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Klinsmann reacts to Mexico loss, says midfielders hurt 3-4-3

Giovani Dos Santos, Michael Bradley

Mexico’s Giovani Dos Santos, left, heads the ball as United States’ Michael Bradley defends during the first half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)


Jurgen Klinsmann was angry after the United States fell to Mexico in the first match of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Friday.

That mostly seemed to relate to the lost points, and not the performance, though Klinsmann refused to say the 3-5-2 3-4-3 was to blame for the early struggles.

Well, perhaps it was to blame, he says, but not because of the formation... because of his midfield.

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Klinsmann thrice mentioned the efforts of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley in the first half as problematic, saying they weren’t compact enough to stop Mexico’s flair players.

Klinsmann claimed he’d like to see the 3-4-3 again for the opportunities it gives new star Christian Pulisic.

“We started the game in a 3-4-3 with Christian Pulisic having all the freedom to roam with the two strikers up front,” Klinsmann said. “The key in that system is the central midfielders need to get into those 1-on-1 battles. No for Michael Bradley, no Jermaine. Their players could roam and they had their chances. So we changed back, and it calmed down the situation. Second half was really, really good.”

As for how Pulisic responded to a big start under the bright lights?

[ MORE: Panama, Costa Rica strike first ]#USM

“He handled it very well,” Klinsmann said. “He’s trying to find his opening, find some areas where he can explode and take some people on. I think he did very well. In the 3-4-3, he can go either way left-right-middle. I’m sure you will see that every once in a while that system because it suits us. But our midfielders need to win that battle.”

The Yanks dominated the game, mostly, after going to the 4-4-2., save for the all-important Rafa Marquez header of a late corner kick. That, Klinsmann says, goes on otherwise strong John Brooks.

“We lost him there,” Klinsmann said. “Individual mistake. We had it all designed nicely on the whiteboard, but when a player misses his player being ahead of him, that’s when these goals happen.”

So how does the U.S. regroup for Tuesday’s qualifier in Costa Rica against a Los Ticos that won 2-0 in Trinidad and Tobago?

“The message is very simple,” Klinsmann said. “We’ve gotta go down there and get a result, which we will do.

“It gets a sense of anger in us, urgency. You don’t want to be behind. Costa Rica won tonight so it’s right there. All the qualifying games are difficult. That’s what the players are prepared. If we play the way the second half, I’m not worried.”

Follow @NicholasMendola