Monday, September 16, 2019

Wide Receivers (R)

It was tricky putting together the wing ranks. The original plan was to put them all together, as so many can play either side in certain tactical arrangements that acceptable permutations are endless. But no, I didn't like it and here we are, with me trying to put everyone to their ideal side (not always an easy choice) while maintaining some sort of balance.

That is, until some #10 not named Pulisic rises to a level that allows the team to put its best player in his ideal job. For now, there is a right wing chart that breaks Clipboard rules.

Tyler Boyd
Sebastian Lletget

Just back from injury: Jonathan Amon
Show us more: Corey Baird, Romain Gall
Not giving up on him: Brooks Lennon
Future watch: Chris Mueller

There's only two players listed at the top of the depth chart where we typically have three, because Weah isn't due back for approximately 4-6 weeks. I'm not yet sure if he's a winger or a striker, but for now his ability to get loose on the flank puts him here. Until then, and despite underwhelming in his past few starts, Boyd holds the top spot.

Lletget is most often used in the middle in club life, but his USMNT time has been split between there and the wing. I think I prefer him out wide, where his two-way work rate and crossing skills fit with the manager's ideas. Beyond that, there isn't really anybody I trust to start an important match at this time.

Amon is a intriguing speedster, but he may as well be in the "show me" group with Baird and Gall. All three need to bring it more consistently to threaten the top three here. Who do I like the best out of that trio? Gosh, it depends what day it is, doesn't it?

As for Lennon, his big play service (both run of play and restart) keeps me interested in seeing him up the wing in red, white and blue. I hope RSL sells Savarino in the offseason, so he can slide back up to his natural spot (and, by extension, allow Herrera to slot into his full-time). I'm pretty bummed that Mueller's playing time has dropped this season, as for my money, he's been more consistently dangerous. His cool and smarts around the area are enticing.  

And, of course, if future watch is a category I suppose we could also add...

Do not open before Jan. 2022: Julian Gressel

- Greg Seltzer


I will finally finish the right wing Clipboard after eating dinner, but as an appetizer, let's honor a couple of weekend goals by our boys overseas. First up we have Hobro's Emmanuel Sabbi, who nodded home the early winner as the hosts scored their first win in over a month by knocking off holders FC Copenhagen 2-1. Going back to last season, it gave him six strikes from his last 11 outings.

And though he didn't make the post title, let's not overlook that my St. Louis homey Eric McWoods netted his 11th of the term in Trans Narva's 2-2 share away to Nõmme Kalju.

- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Your USMNT Line-Up v Uruguay

Certainly not everything I wanted to see, and a couple of things that are irksome, but at least the St. Louis boy gets to start in his hometown. So that's cool.

- Greg Seltzer

What I'd Like To See

Of course, I'd rather see a few other names in tonight's USMNT selection (e.g., Hollingsworth, Hyndman and even Green or Gall, among those fully fit, not otherwise occupied or begging out of a call-up... damn you, Nagbe!!).

But here we are, and as such, we may as well learn some things about some players before the real matches start up again next month.

Let's start in goal. I'm not entirely convinced Gonzalez has a real future in the frame, but as we already know what Guzan offers, there's no harm in finding out where the FC Dallas youngster stands at this level. Same goes for Lovitz. Lima can shift over to left back around the hour to demonstrate how he handles that side (more learning), making room for another Dest shift. It's time to give Robinson a start and for Long to rally from a bad outing.

In the midfield, let's see if Roldan can actually operate as a dedicated defensive midfielder. It's not the best experiment ever designed, but honestly, what other great choice do we have? There's no proper gate-keeper on hand (so annoying). That we we can see how Yueill direct trafiics and how Pomykal moves the team into the final third.

The attack line kinda speaks for itself, but I really want both Boyd and Morris to take the governers off, throw caution to the wind and run at every defender they see.

Oh, and for heavens sake, can we see some game management by the management? This "against all sense" stuff is for the birds. 

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, September 6, 2019

Your USMNT Line-Up v Mexico

I'm sure parts of tonight's USMNT XI will delight and parts will frustrate. Personally, I get what the boss is doing with most of these choices - one would assume he'll give Josh Sargent the start in St. Louis and five players will depart camp after the game so they'll need to be seen first. Except, erm... John Anthony Brooks? I'm very curious to know why he's the field player exception among that group (EDIT: Apparently Brooks was slated to start, but picked up a knock). And frankly, why we even bothered pulling Johnson away from NYCFC to sit on the bench.

Obviously, we're either going to see Mr. Pulisic on the wing or Gregg Berhalter is going with an unusual formation. I hope it's the former, even if I think it's premature to move our best playmaker out of the quarterbck role. And the other problem is we are essentially using two midfield spots for what should be one job: Morales will defend (theoretically, though I'm not convinced he'll faithfully sit in front of the gate all night) and Trapp will distribute. That naturally puts added onus on McKennie to make sure the front three aren't starved for the ball.

So yeah, I can't gripe all that much about the line-up (yet, that is), but I'm still annoyed by the make-up of the selection. We'll see how it goes, and after it goes how it goes you'll get my player ratings over at MLSS.

- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Wasting Space

It's been quite a while since a USMNT roster reveal steamed my beans. That is, it had been until today's squad announcement. Look, I get that Gregg Berhalter feels like he's calling in the most deserving 20-something (fit) players in the pool and adding in a handful of young'uns to gain seasoning. And I'm totally good with the second part. And many of those burgeoning talent picks were great. And I don't even mind the large group.

It's just that we obviously have some very different ideas about who should be at or near the top of certain position charts. Frankly, I think he's squandered a good 4-5 roster spots on guys that, by my view, probably don't have an extended future with the team while somehow managing to not bring along a single dedicated midfield hard man to protect all the traffic directors.

I'm not trying to be an ingrate. I love the additions of Dest (yes, he's now officially threatening the top three on my right back Clipboard), Pomykal, Robinson and Yueill.

Those hoping for a first cap are marked with an astersisk...

G - Jesse Gonzalez* (FC Dallas), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf)

D - John Anthony Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest* (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham), Miles Robinson* (Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

M - Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Paxton Pomykal* (FC Dallas), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jackson Yueill* (San Jose Earthquakes)

F - Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Tyler Boyd (Beşiktaş), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

- Greg Seltzer