International Preview and Prediction: Switzerland vs USA

Competition: International Friendly – Switzerland vs. USA

Venue: Stadion Letzigrund, Switzerland – Tuesday, March 31 – 12:00 ET (17:00 BST)

Match Odds: Switzerland 1/1 – Draw 23/10 – USA 13/5

Match Preview

The USA complete their international break with a trip to Zurich to play Switzerland in what is another tough test for an experimental US Men’s National Team squad.

Switzerland are currently ranked as the twelfth best national side in the FIFA World Rankings and are higher than both Chile and Denmark – two sides who have already beaten the USMNT in 2015.

Jurgen Klinsmann is without key players Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler and Clint Dempsey to name just a few, so the squad isn’t at full strength. That means this is a perfect opportunity for fringe players to play themselves into Klinsmann’s Gold Cup plans and it will be important to try and put in a better performance than in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Denmark.

Embed from Getty Images

After a poor recent run that has seen the USMNT lose four of their last five, a lot of fans are calling for improved results and a more positive feel going into a tournament that the USA are expected to win this summer.

Klinsmann is clearly experimenting and some might even say he still doesn’t know his best team yet. A result and a good performance with it are much needed on Tuesday afternoon.

Switzerland come into this friendly having won 3-0 against Estonia on Friday night in their European Championship qualifier.

Switzerland are now unbeaten in their last four, and have enough firepower to test a quite fragile USA defence. Players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka will be tough to contain and Nicklas Bendtner’s hat-trick last Wednesday proves there are problems at the back.

Embed from Getty Images

Switzerland currently lie joint-second in Group E of their European Championship qualifying group, behind England and are a well-oiled team that have scored 13 goals in their last four, conceding just twice.

This will be the eighth meeting between the two nations. The USMNT won their only ever game against Switzerland in the most recent meeting in 2007, courtesy of a late Michael Bradley goal.

Team News

Switzerland have no injury concerns going into this one and they’re expected to name an unchanged side from the team that beat Estonia 3-0 on Friday. Johan Djourou and Fabian Schar are expected to continue at centre-back, while Xherdan Shaqiri should continue at the point of a diamond in midfield.

The USA will be without Aron Johannsson after he withdrew with an infection, so College star Jordan Morris has been called up as cover. Jozy Altidore could play upfront on his own or could partner Gyasi Zardes up front if Klinsmann moves Zardes into his more familiar role this time after he started on the right side of midfield against Denmark. Changes from that defeat last week are expected as Klinsmann experiments for the upcoming Gold Cup in July.

Key Points

Switzerland’s last five: L/W/W/D/W

USA’s last five: L/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: USA has lost a lead on four occasions in their last three matches, conceding four of the six goals in the second-half.

Embed from Getty Images

Key Player: Xherdan Shaqiri – The Swiss playmaker will be a huge problem for the USMNT to deal with, and they may have to play an extra man in midfield to try and contain him.

Score Prediction

Switzerland 2-1 USA – Klinsmann’s side will need to put in a better display than they did against Denmark and they are expected to do so. Though this Switzerland side are very strong and are on a good run at the moment. They should edge it but the USA must make sure they can take some positives from the game.

Advertisements

Taylor Twellman talks up future of U.S. soccer

Ex-international Taylor Twellman was at Craven Cottage to commentate on Friday night’s game as the USMNT suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat at the hands of Colombia thanks to a late winner from Teófilo Gutiérrez.

Despite the result, there were yet more positives to take from the performance of a nation that is growing in the game faster than any other has before.

In his programme notes, Twellman mentioned how Major League Soccer has “grown considerably” and that it would be “foolish to compare the league I played in when I returned in 2002 to what we see today”.

Embed from Getty Images

[Taylor Twellman enjoyed a successful career with New England Revolution before retiring in 2010]

It’s another example of a well respected figure recognising the continuous evolution of soccer in the USA and how the game is only going to continue to push on for better things.

“Off the field, with stadia and fans, everything has evolved. With team expansion the game has grown a lot and that’s just in the years since I retired. For the USMNT to be successful, MLS has to be successful.

“Talking to players like Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Tim Cahill, they will tell you how much the league has grown. It’s a great statement to see the likes of Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley returning to MLS as they’re in a great stage of their careers and playing on home soil, helping the growth.”

There is such a great feeling around soccer in the USA right now and it’s on a roller coaster journey that is heading in a very successful direction, so hold on to your hats everyone, because it’s not stopping anytime soon.

Will Major League Soccer become one of the strongest leagues in the world?

How costly will Diego Valeri’s injury be for Portland Timbers?

Portland Timbers could begin the 2015 season without key player Diego Valeri after he underwent surgery on his knee yesterday which will potentially see him out of action for five months.

It’s a lay-off that wouldn’t see him feature again until April if he is unable to recover quicker than expected with the new season beginning in March.

The Argentinian midfield maestro has been a revelation for the Timbers once again this season, setting club records in the process.

Embed from Getty Images

His goals tally of 11 is the best in a single season by any Portland player since their competition in Major League Soccer began in 2011.

The previous best record was the 10 goals scored by Valeri himself in last year’s campaign (2013) – a number that striker Maximiliano Urruti also notched up this year, assisted by great service from his midfield compatriot.

He was joint second in the league assists table this year, with 14 set-ups (also a new club record) which is the same as Robbie Keane of LA Galaxy – only Landon Donovan made more (19).

The 28-year-old has been the first name on the team sheet for the last two seasons, with consistent performances of the highest standard and has only missed four games.

Diego Valeri in the last two seasons:

Diego Valeri stats

He is the driving force in the Timbers side and he could prove to be a great loss in the early stages of next season.

Embed from Getty Images

Portland will certainly be hoping that he can recover quicker than has been predicted and that he can be back in time for the first game, but it’s looking unlikely.

It all means that they will desperately miss their key man in the opening games of the 2015 campaign and they can only hope that it won’t have a negative impact on their playoff aspirations.

How much will Portland Timbers miss Diego Valeri if he is unable to play for the first month of next season?

Should former USA prospect return home?

At the age of twenty-five, Freddy Adu still has at least five years in front of him to prove his quality. He is however, without a club at present, and will need to find one to have any chance of resurrecting his career.

Following the success of the USMNT at the World Cup, there is no better time to be a soccer player in America as the level of the current buzz is unheard of in the USA.

Adding to that, big names such as David Villa and Kaka have recently joined new franchises New York City FC and Orlando City respectively in time for next season, and with the new franchises comes a chance for Adu to restart his career back home.

Currently training with former USMNT manager Bob Bradley in Norway with Stabaek, Adu is clearly trying to get back into the game, with a lot to prove still.

Embed from Getty Images

He has been without a club since his release from Brazilian side Bahia in November 2013.

The attacking-midfielder has been keeping himself fit though, having trained with Blackpool in England as recent as February.

Adu has been known to travel around Europe, having enjoyed spells at Benfica and Monaco, but maybe now it’s time to go home for good and force his way back to the top of American soccer.

The 25-year-old was with Philadelphia Union from 2011 until 2013 and made 35 appearances for the club, scoring seven times and could thrive in his homeland now that the nation has taken to soccer.

USA lacked creativity in Brazil, possibly the only blaring weakness. Could Adu be the answer to their creative problems?

One thing is for certain; Adu’s best hope of revival is MLS.

USA progress further than England at the World Cup: What does this mean for US Soccer?

The USA qualified from the ‘Group of Death’ on Thursday and with that excellent achievement progressed into the last 16 of the World Cup for the second successive tournament.

This marks the first time that the USA have gone further than the English at the World Cup, so what does this mean for US Soccer?

Well firstly it means that the World should start taking US soccer seriously. Major League Soccer is constantly improving, and as a result the national team’s standard is too.

USA arguably had a more difficult group than England but looked more than comfortable defending against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

Embed from Getty Images

Going into the tournament, the majority of international fans wouldn’t have known who Matt Besler and Kyle Beckerman were, but they sure do now after stellar performances from both, as with most of the USA roster.

The success stems from the philosophy set by coach Jurgen Klinsmann who has put emphasis on developing soccer in the US throughout all levels of the game.

A plan has been put in place by Klinsmann to use an experience-filled team in order to set a platform for younger players to adhere and adapt to.

So far the younger players have added to the squad when called upon with John Brooks scoring the crucial winner against Ghana and DeAndre Yedlin causing problems off the bench in the last two games.

Embed from Getty Images

England lack direction at the moment and therefore USA are in a better position going forward.

The work of Jurgen Klinsmann is somewhat going unnoticed on a global scale and that can mask the master plan he is conjuring stateside, with his role in US soccer being seen as more than just a coaching role, but also as a head of soccer development.

As for England, there is no way of knowing where their standard will be come the next World Cup in Russia.

Whereas the USA have promise going forward and with the ever-expanding MLS behind them, the depth of US soccer will only increase.

The current crop are grinding out great results and look to be in excellent shape going forward, and as such have looked a far better footballing nation than England in Brazil.

What can the USMNT expect from Portugal?

The USMNT play Portugal in Manaus on Sunday night in a game which could settle the second qualifying spot in Group G.

On paper this Portugal team is superior to USA, but recent performances leave the USA with a very strong chance of winning.

The USA go into the game coming off the back of a resolute performance in a 2-1 win against Ghana, while the Portuguese were sub-standard against the Germans, and were thumped 4-0.

Portugal will be without Pepe who is suspended after picking up a red card in the defeat to Germany, and will be significantly weaker defensively.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also a major doubt as he is struggling to overcome a knee injury and his World Cup could be over.

The Ballon d’Or winner has been suffering with injuries to his knee and thigh for some time now and has been told to rest up for at least 2 months.

Embed from Getty Images

However, the USA are missing a big name too in Jozy Altidore, another who’s World Cup could be over after he pulled up in the game against Ghana with a hamstring injury just 20 minutes in.

Portugal are likely to still play with a 4-3-3, whether Ronaldo plays or not, in a system that will provide width and freedom for their wide men.

We expect that Portugal will dominate possession with the likes of Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles in midfield. But with the likes of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones protecting the back four, the USA are more than capable of suppressing the Portuguese advances.

Key Man: Nani

Should Ronaldo not be able to play, Nani will need to step up and perform. The Manchester United man has had one of his worst seasons in England this year, and Portugal will hope he can lead them to victory.

Prediction: USA 2- 1 Portugal

We believe USA is more than capable of beating this Portugal side if they perform as they did against Ghana, but they will have to work hard to do so. Another strong defensive performance is needed to win here and a victory will seal their place in the next round.

Reaction to the USA’s vital World Cup win against Ghana

USA beat Ghana 2-1 last night in one of the best defensive performances of the World Cup so far.

USA looked resolute in defence and seemed destined for the three points from the first whistle as Clint Dempsey netted the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history.

John Anthony Brooks was the standout performer for the Stars and Stripes and the winning goal was deserved following a brilliant defensive performance after coming on at halftime..

Calls will be made for him to start, but should Matt Besler recover for the Portugal game, it’s hard to see Jurgen Klinsmann changing the back four.

Embed from Getty Images

However, the win was not without casualties, as Jozy Altidore limped off little after 20 minutes of the game with a hamstring injury that looks to have ended his World Cup.

Aron Johannsson, who deputised for Altidore, is not to the same standard and doesn’t fit the USA game plan, so should Altidore not be able to continue, surely a change in tactics will be necessary.

With a midfield that was basically a flat four, Jermaine Jones thrived. The 32 year-old was immense and gave everything to the cause, even though he was out of position on the left.

A special mention must also go to Kyle Beckerman who rallied his teammates and broke up play when called upon. He will be key if the USA is to beat Portugal.

The USA now go into the Portugal game on Sunday full of confidence and Portugal are coming off the back of a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Germany.

Everything is going to plan for the USMNT. The game on Sunday is being seen as the battle for second place in Group G and a win on Sunday will surely see them into the last 16.

USA to host FIFA World Cup?

FIFA have told The United States Soccer Federation to prepare to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Through fresh corruption allegations surrounding Qatar’s successful bid to host the event, FIFA are seriously considering reselection, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter describing the allocation a ‘mistake’.

Should the event be hosted by Qatar in 2022, it brings about other issues such as the climate, and it has also been suggested the event could be moved to the winter.

Should the USA host the World Cup it would only improve the quality of soccer in America, as well as improving popularity of Major League Soccer across the globe.

Previously hosting the tournament in 1994, America has all the resources to host the games, including some of the best stadiums in the world.

Although there are several soccer specific stadiums now in use in the USA, a World Cup would see American football stadiums used by NFL teams due to the need for high capacity.

With the growth of MLS, and with David Beckham’s Miami franchise set to be up and running by the time the 2022 World Cup come round, this World Cup could be the boost MLS needs.

We expect soccer to take off in America and the USMNT will naturally become stronger because of this.

There is even the possibility of the USA winning the World Cup soon, and where better to do it than on home soil?

USMNT gather momentum going into the World Cup

USA has now won all three of their warm up games. They were, however, less than impressive in the opening two of their ‘send-off’ series.

But they changed their performance last night as Jurgen Klinsmann ditched the diamond and flooded midfield.

The structure was simply genius as it allowed Alejandro Bedoya and Clint Dempsey freedom on counter attacks.

There are things we need to look out for at the World Cup, assuming that Klinsmann won’t change this current team too much.

1. Zonal Marking – ditch it.

Set pieces are the worst way to concede a goal, as you have plenty of time to set yourself up and zonal marking is the greatest liability.

The system allows players to get complacent because you rely on each other, whereas, in a man-marking system everyone has a job.

We hope he doesn’t use it in Brazil against the likes of Germany who will punish the team from corners otherwise.

2. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones are a great insurance plan.

When you risk everything on a fast-paced counter attack you have to take precautions defensively.

Jones and Beckerman provide that cover so that the fullbacks, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley can bomb on.

Klinsmann has found an answer to his midfield issue, and the USMNT have a realistic chance of success at the tournament.

Embed from Getty Images

3. Michael Bradley is ready to shine.

Based on what we have seen in the three warm up games, Michael Bradley will have a great World Cup.

He is one of the first names on the USMNT team sheet and he provides a range of passes that can trouble any defence.

Ghana, Germany and Portugal better have done their homework because Bradley could hurt them.

4. Bedoya or Zusi?

We like Bedoya and he had another good game last night. But we have cause to believe Graham Zusi would be a better choice in terms of structure.

He is more than capable of joining in on the counter attack and he can also pick out a pass to perfection.

But unlike Bedoya, Zusi gives you a bit more defensively and we think he should start instead. It is likely that Bedoya will play though because we cannot see Klinsmann changing his team too much now.

Embed from Getty Images

5. Jozy Altidore can score goals.

It’s an extreme long shot but who’s to say he can’t win the Golden Boot? Although this is extremly unlikely, he did give us cause for optimism with a well-taken brace and lead’s a side with goals in it.

Granted the first goal was a tap-in and had he missed it, he should have retired, but his second cannot be questioned.

The confidence he showed while in possession was great to see and we think the USA have a great platform to attack with him as their outlet alongside Dempsey.

The USMNT will now play Belgium in a behind closed doors match on Thursday but we expect the team will stay much the same regardless of what happens there.

USA win again but there are still major problems within the set-up

The USA beat Turkey 2-1 on Sunday night, setting the benchmark for upcoming performances, however Jurgen Klinsmann still doesn’t know his best team.

We can assume he will play the diamond formation, having used it in both warm-up games so far, but they are left open at the back and better teams like Germany and Portugal will tear them apart.

We take a look at the areas that need more attention:

1. Left back.

Klinsmann has used DaMarcus Beasley and Timothy Chandler so far and both have looked questionable at best.

Klinsmann isn’t budging on moving Fabian Johnson from right back, even though Chandler and Johnson prefer the opposite flanks.

They need to find a solution at left back and quick, or hope that Chandler or Beasley are up for the challenge come June 16.

2. Should Jozy Altidore lead the line?

Altidore looked very good but the only thing missing was a goal.

He hasn’t scored a goal since the 4th December so fans will be hoping he finds the net before the big opener against Ghana.

He used his strength throughout and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed for a push on the goalkeeper.

Embed from Getty Images

3. Julian Green – too early?

The 18-year-old has only had one cap prior to his World Cup call up, and has yet to win over the USMNT fans.

Coming on against Turkey, he failed to make a valid contribution and the omission of Landon Donovan will look even worse to the USMNT faithful.

4. Portugal have Ronaldo, but the USA have Bradley.

We’re not going to begin to compare the two players, but they do mean a lot to their respective nations hopes at the World Cup.

Bradley is the pivotal player for the US and any hopes of them progressing out of the group lie solely on his ability to supply the goals, as he did last night. We expect him to have a great World Cup, although he will need a good supporting cast in front.

Embed from Getty Images

5. Geoff Cameron, first choice centre-half?

Cameron has only played one game at centre back domestically this year, yet he looks set to play there at the World Cup.

Unless Klinsmann knows something we all don’t, we can’t understand the logic behind his defensive combinations. He has a right back playing left back, a left back playing right back, and another right back playing centre back!

If Cameron does start in the heart of defence, where does that leave natural defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez?