The central midfield problem 

October, 20, 2011

We're not normally stat guys, but that didn't keep us from wondering what story the numbers told about the beginning of the Jurgen Klinsmann era.

So with help from ESPN's own soccer metrics experts, the incomparable Albert Larcada and Paul Carr, we were able to get our eyes on some advanced data from Opta, the soccer world's leading stat-tracking firm and the one used by the English Premier League, MLS and others. Alas, due to a technical glitch, info from the U.S. squad's most recent game against Ecuador wasn't available. But examining the figures from Coach Klinsi's first four games is still revealing, starting up front.

With just two goals scored, much has been made of the Americans' inability to find the net under the German ex-striker, and the numbers confirm what we already knew: The finishing woes are rooted in the Yanks' inability to create chances.

When the U.S. got opportunities, they came almost exclusively from the wings. Central midfielders Michael Bradley, Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones and Jose Torres created just one scoring chance between them in 1,082 combined minutes before Ecuador.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.