Monday, March 24, 2014

Zuul, the Gatekeeper

As much as I wanted to respond to Cameron's (at least temporarily) necessary shift to right back by throwing these three guys in a ring and yelling "Fight!" - alas, I am here to choose. This is tight and highly subject to change. Edu is the one to watch here, as he holds the most experience at the top level.

Daniel Williams
Kyle Beckerman
Maurice Edu




- Greg Seltzer

26 comments:

justinwkoehn said...

I've noticed a slight bias towards those in Europe or with European experience on your clipboard. I don't blame you, as I tend to rate those players higher as well since I watch way more European football than MLS. Given your profession, obviously you do the same. I think that's the prevailing theme here in your clipboard vs JK will pick as his 23. He's also got the benefit of keeping a keen eye on MLS and Liga MX, as well as what's gone on in training.

Greg Seltzer said...

Can you point out examples of this alleged bias? :)

Greg Seltzer said...

And if I am favorable to something, it is not European experience per se, but experience at high levels.

justinwkoehn said...

Daniel Williams - Over Beckerman? I'd give you this over quality but not continuity. Nothing in the Ukraine match made me think he was #1 on the list for this spot (or Beckerman for that matter).

Maurice Edu - Wow, wasn't expecting him on the list. Very little playing time over the last two years, and no recent USMNT call-ups.

Eric Lichaj - Only two USMNT subs in last two years. Also the current injury and lack of playing time should lower his position on the list.
Jonathan Spector - Hasn't played for USMNT in over 2 years.


Tim Ream - Too high for someone who hasn't played for USMNT in a long time. Passed on the Ukraine call-up, understandably.

John Anthony Brooks - Terrible form both for club and country, but not unrealistic to have him #3.

Oguchi Onyewu - Fine for a #3 I guess, but blew the last audition.

Michael Parkhurst - Couldn't get any minutes with a mid-table bundesliga team. He did look good though vs Korea, and has CL experience. I like him here but many MLS fanboys may not.

I guess the underlying theme is that when there's room for a wildcard, it's a player with European experience thrown in there, regardless of any recent experience with the current squad. If you haven't seen someone in the last year, I doubt there's a chance.

paul said...

Ok, Justin. Fair complaints. And your recommended replacements that improve the situation?

justinwkoehn said...

I'm not complaining at all. Like I said before, I'd lean this way as well, because of my biases. There are just no MLS or LigaMX guys slotted in here as wildcards. That's where Greg and Jurgen's clipboards will vary.

Greg Seltzer said...

** Daniel Williams - Over Beckerman? I'd give you this over quality but not continuity. Nothing in the Ukraine match made me think he was #1 on the list for this spot (or Beckerman for that matter).**


First of all, you must remember that Cameron would really be my first choice here, but the wingback crisis forced me to slide him back. Secondly, Williams has improved this season and owns a considerable advantage in top level experience over Beckerman. In the end, though, it came down to nitpicking. I have all three of these guys practically level right now.






** Maurice Edu - Wow, wasn't expecting him on the list. Very little playing time over the last two years, and no recent USMNT call-ups.**


Okay, but he has fresher legs and 4-5-6 times as much top level experience as the other two combined. Besides, he is an MLS player now and MLS is how he got back on the clipboard.



** Eric Lichaj - Only two USMNT subs in last two years. Also the current injury and lack of playing time should lower his position on the list.**


Well, the lack of PT is due to the injury - that is not two separate problems. But I have been constantly crying out for him to be called-up. This is my clipboard.




** Jonathan Spector - Hasn't played for USMNT in over 2 years.**


Mostly due to injuries. He has tons of high level experience and versatility.


** Tim Ream - Too high for someone who hasn't played for USMNT in a long time. Passed on the Ukraine call-up, understandably.**


What other LCB besides Besler has played for the Nats recently? Ream has also displayed tremendous improvement this season. He is a lock for my American Exports Team of the Season over at MLSS come May.



**John Anthony Brooks - Terrible form both for club and country, but not unrealistic to have him #3.**


Heh. Then why mention him? :D



** Oguchi Onyewu - Fine for a #3 I guess, but blew the last audition.**


I disagree on the blew and the last audition descriptions. Nevertheless, he has a couple few times more top level experience than all the other CBs combined.


** Michael Parkhurst - Couldn't get any minutes with a mid-table bundesliga team. He did look good though vs Korea, and has CL experience. I like him here but many MLS fanboys may not.**


Setting aside that his is also an MLS player, people often assign way too much meaning into a situation like he had at Augsburg. He arrived injured, got injured again soon after and the defense started improving right about that same time. Besides, you say mid-table Bundesliga team as if that is some easy nut to crack.



** I guess the underlying theme is that when there's room for a wildcard, it's a player with European experience thrown in there, regardless of any recent experience with the current squad. If you haven't seen someone in the last year, I doubt there's a chance.**


Well, the reality is that most top level experiences are from playing in Europe. Not much I can do about that factor. It is what it is. It is not bias to favor the favorable.

justinwkoehn said...

Greg, you can make an argument for all of those players and why they are here (which you did), and I don't disagree. You cover Americans Abroad, and have intimate knowledge of the skills of these players. A writer based in the US covering MLS will have a completely different list of fringe players. My guess is that JK will have a list somewhere in between. I know Parkhurst and Edu are MLS, but they are not on this list for what they've done in MLS recently was my point with those two.

I really like your list thus far. I just wanted to point out that its very light on domestic league players (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Greg Seltzer said...

Heh. The last World Cup roster were light on MLS players, too. Before that, 2002 and 2006 had a slim majority of Europe-based players. But there is a perfectly scientific explanation for that: more of the top US players have moved to Europe in the last decade than ever before. It is not a bias, it is a trend.

Still, are you so sure an MLS writer would have more MLS players on their list? My clipboard has a few peculiarities, but pretty much all the same names for discussion. I mean, three of my top four CBs are in MLS, and I do not hear anyone else talking about a Bocanegra return.

Things are often no so cut and dry from appearance. Every placement of a starter I have and every back-up has a tactical reason leading the decisions. A perfect example of that, starring an MLS player, will come when I get to the left wing position - and this decision has actually opened one more starting spot for an MLS player. So at least let me get to the end! :D



dikranovich said...

I would not say that danny Williams has that much more top level experience then Beckerman. Williams has never played in champions league, and kyle Beckerman has been playing pretty regular for several years now, in the concacaf champions league.

Greg Seltzer said...

Williams spent two full seasons in the Bundesliga, as well as parts of two others, playing 59 league games there.

Please do not get me wrong. I like Beckerman, he is improved and he started the new MLS season like a bandit. But Beckerman has little experience outside MLS and most of his caps are against lesser opponents than the caps of Williams. Beckerman has top level experience consisting of Copa America '07, some nice games against Mexico and the France loss, which was not a terribly encouraging display.

You can argue that Beckerman is better or better-suited to the rile, but there can be no denying that Williams has spent considerably more minutes facing top level opposition.

Jon said...

I 100% agree with Greg. It's about experience at the highest levels, not so much what league you currently play, although I would prefer our best playing in top 4-6 leagues.

But guys like Landon, Dempsey, Bradley and Edu don't have much to do with the MLS vs Europe discussion and which leagues are better in this discussion as much as the important factor that they have played and have proven themselves at the higher levels, so we have an idea how their play translates to the highest levels, whether they're in MLS now or not.

But guys like Omar or Besler or Beckerman or Zusi? I'd say they do weigh much more in the MLS vs top Euro league debate as they have not been subjected to the higher levels, whether in club footy or international footy outside the region and we therefor don't know how well their skills translates to the highest levels as they're unproven at those levels.

Experience matters. Playing at and against a higher tempo and higher skilled sides is important and there's no substitute for having gone through it. My biggest fear in this WC is how few players we have who might see major mins who have not played at the higher levels.

At the WC level and when we walk out there vs Ghana, we can't afford to have guys shell shocked by the tempo and combined skill/pace they'll see, yet I think that's exactly what we'll see, especially from our CB's.

justinwkoehn said...

Just curious...do either of you put more weight into English League Championship experience vs MLS? I've personally ranked them similarly in the past.

Greg Seltzer said...

I rate these two about the same, but the Championship does have the bonus attraction of the game there being so fast-paced. Frankly, though, I think much of this can be attributed to the general temperature difference. Championship players do not need to slog around much in 90+ degrees with sweltering humidity.

Really though, it mostly comes down to the individual, what things they provide and how much of those things is needed.

dikranovich said...

this is the Beckerman/Williams debate in a nutshell; Williams is more athletic and dynamic, but Beckerman has superior passing skills and his reading of the game is really probably only second to junior.

you can count on Beckerman to clog things up and be an all around pest for the opposition and Beckerman will play it safe and smart. in a foot race he will lose, but more than likely, he will usually have a head start.

the bundas league is a top league, but the gap between the top team and the rest is rather substantial. imagine skc buying Donovan from LA only to sit him on the bench. it is still bundas league competition and atmosphere though.

when Beckerman plays in his confederations champions league, he is playing against top level competition

Greg Seltzer said...

Yes, dikranovich, the difference between the far and away top team in the world for a couple few years is substantially above the rest of the league. Of course, that leaves a lot of room for many other outstanding and good teams to make up the best league in the world.

CONCACAF Champions League is top level competition? Oh dear, no. I think not, sir. I am fairly sure the CONCACAF Champions League itself and all the participants within would freely admit it is not. Naturally, you will now somehow take something I said here as some sort of insult to MLS and CONCACAF...

justinwkoehn said...

Greg, CONCACAF and UEFA Champions League are obviously parallel. The winners of both get the exact same invite to Club World Cup, one of the most prestigious tournaments in all football, second only to the World Cup!

dikranovich said...

Saprissa shows pretty well, and Mexican team put more into copa libertadores, but Danny Williams has not played in European champions league.

I just don't see Williams having some edge in experience over beckerman. Edu does, but I'd still prefer beckerman even to him at this point in time.

Surely at least two of these three players are in the final 23

Greg Seltzer said...

@ justinwkoehn:

I cannot tell if you are being serious or joking.

John said...

@justinwkoehn: Brooks hasn't been terrible. He has had a bunch of injuries this season and I think that has hurt his form quite a bit. He was decent against Borrusia Monchengladbach on the weekend and did better against Bayern Munich earlier today.

John said...

@dikranovich: I would prefer Williams over Beckerman. Like Greg said he has spent 2 seasons in the Bundesliga which is one of the top 3 leagues. He has played really well for Reading and has shown to be a cut above the Championship when healthy. Beckerman did really well for the U.S. in the Gold Cup and in the WCQ against Mexico, but I think his pace would hurt the U.S. if he was needed as a sub in the WC. Especially against the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

franzhistory said...

While Beckerman has a better feel of the game , Williams is a stronger athlete and can play in multiple positions. Whether its is in the Middle of the park, right mid, right back ( he even spent time at center back) he brings multiple options to this team. But Mo is the best athlete out of both them. he has WC experience and could be a solution to the problem of our central defense. He paired with Besler against Mexico and did well. Yes he played out of position but I think Jurgen is looking for players that have the flexibility to play than more than one position. Giving Mo and Williams a leg up on Beckerman.

justinwkoehn said...

@Greg Hah, give me more credit than that.

@John I remember not too long ago he was subbed in the first half of a Bundesliga game, and then struggled to get any sort of minutes for weeks beyond that. He was definitely out of favor for a long while. A decent showing here doesn't a WC ticket earn. I have very high hopes for him, and hope he matures soon enough and can make a huge impact in 2018.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

@justinwkoehn: He was subbed out due to an injury. He will stay in the U.S. MNT CB mix if he can stay a starter for Hertha Berlin, because no other American CB is playing against quality opponents like he is.

John said...

@franzhistory: Edu was never paired with Besler against Mexico. Edu was paired with Cameron in the friendly against Mexico at the Azteca in 2012.