Round Cleat, Round Hole: Who Gets New Digs?

Roy Wegerle and John Harkes were the first two Americans to lace up in the EPL

Well, Chelsea slept on Blackburn…told them Blues not to do that.

We’ll have an Altidore update up as soon as we get a confirmed one.


Commentor GeorgeCross brought up the following question in a post last week:

“I am going to throw this one out there regarding Altidore. What about Arsenal? Wenger has been rumoured to be interested in Cole and Balotelli – why not Altidore? Fair enough that Altidore needs to be polished, but who better than master rock tumbler Wenger, who has a remarkable track record with young unfinished and raw players. He might not get as much playing time, but technically he has to improve (otherwise he won’t get into the first XI).”

A decent match there GeorgeCross and it got TSG into a column we’ve been meaning to pen for a while. We’ve already looked at the best mentors (Look for Part II in the next month) for a selection of USMNTers, but how about the best team to play on, from a playing time perspective as well as a mentoring perspective.

In fact those are two of the criteria, along with a third, playing style, that we considered when making some of these selections below. Caveat: TSG’s normally objective look at Americans may have been a wee compromised in this column.

Give Big Jeezy a few years and he just may be leaping buildings in a single bound too...

Jozy Altidore: Aston Villa

Pretty close for Jozy on Arsenal, but not as close as Villa. For Jozy at Arsenal, there are few challenges. First, Robin Van Persie is the show’s lead and Nicolas Bendtner it would appear is beginning to fulfill the promise that had Wenger plucking the then 16-year-old from F.C. Copenhagen way back in 2004. (Bendtner is now rumored to be a candidate for the front line at Bayern.) Plus Arsenal have up-and-coming England nattie in waiting (and 190lbs) Jay Simpson (on load at Queens Park Rangers) waiting in the wings.

Second challenge for Jozy–his first touch. With Arsenal employing a quick touch brand of football and accentuating player movement may not play to Jozy’s strengths.

For Villa, it’s a question of replacement and pairing.

In Emile Heskey and John Carew, Villa have a 32 year-old and a 31-year-old in the target or big striker role. Both, along with third stringer Maron Harewood (on-loan and 31) have battled countless injuries over the past year.

Altidore, who was healthy until Friday’s unexplained injury, is the direct opposite, younger and less (cough) injury prone.

Additionally, Altidore would slip in quite nicely next to the zippy Gaby Agbonlahor up top. Agbonlahor, on the edge or a World Cup bid this year for England at the age of 23, is, in comparison to Charlie Davies, a few notches faster and just hair below in strength–a fine complement for the former Red Bull frontman.

Next, with two Americans (Friedel and Guzan) on their senior and a third (Eric Lichaj) likely coming, Aston Villa (with American owner Randy Lerner) would vie for mass public support from the Americans. Finally, and due to Lerner, Aston Villa is a well-run team that should be able to pay Villarreal’s transfer price request ($5M?)

Just look$ right

Landon Donovan: Everton*

It’s hard to argue that Landon Donovan didn’t just trial on the perfect team for him to transfer too. Everton sits just below the top four in the EPL, removing Lanverton from an unworldly amount of scrutiny when he nestled in during the winter.

In terms of Everton’s game and Donovan’s ability to recognize what is needed, the Galaxy man presented the perfect complement to improve Moyes’ offense.

That being said, can Everton afford the transfer fee for the California resident who recently?

Chelsea rumors abounded as well as opinion that Donovan was perhaps better suited for the Iberian peninsula (where no American has ever truly suceeded yet…Ante Razov 2nd division stint at Racing Ferrol being probably the best in the last twenty).

But Donovan doesn’t seem to be the guy who wants to stray too far from what makes him comfortable. It appears he wants to fit in, do his job, and call it a day. So, in the event that Everton can’t ante up the green, other Donovan prospects might be Arsenal red where Donovan could be an outside forward just like at Goodison and be in heavy rotation with Arshavin, Walcott and Nasri. Only drawback? Wenger usually buys low, not high.

Junior...mixing it up...

Michael Bradley: AC Milan

Outside of Bo’Munchen where could Mike Bradley go to prosper, thrive and contribute.

TSG looks at Bradley and we see an upgrade over shaky post-Arsenal man Mathieu Flamini who, despite below average form, has still featured in 19 games for Milan on the year.

Bradley, should the transfer cost not be prohibitive for the Rossoneri who have battled some budget issues (see Onyewu, Oguchi), would slot in nicely next to Pirlo (or whomever his successor is) and also provide, again, youth as Clarence Seedorf ages and the classy Gennaro Gatusso likely heads to pasture after this year. Further, learning from a midfield ace like Milan coach Leonardo–assuming he’s still around–priceless.

Buddy up Gooch, Junior may arrive.

Get this man a Hotspur jersey...

Jay DeMerit: Tottenham

Jay DeMerit’s future is lining up. A fairytale rise from young freelancer to possibly starting back against the United Lions of England on June 12th.

The 31-year-old DeMerit is also playing out his contract this year in one of two positions (centerback and goalie) where longevity and experience are more valuable than youth.

We’re going to be excited to see DeMerit hopefully “get his.”

But where? We say throw him under the employs of Harry Rednapp down London way? Tottenham’s got a bunch of quality center backs, named Sebastian Bassong, Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King.

However you might argue injuries have no relegated Woodgate and King to liabilities rather than assets. Plug in DeMerit for a year or two next to the hulking Bassong, send Michael Dawson back to the bench where he belongs, and keep the seat warm until 21-year-old French star in waiting Dorian Dervitte (remember that name) is ready.

Big Tim's next protector?

Omar Gonzalez: Everton

Another central backer on the list

How humorous would it be if the Toffees raided the Galaxy of arguably–with the Beckham injury–the two of their best players. We mentioned Gonzalez in our March Boarding post.

I honestly can’t think of a better fit on this list. Everton, since the departure of a motivated Joleon Lescott, have lacked for his direct replacement this year. Someone strong in the middle who can score with their dome.

Enter the 21-year-old Gonzalez, perhaps the best U-23 prospect in the States (perhaps), certainly on the back line.

But him in front of steady Tim Howard who at 35-years-old in 2014 might just still be the US lead goalkeeper pending his form.

A centerback rotation of 31-year-old Sylvan Distin, 29-year old Nigerian Joseph Yobo, and 21-year-old American Omar Gonzalez.

Yes I think that works.

To learn from the best...

Maurice Edu: Chelsea

How Maurice Edu has not started a game in midfield for the Rangers after “the” critical goal of their season is beyond me. I must pass on further review as I haven’t witnessed many Rangers game minutes this year. However, it does have me wondering if the Ibrox crew just wanted an athletic youngster who was cheap to come in given their widely stated financial issues.

So sell Edu.

If I’m Chelsea I abandon my horrible John Obi Mikel experiment–how vulnerable have Chelsea looked defensively in Michael Essien’s absence? Obi Mikel, who’s one-on-one defending is highly suspect never met an errant pass he didn’t like.

Let’s bring in Edu who can flat-out cover ground and have him learn from the best in the business…oops, the USMNT fan in me just came out.

Still, I think it makes sense (at least for this column).


Your thoughts?

merchandise product lines, brand marketing messages, and key assortment plans

20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by cesar on 2010/03/21 at 9:23 PM

    I actually think that Mike Bradley would be a terrific force for Arsenal. I’ve been thinking this for a month or two now. Everyone knows that the best way to frustrate Arsenal is to play mean and physical – so why not bring in a guy like Mikey who brings a no-BS edge to the team? shucks, any of our CMs would do, but especially Bradley and Jones would I think really help that team take the next step forward. Bradley gets the edge here though because of his youth – we all know how Wenger likes to stockpile them there young’ns.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/21 at 9:26 PM

    Decent Cesar for sure…only issue is that Wenger likes his defensive mids to tackle a little better.


    • Posted by cesar on 2010/03/21 at 9:37 PM

      good point. I do have to wonder if ole’ Arsene could coach it out of him, though. I do think that his tackling has really improved a lot over the last two years or so, as well as the rest of his overall game.

      Omar Gonzalez to Everton would be a brilliant move, I’d actually like to see that one happen. I wonder how our friend Anton Peterlin is doing over there right now…


    • Although if Wenger is that “rock polisher” then Baby Bradley’s sharp edged tackling could get some smoothing out and the Nats would be better for it. Just saying…


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/22 at 5:27 AM

      Everybody talks about Bradley going missing in defensive duties, so why would Arsenal buy a player as a holding midfielder when that’s not his natural instincts? It’s not just about improved tacking, it’s about reading the game, positioning, breaking up attacks and starting your own from the back. Arsenal have enough offense and I am not sure that Wenger would buy a 23 year old to polish – historically that’s not his way, is it?

      I like the Altidore and Aston Villa call.


  3. Posted by B-Mac on 2010/03/21 at 10:05 PM

    I’m going to disagree with you guys a bit. To me Edu would get lost in the shuffle at Chelsea, so I think Everton would be ideal. With the 4-2-3-1 formation they’re known to use, I think he would be an ideal pairing with Fellani as holding midfielders for years to come.

    One guy who you didn’t mention but I’d love to see move is Clarence Goodson. I think the guy is ready for an EPL run at this point, and I think he would be a perfect fit to join Deuce at Fulham. With Smalling moving to Man U after the season, I could see him forming a strong trio at the back with Hangeland and Aaron Hughes.

    P.S.-Sorry to be that guy mates, but pretty sure Agbonlahor is 23.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/21 at 10:06 PM

      B-Mac — no worries — disagreement is good — I’ll proof Agbonlahor.

      Really just wanted to foster the conversation here…


      • Posted by B-Mac on 2010/03/21 at 10:18 PM

        Haha, just wanted to put forth my ideas. Conceptually I love Edu at Chelsea, it’s just when you have a Russian oligarch pumping money into the team, I think the learning curve might be a bit steep. Just look at a guy like Sturridge, a young player who should be playing weekly in the EPL, can’t even crack the 18 most times. Chelsea, versus perhaps United or Arsenal, I really view as a place for finished products.

        I think Dempsey has really proven how you can get better playing against tough competition even when you are on a weaker side, so it’s the model I look for other young Americans to follow. Upper-middle to lower-middle table sides where they can play and develop without the constant worry of relegation.


  4. I’ve always thought that Dempsey would be good at Arsenal. I thought that they were going to buy him last summer. Wenger said some good things about him after the Confederations Cup. I don’t think this will happen though because he is one of Fulham’s most important players (He is one of like three people that can actually score on that team) so they will want too much money for him which is understandable.

    I would like to see Michael Bradley in the EPL for any team in the top half of the table. I think his game suits the EPL and I generally do not agree with your guys’ take on him. I have seen 3 of his recent games and he is on a completely different level than his teammates. He wins the ball and makes a good pass to keep possession but his team never finds him. He makes countless great runs from deep in the midfield but the Monchengladbach forwards and outside mids are some of the most wasteful I have ever seen. Their left mid has taken the most shots in the Bundesliga and I believe he only has one or two goals. All of the players (especially Algeria “star” Karim Matmour) get the ball on the outside and then put their heads down and try to dribble people but just end up losing the ball. If I were Bradley I would get frustrated about everything that is going on with that team. He is a class above everyone else.

    Overall though I would just like to see an attacking player for USA get some playing time in the Champions League. This is the first year that I have tried to watch most of the American’s Abroad games and it frustrates me that not since Beasley in 07 have we had an attacking player get Champions League time. Watching Fulham’s run in the Europa League has been amazing because of Dempsey, but as a fan I would like to see an American join a team that can consistently contend in the Champions League (get past the group stages at least). While this may be unrealistic, it is no more unrealistic than Edu on Chelsea


  5. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/03/21 at 10:59 PM

    Duka & Gil to Arsenal

    Brek Shea to land of the huge wingers.

    Jack McInerny goes to a Wayne rooney camp.

    Charlie Renken & Joseph Gyau (?)

    Sorry I had a u-20 relapse.


    • I don’t think Jack McInerny could handle a Wayne Rooney camp, that kid’s built like a stick and Rooney eats children like that for snacks in-between eating EPL Man-size defenders for lunch.


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/03/22 at 6:25 AM

        Wayne Rooney’s camp for teenage strikers who want to learn how to eat children and defenders alike.

        Or a GabbyAgbon’ camp. God that sounds like a chocolate bar.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/22 at 7:42 AM

        Yeah, Jack McInerney is likely headed to Pippo Inzaghi camp which is probably held on the Greek Isle of Eos or something and involves very little cardiovascular work…


        • It involves a ton of cardio work. He has to constantly readjust his position to be just offside enough that he doesn’t get called but everyone always knows/wonders if the flag should’ve been raised.


  6. Posted by dude on 2010/03/22 at 6:21 AM

    I don’t think Edu is limited at all to where he should play, which is a good thing. I too thought AC Milan would be a great place for Bradley, but they’d most likely never go for it. The really interesting option was Aston Villa for Jozy, never thought about how old those hulks were (though I still think he would make great thunder to Arsenal’s lightening).


  7. […] World Cup 2010 « Round Hole, Round Cleat: Who Gets New Digs? […]


  8. Posted by Sinn Fein on 2010/03/22 at 8:42 AM

    I actually think Dempsey would fit at Liverpool. (It wouldn’t hurt of course if Hodgson moved there). They need goal scorers and wide players (in addition to someone to replace Alonso and the rapidly declining Carragher). He wouldn’t unseat Kuyt nor even Benayoun, but he would come of the bench often, figure in as a primary attacking option when Torres is hurt, and serve an essential role in squad rotation. Essentially, I am saying I don’t think he would start the big games, but he would play a lot and be essential to the team.

    His addition would be good for Liverpool as they are direct and often predictable in attack. Clint is I think the first (which I see as a positive for him fitting into the team and its style. Fit is always important and why I would have concerns about a move to Arsenal). He is rarely the second (predictable). I would submit his mid-week goal as solid evidence of his unpredictability. Would Fulham let him go? No idea, but I have to believe that Liverpool are going to find new investors over the summer and are going to splash down huge cash to improve the squad. If they are in the mood to spend money, I am sure they could convince Fulham.


  9. Posted by Tom M on 2010/03/22 at 2:34 PM

    A guy who could give Gonzalez a run for his money as the top young centerback prospect is Agbossoumonde who has been dressing with full Braga squad in the Portuguese top division. He is only 18 years old apparently has been impressive in his short stint with Braga.


  10. […] going to defer to TSG Headquarters who already suggested this move, but I absolutely love it. David Moyes is a fantastic manager and there may be no better […]


  11. […] what we wrote in a hypothetical column in March on ideal destination for […]


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