We continue the Jumble Part II by leading with a thought from the comment section.
TSG commenter George Cross hinted at a dandy of a post idea as he dropped the name Roy Wegerle as we discussed the impact that a certain Owen Hargreaves could have on the English side in 2010. Cross, an English nattie fan, went back in time to extol the abilities of Wegerle and how he would factor in the US side.
Yes, Hargreaves is Canadian. But I would argue that one of the most talented players to ever represent the USA was South African (his Mrs was a Yank!)…
How you could use his creativity and invention in the final third now!
A certain Roy Wegerle. The man had sublime skill. He would walk into the US team now, playing in the hole. We would be talking about ‘who would partner him?’ and ‘how to build the team around him?’ and ‘how to get the best out of him?’. Obviously, it’s just my opinion, but I think he was that good.
He was a bit like Glenn Hoddle – in those days “flair” players weren’t appreciated (in England). They were a luxury. Apart from Liverpool, who were a good footballing side, it was long ball, with a little and large combination up front – one to win the initial header or flick, the other to feed off it. Football has evolved immensely and I wonder how much he would command in the transfer market today.
I had the pleasure of watching him play quite a few times when he used to play for Chelsea, Luton* and QPR* in the late 80s / early 90s.
Thanks George for the trip down memory lane and thanks for kickstarting the idea on the piece we’re about to mention. However, I should probably reserve my gushing praise more for a Brit comparing a Yank to Glenn Hoddle.
Anyway, from George’s astute commentary TSG asks the questions, “Which former USMNT player could help the United States out most in World Cup 2010?”
As we consider the question on our side, we’re going to qualify our answer and suggest that this player needs to fit into the current US system. For example, TSG will avoid the urge, if possible, to move Donovan or Dempsey around the pitch to accommodate the new entrant.
So here we go, TSG’s top four followed by those from the Jumblers…
Honorable Mention: Ernie Stewart, Roy Wegerle, Ricky Davis
• Number 4: Hugo Perez
The 1991 US Soccer Player of the Year managed 73 caps and netted 16 goals in those contests. Having more challenges in working overseas than let’s say, Clint Mathis, work permit issues forced Perez to bounce around 2nd rate teams instead of join the likes of Ajax and Serie A Parma.
The diminutive midfielder was a wonder on the ball and had a decent amount of striking ability to accompany it.
How does he fit for the USMNT in 2010. How about playing Perez off Donovan on the right side with the Dempsey Hub in the middle? What about a late game speedy attacking midfielder up the pitch…good addition.
• Number 3: Tony Sanneh
In the all-decade column perhaps TSG erred in not naming Sanneh our starter. Sanneh was a blanket on defenders in the 2002 World Cup; sticking with everyone and making critical tackle after critical tackle to cover a blown coverage by his cohorts. He also could bomb up the pitch and lace a header or two, just missing by a whisker a header to tie Germany in what turned out to be the final game of the tournament.
Beyond Sanneh’s defense, what makes Sanneh’s addition most attractive to the squad is his ability to carry the ball under pressure out of the backfield. Sanneh was a threat with the ball at his feet and able to beat defenders 1-on-1 on moving it up the pitch. With a defensive strategy that often relies heavily on the wing fullbacks and challenges in possession in the central midfield, this quality of Sanneh’s is, in short, priceless.
With Sanneh on defense we’ll go against our aforementioned predisposition. We’ll slot Spector out wide to the left and put Sanneh under Stu Holden on the right.
Backline solved, England shut down, semifinal run in a walk.
Number 2: John O’Brien
O’Brien likely doesn’t need a further introduction our publication. TSG built their “Team for All the Marbles” so to speak around him. His passing prowess, his assured tackling, his vision all robbed by chronic injuries, but when fit….I have no problem putting the former Ajax star up there just immediately south of the Essien, Makelele echelon.
Number 1: Roy Lassiter
Just kidding Brian McBride, but I did consider Lassiter.
While Lassiter is arguably a Defoe Jr. (though he could never do it at the national level), McBride was the consummate pro who played defense like…like Hines Ward on a turnover and was always about making the right team play. I’m going to take McBride the early years when his speed was more of a factor here. Spector can volley him crosses for the left and McBride can slant off wide of Donovan a la Charlie Davies, though McBride will finish with his classic ball lashing instead of Davies stick-and-move.
Kevin: Would it be too much of a cop-out to say Brian McBride? He would single-handedly solve the problem up front–and, damn it, I just miss seeing the guy suit up for the Nats.
(We allowed a late buy-in here for TSG Comment Hall of Famer Nick Sindt.)
Nick Sindt: I’m a huge McBride fan, but I have to say Thomas Dooley or Ernie Stewart. Dooley brings instant class and aplomb to the D-mid role allowing Bobbo more freedom to choose a Box-to-Box or CAM to partner him, whomever is on form.
Ernie Stewart gives us another Landon type who can play wide or as a second striker, though his scoring record isn’t the greatest he got into the proper positions to shoot or set others up (at least from my limited viewing).
Tuesday: Charlie Davies.
But I assume you’re talking about the guys who are officially retired.
There are only three possible choices, and they all come from the overachieving 2002 vintage: Claudio Reyna, John O’Brien and Brian McBride.
Always loved Claudio’s ability to change the point of attack, but tends to be a player that slows things down – with cooler conditions during the Southern Hemisphere winter that’s less important to this time around.
The 2002 Cup was John O’Brien’s pinnacle as a player and the most he ever showed of his massive potential due to constant struggles with injury. Brian McBride is everything we wish Conor Casey or Brian Ching could be. Whether we’re talking John O’Brien pairing with Mike Bradley in central midfield and to provide left back cover or slotting McBride in up top really depends on whether Charlie Davies completes his miracle recovery. It’s true we could still have McBride himself, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea unless we can run 8 years back off his odometer.
Team Seco: It has to be Brian McBride.
I would love to say Claudio to add a calming presence but we have a glut of mids right now. We really need a solid target man who wins headers and can finish with either foot. Unlike the rest of the US frontman options, Bake is football smart and absolutely clinical. Nobody could mentally pick apart a backline like #20 could.
Surprisingly, no nods for Murray, Ramos or–the man of the week–Harkes. None for Max-Moore or Whinealda either.
More Jumble in a bit….