- Now that's it all over, I gotta ask: Why were Castillo and Kitchen even on the squad? I don't mean that as a knock on those players. It's just that Klinsmann clearly had no intention of ever using them. Don't get it twisted, he had optimal situations to use both guys and did not.
Judging from his maneuvers, Kitchen was at best the fourth defensive/holding midfielder on a 20-man field roster - and that's only if you don't include Jones on the list. In addition to starting Beckerman against Argentina, the coach preferred to bring Birnbaum into defense and push Cameron into midfield over playing Kitchen. That strikes me as highly wasteful staffing for one position out of 10. Meanwhile, we got an underwhelming Johnson and Orozco at left back, options which gave opponents downhill running on that flank throughout the six games. The field tilt never went our way on the left, something even Castillo critics would admit he can help with - and that's before you factor in sliding FabJo to left wing, where he so obviously belongs. So both went unused, and the team's glaring lack of one legit playmaking #10 option stuck out like a sore thumb as much as our lack of industry from the wings did.
Don't forget, Klinsmann also squandered two rosters spots at World Cup 2016, when neither Chandler nor Diskerud saw the field while everyone was wishing we'd brought another proper lead striker type along. This stuff makes me feel like Ben Affleck doing Batman v. Superman press after the reviews/interwebs verdicts have come in.
- The bright spot of the tournament? Brooks coming into his own as an international player (Argentina semi-stinker notwithstanding). He's going to be the boss at LCB for a while, friends, and there's still plenty of room to grow.
- Check out my man Matt Doyle's Copa-capping word, which includes some rather telling stats about Klinsmann's record against top opposition, as compared to his predecessors.
- While you're at it, give this rather spot-on assessment of the overall USMNT program and the perceptions surrounding it by Jon Townsend. Many of these things have been said before, but it's well put together and adds several layers to the tale. This take is certainly more astute than ESPN voice Colin Cowherd's nutty, but predictably popular/populist rant about how the Nats' current problems have nothing to do with poor coaching and just about everything to do with needing more criticism.
Gimme a break with that. Those guys get hammered a lot, nobody kid gloves them. In fact, some fans can be downright brutally impossible to please. As for his silly media culpability nonsense, yours truly was not alone in ripping the side several times during Copa. Actually, I'm now being accused of criticizing the players too much. Cowherd's partner Jason Whitlock offers a far more salient point about our country's woes in failing (for now) to reach the often-discussed next level. By worlds, not miles.
And as always, the end of a tournament means the start of a new USMNT Clipboard. I'll get that rolling tomorrow.
- Greg Seltzer