Jun 8, 2012, 2:35 PM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. – Anything other than a resounding win tonight against tiny Antigua and Barbuda would be fodder for fan angst – but a win by any margin will do in the technical sense as Jurgen Klinsmann gets his first taste of World Cup qualifying as U.S. manager.
Clint Dempsey is not yet at full speed. Landon Donovan hasn’t been at full rev most of this year, a fine night against Scotland as the exception. Michael Bradley has been cleaning up, ensconcing himself as perhaps the most important U.S. man this side of Tim Howard.
We’ll see it all come together at 7 p.m. on ESPN. What else to consider:
- Style points do not count; there are no voters around to impress
So says U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra (pictured). Yes, the United States will be expected to win by multiple goals. And if the Americans sneak away with a 1-0 or 2-0 win, flags of concerns will rise across U.S. fandom and the chattering class. But no matter, says Bocanegra, who figures the need for plentiful goals serves only the bottom line.
“We need to hopefully go out there and get some early goals on them and take some pressure off ourselves,” he said. “So we need to be impressive right from the first whistle. Doesn’t matter how we win, or what the score is, we just need to come away with a win.”
- The left back situation
We’ve gone over that one, here (about the situation) and here (about the options). My best starting XI guess: We’ll see Geoff Cameron tonight for injured starter Fabian Johnson and injured backup Edgar Castillo.
FYI: I’m hearing that Johnson has a better chance of playing Tuesday than Castillo.
- The Klinsmann factor
Two things to know here: First, the U.S. boss isn’t just new to coaching in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, he’s new to World Cup qualifying, period. Remember, Germany didn’t go through the qualifying paces with Klinsmann in charge for World Cup 2006; as hosts, they were awarded the berth. So there’s that.
Does it matter? Surely not, because Klinsmann was clearly front-and-center in those Germans bids to grab World Cup spots as a player.
The other thing to discuss his tactical style, about his desire for United States that plays higher up the field, applies more pressure and generally is more of a regional bully that can impose itself. It’s a style suited for games like tonight’s.
Teams under previous manager Bob Bradley were all about organization and possession, not necessarily about taking the fight to the enemy. It was a style suited to manufacture upsets against higher-quality nations, or to carefully manage matches against equals. But his teams, lacking that extra gear of forward drive, sometimes struggled to break down weaker teams.
Klinsmann’s way should be better at it. We’ll know more in a few hours.
We will, that is, unless …
- The wet weather factor
Bocanegra said the United States has an edge on a wet field, where the ball moves quicker. He’s surely correct.
But there’s a point where “wet and slick” becomes “water-logged and bogged down.” That benefits the lesser side, the visitors in this case. Rain here in Tampa. Yep. On and off through the day. With more perhaps en route.
By the way, the field at Raymond James, where about 20,000 seats had been sold as of yesterday, is 116 yards by 74 yards. Whereas the fields were tighter for last week’s friendlies in Florida and Maryland, U.S. Soccer officials made sure this one was properly wide.
- Who starts at striker?
Best guess, Herculez Gomez. Or perhaps Terrence Boyd.
Coming into this camp I (and everyone else) assumed it would be Jozy Altidore, coming off that breakout season in Holland. But listening to everything Klinsmann is saying here, I don’t see that now. He keeps talking up Gomez and Boyd and the razor-wire edge and effort they bring every day to training. (And there has been lots and lots of training, two sessions on most days since the team arrive more than two weeks ago.)
Altidore? Klinsmann says those three weeks off hurt the 23-year-old Alkmaar man desperately.
I’ll have just a little more on this one later this afternoon.
May 24, 2013, 4:25 PM EDT
Internazionale officially announced they have sacked Andrea Stramaccioni and hired the former Napoli boss.
May 24, 2013, 4:05 PM EDT
No question that two of the league’s most interesting teams will be at Stade Saputo on Saturday:
May 24, 2013, 3:37 PM EDT
Tony Fernandes has finally taken some blame for the relegation of QPR instead of shedding it left and right.
May 24, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Chelsea interm manager Rafa Benitez is set to move to Serie A on a 2-year deal with Napoli.
May 24, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
Boyd left Dortmund last season, so is a USMNT player destined to never play in a Champions League final?
May 24, 2013, 2:50 PM EDT
Who knew that Jimmy Nielsen’s burst of white hair wasn’t the craziest thing about Sporting Kansas City’s talented goalkeeper?
May 24, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT
Does Hughes deserve another shot at managing an EPL club after past failures?
May 24, 2013, 2:25 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
See the sights around London, as Wembley Stadium welcomes German fans in abundance.
May 24, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
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May 24, 2013, 1:13 PM EDT
Monaco’s Russian oligarch owner is splashing the cash to bring Champions League success, can they do it?
May 24, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
We have five suggestions as MLS pivots its enhancement efforts away from expansion:
May 24, 2013, 12:32 PM EDT
Looking behind the incredible story of the tiny rock in the Mediterranean, that can now take on the giants of European soccer
May 24, 2013, 11:38 AM EDT
Which individual battles will determine which side lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy at Wembley on Saturday?
May 24, 2013, 11:04 AM EDT
We take a look at which US cities deserve an MLS expansion franchise and how close they are to getting it. Thoughts?
May 24, 2013, 10:07 AM EDT
Would Cole be a good pickup for Major League Soccer sides looking to cement their playoff aspirations?
May 24, 2013, 8:31 AM EDT
The first-ever all-German UEFA Champions League final is one day away, take a look at our infographic to see which side has the edge.
May 24, 2013, 8:01 AM EDT
Christie Rampone and Sky Blue FC try to stay atop the NWSL Saturday in Overland Park.
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