This second Jamaica match is not a “must win” – win, lose or draw the U.S. must still plan to win the final two matches – though not winning again to Jamaica would leave the team in a more precarious position than they would prefer in a preliminary (or any) qualifying round. CONCACAF may be getting better, but the urgent point is the U.S. have not been very good. The Americans have not looked airtight since Jurgen Klinsmann was hired. One could, to be fair, extend that stretch back as far as the 2010 World Cup.
Bob Bradley’s 2010-bound team cruised through the third round, winning five of six and outscoring opponents 14-3. This cycle, the U.S. has already conceded four goals in the first three matches and has just one win, against the worst team in the group, Antigua and Barbuda. This stage should not be a tough slog. The third round is the weakest opposition the U.S. will face at any competitive point. Combined, their group foes have just one World Cup appearance (Jamaica, 1998). Not looking imperious against these teams should be troubling. The U.S. has not even looked competent.
Don’t panic yet, but be very concerned. Klinsmann promised attacking impetus and improved technical quality. We’ve seen neither. The U.S. does not score goals. They don’t control the run of play, against anyone. While tactics don’t dictate everything, it was not hard to predict that the narrow, three-man midfield he played against Jamaica would (a) have trouble holding possession and linking up play, because those three players stink at it, and (b) be outnumbered 5-3 in midfield when Jamaica was holding the bulk of possession.
The set piece goals were unfortunate. Not controlling games leaves teams susceptible to fortune. Those missing, Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, are crucial, but should not be so crucial against this caliber of team.
We would say we have lost faith in Klinsmann’s plan, but, a year into his tenure, we must ask what is the plan? He has used eight different formations, in trial and error fashion. He does not seem to know his best squad or how to deploy it. He’s switched up from his 4-4-2 at Germany and Bayern Munich, but this American team has shown a similar disorganization and defensive liability.
The U.S. Should Qualify. Both tough remaining fixtures, including tonight, are at home. The U.S. should advance to the next round. If they plan to survive the hex to qualify for the World Cup – and be a factor once they get there – this project must coalesce into something. The players aren’t good enough to wing this with gusto alone.
[Photo via Presswire]