Juergen Klinsmann has arrived. He was on a winning steak before the Italy match but the caveat was that it was not against quality opposition. This was to Italy, four times World Cup champions, a team that the USA had not won against in 11 outings, on the road, with a rejiggered team missing four of their starters through injuries and illness. This was a statement.
The Gazetto Dello Sport had this to say this, " Klinsmann maybe a free spirit off the field but on the pitch he demands absolute obedience and adherence to the game plan. Precise, controlled, with few concessions allowed, and very little drop off in concentration. Their success lay in the high pressing that left Italy with very little space and fatigue played a factor as the attack became slow and laboured posing little threat to the US defense."
A good summation of what Klinsi brings to the table. The former Inter man always been an independent thinker which has not always gone down well in hierarchies like Bayern and so he's free to mould this US team as he sees best. His teams carry his trademark of supreme fitness, discipline, and emphasis on youth. Arriving in the USA, Klinsi made a slow start struggling to make an impact inviting comparisons to similar problems he had with the Mannschaft in their qualifying run to the 2006 World Cup before they dazzled the world through the attacking flair of Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Italy might have had their share of missing players. Antonio Cassano, Mario Balotelli, and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, known for their creativity as much as their shenanigans on and off the pitch would have been welcome. But Italy also had no shortage of quick witted players like Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Borini, and Giampaolo Pazzini who could have put the game away. However to their credit, the US never lost their defensive shape with the pint sized Giovinco in particular being closed down quickly and losing the physical battle in the first half.
Tim Howard was his usual electric self bringing off some very fine saves. A note here on Jonathan Spector, not usually the quickest of defenders but those were some fine blocks denying Pazzini and Borini from scoring positions.
Klinsmann used Altidore as a screen. His physical size and speed (think Mark Viduka) makes him an ideal target to play with his back to the goal behind whom Clint Dempsey, could roam free to seize on opportunities like the one used to score the winning goal. Central midifield was rock solid with Michael Bradley using his Chievo exposure to most of his opponents to good use. Bradley has his critics but yesterday he showed what an asset he can be to the team. He was ably partnered by Maurice Edu. Fabian Johnson provided the speed and incisiveness for the goal winning cross which Altidore gathered and laid off perfectly for the arriving Dempsey to collar with his right foot giving Buffon no chance.
Players like Johnson, Timothy Chandler, Danny Williams, and Terrence Boyd provide a groundswell of exciting options ahead. In addition, there is Mikkel Diskerud, George John, Zak Whitbread and more, all talents waiting in line. Not so long ago, Stuart Holden was the golden boy but such is the competition he was not missed yesterday. The summer looks full of promise.