Thursday, May 27, 2010

US 2-4 CZE and USMNT 23

The US men's national team lost to the Czech Republic, 4-2, on Tuesday in Connecticut. The following day, Bob Bradley announced his final 23-man roster selection.

The main player I was looking at was Stuart Holden...not because his place was in jeopardy, but because I hadn't seen him play since Nigel De Jong broke his leg. He looked totally 100% to me. In fact, he was the best player on the field as far as I'm concerned. Not only does he have technical skill, but he flat-out knows what he's doing. You can see him going through his options when he makes decisions with the ball, especially in transition. He played very well with Steve Cherundolo on the right side of the field; they looked like they'd been playing together for a while. If Dempsey ever moves up top, I absolutely trust Holden with the right midfield role. Actually, I'd prefer to see him start in central midfield in front of Bradley, but I highly doubt that will happen. You should too.

A position to keep an eye on was striker. Buddle was okay up top. Gomez was a bit better. Eddie Johnson actually had a pretty decent game too, but didn't do anything to really make a mark on the game. Ching, who came on for Johnson at halftime, also played very well. I've become a Ching fan over the past few US games...I just don't like what he did to the Revolution in the MLS Cup Final a few years ago about three seconds after an extra time Twellman goal. Robbie Finley didn't play.

Coming out of this game, I felt Gomez was a sure thing for the final roster, with a decent chance to start against England. He's been the hottest goalscorer for his club, and he looked the most comfortable in front of goal, with the exception of a poor decision he made to shoot (at least in the manner in which he did) on a nice 2-on-2 counterattack. Buddle looked like he ought to have edged out Johnson. I thought Ching should be there because of his cool hand and general soccer intelligence. Finley was out. All told, the strikers I supported going into the game looked like the ones who would make the cut.

The defense is still up in the air, at least in my mind. For a long time I favored the Confed Cup defense of DeMerit-Onyewu in the middle, Bocanegra out right, and Spector on the left. However, I forgot about Cherundolo because he'd been injured and out of the US fold for a little while. Now I'm really liking him at right back. Bocanegra, however, is the captain, and if he plays centrally then DeMerit is probably out. Anyway, between them, there are four good players to cover right, center.

Left back, however, remains a thin position for the US. After Spector, there's either Jonathan Bornstein or Heath Pearce. What a game they both had! In a bad way. I don't mind Bornstein overall, but he continues to make a few crucial mistakes here and there. On Tuesday he got totally owned 1-on-1 by RIGHT FULLBACK Ondrej Kusnir, and decided to just tackle him, while ignoring the ball.

Then in the second half, Heath Pearce's most crucial error was allowing Jan Polak to run right across him for the goal from a David Lafata pass. I don't think he even knew he was there...he certainly didn't look like he knew, by his body language; he was nonchalantly watching Lafata counterattack down the left side. Then, his first reaction after the goal was to throw up his arms and yell at the linesman for offside. But it was obvious that he was not playing for an offside. He never stepped forward as the ball was passed, and Goodson and Onyewu made no indication that they were playing the trap. It was just a lapse on Pearce's part, who should have been watching for the run. He's probably become too used to MLS, being back at Dallas.

Onyewu was out-jumped for a set-piece goal. Hopefully it was just a blip, because we need him to be very, very close to 100% come June 12. Goodson was pretty good individually, but the US defense had some sloppy moments which can maybe be indirectly attributed to him, as a central defender. Onyewu too. Anyway, Goodson's been good for the US lately, and I'm comfortable with him backing up Onyewu/DeMerit/Bocanegra.

This is already too long so I'll move on to the 23-man selection. I don't get the Robbie Finley selection over Brian Ching. At all. Okay, on to DaMarcus Beasley's inclusion. Eh, yeah, I guess I like it. I was hopeful that Bedoya would make it over him, but Bedoya wouldn't have played anyway now that Edu and Holden are 100%. Beasley is more valuable for his experience, which will probably get more substitute minutes than yet another young fringe player. He's been pretty good lately too, so it's probably the right decision.

The rest of the team is good, and it's nice that none of the non-Charlie Davies injuries lasted this long; Dempsey, Holden, Onyewu, and Cherundolo have all been injured in the past few months, and all have made it back.



  1. john.. good stuff as always. I am interested to get your guess on the team that will line up against england on june 12.

    I still continue to be extremely unsatisfied with the striker situation and simply do not see a player among the striker group that could possibly pair with altidore and be the starter against England. It can't be Findley. He has little business being on the team and is only likely useful as speed off the bench. It also will not be Gomez as most of his goals came off the bench in Mexico. It looks like he will be the super sub when the team is down a goal. That leaves Buddle. I don't think I am the only one who would be mad/sad if Buddle walked out of the tunnel against England.

    Here is my projected 11
    Howard; specter, boca, onyewu, churendulo; donovan, bradley, clark, beasley; Dempsey, Altidore
    Demerit's eye problems will keep him from starting. Jon bornstein has no business ever seeing the field in south africa which leaves churundelo and specter out wide. In the middle bob bradley is stubborn and will stick with the familiar:clark. beasley will get the call for experience out wide. Dempsey will start up front because there simply is not a viable option even among the large group of strikers that were brought into camp.

  2. Is DeMerit really still having eye problems? I haven't heard that. I do agree though that he will probably be the odd man out in defense, and I agree with your back four. It's the four that I think SHOULD start and probably will.

    My guess is that Gomez will start at striker. It's just a guess. I think Bradley would prefer to keep Demspey on the wing, and will give Gomez another chance to prove he can play with Altidore against Turkey and then Australia. If he flops then yeah maybe Demspey will play up top, but I think he'll impress.

    That leaves Beasley out and the rest of the team the same as yours. However, if Dempsey starts up top, I think Holden starts at right wing instead of Beasley. Bradley must have seen enough by now to trust him, but maybe I'm being too optimistic.


  3. good ideas well see.

    Also I played well in a friendly yesterday and am a good bet to be one of the players of the tournament in sa due to my long injury layoff. I will be fresh and hungry.