Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Upcoming U.S. Friendleis--What Should Bob Bradley Do?

Kartik makes a good case for getting more MLS players a look in upcoming friendlies versus, England, Spain and Argentina. Kartik notes, though, that the MLS is unlikely to release all these players. Kartik's ideal starting XI and reservers would look like this:

------———————————Tim Howard—————————————-
——————–Oguchi Onyweu————-CarlosBocanegra——————–
Steve Cherdundolo—————————————-Eddie Lewis————–
————–Maurice Edu———–Michael Bradley———————Rico Clark
Landon Donovan————————————————Clint Demspey——
—————————John Thorrington—————————————–


GK: Kasey Keller

D: Heath Pearce, Jonathan Spector, Michael Orozco, Kamani Hill, Jay DeMerit

M DaMarcus Beasley, Chris Rolfe, Ramiro Corrales, Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Rogers, Sacha Klejstan, Eddie Gaven

F Kenny Cooper, Alan Gordon

Of these players, Howard, Onyewo, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Lews, Bradley and Dempsey all play in Europe. Among the reserves, Pearce, Spector, DeMerit, and Beasley play in Europe as well. Donovan and Clark have quite a few caps already and Edu has lots of U23 experience.

So if Kartik's argument is that Bob Bradley should be looking to deepen the player pool in the run up to World Cup qualifying, the question must be, why start nine of your starting XI with proven, long-term U.S. team fixture players? if the goal is to deepen the pool, why not start with more players who have less experience on the international or full international level? If Bradley is looking to develop a deep player pool to draw from during World Cup Qualifying, why not go balls out and start something like this XI


----------------------------Brad Guzan---------------

Steve Cherundolo--------Oguchi Onyewu (C)-----Jonathan Leathers-----Kamani Hill

Clint Dempsey--------Michael Bradley-------Kyle Beckerman--------DaMarcus Beasley

-----------------Kenny Cooper--------John Thorrington-------------------------

Reserves could include some of the more experienced players to provide some leadership in camp but also a fall back if the results become important.

I can see the argument for fielding a big time XI against England, since they are going to be taking the match very seriously and it would be great to take them on their own home ground. But, by the same token, can you imagine what would happen if the U.S. took a draw against England with this line-up.

Here are some justifications.

Guzan--I know Tim Howard and Kasey Keller can play at the top level, let's see if Guzan can. His performance in the MLS of late has been less than stellar, but he seems to be righting himself. Put him to the test.

Onyewu is something of a hothead and maybe being the Captain will instill a little responsbility in him.

Hill--man does this guy have pace. If he could harness that pace and combine it with some ball control and services into the middle, he could be a valuable addition to teh attacking options.

Beckerman, I want to see if he has international possibility, but teaming him with the solid and consistent Bradley and putting Dempsey and Beasley into the line with him will help steady him I think.

Cooper and Thorrington. I like Kartik's rationale for Thorrington (and he has been playing well for Chicago). Cooper is untested in international play, but he has been solid for Dallas so give him the shot.

If the goal is to expand and deepen the potential player pool, the upcoming friendlies against three top level international sides offers an opportunity for Bob Bradley to really see what some of these younger, untested players can do? It will also provide something important for American soccer, can MLS players really match up against the best the world has to offer?

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