Toward the end of the USA’s nil-draw with Canada on Tuesday night, commentator Taylor Twellman said that he expected the USA to win by a three- or four-goal score line.
That score line obviously did not come into reality, and the international friendly could be called dire and uncreative. As a matter of fact, those are two adjectives that aptly fit the USA’s performance against Canada. It should be remembered Canada came into the match after being hammered by Denmark a few days earlier. A woeful Canada was manhandled by a 4-0 score line – the same score line Twellman expected the USA to win by.
Throughout the 90 minutes, the Yanks’ attack failed to materialize into anything resembling a top team in CONCACAF. However, there were moments of flowing moves. Unfortunately, poor finishing undid the smooth play. In one of the fleeting moments of good play, Chris Wondolowski and Brad Davis played a classy one-two that was eventually shot wide by Wondolowski. And after that moment nothing much came of either player for the remainder of the match.
Of course the USA did not have their first choice side as all of the top American players in Europe were not in the team. One could argue, however, that the USA national team is not at the same level it was three years ago under Bob Bradley. Jurgen Klinsmann is attempting to put his stamp on the team, but at times, it seems the USA is not quite the same under the German than under his American predecessor.
Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back on Bradley’s tenure with team America, the USA’s two banks of four made them very difficult to breakdown. Bradley’s motivation was to keep the clean sheet first and score on the counter but be able to take the game to the lesser sides when needed – something that many fans lambasted the former Chivas USA coach for. There is no doubt Klinsmann has seen a higher level of soccer than Bradley, but what should not be forgotten is the German team he oversaw at the 2006 World Cup was actually coached on a day-to-day basis by current German coach Joachim Low; who was Klinsmann’s assistant in 2006.
In Tuesday’s match, Klinsmann adjusted his formation three times during the 90 minutes. Many would call this tinkering, but in reality, it is what a good coach should do: adjust, react, coach. The USA started off in a 4-4-2 but changed to a 4-3-3 before reverting to the original team formation. None of the three formations enabled the USA’s creative players to break down Canada’s solid – at least for one night – defense.
Without Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in the line-up, the USA lacks much of its creativity. Expecting Benny Feilhaber, a player that has struggled over the past three years, or Brad Davis to pull the strings in the midfield was too much to ask. Yes, this was an international friendly and the USA was missing key players, but the bigger picture looks much bleaker.
The USA squad had a dramatic, and at times fantastic, 2010 World Cup. However, that squad is now three years older and under Klinsmann it is hard to say the team has improved very much. Klinsmann’s record as USA coach is alright, though pro-Jurgen fans would argue he is trying to change the USA’s mentality, approach and style. The German has overseen 22 matches with the Yanks, winning 11 times, losing six and drawing five. Most importantly, Klinsmann has only lost once in competitive matches. Though the USA should breeze through CONCACAF and the Gold Cup at every time of asking, Klinsmann did lead the USA to two historic wins. The first came in Italy as the USA broke Italy’s 20-game win streak in Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Klinsmann followed up the Italy game by leading the USA to its first ever win at the Estadio Azteca against Mexico. These two wins have helped American fans forget about Bradley.
The USA’s toothless draw against Canada should worry national team fans but not because of the team’s pending World Cup Qualifiers. Unlike at the beginning of the “noughties,” there are no new Landon Donovans, Carlos Bocanegras or even a Damarcus Beasley. The players that are coming through do not seem to be of the same quality, and it looks like even if the USA qualifies for Brazil 2014, it could be another repeat of France 1998 or Germany 2006. The USA has finally got the coach it always wanted, but unfortunately, it just does not have the players for the coach.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @CalcioFarmer, Drew writes a weekly Genoa CFC club correspondent feature for Forzaitlianfootball.com and also hosts the Forzaitalianfootball.com weekly Club Focus pod cast. As well as being a Serie A writer, Drew regularly contributes to Majorleaugesoccertalk.com, and writes his own personal football and travel blog at Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey.