The USMNT kicked off their 2015 season by facing Chile tonight in Rancagua. Jurgen Klinsmann experimented and tried different things and while the US held the lead for most of the first half, ultimately fell 3-2. Depending on your perspective and your expectations of the game, this was a good or bad game for the USMNT. So here is something we are trying titled “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” The good means just that, the positives. The bad means that there are things that need to improve but you can see potential good things as a result from that. The ugly means something that can’t be spun into a positive and is borderline inexcusable.
– The attacking game was on point with goals from two guys who desperately needed them, Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore. Both came over to MLS from the EPL over the winter and opened up their year after a terrible 2014 with a bang.
– Speaking of Brek Shea, he and DeAndre Yedlin had the speed to become very effective wingbacks in a 3-5-2 formation. Shea in particular was able to streak up the side on one play and blew by a couple Chilean players to win the ball. They weren’t perfect in the positions but like everyone else, they’re still trying to adapt to the new formation.
– This was mighty impressive from the legend.
— 32 Flags (@32flags) January 29, 2015
– Rumors persisted that Jurgen Klinsmann was experimenting with a three man backline and sure enough, he started with a 3-5-2 with Steve Birnbaum, Jermaine Jones and Matt Besler the three in the back. My biggest worry with the backline was that they couldn’t really answer Chile’s speed on the attacking end and found themselves open on many plays but they all are getting used to playing in a new formation.
– Overall, the 3-5-2 has tons of potential. Many of the players are still trying to get used to these new roles because hardly any of these players play in a 3-5-2 but that’s the beauty of January friendlies. You use these games to tweak the plans and see what works and what doesn’t and not worry as much about the result because you don’t want to experiment during a tournament or a World Cup Qualifier.
– Despite allowing three goals and losing his first game as a USMNT player in his 12 year international career, Nick Rimando had a good game. Yeah the scoreline looked very bad but he really couldn’t be at fault, just unlucky.
– Why did Jurgen Klinsmann go away from the 3-5-2? I get that it was an experiment, but through its issues, the formation worked. Once the USMNT went back to a more comfortable 4-4-2, they got too comfortable and Chile seemed to live in the USMNT defensive end. At least with the 3-5-2, it was a higher tempo and the team was able to move up the field despite the defensive vulnerability. I know the 3-5-2 started out as an experiment and it was probably decided before the game to go away from it in the second half but that may have been a fine time to pull an audible and do it the rest of the game.
– Stupid mistakes obviously need to get eliminated. Jermaine Jones almost gave away an easy goal if it wasn’t for Rimando having to make a kick save. Yedlin was wide open and one-on-one against a backstepping goalkeeper. Instead of shooting, he decided to take a heavy first touch and put out a bad angled shot or pass to the back post.
– The USMNT still lost 3-2 to an all domestic Chilean team who was less experienced than the USMNT. Throughout all the positives, experiments and the fact that they were leading for a lot of the game, a loss is still a loss and the USMNT missed out.
The USMNT’s next game is against Panama on Sunday February 8. I would expect to see more tweaks to the formation as the 3-5-2 might possibly come back. These changes are going to take time to work. It is way too early to abandon the 3-5-2 and it’s not fair to assume that the team is going to be 100% efficient in the formation after working on it for a couple weeks. Take the next month or so and try it out and come up with a gameplay for the Gold Cup and Olympic and World Cup Qualifying.