No reason for alarm around U.S. national team camp

6 Comments

We usually limit deployment of the Keep Calm and Carry On image for our weekly Panic Quotient. But exceptions clearly exist.

Alarm bells are clanging in some watchtowers over last night’s result, the 4-1 loss to Brazil.

Let’s see, where did we put those doggone lanterns and pitchforks?

But really? Because I couldn’t muster so much as a shot glass full of outrage.

Getting beat by three at home is never a moment to celebrate, clearly. But to look beyond the result and, more importantly, to look at the 180-minute body of work over five days for Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, I just cannot get too twisted up about it.

Are there areas of concern? Yep. Areas for tweaking and personnel adjustments? Right-o. I’ve gone over those.

But what we saw Wednesday wasn’t that outrageous; Brazil has done the same many times over.  We saw a team that eased into a game that needed a full sprint from the start, so that should and presumably will be addressed. Brazil came to play and Brazil came to be a little more “nasty” than Klinsmann’s men.

(Aside: Alarm bells are also banging over Klinsmann’s comments about his team needing to be a little “nastier.”  Me? Meh. I don’t think he’s advocating going all Giovanni Trapattoni on us, playing the old Italian way, or throwing down MMA style. The man has spent almost 10 months preaching just the opposite. I think he just wants more recognition of when to meet gamesmanship, bite and aggression with equal measures of gamesmanship, bite and aggression. So that’s that.)

Otherwise, I saw a U.S. side that rolled out an attacking formation and tried to get numbers into the final third against a five-time world champ. And isn’t that what so many have long written on their U.S. Soccer wish list? “No retreat” and “Valor in defeat” and all that?

Brazil was on the front foot right away, but the home team was pushing for goals late. In a lot of ways, the difference Wednesday was ruthless finishing on one side, and the American inability to match it.

This was a pretty good Brazilian team. Young? Yes. But it’s a worthy collection of young, motivated talent, augmented by some of the global elite. Neymar? The guy has serious skills. Hulk? There’s a reason the power suits at moneyed clubs like Chelsea are pushing each other out of the way to sign him. Marcelo? The world’s best left back, perhaps? You could make the case. Thiago Silva? Among the game’s elite center backs.

No, it wasn’t the full Brazilian treatment. But let’s not make it out like these were local mutts with day jobs at Brazilian bakeries.

All in all, I’d reckon that over 180 minutes against one unmotivated, mediocre team and one strong one, the United States men’s national team isn’t in a ditch today. Things are OK … so step away from the alarm bells, please.