Posts tagged jurgen klinsmann
I’ve said before that qualifying out of our CONCACAF region is full of tense moments. This upcoming set of games, back to back vs. Jamaica (at their place on 9/7, and at home in Columbus on 9/11), is an early example of how a few breaks can lead to sticky situations in what should have been a straightforward path out of our semifinal group.
Klinsmann has had to test his depth with this roster, and there are a few things worth pondering as the team prepares for the most crucial two games of his tenure.
Muscle Strains Depth
Two of our best three players are missing due to leg strains. Landon Donovan tweaked his hammy in the win down in Mexico and hasn’t played since in MLS, while Bradley’s been sidelined with a bum thigh for AS Roma since a so-so first start in their season opener. Donovan’s leadership, decision-making, workrate and ability to make that one perfect play that wins the game will obviously be missed. But Bradley’s absence is arguably more painful. The team counts on his two-way ability and he provides punch on both sides of the ball as well as a knack for coming up with big goals. With his backup options, you either lose passing and possession, or defensive bite. It is difficult to overstate the void left by the absence of these two and the experience they would have brought.
In addition, Josh Gatt, the Norway-based speed merchant looking for his first cap, had to turn down Klinsmann’s call due to….a strained hamstring.
It’s never pretty when we go down there. Never. Mexico is a better possession team than we are and at that altitude, the chasing we would have to do to try and negate that would quickly deplete our team’s energy. To conserve legs for late in the match, we had to pack it in and let them have a lot of the ball. It’s nerve-racking to watch, but you can count on one hand the real legitimate scoring opportunities the Mexicans created against this makeshift defense.
It is difficult to stay disciplined in this kind of game and to be patient enough to let your chance or two come. Congrats to our guys for sticking to a plan for 90 minutes…
It Ain’t Pretty, But It’s All We Needed
The US had a predictably disjointed first set of qualifiers, beating an organized Antigua & Barbuda side at home, and surviving a typically sketchy road trip to Guatemala.
We said all along that the only thing that matters here is getting results. Style points don’t count in qualifying – which is a good thing because they typically are nowhere to be found. People who think we should waltz into Central America and dominate haven’t been watching CONCACAF soccer for long. A draw does just fine, thank you very much. And it sets us up nicely for a home and home set against Jamaica in early September, which will go a long way towards determining if we can book our ticket to the Hex early or if we’ll have to sweat out the final couple of matches.
So what about the performances?
Well – it’s here. World Cup Qualifying. Read Grant Wahl’s excellent primer here to get you in the mood.
We are coming off a game against Brazil which showcased some excellent attacking play from the US, which had me optimistic despite a poor result (1-4 loss); and against Canada (0-0 tie) which simultaneously put me to sleep and woke me out of my complacency in thinking this team had figured things out on the offensive side of the ball. That performance was so static and lifeless that I can only hope they were tired and testing out their “how you grind out a 0-0 result” strategy. We were lucky to leave with that result.
Now the team is in Tampa, waiting to face tiny Antigua and Barbuda in a game that will only be remembered if it goes horribly wrong. And then it’s on to Guatemala City to play a game that is much more difficult than it looks on paper. That’s the thing about qualifying. People only notice it when it goes awry. But if you ask me, this is my favorite sporting ‘event’. I’ve talked about why in prior posts, but qualifying is where you earn your stripes as a fan. It’s about paying $30 to watch a grainy feed from Guatemala in the first round. It’s about hugging a stranger at Cuatros (our local American Outlaws bar) when our boys clinch their ticket to the finals in some Central American hell hole stadium with hardly anyone back home noticing how hard it really was. The World Cup finals in Brazil (fingers crossed, no jinxies) are the fun part, and the casual fans will start paying attention then. But the two years ahead of that are where you earn the right to call this team yours.
Here we are with day 2 of stories we think you should be talking about at Happy Hour tonight. The Happy Hour will be a joint operation between us here at gay4soccer and our good friends at The Free Beer Movement, so be sure to share these stories with potential soccer converts as you’re out and about this evening. read more…