Thursday, February 23, 2012

Roster Talk

Or roster squawk, depending on who you might ask. Either way, I have a few notes, comments and/or gripes over the USMNT's latest Klinsi collection.

First, in case you haven't had a good look yet:

G - Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

D - Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brøndby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjælland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)

M - Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca), Daniel Williams (Hoffenheim)

F - Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy)


Now, we start the roller coaster of emotions:

  • I can promise you Terrence Boyd had no idea what was coming as late as Tuesday evening, when he was over the moon simply to be meeting up with the Olympic group in Texas. No BBQ for you this time, T-Bone, you shall be dining on pesto instead.

    What do I think of this surprise? Seems okay to have a look, I think. Using the logic he may be the #3 striker with the German champs makes it a good enough idea. Most of all, though, it makes me think Klinsi may have decided to leave Juan Agudelo to the Olympic team after all.

    In that same vein, Brek Shea's absence here tells a lot about his summer plans - not that this one is a surprise to me.
  • What the hell does Sacha Kljestan have to do? Or perhaps, what the hell did he do to Klinsi?

    Good grief already.
  • Conversely, a clapping welcome back to Brad Guzan! It's about time.
  • Again, it can't be overlooked how silly it is to have no natural left back in camp. I don't even comprehend how they're supposed to reach the desired level this way. It's cuckoo to me. Pick someone, anyone, at least to be there for development. Crikey.
  • This isn't any inside dirt, but I'd guess Parkhurst gets another look in place of the injured Gooch. Just a feeling I get.
Being that this is as close to 100% selection availability as Klinsi has been to date, I'm curious to see what formation he opts for this time. Yes, he's switched around a lot until now. Still, I think this is our first real clue at what he's thinking for World Cup qualis.

- Greg Seltzer


Rufus T. Firefly said...

I still don't understand the love for Jermaine Jones -- old, thuggish and not someone who will help his teammates elevate their games.

dikranovich said...

if we go based on last game then altidore and buddle start, but in the slovenia game there was no donovan, but we had deuce. i think coach runs a 4-4-2.

Thomas said...


I get why you are upset about the LB situation but it is what it is. I happen to agree with you that Pearce is still far and away the best option as far as left footed LBs BUT clearly Klinsmann doesn't rate him as a starter for the A squad and would rather play someone whose not a natural at that spot. Does he need to head back to Europe to regain his spot? Between Chandler, Johnson, Boca, and Spector we have plenty of players who can cover on the left. I've heard that Castillo has been playing well in Mexico, just curious if he has passed Dunivant and Orozco on your depth chart?

dikranovich said...

well if steve cherundolo is a late scratch, then it will be interesting to see how coach lines them up.

i think we would see the most dynamic wing play from the wing backs out of a 4-4-2. im not even sure chandler has had a full game at rb, and it would be cool to see a nice runout from him in this position.

buddle, altidore, and dempsey controlling the box with a strong arial presence and donovan slashing. the italians live by the counter attack, so they want the usa to push numbers forward. its all about selective attacks against the italians and sound defense.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Thomas: Why why why why why why why WHY does everyone and their mother claim Johnson can play left back at the international level? Just because a club coach uses someone somewhere in a selection crisis does not mean they are capable of playing that position well, let alone at the higher level of international play. Simply put, he is not good at it.

Johnson has made a couple of appearances in attack and everybody was happy. Why on Earth do we now move him to defense?

I have no clue. Drives me batty.

@ dikranovich: Cherundolo will not be scratched. And of course, Chandler has had a full RB run-out for us.

And as for 4-4-2: PFFFFFFT.

Greg Seltzer said...

Here is my final comment on moving Johnson to left back... the guy has as many Bundesliga assists as Marco Reus in several fewer games on the wing, and we want to switch him to defense, where he has never played at the international level.


Folks can suggest this stuff to me until the end of time, and I even have colleagues doing it regularly - but nothing is going to change my mind on this. I find such talk crazy. I cannot comprehend it.

Why can we just not let everyone play their actual position?

Jay said...

In so much as every actual left back in the pool has boned the opportunities presented to them, I think it's pretty easy to see why people suggest putting Johnson or Chandler in the position. Namely everyone's kind of desperate. The left back position is a glaring hole in the pool and, omg he can dribble with his left foot CAP HIM NOW. You see the same desperate grasping at players like Greg Garza and Juan Ocegueda, even though they haven't really even proven themselves at the club level.

Not trying to convince you otherwise, just identifying the elephant.

I'll side with Thomas on Heath Pearce. Would be nice to see him play with an "A" squad, just to see the results. I'm of the belief that returning to the States has led him to mature a bit and take his role more seriously.

Disagree about Castillo, though. My understanding (could be wrong, of course) is that he's mostly playing on the wing for Tijuana rather than left back. His good days for Club America were as a winger as well.

dikranovich said...

interesting, but chandler did play one game at rb for the full 90. it was against costa rica in a 1-0 loss, in a game where the only goal was scored by costa ricas lb rodney wallace of college park. tell me thats not a little ironic.

he played on the right against paraguay and was replaced at right back by lichaj and moved up to right mid. that might have been chandlers best game.

put fabian johnson at left back. marvell wynne had 7 assist one year. bocanegra was second on the fulham scoring list several years ago. coach klinsmann should let chandler and johnson work the flanks. it would be very dynamic. and chandler would be on his natural right side. chandler cant cross with his left, johnson can.

hesath pearce has had a lot of games at left back, but his ping pong game is weak.

Jay said...

Good thing there's no gaping hole in the USMNT's ping pong depth ;)

Greg Seltzer said...

@ dikranovich: you like to come up with arbitrary things that don't actually apply.

For instance, when exactly did Marvell Wynne (who was an actual right back, mind you) notch seven assists in half a Bundesliga season? I must have missed that.

I hope we get your wish and the wish of so many others to have Chandler and Johnson as the wingbacks against Italy. I hope so. Because then, after we see what happens, no one will ever ask for it again and they will all cry in unison from the mountain tops, "Ohhhh, if only we could have the steadiness of Heath Pearce!"

dikranovich said...

heath pearce is a twitter star, credit where credit is due.

greg, you know full well marvell did not ever play in the bundas league, just like you know boca has never played in the bundas league.

and one more thing, every single player that has ever played at the international level, at one time or another, had never played at the international level.

greg, why you wanna pigion hole our us national team. this guy can play there, he cant play here. i dont know....

Greg Seltzer said...

I want players at their optimum positions. It's very simple.

Do you see Brazil and the Netherlands and Germany and Italy moving everyone all over the formation? No.

dikranovich said...

how about the rooster, where is his best position? is it up top as a number #9 as some have suggested, or is it at center half, like the coaches over in europe have said, maybe left mid?

dikranovich said...

and as far as germany goes, i thought bastian scweinsteiger did very well at the last world cup playing a little out of position. not for nothing.

dikranovich said...

fellas, i know i like to kid around a little bit. but im serious when i say i think we are getting good things out here and these conversations and forums are only a good thing.

Greg Seltzer said...

Shea is best at left wing, though I think he's worth a look as a late game knockdown artist/finisher.

Buddy... Schweinsteiger was developed as a CM.

And as I continue to note, there is a difference between a player that can play two spots at an equally high level and a player who plays well in one spot but has been used in emergencies to less effect at a different position.

Having played there a few times for club does not = now capable on the international level.

Nick said...

If 4-2-2, it's going to be a 4-1-2-1-2 with Dempsey in the CAM role.

On left back, I'm not one to say "Cap him" for the sake of keeping him away from another country, but if Adam Henley is open to a callup, should he get one? We don't have a natural left back (and for argument's sake, let's consider him one,) playing top tier football anywhere in the world.

Haven't seen him in person, but at 17, is he not as good or better than anyone we have available there?

Would he accept a call-up is probably the bigger hurdle. I assume it would cap-tie him through the one-time switch from Wales. It would appear that big decisions coming his way.

Greg Seltzer said...

From what I understand, Henley is all about Wales.

I would be chasing after Potts instead.

UnitedDemon said...

Johnson was perhaps our most effective attacker against Slovenia. He made the Slovenian defenders his @#$%^. Besides the need for a left back, people seem eager to remove him from the midfield equation.

Answer for Fabian Johnson: I think people subconsciously are removing him from the midfield because they can't see one that doesn't involve Shea, Dempsey, and Donovan. IMO, when given more time for the team, Johnson will prove what he gave us a taste of against Slovenia- that he is the best creative option behind Dempsey and Donovan. Yes, he's a better international right now than Brek Shea. When Shea gains some consistency, that may change.

But right now, if Dempsey or Donovan get injured, who you gonna call? (spoiler, he's not a left back).

Greg Seltzer said...

Plus, Shea is not in this camp.

People forget moving a player to "strengthen" one position also weakens the position culled from - is the trade-off even worth it?

I don't see how.

Nick said...

Alrighty on Henley....hypothetically, would you cap him now if he had any interest? Is Wales in a position to offer senior team minutes here and now?

On Potts, do you think that's an Olympic call-up this year or too soon? Interesting that England youth teams now sniffing around. Dad will be sure to remind him that a senior call-up is still a long-shot.

Greg Seltzer said...

Henley, btw, is also eligble for England. But Wales are trying to call him up now, trying to convince him to commit to them. Here he is talking about it earlier this week:

And tes, I would try to get an Olympic team look at Potts. Absolutely.

Tom said...

"People forget moving a player to "strengthen" one position also weakens the position culled from - is the trade-off even worth it?"

It doesn't weaken, and is worth it, when the ad-hoc'd player isn't the strongest option at his primary position.

Just broadly speaking, also, I have yet to be convinced by the play of the US that the US has reached the point where not putting some of the stronger players on the field in odd positions results in a better team.

Greg Seltzer said...

"It doesn't weaken, and is worth it, when the ad-hoc'd player isn't the strongest option at his primary position."

Obviously, pulling a player of strength out of a position weakens that position unless there is another player or players of equal quality waiting behind him. Who is this third right winger of Johnson's quality?

"Just broadly speaking, also, I have yet to be convinced by the play of the US that the US has reached the point where not putting some of the stronger players on the field in odd positions results in a better team."

Okay, fair enough. How has that way of doing things worked out for us so far?

Nick said...

I know when I play FIFA, that I often have to optimize my lineup. Bristol City isn't a natural 4-3-3 team so I switched up to a 4-1-2-1-2 based upon my talent and attacking preferences, and then I still had to play some guys out of their natural positions in order to maximize my overall position scores. Obviously, you're wondering how this has all worked out. Well, I won the Championship last year (at Professional level, thank you) and am solidly mid table in the Premiership this year so I know of whence I speak. If only I had enough money to go out and buy players. I really don't have enough depth to compete in the Europa League and the EPL, but I'll consider it a victory if we stay solidly mid-table.

Also, Jozy Altidore would make a great fit at Tottenham....don't ask me how I know this.

Greg Seltzer said...

Hmm. When I said "us" I meant how has this worked out for the USMNT in reality, not your FIFA Bristol City side.


Tom said...

Greg, I'm reacting to your general proposition. The argument about Johnson is moot, because Klinsmann just generally appears to rate him, and not at all most of the folks on your LB depth chart. I'd agree with you about Pearce, and Dunivant (though I just don't care about a "new" LB that's 30 years old, when an as-yet incompletely ossified 24 year-old is about).

As for the proof of this pudding? We continue to qualify for WC, and continue to do just fine in CONCACAF, have a mixed record in all competetions but are still by most lights progressing even though we have a bit of an air of "slapdash" about our selection and lineup.

Nick said...

Well, I mean, The Robins haven't played first division football since the 70's so, if we can't learn from a lesson such as this, we might as well shut down the comments section. (I'll assume Greg is a closeted Rovers supporter...only they would display such insolence in the face of City's rise to prominence.)

Anywho, as long as my virtual board and virtual fans are happy, I'm happy.

Greg Seltzer said...

Nick, the USMNT has long tried moving everybody and their mother to left back. Shall we list them? Here's two that quickly come to mind:

Lewis v Czech Rep. WC06
Beasley v Costa Rica in WCQ

Aggregate scoreline of those two games: 0-6.

Moving a player to another position has to actually help us. It can't just sound like a "good idea" at the time.

Greg Seltzer said...

And while we're at it, may I also remind that Jonathan Bornstein is a converted attacker.

Greg Seltzer said...

All we keep doing is throwing poor band-aids on the position and then wondering why we can never have a proper left back.

And then I sit here, year after year, with this face:


jaredlaunius said...

I have to think, at this point, that maybe the Klinsmann administration knows something about Kljestan we don't. Something in the arena of (not saying this happened just giving an example) some sort of altercation, argument, etc. when Kljestan didn't get into the Belgium game, something of that sort. I just struggle to see "we don't rate him high enough" being the actual logic by them. It can't be, can it?

Also: please forgive me for taking the conversation away from virtual Bristol and Band-Aids and whatnot.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ jared: I think maybe you're trying to spot a zebra in a pen of horses, so to speak.

Chances are the more likely explanation is that Klinsi is erring to not call Kljestan. Coaches are not infallible.

And if it IS because of some little tiff from the Belgium game, well that's just silly. I certainly hope it's just an error in judgment because he thinks Torres can stand up as a #8 against large European teams (which he, as of this time, clearly cannot).

jaredlaunius said...

Right. Well, I just, you know, struggle a little bit with the idea that people whose millions (in some cases) are made identifying, developing and coaching up professional soccer talent could err like this. Or at least I don't want to admit it, as they're in charge of my team.

I suppose he sees Torres as his #8 and figures either Jones or Bradley can fill in if something goes awry? Meh.

Nick said...

I think everyone is in a head scratching position. Ashley Cole is not walking through that door. Heck, Leighton Baines is not walking through that door.

So we're left with going young or going journeyman. As much as it's pointed out that the top teams don't move people around like fans of the States often suggest, they also don't the extremely unseasoned or journeymen competing for 1st team spots (Adam Henley, are you reading this ridiculousness?)

Greg Seltzer said...

Hopefully, he sees Bradley as his clear #8 (at least until Holden is 100%).

I'm not saying Kljestan should be the sure starter, mind you. But he should not be ignored. It's silly.

Greg Seltzer said...

"So we're left with going young or going journeyman."

Great. Let's coach them up.

"As much as it's pointed out that the top teams don't move people around like fans of the States often suggest, they also don't the extremely unseasoned or journeymen competing for 1st team spots"

Well, that's just not true. Joe Hart, anyone?

jaredlaunius said...

Also: kudos to you, sir, for braving the seedy netherworlds of the blog comments section to have discussions with readers. It is my sincere hope you don't catch anything while you're down here. :-)

Nick said...

....and Greg, I don't think you're necessarily wrong, but I don't know you're right either. I don't think there's much harm in trying different things. The National team doesn't spend enough time together, and there typically not enough player cohesion that we need to be married just one approach, IMO (whether it's going dedicated LB or trying multiple folks out of a first choice position.) You bring up the experiment of Beasley and I don't think it's necessarily failure that we found out that it didn't work. To me, it's a revelation....Does that mean it can't work? I think the answer is more or less...."depends."

Nick said...

Golf clap on Joe Hart example. ;-)

Greg Seltzer said...

@ jared: I'm happy to be available to my readers here. I'd find it weird if I didn't reply to questions seeking explanation of my viewpoints or added info.

@ Nick: My point is we have gone way past merely trying things to trying things as policy. Klinsi is certainly not the first USMNT coach to reach for the band-aids. And as such, we have plenty of evidence to see that it's a fool's game in the long run and hasn't helped in the short term, either. We should have learned this lesson by now, especially as the whole bubble of ours perpetually bemoans the "left back problem".

At this point, we aren't just failing with experiments, we're exacerbating the problem.

Nick said...

@Greg....I dunno...I thought we gave the Pierce/Bornstein/Pierce battle plenty of time to play out, and eventually chose Bocanegra. I guess Klinsi could choose to resurrect another flawed, but natural, LB position battle, but we might find ourselves in the same place as we were at the beginning of 2010....OMG WE NEED TO PLAY SOMEONE BETTER THAN THE DOPES WE HAVE AT LB!

Greg Seltzer said...

The "dopes at LB" have not played nearly as poorly as everyone pretends. And I have in no way advocated Bornstein back in the mix - he can't even get a club game.

Pearce and Castillo are the obvious candidates right now. But hey, if not them, why not Michael Farfan? Why not Todd Dunivant? Why not Orozco, who has actual US experience at left back (some of it far more encouraging than his play in the middle)?

To me, it seems pretty simple, really.

1 - It's not helping short term.
2 - It's making the position worse long term.

If #3 isn't "STOP!" to another person, then I don't know what to say.

Greg Seltzer said...

Of course, none of us is USMNT coach, so we're all just breeze shooters here.

But if you ask me how *I* would do it, well, that's how *I* would do it.

Nick said...

Well, I am the coach of Bristol City, and you've inspired me to find a true CDM.

Greg Seltzer said...

May I suggest Vincent Wanyama?

Nick said...

Yes. (If I can get him for less than 1M pounds. We're Bristol City, not Man City.)

Connor Walsh said...

Just curious as to what left back you'd be taking? Edgar Castillo is having a decent time in Tijuana, but he's never impressed internationally. Who else then?? Potts and Henley are long shots. Perhaps Villafana from the U-23s? That would be quite the story. Not many options out there who aren't also a liability.

DrewVT6 said...

After watching Pearce up close at a few camps, I'm not so sure JK even cares how good he is given his attitude and rapport with teammates.

What does bringing Boyd into this camp do? Save him a trip across the pond? What's the point? Will he really see the field?

Nick said...

@Connor So that Greg doesn't have to pimp himself. ...

Jay said...

As far as Kljestan goes, I might hazard to suggest... maybe he's being held back by Anderlecht?

The Belgian Pro league's new format has the top 6 (of 16) teams go to a playoff table to determine the champ and the UEFA places. That's four games away, and they just came out of the Europa League matches against AZ. Add in a mid-week international friendly date, and that screams "match congestion" to me.

When the playoff table starts, the teams' point accumulation gets cut in half for some reason, so gathering up as many points as they can prior to that is sort of important. Looking at their schedule, three of those games are against teams scraping the bottom of the table -- points they will expect to take. Why would Anderlecht send Kljestan off to get beaten up in Italy when they have an early end-of-season run-in to work on?

Unknown said...

Last time I checked Todd Dunivant was playing LB for the top MLS defense last year... I know his age may be a concern, but how he never has had a look under Bradley and Klinsi is odd.
I'm sure Juergen has decided that Chandler is the best option at this point and we are all just going to have to accept it...

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Jay: I don't see Anderlecht holding back others.

Jamie said...

Looks like Jones is out of the reckoning for the Italy match with a calf injury.

Jay said...

And some (questionable?) claims out of Pachuca suggest Torres is out, too.

Kljestan time?