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Gold Cup

US men against Honduras a chore to watch compared to USWNT


The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) began the defense of its CONCACAF Gold Cup title with an underwhelming and fortuitous 2-1 victory over Honduras in Frisco, Texas on Tuesday evening. This match came just two nights after the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) wowed the nation and won the hearts and minds of Americans from coast-to-coast with a 5-2 victory over Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

Expectations for the USMNT are never quite as high as they are for USWNT, but nonetheless the poor play of the US men stood in direct contrast to how the US women — in spite of tactical criticisms — played during the entire World Cup. The USMNT appeared to lack any sense of urgency or the basic intensity required to deal with inferior opposition on home soil. Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann fielded a lineup that perhaps represented his best XI, but was a mishmash of veteran players and youngsters who have impressed in recent friendlies. Simply put, it didn’t work and the manager failed to make required tactical changes during the entire match.

Klinsmann’s opposite number Jorge Luis Pinto is an open book. His teams press high at times but during most of the match sit deep and break quickly. In the first twenty minutes of the game, Honduras implemented this philosophy, pressing high at times and forcing some loose passing by the US midfield and backline. But at other moments the Hondurans sat deep and appeared organized and extremely dangerous in counter-attacking situations. Only a set piece undid the Hondurans in a first half they largely controlled.

The second half was much of the same, save the US goal. Klinsmann’s failure to make meaningful tactical changes stands in direct contrast to USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis who was open to changing style and ideas during games even in the group stage when the USWNT arguably underperformed.

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Another striking contrast between the teams is in technical ability and tactical understanding. The United States men’s players yesterday often exhibited a bad first touch, poor passing rhythm and a lack of understanding of what their teammates were doing. The US lacked imagination and ideas throughout the match, and lacked the type of passion required at the international level. Ultimately being on home soil and facing opposition incapable of taking full advantage of the USMNT’s ineptitude and indifference allowed Klinsmann’s men to claim all three points.

By contrast, the US women have players that are technically and tactically adept. Players that are aware enough to find space in the opposition half and figure things out on the fly if they aren’t going well. Unfortunately, beyond Michael Bradley, the US men lack such savvy players on the pitch. Often times simple hustle and dumb luck drive the USMNT to get results – the former was lacking against Honduras on Tuesday night.

Ultimately, given the commitment level most nations exhibit to their men’s program over their women’s programs, it’s unfair to compare our progress in one to the other. Here in the United States, we have attempted to be egalitarian about this sport even though at times we fail falling into the sexist notions that men should be given more resources than women.

But one thing is for sure – after watching the US women for the last month, the USMNT seem to be difficult to watch and perhaps even a chore to cover and write about. That’s unfortunate but it’s the reality from where I sit.


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  1. David

    July 9, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I think it’s completely silly trying to compare a men’s team to a women’s team. Did the author not watch the USWMNT in the group stage? They looked awful and were completely boring to watch. All the criticisms in this article of the men’s team are the same thing we saw with the USWMNT during the group stage and knockout rounds. In just about every international tournament, teams often look rusty the first game. We saw that in Copa Amera and are seeing that in the Gold Cup. USA surely will be playing better as the tournament goes on.

  2. Alex

    July 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    The Gold Cup is way less exciting than the Euro’s. There are only 2 teams that are valid finalists. And also a chore to watch men’s soccer compared to women’s? Technical and tactical ability will shine when the pace of the game is comparable to the athletic intensity of a game of chess. There are high school boys teams that play at a faster pace than women’s teams. The US women’s team gets dogged by U17 boys regularly. So it isn’t as much a chore as you are not appreciating the difficulty of seeing even one incredible pass when you consider how much less time these players have to make that pass compared to the women’s game.

  3. Mike

    July 9, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    In echoing the above comments, the USWNT has had the benefit of continuity in the starting XI whereas the men’s side has had a ton of changes even within the last few months. It takes some time to gel.

  4. Jasinho

    July 8, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    The Gold Cup is nothing more than the Euros with Walmart-type branding.

  5. Larry

    July 8, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Yeah, it’s always a lot harder when you are playing against actual competition.

  6. Synth

    July 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Hmm, the USWNT looked VERY bad for the first two games and just okay for the third and fourth games. It wasn’t till the 5th and 6th games that the USWNT looked anywhere close to their WC winning form.

  7. Stephen

    July 8, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I believe you’re comparing apples to oranges and I didn’t sense any lack of intensity. Our play was sloppy and disjointed but for the most part I thought everyone put in a proper shift last night against a tough and highly motivated side.

  8. Tom Moore

    July 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Oh no, the US won the game, but how can we continue to find ways to bash Klinsmann?

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