By Robert Cross / AO: Portland
Defensive miscues and an inability to produce a proper ball in the final third doom USA in a 2-0 loss to Colombia.
The USMNT held a significant possession advantage on Colombia in yesterday’s Copa America opener for Group A. USA was unable to make their mark on the match as Geoff Cameron let his man free on a corner kick and DeAndre Yedlin was called for a handball in the box that was converted by Colombia’s James Rodriguez for a 2-0 lead. Colombia wasn’t threatened much in the second half as neither Darlington Nagbe nor Christian Pulisic had an impact on the match after coming on as substitutes. USA now turns their sights to CONCACAF rival Costa Rica and a critical match on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Coach Klinsmann’s conservatism is handcuffing the USMNT from being on the front foot and competing at our best.
Klinsmann deployed three forwards out of position in Bobby Wood-Clint Dempsey-Gyasi Zardes. This played out as expected on the pitch as Wood was near invisible, Dempsey kept dropping back to receive the ball, and Zardes is not nearly as effective on the wing as he is as a center forward pushing the line and creating space underneath (for reference, watch a few Los Angeles Galaxy matches). If Dempsey is to remain a starter USA must revert back to a 4-4-2.
Please release Fabian from defensive duties and let him attack upfield.
Fabian Johnson is one of the best midfield attackers in the Bundesliga, but instead is being marooned at LB where he is a defensive liability against elite sides. Jermaine Jones was frustrated at having to cover for Johnson, and we would be better served with Darlington Nagbe playing next to Michael Bradley at this point in time. Play your players in their proper positions and the football will improve from there. Edgar Castillo performed well for Monterrey all season at LB, and should be afforded that spot for the rest of Copa America.
John Brooks will be a cornerstone at CB for years to come.
Brooks was rangy and athletic, but lacked positional discipline when he broke into our side as a 19 year old at the 2014 World Cup. His time at Hertha Berlin has served him well and he may yet develop into a stud CB. Cameron played well yesterday save for the defensive miscue and there is a lot of talent coming up through the ranks for the USMNT at this position.
Nagbe and Pulisic will both see their first starts for the USMNT against Costa Rica.
No tournament is lost in the opening match and we have an opportunity to reverse our fortunes by beating Costa Rica. I believe Klinsmann will use the short turn around as a reason to sit both Dempsey and Jones in favor of Pulisic and Nagbe respectively. The current and future USMNT fortunes would be better off if both of these players were regular starters moving forward. I recognize the effort Dempsey put forward yesterday, but he is simply not a proper fit for a 433 at this juncture in his career. Klinsmann made the decision to move on from Donovan and now he has to do the same with Clint. It’s time.
About the Author
Robert W. Cross is a founding member and former President of American Outlaws Portland and a lifelong football fan and supporter of both club and country.
*** Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of the American Outlaws. ***