Not really trying to call out David Hirshey here…
Hirshey has written a column that suggests that the United States biggest need is for a true #10. It’s a discussion that merits debate, though I think Hirshey is too strong in his assessment of who and where a “#10″ will come from for the States.
It’s all honesty, many teams have “good” #10’s–Clint Dempsey proved to make a solid effort in the role on Saturday–but a great #10? Maybe twenty to thirty in the past 30 years of global soccer?
I’ll leave that debate for the commentary or another day.
I do, however, take umbrage with one of Hirshey’s contentions in the article as both incorrect and steroetypical.
My guess is that the combination of liking a certain type of player, in conjunction with a relative lack of comfort with the flair that is so traditionally the province of the South American soccer senseis, has led to Bradley historically ignoring the type of player who thrives in the fabled 10 hole.
First, Jose Francisco Torres was thought to be too brittle to merit more than a cameo in the World Cup. And on Saturday, Alejandro Bedoya was very much “off the pace” in his 30 minutes of action against Poland. What Torres and Bedoya have in common, beside their immaculate ball control and deft touches, is that they are both Hispanic (Torres has a Mexican father, Bedoya is of Colombian descent) and are therefore, along with Brazilian-born midfielder Benny Feilhaber, closer to the roots of the No. 10 phenomenon than other American players.
First, to suggest that Jose Torres (more a holding midfielder who likes to hub and pass like a Xavi) or Alejandro Bedoya (who is typically deployed on the flank as a winger/forward for club and country) are closed to the #10 on the United States is offbase and is a misunderstanding of those players talents. Oddly enough I see Bedoya a bit more of a Thomas Muller–the burgeoning winger-forward for Germany.
Hirshey’s suggestion that Benny Feilhaber is more apt as Feilhaber plays well centrally and excels in movement in the attack.
Hirshey further suggests that the #10 has “Hispanic roots” and thus Bedoya and Torres are more “closer to the roots” as Hirshey states.
What is Mr. Hirshey trying to say here? I well think the author is suggesting that due to these players’ heritage they are more likely to have success as a #10. I think that type of thinking is dangerous and I’ll leave that part of this column there.
As we commented above, Clint Dempsey has some of the skills of #10. He has both deft touches and excellent ball control–is he not a candidate because he’s not Hispanic in Mr. Hirshey’s eyes?
Next, the term “Hispanic” means Spanish-speaking or, if interpreted broadly, meets of or pertaining to the Iberian pennisula. Not only was the #10 originally popularized by Pete–a Brazilian–and the “five 10’s” attack of Brazil during the 1950’s which is using the definition of “Hispanic” quite loosely; but beyond definitions, many, many others of origin nowhere near “Hispanic” both historically and contemporarily thrive in the #10 role.
Historically, beyond South Americans in Pele and Maradona, you may suggest France’s Michel Platini an excellent #10 along with Ruud Gullit who hails from the Netherlands. Or how about another man from the land of windmills, Dennis Bergkamp. Italy’s Roberto Baggio was perhaps one of the best also.
Today, players like Mesut Ozil–who Hirshey actually points out–and Japan’s Kaisuke Honda are clearly two up-and-comers.
A TSG fave Antonio Cassano in our mind is nearly up there with Messi when discussing the impact of a #10 (don’t worry, I’m not putting Cassano in the same class as Messi, but I am suggesting his impact at times is just as great).
Cassano is good to point out though, because as we wrote here the strength of a number #10 is being a “360-degree” player…all directions and angles are an option for the player and the #10 can beat you in a number of ways.
I applaud David Hirshey for taking on the topic, but have a challenge in his suggestion that the Americans he points out–Americans with, according to Hirshey, the necessary “roots”–are best able to man the Yanks #10 specifically because of those roots.