USA World Cup Scrub

Yedlin = the Future

A couple of days since the USA Soccer team exited the World Cup – beat by a better team in Belgium, but defiant and unbroken in the end.  Everyone has acknowledged the brilliance of Tim Howard, the heart and drive of the field players, as well as their lack of possession and  finishing.  As much as the Team America was outplayed on the ball by Beligum, had Wondolowski and Dempsey scored on a couple of key chances, we could well be talking about one more game against Messi and Argentina.’s Grant Wahl summed up the match very nicely (as usual).

Meanwhile, as mass attention begins to drift away from the team, the die hard American fans have begun the debate on strategy and tactics.  We made it out of the Group of Death – unexpected by most.  But we did so playing typically gritty, defensive-minded and opportunistic soccer.  This is not how Jurgen Klinsmann said we would play.  Did we make it to the knock-out rounds because of the coaching staff’s approach and preparations, or in spite of their tactics and roster selections?   Continue reading

Our 23 vs. Klinsi’s

Since Jurgen Klinsmann cut Landon Donovan while trimming his World Cup roster to 23 players this past week, Beemsville has run the reaction gamut:  disbelief, anger, sadness…  But mostly disbelief.  Veteran soccer commentators like Alexi Lalas and Grant Wahl will tell us an emotional reaction is to be expected (and it’s a good thing for U.S. Soccer); after all, Landon has been the face of the National Team for going on a decade.  He’s the greatest player our country has ever produced, scored more goals, had more assists, and come up clutch in big moments throughout his career.  Has he slowed down a step?  Sure.  But since he was quicker than virtually everyone else to begin with…  And since his game is also based on intelligence, technique, timing…  Well, we still can’t believe Jurgen made this call.

Still can’t believe we’re going to line up against Ghana in less than a month, and Number 10 won’t be on the pitch (or at least on the bench).  We’ve listened to a few podcasts, read a ton of articles, and from Taylor Twellman to Brian Sciaretta, we can’t find one person who thinks this was the right call.

What does this say about Jurgen?  He’s certainly a man with a plan.  He’s certainly said all kinds of stuff about earning it, competing, etc., but as Alexi Lalas said, it comes down to personal preference.  And that preference seems to favor the young, and untested.  The problem we have here, is it once again throws the coaching staff’s judgement into question.  Is Jurgen trying to win now or is this part of his construction plan for the next cycle?  Is this to make the World Cup more about him?   Because as of right now, every match played is a referendum on the Landon cut.

So let’s have a look at the Klinsmann 23 and compare it to the final Beemsville 23 from earlier this month:

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Camp Cali Thoughts

Fair warning:  this blog will definitely take on a World Cup feel over the next couple of months…  Speaking of which, ESPN aired the first of an excellent documentary series last night:  Inside U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil.  Really interesting profiles of the team and coaches, with great access and inside footage.  If you’re only a casual fan of the team or only pay attention around World Cup time, this series will definitely get you more familiar with our team and what they go through to qualify.  ESPN will no doubt be replaying this many times, so check your program guide.

Meanwhile, Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man squad convened today for training camp in Stanford.  They will go at it a couple of weeks before playing three friendlies – the send-off series – against Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Nigeria.  Sometime during this stretch, Jurgen will cut the squad down to the required 23.

Here’s how the coach’s 30 differed from the Beemsville picks

We had Jay DeMerit, Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo, and Eddie Johnson in our 30.  Der Coach called in Joe Corona, Brad Davis, DeAndre Yedlin, and John Brooks instead.

Jurgen has never called in Jay, so no surprise there.  Call it a difference of opinion.   The others we can sorta, kinda see as well.  Brooks and Yedlin are two for the future.  If nothing else, they can come to camp, press other guys, and see what it will take for the next cycle.  Corona is an interesting choice in that he’s been given multiple chances and hasn’t really taken advantage.  It seemed like the Gold Cup last summer showed that Corona wasn’t quite fleet enough to play wide, and not quite physical enough to play central in this crowded midfield.  Brad Davis is the most interesting choice.  He’s the veteran, with a great left foot.  If you want a left-footed veteran to come in the last 20 minutes and provide service, he’s your guy. Continue reading

23 For Brazil – May

Next week Jurgen Klinsmann will name the 30 man Camp Cali roster, from which (presumably) the final 23 will emerge.  That makes this the final ’23 for Brazil’ post before the World Cup.  We are just over a month before that opening game against Ghana in Natal, so get your vacation days requested and your viewing plans made.

Some of the guys are scoring goals and playing well lately (Dempsey, Boyd, Besler, Wondo); some guys are not.  Fortunately, (knock on digi-wood) the team is pretty healthy at this point.  Big questions remain about the defense and the last few forward-line spots, with only the midfield looking solid.

So we bring you the final Beemsville 23:  Our picks (not who we think Jurgen will take) to the World Cup.  As a bonus, we’ll also include the other seven guys we’d invite to our training camp.  Kind of beside the point since we’re naming the roster, but here we go… Continue reading

23 for Brazil – April

The Mexico friendly is behind us.  A tale of two halves, with some impressive midfield play and alarming defending,  and surprise!  Jurgen unveils a diamond midfield.  Mostly, guys who’ve already booked tickets to the World Cup confirmed why they’re going, and a couple of guys made strong cases for inclusion.  Among those not staking claims were the injured (Brad Evans), the not-allowed-to-participate-because-Mexico (Beasley, Herculez, Joe Corona) and the very wet behind the ears (Julian Green).  While we wouldn’t be surprised to see Green brought along for seasoning, it’s getting might late for debutantes.

So it’s time for another Beemsville 23:  our picks (not who we think Jurgen Klinsmann will take) for the World Cup.  It’s t-minus two months until the USA kicks off against Ghana in Brazil, and only a couple of weeks before the coaching staff names its preliminary 30-man roster for training camp.

Check out the cool graphical setup for the 23 at American Soccer Now. Continue reading

23 for Brazil – Feb Edition

The USA’s January camp is behind us, this World Cup year begun with training in Sao Paulo  and an unconvincing victory over South Korea last weekend.  Coach Jurgen has begun his stretch run of evaluation, giving looks to the MLS-based contingent in camp while continuing to watch and track the European and Mexico-based players.

Interesting about Jurgen:  he espouses a lot of new-age philosophy, talks about mindset, attitude, leaving the door open for players.  But when it’s come down to it, he’s been very regimented about bringing players in, having them earn their spots over time.  He’s looked at a lot, but you get the sense he’s much less likely to drop a surprise on us than his predecessors.

That said, we have significant questions about the team’s back-line, the attacking midfield spots, as well as how many forwards should make the roster.  Guys are hurt, guys aren’t playing (or aren’t playing well), and MLS is still a month from kicking off.  We’ll know a lot more when the March 5 friendly in Ukraine rolls around.

For now, though, it’s time to roll out the Beemsville 23:  our picks (not who we think Jurgen will take) for the World Cup, based on numerous scientific factors like watching the players on TV (some more than others), FIFA 2014-PS3 edition, the opinions of soccer writers and podcasters, and the proverbial gut feeling.

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Roster Questions for Klinsi

Timothy Chandler

New USA Soccer Coach Jürgen Klinsmann unveiled his call-ups for a pair of upcoming friendlies:  Sept 2 in L.A. against Costa Rica and Sept. 6 in Belgium.  We gave Klinsi a pass on his first roster for the Mexico game, but in the time-honored tradition of armchair coaches everywhere, we’re honor-bound to second guess and nitpick his most recent roster.  The 24 players who have been summoned:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)

There are always injuries and club commitments and reasons why certain guys don’t get the call.  Michael Bradley, for example, needs to get a club.  George John is just about to move from F.C. Dallas to Blackburn.  And no one would be surprised if a veteran like Steve Cherundolo or even Landon ‘tweaked their hamstring’ and had to pull out of these friendlies.  So these rosters aren’t yet final.  That said…

Most glaring omission:  Freddy Adu (Philly Union) – and that’s an easy one.  Freddy worked himself into the starting lineup and had the look of an attacking game-changer by the end of the Gold Cup.  He was one player former Coach Bob Bradley got right in that tournament.  So why not bring him in now?  He was in camp last time out – is Klinsmann dissatisfied with something?  Does he just not rate Freddy?  It’s true, Freddy doesn’t appear to be at top fitness yet, but we hope some intrepid report at least tenders the question. Continue reading

Provisional World Cup Roster

30 days until the World Cup...

Coach Stoneface

U.S. Soccer Coach Bob Bradley released his provisional World Cup Roster yesterday.  30 players who will begin training camp next week in Princeton, NJ, leading up to a pair of warm-ups at the end of May against Turkey and the Czech Republic.  Bradley has until June 1st to trim the list down to the 23 who will head to South Africa.  The other seven will be injury alternates.  The biggest surprise (and disappointment) was that Charlie Davies did not make the cut.  Guess he couldn’t make it back from that car accident in time after all, although the statements from Bob are a little vague and seem to point to the fact that Davies’ club team would not provide medical clearance.  Maybe this is the PC way of letting Charlie down easy.  Here’s the roster:

Goalkeepers– Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan

Defenders– Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall

Midfielders– Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers

Forwards– Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez

Now here’s the Beemsville-picked roster from a few weeks ago.  We had Davies on there, and Edgar Castillo, who plays in Mexico but picked up an injury towards the end of the season, and an extra goalkeeper in Nick Rimando.  Coach Bradley, however, brought along his boy Sacha Kljestan, who has shown time and again an inability to step up against the best teams, Robbie Findley, and Eddie Johnson.  Findley has looked anything but capable during his recent caps, which must mean Charlie Davies is pretty far from 100%.  Eddie has scored for his club team the past few weeks and he’s always had the athletic attributes.  Can’t really argue there.

It will be very interesting to see who plays in the friendlies, who drops out with yet more injuries, and of course who makes the final 23.  We will chime in with one more version of our roster in the next couple of weeks.