Wow. Pardon me while I take a moment to continue to bask in being present at the U.S. Men’s National Team win against Germany June 2 in Washington D.C.
Moment over? Hardly. So bare with me as I catalog through my whirlwind weekend of USMNT amazingness. First up, open practice at RFK Saturday. If you ever get an opportunity to go to one of these, seriously consider it. They are generally held either two days or the day before a match, depending on the team’s schedule. It doesn’t matter if you’re just there for the players or to honestly see the process of how the USMNT train, they are always great.
For me, I’m a training junky. I go for both the players and the opportunity to see how head coach Jurgen Klinsmann works the team. I find them educational and I’m always looking to really expand my knowledge of the game and my team. What I love about these events is seeing Klinsmann smack in the middle of the pitch, running around with the players, calling out instruction. I know I’ve had a few beefs with Klinnsy and some of his practices, but the man is great about getting out among the players to tell them what he wants to see.
Second of all, I love to see the players go hard during practice. Graham Zusi was hammered pretty good about his corners and had to practice taking quite a few shots during the two-hour event. Also, I enjoy seeing the forwards and midfielders lined up to test the keepers. This time, DaMarcus Beasley stepped up as well on the wing to feed in balls, which he was great at. Seeing Stuart Holden looking strong and knocking out an ESPN camera was also a highlight.
I got to meet Stu and tell him how great it was to see him back in the USMNT kit. Stu is one of those players you can’t help but cheer for. He talked to every single person lined up along the pitch that day. It was really awesome to see him back and very happy and grateful to everyone there. There’s tons more personal stories I could talk about, but we’d be here forever. Let’s move on.
Next, the game Sunday. I have not been to a USMNT match where they have won in several years. I’ve stated before I believed I was a jinx. Well, now I know I’m not. As I’m writing this and going through my memories of this game (there were a lot – I was at the tailgate with the American Outlaws, so there was some pregaming stuff in there too), I’m going to keep it simple. Here are the things I noticed most about this match up.
The USMNT looked very, very nice through the midfield in the first half. The passing was fantastic, the possession even more so. Michael Bradley was on top of this match and Beasley again proves that he’s no slouch in that back defensive line. The man is a workhorse and he did a lot of dirty work for the U.S. Seattle’s Brad Evans had a decent game too. What I hope Klinsmann got the most out of his Starting XI is that Omar Gonzalez works better with Matt Beasler in the back. However Gonzalez still needs to work on keeping tabs on players. He let some of Germany’s players get behind him – anyone remember that header-goal in the second half? Yeah, I do.
Another great, amazing, fantastic moment? Jozy Altidore scored in open play for the first time since 2011. And he didn’t just get lucky with a shot; he had a clinical goal which was beautiful to watch. I still have some issues with Altidore though. He looked very tired as if he didn’t want to make the runs to catch up with Zusi’s or Clint Dempsey’s service. Another fan in front of me at the game commented that if the play or chance at goal isn’t in the box, Jozy doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Sunday, he couldn’t have been more right. It still seems to me that Jozy is waiting for something. Better service? Okay, yeah, the U.S. need some more consistent service to him. But Zusi did very well this match up. I would love to see Altidore make a run when he sees the opportunity to get a ball. Not to jog around and wait til play gets in the box.
Clint Dempsey’s brace was fantastic as well, especially his second goal, which made the score 4-1. He battled in the midfield all day long, which is what one comes to expect from Dempsey. And his runs on the German defense … great to watch, especially in person. I felt like every time the ball came to Dempsey in the second half and he made a run, something was going to happen.
Was this game all good? No, of course not. The U.S. dropped a three-goal lead, letting Germany score two goals within minutes of each other in the second half. However, it was Germany – a team with a well of talent at their disposal. But considering that well of talent, I think the U.S. have every right to feel satisfied with this win. I know I do, especially as the team now gears up for their first World Cup qualifying match of the summer in Jamaica. The morale booster this win against Germany will give them is much needed. And not for just the players either; the fans more than likely feel equally pumped about the road ahead.