Following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-0 defeat against Colombia to open their Copa America account, Jurgen Klinsmann surprised many with his comments in regards to the host nation’s play.
The former Germany international expressed his pleasure with the team’s performance and even stated that the match was “totally even.”
WOOD MUST START AT STRIKER, NOT WING
While the play of team’s attack was lackluster at best for most of the night, outside of three Clint Dempsey opportunities in the second half, much of the U.S.’ difficulties came from Klinsmann’s decision-making before the match began.
After a superb season with German side FC Union Berlin, Bobby Wood was tabbed as the USMNT’s main target up front. While Dempsey has experience playing as a striker, Wood’s youth and pace serves the team better as the most advanced player on the field.
In 31 league matches during the 2015/16 season, Wood notched 17 goals for the 2.Bundesliga club, before signing with top division side Hamburg SV this offseason.
With Wood up front, that allows either Dempsey or another American attacker like Gyasi Zardes or Darlington Nagbe to drop behind him or slide to the wing to play a more creative role.
There’s no question that Dempsey is still the team’s biggest threat in front of the net, which was clearly depicted against Colombia. His seven shots on the evening were more than anyone else on the field, so Klinsmann and Dempsey’s teammates must find a way to get him the ball in dangerous areas.
SORTING OUT DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD
Arguably the team’s biggest area of concern though is the midfield. While captain Michael Bradley has proven to be a key figure in the squad for years, Klinsmann’s choice to play him as a No. 6 really hindered the USMNT on Friday. The Colombian attack was able to maneuver its way through the center on several occasions, and Bradley’s offensive output certainly dipped as a result too.
Ideally Klinsmann would ask Kyle Beckerman or even Jermaine Jones to play as a holding midfielder in order to give the backline some stability. Both players have plenty of experience in the role, and that positioning would allow Bradley to get more touches on the ball and increase his job as a distributor.
The USMNT received what they wished for on Saturday, as Costa Rica and Paraguay played to a 0-0 draw, keeping both teams within striking distance. Now, it is up to Klinsmann and co. to get a result on home soil to at least give the squad a chance of advancing out of Group A.