Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Right Now 23

Let's roll it out, and then get to the particulars. Those closest to making the cut (in order): Bedoya, Spector/Castillo, Beckerman, Corona, Boyd, Gomez, Shea. Cherundolo also deserves mention in this light, as a successful return to form from him would definitely alter the picture at his position.

G - Howard, Guzan, Rimando

D - Parkhurst, Lichaj, Goodson, Besler, Chandler, Brooks, Gonzalez

M - Cameron, Bradley, Dempsey, Jones, Diskerud, Kljestan

A - Altidore, Beasley, Donovan, F. Johnson, Jóhannsson, Zusi, E. Johnson

As previously stated, the goal situation is quite possibly set through to Brazil, at least with regards to the top three. That's the easy, uncontroversial part. We will remember this time very fondly in a moment.

The first obvious detour from the norm comes in naming only seven defenders. I know, I know. Usually, I would jeer such a thing. But with Cameron (and another player listed above that I'll name in a forthcoming MLSS column) available for wingback duty, it feels to me like a cheat eight. Being that I feel goals will be needed and want all possible attack options at hand in Brazil, a cheat eight suffices this time. With Parkhurst, Chandler, Lichaj and Cameron around, there are legitimately four guys who can cover both fullback spots and then four center backs.

The midfield may look light, but that's two men for each of three spots. Realizing Bradley is my only truly trusted choice as the second #6 guy allowed room for both Diskerud and Kljestan - guys able to play possession and create chances in a pinch. This group offers a lot of versatility, enough to make a number of different tactical triads.

The attack gets that extra man missing from defense, in the person of third strike option Eddie Johnson. He's needed because the possibility of Jóhannsson at least spot-starting wide is real, effectively boosting EJ to the main back-up on these occasions. Beyond that, Beasley is the designated buzzy pest option off the bench, Zusi the designated crosser. Both need worry greatly about Bedoya's progress at Nantes (as does Kljestan, for that matter).

Of course, as it's the "right now" team, I'm not assuming this exact squad goes to Brazil. In fact, I'm counting on a few things changing. It gives a good chuckle whenever I see any sort of USMNT observer predict that the World Cup squad will feature the same 23 guys they currently have occupying all those positions. Nine months is a looong time in the world of depth charts, and that's not even taking the monkey wrench that is injuries into account.

- Greg Seltzer


DM said...

Wow--is it just me or is this the deepest USMNT in at least a decade? I can't remember the last time we had this much proven talent and/or sky-high potential.

That said, Klinsi hasn't tapped up Lichaj in forever. Has he really distinguished himself enough at Nottingham in recent months? I'm skeptical. I'd take anyone on the bubble over Lichaj, esp. Boyd or Gomez, each of whom would substitute nicely for Altidore should the latter go down injured (no jinx).

John said...

It looks like Bradley & Brooks wont be available for the upcoming last 2 WCQ's.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ DM: What Klinsi does or does not do is of no consequence to this exercise.

And I'm fairly sure you would not trim down to six overall defenders for a fourth center forward when it came right down to it. Boyd and Gomez are so far down the list because their position doesn't have so much need.

Tony M said...

No way this is Klinsi's team. It has actual fullbacks.

(Yes, I know. Not the point. Just like pointing it out.)

UnitedDemon said...

I'd take Evans over Chandler in a heart beat.

There is a chance Chandler will round into sterling form, commit himself passionately to the cause, and show well in games played for the US, but right now, he's out. His form for club has been subpar, his performance in the one important qualifier he had was and, for lack of a better word, flaccid.

Evans might not be a natural fullback, but he has earned the right to knock this competitor out. Including delivering a clutch goal in a much needed road qualifier in Jamaica. He has not been a liability, he has only be theoretically a potential liability.

This is coming from someone who thought he was a complete joke, right up to the point where I saw him play really well against Germany from the upper deck. And then again in qualifying. Yes, Chandler is a fullback by trade. He's also undeserving of a spot until he earns it, and compared to Evans, he's got a ways to go.

John said...

@UnitedDemon: I rather have Chandler over Evans in a heart beat. He's twice the player Evans is when he's on form. And the good thing is that it looks like he's warming up, I have seen his last 3 games with Nuremberg and he stepped up from his slow start to the season so hopefully he's on the roster for the last 2 WCQ's.

John said...

@Tony: Those fake fullbacks that JK has had have done pretty well if you ask me.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ John: The fake fullbacks have done pretty well, huh? Against what teams? Cuba? Belize?


Brian B said...

Now Greg, we need you to stack this lineup up against our 2010 squad, and see where we come out.

Greg Seltzer said...

Hmm. Better in attack and midfield, same or better in goal, considerably greener in defense.

Paul Poenicke said...

Thanks for completing this list, Greg. I think most experts and fans would agree that there is a core of at least twelve players who, unless a major injury or bout of horrid club form occurs,will be playing in World Cup 2014.

My issue is with roughly eleven-fifteen players, the other individuals on your team sheet and those closest to the cut. How will these players get on the roster to Brazil? Certainly looking good for the nats, for one's club, in practice, ect. will help certain players.

What I see as essential is for certain positions to harmonize and look better than the sum of their parts. The back line is a great example. We have a number of talented players back there, who, despite being swapped in and out due to injury, have strung together decent performances. I see Spector or Cherundolo (even slightly injured) making the team over Parkhurst, Evans, or even Goodson because Spector and Cherundolo improve the play of others around them. I have seen the US defense play well enough to gain victories, but there hasn't been a unified, coherent backline performance that has made me think "This is the group that can grow into a stable unit for Brazil." The player who encourages defensive coordination, eliminates costly turnovers in the defensive third (we have become competent playing the ball out of the back), and improves coordination and cohesion, should be chosen over a more talented, in-form option. Klinsmann needs unity and direction along the backline--the player who encourages those features we currently lack needs to be on the plane to Brazil, possibly starting.

Phil McCracken said...

If you take Cameron and he can play anywhere across the backline, why do you need four other central defenders?

Greg Seltzer said...

Because Cameron is my starting defensive midfielder. Besides, I would consider him selectable as a wingback on either side, but not so much as a center back.

dikranovich said...

im sorry greg, but can you please explain how you have so much confidence in Cameron as a central defensive mid, and as a wingback, in a pinch, but not as a center half? it just does not make any sense to me.

and recent confirmation is that Cameron told his new club manager he is most comfortable at center half.

Greg Seltzer said...

1 - Because I find that's the position that fits his skills, which seems apt because that's where he's played best. And in that spot, he fits the style we want to play. Pretty simple.

2 - As a wingback, he is blossoming under Hughes, whereas he was held back by Pulis. But in this squad, he's still just the emergency wingback.

3 - Where do you see this "confirmation"?

dikranovich said...

i didn't see it, I heard it.

Greg Seltzer said...

Can I hear it, too?

jon said...

I think it can only be heard in whispers when you close your eyes.

Greg Seltzer said...

Thank goodness I was finished taking a sip of Pepsi before I read that or it would have painfully come out my nose onto my keyboard. Whew.

dikranovich said...

I honestly don't think so greg. if you heard it, you would come up with some reason for it to not be valid in your mind.

I mean, Cameron was only named MLS best 11 and an all-star at the position which you seem to not think he is qualified.

no I get it, you think he can be qualified on an MLS level, but you are talking world cup level. I get it.

just look at the panama game for proof.

Greg Seltzer said...

Does that mean he never actually said it?

dikranovich said...

No, I don't think so, but someone seems to think jermaine jones would make a quality left back, or so I have heard. Greg, which do you think is more nonsense, jones at left back or Cameron at center half?

Greg Seltzer said...

Kinda feel like you already know the answer to that.

So, please clarify for me, because I'm still confused. Did Cameron really say that or have you simply made it up?

John said...

@Greg: Wrong. Beltran & Parkhurst who are RB's played against Cuba and Belize. Beasley & Evans (fake fullbacks) did well against Germany's B team and in World Cup Qualifying back in May/June. I'm not saying that I want them starting in the World Cup next summer, but they have stepped up and have done pretty well.

Greg Seltzer said...

Erm... I was more referring to Beasley (though he didn't actually play against Cuba, either, now that I think of it).

timo said...

Dikran's not hearing voices (at least in this instance). During Sunday's Stoke match vs Norwich the announcer actually commented that Cameron met with Hughes and expressed preference for center back over right back, but evidently Hughes likes him at right back as well.

chalaron said...

I like this roster, but JK has never called up Lichaj so I'm not holding my breath he'll make it. Also Brazil is a long plane ride away for the candlestick maker. :)

Greg Seltzer said...

@ timo:

Hmm. I'm skeptical of this. That guy does not always pass things along correctly. And if this happened and media members know it, why is there no article saying that anywhere? Last time I heard straight from Cameron's own words (which admittedly was a couple years back), he professed to favoring a midfield spot.

@ chalaron:

Klinsi has spoken of monitoring Lichaj several times, but then again I'm not trying to guess what the coach may do. This roster solely contains *my* preferences and what *I* would do.

Who is the candlestickmaker?

Fennel said...

What makes you say Cameron is playing like a wingback?

What are the chances Mikey's injury is worse than has been mentioned and that he loses his place at Roma until late in the season?

TrueCrew said...

Absurd now list.

Anyway, I understand you are trying to make waves and not necessarily sense. DMB as a F? Chandler and Lichaj in the team? Really? Based on what, not seeing a camp for a year? Please.

A real right now 23:

Donovan-----Dempsey----F. Johnson

GK: Guzan, Rimando
D: Cherundolo, Goodson, Castillo
D/M: Cameron
M: Beckerman, Diskerud, Bedoya
M/F: E. Johnson, Johannsson, Gomez

Just missed: Zusi, Brooks, Shea, Parkhurst

Just in: Castillo, Goodson, Dreads, Herc, Gomez.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Fennel:

"What makes you say Cameron is playing like a wingback?"

Is this to me? If so, I don't understand the question.

"What are the chances Mikey's injury is worse than has been mentioned and that he loses his place at Roma until late in the season?"

Why would they do that?

@ TrueCrew:

"Absurd now list."

How can the now list be absurd when I'm listing my preference? In that regard, it's 100% spot on.

"Anyway, I understand you are trying to make waves and not necessarily sense."

It always cracks me up when someone accuses me of giving an opinion to make waves or cause some sort of reaction. Why on Earth would I even do that?

You clearly don't have a grasp on me as a person. I call it as I see it, I don't have the time, energy or need to pretend for show. In work or life, you get me. Period.

Pass it on.

"DMB as a F?"

Look closer; that's an A, as in attacker. As in forwards and wingers.

"Chandler and Lichaj in the team? Really? Based on what, not seeing a camp for a year? Please."

Yes, really. Why? Because they have top level skills, run well and have experience facing bigtime opponents. Not to mention, they are two of the hotter form defenders in the US pool right now. And can each play both wingback slots.

But you do understand this is not an exercise to guess what Klinsi has on his clipboard, right?

" A real right now 23:"

Your backline is toast already. And with Jones in there, Bradley is not free to get forward. We agree fully in attack.

" Bench:"

Cherundolo makes your right now squad? I'd love to hear that explanation. Same with taking four center forwards, but only three center backs.

And Kljestan is nowhere to be found, while Beckerman makes the team? How droll.

Still, congratulations on correctly naming your own preferences without anyone passing along to tell you it's wrong. :)