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Klinsmann still searching for US' best look as Italy loom

Jurgen Klinsmann directs US practice in Genoa

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

GENOA, Italy — With CONCACAF World Cup qualifying fast approaching, US boss Jurgen Klinsmann says he is still trying to determine the optimum system for his team. In that regard, he expects Wednesday's friendly against Italy (2:30 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN3, Galavision, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com) to be a great learning tool.

The coach has altered formations several times during his nine matches in charge, but insists it's not a case of planning by opponent.

"We aren't tailoring to anyone," Klinsmann stated at Tuesday's prematch press conference. "We have a lot of respect for any team we play and we want to play the best in the world — France, Italy and soon we play Brazil. We want to match ourselves to them.

"[Changing formations] is for seeing the best way possible. We want to build a system and style of play based on the players' strengths. Whatever [formation] it is, it needs to fit our players."

Illness and injury means starters like Landon Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu won't be on hand at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium, the venerable, 101-year-old home ground of Genoa CFC and UC Sampdoria. The Italians haven’t lost there since 1924, going 15-0-5 in their last 20 games in the stadium.

The absences and conditions obviously delay Klinsmann's final decision on the best USMNT tactical look, but he prefers to find the bright side.

"We had some injuries, but it happens to every national team coach," he said. "We deal with it positively and that gives the next player an opportunity to step in to play his game. That's how you find the next player."

While Klinsmann is eager to learn more about putting all the pieces together properly, he says this Italy visit isn't merely intended to be educational.

"We are basically now seven months on our path to the World Cup in Brazil," he reminded. "We are molding our team and introducing young players into our team. Having the chance to play Italy is something very special, but that doesn't mean we don't want to win."