Where U.S. will get goals

Repositioning Bradley, making lineup changes could aid Yanks' attack

Updated: June 18, 2014, 3:51 AM ET
By Adrian Melville | ESPN Insider

Michael BradleyWinslow Townson/USA TODAY SportsMichael Bradley didn't have his best game in the U.S. World Cup opener against Ghana.

Overshadowed in the United States' thrilling 2-1 win over Ghana was the fact that the team was on its heels for most of the game, and was thoroughly outshot by a 21-8 margin. In addition, U.S. striker Jozy Altidore appears due to miss a significant amount of time with a hamstring injury, which could seriously hamper the team's chances of advancing out of Group G.

While a gritty, defensive approach was enough to get past Ghana, the U.S. must do a better job putting more offensive pressure on future opponents Portugal and Germany. This will require a shift in tactics that allows the U.S. to build possession and attack collectively, as opposed to recovering the ball after long defensive stretches and quickly giving it away again with long, low-percentage, attacking pass attempts.

Here is how the United States can do a better job of dictating the pace in the rest of its World Cup campaign, and in the process get more out of an attack that stalled for most of its opening game.

Start Michael Bradley in a deeper midfield position

When asked about his tactical shifts in preparing for the World Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann said that with his team, "There is no such thing as a best system ... we want to be prepared in different ways with how we approach certain teams, so I think we have two or three systems in our working role and know how to play them."

Klinsmann's comments are proof that his tinkering with formations is based on playing to the strengths of his personnel, and in his talent pool perhaps no player is a more important chess piece than Michael Bradley.

Over the last 18 months, Bradley has shifted from a holding role in a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout World Cup qualifying to the attacking part of a 4-4-2 diamond midfield in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup opener against Ghana.