In the wake of the USMNT's 2-0 loss in Guatemala City, disappointed did not even begin to cover the attitude of most U.S. fans. Disappointment at the sleepwalking act the back line pulled in the first twenty minutes of the game. Disappointment at the American's determination to put every shot straight at Guatemala's keeper. Disappointment in Mix Diskerud in general. And absolute, utter rage at Jurgen Klinsmann and the lineup he put out to face Guatemala in a World Cup qualifying match.
After the game, reporters were absolutely sure Klinsmann would bite the bullet. Past talk of learning experiences and the difficulty of travel in CONCACAF had to give way in this situation. Klinsmann had played a midfield with a defender as a winger, a box-to-box/holding hybrid as a main creative threat, an attacking shuttler as a defensive midfielder, and a midfield workhorse on the other wing, contrary to that side coinciding with his weaker foot. He also played Michael Orozco. Surely, Klinsmann would have to own up to this.
Klinsmann defended his lineup choices in Friday's loss, saying not once, but twice, that he didn't play anyone out of position. #USMNT— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 28, 2016
So, in honor of our fearless leader and supreme United States soccer overlord's immaculate lineup and roster decisions, here are the top five times Jurgen Klinsmann totally, definitely, no-way-in-Guatemala did not play players out of position.
(Editor's Note: Jose 'Gringo' Torres at Left Back should've made this list somewhere)
5. Playing Timmy Chandler
Most people assumed Timmy Chandler's natural position was as far away from a soccer ball as you can legally put him. Not our man Jurgen, though. Jurgen figured out we could play him in the defense. In the defense! Masterstroke!
4. The "DeAndre Yedlin as a Winger" Experiment
Klinsmann has been trying to pull this one off almost since the moment Yedlin got a whiff of the senior team, and sure, it's easy to understand why at first. Yedlin is fast. Like, world class fast. And he wants to run straight up and down, north and south along the touchline. Prototype winger, right?
Absolutely! After Yedlin's glorious showing against Portugal in the World Cup in which his deflected cross finally managed to get bundled across the goal line by Clint Dempsey, Yedlin has been lights out in the position. He has four whole assists as a winger in the last two years. In fact, his adept midfield play is thoroughly impressive considering his absolute lack of club playing time in the midfield, as the Seattle Sounders, Tottenham Hotspur, and Sunderland have all used him, with near-absolute exclusivity, as a right back. His natural position you say? Perish the thought! Yedlin has speed. Did you hear me? SPEEEEEED.
Mix Diskerud's national team playing time has been at its best when he's used as an impact substitute higher up in the midfield, as his cool passing and occasional fox-in-the-box senses have earned him an important few goals and assists, free of the defensive responsibility his fellow midfielders pick up. Which is why, of course, Jurgen has been trying to make him a D-mid going on two years now.
The latest episode in this saga happened just last Friday:
Look at that determination, that body positioning, that never-say-die attitude! Mix is the holding midfielder the United States deserves.
2. Michael Bradley's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
No one has done more to muddle the waters of Michael Bradley's ideal position more than Jurgen Klinsmann, simply because Jurgen Klinsmann discovered Michael Bradley's best position is absolutely everywhere! Holding midfield to allow offensive superstar Jermaine Jones to roam wherever he pleases? Absolutely! Creative attacking midfielder just below the forwards? You betcha! Michael Bradley can do absolutely everything; therefore, he cannot be played out of position. That's just logic.
1. Jermaine Jones, Center Back
We can't have a list like this without examining Klinsmann's finest moment: discovering United States legend and patron saint of Instagram Jermaine Jones was a center back. It made perfect sense, really. The constant ignorance of tactical positioning. The seek and destroy defending methods. The fearless fouling regardless of the place on (or off!) the field. The sheer aerial dominance. As Klinsmann always likes to remind us, Jones is a leader for the U.S. on and off the pitch, and that much was clear from the game in Guatemala City. The only personnel problem Klinsmann had was simply that he did not have Jermaine Jones to deploy wherever the U.S. needed to crack an ankle.