Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Klinsmann's high-tempo strategy succeeded
By Monica Gonzalez
It was apparent in the first two minutes of Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier match against Jamaica that Jurgen Klinsmann wanted a high-tempo game when he sent a messenger to tell the ball boys to get the balls back in play faster. We also didn't see much possession across the U.S. back line, but that was by design.
After just two or three passes Klinsmann became vocal, hollering at his guys to attack. He looked like a third-base coach sending the runner home, arms circling as he yelled "go, go, go" to both Jose Torres and Fabian Johnson. As Jurgen saw it, scoring early was of utmost importance, not only to take the wind out of the Jamaican sails that have been soaring since the Reggae Boyz's historic win on Friday, but also to set the tone and rile up the inspired Columbus crowd.
The U.S. didn't get the early goal it was looking for, but it hit enough of the woodwork and created enough chances while players like Graham Zusi and Danny Williams shined at their respective positions. Prior to the game Klinsmann told us that Zusi's confidence has grown with every passing camp this year and that he is finally beginning to show the personality that MLS coaches have been raving about.
The response of the U.S. team under pressure is among the positives to take out of Tuesday's 1-0 win. Also, the fact the depth of dependable players is growing -- the return of Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley will create both competition and options. Clint Dempsey will only get stronger once he starts getting playing time with Tottenham.
But most of all, the defense cannot be overlooked. Tuesday's back four -- Steve Cherundolo, Geoff Cameron, Carlos Bocanegra and Fabian Johnson -- was ideal, especially when they hold a high line and send Cherundolo and Johnson into the attack. That was Klinsmann's plan going into the rematch with Jamaica, and it's also the kind of soccer U.S. fans want.