By Robert Cross / AO: Portland
Coach Klinsmann’s commitment to the old guard pays off as USA throttled Costa Rico 4-0.
Jurgen Klinsmann is nothing if not defiant of the US Soccer media and public. Most observers, myself included, were seeking an injection of youth and offensive minded players into the staring 11 on Tuesday night. No lineup changes were in the offering and Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones led USA to an easy 4-0 victory over Costa Rica.
Clint Dempsey is still the most dangerous American field player when he is on the ball.
Deuce brought his attitude and “A game” to Soldier Field in Chicago on Tuesday night. Active and involved Dempsey converted an early penalty for his 50th international goal. From there he assisted on both Jones and Booby Wood’s first half tallies and the route was on. Klinsmann deserves credit for a tactical shift that saw the USA shift from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2. The formation change afforded much needed width and more connectivity from the US forwards.
Jermaine Jones loves to compete and he will be tough to knock out of Klinsmann’s starting 11.
Jones is a competitor. Dogged and determined; he brings grit and tenacity for both club and country. I’ve been frustrated with his long running partnership with Michael Bradley in the midfield and Jones stands in the way of Darlington Nagbe getting more playing time with the Nats. Jones was the “Man of the Match” tonight showing range all over the pitch, offering a strong work rate, and finishing his goal smartly.
John Brooks has matured and it’s making a significant impact in the middle of the park.
Brooks has been rock solid for USA in Copa thus far. In particular I’ve been impressed with his positioning and awareness. He has been smart on the ball offering more composure than I’ve seen from him in the past for country. The future is bright with #6 and Geoff Cameron developing a partnership that bodes well for the remainder of 2018 World Cup Qualifying.
USA is through to the quarterfinals with a win or tie against Paraguay on Saturday in Philadelphia.
Klinsmann has been insistent in the US Soccer media; repeatedly suggesting that our youthful players have not performed well or consistent enough to supplant his core of veterans. His lineup decisions and tactics worked tonight, and the team deserves credit for being resilient and bouncing back in recent, critical, must win matches. The youth movement and transformation of the USMNT will be put on hold for another year. Klinsmann has been clear that he is playing for Copa glory right now and the old war horses are going to lead the way.
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.