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U.S. men

Americans look for improvement against Germany after rout at hands of Belgium.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Saturday, June 1, 2013) -- The United States men will have to improve significantly over its performance in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Belgium if it is to have any chance against Germany Sunday at RFK Stadium, even though Germany will be without most of its top players.

The 2:30 p.m. (ET) match will be broadcast by ESPN2 and Spanish-language UniMas.

Defensively, the U.S. was a mess on Wednesday. There was general disorganization which led to several Belgium goals. Showing his obvious displeasure was U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was constantly exposed by the four playing in front of him.

“That’s the biggest part of any team, not just this team. You’re always trying to get the defensive organization right,” Howard said yesterday. “That’s the catalyst and the foundation for any good team. We’re always trying to work on our shape in training. Learn to communicate. What I’ve learned over the years playing with a defensive unit, that it’s all about trust, and that trust is built on and off the field. And it’s not something that can happen overnight. Eventually, we’re going to get that right.”

Another big problem Wednesday was the midfield’s inability to get the ball to striker Jozy Altidore. Against Germany, that task will fall to midfielder Michael Bradley, newly arrived from his Italian club, Roma

“As a team, it’s just trying to find a way to get in a better rhythm,” Bradley said yesterday. “Where we are producing a little more danger is where we put the other team on the back foot. Those are easy things to talk about, but harder to do as we try to move ourselves along.”

Bradley is not the only U.S. player who has arrived in Washington since the Wednesday loss in Cleveland. Forward Hercules Gomez arrived from Mexico. Defender Fabian Johnson and midfielder Daniel Williams arrived from Germany and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s three-match winning streak that avoided Bundesliga relegation. Defender Edgar Castillo and midfielder Joe Corona will arrive today from Brazil where Mexico’s Club Tijuana had a Copa Libertadores match.

What the U.S. lineup will be tomorrow is anyone’s guess.

“We want to give (Germany) a good game,” Klinsmann said. “We will make sure we do a better job on Sunday. . . We take the defeat (by Belgium) and go get more into a flow and a rhythm.”

Many commentaries on both sides of the Atlantic say Germany coach Joachim (Jog) Löw was bringing his “C” team to face the Americans. That is not exactly the case, although half the German players on the U.S. trip do have fewer than five international appearances.

The problem is that most of Germany’s top players were involved in important matches last week. Bayern Munich played in the German Cup final and Borussia Dortmund was Bayern’s opponent in the European Champions League final. Spain’s domestic season did not end until last week and that eliminated Real Madrid’s German internationals.

So not in Washington are Real midfielders Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil, as well as striker Thomas Mueller, midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, midfielder Mario Goetze and Toni Kroos, and midfielder-forward Marco Reus.

Making the trip, however, are forward Lukas Podolski and defender Per Mertesacker of England’s Arsenal, as well as striker Miroslav Klose, the member of Italy’s SS Lazio who did not arrive in time for Germany’s Wednesday 4-2 demolition of Ecuador.

One player who will start is 22-year-old Andre Schuerrle, the midfielder for Germany’s Bayern Leverkusen, for whom Chelsea is reportedly willing to pay some $25 million. Also starting will be 19-year-old Julian Draxler, a midfielder for FC Schalke 04, and Bayer Leverkusen’s 24-year-old midfielder Lars Bender, who scored twice against Ecuador.

All three would normally be considered sure bets to be on Germany’s World Cup squad in Brazil, except Germany is a team loaded with veterans still at the top of their games. So the trio is trying to show Löw they belong.

“Of course a few of our top players aren't here, but our philosophy has always been that we need 30 players who can come in and play, not just 15 or 20, because of injuries," Löw said. "We need the competition for places. Because of that, the tour is very important for the players who are here and it's a welcome chance to see them over a longer period of time."


The U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England), Bill Hamid (D.C. United, Major League Soccer).

Defenders (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, Mexico), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, MLS), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, England), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angles Galaxy. MLS), Clarence Goodson (Brøndby, Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg, Germany).

Midfielders (8): Michael Bradley (AS Roma, Italy), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC, MLS), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jermaine Jones (Schalke, Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City, MLS), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim, Germany)

Forward (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Wien, Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Herculez Gomez (Santos, Mexico), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC, MLS).


Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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