With the majority of the USMNT spotlight shining on Michael Bradley, it has actually been another midfielder, Jermaine Jones, who has impressed for the USMNT so far in the World Cup. Jones’ midfield partner, Kyle Beckerman, has also been quietly effective for the team, and both Jones and Beckerman will be pivotal for the U.S. when they take on Germany in Recife on Thursday.
Unlike when the U.S. played Ghana and Portugal in their two previous games, the threat from Germany will not necessarily come from the wings. Ghana threatened through Christian Atsu predominantly, and Portugal through Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, but the Germany threat will come from their central players in this game.
Germany have been playing with Thomas Muller operating as a false nine, and he is backed up by Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos in the Germany attack. These are all players who may occasionally find space out wide, but who will primarily operate in central areas.
That is why Jones and Beckerman will be so crucial for the USMNT in this game. If Germany are given too much space in central areas, they’ll slice through your defense like it doesn’t exist. Germany are among the higher scoring teams after two games, and that is more impressive considering they’re in a much tougher group than some other teams find themselves in, like France, for example.
The U.S. will need to try and be a threat to the Germans on the counter attack, but to spring counter attacks, you need the foundation of a solid defense first. The whole team will be key in achieving that, but Beckerman and Jones, being the type of players that they are and playing in the area that they do, will be the most crucial for the U.S. in establishing that.
Germany will be looking to retain possession for long spells, and the players who flood the center of midfield, probably Bradley, Jones and Beckerman, will need to be disciplined in their play. Bradley will be expected to carry more of an offensive threat, but Jones and Beckerman will need to be at their sharpest defensively.
A draw for both teams will suffice in their attempts to advance from the ‘Group of Death,’ so scoring is not quite as imperative as not conceding. The balance will have to be right though, of course, and the two most important players in achieving that will be Jones and Beckerman in the midfield area.