Thursday, July 17, 2008

U.S. Olympic Soccer Squad

Announced today:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (5): Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Brian McBride (out of contract), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

The three overage players are Guzan, Parkhurst and McBride.

Guzan is going to get even more international experience and given his naming to the Olympic roster, it seems obvious that he is not the number 1 at Aston Villa. But that could come soon, I think. Teh addition of Michael Parkhurst on the back line gives me better hope. I have always considered the back line to be the weak point for the U.S. squads at all levels. Parkhurst's dependibility and solid understanding of the game will be of massive value in Beijing. Is this a sign of Parkhurst seeing time with the U.S. in World Cup Qualifying? I hope so.

I hope U.S. Coach Peter Novak puts out a line-up like this:





But to be honest, given the midfield crew that Novak has at his disposal, even something like this would work, a sort of bastardized






Here is my thinking on this formation above. I think Mo Edu is turning into a solid defensive/holding midfielder, but has attacking instincts that are phenomenal (see some of his recent peformances for Toronto). But having a holding midfielder behind a five man midfield with loaded with speed and creativity, means that you fill a bit of a gap. I think it also relieves Michael Bradley, to a certain extent, of his defensive role and allows him to do what he does best, get invovled in the attack and score goals (19 goals in the Eredivise is not an accident). What I think the U.S. will need to do is get good service to McBride up top. He is a man made for the central striker/target man position and if you get a ball into the area between the penalty spot and the six yard box, there are no Americans better at finishing than McBride and he would arguably be a world top 10 at the job. McBride is not nearly as mobile as Altidore or Rodgers (who has been playing more of a winger role at Columbus of late), but both of those youngsters are speedy, and in Altidore's case, very strong on the ball. Along with Freddy Adu, that young trio is not afraid to go one on one or one on two with anyone and that makes them dangerous.

This may limit the attack from the back line, but if developed properly and implemented well, I think Wynne and Orozco could still be dangerous on teh overlap.

It will be interesting to see how Novak handles the deep pool of talent in the midfield/striker world.

The alternates (who will travel with the team, but can't be called in unless a player is injured) are GK Dominic Cervi (Out of contract), D Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), MF Dax McCarty (FC Dallas) and F Robbie Findlay (Real Salt Lake). Hejduk is also over age, so he would likely be called in only if Parkhurst gets injured.

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