The US National team needed some last minute heroics last Friday night to beat Antigua & Barbuda 2-1. That, along with a number of head-scratcher choices by Coach Juergen Klinsmann had us nervous going into the final game of this round of World Cup Qualifying against Guatemala.
Then Juergen didn’t call up any additional players – despite a number of injuries and suspensions. But we had a very solid outing against Guatemala in Kansas City, winning 3-1, moving the team into the Hexagonal – the final round of qualifying for Brazil 14.
The two best players on the field – Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, put their stamp on the game and helped control the tempo (but only after giving up a sloppy first goal to longtime villain, Carlos Ruiz). Eddie Johnson continued his return-of-the-GAM routine; Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez hustled, combined well, and moved without the ball. Cherundolo and Parkhurst were solid on the outside. Danny Williams made a real case to be the starting defensive midfielder moving forward.
The USA played the high pressure and possession style Klinsmann has been talking about for over a year and looked impressive doing it. Except for the centerback pairing of Cameron and Bocanegra… So we’re left wondering – are we progressing into a team that can play possession? Has this new emphasis hurt the old bunker-and-counter game? Who will feature in the upcoming January MLS and Scandinavian training camp and friendlies (Camp Strudel)? What will the depth chart look like when the Hex begins next March?
In that vein, we submit a list of stuff. Twenty items for Juergen to consider and work on over the next five months…
- Consider how much longer Carlos Bocanegra can hold out. Especially playing this high-line pressure style that demands recovery speed…
- Call the Stoke City coaches and beg them to try (just try) Geoff Cameron as a centerback.
- While you’re calling Stoke, might as well ask them to try Mo Edu as Cameron’s backline partner…
- Re-examine the centerback options carefully: Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, what about Middlesbrough’s Seb Hines? If Carlos can’t go, do you consider Jay DeMerit? What? Spector?
- Call in Eric Lichaj.
- Consider the Camp Strudel roster carefully – this group will also likely form the Gold Cup squad for next summer. What’s your veteran to young guy ratio here?
- Call the dual-nationals and guys on the fringe of citizenship. Have Sunil get the lawyers on it. The clock is ticking… Who? Ossie Alonso? Darlington Nagbe? Steve Zakuani? Hines? Adam Henley (Blackburn)?
- Get this thing settled with Timothy Chandler before March. Either you’re with us for the Hex or you’re out of consideration for Brazil.
- Call Landon Donovan in for a chat and a coffee. See how he’s doing, how he’s feeling. Do not call him in for Camp Strudel.
- Give Jozy Altidore the Herculez highlight film from the last year.
- Call in Tab Ramos and Claudio Reyna for an honest assessment of where the depth chart now stands. Listen to their response.
- Pray Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey remain healthy for the entire hex.
- Determine whether or not Josh Gatt-the-alleged-U.S.-winger is a myth.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “It’s OK to not have five d-mids on every roster.” Do this daily.
- Reach out to guys like Benny Feilhaber, Freddy Adu, and Ale Bedoya. Let them know that January is their big chance and they need to come correct.
- Get the January and March friendlies on the calendar. Aim high in March.
- Determine where you’d like your hex home games and inform Sunil. Consider the Mexico option carefully between K.C. and Columbus. Is grass-over-turf an option in Seattle?
- Let Jermaine Jones know it’s his job to free Michael Bradley to move forward, not the other way around. Point to Danny Williams’ last two home performances as an example.
- Call Landon again – it’s that important. Go surf with him or something.
- Work on that Teutonic Dieter-style goal dance a little more. Expand your moves even as you expand the roster.