Thursday, June 7, 2012

True Evaluation of Klinsmann, U.S. Squad Finally Arrives

Finally, there are real games to dispute for the U.S. Men's National Team on the way towards trying to qualify for World Cup 2014.

The last significant match the team contested was against Mexico almost a year ago in the Gold Cup Final played in the Rose Bowl.   It was head coach Bob Bradley's last hurrah.  

Shortly after Bradley exited, he was replaced by a former German player-hugely famous World Cup winner, whose coaching potential is looked at as crucial for the future of the U.S. National team.  

Many critics have openly opined on the need for the entire National program to be completely revamped from top to bottom.  Upon his hire, these same critics said that Jurgen Klinsmann is the perfect guy to put the National team on track.

All the conjecture and hyperbole about head coach Klinsmann and his influence on the National team begins to get evaluated more stringently starting Friday versus Antigua/Barbuda in the semi-final qualification rounds. 

All of the Friendlies that have led up to these qualifying rounds are just points of tactical reference.  It was all just practice till now.

Friday's opening match should be an easy one, playing at home against the weakest team in the U.S. group (Jamaica and Guatemala are the other two countries in the group.)  To find out more about schedule and qualifying process, see What if the U.S. Doesn't Qualify for World Cup 2014? and Washington Post Steven Goff article

A much bigger challenge lies ahead next week against Guatemala in Guatemala City.

Of the 23 players named to the roster, five are from MLS teams.  The most notable being Landon Donovan.

For the most part, Klinsmann takes basically the same group of players that Bradley used to try and win these qualifiers.  It is for this reason that many critics are saying that the team is getting old and is not built to challenge for a World Cup. 

Most of the scoring pressure is expected to be placed onto the shoulders of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.  These are the guys who can take the team to a higher level.  They have the ability to transform this team into a contender.

Now everyone gets the chance to see any kind of difference for themselves in a setting that means something.  A win against Antigua/Barbuda and at least a tie with Guatemala will keep the peace for at least a little while.

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