Seismic Change? No — But Klinsmann Influence Visible In U.S.

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by DENY GALLAGHER
USMNT Writer

The United States got the result against Honduras, but it was far from pretty.  However, what many dubbed a poor performance is no more than a litmus test to see where the U.S. is on the CONCACAF level.

If there is one thing the U.S. has learned it’s that the way to win games against European sides is an entirely different approach to defeating Central/ North American teams. When playing games in the region, they will more than likely be dog fights, with poor officiating and incredible physicality (Just ask Chicharito).

Tuesday night showed how dynamic this U.S. side can be, with the ability to win games in a variety of ways — even if everything is going against the Stars and Stripes. More importantly, this game was a prime example of the evolution of the team under Jurgen Klinsmann. In the past, the U.S. would have let Honduras completely influence how they approach the game. You learn more about a team from their gritty performances than you do their pretty ones. The victory against Honduras was not only a big win for the squad’s Gold Cup hopes, but a step in the right direction for Klinsmann’s goal in changing how the U.S. plays soccer.

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When Jurgen Klinsmann took over the reigns of the national team, he vowed to change how the team played, and the overall culture around the program. For most of his tenure, fans have grown increasingly discouraged that the United States has not adopted a style of play similar to the Germans, Brazilians, or the Spanish. Instead, the Americans continued to be inclined to sit back and defend, while attacking down the flanks and playing a cross into the box.

This style has helped the U.S. achieve a lot in CONCACAF and in the global game. And of course, it is far from the seismic change promised by Klinsmann four years ago. However, what Klinsmann has done is taken that high fitness, counter-attacking, defensive posture and built upon it with a quick, short passing ground game that has served to buoy the U.S. — even the most dire positions.

In Tuesday night’s game against a very good Honduras team, the United States withstood a constant threat to their goal, while getting forward and exhibiting creativity in the build up of play. The use of short combination passes to unravel the Honduran midfield and defense has been a big part of the United States’ success in this calendar year. Combine that with attacking players not afraid of taking defenders one-on-one off the dribble, and you see the biggest aspects of Klinsmann’s influence on display. Positive possession and a quick-pass build up, intertwined with the tried and true defensive solidity that has defined the U.S. for decades now reflects the image of this regime.

If you’ve grown up watching this team, you know the Americans will play physical defensively and in the midfield, while sitting back to wait for an opportunity to counter — hence why speed on the flanks has been a staple of this squad for over 20 years.

What Klinsmann has done in his time as manager is take the core characteristics of an American team, and infused his German influence, adding a Hispanic flair to the ground game creating a product that truly represents the United States on the world stage.

Through the ugly times against Honduras, that style was on display — and led the U.S. to victory.