Thursday, September 8, 2011
US International Break Review - One Day at a Time
Jurgen Klinsmann is forty days in to his reign as manager of the United States men's national team. Thus far it looks an underwhelming start, with a 0-2-1 record through the first three matches. Through the 270 minutes, the U.S. has had moments of sheer dominance. Think the second half against Mexico, and the first thirty minutes of Costa Rica. The U.S. held possession well and created opportunities and when they lost the ball they recovered it quickly. Even the first thirty minutes against Belgium saw the United States applying the more pressure than their European counterparts.
Holding possession is something the United States is not used to, so implementing this style will take more than three games, or even five games. Especially when you consider that Klinsmann has been sans a full and fit US roster and will likely be without one for the foreseeable future. With potential left-back savior Eric Lichaj ruled out until at least the March 2012 friendlies, the left back spot is one which it seems will never be claimed for longer than a few months at a time. Edgar Castillo was given a two-match run out, and while he wasn't downright awful, it's pretty clear that he's not the answer for the Yanks on the left flank. Timothy Chandler was given a chance to show his worth on the left side vs. Belgium and acquitted himself fairly enough. But it's clear that Chandler is the heir apparent to Steve Cherundolo on the right hand side. Lichaj looked to have locked down that left back spot during his run in the 2011 Gold Cup, until his recent injury.
However, getting back to the whole possession aspect of the new U.S. team, I refuse to pass judgement on Jurgen Klinsmann until we get to see the full U.S. team in an extended camp. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have yet to be in the same camp together under Klinsmann and players like Lichaj, Stuart Holden, Mikkel Diskerud, Joshua Gatt, Alejandro Bedoya, and Zak Whitbread have yet to get a look at all under Klinsmann for various reasons. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones both have only had one look under Klinsmann and that was a couple days of training before the Mexico match.
My point is, we're in a period where results don't matter. What we need to be judging here are the players and how they fit in to this attack minded style that Klinsmann is attempting to implement. When can we begin to clamor for results you ask? I would even go so far to say as that the upcoming October friendlies vs. Honduras and Ecuador don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Do you want to get positive results? Of course you do. However, what you want to start seeing most is when in possession that the U.S. be a dangerous and positive side with many chances created. This was the rant of former U.S. international Taylor Twellman following the Belgium match. Chance creation. To create chances but not finish them is one thing, but to hold possession but create no chances is completely another. It's of utmost importance that the U.S. start creating more chances, to prove to the fans that strides are being made.
Do that, and the U.S. has an exciting 2012 to look forward to, do it not and it won't be long until fans start calling for Klinsmann's head, along with that of Sunil Gulati's.