It’s back again.
The TSG USMNT UberDraft.
What the hell is an UberDraft? Basically TSG rounds up a few self-titled “experts” and they take turns picking US players out of pool from different eras.
You, the audience, votes on their stupidity and everyone wins. Got it?
A slight tweak this time. Whereas past UberDrafts pitted just two contestants against one another, this one became a menage’a’draft. Three…THREE…draft capitans vying to document their illogical selections. It’s like six minutes abs and you get the seventh for free and it’s all on file!
Now the competitors:
FC Drambuie – Helmsman: Zack Goldman — Goldman is back for more punishment for his 2nd draft. Oxford-educated, SoCal-bred, LA Galaxy-deluded. He’s all yours folks.
Oil Money FC – Helmsman: Eric Giardini — Giardini is a likelong Roma fan who wears shirts a half size smaller than even Totti. Madness. Will he bring the tactical muscle?
Prestige Worldwide FC – Helmsman: Neil Blackmon — Blackmon has a (lay down the) law degree. Will he put it to good use? Also writes at The Yanks Are Coming.
Okay, here’s how it works for those that are new to this column. FCD, OMFC & PWFC will be picking from the 2005, 2009 and 2013 USMNT World Cup qualifying roster.
The draft group pairings–like Colt 45 and stale crackers–shake out as follows:
(Note: Draft staged before the entrance of Aron Johannson & John Brooks)
Here’s where a little skill comes.
“You’re” not drafting for the proverbial “best available.”
You’re drafting for the widest talent margin.
For example, say one of the of the pairings was Thierry Henry 2006 vs. Ruud Van Nistelroy 2006 or Darren Bent 2010 vs. Your Mom 2010.
The smart pick would be taking Darren Bent 2010 because everyone knows that Bent is galaxies better than Your Mom compared to Henry being just a few miles better than Van Nistelroy. Make sense?
So this means the draft should go according to the biggest gulf in talent.
Is Tim Howard 2013 much better or worse than Tim Howard 2010?
If not, then a player should use his pick elsewhere. At the end of this whole runaround, the managers will compile their selections and give you the formation they deploy in.
Then you, yes you the fan, get to vote on which team is best.
To the winner, goes nothing. To the loser?! A change in Twitter avatar that will make their mothers cry out in … shame!
Let’s get started before the confusion wears off, shall we?
— With the first pick in the 2013-2009-2005 UberDraft
1st Pick: CM Michael Bradley 2013 – FC Drambuie
Logic: FC Drambuie hereby begins this USMNT draft by selecting Michael Bradley (2013) for our first central midfield slot.
In so doing, we go after perhaps the brightest gem on the board-–the most complete player in CONCACAF today, and perhaps one of the best the US has ever produced (certainly has to be considered a top 3 from Princeton, New Jersey).
We also leave our chummy rivals with a choice between the dude who threw away a man advantage against Italy in Kaiserslautern and the guy who holds the second and third worst World Cup performances ever at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium (after Robert Green).
Okay, that’s not really fair… but the biggest gulf on the board between choice A and plans B and C, in our humble opinion… have fun, fellas!
2nd Pick: G Tim Howard (2009) – Oil Money FC
Logic: Zack! What the heck?! You got the LeBron James of the draft leaving me with the Darko pick. After I took off my Bradley Roma jersey, I’m decided on Tim Howard (2009). I’m starting in the back and taking the keeper who allowed a goal a game in the Hex. Oh, and he won the Golden Gloves at the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Yeah, he’s that good. F U Oliver Kahn. Sorry, that just blurted out.
3rd Pick: FW Clint Dempsey 2013 – Prestige Worldwide
Logic: 2013 Dempsey is a complete player, mentally and technically.
Before his masterful 2009 Confederations Cup, Dempsey was prone to Steven Gerrard-like inconspicuous absences in internationals. Today, he’s a captain, and for the early stages of 2013, pre-Brian Straus article, he was more or less the only American that could score, period.
His off-ball movements are among the most underrated in the world–he no longer needs to “try stuff” on the ball to influence proceedings–he does it moving dangerously off the ball, creating space for other players on overlaps and in-cuts. It is beyond debate that anything the USMNT achieves in the next calendar year is directly tied to Clint Dempsey. He is the finest player in CONCACAF, and the US heartbeat.
4th Pick: Landon Donovan (2009) – Prestige Worldwide FC
Logic: Donovan split armband duties with Carlos Bocanegra at the 2009 Confederations Cup, and scored what I think is the most technically perfect goal in the Confederations Cup final against Brazil. He also appeared in every Hexagonal game that year, securing the US’ qualification for the World Cup with a brilliant free kick against Honduras in San Pedro Sula. Sure, he had the shocking penalty in the MLS Cup final– but back then he was easily the leagues best player and won the MVP. And by the end of that year, he was headed to Everton, where his remarkable performance set the stage for the rooftopper against Slovenia, “Goal, Goal, USA” and US soccer immortality…
5th Pick: With security kindly escorting Joe Dumars out of the War Room, Oil Money FC selects FW Jozy Altidore (2013)
Logic: Looking at the striking options on the board, the current iteration of Jozy Altidore gives the Tycoonsiders the threat in front of goal that’s needed. Jozy is coming off the most prolific European scoring season by an American ever and seemingly can’t stop scoring for the Red, White, and Blue. Need to select him before Di Canio gets his hands on him though. Too late.
6th Pick: Michael Bradley (2009) – FC Drambuie
Logic: The last trio of great picks have taken a number of FC Drambuie’s preferred options off the board, and left the front office with no choice but to do the unthinkable: Pair Michael Bradley (2013) in central midfield with… Michael Bradley (2009).
The 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, though Bradley’s first with the full national team, saw an evolution so dramatic, it was worthy of a Pokémon episode.
Bradley was transformed from a kid with more interest in handbags than a Prada store into a man with the poise, deftness of touch, and a controlled grittiness that enabled him to become, in many ways, the new focal point of the USMNT attack by the end of the cycle. Bradley went from being MB90—coined earnestly by fans who believed he was awarded undue amounts of playing time by his father, then US-coach Bob Bradley—into “MB90,” a wholly ironic use of the term to highlight his undeniably indispensable nature to the national outfit.
7th Pick: LM Landon Donovan (2013) – FC Drambuie
Logic: With the next pick in the draft, FC Drambuie selects “Captain America Zapatos Blancos Landon Timothy Donovan” (2013) aka The Peter Pan of Redlands at the left midfield position. Look no further than this Gold Cup to see why we’re excited about Landon. Make all the Cambodia jokes you want, Landon Donovan is a tremendously special creature. His greatest gift? Being able to diagnose his own ennui, step away, do what’s right for him, and find the motivation to not only get back to a previous height—but to climb even higher. You might not think it gets any better than Algeria. But, you also might be wrong. Dead wrong. We’ll take a chance on the eternal kid, thanks. #GoGoUSA
8th Pick: Steve Cherundolo-Frankie Hejduk (2005) – Oil Money FC
Logic: Dolo and Hejduk were backline mainstays in the 2005 Hex which saw the United States concede only 6 goals through 10 games. Besides, anytime you can select Frankie Hejduk, you kind of have to. Boat race!
9th Pick: Prestige: Jay DeMerit-Oguchi Onyewu (2009)
Prestige Worldwide FC manager Eric Wynalda emerges from a smoke-filled room, smelling of champagne, rainbows, sunshine and rich mahogany, and announces our third pick, 2009 RCB Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu.
The rationale? Quite simple.
United States 2, Spain 0. Enough said.
10th pick: His Herr-ness, Jermaine Jones (2013) – Prestige Worldwide FC
Logic: Sure, Jones’s best play with the United States took a couple of years, and it took MB 90 being, you know, responsible, best form ever Roma MB 90 to get it out of him…. but Jermaine Jones has finally brought some of the swashbuckling we see at Schalke to his USMNT shifts. His off-ball runs have been more aggressive of late and he’s delivered more threatening final products. We know he can tackle, and to his credit, his vintage yellow cards are almost more urban legend than reality now too, as he’s avoided accumulation suspensions in qualifying.
We love this pick, even without Bradley. And it’s far better than the fast-aging 2005 Reyna or, yes, the hot-tempered MB 90 of 2009. This is Herr Jones. He’s no Danny Williams, but you know, he good.
11th pick: Clint Dempsey (2009) – Oil Money FC
Logic: Ugh, the Sheikh will not be happy you took Jermaine Jones. Not happy at all.
We realize we are catching Deuce at the beginning of his upswing, but we’d rather take someone trajectorizing upwards rather than downwards – especially with the MNT. His Bronze Ball performance at the 2009 Confederations Cup was just a glimpse of what we would begin to see from Dempsey over the next 4 years. So Prestige Worldwide can take Onyewu and Demerit. We’ll have the two Americans that made the all-tournament team that year.
Yeah, I said that.
12th pick: FC Drambuie: Matt Besler (2013)
Logic: We’re taking Matt Besler (2013) here.
We need a defensive backbone, and the Kansas City Kid is as solid a backline vertebrae as they come. Excellent positioning, commitment to ball-winning, and a quiet, but effective, organizational presence, the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year has earned every inch of his praise with the US Men’s National Team. His ability to take his own mark out of a match is only surpassed by his ability to elucidate the game on the fly for those around him and organize the defensive assignments across the line. He’s quickly become a leader, and will be a welcome presence for the Dram. Plus, have you seen those long throws? My days.
13th pick: Steve Cherundolo-Jonathan Spector (2009) – FC Drambuie
Logic: Sticking with the backline, we’re taking the combination of Steve Cherundolo/Jonathan Spector (2009) at right back with our next pick. Dolo was, in many ways, the most consistent US player last cycle—certainly in defense—and handled his assignments in both qualifying (and the World Cup following) with great poise. When he wasn’t able to go, Johnny Specks came in and though he occasionally struggled defensively—specifically, with tracking pacy and technical players down the wing (see: 2009 Confederations Cup Final)—he frequently delivered the goods going forward, including that jaw-dropping cross to Dempsey’s noggin against Egypt (that thing had eyes for Deuce like a girl into hip hop and bass fishing.) The verdict: two solid choices at right back, one more defensively sound than the other, who both offer an added dimension going forward. We’ll take it.
14th pick: Oil Money FC goes DaMarcus Beasley-Fabian Johnson (2013)
Logic: Run on outside backs! DaMarcus Beasley / Fabian Johnson (2013). Actually a little surprised this pick fell to me here but I’m glad to take it. Fabian Johnson has been an answer to USMNT fans’ prayers with his play at both left back to solidify a big question mark for the National Team. Recently, his versatility has seen him play a bit further up the field at left mid where he has made even more of an impact. Beasley has rejuvenated his international career in recent months after being left for dead through his willingness to play out of position at left back to help the squad. That’s what we’re looking for – ability to play multiple positions for the good of the team. Almost brings a tear to my eye.
15th pick: Brian McBride (2005) – Prestige Worldwide
This version of McBride is leagues ahead of the other options available, Jozy 2009 and yes, Jozy 2013.
At this point, he’s an established figure well on his way to becoming a cult figure at Craven Cottage. Yes, he’s in the twilight of his international career, but he’s still among the US leaders in goals during the qualifying cycle, and his ability to hold the ball up is still unrivaled since he retired from international play shortly after the bloody De Rossi incident in 2006. But Wynalda- you’re taking another guy in decline! Really? Tell that to Fulham two years from now when McBride saves their bacon from relegation and gets a pub named after him.
16th pick: Carlos Bocanegra (2009)…. Prestige Worldwide hands him the armband.
And with our sixth selection, . A regular at Rennes still capable of locking down elite forwards with phenomenal positioning and aerial grit? Check. An established starter everywhere he’s been at this point? Check. Also, did you see that USA – Spain video above? Exactly.
17th pick: CB Eddie Pope-Jimmy Conrad (2005) – Oil Money FC
Jimmy Conrad was just rounding into the peak of his career capping it off with the 2005 MLS Defender of the Year and the second of three MLS Best XI awards. And c’mon! It’s Eddie Pope! If you don’t want Eddie Pope on your team, then I got nothing for you. I think Conrad edges Pope out for the Starting spot but I’ll take both of these guys for their locker room presence any day.
18th pick: Charlie Davies (2009) – FC Drambuie
For those at home, you may have noticed that FC Drambuie has now been allocated Jozy Altidore (2009) by default as a striker.
We’re not all too broken up by that—a player not nearly at his peak, but one who showed signs of strong promise in the run-up to South Africa… particularly when paired with another individual. That individual is our next pick, and his name is Charlie Davies (2009).
The most dynamic and powerful performances extracted from a set of American forwards last cycle came during the Confederations Cup when CD9 was unleashed upon the world. He is one of those unique second strikers who manages to set others up even when he doesn’t touch the rock, with his tremendous, tireless movement off the ball. His promise was multifarious in the last cycle—he was clinical in 1v1 situations (see: 1-0, Azteca, ’09), he could play a killer final ball (see: 2-0, Brazil, ’09), and he was a handful for defenders to even pay attention to, consistently dragging center-halves out of position and drawing wing-backs away from the flanks to create space for others. We all know what has followed—and it’s a shame that Davies has never been able to recapture his form of four years ago—but we’ll happily have 2009 Davies lead our line with Jozy.
19th pick: Clint Dempsey (2005) at right midfield – FC Drambuie. (Editor’s note: STEPOVERS!)
Not his most effective position or the best stretch of his career, but this year was the dawn of Deuce. No longer the doe-eyed, mop-topped Paladin he was when he came into MLS, Clint spent 2005 earning his stripes for the USMNT and quickly solidifying himself as a first-choice option. He slots into our team nicely, offering flair in possession down the wings, hard, diagonal cuts to goal, and steely, clinical finishing in the box.
20th pick: Eddie Johnson (2013) – Oil Money FC.
Logic: Since I’ve officially ventured into the knowing who my other selections for the Starting 11 will be in the draft, I’m going off the board and selecting Eddie Johnson (2013). I’ve always had a special affinity for that GAM but 2013 EJ is something else. He can bring some speed and the ability to score goals off the bench. And that hair. That hair.
21st pick: Geoff Cameron (2013) – Prestige Worldwide
Logic: The war room with Prestige Worldwide FC is abuzz with the knowledge that we’re locked into a RB pairing that quite frankly, scares the jeepers out of us. We watch film, and after bellowing an angry while happy “Are you kidding me!!” at a few Geoff Cameron 2013 clips, we decide to make him our next pick. Not only does he create a stopgap remedy to the carnage that could be Michael Parkhurst and that German American kid that never comes to play for America we’ve got on the right, but he’s a value choice over the other options in this grouping- Ben Olsen 2005 and Mo Edu in 2009. Cameron can do what those guys can’t: play a variety of positions in an above-average manner, make incisive forward distributions and lock down a flank if called upon.
What a luxury he is for Jurgen Klinsmann, and now, us.
22nd pick: Eddie Lewis, Carlos Bocanegra (2005) – Prestige Worldwide.
Logic: Prestige Worldwide FC are also selecting Eddie Lewis and Bocanegra, 2005 at LB with their next pick. Lewis in 2005 had just arrived at the Damned United, who were already damned to the Championship. He offered marvelous set pieces and quality defending, particularly from a positional sense, for them on the left side. Our manager Eric Wynalda knows a thing or two about set pieces and likes the idea of him as a free kick specialist for our side. The fact that we get a young Carlos Bocanegra, scoring goals on set pieces and offering versatility with this pick as well sweetens the sauce.
23rd pick: Oil Money FC goes with the 2009 Sub grouping (Conor Casey, Stu Holden, Jose Francisco Torres)
Logic: With permission to draft with our heart, and not necessarily our brain, on this pick, we select Conor Casey, Stuart Holden, Jose Francisco Torres (2009). We like (don’t mind? can overlook? what is the word I’m looking for?) Casey’s size in the event that the Tycoons need to play Route 1 and get the ball in the box. Torres and Holden will be asked to provide a bit of creativity in the middle, if needed.
24th pick: Benny Feilhaber (2009) – FC Drambuie
Logic: It’s hard to make a case for needing midfield reinforcements when you’ve got two MB90s, but Benny Feilhaber (2009) is not some average like-for-like change. Long the bane of the USMNT fans’ existence—capable of the spectacular, but prone to disappointment—consistency is not Benny’s middle name; but, every now and again, he’ll make your jaw drop and give you that spark. The Soldier Field Homing Missile, the second goal v. Spain in 2009, performances against Slovenia and Algeria the summer after, and a helluva lip sync to Jordin Sparks? We’ll be havin’ that.
24th pick: Kasey Keller (2005) – FC Drambuie
Logic: We’re also taking Kasey Keller (2005) between the sticks. Yes, it’s the twilight of his career, but also arguably one of his finest hours. 3 goals conceded in 7 Hex matches says it all (and his performance against Italy the following summer was reminiscent of this fabled pop ballad by Barcelona…..
We’re also leaving this cycle’s Timmy on the board, who, while still a quality keeper and first-choice, has seen his once-impenetrable standing take a slight knock with the rise of Brad Guzan and somewhat marked shakiness on set pieces and crosses last year in the Prem.
25th pick: Ben Olsen (2005) – Oil Money FC
Logic: So we are getting down to the nitty gritty and choices don’t seem to be as easy as they were in the earlier rounds. We are choosing Ben Olsen (2005) as a defensive mid option off the bench. We like his spirit – his loyalty to DC United was never questioned and we are assuming that it’ll carry over to us. The other option (Maurice Edu 2009) only played 1 match for the USMNT that season which was a major reason we passed on him. Oh, and Olsen is a fellow University of Virginia alumnus so you know he’s smart.
26th pick: 2013 Sub Grouping (Brek Shea, Chris Wondolowski, Herculez Gomez) – Prestige Worldwide
Logic: Now locked into even more picks, Prestige Worldwide FC select 2013 Wild Card Attacking Group Brek Shea, Chris Wondolowski and Herculez Gomez. In Shea and Wondolowski, we get a mixed bag of attacking talent and technical skill, but we’re okay at this point in the draft with focusing on the upside we get in Shea rather than the downside we get in his lack of investment and inconsistency. Wondolowksi, if nothing more, should be confident when he gets to camp after a fine Gold Cup. The real gem in this grouping is Herc Gomez, who off the bench is as close to a mainstay in Klinsmann’s typical team as you’ll find this late in the draft, and who guarantees you a great effort and an unafraid, goalscorer’s mentality wrapped inside a great soccer mind. That’s good value this late.
26th pick: Ricardo Clark (2009) – Prestige Worldwide
Logic: Finally, Prestige Worldwide FC boldly select 2009 Ricardo Clark at CM. Yes, Mastroeni was a starter in a midfield that in 2005 had the United States ranked in the top five in the FIFA rankings. But if ever the US had a ranking that was smoke and mirrors… meanwhile, Clark was at the end of his finest run in MLS, and he was integral (you read that right) in the US qualification campaign. He scored an absolutely essential goal–the only goal–in the Yanks’ moving furniture victory at Trinidad and Tobago, their only win on the road during the Hex.
His defense caught the attention of Frankfurt scouts, securing a move overseas. And he gets little to no credit for his outlet pass in the “counterattack heard round the world”, which he made under high pressure in traffic, springing Davies and Donovan towards technical goal-scoring glory. It could be worse. If he fails, Wynalda will be around to give him a hug.
[The remaining 13 groupings are auto-sorted by which team is left without a selection per grouping]
And there you have it folks. An exhausting and tense multi-hour draft process that has left some of our contestants without hair and other’s begging for it not to be made public.