Friday, August 26, 2011
So unless you live in a cave deep in the mountains somewhere, you've probably seen the 24-man U.S. roster released for the upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium. For our friends who very may well live in a cave, here is the roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Tim Howard, Bill Hamid
Defenders (9): Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Zach Loyd, Michael Orozsco Fiscal, Heath Pearce, Tim Ream
Midfielders (9): Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Jeff Larentowicz, Robbie Rogers, Brek Shea, Jose Torres
Forwards (4): Teal Bunbury, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Landon Donovan
That "mehhh" you're hearing is the collective moaning of thousands of U.S. fans who have pretty much expected the "best" US players to be called in, regardless of playing time, which is primarily what we saw under Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley. This roster is what the United States looks like when you simply call in players based on their club playing time. Every player on the roster has been seeing significant time lately for their respective clubs.
Terrifying isn't it?
There is a sheer litany of players who most fans consider "more promising", or "better", what ever you to call it, who aren't here, because they aren't seeing consistent playing time. Jurgen Klinsmann is not just paying lip service to only calling in players who are playing full matches with their clubs consistently. Let's just take a quick look at some guys who have been left off for this pair of friendlies for not playing much at their clubs:
Now a list of players who have been meeting the "playing time" clause, but who've been left off for various reasons:
Lots of players listed there isn't it?
But there's nothing we as the fans can do so we'll move on to the actual roster itself, which despite the lack of some of the "regulars", is quite strong. Klinsmann has clearly determined in his mind who the U.S. goalkeeper of the future is going to be. Bill Hamid receives his second consecutive camp call-up under Klinsmann, despite Hamid picking up what looked to be a nasty hamstring injury just last week. But he's healed and he's here. I'm happy for the kid.
Defenders are pretty much who we though they would be right? Not surprised at the inclusions of Heath Pearce and Zach Loyd. Timothy Chandler WILL be there, WILL play, back away from the edge, EVERYONE. Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra are you're CB pairing I believe, despite Michael Orozco's yeoman's performance from earlier this month. Edgar Castillo with his second consecutive call-up, and he'll likely get a start in at least one of the matches.
The midfield corp has an interesting name in it, that name being Fabian Johnson. The Hoffenheim midfielder/defender is yet another "born in Germany to an American service man" product. He's been a bit of a journeyman the last couple seasons, but prior to that, was a regular with German youth sides, so you can be assured of his quality. He has played leftback a couple of times this season for Hoffenheim, but he's primarily deployed on the right hand side of midfield, where in his last match he earned an assist and drew a penalty with a darting run into the box. I think he could very well see a Chandler/Johnson right hand side combination. Massive chance for Maurice Edu here. The absence of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones gives Edu the proper shot he deserves to nail down a starting job in central midfield.
The strike-force includes Teal Bunbury, his first call up since the January camp. Jozy Altidore has scored braces in his last two games for new club AZ Alkmaar. Donovan and Agudelo fill out the other roles. Straight forward.
Potential starting eleven, for both matches, as Klinsmann will need to develop some kind of continuity heading towards World Cup Qualifying which will start for the United States in June of next year with a group that will include Jamaica, and will likely include Guatemala and Haiti. Here is an intriguing eleven to consider:
What about that? Dangerous? Let me know what you think.
Players will begin arriving on Monday in Los Angeles for the match against Costa Rica.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Alright, a quick post here while I'm up and thinking about our new system and manager.
Understand that the recent 1-1 draw with Mexico in Philadelphia was with incomplete squads from both sides. While the result is a fantastic one for the United States considering the circumstances, it must be taken with a grain of salt. Understand that our goal came: after many of Mexico's starters had been removed, after fresh US legs were brought on, and after Klinsmann and moved players around a bit. Also understand that the U.S. should've been awarded a penalty and at least one Mexican player should've seen a red card.
But that's all in the past. What matters is the selection of players and the style of play the U.S. will be going for under the direction of Jurgen Klinsmann. With the Costa Rica match just eleven days away, I'll be taking a gander at who I think will make the single roster for the United States. Yes, it will be a single roster, comprised of all A team guys or future A team guys, as Klinsmann alluded too in his post-match press conference.
Without further adieu, here are my best guesses for roster selection:
GK (3): Tim Howard (Everton FC), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa FC), Quentin Westberg (Evian)
DF (9): Timothy Chandler (FC Nurnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), George John (Blackburn), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Zak Whitbread (Norwich City), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa FC)
MD (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Rangers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
FW (6): Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Josh Gatt (Molde), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Chris Rolfe (Aalborg BK)
For those keeping track, yes I named 25 players. Not uncommon for dual international fixture dates.
First, let me introduce you (or perhaps reintroduce you) to Quentin Westberg, a former US youth international, who has built his way into a backup role for recently promoted, Ligue 1 club Evian. With the clubs starting GK out injured, Westberg filled in extravagantly, earning his club a 2-2 draw away from home vs. Brest, and then opened his shutout account at home when Evian beat established club Nice 1-0. He's still just 25 years old and seems to be in a positive situation in France. Why not give him a look? Bring in someone else to push Brad Guzan a bit.
Nine defenders asks you? Yes says I. The strange choice obviously is George John, currently in the midst of a transfer from MLS side FC Dallas to EPL side Blackburn Rovers. How is he able to do that? He flew today to Greece to get his Grecian Passport and ID, making him a European and easing his way into a work visa. He's received call-ups from both the United States (under Bob Bradley for the January camp) and by Greece, but had to withdraw both times on account of injuries. However, if given the choice, it is understood that John would welcome a call from the United States, especially under Klinsmann, more than Greece. However, it is still important that we establish to John that we have a clear and determined interest in his future with the United States. No better way than calling him up for two big friendlies.
Also, I've included the maligned Edgar Castillo, who didn't necessarily impress in his first start with the US, but was solid enough to merit another look. He's a Klinsmann kinda guy, good on the ball, quick on the counter, and if continuously given chances, I think he will impress. Michael Parkhurst and Zak Whitbread make for some eyebrow raising as well. But both are starters for their clubs, one in the EPL and the other is a Europa League club. They've earned it. Call em' up.
First thing everyone will notice about the midfielders is the exclusion of Michael Bradley. This is a bit of a guess on my part, but right now, he's played one game since June 25. With his impending transfer away from Borussia Monchengladbach, there is no need to take him away from his new club for the first week. He'll be left off, I can feel it. The rest are pretty self-explantory, the exception being the inclusion of Mikkel Diskerud. News has come up of late of Norways call up of Diskerud for Norways upcoming European qualifiers. I for one would NOT allow this to happen, even if it's true or not. Diskerud needs to be reassured of his spot in this team, and a callup for some high profile friendlies is the way to do it. Brek Shea earns another extended look for his performance against Mexico. Also, don't get caught up in all the hullabaloo about Kyle Beckerman and Robbie Rogers. These two are fringe players at best. Beckerman is a great MLS/CONCACAF level player, but he's also 29, and the US has better/younger players in the same position. Rogers wasn't even named to the last camp roster until an injury forced out Maurice Edu. Stuart Holden, though he has returned to full training with Bolton, likely won't be match fit for a couple more weeks, no need to call him in at this time as we need him healthy for 2012 and the start of qualifying.
I've named six forwards, which sounds a bit much, but I think it's necessary for nailing down who your top 4-5 are going to be moving forward. The intriguing pick here is Chris Rolfe, who's been on a bit of a tear lately with his Danish club Aalborg. After finally seeing off some injury issues since his move away from MLS, Rolfe has nailed down a starting job and impressed. In my opinion, he's earned it. The other five are self explanatory, except maybe Agudelo, who is an inconsistent starter for NYRB these days, but he's obviously one for the future.
Possible inclusions to look out for: Freddy Adu, Michael Orozco, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, and Ricardo Clark, based on simply being called up for the Mexico match.
Deutschland born, US eligible players such as David Yelldell (who has already featured for the US in 2011), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), and Daniel Williams (SC Freiberg) could all get calls.
Been away long? Players like Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector, and dare I say it...Robbie Findley, could possibly get a call to check in on their progress with their new clubs. I just threw up...a bit.
It is understood that MLS has twice knocked offers for Tim Ream...from ARSENAL! As an Arsenal fan, this appalls me, both that MLS royally screwed over Ream, and that Arsenal see Ream as a solution. Not that Ream couldn't do well at Arsenal, because he very well could be a starter for the Gunners at the current time with all the injuries along the back line. But if Tim Ream is good enough to catch Arsene Wengers eye, then Ream has the quality to move to Europe sooner rather than later. Ream turns 24 in a couple months, and past that, has maybe 4-5 years of prime playing years. Ream could be brought along for Euro scouts to take a peak at on European soil.