Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 5 Reasons Not To Freak Out Over The U.S. World Cup Squad Selection

With so much of the USMNT fandom wrining hands over one or another of Bob Bradley's World Cup roster decisions, NSC pal Graig Carbino has dropped by to offer some written Valium in hopes that everybody remembers to enjoy the proceedings. As he notes below, I sorely disagree with one of the points, but NSC isn't just about my view. So, with all proper introductory fanfare, I humbly cede the floor to the gentleman from the great state of New York...

Hi, I’m Graig. I have written some for and a lot more for You will probably find me over at the PA site a bit more over the next month or so, some tournament going on that I might write a bit about.

Don’t ask me why I feel the need to state a few of my credentials. Maybe I am just in the spirit of “tryout week.” Consider me the third stringer for a day, behind Greg and Sean. The Eddie Johnson to their Jozy Altidore, maybe?

Anyhow, I am here today to offer my top five reasons not to freak out about the United States chosen 23 for World Cup 2010. Read on and then feel free to berate me for my shortsightedness in the comments section below. Here goes:

#5 - Reserves

Here is the thing about really getting uptight about the last few players to make the team. In most cases, they will not be called upon to perform, so why worry about it?

If this thing comes down to second or third team options in any position, especially defense, then the United States will not be experiencing much success anyway. Get stuck in the position of having to start Goodson or Edu in central defense and you are in trouble.

The same would have been said about Marshall or any other guy that made up the final few of the defensive unit. That isn’t a knock against these players, as much as it might look like one. The point is that your first team has to pretty much stay intact throughout a tournament like this, especially in defense.

How many countries could swap out defenders and still feel comfortable? Just hope to stay as card and injury free as possible; that is your best bet here.

#4 - Depth

I sort of just made this point, but it is worth repeating. Depth of the squad is an issue here; there is no denying it. It is the same with a lot of countries, so in that sense, the U.S. is really part of the pack.

They need Howard, Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Onyewu, Bocanegra & Co. to play the majority of the minutes. If they end up in a spot where a few of these guys are on the sidelines then you might as well enjoy three games and move on with your summer.
Only the biggest countries, from a soccer perspective, have an advantage with depth. The U.S. isn’t one of them. Take this as an example: when England’s first XI matches up with the U.S. team on the 12th, it should be a really good game, could go either way or end in a draw.

Let's say, however, that you remove all 11 starters from each team and make them line up using the 12 guys that are left over. Under that scenario, England wins by at least five goals. I’m serious. I was in Hartford on Tuesday and it wasn’t pretty.

#3 - Other Options

Okay, so out of the seven players that were cut from the team, which one do you need on this squad? Which one do you really need, that could really make a difference to this team?

The only place I can really go is Ching. I was surprised he didn’t make the cut. If he is injured, I get it. His hold up play and chemistry with Donovan might be missed.

It is clear, though, that Altidore is seen as the number one. I have a hard time picturing him and Ching fitting into the same starting lineup and I don’t see Ching as a sparkplug off the bench.

That being the case, Bradley went for speed (Findley), spark (Gomez) and surprise (Buddle) for his offensive reserves. The midfield is full and I can’t think of anyone else besides the few that were cut that might have been options at the back. In the simplest terms, this is the best team right now.

#2 - Versatility

I don’t want to ruffle Greg’s feathers, so I wont even get into the “Edu isn’t a centerback” conversation. Beyond him though, there are interchangeable parts in this group.

If Altidore is the number one forward, who is number two? I think it has to be Donovan or Dempsey. I just really, truly cannot see Findley, Gomez or Buddle starting next to Jozy against England in Rustenburg.

I wouldn’t even be shocked to see Holden start in front of Bradley and Clark and just behind Altidore in match one. If Beasley keeps up his current form, he may come into midfield and push Donovan or Dempsey into a more advanced role. Feilhaber could slide in there as well.

The midfield is where the numbers are and that is where you will see the most movement, as slight as it might be.

#1 - Move on.

This is probably my favorite reason not to freak out about the chosen 23: you have no say! It’s done, the pieces are in place now and that is it. You either get on board and cheer like hell or go do something else.

Why quibble over the last few players taken on a 23-person roster? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Be real, if more than 14-16 of these guys see the field then that probably means things aren’t going well anyway.

Just enjoy it and worry about the stuff that really matters now, like how quickly Aaron Lennon will draw a yellow card from someone in the US back line or what type of dip to buy for the viewing party. It’s almost here now so crack a smile, will ya?

- Graig Carbino


JJO said...

So how is pointing out that the England reserve XI would beat US reserve XI 5-0 a point against freaking out? The fact is that 3 of the US's top 4 defenders are not 100% fit. I will stop freaking out once Demerit, Bocanegra, and Onyewu play a convincing 90 minutes between now and June 12. And I don't mean 90 minutes between them

KO said...


I think the point is that there is nothing we can do about it and if we get to the point where the team dips past 2-4 reserves, we are toast anyway. In short: It is what it is.

Oh, and Bravo on bringing the new perspective in. Love Greg and Shaun, but this was an outstanding piece.

KO said...

*sean. My apologies.

andu said...

Who's freaking out? Everyone loves to be the arm chair manager... all in good fun.

And I think we'll be just fine if Goodson is starting.. on the other hand we're toast if Bornstein is starting...

JJO said...

I guess my problem is that I have taken the defense for granted and only worried about striking options. I am very confident with a back four resembling the Confed Cup lineup, but not if they are only 75% fit. And we can debate what percentage fit any individual is or the group as a whole. Bottom line for me is that having a solid backline is much more important than lack of scoring in the group stage from my point of view.

If the US loses big to England, I'd expect them to concede against Algeria and Slovenia as well. And even if they earn 6 points, goal difference and goals conceded can still sink them.

over there said...

Why would we be freaking out? Isn't this essentially the team we expected, minus Ching, who most of us aren't in love with as an international anyway? So a young striker gets to experience the WC from the bench instead of an older one. The Findley pick seems more like paying forward to the 2014.

Unknown said...

Nice piece, I agree with most of it.

However, I gotta think neither Dempsey nor Donovan will not start next to Altidore on June 12. We have never seen it from Bob Bradley.

Dempsey will move into a more attacking role halfway through the second half, after the first subs come on. You can bank on a 4-4-2, also.

And I don't disagree with any of those tactics, personally.

Unknown said...

nice bottom line: if we're at the point where we're using tonnes of players we're really in trouble. What do you see as the starting formation?

GMC said...

Quick guess, just based on my gut has Howard in goal, Cherundolo, Onyewu, Demerit and Bocanegra across the back. Midfield of Beasley, Clark, Bradley and Donovan with Altidore up top and Dempsey in more of a free-roaming attack role. Could easily see Spector start at RB, but something tells me Cherundolo might get the call. Edu may also suplant Clark in the middle.