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Dispatch from the Bay Area

Forward Thinking: Jurgen Tips Strikers for Success

Twelve years have passed since a U.S. forward scored a goal in the World Cup, and Klinsmann's strikers—Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson, and Chris Wondolowski—want to change that.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
May 27, 2014
9:47 AM
SAN FRANCISCO—If the United States men's national team is going to advance out of a difficult Group G at the 2014 World Cup, it’s going to have to score.

Where those goals come from ultimately won’t matter, but the last time a player lined up at forward scored for the U.S. was when Brian McBride delivered the opening tally in the Americans' Round of 16 win against Mexico—in 2002.

The forward corps this year will look to change that with Jozy Altidore the prime candidate to start and Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski looking like options off the bench. Clint Dempsey could also fit the bill, depending on how he’s deployed.

Whether it’s Altidore from the whistle, Dempsey in an advanced position, or someone else coming off the bench, the Americans need to end the string of futility, and Klinsmann believes he has the personnel to do it.

“I think everyone is so different. All of these guys are different and unique in their own ways,” Klinsmann said at a news conference Monday. “All have an amazing amount of strengths and also some weaknesses that we all do.”

Johannsson, he said, provides an option off the bench that can keep opponents guessing with his strong foresight.

“Yeah, obviously every forward wants to score at the World Cup, and now we have Clint and Jozy and myself and Wondo and I think we can all score goals if we get opportunities,” Johannsson said flatly. “If the team plays well and we’re creating opportunities for our strikers, we have a good chance of scoring goals.”

Wondolowski has earned his reputation as someone who continues scoring goals, even if he’s not the most physically imposing or technically gifted player.

He’s someone who Klinsmann said can be brought in any time off the bench and also does some of the dirty work, checking back and freeing up his fellow attacking players to take more risks.

Of course, Altidore excelled with the U.S. in 2013—he earned the federation's player of the year award last year—but had an awful experience this season in the Premier League. Klinsmann thinks thinks that the 24-year-old New Jersey native has moved past those difficulties, adding that Altidore has played well in the two weeks of training.

“Psychologically he has to leave behind an entire season at Sunderland," Klinsmann said. "It’s a season that ended thankfully positive for the club being not relegated and getting out of the danger zone there but for him personally it wasn’t what he expected." Klinsmann said.

"The good thing about sports in general is you’re always looking forward to the next one, the next game, the next challenge," the coach added. " “I think he already forgot what happened during the whole last year.” Klinsmann said.

Dempsey brings a semantic element into the discussion, sometimes playing as a forward and other times lining up behind the forward in an advanced midfield role. Whatever his official position, the U.S. will take goals from him as well.

The U.S. captain laid out a simple plan for the contest: “I think the objective in any of these games is to try to play the best as possible, try to get as many goals [as we can], get confidence, keep clean sheets, keep everybody healthy.”

Who do you want to see at forward Tuesday in San Francisco? Tell us below.

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