When U.S. Soccer scheduled Germany (aka Der Nationalmannschaft – not kidding; look it up) for their Centennial match, this is what they were hoping for: A crowded RFK Stadium in D.C., a good timeslot on ESPN, and a good showing by the home team. The Fed should be pleased on all accounts, especially the 4-3 victory.
Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping for a better performance than the previous match against Belgium. This match was all about building some confidence and momentum while avoiding injuries prior to this Friday’s World Cup Qualifier in Jamaica. Jurgen had to like some of what he saw, even if some of the same troublesome trends continued. At some point we’re going to have to settle on a centerback pairing and stick with it for a few games. At some point we’re going to have to close out a game without giving up so many chances in the final 15 minutes. It sure is nice to score some goals, though.
Five Points in your Centennial Pentagram…
- Backline was better… Mostly. The defense of DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Brad Evans mostly held their line and played better against Ze Germans. In the second half, a few problems occurred – especially when the midfield (ahem Eddie Johnson) failed to track overlapping runners. Edgar Castillo looked shaky when he came on for Beasley. And finally, Gonzalez once again lost his man in the box. At this point we’d rather see Geoff Cameron beside Besler at Centerback.
- Michael Bradley. MB90 is just about the best player on the team right now, and his presence took so much pressure off his teammates. He simply controlled the midfield. It’s what he does. We only wish his partner, Jermaine Jones, would show more discipline so Bradley could get forward more often.
- Deucefaced. Clint Dempsey is the other guy who can claim best player honors. He continues to take guys on and score goals. His second goal, the left-footed bender, showed Deuce’s quality: a good move to get open, instant recognition, and a great strike. Perhaps more importantly, the rest of the team is starting to better understand how to play off Dempsey in the attacking third – when and where to make their runs, as well as where Clint is likely to pop up for a shot.
- Jozy Altidore – MotM. Prior to his volley golazo to open the scoring, Jozy hadn’t scored from the run of play in nearly two years for Team America. Folks have been worried. But not only did he score, he won battles, made good runs, won challenges, and got the assist on Dempsey’s first goal. He was Man of the Match in our book. Maybe, just maybe, this is Jozy’s mental breakthrough moment under Jurgen. If so, CONCACAF opponents are on notice for more of this:
- Not the true Mannschaft. Germany’s team lacked a half-dozen of their best players, who were still finishing the club season. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. No, it wasn’t disaster when Team America lost to Belgium earlier. No, this victory over a German B-side doesn’t mean we now have a Top 10 team. However, Jurgen’s tactics were correct, and for about 75 minutes the USA executed in impressive fashion. We can take this win into three World Cup Qualifiers, hopefully shoring up some of those late-game mistakes and building consistency across the back line.