After suffering a tough 3-2 defeat to Chile in Rancagua, the United States Men's National Team gets a chance to break an unsettling slump against a short-handed Panama on Sunday. Despite carrying a 2-1 lead into the half against Chile, the Yanks conceded twice in the second half which continued a disturbing trend of ceding goals after halftime. 13 of the 17 Goals allowed dating back to the World Cup have come in the 2nd half or extra time, and 10 of those have come in the 75th minute or later. Why has the US faded late so consistently since June? Here's what to watch:
1. Fitness Issues- really? Oh my. So, Jurgen Klinsmann wants to blame the fade on fitness? Then, he doubled down on the excuse. Former conditioning coach Pierre Barrieu wonders how a superlative trait of the National Team has now become a weakness- you really have to read this if you've missed it. My feelings about Klinsmann's tenure are kind of a mixed bag, but if players are constantly are unfit or injured due to over training or poor techniques, I think concern for the program is definitely warranted.
2. Jurgen Klinsmann: Troll. On top of the kvetching about unfit players, Klinsy's now going further saying the reason he's tinkering with the 3-5-2 is due to MLS not possessing much in the way of high caliber fullbacks. Take that, Robbie Rogers, Kofi Sarkodie, Sean Franklin, (insert name of other good, but not great MLS fullback here). Come to think of it, Klinsmann might be right on this one.
In all honesty, I think Sarkodie and Rogers might be able to make a case with a strong start to the season, but after that, it's anybody's guess. Klinsmann does not have the luxury of bringing in Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Greg Garza, Fabian Johnson, or even Edgar Castillo (who would be interesting on the left in that 3-5-2), so maybe this is a somewhat legitimate complaint. Regardless, I am kind of hoping to see that 3-5-2 again on Sunday (I'll be at the game!) because, if nothing else, it gives us a chance to see Jermaine Jones try some more crazy shit out of Center back.
3. Matt Hedges - The US is undefeated in matches where Hedges has played. Look at that deft tackle of Clint Dempsey...so nimble for a big man. We need a talisman to break this slump. Three words: Cap him, Klinsy.
FCD fans were miffed when he did not get called in to the start of January camp. Will anyone else be pissed if he doesn't see the field in this match. What do you think about JK's complaints? Are you sharpening the axe? Can we deem this full on free fall if we do anything less than convincincly defeat the Canaleros? Please tag your comments with your favorite Boomtown Rats single in the subject line.