In light of the USA’s recent performances against the Republic of Ireland, Columbia, and Ecuador I realized we had taken a BIG step back! The following need to be addressed over the next couple of years for the WC Qualifying. Especially, with Mexico and Costa Rica playing the way they are.
Defense, Defense, Defense
While the United States have most certainly improved under the Jurgen Klinsmann Era by bringing in some players getting first shots…they need extreme help on defense. Just ask Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, as they were repeatedly beaten off the dribble by the Republic of Ireland. Actually, ask the keepers who let up 7 goals in the last 20 minutes of their last 3 friendlies. While the future is looking bright with the USMNT defense being anchored by prospects John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin, that might not be enough. The USA might need an extra standout centreback and so far Omar Gonzalez, inconsistent as he might be, will have to do for now. USMNT is kicking themselves for not pursuing Neven Subotic even harder.
Experiencing Technical Difficulties
THIS is the constant thorn in the United States backsides time and time again. They have NO technical players! Technicality is the most important part in soccer because with technical players you can dictate the tempo and essentially the match. The closest players that the Americans have on their roster that even resembles a technical player, or playmaker, are Jermaine Jones, Landon Donavan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Graham Zusi. The problem is that three of those players are in their 30’s and won’t be playing much longer. Michael Bradley has a problem of being inconsistent and constantly turning the ball over. Zusi is generally used as sub that doesn’t see much action in a match besides the last 15-20 minutes. So he doesn’t usually have a whole lot of time to create an impact. Our technical player in the future is Julian Green. This 19 year old, playing for Bayern Munich, is a bright star! With great speed and ball control the USA will hope that Green can continue to develop at the German club. Whether, he’s playing for Bayern’s first team or going out on loan, this young guy can really make for the US’s future, and we can only hope that some other prospects can come along and make a real difference like Julian Green will. If you don’t believe me, listen to this amazing statistic. He’s 19 and the youngest player in US history to score a goal at the World Cup. Oh yeah….he scored of his first touch of the ball in the WHOLE TOURNAMENT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piw48lZhsDA
Who Will Keep US Safe?
The last problem the Americans will have to confront is the impending retirement of Tim Howard. Tim Howard is one of a kind for the United States. He’s a world class goalkeeper and is one of those players that is never easy to replace. Tim Howard is 6’ 3, which is an impressive frame for a keeper. Combine his height with his athleticism and for a very long time he was a dominant and continuously making miraculous saves! However, as it does with all athletes, Father Time has won again; and his age is starting to show. At 35, Howard is letting up goals that he easily would have saved in his prime, all simply because his body won’t allow him to anymore. Howard’s Sabbatical from the USMNT to focus on his club team and spend time with his family could be a more permanent absence. Especially when fellow goalkeepers Brad Guzan, and Sean Johnson are looking for their presence known on the team. While these two will attempt to fill big shoes, they are a temporary replacement as Jurgen Klinsmann will look most surely look at prospects to fulfill this role in the future.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Chris Colvin