Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Your USMNT Line-Up v Portugal

Well... I got the back line I wanted, the central midfield triangle I asked for is there, and Sapong gets a shot. And yet, all I can think about is how we should bar coaches from using a 4-4-2. I mean, why???


- Greg Seltzer

I could go for some...

It wasn't too difficult to pick the back I'd like to see in the USMNT's friendly at Portugal tonight, but there's just so many guys beyond the defense on hand to take a look at - can't see 'em all, unfortunately. In any event, we do get a head start on the next cycle, so it greatly bothers me to see some observes call this a meaningless match.

I certainly see the logic behind starting Agudelo and it wouldn't be the worst idea to get Bedoya in the midfield somewhere. However, I'm quite curious to see how Sapong would react to a first ever start after darn near six years out of the selection. More than that, I definitely would want to make sure we see plenty of the Adams-McKennie two-way alliance, and with a #6 at their backs to lose the leashes.

- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Situation Room

Looking forward into the next cycle, there were some of these jobs I want handed to short crews and other to have plenty of options. That may make some of these look lean, and a couple of those actually are. But some of the youth stars should come bearing restart skills when they eventually enter the frame.

After all, there's plenty of time to settle on these important responsibilities. It wasn't that long ago that the USMNT was a set piece beast at both ends. Over the last cycle, performance in that area really cratered, especially at the back. Regaining solidity on restarts at the back will take time, but scoring on more of your dead ball chances can start right away. 

There are a handful of guys listed below that may not see much time in the nearest future, but if/when they do get called up we should put them in situations to succeed and contribute.

And a quick note, "L" refers to the attack's left side, and not as if you are looking out from the goal.



It might almost look as if I've ranked these solely by career conversion percentage - and, gosh, it almost does - but it's actually not. Then again, Wood has yet to miss in his pro career and Altidore has never missed a US spot kick in competitive games. I see a time in the future when a platoon of McKennie and Sargent will be carrying out this duty.



One of the reasons we get back to scoring plenty of set piece of goals right away is there are some highly capable free kick takers in the Portugal squad. And, for real though, if Acosta can get his all-around game tuned to the international level, he could stand over the lion's share of our takes into the next cycle.



We've seen what Altidore can do from a free kick, but he does have a particular spot. Acosta hasn't buried as many yet, but he can go from anywhere...


... which is why he also shows up on this other side's shortlist.



Of all the restarts, this is one I bring a bigger crowd for, and not just because we have more options. No, it's that above all others this is the one we should kill. It's the highest percentage chance for us, we have plenty of good targets and plenty of able servers.



Related side note time: Sunderland needs to quit BS-ing and play Gooch. Every time they use him, he does well, and jeez, that team could certainly use more of that. But, no, they put him back to the bench and lose a bunch. I honestly don't get it.

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, November 10, 2017

Clearing The Racks

Do forgive me for situationally sending you to a shop link, but I thought you might like to peruse a list of the top 25 jersey-selling players in MLS this season.

It's interesting to see nearly half of the guys on the list play for either Atlanta United (five mentions) or Seattle (six). New York City FC and Portland were the only other clubs with as many as three players in the list.  

It is good to see several names from supposed small markets make the cut, but ome of these major markets need to catch up. And eight US internationals of varying depth chart levels help populate the list. Many of them won't be involved much from here on out, but I'm guessing a few young guys could replace them in next year's ranking.

- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The actual clipboard.

The USMNT camp roster for next week's Portugal friendly is out, and it is very lean. Dave Sarachan summoned 21 players, including five impressive uncapped youngsters (marked by asterisks below). Josh Sargent is one of them,  a fact which stands among my biggest surprises. The calls for Tim Ream and C.J. Sapong, and the omission of Jonathan Gonzalez, are others.

G - Jesse Gonzalez* (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (FC Midtjylland), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)

D - John Anthony Brooks (Wolfsburg, Cameron Carter-Vickers*, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafaña, DeAndre Yedlin

M - Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams*, Alejandro Bedoya, Lynden Gooch, Weston McKennie*, Kelyn Rowe, Danny Williams

F - Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer, C.J. Sapong, Josh Sargent*

- Greg Seltzer

Picking a Portugal roster

A day behind original schedule and racing against the USMNT roster reveal, I've decided to swap order on the next two bits. Pick the selection now, and get to the dead ball duties later.

It's a group of 26, which is kinda large for a one-off friendly - but I dun care. They're all important games when we need to learn things. I especially want to see how certain players react. I don't expect to have everyone on my Clipboard actually chosen, of course.

And though I remain an advocate of 4-2-3-1 as our default set, the idea of running a 3-5-2 is fine provided the team gets a little time to work on it.

GK: Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath

Guzan is one of the guys I'll monitoring to see if they grab this situation by the horns. We'll see how much he wants it. Now would be a super time for Hamid to bloom at this level. I went with the currently-benched Horvath over Gonzalez, because I want to put a cross a point to the  Club Brugge backstop: mistakes go in the past. There are others with reasons for deserving a call. I'm thinking we can even take five keepers in January.

D: Danilo Acosta, John Anthony Brooks, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Justen Glad, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Ike Opara, Brandon Vincent, DeAndre Yedlin

There's nine guys here because Brooks got healthy in time to come along. Yeslin is the other glaringly obvious choice. I'll be keeping a close eye on CCV, Lichaj, Miazga and Vincent. The kids listed can  at least soak up a camp at this level.

M: Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Paul Arriola, Mix Diskerud, Lynden Gooch, Jonathan González, Weston McKennie, Darlington Nagbe, Kelyn Rowe, Daniel Williams

There's 10 in this stable, about half made up of midfielders who'll arrive with a fair amount USMNT seasoning and half boasting few if any caps. Yeah, I know Diskerud seems an oddball choice. It's just that I've come over to the concept of giving Pulisic a breather and Mix has produced (both in Sweden this season and when used as a #10 in a US shirt). Rowe, or even Adams, could also play behind the striker(s), I reckon.

Like all of you, I can't wait to see what Gonzalez can do and Williams should be there. McKennie and Gooch could be fun to watch, while a few of the moderately-capped crowd can take this game as a chance to move past sub-par outings in Hex play.

F: Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer, Christian Ramirez, Bobby Wood

Wood is in a slump, but he's another one I want under the spotlight of being the experienced forward in camp. I'm also curious to see how Ramirez might present himself. Agudelo (who was not hot at season's end) and Dwyer (hot at season's end) bring attractive element to the table.

FYI: I would not be annoyed if Josh Sargent did get a call, at least so he knows how a senior camp goes. But I don't expect it.

UPDATE: Here are two potential looks. I chopped the code off when posting. Believe it or not, I'm leaning toward the 3-5-2.

- Greg Seltzer