World Cup – USA Needs To Get Hard

9 Sep

Soccer-lite. That sums up the US men’s national team performance against Jamaica yesterday. As if the players had been sinking Bud Light while the Jamaicans were hitting the hooch. The US performance was thin and weak. And it is time for coach Jurgen Klinsmann to flush it away before it is too late.

A few months ago, Klinsmann called for his players to get nasty – to get stuck in. There was none of that on display in the 2-1 loss in Kingston. The Reggaeboyz sensed from the outset that the Americans were playing shallow. The Jamaicans bit. Too many Americans were falling down looking surprised that Jamaica was not some collegiate side born from American suburbia.

Well, gentlemen, (emphasis on gentle), to win in World Cup world soccer you have to stick the boot in now and again. Sure, Michael Bradley was missing from the midfield due to injury. He would never have allowed such timidity to be playing around him, at least without having a word with his teammates. And Landon Donovan’s piercing stride was also sorely missed. But it has to be asked – does the next wave of US players have the punch?

Klinsmann should be looking for players who can mess with the opponent’s heads – extroverts, not idling brooders. Think of the great Brian McBride and his rattle; Alexi Lalas giving it the large one to opponents who considered US soccer a joke; Claudio Reyna and his hot foot; Jay De Merit coming up fighting from obscurity to mark Wayne Rooney out of the US v England game at the last World Cup. Where are those types of players to be found in the national team?

If Klinsmann is trying to include MLS players in his team, then why is the lethargic Kyle Beckerman playing in the squad when San Jose’s Steven Lenhart is never considered. Lenhart won’t play shallow. He’ll bite the opponents. He’ll make chances by showing defenders that they are in for a rough ride. Yes, niggle the defender, nudge him in the back off the ball, say something not too pretty about his face. Make his pissed off. Eventually, he’ll make mistakes.

Klinsmann has to forget about this project nonsense. As if he can design a team like an engineer in a BMW factory, paying attention to the latest interior software. It’s hardware we need now.

The chance to prove the above rant wrong comes around this Tuesday when Jamaica comes to Ohio for the return leg. Dump that Bud Light rubbish and hit the Jamaicans hard – make that Red Stripe on Old Glory shine.

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