The U.S. Team has arrived in Brazil with a new FIFA ranking (13th in the world) and seven days to get acclimated to the new scenery before kicking off against Ghana on June 16th at 6 PM EST. The team comes off an exciting 2-1 win over Nigeria on Saturday and they will have one more chance to gel on June 12 in a closed door friendly vs. Belgium, a dark horse in this year’s World Cup. Finally we are on the start week for the World Cup and one week away from the first U.S. game, so as that time comes, here’s the good, bad, and the ugly.
Tim Howard earned his 100 Cap against Nigeria. This man is a rock at the goalkeeper position and he does not get enough credit for the work that he does. He is a top 3 goalkeeper in the world that just needs some better defenders around him, at both the club and country level.
Jozy scored! Jozy Altidore scored twice against Nigeria, finally ending a six month drought without scoring. They say, “when it rains, it pours,” and I sure hope it that means Altidore can be a prominent player for the USMNT for the next 3-plus games. He has been due for a while, and he is still due, so I can’t wait to see what comes next for him and the squad.
For the second straight game, the squad surrendered a penalty kick goal in the closing minutes. The defense has been mostly solid up to this point, despite not having a solid four man foundation. But the fact that these teams cannot close out and finish a game is concerning. They get lazy and get beat and then commit fouls, fouls that would probably incite red cards if the games were actually meaningful. I know they were friendlies, but that becomes habit over time.
Jurgen Klinnsman switched formations prior to the Nigerian game. While the results were a better showing and better chemistry it is alarming that Klinnsman is still trying to decipher which look he wants to use more. He has been at the helm for two years and he picked a 23 man roster that should have worked to fit his system, but now he is wavering between a 4-5-1 looking scheme (which is the one that seemed to work), and a regular 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in the midfield, but that seems to leave Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones confused on when and where to attack. It also seems to get Dempsey up too high for my liking, where he can’t create in his usual manner going forward.