Should USA Soccer fire Jurgen Klinsmann?

jurgen-klinsmannThe US Men’s National Team suffered an embarrassing and surprising 2-1 defeat at the hands of Jamaica in the Gold Cup. The FIFA rankings, although not always accurate, say everything in this case, with USA ranked 34th and Jamaica ranked 76th. Of course, an upset loss in a big tournament is not enough by itself to question US soccer, specifically Jurgen Klinsmann’s leadership. However, the reason WHY they lost may fall back on the coach along with other lackluster results.

Sure, USA has turned out some spectacular performances in friendlies recently. But those are friendlies, soccer’s definition of an exhibition game where players/strategies are experimented with. This was a serious tournament where the more-talented Americans played like the inferior team in virtually every way.

Jamaica did what they always do: try to play disciplined, defensive soccer while using their speed on extremely quick counterstrikes. Pretty much any top soccer team would have been ready for their strategy – although Jamaica should be given credit for how well they executed it. But execution or not, the Americans kept over-pursuing offensive chances and getting caught off-guard when Jamaica would force a turnover and start their counterstrike. This was not a flaw with the players, it was a flaw with Klinsmann’s approach to managing the game.

usa-jamaica-gold-cupKlinsmann’s managerial strategy wasn’t the only problem here because, once again, his odd approach to constantly tinkering with lineups created a dilemma. It’s fine to test different strategies on the road to the 2018 World Cup in hopes of finding the winning combination. But at some point every key player on the team needs to know exactly what their role is when it matters most. The Gold Cup semifinals game mattered greatly, yet several players were once again shifted around and used in a variety of ways, leading to another uncohesive performance.

His choice of players leaves something to be desired as well, like midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who has seen his best years pass by. The 33-year-old consistently looked slow while resorting to a number of fouls that finally got him benched by Klinsmann. It was a big factor in the game and one that allowed Jamaica to work their strategy to perfection.

Will Klinsmann be fired following this humiliating home loss to Jamaica? The likely answer is no, because he’s done some good things as well. He’s definitely been a factor in improving the USA soccer developmental structure, which was abysmal at best before his arrival. Now it’s looking more and more like America might be able to turn out quality talent on their own. DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes and Perry Kitchen are excellent examples of this fact.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann has also done an excellent job of recruiting players who, through FIFA rules, are eligible to compete for multiple countries. Fabian Johnson, Aron Johannsson, Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks are all products are of this effort.

But if the USA soccer program wants to make a cold and calculated decision on what’s best for the USMNT, then there’s probably a better manager available in the way of in-game management and match preparation. From an overall standpoint, Klinsmann has definitely done a solid job up until now. However, it may be time to go another direction with regard to taking the USMNT to another level.

Has US Soccer entered Elite Status with Win over Netherlands?

2015-usa-netherlandsEver since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach of the US Men’s National Team, American soccer has been on an upward trajectory. Even still, nobody expected this team to walk out of Amsterdam Arena with a 4-3 friendly victory. This is especially the case for anybody who was watching the game when the Oranje went up 3-1 in the second half.

However, the Americans battled back in this friendly, even when down 3-2 with just two minutes left in regulation. A quick Danny Williams’ equalizer and Bobby Wood game-winner gave USA a stunning win over the Dutch. That said, it’s worth asking if the Americans have finally entered soccer’s elite, or if they’re still a fringe team who benefited from good fortune in this match.

USA beat a Very Good Team – And Under Tough Circumstances

2015-usa-netherlands-1Let’s give the USMNT some major credit here: they beat the team that finished third in the 2014 World Cup. This is no small feat for a squad that wasn’t expected to make it out of the “Group of Death,” but did, only to lose 2-1 to Belgium in a game where they were overmatched. What’s more is that USA was playing on the road against what is still one of the best football teams in the world.

Another point worth mentioning here is that the Yanks were playing without the injured Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, who was home to witness the birth of his fourth child. Finally, Klinsmann used this match as another one of his experiments, making seven defensive substitutions and giving the Dutch a great opportunity to run through his back line.

This may not be the Same Dutch Team

While the Oranje may still be very good on the international level, they’ve had their problems since the third-place 2014 Cup effort. First off, manager Guus Hiddink, who took over for Louis van Gaal, changed the defense from a 5-3-2 system to a 4-3-3. The results up until this point have been disastrous, which was proven in this match as USA took advantage of many Dutch defensive errors.

Another point worth making here is that it’s not like the Netherlands had their entire ‘A team’ out on the field either. Hiddink rested some of his top players as the team prepares for a Euro 2016 qualifier against Latvia.

Netherlands Largely outplayed the US

2015-usa-netherlands-2Regardless of the final score, and the Americans’ never-quit attitude, the Dutch still looked like the dominant team here. They maintained possession 61 percent of the time and remained on the attack, forcing the US to mainly rely on counterstrike opportunities.

In any case, it was the USMNT walking away with the victory here after an incredible comeback. And while they didn’t look to be quite on the same level as Netherlands, they are still a young team that’s improving. Furthermore, if they continue at this same pace, with Klinsmann at the helm, then they’ll be an even bigger threat at the 2018 World Cup.

USA Star DeAndre Yedlin now playing for Tottenham Hotspur First Team

deandre-yedlin-plays-tottenhamAmerican DeAndre Yedlin, who became famous for his breakout performance this summer, got his first chance to play for Tottenham Hotspur, subbing in at the 79th minute against Aston Villa.

Unfortunately, Yedlin couldn’t do anything to sway the tide for the Spurs, who lost 1-0 to Aston Villa. But it’s encouraging news for the 21-year-old Yedlin, who could be seeing more time with Tottenham’s first team in the near future.

Yedlin burst on to the main stage at the 2014 World Cup, where his beautiful pass to Clint Dempsey helped Team USA take a 2-1 lead over Portugal. The match ended in a 2-2 tie, but if it hadn’t been for Yedlin subbing in, it’s possible that the Americans could have lost the match and missed advancing to the Round of 16. The former Seattle Sounders right back also delivered a nice cross to Dempsey against Germany; but the latter couldn’t quite head the ball in during a 1-0 loss.

Following three notable World Cup appearances for Team USA, Yedlin signed a four-year deal worth £2.5 million with Tottenham. He remained with Seattle, until they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Playoffs on Nov. 30. From here, he traveled to White Hart Lane to play with Tottenham, one of the better teams in the Premier League this season.

Now, four months after crossing the pond, Yedlin is getting his chance to shine. He had some notable moments in the Aston Villa match, with one being the corner he gave up in the 83rd minute. However, this was by no means a poor play since he was matched up with Villa star Christian Benteke (10 goals), and definitely gave the taller opponent a tough challenge. The one questionable play he made was losing sight of Villa’s Fabian Delph, before being saved by Spurs goalie Michel Vorm, who made a nice deflection.

deandre-yedlin-plays-tottenham-1Any mistakes made by Yedlin should be forgiven since he hasn’t played any meaningful league action since late November. He spent his winter training with Tottenham’s under-21 team and got called up to action this past weekend. Yedlin also appeared in three friendlies for the USA national team from January to March.

Speaking of which, USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has repeatedly expressed a desire to see more of his national players compete in tougher leagues than the MLS. And while MLS has made great strides in terms of talent, they still lag behind superior leagues such as Bundesliga, La Liga, Premier League and Serie A.

Yedlin is definitely one player who’s heard the call because he’s playing in what’s arguably the world’s toughest soccer league. And, unlike many Americans who’ve flamed out overseas, Yedlin is already getting meaningful playing time at the age of 21. However, he’ll need to make the most of his minutes because Spurs defender Kyle Walker is due back from a foot injury soon, meaning Yedlin’s opportunities could be reduced if he doesn’t seize the moment.

Analysis of US Men’s Soccer 2-0 Win over Panama

michael-bradley-vs-panamaThe 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

clint-dempsey-vs-panamaComing 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.

Moving Forward

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.

US Men’s Soccer Betting: Chile tops USA 3-2

usa-vs-chileThe US Men’s Soccer team looked like they were going to start 2015 with a bang as they took a 2-1 lead into the second half of an international match against Chile. However, they crumbled down the stretch and suffered a 3-2 defeat in this high-profile matchup.

Mark Gonzalez was the hero here as he scored two goals in the second half. Roberto Gutierrez also scored for Chile as they staved off the Americans. On the US side, Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea netted goals at the Estadio El Teniente.

The game plan here was for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to give some younger players a chance. Klinsmann followed through by penciling Steve Birnbaum and forward Bobby Wood into his opening lineup. He also subbed youngsters Shane O’Neill, Wil Trapp, Perry Kitchen and Miguel Ibarra into the match.

Team USA also experimented with a new formation, lining up in a 3-5-2 formation that puts extra defensive responsibilities on midfield wingers DeAndre Yedlin and Shea. The strategy seemed to be working quite well early on, as Shea received a perfect pass from Matt Bessler and put it past Chile goalkeeper Johnny Herrera.

Chile US SoccerHowever, the Chileans came roaring back just six minutes later after Gonzalez sent a magnificent cross into the penalty area, allowing Gutierrez to head it past US goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Just beyond the half-hour mark, the Americans took the lead again when Mix Diskerud found Altidore, who fired a shot in for his 26th career international goal. The US would take their 2-1 lead into the locker room at halftime, despite playing on the road in a passionate soccer country.

But this homefield advantage would prove to be crucial in the second half, as Chile started to look like the superior team. In the 66th minute, Gonzalez made some sensational moves to find the bottom right corner of the goal. He capitalized 15 minutes later on a rebound attempt on the left side of the box to give Chile the lead for good.

This was obviously a tough loss for the Americans since they played so well in the first half. However, it can’t be understated how this match didn’t quite feature both teams’ best lineups. As mentioned before, Klinsmann is looking to use the upcoming international schedule to get new players some experience. The goal is to try and upgrade the talent on this US squad, which showed plenty of heart in Brazil, despite not having the guns to hang with more-traditional soccer nations.

Klinsmann’s team will get another chance to gain some experience as they face Panama on February 8th. So if you’re looking to do some USA vs. Panama betting before then, you’ve got plenty of time to research the matchup and place a wise wager. Just keep in mind that, once again, there’ll be quite a few young players on the field for Team USA.

Jurgen Klinsmann explains Team USA’s Ugly 4-1 Loss to Ireland

usa-soccer-loses-irelandComing off of their surprise Round of 16 performance in the 2014 World Cup, the USA Men’s National team isn’t exactly following it up with great results. And they hit rock-bottom yesterday after a 4-1 loss to Ireland’s reserve team (A-team benched after 5-0 loss to Scotland).

Now this wasn’t the United States’ A-team either. However, the squad they sent to Dublin shouldn’t have lost by three goals to a country with 4.6 million people either. USA did a poor job of clearing balls and maintaining possession. And their trend of terrible second-half performances continued as they were outscored 3-0 after halftime.

This now makes four straight matches where the Americans have failed to show up in the second half. Following a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic to open international play, the Americans allowed late goals against Honduras and Ecuador (both ending in 1-1 ties), led Columbia 1-0 until giving up two late goals, then allowed the three aforementioned scores to Ireland.

Obviously this isn’t the same team that beat Ghana, tied Portugal, and played both Germany and Belgium tough during the World Cup. And head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has a good idea why his team is playing so poorly right now. Klinsmann said the following after the Ireland match:

Bobby Wood“They have to learn emotionally how to digest a World Cup, and a lot of our players really had big problems digesting those extreme emotions. They dropped 20, 30 even 40 percent in performances in their club environment. Many of the Europeans lost their starting spot. Many other players in MLS or wherever went down 30, 40 percent in their performances and this is because they didn’t know how to deal with all these emotions and all that recognition and all the compliments in the world that came after the World Cup. In a certain way it’s human. I mean, it’s understandable. But the former World Cup champion player made clear this shows “we are not there yet. We have quite a way to go.”

Klinsmann also believes that his guys may still be out to vacation after the 2014 World Cup. After citing how stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi take vacations then pick up where they left off, the German-born coach said his players are still adjusting to a new season. “Our players, they went on vacation, they had a good time, they come back and they lost their spots in their clubs,” he said.

Aside from how players still have issues getting back into the feel of soccer, Team USA may have a toughness problem during their World Cup hangover. “We need to get an edge, more nastier. I’m telling you that again. We’ve got to get nastier,” Klinsmann emphasized. “It’s not a negative word. We have to become more physical. We have to hold our ground more, dominant, and send signals out all over the field.”

Sadly, some of the biggest names from the Americans’ Round of 16 run have been playing the worst. Chris Wondolowski and even Fabian Johnson are two names that come to mind right away, as they’ve failed to show the same glimpses of greatness that they occasionally had during the World Cup.

In the end, it sounds like Team USA isn’t used to dealing with the rigors of a tough World Cup run, then hitting the field hard again just weeks later. And without any rest in sight, with club seasons in full swing, the Americans may not get their swagger back until next year.