Looking at Jurgen’s lineup from the St. Vincent & Grenadines game you would think that he listened and learned from all his critics. He set his team up to attack from the opening whistle going against a highly inferior opponent and they followed his lead by slotting 6 into the back of the net.
With Fabian Johnson playing on the left side of midfield like he does for Gladbach and DeAndre Yedlin playing right-back, his natural position, the team seemed more fluid and tactically sound. However, Yedlin did make a defensive mistake that put the United States 1-0 down within the first 5 minutes by forcing Oalex Anderson onto his left foot, but still giving him too much space to take a touch with his right foot that resulted with a nice finish to beat Brad Guzan. In a standard 4-4-2 formation, Bradley and Jones worked off each other defensively but when in possession Bradley would sit deep and collect the ball routinely looking for the next pass while Jones played more of a box-to-box role. Jurgen realizing that Michael Bradley might be better used as a deep-lying playmaker instead of being the playmaker at the top of the diamond should be a relief for USMNT fans.
The 6-1 victory was a fairly easy result and one that we can’t take much from because of the opponents’ stature within CONCACAF. It will be interesting to see if Klinsmann sticks with the same tactics or changes it up, again.
Tuesday night will present a more difficult task in Port-of-Spain going up against Trinidad & Tobago. A squad with only 5 players playing domestically, the hosts are led by star forward and captain Kenwyne Jones. Jones, a prototypical target man is one of the toughest and strongest players in CONCACAF. Currently playing for Cardiff City, after helping Bournemouth secure promotion last season on loan, he is will be one of the most experienced players on the pitch and the biggest threat to the United States in their quest for 3 points.
It would be nice to see some consistency with the U.S. in terms of the starting lineup and realistically we shouldn’t see a huge overhaul of the team, 3 changes max not counting Howard being put in net. The real question is do we get bad Jurgen or good Jurgen since the German native is very unpredictable and it seems he’s always experimenting with this team. The starting lineup will be very telling to how Jurgen wants to approach these qualifying matches.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2): Howard; Yedlin, Cameron, Besler, Ream; Nagbe, Bradley, Beckerman, Johnson; Morris, Altidore
Projected Lineup (4-3-3): Howard; Yedlin, Cameron, Besler, Ream; Bradley, Diskerud, Nagbe; Zardes, Altidore, Johnson
Just a short little preview for the USMNT game that seems to mean everything to everyone, but really means absolutely nothing.
Jurgen has called up a very experienced side for a one-game playoff that could decide the fate of his job, but as long as Sunil Gulati is in charge that will not happen. Gulati has already come out and has said Jurgen’s job is safe. So on to the stuff that will actually happen like the game where 22 guys on a pitch go run a lot. The starting 11 for the USMNT is a hot topic and if you look on your twitter feed you most likely will find someone who is arguing who the starting center backs should be. The one thing we don’t have to talk about is which bald guy will be between the pipes. It will be Guzan. Jurgen has said it will be Guzan and it seems he’s comfortable leaving the team’s best leader and motivator on the bench, Tim “Beard of the Century” Howard. The other locks to be in the starting lineup are Beasley, Fabian Johnson, Jozy, Bradley, and Dempsey. Predicting the other positions is going to be crapshoot and there will be a lot of controversy about it once the lineup card is submitted. Whoever is on the field, however, will be going up against a very talented El Tri side. Mexico does have some injury concerns and will be missing Giovani Dos Santos, but it looks like they will have Guardado and Vazquez available to play. Mexico has looked very comfortable in the 5-3-2 and it seems to fit their personnel. How Jurgen decides to combat that, no one knows, but I would love to take a shot at it:
Jurgen’s predicted Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Beasley, Besler, Alvarado, Johnson; Bradley, Jones; Zardes, Dempsey, Bedoya; Altidore
My Starting 11 (4-3-1-2 Diamond): Howard; Beasley, Ream, Cameron, Johnson; Williams, Bradley, Beckerman; Dempsey; Zardes, Altidore
P.S. Really funny how the only left back on the roster is DeMarcus Beasley; I would love to know who the guy was to tell Jurgen you can’t put Edgar Castillo on the roster
It was a nice day at Yankee Stadium for the home game against Montreal. Andrea Pirlo, starting for the first time in a NYCFC jersey, was a given a positive response from the fans. Frank Lampard, on the bench, was likely to make his debut today and the fans were ready with a sold out stadium of 27,645.
Montreal started out fast and looked more responsive than the hosts and it paid off when they scored early in the 6th minute: A beautiful over-the-top long ball that was controlled by Oduro, nutmegging the NYCFC keeper Josh Saunders and slotting it home into the empty net. Not too long after, Montreal sent another through ball, similar to the first one, over New York's defense. Ignacio Piatti controlled it enough to chip it over Saunders. Just like that Montreal had a 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute.
In the second half, David Villa converted New York's penalty in the 68th minute and the stadium erupted. And when you thought it could not get louder, Jason Kreis decided to please the crowd by putting Frank Lampard on for his debut. Everything seemed like it was going right for New York with Lampard, Pirlo, and Villa on the field. But it did not go the way New York City wanted when Saunders tripped up Piatti in the box and the referee blew for another penalty in the 83rd minute. Piatti, the Argentinian, scored from the spot to put the Canadian club up 3-1. Just when fans were exiting the stadium, Tommy McNamara pulls one back for NYCFC in the 85th minute to put the hosts just one goal away from Montreal. The fans could not be louder as they were chanting for their team in the last final minutes. NYCFC was piling pressure while Montreal was locked in their own half.
After four minutes of extra time New York could not find the equalizer to level the game. Even though it was Pirlo's first start for NYCFC, and Lampard's debut plus Villa atop the goalscoring charts in MLS, the home club came away with no points against Montreal. It was a shame since the fans were great and the stadium was sold out but Montreal were the better team overall.
Article written by Michael Kantaris (@grkmikey95)
The USMNT looks to embark on its journey to defend its title starting tonight against Honduras at Toyota Stadium.
The United States has been placed in the hardest of the three groups: Group A with Haiti, Honduras, and Panama. Many storylines going into this tournament and it will be interesting how they all unfold. Of course, the U.S. is co-favorites to win the tournament with Mexico and anything less then reaching the final will be seen as a disappointment. Klinsmann has named Toronto’s Michael Bradley as captain for the tournament, stripping Clint Dempsey of the honor. Is this the beginning of another Donovan-esque saga with Klinsmann or will Dempsey understand this is just a changing of the guard? Budding-star and Stanford man Jordan Morris was not selected for the tournament because of injury. No matter who is injured and whoever is in a bad mood, this team is expected to win.
Klinsmann has walked away from the diamond recently and could easily go straight back to it but we have seen him use a flat 4-4-2, most recently in a 4-0 friendly win against Guatemala. The major difference between this formation and the diamond is Bradley being told to stay back more and be a facilitator between the defense and the midfield. It also gives more of an opportunity for the full backs to bomb up the sidelines with two holding midfielders now being able to cover for them.
The other formation we could expect to see is the 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder, most likely Beckerman. This will give more license for Bradley to go forward and create as he will be playing with more numbers in midfield. It would be interesting to see if Klinsmann puts Dempsey on the left, where Bob Bradley played him mostly during his tenure. Bradley did not give him license to roam inside and cut in with his right foot but Klinsmann would encourage this—the more creativity the better. This could also create a lot of space on the left for an overlapping Fabian Johnson, which could become quite scary for opponents.
Brad Guzan is the no. 1 without question and might get a little bored in goal as the U.S. is expected to dominate in possession most of the games they play in. Rimando will be the backup to Guzan and has plenty of experience to takeover if Guzan goes down at any point during the tournament. William Yarbrough is the youngest of the three goalkeepers and this is the first major tournament he will be a part for the USMNT. He is the no. 3.
DaMarcus Beasley is gone and replacing him heading into 2018 will not be easy. Fabian Johnson can play with both feet and most likely find himself here on the left where he has played before. Johnson’s overlapping runs will be a huge part of the U.S.’s attack and he will need to improve his final ball into the box to reach his full potential as an attacking full back. Gregory Garza was just called up due to the injury of Brad Davis and has played well in appearences for the USMNT but needs to show he can be reliable defensively. Garza will slide into the starting role if Klinsmann wants to shift Johnson back to the right side like he played in the World Cup. Tim Ream and Ventura Alvarado could be asked to cover if necessary.
Klinsmann has called up four center backs but Brad Evens, the utility man, has played there for the Sounders recently and can fill in as well. Omar Gonzalez is a lock to start on the right side as Jurgen prefers his center backs to play on their strong sided foot and Tim Ream, Ventura Alvarado, and John Brooks are all left-footed. John Brooks started alongside Omar vs. Guatemala and looks the favorite to start against Honduras but look for Tim Ream to be a breakout player in the tournament. He is a great passer of ball, something the U.S. has never really had out of the back.
U.S. fans would love to see DeAndre Yedlin get a chance here but instead we see the most inconsistent player for the national team over the last four years, Timmy Chandler. The German-born player has put in a string of decent performances against for the U.S. and will likely be the starter for the group stages. However, if he becomes the player he once was expect to see Johnson move over from the left or Brad Evans to take his place. Klinsmann will keep him on a tight leash.
With the injury to Brad Davis there is no true left midfielder on the roster. The ones standing to replace him on the left side are the likes of Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Gyasi Zardes and even potentially Clint Dempsey. All are right-footed players with Zusi having the most accomplished left foot of the three as he’s shown at Sporting Kansas City. Bedoya is likely to see more time at right midfield and Dempsey at striker; therefore leaving Zusi and Zardes fighting for the spot. Zusi has proven himself at the international stage and will be deadly on set pieces, which the U.S. should take advantage of due to their height, such as Omar Gonzalez (6’ 5”) and John Brooks (6’ 4”). Gyasi Zardes brings pace and hustle to the side as well a little flair with his blond fro. He will most likely come off the bench and given ample playing time.
Beckerman is seen as a perfect partner with Michael Bradley, which will likely be the starting duo if the U.S. does go 4-4-2. Mix Diskerud can be a spark plug off the bench and expect him to replace Beckerman as a substitute as the Real Salt Lake man is getting up there in age. Tim Ream, Alfredo Morales and Brad Evans will act as cover for the position but will most likely not see much time. This is probably the strongest position in the squad with Bradley leading the group.
Bedoya has been a very consistent performer for the National Team over the last few years but Klinsmann seems poised to give DeAndre Yedlin a real shot at taking the position from Bedoya. Bedoya’s high work rate and willingness to contribute on the defensive end may not be needed during this tournament as the U.S. will be favorites for most games. Do expect Yedlin to have a big impact this tournament despite not playing many games for Tottenham this season.
If the U.S. plays with two forwards, former captain Clint Dempsey and Toronto’s Jozy Altidore are locks to play up top. Both have been stalwarts for the U.S. National Team over the last 2 World Cup cycles and don’t be surprised if one of them wins the tournament’s Golden Ball. If the U.S. does play with one forward expect Altidore to be the lone striker and Dempsey to drop somewhere in midfield. Wondolowski and Johannsson are seen as backups that will only come off the bench and will rarely start a game unless playing a small team such as Haiti. However, Gyasi Zardes could be put ahead of Wondo and Johannson in the pecking order when Klinsmann is looking for options off the bench at striker.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando and William Yarbrough
Defenders: Fabian Johnson, Timothy Chandler, Brad Evans, Gregory Garza, John Brooks, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, Ventura Alvarado
Midfielders: Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya, Kyle Beckerman, Alfredo Morales, DeAndre Yedlin, Mix Diskerud, Gyasi Zardes
Forwards: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski, Aron Johannsson
The State of New Jersey has been a hotbed for soccer in the United States as we have seen many of our nations young talent rise to prominence, but none such as Carli Lloyd. Within 20 minutes, she changed her life forever and placed her name in the minds of millions of Americans. She is the second-ever player to score a hat trick in the World Cup Final and was named the MVP of the tournament right after the final whistle. The Rutgers product, a complete midfielder who can play a holding role and also push up to forward has risen to stardom.
Carli Lloyd is the greatest American soccer player to come out of New Jersey.
The likes of Tim Howard, John Harkes, Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola, Michael Bradley, Alexi Lalas and Tab Ramos would probably disagree, but Carli has taken herself to new heights that have never been seen by an American soccer player. Carli’s three goals have captured the attention of every American. Hopefully this attention will span beyond the 15 minutes that we give our sports heroes. By winning the World Cup Carli’s achievements will be immortalized forever. Jersey Proud.
This is different. She is different.
She stated before the World Cup that she didn’t want her family coming to Canada to see her play. Her reasoning? This is a business trip not a place where she can have distractions. Her self-discipline for the game is something we rarely see in athletes, let alone soccer players. Now, Carli once again will need to keep herself level headed from all the attention that she will receive over the coming months.
Long live the Queen!
Major League Soccer has made tremendous strides since its inception in 1993, but that isn’t enough for United States national coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
And it shouldn’t be enough for our nation’s soccer supporters, either.
Klinsmann has openly stated that he could care less about the MLS developing into a top tier league. He has stressed that his players must succeed abroad in order to become the player he needs for international competition. He has the right to say that, but he is not the commissioner of MLS.
Rather, Don Garber holds that position. Garber recognizes that MLS can become an exceptional league without the support of the United States Soccer Federation.
But for Garber to establish a respectable league, he must address the weakest part of MLS: its youth development. There are many different solutions to this problem, but one in particular could take this league to the next level.
All the teams in MLS currently have a youth academy team for each respective age group, which is a long way from the league’s original talent-development blueprint. But teams forget that the United States is a massive country with hidden talent slipping through the cracks of the development system.
Consider this: how is a 14-year-old kid from Atlanta, who has the potential to become a quality starter in MLS, going to receive the highest level of training that this country provides?
Do his parents drive him down to Orlando every day for practice? That’s a six-hour drive, and the next closest team is D.C. United.
And a young talent from Phoenix? Los Angeles is the closest city with a MLS academy for that aspiring player. That drive takes roughly 5 hours and 45 minutes.
Don’t forget the drive back home, either.
Such a system can put a financial and physical burden on both parents and players. Realistically, most aspiring athletes don’t have the resources to make such a commute, so they will turn to the basketball or baseball league hosted at the local high school instead.
My solution for this dilemma is simple. Divide the country into 5 regions and each team must have 3 to 5 academy programs within that region. However, prevent teams from establishing academies within 100 miles of each other. This revision would provide players across the nation with at least one academy program within a reasonable distance of their home.
There is no questioning that there are more layers to this problem and more ways to solve it than the one presented. Don Garber has grown this league at an extraordinary rate and the future is bright with him leading the charge.
But Garber and the soccer community must remember, we are preventing kids from reaching their full potential and that is a shame.