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Three things that looked great for the United States vs. Germany … and three that didn’t

Jun 2, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT

Germany v United States - International Friendly Getty Images

We already talked about Jozy Altidore, our pick for Man of the Match. Past that, here are three things that looked great for the United States in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Germany .. and then three that, well, not so much …

(MORE: Man of the Match, Altidore)

Three that worked well …

Michael Bradley as the essential linchpin

It’s not enough at this point to say the team is better with Michael Bradley in the lineup. Everyone knows that. Let’s walk a step further and say this: The team just doesn’t work without Michael Bradley on the field.

The team just moves forward with such improved clarity and balance when he’s around. Bradley’s elemental movement and ability to direct others is absolutely essential. His touches are so clean. And when the United Sates loses possession, the pressure in  midfield arrives so much more reliably when Bradley partners with Jermaine Jones.

High pressure up the field

Remember two things about Sunday’s result. First, it was a friendly – and you know what we always say about reading too much into friendlies, one way or the other. And the other remark here is how Germany allowed the United States to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, sitting back and letting the United States get comfortable. (Well, with that, and with shaky marking, some ridiculous goalkeeping …)

Yes, it was hot Sunday in D.C.  But Klinsmann and Co. chose to ignore the conditions and pursue the usual tactical goal, pressuring up high up the field rather than yielding to the sultry afternoon and dropping into low pressure crouch as Germany did. It was a fairly bold call from Klinsmann, but it worked beautifully.

(MORE: Video of Germany’s ridiculous own goal Sunday)

Better individual stuff from attackers

We won’t write books about Fabian Johnson’s move into midfield, but it wasn’t bad, either. His timing on runs inside did leave the Germans confused at moments.

Graham Zusi had a far more effective match along the right, making good choices and crossing well from the right while still tracking reliably back to assist his inexperienced right back.

And then there’s Dempsey, who had a quiet first half. But how many times have we seen it now, where “Deuce” does seem to be having a sleepy evening – right up to the moment he puts one or two into goal?

And now three elements we need to talk about …

The outside back situation

Klinsmann made a change along the right with utility man Brad Evans taking his turn along the outside of the back line. The Seattle Sounder, a real thinking man’s player, had a solid first half defensively. Then again, he and left back DaMarcus Beasley needed something more assertive going forward. Yes, it’s nit-picky, but outside backs at this level have to press into the attack.

And then there’s Edgar Castillo, who replaced Beasley midway through the second half and got beat badly two or three times. So, there’s still plenty to talk about at both outside back spots.

Omar Gonzalez giving up a goal

The big LA Galaxy center back had a reasonable match all the way around, vocal, winning balls and generally finding good spots. But he lost his mark on Germany’s second goal, directly off a corner kick, furthering an alarming trend where Gonzalez momentarily drops concentration. Simply put, Gonzalez’s game will reach the next level when he holds strict concentration for 90 minutes, and not a second less.

Of course, Gonzalez wasn’t alone in flagging concentration during certain spells. Keep reading …

Two concerning periods of play

As positive as the response was to begin Sunday’s match – shaking off the stinker against Belgium and kicking off so confidently against Germany – the second half had a couple of concerning windows, where  “response” was seriously lacking. Klinsmann had warned his team to be particularly alert over the first 10 minutes, to look for a proud German team to put their big and talented boots on this game.

Sure enough, the Americans looked a bit fat and happy, a bit labored immediately after intermission. And Germany got back in the game.

Dempsey hit a couple of goals and order seemed restored in a 4-1 lead. Only, Klinsmann’s kids seemed to drop concentration again, this time at about 75 minutes, allowing the visitors to make things far from comfortable and leaving the Americans to do the “just hanging on” thing by the end.

(MORE: Goals galore, as the United States tops Germany, 4-3)

  1. mrpaisley - Jun 2, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Evans didn’t do well? Beasley? Wut? Did we watch the same game?

    • wfjackson3 - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      I am with you dude. Steve, I think you need to get your temperature taken man. That was an almost identical performance to the Belgium game in terms of approach. The difference was Evans for Cameron and Besler for Goodson. That’s it.

  2. talgrath - Jun 2, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Evans played lights-out for the majority of the match, I thought. He got tired in the last 15 or so minutes, but everyone did, and even when tired he had excellent timing and positioning, he understood he was tired. Beasely was damn near flawless until he went out, can’t really say a bad thing about him. Castillo did look shaky, but he also is just getting back in to the swing of things.

  3. udosean - Jun 2, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    One aspect of today’s win that I didn’t enjoy was the lack of ball pressure outside the 18. I suppose you could chalk this up to heavy legs due to the heat, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hot as hell in Jamaica too. Omar looked bad failing to close down on one of the goals and the defense looked pretty slow in general to close down on German scoring opportunities. Hopefully this is an issue that Klinsman and Co. will address heading into the qualifiers

  4. dfstell - Jun 2, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    I liked Evans at RB a lot better than I liked Cameron the other night. I kinda wonder why Parkhurst didn’t get a minute of playing time…..he must really be sucking in training?

    I wonder if the guys on the field need to take some responsibility for Omar’s momentary concentration lapses. It’s super easy to have that happen and now that his teammates know he is prone to that, the vocal guys like Timmy or Bradley or Jones can pull him aside during a set piece and give him that little kick in the butt to buckle down for the last ____ minutes.

  5. mrpaisley - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    I have to guess that Klinsman is trying to demonstrate how players are more than capable of playing one position and one role on the field, and that much is expected of all the players. No player is safe. No Donovan, no problem apparently. Look at Zusi man…

  6. mvktr2 - Jun 2, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    No doubt, Evans was the best player along the back line by a fair margin, deserves a top 3 spot at the least. I follow Seattle but hadn’t given Evans much thought on the national team level. It’s only one performance, but given how shaky centerback Cameron has been at RB Evans may be the better choice. I’m simply blown away by his play today which included a lot of communication.

    Tip o the hat and raise of the glass to Mr. Evans! Heck if he never does anything else for the USMNT again he can tell his kids/grandkids about the day he bossed around German attackers like a sandlot bully. For me the reality is that if Evans can put together performances like this consistently he (or Chandler) is the RB. I know it’s one game, nothing to make a full decision on, but the dude wanted it, bad! Then Cameron gets to move inside next to most probably Besler. As for Fiscal, it was Bornstein-esque at times today, the goal he allowed for instance was unforgivable. After the 2011 Gold Cup I was convinced a traffic cone defends better than Bornie, another Fiscal performance like that and I’ll reach the same conclusion for him. In his defense he may be the best outside back in the pool going forward, that simply isn’t enough when 80% of the duties for the position are defensive.

    DMB continues to play pretty well but has huge lapses also. As for the germans, the US didn’t quit when they bombed Pearl Harbor and they didn’t quit today! 😉

    • wandmdave - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      You mean Castillo?

  7. wfjackson3 - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    I am starting to think some folks just look at the OPTA and go, yep, Bradley was awesome and the defense sucked. Did anyone else notice how easy it was for us to retain possession when our two outside backs were replaced with midfielders? I mean it wasn’t even close. And suddenly the service for Altidore went way up. Coincidence? You be the judge.

    And all of this Bradley love has got to stop. He doesn’t win balls and OPTA doesn’t show all of the times he passed to someone and put them in a bad position. His only effective pass is backwards. The only thing I see him doing consistently well is positioning, and that counts for a lot. But to say he is the heartbeat of the team is downright wrong. He is a strong player, but I would hate to see us go without Dempsey or to put regular old outside backs in the lineup.

    • wandmdave - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      It should be pretty obvious we aren’t the same team without Bradley in the lineup by now. I’m not saying he’s a world class superstar but our midfield just doesn’t work without him.

  8. schmutzdeck - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    I have re thought my vote for man of the match.

    Brad Evans

    When the match started, no one knew what to expect from him and in the first few minutes he floated a beautiful 40 pass over the midfield that Jozy glided onto and took in for a corner. A few minutes later Jozy scored and the US was off to the races.

    His interaction with Zusi was a big help to the offense, far more productive than Cameron, so I think you are wrong about Evans not contributing there.

    Before the game most of you wrote that he was the worst US player and had no business being called up. So if he could have such a great start, well , he set the tone for the game.

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