Seven minutes into the game the Republic of Ireland opened the scoring. Thirty minutes after that the United States showed up to play. They were only a bit late.
Anthony Pilkington opened the scoring for Ireland backed by a Robbie Brady brace as the Irish upended the American's 4-1 from Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
It was a calamity at the back for most of the night for the Americans facing an Irish team that made eleven changes to the squad that played a Euro 2016 qualifier last Friday. And against what amounted to be the Irish B squad, the United States played about 15 minutes of good soccer and that might be generous.
Down 0-1 late in the first half, Chris Wondolowski nodded down a Jozy Altidore header for Mix Diskerud to Karate Kid the finish for the equalizer. Minutes later, Altidore fired a shot hard off the crossbar as the US dominated play right before halftime. But that would be the only stretch of play where the US possession turned into quality play.
With thoughts that the US had found the game at the end of the first half, the start of the second half was more of the same, with Ireland's Brady firing home his first of the night in the 55th following a turnover deep in the defensive end by Fabian Johnson. James McClean would extend the American's misery firing home in the 82nd from a deflected shot off of Geoff Cameron to wrong foot US keeper Bill Hamid. Brady's exquisite free kick four minutes later would cap off the scoring.
It wasn't all bad from the Americans offensively, as they forced Shay Given into a number of fine saves and hit the wood work, but for all of the American's 58% possession in the match, they were sloppy and aimless at times in the midfield. Kyle Beckerman often found himself level with the center backs to pick up the ball and the transition from him to the advance midfielders for the second straight game lacked tremendously.
Here's three thoughts from the game:
Alejandro Bedoya is good at soccer.
If there's an MVP for the US over the last two games, it's Bedoya. He's got all the tools that Klinsmann wants on the field, speed, creativity, work rate and it showed against Ireland. If the attack wasn't going through Bedoya or he wasn't opening up space for Mix Diskerud to operate in, then generally it wasn't happening. With that being said, if Bedoya ever does that short corner routine where he crosses it to Fabian Johnson's chest at the top of the box he should be forced to do push ups on the field Willie Mays Hayes style to atone for it.
Klinsmann Broke The USA's Spine
Okay, not literally, but absolutely figuratively. For a coach who wants to preach possession and building from the back, he didn't help his team do either.
Match control impossible when outnumbered in midfield while building. Players running away, hiding behind defenders. pic.twitter.com/98Q92xBLbh— Liviu Bird (@liviubird) November 18, 2014
This was the US midfield's shape for most of the night, and the same problems existed against Colombia. Klinsmann certainly had training sessions and film studies to explain to his team how this 4-1-3-2 formation works right? Because the same problems I eluded to in my preview didn't get fixed, so that makes this disaster squarely on Klinsmann's shoulders.When you add in the fact that this was Ireland's B team and it just adds insult to injury for this game.
It's one thing to play well and not get a result, but going back for the last four friendlies, it doesn't seem like the US has been playing well. Klinsmann's experimenting with Jermaine Jones at centerback hasn't been bad, but Mix Diskerud clearly doesn't seem capable of operating in the playmaking role. Goal aside, he wasn't good today and Bedoya created the bulk of the chances for the USA.
I'm not against Klinsmann trying out new things, but at some point those experiments and tinkering have to show up with positive results on the field. And I'll disagree with Alexi Lalas among others, who say that for the US to get better and embrace this possession style, they're going to have to have games like this.
If you want to transition to possession team you have to be willing to fail and still go right back to the well. These are games to do it.— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) November 18, 2014
The USMNT can be a possession based team in their old formation, Chris Wondolowski was largely invisible up front and Bobby Wood and Rubio Rubin made a few nice runs in two games with nothing to show for it. Klinsmann's idea of using two strikers meant sacrificing their ability to possess the ball and build from the back. With Diskerud unable to man the center of the field and largely unable to get the ball in advanced spots on the field, the US attack stalled in the middle of the field.
What the US missed in these two games were essentially Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley at the #10 and #6 roles respectfully. There wasn't anything wrong with the 4-2-3-1 and the Americans have the personnel to run that system if everyone's healthy. Unless something changes in the January camp, I'd keep the formation Klinsmann used over the last week locked away in a closet for a long time to come.
Greg Garza nearly gives Jordan Morris an assist on his debut.
The other bright spot over the last two games is clearly Greg Garza, who went through some growing pains but largely performed better than most of his teammates over the last two days on the whole. His slashing run late against Ireland from debutant Jordan Morris of Stanford University nearly gave the US an equalizer in the 81st minute right before the wheels came off. In a backline that was forced to do a lot of emergency defending against Colombia and was just awful at times against Ireland, Garza has seemingly set himself up for a big 2015.