Featured / USMNT

USMNT: Winners & Losers

Securing victory over Slovenia was nice. And scoring three goals was even better, but until World Cup Qualification begins, the results still do not matter. Rather, it is the performance of individuals and how they help to shape the team’s formation and tactics that are most important to evaluate as the pieces come together for Jurgen Klinsmann’s US National Team.

With that in mind, the PSP would like to take this opportunity to evaluate who stepped into the spotlight and who cracked under the pressure of the latest two friendlies.

Winners

Michael Bradley
Once again, Bradley answered his critics against Slovenia. Making the most of the opportunity after Klinsmann finally rewarded him with a start, Bradley reminded everyone that he is the best holding, defensive and/or box to box midfielder the US possess at this point. He’s bigger, faster and stronger than the other American options and never stops working. He deserves to rediscover his mainstay status in 2012.

Fabian Johnson
Quick, confident and composed, Johnson’s first showing for the red, white and blue proved that he has been worth the wait.He fit in almost seamlessly with Dempsey, Bradley, Altidore, Buddle and company. Johnson joins Donovan, Dempsey and Shea as legitimate attacking options coming through the midfield as he mixes dangerous runs into his overall strong possession game. It will be interesting to see where Klinsmann uses him once Donovan returns to the side.

Edson Buddle
The two striker set sure made the US look good and it was Buddle’s effort alongside Jozy Altidore that helped to keep the pressure turned on high. He took his early goal extremely well, but what was most telling about his performance was the ability to provide movement up front and occupy multiple defenders, taking pressure off of the midfield, allowing them the space to create. In order for Buddle to guarantee selection with the National Team, he still needs to engineer a move in January, getting himself out of Ingolstadt and the German Second Division and into a more challenging league.

Omar Gonzalez
With each stiff, uncomfortable, international appearance for Clarence Goodson, and each subsequent injury to the aging Oguchi Onyewu, Omar Gonzalez looks a better bet to get into the US set up at the first chance in 2012. This year’s MLS Defender of the Year will be licking his chops to prove that he deserves the role of Klinsmann’s big, strong centerback and, with Carlos Bocanegra still in excellent form, the Rangers man will provide valuable on-field tutelage to the 23-year-old Gonzalez when the next batch of friendlies roll around.

The 4-4-2
Against Slovenia, the US finally got enough numbers into the attack to create consistent offense. Both Altidore and Buddle required the attention of multiple defenders so that, even though the US took one player out of their midfield, they still ended up with more space, possession and quality through the center of the park. Obviously the search for American strikers who can find the back of the net with some modicum of consistency remains a top priority, but the tactics of the Slovenia match can serve as a road map to developing the more aggressive, attacking style of play Klinsmann promised to bring to the US camp.

Losers

Clarence Goodson
As mentioned above, Goodson remains awkward and a step slow at the international level. While he may succeed against CONCACAF competition, Goodson just does not have the quality in his game to deserve a starter’s spot against tougher opponents in Europe. He was exposed by France for the match’s only goal and simply was not up to par in the possession game.

Maurice Edu
The latest holding midfielder to be thrust into a more attacking role, Edu did not answer the call against France. Poor in possession, lacking in vision and passing accuracy, he simply looked out of his depth once stretched higher up the field. Hopefully, Edu will get more looks playing in his natural position, where he can excel as a ball winner who covers enormous amounts of ground.

Kyle Beckerman
Beckerman’s shaky performance against Slovenia ought be enough to shake Klinsmann free of his infatuation with the RSL midfielder, because Beckerman, simply put, is not good enough for the international stage. As Bradley, Edu and Jones have all been auditioned as more advanced, attacking midfielder, Beckerman has gotten the opportunity to keep their seat warm. But all three are vastly superior in their preferred role and nowhere else in international soccer will you find a holding midfielder who gets caught in possession with such frequency. His physical attributes are also highly questionable as he rarely wins a foot race, is constantly beaten off the dribble and is forced to make highlight reel sliding tackles to make up for his lack of speed, vision and positioning.

Jury’s still out

Danny Williams
We now know for certain that Williams is not a winger. Of course, he could have told you that before he was forced into that new role. Deployed out wide against France, Williams struggled to influence the play and was often out of position and unprepared to attack his flank. While the US logjam at holding midfield has been well documented, Williams deserves the opportunity to audition in the center of the pitch in 2012 to see if he can give Bradley, Jones or Edu a run for their money.

Jozy Altidore
He played better in both games and registered a goal (albeit a spot kick), but the troubling thing about Altidore remains the one thing a youthful player can control: his work rate. Altidore was better with his back to goal, and better with the ball at his feet, but when it came to making the kind of consistently dangerous runs that stretch international defenses to their breaking point, he simply was not active enough. Which is a shame because that is all on him. You don’t need great service to put yourself in dangerous positions and until he learns to work his socks off for an entire match, the questions will continue to linger.

Timothy Chandler (at left back)
Chandler has been one of the great discoveries for US Soccer in recent history, but his performance against Slovenia again proved that he is still out of sorts at left back. His attacking verve remained as strong as ever, but his defensive positioning, especially with regards to the offside trap, cost the US the first goal and provided Slovenia with multiple other opportunities. Perhaps he is lagging behind to cover any angles that are different on the opposite side of the pitch, but Chandler is too strong a talent to be forced into mediocrity by playing a position he will never occupy at club level.

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Philly Soccer Page » U of DE wins in huge NCAA upset, De Ro MVP, more Blatter blather, more news

  2. Klinsman’s team will soon look like a Bradley team.

  3. Look like Bradley’s team? He’s brought in more talent to this team in 3 months than Bradley had in 5 years. Players WANT to play for Klinsmann. The only reason Chandler didn’t play in the Gold Cup is because he didn’t want to lock in with the US because he didn’t like Bradley as a coach. Nobody bought his “my season just ended” bullshit story. We all know it.

    Anyways.
    1) Omar Gonzalez needs to get called up ASAP.
    2) Everybody needs to stop with the Chandler shouldnt play left back because he’s not familiar with it, he’s a right back. It’s the same thing, different side. He plays it just as well as he plays right back. He’s had some off games but all-in-all, he’s the best choice. The only thing I can say is put Lichaj there, and he has played left back at club level a few times.
    3) Buddle and Altidore just aren’t the right strikers for the job right now. Buddle’s had his chance, and I dunno what you guys are seeing that I’m not, but he’s one of the most mediocre players in our player pool for strikers, honestly would rather have Gomez up there, who plays in a good league AND scores goals. Altidore is just so below par. He’s the biggest baby in the world. If I had a choice right now of a striker partnership we need to see it’s Adu/Agudelo or Adu/Gomez.

    • By look, I mean system…not players and did did u really call for Adu to play?

    • I cannot believe you just said your starting pair of strikers would be Adu/Agudelo or Adu/Gomez. Agudelo and Adu barely got off the bench in MLS and you want to hand them the keys to our national team just because they’ve had some bright spots. Jozy is scoring goals in a much better league than Mexico. The strike pair should be Altidore/Donovan. Then let Dempsey sit underneath them, flanked by fabian johnson and bradley with danny williams in the hole behind them (that’s where he plays for his club). Backline as is.

  4. Chandler at LB is only temporary. And he’s a better option than anybody else at this point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*