Friday, March 22, 2013

Klinsmann must convey clear tactical plan to inexperienced US side

After Brian Strauss reported Monday in Sporting News that certain anonymous members of the US Men's National Team had called into question Jurgen Klinsmann's leadership and coaching methods, the buildup to this evening's World Cup qualifier has commenced with a rather ominous sense of doubt among the American soccer community.

Since then, recently named captain Clint Dempsey and national team veteran Michael Bradley have both spoken out against players speaking to the media anonymously about internal team issues. Both have described the situation as "embarrassing" but are looking to move past it and have been adamant the reports shouldn't have a negative impact on the team's performance.

Bradley told ESPN's Roger Bennett, "To win big games we simply need as many guys to have big games as possible. Injuries, articles, who's here, who's not... at 8 o'clock tomorrow none of that counts."

It's an attitude I'm sure every player that steps on the field for the US tonight will share. Commitment and pride in the shirt are never things you feel you have to worry about with a US side.

What's concerning to me though is the alleged frustration of the players who spoke with Strauss at the lack of tactical preparedness of the side going into games. Strauss reported that one player told him, "(Klinsmann) just threw guys out there and played." Another player (or possibly the same player- again, we have no names) said, "(Klinsmann) didn't really say how we were going to play."

It's important to note that we don't know if these statements are representative of how a majority of the team feels or are just the frustrations of a lone player or two. But based on how disjointed the team looked in San Pedro Sula, it's not out of the question to believe we really are going into qualifiers without a clear understanding of how we will play.

It was maddeningly frustrating watching our front three of Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson sort of half press the Honduras back four while the midfield three sat deeper, allowing acres of space between the two lines of three for Honduras to comfortably play the ball in to. It all suggested a team not on the same wavelength.

With the number of inexperienced players expected to feature this evening, particularly in the back four, it's absolutely imperative the US has a well thought out tactical plan and that every player knows his individual role. With the US's six listed defenders totaling only 12 qualifying caps between them, organization and team shape will be vital if we're to emerge with three points.

Despite the discontent felt by factions of US supporters over the current form of the national team, we have an amazingly supportive fan base and need not fear our own supporters turning on the team at any point in tonight's game. The atmosphere will be terrific and should give our young side a major psychological boost. 

I'm generally a horribly pessimistic fan but I just have a feeling the team is going to use all the negativity surrounding it at the moment as an opportunity to come together and make a big, positive statement tonight. The new guys will make the most of their chance, the veterans will provide the needed leadership. 3-1 US!

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