By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
The start of a new MLS season is always fun, because a few guys emerge that no one (or very few, anyway) have heard of and become stars in the league. Chris Wondolowski and Brek Shea are two players who weren’t anywhere near the U.S. National Team pool but got there with strong seasons in the MLS. And with Team USA’s World Cup qualifying cycle beginning anew this summer, it’s time to inject some fresh, non-Eddie Johnson or Jonathan Bornstein blood. So what players from this year’s crop of new (or slightly under the radar) should be catching the eye of Jurgen Klinsmann and co.?
Tally Hall, Houston. With Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson coming off poor Olympic qualifying performances and not totally solidifying starting jobs this season, Team USA needs another keeper to provide competition for Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando as the backup goalie. After a slightly bumpy start to the season last year, Hall was named an All-Star, and has surely been one of the most commanding American keepers to start this year.
Also keep in mind: Matt Pickens, Colorado; Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA
Steven Beitashour, San Jose. Beitashour caught the eye after being instilled as the Earthquakes starting right back last season, and his good play has continued into this year. In a national team pool generally devoid of competent attacking full backs, he is a bright prospect to take over for Steve Cherundulo.
Also keep in mind: Chance Myers, Sporting Kansas City
Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City. My first instinct was to pick Omar Gonzales again, just because I can’t understand why he seems to find himself behind Michael Orozco-Fizcal and Edgar Castillo in the USMNT pecking order. But Gonzalez is injured and does have two caps to his name. Besler is anchoring the league’s finest defense, and has provided a level-headed foil to Aurellien Collin, who is a bit of a wild card.
Also keep in mind: A.J. Soares, New England
Nick DeLeon, DC United. With the likes of Graham Zusi and Chris Pontius at least called up to camp last year, I can leave those two out of my picks. This year, by far the most exciting prospect in the U.S. National Team pool in the MLS is DeLeon, who has been performing like, well, Dwayne DeRosario. It remains to be seen how his skill on the ball and attacking thrust will translate to the national team, but he would certainly be a better candidate for a call-up than, say, DaMarcus Beasley.
Also keep in mind: Darlington Nagbe, Portland
Kenny Cooper, New York. I know Cooper already has 10 caps with the U.S., but his name hasn’t been on USMNT radar for quite some time. After a rough season in Portland, he has recaptured his early career form in New York, netting seven times in his first seven matches. And with Klinsmann’s push for a more passing-oriented attack – something that has always been part of Cooper’s game, he could be more of a goal threat than some on the U.S. roster.
Also keep in mind: Will Bruin, Houston
Two more U.S. friendlies, two more disappointingly similar roster choices from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. But hey, at least the team is win…well, at least the team has won once, right? Against Honduras. The world’s #57-ranked team. At home. By one goal. Klinsmann keeps talking about how the friendlies are important to evaluate who can play for the squad, while repeatedly calling up players who have tried and failed to make an impact in these friendlies, which we aren’t winning – even against inferior opposition (DaMarcus Beasley, Robbie Rogers, Edson Buddle, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Orozco Fizcal) or players no one have heard of who are notable for playing in Germany – or at least being on a German team’s roster (Fabian Johnson, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams).
That isn’t to say Johnson, Morales, Williams and players of their ilk aren’t good enough to be on the team. But it is to say that it’s questionable to continually call up the same team through mediocre results while overlooking deserving players playing in the U.S. and elsewhere like George John, Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, CJ Sapong, Mix Disterud and others while calling up relative unknowns because they play in Germany and filling the margins of the rest of the team with players like Buddle who can hardly be called the future of the U.S. national team. Klinsmann’s honeymoon is over. He either needs to start getting results or blooding players who might have an impact in 2014, if we actually qualify. At least Brek Shea is still on the team.
Goalkeepers Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
Defenders Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon)
Midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Robbie Rogers (Columbus), Brek Shea (Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
Forwards Jozy Altidore (AZ), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Edson Buddle (Ingolstadt), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles)
No huge shocks here, which is actually a little disappointing – Danny Williams, a German-born player with an American father who plays for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, probably qualifies as the most surprising pick. Besides that, more of the usual Howard-Bocanegra-Onyewu-Bradley-Cherundulo-Spector-Beasley-Donovan group that we've come to expect. I'd love it if Jurgen Klinsmann would take a chance on players who haven't had much time with the national team but are probably deserving of a chance, some of which were mentioned in the NY Times excellent <a href="http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/u-s-5-for-2-friendlies/">Goal blog</a>: George John, Omar Gonzales, Justin Braun (who I've all mentioned in the past should get called up) as well as Justin Gatt. Other potential call-ups once again ignored include Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi, Dallas' Andrew Jacobsen and Zach Lloyd, Portland's Jack Jewsbury, Chivas USA's Nick LaBrocca and of course, Mix Disterud (Somewhere in Norway), who has looked great when he's put on a U.S. shirt. Take a chance, Jurgen! Do you really think the likes of Kyle Beckerman and DaMarcus Beasley are going to take the U.S. places in the next World Cup? Not likely. Ho hum, meh, etc... We should win both of these matches. Nothing wrong with changing the style of play, but if we're just going to recycle the same retreads, we should at least beat mediocre teams while doing so. Complete list Goalkeepers Bill Hamid (DC United/MLS), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake/MLS) Defenders Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/Scotland), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg/Germany), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/Germany), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon/Portugal), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis/Mexico), Tim Ream (Red Bulls/M.L.S.), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City/England) Midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/MLS), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/Italy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham/England), Maurice Edu (Rangers/Scotland), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado/MLS), Brek Shea (Dallas/MLS), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/Germany) Forwards Juan Agudelo (Red Bulls/MLS), Jozy Altidore (AZ/the Netherlands), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City/MLS), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles/MLS)
And they are … OK? Interesting? Not sure. Some surprises, though. He did pick a few young players with little to no experience with the national team (Bill Hamid – I called it, Michael Orozco Fiscal), some players Bob Bradley hadn’t called up in a while (Jose Francisco Torres, Ricardo Clark) as well as some old-timers that we all thought had surely seen the last of the national team (Edson Buddle, DaMarcus Beasley).
Overall, not a bad group, though he didn’t include Clint Dempsey or Jozy Altidore – presumably so they could rest. I was hoping for a bit more youth in the team, though it’s nice to see Brek Shea get called up, since he deserves it.
The complete roster:
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (St. Etienne), Edgar Castillo (Club América), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (Red Bulls)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (Dallas), José Torres (Pachuca)
Forwards: Freddy Adu (Benfica), Juan Agudelo (Red Bulls), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Edson Buddle (Ingolstadt), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
At 8 p.m. Saturday (I’m on Pacific time, folks), the U.S. men’s national team will give some time on the pitch to some prospects as they take on Chile at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Oh how I wish I could go. USMNT coach Bob Bradley called up a team comprised mostly of younger talent from the U.S. pool. The entire team has 23 caps between them, the most from midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, who has six. They’ll be taking on Chile, praised for being one of the most stylish teams at the 2010 World Cup, at least until they were tanked by Brazil. Chile are coached by Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa, who led them to the World Cup, then resigned in unhappiness over the appointment of Jorge Segovia as head of the Chilean football federation. But apparently he’s still the coach? I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe he’s coaching, maybe he’s not. Find out on Saturday! Here are three reasons to watch the match if I haven’t sufficiently whet your whistle so far.
1. The U.S. is, well, not great, but getting better. I know it’s annoying to hear people champion the U.S. national team, and then nonsoccer/football fans like yourselves spend two hours you could use watching replays of the Insight.com Bowl only to see the U.S. lose a match against a team from a country you’ve never heard of (Ghana is in Africa, by the way). But with that said, Brazil didn’t win five World Cups with the help of Brazilian apathy and complaining. The U.S. team has come on in leaps and bounds since, say, the 1998 World Cup where they finished 32nd out of 32 teams. In 2002, we beat Portugal and were sort of cheated by the Germans in the quarterfinal, and in 2006 … well, we drew with Italy, which counts for something, right? In 2010 we topped a group that included England. The point is, we shouldn’t look at every sport like if we don’t win, it’s not worth watching. We dominate every country in everything else, enjoy us actually having to compete in a sport for once.
2. The U.S. has some good young players. I am a firm believer that we’re only a few years away from a point where we’ll have several U.S. national team members performing at the highest level on the world stage. Already, players like Tim Howard (Everton), Jozy Altidore (Villareal) and Stuart Holden (Umm…Bolton Wanderers) are competing for strong teams in some of the world’s best leagues. Could the U.S. have a Messi or Ronaldo coming through the pipeline? Well, don’t be someone who comes late to the party. Players like Omar Gonzalez (22 years old – the MLS Rookie of the Year), Mikkel Diskerud (playing in the Champions League with Norway’s Stabaek) and Juan Agudelo, and 18-year-old who scored in his first appearance for the U.S. national team, will all get the chance to show what they can do. You should watch.
3. Chile aren’t too bad. Though they won’t be featuring the talents of mercurial players like Alexis Sanchez (“Sorry guys, I’m playing against Inter Milan this weekend”) or Bayer Leverkusen’s Arturo Vidal, at this match, both due to European league play, Chile are still, apparently, coached by Bielsa, who is renowned for his tactical moves and attacking play. They are currently ranked No. 15 in the world and will use this match to blood some young player with limited experience. But don’t think this mean’s they will be tentative. The squad will still feature players like Esteban Paredes (35 goals in 52 matches for Chilean powerhouse Colo-Colo) and Fernando Meneses, who has scored six times in 30 matches for Universidad Catolica. In fact, the entire Chilean midfield is made up of Universidad Catolica players, which begs the question: Is the Universidad Catolica team better than the U.S. second team? Find out on Saturday!