Bradley’s Clipboard: January 2011

Our 2nd entry in what is sure be a long-running journal. Here was our first entry in October.

After most camps and friendlies, TSG puts together a piece with the following components for discussion amongst the community.

Could this triumvirate be celebrating goals together in the summer?

To refresh….

I. The Best “A” Team starting eleven.

This is the team that would play regardless of opponent, situation or formation if the Yanks had to choose a line-up blindly for a potential World Cup game….tomorrow.

It’s what should be on Bradley’s clipboard.

II. The Depth Charts.

For each position we’ll list the top two, three or four players that if TSG–you always ask for our take instead of “what Bob Bradley will do”–was running the USMNT whom we’d have in what positions on Bradley’s clipboards.

III. The “X” Things

The two or three issues that are top of mind coming out of the last match or camp.


I. The Best Eleven

Got to credit Alexi Lalas here. The US’s original ginger posed us the question Saturday night. Stuttered a little bit. Now we have it for you. We’re going to go with a 4-5-1 for flexibility and set it up, loosely, in a 4-2-3-1

G: Tim Howard

DEF: Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Tim Ream, Jonathan Bornstein

(changed from October: Ream for Onyewu, Bornstein for Bocanegra)

Jones, grounded in a good way at Elwood...

CDM: Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley

(unchanged from October)

MID: Stu Holden, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan

(unchanged from October)

STR: Jozy Altidore

(unchanged from October)

The skinny: Most positions from October stay the same. The only change is at the backline where I’m comfortable inserting Tim Ream (I’d rather die with youth than age) and Jonathan Bornstein for Onyewu and Bocanegra. Gooch, may return after the late winter-early spring friendly run. Bocanegra? Another year does nothing to change–and everything to enhance–the premise that his wheels are too slow for the flank and his horsepower to weak for the center.

The Depth Charts:

Goalie: (1) Tim Howard (2) Brad Guzan (3) Sean Johnson

The skinny: No change in the lieutenant or vice lieutenant. Brad Guzan is getting games at Hull City and latest news is that the Tigers want to extend his stay.

The Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson picks up the 3rd spot. Most impressive for Johnson in the recent friendly was how calm, almost borderline nonchalant he was at times. I actually liked that quality as it felt like Chile, despite putting pressure on, was hardly giving him a tough time. Was very calm the lone time he came out on a ball. Good things ahead for the USMNT’s P Diddy.

Did Loyd deal himself in to the uncrowded leftback position?

Left: (1) Jonathan Bornstein (2) Carlos Bocanegra, (3) Zach Loyd,  (4) Heath Pearce

The skinny: First, dropped Miguel Ponce. Haven’t heard anything about his being called in. Perhaps incorrect to include him last time…but there’s still hope.

Not much has changed here except the insertion of Zach Loyd. Does he have a ceiling? Yes. But then again so does the entire depth chart at leftback. Need to mention again what a treat it is to see a US defender continuously standing up their attacker–Lloyd gets plaudits for his efforts against Chile.

Right: (1) Steve Cherundolo (2) Eric Lichaj (3) Jonathan Spector (4) Sean Franklin

The skinny: Lichaj is still second despite being banished to the reserves, for now, by Gerard Houllier at Aston Villa.

Spector is crowded out of the midfield and seems destined to remain on the flank under Bob Bradley.

Sean Franklin…holding on–just a bit–temporarily to that 4th spot.

Central Defense:  (1) Clarence Goodson,  (2) Tim Ream, (3) Oguchi Onyewu, (4) Jay DeMerit, (5) Omar Gonzalez

The skinny: Tim Ream skyrockets up the depth chart….make that onto the depth chart.

Is he green? Yes. Is he challenged in the air? Occasionally.

Can he exert leadership over the backline? Yes, saw it in South Africa and watched it in person at HDC against Chile.

Can he distribute effectively? Absolutely and better than any other centerback the US has employed over the past four years with the exception of Chad Marshall, who shows a negligence at the international level to defend. (I don’t think you’ll be seeing Marshall again…just my opinion.)

Look for Ike Opara and perhaps Gale Agbossumunde on the next clipboard.

Midfield (holding): (1) Jermaine Jones, (2) Stu Holden, (3) Michael Bradley, (4) Maurice Edu, (5) Dax McCarty, (6) Ricardo Clark

The skinny: Need we remind you of the Yank’s central midfield picture? Well, we will anyway…because the clip is just classic.

On to the chart….

States’ fans should look forward to seeing Jermaine Jones compete week-in and week-out in the Barclays, especially with Blackburn (TSG’s surprise team pick at the beginning of the year….ouch!…hand hurts from patting on mine own back) pulling in at 7th in the table right now.

Michael Bradley covered more distance during the group stage than just about any player at World Cup 2010. Unfortunately that doesn’t equate to success.

Bradley has been sent to the bench at Bo’Munchen here in the early going of 2011 as the manager looks for a way to tighten up the defense with new faces and perhaps with an eye on “what if” Bradley gets transferred.

It’s worth noting that the Junior-to-Sunderland rumor has not been picked up by the other constituent in that affair, the Sunderland Black Cats. Odd as most transfer news usually comes from the team. Fishy sourcing? …..

Bradley is now third as you’ve noticed and the cries for just a look for Stu Holden in central midfield should grow louder.

Perhaps Michael Bradley is a “nasty tackler,” but Stu is an “efficient tackler” in the Premiership this campaign and clearly has better distribution than Junior.

It’s high time for two starters in the middle for the Yanks not to have the last name Bradley. Look…nothing is permanent. Why can every other position have a new face debut but not central midfield? Edu in central defense, Spector at leftback, Diskerud in South Africa playing the right flank.

If Bradley preaches testing players out and cites friendlies not for results…well….

Dax In Effect: Welcome to the depth chart, buddy....

Dax McCarty, welcome to the depth chart. Dax edges out Jose Torres who–after getting a start against Slovenia over the summer–is currently off the depth charts at Pachuca. Can’t make it on here if you don’t make it on your club team….unless you’re name is Onyewu I guess.

Dax also edges out Ricardo Clark for three reasons: a) Edu finally makes Clark redundant and b) Did you realize Clark is 28 in a few weeks? Why continue develop a player that will be 32 at World Cup 2014 when you have a potential 33-year-old in Jermaine Jones already in the middle and c) about the flexibility, redundancy thing…well now you have Jonathan Spector…who can play that midfield.

Take that with a big Bob Bradley salt grain.

Midfield (flanks & attacking): (1) Landon Donovan, (2) Clint Dempsey, (3) Stu Holden, (4) Benny Feilhaber, (5) Alejandro Bedoya, (6) Sacha Kljestan, (7) Mix Diskerud, (8) Brek Shea

The skinny: No surprises in the first two of course.

Note, this is the sort of catch-all bucket of players as Bob Bradley deploys them all in different formations depending on what the game situation is and what the formation is.

Dropped from here is Robbie Rogers. Rogers’ South African game, for a player of his number of caps, was beyond regrettable. Too often Rogers tried to go it alone and was dispossessed. Maybe Rogers can get his act together. He’s got the skill obviously.

Brek Shea takes the Columbus winger’s spot at the rear of the list.

Striker: (1) Jozy Altidore, (2) Teal Bunbury, (3) Juan Agudelo, (4) Hercules Gomez,  (5) Edson Buddle, (6) Chris Wondolowski,(7) Robbie Findley

HDC was Agudelirious Saturday night...

The skinny: Some massive changes here. Only Jozy remains atop the depth chart from a few months ago. Consider the top three players (Jozy, Bunbury, Agudelo) as the pecking order and four through seven the “fill-in” pecking order. It’s not likely that Gomez, Wondo, Buddle or Findley will be there at World Cup 2014, but they’ll be stop-gap fill-ins when necessary for the Sweatster.

And that’s no misprint, TSG considers Bunbury a shade ahead of Agudelo. Bunbury’s got two years, size, and more reps than the younger Agudelo. Just a shade right now.

As for Edson Buddle…no other veteran presents such a puzzling case. He’s got the skill, but has commented he was overwhelmed in South Africa. He is fearless with a true striker’s mentality, but Bob Bradley seems reluctant to deploy him.

His time at FC Ingolstadt Humperdink will determine.

The “2″ Things:

• How quickly do I serve the youth?

World Cup 2010 was dominated by youngsters making a name for themselves. Players like Gregory Van Der Wiel (22), Javier Pastore (21), Thomas Muller (21) and others all born close to the time Pearl Jam’s first album debuted.

Bob Bradley’s got a least three players at his disposal in Tim Ream, Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo (and frankly maybe Joseph Gyau shortly here) who demand more time and continuous reps.

The 2006 cycle saw a much too high concentration on veterans. Oguchi Onyewu playing himself into shape even during the group stage is the prime example. Carlos Bocanegra at left back another. The use of Brian Ching and Conor Casey continuously through qualifying. Continued trials for Damarcus Beasley and even Danny Califf early on.

Will Bob Bradley give the necessary reps to the youngsters this year?

• Is there any leftback out there?

Zach Loyd (apologies I’ve been spelling his name wrong for the last week) did an admirable job in his first cap, but watching him for a few reps it’s unclear whether Loyd is really not just another in the long lines of “acceptable” but hardly “commanding leftbacks.

Is it time that Bob Bradley try out a rightfooter back there? Maybe the way to squeeze in Jonathan Spector?

How about moving a midfielder back there like Bradley did with DMB?

93 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Iggystar on 2011/01/25 at 12:27 AM

    Say Ian gets the right deal for Charlie Adam, would that be an opening for MB to Blackpool?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/25 at 12:28 AM

      Nope…Blackpool doesn’t have the cash and they are not going to negotiate and bring in a player that they might then have to sell if they do down. Not a chance….at all.


  2. Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/25 at 1:00 AM

    Excellent review, Matt. Some quick bullet-point reactions:
    -Really don’t understand how Bornstein leap-frogs Boca there.
    -Liked Loyd, but still think Pearce is a much more seasoned option.
    -Not sold on Franklin. If my job depended on it I would take Simek, Albright, or De La Garza first.
    -I’ve always thought Parkhurst was underrated and would take him before Gonzo.
    -No mas Rico, por favor.
    -Mix > Ale.
    -Shea away.
    -Putting Robbie F. on the list was funny, nice one.
    -Poor J.F. Torres.
    -If Dax makes this list, then surely Gaven must.
    -Truth be told, I’ve like Spector’s form in CM.

    Players to watch:
    Santino Q (who’ll benefit immensely by DC’s injection of talent), Starikov, Ike Opara, Conor Doyle, Charlie Davies, Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo

    Like the best XI:
    I still want to see MB90 get a run at Centerback, but that’s just me.


    • Posted by Chris on 2011/01/25 at 9:43 AM

      I worry that the Charlie Davies train has left the station :(


    • Posted by JOhn on 2011/01/25 at 9:45 AM

      Having watched FC Dallas all last year I believe Lyod has much more
      of an upside then Pearce.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/25 at 11:08 AM

        Having watched Loyd on the field, he’s very much like Heath Pearce, only better and younger with much better defensive capabilities…so there’s that.



    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/25 at 11:05 AM

      I’m sorry…did you write “Albright” …Is that a U-20 player I’m not familiar with? :>

      I just think you got speedy guys coming up in Vela, Dos Santos, etc. for the Gold Cup. Not sure Boca is the best answer on the outside.

      I think Parkhurst is perhaps underrated, but it’s curious that Bradley didn’t give him a look in South Africa.

      Can’t put Davies on the depth list until he plays outside of the reserves


      • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/26 at 6:45 PM

        I really really really like a no nonsense, sensible, smart backline with maybe one loose cannon who can get forward.

        Parkhurst manages to play centrally on a 3 man back line and not carry a single yellow card all season (or something to that effect). The guy lacks presence, but he’s a hell of a lot smarter than most of our CB options, and knows his limits.

        Albright was very very good this past year. A former USMNT international, and if my life depended on it, I would take him in a WC match over Sean Franklin tomorrow in less than a heartbeat.


  3. i cant see mb90 being ahead of edu right now in an unbiased view. however, bob’s clipboard is a whole diff matter.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 7:23 AM

      Bradley is well ahead of Edu.

      I see Jones, Holden, and Bradley as being on a similar level–though they’re not entirely interchangeable. But just as people overrate Torres, people overrate Edu: besides the near-constant injury issues, he’s a safe passer not out of quality but out of necessity–when he’s pressured he makes very bad decisions. You can see it in the second half of the Slovenia game–he nearly created a goal for another team with a sloppy pass. The reason Edu often looks so good in club play is that the SPL sucks, aside from the Old Firm–in fact, the majority of MLS teams are better than the majority of SPL teams, Old Firm aside again.


      • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/25 at 7:31 AM

        To be fair to Maurice Edu, Rangers have done well in the Champions League. He’s also had several nice goals this season. Also, Michael Bradley has been benched recently (and his team stinks). Although it might be premature to say he’s been left out of the starting XI for performance issues, it doesn’t look good either way.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 7:39 AM

          Rangers finished third in their group in the Champions League, and did especially poorly whenever they tried to do anything but park the bus. Edu was definitely a part of that with a critically bad own goal. If their CL performance is supposed to be Edu’s big CV line, then it reinforces all the more that Jones, Holden and Bradley are a tier above Edu.

          Honestly, I think Edu needs to concern himself from separating from Clark. They’re about the same.


        • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/25 at 7:54 AM

          They were third against Man U, Valencia, and Bursaspor. That’s a really tough group. Its awfully tough to fault a player for an own goal, dth. It was unfortunate to say the least. The fact that Edu started in all of the Champions league matches for Rangers says a lot, especially while Bradley has been playing for the worst team in the Bundesliga and only manages to keep his spot because there’s no other options.

          I realize its tough to criticize a player for his team’s poor form when its probably not his fault, but Maurice Edu has a lot of qualities which Bradley lacks — he’s better on defense and he’s better in the air off restarts. Rico has been playing center back lately, and again, I think its inappropriate to compare the two (at least for the time being) when they’re playing different positions.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 7:58 AM

          It was a tough group. But they didn’t exactly excel when they were playing Bursaspor. And they coped with their tough group by bunkering. If USMNT fans mistakenly think Bradley bunkers, then they would have rioted in the streets if they tried to do what Rangers did. When Rangers tried to play positively, they looked awful, and Edu was a part of that awfulness. Now, you might blame his team for that, but Edu has never looked like the obviously good thing in a mediocre team. There’s a reason clubs are after Kenny Miller and no one else in Rangers.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/26 at 8:32 AM

          im sorry, but when edu scored an own goal, didnt he also score a goal for rangers in the same game? (35)


      • Posted by emanuel on 2011/01/25 at 10:32 AM

        A lot of your points are just not accurate dth. I’m not sure what you mean by “excel” but they took 4 points from Bursaspor. When Rangers played Valencia at home they were unlucky not to win that game. You say clubs are only after Kenny Miller which isn’t true. I’m not saying Edu is better than Bradley but I think you are being unfair to Mo.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 10:54 AM

          They took 4, but needed 6 points to be serious.

          Which players am I missing from the Rangers transfer rumors? I know of none; if that’s true, that only makes Edu look worse, because it’s certainly not Edu who’s being rumored to move up.

          I don’t think I’m being unfair to Edu at all: he’s a good but not great player who’s in the same class as Ricardo Clark. Good but not great is not good enough to be considered for a starting place at central midfield in the USMNT at this time; in fact, if players like Diskerud continue to develop, it might not be good enough to make the roster.


        • Posted by emanuel on 2011/01/25 at 11:29 AM

          Off the top of my head there is Alan McGregor and Bougherra. Doesn’t interest in players depend on their contract situations? Edu for instance is signed through 2013 while Kenny Miller’s contract was up in the summer. As for your second part I would agree that Edu is good not great but I would say the same for Bradley and Holden.


        • Posted by Tux on 2011/01/25 at 11:44 AM

          Lumping Edu in with Clark is unfair to both players. Mo Edu’s a legitimate Champions League starter who acquitted himself well in the WC. Clark…is not and did not. Is Edu going to win us games? Maybe not, but he’s sure not gonna lose them.

          Yeah, I’m still a little bitter.


        • dth, I think your characterization of Edu is so loose that it isn’t useful. You can’t have just two categories: USMNT starter and NOT. IOW, I’m not “good enough to be considered for a starting place at central midfield in the USMNT at this time” either, but I can tell you that Edu is a far better soccer player than I am.

          To me, Edu is in the second tier of midfielders in the pool. Clark isn’t in that pool at all. (I know he’ll probably get into more games, but I can hope…)


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 1:45 PM

          I think second tier below JOnes, Bradley, Holden and on the same tier with Clark is very precise–I didn’t bring up a third tier of Kljestan and McCarty and so on and so forth because it wasn’t necessary. (And I mentioned Diskerud as well.)

          Look, the only reason I got into this argument was because someone said Edu is clearly better than Bradley which is very incorrect. As I say, I think Edu is a fine player, I enjoy watching him play and wish he weren’t injured so much. But if the argument is, “Who are the best central midfielders who are Americans?” you have to be more critical and distinguish more, just as if you ask the question “Who are the greatest American authors?” you might criticize an otherwise-great author like Raymond Carver even though by most standards Carver is an excellent writer. It’s the same way with Edu, and I’m judging him not by “how good a soccer player?” standard–he’s making a living playing professionally and so better than about 99.9% of all soccer players ever–but by the “best American central midfielders” standard, which is considerably more demanding.

          If that’s not a useful standard to have, then what’s the point of Bob Bradley’s job?


        • I say it’s not useful, because I believe a ranking yields far more usable information than broad, over-simplified strata. If all Bradley has to work with is two categories of players, “GOOD” and ‘CRAP” I don’t believe that helps him. I know it wouldn’t help me.

          Rankings allow you to see which players are next in line to get another chance. In such a ranking, I believe Edu falls into a much higher slot than does Clark.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/26 at 5:47 PM

          Well, I disagree: I think strata are far more useful to a flexible mind than are rankings. As a neutral example–let’s take Manchester United’s forwards: Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez and Owen.

          Rooney is the best of all of them, but there are surely situations in which Berbatov has been preferred to Rooney and Hernandez to Berbatov. But I think it would be a mistake to rank them ordinally because you surely prefer Hernandez to Berbatov depending on the situation on the game. Someone who’s dogmatic about rankings won’t recognize that. A strata-based system is much better for recognizing the subtleties of the virtues of players while still recognizing the chasms of quality.

          I can tell you, for example, that NBA and NFL teams use a tier-based ranking system to draft players.


      • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/01/25 at 10:28 PM

        Fwiw, I’m with you DTH. Clark and Edu are in the same strata of cake. I do rate Edu more, but I would not be shocked if Clark were to discover a good patch of form and work his way into playing time.


  4. Posted by Colin on 2011/01/25 at 4:19 AM

    What about Kevin Alston at right back? Yeah it’s a crowded position for us but everytime I see him play I feel like he has the tools to compete. Raw strength and speed and solid defending consistently


    • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/25 at 10:01 AM

      Kevin Alston is in that same class of player as Marvell Wynne.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/25 at 10:05 AM

        Agree with Jason here…however probably would have used a synonym for class.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/01/26 at 9:08 AM

        I’m assuming that’s the Category 4- Chicken w/o Head class? It’s embarassing that Wynne continues to get a run out for the MNT. Just say no to athletes without soccer sense.


      • I would tend to agree with your characterization of Alston, but his one saving grace (unlike Wynne) is that he’s young and inexperienced. Maybe age and coaching will make him useful. I saw him at the All-Star game vs. Man Utd and he started off in a frenzy but settled in a bit after a while.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/26 at 5:42 PM

        The MLS young RB I’m most intrigued by is Sheanon Williams.


  5. Posted by euroman on 2011/01/25 at 6:51 AM

    Interesting article. You have completely over rated Ream though. He is not a leader in the back, he never talks and it was Goodson & Guzan who were the clear leaders in SA. This past match he took major steps backwards in his passing by completing about 50% and creating several counter attackswhich is criminal for a CB.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/25 at 7:18 AM

      Possible I overrated Ream, but against Chile he not only talked in the back, he commanded in the back…watched it the entire evening. But yes…he still needs some work.

      For discussion on passing, see the TSG game review. There is a large misconception that Ream’s passing was off…not sure that was the case.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/26 at 8:37 AM

        well reem did make the errant pass right up the middle of the field that went to a chilean defender and allowed chile a break on goal until the center halfs stopped the attack. maybe that is the real question, does usa want a center half who can work the ball from the back, or one who will clear it from danger? how many errant passes can a central defender make, before it becomes not worth playing total football?


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/26 at 12:11 PM



  6. Posted by Suni G on 2011/01/25 at 6:55 AM

    This is a nice review.

    I am quite impressed with what sense I have of Bob Bradley as a person. But my perspective he’s a significant drag on the program.

    You write about his excessive reliance on veterans — this is really quite damning.

    Charlie Davies only got his shot when Ching got hurt.

    Bradley has never understood how to integrate one of our more exciting talents — JFT ( yes Torres will simply have to buckle down and win a spot with Pachuca before we talk about bigger things for him).

    Holden…I don’t think the kid suddenly got good. I think Owen Coyle understands football in a way Coach Sweats does not.

    Michael Bradley had an impressive World Cup and is quite good. But the kid really is not much of a passer. for a team with serious international hopes this strikes me as an unsatisfactory situation. if he develops this side of his game, great. I am skeptical he has it in him though. And don’t think he should be an automatic starter, let alone 90 minutes every game.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 7:19 AM

      People overrate Torres–he’s Latin, he’s tiny, he must be special! Yeah, right, well. Bradley’s given him starts in two crucial situations and each time he’s failed to perform well. Not entirely Torres’s fault but not exactly a huge endorsement either.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/25 at 11:10 AM


        We’ve yet to see Torres start in a game that mattered and hold his own. The closest he came was up in Dutchland (and that’s almost unfair) but certainly wasn’t a difference maker.


        • While your comment on him starting is correct he did have a huge impact as a second half in the Costa Rica qualifier (if memory serves). I agree he’s not ready for prime time yet though.


        • His excellent and difference making performance against Costa Rica occurred when CR was sitting back and trying to absorb the pressure which gave him space to operate and dictate the pace of play. This role is precisely why TSG suggested he come on in the second half of the Slovenia. I think JFT has potential, but like everyone has mentioned/admitted here he hasn’t shown the goods yet in a crucial situation.


    • Posted by Jack on 2011/01/25 at 11:40 AM

      Holden has said over and over again that he’s gotten better as a player at Bolton. I’m not saying that Coyle is not a better manager than Bradley–because that would not be true–(also: I’d say that club coaches have more of a long-term impact on their players, so we shouldn’t discount the Dynamo coaching staff in this either) but I think that being thrown into the crazy, fast-paced football that the EPL plays as well as switching from winger to CM has had something to do with his success.


    • Posted by Russell P on 2011/01/31 at 6:10 AM

      I agree with much of this. Michael Bradley has been the best USMNT Center Mid for a few years.. No question.

      What is a question is what SR will do for the Gold Cup if Michael is still not worked into Villa’s lineup by seasons end. It’s a great move to go ..and I expect this experience will make a befter 2014 Bradley but if Holden and Jones are playing and exist in more defined defensive & offensive mid ..

      To the post re Torres. The fact is Bradley and Torres don’t mesh. Torres recieves settles gets the ball back does it again one touch. Bradley receives and carries forward or looks long. They think different and play different and don’t complement. Torres looks bad if Bradley never one touches it back to him..which he doesn’t.


  7. Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 7:25 AM

    Don’t think Gyau is the next guy up from the u20s. I think it’s Gale Agbossoumonde, who’s a player with a different kind of ceiling than the MLS guys, and Bobby Wood, a striker/all-arounder who’s just gotten promoted to the first team of 1860 Munich.

    Also, I think a diamond formation would best suit our talents right now:

    Altidore-Donovan (each drifts wide on occasion to create width)


    • Posted by mbw on 2011/01/25 at 8:24 AM

      This is really interesting — looks a lot like what Blackburn did against West Brom on Sunday, except presumably the USMNT would play up the right side instead of the left. This formation has the additional strengths of: (1) making use of Cherundolo’s and Lichaj’s ability to get forward; (2) providing a lot of flexibility in terms of substitutions.


  8. Posted by mbw on 2011/01/25 at 7:27 AM

    I like this depth chart a lot. One thing I would consider were I in Bob Bradley’s sweats would be to swap Michael Bradley (deployed here at holding midfield) and Stu Holden. Holden’s positioning, good linking play, and efficient tackling would be a plus in a deeper role, and Bradley has done well in the past at the club level in a more attacking role.

    Also worth noting: intriguing things are happening in the central defense. Onyewu is on the pitch again, Boss will, fingers crossed, finally have a team soon, and Rico is getting time in the Bundesliga (and apparently doing ok?)


  9. Posted by Chas on 2011/01/25 at 7:28 AM

    I don’t think its appropriate for Bornstein to be in the discussions for the starting spot at left back. In case anyone bothered to notice, he doesn’t play there for his club in Mexico — he’s been playing center mid. And he’s been subbed out early on in the two games he’s played. Boca should retain the starting spot until someone takes it from him.

    Similarly, I think Spector should be considered for an attacking mid/center mid spot. He’s started a number of matches for West Ham at center mid and has done quite well. Although he’s somewhat inconsistent, he deserves to have a spot on the field at a center mid spot by virtue of playing well for a Premier League team.


    • Posted by Standard_Deviance on 2011/01/25 at 9:30 AM

      Spector’s shown well in midfield for West Ham, but it’s only been a few games and midfield is our deepest position on the depth chart, particularly CM. Hard to see him breaking into the XI that way. His role on the team is most likely as a sub who can cover at right back, CM and maybe even on the wing (crossing seems to be a strength of his), but even then it’s hard to see him getting significant minutes at any of those positions.


      • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/25 at 10:36 AM

        You’re probably right about him not breaking into the XI. I still think he should be on the roster though, if for no other reason that he can play defense as well as center mid. He’s just a very classy, selfless player whose strong form of late is very inspiring and it would be a mistake to leave him off the roster.


      • Posted by Paula on 2011/01/25 at 1:31 PM

        But what to do with him if he keeps scoring goals from this position? Or are we just waiting for the other shoe to drop?


  10. Posted by babbalicious on 2011/01/25 at 7:33 AM

    in regards to best 11, i cant see borstein over boca. I realize he’s had a few shining moments, but would still prefer boca even with all the wear on his tires. I know boca wont be able to play lb in 2014, but he has to be the best option for this summer. Let us hope that over the next year or 2 that loyd develops or possibly Miguel Ponce chooses to play for the US.


    • Posted by CJ on 2011/01/25 at 9:03 AM

      I can’t see the value in playing Boca anymore. Moving forward, at best he’s a fill-in player that will get playing time as an acknowledgment of his contributions to the USMNT over his career. And even then I might consider that a waste of an opportunity to get a less experienced player on the International level the reps he needs for personal improvement and team cohesiveness.


    • Posted by John on 2011/01/25 at 9:06 AM

      Given that Boca is a pretty good bet not to be playing in the next world cup, that leaves 1 player on the USA roster that plays LB, has international experience and represented the USA in the World Cup.

      Jonathon Bornstein.

      This means (in my mind) that we would be better served playing Bornstein and trialing Lloyd/Pearce.

      I love Boca, don’t get me wrong, but he isn’t the future for the USMNT. I don’t think Bornstein is either necessarily, but his age and experience make him “the one” currently.


      • Posted by Chas on 2011/01/25 at 10:40 AM

        Jonathan Bornstein also played for the last place team in the MLS, who also happened to concede the most goals. Although Boca isn’t the future, he’s an intelligent, experienced player who doesn’t make many mistakes. I think the job is his until somebody else proves they can play at an international level or until Boca stops playing in France.

        And no, I don’t think Bornstein’s one game in the World Cup should count for much.


  11. Posted by Chad on 2011/01/25 at 8:43 AM

    Lichaj or a converted mid has to be the answer at LB. I know TSG talked to Lichaj about this and he doesn’t favor the move, but come on. He matches or exceeds Bornstein’s pace and plays as strong as an ox. Wasn’t Zambrotta a converted mid?


  12. […] The Shin Guardian goes in-depth on the USMNT roster. It’s a pretty great piece, although I’d like Jozy Altidore to score a goal at some point if he’s going to remain our pointman. Tags: MLS, sexism, Union […]


  13. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 9:09 AM

    I still do not understand why you would ever play Bornstein ahead of Bocanegra. Bornstein still hasn’t done anything to warrant this promotion IMO.

    I know you did say that you’d play a 4-2-3-1 so I can understand that you would require width from your fullback, but personally I would forgo that to a large extent for a better defensive player – especially from a positional sense.


    • Posted by John on 2011/01/25 at 9:17 AM

      I would say because we don’t have anyone else currently. The idea of a 34/5 year old Bocanegra trying to shut down wingers/midfielders in the next world cup is terrifying and we might as well give the kids/Bornstein a full four years to prove that they are as bad at LB. Boca isn’t going anywhere right now.

      This is what I have been harping about, that the lack of depth in the LB/D area is absolutely terrifying.

      I could actually see Lichaj end up playing over there (even though he has stated that it isn’t his preferred position) due to the lack of depth.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 10:02 AM

        That’s 3.5 years away. I understand that Bradley has to keep his eye on the big picture (2014), but doesn’t winning the Gold Cup provide access to the 2013 Confederations’ Cup? He clearly has short, medium and long term objectives that he needs to balance, but I disagree with leaving out a better player [Bocanegra] in the short term to accomodate Bornstein for his long term planning. That’s a very shaky peg to hang your argument on IMO.


        • Posted by John on 2011/01/25 at 10:11 AM

          You are probably right George, although I tend to think that Bornstein gets far more stick than he deserves. People tend to remember his mistakes and forget others.

          Either way, (regardless of what we want) I am sure that Bob will stick with a mix of veteran and youth. (what youth we have)

          Heaven forbid that we pick up another injury in that spot though.


        • Posted by babbalicious on 2011/01/25 at 10:27 AM

          someone please tell me the attributes of borsteins game other than decent pace. negatives: poor service in the final 3rd, questionable defensive positioning as well as continuous fouls given up in the defensive 3rd. it is also obvious that his teamates have little to no trust in him. you can tell dempsey’s game suffers everytime he has to play on the left flank with borstein. you can read most of their body language that they dont trust giving him the ball. I understand their are no great options at lb, but i will never believe he’s our best bet. Its not like he’s 22 and has a high ceiling.


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/01/26 at 9:49 AM

          There has to be someone in the entire system not named Bornstein that can a)consistently defend the flank first and foremost b)receive and pass the ball w/o consistently frustrating (MB) or angering (Demps) their MF partners c)provide reasonably OK service 3-5 times per game from the flank. That to me is all that it would take to put him off the roster. He cannot consistently provide any of the above which are the basics for the LB role in their system.


  14. I think we should look at things like Bob Bradley is having open auditions for spots all around the pitch.

    Along the back 4, Stevie Cherundolo is perhaps the only mainstay from the last cycle that should remain firmly in place going into the next (hope he remains ageless). A new center back pairing is likely. Compared to our usual options, I thought Loyd looked fairly solid at left back as Chile frequently came flying down the right flank – the sort of pace and directness that Boca often struggles with.

    Midfield is in flux right now. Holden performing well centrally there, Jones also influential on his debut for Blackburn. Don’t know that Jones will be around for 2014, however. Hopefully young Bradley will find a new situation, but he shouldn’t be in the first 11 right now. Seems to me that Holden and Jones would make an excellent pairing in the center (think about the command on the ball compared to Bradley, Clark). Stu is a serious baller, a good tackler/ball-winner and his defensive work rate is second to no one, even Junior – if we stop thinking of him as a makeshift winger we’ll be mentioning him in the same breath as Donovan/Dempsey fairly soon. Only disagreement I have here is over Feilhaber – I think he’s too high up and should be bidding his adieus to the national team this cycle.

    Up front there is Jozy – who needs matches and goals for his club – and the new kids who won’t take long to be at Jozy level if they get matches. At least we seem to have some dynamic players in this group as we embark on the 2014 cycle so we can say farewell to the days of Conor Casey and Brian Ching.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 9:37 AM

      I think you may [genuine] competition for places up top for 2014[Altidore, Davies, Bunbury, Agudelo, Findley, Johnson]. It’s really early days for Bunbury and Agudelo, but let’s hope that their talent is nurtured properly and they get development that they need.


  15. Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/25 at 9:32 AM

    Why can’t Convey be on the left back depth chart? In form he’s better than Bornstein, right?

    This Bradley or Holden thing is so tedious! They’re both fine players, but I can’t help think that the Holden-craze is driven in large part due to the fact that he’s playing in the EPL which is regularly televised in America. I’m quite sure that if Bradley were playing for an EPL side, the doubters would become Lil Bradley fanatics.


    • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/25 at 9:36 AM

      That’s not to say the Bradley Holden debate isn’t still kind of fun and important, or even that it’s obvious one way or the other. Just seems to me that a lot of the Holden hype – no doubt he’s been excellent – is because we can actually watch him, while Bradley plays in relative (TV) obscurity.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 12:42 PM

      Stuart Holden has played really well this season. I feel that his *form* is why people are waxing lyrical, not because he plays in the PL which has more visibility than the Bundesliga. To suggest that if Michael Bradley also played in the PL, he’d be worshipped too, really trivialises the fact that Stuart Holden has had a fine season so far. I could name a bunch of American players in the PL, who are just as visible, but aren’t getting the same praise. Why? Because their current form doesn’t warrant it.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 12:46 PM

        Well, sure, but the question is what’s the trump card if the form is close to equal? Visibility…Holden gets justly praised when all of his good performances; Bradley doesn’t–you heard barely a mention for his very good performance against Hamburg SV in which he played a CAM role, got an assist + sprung two players for one-on-ones with the keeper (they didn’t finish), to pick one example.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 12:57 PM

          I should note that Holden’s form has definitely been better than Bradley’s; it’s just that Bradley’s good games are out of sight, out of mind.


        • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/25 at 1:06 PM

          Yes, I agree, particularly that visibility is the trump when form is a wash.

          Holden’s been in great form this year. And while Bradley has been a bit up and down so far, he still has more goals and more assists than Holden. His team is awful, but it’s hardly been his fault.

          I’d also say that it’s not at all clear that Holden is a better all-around the pitch passer than Bradley. He may be a better tackler, in the sense that he’s a bit wiser and less rash, but Bradley is fiercer.

          My point is: ideally they’d both be on the pitch when the Stars and Stripes suit up, and in some friendlies etc. it’d definitely be good to test Holden out and maybe give him some time even if that means taking Bradley off for once. But going forward, I’d put my money on Bradley to be the better player and have a better career in the long run, not least of all because he’s a couple years younger.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 1:08 PM

          But I am not talking about one game in isolation DTH. I am talking about his form this season. If Bradley played in the EPL, would he get praise? Sure – if his form warranted it. Not because he played in a league that get televised overseas. My point is that I am saying this as a football fan, not an American football fan.

          Look, I understand what you and John are saying. But I also feel that it’s a little unfair.

          I cannot read German, so I have no clue as to what the German press is writing about Bradley’s form.


        • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/25 at 1:18 PM

          But, George, in football terms and as an American fan, we should all be singing Cherundolo’s praises, for example, over pretty much everyone (american) this year. He’s the captain of a Champions league team (if the season ended today) and has been captain for years. Why doesn’t he get as much hype as he deserves? In my opinion, because the Bundesliga isn’t easily seen in America.

          Another way to say it is, particularly in soccer, where it’s very difficult to quantify performance, it’s hard to appreciate someone’s form and quality without seeing it. I think Bradley is becoming underrated now in reference to Holden – and even Edu, see the lineup posted below.


        • Posted by John Henry on 2011/01/25 at 1:21 PM

          Now does anyone have a comment on Bobby Convey? I’m not sure why he isn’t part of the LB discussion. Maybe you all think this disqualifies my assessment of Bradley’s class, but Convey did destroy the Red Bulls.


        • Posted by Seybold on 2011/01/30 at 10:40 PM

          Agree on Convey–I’d like to see him in the picture at the very least.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 3:57 PM

        John, maybe that’s because Cherundolo is an established player and the undisputed US right-back – I don’t know.

        My major gripe about all of this, is just because Bradley [or whoever] doesn’t get praise because of ‘visibility’ issues, doesn’t mean that Holden’s praise should be trivialised.

        And remember, much of the praise being volleyed about regarding Holden, is from the English media talking about a player in their league. I am not referring to praise from the average US footy fan because most are excited about all USMNTers…


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/30 at 11:51 PM

          Maybe visibility is the wrong word. Tbh, the people who sing the praises of Holden are people who are streaming the games and thus just as able to stream Bundesliga games. It’s a matter of fit, culturally speaking. The EPL has familiarity and a long history–aside from Bayern Munich, the history of German clubs isn’t well appreciated in the U.S.

          Anyway, the argument should go away soonish: early returns by the end of the season and a more complete picture by the end of the 2011-2 season.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/31 at 12:02 AM

            Haven’t really weighed in here yet. Some cursory thoughts here.

            I’ve watched about 5 or 6 Holden games this year and 3 and a half Bradley games.

            One point is that Owen Coyle made the role for Holden. He sits forward of Muamba and is a heatseeking missile on tackles.

            Bradley has played a little more forward this year than year’s past. He’s certainly a more devastating tackler.

            Both have whiffed on their fair share of tackles this year and though Holden has more tackles on the year than Bradley, I would say that Bradley is still the more assured tackler.

            The bigger difference is on offense.

            Both are linking players and actually Bradley has a little more carriage (no stat, this is by eye). But Holden certainly I would say is and has been more dynamic offense and more dangerous. In one less game that Bradley he’s got double the fouls suffered I believe.

            Anywho, very different players who play to their strengths (Holden more so) in their systems.

            For me, it’s more a Bob Bradley question….and I’m rambling here but wanted to get it out.

            I think Michael Bradley is a very good player– I think he’s asked to do WAY to much on the men’s national team…in fact, I prefer his club game. I think Stu Holden is an excellent player. I think he should get a shot internally.

            Probably a loose comment here, but…


  16. Posted by babbalicious on 2011/01/25 at 9:47 AM

    maybe i missed something, but i thought we were trying to win the gold cup while also trying to implement possible new young players for 2014. That would mean boca at lb through this summer while bringing along loyd or any young lb with a pulse. There’s no way you can tell me a guy playing every week in ligue 1 at lb is not better than borstein playing no minutes at lb in the mexican primera. In my eyes, borstein and pearce are both around 27 and had enough chances. they are not going to get that much better between now and 2014. our goals should be win the gold cup(boca), qualify for 2014(start implementing loyd or anyone else under 25 with a decent ceiling. borstein and pearce have hit theirs and it wont cut it come 2014. (and yes i realize the reponsibilities of the outside backs in a 4-2-3-1 and boca is still better)


  17. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/25 at 9:51 AM

    Does anybody know what happened to the lad at West Ham [Sebastian Letget]? Nobody seems to be mentioning him anymore.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/01/25 at 10:49 AM

      He’s doing well–bouncing between reserves and u18s. Hasn’t quite made the breakthrough yet that people seemed to predict, but that’s probably partially due to his mono saga and partially due to the ongoing West Ham relegation crisis.

      He’ll probably be starting in the #10 role for the US u20s.


  18. Posted by SamT on 2011/01/25 at 11:34 AM

    Interesting question who will be captain in Brazil — and when that change happens this cycle.


  19. I have to comment on this one matty lol:

    Best 23 (for Gold Cup)
    GK: Howard, Guzan, Johnson
    DF: Cherundolo, Lichaj, Onyewu, Goodson, Ream, Bocanegra, Bornstein
    MD: Donovan, Bedoya, Bradley, Jones, Holden, Edu, Spector, Diskerud, Dempsey
    FW: Altidore, Buddle, Agudelo, Bunbury






    Last off: Kljestan, Gomez, Torres, Feilhaber, Parkhurst, Loyd, Gonzalez


  20. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/01/25 at 2:48 PM

    A few quickies:

    – I think we still have to start Onyewu over Ream. Gooch is a bigger physical presence and much more experienced. He’s also getting regular minutes for a strong club in a strong league. In a critical game, there’s no way that I would rather rely on the untested Ream. Maybe a year or two from now things will be different.

    – I think I’d go with Kljestan over Bedoya. Bedoya hasn’t shown me much and Kljestan is getting regular minutes for a better team than any Bedoya is likely to end up on. Granted, Bedoya has been unfortunate to play alongside spotty supporting casts in his last few runs with USMNT, but he still hasn’t shown much.

    – I guess you could consider me a Dax McCarty “hater.” I’ve got nothing against the guy, but he looks like a hustle player with a low ceiling. Maybe he could be a stopgap solution in a pinch. In the long term, I can’t see him staving off challenges from the likes of Lletget, Powers, Gyau, Zahavi, and Okugo. He’s just too limited athletically.

    – All of a sudden, the USMNT has some optimism at forward. The Bunbury/Agudelo pairing has been a revelation. I still think I’d play Buddle ahead of those two and possibly even ahead of Jozy, but they’re chomping at the bit.


    • Posted by mbw on 2011/01/25 at 10:00 PM

      I guess you’re right about Gooch and Ream, but man, wouldn’t it be good to have a center back who can play the ball into the midfield to Jones, Holden, and Bradley instead of hoofing it over the top with no one around him?


  21. Posted by Noah on 2011/01/25 at 3:32 PM

    Why not give Ream a look at left back?

    He’s left footed.
    He played some left back in college.
    He’s a good passer.
    On at least one occasion against Chile we saw him take the ball way up the left flank.
    He’s a good tackler.

    Is his speed ideal for the position? No…but right now it seems like Bocanegra is our top choice at LB. Is he much faster?


    • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/01/25 at 6:38 PM

      I guess Backe has been very resolute that Ream is not a left back. And his one look there at the combine was disastrous.


    • Posted by Standard_Deviance on 2011/01/26 at 3:27 PM

      I’m a RBNY fan, and I love Ream and have high hopes he can be a nice USMNT contributor, but I think his pace alone is probably enough to keep him out of the LB conversation. His pace is questionable for an International CB, never mind an International LB.


  22. Posted by Antonio H. on 2011/01/25 at 7:54 PM

    I’m all for Clint at striker. Unfortunately that really reduces our depth on the wings since Holden will most likely be playing in the center. Who else is legit on the wings? Ale? DMb? Benny?


  23. Posted by Russell on 2011/01/26 at 2:24 PM

    My only comment is.. I put Spector at #4 Right Midfield. Someone scoring goals and creating chances in the Premiership has got to be fit in closer to top somewhere.


  24. Posted by Jake C. on 2011/01/26 at 3:58 PM

    Don’t know quite why Herc is still up that high on the striker depth chart, particularly with your comments on Torres. A good striker from what I’ve seen, to be sure, but too few minutes for Pachuca as well.


  25. […] January 2011 was our last scribbling. […]


  26. […] is our first entry in October 2010. January 2011 was our next scribbling.  And our last, post-Argentina, post-Paraguay journal […]


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