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Quick Takes

10 Soccer Pundits Sound Off On Today's HUGE Match

Why settle for one longwinded opinion when you can consume, and comment on, 10 shorter takes? We asked 10 soccer experts to provide some last-minute guidance to Jurgen Klinsmann. Take a look.
BY various Posted
July 01, 2014
10:53 AM
Charles Boehm, freelance soccer writer
Thought you'd done the business in Group G? No, now is the time to earn that paycheck, Coach Klinsmann. For all your talk of revolution, you've gotten this far via the quintessentially American attributes of spirit, heart, and organization. They'll all be required again on Tuesday, but beating Belgium will require real daring—the belief that possession can be kept and tempo dictated against one of Europe's best. Bring back Geoff Cameron's passing. Let Bedoya and Zusi—or perhaps even Yedlin—venture forward to support the beleaguered Michael Bradley. Snatch the initiative away from the Red Devils.

John Godfrey, ASN editor in chief
The United States played to win against Ghana and Portugal, and came within seconds of securing two victories. Despite everything Klinsmann said, the team played not to lose against Germany, and promptly lost. Today? Attack. Don’t bunker. Don’t fear losing. Be the team Klinsmann always talks about. Push Fabian Johnson down the right flank again. Give Clint Dempsey a partner up top—Jozy? Bring Yedlin in sooner rather than later. If Belgium dictates the game, it wins. If the U.S. can establish the tempo, it has a very good chance.

John D. Halloran, ASN contributor
For the U.S.'s match against Belgium, it doesn't need a change in strategy; it needs more of the same. Keep clogging the midfield, keep giving the outside backs plenty of help defensively, and get forward when possible. Many pundits have focused on Belgium's lack of dominance in the group stage, but that should be ignored. The fact is, the Belgians never had to kick it into fifth gear. The U.S. has been at top speed for 270 straight minutes. A sub or two, in the form of Mix Diskerud and/or Aron Johannsson, is in order to freshen up the squad.

Daniel Karell, freelance soccer writer
I would approach this match trying to absorb pressure through the middle and then look to release Clint Dempsey and Alejandro Bedoya going forward to attack what could be a weakened—or at least not 100 percent—Belgium defense. I think that Omar Gonzalez should stay in the starting lineup after his solid showing against Germany as well, and if Jozy can play, he should come off the bench at around the 65th minute mark. Fabian Johnson should have space to attack down the right wing— if Eden Hazard doesn't defend as expected.

Blake Thomsen, ASN contributing editor
It’s absolutely essential that there is pace somewhere in the U.S. front line. Klinsmann got it wrong in that capacity against Germany, but thanks to Portugal he’ll have a chance to get it right against Belgium’s even slower defense. There’s plenty of options: Johannsson up top in front of Dempsey, Yedlin in from the start, or my personal favorite, Cameron to right back and Fabian to right midfield. If no Cameron at right back, stick him back at center back. One poor Cameron showing against Portugal and one good Gonzalez performance against Germany should not a depth chart shift.

Noah Davis, ASN deputy editor
First, abandon the high defensive line that got the Americans in trouble last May. Second, give DaMarcus Beasley, who got run over by Roman Lukaku in Cleveland, some help on the left side. Third, limit rebounds off shots and do a better job marking the second wave of attackers. Fourth, attack the Belgian flanks with Fabian Johnson overlapping runs since the opposition stays too narrow and doesn't have any true fullbacks. Fifth, get a better offensive game from Michael Bradley, who is due for a breakout match. Sixth, win.

Jon Arnold, ASN contributing editor
I've given up. I never know what Jurgen Klinsmann is going to do. When I saw Omar Gonzalez in the starting lineup against Germany, I stayed mostly quiet. Aside from two admittedly appalling errors against Portugal, Geoff Cameron was having a good tournament. But he got the hook, and Gonzalez played like a man set on reclaiming his reputation. Klinsmann hasn't been at all perfect, but he's done what he's needed to do. There's no reason to believe he won't do that again— whether it's Gonzalez at center back, Altidore up top or Bedoya making a return.

Matt Swift, ASN social media director
We can pound Belgium with speed, and push the attack to exploit Belgium’s suspect backline. I fancy seeing a 4-3-2-1 with Dempsey up top, Zusi and Mix underneath, Jones on the left, Bradley in the middle, and Bedoya on the right. Yes, this puts Beckerman on the bench, but we can slide Bradley back into a position he is more comfortable with. If you watched the Mexico and Costa Rica matches, you saw that if you take your foot off the gas, sit back and try to play conservative, you can very easily go down. It’s time to push it…push it real good.

Matt Hermann, Talking Fussball anchor; soccer writer
After the U.S. advanced, Jurgen said the "just win" nature of the knock-out stage would suit his team. I think he‘s right. The U.S. opened the tournament with that attitude against Ghana, and while they didn’t always control the tempo in that game, their high concentration level pushed them to a win. As in the Germany game, against Belgium most of that concentration will have to be devoted to defending in numbers. That means the US maximum firepower from the players who do get to venture forward. If Jozy’s fit, he plays.

Nick Kariuki, ASN contributor
Given how lukewarm the Belgians seemed advancing through the relatively straightforward Group H, it seems that the side hasn’t stepped up to the expectations of the dark horse label yet. The pressure will be on Belgium to make a statement tomorrow and the U.S. has to capitalize on whatever mistakes come from that. Stars like Lukaku and Hazard have been well contained this tournament, and our defense needs to continue that while also maintaining composure when the deep backup options like Origi and Mertens come on as a second wave. The costly errors in midfield also have to stop.

OK, your turn. What does the U.S. need to do to win today? You have 100 words to play with—go!

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