Sunday, December 23, 2018

Not Joshin' Around

Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent made it two goals in three brief Bundesliga sub outings on Saturday. His capitalistic channel run strike temporarily pulled the visitors level, but RB Leipzig would win it near time.

- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, December 20, 2018

On To The Next One

And so it begins again. The USMNT tenure of Gregg Berhalter well and truly kicked off today with the release of the January camp roster. It's all-MLS, it has loads of potential debutants (marked with asterisks below) and perhaps a couple of surprises.

I'm most happy to see Canouse called in, but it would also be nice to check out the likes of Lima, Glad, Rosenberry and a couple of forwards. As you might expect, I am pleased Mihailovic is around just so there is at least one #10-type on board. The big shock? No Jozy Altidore while three uncapped strikers make the roster.

G - Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller* (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)

D - Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Greg Garza (FC Cincinnati), Justen Glad* (Real Salt Lake), Nick Lima* (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz* (Montreal Impact), Mark McKenzie* (Philadelphia Union), Keegan Rosenberry* (Colorado Rapids), Auston Trusty* (Philadelphia Union), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC) 

M - Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Russell Canouse* (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Djordje Mihailovic* (Chicago Fire), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

F - Corey Baird* (Real Salt Lake), Jeremy Ebobisse* (Portland Timbers), Christian Ramirez* (LAFC), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

- Greg Seltzer

G's Up

It will get back to the Clipboard tonight, but first I need to catch up on a few goals. We'll start with Schalke young gun Haji Wright, whose quick reaction to a Weston McKennie restart header earned him a debut Bundesliga strike on Wednesday night. It happened so fast, so I added a second clip with slo-mo looks.

Next up, we have Josh Gatt's first goal in 14 months, the winner in a 6-1 Altach rout on Sunday.

Also Sunday, Sandhausen forward Andrew Wooten bagged his first since October in a see-saw draw with Jahn Regensburg.

- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Spine Detour

Okay, you caught me. Between classes and annoying paperwork-y chores, I've been busy all week. But that time hasn't stopped me thinking and plotting the squad make-up. And the thing that has been in my mind all week is the deep midfield region. So today we'll continue heading straight out from goal (the #10 spot and strikers will be next), and we'll double back wide to hit the flank spots last.

That means we'll start this USMNT Clipboard double episode in defensive midfield:

Tyler Adams
Geoff Cameron
Russell Canouse

January camp General (at least): Michael Bradley
Wait-and-see mode: Wil Trapp
Future watch: Chris Durkin, Derrick Jones

Right off the top... yeah, I've now decided that Adams should be listed here, and if he's listed here, he's the starter. And not just because he's potential to groom. He's the guy I'd go to if a big match was scheduled for tomorrow. By the way, same goes for Canouse; he's not just a unseasoned talent pick. My money says the guy could make a difference next year.

Cameron edges out the grizzly guy nod at this time, mainly (but not solely) because I'm concerned about Bradley's play on the ball slowing. I don't assume he's done playing for us, but at the very least, he can still be in the camps overrun with youngsters to show the ropes. A lot of people would prefer to just give up on Trapp, but I'm not one of them. The defensive work in his last US outing was encouraging. I'm not saying he can develop into a destroyer, but if he can add annoying off-the-ball positioning to his outlet game, we might have something. He stays on the fringe in my book. But watch out, as the stock of young guys like Durkin and Jones could well rise in 2019.

Now, on to the two-way sorts:

Darlington Nagbe
Weston McKennie
Sebastian Lletget

It's a tough scrap, show us you belong: Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan

Obviously, Nagbe is not a prized sapling. What he is, right now, is our best ball-hog metronome. McKennie has the higher ceiling, but I'm a little perturbed about how he keeps having to play odd positions for Schalke due to injury crises. Even when he was still in central park, there was still plenty of room to grow toward becoming a possession master like Nagbe. He'll get there.

Lletget could easily be a somewhat puzzling flank problem for opponents, but for sustained impact, I prefer him in this spot. At a very tough spot to find PT, Acosta and Roldan have an uphill battle, despite their talents and even before a few precocious youngun's get growed up. 

- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Heart of the Matter

As promised, I'm here to follow MLS Cup with a pair of USMNT Clipboard positions. However, we're gonna do the order a little different this time. Instead of sliding straight to right back (a ka the #2), let's start the back line discussion with the central spots. There's plenty to unpack here, even if the starters (kinda) seem solid at the top of their ranks.

It's also worth noting that, with competitive games now about six months away, I'm tightening up the depth charts. As far as I'm concerned, there's no more "take a look" call-ups after January.

Let's start with the left side this time:

John Anthony Brooks
Aaron Long
Walker Zimmerman

In the frame: Tim Parker

Brooks should be the clear, obvious top pick here - but maaaan, he's had a string of bad US outings. Okay, we can let him play through them for now, but don't sleep on the trajectory of Long. For now, he's probably best left to start when we expect to be on the front foot all game.

Zimmerman has some tools, needs consistency (you could say that about nearly every US defender from side to side, though). Parker had a rough Atlanta series, but he typically enhances the calm on his teams, and like so many names at the back is just getting started at this level.

And on the right:

Matt Miazga
Erik Palmer-Brown
Cameron Carter-Vickers

In the frame: Brendan Hines-Ike

Miazga obviously needs to remedy his Nantes benching, but he also can feel fairly comfy in his spot because everyone chasing him is so green. I would most often turn to EPB over CCV at this moment, but both need more club experience and consistency. Hines-Ike is gathering both of those attributes by performing well in his first Belgian top flight season. 

On Monday, we'll deal with the wide back slots.

- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Hallo, Bundesliga!

Wouldn't ya just know it? It took all of two minutes for Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent to open his first team account. The kid found the right place at the right time to clean up a rebound and apply the capper in a 3-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Friday night.

- Greg Seltzer