A Fun Square Pass to 2010 Roster Ponderings

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TSG readers Nick and Matthew N combined to give me a very good idea to kick off our “World Cup 2010 Roster” conversations.

Hangeland: Nationally, but not vertically challenged

Hangeland: Nationally, but not vertically challenged

If you’ve noticed TSG hasn’t really commented yet on who we think goes, doesn’t go to South Africa as we’ve still got a little less than a year left and there is a lot to sort out–not least of which is, who is injured or even eligible?

While Nick and I chatted about stars of yesteryear making roster cameos, Friedel and McBride to be precise, we’re going to shelve that piece for discussion in a little bit and come out with a pie-in-the-sky “What Could Have Been?” the starting eleven in 2010.

Here’s just a little fun for your Monday: (and I had fun too, I went with a 4-2-3-1 which I’m not sure is a legitimate formation and is illegal in 37 countries.)

*Remember, this….is…just…for…fun. Not our opinion on line-ups or formation. Most already know my feeling on the formation.

G: Tim Howard

DEF: Eric Lichaj, Brede Hangeland, Neven Subotic, Jonathan Spector

MID:  Jermaine Jones, Benny Feilhaber

FW: Landon Donovan, Giuseppi Rossi, Clint Dempsey

STR: Jozy Altidore

THREE SUBS: Charlie Davies, Stu Holden, Edgar Castillo


Subotic: A Vidic in the making...

Subotic: A Vidic in the making...

• Could you imagine having Subotic and Hangeland–who I believe is up there in the EPL with Vidic, Vermaelen, and King–in central defense. Wow! Speaking of Vidic, Subotic chose the Serbian national team, over the Americans and Germans, who boast Vidic and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in the lineage of great central defenders. Subotic for his part is no slouch. An alumnus of Bradentown and US U-20, he just locked up a 4-year deal to man the middle for the Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund.

• Yes, we know Giuseppi Rossi blah, blah, blah. How about Donovan and Rossi crashing the wings with Dempsey happy to find the right passes and Feilhaber coming up for BOOMbasas! (Thank you Peter Vermes for that word). Remember though, without a Dempsey or Brian Ching injury, even if Rossi was in the American squad, Bob Bradley might have confined him to the bench. Somewhere Jose Francisco Torres is weeping.

• What about Castillo (who many have annointed site unseen as the next coming of Roberto Carlos or something) off the bench channeling his inner Carlos and overlapping with a Donovan run, for a volley into the box for a Altidore head.

So with this little fun piece, we begin with an outlet pass from Howard to Spector on our 2010 “who makes it” pieces–which probably begin in earnest and more technically after the Costa Rica WCQ closer.

Oh, and Matthew N’s TSG HOF comment on Jermaine Jones that has us ducking for cover as we publish here, “Is this guy an American or a German.. I dislike these turncoat types.”


With U.S. U-20 looking to bounce back against Cameroon tomorrow, it was none other than current U-20 coach Thomas Rongen who came under fire for Subotic’s decision to play for Serbia. Now, Rongen is currently drawing criticism for the largely inexperienced line-up selction that met the wrong side of 3-0 against Germany on Saturday.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/28 at 10:48 AM

    Note: I’m perfectly fine with Gooch and DeMerit in the middle, who of course combined to stop Spain, that being said one’s buried on the roster and the other blinded right now….so writing this piece now makes this easier.


  2. The U-20s were terrible, especially in the first half. There are definitely some things they have left to learn. For instance, do not go to ground in the penalty box, DO NOT GO TO GROUND IN THE PENALTY BOX, DO NOT GO TO GROUND IN THE PENALTY BOX. Even if you make a perfect tackle, you’re just asking for the ref to give a penalty. I mean what was that tackle? Not even within a yard of the ball. He’s got no angle, so just try to stop the cross instead of coming across him to make an impossible tackle.

    For US players, the game is far so much about individual skill for most of their development and very little about team play. You could see that very clearly when contrasted against the play of Germany. We need better coaching at all levels. I remember my high school coach – he also coached the basketball team and used the same tactics for both.

    The MLS clearly needs the reserve league back, its absence really shows. They got really complacent about the young talent after the last cycle. Doesn’t MLS get that the league can live off player development and transfers fees? If they invested half the money they gave to Mr. Victoria Beckham in player development they’d double their money.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/28 at 11:43 AM

      Ryan, completely agree — beyond Ike Opara and few others I had never seen most of these guys play. For the college guys, there is such a skill disparity between this level and then dominating on the college scene it’s amazing.

      On your 2nd paragraph I couldn’t agree more. It was almost like a lacrosse team that is floundering going through each of their attackers and saying…okay, does this 1:1 match up work. The top 6, once things broke down, resorted to an “I-can-beat-my-own-man” strategy which clearly didn’t work. The only one running of those attempts was Tony Taylor who just tried to stay involved.

      I didn’t know what to expect and I ALWAYS discount overall team ratings when teams don’t play together often, but I think your opinions are dead on.

      I think the MLS is trying to solve one thing at a time. While I agree they need work in player develpment, I think they are taking a concerted effort to gaining fans who will be around for the long haul with an acceptable level of competition. Just like in building a company (I run my own), it’s hard to focus on more than one major prioritiy at a time. Once the MLS is consistent, I think they turn their high priority efforts most likely to player development and global exposure.

      I think the sister/brother club stuff going on between MLS and EPL teams is a good start.


  3. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/09/28 at 11:58 AM

    what about a 4-1-2-1-2

    DEF-castillo-hangeland-subotic-specs(with the wingbacks getting up like dani alves & ashley cole. . .well maybe not that much)


    WINGERS/FLANKS- Landy, Demps


    FW-CHarlie, Jozy

    subs: stu for demps, kenny for jozy, torres for BF


    x x

    x x


    x x


    x x

    i use this formation in fifa(10 comes out in 2 weeks WIN) and i have to say the only draw back is on the counter


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/28 at 1:32 PM

      There is a good chance if you use this formula, you’ll leave the flanks terribly unprotected.


  4. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/09/28 at 11:59 AM

    *commenting fail ^


  5. Let’s not forget the Mexican starlets that could’ve played for the US but chose El Tri instead. While they may not have cracked the starting lineup, they would’ve definitely created healthy competition for places. Let’s also not overlook the flexibility defenders like Haangeland and Subotic would give the US; pair either of those two with an in-form Demerit or Onyewu and we could possibly pull off something more like a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3.

    However, in order to every attempt something like that we’d need to remove the rather large stick that resides in every top-level American coach’s ass.


  6. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/09/28 at 2:12 PM

    Matt F i tried to diargram it for all to see but it turned out like. .. .well you can see. but i guess your’re right it does leaving gaping holes between the wingers & the wingbacks. still works for me though. if only it would in real life. . .


  7. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/09/28 at 3:44 PM

    I can’t believe you had the nerve to put He Who Shall Not Be Named’s evil moniker on a hypothetical US roster!!!


  8. that roster you posted originally, it makes my soul bleed. a lot.


  9. Don’t worry guys, Giuseppe Rossi will get his own eventually. How often do world class players inexplicably get left at home for Italy when a new manager comes into the fold? If I were a top player I wouldn’t want to be subject to the whims, politics and personal vendettas of the Italian selection. It’s notoriously dangerous to play for a club outside Italy. There’s every chance he doesn’t make it to this World Cup and never sees the field for them again when the wind changes.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/29 at 9:48 AM

      You had to think Rossi new about the politics of the Azurri before considering his option to play for them. I don’t think negatively of Rossi–there’s certainly prestige and history to go along with the Italian team that is not matched in the States–of course his heritage played a part as well.

      I think the issue you just pointed out about the Italian national team is maybe a reason that they are not looking as strong here lately. What top teams from Italy can really make a run at the Champion’s League this year…Inter…and? Roma don’t look that great.


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