Three thoughts from USA-France
Jurgen Klinsmann's team isn't playing that much differently to a Bob Bradley team
The U.S. back line was beaten by several basic longballs over the top
Forward Jozy Altidore had a promising display and showed more confidence
Three thoughts after the U.S.' 1-0 loss to France on Friday:
Jurgen Klinsmann's team looked a lot like a Bob Bradley team. For all the talk of attacking verve that Klinsmann promised when he took over in August, the U.S. played like a Bradley-coached team against France, staying conservative in defense and looking for the occasional counter. That strategy kept France off the scoreboard until Loïc Remy broke through midway through the second half, but the U.S. had little creativity to offer in response. Klinsmann was missing Landon Donovan, José Torres and Stuart Holden in this game, and it showed. Maurice Edu isn't fully equipped to play a creative central-midfield position, and it remains puzzling that Michael Bradley is playing so little. Not only is Bradley starting regularly for Chievo in Serie A, but he's capable of scoring goals, as we saw at World Cup 2010 and especially during his days in the Netherlands. There's no shame in a 1-0 loss at France, but the U.S. has still only scored two goals in Klinsmann's first six games.
Longballs hurt the Americans. For all the U.S.' defensive organization and some fantastic stops by goalkeeper Tim Howard, the Yanks allowed several elementary balls over the top to create problems, especially in the second half. Center backs Carlos Bocanegra and Clarence Goodson were particularly at fault on the goal by Remy, who outmuscled Goodson for the ball before a cool finish. But the onus isn't just on the back line on such plays. The U.S. midfielders gave the French passers too much space on several of those balls over the top.
Jozy Altidore had some encouraging moments. The 22-year-old forward enjoyed his best game in a U.S. uniform in a while, showing some useful post-up skills and technical ability in the attacking third. Altidore's confidence is clearly up after a promising start to the season with AZ in the Netherlands, and with some luck he might have drawn a penalty in the first half. He needs more help from the flanks -- read: crosses -- and those weren't forthcoming from a quiet Brek Shea and Danny Williams against France. Will the Americans come out with a more attacking look on Tuesday in Slovenia? One can only hope so.
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