“Ewwwwwwww, another blog about soccer.”
Yep, can’t just blog about Bieber and Deez Nuts if you want call yourself Barstool Sports.
So anyway, here we go again. When last we checked in on the USMNT they were defecating all over everything in sight at the Gold Cup, producing one passably impressive performance (6-0 win over Cuba), three disappointing efforts (one-goal wins over Honduras and Haiti, and a 1-1 draw with Panama), and two of the most embarrassing losses in US Men’s National Team history, including a 1-2 defeat to Jamaica in the semi-finals followed by a listless loss on penalties to Panama.
Some of you might recall the fact that Bob Bradley was fired as coach of the USMNT after losing in far less humiliating fashion to Mexico two Gold Cups ago, but there was little talk of Jurgen Klinsmann meeting the same fate this time around because (a) he has done some good things, primarily related to recruiting foreign-born offspring of American ex-pats to commit to red, white and blue (or is it yellow and black?); (b) he was given a mandate upon being hired that he would be judged on the team’s performance at the 2018 World Cup; and (c) a number of people involved with US Soccer – chief among them Sunil Gulati – have essentially staked their own jobs on Klinsmann’s success, meaning that firing him at any point prior to WC18 would represent a massive disappointment and call into question their own judgment.
Point being, rightly or wrongly, Klinsmann is not going anywhere at the moment, so let’s just move on from the ‘Should he or should he not be fired?’ debate.
Having said that, Klinsmann has been doing everything in his power to make American soccer fans hate him lately, including referring to the loss to Jamaica as a “very, very good performance” then basically calling the quality of play in MLS dog shit (JK is definitely the kind of guy who, when his wife when she asks if the dress makes her look fat, responds with “ja, zoo should maybe loose a few pounz”), and put a poo-cherry on top by saying that any fans in the US who disagree with him just don’t know enough about soccer. Is that an exaggeration? Perhaps – but just barely. So not only is JK apparently made of Teflon, but he apparently has the tinnest ear in history.
As for the games directly ahead, the USMNT plays a pair of friendlies over the next week against solid South American opposition in Peru (today) and Brazil (on Tuesday intended as tune-ups for the all-important game against Mexico on October 10 at the Rose Bowl that will decide (1) who goes to the Confederations Cup in 2017 and (2) whether or not Klinsmann has been a complete and utter failure thus far.
USMNT vs Peru
I know how much you all love my opus-length weekly previews but, alas, this ain’t one of those. I’m on a flight to Dallas at the moment where sobriety will be the sworn enemy from touch-down through Sunday morning, but here’s a quick and dirty look at the guys who Klinsmann brought in and what to be watching for as we get ready for Los Mexicanos…
Roster news & notes
Goalkeeper: Lester’s Claudio Reinieri is known as the “Tinker Man” but old boy has nothing on Klinsmann, who loves to futz with line-ups before and during games more than the Men in Blazers love stealing “Spursy” from me. (Seriously, they and I going to need to have a discussion about this at this point.) But credit where credit is due: JK called Tim Howard – who is back from his self-imposed sabbatical – back into the squad but immediately came right out and said Brad Guzan is the #1 keeper from now through the Mexico game. Ballsy call. Let’s see how it works out for him, Cotton.
Defense: They say if you have two quarterbacks you really have zero quarterbacks. I’m not sure what that means about the USMNT’s situation at centerback since Klinsmann called in EIGHT guys who can play the position. Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks saw a lot of action in the Gold Cup and definitively proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are not ready for prime time. My personal preference would be to go with Matt Besler and John Brooks, slotting Greg Garza (or BaeAndre Yedlin) and Geoff Cameron on the wings. What JK will actually go with is anybody’s guess, though is Jonathan Spector and his 9.5-second 40-yard dash sees the field – bless his heart – lord help us all.
Garza; Besler; Brooks; Cameron
As far as what our attack will look like, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley are playing for their respective MLS clubs this weekend and will join the team ahead of the Brazil game, which should offer some important minutes to guys fighting for minutes.
Midfield: Danny Williams and Alfredo Morales (D/M) are some relative n00bs that JK included on the roster, and it will be interesting to see how they do if they can get a run out there, but giving the presumed starters (and preferred subs) for the Mexico game is mission critical. One of those is likely to be Jermaine Jones, whose big game experience should come in useful and will likely mean he’ll slot into the defensive midfield position (despite Klinsmann’s recent experimentation with him as a defender). Bedoya and Zardes are the best options on the wings with the real question being who to play atop the 4-man diamond. Based on Mix Diskerud’s recent form for NYCFC – no bueno – I wouldn’t mind giving someone else minutes in Bradley’s stead, but the only real alternative is Joe Corona and I’m not sold on him being a starter… so Mix it is.
Bedoya; Jones; Diskerud; Zardes
Strikers: Before we get to the rest of the options, let’s have a quick talk about Jozy Altidore. I’ll admit that I’ve been an Altidore Apologist for years – “He’s got so many tools!” – but the best way to describe his productivity for the USMNT is “jack shit”. He’ll score a goal or two here and there, typically against weaker CONCACAF opponents, and then get hurt against every good team. At this point I’m thisssssssssss close to swearing off the Jozy Kool-Aid but am willing to give him one more month. If he doesn’t do anything in the run-up to and more importantly against Mexico though that’s it. I’m out. Aron Johannsson would be the safe pick alongside Jozy but think Bobby Wood has earned a start after his performances in recent friendlies. (Also, very interested to see rookie Andrew Wooten, but not from opening whistle.)
United States (+100)
For the record, Peru is a legit opponent with dangerous players – eg, Jefferson Farfan and Paolo Guerrero – who helped carry the team to third place in the stacked Copa America. Our defenders better be ready to come under some serious pressure from the start. I think we’ll have just enough quality (on home turf) to pull it out.
PREDICTION: USA to win 3-2.
So there you have it. Time for ya boy to get busy housing Lone Stars. Y’all have yourselves a nice little weekend, ya hear?
PS; Fuck’em Bucky.
Sam U.L. Army