Williams shines in preferred central MF role for USMNT

Danny Williams and Ryan Johnson

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — If there was any silver lining for the US national team in last Friday’s loss to Jamaica, it was the fact that Danny Williams’ appearance in the second half locked his international affiliation to the US.

In Tuesday’s win over Jamaica, the 23-year-old Hoffenheim midfielder showed why that silver lining could actually be taking on a golden hue.

Starting for the US in his favored holding midfield position for the first time, Williams combined with Jermaine Jones to dominate the middle of the park. His defensive positioning stymied the Jamaican attack before it could even get started, and his distribution was top-notch: He completed 67 of 70 passes on the night.

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“[Clint Dempsey and Jose Torres] always want to play with one and two touches, and this is the type of play I want to have, too,” he said. “I love to play the ball to my teammates in better positions.”

In previous games, Williams has lined up on the right wing rather in the "No. 6," as the holding-midfield position is known in Germany. It's where he plays for his club.

“I think the people today saw why I feel so comfortable in this position,” Williams said. “On the outside, right back or right wing, it’s not my position. I don’t feel comfortable there. And I think when a player doesn’t feel comfortable in a position, you can see it. When I feel comfortable in my position, the people can also see it.”

He is also comfortable having Jones nearby. Like Williams, Jones is a German-American who plies his trade in the Bundesliga, and the duo seemed to complement each other well. Jones marauded forward while Williams stayed near the midfield line to shield the US defense.

"It helps me because he also speaks German,” Williams said. “It’s easier for me to express myself. He is an experienced player, 30 years old, and this year he’s playing [in the] Champions League with Schalke. I can learn a lot from him. Whatever I want to know, he gives me advice, and I try to take them because experience is a big thing in soccer.”

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Williams nearly had the moment of the match. In the 30th  minute, as the US pounded the Jamaican goal, Williams slammed a long-range shot that pinged off the inside of the left post — the third time the US hit the woodwork in the first half hour.

“From my angle, it seemed like it will go in, but the last two yards, the ball was moving to the left, and I thought to myself, ‘No, not again,’” he said. “But we won, and that’s perfect for the team.”