53014_isi_johannssonaron_usmntjt052714241 John Todd/isiphotos.com
100 Words or Less

10 Quick Takes: What the Pundits Want vs. Turkey

We asked a few soccer pundits to tell us what they're hoping to see Sunday when the U.S. national team plays Turkey in its second Send-Off Series contest. And we only gave them 100 words to play with.
BY various Posted
May 30, 2014
10:38 AM
Kevin Baxter, sports writer, Los Angeles Times
Diamonds are supposed to be forever so I’d like to see the U.S. stay with the midfield formation it used in its last two games. But it won’t work unless Jozy Altidore becomes a threat up front. If there is no chemistry between Altidore and Clint Dempsey it may be time to give one of the forward spots to either Wondo or Aron Johannsson. And while I’m a big Omar Gonzalez fan, Geoff Cameron was a massive upgrade at center back against Azerbaijan. I’ll be looking for him to solidify a starting job Sunday.

Jonathan Tannenwald, soccer writer, Philly.com
I want to see goals. Multiple goals. And in particular I’d like to see Jozy Altidore score at least one of those goals. I am still skeptical of Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to kick Landon Donovan to the curb, because he is one of a very few big-game players that the U.S. has. I know there’s plenty of talent among the 23 guys who made the cut, but I want to see them produce an attack that can really deliver. If they don’t, the questions about Donovan’s departure will not go away, and I am of the opinion that they shouldn’t.

Ryan Hunt, executive editor, SI.com
I recently fell down the YouTube rabbit hole of USMNT highlights. Rewatched the second half of the Slovenia game in 2010. (Still don’t see it, Coulibaly). So my No. 1 question on the heels of that is, Can the real Jozy Altidore please stand up...and muscle defenders out of the way? Is that even possible for him anymore? That version of Altidore is almost unrecognizable compared to the timid, uncomfortable, lacking-confidence version of today. Can a return to his former home spark something in Altidore, or is it better for Klinsmann to cut bait and go with Aron Johannsson now?

John Godfrey, editor in chief, American Soccer Now
Question: Is Jozy Altidore a guaranteed starter for the U.S. national team—on the same tier as Bradley, Howard, and Dempsey? [Everyone nods vigorously.] Follow up question: Should Altidore be an automatic selection? [Shrugs; averted gazes; hems; haws.] Maybe Altdiore was exhausted from training camp, and that's why he seemed so flaccid against lowly Azerbaijan. Or maybe it's time to give Aron Johannsson a start. The Iceman has scored two goals in 270 U.S. minutes, mostly in cameos. I want to see what Johannsson can do in the first half of a match. It's all about today—not yesterday—right, Jurgen?

Kyle Martino, former U.S. player; analyst for NBC Sports
I would like to see Kyle Beckerman behind Michael Bradley. I noticed that Jermaine Jones was overly positionally disciplined against Azerbaijan, almost as if Klinsmann told him to "play more like Beckerman." With that said I would like to see the real thing because I can't remember a time when the two partnered together in a poor performance.

Josh Deaver, ASN contributing editor
I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more Beckerman. Tuesday's match underlined the ongoing chemistry issues with the Michael Bradley-Jermaine Jones midfield duo. Namely, the struggle to establish defined roles within the “diamond midfield” that Klinsmann has tried to incorporate of late. Another 90 minutes of the rock-steady Beckerman, who starred against Mexico in April, may be a worthwhile experiment heading toward Brazil. Elsewhere, Julian Green needs to stand and deliver. His inclusion was a sore point for many, and now he must show that he has earned his golden ticket. Can 45 minutes against the Turks do the trick?

Noah Davis, ASN Deputy Editor
Two words: Clint Dempsey. The Seattle Sounders forward captaining the United States into Red Bull Arena after missing the match at Candlestick Park would ease some attacking concerns. Jurgen Klinsmann says he'll be fine. We shall see. Beyond that, a bit more cohesion in the offense and some creativity in breaking down Turkey's stout backline. A steadier performance from the normally solid Matt Besler. And an appearance from Julian Green. If you're going to bring him, you should at least use him.

Liviu Bird, ASN alum and SI.com contributor
The U.S. has to show that it has worked on more than just fitness in the past week. The Azerbaijan game was a conglomeration of errors from a team that looked as if it had barely played together—which may be the case, if rumors of Klinsmann’s training regimen are true. Doing the beep test and speed ladders won’t make you a better football team, and the diamond midfield takes immense tactical discipline to pull it off. The U.S. didn’t exactly pass that test against Azerbaijan, so it will be interesting to see if Klinsmann sticks with the formation.

Ben Jata, MLS Editor/Opta Analyst
It's all about Jozy Altidore. Is Jurgen Klinsmann using him to draw fouls and pull defenders out of position? Or does he think the striker needs to contribute on the stat sheet? If it's the latter, Johannsson and Wondolowski have to get more minutes. The U.S. cannot waste a starting spot up top on someone who does not contribute in the attack. The best quality of a starting striker at the national team level should be crucial to the team. Is drawing fouls in the attacking half essential for the U.S. to be successful? If we're relying on set-piece goals the answer is yes. If we're relying on goals from open play the answer is no.

John Halloran, soccer writer
The fact that Michael Bradley had yet another muted performance while partnered with Jermaine Jones is a worry. Bradley is, quite simply, the U.S.'s best player and the team needs to be built around him. Whether that is with Kyle Beckerman holding so Bradley can roam forward, or whether that is with Mix Diskerud being trusted to do the attacking with Bradley holding, a change needs to be made in the U.S. midfield. Up top, Aron Johannsson should be given the start. Sans Landon Donovan, the team needs a new talisman before it departs for Brazil—Johannsson could be it.

OK, your turn. 100 words max—go!

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