While fans may thirst for vengeance, new USMNT coach Juergen Klinsmann will treat this match as a friendly. He wants to “get to know” the players and considers the result “no big deal.” That’s the responsible attitude.
The opponent is Mexico, but the match is tangibly meaningless without competition until next June. August is an awkward time for European-based players. He has been on the job a matter of days and has not even had time to appoint a technical staff. This is no time to make a statement. By necessity this will be a preliminary learning exercise, for Klinsmann, for the team, for the media and for the fans.
Klinsmann wants for depth. He emphasized the need for “competition at every position” and he’s looking for players to provide that. He’s reaching beyond Bradley’s comfort zone, calling up guys he cast out (Beasley, Buddle, Clark), Mexican-based guys with eligibility (Torres, Castillo and Orozco Fiscal) and a few MLS guys (Hamid, Loyd, Shea, Beckerman). The end result at full strength could be similar to Bob Bradley’s team, but stretching the player pool is worthwhile. The problem will be merging those players from different cultures, traditions and continents into an “American” brand of soccer.
What style Klinsmann opts for will be interesting as well. He stressed an attacking, proactive style, but against weaker CONCACAF opponents. Mexico is demonstrably superior. Bradley fielded an attacking team with both Donovan and Adu in his final match against them. It was dismantled, exposed and the reason he’s no longer employed. Does he go after Mexico or does he have the U.S. play a more sober game, dropping behind the ball and picking spots on the counter attack? Does he incorporate the “Latin influence” immediately and try to hold more possession with players such as Adu and Torres or does he try to thwart Mexico with a more robust physical game? We should see multiple looks and formations.
Players come in waves, and while Mexico is rising toward the crest, the U.S. just came crashing down on the beach. Mexico has stability and continuity. The U.S. just hit the reset button. Worry about the future, but, tonight, temper your expectations.
[Photo via Getty]