Bob Bradley was in a chipper mood on Monday’s conference call with reporters, addressing questioners by name and asking some how they’ve been.
Here we string together some thoughts on the US Gold Cup roster:
• On Timothy Chandler: Clear from Bob Bradley ‘s pre-roster announcement sentiments that he expected to have Chandler with the team.
And Timmy Chandler is very much a Bob Bradley type of player; you could actually feel Bob Bradley’s giddiness when he talked about him (“a very exciting player” phrase was used a few times).
Seems to be “concern” that Timmy Chandler isn’t cap-tied and now won’t be this summer. We’re going to try and get our German correspondent on the story.
I would think Chandler’s non-inclusion is more a matter of negotiation between FC Nurnberg and Bob Bradley and USSF rather than a change of sentiment or inquiry from the German federation. Germany is stacked at outside back with Phil Lahm, Jerome Boateng and even Sedar Tasci.
Additionally, most of Germany’s players come up through the system; it’s important to their team ethos.
That said, the curious thing is that this seems a perfect opportunity for FC Nurnberg not to dispute a call-up. It’s offseason. Steve Cherundolo is clearly the number one, relegating Chandler–for now–to a back-up role at least in Game 1 and Game 2.
And you would also think that Bob Bradley would want to see Chandler against a team like Spain where the flanker with the herky-jerky stride would appear a perfect foil for Iniesta ahead of Cherundolo on the right flank. (Okay, maybe I just feel that way. Bob Bradley should.)
Time will tell here.
• A dynamic collection of attacking players for Bob Bradley with diverse skill sets.
Freddy Adu, of course, being the biggest surprise inclusion, but also Wondoloski and Robbie Rogers.
Bradley favors offensive action up front that that is typically unbalanced to the right flank and opens up space for Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. The graphic to the left shows how Adu might be tried out in Bradley’s unbalanced formation and how his movement differs from, say, Clint Dempsey in the weakside attacker role.
Adu, as shown, would be a speedy, creative option off the opponent’s backline after it shifts and gets pinned back on the right.
Some other occasions when Bob Bradley has used this deployment include: (1) the 1st half against Turkey during 2010’s Send Off Series with Dempsey and Donovan swapped in the formation and Altidore pulling right and (2) DaMarcus Beasley in the role in the Send Off Series game against the Czech Republic with Edson Buddle and Eddie Johnson pulling right.
As for Wondolowski, I have to say a little bit more excitement on his call-up just because he’s a guy, without great speed, that still moves extremely well off the ball.
The graphic on the right shows how the movement of Altidore and Wondolowski in tandem can open up space in the middle for Dempsey and Donovan.
What’s interesting is that when Wondo plays for San Jose, he greatly benefits from the width provided/created by Bobby Convey (and this year Ryan Johnson) on the left–either Wondo gathers in a cross or he’s got space to work with from the quick switchfield.
The States don’t have a great crosser of the ball from the left and usually look for width from a pulling Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey taking the space to the corner. It will be interesting to see how Bob Bradley involves Wondo without that natural lefty crosser-attacker on the left flank.
• I know Marcus Hahnemann has earned his place as the #2 for this tournament, but he’s hardly the ideal keeper for the CONCACAF tournament in that he’s not the most mobile of fellows.
Teams like El Salvador, Mexico and Guadeloupe have active and quick forwards. If the US wants to play a high line and give Howard a break, well they should expect some adventures if Hahnemann is tasked with coming out. Nick Rimando–proven with RSL in Champion’s League south of the border–has experience with CONCACAF attackers and is a good addition by Bradley to the squad as the 3rd keeper over a player like David Yeldell.
Oh and he’s not on form for Portland, but Troy Perkins was excellent in the Gold Cup two years ago because he was aggressive off his line.
• While it’s hard for TSG to be impartial with the exclusion of Alejandro Bedoya, a TSG fave, the inclusion of Robbie Rogers is an interesting one.
First, there is no question that Rogers has
all the talent a good deal of talent in the world. At the age of 19, he was signed by Eredivisie squad Heerenveen. Rogers has a cannon when he gets an opening from outside the box, he’s got more than decent straight ahead speed with a little bit of shake-and-bake and the ability to cross the ball.
That said, Rogers can also murder an opportunity by holding on to the ball too long or making the wrong decision on moving it.
I think Bob Bradley’s got “Coach’s Goggles” with Robbie Rogers.
Every coach in every sport puts on goggles for one player or another. The most famous instance perhaps being in the NFL with Dan Reeves and Tommy Maddox.
Bruce Arena has Mike Magee back in MLS.
Coach’s Goggles is when a coach has an emotional tie to a player and fails to look beyond the obvious. Instead the coach believes that their influence can dynamically improve a player who has, it would appear, all the physical tools to succeed but where the evidence shows it probably won’t happen.
Last year, Bradley’s Goggles were firmly fixated on Robbie Findley. Hopefully Bradley’s Goggles don’t latch on to Anthony Wallace next.
Rogers? Well, he’s 24-years-old. It’s time to put it together. Period. That said, perhaps Rogers was Chandler’s 11th-hour fill-in?
And one more quick thing here. You brought in Freddy Adu. Why not bring in Teal Bunbury or Joseph Gyau if you’re taking a flyer. How often do the 21st and 22nd players get on the pitch?
• Very strong words from Bob Bradley in the press call saying “I will emphatically say that we believe Jozy has done a lot for us and we think he’s big part of the future of US Soccer.”
• Looking forward to seeing if Sacha Kljestan can put it together here. Kljestan looked the most team-oriented and focused that I’ve seen him awhile during the 2nd half against Paraguay a few weeks back. He’s got the tools to be excellent with ball carriage in the middle or tucked in on a flank.
This might be his Gold Cup. Might.