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4 unintended consequences from USA’s loss to Guatemala


The United States Men’s National Team loss to Guatemala in World Cup qualifying was a disaster. The lack of cohesive play, the poor coaching choices and the overall product on the field was an embarrassment to a nation that considers itself an elite in CONCACAF. Much is being written today about the consequences, short- and long-term, to the US’s qualification chances and the job security of Jurgen Klinsmann.

But with every rain cloud, there is a rainbow even though it may be hard to see there were some positives from the match for the US. With a line-up of veterans and younger players, the US had the opportunity to see the consequences of its youth development program and how some of its veterans can fit into the team long-term. Again, many of the consequences were negative but let’s pause from reading panicked stories about the team and look at four positive consequences of yesterday’s match.

SEE MORE: It isn’t time to panic but USA’s woeful performance against Guatemala won’t be forgotten

1, Some young players learned how to play away in CONCACAF

For players like DeAndre Yedlin, Darlington Nagbe, and Bobby Wood, their time on the pitch in a competitive game (or, more accurately, a non-blow out) allowed these critical players of the future to see exactly what a World Cup qualifier is all about. For these players, a tough away match with their clubs is staying in a fairly posh hotel with fans who are vocal but do not have an intense hatred of you and what your team stands for. They know now, and while the end result was a loss, the experience will hopefully allow them to handle the pressure better in the next rounds, assuming the US advances.

2. Bobby Wood showed he could push Altidore and Dempsey for playing time

The US striker conundrum continues as Klinsmann continues to need to rely on an aging Dempsey and inconsistent Altidore up top. Many young options or uncapped MLS veterans have been brought in to find a solution but they all have flaws (age, experience, talent, consistency) that have kept the Sounders and Toronto FC players in their starting roles. While he did not score, Wood showed enough skill and smarts to challenge the two-player hierarchy at the US striker spot. Better midfield play would have given him better chances, but he showed enough that he should be a starter for this team in the near future.

3. The US squad has a resilience that at least allows them to stay competitive

Yes, they failed to score and grab a result from this match, but the best play from the US came when they were down 2-0. At the beginning of the second half, when Klinsmann started making his substitutions, the Americans finally began to gel on the attack and actually posed a threat. Their poor finishing doomed that, but we have seen last cycle what happens when a team quits under adversity. Mexico barely qualified for the 2014 World Cup and only with US help when they wilted under adversity. At least the US won’t be quitting in the competition.

4. The result forces US Soccer to have a tough conversation

There is no sugarcoating it. This was the worst result for the US men under Klinsmann. The US will have to face the embarrassment of losing to an inferior opponent by playing poorly in every phase of the game. Sunil Gulati has said in the past he will hold his hand-picked coach accountable for his results, but no disaster like this has been seen when the stakes have been so high. All of the criticisms of Klinsmann – unable to develop new talent, reliance on older out-of-form players, tactical naiveté – were on display. If Gulati wanted to ignore the criticism, it will be impossible now with specter of the team missing the Hex. The time until the next match will not allow much time to think through the future of a Klinsmann regime but it will also present another test soon after he failed the last one. It is inevitable that the USSF will have to decide whether Klinsmann is its man regardless or if a change needs to be made now, before the next qualifier.

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  1. Pwyll

    March 29, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    If the worst GC in 20 years followed by the worst competitive loss since the rankings system was implemented isn’t enough to get JK fired what is? One coach’s failure should not doom us to miss the WC, but it looks like Sunil is so committed to JK he’s willing to risk the WC on him.

  2. Pwyll

    March 29, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    “the best play from the US came when they were down 2-0”
    To be more accurate the best play came from the US when JK moved Yedlin to RB and Cameron to the middle.

  3. Nicolas barrios

    March 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    This stint that klinnsmann has had is atrocious beyond thinkable … To the point where doesn’t anyone wonder if he is literally sabotaging the USMNT – I have coached for 15 years and could present a better squad . The constant misalignment of players is virtually apparent as intentional , no one could be that bad . It’s time for a change immediately

  4. Moshkiae

    March 26, 2016 at 9:11 pm


    I think that the future up front is Zardes, Wood and others, and not Dempsey, who is better suited these days to play a midfielder, if he were willing to distribute the ball and learn to play a little defense, which I doubt he can, as he is always a free floater, and in midfield and defense, you can’t quite do that all the time, as your area will get punished. However, I am not sure that Dempsey will adapt that easy to use his smarts … and help the team further. Jozy is only good for 20 to 30 minutes and should be a substitute from now on. The lack of consistency hurts the team, and one needs more input from him, if he is going to be there the full monty, but in the end, he is not suited to help the middle of the field and try to run half the field and then pull off something good and right from his feet towards the goal … and a younger man, might be better at this moment, and perhaps even surprise the defense and the opponents with the ability and speed, instead of having a “known” like Jozy.

    The only tough conversation the US soccer federation needs is one … do we want to get better or do we keep playing around with ideas and never get a consistent result? The answer to that will end JK’s reign, though I think he might be better suited as a boss for the whole system, rather than coach or manager, since he is not adapt at X’s and O’s and visible problems on the field, which a TV analyst can give you within 5 minutes! Not getting a result against Guatemala Tuesday, means that the US team has given up on JK! End of story!

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