13013_gattjosh_isi_usmnt130129008 Thomas B. Shea/isiphotos.com
Direct from Houston

Takeaways from the U.S.'s Limp Draw Against Canada

Despite the result, American head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has some positive notes on the performance in Houston. But, as Josh Deaver writes, positivity is growing old. It's time for results.
BY Josh Deaver Posted
January 30, 2013
3:55 AM
HOUSTON, Texas—The most important year of Jurgen Klinsmann’s reign as U.S Men’s National Team head coach started on a terrible note Tuesday night. On a cool evening at BBVA Compass Park, a listless American squad battled Canada to a scoreless draw.

Let that sentence sink in.

While the Maple Leafs had little interest in attacking, content to put all 11 men behind the ball for a majority of the match, the quality was just not there for the American “B” Team.

Following the match, Omar Gonzalez bemoaned the defensive posture of the Canadians, who essentially played a 4-6-0 formation for large periods of the game. “We faced a Canada team that was really defensive. Maybe that was because Denmark beat them 4-0 and they wanted to work on their defensive plan. It worked," the 2012 MLS Cup MVP said. "They put everyone behind the ball and it was tough for us to get penetrating passes. We just couldn’t find the back of the net.”

The match was supposed to be a showcase for fringe players to prove that they can contribute during an arduous 2013 campaign that includes World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup. Instead, what we saw was a performance that inspired little confidence. After such a dismal outing, it is difficult to know how exactly to evaluate the players going forward.

For Klinsmann, however, the result has not changed his opinion on who will join the full team in Honduras next week for the opening much of the Hexagonal. “We have a pretty clear picture of who we want to take to Honduras,” Klinsmann said, adding, “but that [is] not depending on tonight’s match.”

The team chemistry that Klinsmann highlighted throughout the three-week training camp prior to the match was nowhere to be found. Poor off-the-ball movement and lack of incisive passing failed to create anything substantial in build up. Bereft of creativity, the majority of chances, if they can actually be classified as such, came from scrambles in the box or less-than-ideal set piece delivery. The quality picked up marginally in the second half, but the problems in the final third continued unabated.

Undaunted by the loss, the U.S coach chose to take the positive outlook. “We were very pleased with the way the players presented themselves, the way they put the effort in there, and that they tried to do it throughout the game in a couple of different formations,” the perpetually sunny German said. “It was good to see the players trying to find ways to score.”

But trying will not get the job done in the coming months.

One has to wonder how a U.S squad will fare against similar defensive tactics of their CONCACAF competitors. Sure, the players who make the trip to the San Pedro Sula will be of a higher quality, but the team’s continued inability to break down resolute defensive efforts is sufficiently concerning from a tactical perspective.

2013 started off poorly. It needs to improve better quickly.

  • Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler appear to be in line for a shot at the big time. Although they were relatively untested, Jurgen Klinsmann perhaps tipped his hand regarding their involvement in Honduras. “Over the last three weeks we saw already what we knew about both of them. They are strong center backs and they are ready for the international level.”

  • Benny Feilhaber also made a good impression in his return to international play. Earning his first cap since January 2012, the World Cup veteran was responsible for a majority of the attacking initiative after entering at halftime. Sporting KC's new acquisition consistently played dangerous balls down the flanks and spurred the team’s best scoring chances on the night.

  • Subbed on at halftime, Josh Gatt was a pest on the wings and provided some much needed width. While he might be too eager at times to go 1v1 (or 1v4), he showed the he can work the sideline and is adept at cutting inside. One day, you feel those moves are going to produce a spectacular goal as they have in Norway.

  • Kyle Beckerman is here to stay. Wearing the captain’s arm band for the first time, it is clear he is trusted implicitly by Klinsmann. Some U.S. fans may not like it, but as the coach would say, it is what it is.

  • The attendance at BBVA Stadium was surprisingly low. Whether this was a result of the roster or the game being played on a weeknight, the announced (see: inflated) attendance was only 11,000 in a stadium that averages nearly double for MLS games. If this was an audition for Houston to potentially host a World Cup qualifier or even a Gold Cup match, they may have removed themselves from consideration.

    Josh Deaver is covering the U.S.-Canada match for ASN. Follow the former academic turned soccer obsessive on Twitter, @USFootballGuy.
  • Post a comment