Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recap: USA 3, Slovenia 2

Article by Pedro Gomes

The United States and Slovenia put on an entertaining show for fans of both sides on a very foggy evening in Ljublana. Both sides had a number of opportunities to score on the night and the score line could easily have read 5-5 by the time the referee blew the final whistle. But as it stood, the US earned their second victory under Jurgen Klinsmann with a 3-2 victory in difficult conditions on European soil. Their first such victory in 3 years and something US fans can walk away satisfied from.

Recent US performances had many fans concerned about the squad’s sustained scoring drought. Many fans wondered if we were ever going to find any sort of offensive rhythm and score some much needed goals. It appears the Klinsmann himself was contemplating the same before today’s match and answered with a much more traditional and attack minded 4-4-2 formation as opposed to the recent 4-5-1 we have seen.

The formation appeared to spark instant offense as the US had a couple of half chances at goal, most notably an instinctual volley from recent USMNT addition, Fabian Johnson. It was clear the extra body up top seemed to create more space and options for the forward who would receive the entry pass on the night. 
Whether they kept and held the ball or laid it off to supporting help it seemed the forwards had options, something we hadn’t seen earlier.  This also helped when our high pressure would force the Slovenia defense into some tough decisions. In one such instance, Clint Dempsey pressured the Slovenian Center Back after quickly receiving a pass from his Keeper. Dempsey’s pressure led to a loose ball that took a nice bounce to a nearby Edson Buddle, who controlled it with one touch and then blasted a low hard shot off the left post and into the net for the 1-0 US lead.

The Slovenian’s did not take long to respond as they exploited a sometimes porous back-line. They tip-toed the off-side trap for most of the first half and they finally succeeded in getting behind our defense as Timothy Chandler made the mistake of keeping their runner onside on the through ball. A quality finish leveled the match at one and it appeared as though it might stay that way for the remainder of the half.

Later in the first half Clint Dempsey found some space in the box during a Bradley corner and directed a quality header into the far side of the goal to give the US a 2-1 advantage.

Fabian Johnson had other thoughts in mind, however. Near the end of the first half, Johnson, put himself in yet another dangerous position inside the Slovenia Penalty Box.  A quick pass and turn by the youngster found him in on goal. The Slovenian defender made a poor challenge from behind that resulted in Johnson’s heel being clipped and the US being awarded a Penalty. Jozy Altidore stepped up and confidently buried the PK to make it 3-1 in favor of the away side.

Slovenia Came out and put a ton of pressure on the US defense in the second half. They saw a number of good chances just narrowly miss wide of the goal or bounced off the woodwork. They finally pulled one back in the 60’ following a good amount of pressure on the US defense. But the United states was able to hold fast and see out the remainder of the game for the 3-2 victory.

In the end the US fans got what the majority were asking for, offense. However, in exchange for an increased offensive threat, we also gave up as many goals in this match as we had done in the entire previous 6 matches under Klinsmann.

Our defense did not appear as solid as it has in the past but that is something that can be worked and improved upon if the US continues to deploy the 4-4-2 formation we saw today. But for the momentary lapses in the defense we at least saw that we are still capable of scoring goals. An encouraging sign as the US marches on toward World Cup Qualifying this summer.  


  1. the order of the US goals in the first half is wrong...

  2. Corrected. Happens sometimes when things are published in draft and then re-edited to be published live. Good catch. Thanks.