In the friendly against Mexico, the first half was perhaps the most fluid 45 minutes of play in recent history for the USMNT. Although the match ended in a less attractive manner, the change in the first half from recent fixtures was fun to watch. This comes after the USMNT made coaching changes that seemed aimed at changing tactics since a tactical coach is what Jurgen Klinsmann needs by his side. Given Klinsmann’s postgame comments, it is clear that tactics have become a focal point for the USMNT.
The team came out in a 4-4-2 that abandoned the normal one striker lineup with Jozy Altidore up top. Often Klinsmann moved to a pairing of strikers around the 65th minute with much success. The four midfielders across the pitch is a lot different, and Brad Davis‘ start was a bit of a shock. However, he cut in selectively and showed why he is valuable on an important set piece. The dynamic of that 4-4-2 could be different with an energized Landon Donovan, especially given the spacing provided great lines for crisp passing.
A subtle difference that was pointed out on the broadcast is how the USMNT handled corners. They had two or three players near the keeper to create disruption. One player beating their mark is all that it takes to net a goal. That was evident on Michael Bradley‘s goal as he beat his man to the back post with two players in front of him. In the past, one of the center backs would make a run to the post to hopefully open up space behind him. The system of already being in place seemed to occupy more players and distract the keeper.
Obviously those tactics faltered in the second half as Mexico came back from two goals down and the USMNT was unable to deal with substitutions and tactical changes on the other side. After the game, Klinsmann said that the team needs to have two or three different systems for the future rather than starting the same way. That means not always starting the same way and ending the same way as has been the standard over the last year. So expect a 4-4-2 again and even more tactical changes moving forward to Brazil.
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