Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Team USA and Other Thoughts

photo by fdrizovia PhotoRee

Correspondent Ed once again graces our pages with some thoughts on Team USA and more:

Watching the USA stumbling through a game on turf in the Meadowlands – and I mean literally stumbling – I have quite a few thoughts about our men in red, blue and a smidge of white, as well as some other random thoughts from the international break:

n   Tim Howard may not be the tallest keeper out there, but he’s extremely fast and aggressive.  He attacks dangerous situations and probably saved the US two goals at least in the their match against Argentina.  Hahneman is a definite step down.  Competent, but not Howard. 

n   Clint Dempsey continues to show that he may be the most complete player on the US team.  He’s terrific with the ball as well as without the ball, and often puts passes in places where his teammates should be but somehow aren’t.  It’s also kind of weird that he’s from Texas.

n  I’ve really had about enough of the Bocanegra’s and Bornstein’s on the US team.  These guys are the most rigid guys on the team and, I think, a constant liability.  Until the US puts together a good back line, we’re going to going to have a hard time climbing above the top 25.

n  Everyone’s talking about the new guy, Juan Agudelo, and he deserves it.  He brings some additional speed and activity to the front line, and seems to make Altidore a better player, as well.  In my experience, there’s a lot of super-fast and super-athletic guys in the US; it’s time to get more of these guys on the pitch for our team.  Agudelo is a great start.  Europe for him some day?

n  Landon Donovan seems to be a bit unready for these matches.  As can be expected, I think the time off probably helped his mind and body but hurt his game.

n  Is Michael Bradley any good?  I thought he had a good World Cup, but sometimes you forget he’s out there.  I want  Bradley to be good, and sometimes I even think he might be, but it’s always an open question.  He definitely has the ball skills for holding midfield, but he doesn’t seem to have the defensive tenacity for the position. 

n  Strangely, most of these guys on the team don’t seem to move that all that well off the ball.  The US is constantly stranding players and giving them few options.  Is it coaching or style or lack of conditioning?

n  Did I really see Messi do a 360 at full speed with the ball the other evening?  It took four US defenders converging on him to stop him.  Crazy skills.  Like watching the bossman dismantle a bologna sandwich.

n  DeMerit.  Hmmm.

n  Eric Lichaj (pronounced "Lehigh" for reasons unknown) checked into the game.  I recall him last while he was running with Gareth Bale, and then getting dropped from the Villa sqad shortly thereafter.

n  Why does Wales have a national team?  I mean, I realize Wales is technically a “country,” but isn’t it time to move on?  Your team isn’t really competitive, and your country is a lot more like, say, England’s New Jersey than it is like a member of the international community. I mean, if Texas and California can both have guys play for the same team, Wales and England should be able to have a go of it.  Plus, wouldn’t everyone like to see Gareth Bale and even Giggs on the England team?  Maybe it would save us from my least favorite Gareth – the jogging square pass known as Gareth Barry.

n  I wonder just how fast the fastest international players are.  Wouldn’t a NFL-like combine be great to see?  I would guess guys like Rooney put up 4.6’s.  Messi and Donovan maybe in the high 4.5’s.  And Nicholas Bendtner?  I’m thinking 5.39. . . . . . 
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This is farlieonfootie for March 30.

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