Goals from Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey helped snap the United States’ five-game winless streak today as they defeated Panama 2-0.
[ RECAP: USA 2-0 Panama ]
The win is only the second for Jurgen Klinsmann since the 2014 World Cup, and was a great result as the U.S. concluded its offseason friendly series.
KLINSMANN NEEDED A WIN TODAY
Despite the fact that this match was a friendly and had no major ramifications, this was a massive result for the U.S. Snapping the winless streak and finishing off this string of games with a win is just what Klinsmann needed. Throughout camp it seemed Klinsmann was trying to install a 3-5-2 formation, only to scrap the idea and change to a 4-4-2 after only one half against Chile. Today, Klinsmann went with a 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing players such as Clint Dempsey to play a more natural position. Dempsey was sharp playing behind a lone-striker in Altidore, and added another goal to his resume as well.
While we surely haven’t seen the last of Klinsmann’s 3-5-2 idea, he went with a quick fix to get the result he needed. Despite all the time spent trying to implement a new formation in camp, Klinsmann went for the win today. However, there were still some issues…
THE DEFENSE NEEDS SHORING UP
With much of the talk leading up to the game regarding what formation Klinsmann would use, he surprised many when he chose to go with a 4-2-3-1. Jermaine Jones played at center back once again and Brek Shea got the start at left back, leaving only two true defenders in the starting back four, DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Besler. Brek Shea used his attacking skills to get up the field and sent some good balls into the box, but can be suspect when it comes to defending. Yedlin was average on the right side today and was subbed off in the 72nd minute after a taking a nasty challenge. Hopefully it is just a minor injury for the Tottenham youngster.
[ RELATED: Player ratings from USA’s 2-0 win over Panama ]
Moving forward, Klinsmann will likely continue to change his pairings to find a solid defense. Jones played well today, but Panama rarely put tons of pressure on the U.S. defense. Is Brek Shea now an outside back for the USMNT, or was this a one-game stint? Everything starts with your back line, so the manager will surely be looking for more consistency moving forward.
IN THE END, IT COMES DOWN TO THE BIG NAMES
When talking about the USMNT, the two most high-profile field players are Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Look at the scoresheet from today, and those are the two goal scorers for the United States. While Klinsmann and company are obviously hoping for production from role players such as Mix Diskerud and Gyasi Zardes, in the end, you need your top players to come up clutch.
Both players scored today off pieces of individual skill, as Bradley curled one home directly from a corner kick, and Dempsey made a slick move to beat the goalkeeper and finish off a one-on-one opportunity. Coming into the match on a five-game winless skid, the U.S. needed it’s stars to step up, and thats exactly what they did.