USMNT Report: The United States Needed to Lose Against Chile

The United States remains winless in its last five games, a streak that hasn’t happened since 2007
by Herb Scribner   |   Thursday, January 29, 2015

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann is known for leading his team on streaks.

In 2013, it was a winning streak, which lasted through the summer’s Gold Cup and the CONCACAF qualifying. Now, it’s the opposite. With Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Chile, the USMNT is winless in its last five games, a streak that hasn’t happened since 2007.

But if there’s any silverlining from the loss, it’s this: Klinsmann knows what he needs to build on and change completely if he wants to make the USA a contender during the 2018 World Cup cycle.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jozy Altidore — The Toronto FC striker deserves praise for his performance against Chile. Though he fell off in the second half, Altidore’s goal and ability to hold the ball in the opening 45 minutes showed how talented he can be when he’s confident.

ANALYSIS: The United States needed to lose this match.

Coming out of the 2014 World Cup, questions were raised about how well the United States would do in this new era, one without Landon Donovan but with many aging stars. This loss shows that Klinsmann is very much still in a transition phase, one that could be corrected with a few alterations to the lineup.

The 3-5-2 formation wasn’t a bad idea. Klinsmann’s often encouraged his left and right defenders to push forward, so this formation solidified that idea.

The second half showed how tiresome this formation can be for defenders, though, as Jermaine Jones, Brek Shea and Steve Birnbaum were gassed — which is unfortunate, given that Shea and Birnbaum had great performances before their legs gave out. Similarly, DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Besler disappeared in the second half, which gave Chile the chance to strike and claim the win.

Unfortunately for Klinsmann, his winded defense cost the USA the game. The three defenders made many mental errors that allowed Chile to score two goals in the second half — showing, once again, that the second half is a killer for the Americans — and earn the victory. Going against a world class team like Chile, a strong-footed and tireless defense is incredibly necessary.

It’s hard to put too much pressure on the attack for this game, mostly because it’s expected for Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Altidore to struggle offensively against the Chilean defense. Shea and Altidore’s goals were welcomed, but the USA’s defense needed to do its part and keep the game in their favor.

But, in a way, this loss was necessary. Now, Klinsmann knows where he has to start tinkering more than anywhere else. He needs to fix the defense and make sure the three men he puts in the back have the stamina to last all game. He also needs to make sure his midfielders track back and support the three defenders, especially when the defense is getting hammered with cross after cross.

And this loss shows American fans and US Soccer the trouble the USA could be in for during the next few years. The 3-5-2 was a good experiment that we’ll probably see more of the future, but there’s still a lot to work on. In fact, as many could see from this match, the winning team many of us saw in 2013 is long gone. This is a new era in USMNT history, and it may not be headed in the direction many want it to go.

NEXT UP: February 8 — Friendly: United States vs. Panama, StubHub Center, Carsom, Calif. 4 p.m. EST, ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
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