The “buzz” was palpable at TSG headquarters over the past month….about a rather obscure US player named Jeremiah White who I doubt many have seen play more than 90 minutes since his college days.
For background, Jeremiah White attended Wake Forest college as Coach Jay Vidovich was just getting that program up to the level of super power that it is now. If you’ve read TSG before, you know we’re a fan of Vidovich’s coaching.
After graduating, White headed to Europe to make his name and has since bounced around leagues in Serbia, Greece, France and most recently Denmark. White currently shares a locker room with USMNTer Benny Feilhaber at Aarhus, but shares less pitch time having been relegated this season to a sporadic sub role.
With fans, and quite arguably the USMNT, in need of more attacking options, calls for White–both to factor during the Denmark friendly this past November 18th and in January’s annual national team cam–have, by this writer’s account, gotten audibly loud enough to pay attention to you. TSG thought it rather bizarre that a player of White’s relatively average resume would command such attention and our first thought in stepping back was, “What are we missing?”
Further, other impassioned prose around the web-o-sphere, have been downright stern in their calls for Jeremiah White, suggesting that lack of inclusion in the November friendly series was even a bush league move.
After our Camp Cupcake piece, earlier this week, two more commenters either asked about White or recommended him for roster inclusion. TSG hasn’t seen him…we were definitely missing something.
So we approached sources within USSF with a simple question: Is Jeremiah White still in the player pool? Yes or no.
The answer came back might have towed the company line, but it was nevertheless revealing.
I’ll paraphrase the response:
“Yes of course Jeremiah White is still in the player pool. Bob looks at everyone in the player pool; he’s extremely diligent. Further there is an even larger swath of players that are tracked by the coaching staff.
We have a weekly (I believe it’s weekly…the phone was static-y) release that goes out tracking all of the Americans playing overseas. We’re tracking guys like White, Jared Jeffrey (forward that plays in Belgium)…we’re tracking an enormous amount of people.
I can’t speak for Bob, but to suggest that a player whose played 38 minutes total in the 10 games leading up to the friendly (TSG was astonished that our contact could rattle off the stats) deserves a cap just because he’s in the area is slightly audacious with a World Cup around the corner.”
TSG interjection: “Well, what about a player like Jay Heaps. He’s talented and all–but he’s 33, now retired–wasn’t that Bob paying some respects?”
“That’s categorically not Bob’s thought process I can tell you. We’re happy that Heaps got his cap. He was available for the Gold Cup and Bob thought he could help.
Bob chooses players based upon their merit and their ability to contribute. That’s his number one priority and his lone consideration. Not as a manner of respect for years of service.”
Wow. We didn’t expect to get all the feedback we did. But we were nevertheless satisfied.
While it’s easier now to understand Jeremiah’s situation and the decisions made on him…I was astonished, and still not sure of the accuracy, that “paying respects” to players (Findley before he was primetime in Salt Lake and T&T, Heaps at home in New England) is not a consideration for Bradley….but then again I’m not expecting that answer back anyway.
So, I think we can draw our own conclusions about White’s status–whether he makes the January camp or whether he does not it will be based upon the quality of his recent play.
It also appears that White since that friendly has played himself further out of the Denmark rotation–so a gambit can be made on that last question of the Jan camp.
Selection on merit, pretty simple.