Jurgen Klinsmann has three major positional questions facing him come Brazil. One involves the wingers, one involves the outside defenders, and the final lies at the heart of the midfield.
We’ve seen throughout Klinsmann’s managerial tenure with the United States that he has a special affinity for the 4-4-2 diamond midfield, deploying it especially to allow Michael Bradley as much opportunity to wander forward as possible.
In a classic straight-across midfield, Bradley’s ventures forward would not only throw off the attacking development, but more importantly it would leave the midfield exposed.
Now, he is able to move as far up as he’d like, and it has paid off time and time again, the most recent occasion being his beaut of a chip to Fabian Johnson for the US’s first goal against Turkey.
However, the back of the diamond has now become an issue for Klinmann.
Jermain Jones is a very similar player to Michael Bradley. Both playmakers yet both defensively sound, they cannot both occupy that diamond-tip position, and one must move back. Klinsmann obviously selected Bradley to play up front, and Jones hasn’t exactly settled back into his new defensive role well.
Wanting desperately to make a play for the team, Jones has resorted to attempting wonder-tackles that are more likely to result in his sending off than they are likely to do what they intended.
Watching Jones on a leash is difficult, because it’s obvious he was told not to venture forward. That was made more evident when Klinsmann talked further about his diamond formation after the match against Turkey:
So Bradley and the outside defenders have free reign to go all the way up or come all the way back, while Jones is told to sit back and cover. That’s the position’s description, but that’s not the kind of player Jones is.
With that in mind, should Klinsmann make a change? Kyle Beckerman isn’t as stuck-in to the national team fold as Jones, but his skill set and mentality both play perfectly into the position’s job description – namely, because he’s played there before. Beckerman captained Real Salt Lake from the bottom of the diamond to their 2009 MLS Cup win, with Jason Kreis deploying a formation that was tailored to his squad.
The ultimate question Klinsmann must answer is this: would you rather play Jermain Jones out of position, change the formation to fit Jones, or bench Jones in favor of Beckerman who can adapt to your formation better?
It’s a question we’ve been asking for some time now, but one that continues to be relevent so long as Jones appears shackled at the back of Klinsmann’s diamond.