BRIAN SCIARETTA - Saturday, June 9, 2012
The US team defeated Antigua 3-1 in their first World Cup qualifier for Brazil 2014 and here are observations.

The US won but this was disappointing

The US team has more talent than a team like Antigua by a large margin. They should be able to dominate these games. This is especially true since the team has been in camp since May 15. They should be playing like a cohesive unit but in their fourth game in two weeks, they have declined in every game.

The lack of flank play is a major weakness

Since he was hired to coach the US team in August, Jurgen Klinsmann has wanted to play an offensive style. Lately, however, that has been resigned towards going right up the middle.

Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Maurice Edu have all seen significant minutes and all three are primarily central midfielders. In addition, Jose Torres has seen time mostly in central midfield despite playing left back against Antigua due to injury.

Landon Donovan has been playing wide right but he has not been set up for success since there hasn't been much help from the fullbacks on either side.

Fabian Johnson has played well at left back when healthy but the US team needs much better use of wide midfielders and wide fullbacks on both sides to stretch opponents' defenses. That would therefore open up room down the middle. This was a similar problem to the one the US U-23's faced - no flank play and no fullback play.

But right now, the US team is only going down the middle and the game against Canada showed that clogging the middle will stop the American attack.

Oguchi Onyewu has struggled in recent weeks

Once one of the most reliable American central defenders, Oguchi Onyewu has not played well in these games.

He struggled against Brazil in the 4-1 loss and he was badly beaten in Antigua's only goal. The question is now whether Onyewu is still recovering from the surgery he had in March or is he no longer one of the top four central defenders available to the US national team.

Carlos Bocanegra and Clarence Goodson have both played well for the US team. Geoff Cameron has promise in central defense but he is untested at a high level.

It is highly unlikely that Onyewu is finished with the US national team since there aren't many young central defenders making case for the US team. But Onyewu may find minutes hard to come by if he has any more slip ups.

Maurice Edu is turning over the ball too much

Edu has been reliable in defense for the US team in 2012 but he is turning over the ball too much these days.

In large part he plays in a declining Scottish Premier League and the international game, even CONCACAF, is at a higher level.

Moving forward, Klinsmann has other options in the defensive midfield in players like Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi, and Joe Corona. Like Onyewu, Edu will have to step up or he could see his playing time greatly diminished.
Tuesday June 12, 2012 1:13 am
Am I the only one really annoyed about Tuesday's game against Guatemala? As a Mexican living in the US (whether here legally or not), I would get to watch the Mexico game for free, but as an American I am supposed to pay to watch the US?!!

I am a fan of soccer generally and will always support the US team. Why doesn't USSF, Fox Soccer & ESPN?
Monday June 11, 2012 3:53 pm
I am so happy that Klinsman ended the Sasha K experiment quickly. Why do people keep bringing his name up as replacements for our in camp players? Edu and Beckerman suck as international players yet they are unfortunately the best we have to offer (and I prefer them to Special K).

The bottom line is that the US cannot produce quality soccer players as quickly as we USA soccer fans want or expect.
Monday June 11, 2012 10:49 am
With the exception of fabian Johnson the entire back line needs to be replaced. boca, gooch, and dolo have all represented the mnt with dignity and pride, but reality is that its time to put some new blood in the back line. I have been watching these past four games, and I see the back line specially the centerbacks get beat too many times. This back line will do for the simi-final round but could cause serious problems in the final round against teams with faster and more physical players like Mexico, Honduras,and Costa Rica. It might still be good enough to get us to the world cup, but it will probably be a very fast exit kind a like 1998 and 2006.
It would no hurt to give Hines a call for the next two games there is nothing to loose and much to gain if he turns out to fit in. Like many others think, not calling in Eric Lichaj makes no sense when your back line needs so much help. With all my respect to JK there has to be a good why you call up castillo instead of lichaj and that reason can not be that castillo is a better player because he is NOT.
Sunday June 10, 2012 4:02 pm
Many of the issues/problems associated with this team right now are the same as those we experienced right before WC 2010.
1) Center Defense - Boca, Gooch, and Goodson are all too old and slow to keep up with the better teams. We need younger players to step it up and gain experience. Looking for Hines, Ream, Cameron, Gonzalez, and John to be the most likely candidates.
2) Cherundolo - aging and has lost a step. Really need/want Chandler to commit to us and take over the RB spot. As much as I like and appreciate what he's done for the USNT, Dolo needs to be pushed to a backup. If Chandler doesn't commit than Lichaj should be made the starting RB. If he does commit than Lichaj is the #2 LB. This gives us great depth and cover wide in the defense. (Castillo can be the #3 LB or a LW.
3) CDM is a position of strenth and depth for the USNT but it can still use some improvement. Edu needs to go to a new/better club (France would be good for him) to improve his passing. Williams, Morales need more minutes with their clubs. Expect them to advance this coming year and make a statement next year with the USNT. Hoping Holden can return to form as us more options.
4) Wing Midfielders/Wing Forwards. Again there is a nice crop of players coming up but they too need first team minutes in order to get more experience. Expect Shea, Gyau, Gatt, and Bedoya all to step it up in the coming year.
Sunday June 10, 2012 2:02 pm
geoff cameron is actually a defensive midfielder rather than a center back and in my opinion, he is the right player to sit behind bradley and jones. he has the technical ability and strength to play a yaya toure role. try him out in his rightful position.
Sunday June 10, 2012 1:39 pm
All I can think about while watching our midfield is getting Holden healthy and hoping he'll be our advanced CM. In his absence, I'd rather see Torres there than would allow Donovan and Dempsey to play a little wider & keep the middle from being so congested.
Hugh Mcdonough
Sunday June 10, 2012 11:31 am
Will Hoillet Blackburn Rovers, Seb Hines, Brooks , Huzeler, Whitebread,
Kreissweter, George, Adam Henley ever play for USA ? These players
could could strenghten the USA . These players need to play for their clubs week and week out for next 2 years. USA needs more Germamericans in relation to CB's and strikers.
Good Luck USA . Yes you can. USA has nothing to be ashamed by losing 1-4 to Brazil and 0-4 to Spain, USA will get the last laugh by doing well at World cup 2014 in Brazil.
Sunday June 10, 2012 10:12 am
Neither Graham Zusi nor Joe Corona are defensive midfielders. Kljestan would be servicable there, but one has to think that Danny Williams once healthy will make a case for DCM. The good thing about going to Guatemala is that the Guatemalan team will be more open because A. They need points, and B. They are playing at home. Actually at this point in time I really think Kljestan is a much better player than Edu. I would be surprised if Edu gets called in against Jamaica in September.

I think the USMNT will come away with 3 points and be poised to lock up a spot to the Hex against Jamaica in September.
Sunday June 10, 2012 1:32 am
I agree. At times I was hard pressed to remember that most of these guys have been playing together for close to a decade. I’ll give them a bit of a break for the weather and maybe a crappy field and they did sink three that could have been 5, but…

There’s a clear argument to remove Edu. But I’m afraid that won’t change the core makeup this team. Klinsmann was looking to his backs to provide wing options. Then we lose Chandler, and Johnson and Castillo to injury. Central defense is a crisis again with Onyewu’s poor play and Bocanegra not able to carry more than his share. Cherundolo is spending most of the game in the backfield defending. There goes our wing game.
But we hope this is temporary.

Get Johnson and Castillo healthy and Goodson starting in place of Onyewu and the chemistry of the whole team will change again overnight.
Saturday June 9, 2012 7:01 pm
joe corona at defensive midfield? uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh what
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