Aug 4, 2011

Klinsmann's First Roster

No doubt about it, Jurgen Klinsmann is not Bob Bradley.  Of course we knew that, for one think Klinsmann still has hair and I hope won't be wear track suits on the sidelines (really Bob, was even khakis and a U.S. Soccer polo too much?)  But with today's announcement of Klinsmann's first roster as MNT coach, it is clear that Klinsmann is looking at things very differently that Bob Bradley.

By now, everyone has seen the Roster, but here are my comments on the particular groups:

Goalkeepers:  Bill Hamid, Tim Howard.

    Big, huge break for Hamid, but I think he has earned it.  I have been surprised that he hasn't been called up into youth national team camps.  But I think Klinsmann is looking at Hamid as his guy for the Olympics next year.  The young DC United Academy product has really improved this season, taken his lumps and learned from each one.  Clearly one of the best young American keepers since, well, since Tim Howard.
    Howard's inclusion is no surprise.

Defenders:  Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Heath Pearce, Tim Ream.

     This is almost the perfect mix of youth and promise paired with age and consistency.  Older guys first--Bocanegra and Cherundolo.  I don't know if these guys will be around in three years for Brazil 2014, but right now, there is no better right back in the U.S. than Cherudolo, so much poise and leadership, plus the ability to get down the wing and whip a great cross.  I think Dolo is looking for a chance to get at the Mexican side after leaving the Gold Cup final with an injury.  Bocanegra is not as mobile as Cherundolo and I see him moving back into the middle, particularly with the inclusion of Heath Pearce and Orozco-Fiscal who are better on the left flank.
     Chandler and Ream are clearly future starters.  Ream is the less polished of the two and prone to mistakes, but if you watch his play carefully, he rarely makes the same mistake twice and never three times.  Chandler is, as of right now, the heir apparent to the right back slot currently held by Cherundolo.  But Chandler can also move forward into the right wing slot, with lots of speed.
     The biggest surprise for me was Edgar Castillo's inclusion.  I have seen him from time to time playing the FMF and he has always looked solid.  But I am not sure where he would play, but clearly Klinsmann or someone has been watching Castillo who has been solid, if not flashy south of the Border.
     Let me say a few words about Clarence Goodson.  If I were a betting man, I would say that Goodson becomes the center back anchor for the next four years.  Goodson is strong, consistent, a quiet leader and has worked his way into this position.  Almost the classic center back, tall, strong in the air and a good position player.  But what sets Goodson apart from guys like Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu is that Goodson can play with the ball at his feet.  He can make that cutting pass from the defensive third to deep into the midfield third or attacking third.  Credit to DeMerit and Onyewu for their defensive skills, but Goodson is an "attacking" centerback and that is exciting--if if Goodson's demeanor on the pitch is not.

Midfielders:  Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Brek Shea, Jose Torres.
     Dear Jurgen---I think you have enough central, defensive midfielders here.  Just sayin'
     I am surprised by the inclusion of Beckerman.  He doesn't have a great many caps and has been on the fringes of the MNT "A" squad for years.  There is not doubt in my mind that Beckerman is not a quality defensive midfielder, but at 29, can Beckerman really contribute that much to a team that is already neck deep in defensive midfielders.  Likewise, I am surprised by Clark's inclusion.  While his club team just crashed out of the DFB Pokal (the German Cup), I am surprised that Clark is here, having not garnered a huge amount of playing time since leaving the Houston Dynamo.  Perhaps Klinsmann sees something new, and we will see.
     The Bradley-Edu-Jones trio continues.  Finally, Michael Bradley will be able to show people that he is not a nepotism call-up as I do believe he is the most complete player of these three, efficient on defensive, brilliant on the late run into the box and deadly from long range.  The pressure is on Bradley to prove something to fans and people who don't like his surname, but the greater pressure is on Edu.  Sure Edu is a quality player, but hasn't really raised his game in recent years.  That is no doubt owed to injury problems, but this next year is going to be key for Edu.
  I am excited to see Shea in here, but he knows the pressure is on.  Despite his success and improvement in MLS, Shea has rarely stepped up when he has had the chance on the national team.  This might be his last shot at the MNT for a year (although he is certain to get called up in September).  The same thing might be said for Jose Torres, although there is a little less pressure on Torres.
     One thing that strikes me about this midfield is that aside from Torres, there are not a lot of great ball handlers in this group.  Of course the forward group selected provides people we have come to think of more as midfielders than strikers.

Forwards:  Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo, DaMarcus Beasley, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan

    Of this group, only Agudelo and Buddle are true "strikers" but certainly Donovan can fill the role.  I guess I could see Adu as a second striker, but he doesn't have the pace to effectively work as a second striker. Adu could spray passes around as an attacking midfielder.
     But it is the selection of Beasley that has to have people buzzing.  Beasley, always a left midfielder or even a left back, is not a name that has been on the tongues of a lot of MNT fans for a while.  But Beasely is naturally left footed, has loads of pace and can stay wide.  On the flip side, players like Donovan, although good on the left flank, tend to cut into their preferred right foot.

To be sure, Klinsmann thinks that FMF is producing some great footballers and it will be interesting to see how in works that into matters.

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