The US Men’s soccer team concluded their offseason friendly schedule with a 2-0 win over Panama. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley provided the two goals, with the latter bending a beautiful corner kick straight into the net. The results were definitely great for the USMNT, as they snapped a five-match winless streak. Furthermore, Jurgen Klinsmann got just his second victory since the 2014 World Cup. So what are the implications from this win moving forward?
The Team is Finally back on the Winning Track
Klinsmann continues tinkering with his lineup, this time going with a 4-2-3-1 formation and Jozy Altidore as the lone striker. Dempsey played behind Altidore in his natural position and did really well while adding another career international goal. Bradley added some insurance to boost the Americans to their first win in a while. Sure, the victory doesn’t count for anything because it’s merely a friendly. However, the win should propel US Men’s soccer as they head towards more-serious 2018 World Cup qualification matches.
The Stars are playing Well
Coming into this match, some were beginning to question where Bradley fits into the USMNT’s plans moving forward. Well, he’s still one of the biggest names on the US team and he definitely played like it against Panama. If nothing else, Bradley will be taking all future corner kicks for the American squad….but he’s likely to have a much larger role. And Dempsey certainly looks comfortable playing behind Altidore, which could lead to more experimentation with the 4-2-3-1 formation. Klinsmann hopes to develop more stars within the next three and a half years, but for now, Bradley and Dempsey will continue carrying the banner.
The Defense could improve
The downside of the much-discussed 4-2-3-1 is that it led to some defensive questions. DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Besler were the only true defenders on the back line, while Jermaine Jones played center back and Brek Shea started at left back. Yedlin looked pretty mediocre on the right side before leaving in the 72nd minute following a rough challenge. Shea has good attacking skills, however, his defense could be exploited by better teams. Luckily, Panama didn’t give the Americans too many challenges to worry about in this contest.
CONCACAF qualifying starts on March 25th, with the US Men’s soccer team traveling to Denmark to face a competent Danish team. From there, it’s on to Switzerland on March 31st, and back to San Antonio, Texas on April 15th for a match against Mexico. All of these games will challenge the Americans and show what the team is really made of. But despite the step up in competition, you can bet that Klinsmann will continue trying different formations in an attempt to find his team’s sweet spot. With the 2018 World Cup quite a ways off, the German-born head coach still had plenty of time to get this team’s confidence and performance up.