U.S. Soccer's surprising flaw 

August, 9, 2011

In Jurgen Klinsmann's first news conference on the job as U.S. national team coach, our ESPN.com colleague Leander Schaerlaeckens went right to the point, asking, "What's wrong with this team and how do you fix it?"

Klinsmann answered that there was nothing wrong with the team. But after analyzing goal data since 2007 (with help from Elias), we disagree.

The new coach must address a huge problem: the Yanks' softness in the middle of matches. To put it bluntly, in the Bob Bradley era the U.S. hit the snooze button between the 31st and 60th minutes.

Fans need only look back at the last time the Yanks took the field, against Mexico. The U.S. started fast and held a 2-1 lead after 30 minutes, but Mexico grabbed hold of the match in the next half hour of play, scoring twice and never looking back in a 4-2 victory. And that Gold Cup final was no outlier.

To use a hockey term, the U.S. lost the second period over the course of the past five years.

Check out the first table, where Elias divided up the goals in U.S. games according to the 30-minute segment in which they occurred. (And yes, the stats beyond the 61st minute are skewed by added time and extra periods):

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