Jerome Kiesewetter Adds Speed & Skill to U.S. Attack
October 02, 2015
KANSAS CITY, KAN.—Jerome Kiesewetter may not have scored a goal in last night’s U.S. U-23 win over Canada, but he played a key role in two of them.
U.S. head coach Andi Herzog opted to play Stuttgart winger up top with Jordan Morris in a 4-4-2 formation and that decision paid huge dividends 34 seconds into the match when Kiesewetter made a terrific run down the right side and found Morris with a perfectly weighted cross. Morris nodded the ball into the back of the net and the Yanks never looked back en route to a 3-1 victory.
“With him, if he plays on the right wing or midfield position, he has to work too much defensively and he loses his power and his energy up front,” Herzog said after the contest. “So I made the decision to play him as a second striker and I think the decision was OK.”
The 22-year-old Berlin native was consistently dangerous throughout the first half, getting behind the Canadian defense at will and generating multiple scoring opportunities. In second half stoppage time, he made a nifty move in the box, beat his marker, and earned a penalty that iced the game.
And even though Herzog hoped to limit Kiesewetter’s defensive responsibilities, he still held his own.
“I usually play as a right winger most of the time,” Kiesewetter said after the match. “So you have to work defensively—everyone has to work defensively.
“We win as a unit,” he added. “It’s not just one player. We all did a good job to win this game.”
Kiesewetter’s strike partner liked what he saw last night too.
“Jerome did great,” Morris said. “I think we have a good partnership. We’ve played together a couple camps. He obviously put in a great ball in the beginning and then he drew the penalty at the end. He was constantly working, constantly moving, and making great runs. He was a little unlucky not to score one but he set up two in a great game.”
Kiesewetter is optimistic that the two can develop an even stronger bond in coming games.
“I love playing with Jordan,” Kiesewetter said. “He’s a very good striker—very talented kid. He always wants to win and we complement each other well.”
Kiesewetter first came to the attention of U.S. Soccer six years ago—almost by accident. Former U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen was recruiting Hertha Berlin’s John Brooks when the big defender told Rongen about a friend, Kiesewetter, whose American father also served in the U.S. military.
Since that time Kiesewetter’s involvement with U.S. teams has been decidedly uneven. He was part of the U.S. U-20 World Cup qualifying team in 2013 but saw less than 15 minutes of action in that tournament and was not part of any subsequent U-20 camp.
In March he made his Bundesliga debut for Stuttgart and soon after that received a call from Andi Herzog for a U-23 camp in Germany. While that camp did not go particularly well, Kiesewetter looked promising in Toulon and during the most recent U-23 camp in England.
Still, Kiesewetter’s strong performance against Canada surprised even the optimistic Herzog.
“I’m happy that he had a great performance—same with the last camp in England,” Herzog said. “He didn’t do very well in Germany. On one side I was surprised but on the other side I was very happy with his performance. He brought a lot of energy and a lot of speed up front. We had two strikers with very good speed.
“That was crucial.”
The U.S. will be heavily favored to win Saturday’s match against Cuba, and a win could seal a first-place finish in the group. Cuba has already lost four players to defections and is coming off a surprising 1-1 draw against Panama despite being outplayed in all areas of the game.
“They want to win but I think we’re the better team,” Kiesewetter said. “We want to win more. That’s the most important thing. We always want to improve and we have to improve on everything.”
Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.