Thoughts on Jermaine Jones, Tim Howard, the USA's young guns, and Klinsmann's baffling road performances
Look, we know Jermaine Jones is a good player. He is a regular starter for one of Germany's top sides, and in flashes with the U.S. national team, he shows glimpses of his quality. His pin-point driven through ball to Timothy Chandler in the first half was an example, as was his neat build-up play in the second half. The problem is, Jones oftentimes tends to try and do too much, which hurts his team.
During the Russia match, we saw the good and bad of Jones again. His ball for Chandler and his simple, effective turns and switches of play in the second half were the highlights but again, he lost possession too many times when he attempted to turn his man extravagantly, or tried to make a complicated pass when simply keeping possession would have sufficed. Perhaps Jones feels the need to shoulder more responsibility with his national side than he does with his club team but whatever the reason, he needs to tone his game down a bit more and play within himself. If he does, he'll be a big asset in the Hexagonal.
Where would the USA be without Tim Howard?
Time and time again, the USA goalkeeper keeps his team in games and Wednesday was no different. The USA could have easily been down two or three goals by the time Michael Bradley scored his spectacular equalizer, and the Everton man was the reason the team wasn't. It's terrifying to think how different the last five years of U.S. soccer would have played out had the team had a lesser goalkeeper between the sticks. His quality has become so routine as to be oftentimes overlooked, but Howard's performance in Krasnodar deserves the plaudits.
Klinsmann's young selections paid off
As a one-off friendly in the middle of a busy club season, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was given the luxury of calling in a few young players to test their chops on the international level. Josh Gatt, making his international debut, struggled at times, looking out of his depth in possession early on, but grew into the game and displayed the speed and hunger which has brought him into the national team picture at 21. Considering this might have been the best team Gatt has ever played against, his selection was well worth it from an experience perspective alone.
Two of Klinsmann's other young selections had a more tangible effect on the game's scoreline. Juan Agudelo looked lively in a 30 minute cameo, and his cushioned header found Michael Bradley's thunderous right boot for the USA's opening goal. Mix Diskerud was only given five minutes on the pitch, but the Rosenborg man made his time count, scoring his deflected equalizer deep into stoppage time. Gatt, Agudelo and Diskerud all accomplished their goal, which was giving Klinsmann something to think about heading into 2013.
USA's road performances continue to impress, baffle
Once again, Klinsmann's side has managed to grab a solid result in a friendly in hostile territory. This has become something of a trend for the U.S. as the team has collected friendly wins in Panama, Italy, Slovenia and Mexico during Klinsmann's tenure. Of course, there is a flip side to all the road success in exhibitions, namely, the lack of equivalent results on the USA's travels in World Cup qualifying. The USA turned in three sub-par performances in its three road qualifiers during the semifinal round, managing a draw in Guatemala, a loss in Jamaica and an extremely unconvincing 2-1 win in Antigua and Barbuda. Clearly Klinsmann's men have the ability to do well away. The question now becomes: Can they do it in games that count?
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