US Soccer’s January camp is a chance for coach Jurgen Klinsmann to get a look at the second tier US players for an extended period of time and test their implementation of his system in a couple of friendlies against similarly skilled competition. Without Dempsey, Donovan, Howard, Bocanegra, Bradley, and the other regulars, it’s a time for younger players to show what they can bring and a time for us to hopefully get excited about some young talent stepping up.
The US won both matches, as expected, but not with the panache we would have hoped for. While there’s no doubt that this was a learning experience for both coach and player alike, the soccer on display was pretty ragged for a team that had plenty of time to gel in training camp. At home with a decent crowd in Phoenix, a last minute win against Venezuela was justification for a controlling, if not attractive, performance. In Panama, the team was out-muscled, out-hustled, and out-coached against a physical side that deserved better than a 0-1 loss for their efforts.
Match reports are available here, so I’ll focus on my takeaways.