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As this blog is nothing if not about the the US National Team, today’s focus is on tomorrow’s matchup with Slovenia. I will touch on today’s results and tomorrow’s other games towards the end.

Most importantly, if you are unable to watch on a TV, Univision.com has live streaming of every game.  Yes, the commentary is Spanish, but soccer sounds better in Spanish anyway. The quality is much better and the site more reliable than the other two, shadier options from earlier in the week.

A tie in the first game was a quality result for the American side. However, whether or not they qualified for the knockout round was always going to depend on the results vs Slovenia and Algeria. Slovenia did make things a little more interesting through their victory vs Algeria last Saturday.

The read on tomorrow’s opposition is that they are content to pack the back, focus on defending, and hope to capitalize on the counter.  The style presents an interesting situation for the Americans; they thrive when they are able to play in that format but have struggled when teams invite them to attack.

They are also a physically imposing team, both CBs measure over 6’1”.  It will be an interesting test for Mr. Altidore who can sometimes succeed on pure physical superiority.  He will need to be smart and not just a man child tomorrow.

A draw wouldn’t rule out progression but it does take their fate out of their own hands. If the US is as good as we like to think, they must beat those teams to which they are clearly superior, especially in the World Cup.  Being competitive with Spain and England and Brazil is fun, but this is where the bread is buttered.

Since the US will need to score, we will start up front…

Strikers

8 guys behind the ball will make it hard for Robbie Findlay to utilize his speed to full effect.  He is most effective in the open spaces and on the break, circumstances which probably won’t arise that often tomorrow.

Personally I would like to see BB employ a more natural striker (read: better finisher) alongside Jozy; preferably Herculez Gomez but Edson Buddle would work too.

He could also push Dempsey up front and bring in Stuart Holden along the right hand side.  Holden is very strong in possession and is full of good offensive ideas, while I maintain that the Texan is at his best when he is close to the goal.

Based on Slovenia’s willingness to sit back, the US will have chances in the area.  It is imperative that they are able to finish when the opportunity presents itself.

Midfield

There has been a lot of talk about Ricardo Clark in both the build up to the tournament and in the time since the England game.  The media seems to think he isn’t the best option but it is clear that Bob has other thoughts.  Clark was burned on the goal last weekend, allowing Steven Gerrard to slip right behind him.  If he starts again, it will either be a sign that he doesn’t trust anyone else out there or has an absurd amount of faith in him.

I think that to start it will be Clark or Edu in the midfield, as they need a strong defensive midfielder to help control counterattacks, especially if they start pushing people forward.  I would imagine the first part of this effort will be Michael Bradley getting  some more offensive freedom, a good thing.

Landon Donovan is the integral piece of the attack though.  He thrives in counterattacking situations and it will be different for him to receive the ball, look up, and see 6/7/8 defenders.  Patience will be key, as will a willingness to make some short passes.  He should find some space on the outside, but needs to capitalize with good crosses.

If the US get’s to halftime with out scoring, the 2nd half could see a more attack minded partner for Bradley Jr; Feilhaber or Torres or possibly Holden.

Defense

I expect this to stay exactly the same.  They will probably position themselves further up the field than usual but I don’t expect them to try to hold around the halfway point or anything crazy.

It will be a different game from what they are used to.  Rather than playing in their own penalty area for long periods, they will probably be cleaning up long balls and feeding the wings.  They must not get impatient early and rely on sending the ball forward and hoping.

As stated, the Slovenians are a physically imposing side and the US has very little chance of a game of long ball like that working.

They must also be wary of the counter attack.  I expect Steve Cherundolo will continue his offensive journeys, a great thing, but it does leave some exposure at the back.  The remaining.

Overall

This is a game the US should win.  That statement alone has caused issues for them in the past and that is why this game is such a measure of how far they have actually come.  The Swiss showed on Tuesday that the US is not alone or extraordinary in their ability to pack the back and score on the counter.  If this team is actually the most talented the US has seen, then they must go out tomorrow and win.

Et al.

Argentina guaranteed themselves passage through to the knockout round early this AM with a convincing win over S Korea.  They definitely established themselves as one of the top teams at this tournament.  Lionel Messi is generally excellent both with and with out the ball, clearly enjoying the reign and responsibility given to him by Maradona.  That goal at the end of the first half did highlight the uncertainity surrounding their defending.

Nigeria seemed to be in good shape until playing with 10 men for 55+ minutes proved too much to bear.  They might say it was a harsh decision but the referees have been punishing any sort of that extra curricular activity harshly throughout the tournament.

South Korea will still advance with a draw in their final group game but you can be sure Nigeria will come out flying.

Mexico’s first goal was a bit lucky not to have been called back for offsides but France cannot go 180 minutes with out scoring and expect to be in good position.  Uruguay and Mexico are now in very good position to advance and France will need to hope one of them loses and they can beat South Africa at least 3-0 to have a hope.  Either way, I think it is clear that this French teams is in bad need of an overhaul.

Tomorrow’s other games are really just the periphery to me.  I fully expect England to come out firing in an attempt to establish their dominance.

I originally had this incorrectly, Germany v Serbia is the early game tomorrow.  Based on a strong backline, many people had Serbia pegged as possibly a surprise winner in Group D.  They were unfortunate to lose to Ghana on a late penalty and will need to come out and try to get a victory vs Germany tomorrow if they want to maintain hope of advancing.  Germany has looked as strong as any team thus far though and it will be a serious test for the Serbians.

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So this is it, South Africa got a deserved tie vs Mexico.  If you were wondering:

Yes that was offsides in the first half, the rule is that “a player is in an offsides position when he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.”  Second last is because the goalie is usually the last defender but on that corner kick, the South African keeper got caught way out and therefore, even though there was a defender on the line, Carlos Vela was offsides.

Tomorrow brings some excellent games in the morning but the majority of people in this country are focused on what is probably the most hyped soccer game ever in this country; 2:30 PM, England vs USA, ABC.

Football vs Soccer.  Redcoats vs Patriots.  Favorites vs Underdogs.

If you want to get yourself fired up, here’s a purposely pompous piece from the other side on why the US will lose, courtesy of the London Evening Standard via the NY Daily News.

A brief preview, or as I prefer…”what to watch for.”

Starting Lineup

This team has a lot of promise but there are still major question marks about health.  It looks as if Altidore has fully recovered, and is poised to start according to BB.  I think Dempsey is the best option alongside him, as what they do lack in outright speed, the pair would make up for in sheer finishing ability.  My guess is that Bradley goes with Robbie Findley to start though as he seems to like two strikers with complimentary skill sets.

There has been little news about Ricardo Clark after he injured himself last weekend, so it will be interesting to see who is paired alongside Michael Bradley.

Onyewu swears he is healthy but it wouldn’t a surprise if Clarence Goodson started in the middle in order to save Onyewu for next week.

My guess though:

Howard

Cherundolo-Demerit-Onyewu-Bocanegra

Demspey-Bradley-Edu-Donovan

Findley-Altidore

Wayne Rooney

Easily the best player on the field tomorrow.  My fear is that the US won’t be able to contain him and he will score 3 times and put the game out of reach before the US even knows what happened.  It will be up to Demerit and (probably) Onyewu to keep tabs on him and close down very fast when he gets the ball.  He can score from anywhere around the area with the slightest amount of room.  Containing him is key to keeping this game in reach.

Midfield Battle

If Rooney can be held in check, this is where the game will be won or lost.  Making sure the Edu/Clark and Bradley Jr. combo stay alert vs Gerrard and Lampard is integral to not playing behind the ball the whole time.  It will be up to the pairing to close these two down and ensure they have very little time to either distribute or shoot.

They both have the ability to score from distance, and are probably salivating at the thought of this new ball.  Anticipating their space and closing it down will save the Americans a lot of trouble.  Of course, they also can’t give away many soft fouls, as both also dream about the idea of free kicks from 20-25 yards.

The Air Up There

With Peter Crouch expected to start and England’s skill down the flanks, it will be important for the US to control the box.  Crouch is huge and excellent with his head but Rooney also added this element to his game this past season.  The US has the defenders to cover for this but if they have trouble with the ball flight like they did against Australia it could end up being a long afternoon.

Carlos Bocanegra

Definitely the best option for the US at the Left Back position, but he will be tested immediately tomorrow.  Aaron Lennon is fast and loves to dart inside.  Bocanegra’s main weakness is his lack of pace and therein lies the obvious problem.  Bocanegra does have experience though and he will need to rely on this in order to frustrate  Lennon and keep him off his game from the opening whistle.

Additionally, Glen Johnson loves to overlap and will surely combine with Lennon to get the ball forward.  It is a dangerous combination and one which the US must not forget about when focusing on the middle.

Carlos has a lot to worry about tomorrow, but I would be way more nervous if Jonathan Bornstein were starting.

Landon Donovan

The other side of this is that the left side for the US will be the most open side for the US to exploit the counter attack.  Johnson can get caught too far forward and is defensively suspect.  Look for most counter attacks to start in this direction; Donovan taking off  down the left should really cause problems for the remaining English defenders.  Jozy Altidore should get some opportunities and hopefully Robbie Findley can keep his cool in front of the net.

This applies to Clint Dempsey as well but Donovan is much more dangerous on the break, so it’s named after him.  Ashley Cole is also much more defensively sound than Glen Johnson so the Right flank won’t be as exploitable for the Red/White/Blue.

Overall

England will likely utilize a fairly offensive lineup with both Lampard and Gerrard occupying the middle.  Combined with the penchant of their wide-backs to get forward, the game could result in plenty of counter attacking opportunities the US thrives on.  I don’t have concerns about the Americans’ ability to score, they have been good at both creating chances and finishing them in the warm up games.

My concern is with not letting Englad get too far ahead; they must close down space in the final 3rd very fast and keep the game in front of them.  Overcomitting will leaving space open in other places, space which any number of the Englishmen will be salivating at exploiting.  The US has the ability to score but if they are required to get 3+ goals to get a result is where I start to worry a bit.

Etc.

In closing, make sure you enjoy this.  I know few people out there consider themselves diehard American Soccer fans  and we aren’t long suffering like Cubs fans, so there will be few people chewing their nails or sweating heavily tomorrow afternoon.  But the tournament as a whole is a rarity and you should make an effort to enjoy it while it’s happening.

Also, don’t forget that this is just a first game.  Winning would be awesome, getting out with a point would be solid, but a loss would not be crippling at all.

Internets?  What are your thoughts on the game(s) tomorrow?  Tournament as a whole?

Others:

Goal.com’s official preview, including their lineup selections.

Grant Wahl gives his 5 things to watch. Nothing really revolutionary but a good point about these teams and their love of set pieces.

A look at England and their Defensive “weakness.”

10 overall storylines to follow throughout the cup from SI.com.

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Preview might be a bit of an overstatement but to try and get myself some search engine loved I have moved on from the “WTWF” in the title.  The post is really just some things to watch for from the tournament as a whole; full previews can be found at SI.com, The Guardian, and ESPN.   I would have loved to break down each group but let’s be realistic here.

Soccer Weather: For the first time since Argentina in 1978, the World Cup will be played in what is essentially winter.   Being below the equator and all means that this is actually South Africa’s winter season; not really winter by northeast standards, more like fall, but nonetheless still not summer.

Ideally this milder weather will result in better soccer. Games should be faster paced and more entertaining than “summer” editions of the tournament where games can seem to plod along at times, with players more focused on not dying than on actually playing.

Of course, a majority of these games will be played at altitude which could cancel out the mild weather altogether, but at least it’s not Mexico City in August.

Argentina: because of this man and much moreso, this man.  No team in the tournament is more of a mystery but with a strike force which is absurdly talented they should score, a lot.  Defense wasn’t Diego’s strong suit and he picked a unit that is still fairly suspect.  This gap between in quality should provide some cardiac moments for La Albiceleste but from a neutral point of view, what could be more exciting.

Back to the second “this man,” as my slurping of him is no secret.  Lionel Messi established himself as the best player in the world this past season.  This World Cup is his for the taking, and while pressure never makes anything easier, it will be up to him to authenticate his standing.  A victory for the Argentinians will push him to another level and whether or not he gets there, it will be fascinating to watch him try.

Spain is the squad if you want to see pretty football & Brazil if you want a true team experience, but no team is going to be more exciting to watch than Argentina.

This is an excellent piece from SI on the National team within Argentinian culture, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi.

The Africans: while this is all actually happening in South Africa, the whole continent feels that this is their World Cup.  Each of the 6 teams (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria, and South Africa) feel a level of pride in participating in Africa’s first ever world cup, and they will surely feel more at home than they did in Germany.

The Ivory Coast is the popular choice to advance the farthest, even if they do have to make it out of that group. However, the hisorically great African teams, 1990 Cameroon and 2002 Senegal (the only two to make a quarter-final run) were probably on few experts’ lists of the final 8.

Don’t rule out the hosts as well; the power of performing at home, in front of the World has carried all 18 previous hosts.  None have failed to make it out of their group and that alone throws Group A even further into the unknown.  The US was fortunate on some bounces in ’94 and South Korea got the calls in ’02; don’t say nobody warned you when the Soccer gods smile upon Bafana Bafana this month.

I have no idea how it will unfold and I try to stay away from making predictions (except of course if I like the odds) but I believe one of those 6 teams will make a serious run this year; like Shakira says “Waka Waka, it’s time for Africa.”

Goals: Adidas’s Jabulani Ball has been the source of despise from many of the best keepers in SA. The difference this year is that it seems they are afraid because of the unpredictability of the ball in the air.

In my opinion it sounds like whining and preemptive excuses, so I have tended to ignore it.  Just make sure you keep your eyes out for the piped goals that are sure to come from it.

Champions: the fact is that no European team has ever won the World Cup outside of a European country.  History is not on their side, and while this works in favor of the already favored Brazilians, they are still only one of 19 non-European sides.  This is bound to change at some point, but you can bet it will be harped upon endlessly if Spain/Holland/England etc make it to July 11th.

What bodes poorly for the two favorites (Spain and Brazil) is that Pele has tipped them for success.  Interestingly enough, Pele predictions aren’t just wrong but often spectacularly wrong.

Video Fun:

Now some more fun video to get you all excited….which you should be anyway.

Top 10 World Cup goals, courtesy of the BBC:

and now this again, in case you didn’t catch it the first time around:

What about you all out there in the internets?  What are you pumped for over the next month?!

That is all for today, tomorrow we dive into the fun with a US v England WTWF.  O boy, o boy!

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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.

Strikers

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.

Midfield

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.

Defense

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.

Others

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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In what was a major soccer weekend in the UK as the Premier League came down to the wire, there was also some relevant news in regards to the US and their squad for next month.

A few brief notes to start the week off, admitedly a bit belatedly…

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5/11) at 2PM EST on ESPN News Bob Bradley will hold a press conference and announce his provisional 30 man roster for the upcoming training camp.  The final 23 man roster will likely come out of this list and it could end up being in the 28 man range rather than taking all 30 spots.  There are a ton of instances of random people theorizing who they think will be included tomorrow, it is a futile exercise…Bob Bradley will choose who Bob Bradley and co want to choose.

USSoccer.com has an excellent blog post running down some of the positive US related news from the European weekend.  Positive injury news includes…

  • Stuart Holden returning from his broken leg suffered in the Netherlands friendly in February to play the final 30 minutes of Bolton’s season.
  • Oguchi Onyewu traveling as part of the 23 man squad to Genoa for AC Milan’s penultimate fixture.  He did not however make the final 18 available for duty.

More Charlie Davies (are you really surprised?) in the form of an excellent interview from The Shin Guardian.  His is obviously the name that everyone will be watching for during tomorrow’s press conference as his inclusion means the chance remains that he ends up in the final 23.  I still admire the kid’s continued positive outlook on his chances despite the continued negative press and repeated interviews.  I do worry that he states he has worked to hard to come up short; if he gets to the final 30 but is not deemed fit or sharp enough to make the final 23, what is that going to do to his psyche?  I think he’s a strong kid but that would take away the main goal at the end of all this rehab, would he be able to maintain the mental fortitude needed to come back this fall and continue his development with Sochaux during a full European season with the next World Cup 3+ years away?

Continuing with the US theme, here is that next video from the “Road To South Africa” documentary….this one focuses on last August’s trip to the Azteca.  The first person video is awesome.

Foreign Flavor

To end with some news from outside the continent, b/c after all, this is the World Cup…

Spain released their 30-man roster today.  It includes the injured midfield trio of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Cesc Fabregas…along with Liverpool frontman Fernando Torres.

I am obviously a sucker for video montages or hype-commercials…here is the latest from the BBC…

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While numerous soccer pundits believed that Barcelona and their beautiful brand of soccer would prevail yesterday evening, I believe most were picking with their heart and not their head. If Mourinho decided (as he did) that Inter’s two goal lead was enough and all they were going to do was pack the back and defend with discipline, it was going to be asking a lot of Barcelona to score twice.

Pack it in

You can say many things about Mourinho’s tactical choice; it’s ugly, it’s boring, it prevents progress of the game, it’s “anti-football.” However, the purpose of the the Champions League semi-final is not to play soccer beautifully or attack at all times or maintain as much possession as possible but rather to win.  Mourinho has never owned a “style”, he has always focused on the task at hand…winning, and he will not allow anybody to influence how he will do it.  It must also be stated that he is fortunate enough to have squads at his disposal which have a litany of talent, as many La Liga sides will tell you that just “packing the back” isn’t enough to stop Barcelona.  But his ability to orchestrate his side with such exacting standards time after time puts them in position to win, a lot.

His self proclaimed “specialness” is a little tired at this point; his Porto CL triumph still fueling much of his greatness, he did a good job with a Chelsea team loaded with talent and money but his inability to win the Champions League questions whether or not he got maximum value out of them, additionally, he inherited the only top level Italian side which wasn’t (possibly incorrectly) implicated in the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, it would have been embarrassing if he hadn’t won Serie A with every chance he got.

The reason he was brought to Milan has always been to win the Champions League though. Now he has the chance to prove that his Porto victory wasn’t an aberration but the coming out party of manager with very few equals.

The Final

The final is probably not quite what Fox was hoping for when they moved the game from FX to Fox proper, but it should be a fascinating match-up. Inter has been excellent throughout the knockout stages, beating both Chelsea and Barcelona en route while Bayern had a little more trouble, leaving it until late against both Fiorentina and Man Utd. Their performance against Lyon was excellent though and they only seem to have improved throughout the competition.

Ribery will likely spend the final in the stands, unless UEFA breaks with tradition and lessens his suspension, but this shouldn’t be too much of a concern as his off the field issues had obviously begun to mess with his head.

FCB

Barcelona’s showing yesterday was admirable, they gave it their all and came only within an incorrectly called handball of another late winner. However, if I had to nitpick i would say there wasn’t enough urgency in the first half; the possession was there, the position was there, but besides a few close calls, they didn’t test Julio Cesar enough. It wasn’t until the final 30 minutes when they decided they had to shoot and shoot often. Full credit goes to Inter though who completely won this tie.

If I was going to call out one player it must be Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for he was the player Barca valued at Samuel Eto’o + 50 Million Euros. He probably deserves another season but he was held in check aerially by Lucio/Walter Samuel and when he drifted out wide he was not finding any space for himself. I understand that he often occupies two defenders and opens up space just outside the box for players like Messi, and yes he can score in an instant but with Inter being so dominant in the air, maybe Pep should have tried to go small and make an attempt at winning with speed. That is absurd for me to question Guardiola though, my knowledge pales in comparison.

The early sending off of Thiago Motta sent the crowd into a frenzy but as Gerard Pique (one of FCB’s bright spots) contends, “the red card was counterproductive.” It made Barcelona push a little too hard while also making Inter’s task very clear, defend defend defend because we can no longer afford to push men into attack. (Click on that link for some further reaction from Barcelona players).

A more complete look at “tops and flops” from Goal.com…

In his weekly ESPN Soccernet column, the excellent Phil Ball takes a look at the current environment in Spain post Champions League; most appropriately whether Inter’s win means that Mourinho will be at the Bernabeu next fall and

Onto some World Cup news and the mass of press surrounding the US’s imminent 30 man announcement…

Daily World Cup Dosage

From Goal.com a debate over whether or not Charlie Davies will make the flight to South Africa

From ESPN.com a look a position by position breakdown of who is going and who is still hoping

Again from the WWL, Bob Bradley’s current ambiguous views on Mr. Davies chances

EPL Talk takes a look at two additions ESPN’s roster for this summer…one and two

A good breakdown from the No Short Corners blog on the USMNT’s current injurty situation;

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Mr. Davies has been getting a lot of press since the report out of Sochaux last week that he will miss the remainder of their season (a report which he doesn’t entirely agree with).

This morning, once again courtesy of Jeffrey Marcus at the NYTimes, they posted a compilation interview that occcured with Davies over the last few months.  CLICK HERE.

It is the first time I have seen anything since the ESPN/SportsCenter interview late last year with him on where you really get a sense for how he’s feeling and the struggle he has gone through.

He readily admits that it was his own poor judgement which put him in this position, but is also amazingly confident at his chances to make the World Cup squad.  An attribute which only amplifies his natural ability as a striker.  I.e., in response to whether he might not be the same player…

“I might not. I could be even better, with this different outlook that I have, this different appreciation I have. I could be more effective just with that extra push every time I get on the field. We’ll see. That’s the only thing that’s gotten me this far, pushing to see how far I can get.”

He exudes this this sense of confidence and belief that ‘impossible is nothing’ (*Kevin Garnett) throughout the interview.  Honestly, it’s awesome and only serves himself and his teammates well.  The American team has often lacked a sense of swagger and while beating Spain last summer definitely helped confidence going into this summer, the subsequent loss in Mexico City brought them back to earth a bit.

He does note that he will need to play a few matches at full speed before being considered as part of the final roster of 23.  Hopefully, he can find the field in France, at least as a substitute but if not, it will be interesting to see if he takes part in any of the US’s final warm ups at the end of May (5/25 v Czech Republic and 5/29 v Turkey).  Those will be the real sign of what kind of role Bradley expects him to play.

I will continue to post here regarding any major news about his recovery as we get closer to the May 17th camp.  For any updates between now and then, his Twitter feed is an awesome resource.

Others…

Can’t forget the injury to Oguchi Onyewu during the Costa Rica game as well.  The news about him is definitely not as common, probably due to the sensationalistic nature of Davies’ accident, but it seems he is at least on track although there is probably less of a chance he will play again this year for AC Milan.

Clint Dempsey was featured on the WWLs E:60 last night (I haven’t watched yet) but you can see the complete segment right here….

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