After nineteen days in the tournament it was all finally over for the USMNT. Being a nation so inextricably linked with mass immigration, most USA fans can probably afford themselves the luxury of supporting any one of the semi-finalists as their ‘second team’. Having an American Grandmother I already used up my card on the USA, so my advice would be to choose wisely. As well as being able to choose a second team though, there are a lot of positives to take out of the 2014 World Cup campaign.
Few had envisaged the USMNT getting out of the group of death so the fact that it took two extra time goals from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne to finally sink them is a testament to the way they performed at the tournament. In fact, the gutsy performance against Belgium had England fans salivating.
USA teams are generally expected to be very well drilled, physically fit, and totally committed to the cause. Klinsman’s team didn’t disappoint and USMNT should consider themselves lucky that they have the right man for the job.
I know a lot of people saw Klinsman’s decision to opt for a 4-5-1 as overly defensive, but given his injury situation and the caliber of his opponents it certainly stood to reason that he should adopt a defensive outlook with his most potent goal threat in such an advanced position.
I think given the size of the population and the potential for investment, if Klinsman is afforded enough time to implement a grassroots strategy, the USMNT could well become a football powerhouse yet.
My main criticism of the campaign would be the team’s inability to keep possession. Klinsman had clearly identified his wingers as his main threat, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to attack for 120 minutes. Much work needs to be done at the back so that the rest of the team can enjoy the occasional lull in a bid to conserve energy, especially in the enervating heat of a summer tournament.
So what of the future?
At just 26 years of age, Michael Bradley is someone that Klinsman should be looking to build his team around. The former Roma man is your classic midfield dynamo and brings a lot of balance to the team. Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin also look like mainstays for the future.
What Klinsman will have to do is start thinking about ushering in replacements for Tim Howard (35) and Clint Dempsey (31). One thing Klinsman has done particularly well is to recruit players from overseas with American parentage. Julian Green is just one example of a player with German and American citizenship and looks to be one for the future.
Overall I think this World Cup should be considered a success for the USMNT and, much like Australia, they’ve won many admirers.