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Substitutes Provide Jolt In American Victory

Jurgen Klinsmann went to his bench earlier than usual in the 2-0 win against Jamaican, and it paid off with subs involved in both goals. Will any members of the trio break into the starting XI against Panama?

BY Jon Arnold Posted
October 12, 2013
1:01 AM
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jurgen Klinsmann started out with what ostensibly was an attacking line-up Friday night against Jamaica, but when his team entered the break with nothing to show for its efforts, he started making changes.

First, he brought on Graham Zusi for Landon Dononvan. Zusi made a quick impact, scored the opening goal, and was named the Man of the Match.

Klinsmann's other substitutions, putting in Edgar Castillo for DaMarcus Beasley in the in the 66th minute when the left back had a hamstring problem flare up, and deploying Sacha Kljestan six minutes later, also made the manager look crafty.

"We said then simply at halftime, 'Guys raise the bar here, raise the tempo,'" Klinsmann said. "And that's what we did after 55, 60 minutes then we passed it through faster."

Picking up the pace proved pivotal for the Americans as the team finally broke through a weary defense in the 2-0 victory.

"I just tried to follow some instructions: Get the ball moving fast, playing forward, getting the guys playing at a higher tempo and really creating some chances, so I think I did a good job," Kljestan said.

Klinsmann told both Zusi and Kljestan that even though they weren't in his starting XI, they would get into the match. Zusi was playing in front of his home fans and Kljestan earned a shot at playing time in the defensive midfield role. That meant both players looked on in the first half as the U.S. failed to establish itself against an inferior Jamaican side.

"As a substitute, you want to provide a spark for your team especially it's still knotted at 0," Zusi said. "I don't think much changes (in terms of preparation). You always want to go out and do your job. When you are a sub, you want to provide that spark."

Like the Sporting Kansas City midfielder, Castillo also provided a spark, though he may have only come into the match because of injury.

"DaMarcus Beasley's substitution was he has a hamstring problem, so he gives us the signal. That makes him questionable now for going into Panama," Klinsmann said. "We want to make sure that nothing worse happens. That was good because Edgar seemed in a very great mood today," he continued, laughing.

With very little pressure on the left side, the Tijuana left back was free to journey forward, which is his strength. He sprinted onto an attempted clearance by Demar Phillips, rushed into the box, drew out goalkeeper DuWayne Kerr, and slid the ball to an open Jozy Altidore.

He nearly had a goal of his own when he and Zusi worked an excellent move together on the left side. Zusi put in a beautiful chip for an unmarked Castillo, but it was to the New Mexico native's unflavored right foot and he couldn't pull off the volley.

Castillo's defensive abilities would be tested more extensively were he to replace Beasley against Panama, but it was another example of the depth Klinsmann so often preaches. It's a blessing for the manager but a curse for fringe guys like Castillo and Kljestan who aren't locks for the 23-man World Cup roster.

Klinsmann will announce changes to the roster Saturday before the team travels to Panama. It's too early to say what they'll be, but you can expect changes to the starting XI as well. Zusi, Kljestan, and Castillo hope their sterling performances Friday will net even more playing time next week.

Jon Arnold is an ASN contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter @ArnoldcommaJon

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