‘Defending’ Klinsmann and questioning offside: An alternate take on the USMNT’s 2-1 loss to Colombia

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No one’s going to wake up this morning and say, “Gee, on second thought I’m glad Jurgen Klinsmann’s US team again fell apart in a match’s final frame.”

But after an evening and morning of reading massive Klinsmann-devouring vitriol regarding Colombia’s 2-1 comeback win against the Yanks at Craven Cottage on Friday, I was left wondering whether there are alternate explanations for calling the German-born coach a loser.

[ USMNT: PST’s match recap LIVE from Craven Cottage ]

After all, so many of those comments continue to bring up Landon Donovan’s name as if his World Cup roster omission somehow set in play a series of events that will not only keep the US from ever winning again but forced its players to lose to Colombia on purpose in order to shame Klinsmann.

So what if we debate a few more topics that perhaps shift the blame back to realistic circumstance:

1) The equalizer was an awkward at-best play and not a sign of mass failure

Analyst Taylor Twellman said that Teofilo Gutierrez did not play the ball, which is a little cringe-worthy for me. Teo doesn’t touch the ball, knowing he was offside, but advances toward it enough that Brad Guzan had no choice but to respect the chance that:

A) he might’ve been onside, or

B) he may’ve been offside but it won’t be called.

This allows enough of a deviation in aggression from the keeper that Carlos Bacca is able to more easily round him. Was it a banner moment for the US? No, but it sent a Colombia-heavy Craven Cottage into an uproar that set the stage for the late winner.

2) Klinsmann is finding his team. He won’t make five second-half subs in any game that matters

Colombia ties the match in the 60th minute. Let’s say this is a Copa America Centenario knockout round. Do you think Klinsmann’s first subs are two inexperienced 2.Bundesliga players? Nope. They could end up still being Bobby Wood and Alfredo Morales (doubtful), but they will be those two players with the experience of playing Colombia at Craven Cottage.

[ RELATED: Did Jones, Brooks partnership work? ]

You could easily argue that the only substitute Klinsmann made on Friday that he would’ve tactically made in a game that mattered was DaMarcus Beasley for Greg Garza (both of whom looked fine). If you think he’s bringing in Julian Green, whose mark scored the match-winner, for DeAndre Yedlin with four minutes to play in a big game, then you’ve got a deathwish for Klinsmann. Perhaps he brings on more offense when the team is on the front foot, but the States were having trouble with their retreating line and had Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler and Matt Besler available. The Green move was for experience.

So, yeah, by the time subs came in this game was not about winning. He has a little over a week to see combinations he wants. This was one of those opportunities.

3) A strong lineup from No. 3 in the world Colombia had a home-ish crowd against the tinkered-with U.S.

source: AP
Neutral site

If your argument was that you wanted a full-strength USMNT to make a statement against Colombia, you were in a bad spot right from the jump. Tim Howard’s on sabbatical, Michael Bradley’s recuperating from injury, Clint Dempsey’s exhausted and prepping for the MLS Cup semis and Omar Gonzalez is hanging back in L.A. for a similar reason.

Colombia was without Radamel Falcao, but they were without him for the World Cup in a run that could’ve easily lasted past their loss to Brazil. Juan Zuniga was missed, for sure, and Fredy Guarin is a talent, but Colombia managed a far better side than what the States could put out there.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned ]

Frankly, the States held their own against a motivated, nearly-full-strength Colombia. They did this with starting an 18-year-old forward, subbing on four guys with zero experience and playing young Mix Diskerud in a role that took on the responsibility of both Dempsey and Bradley considering Kyle Beckerman’s relative lack of offensive flair.

So, yeah. I’m pretty calm about the whole deal. Those who like the job Klinsmann is doing will pull enough from this match to defend him. Those who think he’s ruining American soccer will talk about his poor lineup decisions and late-match collapses. Those in the middle will likely think he and his team could’ve done better but were playing the No. 3 team in the world without many first-choice players.

Lose to Ireland, though?

P.S. Nothing against Guzan, but I think Howard stops the game-winner.

Netherlands vs Qatar, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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The Netherlands face hosts Qatar in their Group A finale knowing a win could guarantee them top spot.

STREAM LIVE NETHERLANDS v QATAR

Louis van Gaal’s side are level on points (4) and goal difference (+2) with Ecuador and if they better Ecuador’s result against Senegal in their Group A finale, they will go through as winners of the group. However, the Dutch were not impressive against Ecuador and were lucky to get a 1-1 draw. It will be intriguing to see if Memphis Depay is fit enough to start as LVG looks to build up his fitness ahead of the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Group A – Table, rankings, results, schedule ]

As for Qatar, well, they are just playing for pride as the hosts were knocked out of the tournament after just two group stage games. They are only the second host nation in World Cup history to be knocked out of the group stage and they have looked totally out of their depth in defeats to both Ecuador and Senegal. They did score their first-ever World Cup goal through Mohammed Muntari but overall it has been a very disappointing tournament for Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Netherlands vs Qatar.


How to watch Netherlands vs Qatar live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Tuesday, November 29
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

GOAL! Cody Gakpo fires home as he scores for the third game running. A lovely low finish.

The Dutch have started really well as Memphis Depay slams over.


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Netherlands know a big win will basically guarantee them top spot and that means they will probably face one of the USA or Iran in the last 16 rather than playing England. Louis van Gaal may not really care about who they play in the knockout rounds but it is clear that Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong are the heartbeat of this team. They need Memphis to be fit enough to start and Cody Gakpo has done his best to fill in with two goals in two games, including a beauty against Ecuador.

For Qatar it is now all about pride and trying to cause a big shock in their final World Cup game. Manager Felix Sanchez has worked so hard to get this team together as a unit but they have made big mistakes at key moments and they only really went for it in the second half against Senegal and they looked much better doing that. They have nothing to lose here so expect to see Qatar go for it from the start.


Netherlands quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 8
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group G)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Key players: Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong

Qatar quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 49
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 0
How they qualified: As hosts
Coach: Felix Sanchez
Key players: Abdelkarim Hassan, Almoez Ali, Hassan Al-Haydos


Ecuador vs Senegal, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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This should be a beauty of a game in Group A as both Ecuador and Senegal still have a chance of winning the group.

STREAM LIVE ECUADOR v SENEGAL

Ecuador is on four points after their impressive draw against the Netherlands and La Tri, led by the three goals of Enner Valencia, have been one of the stories of the tournament. The South American minnows have impressed mightily and a win here could see them get a more favorable path in the knockout rounds. A point is enough to guarantee them a spot in the last 16, however their captain and talisman Valencia was carried off against the Netherlands. It seems like he may be fit for the Group A finale though, which would be a huge boost.

[ MORE: Group A – Table, rankings, results, schedule ]

As for Senegal, they beat Qatar easily last time out and after their spirited display against the Netherlands, they are growing into this tournament sans Sadio Mane. Aliou Cisse knows his side need to win to guarantee their route into the last 16 and the African champions are certainly capable of matching Ecuador. If they can stay solid at the back, they have plenty of talented attackers who can punish and mistake from Ecuador.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Ecuador vs Senegal.


How to watch Ecuador vs Senegal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Tuesday, November 29
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

What a start from Senegal! Idrissa Gana Gueye slams a shot wide and Ismaila Sarr sees a deflected effort fly just wide. Ecuador have yet to get going.


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Enner Valencia has obviously been the main man for Ecuador with his three goals so far but Gonzalo Plata and Michael Estrada have been excellent alongside him in attack. Brighton duo Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan have been superb too, while Angelo Preciado has been electric down the right flank.

Senegal’s defense has looked a bit shaky, even with Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly back there. In midfield Idrissa Gana Gueye was much better against Qatar and Ismaila Sarr continues to do his best to fill the huge void left by Sadio Mane.


Ecuador quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan

Senegal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly


Wales vs England: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Being dubbed as ‘The Battle of Britain’ this clash in the Group B finale between Wales and England has plenty on the line.

There is no love lost between these bitter rivals.

STREAM LIVE WALES v ENGLAND

England know anything other than a four-goal or more defeat to Wales means they are in the last 16, while a win for the Three Lions would guarantee them top spot in Group B ahead of Wales, Iran and the USA. Gareth Southgate’s side need an impressive performance to go with any win as their fanbase was far from happy with their lackluster display in the 0-0 draw against the USA last Friday.

[ MORE: Group B standings, schedule, results ]

As for Wales, their situation is clear: they have to win to have a chance of reaching the last 16 and then they will hope that Iran vs USA in their other Group B game ends in a draw. That could happen but Wales need to improve drastically on their two showings so far as their star players have looked off the pace and they deservedly lost against Iran last time out.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Wales vs England.


How to watch Wales vs England live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET – Tuesday, November 29
Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Welsh have not made the most of their second trip to the World Cup in their history. They were dominated in the first half of their opener against the U.S. but showed good spirit to battle back for a point late on. Against Iran they were second best throughout and a late red card to Wayne Hennessey was followed by two late Iranian goals and Robert Page could have no complaints as his team failed to show up. Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale have had superb careers but injuries have hit them hard in recent years and this looks like a tournament too far for Wales’ star duo.

As for England, the vultures are circling back home as Gareth Southgate is under pressure once again for what many believe are overly cautious tactics. Against the U.S. they huffed and puffed without really creating clear-cut chances and were pretty lucky to escape with a draw. Even though England are all but guaranteed a spot in the last 16, the Three Lions fans expect more from Harry Kane and Co. after they reached the World Cup semifinals four years ago and were runners up in the European Championships just over a year ago. Southgate is expected to make quite a few changes to his lineup as the likes of Phil Foden, Kalvin Phillips and Marcus Rashford could feature from the start.


Wales quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 19
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 1
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Rob Page
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies

England quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Pickford


Iran vs USA: How to watch live, USMNT stream link, team news

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The USA seeks a return to the knockout rounds and that’ll only come with a win over Iran at 2pm ET Tuesday inside Al Thumama Stadium in Al Khor.

STREAM LIVE IRAN v USA

It doesn’t matter what Wales does vs England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan because England already has four points and a draw would give Iran four as well.

The Yanks’ two draws mandate a win-or-go-home mentality on Saturday and there are multiple generations worth of redemption up for grabs after the USMNT was felled by Iran at the 1998 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2018 tourney in Russia.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

How can Gregg Berhalter unlock the USMNT attack to get the goal or goals he’ll need to reach a date with Group B’s winner or runner-up?

Here is everything you need for Iran vs USA.


How to watch Iran vs USA live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Tuesday Nov. 29
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Iran, it’s about riding the momentum of a huge win after finding inspiration in a huge loss. There’s an ocean’s worth of difference in emotion between the 6-2 tournament-opening loss to England in Al Rayyan and the 2-0 triumph over Wales In the same city. Can Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun succeed where Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could not and break down the USMNT defense for a goal?

Meanwhile, the Yanks may still be lamenting a 1-1 draw with Wales as much as they are celebrating a strong performance that kept them unbeaten against England at the World Cup after a scoreless draw with Gareth Southgate’s men In Al Khor. Gregg Berhalter has to find a way to unlock the USMNT’s final-third woes when they hit Al Khor on Tuesday.

There has also been some off-field tension brewing between the U.S. and Iran surrounding this game, as Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams responded to in a tense press conference amid questions from the Iranian press.


Iran quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

USA quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams