The U.S. Men’s National team has lost three of its first five games under Jurgen Klinsmann‘s reign as national team coach – scoring just 2 goals, and questions must now be raised about if he is the right coach for US soccer.
Until the 80th minute when Jaime Ayovi got in front of substitute Tim Ream to head in the game winning goal this match seemed destined for a draw. Both Ecuador and the US created scoring chances, but neither team threatened to breakdown the opposition’s defense. Goals in this match would come from capitalizing on mistakes and not moments of skill.
In the 80th minute the US were punished for a mistake.
Prior to the introduction of Ream in the 71st minute for captain Carlos Bocanegra, the central defensive pairing of Oguchi Onyewu and Bocanegra provided a solidity that the team could build upon. Bocanegra led from the back and Onyewu appeared invigorated in his first start for Klinsmann, at the expense of Michael Orozco.
Attacks started from the defense and Onyewu forged runs from deep after making timely tackles or interceptions. Yet the US’s achilles heal has often been defensive lapses and with the introduction of Ream, it reared its ugly head again.
However, teams must also score goals to win matches and this national team has struggled at that too. Brek Shea’s miss against Honduras on Saturday is only one of the many examples of how this team is wasteful in front of goal. At international level soccer not only will defensive lapses and squandered scoring opportunities be punished, but they deserve to be.
The question going forward for this team is about whether Klinsmann will be able to correct these deficiencies. As the coach of Germany he had the time to instill his style of soccer onto the team since Germany did not have to participate in qualification for the World Cup due to hosting the competition. Additionally, Germany had just emerged from a disappointing European Championships and needed a new direction, and Klinsmann provided that.
The US Men’s National Team is in a similar situation to Germany in 2006, but unfortunately for Klinsmann and US soccer our players historically have more lapses in concentration, miss more scoring opportunities, and have a slightly lower technical level than the Germans. Therefore, it may take a while for this team to be able to play the fast paced, all out attack yet defensively solid style of soccer that Klinsmann is known for.
Based on this match Klinsmann has a lot of work to do to make this team successful in his style of football. As a soccer loving culture we should give him the time to change our style of play because our conservative style of playing has repeatedly failed at the highest level.
US soccer needs to demand more from its players and be more adventurous in our way of playing the game. Klinsmann has attempted to do that in his first matches and the team has not risen to the occasion. Klinsmann needs to be given time to raise the level of play. If the players step up Klinsmann may have created his second soccer renaissance, yet only time will tell.
This loss to Ecuador highlights the substantial improvements this team needs to make to be a force in the next World Cup. Hopefully, Klinsmann can duplicate his previous successes.