Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The United States Men's National Team had played out an awful 90 minutes against Honduras, going ahead but failing to maintain their winning position and ultimately dropping three points. Sound familiar?
As fans and supporters of Bolton Wanderers, we've seen it on a consistent basis with the men in white. A manager that doesn't bring his best players into the side, plays the ones that he does well out of position, and is resistant to change.
Owen Coyle's professional playing pedigree compared to that of Jurgen Klinsmann is well, laughable. Bolton Wanderers, Dundee United, Motherwell, and Fallkirk don't really compare to Inter Milan, Monaco (at that point in time), and Bayern Munich. Nor does managing Burnley and Bolton compare to doing the same job with Germany and Bayern Munich. Yet, somehow despite their job histories, both of these managers seem to have the same issues when it comes to managing their respective sides.
Said issues really seem to boil down to a perceived stubbornness and an unwillingness to play the best players available to them. American fans saw this firsthand during a previous international break when Jurgen Klinsmann left out (arguably) the Yanks' best striker in Jozy Altidore. Yes, the man hasn't produced much in the Klinsmann era but a lot of that is down to the service coming in (or in this case, not) to the forwards.
This was very much on show against Honduras with Jozy Altidore up top on his own and Eddie Johnson coming in from the left flank as support. Both American forwards are tall with Jozy coming in at 6'1" and Eddie at 6'0". Both forwards are taller than 3/4 of the Honduran back line, with only Juan Carlos Garcia coming in at 6'2". Yet, due to the lack of width caused by three defensive midfielders starting the match and none of them able to play up the sideline, there was little to no service coming from the flanks. This is especially irritating when you consider Eddie Johnson's ability to head the ball: nine of the 13 goals he scored in MLS last season were headers. The whole star-shaped peg in a round hole was a scenario that Owen Coyle was very familiar with. He even utilized a forward with excellent heading ability as a winger on more than one occasion, with Kevin Davies forced out wide.
Then there are the substitutions. Much like Coyle, Jurgen Klinsmann's choices in swapping players out are, at best, head-scratchers. When the Honduras match was calling out for a game-changer, someone to push the tired defense with pace or skill, we saw the introductions of Sacha Kljestan, Graham Zusi, and Maurice Edu. By the time that Honduras had scored the eventual game-winner in the 79th minute, the United States Men's National Team was out of options, having made their third and final substitution ten minutes before that. Coyle had used similar maneuvers, trying to close out a match but instead blowing it wide open by simply making the wrong moves.
It's extremely frustrating for American fans as the team now faces two tough tests in welcoming Costa Rica and then travelling to Mexico. Of course, the process has just started and there is a long way to go for the USMNT but being dead last in the hex is certainly not a good way to go about it.