Posts Tagged ‘Oguchi Onyewu’

Questions Up The Center For The USMNT

After Charlie Davies injury another possibility no one wants to consider is that the USMNT could be without defensive stalwart Oguchi Onyewu when the World Cup kicks-off next June. In fact, the US is facing question marks all the way up the middle with the exception of Timmy Howard between the sticks.

Might this be Gooch's "uniform" come June?

Might this be Gooch's "uniform" come June?

ESPN had a story today entitled “Onyewu plans a speedy recovery from knee injury” in which Gooch stated,

I know my body and I know how hard I work to recover and how my body heals. I think I can be back in four months, realistically.

Well, USMNT doesn’t need Gooch back, the team needs him better. With the official recovery time-line at 6 months, that seems out almost out of the question. So the best case scenario is Gooch at the WC in summer of 2008 form which is good, but not great. And let’s not forget that the recent knee injuries in the USMNT player pool (Jones and Edu), though different, haven’t resulted in textbook recoveries.

Moving up the pitch, Jay DeMerit continues to be out with an eye injury. His recovery time is slated for a much shorter duration, but we are talking about an eye here. It’d be very surprising if he didn’t make it to South Africa, but he is most likely in the midst of about a six month layoff right now.

In the central mid-field the US could be perceived as down its two most able holding mid-fielders in Twitter-fiend Maurice Edu and International Man of Mystery Jermaine Jones. And third on depth chart, Rico Clark (with a minor knock of his own), has been nothing more than serviceable as a starter in the WC qualifiers.

Can Jozy earn the #1 Striker moniker he's been given before he flies to SA?

Junior seems cemented in whatever position he is supposed to be playing at the other midfield spot, but has struggled to develop any consistency with a mid-field mate and disappears for large stretches to the point that the defense just starts bypassing him.

Perhaps the biggest (and most obvious) hole sits at striker with CD9 being out, however, TSG discussed that already. But what about Altidore?

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Will Injuries Challenge Coach USA’s Plan?

The USMNT friendlies are just over two weeks away….and once against TSG is already super stoked…and thinking about them.

chad m

How's the knee Big Guy?

Going into the matches against Slovakia and Denmark (and concurrently the Netherlands match in March next year) Bob Bradley will have a modicum of line-up questions to answer brought on by injuries to the first line, many questions that the  fanbase is already all too familiar with, like:

♦ Where do I integrate Clint Dempsey back into the team now that he’s fit?

♦ Who is Charlie Davies’ starting eleven replacement? Is that where I slot the Deuce back in?

♦ I’ve got Jay DeMerit still living in a dark room and Gooch hobbling, who am I slotting in next to Boca? Do I take Chad Marshall away Warzycha with the MLS championship coming the next week–is Marshall even fit enough? Do I bring over Conrad who’s golfing? Clarence, Danny and Parkhurst are all in the area, should they be in the 18?

While all of these are very fitting questions for where the USMNT is right now; these are most likely not the questions that Coach B wanted to be asking this late before the World Cup next August.

More important for Coach Bradley than the question of “Who fills the void in central defense for the next 6 months or longer?” is the puzzle of “When will I have my top 11 together so I can start building chemistry and movement?”

A retracing of the lead up to World Cup 2006 cements just how critical that 2nd question is.

The US played a cream puff schedule of friendlies for the most part before the tourney with Coach Bruce Arena trying out multiple line-up permutations (after doing some digging I didn’t see one line-up where all eleven players were precisely the same as another…can you believe that?) in advance of heading to Germany.

The results?

• An embarrassing group stage exit with no wins in three games that we all remember all too well.

• A 4-5-1 line-up that showed zero ability to attack outside of 1-on-1 play because players weren’t familiar with one another.

• A whole the size of Nebraska in the midfield when John O’Brien couldn’t go after the first game loss to the Czechs

Do you know how many friendlies that Claudio Reyna played with O’Brien or back-up Pablo Mastroeni? Two. Just two out of 11. Can you believe that?

Reyna: "What?! What?! Me and Red only played one friendly together before this mess."

Those results many believe were in part the outgrowth of Arena using the USMNT international friendlies to figure out his best players at each position, not the best line-up of players as a whole and giving them time to mesh.

Coach Bradley–fans should be thankful–didn’t want to make that mistake. His very static and conservative line-up selections (while sometimes frustrating) and his mantra of “playing people who are fit and playing for their club team” speak to a recognition of the challenges of lack of familiarity.

Alas the recent injuries force him into the very predicament that was to be avoided.

Further, in the case of the central defense, what does Coach B do when Jay DeMerit and–presumably after a lengthier hiatus–Oguchi Onyewu come back? Does he try to slot them in and recapture the chemistry or does he go–as he did through qualifying–with those who are playing?

The return of players, nearly as much as their injuries, is sure to be disruptive.

Not the types of decisions that Bradley wanted to be making at this juncture. So, while TSG is not prone to issuing proclamations, consider these challenge when you’re evaluating the US performances leading up to and into the World Cup.

Oh and by the way, if you’re so inclined take a look at all the different central defender permutations that were going on in the lead-up to Cup 2006–you’d be amazed.

Road To Recovery: USMNT Injury Updates

Never a fun thing to write about injuries, especially to five of your team’s (potential) starting eleven. However, there is a little good news in here as well.

Charlie Davies…His family issued a statement yesterday regarding his condition and thanking everyone for their support. We’ll be updating his status as new info emerges in our sidebar to the right.

Oguchi Onyewu…As mentioned in our US-CR recap piece, Gooch is looking at three to four months on the shelf after shredding his patellar tendon. Great to see that one of his club team’s first thoughts was to suggest that they would ask USSF to pick up his salary since the injury happened during national team duty. (Please note sarcasm.)

Jay DeMerit…Gooch’s starting mate in central defense will have his cornea replaced via surgery on Monday in London and is expected to be out of action for up to two months. Contrary to early reports, DeMerit said that he did not injure his eye removing a contact.

Maurice Edu…some (tempered) good news. Mo is “very close to fit,” but is not rushing things to ensure that he is ready for “probably the biggest [year] of [his] career.”

Clint Dempsey…the USMNT blog on writes that Dempsey “should be available” for Fulham’s match on Monday versus Hull City and (hopefully) Jozy Altidore. Fulham will be celebrating its 130th anniversary a part of the festivities and the game will be shown on ESPN2 starting at 11:55am Pacific. (The game will also feature the return of former Fulham man Jimmy Bullard following a knee injury and nine month layoff.)

An injury post deserves an upbeat picture...Boca and Howard on Wednesday night.

An injury post needs an upbeat picture...Boca and Howard on Wednesday.

Your Vote: Gooch the Biggest Concern

Our poll is now closed.

Gooch: The Milan Man in the middle

Gooch: The Milan man in the middle

We asked you, “Which USMNTer’s fitness concerns you the most heading into Honduras 10/10?”

In a poll that meandered between Mike Bradley and Oguchi Onyewu in the lead for awhile, the Gooch came out overwhelmingly on top as Bradley played a full 90 this past Saturday.

Gooch owned 50% of the vote with Bradley next at 23%.

My vote was for Jonathan Spector. Spector played exceedingly well in the earlier qualifier against Honduras and has not seen much time for the Hammers since the T&T game. I would have liked to have had him in there on 10/10. However, if you’re Bob Bradley, you have to consider Steve Cherundolo–not just for his speed relative to Spector, but now for his fitness.

Alas, Spector only got 7% of the vote.

goochpollOn a side or final note: Seems like the USMNT is either pretty banged up or managing time off the bench. If you think the U.S. starters for Saturday’s match are the following:

Howard, Cherundolo, Gooch, Bornstein, Donovan, Bradley, Clark, Holden?, Altidore and Davies

then you’re missing from the Confed Cup final: Spector, Demps, and Demerit.

Further, you’ve got Altidore and Gooch with little to no playing time lately and Bradley who just got back on the pitch.

That’s six former starters from South Africa that will not see action or come in having seen little action lately.

….Oh, in a similar vain, let’s not forget ironman Tim Howard, who’s churning the mileage, but runs better than a Toyota Landcruiser.

Champs League – Round 2…..zzzzzzzz

A much more exciting format for a competition than the Champs League

A much more exciting format for a competition than the Champs League

The group phase of the Champions league tends to bore the tears out of most viewers. The primary phase of the competition has been diluted due to the inclusion of just about every team in Europe. Of course that is an exaggeration, but with the exception of a couple of matches most games tend to offer little or no excitement on paper. Obviously thats why they play the games, but even if FK Rubin Kazan were to beat Barcelona at home, the chances of them maintaining that form to qualify to the knockout stages is slim to none.

Now i grew up elsewhere (Europe) but i believe there is no finer competition/cup setup for excitement and drama than the college bball NCAA tourney. Yes the FA Cup, Copa del Rey etc… are great competitions with a similar win or you’re out format but it takes place over a very long time. March madness takes place over a month, pretty much the entire country gets involved, the players die for their teams and its just plain awesome. The best team or at the very least the team that can maintain a consistent form usually wins the whole thing. There are ALWAYS upsets.

With the current champs league format, where as you might not be able to predict each and every game, you can be fairly certain which teams will progress. Some teams pretty much win their group with 1 or 2 remaining games and then field out weaker teams so that their fringe/younger players get a run out. That’s great for them but do fans really want to see no names like Michael Owen when they paid to see Wayne Rooney etc…

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Week 5: EPL and More: It’s All About Sunday

Week 5, where you start paying attention to where your team is in the table:

Sunderland, Burnley in stoppage time

Sunderland, Burnley in stoppage time

• We start with Burnley vs. Liverpool Sunderland, a 4:40 AM PST start on ESPN2.  Thanks ESPN. You’re not going to get me up for that one, even with 5 red bulls, four jelly donuts, and naked cheerleaders (all with their teeth perfectly aligned). Sorry ESPN. I’m betting on no match-up piece this week.

• A quick note and apology, TSG doesn’t cover the UEFA Cup/Europa League. We’re a small publication and we’ll start covering more of the Champion’s League once the knockout rounds begin.

• It’s all about Sunday this week. You have Chelsea and Tottenham facing off and then the derby everyone’s been waiting for:  United vs. City. Sadly, the shiny new City sportscar is missing a couple horsepower with Adebayor now suspended for three games for his premeditated stomp and Big Mouth Tevez afflicted by injury and most likely out of the contest.

Some more notes from the derby:

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EPL Week 4: Rummaging Through the Weekend

Doing a little lite league-hopping overseas this afternoon:

Poor ESPN and

I’ve criticized them before for not promoting soccer enough across their site and externally and now they do it…..for Liverpool-Burnley. Did you really just do a match-up piece with a segment on Steven Gerrard vs. Graham Alexander? Apologies to Alexander, but if you think a 37-year-old who is in his first year of Premiership football is a “match-up” for arguably one of the top five players in the world…..are you kidding me?

Tune in Saturday and watch this image over and over and over....

Tune in Saturday and watch this image over and over and over....

There are banner ads on the ESPN site and even major promos during Sportcenter to add to the hype and hoopla….for Liverpool-Burnley and the Reds are at home. I’m not a gambler, but LadBrokes has the chance of Burnley (shellacked by Chelsea last outing) eeking out a draw at 12 to 1 in this one.

This is on a day when Arsenal travels to an Adebayor-led Manchester City and Manchester United travels to White Hart Lane (to face the white-hot Harry Rednapp-skippered Hot Spurs); this game after the Man U’s comeback last year is going to be a good one. The punishment should fit the crime…I mean the promo should fit the piece.

Look ESPN we know you don’t have the cream of the crop games yet, so let’s not pretend they are with the American fanbase. Shaun, c’mon, add something in here: Graham Alexander vs. Steven “I own the nighlife scene” Gerrard!

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