So after seven matches into the Jurgen Klinsmann era of the US men’s national team, the final game of 2011 that was played in Slovenia ended in a flourish with a three to two victory against their former World Cup group opponents.
Seeing Edson Buddle rip a great shot off the inside of the near post and over the line was a thing of beauty while Clint Dempsey made a fantastic diving header to regain the lead along with Jozy Altidore putting away a penalty to make sure that 2011 got the positive end it deserved.
But while the main focus for this national team will start next June in a World Cup Qualifying semi-final group of Guatemala, Jamaica and Antigua & Barbuda, certain questions have been answered and I believe there have been some successes and some failures.
Starting with the formation of the national team, it seems that having a lone striker with a crowded midfield is not the way to go if you want to qualify for Brazil in 2014. It’s solid defensively but the fans will be screaming for attractive football. That’s why the 4-4-2 is the bread and butter of our national team and must remain so.
The German-Americans have shown to be positive additions to the national team. Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim) and Timmy Chandler (Nurnberg), who ply their trade in the German Bundesliga, have been hidden gems for the USA. Even though this trend was started by Bob Bradley, it has continued thru Klinsmann and it has become a flying success.
No matter how much the fans hated Bob Bradley as the head coach, the victory over Slovenia has proven that Michael Bradley has earned and deserved to keep his place on the national team. He showed his strengths on set pieces and during the run of play.
Brek Shea had a great start to his national team campaign and has shown how well he’s playing as a cog in the midfield. Towards the end of the season, you could tell he was tiring and struggled to come on as a sub against Slovenia. That doesn’t mean I’ve soured on him. It just shows that the long season of MLS, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League took a toll.
While I was walking back to Penn Station in Manhattan after watching USA at France, a gentleman came up to me and said he thinks the USA is close to becoming a strong side. I agreed with him and I felt that Klinsmann has them ready for success.
I also believe the results of these seven matches didn’t mean that much. You are working within a new system and a new coach who should bleed in new players that can help make this national team work well for World Cup Qualifying and the Gold Cup. In my opinion, Klinsmann has started well and the USA should qualify into the final round in 2013.