Jurgen Klinsmann joked with reporters after Jozy Altidore saw red in the USMNT’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland on Tuesday, saying he issued a halftime warning to his players about not saying anything critical to match referee Luca Banti.
Altidore’s swearing at Banti after receiving a yellow card for a foul ultimately cost his U.S. side, who had gone up 1-0 on Brek Shea’s free kick just before halftime, with Switzerland finding an equalizer through Valentin Stocker.
“I want to apologize to our fans and my teammates,” he said after the game. “Emotion got the best of me and I put our team in a tough position. That’s not the type of role model I want to be. All credit to the boys for grinding it out and earning a positive result.”
It was out of character for Altidore, who hadn’t received a red card for club or country since he was with AZ Alkmaar in 2012.
The card is still a concern considering that Altidore’s been given the captain’s arm band on occasion by Klinsmann, and it could’ve cost the States even a result. Would an 0-2 international break and 1-5 record through its last six matches feel good right now? Not that 1-4-1 is dynamite, but getting that result — even in a friendly — could turn out to be critical as the USMNT attempts to build momentum.
Ready for the United States men’s national team match against Denmark at 3 p.m. ET? Us, too, and here are five things we’ll be monitoring during the contest.
1) Who’s in net? Most would assume Nick Rimando is the most likely to start between the sticks as the bid to fill Tim Howard’s shoes as No. 1 goalkeeper continues, but William Yarbrough (Club Leon) has impressed both Mexican and U.S. officials with his play in Liga MX. Could he get a start or two to open his eyes to the red, white and blue? Southampton’s Cody Cropper nabbing a start would be a big surprise, but Jurgen Klinsmann has done whackier things.
2) How will Michael Bradley be used? Deep-lying, playmaking or a nice mix? Those are several options as to how the United States’ most effective engine room man can be used, and the absence of Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey makes Klinsmann’s decision all the more interesting. How might the USMNT line up? Well, there’s the 3-5-2 Klinsmann has rolled out in recent matches and could be effective against Denmark, and the U.S. head coach has proven he’ll use multiple formations over the course of a half or game.
3) Who will run off Jozy? Critical of his club play or not, Jozy Altidore produces goals up top for the United States. Now with Clint Dempsey hurt, who is going to step up to the plate alongside the Toronto FC man? Aron Johannsson and Rubio Rubin are prime contenders in a 2-man strike force, but a 4-3-3 with Gyasi Zardes and Julian Green flanking Altidore could mimic some of Klinsmann’s summer movements.
4) Better late? The States have struggled in the waning moments of matches since the World Cup. Much of that can be pegged to the large number of substitutes employed as Klinsmann tries to find his best mix for important summer competition, but the opposition subs a lot, too. Can the U.S. build a lead and shut up shop on the road?
5) Better in the back? With Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez home, John Anthony Brooks will be counted on to bring his Hertha Berlin form to the main stage with the Stars and Stripes. Is Tim Ream going to be alongside him? What about dual-national Ventura Alvarado?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Donovan burst onto the scene as a bright-eyed 20-year-old at the 2002 World Cup. In the United States’ opening match, Donovan helped shock Portugal with a 3-2 win. Donovan’s World Cup debut included a cross that was deflected by Jorge Costa and in the net, giving the U.S. and early 2-0 lead.
Donovan scored his first official World Cup goal two matches later, netting a consolation goal in the United States’ 3-1 loss to Poland. Despite the loss, the U.S. advanced from the group stage, taking on Mexico in the knockout round.
Against archrival Mexico, Donovan helped lead the U.S. to another surprise victory, this time scoring off a header in the 65th minute to expand the lead to 2-0.
Fast forward to 50 seconds to check out Donovan’s goal.
While the United States was eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinals, the tournament was a massive success for both the team and Landon Donovan. Donovan’s play earned him the trophy for Best Young Player of the tournament, joining the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer to win the award.
By 2006, Donovan was the United States’ all-time leader in assists. With high hopes after a brilliant run in 02’ Germany was a difficult World Cup for the Americans. The U.S. was the only team to earn a point against champions Italy, yet still finished last in their group. Despite the disappointing finish, Donovan led the midfield while playing every minute of the United States’ three games.
South Africa played host to the 2010 World Cup, where Landon Donovan helped the U.S. win their group for the first time since 1930.
Down 2-0 in their opening match against Slovenia, Donovan started an American comeback with a blistering shot into the top of the net. The United States would come back to tie the game 2-2 and earn a much needed point.
Despite Donovan’s superb effort against Slovenia, he is remembered most for his stoppage-time winner against Algeria. In need of points to advance and with time winding down, Donovan scored arguably the most important goal in United States soccer history.
Donovan would finish his World Cup career with a goal from the spot against Ghana, a dramatic extra-time loss for the U.S.
His five World Cup goals are the most for an American player, and he is the only American to win the tournament’s Best Young Player award. But more than his goals and awards is what he has done for American soccer as a whole.
The 2002 World Cup marked the United States’ arrival on the world soccer stage, and it’s no coincidence Landon Donovan helped lead the way. His goal against Algeria is cemented as one of the biggest moments in U.S. soccer history, just as his legacy is as this country’s greatest player.
A USMNT and American soccer legend, Landon Donovan got his start in a US uniform when he was just a teenager, back in 2000, and saw his international career stretch from that point until his World Cup exclusion a couple months ago.
After the MLS year is over, he’s done for good, retired from both club and presumably country, so let’s take a look back at some of his most fantastic moments representing the Stars and Stripes.
5. 2009 Confederations Cup Final–Donovan Goal Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Brazil
Facing a mighty Brazilian squad in the 2009 Confederations Cup final, Donovan spearheaded a counter attack, and gathering the ball near the edge of the box, he made an excellent cut to bury a left-footed finish past Julio Cesar. Brazil stormed back, and the U.S. ended up losing this game, 3-2, but nevertheless, Donovan was effective.
4. 2010 World Cup–Donovan Mounts Comeback vs. Slovenia
Down 2-0 to Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup group stage, Donovan struck a spectacular finish top-shelf, with legitimately no angle available to him. Michael Bradley scored a second goal, and the United States fought their way back for a 2-2 tie to avoid what would have been a disheartening loss.
3. 2002 World Cup–Young Donovan Blasts a Header for 2-0 Lead
Eddie Lewis delivered a great cross to Landon Donovan, who met it with his header for a textbook goal, and the U.S. beat 2-0 in the USMNT star’s first World Cup appearance when he was still basically a kid. There were special expectations for Donovan, even then.
2. 2014 World Cup Qualifiers–Mexico Winner
This moment was so special because it marked Landon Donovan’s last impact on the United States, since he wasn’t included in the World Cup roster. Donovan’s sliding, close-range shot iced the 2-0 victory over Mexico and qualified the U.S. for Brazil.
1. 2010 World Cup–Donovan Stoppage-Time Goal vs. Algeria
It was a great, fast counter attack against the tired legs of Algeria, and a good play to get the ball on net by Clint Dempsey. Donovan helped lead the development, trailed perfectly and sat in perfect position for the tap-in score, sending the U.S. past the group stage in dramatic fashion. It was vintage, clutch Donovan.