February Boarding: Pitchtown Take Two

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...and away we go....

Sequels are always worse than the first, but TSG has decided we’re dishonorably discharging our second volley on who’s on the plane to South Africa 2010.

So in that vain, here is the February installment of who’s got a foot rest, who’s sitting in the middle and in the way back, and who’s waving from the terminal for the USMNT come June 2010.

If you haven’t read the first one, read this one first so that you can end on the good one. Ha.

First Class

Bob Bradley: Tim Howard? Check. H1N1 vaccinations? Check. Bose noise-cancellation headphones for those damn vuvuzelas? Check. Game strategy from the TSG guys…man I love those guys? Double check!

And to think it all began with the...the...MetroStars!

Tim Howard: ….lifts his shirt to show a series of welts on his midriff. “I asked for just a little help on defense and they send me Senderos?! The guy hasn’t played since Rainiera was commanding Chelsea!”

Landon Donovan: Walks in wearing a sombrero, carrying a Corona, and sporting a t-shirt that says, “World Cup Bid 2022: It’s Aztacular!

Lando just hit the lottery. (if you haven’t seen the clip)

Clint Dempsey:…bounds into the airplane, looking spry and revitalized, creating this exchange among coaches.

Pierre Berrieu leans over to Bob Bradley, “He’s looking positively 2006, isn’t he?”

Bradley nods his head, affirming.

Mike Sorber: “You think he’ll play defense now?”

Bradley, shakes his head the other way….”Not a chance.”

Michael Bradley: “Enough with the Father’s Day interview requests ESPN…seriously…what if we actually have to beat Algeria big to advance.” (Father’s Day falls on June 21st this year after the Slovenia game and two days before the Algeria game…get ready for the media deluge….)

Ricardo Clark: Just a stunning start to 2010 for the former Houston man, as he Montgomery Burns a transfer to the Bundesliga just to keep tabs on Jermaine Jones….only to find that Jones is shackled to the training table and that his new Frankfurt squad side is the surprise of the league.

Clark is beaming from his plush first class accommodations.

Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu: Strong side!…..Weak side!….Strong side!……Weak side!

Ain't no mountain high enough....

Gosh, that Gooch-JDM pairing back together brings a tear to my eye….

DeMerit and Gooch are amped with excitement as they take a seat next to another and begin discussing the strategies that almost had the defense and the team raising the Confederation Cup.

(Loved “Remember the Titans”–one of my favorite rah-rah movies. Thought it was humorous how Disney went with “Left Side” for “Weak Side” in the clip, to–in my opinion–avoid any notion at of racial undertones…but I digress.)

Jozy Altidore: “I’m telling you guys, Zaki gave me the book on Algeria. We need to just keep looping those crosses in to me and Casey and we’ll knock them home. He said the Ivorians were partying until 7am the day before that game…..he’s really a good guy despite what people say.”

“By the way, you guys know I weigh just as much as John Terry and more than Rio…set me up boys…!”

Carlos Bocanegra: Bocanegra strolls in. Everyone wants to know about his psyche after platooning for the rest of the season at Rennes upon failing to find a transfer. Boca leans over to Bradley as he walks by, “Coach….I’ll play whenever, wherever you need me.”


Business Class

Stu Holden: “My EPL stint didn’t get me in to first class…..”

Benny Feilhaber: “….pipe down youngster. Maybe if you had saved Bolton from relegation like Clint did for Fulham, you’d have a shot. But you platooned with an 18-year-old for crissakes….wait your turn!”

If you haven’t checked out TSG’s commentator KL’s take on the “State of the Bolton midfield..“…well you definitely need to.

Jonathan Spector:…has extinguished Ilunga on the outside for West Ham and is close to starting full time.

'Dolo: The Early Years

'Dolo: The Early Years

Steve Cherundolo: “Well you see Spec’s, Johnny B….when I started playing the shorts were like three inches higher, manbands were discouraged and getting cleated was part of the game. Heck, Nike wasn’t even making cleats!”

“By the way, the shoulder as good as new….”

Jonathan Bornstein: Double checks and realizes what cabin he is now in…he sits down casually, slinks low in his seat, dons the headphones and pulls his hoodie over his head….just in case

Coach Class:

Conor Casey:….is juggling a soccer ball in the back of the plane…”One….Two…damn! Again…..one…damn!….One, two….thr…that one counts! That one counts! I’m up to three!”

Brad Guzan: <complaining> One bad month and now I don’t have a TV in the headrest in front of me. I can’t believe I’ve got to watch “Julie & Julia” here in the back.

Marcus Hahneman: Has his headphones on already and is laughing hysterically to Meryl Streep’s Julia Child impersonation.

Chad Marshall: I will put my hip on an attacker in the box. I will put my hip on an attacker in the box. I will put my hip on an attacker in the box. Somewhere Danny Califf is nodding….and adding a tattoo that says just that.

Maurice Edu: “Yup…just crossed it guys!” Two million followers on Twitter. You guys didn’t think I could do it that in one month’s time.

Robbie Findley: Next stop, starting line-up. RF15…man I need a better nickname. That one doesn’t roll off the tongue. It sounds like a freaking Viagra identification number…

"Look, I expect to play at some point...."

Robbie Rogers: Is now toting a rolling suitcase as oppose to a carry-on….

DaMarcus Beasley: Damn, I’m getting dangerously close to the back of the plane here….

That’s 22, if you’re counting.

On the next tarmac:

There is a personal jet right next to Air Bradley One fueling up.

Up the steps in a few bounds goes a 5’10” stocky man with shades, a skully, sporting a “Only Baldwin the Eagle can stop me” long sleeve and accompanied by US trainer Jim Hashimoto. Slung over one shoulder is a Sochaux training bag.

The buzzing undercurrent has been going on for some time on the team–no one willing to concede to the hope the press stamped on his revitilization and recovery way back in January.

Oguchi Onyewu is grinning, a wide one, from ear to ear.

Mo calls up from the back, “Is that…is that who we think it is?”

Stu Holden answers, “I don’t know, but the flight attendants I spoke with last night say it has an Alter-G, a hyperbolic chamber and…and….a dance floor on that thing.”

Benny: “Oh snap!”

Pierre Berrieu: “Pipe down back there!”

Robbie Findley: “Hey why does he get his own plane?!”


A 6’1” tattoed man with a shaved head is seen striding without a limp and stowing away in the cargo bin. “Scheisse, it’s going to be cold in here until I climb into the cabin.”

Flying Standby

Edgar Castillo: No ticket.

Alejandro Bedoya: Santiago Munoz didn’t come on this strongly in this short a time….

Jose Francisco Torres, Kyle Beckerman: Torres and Drederman are fighting over a standby pass…

Torres: “Offense!”

Beckerman: “Defense!”

Torres: “We need scoring!”

Beckerman: “Don’t make me bring up Saprissa!”

Torres: “Why you bringing up old sh*t….”

Lichaj: Getting after it....

Eric Lichaj: Hey TSG wait until March and the Netherlands when I announce my arrival.

Jeff Cunningham: ….is frantically doing squats in hopes of bulking up his legs.

Clarence Goodson: I guess “just headers” is not going to get it done yet. Heels Marshall….I’m on your heels.

Frankie Hedjuk, Brian Ching: The recently tabbed Free Beer Movement spokesman and the Big Aloha are thowing back some cans of Bintang after an evening session at A-Frames off Kandui Island. They’re about to settle into the internet feed of the World Cup that is provided by running 500 yards of cord up to the highest point among the mangroves. (I know, I’ve been there…talk about jerry-rigged.)

Eddie Johnson: After a nice take and score to end January, EJ’s playing time has been uneven at best and his agent is begging him to take a shot at the new Turkmenistan Premier League. Ouch.

Jimmy Conrad: Turns out Jimmy’s red card the other night bans him from the pitch at HDC and the boarding area of LAX. Who knew? He’s decided to travel anyway to South Africa…as the lead personality for up-and-coming reality series entitled “Your whole life will change for the better.”

On the phone with Cunningham:

Kenny Cooper: “Look, I thought my best shot was to join a team called “Plymouth.” I mean you can’t get more patriotic than that, right?

My dad is ruining this for me….argh!”

Working on free kicks (read: On Sunset Blvd.)

Sacha Kljestan: One of these things is still not like the other.

Somewhere in Zeusland

Freddy Adu: Twittering that Aris will “get the next one”….and still upset at Mikey B.



» I know we have few observations of Bedoya, but from what we’ve seen, he’s got the combination of skills that the USMNT needs, strength on the ball, plus attacking ability. Sort of what we’re hoping for from Robbie Findley.

» As we mentioned in another column, Beasley and Edu play in the bruising Scottish Premiere League, Torres and Castillo in the ole! Mexican league…are Torres and Castillo’s offensive attributes enough to outweigh the physicality they would encounter in South Africa?

» Further on Torres, who is probably the most glaring man on standby: How often is Bob Bradley going to consider playing Benny and Torres–similar players–together. That’s a lot of defense to give up and it likely be the USMNT needing to come from behind by at least two.

» Before Brian Ching is clearly dismissed, consider the role that Jozy is playing at Hull. The youngster is playing the hold-up role. If the winner of the Casey-Ching battle is the back-up, you could argue that Ching mixes it up a little more…plus has some WC experience. That being said, the scales are clearly in Casey’s favor right now…but he’s got to stop missing the sitters (HON, HDC, 01/23/2009)

63 responses to this post.

  1. Matthew,

    I laughed out loud multiple times when I read this article. Everything from the Mo Edu Twitter addiction to the Onyewu sequence was absolutely spot on. My questions are as follows:

    – What player is most likely to get bumped down in terms of his place on the plane?

    – While I don’t disagree with your placement of Kljestan off the plane, is there any situation (beyond injury) in which he gets another hard look?

    – Are you already writing off Holden’s time in Europe as not something to likely benefit him?


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 1:11 AM

    Thanks Dan — just read my brother’s piece…excellent by the way.

    In terms of first class, biz class, coach…most is tongue-in-cheek.

    Bumped down on the plane:

    Well, I think Mo Edu has start showing he can handle the ball in the midfield…his first few games back, he’s trapping the ball and it’s caroming off him like a superball….if he’s the defensive back-up in the center of the pitch…he’s got to start showing a lot…

    I actually think Edgar Castillo could challenge for Rico’s back-up…possibly…but that’s a long shot.

    I think Kljestan is in a tough spot…and it’s strange because if you remember he STARTED the Conferederation Cup championship game….can you believe that?

    Bob is again favoring that defensive cover central midfield…and with Benny 1st in line that leaves one spot in the center…Torres has certainly showed better than Kljestan over the 2nd half of 2009 and now into 2010…Kljestan more formation-wise looked absolutely lost in the February friendly.

    I think he’s got to show that he can play the right wing…and he hasn’t done that yet.

    I’m concerned for Holden in that Owen Coyle needs to win…and win this year to keep Bolton up…so regardless what he told Holden…he now brought in Wilshere and Weiss in the midfield as well.

    Wilshere is going to challenge on the left for Matthew Taylor’s role. Chung-yong Lee has really stepped up his game on the right.

    Weiss will likely start a few and provide cover on both flanks…that leaves Holden in the central midfield for now I would presume taking on Muamba, Cohen and Gardner. That’s Stu’s best bet to shine….

    I’m completely in favor of Holden playing in the EPL…I think it suits his game….I am just hoping that he gets the playing time ahead of the World Cup…long term…no-brainer…IMO


  3. Some points:

    Goalkeeper: Couldn’t agree more. Three starters in the EPL. Perkins the odd man out as the starter at DC United now.

    Defender: Chad Marshall is the intriguing pick here. Marshall didn’t really play well after the dismissal of Conrad vs Honduras (granted, Bornstein isn’t a natural CB partner either), but he seems to have lost a step since last year for me. Clarence Goodson for me makes the number 4 CB spot. Also, gotta think at least 8 defenders are gonna make it to SA. And for me, the eighth defender on is Edgar Castillo.

    Midfielder: Robbie Rogers? A bit of a stretch there. Torres offers more flexibility and can play solid D and add attacking flair on O. Lovin’ the faith for Schalke mystery man, but I’m starting to lose it with the German doctors. He should give Jim Hashimoto a call. Everyone else Im good with. The ole boys and the braveheart boys can all be on the same roster.

    Forwards: I’ve alot of problems here. For one, Robbie Findley didn’t impress me in the least with his play against Honduras, nor did Casey for that matter. For me the four “forwards” we bring for me would be LD10, Jozy, CD9, and Super Cooper. Say what you want about Coops, but I think he becomes a good forward in the Championship, scores some goals and forces his way into Coach Sweatpants’ plans. Of course that is all subject to change.

    Lol at Casey’s futility @ juggling.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/01 at 1:36 AM

      I think Rogers ability on the wing trumps Torres in the middle since the US doesn’t really play through the middle anyway. That being said, I don’t see how Beckerman is even in the same discussion as Torres. Beckerman looked good in the Gold Cup, but struggled in limited action versus El Sal in September and was unimpressive versus Honduras.

      (See Matt, I am coming around on Rogers, though I need more than 20 minutes versus CR and a rocket of the post versus HON to even approach where you are.)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 6:56 AM

      @Connor…tough calls here Connor

      First, on Marshall, I’m taking another observation or two…definitely rusty in that Honduras game….but you have to remember that Marshall was out of action sporadically with that knee injury so I’m giving him another game…

      Also remember that Clarence Goodson has been taking on the B team (Slovakia, Honduras) or the squad the US is facing in the friendlies….

      In the midfield, Robbie Findley is the current speed option to me… the US needs a speed option and I think Landon’s time at Everton has further proved he’s most dangerous from the wing, not up top…*you could say his time with the USMNT in that role suggests that as well.

      Kenny Cooper is challenged in that he’s a 6’3” striker who’s not played to his height yet…you’re not going to pair him with Altidore I don’t believe as he’ll clog the left side…

      I don’t see it with Cooper yet….

      Right now starting in South Africa up top in our opinion is Altidore and Dempsey with Findley the speed option off the bench and Connor Casey banging in the box.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/01 at 7:03 AM

        I agree with Altidore starting up top. I don’t feel that Cooper or Casey are mobile enough to stretch the defence – they don’t make the inttelligent runs to take a defender with them creating space for runners to expolit. I think Altidore is your best option here.


    • I also loved the Casey juggling bit, it reminded me of the 13 year olds that I coached that would fight me about juggling. They tried to count every little touch…


  4. Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/01 at 1:33 AM


    – Beasley sits as the most likely to get bumped. He needs to get back on the pitch and produce because 8 games and 2 goals are not going to get him to SA.

    – While Kljestan didn’t fare well in the friendly, Bradley had a couple of weeks to evaluate him so I think that decision is already made one way or the other (barring unforeseen injuries)

    – Agree with Matthew on Holden in the EPL.


  5. Posted by Dylan on 2010/02/01 at 7:03 AM

    The only player I really have an issue with is Marshall. I’ve been becoming less and less impressed with him for awhile now. I really want to see Omar Gonzales get a run out against El Salvador, and also some minutes against Netherlands if he plays well in the previous game, give Omar a shot to make the WC. It would be nice for one of our centerbacks in 2014 to have some WC expierience.

    I also like that you have Bornstien sitting in first class now. He game has been getting noticeably better with every game. He makes me feel like a proud dad. Not that I think he’s the best LB ever, but he is really putting the work in, and it would have been very easy to crumble under the bad press he was getting.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 7:11 AM

      @Dylan — unfortunately, I think you have youth not on the side of Gonzalez right now….remember there is more to experience in central defense.

      Look at a player like Nesta for AC Milan and Italy.
      33-years-old and Italy want him in the mix at CB for the World Cup.

      Milan has had a few tough losses over the last two weeks and that’s because they miss his quarterbacking in the back.

      I agree that Marshall has not impressed for sure…but I’ve still got him ahead of Goodson in the pecking order and certainly now ahead of Conrad…

      I love Gonzalez’s game though.

      *Bornstein doesn’t have nearly enough miles yet to sit First Class….let’s revisit this if he gets in and proves himself against Huntelaar, Kuyt and Babel on March 3rd…then we can talk, maybe, about another upgrade. :>


  6. Posted by euroman on 2010/02/01 at 7:20 AM

    I think most of the usa soccer world agrees Goodson is on this plane to SA. Marshall may go too but Goodson is clearly the 3rd or 4th cb right now. He came into a difficult situation created by Conrad & Marshall and settled things down immediately and scored a goal. He showed the grit that was missing and has not put a foot wrong in the chances he has received. He has been called into every match /camp except Mexico since his All-Tournament performance at the God Cup. Clearly BB likes him and he will be in SA.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 7:26 AM

      @euroman — welcome to TSG….

      I think Marshall v. Goodson is clearly the debate for the 3rd slot in the CB…I think BB will have cover with both Spector and Boca for the position and will go with only 3 centerbacks…but then again I would not be completely suprised if he went with 4 if we don’t see a lot of Gooch run out through June.

      The only camps that Marshall missed were due to injury. I think it’s been telling that against Slovakia and Honduras, BB led with Conrad over Goodson…..

      Even if we go back to the Gold Cup it Marshall and Conrad…

      But a good debate here for sure…
      Two more observations for both and we’ll have a clearer picture….


      • Posted by Jim from NC on 2010/02/01 at 11:12 AM


        I have to agree with you over euroman in that Marshall definitely has the upper hand against Goodson. As you already mentioned, ” BB led with Conrad over Goodson….” in recent friendlies. Also if you look back to the Gold Cup, Goodson’s playing time in the semi’s and finals was due to Conrad’s concussion. This pecking order in starts clearly points to me Goodson’s place in BB mind. While Goodson is probably ahead of Conrad now, he is still behind Marshall. However with Marshall’s track record with being healthy, I think Goodson ought to keep his bags packed until the last minute


      • Posted by Gino on 2010/02/02 at 1:19 AM

        Gotta disagree with some of you on the center back situation. First, I can’t see Bradley taking only 3 CB’s, probably our deepest position. Assuming Gooch recovers and is game fit (big assumption), one twist of the knee and our biggie at central defense is out. That’s why I see four CB’s (Onyewu, Bocanegra, Demerit) with Marshall leading the way for the fourth spot. At 6’4, Chad provides cover on set pieces and against tall poachers in the box yet is actually pretty quick and agile for his size. Plus, Marshall has already shown he can fill in admirably for Onyewu such as in the second qualifer against El Salvador.


        • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/02 at 1:27 AM

          Gino, I’m in your corner on the CB situation. 4 sounds right. Thought Spector looked decent in the late ’09 friendlies, his biggest deficiency is in the air which makes it tough for Bradley to trot him out for any serious minutes in central defense.


  7. Posted by Texas Tippler on 2010/02/01 at 7:36 AM

    Great article! Maybe I’m overlooking it, but where do you put Charlie Davies in the flight manifest?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 8:40 AM

      That guy bounding up the plane is rumored to be a Ligue 1 player, have a killer step over to his left…..and wear the coveted number 9…as in CD9.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/01 at 3:00 PM

      Davies should be jogging mid-March. Not too sure how long it will take for him to sprint , change speed and directionetc. This is all before he starts ball work.

      Hopefully he will make it, as it would be a shame to miss it. But the prognosis doesn’t look too good.


  8. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/01 at 8:46 AM

    Good article.

    Don’t know enough about Bedoya yet, but he looks intriguing.

    I’ve seen enough of Torres to know I want him on the squad. What I don’t know is how he fits into the team. At this point, I’d almost (ALMOST) rather have him on the squad than Feilhaber. I think Torres brings a calmness and poise that we can use.

    I have a feeling that they close the plane door just as Beasley is walking down the ramp.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 9:00 AM

      Matt, despite by Benny mancrush…I’m not going to call blasphemy here.

      Torres certainl has more striking prowess then Benny.

      However, as TSG saw in Jan camp, the question that Benny has answered is? Who quarterbacks the midfield or steps in and knows the system if Rico or Bradley go down…answer there is Feilhaber.

      I would like to see Torres get some realtime minutes in the middle in Tampa though.


  9. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/01 at 9:14 AM

    i agree that Feilhaber (at his best) is a pretty sophisticated midfielder who can pull the strings for us. My concern is that I don’t see enough of that from him. To be fair, I haven’t seen enough of that from Torres on the USMNT either, but I really like how he plays the game. He’s a consistent starter and plays at a high level on a good team in Mexico, so he’s had his share of important games. I remain a bit baffled as to why he hasn’t gotten more of a look.

    I hope we see more of him in Tampa as well.


  10. Posted by Bob on 2010/02/01 at 9:21 AM

    Does the USSF rate Bedoya as highly as you guys? If so, I would like to see him start in Tampa.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think Edu and Beasley dressed this past weekend. Both guys need to heel b4 being considered … imo.

    Almost every soccer blog out there has Torres starting in June. I have never seen him play so I am just wondering if he looks good when he plays bc it seems everyone his high on him. Again, if he can make the trip, I would like to see him start in Tampa.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 9:35 AM

      Wow — starting in June — can’t see that….I would put the odds of Torres starting in June at 25:1 at best.

      Without my personal opinion, BB favors everyone able to play defense (which is why there is some discomfort let’s say with Dempsey). Further Torres plays in a league that favors offense.

      JFT has played, what, 45 mins of time total since Saprissa?

      Hard to believe at this point he will be starting in June without an injury.

      Rangers played a creampuff this weekend…so not surprised that Edu didn’t start, Beasley is about 1 week or 2 away.

      The USMNT does need a capable defender in midfield should Rico go down…who is that? Don’t know….


    • He looked spritely and composed against Costa Rica in DC, but the Ticos were playing the prevent defense and not pressuring in the midfield. So take it with a grain of salt.

      That being said, he does look like the midfield general that we need in order to make the next step of becoming a team that relies on possession instead of only counter-attacking, but we know how Bobbo likes the boys to play, which is why he’s not been getting as many looks. Also, as stated somewhere in the comments section he and Benny! play very similar roles, so there isn’t much need for the two of the on the plane. I think 2014 will be Torres’s time to shine, as long as we can get away from the counter-attack only tactics.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 9:40 AM

      On Bedoya…in terms of his abilities…not seasoning or maturity…he’s at best a wild card now…but if you watch him play he’s someone like an Antonio Valencia who doesn’t seem to mind physical play, can take a hit, and still break down his man one-on-one….not a lot of guys on the States that can do that….


    • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/01 at 9:47 AM


      I’ve never seen a soccer blog that says Torres will start. I hope he gets on the squad, but I think he’s at least a year away from being in serious consideration for a starting spot.

      All this barring a serious rash of injuries that would force Bob Bradley’s hand.


      • Posted by Bob on 2010/02/01 at 12:59 PM

        Well, I guess I should amend that a little. In the comments sections (lol) on a lot of blogs and regular soccer sites, people keep saying he should start etc. It seems like such a trend that I was wondering what the secret was about him.


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/01 at 1:09 PM

          Ah, I get it. Your error was in assuming that commenters on other blogs are as wise as the ones here. :)


  11. As of February 1st, I would say that your 23 is pretty close to what Sweatpants is thinking/has to work with. As long as Charlie is somewhere between 80-85% fit and ready to go he’ll be on the plane as the “X” Factor. The only player’s inclusion that I would question at this point is Beasley’s. He’s not quite back to terrorizing defenses yet, but then who would be taken in his place; Torres is too similar, Freddy and Eddie aren’t there yet, and we don’t need Ching and Casey in SA.

    I’m of the opinion that Casey is not our answer for the target forward, but Ching isn’t either anymore. Casey at least had a decent showing in the Confederations Cup in his limited “mop up” minutes. He hustles and bruises, and occasionally can chip in with a brace when WC Qualification is on the line. Ching is the “better passer” of the ball (I put that in quotes because we haven’t been able to evaluate it at the National Team level lately), but Casey is competent enough to toe it in the direction of Donovan or Dempsey, and his upside is that he’s had the better goalscoring record in MLS lately. I say the USSF figure out how to build a Flux Capaciter and go grab McBride circa 2004-2006 to end this argument once and for all.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 11:20 AM

      Nick — agree on your Casey – Ching assessment.

      I think that role of hold-up guy is a little less critical if Altidore can build on his end of 2009-2010 form…he’s getting time right now in that hold-up role for Hull and doing it in the best league. He’ll learn that skill.

      So if he gets it together I think that easily relegates Casey or Ching to the bench, except maybe against Slovenia….

      McBride…man I would love to have him back….by the way…totally off topic…just tried to make a copy of this pic: https://shinguardian.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/mcbride.jpg

      of McBride and put it on a t-shirt, but the web site I used called foul…c’mon it’s a World Cup year…


      • Maybe we can get the guys over at Who Are Ya or Objectivo to make a shirt like this for those of us who are living in the past…


  12. Posted by Matt B on 2010/02/01 at 9:33 AM

    I think of Robbie Rogers and DMB fighting over one position. I haven’t been overly impressed with Rogers, and we all know about Beasley’s issues, so I just assumed that they are only in contention because of our lack of true wide players. That said, I can’t really see them both making the roster unless they both really pick up their play in the next few months. Also, given the ability of Landon and Clint to play up top if necessary, can you see Bob only taking 3 true strikers and going with 9 mids?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 9:38 AM

      DMB and Robbie Rogers similar position — different type of players…but concur…they might be going against each other for a spot. Throw JFT in there as well…(my arguments above on why he is currently standby).

      I think you’ve now got Dempsey, Altidore, Casey, and “someone” up top. With Demps…and Donovan being capable of playing the midfield or striker, I would think that Dempsey is considered a striker and the US still needs to throw someone beyond Altidore and Casey in there…maybe Davies if fit…is that enough…eeeish…don’t know about that one yet.

      We’ll learn a lot–quite obviously–about Findley and Cunningham’s candidacy through Davies recuperation…


    • Dempsey is a striker? How many times do I have to talk people down off that particular ledge? He may be the highest midfielder up the pitch for Fulham but he sure as hell tracks back and wins ball in their midfield. That said, I think if Davies is fit, we’ll have 4 proper strikers for insurance. If Davies isn’t fit, we’ll probably only have 3 and an extra midfielder. First case would mean Rogers, Beasley and Torres are all in for one spot, possibly two.

      So who’s the final striker? I think a big guy like C.C. is Bradley’s binkey that he need to sleep at night so it’s he and Altidore. But seriously now, say Eddie Johnson starts scoring some goals in Greece or Cooper takes to netting in argyle socks, occasionally even with his head. Do you take one of these guys over Findley/Cunningham and/or Casey? If there’s no Davies, I say you take an Eddie Johnson that’s seeing minutes and scoring in Greece? Oh, the burning questions!


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/01 at 6:28 PM

        Dempsey is not a striker, true, but due to Fulham’s injury woes, Hodgson has played him off Zamora – and he has done quite well. The issue is, whether he could do a similar job for the US in the absence of Davies, as you’re a little thin on quality and experience. IMO the left midfield spot can be filled easier than the second striker (with respect to the overall quality of the team)…


        • Not saying that Dempsey isn’t adaptable, but I still think he’s best starting out on the left of midfield, cutting inside and making slashing runs into the box. He’s a midfielder that can get into the box and play in a more advanced position behind a striker that runs the line well.

          Without a healthy Davies, I can see him playing off Altidore against England and putting Donovan on the left. Dempsey’s influence from this position is more a question of whether Altidore is capable of doing the work that Zamora does. The problem with that is that it changes the fluid, counterattacking 4-2-2-2 we’ve had most success with to a more conservative 4-4-1-1 that has a lot less counterattacking oomph, requires more play through the center of midfield than we tend to manage and leaves us struggling to create chances.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 6:53 PM

        I’m labeling folks up the pitch as STR or strikers…I know technically it’s incorrect…but I just love the word…

        I’ll try to refrain and be technically accurate…Dempsey can be used up the pitch…


  13. @matt

    While Marshall has long been my number 4 CB in the 23, it is in fact his injuries that are holding me back now, it seems he’s always battling some kind of knock. He definitely has the skills to make it, but Goodson came on against Honduras, and not only got the goal, but played solid D. So right now, Goodson is the guy. Marshall can definitely change that before May though.

    If CD9 is back, then Findley gets bumped, simple as that.

    Also, I understand that Cooper doesn’t really want to play like a 6’3 guy, but his time in Germany/England will teach him. I think Cooper is more willing to work hard (minus his daddy issues) than Casey is. He knows how to make dangerous runs, can strike a ball from distance, has much better footwork, and at 6’3 CAN be as dangerous as Casey in the air. For me, Cooper is the more dangerous player.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 11:15 AM

      Good debate here Connor.

      I’ll reserve more judgment on Marshall v. Goodson for a few more friendlies. It certainly is a battle…I just still have Marshall ahead by a hair.

      I’m not sure even if Davies–and this is the conundrum–is back if Findley doesn’t make it. You need that speed guy up top and frankly you’d like to have two of them.

      Look at England for example. Defoe may start, but there are still looking at SWP (Shaun Wright Phillips) or Theo Walcott behind him…they also have–we think–Aaron Lennon.

      Look at a team like Italy, never fleet of foot, who could start Rossi, but also have Panzzini in the mix. Years passed it was Del Piero or, gulp, Pippo Inzaghi.

      Mexico…who rotate bringing the pacy Velo or Dos Santos…

      …anyway, it would be great if the USMNT had two speed options up top…may not be possible at World Cup quality. But I’m not sure if Davies is fit that they don’t go with another as well.

      Good debate….

      Oh, as for Cooper…highly talented…just can’t fit in the system right now…but I think you’re right in calling him out. Cooper had what 2 goals in 5 appearances in the Gold Cup…the guy does score goals…


  14. Posted by Max G on 2010/02/01 at 11:36 AM

    Brilliant post.

    I wish it really was like this, instead of Studio 90 showing Bob Bradley clip on his luggage tag.


  15. Posted by Evan on 2010/02/01 at 12:10 PM

    Just a few points. @Matthewsf, Kljestan didn’t start the Confederations Cup Final, the midfield Donovan-Clark-Benny!-Dempsey. Kljestan started the group game and got red carded and then didn’t play again until the last 15 minutes of the final, when USA could have used a spark off the bench like Iceman, but this was before he had any international appearances. I digress, anyways @Nick, Casey was horrible in the Confederations Cup, his touch was awful and especially in the first Brazil game, he just looked uninterested. He subbed in and was jogging around up top instead of trying to pressure the ball and make something happen. Granted, USA were reduced to 10 men just 12 minutes into his appearance, but if I were fit like a pro soccer player and was given 45 minutes I think I would be able to at least sprint to the ball to try and force some turnovers


    • Maybe my assessment of his play in the Confed Cup was a little generous. Now that you mention it, I do recall him not being sharp. However, there was a game, can’t remember which one it was off the top of my head where he came on and did force some issues. He is not, and most likely never will be, the answer for us in the target man role, but I think he shows more industry and purpose than Ching does of late. Unfortunately Ching is the epitome of the hard trier with no execution that Bradley likes to keep around just in case.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 12:26 PM

      Oh shoot…you’re right Evan…my bad on Kljestan…


    • Posted by Evan on 2010/02/01 at 1:17 PM

      I think in general if USA are going to have a forward come off the bench, it shouldn’t be a type like Casey or Ching; a strong hold up guy. It should be someone quick and good with the ball who can make the tired defenders pay. That being said, against England, a player like that should start as USA will need to have someone to play the ball to that can hold it and wait for more people to get into the attack, or draw fouls. It was what Bob Bradley tried to do against Mexico at Azteca, and it could have possibly worked if not for Ching’s horrid performance. My friend who is Mexican even asked me why Brian Ching ever plays after watching that game. My point is the idea is great but its possible that USA doesn’t have anyone suited to do it. If only Brian McBride were still young.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/01 at 1:26 PM

        You know while McBride is/was one of my favorites to watch…I’m not sure he’s the guy that we need the most.

        We need a Davies-type…a Defoe, a Del Piero…someone who can stretch and threaten the backline so that they don’t collapse on Dempsey and Donovan.

        Obviously BB recognizes this need because he had Findley, Cunningham and Tracy in camp.

        I agree with Evan here that we need a guy with pace to start against England and one off the bench…right now my money (as evidenced above is on Findley)…he can take a hit a little better and….frankly–and this may have been overlooked–he’s got a ton more riding on this World Cup.

        Cunningham has what…maybe 4 or 5 years left and with a family, he’s likely not as aggressively looking for a move to make more money…I could be wrong of course…but that’s where I’m netting out…


        • Honestly, I know he’s out in the international wilderness but surely despite not making it into the Fulham side in competition with Zamora, Nevland, Andy Johnson, and fake striker Clint Dempsey etc… Eddie Johnson is surely the forgotten man.

          He’s at least a player at the Cunningham/Findley level, and if he’s now getting some minutes in Greece and even scoring a bit , Bob Bradley should definitely give him at least a one-off reunion concert with a possible South African tour to follow, especially given our weakness in the forward positions.


  16. Posted by Bob on 2010/02/01 at 1:11 PM

    Do you guys know how the team will be selected this month to play in Tampa? Will it be the same team that played Hondoras?


  17. The real question is: Is there room on this plane for US fans? I mean, my ticket to SA is gonna send me to the poorhouse. Forget these guys, they can all afford to get there on their own, let me get a seat on Bob Force One. Real talk though, if they play the World Cup, and no one can afford to get there, does it actually count?


  18. Posted by Bob on 2010/02/01 at 1:52 PM

    Well, since we have been talking about him, here is nice article on Bedoya from ESPN:


  19. Posted by dude on 2010/02/01 at 4:33 PM

    LOL about Casey. I truly believe it.


  20. Posted by KL on 2010/02/01 at 5:27 PM

    OK, quick stupid question…who is the 6’1″ bald man covered in tattoos?


  21. Posted by Joe on 2010/02/01 at 8:30 PM

    hahahah great great article

    you guys are hilarious


  22. […] Moving on to someone actually in the national team conversation, here is the free kick strike by Jose Francisco Torres in Pachuca’s 5-3 win over Puebla. The USMNT midfielder is currently Flying Standby in TSG’s latest piece on which USMNTers are heading to South Africa. […]


  23. […] Moving on to someone actually in the national team conversation, here is the free kick strike by Jose Francisco Torres in Pachuca’s 5-3 win over Puebla. The USMNT midfielder is currently Flying Standby in TSG’s latest piece on which USMNTers are heading to South Africa. […]


  24. […] more significant story for the USMNT is whose performance got them one step closer to packing their US Soccer duffel for South Africa. Of the 13 World Cup hopefuls Matthew mentioned in the […]


  25. […] you haven’t read the first installment that’s here. Second one? Right here. And we apologize, we can’t locate a “print for bathroom button” to put into this […]


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