Friday, September 30, 2011

Guess whose internet went out last night?

I'm a little behind and it's a busy day for me. I will drop the left back list now and try to get the defensive midfield up late tonight to stay on project schedule.

Anyway... so left back is a tricky spot for the USMNT, huh? Yeah, I had some trouble selecting here and experience weighs heavy with a time frame focusing on qualifier #1. That being said, I am insisting on people who actually play left back. If that position is considered weak, well then I guess we need to start coaching to bring it up.

Left backs only need apply. Deal with it.

#5 - Jonathan Bornstein

The Tigres spectator would be higher if he actually played. Or still trained as a left back. Even so, he could theoretically go back to MLS and get his game back. Yes, most people will shudder, but Bornstein can often be of assistance against CONCACAF foes that don't live on the wing. If he can't get a game, though, it's time to start thinking about Chris Wingert or one of the young MLS left backs. Hell, it may be that time now.

#4 - Edgar Castillo

He's clearly not there yet, but can grow more comfortable. The big surprise so far is that his defensive work has shined more often than his attacking - which was the opposite of how he's often been sold. For now, Castillo is an enigma. It's tough to start an enigma in a World Cup qualifying opener.

#3 - Todd Dunivant

Why does Mr. L.B. Button Down Professional have only two caps? I have no earthly idea. If you just want someone to do the simple, basic job without flash, this is your guy. For someone reason, people would rather throw wingers and right-siders over there, one after the other, instead of giving Dunivant a fair crack. Or even an unfair crack. And left back remains a constant headache. If he's not in January camp, I'd like to know why.

#2 - Michael Orozco Fiscal

I have to confess: other than the Nigeria red card, I rather enjoyed what Orozco did at left back in the 2008 Olympics. And for some unknown reason, he never got a look there for the senior side. He's clearly miscast as an international center back, and not just because of his height - dude doesn't make decisions on the ball fast enough. The solution? Remove such decisions and disadvantages. While a natural righty, his wide attack skills are more about cutting in toward the box than swerving crosses from the corner. Paired with a left winger who stays wide, this can be an exciting offensive wrinkle.

#1 - Heath Pearce

For starters, he's really the only true, fiber-of-being, card-carrying left back with any experience. And he's a 4-3-3 left back, to boot - it can be argued well that no US wide back provides greater field tilt (there's that concept again). Beyond those bits of obvious, I always felt that Pearce was overly maligned by observers and not treated fairly by the staff. Of course, he plays centrally for Chivas USA now, but Bocanegra played left back for three seasons while a CB for the 'Nats. Big whoop, that just means his weak side tracking and physical play have been improved. Don't like this choice? Fine. Name another active US left back that has beaten their opposite down the flank with pace to cross on the money from the corner for a goal. Then we'll talk. Of course, talking would be a step up as most observers nowadays seem to ignore him completely when discussing this position. It's baffling to me.

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- Keepers
- Right backs
- Right center backs
- Left center backs



- Greg Seltzer

27 comments:

evan said...

im right there with on pearce and i know you have been high on him for years. there was a reason that he had something like the second highest amount of usmnt appearances over a two year period in between the world cups.

still dont think he got a fair shake; bob was always plotting jb back in, to the detriment of the team.

what do you think it will take to get heath back in? think he has a chance?

Greg Seltzer said...

Since Klinsi had called him up the first time, I'd imagine Pearce only needs to get fit.

Tom said...

I have a similar feeling about Pearce. But though your rules are your rules, I don't know that Loyd, a utility player if there was one, would work quite well here.

Greg Seltzer said...

I do agree with that about Loyd. He could potentially be an answer at LB or even DM. But I'm trying to stay as strict as possible with the guidelines of the exercise. I'll only give someone that second potential assignment if they've proven they can do it at a high level.

Alex Larsen said...

So if Klinsi calls Pearce in again (which I assume he will at some point), do you think his intent is to play him at LB or at CB like has been recently with Chivas? Have you heard if he's addressed that at all?

Greg Seltzer said...

I haven't heard, but I'd assume for LB.

SPA2TACU5 said...

What was "field tilt" again?

Greg Seltzer said...

A wingback wants to keep traffic out of his corner and help get down into theirs - a ka tilt the field as if we're rolling downhill with ease and they have to struggle to climb up our flank. From a defensive standpoint, it's like preventative medicine.

For instance: If you're holding a high position steady, they have further to go each time they want to get up your wing. That tiny little thing my not seem like much, but how many goals get scored where another split second of recovery time somewhere could have stopped the rush? Another obvious benefit is the lower stress level of defending at midfield as opposed to at the side of your box.

It all adds up, especially against tough competition. Just think how difficult it is for Inter opponents to do any business at all on Maicon's side. Field tilt can basically shut down 20% of the field. You own that whole lane. It's your team's conveyer belt. And if you can dominate both flanks, you own 40% of the field outright largely thanks to just four of 11 players.

Total Football is always trying to be efficient. Always. Every possible efficiency.

AWF08 said...

Greg,
I understand for the purposes of the list--no out of position players. But, whats your feeling on seeing other players in this spot? What I mean is, how do you like the idea of trying Beasley there again? Or Bobby Convey? Parkhurst? Hell, Brek Shea could be a nightmare coming from that part of the field...
I get your point about coaching player up, but sometimes the best coaching is playing a guy out of position and finding that he's great in the new spot...

Greg Seltzer said...

Convey? No thanks.
Bease? No thanks.
Shea? No thanks.
Parkhurst? I could see it in a spot, but not as the regular.

I'm fine with learning some guy is actually an ace in a new position. I'm just not interested in going out to try and discover these things in USMNT camp.

I'm not against responding to a specific opponent or situation by moving somebody for a one-time shot. But I do not want things systematically run that way anymore.

The best team is usually not the best 11 players. It's the 11 players that fit together right, each pulling their weight.

AWF08 said...

I hear ya. What your saying is the way it should be. But, sometimes your best left back is also your best right back. And so, you play Philip Lahm out of position for a few years til a younger guy can come through the ranks. What if the try Chandler there and he's our best lb?

AWF08 said...

Of course, none of what I'm throwing out is ideal. I just don't see any of the left back options as rock solid. Although, I do agree that Pearce hasn't ever gotten the run he'd need to establish himself...

Greg Seltzer said...

Okay... have we ever seen one single indication that Chandler is our best left back?

I haven't seen one. With club or country. I'd sooner move Cherundolo over there than Chandler. Moving Chandler takes away his nastiest weapon, that cross out of the corner.

Besides, if you move one guy, why not move two? Why not three?

Line drawn, only crossed in case of emergency. And there is no such thing as an emergency in friendlies nine months from the next competitive game. Now is the precise time to coach left backs.

Greg Seltzer said...

He's had the odd stinker, but I'd suggest Pearce has been the textbook definition of "solid" during his USMNT career.

His biggest crime so far is not being spectacular.

AWF08 said...

I'm with you. Nice chattin'. Have a good weekend.

Greg Seltzer said...

Back at ya.

B Webb said...

Is there any wonder Bornstein can't get a game? Greg, nothing personal intended, but the guy is just not up to it....at least on the international level. WC '10 was an aberration; he should hang onto those memories.

Matt said...

So this begs the question: do we have *anyone* in the pipeline to address the problem?

Greg Seltzer said...

Do you mean solve the LB problem for the start of qualifying or in future cycles?

The solution now is Pearce (when fit again). I don't see anyone else with a greater claim to the first shot.

Down the line, you have a few guys like Cunningham, maybe Farfan, Pelosi, etc.

Jamie said...

Glad I'm not the only who though we should be trotting Heath out there. What was the last US game he played in?

Greg Seltzer said...

Almost one year ago, the 0-0 with Colombia.

Matt said...

I meant the former -- people in the pipeline that can solve the problem in future years. So, yea, folks like Farfan or Pelosi. Although I thought Peolosi was now listed as an attacking midfielder...

Tom said...

You're the boss, boss (re:parameters of your exercise).

Jay said...

Don't like this choice? Fine. Name another active US left back that has beaten their opposite down the flank with pace to cross on the money from the corner for a goal. Then we'll talk.

Boy howdy.

Jay said...

He's had the odd stinker, but I'd suggest Pearce has been the textbook definition of "solid" during his USMNT career.

And how!

His biggest crime so far is not being spectacular.

Have you learned nothing of American soccer fans?

Mark said...

i'd rather play without a left back than most of these guys. most of em hurt when they're on the field and are a liability. bornstein and castillo in particular, it's like playing with 10 men.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Mark: We need to lose that attitude. We need to address weak spots through coaching - not whatever wacky idea we can dream up next while the position gets weaker and weaker over time.