Saturday, June 4, 2016

Oi vey...

If you saw the USMNT loss to Colombia last night, then you may have heard Jurgen Klinsmann's post-game assertions that the game was 'totally even'. Of course, that's ludicrous beyond belief, as Colombia had a clear advantage even from the time they grabbed an early 1-0 lead. Now, I don't know if he's backing the team, blowing smoke for the fans, in denial or he actually believes the game was a level affair all the way. And frankly, I'm not sure which explanation is the least disconcerting.




- Greg Seltzer

35 comments:

Bernardinho said...

We were toast from the moment J-Jones took the pitch instead of Nagbe. This squad needs to young the hell up, in a hurry.

DaM said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Klinsi was delusional. Mistaking possession for quality of play or something. Colombia generally cedes possession, did it to some extent against the US, but so many turn overs from the midfield trio and so much randomness from Dempsey. Clint looks like an old man playing with this group. It used to be great that dempsey "tries shit" but he has stopped doing it in the context of the team. Bedoya, back to his usual issues after looking good against the awful Bolivia, looked juuuust a slight step too slow athletically to affect the game and Bradley had the worst match I have ever seen him play in a US jersey.

Said it once, I'll say it a thousand times, move Zardes to the 9 where his bad touches matter less, nagbe in for Jones (and bring real left backs or start pulisic).

I think the most telling stat is shots on goal. When you have somewhere around half the ball for 90 minutes and can only muster a shot or two, that should tell you something about the performance of your team in the final third. namely that it was bad.

still an advanceable group, but one imagines that klinsman will react weirdly and go to a 4-4-2 with bradley and jones in the middle, bedoya and some other player out of position on the outside and orozco in there somewhere or some similar stupidity.

DaM said...

(and lest I put it all on Dempsey being out of position, so is Wood who is definitely not a winger (yet) and same as Zardes who at least is slightly better at playing wing, though his best moments are usually when he plays wing like a striker and cuts inside. the formation is right but there is still an insistence on playing people where they do not excel).

Dany Tzvi said...

its tough because of like 4 real chances we had, 3 were dempsey coming very close, I think we still need him on the field. The problem with dempsey in the 9 is he is rarely looking to run in behind and turn the defense (partly because he doesn't have the pace to anyways). We were never a threat to penetrate, which allowed Colombia to push the line up, compress the playing area, and choke the midfield. The possession is nice, but there needs to be a combination of short and long play. Either the 4-3-3 goes or dempsey goes. If neither of those happens we're gonna continue to struggle.

theo piazza said...

It was a decent game from the U.S. We lack creativity in the final third(When havent we? I've been a loyal follower since I went to the World Cup in Italy in 1990). Klinsmann's lineup choices were understandable, and have been recently. Once we integrate Pulisic into the fold, and to a lesser extent, Nagbe, we will be immensely better suited to pressure other teams around the net. The Naysayers are off base on this one....Lets see how we come out Tuesday.

DaM said...

@Dany Agreed wholeheartedly... the issue isn't dempsey per se, it is dempsey as the 9. I will point out it is the exact same problem Seattle had. They eventually put Dempsey at the 10 after trying him out wide. Either would be better.

Yes, dempsey had 3 solid chances. 1 of them off a corner where his position is irrelevant, 1 off a free kick where his position was irrelevant and then 1 from the run of play (which frankly he has to put on goal). We could keep the formation and move dempsey elsewhere, but his best elsewhere is probably how Seattle wound up (kind of like the Valeri role in Portland). For that to happen you would have to find Klinsman willing to go without 3 box to box midfielders in the middle 3.

I am not saying he is a man genius, but my guess if Caleb Porter were manning the helm is that the 4-3-3 would look something like fabjo-Zardes-Pulisic/Wood; Dempsey, Nagbe, Bradley; yedlin, cameron, brooks, lichaj.

That team beats Costa Rica handily.

DaM said...

(sorry i inverted my fullbacks for some reason :))

Patrick said...

The US had a game plan for once and maybe if they had played this 4-3-3 for a year a team like Colombia wouldn't have found it so easy to stop. Jones and Bradley were shockingly poor. I think giving Nagbe Jones's spot makes sense. Bradley has to get better or it will be very hard to advance. It all hinges on him and if he is terrible there is not much hope. Jones/Bradley/Klinsman has been the one constant since 2012; but since Bradley's move to MLS it hasn't been working. Coincidence or not, this isn't the player that was on the field in that friendly win over Italy which was JK's first good result. Bradley needs a loan to Europe before 2018 WC or we need to find someone who can play the #6 for this system. Donovan had that great loan to Everton in 2010, Bradley needs it.

Jones missed passes all over the field, left large gaps in defense trying to do his JJ thing and just doesn't have the quickness to play with a Colombia. Several times he simply left James for a CB who couldn't step to him and James was free to do what he wanted. Nagbe also needs a move to Europe as he looked startled last night, but there is upside and we should start playing him over Jones.

Patrick said...

The US had a game plan for once and maybe if they had played this 4-3-3 for a year a team like Colombia wouldn't have found it so easy to stop. Jones and Bradley were shockingly poor. I think giving Nagbe Jones's spot makes sense. Bradley has to get better or it will be very hard to advance. It all hinges on him and if he is terrible there is not much hope. Jones/Bradley/Klinsman has been the one constant since 2012; but since Bradley's move to MLS it hasn't been working. Coincidence or not, this isn't the player that was on the field in that friendly win over Italy which was JK's first good result. Bradley needs a loan to Europe before 2018 WC or we need to find someone who can play the #6 for this system. Donovan had that great loan to Everton in 2010, Bradley needs it.

Jones missed passes all over the field, left large gaps in defense trying to do his JJ thing and just doesn't have the quickness to play with a Colombia. Several times he simply left James for a CB who couldn't step to him and James was free to do what he wanted. Nagbe also needs a move to Europe as he looked startled last night, but there is upside and we should start playing him over Jones.

DaM said...

@Patrick agreed with most of what you said. i will say i did read one article about Jones who basically said that he was told to always double cuadrado from his spot so maybe, in fairness to JJ, some of the poor positioning was more JK's fault. But agreed JJ just doesn't have the wheels to be the kind of player he was 2 years ago.

That being said, Bradley can play the 6 here fine. I agree entirely that he was awful last night. I said elsewhere it is as bad as I have ever seen him. He had a bad game. He actually played the 6 fine in the 2nd half against ecuador, a team that was coming into the tourney in better form than Colombia by far, even if it wasn't their A game. He had a really poor game but it happens to everyone at some point. Really it was his passing that was awful more than his playing as a 6... it's not like Colombia scored from the run of play, he was pretty decent defensively. Just awful awful passing.

dikranovich said...

It's interesting, USA scores early in the World Cup against Ghana, then absorbs pressure for 80 mins before giving up the equalizer, and comes back minutes later with a game winner. The narrative by many is that Ghana were unlucky and dominated the game. Fast forward, and USA does play Colombia pretty even, and it becomes cause for derision. It's a strange take that a lot of American fans and writers have. And here we were playing the 4-3-3, which these same people have been begging for.

if you are a fan of U.S. soccer, and you hear people complaining about coach Bob Bradley and his lack of experience, then you fast forward some time and hear many of the same people decrying coach klinsmann as something less than or equal to a high school coach, you must take pause and wonder.

DaM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaM said...

Sometimes I do wonder. It's posts like this that make me think you are a troll. I know you read all those posts with people saying Dempsey can't play that formation and Jones didn't belong there and so on and so on. I absolutely know you read them. So you know that everything that happened in this match was predicted by those same people calling for the 4-3-3.

You can play the right system with the wrong players. That would be considered poor coaching. It isn't a difficult concept. I mean a 7 year old player gets that, right? If you tell your travelling team hey we are going to take everyone who has been playing defense this year and play them up top and vice versa they would think it's a bad idea in a match they wanted to win.

Moreover, you can't be comparing Ghana's performance in the world cup to the US Friday. Ghana had 60% of the ball, something like 20 shots with half of them or so on net in a match where the US had less than half that number. That is clearly a match dominated by Ghana that we managed to survive. Barely. Against Colombia we had 2 shots. That's it. Relatively even possession and the least amount of shots we have had in 3 years (and certainly fewer than Colombia). That comparison has no basis in reality. Or even fiction. 2 shots in 90 minutes is not "pressure." It is a comfortable 40 yr old+ park game on a summer weekend.

I know you will come back with some nonsense vitriol about how only you understand football in this country, but I really couldn't resist. Sometimes the degree of naievete (giving you the benefit of the doubt) is like a flame to a moth. There are lots of good writers (greg and co included) out there who do actual analysis instead of fluff pieces or blogging, you should read some of them. Education is good. Gotta start somewhere.

dikranovich said...

Dam, I do think it is important for you to note, when you call someone a troll, that between the two of us, that's you and me, only one of us refers to our national team coach as high school level.

Dr.Jon said...

I think Klinsmann is smart. I think Klinsmann is a good coach. I think Klinsmann honestly thinks these people fit best into this system be it 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1
I think there is no way we have any chance to know otherwise unless we speak with players, listen in on meetings, watch training sessions.
The US doesn't have a "traditional" LB or a RW who is of international caliber. Honestly now a LW either, unless you want to pin your hopes on a 17 year old. I think JK knows this. He just does what he does to try and make it work. The rest is literally up to the players.
His wall street journal interview is telling.

"We started out with young players right after the World ​Cup with the game against the Czech Republic, where we see the talent. Every coach sees the talent but then you sound like a broken record and you say talent is only even 50%. We have other players where we are thrilled. Where was Bobby Wood two years ago and where is he now? And where was DeAndre Yedlin two years ago and where is he now?​The Czech​game, we gave the first cap to Emerson Hyndman, he disappeared. What is going on on the goalkeeper front? Tim Howard is 37. [Brad] Guzan is 31. Nick Rimando is 36. Where is our next wave? ​Holy moly. We lost that generation that didn’t qualify for [the] London [Olympics]. What happened to the Bill Hamids, the Sean Johnsons, the Breck Sheas, the Mix Diskeruds? You go through and make your own judgment. You go through it and we get back to our old thing where we say, ‘Hey guys, talent is only half of it.’"

So really..... what is the 4-3-3 lineup of perfection?

Pulisic --- Wood ---- RW
FJ ----------- Nagbe
Bradley
LB? -- Brooks -- Miazga -- Yedlin


Those are the holes. RW there is nothing yet - not Dempsey, not Finlay, not Lleget with Pulisic on right. nagbe and bedoya are better in CM roles. Hyndman is a CM. I can't think of anyone.. Same with LB...there are many who play LB, none at top clubs. For whatever reason, Klinsmann doesn't like Licaj. Acosta is a CDM, Castillo isn't that great, Brek either who hasn't live up to potential.

I'm running out of ways to say this. Hard to do 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 without target (Jozy, Boyd) so 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Who plays wide right and left in a 4-4-2. Too many CMs. Zusi? Not exactly speedy.

There just aren't really a whole lot of good options in this current pool.

What do you think?

Greg Seltzer said...

Johnson is a winger, you have him in central midfield.

DaM said...

@dr. john As Greg points out you have FJ out of position. Put him at LW and Pulisic at RW. Then Bedoya (I think based on your other posts) slides into the midfield trio. After that all you need is a LB. In the ideal world, which is what I think you are going for, I think Lichaj is the LB you are looking for, maybe Chandler as your backup (I think he was playing more LB towards the end of the bundesliga season, when he played, than RB).

The problem with JK is he refuses to consider lichaj. so he gets stuck.

I also think that JK quote is kind of nonsense. Not from you, but evidence of the mistakes JK makes. Horvath is the gap keeper there, but JK being JK he insisted on giving time to Rimando, who was never going to have a big role at the 2014 OR the 2018 wold cup.

What happened to mix? I dunno you tried to turn a pure attacking player into a defensive midfielder. What do you think happened? Hamid? Injuries but there's still time there.

How about the LBs from those olympic qualifiers?? Well most of us were calling for Villafana to join this roster as the perfect LB. Didn't get as sniff. Think about that again. JK laments the lost generation that was the 2012 olympic team and yet the one position he can't seem to keep filled and keeps trying to convert other players to is LB. Which happens to have had a really successful MLS/Liga MX LB on the roster that he refuses to call. BUt he can't figure out what happened to the players from that team? The problem is instead of using the actual serviceable LB from that team he has spent, shockingly, years trying to convert a winger from that team into a LB. And failed.

A couple of other players have gotten lost in some injuries and bad luck... Agudelo really seems his permit issues and his mistake of signing with New England derailed his career, Gyau and Boyd have been wracked with injuries. Not entirely sure how Tony Taylor's career got so off track. I get the feeling he has always had the same issues he is having at NYCFC. Great skills, subpar results due to poor decision making resulting in always diminishing playtime.

But the answer to what happened to that team probably begins and ends with JK's mismanagement. And that team had produced kitchen, mix, villafana, Agudelo, Gyau and Boyd for this team we probably would be considering it as a successful haul for a non qualifying team.

Dr.Jon said...

DaM - I've been searching for Gladbach's formation and I really can't find one with FJ. Did they play a 4-3-3 with FJ as a true LW or more of a 4-5-1/4-1-3-2/4-2-3-1 with him as LM? I always thought it was the latter. In that we are still stuck with Pulisic as a RW - he looks to be naturally a #10 and plays LW for Dortmund, but they often switch sides. So even he is "out of position".
In that Mexico game last night the commentators were speculating on Osorio's future because he is always playing players out of position and often doesn't use the same starting XI, can't settle on a formation, doesn't tell the players who is starting until relatively late before the game etc... (now he is a relatively new coach too, I will concede). But this is modern football. The average US player, even international caliber, doesn't have the soccerIQ to pull that off - tactically or technically. It is what Pep popularized in Spain and again in Germany and Cruyff before that.

Lichaj is a LB sure, but in the second division, and Villafana deserves a chance but why don't La LigaMX players don't seem to show up for us internationally. Mexican didn't seem to have that problem last night with some domestic guys. I have certainly heard and seen that La LigaMX plays a relatively slower pace and less pressing than even MLS, certainly slower than international play. But right now we don't have a proven international LB and we will never know what Klinsmann liked and didn't like about Licaj. To us he looks serviceable and probably versatile enough to play LB or RB.

Definitely injuries hurt A LOT of promising talent - Rubin, Gyau, Gatt, Boyd, Holden, Pelosi etc.. probably more. Also in some ways you are confirming what JK says, it is more than talent. I think in that quote too he was mainly speaking to why they all seem to be rotting on the bench for all of these teams, not earning or fighting hard enough for a spot. He holds up Wood and Brooks as an example of people who stepped it up, but the others, not so much.

Dr.Jon said...

@Greg - FJ in that formation can slide in and out wide with Pulisic. Their natural tendencies, I think, would draw Johnson wide and Pulsic (being more of a CAM) would be drawn centrally. But with our depth, even now when It is probably bigger than ever, someone, at least 1 player is going to play out of position.

Greg Seltzer said...

Whether he slides anywhere or not, he still would have myriad central duties that he is not suited for or experienced with. And I see no reason why depth riches should force anyone out of position - let alone the guy who is arguably the team's best player at this moment. In fact, I'd say an increase in depth leaves less reason to move players out of their optimum spots.

DaM said...

@Dr. Jon I didn't see a ton of Gladbach this year. Maybe 10 or so matches. From what I saw they switch formation some. I think towards the end they went with the 3-5-2 some with FJ in the expected wide position. I think I saw them in a 4-4-2 more often than anything. If I had to guess I would say they played a 4-4-2 more than anything, with Fabjo routinely in the LM position.

Pulisic plays LW for Dortmund, is probably a classic 10 as much as anything and is right footed. Not sure he can be out of position. Just one of those players.

Lichaj is in the 2nd division sure... but he plays very well there. From what I have seen he would walk in as one of the best LBs in MLS. Surely that earns him a look if he is playing domestically OR JK isn't coaching. JK historically has removed players for consideration for reasons other than the quality of their play (see: Donovan, L.).

I also found it interesting how Mexico went with some guys out of position. That being said, most of their out of positionness was putting central defenders on the outside a la Besler at LB. And Rafa in midfield which we have all seen a ton. Pretty good defense from those changes as expected, but I will point out that Mexico ceded huge chunks of possession to a 10 man Uruguay and rarely got anything going from their fullbacks.


Good point on Pelosi and Gatt. Gatt is STILL trying. Gatt had some promise. I wasn't that sold on Pelosi though maybe the injuries robbed him of some athleticism. I think JK's point with that quote was that it was a lost generation and so he is missing the young players to fill in some competition spots. My point is at least part of the reason that generation is lost is there are a few players, particularly at LB that JK refuses to give a chance to when the naked eye test says they can play.

Also agree with Greg 100%. Fabjo is not a central midfielder. It's a different perspective there and some of his more troubling tendencies as a defender (e.g. leaving his man free after the pass) would cause more issues centrally.

Dr.Jon said...

I definitely see what you guys are saying and appreciate it, and they are completely reasonable. I wish more folks in the commentary world (professional and amateur alike) would appreciate there are very little clear cut answers here for the reasons we said - timing, injury, position, depth. I think Klinsman, and any coach looks at this like FIFA on PS4/XBox. FJ is a 75 at LB and an 80 at LM/LW (made those numbers up). WE have other upper 70s LM/LW but the LB is like 60s in ratings. From that perspective it is a no brainer.
As far as Lichaj/Villfana, yeah, I got nothing. But again, we aren't there, so we'll never know.

The LD is been beaten to death, but at least JK is consistent, right? LD bailed on the team. Full stop. It is too bad. He should have gone instead Wondo. He alluded to Tim losing starting job after he sat out a year - it wasn't even during WC qualifying.

Andy Palmer said...

I actually thought it was an even game. Other than the goals, Guzan was the less challenged of the two goal keepers.

Dany Tzvi said...

Since his move to forest, lichaj has primarily been a RB. This past season he played like 3 games at LB.

Mexico didn't get production from their fullbacks because very early on they switched to 3 in the back and moved layun into midfield. They didn't have fullbacks. As for posession, they had 60% in a game where they were only up a man for 30 minutes.

Is there any chance villafaña has declined call-ups and wants to play for mexico?

ZackL said...

Just spitballing, but what does anyone think the chances are of Klinsmann making any swaps at all? 10%? 5%? As Greg alluded to in his initial post, JK was pretty sanguine about the performance and the result, which makes me a little nervous for Tuesday. Personally I'd take Nagbe for Jones, if only to try something new and theoretically make our transition from midfield to attack a little smoother.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Dr. Jon:

A couple things here I don't even slightly agree with.

"WE have other upper 70s LM/LW but the LB is like 60s in ratings. From that perspective it is a no brainer."

Well, it might be a no-brainer if that was accurate, but I do not think it is. You are vastly under-weighing Lichaj and Villafana.

"The LD is been beaten to death, but at least JK is consistent, right? LD bailed on the team. Full stop. It is too bad. He should have gone instead Wondo. He alluded to Tim losing starting job after he sat out a year - it wasn't even during WC qualifying."

Not only do I find it rather unfair to punish a player for recharging physically and mentally after hardly having any break for about four years, but I find this method of selection to be overtly misguided. This thing where he makes it personal as if the team was slighted or harmed was proven as ridiculous in 2014. And he's still doing it, so I'd say it's not a beaten horse at all.


@ Andy:

Yeah, sure, it was an even game... **after** they were already up two and sitting back. That certainly doesn't count as even in my book.

@ Dany:

No, Villafana has not refused call-ups, and he is not trying to play for Mexico.



Dany Tzvi said...

I didn't think so but it was nagging the back of my mind, thanks for clearing that up

Dr.Jon said...

@Greg:

FWIW (only objective measure we can use, really) FIFA lists:
Like previously noted Lichaj is a right footed RB in his "natural" position. Villafana had a breakout season, but has never played senior level international soccer, period. Not like Villafana went to and is playing for an EPL club or LA Liga or Bundesliga at LB.

Fair enough about LD and JK, but his mindset (it is the utmost honor to be called into national team) is hardly a rarity in international football.


Could this all be that he thinks this is the best way to do well in Copa? I think so. I think we will see a different USMNT for WCQ (god, I hope..)




Pulisic -- Wood -- Finlay

Nagbe -- Bradley -- Bedoya

Villafana -- Brooks -- Cameron -- Yedlin

Guzan

Bench: Horvath, Lichaj, Miazga, Morris, Dempsey, Altidore (or some such)


Love the discussion, BTW! Thanks

Dr.Jon said...

Johnson -- Wood -- Pulisic

Must be nice to have the option to leave your best player off of the team, eh Greg :)

Greg Seltzer said...

Re Lichaj and Villafana: Both play in leagues equal to or better than MLS, which of course provide several players to the squad, so that is not a deciding factor. There's a whole list of guys playing in China we'd all gladly take on board. Villafana has never played international soccer... well, yeah, that's the issue here. He should have by now. And Lichaj is quite two-footed, with scads of experience at LB. He can play both at a similar level.

As or his attitude toward players needing a break, there are tons of international stars who take breaks all over the world. Dempsey did it, too. Who hurts his feelings least is not a selection policy, he is paid to gather the best available players and get the best results possible. He has chosen not to do that for non-soccer reasons more than once or twice. Donovan needed the break to be at his best at World Cup, so I was fine with it. And by now, we all know Donovan has had struggles with depression, which is something that has taken or ruined the life of more than a few soccer players. In that light, I think the manager has been quite ridiculous. This is my feeling on the matter. I know many do not agree, but I like to remind fans that we do not own these people. And they are just that: people.

Andy Palmer said...

@Greg

I watched the game again and I wouldn't say Columbia dominated even before they took a 2-0 lead. Yes, they started better, and got the 1-0, but after that, we contested the middle of the pitch. The fact that we did that against a team ranked in the top 5 is hardly something I'd consider a "bad day in the office."

Ufficio said...

We barley threatened the goal, despite being down two. A few set-piece chances, and some shots from around the edge of the box. The game was over when Colombia scored their first.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Andy:

Let's put it this way: Colombia scored in the 8th minute and had registered their fourth shot (with three on target) by the 16th minute. It took us 59 minutes to get our fourth shot attempt, which was the first on goal.

Dr.Jon said...

Far enough Greg about LD. About Villafana before he championship victory with Portland and move to La Liga he wasn't on my radar for 25 yro LB stars. I think that is why he hasn't gotten a look, yet. Lichaj....*shrug* no clue.

I would like to think the post-Copa roster will be tweaked to youth

Dany Tzvi said...

We did well in the middle after the second goal because Colombia let us. They were happy to sit back and snuff out our innocuous forays.