2014 World Cup: The USMNT Will Make Round of 16
We are just under five months away from the first kick off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. There is still a lot that will happen between now and then, as the federations will finalize their friendly plans, hold their camps and eventually name the 23-man squad to represent their country.
Even though the US Men’s National Team was drawn into the “Group of Death” alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the team has a very good chance to make it past the group stage. The improvements to the national team have been very evident under current manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
Something that really has lacked in years past, especially against superior opponents, has been an attacking identity. The USMNT would play with a defensive tactic emphasizing the counter-attack over generating their own offense with a possession-based attack. The latter option forces the opponent to chase the play eventually wearing themselves out, which is exactly what would happen to our National Team.
It took a while for Klinsmann to find the tactical approach that would work for his squad, but now that he has found it, the positives have been plenty. Klinsmann has been playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with the striker playing as a target man to feed the oncoming withdrawn forward and wings. This formation has proven to be very effective for the USMNT, who have used it 15 times since Klinsmann took over with a record of 12 wins, three draws and zero losses— including wins in Italy and Bosnia.
This formation also has helped the National Team solidify the defense with help from the defensive midfielders who can clear the top of the box, while watching for trailing attackers. Jermaine Jones has been the key man here for the United States with help from Michael Bradley, who is more often to push into the attack.
If there is one position that will be the most important for Klinsmann, it will be that right back position that still is uncertain. Whoever ends up in the right back position will be facing the most difficult of tasks in having to mark Andre Ayew of Ghana to start, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and then in all likelihood Marco Reus or Julian Draxler from Germany.
That task will fall to most likely either Brad Evans from the Seattle Sounders FC or Geoff Cameron of Stoke City, unless someone else rises up and takes the spot. Evans is normally a midfielder for Seattle, but has seized the role of right back since he was given the chance during the June portion of World Cup Qualifying. He has played the position well at times, having problems keeping up with speedy wingers. Evans does bring good crossing ability on attacking runs, as well as a long throw-in option.
Cameron has moved to the right back since transferring to Stoke City from the Houston Dynamo during the January 2012 transfer window. He was a welcome addition for then-manager Tony Pulis and has continued to impress current manager Mark Hughes, playing alongside Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth. Cameron has appeared at right back in all but one match for Stoke across all competitions.
The wild-card could be Hannover 96 man Steve Cherundolo, who was the first choice at right back for the last two World Cups before recent knee problems this past season have forced him off the field. Klinsmann may also consider using Seattle youngster DeAndre Yedlin, who is a speedy natural right back and could possibly keep up with those wingers that could get by Evans.
For now, the National Team has taken their January camp to Sao Paulo for the next few weeks, as they prepare for the first of their pre-World Cup friendlies against the Korea Republic on Feb. 1 at the StubHub Center.