CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Monday, August 8, 2011
For everyone living under a rock over the past couple weeks, it will come as a shock that Jurgen Klinsmann is the new head coach for the United States Men's National Team, replacing Bob Bradley a bit quicker than myself and just about everyone else expected. Questions of his coaching pedigree resound amongst some circles but for the most part, everyone seems to be tentatively looking forward to the team's future, rather than bleakly dreading what's to come after the dreadful showings of the past six months.

I will be the first person to admit that there were times when I perhaps unfairly criticized Bradley over the past several years, but when it's time to go, it's time to go. The time came and went last year, and came again this summer after the Gold Cup. Sunil Gulati finally seized the opportunity and handed the reins over to the German legend, which prompted immense speculation over who he would choose to take to Philadelphia to play against Mexico on August 10. Klinsmann indicated that he would favor an attacking approach, as well as an Hispanic influence to reflect America's culture and society.

When the roster was announced on Thursday, there sure enough was a large attacking element as well as several players from Mexico's top tier that have either been forgotten or rarely had an opportunity to begin with. Jose Francisco Torres, Michael Orozco, Edgar Castillo and DaMarcus Beasley were all brought up from the Primera Division. The inclusion of Orozco is a surprising one, but not the biggest on the roster; that distinction would have to fall on the young D.C. United net minder Bill Hamid who was selected over several notable goalkeepers to backup Tim Howard. Hamid is a quality prospect, noted for becoming the youngest goalkeeper to win a game in MLS history, beating his own new National Team mentor by just a handful of days.

Still, Orozco getting his first national team call up since 2008 is surprising, especially after it almost seemed that his career with the team might be over after one attempt, possibly because of his Gold Medal in Olympic Elbowing against Nigeria in the Beijing Games. Mistakes should be forgiven however, but his selection is not nearly as much of a relief as Castillo finally being called again; I noted back in my last article that Bradley would eventually be fired if he didn't do something about the gaping hole in the left side of the defense, and sure enough, the axe came and Klinsmann has called him up.

The excitement level was starting to grow at the prospect of Timmy Chandler going on runs up the right and Castillo getting into the attack from the left, until Chandler had to be replaced by Zach Loyd due to what was claimed as an injury.

Loyd is an unheralded left back prospect who had a decent showing in his first and only cap against Chile earlier this year, where he won man of the match honors despite being subbed out in the 73rd minute. In that game, one of his best moments was not being one of the plethora of players who were caught ball watching for Chile's 53rd minute goal. He was, however, muscled off the ball at the corner of the box and lost the play when the ball was back heeled past him. He was too late to challenge the cross effectively, but he showed fast recovery speed to get into the play to begin with.

Since the right sided Chandler was replaced by the left sided Loyd, there's likely going to be a three way battle for playing time at left back between Castillo, Loyd, and Heath Pearce. Steve Cherundolo should have the right side locked down in the meantime, making Klinsmann's job for picking the starting defensive line a little bit easier.

As for the rest of the roster, it's good to see Michael Bradley remaining in the mix, despite his manager becoming the second most irritating Favre in America after announcing that Bradley was not in the plans for Borussia Monchengladbach's future, pretty much sealing the fact that he won't see a minute of club playing time until he secures a transfer or loan to a new team.

Ricardo Clark being called up is another surprise selection, as he seemed to be another player lost to memory from a combination of injuries and a deep player pool in the midfield. But as he's back to full fitness and hoping to lead Eintracht back to the top flight this season, his experience as a physical, bruising central midfielder appears to be playing into Klinsmann's plans for keeping the midfield clean while attacks are running up the flanks.

Why Klinsmann chose six center midfielders and one winger remains to be seen however, and it's anybody's guess as to which one gets put out of position as an experiment. Even though Beasley was listed as part of the forward quintet on the 22-man roster, he should be dropped back to left midfield so he can stretch his legs. Despite a lack of playing time over the past year and several previous years of inconsistent form with the national team, he seems to be making a quick, strong impression at Puebla, starting their first four games, recording six shots and an assist, and going the distance in two of them. Beasley has always been one of the most promising, and at one time the best, end-to-end wingers in the US pool, and it would be a key revelation for Klinsmann's USMNT if he shows the same speed and tenacity that defined him as a player in the early 2000's.

It's a relief that Torres' exile from the team has seemed to come to an end with the coaching change, and a potentially fun center midfield to watch would be the Pachuca midfielder sitting at the top of a triangle with Jermaine Jones and Bradley sitting just behind him. Of course, that potential suggests that Klinsmann is going to run a five man midfield, which is in no way certain. He ran a 4-4-2 with Germany and also with Bayern Munich, leaving us to assume that he will probably try to implement the same formation with the United States.

There weren't any surprise inclusions in the forward pool aside from Beasley being listed there rather than as a midfielder. Freddy Adu's selection shows that Klinsmann agrees with Bradley's assessment of Adu in his waning tenure, that he has the ability to be a game changer and his newly-found workman's attitude might finally let him see his full potential.

The one thing that did come as a head scratcher for the forwards was that Edson Buddle was selected but Herculez Gomez was not. While Buddle is not a bad selection and the group needs some strength, Gomez has been very impressive in the early season with Estudiantes and has considerably less distance to travel. His disappointment was clear via Twitter prior to the roster being announced, but that might mean he will be back in the mix for the Costa Rica match in September.

There's any number of combination of players who could start the game in a 4-4-2 formation, but some of the best players on the roster would be left on the sidelines regardless because their games won't fit the rest of the players for a that formation. Landon Donovan is best when he's running at the defense from half field, which would mean he would need to play in a withdrawn striker role, leaving Buddle as a holdup forward because Juan Agudelo isn't suited for that role. Similarly, in order to feed the attack it's imperative that Torres play in the midfield with either Jones or Bradley playing behind him, but not both.

A possible solution for the forwards would be to use Donovan as right midfielder, allowing him to slash across Mexico's defense and free up Agudelo to play alongside Buddle. The drawback there is that the holding midfielder would either have to expose the middle by covering for Donovan's runs, or Cherundolo and likely Clarence Goodson would have to shift forward and to the right to cover more ground, allowing the opportunity for Giovanni Dos Santos to run easily behind the back line.

Klinsmann simply needs to run some semblance of a 3-5-2 to keep the best players on the field without sacrificing a flank or the center of the field.

Whatever the new boss does, it's surely going to just that...new.
Wednesday February 29, 2012 2:34 pm
In your suammry of Adu, you allude to him having something unique compared to the rest of the player pool. Why so cryptic?! Aside from Jermaine Jones and maybe Torres,no one can pass offensively,use ball control or draw fouls on the offensive side of the field like Fredy. In a big game against a top ten WC team, you must have that "unique quality" to put your team in scoring position. Unless you want only to counter attack and then use a bunker defense mentality, like in the Spain game.
Monday August 15, 2011 4:17 pm
Have we forgotten about Eric Lichaj?! He is certainly a contender to secure the position at LB!
Tuesday August 9, 2011 7:05 pm
4-3-3 doesn't work? Have you ever heard of Barcelona? or Real Madrid? or Brazil? All of those teams use a 4-3-3, and I'm not comparing us to those teams by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the 4-3-3 is a very effective formation if you have the right pieces.
Christian Gallus
Tuesday August 9, 2011 2:50 pm
There are only a total of only 16 true forwards (yanks) out 92 players playing overseas; some of them are incredible ;like this 20 year old; Dani Brkovic who is playing in Bosnia; speed like Davies and control like Donovan; Klinsman needs to lock these kids up as by having them play on the national team as soon as possble otherwise other countries will put them on their rosters; that means that he should not rehab players that are clearly not world class. Why are we playing Mexico? Because we are going to make money(the stands will be full of Mexicans).
Tuesday August 9, 2011 12:12 pm
This one game fixture might be a weeding out of people brought in the past(Beasley, Beckerman, Clark, Pearce) and when they have the two game fixture in September a lot of the younger guys who haven't played with the USMNT will be brought in (Gatt, Mixx, Chandler, maybe a Williams or Morales, Acuna, Corona, Westberg) along with players missing from this roster like Dempsey, Lichaj, and Altidore.
Mike E.
Tuesday August 9, 2011 9:58 am
Woody, a few U-20's? They failed to make the U-20 cup. How many of them would you want to see?
Tuesday August 9, 2011 7:30 am
Well first...this match and the next few after it mean little in and of themselves, the match that mattered, the GOLD CUP Final against Mexico was lost... along with ant chance of having anything to compete for other than the World Cup Qualifiers... so this is really a time for Jurgen to reclaim players that Bob Bradley threw under the bus, some not for no reason... but so be it, this is a roster that includes MLS retreads like Pearce, Beckerman, Ream... who have all had less than great moments, now Robbie Rogers has been added for Edu... add to that players like Clark and Beasley, Adu, Torres, Castillo, Buddle... this is definitely a different look.
But I'm really more interested in how he tries to have his players play more than which specific players were selected this time out. There is no way that he would play a 4-3-3... it won't happen, but I wonder in he would use Donovan as that wing striker with Buddle, they were teammates before... and considers using a diamond mid field instead of a twin destroyer model and keeps his wing fullbacks home more than Bradley did... I want to see what sort of wing play we try... as far as Why Buddle and not Gomez, well I think of Gomez as a goal poacher type, where as Buddle is more of a wide body, back to net type... outside of maybe Bunbury, we simply don't have many in that mode... certainly not Agudelo or Adu... both more wing midfielder like.

Clearly Dempsey, Edu, Holden, Diskerud, Lichaj, Chandler and Gomez are all going to be looked at later... I would hope that Zach Whitbread, Michael Parkhurst, and maybe Bobby Convey or Brad Davis get a look as well.

Tuesday August 9, 2011 4:47 am
Very pleased to see Torres, with his pinpoint passes and fine technical skills, representing us again on the pitch. It seems like he never got a serious look with the coach's son playing the same position despite some fine performances in the red, white and blue.
Monday August 8, 2011 9:55 pm
Where's Bornstein? just joking....just seeing if you're paying attention. Forget about the 4-3-3, that just doesn't work anymore, only for the Dutch and even then that's a maybe. A player I like and I'd start him as a screener right in front of the defense is Spector, yes Spector, he can play, and was just picked up by Birmingham.

It's time to start "blooding" some new talent. My only grip how about a few U20's into the group? In the words of the great man, SAF, what do I want my team to look like in the future? Words and a philosophy to live by....
Monday August 8, 2011 8:31 pm
this game is meaningless!! why did they even set it up?? why not play Colombia, Uruguay, or even France for that matter??? has anyone ever wondered why we never played France in a friendly?? that would really be a strong test, against a powerful opponent...especially with all they're star players...Im just saying its getting pretty boring to watch Mexico vs Usa all the time..and especially hearing talk trash about how we "suck" at the game....just saying
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