Connect with us

World Cup 2014

World Cup 2014 Tactics: Analyzing USA’s tactical approach for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

The United States cruised through qualifying in CONCACAF after a rough opening loss to Honduras, boasting a 7-1-2 record overall. JurgenKlinsmann’s side only lost to Honduras and Costa Rica, each loss coming away from home and in the tropical heat of the home side’s nation. The United States lone draw came in Mexico at one of the greatest stadium atmospheres in the world, the hostile Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The “Yanks” were unbeaten at home throughout qualifying, and were rewarded with the Group of Death at the World Cup featuring Portugal, Ghana, and Germany.Klinsmann has called in 30 players to start camp and will narrow down his squad to 23 before heading off to Brazil.

BASIC FORMATION: 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1

Jurgen Klinsmann most commonly deploys the United States in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with two rotating, holding midfielders, two wingers, and a lone striker up top with another forward or midfielder sitting right underneath him as playmaker. The Americans under Klinsmann employ a possession based style of play, though the U.S. in not limited to that style in and of itself.

USA WC formation

ANALYSIS

Klinsmann often features Sunderland striker JozyAltidore alone up top to get in behind the defense or hold up the ball until support arrives. Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski and Aron Johannsson are the other options at forward for the United States. Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski are perhaps more technical finishers of smaller stature. Clint Dempsey commonly plays as the support placed right underneath Altidore in the playmaker role (trequartista). Dempsey also holds that spot as the tip of the center triangle, connecting the midfield to the front. The number ten role is not deep for the United States, but options to Dempsey include Mix Diskerud and Alejandro Bedoya. The two wingers are encouraged to get forward to offer support, but expected to track back and play defense as well. With no Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi and Bedoya have split the wing duties between them as during the qualifying process and will continue to do so in Brazil now that Donovan is not in the squad. Other wide options for the U.S. include Brad Davis, Aron Johannsson, and the youngster Julian Green.

The two holding midfielders, projected to be Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, are tasked with guarding the back four and supporting the attack. Often, one player will move forward in attack while the other stays back in a supporting role. These two midfielders interchange their roles throughout the match, requiring them to read each other and know when it is appropriate to move forward. Bradley and Jones will likely start all three group matches at the World Cup, but playing reserve to them will be Kyle Beckerman.

In defense, the back four presses high up the pitch and, depending on the opponent, the two outside backs look to get forward and overlap on the wings. Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez have been paired together in the center of defense most often during qualifying, but Klinsmann has said in camp recently that Cameron will at center back. John Brooks is another option for Klinsmann to use in the central defense as well. DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson have split the duties of left back in the last 3 years, but Klinsmann likes to place Johnson on the left wing due to his creative abilities. With Cameron at center back, Timothy Chandler and DeAndre Yedlin are viable options at right back. Chandler would seem to have the edge right now to start, but Fabian Johnson could sneak there as well. In goal, the U.S. has great depth with starter Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Nick Rimando.

MORE READING | Interview with ex-player & journalist with ESPN, Fox Soccer and more, Janusz Michallik

For the United States, the most glaring weakness of the 4-2-3-1 is the isolation of the lone striker. At this time, that striker is likely going to be Jozy Altidore. Before going further it should be mentioned that Klinsmann has no allegiance to this formation and, like any manager, changes his formation based upon the opponent. For the sake of this article we will discuss what Klinsmann has most commonly used which is the 4-2-3-1, but it is also common to see Klinsmann pull out the 4-4-2 or some variation thereof.

To support Altidore, Klinsmann has asked one of his two holding midfielders to move forward and join the attack alongside or behind the trequartista (Dempsey), thus closing the gap between the midfield and forward(s) while giving support. This box-to-box midfielder most commonly alternates between Jones and Bradley, and Bradley offers the greater creativity and skill between the two. While one moves forward the other remains behind to guard the backline as a sweeper. Communication is of utter importance for these two players, for if both end up moving forward gaps occur in the midfield which then become useful for the opponent to counter. There have been some issues in the past between Jones and Bradley when communicating and, while much better in recent times, that is still a concern for many going up against the best players in the world. Unlike Jones, Beckerman holds the necessary discipline to stay back and allow Bradley to move forward without having to worry about what’s going on behind him.

KEY PLAYERS

The Defense – Of all the possible concerns going into this World Cup for the United States, the defense certainly has to be top or close to it. As such, the entire defense will be a key player in how the U.S. performs in Brazil.  There is no set back four for the United States. Which players will start where is very much up in the air. It remains quite possible that a different backline could be used in every match, though that seems unlikely. How the back line performs could possibly be the most important thing going into this World Cup. Whoever ends up starting will face the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Marco Reus, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Asamoah Gyan (the bane of all US fans’ existence), Sulley Muntari, Kwadwo Asamoah, and Christian Atsu – just to name a few.

Omar Gonzalez is possibly the player in defense with the most to lose at this point. His starting center back role is up in the air after a shaky start to his MLS season with the Galaxy as well as a shaky second half in the United States last friendly against Mexico. In his place will be Geoff Cameron, who despite playing the season at right back for Stoke, claims his best position is at center back. A Cameron-Besler center back pairing does not seem too far fetched. The fullbacks are in question too. Timmy Chandler was absent throughout qualifying, and the stature of the opponent is much greater in Brazil than he’s ever faced at the international level. Having just recovered from injury at Nuremberg in Germany and having not played for the United States since their opening match defeat against Honduras, it’s unclear right now if he is the best option for the USA. The upcoming prep matches for the World Cup will be a big stage for him. His experience in the Bundesliga could be crucial against every opponent the U.S. faces.

Cameron, having played there all season for Stoke in the Premier League, offers another decent option. DeAndre Yedlin is young and has little experience. It seems unlikely we will see him unless an injury occurs. On the left the picture is only a little clearer. DaMarcus Beasley has played left back several times during qualifying but has rarely played there against the caliber of opponents the U.S. will face in June. Fabian Johnson is a great option to play on the left. Like Chandler, he plies his trade in the Bundesliga at Hoffenheim (next season at Gladbach) and that experience could be key for the States. Klinsmann will have to decide if he wants Johnson on defense or, as he has done several times during qualifying, contributing to the attack at left wing. In the opinion of the author, the best defense for the United States is Chandler-Cameron-Besler-Johnson.

Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley will also be important for the USMNT. These players form the spine of the team, and getting them to perform is the key for Klinsmann.

TALENT RADAR KEY YOUNG PLAYERS

Julian Green | The 18-year old Julian Green is creating quite the stir for US Soccer fans right now, not least of which because he has yet to play for Bayern Munich’s first team outside his debut in the Champions League last fall in a short cameo late in the game. Green, a forward most commonly deployed on the wing, decided to make his one-time switch with FIFA from Germany over to the United States earlier this year. Green has been on Klinsmann’s watchlist for some time, but even so it has come as a surprise to many that a player with so little experience will get such a massive opportunity over other players who perhaps have worked harder.

Still, Klinsmann is perhaps correct in making such a move in an attempt to strengthen a position that is not deep for the U.S. right now. Green is fast, young, skilled and not afraid to take players on 1v1. Pep Guardiola has heaped praise upon the lad, claiming that Green “can play wide and upfront, left and right.” Thomas Mueller, the Bayern star midfielder, says “the kid is for his age very robust and fast, very willing to work, technically very good. I like him.” Bayern’s sporting director Matthias Sammer: “He can play any offensive position.” Green is not without his faults. His size and inexperience are major weaknesses to his game. He can be pushed off the ball in a 50/50 situation. Having played little at such a high level, Green will have to learn quickly in order to make a difference in Brazil.

CONCLUSION

The United States is not afraid of any of its opponents. In fact, on multiple occasions several players have said they relish the opportunity to face such stiff competition and feel that they are right in the mix for getting past the group stage. Klinsmann favors an attacking, hardworking style of play similar to that of Germany. The Yanks can be good on the counter but don’t look for them to deploy it too often. Based on what we’ve seen, Klinsmann will want his side to attempt to control the game depending on the opponent. The United States faces a tough task against all its group opponents, but the ability to sneak through exists with the right results. The rest of the world may doubt them, but they won’t care. They have a task to do.

Read all our World Cup Tactical Previews here, and all other WC2014 related content here.

Joe Gould

Joe Gould

Obsessed student of the game near Washington DC. Coaching, viewing, discussing, playing football is my passion. Huge fan of FC Porto, but also large hankerings for Manchester City, Werder Bremen, & Atletico Madrid. Really enjoy the Bundesliga, Eredivisie, and international football.
Joe Gould

100 to Watch

Latest

Specials2 hours ago

“If you win, we will kill you”: The Tragic Story of the Death Match

Oliver McManus has a look at the incredible story of the Death Match where 11 brave men stood up to...

Tactical Analysis3 hours ago

Tactical Analysis: Napoli 0-0 Inter Milan | Sarri’s Strong Attack And Counter-Press Against Spaletti’s Deep Block

Ryan Tank provides a tactical analysis about the Serie A match that ended Napoli 0-0 Inter Milan Inter Milan held...

Talent Radar7 hours ago

U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #8: Goncalo Guedes and Kai Havertz feature

Sami Faizullah compiles this week's Young Players Team of the Week from across Europe's top seven leagues.

Talent Radar1 day ago

K-League U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Season 2017: Talent Radar

As the end of the season beckons across Asia, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to...

Tactical Analysis1 day ago

Tactical Analysis: Benfica 0-1 Manchester United | Goalkeeping Mistake Decides Close Encounter

Hiko Seijuro provides a tactical analysis about the Champions League match that ended Benfica 0-1 Manchester United SL Benfica hosted...

Talent Radar1 day ago

U17 World Cup 2017 Tactical Player Report: USA 1-4 England

Josh Sippie has a look at the players that stood out during the U17 World Cup quarterfinal that finished USA...

Talent Radar1 day ago

U17 World Cup 2017 Tactical Player Report: Mali 2-1 Ghana

Dan Davis takes a look at the standout players in the U-17 World Cup quarter final between Mali and Ghana....

Scout Report2 days ago

Scout Report: Ezri Konsa | Charlton’s Rising Star

Stefan Vasilev provides a detailed scout report on Charlton’s highly rated defender, Ezri Konsa Charlton Athletic are usually left out...

Tactical Analysis3 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Manchester City 2-1 Napoli | Solid Possession and Press

Ryan Tank writes a comprehensive tactical analysis about the Champions League match that ended Manchester City 2-1 Napoli Manchester City:...

Talent Radar4 days ago

2017-18 Performance Rankings: Top 10 Young Midfielders – Edition 1

Our Talent Radar Rankings, along-with our Talent Radar Team of the Week documents the progress of youngsters across Europe, with...

Specials5 days ago

A Growing Gap: Analysing the Championship’s new financial realities

Richard Pike looks at the finances of the English Football League, specifically the Championship’s new financial realities. As we approach...

Scout Report6 days ago

Scout Report: Vinícius Junior | The most expensive player born this century

Anderson Moura lays down the rule on the world’s most expensive player of the 21st century thus fair, Vinícius Junior....

Talent Radar1 week ago

2017-18 Young Players’ Team of the Week #7: Manchester City’s trio lead the way

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Young Players Team of the Week with the best young...

Tactical Analysis1 week ago

Tactical Analysis: Borussia Dortmund 2-3 RB Leipzig | Press beats Possession

Ryan Tank writes a detailed tactical analysis about the Bundesliga match that ended Borussia Dortmund 2-3 RB Leipzig Line Ups...

Series1 week ago

Tactical Philosophy: Paul Clement

While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it...

Interviews1 week ago

Interview: Ex-Premier League players on the Problem with Young Footballers

Outside of the Boot had the opportunity to speak with ex-Premier League players – Manchester City’s Paul Dickov, Leicester City’s...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Nicolo Barella | Cagliari’s Complete Midfielder

Kaustubh Pandey provides a detailed scout report on Cagliari’s promising Italian midfielder, Nicolo Barella In a country that is as passionate...

Opinions1 week ago

Statiscal Analysis: Which team has the worst injury record in La Liga?

Luke Glassford provides us with a statiscal look at the injuries suffered by various La Liga teams over the past...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Chris Willock | Benfica’s ex-Arsenal youth product

Hrishi Anand takes a look at youngster Chris Willock, whose move away from the Premier League could help blaze a...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Marlos Moreno | Manchester City’s Colombian flash

Josh Sippie takes a look at Colombian international Marlos Moreno, whose Spanish education will make or break his chances at...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 17-18

More on Outside of the Boot