In 15 months on the job, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has displayed an almost annoyingly sunny disposition, always quick with a smile, a laugh, and an everything’s-going-to-be-fine-trust-me attitude, no matter the circumstances.
That all changed today. Today, Klinsmann broke out his game face:
We say the U.S. could’ve benefitted from that demeanor last month, before they lost to Jamaica in Kingston, or last June, before they coughed up a 1-0 lead in Guatemala and tied 1-1. But hey, better late than never.
It’s just hours before the U.S. takes on Guatemala in Kansas City with advancement to the CONCACAF Hexagonal on the line, and we’re happy to see Klinsmann drop the warm-and-fuzzy act, but we’re not sure why he’s allowed his roster of outfield players to dwindle to 16 without calling in any reinforcements.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones, suspended for yellow card accumulation, was the latest, and fifth, departure from this particular camp, and still Klinsmann has held pat, calling what’s left of his group “strong enough” to get the job done.
They only need a draw, but psychologically—for fans, coach and players alike—they need to produce a quality performance and a convincing victory to show that Project Jurgen is still on track and headed in the right direction.
Here’s a little nugget from Elias to sooth the nerves of any anxious U.S. fans: In their last 18 meetings with Guatemala, the Americans are 12-0-6 and have only trailed Los Chapines for a total of five minutes.
So, again, they should be able to get the job done. Who will Klinsmann call on to make it happen? Here’s one possible lineup:
We were tempted to slot Sacha Kljestan in at left mid and move Dempsey up top, but Klinsmann trusts Gomez more than Kljestan, and even though he had a stinker in Antigua, Gomez is good in the air—which should be an asset tonight—and works tirelessly on both sides of the ball.
Depending on how the game develops, Klinsmann could bring in Kljestan and Alan Gordon for offensive spark in the second half.