Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Experiment Continues: France 1 - USA 0

Photo by x-ray delta one on Flickr
The Jurgen Klinsman experiment continued Friday night at the Stade de France in Paris, with the Yanks visiting a French side led by Karim Benzema, Loic Remy and Franck Ribery.  If only Klinsman could work out a way to make the US' games last 70 minutes rather than the standard 90, or have a nil-nil final score count as a victory, then all would be well in American soccer.  Instead, we're left only with the following observations and wondering what might have been -- other than the narrow 1-nil French victory which resulted:

o It took the US about 15 minutes to threaten the French goal for the first time, and then only weakly. Playing Klinsi's preferred system with only the lonely Jozy Altidore up top, the US struggled for offensive opportunities even while giving itself an early foothold  in the game. I'd be alot more comfortable with Klinsi's sole striker system if we had a striker capable of doing more than holding the ball up.  Although Jozy had half a shout for a penalty midway through the first half, it was the kind of call a visiting team is unlikely to get on here road, even in an international friendly. 

o Brek Shea sure gets pushed around a lot for a big-ish guy. I think speed is supposed to be more his game than physicality, but I'm betting that Klinsi would like to see the Texan spend just a bit more time in the weight room.  In fact, after last night's performance, I'm not 100% sure I understand Shea's game: he's tall, but doesn't play 'big'. And he's supposed to be fast, but I saw him routinely beaten to the ball by the French corner backs. What gives?  Has Shea excelled this year mainly because he's playing against low-brow competition in the MLS, or is he really a potential international star in the making? The jury is most definitely still out in my mind.

o Although he US never really looked dangerous, they did look composed. They held their shape well -- bar the odd ball from Hugo Lloris over the top of the defense -- and frustrated the French for long periods of the match. The defense looked relatively tight, which has got to give hope for the future.  But does anyone else find it ironic that the former German offensive genius who is our current head coach has crafted a defense that's a very tough nut to crack, while his offense has all the pop of Muhammed Ali jab -- make that a 69 year old Muhammed Ali jab?

o And speaking of ironic, I know how I felt when I heard the large French crowd at Le Stade jeering and whistling as the few Americans in attendance began chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A."  You'd think on Veteran's Day of all days the French crowd might be more appreciative of their American visitors....  Perhaps a trip out to the Normandy Coast would be helpful in reminding them to be a bit more courteous.

This is farlieonfootie for November 12.

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