Bocanegra & Boca Juniors: Finishing Thoughts

Some random, settled-in thoughts as the Argentina friendly is left behind.


• Edson Buddle back to Germany is interesting. Is it me or do you feel he’s just not given his shot for some reason?

Then again, I’m not watching at practice like George Vecsey.

• So little in a scoreline, fair to say that if Argentina finishes their chances the outcome and reception for the Yanks efforts is very different. That said, a poor pinball effect had Cambiasso finishing the lone goal.

• If Argentina was the CONMEBOL equivalent of Mexico, then Paraguay is the equivalent of Honduras. Almost missed that US Soccer; nice job on the friendlies.

Horrible job on the pitch–unless the patchwork pitch actually played to the Yanks advantage. Conspiracy theorists unite!

• Those making comparisons between Juan Agudelo and Eddie Johnson don’t watch a lot of soccer, do they.

The most impressive part of Agudelo’s game Saturday night wasn’t his goal. It was his feel for the game and his temperament on the ball.

Eddie Johnson has all the skill in the world and he’s probably still faster than Agudelo, but he’s never been able to compete because he gets caught offsides all the time, I mean, because his mental game hasn’t progressed.

Measure Agudelo on his entire game, not his scoring numbers.

• Our preview out in a little bit today. Paraguay’s game is easy enough to dissect. What will be difficult will be who Bradley feels he needs to give a rest to after Saturday night.

I do expect to see Jermaine Jones for that counter attack downfield volley Poland-game style.

From the fan forum:

TSG reader “Crow” was kind enough to drop some dialogue from the fan forum in the comment section. Thanks. Selected thoughts republished below:….

Some notes from the “fan forum”:

I used a question someone had posted about whether recent “dual-nationals” such as Teal Bunbury, Timmy Chandler, etc. committing to The National Team was a coincidence or part of a “better effort” to target dual nationals or part of a different strategy. Sunil basically said that I had it in my question- just comes down to a personal decision.

He did open up a bit, though, telling a few interesting specific stories. For instance, he told a story about how while he was at the Confed Cup in 2009, he told a FIFA official the story of Giuseppi Rossi (shortly before he entered the game) and shortly after he scored that brace. More interesting- he talked about about private discussions he and other members of USSF/coaching staff had with Subotic and others .

Apparently, in some cases the players didn’t want to play for the US because it was easier to play in Europe travel-wise. He commented that he did not agree with the FIFA rule to allow players to change nationalities after playing at any level for a certain country (Subotic leaving and Jermaine Jones coming to the USA). I mentioned how Timothy Chandler had said in an interview this week about the fact that he liked the American program over the German program because it was “different” in a good way. I asked if this could be highlighted to potential dual-nationals or if in the long run it just comes down to a personal decision and he went with personal decision.

Other notes:

An older man and his son from Las Cruces, New Mexico came to the game and commented how there was barely any advertising/marketing for the game nationwide or in New York City.

Sunil vehemently disagreed saying their was a “buzz” about the game along with a big billboard he had seen after leaving JFK airport.

Sunil acknowledge that more can be done to promote the team. The man made an interesting point how when these games come it is almost that the message is: ARGENTINA is coming, BRAZIL is coming, SPAIN is coming and not that the USA is playing. I thought this was a good point but Sunil didn’t really address it.

Someone asked about a Technical Director and Sunil was actually very open saying it was discussed and different candidates have been interviewed and Bob knows about it.

He made the point how the women’s program has a Technical Director and Coach and it works well. He acknowledged that the coach and technical director would obviously have to work together and cooperate for it to work.

A question was asked about the pay-to-play setup in the USA, but he just talked glowingly about the US Developmental Academies. I’m not sure how they are set up exactly but who can actually attend? A man in the crowd originally from Southern California and now living in Balitmore, MD mentioned about how many inner-city youth aren’t exposed to soccer but apparently these academies are the solution according to Sunil.

A few light hearted questions were asked as well.


21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 9:44 AM

    The Johnson-Agudelo comparison was meant strictly in the sense that both players got out to a hot start to their USMNT careers. So did Altidore. Obviously past performance is not a great guide to future results, no? If Agudelo doesn’t become a really good player we’ll just say whatever flaws it is held him back were obvious, and they always are in retrospect.

    Re: Buddle. To me, Buddle’s conundrum is similar to the Edu/Jones/Bradley one. He’s too similar to Altidore and Agudelo. That’s why I suspect the Gold Cup forward call-ups are Altidore, Agudelo, Bunbury, and Wondolowski/Gomez.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/28 at 9:47 AM

      My comment was directed to those actually comparing the two because of their goal tallies early in their USMNT careers.

      Wrong measurement point. Poor comparison in my opinion.


  2. Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/28 at 11:14 AM

    Buddle is an interesting case. Remembering back to a previous post just before the world cup Matt talked about Bradley thinking of players as fitting roles and not necessarily about how the overall pieces work together. For example, it was obvious if for Bradley to start Findley in place of CD9 when you say we just lost our speedy forward which other person on the roster can play the speedy forward role.

    My guess is that Buddle plays the same role (at least in Bradley’s mind) as Altidore but does it worse. Find it odd that he doesn’t get called into the B squads. This is probably his last camp.


    • Posted by Martin on 2011/03/28 at 5:49 PM

      ‘Find it odd that he doesn’t get called into the B squads.’

      Buddle is about 30. His time is now. He’s been in the form of his life for the last year or two. If that’s not good enough for right now, I don’t see what spending time on B squads will do for him.

      Based on what I’ve seen of him, if he isn’t scoring he isn’t otherwise contributing. It’s unfortunate but guys like that are not loved by managers because it’s either all or nothing ( see Kenny Cooper). He’s shown he’s good to maybe very good, at a certain level but he hasn’t proved he’s great. In his short time in the World Cup I thought he looked like a fish out of water. Not a lot of time yes but that’s the life of a goal scorer. Had he taken that one good chance he had against Algeria, maybe life is different but he missed.

      And sometimes you only get one shot.


  3. Posted by jb on 2011/03/28 at 11:47 AM

    I was under the impression there was a prior agreement to release Buddle to his club after the first match, but I could be wrong. Agree he has never received a fair shot with the full team, despite being the striker in the best form for most of last year, (not counting Dempsey). Maybe chemistry issues that we don’t know about? Seems a shame to me.


  4. Posted by Jake C. on 2011/03/28 at 12:10 PM

    Interesting note about the youth academies. Don’t know if theyve changed since I was a kid, but the pay to play system just seems to stymie player growth–how can you develop the best team if you’re limiting those who can play from the outset, on a criterion that isn’t performance-related. A stupid element taken from youth soccer for me.


    • Posted by Crow on 2011/03/28 at 12:19 PM

      I really wanted Sunil to open up about the academies more and address directly the pay-to-play system and what can be done about it. He did not, though- I was even going to ask the question that had been raised again but time ran out. I think that was the most disappointing part of the forum because I think alot of the best potential players may be lost because of the way the youth system is in America.


    • Well, like a lot of stupid systems, the effect is stupid but how it got there makes perfect sense:

      1. When soccer becomes a popular youth sport, there either a) aren’t any pro clubs or b) the pro clubs are uninterested in youth development.

      2. Since the government is uninterested in subsidizing a blanket of youth clubs–as they do in the Netherlands and Germany–private sector ingenuity must fill the gaps. Being private agents, they are allowed to charge whatever they’d like, which is in the direction of higher, rather than lower prices. There are a few incentives pushing the price towards really high prices as opposed to cheaper ones. One is asymmetric information: the coaches know a lot more about soccer than the parents do (who probably did not play soccer themselves), and so are more knowledgeable about their own competence than parents are about assessing them. The other is that people tend to associate higher prices with higher quality, especially when assessing systems whose workings are hard to sort out: did my little Timmy become a good soccer player because he’s just that good or was it the coaching? Which coaching was it that made Timmy so good, etc. etc.? Because little Timmy only gets one chance at becoming a good soccer player, parents–who are understandably concerned about their kid’s welfare–tend to err in the direction of caution as opposed to cheapness. And a few of these parents pushes the price upwards for everyone.

      3. Then, of course, there’s path dependence–or, where we’re at now. MLS clubs don’t and never will cover the entire country, meaning that there will always be private clubs. Given the government’s cash problems at the moment–and given its very imperfect successes–I doubt we will see massive subsidies for said clubs. The USSF is in no financial position to subsidize more than a handful of players through Bradenton and other scholarships. Which means there will likely always be a population that can’t make it–unless foreign clubs start setting up huge academies here or something (which would run afoul of leagues’ protectionist rules).

      And there you have it.


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/03/28 at 12:48 PM

        What is a possible realistic solution or a step towards one? That is what I would like to here. I don’t know if I have one.


        • Crow thanks for posting the dialogue from the Fan Forum. I wish I’d been there because the Developmental Academies are not actual academies. The US Developmental Academy is a league of the best-of-the-best broken up into 5(I think) regions to assuage travel costs between games. The “academy” also has 4 showcase tournaments each year which introduce US scouts to the players and coaches of these teams sooner and in a better competitive environment than the usual weekend tournaments. So the US Developmental Academy doesn’t really do anything about the pay to play issue.

          The “good” that this league/academy does is mandating a 3-1 ratio of practices to games played throughout the year, and these players I don’t believe are allowed to play in other competitions in order to prevent kids from enduring overuse injuries after playing “too many meaningless games.”

          @dth – I don’t believe the government will subsidize it due to the things you point out, but why shouldn’t the MLS clubs subsidize a little bit here and there. I read that Philadelphia is partnering with a club in the area that has proven itself worthy of producing talent. If more clubs adopted this methodology as well as subsidizing/sponsoring some clubs as well as Coaching Clinics for the Local Rec Leagues (which is where the biggest difference needs to be made) more inner-city kids without the money could get a shot.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:39 PM

          Philadelphia’s taken the cheap, chintzy option. They don’t have a team of their own that they’re training; instead they’re inviting selected players from partner clubs to train together from time to time. I don’t believe they’re subsidizing the clubs at all. I don’t think it’ll work, because the quality control on their end is very low.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:41 PM

          In general, I just don’t think the MLS will have enough money to make a large-scale difference, especially when compared to the top countries. The average Bundesliga team, I’ve heard, spends about $2 million/year on its youth development program. Well, that’s about equal to Bradenton’s budget–and 66% of the salary cap for the pro players. MLS would have to make much more money than it has to fully fund their own academies, to say nothing of subsidizing other clubs’.


        • I agree that the qualilty control on their end isn’t the greatest, but partnering with a club in the absence of an academy is better than waiting for the SuperDraft.

          Like you said they don’t have tons of money, but “subsidizing” doesn’t have to entail fully funding, there are other ways; specifically paying for some coaching seminars for the rec leagues wouldn’t be that expensive and would improve the quality of coaching at the lowest levels, thus improving talent coming through the pipes. Partnering with local clubs through “grants” or “scholarships” would help keep clubs focused on developing talent instead of simply trying to win everything to prove their worth.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/28 at 1:52 PM

          Well, sure if the option is what they’ve done and nothing, I prefer what they’ve done. But it’s a cheap end-around to do what they’ve done and I’d prefer they had a full academy set-up.

          Fortunately, the MLS rules will eventually punish those who either refuse or are unable to develop talent, and I expect that after teams like FC Dallas and DC United crush the Union from the talent-development perspective, they’ll try a more rewarding path.


        • Here are some links to a 5 part series about the US Development Academy done by Jeff Carlisle back in ’09. In typical ESPNSoccernet fashion the article provides a high-level overview without the snarky questioning and cynicism that we fans typically react with.

          Part I:
          Part II:
          Part III:
          Part IV:
          Part V:


  5. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/28 at 12:15 PM

    I’m glad that you posted the events from the fan forum and am happy I was happy to help. I just used up another minute of my 15 minutes of fame, though! LOL

    Seriously, it is nice that US Soccer and Sunil organized that event and that Sunil was a little more open than usual during it. It is a shame- I think only about 15-20 people were there and they were expecting up to 75. I hope that doesn’t make US Soccer think twice about having them.

    Thanks to Justin and Korey at AO for putting my name on the list to attend.


  6. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/28 at 12:22 PM

    A couple of things I missed-

    1. Does anyone know if the AO tailgate ever got set up or what was going on? I had to go into the stadium early (not that I minded with the weather), but I was still out there an hour after the tailgate was supposed to start and nothing was going on.

    1b. Did anyone see Paul Pabst (Dan Patrick Show) with AO/at the tailgate? He attended I guess. Did anyone here any mention of the game on the Dan Patrick Show today? I was not able to listen/watch.


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