U.S. National Team
U.S. Midfield Trio Enjoyed Mixing It Up in Prague
Jurgen Klinsmann asked his starting midfield trio—Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, and Alejandro Bedoya—to play aggressive soccer and still be responsible defenders. Brian Sciaretta spoke to them in Prague.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedWHEN THE UNITED STATES national team opened the 2018 World Cup cycle with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in Prague, the biggest revelation was the combination play of the central midfielders who dictated the pace of the game before being subbed out in the second half. The starting lineup for Klinsmann was fairly attack-oriented, with Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, and Joe Corona controlling the middle with youngsters Joe Gyau and Julian Green patrolling the wing positions. Jurgen Klinsmann asked Diskerud, Bedoya, and Corona to be aggressive and work with each other on both sides of the ball. And they did. “That is kind of what I’ve wanted to step up in my game and we scored a goal because of the aggressiveness in the midfield,” Diskerud said. “I felt like we accomplished what we tried to do. Us three, we like to try to combine, play, and keep the ball in the middle. It was fun to play with Ale and Joe.” All three players gravitate toward attacking roles—within their clubs and their time with the national team. As a result, the three had to figure out how to find the right balance so that the U.S. back line was not left exposed. For the most part it worked. The U.S. controlled the run of play and limited the Czech opportunities during the time the starting trio were on the field. The game’s lone goal came when Diskerud forced a turnover and fired a shot that Bedoya cleaned up after a rebound. For all of the promise of the first half, there is still plenty to work on. The Czechs had their best chances on counter attacks and on several occasions the U.S. midfield was caught too far up field. “I think this game was about experimenting on a couple of things,” Bedoya said. “We were able to show some good things. There is definitely a lot of positive things to take away from this game. Mix, Joe, and I had some chemistry at times being able to find each other and keep it simple. We talked about movement off the ball a lot and getting into spaces. At times we were able to do that. I guess it kind of helps that we are close off the field too. We know each other real well so that helps on the field too.” “I think you saw at times we weren’t in-synch in terms of one staying back,” Bedoya added. “We’re used to attacking more. You saw off the counter they had their best chances. But everything is a work in progress. If we tweak a few things to make sure somebody is always staying back to help the defense out, I think it can look good.” While Diskerud, 23, and Bedoya, 27, both made the 2014 U.S. World Cup team, Joe Corona was cut from the team as Klinsmann trimmed the roster from 30 to its final 23. It was a difficult experience for him but as the new cycle starts Corona feels challenged to raise his game. Against the Czechs, the 24-year-old Corona was not part of many scoring chances but he did a lot of the dirty work and made simple plays that helped the U.S. maintain possession. “I feel like we connected pretty well,” Corona said. “I’ve been playing with Mix for a while now and of course I know Bedoya. So we always have that chemistry. I just love playing side by side with them and it came to show. We all feel comfortable with the ball and we all try to help each other in the middle and I think it worked out pretty well.” “Jurgen asked me to keep rotating with Mix and Bedoya but at the same time, always maintain myself in the middle—to always have that support,” Corona continued. “It feels good. It’s a little more responsibility but I personally feel it’s a good start. It’s a new cycle. I’m excited for it. I feel like I’ve been given more responsibility on the national team. That’s what I’ve been looking for all this time. Hopefully, I keep getting the callups.” Off the field, each member of the midfield trio was asked to provide leadership on a very young roster that featured teenagers and players making their first appearances in a senior U.S. camp. “It makes me feel old,” Bedoya said jokingly on his newfound veteran status. “With the young guys you just try to go out there are be kind of a leader—get them confident and just say some words to them—to be aggressive and don’t worry about a thing.” “Emerson—this guy makes me feel really old,” Bedoya said. “It's crazy because I don't even know how old he is. But he looks like a little school kid because he's baby-faced. Seeing him in the training sessions, he's really tidy on the ball. I think he's going to be a really good player. I thought Joe [Gyau] had a good game and you see Julian coming into things and Brooks in the back—he’s developing really well. "It’s great to see this new group of guys coming though and there are some really talented players.” Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.
September 05, 2014
September 05, 2014