Another international break is over for the United States and the theme for the US in this break has been experimentation. Jurgen Klinsmann has been bringing in new players and putting players in new positions in order to see how they perform for the future. This is the perfect time to test these things out and Klinsmann is taking advantage. What else did we learn?
1) The US needs work on defending set pieces.
I’m sure Alexi Lalas shed a tear or two during the game when he saw the sorry state of set piece defending. Honduras was getting the majority of their chances on set pieces and even got the equalizer off of Maynor Figueroa’s header off of a free kick. This is certainly the most glaring issue the USMNT has to deal with.
2) The young players are impressive.
I had said last week that I was interested in seeing Greg Garza play left back because the USMNT really needs a left back and I think Garza played well. He seemed to not be overwhelmed in the back and really held his own. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play more. Miguel Ibarra also gets a mention. He is the first player from the modern NASL to be called up to the national team. He only played in stoppage time at the end of the game so you can’t really judge his play based on the Honduras game but it looks like he’ll be getting more time.
3) Experienced players are playing in other positions.
Jermaine Jones, Mix Diskerud and Michael Bradley experimented in playing other positions in a form of experimentation by Jurgen Klinsmann. Jones went back to center back, Diskerud was a defending midfielder and Bradley was the attacking midfielder. I would say it wasn’t the most successful plan but they didn’t play terrible either. Bradley had a great pass to Jozy Altidore to set up the first goal. And speaking of Bradley…
4) What exactly is Jurgen Klinsmann’s plan for Michael Bradley?
This isn’t really something we learned, but more along the lines of us getting a little clearer picture than before the game. I honestly believe Klinsmann is just experimenting but if I would be concerned if I am Michael Bradley. Klinsmann recently said that since Bradley chose to play in MLS, he needs to pick up his game to keep his spot on the national team. Is Klinsmann setting up Bradley to fail by putting him in a unnatural position?
5) Jozy Altidore is ONLY 24 years old.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of that fact. Jozy Altidore gets a lot of criticism from a lot of people. Some of it is warranted and some of it isn’t. He can get into some bad rough patches where he can’t even get anywhere close to the goal and he can have some fantastic stretches where he’s hitting nothing but the back of the net. His goal tonight showcased his strength and his ability that he can take on players one-on-one and be effective.
All in all, I really loved how the US has been playing. They’re not getting the results but it’s a friendly in the beginning of the World Cup cycle. The score isn’t the most important thing in the world. What’s important is that the players can play and they can build up something for future tournaments and eventually, the World Cup.