Watching the United States men's national team has been a chore for the last two years. The promise of proactive soccer has been broken and what we're left with is a disjointed style of play led by a manager who can't make up his mind. Bad results are always going to upset any fan base, but it's the lack of a consistent identity that is the most frustrating part about following the current U.S. national team.
During Jurgen Klinsmann's time as manager, the USA have tried many different styles of play and formations along with tons of players to try and fit them. The 4-3-3 was the formation du jour in the early days of the Klinsmann-era. Since then we've seen switches to the 4-4-2 flat that was prevalent under Bob Bradley, an infatuation with the diamond formation develop, and many other five midfielder variations such as the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1 have been experimented with.
It seems like every other match the USMNT play they are experimenting with a new style or tinkering with the formation and/or personnel. During his reign as manager, Jurgen has only started the same starting 11 in back-to-back matches on two separate occasions, the last occurrence happening back in 2014. Curtailing a certain philosophy or mindset to a specific opponent is fine if the manager making the decisions is a tactical genius. We have a big enough sample size during Klinsmann's time as manager to safely say he's not that.
So, how do you combat the lack of tactical acumen? Developing one consistent and organized playing style that has the players and coaching staff on the same page could go a long ways in helping. Everyone understanding their roles and knowing what is expected of them seems to be a huge problem with today's team. Is DeAndre Yedlin a fullback or a winger? Is Alejandro Bedoya an attacking midfielder, a winger, or a box-to-box player? There are too many changing variables from match-to-match for anyone within the USMNT to be comfortable and confident in their roles and it's affecting the results as seen throughout the last two years.
As an outside voice, it's not for us to demand Klinsmann use a certain formation. This isn't an expert analysis piece to come up with an amazingly brilliant playing style for the team to use. However, what we are begging for is that Jurgen stop acting like a 4-year-old child trying to decide which flavor of ice cream he wants in his cone. It's time -- if he's capable -- for him to step up and be the leader of the this team. Get all the players on the same page with a consistent style of play. The players will benefit from understanding the team's mindset and their personal role within it and in-turn their confidence in the team will skyrocket thus improving performances and results.
Developing a consistent style of play and team identity is what is needed for the USMNT to get back to some kind of normalcy after these trying last few years. Nothing else Jurgen has up his sleeve seems to be very effective, so maybe he should give consistency a shot.