USMNT

A Tale of Two Central Defensive Midfielders by Eliot McKinley

Michael Bradley and Wil Trapp share several obvious qualities. They are both captains for club and country. They are both smooth passing defensive midfielders, and they both possess excellent heads of hair. Another similarity is that they rarely shoot or score goals, each collecting only one goal over the last three seasons. Coincidentally, both of those goals are what we could enthusiastically describe as "wonder-goals." Bradley's long-distance chip for the US national team in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico at the Azteca (a goal not remembered as fondly as it deserves due to the rest of qualifying) and Trapp for the Crew to win a match in stoppage time against Orlando City this past summer. However, one difference between these two players was how each responded to the confidence boost that came after scoring a once-in-a-career goal.

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Does Playing The Kids Actually Help Teams Win in MLS? by Noah Sobel-Pressman

A major criticism of MLS teams is that they don’t play their you players enough. More specifically, MLS teams struggle with playing youth national-team players, and many young players have noticed this trend and signed in Europe. These players in most cases have their spots blocked by replacement-level veterans. In every league coaches typically rely on veterans because that is the safer, less risky option. Veteran players are generally more proven and so coaches know what type of performance they will get if they play them. This can be frustrating to fans, like me as an NYCFC fan, who, for example, see players like Rodney Wallace get playing time over Jonathan Lewis (who has now been sent out on loan). To fans, Lewis is clearly the better option, even including his struggles tracking back, but clearly NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent disagrees. I want to examine if this theory that the coaches believe is true. How does the amount of playing time given to young players correlate with a team’s number of points?

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Jurgen Klinsmann and the Guatemala Paradox by Jared Young

The frustration with the state of the United States Men’s soccer team is at a new peak in the Jurgen Klinsmann era. After a disastrous second half of 2015 which saw them suffer historic losses to Jamaica and Panama in the Gold Cup followed by an extra time loss to rival Mexico, the Federation was hoping 2016 was a new beginning. But following another tragedy against Guatemala in World Cup qualifying on Friday, the U.S. has now failed to win its last four competitive matches where the talent gap was not obscene (apologies to St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The demons from last year are still lurking it appears. But to what can we attribute those demons?

Is it Klinsmann or the players?

What those demons are is the subject of much debate. Many claim that Klinsmann himself is the problem as questions surrounding his tactics, player selection and the positions he prefers for those players are appropriately criticized. After promises of progressing the U.S. style of play to compete with the more proactive national teams, Klinsmann has employed a more pragmatic reactive approach since before the World Cup. He likely regrets his promise as he’s since been unable to collect a midfield with enough talent to play a possession oriented style of soccer. When he trots Alejandro Bedoya and DeAndre Yedlin out to the wings, away from their preferred positions, in a World Cup qualifier he can't be expecting a cohesive midfield performance. Nor should the fans. But the team did waste too many balls in the final third attempting high risk passes. Do we blame the tactics, the players or both?

More after the jump.

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USMNT World Cup Qualifying Review: Klinsmann Stays Afloat by Jared Young

World Cup qualifying review: USMNT rebounds in opening weekend
The USMNT opened World Cup qualification for Russia with two solid, if unspectacular performances. They started with their easiest match of this round with a 6-1 home win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The second match was the most challenging, a road game against Trinidad and Tobago, and resulted in a 0-0 draw. The goalless result in a non-friendly was the first for the United States since their World Cup game against Germany last summer, a run of nine games. It was their seventh clean sheet overall in that same time.

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Time For A Change by Drew Olsen

Warning: This is an atypical piece from us. It's purely an opinion piece. There are no numbers or graphs below. If you're looking for unbiased and hot-take free writing, skip this one. We'll be back to our normal analytics stuff shortly.

Inspired by this piece over at LA Galaxy Confidential from our own Sean Steffen, and surprised at how easy it was to find his email address online, I set out to write a short email to the president of the United States Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, on why it's time for Jurgen Klinsmann to be fired as head coach.

It soon turned into something of an existential personal release and awakening on the state of the USMNT, and more for me than for him. At the encouragement of my fellow ASA writers, I'm posting it here. Feel free to send me your own thoughts (or tell me how wrong I am) on twitter.

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USMNT 1 - Brazil 4: USA GetS Waxed by Harrison Crow

If you were to read through the headlines this morning, though I'm not sure I'd advise doing that, you'll likely find a good share of articles that talk about the United States' inability to keep the ball or build possession to penetrate Brazil's defense and create goal scoring chances. Others will mention a lack a terse focus for a back four that surrendered multiple goals that should probably have never happened. The rest will consist of sharp lashings that end with the inevitable and deserved questioning of leadership within the hierarchy of US soccer.

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USMNT 1-2 Jamaica: The Reggae Boyz clear the dance floor by Jared Young

Hey U.S. fans, look on the bright side. We get an extra soccer game this fall! The USMNT will be in a one game playoff against either Mexico or Jamaica for the privilege of representing CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup. That bit of fun was brought to you by a loss of stunning proportion to Jamaica. The U.S. gave up two goals in five minutes off of set pieces in the first half and couldn’t mount a useful attack against a determined Jamaican defense. The 2-1 loss, the first to a Caribbean side on U.S. soil since 1968, will sting for a long time, especially for yours truly who was looking forward to going to the Gold Cup Final to watch the U.S. with his son. Not all stories have Hollywood endings. And certainly sports wouldn’t be sports without the heartbreak.

This game was a perfect example of why soccer statistics can sometimes lie. If you didn’t watch the game and just looked at the box score you might think that the U.S. was simply unlucky. They held 60% of the possession and completed 82% of their passes. They outshot the Jamaicans 20-10 and put 7 more shots on goal (10-3). The U.S. won the expected goal battle by a score of 2.3.-1.0, but looked up at the scoreboard at the end and saw the final score was actually reversed.

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USMNT 6-0 Cuba: The U.S. Smokes Cuba by Jared Young

On Saturday the U.S.A. cruised to a 6-0 victory over Cuba in the Gold Cup quarterfinals and advanced to play Jamaica in the semifinals. When a country with the population and the financial resources of the U.S. pounds on a country whose players are much more intrigued with the idea of leaving the team, it’s hard to get too excited about the victory. It’s an even harder match to break down statistically. How do you analyze a drubbing? Let’s just all feel good, right? Believe it or not I’ve found some statistics that will sober you right up.

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USMNT 1 - 1 Panama: Sitting back and taking it easy by Jared Young

A desperate Panama team did enough to draw the United States 1-1, and earn the point they absolutely needed to have a hope of advancing to the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup. The USMNT, perhaps distracted by the heat and a game that meant little, woke up in the second half enough to salvage their result and fend off the critics. Panama must now wait to see if they advance while the U.S. awaits the identity of their opponent.

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USMNT 1 - 0 Haiti: just good enough by Jared Young

The United States still has not played close to their best soccer in the 2015 Gold Cup, but they still secured first place in Group A with a 1-0 win over Haiti in their second Group match. After Haiti’s 1-1 draw against Panama you got the suspicion this game would be tighter than expected, but it was even tighter than that. Haiti battled the entire match in impressive fashion and earned chances, but in the end the quality in their finishes abandoned them. The U.S. ultimately scored the winning goal in the 47th minute from their only shot taken inside the 18-yard box - a one-time strike from Clint Dempsey off a nice back pass from Gyasi Zardes. This is yet another case of take the win and move on, but Klinsmann has to be concerned that the team is unable to control opponents this early in the tournament.

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