The USA National Team beat Slovenia 3-2 tonight to give Jurgen Klinsmann his second win as coach of the USA and it marked the first time the US team has scored more then one goal in a game. It also marked the first time Klinsmann started a game with two strikers, as the USA looked to attack the goal and create chances that, up until tonight, had been few and far between.
I’m writing this not to give a refresher of the game but to question the scrutiny US fans have been getting from Alexi Lalas. Let me set the record straight I love Lalas analyses because he pulls no punches and he says exactly what he thinks. His job is not to be an apologist for the US team but to give a clear and concise evaluation of the game and focus on their good and not so good play. Up until the France game last Friday, that is what he has delivered. Now, what we are getting after the past two games, is a poor review and some silly nitpicking that is beneath him. Maybe if he had thrown his hat in the ring to be the next US coach then he could make the complaints he’s making. If he had been coaching on Friday against France perhaps he would have sent the US on an all out attack and tried to beat the French at the Stade De France, but without Landon Donovan, the USA’s most creative player, it made more sense to be compact and defensive.
Tonight Lalas got what he wanted with the USA in a 4-4-2 formation. The USA came out on the attack and created chances from the very beginning, scoring three first half goals. But, then Lalas writes “it’s only Slovenia.” What does he think the French team said after it beat the USA 1-0 on Friday? “Wow, a world class win against a world class side”? My guess? French Manager Laurant Blanc probably said, “It was only against the USA.” I’m aware the USA has wins over Spain, England, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil in their past, but if Slovenia had won tonight it’s possible they might have thought the same thing as Laurant Blanc.
It’s obvious what Lalas wants to see. It’s what every developing footballing nation wants and that is…forward progress. Just because you hire a former World Cup winner as your manager doesn’t mean changes comes immediately.
In the past I have written that this is the beginning of a long process and the idea that we are going to see huge leaps this soon, is a pipe dream at best. Lalas knows this.
I fully understand the wisdom of critiquing the USA team play. But, l think Lalas has lost sight of what a realistic level of play should be at this point.