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Jermaine Jones or Kyle Beckerman at the bottom of the diamond?

Jun 1, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

Credit: Getty/AP Credit: Getty/AP

Jurgen Klinsmann has three major positional questions facing him come Brazil.  One involves the wingers, one involves the outside defenders, and the final lies at the heart of the midfield.

We’ve seen throughout Klinsmann’s managerial tenure with the United States that he has a special affinity for the 4-4-2 diamond midfield, deploying it especially to allow Michael Bradley as much opportunity to wander forward as possible.

In a classic straight-across midfield, Bradley’s ventures forward would not only throw off the attacking development, but more importantly it would leave the midfield exposed.

Now, he is able to move as far up as he’d like, and it has paid off time and time again, the most recent occasion being his beaut of a chip to Fabian Johnson for the US’s first goal against Turkey.

However, the back of the diamond has now become an issue for Klinmann.

Jermain Jones is a very similar player to Michael Bradley. Both playmakers yet both defensively sound, they cannot both occupy that diamond-tip position, and one must move back.  Klinsmann obviously selected Bradley to play up front, and Jones hasn’t exactly settled back into his new defensive role well.

Wanting desperately to make a play for the team, Jones has resorted to attempting wonder-tackles that are more likely to result in his sending off than they are likely to do what they intended.

Watching Jones on a leash is difficult, because it’s obvious he was told not to venture forward. That was made more evident when Klinsmann talked further about his diamond formation after the match against Turkey:

So Bradley and the outside defenders have free reign to go all the way up or come all the way back, while Jones is told to sit back and cover.  That’s the position’s description, but that’s not the kind of player Jones is.

With that in mind, should Klinsmann make a change? Kyle Beckerman isn’t as stuck-in to the national team fold as Jones, but his skill set and mentality both play perfectly into the position’s job description – namely, because he’s played there before.  Beckerman captained Real Salt Lake from the bottom of the diamond to their 2009 MLS Cup win, with Jason Kreis deploying a formation that was tailored to his squad.

The ultimate question Klinsmann must answer is this: would you rather play Jermain Jones out of position, change the formation to fit Jones, or bench Jones in favor of Beckerman who can adapt to your formation better?

It’s a question we’ve been asking for some time now, but one that continues to be relevent so long as Jones appears shackled at the back of Klinsmann’s diamond.

  1. talgrath - Jun 1, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    Beckerman is the better option, for sure, if it’s a choice between Jones or Beckerman in that defensive midfield position. Jones, it’s true, is the far better player overall, but Beckerman knows defensive midfielder like the back of his hand, it’s literally all he does.

    • mdac1012 - Jun 1, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      Agreed, Beckerman is a natural holding middy but I think Klinnsmann is worried about Beckerman’s speed, or lack there of, against the teams in our group. Jones is a better athlete and they are probably hoping he adapts to the role, but it’s almost like putting a square peg in a round hole.

      • talgrath - Jun 2, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Certainly, speed is a concern, but speed does you no good if you’re out of position all the time. All the speed humanly possible won’t help the back four if Jones is so far out of position that the ball gets crossed to a wide open striker at thirty yards.

  2. cartrasuma - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Play them both with just one wing?

    Would give additional defensive coverage and allow Jones to roam more.

  3. psuhoffman - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    The bigger problem to me is the total lack of quality at the wing positions. The combo of Zussi, Bedoya, Davis, and Green has been mediocre at holding possession, tracking back to help the defense, and creating scoring threats. We have looked great up the middle but I worry it is unlikely to find success against great opposition that way. When klinsman left Donovan off I thought he would use F. Johnson there but he looks locked in on defense now. When we used to have Donovan and even Dempsey out wide they could exploit a defense but our current wings seem to lack that ability and worse leave way too much space in front of the back four. This is where our weakness is and without Donovan I don’t see a fix.

  4. twayward - Jun 2, 2014 at 2:26 AM

    What about both JJ & Becks? The USMNT back-4 were exposed and the midfield didn’t do enough to help. Revert back to 4-2-3-1. Play Becks & JJ, and then in front of them, Deuce, Bradley & Zusi, plus Jozt up-top.

    • psuhoffman - Jun 2, 2014 at 7:09 AM

      That might be the best solution but it would hurt the offense as Jozy has often looked lost as a lone target plus it would limit FJs runs out wide. No perfect solution. Juergen may be right that Donovan is no longer able to play out wide but either way his loss due to age and the failure of anyone else to step up close to that level to replace him has left a hole. We were lucky that after Reyna, Bradley developed quickly. We now need someone to develop into a true impact player on the wing to replace LD. It may become Green but not for another couple years. FJ can be that person but he is needed in the back right now.

  5. scrummymustard - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    playmaker and jermaine jones should never be used in the same sentence.

  6. midtec2005 - Jun 2, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Bonn nailed it, either use Beckerman, or switch formations.

    You guys are right too, LD would be a nice choice on the wing. But that’s definitely beating a dead horse at this point.

  7. eliasc81 - Jun 2, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    This has surely been said before but what do you guys think of slotting Geoff Cameron at the holding midfield spot with Gonzalez and besler at cb? I know Gonzalez has looked pretty sketchy lately so that might not work. Brooks looked really good in limited minutes yesterday but maybe we should take the gamble on him? I don’t know, I just don’t see jermaine as disciplined enough player to excel at holding midfield and beckerman, of course, is a slug. I think slotting Cameron at CDM allows Bradley to play higher up the pitch without worrying about jermaine screwing up or beckerman getting burned after a turnover.

  8. dws110 - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Anyone out there dumb enough to take a prop bet on whether Jermaine Jones sees red in Brazil? No, I didn’t think so.

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