The United States lost another game as they are now 1-3-1 since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the reigns. There usually is a period of transition with new National Team managers but is there reason for concern? Are results important at this point or is it about Klinsmann getting the team to adopt his style. Below are my thoughts on the loss 1-0 loss to Ecuador on October 11, 2011.
No Need To Panic
While it’s not encouraging to see the USA lose three of their last four matches, there’s definitely no reason to panic or think Klinsmann wasn’t the right choice. It’s very early and these matches are not that important. This doesn’t mean that the USA shouldn’t take these matches seriously or it’s acceptable to lose but there have been positives.
One of the major problems under Bob Bradley was the poor starts. The team would usually concede first half goals and have to fight their way back to get a result. Under Klinsmann, that hasn’t been an issue and the team has started well in most of their matches. The problem is converting these good starts into early leads and maintaining for the entire 90 minutes.
Landon Donovan Remains Crucial To Success
Donovan, who missed the last two matches because of injury, is still a very important part of the squad. The USA can still be a good side without Donovan but his presence elevates the team. Other attacking players like Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey have more space and chances when Donovan is on the pitch. He’s also able to provide good service in free kicks and corners which is often undervalued. The USA could probably qualify for Brazil 2014 without Donovan but it would make things much more difficult.
Altidore’s Increased Confidence
Jozy Altidore, who has been a consistent start up top, is showing more confidence since getting regular playing time for his club. Altidore joined AZ Alkmaar of the Dutch Eredivisie and has scored seven goals in 11 appearances this season. Altidore has struggled to get consistent playing time since moving overseas but has flourished in Holland. If Altidore continues to gain confidence and experience for AZ, then he could develop into a the top striker many expected he would become.
Overall Things Are Looking Up
Many, especially those who don’t follow the sport closely, will look at the results under Klinsmann and wonder why he was hired. Yes, the 1-1-3 record looks bad on paper, but there’s reason to be optimistic for 2014. Klinsmann is giving several players (those who played and those with no experience) a chance and expressing his desire to play an attacking style. It’s going to take time for the team to take shape but the USA should qualify for the 2014 World Cup and have a good chance to make the knockout stage.