Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The United States concedes possession. They bend, bend, bend, but don’t break. Tim Howard comes up with a few huge saves. The Americans score an ugly goal and eek out a shocking win.
I’m talking about Wednesday night’s victory over Mexico in Azteca, but I could be talking about the 1-0 win over Italy or the victory over Spain in the Confederations Cup or any number of other games. The faces on the field are different but model is the same.
Jurgen Klinsmann came into the US coaching job with plenty of bluster about playing pretty and possession and looking good while winning. And that’s great. It should, and will, remain the goal of the American program (an American program that is slowly, surely, inevitably producing better talent). But he’s also realized that sometimes — frequently, in fact — the Red, White, and Blue squad needs to get dirty in order to get results. They don’t have the top-line talent of a Germany, a Spain, a Netherlands. (Heck, even a Mexico.)
And, here’s the key, that’s fine. Results, after all, are results. No one is going to remember how the US beat Mexico in Mexico for the first time ever. They are just going to remember that they did. The devil may be in the details, but the big picture sure is familiar.
All credit to Klinsmann for pulling off what no US coach could do in the history of the rivalry. But let’s not pretend it was some revolutionary scheme that got the Stars and Stripes the result. It was good, old fashioned hard work. We’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again.