USA vs Nigerian World Cup Warm Up Breakdown: A Perfect Send Off
After 18 months of uncertainty over what the United States team would look like when they kicked off their World Cup against Ghana, it seems as if Klinsmann’s squad has finally found their identity. Playing a diamond midfield similar to the one used against Turkey but with the inclusion of holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman, the United States put together their best performance against Nigeria. We broke down the tape to examine exactly how Beckerman’s changed the entire squad and what it means for Brazil.
Saturday’s game against Nigeria was the perfect warm up for the United States heading into their opening World Cup game against Ghana. It had the heat and humidity of Jacksonville, a pacey African side in Nigeria and likely the starting lineup playing together.
Not only did Klinsmann bring in his probable starting XI but he changed the formation. Or at least it seemed so. Between Klinsmann’s pregame interview where he talked about providing more cover for the back four and the inclusion of defensive midfielder Kyle Beckerman it looked as if the United States were going to be playing a 4-2-3-1.
Even the ESPN pre-game graphic had the United States playing with Jones and Beckerman in front of the defense and Dempsey dropping into a left midfield position. But once the game started it became clear the Americans were really playing a similar formation to the diamond midfield similar we saw against Turkey.
Here is a screenshot from the 1st half showing Dempsey in a high position with a diamond midfield behind him.
Here is another screenshot capturing the diamond in action.
The difference between the United States team that gave up a ton of quality chances to Turkey and the one that stifled a World Cup bound Nigeria wasn’t the formation but the players in it. Beckerman’s insertion in the starting XI gave the United States a true holding midfielder and forced Jones farther up field which changed the entire United States identity both offensively and defensively.