“It’s Only Tuesday” Notes: The Haircut is Back

It’s like the calm before the qualifier storm right now. Players around the world gathering to prep for the last of the matches to decide who goes and who’s disappointed.

Updated: Some Wednesday bullets:

Saturday starters?

Saturday starters?

• At the end of this Reuters piece, does Charlie Davies hint at a Stu Holden starting role on Saturday? Most data is pointing in that direction right now. Our official preview here.

• The England National must be envious of the USMNT goalkeeper situation. Fabio Capello’s choices for the leading role are, in no particular order, twilighting vet David James, who have been ambivalent at Portsmouth this year, Man United’s much maligned Ben Foster, who has looked shaky at best in Van Der Saar’s absence and is now the subject of a post-game spat with Fergie, and the highly untested Robert Green who has been decent for West Ham. Also in the mix for Capello’s last line are Paul Robinson (do you really see that happening?) and Joe Hart.

Some late Tuesday bullets:

Frankie Excitment is back!

Frankie Excitment is back!

• 84 caps walked into the U.S. practice facility in Miami today with Frankie Haircut recalled for the USMNT. Nice move Bob Bradley. If Hedjuk can impart any of his fiery spirit and knowledge through experience in unison, his recall will already be worth it.

I don’t see Hedjuk factoring (or maybe even traveling) Saturday, but stranger line-ups have happened.

• Still no word on whether the Deuceman will make a visit to the nation’s capital yet for the RFK affair. Here’s hoping it’s an easier decision for Bob Bradley after a ticket punch to RSA on Saturday.

• If TSG presented a position-by-position match-up piece on Saturday, you’d see “Major Advantage – Honduras” next to the LB review. While we’re Bornstein fans, Honduran Maynor Figueroa has been truly coming into his own in the EPL  for Wigan.

The Maynor of Left Back City

The Maynor of Left Back City

The 5’11” 26-year-old played a big part in Wigan’s historic win over Chelsea two weeks and is migrating further up the pitch to support the offense and make his presence felt. Watch his play on Saturday.

• TSG reader Tres Hermanos comments that all three Palacios brothers could see the pitch in San Pedro Sula this weekend for the home side. Is that the first time three brothers have been on the pitch in a qualifier? We have no idea, but we’ll snoop around. If all three of player like the elder Wilson and with EPL tackle leader Hendry Thomas on the field, the US will be in for a very physical game.

Robbie Rogers’s Twitter account seems to suggest he’s battling an ankle knock. We didn’t think Rogers was in the mix for a start in the Deuceman’s absence, but Roger’s twitterings are just another data point for BB’s evaluation.

• The calls for U-20 coach Thomas Rongen’s head are temporarily and probably permanently louder than the calls for Coach Bob’s. Big difference here beyond the obvious win-loss record.

While the USMNT have been inconsistent and tentative in their march to 2010, Rongen’s troops looked radically different from game to game, showing their potential against Cameroon and their immaturity and….yes, lack of coaching and discipline…against Germany and South Korea.

That being said, Sunil Gulati has to at least raise an eyebrow to the fact that both teams, with former MLS coaches at the helm, suffer similarly from a severe lack of offensive continuity and questionable game tactics.

On an alternate note, want to hear Bob Bradley talk about absolutely nothing in a podcast? Click here. (In Coach USA’s defense, I’m not sure how many times you can answer the same question asked over and over again differently as expect a different answer.)

Nope!

Nope!

• Those murmuring for MLS elder statesman and goal chief Jeff Cunningham to be given consideration for USMNT are casually forgetting Cunningham’s penchant for missing gimmes, his slight frame, his sporadic efforts, and his ability to wear out his welcome wherever he’s played. Cunningham’s time has passed. If a player of his ilk is in demand, what about a popover for MK Dons Jemal Johnson–of similar frame and inconsistency, at least he’s younger without the baggage.

• We’re not content at TSG merely to add for our readers that Jonathan Spector is unfit and not playing for the Hammers and will likely not start this Saturday. We want to know why? It seems ever since a few rough forays on the west side of the pitch, Spector has been a bystander for the Hammers last few EPL clashes. We’ve put the word out to a few West Ham reporters and bloggers and will update their commentary here should they add it.

• A friendly for Belenenses might see the first Freddy Adu start for his new side. Getting back on the road to relevance.

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14 responses to this post.

  1. The title of your post says it all, I’m tweaking out just agonizingly waiting for Saturday to get here. Though, I won’t be able to watch the game, I’ll have a friend texting me with updates….

    I hope Frankie makes the trip to Honduras, whether he plays or not, meh. But his veteran leadership and outwardly visible excitement and passion for the team is infectious.

    “Roar conquering lions roar,
    Together hand in hand;
    Victory is in the air,
    For today’s the last stand.”

    - Bob Marley

    Written on the white board in the US Locker room prior to 2007 Gold Cup Final but a suspended Frankie Haircut.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Matt B on 2009/10/07 at 9:10 AM

    While I can’t see Hejduk playing, his attitude and leadership is a big boost for the squad. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in South Africa next summer for that very reason (perhaps as an assistant coach?) Sorry to add to the confusion by being yet another Matt who is posting on here

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/07 at 9:27 AM

      @Matt B

      Agree on Frankie in RSA. He’s the type of guy this team is missing. He’s been there and he’ll get in people’s faces, but also be uplifting. We’ll get a story out in a few weeks on vets that should be considered — and he’s right on top of that list along with Friedel.

      Never be ashamed of being another Matt B. The only confusion you’ll add is if you suggest Benny F doesn’t belong in the top 18 or something ridiculous like that.

      Reply

    • I agree that Frankie, and Friedel should be there as “assistant” coaches. Throw in McBride and Reyna and the USMNT will start looking like the sidelines of an NFL team.

      Reply

  3. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/07 at 10:57 AM

    Adu started and went 60 minutes at left half and point forward for Belensenses.

    On McBride quickly — ponder this. He was never a superstar in the EPL, yet he is an American with a bar in his name at Craven Cottage. That’s respect for playing the game the right way.

    Reply

      • McBride was the heart and soul of the Fulham team in those dark years when Al Fayad wasn’t interested in spending as much as a spare penny on the team. Some seasons it seemed like he kept them out of the relegation battle by sheer effort and solid football intelligence. His effort didn’t fall into the Frankie Hejduk headless chicken routine. The Fulham fans recognized what he did for their team. Next person that says Brian Ching is fit to lick McBride’s boots will get a hiding.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/07 at 12:41 PM

          Not calling you out here Tuesday….just some commentary.

          I think the Ching – McBride comparisons are unfair.

          If you look around the USMNT, there are a number of players doing less than Ching who has more skill in abundance.

          Arguably McBride had a different game and more skill than the Big Aloha.

          That being said Ching works hard all the time on the pitch and to do what he can. It’s not his fault that he is one of the better options at forward for the USMNT — that speaks to the US’s depth.

          Consider this, when was the last time you saw Ching give up on a ball or game? When was the last time you saw him not go back for more after being fouled for the umpteenth time in a game.

          You know what….let’s make this post. Going to get this up in the next week…..

          Now back to nicknames…I’m not sure how Jimmy Conrad doesn’t get the moniker William Dafoe and can’t you just see nicknaming Brad Guzan, “The Shield” — works on so many levels.

          Reply

        • I agree with both of you. Ching being compared to McBride is unfair because they bring completely different things to the table: McBride brought goals (though he needed service) and hold-up/link-up play, Ching brings mostly hustle and grit with his hold-up/link-up play. Dare I say that Ching seems to be better at finding his teammates during the hold-up play (except against Mexico), though this could be more of a reflection of the players he has around him.

          As for the nicknames, I’m not sure I get the whole Guzan as The Shield, Friedel looks more like Michael Chicless to me. And Conrad looks like Willam Defoe, though with more weight to him.

          Reply

        • Not that McBride didn’t bring hustle and grit to the table, he just brought more composure along with it.

          Reply

        • Stop perpetuating the Ching myth! So McBride/Ching comparisons are unfair because one is a target striker who works hard, can hold up the ball, play it to team-mates and score and the other is a target striker who works hard, can sometimes hold up the ball and occasionally play it to team-mates but strenuously avoids scoring at the international level? McBride certainly had his own limitations so he’d suffer in a comparison to Drogba.

          McBride/Ching are both strikers and they’re both ball-winning target strikers who can play with their back to goal so compare away, methinks. One difference is that Ching is rubbish in the air, which isn’t exactly a desirable trait for a target-man. McBride often played alone up top for Fulham and could probably teach his namesake a thing or two about playing with his back to goal. Or is it not fair in the way it’s not fair to compare the performance of Lance Armstrong climbing up Alpe d’Huez to a 3 year-old on a tri-cycle ascending the driveway?

          The problem with Ching doesn’t score and he doesn’t have the speed to make an impact in the sort of Kuyt/Park functional attacker role where he harries the fullback in possession and gets back to help defend. Ching has some ability and work-rate is good but a player’s effectiveness is a product of ability * work-rate * (speed + size) * (positioning + movement). I honestly don’t mind seeing Ching with 15-20 minutes left in a match we’re leading but when a goal must be scored he simply should not be on the pitch. But let’s not over-estimate his ability to hold up the ball and bring others into the play – he’s never shown that ability against better competition at the international level.

          Reply

  4. Posted by Dylan on 2009/10/07 at 1:52 PM

    I had a thought. (Scary I know). I’m not saying bob would do this, but with Clint out, I wouldn’t mind seeing Davies brought back on that left side. I think Probably Casey gets the start up top, but Charlie would be dangerous attacking from that position. Plus that gives us lots of speed on both sides of the pitch, Honduras would not be able to cheat to one side or the other, it could open a lot of thing up. Then Holden Comes in around 60 min. for Casey, and Davies slides right back up top. Any thoughts?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/10/07 at 2:16 PM

      Lots here on this one Dylan.

      In our preview we remarked that we really want Davies up the pitch (on either side) to force Honduras to pull back into their defensive zone and out of the middle of the pitch.

      Davies is not even close to the defender of anyone else in consideration for the halfback slot and as we know with Bob B, it takes a lot for him to put anyone in there whose defensive chops are questionable.

      I am in agreement with you in that I am lamenting a non-super sub entrance for Holden, but remember, we get him for 90. You may see–like we said–Holden retain that role and Paco or Torres shot out wide.

      It will be one of Paco, Benny and Stu for sure there.

      On Casey, I think he’s an enigma. He plays great in the MLS, but he can’t seem to get it together on the national pitch. Not that he doesn’t belong, but I think he’ll have a hard time seeing the pitch in Honduras as Ching is ahead in the similar role in the pecking order.

      So, conclusion — doubtful you’ll see Davies move back. I think the US actually has something going on with a Donovan – Davies pairing (with Davies over the top of Donovan) — they are on a Montana-Rice wavelength, without all the accomplishments thus far of course.

      Reply

  5. Davies could pull out to the left in a 4-3-3 with Donovan helping out defensively in midfield as needed.

    And before you start saying 4-4-2 only, i mean we usually play a 4-2-2-2 with one of Donovan, Dempsey helping in midfield and the other staying further up the pitch ready to counter. My only change would be sticking a third player in central midfield and someone technical like Feilhaber will be able to beat the Honduran pressure in central midfield and get the ball out to the flank to keep possession. You could even go with Feilhaber Torres Bradley/Clark in the midfield 3 and you might split possession 50-50.

    However, this is more like what I expect to see, if we’re very very lucky:

    Reply

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