Now Boarding: Next Stop, Pitchtown, RSA

Welcome to 2010. Pop the champagne.

And  welcome to TSG’s first column on suggesting who–through Bob Bradley’s eyes, not ours–gets extra peanuts, foot rests and more pinotage on the plane to South Africa….and who’s happy just to be making it.

Boarding our Gold Club Elite Members, please proceed down the jetway:

First Class

Bob Bradley: “And the witness will address this court as Judge or Your Honor. I’m quite certain I’ve earned it. Take your seat, team.” You want answers? Bob, I think the TSG community is entitled to them.

Um...one of these things is not like the other....

Tim Howard: No explanation needed (NEN)

Landon Donovan: (NEN)

Clint Dempsey: (NEN)

Redemption.

Jozy Altidore (NEN)

Drogba Jr., Jr., Jr.

Carlos Bocanegra: (NEN)

Michael Bradley: (NEN)

You know how they have in the NBA, “DNP – Coach’s Decision” — we say, “ATP” (Absolutely Totally Playing) – Coach’s Son.” We’re kidding Jr., now remember the last time you were here you missed the best game because of the red misdemeanor ticket the pitch cops gave you.

Oguchi Onyewu: Narrowly making it into first class seating on this one, Gooch we think will be “fit enough” to make the flight and game-timing it if he starts. We say if he’s there, he trots out the tunnel.

Business Class

Jay DeMerit: Fully recovered from eye surgery and after a rousing return, JDM gives up his offer from Bob for a seat in first class to the lankier Onyewu. DeMerit, team player.

Stu Holden: Holden already has an aisle or window seat–his preference–as he’s went across the pond and found Jason Roberts David Nugent on the end of a handful of crosses. The Rovers Clarets escape relegation; Houston weeps.

"We will be starting our in-flight entertainment after the drinks service...." --Tim Howard looks perplexed at the title-- (Courtesy: The Offsides Rules)

Brad Guzan: Guzan keeps looking ahead at Tim Howard traveling in style and thoughts of sugarplum fairies and of flying into Sao Paolo in 2014 in Row 1 dance in his head.

Benny Feilhaber: After a stellar season in Scandanavia, Benny’s dealt himself into the conversation on the starting 11 and asking for an upgrade.

Dudes had like 19 Flying Hovestads as well, 5 of them sort-of just like this (turn sound….up).

Jonathan Spector:  Specs uneven season at West Ham still sees him the apple of Bob Bradley’s eye for his versatility on the back line.

Stevie Cherundolo:  Dressed in vintage attire, Cherundolo is bring his vintage game and sayonara tour with him to South Africa. Cheers, Dolo.

Ricardo Clark:  As the door vacuums to a close, Rico steps through just beforehand. Stuie and Benny have been looking over their shoulders during the boarding process wondering if Rico is even sitting in Coach, leading to this exchange:

Stu: Rics, I thought you were a goner man.

Rico: Look at you Stuie all dressed in your Kappa gear and Kangol cap–who are you? Beckham Jr.? Is that…Is that a satchel?!

Stu: Rico, why no tan? Not spending any time on the pitch at Livorno.

Benny: Oh snap!

If you’re not counting, we’re nearly two-thirds of the way there at 14 out of 23 seats checked-in.

Coach Class

Edu: Gotta bring another one of these back for Charlie....

Mo Edu: Walk in the park after playing all those hacks at the bottom of the SPL. Take a seat Rico….my turn.

Jonathan Bornstein:   “Damn, if I had just shut down Huntelaar in Amsterdam, I’d be cruising up there with Dolo, Specs and the crew. I’m a starter, goddamnit! Wait…is that…yes..Gooch..up…there…so DeMerit…Boca….Coach class is just fine.”

DaMarcus Beasley:  “I need two of these coach seats boys so that my hammy doesn’t clam up. Damn I miss 2002 and 2006….those were the days huh, EJ….Eddie? ”

Conor Casey:   South Africa is just like Honduras. South Africa is just like Honduras.

Chad Marshall: Should have went to Europe instead of staying another season in Ambercrombie & Fitchville.

Marcus Hahnemann:   After a stellar season at Wolverhampton, Hahnemann is still merely holding a clipboard. He’s just happy to be here. Somewhere, World Cup tweener Troy Perkins is sobbing.

Edgar Castillo….has six copies of his passport, his bank statements, Safeway coupon card and a letter from his mom.

Robbie Findley:   Charlie-In-A-Bottle. Though the transfer to Chicago to replace Rolfe and be closer to Soccer House doesn’t materialize, staying in the MLS keeps him on Bob’s radar.

(Findley keeps asking the flight attendants to check the lavatory, gesticulating in the direction of his leg and moving it around in a “stanky-like” fashion. “Look Miss, they are already calling me the Theo Walcott of 2010…just check one more time if you would.)

Robbie Rogers: Skin of his teeth…and maybe only because his name sounds like it came out of a Matt Christopher book.

23 checked-in….

———————————————————

Running To The Plane on the Tarmac

Jermaine Jones is seen frantically doing shuttle runs in front of the nose of the plane as a bemused Bob Bradley purses his lips. Jones moves to the standing long jump and vertical leap drills. As Jones begins to annihilate a one touch passing drill with…with… why it’s Kenny Cooper (who’s just came over to bid his friends farewell…and give the bird to coaching staff), Bob Bradley is seen knocking on the cockpit door begging the pilots to delay pushing back from the gate….Robbie Rogers starts biting his nails….Rico tightens his seat belt….Edgar Castillo stows away with his carry-on gear under the seat in front of him….Stay tuned….

Flying Standby

JFT: How the heck did Castillo make it and I'm sitting in the lounge?

Jose Francisco Torres: Damn you DaMarcus….DAMN YOU!

Marcus Tracy: “All I needed was the one goal against Heitinga. Shoot.”

Omar Gonzalez: “I beat the Goodson kid…just couldn’t edge out the dude with the Stanford degree”

Chris Pontius: Four more years of seasoning….

Brian Ching: A 2nd World Cup is not in the cards for the Big Aloha….

Jeff Cunningham: “So I leave my family after the season to head to freaking Denmark in November, score a goal–left-footed for crissakes–and I can’t even sit the bench in sunny South Africa?! Thanks for nothing Bob.”

Chris Rolfe: “Hey Coach B, I’m doing it in Denmark!” TSG: See R. Findley seated in Coach.

No Taxi To the Airport

Sasha Kljestan: Look Bob I’d love to play hard….I really would. It’s just there is this Victoria’s Secret get together that I need to be a date at.

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23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nick on 2010/01/01 at 8:30 AM

    For the most part I agree…

    Torres I think is rated higher in BB’s eyes than Rogers (at least I hope to god he is…if not then it looks like I have item #137 for issues I have with BB).

    Think your jumping the gun with DMB…but I guess this is through the eyes of BB so you may be right

    Reply

  2. Posted by Dylan on 2010/01/01 at 9:23 AM

    Great piece, I’ve got the fever bad. My personal opinion is that you only bring one of Bornstien or Castillo. Whichever one stays home his ticket goes to Torres.
    And I’m hoping we haven’t heard the last of Eddie Johnson, maybe Greece will be kind to him.
    I am also not a fan of Casey, I would prefer Cooper or anybody else for that matter. I re-watched the Costa Rico game the yesterday, Casey’s finishing was absolutely terrible, as was most of his touches or complete lack of mobility. He will be no help come World Cup time. This is why I’m praying for a burst of form from EJ.

    Reply

  3. Great article. Love the format.

    What about CD9? “Snuck aboard in the baggage compartment”

    Frankie Hejduk “Not in BB’s 23, but surfing in SA waiting to make half-time speech when called.”

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/01 at 2:46 PM

      Thanks!

      We’ll add the Frankie Haircut comment…we’ll do a column like this once a month at least until Cup time.

      CD9…well we alluded to him up there…more in the next column. :>

      Dan, I still owe you on your piece….my apologies…

      Reply

  4. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/01/01 at 1:18 PM

    To: the Flying Hovestad clip: that is why i love watching soccer games on Galavision. Pablo Ramirez shows such passion whenever ANYTHING exciting happens, let alone a boombosa.

    And I think El Pistolero makes the 23 by way more than “the skin of his teeth.” Those last couple of qualifiers he played in were just pure Charlie-in-a-bottle.

    I think Torres makes in without a doubt. Conor Casey basically ruined Kenny Cooper’s chances with the brace in San Pedro Sula. Besides, Coopster is a 6’3 235 pound DRIBBLING(or clinical striker) forward. As opposed to a nice, meaty target man. I mean come on, he’s as far from a target man as a 6’3 forward can get. Who does he think he is? Zlatan? Not very attractive from Coach’s perspective.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/01/01 at 1:27 PM

    another suggestion for optimizing your blog mates: you guys should have a section in the side column where people can enter random information, or information not related to the current post. For example: I’d like to share with everyone that with Luca Toni’s arrival to Roma, Roma’s 6’2 Italian forward of Nigerian descent, Stefano Okaka(20 yo; 6 appearances this season), will most likely be heading to Fulham. In turn, this means that Deuce might be playing behind a forward more similar to our very own Josmer.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/01 at 2:45 PM

      Great idea Antonio — if we can do it, we’ll figure it out.

      Even if Okaka heads to Fulham, I don’t see him starting straight away for awhile with Zamora’s current form, Gera at the top of his game and Andy Johnson coming back into the fold.

      He can however take time away from Nevland….

      Thanks for the info…we’ll see what we can do to create a “wall” on the right…if anyone has any suggestions, let us know.

      Reply

      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/01/02 at 7:45 PM

        No problem. Anything to help.

        I know he won’t be starting or factoring in games much in the beginning. But you never know. . all it can take is one start or a little bit of playing time in front of Demps and all of a sudden something might click in Deuce’s head. Okaka and Jozy have pretty similar playing styles too: they’re both big and like to dribble when allowed to but can also use their body

        Reply

      • Posted by bw on 2010/01/03 at 12:43 PM

        as for the comment wall, people could send to your twitter and then you rt

        Reply

  6. Posted by Shane on 2010/01/01 at 3:02 PM

    I hope Casey is droped for jones/ Torres.. With the Iceman and RR on our flank i think Demps should be stuck up top and forgotten about on the wing.. we dont need casey!! We dont need Casey!!!

    Reply

  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/01 at 3:09 PM

    @Shane:

    Casey might not be the answer, but if Jozy is not up for the target man role or being used in a different way the USMNT need a banger.

    Justin Braun is in camp and (we’ll have a story on this) Kenny Cooper is developing overseas…but the USMNT needs someone to battle Terry and others come the group stage.

    Right now it’s Casey, but agreed he needs to step it up.

    Reply

  8. Posted by patrickhattrick on 2010/01/01 at 9:23 PM

    You forgot that skydiving-titanium-plating-in-face Brian McBride, who’s flying the plane!

    Reply

  9. A hilarious counterpart to SBI and Yanks Abroad’s projections. I agree with almost everything, except JFT being at home.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Gino on 2010/01/01 at 10:40 PM

    Pretty original take on who Bradley might select. I hope you’re wrong about Beasley, Casey and Rico though. DMB’s little hot streak doesn’t erase 2009. He needs to join Casey in the lost luggage bin. Rico is excess baggage if Jr., Benny and Edu already have seats on the plane. Coop might not be such a longshot if he heals up and starts scoring for TSV 1860 again.

    Reply

  11. Posted by MichaelN on 2010/01/01 at 11:23 PM

    Rogers vs Torres is eating me up inside…they were both such sparkplugs off the bench against Costa Rica – and I want to believe one (or both?) could play that late-minute-energy role this summer. Torres probably has more overall ability, but you never know with the way Bobby has used (or I should under-used) him this last year. DaMarcus is the obvious wrench in their scenario, and I could definitely see him taking one Torres spot – as TSG predicts above.

    Reply

  12. Posted by CJ on 2010/01/02 at 2:07 AM

    I second the wall idea. It would be a great place to bounce ideas/questions off you guys… What do you think about Freddy Who…? I mean, Adu? His absence from National Team selection is still noticed by me. I’m not a dreamer but, I’m definitely a realist and when I look at Freddy Adu, I see a number, 20. Looking at the kids abilities/experience you gotta say he still has the potential to perform down the road, even if that’s not happening right now… or no? It sounds to me like Adu was a babied kid growing up into his teenage years, who became rich and famous off of his eye-catching abilities. So, later when he leaves the US to grow up and gel with the guys, he just isn’t ready as a man, it has nothing to do with his on-field skills. To me, that means he only needs to mature as a person and that his talents (as well as the hype) simply outpaced his maturity. Call me crazy, but the kid dazzled in that USA-Brazil game, I think time will prove him. He’s not just a one hit wonder.

    Reply

  13. Posted by KMac on 2010/01/02 at 7:36 AM

    http://www.epltalk.com/ten-premier-league-players-to-watch-in-2010/14357

    Nice blurb on Big Jeezy on EPL Talk if you missed it. Go Jozy (Drogba Jr !)
    KMac

    Reply

  14. Posted by Kevin on 2010/01/06 at 7:21 PM

    You scare me a little bit more everytime you talk about Stu going overseas. I almost punched out the screen on my laptop because you made it seem like he is at Burnley, but I just did my research. I’ve never wanted a player to go overseas and stay in the US at the same time.

    Reply

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    Reply

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  17. A very well-done article, but much different from the one I came up with earlier today. My biggest concerns are Robbie Rogers and Conor Casey. I’d replace them with Kljestan and JFT.

    I guess my question becomes why Rogers and Casey? Rogers hasn’t done anything since the summer and I’d rather have Ching over Casey. Your thoughts?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/08 at 9:23 AM

      On Rogers:

      Currently, he’s not making my 23. Remember, this is who Bob is likely bringing.
      Bedoya might have killed Rogers WC dream, but my opinion when you get that far down the roster is that you are likely not bringing in that player to be a fulltime starter at the World Cup…and if you are, your chances are already shot.

      With Rogers he gives you a differnet look from the wing than you have. He’s a big body and he has an ability to work a little space and crank a shot. He’s also deceptively quick to use that threat of the shot to be a defender.

      Plus he’s got some decent crosses. What if you have the US going up against Algeria and we need to knock in some crosses to earn the win (the best way to beat Algeria). Do you bring DMB or Rogers off the bench…you might consider Rogers.

      Hence my argument for Rogers.

      On Casey:
      I think you need at least 3 strikers. So Casey is the current 3rd by default. He knows the system, he can break people down and he can get you a goal out of garbage.

      You’re choice there–after Davies–is an inexperienced Findley versus Casey. Do you bring Findley if he’s not seasoned enough to make an impact or do you bring Casey who’s been playing for awhile and can sometimes surprise…currently leaning towads Casey there.

      Kljestan–despite our Rickroll–is right on the cusp. Observations have shown he’s only a central player — not a winger….and unless BB strays from the 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, you’ve got to have defensive redundancy first. Who does Kljestan make it over: Clark, Junior, Edu or Feilhaber…none at this moment with the aforementioned formations.

      Should Bob be thinking 4-4-1-1 you might use Kljestan there. The challenge with Kljestan is that he drifts in and out of games (we already have the Deuce for that), he’s not super strong defensively, and his hallmark ability to knock in a shot from a trailing position looked woeful against both Honduras and El Sal. He’s not getting Landon’s kickometer.

      So he’s there at the brink, just not on this squad yet.

      JFT is a casualty of system and redundancy. Similarly weak on defense and behind, I would surmise Kljestan in the pecking order, JFT creates opportunities for others rather than creating them himself. He’s a good linking midfielder, but he plays in a non-physical league and that is huge knock here as the USMNT goes up against England, Slovenia, Algeria, perhaps Germany, perhaps Ghana, and perhaps Serbia….those are VERY physical teams. JFT would get lost in there.

      Those teams are another reason you see Bob considering Casey more….

      Reply

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