When did the US find its moxie?

Editors’ note: We welcome new PSP contributor Kerith Gabriel with his take on the USMNT’s historic win over Germany.

After last Friday’s win over the Netherlands, the United States men’s national team sat down again at the big boys table and upped the blinds across the board.

Actually, it is the Federation that splashed the pot months prior when they scheduled Germany, the reigning FIFA World Cup champions – but who could have predicted this scenario?

On the heels of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. seemingly found its moxie by upsetting not one, but a pair of world powers.

The United States got goals from Mix Diskerud and Bobby Wood scored, to defeat the Germans, 2-1 in Cologne, it’s first win on German soil ever.

Even more impressive is that the Americans did it with young talent, many players with less than 10 caps for the national team.

If you’re looking for a minute-by-minute synopsis, then you won’t get that by reading this and since we live in a visual world you can check out the highlights here.

The main focus of this piece is to analyze what a U.S. collective of largely green talent on a world stage did to break away from being a team that the Germans toyed with in the first half to a team that took it to the world’s No. 1 in the second and won.

Give the drummer some…

It’s really not mentioned more by the pundits, but the one thing to notice is that in these two matches over the last five days against the Netherlands and Germany, it was the timely and smart substitutions by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that allowed the U.S. to have a chance to strike late in these matches. Klinsmann entered Wood and University of Stanford standout Jordan Morris in the 74th minute, and it was the smart thinking of those two together up top that led to Wood’s goal in the 87th.

It was Morris’ dummy run from a Brad Davis cross into the box that set up Wood to turn his defender and unleash the game winner past German No. 2 goalkeeper Robert Zieler.

Watch this goal and tell me what’s sexier? Wood’s strike or that nasty turn to create space to get the shot off…

Klinsmann’s player pool is deep with talent (one devoid of midfielder-defender Maurice Edu, but that’s a column for another day) but could we be seeing the changing of the guard in Wood, Jordan Morris? Not counting out others like Gyasi Zardes, who had a tireless game up top as well for much of the match.

One would like to think – and hope – so. Especially heading into a massive tournament like the CONCACAF Gold Cup in a few short weeks.

Michael Bradley don’t get tired

For all his faults and slip-ups in the middle of the park, you have to hand it to Michael Bradley yet again for truly being the engine that controlled the pace of play. Bradley, once again wearing the captain’s armband played like one, using the deep dropping runs of Kyle Beckerman to collect and then distribute out wide to the much faster legs Aron Johansson (who also played like a beast in his minutes) and Fabian Johnson, who’s Sheanon Williams-esque deep runs up the flanks threatened the Germans. When Bradley lost the ball (and he did on numerous occasions), he hustled to break up plays and get it back. He used quick thinking to create chances and was the catalyst on the Diskerud equalizer. One that reigns poignant was his run into the final third in the 84th. Playing a ball out wide to a open DeAndre Yedlin, Yedlin plays a return back to the top of the box that found Bradley’s run.

With the whole goal to shoot at, Bradley rips it right at Zieler; which mattered little given that it was his efforts that kick started that play from the jump.

So in summation…

Good time to be a U.S. fan

Don’t listen to the trolls. Call B.S. on anyone that believes Wednesday’s win over “Die Mannschaft” wasn’t important, that the Dutch and the Germans didn’t play their “A” sides:

Joachim Löw has had a factory of talent on his bench and it was the same yesterday with ballers like Sami Khedira and Lucas Podolski coming off the bench. Look at the German Starting XI for this one. The USMNT bested some of the world’s best, many who make in a week what many of the U.S. players collect in a season at their respective club teams.

And lastly, seeing some vitriol on the social sphere from people miffed that the men are getting all the credit and that the spotlight is being taken away from the ladies currently embroiled in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

First of all, it was an off day for the ladies across the board and secondly, the MEN JUST BEAT THE GERMANS. The same Germans that had 13 players on the pitch that won the World Cup last summer. The same Germans that took the title of “world soccer’s elite” from Spain over the last year and the same Germans that, let’s be honest, if they played this same match 10 times might win nine.

Let the US men have their day, relax. That win is massive for the continued growth of the sport in this country and comes at the perfect time with the women and youth teams playing exceptionally.

Trust that there will be plenty of time for incessant complaining about the WWC being played on turf, the fact that the USWNT are playing in black and white uniforms instead of the traditional red, white and blue, not to mention the soccer illiterate choosing to negate their skills by instead objectifying them because of “how hot” they are.

By the way, the women take on Sweden and their old coach Pia Sundhage this Friday (8 pm: Fox, NBC Universo).


  1. The Realist Brian says:

    Great job, Kerith. Glad your back and away from the Union.
    Andrea Fox needs to calm down. Who is ignoring the women? They don’t play until tomorrow, right?
    Back to the men (if I am allowed to talk about it, Andrea…) what impressed me most was the movement off the ball, and the willingness to move the ball through the midfield. Plus our team speed has improved with Fabian Johnson (who is one of my favs) and Yedlin (who is growing so fast that I am impressed with his game) that we were missing since DaMarcus/Donovan surprised teams in South Korea. Speed kills, and as Bastian Schweistieger face showed, we are showing our pace. Let’s keep uncovering these guys and keep them healthy (Josh Gatt anyone?).
    I absolutely love Klinnsman smile and embrace of Jorgi Low after the game ( and also Herzog and Bergti Voghts if you saw that quickly) and how psyched they were. I believe the team is starting to (paraphrasing Colin Quinn) pick up what he is laying down, folks. I would also love to see Low come to the States after he finishines up with Germany to continue this project.
    Final point, I can’t wait for the Bundasliga to be on Fox Sports this fall. Talk about Friday night all the way through the weekend packed with soccer. German soccer fans are awesome, and I cannot wait to watch some young German- Americans like Morales/Boyd/Green and some U.S. Youth like Pulisic make debuts for BVB. Finally. My wife will hate me. Oh well.

    • your on fire today dude, I agree the handshake between Low and JK was awesome…..had to rewind that a few times! The look on Bastian’s face was priceless, and yes this relationship we have with the Germans will pay off eventually…….Low coming in for Klinnsy after he’s done would be sick! I also enjoyed how it seemed half the crowd was cheering for both teams! Not watching BVB week in and week out killed me the past two years when VIOS changed it…..glad its coming back Stateside!

    • My hopes from this…… beyond, ‘hey we beat some really strong teams’ is that when JK calls out the work ethic or makes comments that are taken as overly bold like about players coming in to camp unfit or the need for international schedule or the need to play more or whatever it is……. maybe now some of the pundits or naysayers will stick a thumb in their mouths and shut up.
      I am uncertain about JK still….. but the guy was a world class player, coached at a world class level, has a world class work ethic obviously…. and despite Phillip Lahm’s derogatory comments, is widely considered by his peers to be an astute enough student of the game.
      Come to think of it, not counting Tim Howard….. Jurgen Klinsman is the only World Class entity in US Soccer.
      I still think we played like shit in the World Cup, even tough we survived the “group of Death” and my final judgement on the manager will be reserved until I see the team selected and how that team plays at home in 2016 Copa America.
      If all goes well maybe 2016 is the tournament we serve notice to the world that the ‘Sleeping Giant’ is no longer very far away from perennial meaningful world contention or dare say…..greatness.

      • Beasly getting called in worries me………….our flank back play has been pretty dirty the past two matches!

    • With all of your posts today, you should really change your handle to “The Optimist Brian” 😉

  2. Great pairing of Kerith and PSP. Always enjoyed his work, and even remember thinking the Union might actually lose something by hiring him away from the Daily News (ie, his voice on that large, objective platform was an asset toward growing the team’s audience). But, he did a great job for the team too.
    Interesting to see some of MB’s best work coming after this prolonged action in MLS. Wonder if Jurgen would still rather him be the fifth MF at Roma. Probably, and, I get it, but… MLS doesn’t seem to have hurt his game.

    • alicat215 says:

      the argument is that it doesn’t help his game either……no one’s pushing him at TFC to take his spot there……. at Roma he had to show up at every session to prove himself. Competition rocks!

      • I think being the big man on campus can also be a motivator too. Bradley being king shit at TFC bodes well for his confidence and thus his game.
        You wanna talk big fish, small pond look at a guy like Sebastien Le Toux. There’s not many Starting XI’s he’d crack overseas, but he’s a God here in MLS a two-time All-Star and someone who brings it game in and game out. Why? Because he’s king shit here.

      • alicat215 says:

        Kerith, mildly disagree here. I don’t think Seba would crack any starting 11 overseas…..and he is far from king shit……Bolton didn’t even want him for crying out loud…..Bolton, dude. Still shows the rift between here and across the pond. As far as Bradley, he’s played great the past two matches. There were also goals at the WC that were completely on him. I like the guy and think he’s been great for our country, but dude……too much comfort builds complacency….even for someone like Bradley. He’s 10 matches into his season at peak match fitness…he should be banging on all cylinders! Ask yourself….if your training with dudes from Roma or TFC everyday……which place will make you better? Who do you have to test yourself against at TFC besides 1 or 2 players?

      • I see your points and they are very valid, AliCat. Real valid. But there are reasons why Le Toux didn’t work out at Bolton…and it wasn’t because of his game, trust me. Second, let’s remember that Bradley isn’t LeBron playing with randoms in Cleveland. Since being with TFC, he’s played with Defoe, Jozy and Giovinco. The latter two are still in their prime and producing. I’ve always believed you don’t need a squad around you to succeed you just need quality. I think the LA Galaxy are proof of that with the way they use Keane, Becks and LD.

      • I think your points are valid too, Kerith. I’m sure you know things about the Bolton deal that we don’t regarding the Seba situation, but I could make the argument that if he had game……he wouldn’t be Stateside to begin with……to cut right down to it. I get that a few flat out ballers with a supporting cast that knows their roles can be very effective …especially in the MLS……but where is the positive stress for Bradley to make him a better baller? TFC doesn’t provide any of that for someone like him.

      • He is 27…….in his prime, he should be overseas, IMHO. I could totally get the argument if he was 30……and it’s time to start thinking about getting paid…..completely. I just wish he hung tough for a few more years and see how it played out. I think we all know JK isn’t happy about it….and you know what he’s capable of……see Landon Donovan. He wants his guys abroad and don’t be surprised if he looks for other options for 2018….especially with all the kids plying their trade abroad these days…..just sayin. Again, I don’t totally disagree with what your saying…there is some truth to it….and shit, he played really well the last two matches…..I can’t deny that. But the flip side to the equation needs to be discussed…..especially if that’s how the gaffer’s thinking

      • From my POV, I see no possible other explanation for where our best players need to be playing than abroad.
        Our quality is not there. MLS is a mid level professional league, it is inarguable. It is not Serie A, Serie B, Bundesliga Bundesliga I, or any permutation of spanish professional football. Maybe someday but not yet.
        The best players on the best international teams are to a man in europe. There is a reason for that. It is where the best players are.
        I cannot buy in to Bradley or Dempsey or whoever being better served playing against NE Revolution as compared to Inter Milan, Rayo, Hoffenheim, Twente. ect… Even if they are fighting for playing time they are training everyday with the best in the world.
        Klinsman is 100% correct about this from where I sit.
        It is almost as if MLS has some secret payday for these guys to have chosen to come home to help validate a growing league. Very interesting to me.

      • alicat215 says:

        exactly, while the quality is getting better in the MLS… is still nowhere near the standard abroad…..playing day in and out with the best in the world….makes you a better player! Again, the American way today….coddle, coddle, coddle……are you comfortable? are you confident?,…..all about touchy-feely crap and emotions….what about putting yourself in tough situation and succeeding? …..And becoming stronger and better because you took the road less traveled……

      • and, his improved current performance over the WC (sample sizes noted), is kind of my point. Now that he’s been in MLS, it certainly hasn’t hurt, and maybe even helped to go from being “in the XVIII” to “the man” bc the latter is what’s expected with the national team, too.

      • Whoa. Seba a God in MLS? He’s a legend in Philly. But I don’t think you can call a guy who plays his best on bad teams a God. He’s best served as a lone striker with less skilled players around him. Players that bomb the ball up the field so he can use his never failing engine to harass and recover the ball. Which happens because the opposition’s defense has a lack of respect for the rest of the team so they push to high and get beat on the break by Seba’s hard work.
        A God is someone who dominates the whole field. A person who can make good players Great. Look at this year. On what can arguably be the most talented Union team assembled (though it may only be skin deep). A team that does the best version of possession offense that has been seen in Chester yet. Where has Seba been? Yes, he has gotten hot lately. But the goals aren’t there. Neither are the assists.
        Legend in our hearts? Yes. God of the MLS? He’s got a long way to go.

      • The only untouchable on this squad is Nogs……….

      • The last player in the MLS that I saw straight out dominate a match was Shari Joseph………

    • pragmatist says:

      I think there is an argument to be made that the National Team players that have moved to MLS are now playing with and against each other every week in a league that is getting better and better.
      And instead of fighting for minutes on a European team, they are expected to carry an entire franchise in MLS. There is a different sense of responsibility involved with that.
      These guys have the skill. But the fact that each of the MLS guys now has a leadership role on their clubs will help bring up the psychological aspect of their games, as well.

      • Your 2nd point bout having to be “the man” on a MLS team is spot on.

      • alicat215 says:

        You only “bring up the psychological aspect” by putting your brain through positive stress……they won’t have to solve problems in the MLS the same way they would…day in, and day out in Europe…….that’s just basic cognition and science man… your Ed Psych!

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Welcome aboard Kerith. Great article, great points on all fronts. I enjoy your writing… hope to hear more from you.

  4. Great game played by the US, and great to win against some of the best teams in the world this week. However, these friendlies are glorified practice sessions. As a fan, I’m much more invested in the US winning the Gold Cup (literally!). If this team earns a trophy this summer, it will be an accomplishment in a way that beating Germany in a friendly simply can’t be.
    The good news is that if the US plays with the composure, intensity, and creativity that they did yesterday, I don’t see anyone from CONCACAF besting them on home soil.

  5. Great to see your stuff here, Kerith. Also, good stuff in the Sons of Ben movie!

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