Archive for May, 2010

Overall the United States’ 2-1 come from behind victory this afternoon was a positive step and should definitely build confidence as they prepare for their departure for South Africa.  To come back with composure and the level of calm which they did is very impressive and should serve as a quality lesson on playing from behind.

The first half saw them maintain a very low level of possession and they weren’t doing great when they did get it.  However, it was the first time BB trotted out a top lineup like this in a while and it was going  to take some time for them to gel.    Turkey was running  them around holding possession and the US was relying on deep balls, too often giving the ball right back to the opposition.  Some key substitutions at the half saw the dynamic change entirely and they looked much more dangerous and cohesive for the 2nd 45 minutes.

It should be noted that  even though the US is on the way to South Africa while Turkey is just finishing a long European season and will be home for the tournament, this is a quality win.  Europe is the toughest region to qualify from and based on the  nature of the tournament and the cycle of talent, good teams will watch from home.  Turkey is one of them.

I thought it might be interesting to comment on individuals in a pass fail style… Cool?  Cool.  Nature of the game says that most of them passed.

From back to the front.


Tim Howard – maybe could have done a little better on the goal but at least he didn’t get hurt.  Would rarely fail.

Carlos Bocanegra – Probably should have fouled the man in possession directly prior to the goal.  Other than that he looked good coming forward, confident in possession and never exposed at the back.  Overall a good return which definitely eased some of the defensive concerns.

Jonathan Bornstein – More of a precautionary sub, he did fine but is clearly the #2 option at LB.  That being said I wouldn’t be surprised to see him if the US is protecting a lead and wanted to bring an additional defensive presence.

Clarence Goodson – Not overly present but never grossly exposed.  Definitely the fourth option at CB and could provide a little offensive help if the US finds themselves in that type of position.

Jay Demerit – Can sometimes get caught heading one direction but overall read the game well and provides excellent coverage.  Speedy enough to be the final man and a good compliment to Onyewu.

Oguchi Onyewu – Only a half this afternoon but a quality one.  Looked more confident in winning the ball and not afraid to get himself dirty.  A more complete performance next Saturday would make a lot of people feel better.

Steve Cherundolo – Not as athletic as Spector but more experience, especially at the International level should make him the right sided defensive starter.  Smart coming forward and more positionally sound.

Ricardo Clark – Fairly solid if not unspectacular but that is a good thing for your defensive midfielder.  I think his time in Germany is helping him mature.  Will be interesting to see if Bradley gives him another chance next weekend or if Edu gets the call.

Michael Bradley – Really solidifying himself as the core of this team; solid defensively, very good distribution, and dangerous going forward.  He has shown a strikers sense which made it surprising to see him lay back for Dempsey towards the end.  Has kept his cool lately and if he has moved out of that short tempered phase it would be a very big step in his maturity.  Should be a big part of how this team fares in SA.

Jose Torres – Harkes called him the Man of the Match and while I don’t agree, he did bring a level of energy and creativity which changed things.  His combination with Bradley was effective and definitely made the whole team more offensive.  It would be a surprise to see Bradley forgo a traditional defensive midfielder but this is an intriguing option.

Stuart Holden – Not a lot of time out there but did provide a nice ball on Bradley Jr’s run into the box.  Similar to Torres he enjoys having the ball and is collected with it at his feet.  The US definitely has some options when it comes to attacking minded midfielders.

Clint Dempsey – He admitted to some rust in the first half which probably led to his ineffectiveness in the early going.  Did real well to take down the ball and finish the winner.  Obviously a key cog to this team.

Landon Donovan – A positive performance.  He is a key creator and did well to set up Jozy Altidore’s tying goal.  Not always the most effective in possession but this isn’t his role.

Jozy Altidore – Always looks dangerous and did well to create space for himself.  You would like to see him make some more darting runs and try to get himself in behind the defense but he knows how to use his big/physical nature to keep the ball and be dangerous.  Good positioning to get the  goal.

Robbie Findley –  Everyone else looks kind of dumb after the reaction to BB’s decision to take him along.  He played a gorgeous ball over the top to Donovan which led to the equalizing goal.  Continuously made the runs he was brought along and got himself in dangerous positions with possession.  Seems to always think forward, he needs  to read the pass back on occasion instead of just trying to run by guys.


Jonathan Spector – Not really at fault for the goal as someone should have been providing cover after his good run.  However, he did get beat a few other times.  Doesn’t seem to be entirely comfortable at this level yet.

Benny Feilhaber – Nothing great from him.  Looked a little more comfortable when he switched over the right hand side but still seems a little disinterested or unenergized or something, I am not really sure.  Every now and then provides an visionary ball but not the top option for his role right now.

I am much more confident now than I was prior to this game.  This team is in good shape and should look to build off this as they shift their concentration to acclimatize to South Africa.

Anyone out there in the ether have any thoughts?  How do you feel about this team now compared to prior to this game?

Check back for various fun World Cup stuff prior the final warm up game next Saturday AM…


Excellent analysis on the match from Leander  Schaerlaeckens at ESPN.com

Player ratings from Mr. Schaerlaeckens as well

Jose Torres on some of the influences on his recent development into a more complete midfielder

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey on the striking options

Goal.com weighs in with their own player ratings

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15 days until the US kicks off their 2010 World Cup campaign in Rustenberg and the team is beginning to take shape. When they take on Turkey at 2 PM Tomorrow afternoon we should get a better gauge of where this team stands.  ESPN2.

A few things to “watch for” (the ‘wf’ of the ‘wtwf’)…

Is Bob Bradley gonna use this as (a) an opportunity to let his preferred 11-14 starters gel or (b) will this be more experimental shuffling to see what his options are? Probably a combination but due to the lack of consistency inherent to any national team, hopefully it skews a little towards (a). Most of this team does have significant time together but to get some consistent time together would be invaluable.

It will be interesting to see what BB does with Jozy Altidore’s partner up top. If it is Clint Dempsey then who fills in on the right side of the midfield, Holden or Torres or Feilhaber. Probably more than one but it would be nice to see one take hold of that spot.

If he wants to get crazy he could go 451 and play one of those three as an attacking midfielder. That could even turn into a 433 with Donovan and Dempsey pushing up the wings if they need to offensive.

Will Ricardo Clark get a look in the midfield after sitting out on Tuesday? Him or Edu is still a major question mark but this weekend should give sme insight into what Bradley and co prefer.

Finally, and probably most pressing is the defensive issue. Will Onyewu play another 65 min and if so, hows his mobility look compared to Tuesday? It would be ideal to see some improvement across the board. Will Bocanegra and Demerit get out there and for long? Their availability and form is a huge determinant in how far this team can really expect to go. Spector sat out in favor of Cherundolo on Tues but this probably means that Spector is the preferred RB. Neither is really a standout although ‘dolo does provide experience. Whoever BB goes with is essentially irrelevant.

Goal.com’s official preview.

Anyone out there in the internets looking for anything tomorrow?? Comment, that would be fun.

*what to watch for

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So there it is, the final roster of 23 players has been announced by Bob Bradley.  It should be noted that FIFA allows substitution of a player on this roster up to 24 hours in advance of a team’s first game in case of an injury and before each game, the roster is narrowed to 18 players.

In case you don’t like clicking…

GK: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

DEF: Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay Demerit, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson

MID: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Jose Torres, Damarcus Beasley, Benny Feilhaber

FWD: Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley

Jere Longman from the NYTimes points out that it is a squad with only 8 players who have previously appeared in a WC.  This could be seen as a negative but it should be noted that key pieces like Bocanegra, Onyewu, Cherundolo, Dempsey, Donovan, and Bradley Jr all have at least 1 WC under their belt.

The biggest surprise has to be Robbie Findley over Brian Ching/Eddie Johnson.  Kid didn’t even get a look last night and has done nothing to impress in any of his national team appearances to this point.  Obviously BB and co see something, probably speed but hopefully more, that warranted his inclusion.  I thought Ching did well last night while EJ brings both WC and international club level experience.  Both have seemed out of their depth at the highest level though, but I doubt that Findley or Buddle will fair any better.

He also must have complete faith in the health of Bocanegra and Demerit as 9 Midfielders and only 7 Defenders is an interesting skew.  Maurice Edu got burned once last night but I guess BB still believes he can be called in as an emergency CB.

This pattern of versatility continued with the inclusion of Jonathan Bornstein who can play up and down the left side and Stuart Holden who is comfortable in the middle or out wide in the midfield.  Feilhaber has also been employed out wide on the right, and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod out there if Dempsey is indeed employed upfront.

It should be noted that after getting a heavy dose of MLS players experience, he included only 4 on the final roster (one being Landon Donovan).  Robbie Rogers and Sacha Kljestan were both left off.

Some good level-headed reaction from Graig Garbino at No Short Corners.

Last Night

Not too much should be read into last night’s loss to the Czech Republic as it was clearly a chance for the staff to get one last look at some fringe players before today’s announcement.

Clarence Goodson is a clear weapon in the air and prior to the last 15 minutes, was very solid in the back.  He was called out by BB during a post game interview with ESPN and was rewarded with his ticket today.

I thought Brian Ching played quite well, held the ball nicely and distributed well.  Also played an excellent little flick to set up Herculez Gomez.

Maurice Edu and Jose Torres partnered well in the midfield.  Torres probably won’t start but can obviously provide an offensive spark if they find themselves in that kind of situation.  Good vision and crisp, accurate passing.  Edu patroled the middle well, winning balls back and distributing nicely.  He’s not afraid to play the ball back but it would be nice to see those guys show some faith in him by moving the ball fwd along the ground rather than over the top every time.

Onyewu looked decent in the middle but showed some obvious tentativeness, although he would disagree with me.  It will be interesting to see how he progresses through the next two friendlies and if BB trusts him come June 12th as England will certainly be dangerous going forward.

The Steve Cherundolo showed that the right hand side back there will have some depth but Jonathon Bornstein seems to get stuck out of position too often for my taste.  I would imagine his role will be more of a defensive reinforcement during the chance they get the lead.  He does seem to be susceptible to too many awkward fouls though and chances are, that will be deadly.

Upfront I thought Herculez Gomez did the best, although in a one on one with the defender he shoulda done a little better.  He did excellent to finish the chance that came his way and was rightly rewarded with a spot.  Beasley also showed a level of energy which was nice to see out of him and will bring some experience to the squad.

Stuart Holden started off well but faded towards the final third.  He admitted this much, but it was nice to see him last for a full 90 minutes.  I expect big things from him in South Africa.

Some player ratings from Goal.com and a look at specific players who impressed.

Up Next

Next up for the US is a friendly vs Turkey from Lincoln Financial field in Philly this Saturday.  Set your DVR if it’s going to be nice out as the game is 2:30 EST, ESPN2 this time.

A more in-depth look at what to watch for will come later this week but hopefully BB will test some of the other injury questions along the back line; Jay Demerit and Carlos Bocanegra specifically.

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The US Men begin their final stage of preparation for the 2010 World Cup this evening against the Czech Republic. Most importantly, you can see the game on ESPN at 8PM EST (30 min of pregame fluff will preceed the actual game).

A few things to look out for as BB has stated he will name his final squad of 23 tomorrow, apparently on the 1PM edition of Sports Center.


I still have hope that June 12th will see Clint Dempsey employed up front but my guess is that tonight you see 4 or even 5 different guys get a shot.

Reports out of camp have been very positive with regard to Herculez Gomez who came out of nowhere to lead the Mexican xxxx in goals this past season. Also look for Edwon Buddle to get a chance and probably Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching to get a shot as well.

If healthy I would imagine Ching goes to SA but I think the other three will probably be narrowed down. I doubt Robbie Findlay even makes the roster tonight.


Maybe the most solid section of the field for the Americans, a lot depends on where Clint Dempsey is employed.  I think tonight will be more about getting a look at some fringe players and seeing how others react to various roles rather than building an on-field understanding and solidifying tactics though; it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if players like Dempsey and Donovan who are fit and experienced, are left out entirely.

For Bradley to consider employing Dempsey upfront, he will have to be secure with the knowledge that Stuart Holden can adequately fill that right sided midfield role.  Expect him to get a lot of time tonight as he has only about 30 minutes of game time under his belt since that broken bone suffered against the Netherlands in Feb.

Look for Alejandro Bedoya and Sacha Kljestan to get a look as well and see if they can muscle themselves into the final 23.  Robbie Rogers has been a favorite of Bob Bradley’s over the past year and could get a look tonight as well although as I have said before, pure pace is not a reason to include anyone.

The central midfield battle is probably the most interesting one; Michael Bradley’s spot is assured but alongside him it will probably be either Ricardo Clark or Maurice Edu.  I prefer Edu but Clark was a mainstay of the qualifying campaign and will be eager to stake claim to that starting role.


Historically a very solid place for this team but with rash of injuries over the last 8 months, there are a lot of questions right now.  I would imagine BB and co are eager to see how Onyewu, Bocanegra, and Demerit all hold up under match conditions.  It is doubtful that any play all 90 minutes but this is also a chance for them to work their way into match shape as they have all been dealing with injuries lately.

I think BB will employ Spector on the right side, as that has been his penchant over the last year plus.  Although tonight he might split time with Steve Cherundolo as that role is probably still up for grabs.

On June 12th, I think Onyewu and Demerit will partner in the middle and Bocanegra will take over on the left.  Bradley used this last summer in the Confederations Cup and it really is the most solid defensive lineup he can offer.  You might see him mix it up tonight though and get Bornstein and Clarence Goodson some time as well.  If any of these injuries flare up, they will most likely be the first replacements called.

Final 23

The real reaction to this game will be Mr. Bradley’s decision tomorrow, I will follow up with some reaction to that rather than trying to take a stab at the final 23 sometime prior to 1PM.


Grant Wahl from SI provides his own insight into tonight’s affair and who is fighting for a spot.

Goal.com provides their official preview of tonight’s matchup and a more candid look at “what to watch for.”

(There isn’t much difference between what Mr. Wahl, Goal.com and myself have said…so you don’t really need to read those)

Some good editorial from Goal.com though; reflection on camp from Bedoya and looking ahead from Bradley Jr.

ESPN has announced some of their announcing pairings for the World Cup, courtesy of EPLTalk.com. Personally, the inclusion of John Harkes in the US matches kills me but I love their decision to employ a largely foreign staff.

The head writer at EPLTalk.com seems to think that the US will be victorious on June 12th, a bold if not entirely surprising prediction.  He won’t be only one to say something like this.

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As the US Men continue their World Cup prep I figured it would probably be easier to post updates in one place rather than whole new posts every day.  Unfortunately I have a real job that prevents me from actually covering these kind of camps, so I will defer to the traditional outlets and just link to the interesting news that comes up as the “send-off” games approach.  Additionally, Barcelona is making major off-season moves already but that will be below the US news.

The Americans:


I am just pillaging the USSoccer.com camp material…but since they have the best access, why reinvent the wheel.  This is cool, raw video from camp drills.

Courtesy of their blog…some pictures from Thurs Afternoon’s session.

Additionally, according to their Twitter feed…most guys have today off except for a small selection of players.  Good news for Eddie Johnson’s injury concerns and his subsequent chances of making the team.  Interesting that Chad Marshall was chosen as well, he had some pretty poor showings in the February friendlies.  Of course, only BB and co. really know why they were chosen.

A NYTimes Goal blog post on the ongoing maturation of Jozy Altidore.  A very interesting subject which was covered in a larger SI piece earlier in the week.  He often says the right thing but he must now do the right thing, day in and day out….I guess that is what makes a professional, although I definitely wouldn’t know.


Apparently Jozy Altidore was at one of the Lakers playoffs games and found time to trash talk with David Beckham.

A few of the Goal.com American editors discuss the makeup of the backline.

Wayne Drehs updates his ESPN.com camp blog with “feature” on the fitness coach.  Interesting b/c the US is arguably the fittest team in the tournament, a key reason as to why you cannot count them out.  The pictures at the end are kind of funny…you can see the pain on their faces.

Some pictures from Princeton of today’s AM training session.  Whole Team.  Tim Howard.

Unrelated, Argentina and Spain have narrowed down their rosters to the final 23.


The official US Soccer blog is the best source for in camp updates; squad updates from Tuesday Morning and some pictures from Wednesday’s AM session.  Also word that Oguchi Onyewu trained for the first time with the team today after arriving late from Milan.

Their Twitter feed also provides some fun/random coverage; Tim Howard being interviewed by the Daily Show, Jose Torres in an SI shoot, and random shots from the Monday media frenzy.

The NYTimes has been providing excellent coverage from Princeton:

Jere Longman on the overall team picture going into this camp.

Longman, again, on the talented but oft-criticized Landon Donovan. Offensively, this team lives and dies with him.  He is probably the best American yet, and this is his chance to really take the US to the next level on the World Stage.

As I have stated before, when Alex Ferguson talks, listen.

A good piece from the upcoming SI issue on Jozy Altidore.  He has been slightly overlooked lately but will be integral to the American front line next month.

Not to be outdone, the WWL is also providing some comprehensive coverage:

A ongoing blog from Wayne Drehs, reporting on the vageries of this camp session.

Insider required; a good piece on the the elusiveness of everyone’s favorite vague term…form.

A nice feature on Jay Demerits non-traditional road to the US team.

A good, non-fluff, piece on questions that the US is looking to answer in this camp…or at least before June 12th.

FC Barcelona:


A report out of Barcelona on the impressive turnout for David Villa’s unveiling at the Nou Camp.  I like those new kits.

They have also released the official FCB Toon of David Villa as well.  These things make very little sense to me but they are hilarious/awesome.


Within just a few days of winning their second La Liga title in row, the Blaugrana made the rumored signing of David Villa from Valencia official.

Goal.com does a nice profile of the player who is on track to become the all time leading scorer for the Spanish national team in the next few years.

They also make sure the rest of Europe and, especially Real Madrid, is aware that Barca has no intention of resting on their laurels.

Captain Fantastic, aka Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal, has stated his desire to move back to Barcelona, his native region and boyhood club.  A significant blow to their squad but one which will add even more funds to Arsene Wenger’s already significant offseason fund.  How Barcelona would handle another attacking midfielder would be a challenge but luckily that is what they pay Pep Guardiola for.

Continue to check back throughout the next week for continued updates on both fronts…..

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