Is Bob Bradley’s Crew Rated Near Bruce’s Arena?

This is a guest post by frequent contributor Brian Mechanick.

It’s actually a piece that I wanted to write, but couldn’t give it the attention it deserved. Thanks Brian for your efforts.

Ba Ba Booey vs....

....the Sweatpants

A comparison of Bruce Arena’s 2006 squad versus their counterparts in Bob Bradley’s army. Oh, and I asked Brian to choose his own starting line-up. So no guffaw there.

2006 vs. 2010

As a young USMNT fan that came of age during the 2002 World Cup, the 2006 tournament was a bitter pill to swallow. ’06 was supposed to be our year, building upon our quarterfinal appearance to reach untouched heights.
The USA has seen many highs and lows in the four years since 2006: the highs of the 2007 Gold Cup & ’09 Confederations Cup and the lows of the 2008 Olympics and Charlie Davies’ accident. But less than a month away, the question is: how much better is this 2010 squad than the ’06 edition, scoring on the patented B-Mac scale which takes into account things like the player’s prime, experience, form, etc.

Goalkeeper: 2006- Kasey Keller      2010- Tim Howard

Keller needed more marshalling...

Kasey entered 2006 doing some of the best goalkeeping of his career, starting all but one games for Borussia Monchengladbach as he led the formerly relegation-battling team to a mid-table finish. Keller was always a phenomenal shot-stopper, and cannot wholly be faulted him directly for any of the goals he allowed in ’06. However, the difference between the USA’s defense in ’02 vs. ’06 was organization, not class, so there was plenty of evidence that Kasey did not organize the back-line as well as the likes of Brad Friedel.

Tim Howard’s form has been strong this season, helping a subpar and injured backline push for Europe. Howard has the blend of athleticism and quick instinct that leads him to be one of the world’s top shot-stoppers. The only faults ever really assessed to Howard were doubts on his judgments on balls played into the box.  After watching last year’s Confederations Cup though, there is little doubt that Howard is not only a world-class talent, but also the general of the defense, yelling out orders like a young Vince Lombardi.

Score: 2006: 80/100    2010: 87/100

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Like a pitbull on crack after a few cups of coffee...

Center Backs: 2006- Oguchi Onyewu & Eddie Pope  2010- Onyewu & Jay DeMerit

Eddie Pope was a stalwart for the U.S., starting every game in the ’02 cup, providing his skill and quickness to break up play before it got started. In ’06 though, Pope had lost his legs, getting abused by Jan Koller and Tomas Rosicky before getting a red card against Italy to end his tournament.

Oguchi Onyewu demonstrated his athleticism and strength in Germany, but his greenness led to some mis-positioning and foul on Ghana to give the Black Stars their game-winning penalty. The last four years have given Gooch the mental game to finally match-up with his immense physical talents.

Jay DeMerit is a completely different player than the man he is replacing in Pope. DeMerit is a bulldog defensively, hard-tackling and physical, whose biggest deficiency is his passing. Center-halves are ultimately judged on how well they work as a pair. The ’06 edition allowed 6 goals in 3 games, the 2010 pair shutout a Spain team with David Villa and Fernando Torres at forward.

Score: 2006: 73    2010: 82

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Right Back: 2006- Steve Cherundolo      2010- Jonathan Spector

The ’06 edition of Steve Cherundolo was in his athletic prime, but hardly played his best. Dolo was always known for his pace and marking, with the criticism always coming at his 5’6” frame. The last four years has worn down his pace as he has declined over the period, leading him to be surpassed by Jonathan Spector. The ’06 Dolo vs. 2010 Spector debate is interesting, as Cherundolo gave you more pace going forward, better marking and awareness, while Spector is stronger, bigger, and plays a much better ball. I give the slightest of edge to Spector.

Score: 2006:  74     2010: 75

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Still going strong...

Left Back: 2006 & 2010- Carlos Bocanegra

Not too much to say here, as Captain Boca has held down the position for the last four years. Boca has the same skills, more experience, and has lost some of his legs. For as well as Carlos has held up, the 2006 edition had the pace to give any winger problems.

Score: 2006:  78      2010: 76

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Center Midfield: 2006- Claudio Reyna  2010- Michael Bradley

Claudio Reyna brought a level of skill no American before him had. We’ve yet to see another U.S. player who can match his possession in the center of the field, distributing the ball and dictating the offense. Yet for all his strengths Reyna also had his faults: not being a goal scorer, being slow, and not defending enough. The 2006 edition was a strong player, but missing just a bit of Reyna’s class, as his costly turnover versus Ghana proved.

While Reyna was a prototype possession midfielder, his replacement in Michael Bradley is much more of a box-to-box mid, with a strong shot, pace, and defensive aggression Reyna lacked. Still, Reyna’s ability to hold possession and pass were so far ahead of Bradley’s that it’s hard not to give Captain America the edge.

Score: 2006: 81   2010: 79

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More on Mastroeni shortly...

Defensive Midfield: 2006- Pablo Mastroeni/John O’Brien    2010: Ricardo Clark/Maurice Edu

John O’Brien made a brief appearance in ’06, but the integral member from four years previous succumbed to the injuries that eventually robbed his career. In his place was Pablo Mastroeni, whose play was poor in Germany, getting a red card that invalidated the USA’s man-advantage versus Italy and letting Tomáš Rosický run wild in the midfield versus the Czechs. Mastroeni had been an important player for the USA in Germany, starting against Portugal, Mexico, and Germany, and played the defensive midfielder role with some offensive vision. Fighting to replace him are Edu and Clark. Both have some similarities, highly athletic players who can play box-to-box. Edu is more confident attacking and versatile, while Clark is a more experienced and disciplined player. Regardless, I’ll take the young, dynamic players over Mastroeni’s experience.

Score: 2006: 72     2010: 74

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Left Wing: 2006- Bobby Convey    2010: Landon Donovan

Bobby Convey came into 2006 with a lot of hype after helping lead Reading to the Premiership, but came up small in Germany. Convey was always able to play a good ball, but the ’06 cup showed that he lacked the pace, ball control, and strength to be dominant on the international level.

Replacing him on the left wing in South Africa will be Landon Donovan, who has locked down the position since moving from attacking mid. I won’t blabber too much about the skills of the greatest American player ever produced, but it is his speed, vision, instincts and passing that he has proved in L.A., Everton, and the USMNT. A massive upgrade over Convey.

Score: 2006: 74    2010: 88

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Right Wing: 2006- Clint Dempsey/DaMarcus Beasley   2010: Stuart Holden

Perhaps the brightest set of players from 2006, Beasley and Dempsey were impact players in ’06. Dempsey is more of a finisher, while Beasley has the vision and passing ability, as both evidenced in their DaMarcus to Clint goal against Ghana.

It’s very possible that Clint will reprise his role on the right side in 2010, but right now I’m tipping him to move to forward to replace Charlie Davies. In his stead will be Stuart Holden, who built off a strong 2009 Gold Cup to get into the starting XI picture. After a transfer to Bolton, Holden began to prove his class stayed on the highest level. Stu is blessed with a wonderful cross and the vision to boot, but lacks the physical power and finishing of Dempsey and pace of Beasley. A solid player, but not sure he’s up to snuff with his predecessors of ’06.

Score: 2006: 78 2010: 75

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Forwards: 2006- Brian McBride and Landon Donovan   2010: Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey

A pic that never gets old...

It’s saddens me dearly that Brian McBride had to age. I wish that we could forever have the 2002 vintage, causing havoc and heading in goals ever game. The 2006 version wasn’t too shabby though, demonstrating his typical ability to hold possession and weaken defenses. In support of him was Landon Donovan, playing as the number 10 for the USA. While he might not have been the trequartista that Francesco Totti was for the eventual champion Italy, LD was still strong in both creating and attacking, although Bob Bradley and I agree he is better on the wing.

The 2010 unit has been gravely injured by the loss of Charlie Davies. Jozy Altidore (and possibly Clint Dempsey if Bradley chooses to utilize him in the position) now stand alone atop the US striker tree, with a host of others like Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, Brian Ching, and Robbie Findley fighting to join him in South Africa. Jozy brings a physical presence to the forward spot never before seen, but he seems to lack the experience in weakening a defense that McBride had. His goal scoring record is unspectacular, but it is hard to forget his effort on his crucial goal versus Spain a year ago. Hopefully Dempsey can put his clinical finishing to work at striker for the U.S. if he is put in the position, but it’s still hard to imagine that the USA has improved at forward in 2010.

Score: 2006: 80  2010- 76

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59 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 11:20 PM

    Brian…you still have Bobby Convey overrated.

    :>

    Reply

  2. Great stuff and a fun read.

    My only point of contention would be Holden v Dempsey. I don’t disagree with giving the edge to the ’06 crew, but while Stu doesn’t quite have the finishing instinct of Clint he’s got a cannon from range and probably a higher workrate when tracking back. I’d almost lean towards saying that Holden is a better fit for our needs on the wing while Deuce is the better player overall, he’s just never quite shown his Fulham form when on the wing in a US kit. Pushed up into a forward role is a different story.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/17 at 11:26 PM

      Cfig — Gotta go with Deuce2006 here…the correct word to describe his fearless assault on leftbacks? “Verve!” — that word will pop up in that video up there too….

      Reply

      • I like “verve”. I need to go back and watch some ’06 footage of him actually, it’d be interesting if we could combine the ballsiness (for lack of a better term) of the younger Dempsey with the skills of the current one.

        Reply

    • I disagree that Holden lacks finishing. I’m not sayiing he’s as good at finishing as Deuce, who has a crazy knack for it, but Stu has had some pretty great finishing that shows not only his skill, but his intelligence. I agree with the cannon shot comment. Either way it’s a different role that probably won’t have him needing to finish anyway.

      Cfig – Why does it seem as if we’re both thinking “trust us, we’re Houston fans” As if we’re the Stu experts. :( I feel like a Seattle fan.

      Reply

  3. Posted by 723FootballFilms on 2010/05/18 at 3:34 AM

    Don’t agree with the CM rating. Reyna was past it in 2006 and cost us against Ghana. I think Bradley is a huge upgrade from an old Claudio.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 5:28 AM

      I concur here. Reyna was old, decrepit, and his signature passes weren’t getting off because he could’t give up a lot of space.

      Dare I say, yes, that 2006 would have killed for Mike Bradley…yes Arena would have.

      Also, something folks aren’t mentioning–and I don’t think it’s a worry–not Tim Howard’s best year at Everton (minus the ignominious Liverpool goal).

      Reply

      • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/18 at 9:54 AM

        Yeah… I meant to write this last night but fell asleep… 2006 Reyna was a huge disappointment for me.
        I didn’t get to watch much of Everton at all, but I thought we were still able to blame Citeh for pilfering LeScott (who didn’t seem very worth it anyway??)

        Reply

      • Posted by Shane_K83 on 2010/05/18 at 10:50 AM

        This WC will be a breakout cup for Bradley Jr.

        Reply

    • Posted by B-Mac on 2010/05/18 at 1:03 PM

      To defend myself on Claudio Reyna, I accounted a lot for his club form in giving him his ranking. He came off a strong 2005-06 season at City, and was really in position to have a great tournament. I definitely think that Bradley can and should have a better cup that Reyna’s in ’06, but I tried to give these ratings based on more than three games’ performance.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/18 at 5:48 AM

    I wonder how we would have done in ’06 had we not been grouped with the eventual champions and another top 10 ranked nation…the czech republic. Didnt we go into the last match against ghana with a chance to move on if we had won?

    Its worth noting…we were in a group at the confederations cup with italy, brazil, and egypt (currently Fifa’s #13)…and we moved out of that group somehow. That, to me, is a sign of improvement to the ’06 squad. I still remember to this day watching the czech game and thinking how poorly everyone looked. Nobody looked like they were putting forth any effort whatsoever….which brings me to the next point

    How would you rate Bob Bradley ’10 and Bruce Arena ’06?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 5:54 AM

      And there goes tomorrow’s column….kidding….

      I think the jury will be out on that one until afterward.

      What I challenge about 2006 is, yes, the US was in probably a harder group in 2006, but they only played one solid game–against Italy. I think people forget that they lament the group’s strength.

      Similarly, as we know, the US performed poorly in 3 out of 5 games in the Confederation Cup–you can make the argument that the Italy game might have gone differently without Rico Clark taking a holiday.

      The US is notorious for playing up to higher level competition and down to lower level competition.

      Frankly, I don’t care about the tactics, if Bob Bradley gets the team to play more consistently (which will mean a group exit in South Africa) then he gets the nod there.

      (Back to 2006, you shouldn’t have to call out your best player after the first game of the tournament and a 3-0 loss…that’s the coach’s fault)

      Reply

      • Posted by Fireball on 2010/05/18 at 6:52 AM

        Well, here’s an idea for another column. Compare the ’06 bench with the ’10 bench (once we really know it). Albright v Spector? Berthalter v Goodson? Ching06 v Ching10? Gulati06 v Gulati10

        Reply

      • A small quibble, but I wouldn’t really put our 2nd match against Brazil in the final down as a poor performance. It was more like a good performance against a great team. The first 2 matches were indeed poor performances.

        Reply

  5. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/18 at 6:17 AM

    Thats kinda what I was leaning towards…if Bob can get them to come out with some confidence in the first match and play as a team and to their abilities and not look lost and confused (as in the ’06 opener) then he will have done a better job than Arena in my eyes. Thats what I lament the most about ’06…that they didnt look like themselves in 2 of the 3 games.

    I guess I also lament the fact that I missed the Italy game because I had a wedding to go to…and missed the second half of the ghana game because I had a final to go to (leaving at halftime to go to an engineering final right after ghana’s penalty was like… getting stabbed in the neck right before a boxing match)

    Reply

    • Posted by Braden on 2010/05/18 at 11:25 AM

      Lame,

      I was IN a wedding on the same day. The wedding was delayed. Come on people, priorities. :p

      Reply

    • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/19 at 10:29 AM

      I know right….this time i made better plans…as in, this time I will be at all the games. flight leaves in 22 days.

      Reply

  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/18 at 6:36 AM

    Great piece B-Mac!

    I only have one gripe that hasn’t been mentioned. “The ’06 edition allowed 6 goals in 3 games, the 2010 pair shutout a Spain team with David Villa and Fernando Torres at forward”

    What about the 6 goals shipped against Italy and Brazil in the first two Group games? You cannot hand pick one standout performance against Spain and treat that as representative of all of their displays!

    Reply

    • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/18 at 6:52 AM

      I dont think Gooch and Demerit were playing together for the Italy and Brazil games tho…I may be wrong.

      Reply

      • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/18 at 6:56 AM

        nope…shoulda checked…they played together in those games.

        They shut out italy for 55+ minutes with 10 men for 20 or so of those minutes…

        The first Brazil match has no excuse

        They shut down Brazil for 45 minutes in the final tho haha….too bad it couldnt have ended at halftime.

        Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/18 at 7:12 AM

      I know the USA seem to generally step-up when they play better teams, but your WCQ wasn’t a defensive masterclass (shipping 13 goals in 10 games), even though you did very well and topped your group. Like you said, they clearly have the ability, but do they (back 5) have the concentration to last 90 minutes?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_-_CONCACAF_Fourth_Round

      http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/preliminaries/nccamerica/matches/team=43921/index.html

      Reply

      • Posted by Colin on 2010/05/18 at 10:00 AM

        “do they (back 5) have the concentration to last 90 minutes?”

        probably not… =(

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 10:04 AM

          See my comments on the offense helping out the defense.

          You want to Stu Holden to start…here is your biggest reason he should start.

          Reply

    • I think you have to weigh all of the components when thinking about the 2 games in the Confed Cup where the US back line gave up 6 goals. Especially considering Rico Clark went out in the 32nd minute of the Italy game (certainly a key defensive player to lose). All 3 Italy goals were scored in the second half when the US was gasping for air and lacking their defensive stopper in the midfield. The 3 goals from the Brazil match are fair game because they were scored either before the red card was issued or just afterward. Losing Sacha Kljestan probably helped more defensively than it hurt. So what I’m saying is throw out the Italy game, but the two games against Brazil where the US gave up 6 total goals I think does say something about the back line’s ability to handle a full-attacking squad with great passing.

      Reply

  7. Posted by Tom on 2010/05/18 at 6:52 AM

    Great piece. Can we get one comparing this crew to 2002’s?

    I’m actually really liking the composition of this year’s team. The problem I see is that we are precariously thin at just about every position. There isn’t a lot of outfield quality on the bench. Then again, I seem to remember that being the case in 2006 as well.

    Reply

  8. Wait, so Keller was a bad goalie because his defense couldn’t keep their shape? Really?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 7:44 AM

      I don’t believe the column suggests that.

      Reply

    • Posted by Peter on 2010/05/18 at 8:48 AM

      I think it does kind of suggest that, and I don’t think it’s completely out of line to do so. Not to say Keller was a bad keeper, just that leading and organizing the four defenders is a large part of goalkeeping. Isn’t it? The organization of a back four isn’t entirely the responsibility of the keeper, but he does/should have a lot to do with it, I think.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 8:58 AM

        I’m not the writer, but one thing I favor on TSG is making arguments and then backing them up instead of rebuttals with tone.

        Peter, I think you are totally spot on. Keller made some fine saves. The US always has good keepers. And the organization of thebackline is at least partially the responsibility of the keeper…which is certainly where Keller erred in 2006.

        On a side note, one of my fears about Bocanegra is positioning as he is not a true centerback by trade. I am fond on this publication of pointing out the CR game at RFK where Tim Howard can audibly be heard scolding Boca before and after both goals for not closing down the offender — the second time with a very audible “Every f*ing time!”

        The USMNT did much better up in the Netherlands, playing near flawlessly position-wise. They were beat on skill on the 1st goal (and then on a poor decision)

        The second goal Boca was a little too aggressive on.

        GeorgeCross made the comment above about giving up so many goals in qualifying. I don’t worry about that TOO MUCH because games are very isolated with little time to practice. The encouraging here was shippig 2.5 halves of clean sheets before the Brazilian onslaught at the Confederation Cup…it showed until the letdown the resolve of the team after repititions together.

        The US, using another football analogy here, will need their offense to “stay on the field” for just a little bit longer than they have been over the past two years. The Azteca was a prime example–if the USMNT musters any sort of offense in the 2nd half that game is likely a draw not a loss.

        This–to me–more than lack of creativity is a flaw in Bob Bradley’s system that needs to recalibrated.

        Reply

        • Posted by kaya on 2010/05/18 at 10:11 AM

          “The best defense is a good offense.” That’s clearly the next step for the US. That’s where a good mind for the game and being able to take the extra touch comes in. Being able to pass the ball when it’s the right time vs needing to get rid of it… the US simply absorbed attack after attack against Spain and it worked well for them in that game, but not against Brazil in the final and not against Mexico in Azteca. We can’t reasonably expect to sneak in a goal or two and hold on to win as a consistent game approach. I think it has a lot to do with creativity of the players on an individual basis… I’m not sure if you can coach your way out of it or not, but against non-minnows, our team often looks like it lacks a lot of confidence to move forward with the ball unless it’s a counterattack.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/18 at 10:55 AM

          “Being able to pass the ball when it’s the right time vs needing to get rid of it…”

          I agree with this. The problem stems from the fact that there aren’t enough players on the US team who are comfortable on the ball (needing to get rid of it = cheap turn overs) or who players want the ball giving passing options to player on the ball (needing to get rid of it = cheap turn overs)

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/18 at 10:49 AM

        I would like to add that my point was aimed at the team, maybe a little more specifically at the back 5 – not just the keeper. At this level, a keeper should be able to expect that his back 4 does the basics right. However, I agree that part of goalkeeping is communication and organisation, but with the pace of the modern game, there is only so much a keeper can do in open play.

        I viewed the 3 group games again, and I agree with B-Mac’s assessment that Keller was not at fault for the goals. I personally don’t see where his organisation was lacking to be honest.

        vs. Czech Republic: 1st LB (Lewis?) was nowhere near the RM who delivered a good cross into the box. Neither Onyewu or Pope were anywhere near Koller who had a free header. Should Keller get the blame for CBs not picking up the most obvious *ariel* threat? 2nd: Onyewu heads out a soft cross straight to Rosicky, who settles to shoot from distance. Reyna could have closed down Rosicky much faster and got a block in. 3rd: Didn’t see enough of the build up play but it was a great finish, 1-on-1. Keller had no chance.

        vs. Italy: Set piece (harsh free kick to begin with IMO). A lot of this should have been done on the training ground regarding which player matchs-up with who. Two most obvious Italian ariel threats are Toni and Gilardino. Onyewu takes care on Toni, but what is Pope doing? He’s not even goalside of Gilardino who ghosts in unmarked. Looks to me that Pope tried miserably to play offside. And perhaps Reyna could have cut the cross out? Not sure how this was a keeper issue.

        vs. Ghana: 1st: Reyna get dispossed in his own third and the Dramani is in on goal – great finish. 2nd: Bad refereeing decision regarding penalty.

        Reply

        • Posted by uncle dude on 2010/05/18 at 12:52 PM

          I haven’t revisited these games in a while but I think I remember: :

          a)”Czech Republic: 1st LB (Lewis?) was nowhere near the RM who delivered a good cross into the box. Neither Onyewu or Pope were anywhere near Koller who had a free header.”
          I seem to remember Bruce Arena actually putting this goal on Casey. Something about a poor goal kick leading to the buildup.

          b)”Gahna,,,2nd: Bad refereeing decision regarding penalty.”
          truly awful clearance attempt by Boca resulted in a flyball in the box and the bad decision.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 12:58 PM

            I remember the Czech game like it was yesterday unfortunately and….WHY didn’t anyone knock Rosicky off the ball?! That was probably the US’s biggest failure in that game.

            Average defense on that 1st goal generously speaking, but Jan Koller was also on his game and he was a monster in the box. Not that I’m crediting the US defense.

            We could have used Mike Bradley, Edu or Clark that game to check Rosicky.

            Reply

        • Posted by uncle dude on 2010/05/18 at 1:26 PM

          Here is the quote:

          ““Kasey, for whatever reason, puts it up the middle where we have nobody,” a bewildered Arena said.”

          http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/13280971/

          Reply

        • Posted by B-Mac on 2010/05/18 at 1:28 PM

          I thought Keller made errors in the Czech Republic match. On the first goal, 6’1″ Eddie Pope is marking Koller while Gooch is standing out in no-man’s-land a meter ahead of him. That’s the keeper’s job to look out and tell Gooch to get on Koller. The third goal I can’t blame Keller for, but I can tell you that Howard does a better job barking out that Rosicky is coming around the side.

          Still, a goalkeeper’s job in organizing defense has just as much to do about gaining possession as allowing goals. Keller was able to save some poor organization with good saves, but you don’t win games with a bend but don’t break defense.

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        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/18 at 2:01 PM

          I understand your point B-Mac that the keeper should shoulder some of the responsibility, but surely an international class centre back such as Onyewu, should understand that he needs to pick up a centre forward when the ball is out wide and about to be crossed? It’s not like Jan Koller has twinkle toes and ghosted into the box… How do we know that Keller remained quiet? Remember, Keller has to also keep his eye on play and hope that the defenders actually defend.

          Uncle: fair enough about the poor goal kick, I didn’t see that on the YouTube clip.

          Reply

        • Posted by Nick on 2010/05/18 at 3:00 PM

          I’m late to the discussion and I haven’t read everything so forgive me if someone already made the point, but Koller was Pope’s man to defend (at least on that play) not Onyewu’s. I would have to see a longer clip to be positive that Gooch didn’t fall asleep and Pope was covering him…

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        • You may be right Nick, but shouldn’t someone kinda look at the matchups there and figure we need our biggest guy marking their 6′ 7″ striker?

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  9. Posted by dude on 2010/05/18 at 9:39 AM

    Beasley was extremely weak in 06. He has talent (the one effective moment he had, he had the US’s only assist). I like Holden a lot. He’s one of the best crossers we’ve ever had, and if Spector is on his game, expect some non stop perfect aerial balls to Jozy and Dempsey.

    I hope you’re wrong about the offense being downgraded, because boy do we need it.

    Reply

    • Posted by dude on 2010/05/18 at 9:42 AM

      Oh, yeah, and Donovan and McBride never scored. There’s that.

      Reply

    • I agree – Beas is now 6 years past his best form. 6 YEARS.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 10:13 AM

        Beasley have never played more than 25 games a year in his career since this injury.

        http://bit.ly/ahdL3w

        I would say he hasn’t been at top form since 2006 and even in 2006 he was nicked up in the World Cup.

        Reply

        • His first year at PSV in 2004-05 was his best form. Hard to imagine that Beasley, despite possibly heading to his 3rd World Cup, is still only 27. I played against his older brother back in the day, so I’ve always pulled for the guy but at this point in his career I think he really needs a Giggsian reinvention.

          If you’ve got a veteran at the center of your squad that’s one thing, at the margin and especially out on the wing where physical attributes are so important, I think you need to give the edge to the young player. Not stupidly like Sven picking Walcott, but intelligently, like Bruce bringing on Dono and Beasley back in 2002. I think Bedoya has a lot more to offer this team.

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  10. This is an extremely solid contribution by B-Mac. It brings back all of the excitement that led up to the 2006 World Cup, but also the heart-wrenching letdown we all felt as the matches were played out. From my memory, B-Mac is dead on when it comes to Bobby Convey (everyone thought he was going to be our X-factor, but he crumbled in the face of adversity). I’m also glad to see the close ratings between Reyna and Bradley Jr, as everyone is right… Reyna was well over the hill by the time the ’06 WC rolled around. The only nit-picky points I have are that neither Beasley nor Donovan played well, so I was a little surprised at their high ratings. I remember Beasley had just come back from a rough injury and his first touch was horrible. Defensively he was still a handful because of his speed, but he offered virtually nothing going forward (save his one assist in the game against Ghana). To make matters worse, we kept using him to take our free kicks near the penalty box, and he failed time and time again to put the ball anywhere even close to useful. Donovan was virtually invisible. You can blame that on the lack of service seeing as how he was playing forward, but then again, if a player like Rooney isn’t getting service, he goes back to get the ball and inserts himself into the flow of play. Donovan got a lot of criticism in ’06 for failing to get himself involved.

    I also like the points I’ve been reading about our bench being deeper than it was in ’06. That is undoubtedly true. I cringed at the thought of Albright or Berhalter coming into the game back in ’06. I feel pretty good about guys like Pearce, Goodson, etc. Even Jonathan Bornstein has something to offer. His positioning is always a question, but his speed is obviously not and after watching him closely in several games against quality competition (Mexico, Honduras, etc), his on-the-ball defensive abilities are excellent. He very rarely gets beaten off the dribble. On the other hand, his positioning in space leads him to get beat on the pass too often.

    Reply

  11. Posted by MoMoMoMonkey on 2010/05/18 at 11:33 AM

    Love the compare/contrast format and surprised at how many of the “10 version players match up position by position. Agreed re: B Mc-More class in that role than the US may see in a long time(all props to Jozy’s potential.)
    Agree that Spector CAN give you more than Cherudolo at WFB but has made a hash of possession last half of the season with Hammers.
    Also you guys tend to give much love to Boca that is mostly undeserved. He regularly comes up small against real comp. That ridiculous comedy in injury time gainst Ghana in 06 cannot be airbrushed over. He plays one of the worst overhead clearances ever seen at that level THEN compounds it with an MLS headball back into the box. The phantom penalty that Gooch was tagged with would never have happened if Captain Boca just plays the ball into the stands and regroups. And as per Matthewsf ask Tim Howard what he thinks of his man marking abiltiies. Just saying…
    Surprised to agree that I would take Bradley Jr over the eroded C Reyna. Very unfortunate that our last picture of our only true #10 is of him handing the ball away and crumpled in a heap. Of course MB is the only option we’re offered there so….Just saying…
    I think that Jozy, LD and Clint, if Bradley allows them to, can give England a ton to think about.
    And my closing prayer…please, dear Lord, let Crouchie start so England can play “kickitlong” all game.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/18 at 11:45 AM

      Okay — I’m MatthewSF and also Matthew of The Shin Guardian…..

      Glad to have you aboard the World Cup Express..I can use that phrase, no one’s used it yet, right?

      I have to add this in on Boca (with the disclaimer that yes, I am, in fact the Chairman and Treasurer of the Jonathan Bornstein Fan Club….we’re broke by the way…but that’s another story).

      Check this article on Boca: http://theshinguardian.com/2010/01/03/elephant-in-the-room-its-not-gooch-demerit/

      I think it’s a real concern where he plays. Either he takes away from DeMerit playing or he allows Lennon to get loose on the outside.

      In 2006 I think he was solid. In 2010, he’s the leader…but perhaps could be the most suspect member of the starting backline.

      Reply

  12. Posted by Nolan on 2010/05/18 at 11:46 AM

    Jozy stinks!

    He has made one goal that we remember against Spain and it wasn’t even a great goal. It was a weak shot right at the keeper, who should have stopped it. B/c the keeper made a big error it went in.

    He can’t score at the EPL level either. One goal in like 23 games.

    He is sooooo over-hyped it’s unbelievable. He has no work rate, doesn’t track back to defend and doesn’t even go in hard for 50-50 balls.

    Start clint dempsey up top with Edson Buddle and let Donovan feed him balls all day long. They have chemistry from playing on the Galaxy.

    Reply

    • I doubt you’re going to get much sympathy for that viewpoint here. At 20 years old, Altidore gives you more than any other striker in the 30. It’s true, his work rate is not great, but then you go and mention Clint Dempsey, who has the same questions surrounding him when it comes to his USMNT play. Dempsey and Altidore give you similar skill sets, especially when looking at what they can do with the ball at their feet. Altidore doesn’t win enough 50/50 balls, but he does a good job of holding up play when he does receive the ball. His blend of size/speed is excellent, and although he hasn’t scored much in the EPL (he did win 3 goals off of penalty kicks that he didn’t get to take), he scores pretty consistently for the USMNT. The play of Edson Buddle at the international level is all guesswork at this point. Ditto Herculez Gomez. Eddie Johnson hasn’t been able to put it together at the international level since 2005. Brian Ching gives you a great work rate and the ability to hold the ball up, but he fails to score consistently and he can’t create his own shot. Robbie Findley has looked like a bust at the international level so far. As a fan of the US, I can’t see where this criticism comes from… who the heck else even remotely deserves to play up top?

      Reply

  13. Posted by John on 2010/05/18 at 3:28 PM

    The leading goal scorer for Hull had 6. They weren’t exactly built to do …. um…. anything?….. (much less pump in the goals)

    Reply

  14. Posted by Bob on 2010/05/18 at 8:27 PM

    I think it would also be interesting to compare the coaches since the atmosphere leading up to the WC is night and day compared to 4 years ago.

    Bruce had a very rocky experience prior to and at the 2006 WC: having Beasley call him out on his strategy of not releasing the starting roster until a day or so b4 a game and then engaging in a very public feud with Beasley; Convey publicly talking on how Bruce has an opinion on everything; controversy on taking Ching over Twellman; publicly calling out LD, Beasley, and Keller for the loss against the Czechs; blaming MLS for lack of player development and then suggesting a mass movement to Europe for all USMNT players; and, engaging in a very ugly and very personal feud with Eric Wynalda. To me, these actions killed team chemistry and led to our demise (besides of course unlucky and just horrific calls against us).

    Compare this to BB. Can anyone ever imagine him publicly call out a player? Or for BB to fight in public with his players or the media? If so, I would imagine a fast bus ticket home for said player that ever dreams of challenging BB in public. It seems to me that BB runs a much tighter ship than Bruce and, although boring, it is nice to see how his demeanor can create a calming effect on the team and give them confidence going into the WC. Unlike the semi-circus atmosphere that Bruce allowed to develop in the weeks prior to the WC as well as during game play.

    Reply

  15. [...] will be covering the USMNT in camp for us this week. You know him from such features as “2006 vs. 2010” and the immensely popular “Choosing Your USMNT Jersey Is No Trivial [...]

    Reply

  16. [...] A few weeks ago The Shin Guardian brought you a piece comparing the ’06 Yanks to their 2010 counterpart. [...]

    Reply

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