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Circling back on Klinsmann’s changes: What worked, what didn’t for the U.S. vs. Honduras

Jul 24, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT

Holden of the U.S. moves the ball away from Honduras' Lopez during their CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match in Arlington Reuters

Jurgen Klinsmann surprised with three changes to his starting lineup for tonight’s semifinals, and the results speak for themselves. While it wasn’t their most lopsided scoreline of the tournament, it was the U.S.’s best performance, their 3-1 win over Honduras vaulting them into a fifth-straight Gold Cup final.

How much did those changes (or, in one case, lack of a change) influence tonight’s match? It depends on which switch you’re looking at.

So let’s look at them all:

1. Eddie Johnson starts for Chris Wondolowski – Through the first 45 minutes, you could make an argument Johnson was the team’s most influential player. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with you (that Landon guy significantly deviated from the mean), but I’d recognize you had a really strong claim. Either way, Johnson provided further context to the “Wondo” debate that was sparked in group play.

[MORE: Decision to come on Klinsmann’s fate.]

2. Alejandro Beyoda starts for Joe Corona – Opinion seemed split on Bedoya. I am firmly in the “meh” camp. Others thought he was fine. But “fine” wasn’t going to make anybody forget Joe Corona, even if Bedoya played a necessary role on the third goal.

[MORE: U.S. rolling like never before in Gold Cup play.]

3. Stuart Holden starts for Mikkel Diskerud – Holden may not have had as much impact going forward, but he was very solid in the middle. His natural tendencies saw him dropping deeper than the more attack-minded Diskerud, meaning his impact we different, not necessarily less. Against a poor Honduras team, having Diskerud on may have led to a more lopsided score, but the U.S. didn’t come close to needing a buffer. And Mix got a little rest for Sunday.

[MORE: The streak that’s being overshadowed – Landon Donovan’s]

4. Omar Gonzalez doesn’t start for Clarence Goodson – Given the extent to which the U.S. defense has been tested in the first four rounds, the U.S. might as well let `Lexi and Cello dust off the boots and get 90 minutes. Still, just as Oguchi Onyewu was judged harshly for Cuba’s goal, we have to ask how Goodson loses the battle and allowed Honduras’s goal. Hey, it happens to the best of them, but when it does, sometimes you get to ask Why wasn’t Omar playing?

  1. takethelongview - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    I have three thoughts on the Gonzalez non-start. Here they are in order of increasing cynicism…

    1) Goodson has been a good soldier throughout the Gold Cup and has earned the right to see the tournament through to the end.

    2) Klinsmann is sending a message to Bruce Arena. If your player gets called up to the Nats, send him to the Nats. If you keep him home, I will take him anyway, then not play him. [Alternate version of this theory: K is sending a message to Gonzalez. If you get called up the Nats, come play. If you choose to stay on “sabbatical” with your club team, you have to work your way back into the starting line up. Henceforward, to be known as the LA Galaxy plan. ]

    3) Peter Vermes called and persuasively argued that Goodson and Orozco are good enough to win this thing, especially with Gonzalez as cover for the Final. So Besler starts this game, then hops a plane Thursday for Montreal, where he plugs the gap in the SKC backline that results from yellow-card suspension to Collin.

  2. bigdinla - Jul 25, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    It is very debatable over whose fault the goal was. To me it appeared Parkhurst lost his man again and Goodson tried to cover.

  3. birgitcalhoun - Jul 25, 2013 at 2:01 AM

    Considering how weak Honduras appeared, I would have expected more goals. How is it that when certain players score it’s as if the savior has arrived, and when certain others score it’s considered quasi an accident. Somebody has to score in order to win. I would be careful making Donovan and Johnson too important. This US team is still not that great. This game against Honduras should have been a 6:1 rout. It wasn’t. Why wasn’t it. When one person is looked up to do all the work others tend to defer as could be seen with Brek Shea. He again had a bunch of errant passes.

    One more comment. The second half was remarkably lacking in midfield strength. Is it that Holden and Diskerud don’t play well together. Also Holden put himself too much in harms way. It doesn’t serve anybody to have him get injured again. Anyhow, I was very disappointed in the second half line-up especially since the play became less and less focused.

    I am really curious about Sundays game against Panama. The way I saw it, if the US team doesn’t shape up, there will be a Panama win. Panama’s skills were impressive, and the team played with much more enthusiasm that what we saw in the US/Honduras game.

    • charliej11 - Jul 25, 2013 at 8:02 AM

      I agree 100%, but what are you going to do about making LD too important, he is the only one that is able, right now, to dominate a fairly weak defending team, like Honduras last night.

      If Panama keys on LD, and they would be idiots not to, who is going to step up ? Holden, Bedoya, Mix D and BShea were average to terrible. Beckerman played well, but defensively so.

    • boscoesworld - Jul 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      I think leaving Holden in was a way to get him fit. He did NOT have a good game by any stretch. It would have been better to leave Beckerman in but I am sure it was a rest issue. I do not get the Torres experiment at all but Shea did not perform yesterday either. Johnson just took a rest for the whole second half. So you have one tired, beat up midfielder (Holden) one under performing mf (Shea) and only one front runner running. That in a nutshell is why Honduras had so much second half possession. “Considering how weak Honduras appeared” could that be turned around and say Considering how strong the Americans appeared?? You are spoiled!! National teams rarely score 3 in a game much less the 5 and 6 we have been getting.

  4. charliej11 - Jul 25, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    I love OG, and I think he will be the answer, but his momentary lapses are WAY worse than anything that happened last night.

  5. zachkent18 - Jul 25, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I agree. OG has bigger momentary lapses. Goodson plays solid and consistent and had two amazing passes that set up two goals last night. Him and Besler paired together are my picks easy if the World Cup started tomorrow. For me picking our A team is now very clear. However picking the top 11 for Sunday’s final is more challenging.

  6. jumpingnots - Jul 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    1- Joe Corona should be back in the lineup

    2- Oguchi Owyewu should be back on the team.

    3-Wondo back in and if he does not do the job bring Eddie Johnson in.

    That’s it for Sunday’s game,this USA team has much to improve to show something in the world cup next year,like yesterdays second halve was not the way to show the world way we play soccer.

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 25, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      I agree with your suggestions of Corona and Wondo. I am not so sure about Onyewu as a starter. The second half of the game kind of fell apart. I assume that’s because Beckerman was not in there and Diskerud and Holden don’t click. Bedoya has never impressed me.

  7. Scott Hevel - Jul 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    I saw on several publications that Bedoya was given moderate to high marks for his performance. He made one really good touch to set up the goal (LD made a fantastic run on that play). Otherwise, I actually felt he played terrible. I don’t want him or Torres on the pitch ever. He wasn’t able to beat anyone off the dribble. He made multiple below average passes and he just flat out missed some huge opportunities. The space he received the ball in several times, he should have been in position to score 2 or 3 times.

    I think the overall form of the USMNT has been phenomenal but I really think CONCACAF is terrible and I mean off the charts terrible. This was the 2nd game in a row that a team with no offensive form was able to score against the US. When the big boys come to town, this defense will get torched.

  8. cdhoeger - Jul 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    I am not even a Bedoya fan, but it’s harder to take you seriously when you credited one of his assists to EJ in your “Donovan, Johnson lead U.S. past Honduras, into fifth-straight Gold Cup final” article and then put down a 2 assist night as “meh”. Cut the kid some slack, if Brek Shea had started and ended up with two assists and put in the two-way effort that Bedoya did, then he’d be all over this board today with Donovan, but Bedoya is just “meh”?

  9. godsholytrousers - Jul 25, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    Holden was the worst player on the field for either team. He should have been subbed for Mix.

    Beckerman was the MOM for me. Watching at the game from way up high, he destroyed any attacks that Honduras tried to conjure up. He also was effective playing the ball forward.

    Donovan was outstanding with the few touches he had, but wish he could have found the ball more. Two goals and an assist in the semi-final is impressive.

    This was Bedoya’s best game, but I rate Corona far higher. I’m sure Corona will get the start against Panama.

    Goodson is better than Gonzales. That is the message Klinsmann is sending.

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