Thursday, November 18, 2010

US Soccer's Young Guns

I expected Bob Bradley to start bringing in new faces starting in January Camp, which is basically MLS based players plus players in Norway, since their league is off then as well.  I didn't really think he would call up a roster of backups and first timers for a trip to South Africa.  After all, it was a FIFA date where Europeans were playing Euro qualifiers, so the best players were all with their national teams.  Plus, we called up everyone, including our European regulars for the past 3 meaningless friendlies vs Brazil, Poland and Colombia on home soil in the last few months.  Why wouldn't we call them up for a goodwill return trip to SA where we wouldn't want to embarrass ourselves or disrespect our hosts?  Heck, it was the Nelson Mandela Challenge after all.  (I believe the players even got to meet Mandela himself today.)  So it was shocking that Bradley brought in only 5 players from the WC squad - none of which are regular starters on the A team.

It was a shocking, but also exciting because US fans got to see a glimpse of several players that could play a large role for our 2014 team and beyond.  Put it this way.  This was the equivalent of the NFL draft in international soccer.

Lets group the team into 4: WCers, B team, C Team, Young guns.

WCers- I was still half expecting Landon to show up anyway, heh.
Brad Guzan, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Clarence Goodson, Robbie Findley - Guzan played like the captain today.  Goodson was solid and looks to be a regular contributor for the next few years.  Spector and Bornstein took turns looking suspect at LB.  Findley didn't deserve a place to begin with and should never be called up again.

B Team
Robbie Rogers, Alejandro Bedoya - Rogers and Bedoya just missed out on the WC.  They still have a chance to play in the Gold Cup and more - Bedoya probably has a better outlook right now.
C Team
Brian Carroll, Logan Pause, Eddie Gaven, Nat Borchers - Carroll, Pause and Gaven were chosen to be fill-ins for the central midfield.  None were inspired choices and only Gaven should hope for another look.  I wish we had tried out younger options at CM instead of Carroll and Pause, but with the depth we have there already, it doesn't really matter.  Borchers is a wildcard - I suppose Bob may give him another chance going forward.

Young Guns

Eric Lichaj - I learned that his name is pronounced "Lee-High".  Hard nosed defender just turned 22 yesterday.  I saw no reason to continue to believe that he can't be our RB in 2014.  While Dolo is still around, I think Bob needs to consider playing him at LB if Boca can't go.

Tim Ream - Already a standout rookie in the MLS at age 23, I think he's got great potential to be Boca's replacement by 2014.  He looks composed and poised on the ball and just needs some international experience.  Our defense will experience the most change this cycle and he should fit right in.

Gale Agboussamonde - Shares a bday with Lichaj, although he just turned 19 on gameday.  Bradley capped him with a couple late minutes just to get his feet wet.  A few months ago I had him slated as a 2014 starter.  He still could be, but he's got the U-20s to get through first.  I'm just glad Bob brought in so many young defenders into the fold.

Mikkel Diskerud - This 20 year old has been hyped up among US fans for years.  He certainly didn't disappoint, showing solid technical skill on the ball, including the beautiful control and assist inside the SA box for the win.  I thought that Mikkel's work on that play was more impressive even than the goal itself.  It will be interesting to see how Bob uses him in our stacked midfield but I think he's got a chance to be the only newcomer, besides perhaps Jermaine Jones, to the midfield corp in 2014. 

Teal Bunbury - Regardless of the 20 year old from Canada's motivations, he's made his international choice.  Why not considering the paucity of striker options?  He was better than Findley.  Deserves another look.

Juan Agudelo - A few hours before, Messi scored a stoppage time game winner vs Brazil.  Then this 17 year old scores the game winner with minutes left.  See the correlation?  He's the next big thing.  He's better than Adu and Altidore combined!  He's the ANSWER TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS!  or not.  (Everyone needs to calm down.)  But at least he'll get another look.  Agudelo did become the youngest player to ever score for the US senior national team in history.

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