American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta shares his insights on the U.S. men's national team as Jurgen Klinsmann's squad recover from a scoreless draw with Scotland and head to Vienna to play Austria.
November 16, 2013
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1. Brek Shea could make the World Cup squad
Despite not playing for Stoke City this year, Shea still has a chance with the national team because he offers something that no other American player has. He is tall, strong, athletic, and he can run at defenders.
Right now, he's not a 90-minute player but against Scotland he showed that he can be a weapon off the bench. He's also left footed and Klinsmann has very few lefties in the midfield to chose from. Brad Davis is a very good left footed midfielder but Shea can bring an element of pace if the U.S. wants to increase the tempo of the game.
2. Eddie Johnson needs to be used wisely
There is no question that Eddie Johnson has scored some big goals for the United States since his return to international play in 2012. In games where the U.S. has good crossers or needs aerial threats off set pieces, Johnson is the right guy.
There are also times when Johnson looks out of place. Klinsmann has tried to play Johnson on the wing and his impact there has been limited. He doesn't beat many defenders on the dribble and his combination play was lacking against Scotland. When Aron Johannsson entered the game, the Americans were much more effective.
Is Johnson going to Brazil? Probably but if Terrence Boyd can make a push, it could come at the expense of the Seattle Sounder.
3. Johannsson and Altidore—a dynamic duo
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Johannsson and Altidore enjoy good chemistry; the two were teammates at AZ Alkmaar last year. But Johannsson and Altidore have skill sets that complement each other, and together they are a nightmare to stop.
Both thrive on combination play and while Altidore is powerful, Johannsson is cunning around the goal. Both can hit shots from distance and both like to make runs into tho the box. Alitdore likes to move into the middle and Johannsson gives more of an option to attack from wider positions.
It will be tough to get the two on the field together in a 4-2-3-1 formation when Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Fabian Johnson return to the team, but I'm sure Klinsmann is exploring ideas of how to make it work.
4. Momentum heading into Austria
The United States came out flat in the first half and Klinsmann freely admitted afterward he was not happy with the effort in the opening 45 minutes. That being said, the Americans played well in the final 35 minutes and were very unlucky not to have won the game on several good chances from Altidore and Johannsson.
As the Yanks prepare to face off against Austria on Tuesday, momentum could be in their favor if they learn from the second half against Scotland. At the World Cup, adjusting quickly from one game to another is crucial.
So what can we expect for Tuesday? Kinsmann will likely abandon one of the central midfield trio of Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and Sacha Kljestan in favor of another more offensive threat. Mix Diskerud filled that role in the second half against Scotland and could start against Austria.
Klinsmann also said that he was disappointed in the tempo of the game in the first half. Expect the team to respond with a better start against Austria with several changes in the starting lineup.
Terrence Boyd could see significant minutes playing in the city where he plays his club soccer. Klinsmann has always liked Boyd as a player and Tuesday will be an important test to see where he stands heading to Brazil.
What changes would you like to see in Tuesday's contest? Tell us in the Comments below.