Friday, July 22, 2016

#11

Let's go ahead and wrap this up, shall we? It's not as though there's much mystery left.

Fabian Johnson
Christian Pulisic
Brek Shea

Also in the frame: Mike Grella, Julian Green


Everyone knows my stance on Johnson, and my reasoning. Pulisic is headed for greatness, but needs more seasoning. Eventually, he may well slide to the #10 slot. Some may forget, as it's been a while, but Shea has done some good things as a USMNT left winger. And even when he lacks end product, he bothers the defense greatly by running at them repeatedly.

Grella is a dark horse candidate that could get a January look, while Green seems to be finally making strides at Bayern Munich. With Arjen Robben set to miss the start of their season, that is definitely worth watching.

Now that we're done going through the positions, that leaves us with...




And this time, I'll add a competitive match bench selection: Guzan, Besler, Lichaj, Williams, Jones, Kljestan/Pulisic, Morris/Zardes. The last two slots chosen depending on opponent, but a fit Altidore would take over as the forward pick (and he's got time before the next World Cup qualifier).





- Greg Seltzer

#10

There's been plenty of Clipboard movement at this position due to form roller coasters and PT dips, and I greatly considered moving two players who appear at other slots to this station. But through it all, the old dog is still holds the top spot...

Clint Dempsey
Sacha Kljestan
Lee Nguyen

Also in the frame: Mix Diskerud, Benny Feilhaber


Until the team can put together offense without do-it-all Dempsey, I see no reason to demote him from the line-up. His competitive fire and body sacrifice are also still sorely needed. In addition to great high-level European experience, a very mature Kljestan has been killing it in MLS for ages now, and I simply find it appalling that he cannot get a call - what's new, eh? Nguyen hasn't done as much (or suffered as much) for the USMNT as Mix, but his form is obviously higher at the moment.

However it breaks down at Soccer House, the days of staffing competitive rosters with only one guy to capably play behind the striker need to be gone. Forever. I mean, really.



- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Doble Play

Last night, Americans hit twice in the opening 13 minutes to send Tijuana on their way to a 3-0 Copa MX group phase victory over visiting Toluca. Paul Arriola opened with a dazzler and Amando Moreno quickly followed with a knee job from a corner kick. It's also worth mentioning that US senior and youth internationals made up half the starting field line-up for the Xolos (the others were Orzoco, Requejo and Guido).







- Greg Seltzer

Press Play

To hop back on the media issue discussed the other day, Real Salt Lake has restored the credential of Salt Lake Tribune writer Gordon Monson. It appears the league office called the shot here and kudos to them for putting this controversy to bed so quickly. This was not a problem that anyone involved needed.





- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

#9

We move on to the cobra head slot, which is obviously missing a great deal of its strength due to injuries. While we wait for Jozy Altidore, Aron Jóhannsson and Terrence Boyd to get healthy (if not also for Juan Agudelo to find himself), the Clipboard will go with this trio...

Bobby Wood
Gyasi Zardes
C.J. Sapong


Wood's hold-up game has improved and his runs annoy the hell out of defenses, a skill that often gets overlooked. Of course, he's also the best finisher of the fit players available. Zardes can also drive back lines bonkers with his athleticism, but we often must hold our breaths when it comes to his first touch and finishing. Sapong is the best healthy power forward available at the moment and really needs to be brought into the group.

Of the players listed at the top, Altidore is the closest to returning. And when he's back to action, he immediately slots into the second spot, if not direct competition for the starting job. That may rile some, but he still has the most complete forward game of our current crop. Boyd is the wild card; if he can finally stay in one piece, he is a threat to fill the live wire bench role.




- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, July 17, 2016

#8

Obviously, Michael Bradley's injury has at least temporarily cleared the way for a new starter here. That didn't make the decision that much easier, though.

Darlington Nagbe
Jermaine Jones
Emerson Hyndman

Also in the frame: Alfredo Morales, Wil Trapp


Yes, I could have quite happily gone with Jones, but someone has to replace Bradley's tempo game. Nagbe is the more sound possession option, while Jones can have much more impact as a sub. So here we are.

Hyndman is a distant third, but could certainly change that when the Prem season starts. Morales is more in the Jones mold of a loose box-to-box cannon, while Trapp still has more growing to do.

While we're on the topic of this position, I have something else to say about Bradley. I owe the captain a small bit of apology for comments made in my USMNT ratings for the Copa America bronze medal match. Now that we've learned that the boss kept him out on the field carrying an injury that would shelve him for six weeks, I can also say my grade for Klinsmann was too generous. I honestly can't believe the coach left a one-legged man out there to run the team in a placement match. Quite inexcusable.



- Greg Seltzer