Some USMNT Thoughts For Tuesday

Some States bullets for Tuesday:

That's rightback Jonathan Spector

• I’m not sure why media and fans continue to insist that Jonathan Spector is a viable option at left back for the Yanks. Spector is having a rough go of it right now at West Ham, but in his defense the entire West Ham defense is not that solid.

Since 2008, Specs owns 14 USMNT caps. Twelve times he’s been at right back…the other two? Center back. Gotta look somewhere else for your left back option.

• As questions continue on whether Herculez Gomez or Edson Buddle should be called, remember that Jeff Cunningham was called after not participating in the national team in 5 years and at the age of 33.

• Speaking of USMNT strikers, a Hull City message board claim states that Jozy Altidore–in what is a totally believable instance for us–returned a tweet to a Tigers supporter that commented, “thank you for your continued support, but unfortunately i was only on loan for this season and the club have not informed me about staying, i will go back to my parent club. once again sorry for Saturday.”

Check out the thread here.

In our piece yesterday on Jozy’s relocation package, TSG commenter Freegle pointed out West Hammerville was an option to which I replied that a certain Carlton Cole was the key to any move there. If you read our piece, check this story on Cole’s possible relocation. Seems like the TSG community is on the right track….and West Ham could be a possible option for the Big Jeezy.

713 to 154. Minutes. Since the March friendly, World Cup wing candidates Alejandro Bedoya (high man) and DaMarcus Beasley (low man) have gone in opposite direction. Excluding stoppage time, Aljeandro Bedoya has featured in all but 7 minutes of Orebro’s 8-game season thus far.

DMB's playing time is holding back his World Cup campaign...

The stats are downright murky for Run DMB. After taking the pitch in the 1st two games after his trip to Holland, Beasley hasn’t played a penny’s worth of minutes, including being absent from the 18 through the last three. Just a nick or more?

Robbie Rogers is peering through that opening right now.

• According to this piece on the MLS site (can’t promise it will still be there when you click), Iceman Stu Holden will “go Charlie Davies” and return to full practice in less than a week now. Gooch? Gooch anyone….how about an out-of-the-blue start for the big man in the middle?

• Quick, heaven forbid, one of the outside backs for the States stubs a toe and is unavailable in June…..who’s your eighth defender for the Yanks? Chad Marshall? Still battling injuries. Marvell Wynne? C’mon. Frank Simek? In and out of both the starting line-up and the 18 for Sheffield Wednesday.

We know we’re a broken record, but one level down in League One a certain Aston Villa loanster named Eric Lichaj (yes, TSG is a broken reord on this one) continues to draw rave reviews. Lichaj’s marks came against a Millwall team that’s got a good shot to be promoted to the Championship and who keeps Tottenham wunderkind Joseph Obika on the bench….so not too shabby.

55 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Len on 2010/04/27 at 1:22 AM

    How about some love for Rico? I was excited to hear he went the full 90 against Mainz on Saturday. I couldn’t watch the game and had to scroll down an entire Ives comment thread before I could find one person who had. I have one testimony that he played okay, completing most of his passes, although he could have stopped two of Mainz’s goals. Anyone else watch the game? If he continues to play regularly I think it should be close between him and Edu for the DM spot.


  2. Posted by KMac on 2010/04/27 at 1:44 AM

    Matthew…interesting question you raise about Spector on the left side for the US.
    In the March Jumble, both George Cross, Arbogast, and I picked Boca (my logic was Confed Cup proven success/experience in high level games). Pearce, though, was favored by Rogers and Michelot (and the poll daddy), with Shoaff favoring Spector. We all know you are a Bornstein fan. A lot of good football/soccer minds with a majority but not consensus. I am an analytical person by nature, so I will go on with my analysis – only to say in the end I think it will be a gut feel that will have to guide Coach Bradley.

    I am not for the record, sold on Spector at left back as my ideal or favorite option. But stepping back objectively, I will present the arguments for it that I have read in favor none the less.

    I think the reason for many to consider him at LB is flat out uncertainty/injuries coupled with Spector’s versatility. In particular, injury doubts for Gooch, Boca, Dolo, and Demerit in the run up coupled with some spotty performances (Bornstein, Spector, etc.) have fueled a lot of troubleshooting ideas from all corners due to frustration and desperation with shallow options. To keep this in balance, let’s not forget the hand wringing our English friends(an we) were having with Ashley Cole injured(before his comeback), despite England’s apparently larger quality player pool.

    So, the analytical:

    In Graht Wahl’s interview of Spector, he cites his play in the 2007 Gold cup as his only playing time on the senior team at LB. Spector and Wahl talk about some of the qualities that Zola values in playing him at LB – comfortable with both feet, versatility – Spector quote: “Defensively, playing the two outside-back positions is the same. There’s no difference positionally, and the 1-v-1 defending is the same. But going forward is a little bit different. I like to cut inside a little more on my right foot when I’m playing left back.”

    He has also faced Lennon playing LB (with mixed results).

    Kartik Krishnaiyer, MLS Soccer Talk (on March 2, 2009), also points out that Coach Sweatpants values JSpec highly (Jr. and JSpec grew up together in Chi-town area).

    From a speed perspective, Spector, Boca, and Pearce are a draw, but experience with the EPL’s best week in and week out might do better than a less experienced player.

    At the end of the day, I don’t think there is a clear optimal choice at left back, or even some other key positions, that resonates with a majority of fans and pundits with the soundness of say Tim Howard between the sticks. I like a phrase Matthew uses frequently (excuse my paraphrasing) – “judge the body of work, not a single performance.” To that I would add, it all comes down to making the most of the experienced guys you have who are healthy, in form in a given camp. None of us see another important factor – how the guys look working individually and together in training in the run up to the friendlies. Chemistry (playing together) and personal rhythm (am I getting stronger or fading) are the Xfactors only Bob and the staff really get to see.

    Tough one to call. I guess that’s why Bob get’s paid to make the decision, and I get to throw darts from the cheap seats!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 4:10 AM

      I have awakened the K-Mac giant.

      I think for this term–and given Bradley’s penchant for “steady as she goes”–you’ve got Specs/Cherundolo at right back in concrete.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 5:35 AM

        Oh and I’ll throw this out there because of my “JB” affiliation…..

        Arjen Robben is arguably one of the top 5 players in the world this year, no? If not, maybe top 10.

        Aside from a ridiculously pathetic shirt tug can we agree that Bornstein at least did “ok” in 1-on-1 work against Robben…
        …yes I’m trying to sneak this comment in quietly….


    • Posted by mhikaric on 2010/04/27 at 4:32 AM

      Luckily, Jow-zee can tell Hull to go eat their socks in June for not giving him the service a striker deserves. Rich coming from one of the EPL’s (former) most ghastly midfields. Honestly – Philadelphia’s possession game last week was far and away better than most of what Hull has been trying to peddle as footy.


    • Posted by Colin on 2010/04/27 at 6:07 AM

      just goes to show how little the Hull chairman actually knows about the game. Scoring goals is a team effort…its REALLY difficult for strikers to score goals if they dont ever get the ball.


  3. Anyone else find it a bit odd that Jozy’s response to the fan on Twitter goes WAY over 140 characters?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 4:35 AM

      Because I am a fruit munch, I can tell you that Jozy uses “”


  4. Also, if this ‘back controversy continues Coach Sweatpants will have to fall back on the greatest USMNT defender we’ve ever seen.

    His flowing locks will mesmerize the likes of Defoe and Rooney.

    His touch as beautiful as the final strokes on the Sistine Chapel.

    His devotion like a monk studying in an Himalayan temple.



  5. Posted by mhikaric on 2010/04/27 at 4:39 AM



  6. Posted by mhikaric on 2010/04/27 at 4:42 AM

    FBM – I heart you guys (your recent post on MLS was pure gold) but your love for Hejduk never ceases to amaze. Hedjuk should leave MLS and head to a league more his style … I’m thinking of you, Pakistan Premier League :D


    • The whole un-healthy obsession with Hejduk has less to do with the player on the field then his beer drinking exploits off the field. If you haven’t seen him slamming a beer with fan pre game from a couple of seasons ago then Youtube it and you’ll see why we’ve created a movement to try and get him as our official spokesperson.

      Now that we’re in his corner for that we’re taking it all the way. LOGIC BE DAMNED!


  7. Posted by Bob on 2010/04/27 at 5:22 AM

    I know he plays right back for his club and has played center back before, but what about giving Michael Parkhurst a look in May? His is playing full 90s with his club in Denmark who are now within four points of a Europa League invite. How did he perform when he did play for the USMNT? If bad, then maybe his time in Denmark has helped his international play. Just a thought…


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 5:28 AM

      Fair thought based on playing time Bob, but Parkhurst severely underwhelmed at the Gold Cup last year.

      Both he and Danny Califf more so are completely removed from the picture at this point in my opinion.


  8. Posted by Sam on 2010/04/27 at 5:37 AM

    I’ve been playing Mo Edu at left back in Fifa 10. It works like a charm in the videogame.

    Sometimes I’ll roll with a diamond formation and put Bradley at CAM and Bornstien at CDM…

    This lets bradley do what he does a little farther up the field and minimizes the “uh-oh” moments with Bornstien.

    I’m not saying it’s smart in the real world, but I’m batting about .800 with this set up.


  9. I like wear FBM is going. Frankie would be a great guy to bring off the bench.

    But you guys are completely neglecting Edu. If Jay or Gooch don’t pan out/get cards/get bloody faces then we can always use Edu in defense.

    Quite frankly I like Edu anywhere in the defense… The kid has oodles of talent: for a defender he would have above-average speed, his tackling is solid as is his man-marking. The biggest question mark would be his positional/tactical awareness. But his physical attributes and natural instincts make him a great defender, the other stuff can be taught.


    • Posted by Bob on 2010/04/27 at 6:54 AM

      I was just about to make this same point that he has said that he is willing to play cb if Gooch can’t go. May be worth a try in the May friendlies.;)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 7:29 AM

      John A Paz: You must train–and read–young Jedi. The force is strong….but you must know that TSG is a fountain of wisdom:


      • Matt, that’s where I got the idea from but it wasn’t mentioned here yet.

        What kind of commentator would I be if I only linked my comments to the same publication (because you said you’re not a blog, I’ll call you a pub then…) of which I am commenting?


      • Matthew, isn’t there the an internal contradiction in saying that Jonathan Spector cannot play left back, even though he plays there for his club, because he hasn’t played there for the USMNT since 2008 while advocating that Edu play left back even he’s never played there in his career?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 10:17 AM

          Oh at this point, I think moving Edu out of the middle would be a mistake of Sampson-esque proportions.

          To be clear, I’m commenting on BB’s moves. BB likes reps and if Spector hasn’t gotten any reps at LB, you’re not going to see him there. It’s that simple.

          You definitely won’t see Edu anywhere other then CM as well. I watched the stream of Edu and the Rangers against Hibernian on Sunday and Edu looked very much like Mike Bradley out there, using conservation of moving, typically switching the field when he had the ball, etc.

          To be honest–Specs runs just about as hot and cold as Ricardo Clark does. If he’s on his game then he’s great. If not, then he can be exposed–either side of the pitch.

          I personally favor fast wingbacks (like Bornstein, Franklin, etc.) –those converted from midfielders for two reasons: first on defense, you have to be exceedingly narrow…that usually brings a player in for shots if he makes just one move to open him up (see Robinho against Spector in the Confed Cup), second, for offense if forces a lot more work to get out of the back if you’re that narrow…anywho,, that was a digression.


  10. Edu’s ability to cover ground means he would cope well at left back but is he going to have the tactical nous to operate out of a position he’s never played? I think TSG was right in their original piece on the matter and Edu could do the job but isn’t he also a superior option to Clark at DM? Still, Edu marauding from left back would make a formation like Roma’s very possible:

    Ranieri’s formation (Red dots) is actually how I’d describe the formation that won us the match vs. Spain, with Davies wide left, Altidore central up top, Donovan wide right and Dempsey inside left more advanced midfield, Bradley and Clark at the base of midfield.

    Spector is a much better right back than left back, despite having the flexibility to play there. The Beckham-style cross from deep positions which resulted in two goals at the Confederations Cup just isn’t there when he’s playing on the left. I think we’ll want his ability to tuck in and defend crosses against England.

    I think Lichaj deserves at least an invite to camp. He’s a very promising player, who has impressed on both his loan stints this year with Villa keeping him on a short leash so they don’t have a Man City/Joe Hart situation. He looks just about ready for Premier League football, by all accounts, but he has been playing right back so left back would be out of position. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

    Finally, the incomparable Jonathan Wilson is up with a piece on Fulham success this season.


  11. Also, following our discussions of possible Jozy destinations, West Ham announce that all their players are for sale at the right price. My opinion is that he’ll most likely be out on loan again next year with Villareal unlikely to recoup their investment unless he has a blinder during the World Cup.


  12. Posted by robbie on 2010/04/27 at 7:52 AM

    I’m on the Lichaj bandwagon. It hurts nothing to bring him in as part of the 30 over the likes of Hejduk and Wynne…


  13. Posted by Matt on 2010/04/27 at 8:10 AM

    I’m backing Frankie Hejduk for a roster spot. His leadership and intangibles make him a good pick. He has returned to good form early on this season and I would place him 3rd on the Right Back Depth Chart behind Dolo and Specs. For the record, I back Dolo to start over Specs at this point.


  14. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 8:22 AM

    I don’t understand why people are suggesting taking players in positions that you are covered – you don’t need 3 RBs. Bradley needs to figure out the Question Marks, so surely it makes sense when picking the provisional squad to go a little top heavy on players in those uncertain positions, no?

    If the First XI was nailed down, and even the 23-man squad was pretty much done and dusted, then, by all means, take a few fringe players / promising future players along for the camp for the experience. But I believe it’s a luxury that you cannot afford.


    • Still not sure we have our D-Line solidified just yet. And it just so happens that those three RBs are probably are best defenders, at least in terms of club team prestige. And with one of those three not in great form of late, I don’t see why you feel this conversation isn’t relevant.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 8:29 AM

      George: Asking a different question here.

      On the backline about the only player that may not be a firm lock is Heath Pearce.

      Should an injury happen on the outside, I really have no idea who the USMNT might take as an outside fullback….Brad Evans? maybe…..

      That was more of the question.

      I think you’ll see more than 23 in camp–USSF has stated this will be the case–on the 30, you’ll see if very top heavy on the front 6.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 8:37 AM

        John, it sounds like you’re from the SGE school of management – picking the ‘best’ players doesn’t mean the best team – you need balance, son. Picking players from the best teams, doesn’t always mean that they’re the best players.

        Matt – I am talking about the provisional 30-man squad not the 23. It’s coming down to the time to make some big decisions. Why look at players who are never going to make the 23 man squad? It’s all about a competition starting 11/6, ending 11/7…


        • Posted by CJ on 2010/04/27 at 10:28 AM

          Good points. Take a look at the disney movie Miracle. Herb Brooks was criticized heavily by other higher up officials (who selected him for the coaching job) by NOT picking the best in every spot. He didn’t need the best individuals though, this isn’t gymnastics; he needed the best TEAM. The rest is history.

          P.S. 6/11 and 7/11. Why do the English have to put dates backwards and drive on the wrong side of the road? Not to mention it’s damn near impossible to get an “American Coffee” served to you when you visit. LOL.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 12:04 PM

          Logical incrementation, CJ… And there’s a Starbucks on every other corner, no?


        • Posted by CJ on 2010/04/28 at 8:12 PM

          Thanks. Hate starbucks personally… never can enjoy a coffee from’em. Just keeping up the friendly banter ;]


        • Speaking of Starbucks, I just got back from Paris, Florence, Venice, and Rome. France and Italy are known, to Americans at least, to very snobby about their coffee so why in god’s name would they have Starbucks on every corner? It defies logic.

          By the way, the rumor that any McDonalds/Burger King/Subway/KFC in Europe doubles as a US Embassay is true.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 5:44 AM

          England is not really a coffee culture. Except for the wannabe Europeans and bohemians!

          Q. Prior to 2008, do you know when Spain last won the European Championships? And do you know who won the next World Cup?


  15. Posted by Shane_K83 on 2010/04/27 at 10:40 AM

    Im worried that this world cup will be a huge failure and I will tell you why…

    BB is going to bring players who are not match fit and in horrible form..

    For example, people continue to use Gooch as a solid CB in our Starting Xl.. Let me ask those people something.. Even before he was injured how many minutes was he getting at Milan?
    Gooch made a huge mistake in a WC year going to Milan.. The injury has swept the mistake under the rug…

    Charlie Davies… Luv the guy without a doubt, but we are asking alot of him to be in FORM and match FIT come june 12.. “On a side note, a 70% Davies is better than any MLS FWD” But he still wont get any games, unless Sochaux loan him to MLS, where he will probley get hurt again becuase of the wreckless physicality of the league..

    Stu Holden.. Another risky move to a bigger club, but a move I supported.. He had one and a half games after a month riding the bench and was seriously injured.. Season is almost over.. Will he be match FIT and in game FORM? Not unless loaned to a league stil in play…

    Will be interesting to see the players called..

    George is right when se says we shouldent just grab the US players playing in the best leagues, but build a team based on individual strengths that complimate echother


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 10:41 AM

      Shane — excellent points — I’ll put together a column here in the next week on this….


    • I would not be totally surprised if Gooch nipped into Milan’s starting 11 over the next couple weeks. Their back four has been totally appalling and it’s not like he was given anything like a chance before his injury. Gooch, as our best central defender, is a bit of a worry.

      On the other hand, Holden and Davies would probably both be substitute options at this point anyway. From the noises coming from Bolton way, it looks like Holden could see an immediate recall to the first 11 as soon as he’s fit to play.

      That said, if these 3 guys are ready for training at the start of camp, I see absolutely no reason why they won’t be match fit and ready to go with 3 games before the match vs. England. Every team has key players that they’re hoping to get back from injury in time for the Big Cup. The problem with the inclusion of injured players really occur when a player isn’t fit for training or any of the warm-up matches but just might be able to play by the first match.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 12:20 PM

        Wasn’t Holden injured playing for the National team rather than for Bolton?!

        I think the question for Onyewu, Davies and Holden is how far away from full match fitness they are. I guess it *all* boils down to a *lack* of depth and breadth within the US squad. Because you’re thin, and these are good players we’re talking about, Bradley will correctly wait untilt the last minute to make that call. But, how many players can he take a gamble on? Say if all three go, and Holden and Davies break down in a game? Then you are well and truly buggered, especially if you’ve used some subs. I think Bradley might take one player who’s 60 or 70%. But I cannot see Holden going unless he’s almost 100% – he’s not *that* good for him to command a berth when below par..

        There’s still about 3.5 weeks until the squad get together. Fingers crossed for some positive news.


      • Tuesday – what are you talking about Gooch not getting a sniff of a chance at Milan, didn’t you see him playing center forward in the Champion’s League Group Stages….

        Leonardo’s brilliance vs. madness scale was shown to have tipped the wrong way when he made that call.


  16. Replace Onyewu, Davies and Holden with A. Cole, Rooney and Lennon and tell me that Eng-er-land have a completely different approach on this.

    The only one of the three in danger of not going for England is Lennon – he was in blazing form but he’s been slow getting back from injury. For us, Davies is the real question mark. Granted, Davies is a couple weeks behind Lennon getting back on the pitch but he’s probably ahead of Rooney.

    I know you’d love not to have to have Onyewu clearing crosses so Boca could make his customary defensive errors in the middle, but I don’t think there’s any question about Onyewu being in the side.

    If Holden is in full training and sniffs the 18 for Bolton in the final two games, I’d say he’s in and he probably is anyway. Both these guys should be approaching 100% in time for the warm up matches without pushing too hard/too fast. It’ll be like preseason for them.

    The only player that might be taking real chance is Charlie Davies. Seriously, why would England even consider bringing Rooney if he isn’t 100% fit?


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 2:58 PM

      Davies is not clearly your best player, but I conceded earlier that I would take a gamble on him but not to the same extent on Holden. I also said that Bradley will wait to the very last minute to give these players every chance. Equally, I wouldn’t take 3 players who are not fit, but I guess it all depends on whether you think a 80% Onyewu is better than the next option at 100%. Onyewu might be good in the air, but it no good if his positioning is off or he’s a yard slow – it will be magnified against England.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 3:42 PM

        I guess Ledley King is a good example for England. Man, if he didn’t have his condition he would be unbelieveable. Then there’s Woodgate. But, I guess it’s a moot point, so I’ll shut up now!


  17. Posted by Wilson on 2010/04/27 at 2:29 PM

    USA has two problems that I see. One is talented depth at every position is lacking, there is a big drop off from starters and reserves. we also have no idea who is are fullbacks. After 2006 World Cup, Reyna’s retirement, it was expected that Steve Cheurndolo would be the next captain, being a long tenured premiership player and most experience at USA roster. Dolo been forgotten and injured these past years allowing Carlos Bocanegra to rise above. Dolo is more of a wing player a RB, ex Edgar Castillo, Mexican/American national player is not a real defender but a wing player. The way USA plays, we need the Gary Neville fullbacks lock down defenders. Problem we have no one to do this, Dolo is best defender but not athletic enough at top level. Jonathan Spector continues to struggle on defense. Jonathan Bornstein is same as Edgar Castillo. Heath Pearce is got the talent but not the know how. Eric Lichaj is really an unknown right now. Who else do we got? It a little late the train midfielders to play there like a Maurice Edu or Ricardo Clark. So who can play fullback for USA in South Africa? Dolo and Spector? Maybe switch to a 5 defender formation so Dolo and Bornstein can provide an attack and ball control on offense, leaving Oguchi Onyewu, Jay Demerit, and Captain Boca, to be the back line.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/27 at 3:08 PM

      I think Spector is a fairly solid right back. As long as he remains fit, I do not see that as a problem position for you. See the numerous TSG articles regarding left back though…

      With a lot of teams playing with one striker and the other foward being a deep-lying one, don’t you think three “specialist” CBs is excessive, when the DM can slot in when the full backs go forward?


    • Posted by Kevin on 2010/04/27 at 10:11 PM

      Has anyone else seen chabala? I don’t want to sound completely biased by naming yet another Houston player I like but I don’t think it would hurt to call him into camp. There is NO decent depth at that position in my opinion (as of right now) so why not try it?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/27 at 10:23 PM

        He’s a decent player Kevin, but he’s never been called in, just put together his best year last year and cannot claim a particularly strong 2010 yet.

        There is a ream of players ahead of him in my opinion including:
        (not including the likely WC roster invites)

        Omar Gonzalez
        Hunter Freeman
        Michael Parkhurst
        Brandon McDonald (based upon the Jan invite only)
        Michael Orozco
        Ike Opara
        Zak Whitebread

        (Michael Chabala)

        Danny Califf


        • Posted by Kevin on 2010/04/28 at 9:08 PM

          Yes I understand that he has never been called up, but neither has lichaj. Also you can say that there are so many defenders who are ahead of him but how many of those you listed can play LB? If that’s what we’re looking for that’s what I brought up. You don’t mention a DM for a replacement in AM so why would you mention CB’s as a replacement for LB. I’m going to guess that I’ll stay the lone fan, but seriously… who’s a better LB option that hasn’t been called up besides lichaj. (I am yet to watch him play by the way)


  18. […] has been made–on this publication and others–that DaMarcus Beasley has played very few minutes since the States’ March […]


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