Los Cafeteros Top The USA, But It’s Not Klinsmann’s Fault…
by Luis Eduardo Flores
The USMNT and Colombia opened up the 2016 Copa America today. The crowd at Levi Stadium’s was in for a treat.
Even before the match began, everyone has been a critic of Klinsmann’s overall performance. The expectations have been set low for the CONCACAF team that was set to face one of CONMEBOL’s elite teams.
Eight minutes into the match, and it looked like Colombia was going to topple the US. Cristian Zapata netted Colombia’s first goal with a right footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom right corner (assisted by a cross from Edwin Cardona, after a corner kick).
Thirty-two minutes later, Colombia got the 2nd (and last) goal of the match, after James Rodriguez successfully converted a goal off a penalty.
Throughout the match, Colombia didn’t play at it’s best. One time too many, Colombia got too comfortable. On several occasions, it almost cost them several goals.
Fans and critics alike have automatically blamed Klinsmann for the loss. After the 1st goal was scored, the post match criticism was confirmed.
“You guys obviously put the benchmark on the results…but we were absolutely even.” That was a very bold statement and one that can be justified. The stats backup Klinsmann’s words. With 53.4% possession, with 12 shots, 2 shots on-target (16% accuracy), that was more than enough possession for the USMNT to score at least one goal. Yet, no goals were scored.
What happened out on the field that prevented the USMNT from scoring? It wasn’t Klinsmann’s tactics; rather the communication and execution were not on point. Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey definitely contributed a lot to the team and their best efforts put Colombia at risk.
On the many times that the US was able to break through, the long balls from the defense or midfield to the offense were badly timed or lacked accuracy. It was those moments that the US could have converted those passes into goals.
There was also an issue with the US getting very desperate in the last twenty minutes of the match. Again, it wasn’t a horrendous performance, rather they showed signs of life from to time to time. Perhaps, the biggest mistake by Klinsmann was bringing out Graham Zusi very late into the match. Zusi really didn’t contribute to the already worn out offense. Other than that, the blame shouldn’t fall on Klinsmann. “[The media] put the bench mark on the results, but playing [Colombia], who they are and the quality they have, we were absolutely even,” Klinsmann said. “It was a totally even game here.”
Even Jermaine Jones admits to happened out on the field (after the PK ), “They started to control the game. I think we always were a step too late.” Now that was a very humble statement and one that we can mutually agree to.
The US isn’t in the best of shape, but they’re definitely better than when they played in the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Cup.
Costa Rica and Paraguay will be tough challenges, regardless, they should not underestimate will of the US.
Picture: Empire of Soccer