Saturday, April 28, 2012

My USMNT Clipboard 3.0

We are just over five weeks away from the start of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and several things have changed since we last pulled up my depth chart. These have all been for a 4-3-3 set, but since Klinsi looks like settling on a 4-2-3-1, we'll just call that close enough and proceed as normal.

Those in blue moved up from last time, those in black held position, the reds slipped and the green men switched positions:

#1 - GK

Tim Howard
Brad Guzan
Nick Rimando

This doesn't mean we've seen the last of Bill Hamid or Sean Johnson; just a standard veteran lean after a tough Olympic qualifying tourney for the youngsters.

#2 - RB
Steve Cherundolo
Michael Parkhurst
Jonathan Spector

Chandler effectively is the back-up at each spot on the right for me, but we'll list him later with the hope that he's not even needed at right back during early qualifying. Parkhurst won't work as a center back next to fellow (relative) shorty Cherundolo and he's improved his up-the-flank game in Denmark, so he slides over here.

#3 - RCB
Oguchi Onyewu
Clarence Goodson
Chad Marshall

Gooch is back for Sporting and he has a month to get on point, so this position should be business as planned. And yes, that is a Marshall sighting; he's in form and knows the CONCACAF drill. That and his ball movement skills put him in ahead of George John.

#4 - LCB
Carlos Bocanegra
Tim Ream
Zak Whitbread

Ream's recent play puts him above Whitbread, who seems to have suddenly fallen out of favor. Norwich City have dropped three straight with 11 goals leaked, so let's just assume it's temporary.

#5 - LB
Heath Pearce
Eric Lichaj
Edgar Castillo

To answer your obvious question: I do not mind switching Lichaj to the left side of defense because his game is not dependent on crossing. He prefers to sprint at the area or shoot from distance, so moving him across doesn't cost anything. If he continues performing well defensively in EPL play, he will be in to start here. Castillo has cooled off a bit recently, hence the shift 'n' drop.

#6 - DM
Maurice Edu
Geoff Cameron
Kyle Beckerman

The injury to Daniel Williams opens a place and the RSL midfielder has opened the new season from the top shelf. When pushed to shove, however, the reality is Bradley (who is backed by more experience at the #8) can easily be shifted back a midfield place if Edu struggles or becomes unavailable for some reason.

#7 - RW
Landon Donovan
Timothy Chandler*
Josh Gatt

The Chandler shift is not set in stone, but as he's now back on the wing for Der Club, it just seemed the proper thing to do with Gatt still awaiting his first cap (and left out of Olympic qualifying).

#8 - CM
Michael Bradley

Sacha Kljestan

Jermaine Jones

Stuart Holden leaves the list. Combined with Jones' seeming insistence on yellow cards and passing inconsistency, it felt necessary to move Kljestan to this role. It's his day job at Anderlecht.... and did I mention that Jones can't go 90 minutes without getting in trouble with the law?

#9 - F
Jozy Altidore
Edson Buddle
Herculez Gomez

Anybody still whining about Altidore being the striker needs a slap. Buddle ticks enough of the boxes to be the understudy. To be honest, I'm still not sure where to put Gomez in this system. The reality is his inclusion probably occurs in dire circumstance, which means he could be our 3-3-4 desperation forward... or push Dempsey to left wing... or be the bullpen catcher. Ugh, I just don't know what to do with him. There's always one of these guys, no matter what formation we're in. That's soccer life, even before we talk about a couple of MLS forwards who look eager to steal his place here.

#10 - AM
Clint Dempsey
Benny Feilhaber
Freddy Adu

Pretty straightforward, no? Three it-happening-makers, over and out.

#11 - LW
Fabian Johnson
Brek Shea
Jose Francisco Torres

Beasley could shake this tree early in qualifying and a few youngsters could do the same by the end. But for now, I'm standing pat here.

Just missing out: Chris Wondolowski, DaMarcus Beasley, Perry Kitchen, George John, Kenny Cooper, Joe Corona, Joseph Gyau, Chris Pontius, Steve Beitashour

- Greg Seltzer


UnitedDemon said...

Chris Pontius coming on strong. His assist tonight was one of the most brilliant things I've seen from a speed player in MLS.

strago said...

Agree with pontius. He's back and better than before the injury.

Greg Seltzer said...

Yes, and he's listed on my near misses... but is it not a bit late to think he'd become an impact USMNT player by qualifier #1? Once we get into it winning I'd be more likely to give younger guys a shot. At the start, I want to know exactly what to expect from everyone.

Andy said...

Heath Pearce? Besides the obvious past history against him, you're picking him over an EPL starter with more speed and better attacking quality?

Jolazo said...

Who is Steve Beitashour? Has he ever played for the youth teams?

Thomas said...


Hate to call you on this but I've watched every lichaj performance for villa and cant recall a single long shot from him at LB. And in a 4-3-3 isn't it necessary for the fullbacks to be able to cross it from the flanks? Truth be told lichaj really hasn't gotten forward when he's on the left but he has a decent left foot chip cross. His goal came in the game when he played RB and Hutton was out (worst player I've ever seen in a Villa shirt IMO hopefully Eric starts there next year)

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Andy: I've written at length about how this negative Pearce history is mostly in the heads of USMNT fans.

Beyond that, I don't feel that a half dozen career stats makes one "an EPL starter" - that's a little misleading, isn't it?

Beyond that, speed and attack capability are not the lone functions of a wing *defender*.

Beyond that, I did say that Pearce's place would be in danger if Lichaj continues to pile up solid EPL showings.


@ Jolazo: San Jose Earthquakes right back. Unless I'm mistaken, he has not played for the US at any level.


@ Thomas: He's only played a couple games at LB for Villa, who are not the only team he's played for. I was speaking of his tendencies.

As for your wingback crossing question... does every winger need to be a crossing winger? No, not if they prefer to dribble into the area.

Thomas said...

Greg, I was just looking at your list of just missing out and was curious if you'd mind posting their ideal position on your clip board as well.

Chris Wondolowski (9), DaMarcus Beasley(11), Perry Kitchen(6/4), George John(3), Kenny Cooper(9), Joe Corona(10), Joseph Gyau(11), Chris Pontius(7), Steve Beitashour (2)

also, where is Mix? I'm guessing you're not a fan of his Olympic qualifying performances in the Canada and El Salvador? How have his performances been since joining Gent?

Oh and finally, one last point on Lichaj. From the perspective of a Villa fan it just seems like you are trying to over sell his attacking ability now since you've always been so against having a right footed LB. He's a very good defender on either side. He reads the game well and has fantastic recovery ability and athleticism. His biggest weakness when on the left is that he's not particularly comfortable crossing (especially first time) on his left foot and can get caught on the ball at times because of this, as a result he generally makes less runs forward. As I've said I think he's developed a decent stand up cross with his left foot if he has time and space to set himself up.

He can become a real attacking threat when he is on the right but at the same time I'd say his biggest weakness is getting caught up field too often and not knowing when to go forward and stay back, he's young and this is the kind of thing he has improved. It just means he ends up having to rely on his recovery ability too much. He's a good crosser and he generally makes good runs, he can be a threat in the box as well. He's got a great record of scoring goals for our reserves/youth teams.

My opinion: very good defensive fullback, he can be an attacking threat on the right or a solid defender on the left. If he continues to play well and improve I definitely think he be looked at as our long term starting LB even if right back is his best position, I assure you he would just be happy for a chance to represent our country again.

Jamie said...

@Thomas - I'm right with you there on your assessment of Lichaj. His emergence has been one of the few bright spots in a positively dire season at Villa. I'm sure there will bumps in the road for him along the line, but I have high hopes for the lad.

And Hutton is just a disaster. I mean, I'm sure I've seen worse in a Villa shirt, but he's been consistently atrocious for us all season.

dikranovich said...

greg, can we wager the dempsey goal for fabian johnson at left back. so if the goal stands an own goal, you have to put fabian as starting left back on your next depth chart, and take torres down as left winger?

Greg Seltzer said...

@ dikranovich: Hell no. Why would I do that? Those things are not even related.

And by the way, did you not see Johnson's utter, utter calamity day at left back this weekend? The guy is complicit on nearly every goal they allow. Frankly, I'm befuddled that he is still playing there, a decision which has harmed both their defense and their offense. It looks to me like a big lesson slapping US fans that want him at left back right in the face.

@ Thomas:

Probably, in my head, more like this:

Chris Wondolowski (#7, maybe #9), DaMarcus Beasley (#11), Perry Kitchen(#6), George John(#3 or 4), Kenny Cooper (#9), Joe Corona (#10 or 7), Joseph Gyau (#11), Chris Pontius (#11), Steve Beitashour (#2)

Mix could well go in the "Just Missed" crew, but right now he needs to sort out his club situation and we don't really need him at the moment. I was a fan of his Olympic showings up until he ran out of gas. He's only played a few games for Gent, one of which was a MOTM prizer.

I am not "against using a right-footed player on the left" or vice versa. I am vehemently against using a right-footed crossing machine (such as Chandler) on the left because it eliminates his best attributes as a player. I have been listing righty Orozco at left back, because as with Lichaj, he prefers driving at the area with the ball to crossing.

And as I said, he is bidding to take my starting spot there, but I'm not just handing it over for a handful of club games. Defensively, Lichaj still has a couple weak points that are slowly shoring up.

dikranovich said...

fabian johnson is bigger than i thought and he is fast. he showed good defensive instinct against italy and he was more than solid, regardless of how you rated him greg. based on that alone fabian gets another look at left back for the usmnt. which, should he recieve a call, will be his spot in the next friendly.

Greg Seltzer said...

He showed good defensive instinct versus Italy? Ummm, when??? He was overrun for the opening half hour. He is so clearly a much better player as a winger. What is wrong with you? Even if you want him at left back, even if you wrote Santa a letter asking for that, you fully know he is better as an attacker. Everyone does. No one on Earth is going to protest that he is better as a wingback... except you, apparently.

dikranovich said...

ok greg, thats how you wanna play it. getting overrun is a 7-1 scoreline, thats getting overrun, jesus mary and joseph. i mean, god dang. please, bring me the germans that say heath pearce is a better left back then fabian johnson, please.

Greg Seltzer said...

Once again, you are leaving out a massive reality to act like this is simply a Pearce v Johnson issue: I have Johnson as the left wing starter, dude.

Greg Seltzer said...

AND as I keep saying, I want to know exactly what I'm getting with the idea to tightly follow a game one script against a weak opponent. Let's not pretend this is my World Cup final line-up... it's my first qualifier line-up, which is a very different animal.

dikranovich said...

hopefully usa learned some lessons from the olympic debacle. first and foremost is not to take any opponent lightly

dikranovich said...

this cycle usa goes right into the qualifiers and there is no barbados two off. this first game is important and scoring and winning big is number one goal. johnson will maraud against a weak antigue, so why restrain the attack with pearce?

Greg Seltzer said...

As usual, you're twisting yourself in knots to argue just for arguing.

Oh, we can't underestimate any opponent! Oh, they're so easy he'll maraud!

And how precisely does starting Johnson in attack derail the attack? He's an attacker.

dikranovich said...

greg, you are getting away from the point, which is that johnson is a better left back than heath pearce. end of story son. live with it, and embrace it. for gods sake, you were claiming johnson to be right footed a couple of months ago

Greg Seltzer said...

Please hold that thought... I'm going to run quick-fast and hurry to get my psychology degree so I can become your therapist and retire wealthy in two years.

dikranovich said...

so your credibility rests on the shoulders of the dubious goal panel. this is very exciting!!!

Greg Seltzer said...

What exactly does that have to do with this?

Jay said...

I love how predictably this conversation happens. Every. Single. Time.

dikranovich said...

it would have been nice to resolve the funk dubious a little earlier, but the mounting tension is fun also.

Greg Seltzer said...

They set their own schedule, still no rulings on any 2012 goals.

Jay said...

Fun for you, perhaps, but tedious and vapid for the rest of us.

dikranovich said...

jay, what the f are you talking about? vapid means lacking liveliness. the only thing that even remotely makes this a lively web site is greg and i going at it. as for the tedious part, it probably is. well heath pearce cant stay on the top of the greg depth chart for long if he is not getting called into the national team.

Greg Seltzer said...

"the only thing that even remotely makes this a lively web site is greg and i going at it."

Ummm... try again.

"well heath pearce cant stay on the top of the greg depth chart for long if he is not getting called into the national team."

Yes, he can... it is after all the what Greg would do depth chart. And, erm, Pearce was called up time before last after a long injury layoff.

dikranovich said...

greg, you are a usa soccer fan,no? so im guessing, greg would do what is best for us soccer. im rooting for fabian johnson to crush it next time he takes the lb spot, just like he did last time he was in the spot.

greg, can you actually believe greg tried to suggest that fabian johnson got over run by italy, is that not farcical, or what? it is gregs opinion though, so, it is his. whats the definition of momentum!!!

Greg Seltzer said...

You have a difficulty recapping past reality.

1 - I said Johnson was overrun by Maggio for the opening half hour, which is wildly true and has been noted by many other observers.

2 - In what describable way did Johnson "crush it" against Italy?

Frankly, I'm about to leave you to the regulars. I hate needing to repeat myself and I hate when the readers use words like "tedious" to describe what's going on here even more.