Skip to content

Convinced? Klinsmann’s player moves in each group game keyed advance

Jun 26, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

USA v Germany: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

Either Jurgen Klinsmann just spent a week with a genie or most of America owes him an apology (Looking at you, Mike Wilbon, Eric Wynalda and others).

The United States lost to Germany 1-0 on Thursday, but did enough in previous matches to advance to the Round of 16.

Now there’s a chance you’re saying, “Wait, wait, hold on, wait. The U.S. barely beat Ghana, gave up a last-second equalizer to Portugal and came within a pouncing Cristiano Ronaldo of falling to Ghana on goal differential*. What exactly did he do that we should lavish the big German with such praise?”

*If you were actively watching Ghana/Portugal, you would know that the Black Stars were dominating possession and chances, and looked in the throes of finding the goal that would send the U.S. home before Ronaldo struck to make it 2-1.

Fortunately, we have your answers.

Game 1: The subs be with you.

Under the duress of injuries to Jozy Altidore and Matt Besler, Klinsmann has to choose his subs wisely and early; Only one will be 100 percent strategic, as the others are necessitated by said injuries.

Instead of turning to Omar Gonzalez, Klinsmann brings on untested and somewhat-maligned John Anthony Brooks to fill-in for Besler. Then, Klinsmann turns to Graham Zusi for Ale Bedoya in the 77th minute. The Sporting KC midfielder lashes in a corner kick towards Brooks and rest is history.

[ IN FOCUS: US 2, Ghana 1 ]

Game 2: How do you solve a problem like no Jozy?

Without his only “proven” striker in Jozy Altidore, Klinsmann turns away from Aron Johannsson. The Icelandic-Alabaman didn’t make much of an impact in his opportunity against Ghana, so the US coach moves Clint Dempsey up-top.

“Deuce” is dangerous from the get-go, eventually scoring the game-winner on a pelvic-thrust from in front of the goal. The play was begun by another suspect substitution, as Klinsmann gave a vote of confidence to speedy youngster DeAndre Yedlin. The Sounders man got the second-goal started, though Geoff Cameron lost his mark to allow Portugal to tie the match at the death.

[ IN FOCUS: US 2, Portugal 2 ]

Game 3: How to fill the holes in the back?

The usually-solid Cameron was arguably responsible for both Portugal goals, and Klinsmann takes decisive action in slotting in strong but inconsistent center back Omar Gonzalez. After a shaky start, the L.A. Galaxy center back uses his size and strength to thwart multiple German attacks.

In fact, the only goal Germany manages is a result of the United States midfielders failing to react (or be in position) after Tim Howard parried a dangerous shot back to the 18. That, and the fact that Thomas Mueller absolutely scorched a picture-perfect shot.

The 1-0 loss is enough to get the States through to the knockout round, where they will undoubtedly use more offensive tactics the next time they face a powerhouse.

[ IN FOCUS: Germany 1, US 0 ]


Agree? Disagree? Still sad about Donovan? Let’s talk it out.

  1. egb234 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Huge for the US to get out of this group. Klinsmann deserves a lot of credit. I’ve been convinced for a while, though, so not sure my voice matters.

  2. bakaduin - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Klinsmann has done a great job of managing things. He should be here at least through the next World Cup.

    That being said, this game more than validated that bringing Davis over Donovan was an absolutely mis-step. But it has been damn near his only mis-step. Perfect roster management since the tourney started.

    • grm35741 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:13 AM

      Davis vs LD. Even if LD had faded some he is as good as Davis. Davis age is such that it was not a decision on the future. LD is often the one to cross set pieces. EXPERIENCE at this level is the big difference. I think the only decision JK made that has backfired.

  3. braxtonrob - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    lol, I can’t believe you (NM) have the audacity to proclaim JK a genius. His subs have been superb, but I’m more impressed with the team itself, and the atmosphere JK had produced. Jurgen brings a lot to the table, but I’m not ready to proclaim the roster perfect just yet.
    Belgium should be beatable for the US, so let’s see how he manages THAT game before we proclaim all his moves ‘brilliant’.

    • Nicholas Mendola - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      I didn’t say he IS perfect, but I find it hard to argue about his moves in the group stage. They were brilliant. I don’t think that’s debatable.

    • wandmdave - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      If by beatable you mean they are beatable like Ghana or Portugal were then sure, but Belgium is clearly the favorite going in.

  4. granadafan - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    No one thought the US would advance out of the group of death, yet here we are. Klinsmann has changed the attitude and approach of the US team. He’s made mistakes like starting Davis and not bringing Donovan, but it’s hard to argue with this team.

  5. talgrath - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Diskerud hasn’t come in for the US yet, I thought he might come in when Jones got that knock to the nose, but apparently not; I’d really like to see what Mix could do against some of these teams since he’s looked good almost every time he’s hit the pitch. Yedlin has definitely proven himself…at right midfield; really I think right midfield is Yedlin’s perfect playing position, at right back he often gets too far forward but his movement is exactly what you want out of your right mid. The best chances of the game for the US vs Germany came when Yedlin hit the pitch for Graham Zusi, able to poor on the speed and get back in time to defend if the play breaks down.

    • ibelievethatwewillbacon - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:44 AM

      Yedlin and Julian Green, should they both continue to develop, will make for an exciting brand of soccer in 2018. I hope JK unleashes Yedlin somewhat early during the next match to generate some needed offensive opportunities.

  6. gvera7 - Jun 26, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Thank you Ronaldo haha GO USA!

  7. axooms - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Agree, and think you could go far further. Not bringing EJ and Landycakes is a clear sign that Klinsey values the team above any individual, and that he is more interested in cohesion (which makes a lot of sense; Argentina might win the tournament on talent, US will only advance if unified). Klinsey has been consistent and excellent throughout every stage of the selection process — not just giving youngsters a chance (Brooks, Yedlin), but also with vets like Wondo and Beckerman. Most of the US media were absurd in their criticism for Donovan’s exclusion, and it’s been the right call.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      You could not be more ridiculously wrong. Pathetic.

    • wandmdave - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Agree completely. We’ve won on our work rate and our team cohesion. EJ is a locker room cancer and was not needed. Donovan by his own admission can’t get up for every practice now, so how was that going to translate to playing 3 games in 10 days (now 4 in 15, yaay) in the heat and humidity along with all the travel and the intense amount of defensive work that has been demanded of our wide midfield guys. Zusi and Bedoya obviously bring the engine and defensive work we’ve needed and Donovan would not have started over them but I could easily see the mainstream sports media and even many fans calling for it (wrongly, very very wrongly) which could cause just as many me first and cohesion issues as a bad personality.

  8. fagiolip - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    JK is a real soccer coach. Bradley was the closest thing but the US lacks real soccer coaching talent. JK is the first real soccer professional as a coach and as a director of soccer.

  9. Scott Hevel - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    I think you’re giving Jurgen too much credit. I prefer to think about it as Jurgen routinely put some garbage out there on the pitch and then when that guy struggles so bad, he brought in someone else who managed to do something. You mention Zusi but forget the fact that he’s 1 for about 20 on corner kicks. Davis is terrible. Cameron can’t mark his own shadow. Bedoya brings absolutely nothing to the table.

    JK’s “offensive attack” has Bradley out of position and he looks uncomfortable and borderline terrible. Jones is physical and take a good shot every now and again but he processes the game way too slow. Dempsey should have at least 3 more goals than he does because of great runs missed by him. He is playing the best soccer I’ve ever seen him play and he’s basically a non-factor in this attack. Point is you’re giving JK way too much credit. There are things he has done that I really like but when you really only have 3 or 4 options on the bench, you can look pretty genius.

    The best server, field stretcher, and deep run threat on the roster is in Los Angeles and this team needs him badly.

    • renathan37 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      I don’t know who those thumbs-down guys are, Scott, but I agree with you completely. It doesn’t make sense to congratulate Klinsmann for the success of his substitutes when that success seems primarily a function of fresh vs tired. Any sub that is inherently better than the guy he replaced, should have started the game in the first place. Klinsmann has played Bradley out of position, in a role in which he is less than comfortable, trying to find a source of attacking creativity that has been missing since Klinsmann cut Donovan. With each succeeding game it has become more obvious that Donovan’s vision and quickness of though and action are lacking — particularly in those who have replaced him on the field. The most glaring example: Imagine Donovan on the field today instead of Davis. And, as you suggest, Dempsey is surely paying a price for Donovan’s absence since Donovan creates as many or more goal-scoring opportunities than any two guys on the roster, combined. The team has certainly done well, in which we all rejoice. It is sad to think how much better it might be.

      • drewvt6 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:42 AM

        For sure Donovan was a better option on the field than Davis today, but I defy anyone who tries to tell me Ale Bedoya is a better option in any of these games than Donovan. Donovan does to Germany what Yedlin did, but he’s got 3 world cups of experience behind him.

        Look at how calm and composed Beasely looked today. You really think Donovan wouldn’t be in a JJ like beast mode like he always does at World Cups?

      • aomtown86 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        I honestly feel that the media is the only reason that Donovan is not on roster or in Brazil. When Donovan didn’t start during the warmup games prior to the send off that’s all you heard about. I think it’s a distraction from what Klinsmann wants and Klinsmann wants a team atmosphere and it’s nothing against Donovan, but he brings bad media attention. Not all his fault by any means, but the media has a tendency to do this in all sports.

      • wandmdave - Jun 27, 2014 at 6:58 PM

        Wow if the team formations and strategies employed, the environments, and the resultant performances didn’t dissuade you from thinking Donovan was a starter anywhere on the field then nothing will. Donovan would have made Bradley look like a shining star because the gulf between his expectations and what he could produce would have been vastly wider than Bradleys.

        The priority for our wide midfielders has been defense which is exactly why Bedoya keeps getting starts (and should continue). Would you love to have someone who is tidier with the ball? Sure, but not if it means giving up work rate (read: stamina given the temperature and humidity in the places we’ve played) and defensive tracking. I would not trust Donovan more than Bedoya with those things for 3 games in the environments in which we played. By his own admission Donovan doesn’t have the tank he once did. Zusi and Bedoya have clearly been the #1 and #2 options out wide and that wouldn’t change if Donovan was on the roster.

        Donovan over Dempsey was unthinkable going into the World Cup due to form and really its still unthinkable now. Dempsey basically created his first goal on his own and then timed his run to perfection on the second. He is clearly in top form and I’d take him over LD at that spot no question.

        Someone else mentions Bradley as someone who should be removed in favor of Donovan but that is equally crazy. What do you do with our best all around player (even compared to Donovan) to make room: bench him, bench Beckerman and put Bradley in his place? Neither of those things makes any sense. Beckerman has been lights out and fits his role perfectly. Bradley may not be the Bradley we all know and love but that is for a reason. He’s not playing a classic CAM role. He has had fairly hefty defensive responsibilities in addition to making sure he links with the offense (as shown by is #1 distance covered ranking). All that in a horrible climate against teams which all count their midfield has their #1 strength and which were keying on Bradley as our most reliable distributor of the ball. I’m not excusing Bradley completely but I don’t see Donovan doing any better, in fact I see him doing much worse in that role given the situation.

        Davis is really the only person you could argue against. However, Davis looked like he was an emergency replacement as a starter after Bedoya was more gassed then anticipated following our trip to jungle hell instead of coming on as a sub (so Davis had to get 60 minutes instead of 30). If Jozy wasn’t injured I’d see Dempsey and Bradley sliding back and JJ sliding wide instead of Davis coming on at all. I think Davis was brought solely as a role player to provide a strong left foot. I don’t see Donovan playing any deep bench role player for a multitude of reasons but certainly not that of strong lefty role player. Still I’ll grant that roster choice is debatable.

    • braxtonrob - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:19 AM

      @ Scott Hevel,
      Thank you! A voice-of-reason!! (in the darkness that are these boards, heavily supported, apparently by distant family members of JK.)

  10. freeagent86 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    Being a neophyte soccer fan, I am confused to say the least about the USA goalies decision during the added time at the end of the Portugal game to continuously kick the long ball. The US offense never gained possession from any of those kicks. Portugal then had five minutes of continuous scoring opportunities and eventually did score to tie the game. The other thing that confused me was why did the player throwing an inbound pass persist in throwing to a player surrounded by three defenders? Seems to me that possession in soccer is the name of the game. If you don’t have the ball you cannot score. The US tactics continuously gives the ball to the opposition by bad tactics. Am I all wet on this, or do I have a point?

  11. nappy25 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    There was absolutely no reason to bring up Donovan, especially with the team advancing. Stop beating a dead horse. Because of this nonsense Mr. Mendola, I will not be clicking any of your articles since you will be apparently be bringing up Donovan on a regular basis, but you need comments to show your boss. Good job, you got them coming.

    • drewvt6 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:43 AM

      Donovan is WELL worth bringing up when a player like Brad the turtle (But he has a great left foot on freekicks!) Davis is starting.

  12. drewvt6 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    The Brad Davis start today was terrible and they were able to cover it somewhat by switching Zusi to that side of the field, but he is NOT up to international speed. Sure would have been nice to have someone with world class speed and 3 World Cups of experience running up that side.

  13. dkalev - Jun 27, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    No offense, but Ghana played pretty much their bench against the us and we got out by the skin of our teeth… Portugal were missing two of their three world class players and still put up a fight (as bayern proved you can dominate possession, doesn’t mean jack to dominating a match, only thing that matters is the chances you take and what you make of them)… Germany was rather half you know what ing it out there for the draw, playing heavy forward yes, but just for comfort, as they don’t quite half the park the bus personnel and a loss could’ve been bad for them…
    All in all, the us have been good, but caught quite a bit of lucky breaks, and need to bench Bradley ASAP

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles