Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thoughts on the USMNT

After another loss, Jurgen Klinsmann is beginning to come under fire. The United States lost 1-0 to Ecuador at home. The performance was impressive at times and tepid at others. However, despite the frustration of losing, there are some positives to take away.

Chief among them would be the performance of Oguchi Onyewu who looked better than we've seen him in years. Onyewu looked mobile and his positioning was top notch. We even saw ol' Gooch getting forward and aiding in the attack. There is little doubt that the Onyewu of old is back to his old self, perhaps better.

In fact, with the exception of Tim Ream, the entire back line is worthy of praise. While not perfect, they moved with coordinated effort to stifle the Ecuadorian attacks. Distribution was suspect in the first half, but seemed to improve as the game wore on. Carlos Bocanegra looked troubled in his previous games and started off a bit shaky against Ecuador as well. It wasn't Bocanegra's best night, but he did look calmer in the second half. The best thing to take away from the back line was the center-back pairing of Bocanegra and Onyewu looked comfortable.

In regards to Ream, another mistake for the young defender is cause for concern, but not panic. If there was ever a time for him to be making mistakes, it's now. Considering the pressure he puts on himself coupled with the remarkable pressure put on him by fans and coaches it is little wonder how he handles it. His club team in in shambles, his role model calling him out. On top of it all, he's only a second year pro. These are growing pains that we can afford for the time being. If these mistakes continue into World Cup Qualifying, then you may raise your voices in angst.

I was impressed with the play of Kyle Beckerman, who continued to silence his detractors. I said before the match that Beckerman knows his role and plays it well. Jurgen Klinsmann would seem to agree. His post-match comments saying as much. It's fitting that the Real Salt Lake captain gains his the attention now, while his team is struggling with consistency. Beckerman is a stalwart player and with the added suspension handed out by MLS, it's good to see that he remains focused and vigilant.

Offensively the US National Team looked good in the opening minutes of the match, with quick passes and creative plays. As the game wore on, they looked a bit more disjointed. Brek Shea continued his impressive display and according to Klinsmann, is a lock in the lineup. DeMarcus Beasley looks more like his old self than we've seen in a long time and that's a good thing. Playing in Mexico has certainly benefited him.

Up for dispute was the benefit of so many long range shots by the Americans. I prefer a team that shoots and shoots often to a team that does not. In the first half and the second players looked free to have a go from range. Both Shea and Beasley were among those firing from distance. Dempsey was active and especially impressive in the final third. His partnership with Altidore looked very natural though the desire to play Superman detracted on a few occassions. More than once Dempsey chose to attempt a long range home run pass as opposed to the simple, effective one.

Still, the effect on the game by Dempsey shows that he has the ability to be the play-maker. It makes one wonder how this might work with Donovan in the lineup with him.

As always, the potential of the US National Team is staggeringly high. The trouble is, that potential has yet to be realized. Klinsmann's record is unimpressive at best, but we are far from panic mode. I've gone on record as saying the Jurgen Klinsmann has until World Cup Qualifying to get it right and I'll stand by that. Patience is a virtue American fans are now being tested on more than ever.

Klinsmann's comments are certainly worth hearing:
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