COLUMBUS, Ohio — US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann did not mince his words in describing what went wrong in his side’s 2-1 loss in Jamaica last Friday. Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, he didn’t point the finger at any tactical mistakes or the rough playing surface or a poor outing from the defense.
Instead, he hammered on a more obvious culprit.
“We gave away cheap free kicks and lost the game based on that,” Klinsmann said, chuckling as if trying to lighten it enough to float out of his memory. “You can’t blame the backline for it. You can’t blame tactical reasons or whatever. You weren’t sharp enough there to avoid free kicks and you paid the price for it.”
Both Jamaica goals resulted from freekicks at the top of the US box. The first one, struck by Rodolph Austin in 23rd minute, came as a result of a foul conceded by midfielder Kyle Beckerman after the RSL captain was beaten to the inside. Austin’s shot then squirted under the leaping US wall, ricocheting off Beckerman’s foot on its way into the lower corner.
The second goal had a similar starting point. US midfielder Maurice Edu dragged Austin down in the 61st minute, and Luton Shelton bent a beautiful direct kick over the wall and into the upper 90, leaving US goalkeeper Tim Howard helpless.
“Step one, you don’t want to give [free kicks] away,” Klinsmann said. “Step two, a little bit more organization in the wall. Every time you analyze a free kick, you read the wall. Who jumps up how? Who’s really tense? Good body tension has this kind of hunger to block the shot. You see people jumping up. You see people don’t jump up. You can have a whole half-hour discussion about a wall.”
Alas, there was no time at the press conference for that full half-hour discussion. But suffice to say that between now and when the US will take on Jamaica again on Tuesday night (8 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), the US players will discuss both the wall and the need not to concede free kicks around the box.
“We tell them what we see and you can always improve a couple of things on those occasions,” Klinsmann said.