Nick Sindt begs your expertise on USMNT jersey purchasing
Last time TSG put out this piece at the perfect time; the jersey had just been launched and the World Cup was immediately on the horizon. The current kit has been out for some time, and it’s likely that most reading this site will have already made their choices, but what about those of us who wait until that defining moment or for that great deal or sale?
The impetus for this piece was selfish in nature, I just grabbed an authentic 2012/13 home jersey off eBay for half the retail price and now I need to send it on to US Soccer to get it printed; however as I put fingertips to keyboard it struck me that this kind of a post strikes a deeper chord as we prepare to flip the calendar.
2013 is going to be a huge year for the USMNT with the Gold Cup, the Hex, and our centenary on the horizon and you’ll want to ensure that the name on your back (if you’ve waited as long as I or are getting a gift for a loved one) is a solid one, but whom to choose? Other than MB90 or Clint Dempsey has there been a stand out player or defining moment that justifies spending the extra $30 to customize your shirt? To help you in making your selections here are some categories to help break down your options and what they may say about your fandom.
The Overall/EveryFan picks
1) Michael Bradley – Is there any US International more on-fire right now? It seems that playing for someone other than Papa Sweats has allowed him to reach his potential, and then some. OR, he’s finally just hit that purple patch of his career.
Either way he’s playing well for a big club and country, and getting his name and number on your shirt tells your friends that a) you like gorgeous volleys more than anything on earth, b) you’re going for timeless since it’s plain to see Bradley’s steely resolve, vision, and box-to-box runs ensure he will be a central figure for years to come, or c) all of the above.
Note: he only barely edges out Deuce on age and future impact alone.
2) Clint Dempsey – He scores goals against England, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Juventus. He openly mocks opponents on the pitch with the ‘Deuce Face.’ And, lastly he’s got that je-ne-sais-quoi about him that makes him the most exciting player to watch right now – you never know what trick he’s going to pull out next. If you’re going to strut down the street in a Dempsey kit, do it up right with a couple of arm tats and some 4-day stubble.
3) Tim Howard – As odd as ‘Howard #1’ might look on the outfield kit, he’s one of the top keepers in the world and he constantly saves the ass of the USMNT by standing on his head. Isn’t it time we honored him appropriately?
4) Landon Donovan – He’s been the face of US Soccer for 16 years now, scored more goals than anyone in a US Shirt, collected more assists, and played in the second-most games; you can’t really go wrong with his name adorning your shirt. However, being the poster-boy for the program means that everyone will know him and thus likely be the first choice of the casual fan, and he hasn’t really shown well in the current shirt due to injuries and general burn out. If you were going to get a Donovan shirt, the 2008/9 or 2010/11 Home shirts would’ve been better choices.
The Timeless Picks
I realize the US doesn’t have luminaries like Zidane, Pele, Maradona, or Cruyff that are respected the world over, yet, but most of us can agree on the following being our current list of timeless choices that give you instant street cred with knowledgeable US Fans
1) Tab Ramos #10 – The original US #10. One of the first to play the US game with South American flair. And to date, the last.
2) Thomas Dooley #5 – One of the first Germericans (in the Post-1990 history that most of us grew up with) to pull on the Stars & Stripes, he was definitely a classy and calming influence on our midfield and back-line during his tenure.
3) Earnie Stewart #8 – Arguably he’s Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan before Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan.
Classy on the field, classy in the front office, and just all around class. Class, class, class.
4) Paul Caligiuri #20 – Without his shot heard ‘round the world, not too many of us are fans of the USMNT in the same capacity today….and there isn’t a lot of tape of mostly white guys jumping around in too short shorts with USA on them outside of the Olympics.
5) Claudio Reyna #10 – Another South American-American who wore the #10 shirt, but Reyna played the game much differently than the traditional #10. His passing, vision, and tempo-setting skills are something we could definitely use in the Klinsmann era.
6) Ricky Davis — Don’t know him? Read this 1985 Sports Illustrated article, put down some ducats and gain some street cred.
7) Tony Meola – If only…
The ‘If we don’t see you in 2013/2014, Thank you dearly for your service, this is my salute to you’ Picks
1) Steve Cherundolo – You been part of three World Cup squads, maybe a 4th…, and dutifully called the right-back spot your home for as long as most of us can remember. You’re a name not many immediately think of since you carry out your role with a quiet grace and aplomb.
Picking a Cherundolo shirt tells the world you know your shit and you appreciate solid if unspectacular play from your fullbacks.
Let us all bow our heads in praise for a moment at The Great Dolo … The Mayor of Hannover. He just may never die. Awesome.
2) Carlos Bocanegra – Third most caps for defenders, tied for most goals by a defender, and captain of the national side. He’s never been called world-class by outsiders but we don’t know where we’d be without your timely, nerve-calming equalizing headers and the leadership that you’ve provided over the years.
3) Landon Donovan – His recent interviews, injuries, and form suggests he may ride off into the sunset very soon. If he does, he will do so as the all-time leader in Goals, Assists, and second in appearances. Respect.
The ‘I EFFING Told You So’ Picks
If they pan out you look like a genius, if not you may have to retire the shirt or find some clever ways to defend your choice. Stop what you’re doing now and check your closet for that Jose Torres jersey who squandered money away on about three years ago. Actually don’t do that or you may not read on.
1) Stu Holden – If he steps back into the fold for the Hex or Gold Cup and starts bossing the game like he was for Bolton two years ago, you can smile with pride as Chariots of Fire plays in your mind. You knew he’d make it back and form one half of the most feared midfield pairing in CONCACAF – Bradley and Holden aka ‘Brolden™’.
Stu, we’re all rooting for you to get healthy again so at the very least our wives and girlfriends can swoon, and you can teach Brek Shea how to style his hair.
2) Josh Gatt — Quick! Hurry! Before there is another YouTube clip with him with Ian Darke announcing, “Oh, it’s incredible!” (Note: I hereby reserve the write to come back into the TSG editing suite and swap “Josh Gatt” for “Joe Gyau” and claim that I got my “G” money player messed up”)
3) Brek Shea – The comically coiffed one has shown flashes of international quality mixed with doldrums, malaise, and a lack of direction or service. When he finally finds his form with a couple of goals in the Gold Cup that Shea #11 shirt will almost pay for itself in free drinks, hair product and with your on-hand dialogue about seeking out the next Clint Mathis.
4) Graham Zusi – A couple of solid performances at the end of the Semi-Final round of qualification have made Zusi one to watch for 2013. If he doesn’t pan out you always have those two games in 2012.
5) Terrence Boyd – It’s like Brian McBride and Gooch had a love-child…the 6’2” Germerican has shown a penchant for being the target man we’ve wanted since McLegend hung up his boots. If he puts up even half the goals and half the class of the former #20 your choice of getting Boyd on your shirt will be well worth it. And he likes Boyz-to-Men despite being born right around the time they dropped Motown Philly.
6) Juan Agudelo – A year or so ago you would’ve bet your mortgage on Agudelo hitting super-stardom, since then he’s plateaued for his club(s). Whenever he pulls on the US Shirt he’s a ball of energy and he makes things happen; my belief that he will eventually be a bigger name for the USMNT pushes him further down this list. (Shh, I’m just hiding him in the #6 slot …. sort of like when Ricardo Clark used to play there.)
7) Eddie Johnson – Burst onto the scene against Panama in 2005, guess who’s back from international obscurity, and guess who’s back in the hexagonal against the US? Adorning your jersey with the Grown-Ass-Man takes some serious sack at this point, but you will be the second coming of Nostradamus if he blows up again in helping the US qualify for Brazil 2014.
8) Timothy Chandler — This one can really go either way after he commits to the Austrian National Team.
9) Charlie Davies — Let’s not go there. Long live The Stanky.
The Hipster Picks
1) Sacha Kljestan – The ‘stache, the hair, and he dates Victoria’s Secret models, yet Jürgen and Papa Sweats rarely pencil him into the lineup…What’s wrong with this picture? Getting Kljestan printed on your shirt tells the world you are a man of continental tastes even if others vehemently disagree with you. Big time bonus points if you grow a matching mustache to go along with your purchase.
2) Geoff Cameron – That haircut goes perfectly with some cuffed skinny black denim and a sweater vest, throw a pair of horn-rimmed glasses on him and he’d fit right in at a hole-in-the-wall Portlandia Pub.
3) Robbie Rogers — Oops! Passe! Like that time when you turned off Trash Talk to play some Belle & Sebastian at that Clover-apparatus cafe. Oh, yeah, Trash Talk, you don’t know … you don’t know? They’ll be skinny-jeaned in no time. You just watch.
4) Sydney Leroux — Don’t think we don’t see that neck tattoo Sydney and all those pictures of cats–or is that a dog–that you tweet. We’re on to you! (“My fixie brings all the boys to the yard.”)
The ‘US is a melting pot’ Picks
1) Herculez Gomez – You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone embodies the hustle, grit, and perseverance of the USMNT more than Gomez. He spent years getting the cold shoulder from MLS teams and the USMNT, so he went south of the border and started bagging goals regularly when no other striker in the US Program was. Want to thumb your nose at El Tri, go sport a Gomez jersey and head to the next game at the great toilet in the smog, Azteca.
2) Fabian Johnson – Left backs are never the sexy picks when it comes to customizing your jersey but anyone that solves the left back problem for us deserves to be near the top of your list. Note, Fab Johnson might just squeak onto the “Hipster Picks” above. Doesn’t he just seem like the most anti-Hasselhoff German you’ve ever seen?
3) Danny Williams – Sure he’s got some maturing to do but he’s looking like the US CDM of the future with less petulance and recklessness than CDMs past. If I saw you in a Danny Williams shirt, I would give a knowing nod of respect as you clearly understand what these unsung players (CDMs) bring to the table.
4) Jermaine Jones – Wearing a Jones shirt tells the world that they should stand back because you might pull a Mike Tyson and bite someone’s ear off or you might pull a Mike Tyson and start raising some pigeons. And if that’s the case you might as well get Tyson and #13 on your back.
Otherwise, if you enjoy being a San Diego Chargers fan or Oakland Raiders fan after your team is down 10 in the third quarter and some opponent interlopers are in your section … well this is the kit for you.
The Dreamer Picks
1) Freddy Adu – He was supposed to be THE ONE, the first true #10 that would come from the US System and play for the biggest clubs and help our national team crack the Top 10 in FIFA Rankings.
Sadly he hasn’t been able to live up to the potential we placed on him at such a young age, bouncing between clubs in the MLS and Europe and making only cameo appearances for the Senior National team. When he’s unlocking defenses with a scything pass in the Gold Cup or single-handedly dominating the Brazil U-20s we all wistfully wish that the ‘if you buy it he will become awesome’ rule had applied to Adu and all of the shirts sold with his name on it in the last 5 years…
Note: If you were in early on Adu and got a kit in the mid-2000’s keep it around, the kit and the player might come back around.
2) Jose Francisco Torres – There are brief flashes when it appears he’s the answer to a question no one in US Soccer even knew to ask but he’s yet to put his stamp on a roster spot. Sporting a Torres jersey tells me that I’m in for a long discussion about how the US can play the patient side-to-side tiki-taka soccer that has made Barcelona and Spain so successful.
Either that or prepared to peppered with jokes of the “Torres can’t score” nature by some Sportcenter-only
soccer fan announcer. (Yeah, I went there.)
3) Junior Flores — It might be a little creepy wearing a jersey of someone 10 to 20 years your younger. You’ll have to decide that for yourself though.
4) Luis Gil – The newest ‘first true US #10’ in the US player pool. This pick could fall into the I told you so group as well, but he’s still very young and hasn’t been called up to the Senior Team once. However, this choice also gets a knowing nod of respect because you obviously pay attention to ALL of the US National teams from the U-15s on up.
The WTF Picks
1) Waldo – The home jersey screams out for someone to get Waldo on the back of it, but you’d get major bonus points from me and Dan of FBM fame if you got ‘Where Am I’ instead. Worth the extra $30??? That’s for you to decide.
2) Jurgen Klinsmann — Wear the Herr! Wear the Herr! Fear the Beard! Wear the Herr! Or just act really elitist and talk about defensive discipline when anyone asks why.
3) Rick Santorum – This one only works if a) you get the sweater-vest Away jersey, b) you agree with his politics, and c) you don’t mind having the name of the guy who didn’t make it past the semi-finals of the 2012 presidential race.
4) Your Name and Number – If only US Soccer had scouted your U-6 Rec League matches properly… Note: If you’re last name is “Bornstein,” “Casey” or “Findley,” you may do better with a selection from earlier in this piece.
5) Freedom 76 or July 4 – Quoting Christopher Lloyd form Back to the Future “Here’s a red-letter date in the history of [our country].”
6) David Beckham — You will get absolutely ZERO respect from American soccer fan clubs, but you just might have that necessary conversation starter for the four blondes sitting behind you who thought he would be playing on the day. If they ask, by the way, he’s the one that looks like Mix Diskerud out there.
Okay, I want to know:
– Who did you get on your shirt when you bought it?
– Who would you get on it if you were buying it right now?
– And, who would you recommend getting on my new threads?