Unless you’re like me and did a fantastic job staying off the grid because you couldn’t watch the match live, you’ve probably already heard about the USMNT huge win over the World Champions Germans, thanks in part to another Bobby Wood goal, on Wednesday. The US has now beaten Germany in two of their past three matches: once in the United States, and once in Germany. They just couldn’t beat them in Brazil in the only match of the three that actually mattered. Here are five quick thoughts on the game.
What the hell just happened?!?!?!
If you listened to just about anyone, when the US announced they’d be going to Europe and taking on the Dutch and the Germans in June, people said this will be a good test for the Americans, but there’s no way they’ll win those games. After winning a thrilling match over the Netherlands last Friday, the story became “that win is great, but the Germans are a whole different ballgame and they’ll still walk right over the US.”
I was a bit more level-headed. I didn’t think the US would win, but I didn’t think they’d get killed either. I figured the game would look a lot like last year’s World Cup match. Maybe the US would nick a goal, but ultimately they’d fall 1-0 or 2-1. I certainly didn’t expect a match where the US looked in control for the second half and got the better chances, and I certainly wasn’t expecting a second straight game winner out of Bobby Freaking Wood, who I of course didn’t think would see the field in either of these friendlies.
The Jurgen Klinsmann haters have to go away now right?
Have you seen how good Germany is? They’re the number one ranked team in the world after they won last years World Cup. They also finished third in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, were runners up at Euro 2008 and were semi-finalists at Euro 2012. Ask any German fan, or their manager Joachim Low, who should get the most credit for this, and they’ll all tell you Jurgen Klinsmann is responsible and he’s the one who changed the culture and style of German football.
Well that’s what Jurgen Klinsmann set out to do with the United States and while it didn’t happen overnight it turns out he does know what he’s doing as you can see his vision and plan is starting to take shape. It goes beyond winning games in Amsterdam and Germany; what Klinsmann is starting to do is instill the belief that the United States can beat anyone. Under Klinsmann the United States has now won games at the Azteca in Mexico City, as well as games in Italy, Holland, and Germany. The US may not (well actually they definitely won’t) win every game, but the point is that they can win any game they play in. The fans may not believe that yet, but the players certainly do.
(I’ll also throw this out there: how genius is Jurgen Klinsmann for giving Bobby Wood a chance? No other manager in the world would have done that. I mean, they wouldn’t have done it because Bobby Wood didn’t do anything to deserve a chance, but still).
Jurgen Klinsmann has no idea who his left back is
So we probably could have figured this out when he kept giving Brek Shea a ton of chances despite him being Brek Shea, but it was officially confirmed Wednesday. Klinsmann has divided each of the past two friendlies in half, splitting the Netherlands game between Shea and Fabian Johnson; and the Germany game between Johnson and Timmy Chandler. Ultimately though, it was naming the recently retired DeMarcus Beasley, who you would think is like 45 years old but is actually only 33, on the preliminary roster for the Gold Cup.
Klinsmann has stated that the United States’ top goal of this year is to win the Gold Cup, and they’d be fielding their best team. Beasley, who retired from international soccer much more quietly then Landon Donovan, after last year’s World Cup offered to come out of retirement for this tournament if Klinsmann needed him. While being on the 30 man preliminary roster doesn’t guarantee him a spot, this isn’t the kind of move you make if you’re not going to include Beasley on the final roster, and you’re not going to include Beasley on the final roster if he’s not going to be playing.
I’m still perplexed by the midfield diamond
In theory, I love the midfield diamond. It seems like the best formation to get all your attacking players out there. Playing the diamond allowed Mixx Diskerud and Aron Johannsson to play in their more natural positions and the two of them shined bright, especially AJ who was like night and day between this game and the match against the Netherlands. Diskerud was tremendous as the diamond allowed him to play his best role, a two way player who can get forward and create, since he has other midfielders like Bradley and Danny Williams behind him for protection. Johannsson’s case is especially interesting seeing as the Germans started a solid but questionable defense, as opposed to the Netherlands who’s defense was just questionable.
But the midfield diamond also raises a lot of questions, especially defensively, and the Germans exposed the US diamond early in the match. While there were shaky moments all night, the US really tightened up defensively in the second half, though that was also attributed to the introduction of Kyle Beckerman and DeAndre Yedlin, a player who can fly up the field on the attack but is still a defender by trade.
Johannsson was great up top and formed a very dangerous looking partnership in the second half with Gyasi Zardes, but that brings you back to the same problem the US has had with their strikers: neither Johannsson nor Jozy Altidore can get the job done alone, they both need a partner. If Johannsson could link up with Zardes as a pair, why can’t do of them do it as the top of a 4-3-3, a formation that would suit the US much better. After all, where does captain Clint Dempsey, who will be back for the Gold Cup, fit into this diamond?
Mario Gotze scored the biggest goal of his life tonight
Just kidding. Pretty sure the one he scored last summer against Argentina carries just a bit more weight, but tonight’s may have certainly been the easiest goal he ever scored.