The United States Men’s National Team has had quite a successful week abroad. While most will always argue the insignificance of international friendlies, the fact of the matter is the US squad found success against two of football’s powerhouses. Say what you will about roster strength, but it is hard to deny the quality of play portrayed by the US throughout these matches.
These results were amplified by the fact that Jurgen Klinsmann and company have had difficulty in their latest run of friendlies. In fact, the US team has not seen a ton of success since the World Cup. Much of this, however, can be attributed to Klinsmann’s lengthy process of experimentation. According to JK, the experimentation is over. Klinsmann’s tactics and procedures often draw a lot of criticism, but time and time again he has shown us that he just might know what he is doing. Committing to players like Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood despite repeated criticism from fans and the media has paid off.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is just around the corner and you could not ask for a better lead up to a tournament than these last two US performances. These games were in no way dominated by the US squad, but they demonstrated their ability to run toe to toe with some of the world greats. These games also gave us a lot of information. Michael Bradley is beginning to return to the Michael Bradley we all want and need him to be. His ability to consistently be one of the best, if not the best US player, is paying off for the national team. This is another area where Klinsmann has received repeated criticism. Most believe Bradley is best utilized in a defensive midfield role and not an advanced one. Given his recent form, I believe Michael Bradley is exactly where he needs to be.
This run of friendlies provided some other positives. For one – Kyle Beckerman’s ability to rise to the occasion. At the age of 33, this defensive midfielder shows how the little smart plays can be the difference between winning and losing. Another positive is the return and promise of Bobby Wood. After a tough season at 1860 Munich, Wood was benched and ultimately transferred to Aue of the 2.Bundesliga. It felt like years since he had scored a goal. Dedication and motivation has led him to 2 game winners against the Netherlands and Germany. We also saw the return of Danny Williams to the USMNT lineup. A player who made a good case for making the last World Cup roster, Williams has been held back by injury. Now healthy, Williams is ready to make his case as a permanent USMNT player again. The game tying strike against Germany will certainly help that argument.
With these friendlies behind them, the USMNT can now focus on this summers CONCACAF Gold Cup. A tournament in which the US has seen a lot of success, it will without a doubt be a competitive one. Overall, it has been a great few weeks for US Soccer. In addition to the back to back away wins at Germany and the Netherlands, US Soccer teams added W’s to the win column all over the globe. The US Women’s National Team opened up the World Cup with a victory over Australia. With wins over England and the Netherlands, our U-23 team finished 3rd at the Toulon Tournament. The U-20’s, with Tab Ramos at the helm, defeated Colombia to advance to the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup which is being hosted in New Zealand. And in one of the biggest sports developments in recent memory, the United States began its investigations of FIFA executives for corrupt practices.