The USA is in a crisis right now after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday. They have won just once in their last 8 games, and for the first time under Jurgen Klinsmann have gone four games without a win. But that is not the major problem facing this team right now. The biggest problem facing this team right now is that they cannot seem to stop conceding goals after the 80th minute. In fact, they’ve conceded after the 80th minute in 9 of the last 11 games and in four straight. If Jurgen Klinsmann wants the US to become serious contenders at the 2016 Copa America Centenario and the 2018 World Cup, this needs to be fixed.
The seeds for these late game collapses were sown back in October of 2013, but they were overshadowed by the events even later in that particular game. It was the last World Cup Qualifier and it was being played in Panama. USA fell behind early, but pulled level in the 64th minute on a goal from Michael Orozco-Fiscal. Then they gave up a goal in the 84th minute. However, the team showed tremendous fight to score two goals in stoppage time and not only win the game, but save Mexico’s World Cup chances as well.
It’s somewhat remarkable that the USA has become a major choke artist this year when considering that, so far under Klinsmann, the US has been the exact opposite. Prior to the qualifier in Panama, the US had only conceded 6 goals after the 80th minute against scoring 14 after the 80th minute. Since the Panama game the US has conceded 11 in the last 10 minutes while only scoring 4 times in the last 10 minutes.
Nobody is quite sure how to fix these late defensive lapses, not even Klinsmann. It could possibly be in the defensive lineups the he plays, it could be communication with the goalkeeper, it could be any number of things. But one thing is certain: If the USA can’t get this figured out, they won’t be competitive at the upcoming major international tournaments starting with the Gold Cup in 2015.
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