1.) Oguchi Onyewu says he will be ready to go within four months...God willing.
2.) Kenny Cooper suffered a torn ACL is out for some time...Is there a god?
3.) Jermaine Jones out until after Bundesliga winter break...are there any good German doctors?
4.) Houston Dynamo teammates Ricardo Clark and Stuart Holden are leaving MLS for good. Both players are available on a free transfer and rumors have Aberdeen looking hard at Holden. Clark's suitors include Livorno in Italy and Paris- St. Germain was rumored as well.
5.) The full field for the 2010 World Cup is now set, barring a FIFA decision to reply the France-Ireland second leg which was clearly won by a handball. Here are the current 32 teams:
AFC: CONCACAF: UEFA:
Austrailia United States Denmark
Japan Mexico England
Korea Republic Honduras France
Korea DPR Germany
CAF: CONMEBOL: Italy
Algeria Argentina Netherlands
Cameroon Brazil Portugal
Ivory Coast Chile Serbia
Ghana Paraguay Slovakia
Nigeria Uruguay Slovenia
South Africa Spain
The draw for the World is set for January 4th and will be broadcast on ESPN2. If there is a God in heaven we will finally be drawn with a decent group. Of course Mexico will probably draw Korea DPR, New Zealand, and Algeria.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, now you can see just how bad things are underneath the surface. A US team made up mostly of fringe players looking to make an impact and push for a World Cup spot, was spotty in the first half, but got completely obliterated in the second. The defense was mostly makeshift with Spector starting his second straight match at centerback and Frankie Hejduk starting at RB. It seemed that only Benny Feilhaber was the only player who was up to the task, and he gets consideration considering its his home stadium and fans he was playing in front of. The US was gifted a goal by Denmark keeper Thomas Sorensen, which Jeff Cunningham finished with aplomb. But other than that, the US was on the defensive. The first 10 minutes of the second half were all Denmark needed to take a stranglehold of the US defense.
Frankie Hejduk looked at sea for most of the match. And just 65 seconds into the second half, his inability to spot half-time substitute Johan Absalonsen lurking along the back line allowed the Dane to latch on to Simon Kjaer's long ball and score from close range. Just five minutes later, Jonathan Spector's failed clearing attempt saw Absalonsen break into the clear to feed Soren Rieks at the far post, and Rieks' easy finish put Denmark ahead. The game then ceased to be a contest in the 55th minute when a poor pass from Michael Bradley sparked a counterattack that ended with Martin Bernburg beating U.S. keeper Brad Guzan from the top of the box.
The fact that Hedjuk was even on the field was a head scratch-er, but Bradley's decision to keep him there for the full 90 was mind boggling. Hedjuk needs to be put out to pasture now, he's well past his prime and the MLS playoffs proved that. Let him be the team's motivational speaker, but never again should he see a US jersey. Also concerning was Bradley's decision to play Edgar Castillo at left midfield, even though Jonathan Bornstein was having another howler at left back. When players aren't playing well, it makes sense to replace them. Holden was ineffective as was the rest of the offense. Jeff Cunningham merits a January call up, but past that, the guy is 32 and 17 goals in MLS dont translate to goals in the World Cup easily. Jozt Altidore's status is alarming. The most heralded youngster on this US team hasn't looked sharp in his past few games going back to the game in Honduras. He must get time at Hull City if the US is to have any bite in its attack come June.
Here are the player ratings:
Brad Guzan - 5: Was left out dry by his defense on the first two, and the third was a result of the ref not calling and carding on a clear flop.
Frankie Hejduk - 2.5: Basically, he started and played a full 90 and was leaker than a wicker tub.
Jonathan Spector - 5: While seeing this kind of passing out of the back is nice, he was to blame on the second goal when he failed to clear. His natural position is on the flanks, and the forwards missed that service.
Carlos Bocanegra - 5: Tried his best to keep the team composed but too many missing players did his attempts in. Steady in the middle as always.
Jonathan Bornstein - 4: It's all going down for Bornstein, as he was beaten a number of times for speed and is even more susceptible to a player with good foot skills. Again, another guy who went the full 90 who shouldn't have.
Stuart Holden - 4.5: Was out-muscled on the flank and the lack of service was clearly due to him being taken out of the match.
Michael Bradley - 4.5: Seemed lost and at times tried to play a bit to fast. It was his failed pass to Holden that led to the Danes third goal. Seemed improved in close ball control and long distance shooting though, always a plus.
Ricardo Clark - 4.5: Another player who seemed to try to hard to make plays. Didn't link up well with anyone really, but his shot from range tested Sorensen.
Benny Feilhaber - 5.5: Again, the only player who seemed up for this match. His wide array of balls all over the pitch goes to show his great vision and intelligence, but like everyone else, faded at the end.
Jeff Cunningham - 5: Was gifted the goal by Sorensen but did well to take his only chance of the match. Faded with everyone else though.
Jozy Altidore - 4.5: If there was ever a time for him to step up and shine, these two matches were it. What we got was a whole lot of effort but little to show for it on the scoreboard.
Robbie Rogers - 4: His one shot was a low blast that Sorensen did well to save. Other than that he was ineffective.
Eddie Johnson - 4: The lack of service to the forwards meant that he wasn't given a chance to display any progress.
Edgar Castillo - 4.5: His insertion at left midfield was strange, but from his 30+ minute run out he seemed quite composed on the ball but by that time also, his teammates had essentially given up and his rating suffers for it.
Jimmy Conrad, Clarence Goodson, Dax McCarty- Grabbed their late cameo's after the match was won and lost.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
So after a less than impressive performance against Slovakia the US will look to turn things around and end on a positive note for 2009. That won't be easy to accomplish playing away to a team who dominated in a difficult UEFA qualifying group, which included Portugal and Sweden, without the US' best keeper, defender, midfielder, and striker all absent through injury or club commitments. Now with Clint Dempsey sent back to England someone will need to step up and headline this US attack. Dempsey was terrific for stretches of the Slovakia match, but faded in and out like always. Some defensive reshuffling must occur as well because Steve Cherundolo has been sent back to Germany where he was a pallbearer at teammate Robert Enke's funeral. Also gone through injury is Crew stalwart Chad Marshall. Also, Jonathan Bornstein isn't helping his chances by giving away penalties. So who needs to step up for the offense? The addition of Stuart Holden should help a bit, his speed and crossing ability will be an upgrade from the last match. How about a defensive mix-up? Here's one for ya:
Yep, Castillo with the start. It is a friendly after all and what better for him to get acquainted with Nats than to play a solid 70+ minutes with them. Spector was serviceable in the middle, but RB is his natural position so he moves there, allowing Goodson his chance to impress for a roster spot.
In midfield I'd expect a lineup like this:
That seems like an easy call as Rogers was mostly ineffective in his run out. Feilhaber plays LM for is club AGF Aarhus (at whose stadium the game will be played) and so is a valid option there. With Denmark being quite physical I expect Ricardo Clark to be added for some defensive bite which will also allow Bradley Jr. to push forward and attack.
Yes, Eddie Johnson, who was the most exciting striker on the field against Slovakia and seems to have come a long way since his first days at Fulham. Pairing with the more physical but deceptively quick Altidore could open things up for Johnson who is looking for every reason to be apart of his second World Cup.
Put that all together and we have:
Monday, November 16, 2009
What a game this should turn out to be. We have all the star power we could ask more with Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Robbie Findley, and Kyle Beckerman all penciled in to see alot of minutes. We have America's true soccer city and their fans who have been the best all season long (Seattle just released an additional 6,000 tickets for the game. Hopefully we won't have any west coast rolling blackouts again. This one is shaping up to be a classic. The Galaxy, the worst team in the western conference last season turns it around and grabs the number one seed in its conference this year, and this years Cinderella team, RSL beat the best two teams in the Eastern Conference to make it to their first MLS Cup final. It should be exciting to watch.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Hey I'm back after a week with spotty internet service at home and this weekend I was stationed in Evansville, IN coaching soccer where I was put up at a hotel who's internet was down so I had no service and was unable to watch the US match against Slovakia. I was however able to watch the match highlights and can I just say that am I right about Bornstein? Or am I right? That's why Edgar Castillo will earn the start against Denmark and keep that spot. You heard it hear first. I'll be back tomorrow with a Denmark roster/match preview.