After an extremely disappointing 2-0 loss to Guatemala on Friday, March 25, 2016, the USMNT first ever lost to Guatemala in World Cup qualifying, the USMNT are in a must-win situation on Tuesday, March, 29, 2016 against Guatemala.
Currently the U.S. sit third in their World Cup qualifying group – Group C in the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying – after their horrid display at the Estadio Mateo Flores, which saw a make-shift defense get torn to shreds and absolutely zero lack of flair or inspiration in attack.
Following the loss, Klinsmann stated that it was a lack of focus, concentration, and wrong decisions that led to the loss and later event stated that he doesn’t play USMNT players out of position, which is just a blatant lie. Yes the U.S. did have a few injuries – John Brooks, Matt Besler and Fabian Johnson – but out of the starting 11, only four started in their natural positions and roles, strikers Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood, central defender Omar Gonzalez and left back Edgar Castillo.
Arguably the best player on the USMNT Michael Bradley was forced to play in a two-man midfield without a holding defensive-midfielder, like Jermaine Jones or Kyle Beckerman, and was paired with an out-of-form and ineffective Mix Diskerud. While Geoff Cameron, arguably the best American defender and only current player getting constant playing time in the Barclays Premier League, was played at right back instead of his more natural central defender or holding midfielder position. Then there were the players (who literally don’t play for their clubs) like Tim Howard, Michael Orozco and Alejandro Bedoya who were started instead of other players on the roster.
Klinsmann has been tinkering with lineups and tactics since he has taken over as coach, but he may just be out of time.
Even one with no soccer knowledge can see (just look at the FIFA rankings as the U.S are 30th) that the USMNT is regressing instead of flourishing under Klinsmann. As on only the top two teams advance to the six-team Hexagonal, which will determine the region’s three automatic berths at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the U.S. need a win against Los Chapines.
A positive going into this game is that the U.S. has also never lost to Guatemala at home, but negatively they have no momentum nor team identity to carry into Mapfre Stadium tomorrow. Klinsmann must find stability in the starting lineup and play his players in positions they are comfortable (and some even thriving) in playing. Play Gonzalez and Cameron together at center back. Have the speed of Yedlin play right back, his natural position and position he plays for Sunderland. Put in a holding midfielder to due the dirty work in the center of the park so Bradley can roam free and dictate the game. Bring in Gyasi Zardes on the wing to provide some speed or Lee Nguyen to orchestrate up top with Bradley.
Win (which it MUST be) or loss, Sunil Gulati, president of the United States Soccer Federation, needs to finally start putting some pressure on Klinsmann. Although last year Klinsmann and the USMNT finished fourth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and failed to qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, Gulati has continued to support Klinsmann and the direction he is taking the USMNT. The U.S. can’t wait for a catastrophic event, like the U.S not making the hex, to fire Klinsmann or even just to ruffle his feathers and make him uncomfortable and feel like he has something to prove.