klinsmann, but much still has to be done before 2018.
If this article is well received, I’d love to continue this. Please comment your thoughts or opinions. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to tweet me at @m_keandxrs
Born in NYC x Raised in VA