Questions Still Remain for the USMNT
After two very different friendly results for the USMNT, the focus is now all on the CONCACAF playoff vs Mexico for a Confederations Cup playoff birth. The U.S. came from behind and beat Peru 2-1. After conceding an unfortunate deflection goal, Jozy Altidore found the back of the net twice in the second half to put the U.S. ahead. In that game Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin showed how their speed can be effective on the wings to pin back defenders. Jermaine Jones had a strong game in the midfield, and the back line which feature Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks, and later Matt Besler came on and played well in the back. An odd selection by Klinsmann was to play Alejandro Bedoya in a central midfield role. After a strong Gold Cup that saw Bedoya play well out on the wings it was odd to see him tucked into the midfield, and he did not have much of an impact. Brad Guzan played well, after the unfortunate first goal, he locked down his box and didn’t allow any strong chances. The U.S. played a convincing first game and rolled into Foxborough to play Brazil with lots of momentum.
The game was ugly for the U.S. defense, Brazil whacked them 4-1. The speed and precise passing going forward was to much for the U.S. to handle. Even though they had men back, and sometimes 5 or 6 guarding the ball, they looked disorganized. The defense and offense seemed to be lacking a game plan. The U.S. played in a 4-5-1 formation, but did not pack in and counter. They didn’t attempt to keep a lot of possession either. The midfield was picked apart due to lack of experience and health. The 2 holding players Jermaine Jones, and Alejandro Bedoya we dominated throughout the game. Bedoya even did not make it through the first half being replaced by Danny Williams. That might have been the end of the Bedoya in the middle experiment, but you can never be sure of who is going to play where anymore. The USMNT looked to be lacking some of their big guns on the pitch. The center back pairing Ventura Alvarado and Michael Orozco did not communicate well and lacked the presence to command the defense. They were flanked by Jeff Cameron, and Tim Ream both of whom are also centerbacks and could not provide much going forward. This game was supposed to answer some questions for Jurgen Klinsmann, however, it may have created more.
Looking at the team from front to back, the goal keeper position that seemed to be locked down by Brad Guzan now appears to be up in the air. Tim Howard has come up with countless amounts of big saves and wins for the United States. I would think that in his current form and with his track record, Tim Howard would get the start for the U.S. The back line is a bit of a question for the USMNT. It will primarily depend on who is healthy. If Damarcus Beasley is healthy he will undoubtedly be in the left back position. The center back pairing is a bit of a mystery, Klinsmann has rarely kept the same paring. With the Gold Cup being the exception where John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado were the consistent pairing but they were less than spectacular. If Klinsmann picks his most experienced and familiar pairing it would be Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler. On the right side, Fabien Johnson if healthy is an option. DeAndre Yedlin could fill the spot, or Brad Evans could make a return as he did have a strong Gold Cup in that spot. In the midfield, there are lots of options. Gyasi Zardes, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, and Kyle Beckerman are all expected to play a role in that game. The real question is going to be who plays up top. Jozy Altidore mostly liked punched his ticket with the two goal game against Peru, however, he has to maintain his fitness. Clint Dempsey has not featured much in Seattle as of late because he is returning from an injury. But he is most certainly a lock for the squad with his goal scoring record. Aron Johannsson could be in contention for a spot, Jordan Morris could be the young guy called into the game for some experience, and Bobby Wood who played a strong game against Peru may have earned himself a spot.