You can do a lot in 10 minutes. Cook 3 cans of Spaghetti O’s, read the newspaper, or even checkout at the grocery store. Unfortunately for fans like me, 10 minutes is enough time for the US National Team to give up a lead. No one knows how it started. It is like a virus that has spread throughout the world and seems to hit the USMNT at some of the worst times. The USMNT officially has a 10-minute problem. This phenomenon seems to exclusively hit in the last 10 minutes of every game when the US has a lead or is tied. But to get to where we are, we have to backtrack just a little bit.
I have a theory that this mysterious Aura was picked up somewhere on the way to the World Cup in Brazil. Somehow this entity decided to latch onto the Stars and Stripes and bide its time, until it was time to cripple our squad when it would hurt the most. It lurked as Jurgen put our squad through rigorous training in preparation for the biggest competition in football. Then, it began to strike.
Of course, the first time it reared its ugly head, we did not notice it. We were more focused on the “third times a charm” with Ghana. The US held a 1-0 lead literally all game due to Clint Dempsey’s best Captain America impression. The minutes creeped by until the 82nd minute, when the Aura would strike in the form of Andre Ayew, equalizing and almost crushing the US hopes and dreams. Luckily, John Brooks would use his Dreamweaver magic and provide the winning goal just 4 minutes later.
Next came the Portugal game. Portugal drew first blood by the way of Nani in the 5th minute. The next 84 minutes belonged to the US, as they would equalize and take the lead with goals from Jermaine Jones and Captain Dempsey. Then, the Aura struck again. A Cristiano Ronaldo cross somehow bent perfectly to sub Silvestre Varela, who scored the equalizer. The US would have been through with a win, and instead had to hope that Germany would be nice to them.
Despite what the coaches may have said, I still believe they were in agreement to not run the score up, ensuring that both teams would progress. The 1-0 loss for the US was a gift from Germany, perhaps a thank you to Jurgen, who helped organize the youth system that produced a majority of the World Cup-winning team. Either way, the Aura had no chance of showing up in this game.
Then came the Belgium match. For the entirety of the match, Tim Howard played like a superhuman. Save after save, perhaps Howard had learned to fight off the Aura. But then came extra time, with the Aura determined to crush the USMNT. The two goals in extra time were enough to send the US packing — except the Aura left Brazil with them.
Over the next 8 matches, the USMNT would give up 11 second half goals, with 7 of them coming after the 80th minute. This was particularly highlighted when the US saw a lead disappear, and then go onto lose to Denmark after holding a 2-1 lead into the 80th minute. Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping to buck this trend against Switzerland.
For about two-thirds of the match, the US really dominated. Not necessarily ball control or possession, but rather the flow of play. They even got a wonderful strike from Brek Shea just before halftime. But after half, Jozy Altidore made a mistake that would once again cost the team a chance to win. He was sent off after making a frustrated tackle and saying multiple obscene things to the ref. After that in the 80th minute, you guessed it, Switzerland found the equalizer. On a positive note, the US didn’t give up a second goal in the last 10 minutes.
Any way you look at it, this trend can not continue. I appreciate that Jurgen is trying to mix and match players, but the common denominator between all of them should not be goals let in after 80 minutes. I am hopeful that Jurgen can get the team back to winning ways, but perhaps we should focus less on getting a European style of play and be ourselves. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it, the USMNT has a 10-minute problem.