2012: A New Year and a New United States National Team
January 23, 2012 1 Comment
By: Kiran Balan
On January 21st 2012, the United States Mens National Soccer Team opened the calendar year with an international friendly against Venezuela. In the lead up to this game, Venezuela looked to be formidable opposition, especially during a successful Copa America in which they were able to beat cup favorites Argentina in one of the shock results of the year. In addition the United States have been unlucky with a recent run of results yielding only 3wins in 8 games. This friendly match proved to be another testing ground for players looking to make a break through to the main 1st team. The players called up consisted an MLS majority along with Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Clark who both ply their trade in the German Bundesliga. Many were skeptical of the US getting a result against their South American opposition, despite being undefeated against Venezuela in particular.
With the experimental squad taking the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ the anticipation for both sides was at an all time high. Right from the get go, the United States controlled possession and had urgency during long stretches of play. Crisp clean passes and a sense of a long needed confidence best described the play of US. You would have not thought this squad to be a merely experimental team. The US played a one striker system, which proved effective at times but mostly left Teal Bunbury to do his own work. Chances were far and few between, and Coach Klinsmann addressed that problem as the game wore on. The second half was marred by hard unclean tackles by the Venezuelan players. Harsh no calls brought more tension to the game. With the US controlling the game, Venezuela tried to scrape its way back into the game with a couple half chances, but nothing would get through the center back pairing of Geoff Cameron and Michael Parkhurst. Both of whom have staked a strong claim to be in the coach’s future plans. The fluidity of passes from defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones added a lost demension to the US’s play. The play of A.J. De la Garza at the right back position helped the speed of play.
The best chances in the game were through set pieces, and it would be a set piece that would help the US break the deadlock and go on their way to winning their 4th game under Klinsmann and getting their first victory of 2012. Ricardo Clark would latch on to Jermaine Jones’ corner kick, and head them to victory in the dying moments of 2nd half stoppage time. Disgusted by the amount of stoppage time given, one of the Venezuelan players was sent off for dissent as soon as Clark scored. The United States were deserved winners on the night, and despite only scoring one goal in Glendale, there was a renewed belief in the team and a sense of newly found confidence in a young group of players. The next game for the US is coming up on Wednesday against Panama, and with the new crop of players eager to show their skills, 2012 will definitely be an exciting time for US soccer.