So the United States has taken three points from this international break from the club calendar after a 4-0 thumping of Guatemala on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
While it doesn’t completely take the bad taste of our mouths from a horrific Friday in Guatemala City, we learned some positive things in the United States on Tuesday.
Mostly, though, we learned that Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t completely bonkers and will put his players in good spots when his back is against the wall (but why not sooner?!?)
THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN (AND POSITION)
Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey struggled in Friday’s loss to Guatemala, while Geoff Cameron started the game at right back. Dempsey’s been mercurial for the USMNT of late, but Bradley’s performance was surprising.
What wasn’t surprising was how strong Bradley rebounded after Friday’s embarrassment. Key tackles weren’t a problem, passing was on point, and the hustle and vigor were apparent and abundant.
Dempsey’s touch looked off again in the early stages, but he did what he failed to do on Friday when he finished a clear-cut goal scoring opportunity from the middle of the box.
As for Cameron, what can’t this guy do? The big man started at center back next to Steve Birnbaum, and marshaled the line. His resolute defense would’ve been enough, but the Stoke City veteran played the long ball that led to Dempsey’s opener and then nodded home Bradley’s free kick to make it 2-0.
MLS TO THE RESCUE
While Cameron’s move to the middle was a huge and smart — if obvious — move by Klinsmann, Tuesday night was a big night for fans of Major League Soccer.
Klinsmann removed Michael Orozco, Alejandro Bedoya (injured), Mix Diskerud, Tim Howard, and Omar Gonzalez from the Starting XI, replacing them with Steve Birnbaum, Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi, Brad Guzan and Gyasi Zardes.
Beckerman and Zusi were particularly effective and composed, aside from an early hiccup each. Zusi more than made up for his mistake with a goal and a fiery first half before making way for Christian Pulisic late in the game.
Birnbaum and Geoff Cameron may not be a long-term pairing given Cameron’s preference to play holding mid, the Yanks’ thin right back ranks and some interesting depth and/or prospects at center back (John Anthony Brooks, Tim Parker, Matt Miazga), but Tuesday should’ve earned Birnbaum “consistent call-up” status.
TACTICS? YES PLEASE
We won’t say Jurgen Klinsmann made up for Friday’s errors, because that’s just not possible. It was an utter failure and glaring embarrassment for U.S. Soccer.
But whoever talked Klinsmann into pressuring Guatemala’s lesser talent when they had the ball deserves a dinner on all of us. Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi and Gyasi Zardes were among the U.S. players chasing the ball with rampant attitude, and the States were well-placed to advance the ball once possession was won.