U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann addresses Wednesday’s loss
A March 22 date always stood out for the U.S. final round qualifying chase; it was the lone contest on home soil among the Americans’ opening foursome, it was always the security blanket.
Now, given the shape of things after one round, that match in Commerce City outside Denver is practically a life-support device. The mission will be brutally simple: get all three points that night against Costa Rica or risk falling way behind in a six-way chase (for three automatic berths in Brazil ’14) that could quickly get more complicated than anyone of us truly believed.
That’s more or less what Jurgen Klinsmann and his players said about the 2-1 loss. From USSoccer’s official quote sheet following the match:
He said later (although it is not in the quote sheet) that his team lost the ball too quickly in the midfield, which is why they needed to make early midfield subs.
That’s not just on the players, of course. Klinsmann may want a do-over on some of his lineup selections. Danny Williams, 23, looked in over his head, perhaps not ready to police the game the way a holding midfielder should. And the choice to once again station Eddie Johnson out wide on the left needs a serious re-think, too.
He can be effective around goal, but the Sounders’ man is way out of his element as a midfielder.
And then there’s Jermaine Jones, who did manufacture a wonderful moment, but who otherwise struggled with simple midfield passing and receiving chores.
As for Klinsmann’s choices in the back, Grant Wahl points out in his story at SI.com that Klinsmann seems committed to the young back line, where three of four defenders were given their very first World Cup qualifier starting assignment.. The choice of Omar Gonzalez over far more experienced Carlos Bocanegra will be particularly scrutinized.
That’s where Klinsmann went on to talk about the midfield issues.
In our ProSoccerTalk coverage yesterday, we probably didn’t say enough about the lack of midfield pressure on Honduras’ game-winning goal. Yes, Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, and Gonzalez needed to be better. But where was the pressure on that initial pass? To give Maynor Figueroa an opportunity to pick out a slashing Oscar Boniek Garcia, who had a wonderful second half – that was asking for it.
Bradley, among this group’s best at thoughtful analysis, told Wahl the team needs to be smarter at times, to think their way around the match a little better. (Easier to do when the “back 5” – the back four plus the hold midfielder, that is – are all so young.
Average age of that group: 24.2 years.