Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gold Cup Preview--WWBBD

The U.S. Men's National Team will look to defend as two time champions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup starting on Saturday. So the question is WWBBD, What will Bob Bradley do?

Looking at the Gold Cup roster, I don't see a lot of players with a great deal of hope, absent a massive showing, of making the World Cup roster. But here are a few things that I think that can be discerned from the roster:

1. I think Troy Perkins is likely to get most of the Gold Cup starts in net. This signals to me that he is likely to be the #3 for the U.S. at the World Cup. Perkins has had a good season so far in Norway and a few national team games will be his reward. I don't see him supplanting Tim Howard, but I could see him stepping into Brad Guzan's number two slot.

2. Bob Bradley has a chance to test a few offensive combinations. In particular, I think a Brian Ching/Charlie Davies pairing is likely in two of the three group stages games, most likely against Grenada and Honduras. Ching operates as a classic target striker and Davies is a much more of a speed forward. Davies is looking to cement himself a good move in the July transfer window and a good showing in the Gold Cup will help. Ching and Davies will be different that Altidore and Davies and I am interested in seeing whether Bradley, Ching and Davies can find a way to exploit their given strengths.

3. Can Heath Pearce make a case for himself? Bob Bradley will likely start Pearce and Steve Cherundolo at left and right back respectively. Cherundolo has suffered from injury and Bradley will likely give the long time Hanover 96 man the benefit of the doubt at this point regarding inclusion in the World Cup squad. Pearce on the other hand has suffered a drastic drop in form, getting shunned by his club (he was demoted to the reserves for Hansa Rostock) and a host of poor performances for the National team.

4. Will Bob Bradley drop the responsibility on Freddy Adu or look elsewhere? There will be a host of "this is Adu's chance to shine and get a World Cup spot" stories in the next few days, and while I agree with this sentiment, I am not sure that Adu will be handed the reins in midfield. Bob Bradley is looking at a midfield set up that will rely heavily on box to box midfielders, with a line of midfielders taking up defensive slots in support of teh back line. (see the defensive formation against Spain). Freddy Adu has never been a box to box midfielder. It is not that he couldn't be, as there is no reason why the 20 year old can't match the energy of Michael Bradley, Mo Edu or Landon Donovan, it is just that he has never done so. To really make a case for himself, Freddy Adu has to either bring that kind of energy or show something very different in order for Bradley to consider including him in the national team set up for next year. Right now, I am leaning to Bradley looking elsewhere for his midfield strength, namely Stuart Holden and possibly Robbie Rogers.

5. Defensively, I don't see much of a chance of this crop of defenders to make their way into the 'A' squad. The only exceptions would probably be Michael Parkhurst or Chad Marshall. Marshall is big, strong in the air and a threat on attacking set pieces. Parkhurst on the other hand is a bit smaller but very very good at positioning himself in defenses.

6. There are three players that I would like to see get some good playing time: Logan Pause, Santino Quaranta and Sam Cronin. Does Pause, who has had a good season for the Chicago Fire have what it takes on the international level? If the U.S. win against Grenada and Haiti, look for Pause to step into the holding midfielder role with Marshall and Parkhurst behind him against Honduras. Sam Cronin is a rookie on fire in the MLS during year when the competition for rookie of the year is intense. Does Cronin have what it takes to step up to the next level? I don't know, but I hope Bradley gives him the test. My favorit come-back player of the year Santino Quaranta is back, four years after helping the MNT win the Gold Cup in 2005. He is in form, injury free and making a case as a utility player who can play on the right, in the middle or up top.

7. Formation wise, I could see Bob Bradley experimenting with a kind of 4-3-3 with something like this:





A 4-4-2 would probably look more like this:





Finaly a 4-5-1 would look more like this:





The beauty is that the back line could include players like Clarence Goodson or Jimmy Conrad as well. In the end, I don't see Conrad making the cut for the World Cup.

Confederations Cup Answers Questions

Going into the Confederations Cup, there were a series of questions that I had regarding the U.S. Men's National Team that I had hoped to get answered. Those four questions were:

1. Was the U.S. going to solve its full back problems, particularly the left back slot?

2. Was the U.S. going to find an attacking set up that didn't rely just on a target forward holding the ball, i.e. an option for a Brian Ching centric attack?

3. Was the U.S. going to find that vital play maker for the center of midfield?

4. Was Bob Bradley going to finally find a tactical set up that worked for the players he has at his disposal?

For questions 1 and 2, I would say that we have found good answers to those questions. Question 3 is still an unknown and I am not sure we are going to find that playmaker yet, although there do seem to be hints at some one who could fill that role. The answer to question 4 is a yes and a no.

The Answers

1. Was the U.S. going to solve its full back problems, particularly the left back slot? the injury to Carlos Bocanegra in the Honduras match in Chicago during World Cup Qualifying meant that Bob Bradley was forced to do something different. Rather than the starting center back tandem of Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu, Bradley was forced to start Jay DeMerit in the middle of the defense and the good fortune that came out of that forced decision was a revelation. Sure, DeMerit was shaky at times, but I think throughout the entire tournament, DeMerit steadily improved, making fewer mistakes and he reached the apex during the Spain game and the first half of the final. I think he was just exhausted by the end of the final, having played every minute for five straight matches and finding that he was just not fit enough to go five games in 13 days and be as sharp.

But putting DeMerit in the middle of defense and seeing a solid pairing with Onyewu, Bradley, in order to get his team captain on the field and not gut the confidence that DeMerit was showing, meant that Bocanegra had to play left back, a position he plays for his club, Rennes. Bocanegra proved to be solid out there on the left, he has enough knowledge to know when to move forward, a strong enough left foot to make good crosses and the defensive knowledge to position himself properly. He is clearly not as pacey as Jonathan Bornstein, but his knowledge and experience help.

Over on the right side, Jonathan Spector proved that he is set to become the U.S. right back. Spector, who normally plays centrally as well, was able to get up and down the right flank, made some great crosses (two assists in this tournament) and played very well defensively. Like Bocanegra, he is not as fast as I would like, but he plays a smart defense, has the necessary energy and is strong enough in attack that he should be the guy.

I think the Confederations Cup, and an unfortunate injury, allowed Bob Bradley to really find a defensive combination that works, that keeps its shape, is disciplined, experienced and meshed well. Sure, the U.S. is lacking pace, but if you need pace, you can have players like Frankie Hejduk, Bornstein or Marvell Wynne on your bench and accomplish that goal.

Coming out of the Confederations Cup, the U.S. now have a solid back line corps. If I were Bob Bradley, and I had to chose my top defenders right now, I would choose the following seven players* (followed by their preferred position and back up position)

Carlos Bocanegra (Left back, center back)
Oguchi Onyewu (center back)
Jay DeMerit (Center back)
Jonathan Spector (right back, center back)
Jonathan Bornstein (left back, left wing/midfield)
Frankie Hejduk/Steve Cherundolo (right back for both--depending on whose healthy)
Marvell Wynne (right back)

* FIFA allows 23 playes to be chose for the World Cup with three being goalkeepers, leaving 20 field players. Of that 20, Bradley will likely choose seven defenders.

2. Was the U.S. going to find an attacking set up that didn't rely just on a target forward holding the ball, i.e. an option for a Brian Ching centric attack?

This question is answered with another resouding Yes. For the past about 15 months or so, Bob Bradley has used Brian Ching and/or someone else as a target forward to hold the ball up for either midfielders like Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey or a second striker to play off of. This is not a bad strategy when Bradley had no other options. But an injury to Brian Ching just before the tournament meant that Bob Bradley had to change tactics and so something else. That something else was Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies.

Altidore is not a target striker, he does not operate well with his back to the goal. He is best when moving, using his pace, guile and strength to get around defenders. Charlie Davies is likewise not a target striker, but is also very quick and strong. What Bradley did to great effect, particularly against Spain and Egypt was not ask these to players to be a striking duo, but to be two strikers. Bradley put these boys out wide to start and give them the space to make slashing runs through the middle, allowing their pace and physical strength to get behind defenders. But setting the two strikers up to work somewhat independently also allowed midfielders like Donovan and Clint Dempsey to work a little inside them, cutting through the middle, which suited the squad quite well. Dempsey is not a winger and generally pinches inside a little, which then opens space up for the right back and Altidore and Davies to work the flank.

The tactical set up, I think, really surprised Spain in particular as they are probably used to seeing a U.S. team operate more with a target striker than two quick, independent strikers. But the tactical change in the absence of Ching showed that Bradley has options that he didn't have before the tournament and probably did not consider. The beauty of this discovery is that Bradley can make a change in mid game if he has to. For example, he could start an Altidore/Davies like combo and insert Ching later to exploit the gaps in central defense caused by opposing center backs who are run ragged by guys like Davies. Bradley could also do a combo, staring with Ching and a flank guy like Davies who should be given the freedom to go where he wants on attack and just flit around for Ching to find him. Or Bradley could just go with a target striker set up.

What ever set up Bradley chooses, the fact remains, now he has options and he should use those options to show opponents something different.

3. Was the U.S. going to find that vital play maker for the center of midfield?

Right now, the answer to this question is still a no. But it is not as much of a no as before the Confederations Cup. There were two players that really showed that they might have the chops for this role, but to do so would mean something of a change for both players. Those young men are Benny Feilhaber and Michael Bradley. I hope that after this tournament, the nepotism charges should be dead, done, dusted, and buried forever. Michael Bradley was the definition of industry, a true box to box midfielder, as comfortable in defense as he is in attack. What Michael Bradley needs to do is improve his distributional skills and his on-the-ball skills so that he can hold the ball, pass the ball and pick apart defenses to unleash his attackers. At times in this tournament he showed that, particularly against Egypt and to a slightly lesser extent Spain. But he is not consistent enough to do it regularly and he is not as quick on the ball yet. Michael Bradley needs to read the game better, and faster, so that he is seeing five, six, ten seconds ahead. I think it can come, but he is not there yet.

Benny Feilhaber has that vision, he can read the game and defenses well. He can hold the ball and kill a game off, or he can play the ball quickly to chase a game. Where Feilhaber fails is in fitness. Feilhaber is simply not in a position to play 90 minutes every three days that is necessary in a tournament. When he gets tired, he gets sloppy and his decision making slows down and gets erratic. If Feilhaber gets fit, he can play anywhere in the midfield and make an impact. Right now, Feilhaber is a perfect super sub, a guy who can come on for 30 minutes and make an immediate impact, change the game as necessary. But if he is to become the U.S. #10, the playmaker, he has to prove he can go box to box like Michael Bradley.

In truth, if I could make a player with Michael Bradley's fitness, energy and defensive skill, and mix it with Feilhaber's vision, passing and tactical skill, the U.S. would have that playmaker. To bad we can genetically create such a player.

4. Was Bob Bradley going to finally find a tactical set up that worked for the players he has at his disposal?

This is a yes and no answer. Unlike Steve Sampson and Bruce Arena (Bradley's predecessor as U.S. Coach), Bob Bradley has proved that he can look at film of an opponent, break down their strenghts and weaknesses and set up his starting eleven to exploit opponent weaknesses and fortify the U.S. against opponent strenths. For example, look how Micheal Bradley, Rico Clark, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan killed off the Spanish midfield. Look how disciplined the U.S. was against Spain, letting them have the flanks to cross the ball in and letting big men like Onyewu and DeMerit clear every cross against the Spanish strikers. Look how Bradley exploited the weaknesses of Brazil the left and on counterattacks. Bradley could set his teams up for the staring eleven. That is crucial and it is the yes part of the answer.

The no part of the answer comes from his pattern of substitutions. Through out the tournament, Bradley's subs simply didn't get the job done. Except for the addition of Jonathan Bornstein on the left wing in the final, or the insertion of Feilhaber in the Egypt and Spain games, not one of the Bradley subs actually improved the U.S. game to any discernible extent. Therein lies the tactical problem with Bob Bradley. He fails his own team by not being able to truly alter the game plan when things go awry or the U.S. gets down a goal or two. In the group stage against Brazil, when the U.S. went down early, Bob Bradley didn't know how to make changes to chase the game. The smart move at 2-0 down was to go to your playmakers, Jose Torres, Benny Feilhaber and even Freddy Adu, players who can create. Bob Bradley cannot shift tactics or alter his game plan on the fly to accomodate the changes in circumstance.

Can Bradley get better at the change on the fly? I think so. He has certainly shown that he knows how to set his team up to start, I believe he can learn how to change the game plan and alter teh game with smarter subs. It is not so much who he puts in (although that is important) but also a matter of when. For example, in the Brazile game, putting Jonathan Bornstein in on the left flank earlier, would have helped shut down Maicon bombing forward on the U.S. left side. Putting Jose Torres into the match for Feilhaber would have kept some creative flair on the field and made Brazil stop and think about the change, buying the U.S. some precious time on the clock.

Coming out of the Confederations Cup, I am happy with getting a couple of these questions answered. I would like to have gotten more of them fully answered, but with a little less than a year out, the U.S. is growing confidence. Two big milestones were passed, i.e. that the U.S. can respond to adverse situations in a tournament and play with pride and effectiveness. Second, the U.S. outplayed Spain and won. The U.S. outplayed Brazil for 45 minutes and nearly won. That means the U.S. should not fear any team in the world and should play with confidence.

I think the U.S. could close out 2009 with two major accomplishments and call this the most successful year in National Team history. Those accomplisments are:

1. Qualify for the World Cup with a couple games to spare.
2. Beat Mexico at Azteca Stadium.

Go U.S.A. !!!!!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Five Americans Who Improved Their Stock In South Africa

The Confederations Cup was a chance for the U.S. Men's National Team to show how they stack up against some of the best teams in the world. To be sure, the U.S. showed that they still suffer from a great deal of inconsistency and uneven play. To be sure, the U.S. certainly showed that they can play against the best in the world. But I have to say that there were some lessons to be learned.

However, I think there are five American players who will greatly benefit from their performance on the international stage. Here are my five (well six really as I will explain).
  1. Charlie Davies. In terms of making the most of his chances, Charlie Davies will not be employed in Sweden for much longer. He proved that he ready to make the next step up in his development. He showed not only speed, but also strength, smarts and drive. In the final against Brazil, Davies was leading a brilliant counter on the left side. He had the speed to blow by the Brazilian defense, but at that point the U.S. was up 2-1 and he did the smart thing, he stopped, pulled the ball back and played into the midfield in order to hold possession. Davies fought for the ball, and left everythign on the field against Egypt, Spain and Brazil. He has truly been a revelation for the U.S. MNT this tournament. I would expect a move to the Netherlands or even Germany. I think the Netherlands would be the best move.
  2. Landon Donovan. Along with Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan proved that he is truly a box to box midfielder. His fitness is amazing, covering about 7 miles of ground a game, for five games in two weeks. That is absolutely necessary for a tournament player. What really cemeted Donovan's salability in this tournament was his defensive work. Donovan has long been known solid attacking midfielder, lots of pace, and nose for the goal. But in this tournament Donovan was clearing balls from the defensive box. He was harrying the opposing full backs and making a great nuisance of himself, clogging up the midfield and forechecking. If MLS gets any sort of decent offer (upwards of $5 million), MLS has to let the man go. He has earned the right to go abroad and the MLS, if they are truly interested in growing the game in this country have to let Donovan go.
  3. Oguchi Onyewu.Gooch was an absolute beast this tournament. He is on a free transfer this summer and Gooch's performance will probably earn him another $10,000 a week in salary. Quick review, two time, back-to-back, Belgian league champions; solid, improving play international play against some of the best strikers in the world. My biggest knock against Onyewu in the past has been his reckless challenges resulting in yellow cards, but he has really improved in that category and that makes him vastly more marketable. Rumors are pointing to Fenerbache in Turkey, a couple of lower level English Premier League teams and now a couple of Italian clubs including Fiorentina. Given the reputation of the Italian league in terms of defensive play, I think Italy would be a brilliant move.
  4. Benny Feilhaber. After his glory in the Gold Cup that got the U.S. to the Confederations Cup, Feilhaber dropped off the radar screen. While Feilhaber showed in the Brazil games is that he is not 90 minutes fit, I think he is the definition of an impact sub and more importantly, Feilhaber can be the guy to make a difference. If the game is tied and Bradley needs to make a quick tweak to the game to show something different, Feilhaber can do that. If the U.S. needs to manage a game while being up, Feilhaber can hold the ball up, control the match and control the ball. If the U.S. needs to chase a game, Feilhaber can bring the skills and vision to find that necessary goal. I would like to see Aarhus in Denmark give this young man some 90 minute games. Feilhaber should not move this summer, but maybe the January window.
  5. -tie. Ricardo Clark. In know there are a lot of haters out there about Rico Clark, but leaving aside the red card against Italy, Clark demonstrated why he is a solid holding midfielder. Yes, Clark needs to work on his first touch, but his positioning, energy and discipline have greatly improved. I think he and Maurice Edu will battle for that holding midfield spot and that is good for the U.S. I think Clark is ready for a move to Europe and with the rumor that Rennes (where Carlos Bocanegra plays) would be a good choice. Jay DeMerit. Stepping in for the injured Carlos Bocanegra, the big DeMerit showed that he is a good choice. Yes, DeMerit made some misjudgments at times, but I think he showed that he is a quality center back. DeMerit and Gooch really worked well together and even on the first Fabiano goal yesterday, DeMerit did everything right. If his left foot was three inches to the right, that shot was blocked. DeMerit should get some good hard looks from lower level Premier League teams.
I really tried to pick either Clark or DeMerit, but really they came to be a toss up.

USA 2:3 Brazil

the Americans gave it a great go, but ran out of gas and it was obvious. The quick start by the Americans gave me hope and I have to admit I was thinking about the upset win and was getting a little out of my mind. The high was high.

But the quick goal by Fabiano in the second half was the real turning point. The longer the U.S. held that 2-0 lead the more likely that they would win. But the Brazilian pressure was just to much in the end.

More thoughts on the game later as it stews a bit in my head.

Friday, June 26, 2009

15 Reasons to Oppose the Climate Bill

From the Club for Growth. All good reasons but I have three that are completely unrelated:

1. It is sponsored by Henry Waxman--enough said.
2. It is about climate change and stopping it. Congress would be better off trying to legislation the sunrise--neither of which are in the enumerated powers or contemplated by teh "necessary and proper clause."
3. Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Joe Biden thinks the bill is good policy. They are all wrong.

Healthy and Unhealth Obsessions

This is your brain on mid-life crisis says Tom Smith,about Gov. Mark Sanford, it is a sharp criticism:
Once more the human animal baffles me. Gov. Sanford, who I thought was pretty cool for trying to refuse to take stimulus money, turns out to be a love-crazed loon. I have long accepted that women are mysterious, but increasingly I fear I do not understand men either. What is it with these middle aged guys who ruin themselves, not to mention their families, by chasing after ridiculous objects of affection or even obsession? The length of the flight alone would keep me from flying to Argentina to have sex, not to mention prior engagements. Do I just not get it? Do I not know what love is? Hasn't this guy ever heard of cold showers or push ups?

I think in a deeper sense this is all the fault of liberals. Nobody used to think that just because you were 49 and the mother of your children no longer enthralled you as she once did that you were somehow entitled to fly across the hemisphere to satisfy your man lust. Real men sucked down a couple of stiff drinks, played a round of golf, fired up a good cigar and accepted the responsibilities of running the free world. But no more apparently. Now it's, oh my feelings, and I don't know who I am anymore, and nine other kinds of [b.s.]. It makes me embarassed for my sex. But, this is all the fault of the sexual revolution, and the associated rise of the therapeutic culture, which you may recall were not Republican ideas.
Despite the rhetoric about the fault of liberals, I don't think Smith is that far off the mark as a general point. Men used to be obsessed about inanimate things (cars or motorcycles), esoteric things (coins or stamps) or, heaven forbid, sports. Now they have become obsessed with feelings and validation and it seems stupid.

I came to an epiphany about this last night. Last night my wife noted to me that I seem obsessed with soccer. I don't know if "obsessed" is the right word (I am far more enamoured with the term "passionate," but that is semantics). I admit, I get excited about a good soccer game, I enjoy the game and I love to talk about it. I have been excited about all the soccer this summer as can be seen on this blog. So I suppose, for the sake of argument, my passion could be interpreted as an "obsession" by those close to me and it is helpful for this argument.

But here is the thing, my "obsession" with soccer keeps me and my mind focused on something, well if not constructive, at least not destructive like having an affair with a woman thousands of miles away. If Mark Sanford had been obsessed with soccer, American football, baseball, basketball, golf, boating, actual hiking, stamp collecting, ancient coins, Guitar Hero, Wii bowling or some other hobby, it probably would have meant that at least he wasn't jetting off to Argentina for some illicit snuggle time with a woman not his wife. If Mark Sanford had an obsessive hobby or extreme passion for sports, what used to be a thought of as a manly sort of thing, he would not have destroyed an otherwise stellar political career and more importantly would not have destroyed a family that he and his wife had worked hard to build.

Should Sanford have had a few stiff drinks, a cigar and a round of golf, or certainly a cold shower? I don't know, probably and 30 years ago he might have. But our society has become very adept at putting the self-desire before the self-duty. What Gov. Sanford lost sight of was that in fulfilling his selfish, personal desires, he abdicated his duties to his wife, his family, his friends and his constitutents. He is a symbol of a culture that has put so much emphasis on feelings, on therapy, on self-validation, and self-fulfillment, the concept of a manly sacrifice for the benefit of others has become lost along the way. Sanford's affair is indicative of the culture exalts one's own personal, physical desires first and men have lost the wherewithal to think clearly or to sacrifice an immediate physical want (sex) upon the alter of what is considered proper or dare I say moral? The societal impetus and the metrosexual male need to validate and fulfill our feelings become so important that some men are willing to toss aside decades of marriage, family and career for some woman who is thousands of miles away? If we are to learn a lesson in strength, fortitude and masculinity, or more accurately the lack thereof, I think we have seen that through Mark Sanford.

Gov. Sanford will live with his choices and the consequences thereof. As for me, I certainly don't think my passion for soccer has in any way dimished my passion for my wife and my love for my family. I try to keep my eyes on what is important. Yes, soccer clouds my field of vision from time to time. But, I don't think it leads me to bad choices. It is not as if I spent thousands of dollars of family funds jetting off to South Africa to watch the U.S. play in the Confederations Cup. Even if Sanford's hypothetical coin collecting hobby were expensive, I think Sanford's wife could handle that kind of unhealthy obsession, she would be far more forgiving than she is now, and at worse Mark Sanford would have to explain why he has a Fathead of a Buffalo Nickel on his garage wall. Such an explanation, while perhaps awkward, would be more manly, masculine and certainly more acceptable than the debacle he and his family is living now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can't wait to see the spin on this

Via Instapundit

Obama not closing door on possible health care tax.

Senators working to give President Barack Obama a comprehensive health care overhaul said Thursday they had figured out how to pare back the complex legislation to keep costs from crashing through a $1 trillion, 10-year ceiling.

The announcement from Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and other lawmakers amounted to a small, parting gift to Obama on his top domestic priority as Congress prepares to leave town for its weeklong July 4 recess. It moved Congress a bit closer to a deal on legislation to lower costs and provide coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who lack it.

It also capped two weeks of tough going for health care negotiations on Capitol Hill as price tags as high as $1.6 trillion over 10 years sent senators back to the drawing board and forced deadlines to be repeatedly reset.

"We have options that would enable us to write a $1 trillion bill, fully paid for," Baucus said at a news conference.

Baucus declined to detail how the costs were being cut, but options included difficult sacrifices like potentially delaying an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor.
Hmmm, I thought Democrats were the party who were looking out for the little guy, the poor.

Failure of Prioritization

Let us create a massive new health care program without fixing the programs we actually have. Yeah, that is a smart idea.

Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson

Two icons for different reasons gone on the same day.

I have to say that I am not sure how I feel. One small part of me feels sad for Farrah Fawcett's family as she will not receive the attention she deserves because of all she did after Charlie's Angels.

Right now, all I can think of about Michael Jackson is that I remember Thriller and Off the Wall, but couldn't really stand much after that. I also remeber his eccentricities, including the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and all the self-image issues.

Still, he was a massive talent that cannot be denied.

U.S. Gold Cup Roster

With the success of the U.S. at the Confederations Cup, the U.S. has selected a team of relatively young players to compete in the Gold Cup.

GOALKEEPERS: Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Troy Perkins (IK Start), Luis Robles (FC Kaiserslautern)
DEFENDERS: Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Jay Heaps (New England Revolution), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaellands), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock)
MIDFIELDERS: Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United).

Well, it is not just young players, but a number of players who previously had seen a few looks for the U.S. MNT, but for one reason or another, weren't getting called into camp.

Veteran players Heath Pearce (23 caps), Jimmy Conrad(24), Steve Cherundolo (51) and Brian Ching (36) lead this team in number of caps. Only Freddy Adu (13) and Santino Quaranta (11) have double digit caps. It is good to see Quaranta on the roster given his fall from grace and recent well documented personal and professional renaissance.

The back line will probably include Cherundolo and Pearce at the full back positions with a mix of Conrad, Chad Marshall and Michael Parkhurst in the middle. I would lean to Conrad and Parkhurst. That back line will have to rely on knowledge and positioning to play since speed will not be in abundance there.

The midfield is interesting. I think at holding midfielder, Bob Bradley has to look to Kyle Beckerman for experience, work rate and distribution skills. But if Bradley needs an absolute monster defensive midfielder, he will probably go with Logan Pause, whose performance on the star studded Chicago Fire is ofen over looked. Sandwiched between the back line stars of Wilman Conde and Boukary Somare and the midfield that included Blanco and Marco Pappa, Logan Pause does not garner a lot of kudos for his work, but he is fantastic as a holding midfielder. Out on teh wings, I think Robbie Rogers is a pretty solid choice for the left wing, but I think that the right would be a toss up between Stuart Holden and Santino Quaranta (who played on the 2005 Gold Cup team). Both young men have had stellar seasons for their club and Bradley might have an embarrassment of riches on the right. In the hole is probably going to be Freddy Adu, but Stuart Holden has stepped up in that position for Houston and could prove effective. The problem is that Bob Bradley likes his midfielders to be true box to box players and Freddy Adu has never proven to be that guy. Unless Adu starts showing that work rate, he is going to fall off the radar pretty quick. This is Adu's chance to show that he deserves to be in the national team mix.

Up top, Brian Ching is practically a lock and will probably wear the capatain's arm band. He drives defenses crazy with his ability to hold the ball. The question becomes who to play off of him. Adu could work, but doesn't have a great deal of pace. Kenny Cooper would be a fan favorite and he is much better going at players than Ching. However, I will place lots of money on a Ching/Charlies Davies match up (although not for the first game). Just looking at Davies performances against Egypt and Spain, he has proven to be a nuisance for defenses and his work rate against both teams appeals to Bradley. Combine that with Davies speed, strength and willingness to mix it up, I think the Ching-Davies pairing is going to be pretty likely.

In goal, it will be Busch and Perkins and pick 'em. Both players are in mid-season form for their clubs. I lean to Perkins for his height and command of the box, but if you need a shot stopper, Busch is solid as well.

So if I were picking the line up for the first match against Grenada on July 4, it would probably look like this (going with the younger players in this game against what is essentially a semi-pro/amateur team outside of Shalrie Joseph).





Against Honduras on July 8





Looking for competition in all the wrong places

American Thinker's James Eaves:
"Competition could work to improve quality and lower costs in health care, if the right mix of policies were part of health care reform. That increased competition would lower health care costs and increase accessibility seems widely accepted (at least publically) -- even among those on the left. But the leading reform proposals do not address the barriers to competition in health care, and would accelerate cost growth, even if a 'public option' isn't adopted.

America's health care market has a distinctive quality: over time, technology advances are associated with higher costs. This is unlike most markets. (Consider computers, high definition TVs, and digital cameras.) And the difference is not caused by something special about health care technology.

In fact, in the right market circumstances, health care technologies can advance while costs decline. The quality of some types of cosmetic surgery, such as breast augmentation, has increased while its cost actually has decreased."
Interesting thoughts.

George F. Will on Green Jobs

Will calls it a quixotic pursuit.

Althouse: "The second most important upset ever by an American team, behind only the 1980 Miracle on Ice."

Ann Althouse gives props to the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team.

Really, How To Explain This

Detroit Public Schools, $430 million in deficit, finds it has 257 ghosts on the payroll. Seriously?
The headline at the Detroit Free Press actually uses "ghost" in the headline and the article. That in reference to employees that don't actually do anything, aren't on the payroll, but still get paid. If you're like me, you're asking the same thing - huh? Apparently, as a way to weed out the ghosts in the system, the last DPS pay period was one where every employee had to pick up either a paycheck or a direct deposit slip in person. No exceptions. The result? 257 ghosts haunting DPS, and costing taxpayers almost a quarter of a million dollars every pay period! (this for a district already $430 million in the hole) This shouldn't surprise anyone in Detroit, as there are more registered voters here than residents.

Instapundit Props to the U.S. Men's National Team

The Instapundit--expanding the U.S. Soccer audience. That's great.

July 4th Tea Parties

LOTS OF JULY 4TH “TEA PARTY” PROTESTS PLANNED. I will be in Hawaii on the 4th of July (including a visit to the Arizona Memorial). Might have to go to the Honolulu event.

I spent a little time last night talking to my oldest daughter about the nature of government and what it is called upon to do. (She is only seven, so it is a pretty basic conversation), but a stop by a gathering like a Tea Party will be helpful to her education about government and her rights as an American citizen.

Read this--Please!!!

Fabius Maximus writes:
It is not too soon — or too late — to become angry. Evidence continues to pour in that our government needs to be shaken like a dirty rug. Are we weaker than the people of Iran? How much evidence do we need to spark outrage?
As usual, Fabius Maximus has wonderful links and makes for great reading and thinking.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Thoughts on U.S. Win Over spain

Is this the greatest upset in American international competition? I think it is better than the 1950 win over England, the 1994 win over Columbia in the World Cup or the win over Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup. The circumstances were similar, the clear underdog U.S. playing against arguably the best team in the world. I think this game is a more important win in the grand scheme of things because the U.S. needed this game to be a good performance more than the 1950 squad. The U.S. didn't need to win this game, but did to play well on the heels of their win against Egypt. A poor performance by the U.S. today would have subjected them to the common complaint of inconsistent play. The U.S. played well against Italy until the last 25 minutes or so. They played very poorly against Brazil and then phenomenally against Egypt.

Which U.S. Players improved their stock in this competition? I think Jay DeMerit should be expecting some calls from lower level Engligh Premier League clubs in the next couple of weeks. His pairing with Onyewu for the entire tournament has been good. Charlie Davies certainly made an impression both on Bob Bradley and the rest of Europe. I wouldn't not be surprised to see Davies move to a more high profile league in the transfer window this summer or in January. Certainly I think Davies will continue to get call-ups and rightfully so. Landon Donovan showed all tournament long why he is and should be considered by European clubs. He has definitely matured, showed massive work rates, great on attack, phenomenal speed, always checking back on defense. He is a world class players and it showed. Benny Feilhaber has showed that he knows how to hold the ball, possess the ball and pick apart defenses. His fitness is low right now, but as a super sub, Feilhaber has shown that he can make a difference when he comes in.

The specifics of this game that impressed me most. The shape of the U.S. defense. All game long you could see that the U.S. midfield was organized which is necessary against the fabulous Spanish midfield. The back line was likewise well organized. Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra have made a case for the starting back line going forward and with Jonathan Bornstein and Frankie Hejduk available, you can see that the weakness of the U.S. back line in the past is finally getting addressed. So long as they stay healthy, the back line is solid. The central midfield pairing of Rico Clark and Michael Bradley look solid and improving.

Micheal Bradley Weak Red Card

This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Was it is a foul? Yes. Was it a yellow card offense? Maybe. Was it a red card offense? Nope. and that is not a U.S. fan talking, but a referee talking.

Holy Cow!!!!! Holy Cow!!!!! HOLY COW!!!!!!

the United States Men's National Team just beat the consensus no 1 team in the world--Spain by a score of 2-0. Absolutely unbelievable!!!!!

The U.S. worked hard, played smart and benefitted from a massively strong central defense and the unbelievable hard work of Michael Bradley (who got sent off on a harsh red card), Clint Dempsey (who scored the insurance goal) and Onguchi Onyewu. Brilliant keeping by Tim Howard and the U.S. have arguable their biggest win to date. Certainly they are riding an emotional high right now going into the Final on Sunday.

On Saturday everyone (including me) was counting them out, but now the U.S. are assured of no worse that 2nd Place.

Oh and to top it all off, it is the U.S. that handed Spain their first defeat in almost three years and put an end to their hopes of breaking the world record for an unbeaten streak.

Working Americans

Mark Krikorian highlights a story on Americans looking for work. Remember when people who argued for an open borders so that illegal immigrants could do work that American's wouldn't do, i.e. farm labor or other menial work?

Turns out that it is not pride that keeps Americans from doing that work, it is options. When the options for work dry up, Americans will prove that they are willing to do what ever work is available in order to pay their rent or put food on the table for the families.

That is what being American is all about, perserverence. That is what is going to bring America out of this economic crisis.

Vicious Academic Liberals

Walter Williams on diversity, colorblind admissions in colleges and the consequences. At the University of California's nine campuses, Asians comprise over 40 percent of the student body, this after the system started admitting the top 12.5 percent of California's high school graduating class. The shocking thing about that top 12.5 percent is that it is dominated by Asians who actually study. That, according to Williams' account of teh UC Regents reaction, makes them boring.

Forgive me, but I thought college was about an education and all that other stuff was "extra-curricular" including things like sports, clubs, activities, etc. Williams makes this analogy:
To deal with the Asian "menace," the UC Regents have proposed, starting in 2010, that no longer will the top 12.5 percent of students based on statewide performance be automatically admitted. Students won't have to take SAT subject matter tests. Grades and test scores will no longer weigh so heavily in admission decisions.

This is simply gross racial discrimination against those "dull" Asian students who "study, study, study" in favor of "interesting" black, white and Hispanic students who don't "study, study, study."

This is truly evil and would be readily condemned as such if applied to other areas lacking in diversity. With blacks making up about 80 percent of professional basketball players, there is little or no diversity in professional basketball.

Even at college-level basketball, it is not at all unusual to watch two teams playing and there not be a single white player on the court, much less a Chinese or Japanese player. I can think of several rule changes that might increase racial diversity in professional and college basketball.

How about eliminating slam dunks and disallowing three-point shots? Restrict dribbling? Lower the basket's height? These and other rule changes would take away the "unfair" advantage that black players appear to have and create greater basketball diversity. But wouldn't diversity so achieved be despicable? If you answer yes, why would it be any less so when it's used to fulfill somebody's vision of college diversity?
A fair question.

46 Million Uninsured Americans

46 Million Uninsured Americans, a figure issued by President Obama is being disputed by some physicians.

First, to be clear, that number 46 million is an estimate at best and assuming teh number to be in the ball park, the membership of that group is a constantly evovlving and shifting group. Perhaps only about 25 percent of that number is truly uninsured for a signficant period of time, i.e. more than a year. On any given day, you will find people are uninsured but ask them six months later and you will find a majority of them are now insured. To be blunt, it is a highly fluid situation.

But here is something that is not being discussed and that is what this piece is trying to say, you have to examine who is in that group and why.

Two other facts, one statistical and one personal. First the statistical: when I was a health care lobbyist about ten years ago and working on the issue of the uninsured in America, 44-45 million was the number we used. So, the problem has not really gotten any worse and any change from ten years ago to today can be easily explained by the massive job losses we have suffered in the past six months alone.

Second, for a period of about two years, I had no health insurance. To be honest, I was a college student and was in very good health. I was fit, I was young, I didn't drink much, smoke or do drugs. I exercised and ate pretty decent for a 25 year old. Until that time in my life I had been living with my folks and covered on their health care or in the Navy where the military provided my health care. I simply didn't have health insurance and didn't have the money to buy health insurance. Fortunately, I was healthy and didn't need it.

I mention this only because there are a lot of people who make the same calculation that I did, namely that my limited resources were better spent on other things, like housing, food and my education. Everyday, there is a percentage of people who are uninsured because they choose to be uninsured. It is a calcualtion they make, and they should be entitled to make that calculation for themselves. Bby the way if I had had a family at that time or a chronic medical condition, such a diabetes, the calculus would have been very different).

The problem with citing the statistic of the number of uninsured, whether it be 4 million or 46 million, is that the figure is used to push a program that would require everyone to get health insurance, whether they want it or not. That is not American, and that is not necessary.

New York City paying 700 teachers to not teach

This is not a particularly new story, but Ed Morrissey has a different take on the matter.
If ever one wanted an argument against Card Check, this would be it.


If this was the private sector, it would at least get handled expeditiously, as no business can afford to have hundreds of people sitting around and producing nothing. Perhaps as well as a cautionary tale about Card Check and the expansion of unions, it also serves as warning to those who want to replace the private sector in health care and energy production with public employees instead.

"Turning Japanese"

Reason.tv wonders if the United States is creating a lost decade similar to the Japanese in the 1990's. I have to admit that I am starting to wonder.

The more I have read about the Japanese reaction to their recession in the 90's the more I wonder if our Administration and leaders simply pay no heed to history of any sort, American or world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran bans election protest footballers

Last week, a number Iranina footballers (soccer players for the Americans out there) played their World Cup qualifying match against South Korea with green wristbands on. The color is linked to Iranian Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. In light of the protests that have been going on in Iran (I suggest Gateway Pundit's coverage), that fact that the Iranian regime "retired" the players is not surprising. My only hope is that the "retiring" means that the players will no longer be on the national team squad (which failed to qualify for next year's World Cup) and not a definition of retire that should be read as "dead."

Given the harsh reaction by the Irani regime, retired=dead is not out of the realm of possibility. Of course, such retirements wouldn't happen immediately, due to the publicity. But the "retirements" could happen later when there is not as much press.

Not Surprising, but Noteworthy

Nancy Pelosi approval ratings at all time low. Yeah, but will Democrats pink slip her as the Speaker?

Methinks a Supreme Court Case May Be in the Future

Well, duh, lots of them right. But the somewhat esoteric but increasingly important area of electronic discovery is looking at a potential Supreme Court fight as two states recently came down with two conflicting rules on the ability of attorneys to examine metadata. For the non-geeks out there (including me) metadata is the information that is embedded in a computer file, including such information as when the file was created, by what user, when was it last accessed, when was it last changed, etc. Such data can be extremely useful in many situations.

But two different state legal ethics rulings provide an example of the mixed views in this developing realm of law and discovyer. From Legalethics.com:

New Hampshire Attorneys May Not Use Hidden Metadata.

But Pennsylvania lawyers can use metadata.

Govt-run health care could trump private

Via Breitbart:
President Barack Obama says some employers might choose a government-run health care plan over private insurance, a major fear of the industry.


Obama says that's a byproduct of competition and that, without an overhaul of the system, Americans face a possibility of seeing changes in their health care for the worse.
Uh, no, that is not competition.

Competition in the market should not include a government sponsored plan for private employers.

If you want real competition, stop making health insurance an employee benefit and make health insurance premiums deductible for individuals, rather than employers.

Obama talks tougher on Iran violence

Obama talks tougher on Iran violence. About time.

Is this too little too late? Was Obama influenced by Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham? Obama claims no, but really do you believe that?

Metro train crash update

Washington Times is reporting that early investigations are looking at a possible failure of the proximity warning system and safety mechanism.

Like I said before, a failure like this is not good for Metro, but if the NTSB finds a failure in this control system, much of Metro's operations are put at risk since much of the minute-by-minute control of Metro's trains are run by computers and this sensor system.

Federal judges' workload to rise

The Maryland District Court already has one vacancy and will probably soon have another.

This explains why it takes so long to get a motions ruling.

There are times when I think being a judge would be spectacular and there are times when I don't.

Happy Birthday

Justice Clarence Thomas--61 today.

Men and Women and Shopping

Back when I was in college, I was going to be heading to a fraternity convention and needed to get some new clothes. My then girlfriend (now wife) and I went to a local department store, where in the space of 30 minutes I looked at, tried on and purchases four shirts, a pair of pants and two sets of walking shorts. I often commented that only men can shop like that.

Women "shop" by looking around. Men "shop" like it is a search and destroy mission, i.e. the sooner it is over the better for everyone involved. Women "shop" with some vague notion of what they want to get and are open to other options (often wide open to many, many other options). Men, "shop" with a predetermined goal in mind: i.e. "need new running shoes, therefore I go to a sporting goods store." Men don't mess around with going to three other shoe stores. Women "shop" by visiting a multitude of stores. Men "shop" by going to a few stores as possible and if they can do everything in one store, so much the better.

This has always been my theory. Don McMillan illustrates it via powerpoint.

Pension hike of a decade ago backfires California

A lot of soul-searching is taking place in the Golden State. While the pension issue is one that costs a lot of money, you will no doubt find that it is just one straw on the camel's back and no one of them actually caused the break.

This is Rather Simplistic

Regulators had warned to replace aging fleet of DC's Metro cars.

Yes, federal regulators made that case. But really, in this crash I don't think the age of the cars is an issue. Rather, it might be the control systems. If brand new cars had been in the striking train, it would have probably made little difference. The sheer momentum would have likely have yeilded the same results.

9 of 10 Americans worry about Obama's spending deficits: Poll

Is it really that low a number?

Instapundit on Whistleblowers

I just loved the closing line on this post:
Remember: Under a Republican President, whistleblowers are brave heroes, standing up for accountability and the rule of law. Under a Democratic President, they’re deranged partisans.

Where Is the President

Rick Moran asks where is President Obama on his domestic agenda priority legislation. Word on the Hill is that he is not exactly twisting a lot of arms.

Moran gives a list of agenda item legislation that is languishing on the Hill and Obama seems to be doing nothing.

I can't say I want to complain about these items sitting in the bill hopper with no action, I am quite glad that they are. But when a President campaigns on "change" but doesn't spend the necessary time twisting arms and cajoling the legislative branch, can he really expect to get anything done?

Where the Money is Coming From

Remember, the Obama Administration's plan to pay for at least a part of their $1.6 trillion dollar health reform plan is supposed to come from Medicare savings (please try to control your sniggering, the bigger punchline is coming). Well, reportedly some of the savings will come from the White House getting drug companies to reduce by half the amount charged for some prescription drugs. More on that in a second. Well it looks like the White House can only save $30 billion over 10 years doing that. The White House can't detail where the other $50 billion is going to come from. Not exactly the details that are going to help get this monstrosity passed or supported by the American public.

Now, of course the administration can put price "controls" on drug companies by saying they will on buy drugs at a given price. But drug companies are in the business of making money and they make money by selling the drugs they make and patent. There is no suggestion about changing the patent process on drugs (which is not a bad idea to shorten the patent protection period by a couple of years in order to speed up the development and availability of generics). So, if the drug companies are not making their money off of Medicare patients, where are they going to get their money--that is right, from the rest of us non-Medicare people.

I just saw my prescription drug costs go up and nothing has happened.

Fulham Player of the Season

Mark Schwarzer. He beat Hangeland by just six votes. Either man would have been appropriate. We will also get to see Schwarzer for the Socceroos in the World Cup next year.

Quaranta to Gold Cup

Goff is reporting that Santino Quaranta may get a call up for the U.S. team for the Gold Cup.

I hope so. I would also like to see Chris Pontius get a call in as well.

How Spectacular Is This

Probably a little nerve wracking to walk as well. But man what a view!!!!

Not Sure the Dogs Are Too Crazy About This

Crash death toll revised to 7

Metro Crash in DC claims seven lives and could take more. It could have been a lot worse. The way the crash took place between Takoma Park and Fort Totten stations on the Red Line on the inbound, that is coming into Washington DC, side of the track means that the train was not nearly as crowded as it could have been if the accident had happened on the outbound half, which during evening rush tends to be the far more crowded trains.

While we don't know for sure what happened just yet, my bet is that there is going to be a combination of signaling error and operator error. Metro simply can't afford to have the "automatic" safety program to be declared a problem because it is the heart of the Metro system's operation.

That being said, even operator error is going to be hard to take and not just because it is hard to speak ill of the dead. The stretch of track invovled here has a curve which can been seen from the photos of the scene and if a train is coming in at normal operating speed, the curve would hide the stationary train until it was too late to prevent a crash.

Of course, this is all speculation.

My heart goes out to the families of those who are gone and those who are injured.

If you look at this photo, you can imagine how much momentum has to have been carried by the striking train. That front car had the bottom ripped out and the top of the car shoved some nearly 50 feet over the back of the last car of the stopped train. The train cars are about 60 feet long or so and there are three doors on each train with the middle door being about 30 from either end. The ladder in teh background is set at the middle set of doors, 30 feet or so from either end of teh train. That is a lot of force to be carried through.

From here you can get a sense of the curve.

Finally, you can see the upper shell of the striking train's first car.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Neutrality Isn’t an Option by Mark Steyn on National Review Online

At National Review Online:
There’s a very basic lesson here: For great powers, studied neutrality isn’t an option. Even if you’re genuinely neutral. In the early nineties, the attitude of much of the west to the disintegrating Yugoslavia was summed up in the brute dismissal of James Baker that America didn’t have a dog in this fight. Fair enough. But over in the Balkans junkyard the various mangy old pooches saw it rather differently. And so did the Muslim world, which regarded British and European “neutrality” as a form of complicity in mass murder. As Osama bin Laden put it:
The British are responsible for destroying the Caliphate system. They are the ones who created the Palestinian problem. They are the ones who created the Kashmiri problem. They are the ones who put the arms embargo on the Muslims of Bosnia so that two million Muslims were killed.
How come a catalogue of imperial interventions wound up with that bit of scrupulous non-imperial non-intervention? Because great-power “even-handedness” will invariably be received as a form of one-handedness by the time its effects are felt on the other side of the world. Western “even-handedness” on Bosnia was the biggest single factor in the radicalization of European Muslims. They swarmed to the Balkans to support their coreligionists and ran into a bunch of Wahhabi imams moving into the neighborhood with lots of Saudi money and anxious to fill their Rolodex with useful contacts in the west.
go read it.

FTC to Monitor Blogs?

I would love to see how this would work.

If anything you see on this post doesn't have my name at the bottom of the item, it is an advertisement.

While I comment on books and CDs, only one (the 5 Browns-Browns in Blue) has been given to me to review by the record label. Aside from that, I have either bought each book or CD, borrowed it from the library or received it as a gift from a member of my family or a close friend. I am not compensated by anyone for my opinions.

Dodge facts, skip details, govern Chicago-style | Washington Examiner

Michael Barone has a pretty good handle on Obama and can distill it to three rules:
  1. Obama likes to execute long range strategies but suffers from cognitive dissonce when new facts render them inappropriate.
  2. Obama doesn't seem to care much about the details of policy.
  3. Obama does business Chicago-style.
The latter is not all that surprising, but by ignoring half the country while he steamrolls on with his out of proportion scheme to expand government and the role of government in our lives.

Obama's administration has played the "anything in a crisis" type of mentality. But I am not sure that we are truly in a national crisis like say, World War II.

USA 3:0 Egypt

You can only say "WOW." The U.S. got every single break they needed yesterday to stage an improbably appearance in the Confederations Cup Semi-finals. The win by Brazil over Italy is important in this mix because it cannot be said that the U.S. performance in the first two games of this competition did not deserve their berth in the final four. If Brazile had gotten only two goals against Italy, the U.S. would be going home instead of the Italian. Thanks Andreas Dessano.

So there is a certain amount of euphoria about teh U.S. win, but make not mistake, there are still some real problems in the U.S. squad. Bob Bradley's tactical decisions are still questionable, the performance of some of the veterans are inconsistent at best and completely out of form at worst (yes, I am talking about DeMarcus Beasley and to a certain extent Clint Dempsey).

There is still too much recklessness in the midfield (Rico Clark and Sasha Kljestan and to a lesser extent Michael Bradley). There is still too much long ball and not enough passing on the field. The U.S. still doesn't have a true playmaker (Michael Bradley is getting there).

Thus, while many U.S. fans are going to take a look at this performance against a slightly depleted Egypt squad that was obviously knackered and get caught up in the moment and over celebrate this win. The U.S. squad, I believe does not appear to have any plan under Bob Bradley. I don't see a consistent plan for Bradley as we move forward. The performances in this competition is too up and down and too varied to find a plan. These performances also seem to be disconnected from the strategy and tactics of the World Cup Qualifying. From game to game, even accounting for the tactical differences between opponents, you never what kind of team and set up Bradley will field. Is the U.S. going to be a possession oriented team, a strong disciplined defense/counter attack team, an open, attacking team or what. The fact is that you can't identify a "Bradley" style and that is hurting the U.S. as much as anything with less than a year to go to the World Cup.

Next I think Bradley is being inconsistent in his application of his player selection. Time and againg, Bradley has stated that he won't select players who aren't seeing regular playing time for their club (injuries aside). Yet, for example, Jose Torres sees lots of minutes for Pachuca (he is a regular starter and when not starting usually sees action as a sub) but DeMarcus Beasley hasn't seen time for Rangers in months. Jozy Altidore, even when healthy, wasn't seeing time at Xeres or Villareal, but Charlie Davies sees lots of minutes for his club. I think Torres has handled the situation well, but I would imagine that mercurial players like Freddy Adu, it would be hard to understand why Beasley gets the nod and Adu (who like Beasley is getting time with Monaco or Benfica) rides the pine.

Finally, as I think I have mentioned before, there are too many U.S. players, who seem to believe they have an almost guaranteed starting spot. Certainly I think Tim Howard is the number one keeper, but Brad Guzan had a good game yesterday and has responded well when called up. Landon Donovan's performances against all three teams was much better than recent World Cup qualifying where he was essentially absent. Perhaps wearing the captain's arm band motivates Landycakes. Bocanegra's absence allowed Jay DeMerit to prove why he should be considered for starging center back rather than Boca or Gooch. Clint Dempsey is inconsistent (even accounting for yesterday's goal) and probably needs a good dose of bench time to mull over his performance (Roy Hodgson did it a Fulham to great effect).

I believe that with the Gold Cup squad including a fair number of younger players who are hungry to make that 2010 World Cup roster, you will likely see some good performances. Those players need to make clear their intention to battle for a staring slot against these veterans and Bob Bradley needs to make clear to his veterans that he will give these young guns the shot to grap the starting position. No one's position should be safe, including Howard and Donovan's.

Make no mistake, I am ecstatic that the U.S. will square off against Spain in teh semi-finals. I want the U.S. to do well, I always have. But one fine performance should not be misconstrued as finding a necessary solution to the U.S.'s problems. Well done fellas, but you need to keep doing better.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

U.S. MNT Roster for the Gold Cup

Available via Original Winger and CONCACAF:

GK - Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann, Troy Perkins, Luis Robles

D - Jonathan Bornstein, Danny Califf, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Eric Lichaj, Chad Marshall, Michael Orozco, Michael Parkhurst, Heath Pearce, Marvell Wynne

M - Freddy Adu, Davy Arnaud, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Eddie Gaven, Stuart Holden, Pablo Mastroeni, Robbie Rogers, John Thorrington, Jose Francisco Torres, Jeremiah White

F - Jozy Altidore, Conor Casey, Kenny Cooper, Charlie Davies

I have to say that given the performance of the so-called A team in South Africa, I like some of the names on this list.

I figure Guzan will get most of the starts in goal, but it is nice to see Hahnemann to get a call up. Luis Robles had a good season in Bundesliga 2 and I think is earning a good look from the National Team.

On the back line, there is a lot of talent there. You could pick a solid back four from any of that group. I would give the nod to Parkhurst, DeMerit, Cherundolo and Bornstein. I would image that Wynne would get some more looks. I don't know much about Eric Lichaj, but right now, any new name is a good sign for the U.S. back line.

No real surprises in the midfield other than the youth of the group. I am surprised to see both Rico Clark and Stuart Holden on the list since the Houston Dynamo might need their services. I hope that Bradely will start a midfield that would include Adu, Holden, Feilhaber and Torres. There is not a lot of speed in that group, except maybe Holden, but there is a lot of ball control and creativity. It won't happen though, but I think Bradley needs to look to Holden, Feilhaber and Torres to finds a proper playmaker.

good to see Kenny Cooper in teh mix again, but I still worry about his work rate. He is not a target striker like Brian ching so Bradley will have to adapt some tactics (not his strong suit) to fit the strikers he has.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Public wary of Obama policies

Micahel Barone:
...despite the financial crisis and current economic distress, there has not been a drastic shift in American voters’ views of the balance between the market and government. The economic failures of the 1930s and successes of the 1940s convinced Americans to trust government more and markets less; the economic failures of the 1970s and successes of the 1980s convinced Americans to trust markets more and government less. These results show that American voters remain suspicious of centralized government power over the private sector and that they have great unease about the enormous far-larger-than-Bush’s budget deficits which experts project the Obama programs will produce. This strengthens my belief, set forth in my May 31 Examiner column, that Republicans should not move to the center but should run against the center—against centralized state power taking over the private sector economy. Voters get the message.(link in original omitted)
Hard to imagine that, a common sense American electorate.

It doesn't exist in Obama world.


How many 20 year old high school students are there? Really.

Obama's Economic Crap Shoot

James Pethokoukis is calling snake-eyes.
In short, Obama wagered that the deluge of money coming from the Federal Reserve would do the heavy lifting as far as stabilizing the financial sector and keeping the already apparent recession from turning into a real disaster. Voters would, thus, continue to support his policies to assert more government control over healthcare, heavily regulate energy through a costly cap-and-trade program and further intervene into the financial industry.

The gamble appears to have failed miserably, both economically and politically. The terrible tale of the tape: a) the current downturn is arguably the worse since the Great Depression; b) household wealth has fallen by $14 trillion during the past two years, including the first quarter of 2009; c) while the economy may not shrink as much this quarter as it did in the previous three months (-5.7 percent) or the final quarter of 2008 (-6.3 percent), unemployment is soaring; d) Obama himself said the jobless rate will hit 10 percent this year; d) even worse, the Federal Reserve sees it approaching 11 percent next year. (Recall, that the original White House economic analysis of the Obama economic plan never saw unemployment exceeding 8 percent if Obamanomics was passed by Congress.)
I am currently reading a book on Ronald Reagan and his leadership style.

But as much as the media elite chastised Reaganomics (cut taxes, increase defense spending and balance the budget), I will admit that from the outside Reaganomics would seem to not be rational. But I would argue that Reagan didn't follow through with the effort to truly balance the budget buy cutting government and thus you had the deficits he faces. ($200 billion a year or so).

Fast forward twenty nine years and where are we? We now have a somewhat mishmoshed "plan" that no one in the Administration can really articulate. One could argue that Obama is trying to "prime the pump" (a good supply side economic concept), but President Obama cannot describe how he is going to pay back the massive amounts of spending he has undertaken and a majority of Americans are not keen on the massive deficits we are looking at. Oh the days of a $200 billion deficit seem quaint now.

I think there are a lot of Americans who were willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt, but he is now about six months into the job and he can no longer argue that this is a Bush Administration problem. He owns the economic policy now and I don't see a coherent policy at all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Air France Crash Debris

Brazilian search crews have found large pieces of the Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
Floating in the middle of the Atlantic, this galley kitchen is the latest piece of Air France Flight 447 to be recovered by salvage crews.

The wreckage is extraordinarily intact despite being part of an plane that experts believe broke apart in midair.

Even some of the drawers, containing a selection of ready-meals for passengers, remained wedged securely inside the unit.

Autopsies on victims of Flight 447 and debris from the plane strongly suggest the plane broke up in the air, experts have said.

Fractures in the legs, hips and arms of the Air France disaster victims recovered from the Atlantic suggest the Airbus broke up midfight.

Brazil's navy have recovered 50 bodies from the 228 who perished during the flight bound for Pairs.

Investigators have also collected more than 400 bits of debris from the ocean's surface, including large pieces which have remained intact. Experts said this would also indicate the aircraft broke up in flight.

Last night a source for Brazilian medical examiners said that fractures indicating a mid-air break up were found during autopsies on an undisclosed number of the bodies recovered so far.

A Brazilian newspaper reported yesterday that some victims were found with little or no clothing, and had no signs of burns.

Former accident investigator, Jack Casey, an aviation safety consultant in Washington, D.C. said: 'In an in-air break up like we are supposing here, the clothes are just torn away.'
He said multiple fractures are consistent with a midair breakup of the plane, which was cruising at about 34,500 feet when it went down on May 31.

'Getting ejected into that kind of windstream is like hitting a brick wall - even if they stay in their seats, it is a crushing effect,' he said. 'Most of them were long dead before they hit the water would be my guess.'
Not sure we will ever know what happened.

Ceremonial Guard Duty Benefits Sailors

News about my old unit, the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard.

I was already an E-# when I got to the Guard based on my previous college. You might not think $75 a month is a lot of money, but E-3's don't make a lot of cash.

Want to see the Guard in action: Check out these videos

The U.S. Navy Cerermonial Guard Drill Team.

Folding the Flag.

Confederations Cup: USA v. Brazil

Update: 78th Minutes. The U.S. is going to be done on a three and out and the third game will be meaningless unless Egypt beats Italy. Then, there is an outside chance that the U.S. could advance but only by breaking out whopping stick on Egypt and have a five or six goal game and Brazil beat up on Italy. If Italy wins today, the U.S. and Egypt will, for all intents and purposes, be playing a friendly.

Update: 54th Minute. Sasha Kljestan is sent off on a straight red card. This game is essentially over now.

Update: Halftime. Conor Casey in for Beasley. Beasley is done as far as I am concerned for the U.S. National team. He has not had a good performance in at least a year. Can Casey shake things up? I hope so.

Update: 36th Minute. The U.S. are getting played off the pitch. Bob Bradley has not shown an ability to make tactical changes before, will he do so now? I doubt it and that is the problem. The U.S. has had one shot and not on frame.

Twenty minutes into the game, the U.S. is down 2-0.

U.S. starting line-up






I have lots of problems already.

1. Beasley's form recently has been terrible. How on Earth did he get this start.
2. Altidore is not a target striker, never has been, never will be. His talent is facing the goal and going at defenders. If the U.S. wants a target striker, they should have started Connor Casey.
3. This is a defensive set that hopes for a counter. The problem is the U.S. hasn't scored from the run of play for about five months.

It might get ugly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brilliant Analogy

From ClearCommentary.com arguing to make President Obama a one-term president:
All of us recall our early tenure in a new employment position, the struggles that ensued as we grappled with the myriad duties while delicately negotiating our way through political mine fields. If the department we inherited was in disarray we found ourselves shaking our heads and casting a cold eye on our predecessor, while telling our supervisors about the mess he left.

But, if we're completely honest, we also recall that with the passage of time, we became progressively reticent to invoke the ghost of our predecessors because we intuitively--and correctly--sensed it would irritate our bosses. They understandably have little sympathy for our plight because we were being paid to do a job, so all they wanted was results.

If you've been paying attention to the narrative of Bush blaming emanating from the White House since President Obama's inauguration, you probably sense that it's wearing thin among the electorate. But when David Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, protests that the newly minted administration isn't in fact, blaming Bush, that they're only cautioning the public that the profound nature of the problems will require time, that too has the ring of the querulous employee who still doesn't appreciate the nature of his charge.
There is only so much a new President can blame on his predecessor. The fact is that circumstances have changed in the past five months for Obama.
  1. He nows owns the deficit in a way that the Bush Administration never could. Yes, Bush pushed through the TARP bill and other "emergency aid" that arguable might have been necessary or not. But since that time, Obama has piled on the national debt, with car company bailouts and purchases, more bank money, and now plans to expand national health care to the tune of $1 trillion dollars. If Bush spent $800 billion, Obama has spent, conservatively, three times that amount. The deficit is Obama's now and he can't escape it.

  2. Obama owns the war. True, we haven't heard as much about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as we did in the months leading up to the election and inauguration, but Obama has now taken, roughly, the same position as the Bush Administration on the prosecution of the wars in the Middle East. One could argue that Obama continued the policies for a short time until he could come up with his own plan. But today, a special operations general has taken command in Afghanistan and one wonders if the Afghanistan plan will look anything like Gen. Petraeus's "surge" operation in Iraq. If the two plans are even remotely similar, it will be a vindication, rather than a repudiation, of the Bush Administration strategy. How can you blame someone for bad judgment when you adopt their strategy and tactics.

  3. The world has changed and Obama must respond. Iraq, North Korea, Taliban resurgence, piracy, changes in the EU, etc. These are not matters that the Bush Administration had to face, at least not in their current form. Obama must formulate his own responses and quite frankly, I am worried not about his responses, but the lack of immediate response. For example, when it comes to North Korea, there has been no real response.

  4. Obama has no Congress to blame. Congress is on a run-away train of Obama agenda items. Even when Congress goes beyond what Obama wants, does Obama have the gumption to veto anything as too extreme? I think not and in that instance Obama must take ownership of what Congress has done--he can't cop to gridlock and he can't cop to overexuberance.
The problem is whether 2012 can come soon enough.

Indian Soldiers Owns First Edition of the Federalist Paper

He is looking at a massive profit also:
A rare leather-bound book that played an influential role in America's early history could bring a windfall for a soldier training for his second tour in Iraq.

Indiana National Guard Capt. Nathan Harlan was a high school junior when he paid $7 for a 1788 first edition of volume one of "The Federalist" — a two-volume book of essays calling for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Harlan, a 35-year-old from Granger, Ind., said he always thought his find might be worth about $500, not the thousands it could fetch when it's sold online Tuesday by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas.

"I'm really hoping it goes for $100,000, but I'm not holding my breath," he said, chuckling.

The divorced father of three was 16 when he bought the 227-page book in 1990 after his mother spotted it among book stacks as they browsed at a South Bend, Ind., flea market.

Harlan's high school history class happened to be discussing "The Federalist" — also known as "The Federalist Papers" — that same week, so he knew the book was special.
My copy of the Federalist Papers, bought in college, is well worn and I bought mine (in paperback) for about $7 also. If my copy got $.50, I would be dumbstruck.

Just to put my hands on the first edition would be spectacular, let alone being able to purchase it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Confederations Cup Preview

Grant Wahl has a good, short article. Wahl will be on the ground in South Africa for the next couple of weeks watching the Cup. I am sure there will be others as well.

As for mine, I would like to see the U.S. get a couple of draws at least. The U.S. has beaten Italy and Brazil before. But while I think the U.S. can make a go against Italy, I am not so convinced of a even a score draw against the Brazilians.

The U.S. opens Monday against the Italians. Italy had a pretty dismal Euro 2008. They sacked their coach, and have regained some form in the World Cup Qualifying. The U.S. on the hand has experienced a bit of a dip in form in the past couple of matches. Can the U.S. rebound against one of the world's powerhouses? That remains to be seen.

Three days later, the U.S. will meet Brazil, clearly a favorite to win the World Cup for a record sixth time next year, if the U.S. get anything out of that game it will be a massive luck. Tim Howard and the backline will have to play a superior game. Howard is capable of doing it (see the friendly against Argentina) but I am not sure a back line consisting of Spector, Gooch, Bocanegra and Bornstein is ready. I am almost certain that the U.S. strike force is a not up to the challenge.

The U.S. will close out group play against Egypt. The Egyptians have proven a powerhouse in African football as back to back African Cup of Nations winners, but they are struggling in their World Cup qualifying. This match is the U.S.'s best chance to win in the group stage.

On the off chance the U.S. advance to the semi-finals, they will most likely face Euro 2008 champions Spain, clearly the best team on the best form on the planet. A win against Spain would be simply the most unlikely win since the 1950 World Cup match against England.

My expectations for this tournament are actually pretty simple, don't lose all three games. The U.S. got a brutal draw, and even four points would have to be considered a strong success. The fact is that the U.S. plays in the second weakest confederation in the world and don't reguarly face tests on an international stage against some of the best teams in the world. The recent decision of the South American confederation *COMNEBOL) to not invite the U.S. to the Copa America will keep the U.S. out of a quality competition again. USSF needs to do some serious lobbying to get back into the Western Hemisphere's best competition. In the end, the U.S. will have to use this Confderations Cup to truly measure themselves against international competition.

Friday, June 12, 2009

House Dems Health Care Bill--DOA?

Via Bloomberg.com
Health-care overhaul legislation being drafted by House Democrats will include $600 billion in tax increases and $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said.

Democrats will work on the bill’s details next week as they struggle through “what kind of heartburn” it will cause to agree on how to pay for revamping the health-care system, Rangel, a New York Democrat, said today. He also said the measure’s cost will reach beyond the $634 billion President Barack Obama proposed in his budget request to Congress as a down payment for the policy changes.

Asked whether the cost of a health-care overhaul would be more than $1 trillion, Rangel said, “the answer is yes.”
This is going to be a real problem for the Democrats.

First, the AARP and other senior lobbies are going to slaughter the Medicare cuts. The you have cuts to Medicaid (designed to help the less fortunate) which just seems to be stupid in light of the Democrats professed care for "the little guy."

Tack on $600 billion in tax increases, which is going to get the Blue Dogs in a tizzy, and rightfully so.

Oh, then there the $1 trillion dollar price tag in general. I think Obama and the Democrats have finally over reached. This is just going to be too expensive and too socialistic for people to accept it.

Brian Griffiths: Eating their Money

Just another invitation to look into the lives of your kids, courtesy of the Anne Arundel Maryland public schools.

When it was using software to track student academic progress, I thought, "well okay--if it cuts down on needless calls to teachers to figure out where the kid is gradewise--fine." But this is a bit rediculous. Not only is it cheaper to make you kid's lunch, you know what exactly is in it. If the kid is savvy enough to trade things, you will eventually find out.

California and U.S. Paralells

We have often heard that states are the laboratories of democracy. As a nation, we sometimes adopt successful programs from a state level. So we should adopt positive lessons. But do we learn the negative lessons as well.

That is Going to Engender Trust and Enthusiasm

Instapundit » Blog Archive »Obama fires Americorps Inspector General who investigated friend

So your bank account’s wiped out

One of my favorite TV shows long cancelled was Dark Angel, James Cameron's noir, future tale starring a young, but still quite hot, Jessica Alba. Dark Angel was set in a future in which terrorists had set off a nuclear device high in the atmosphere, created an electromagnetic pulse and in one swift second, set the U.S. back about 70 years in the blick of an eye. Mark Steyn, brililant as usual, makes the case that it is not such a bad idea:
One Second After what? After an EMP attack. What’s EMP? “Electromagnetic pulse.” You’re on a ship hundreds of miles offshore floating around the ocean, and you fire a nuke. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hit Cleveland, or even Winnipeg. Instead, it detonates 300 miles up in the sky at a point roughly over the middle of the continent. No mushroom cloud, no fallout, you don’t even notice it. That’s the “second” in One Second After and what comes after is America (and presumably pretty much all of Canada south of Yellowknife) circa 1875—before Edison. The cars on the interstate stop because they all run on computers, except for Grandma’s 1959 Edsel. And so do the phones and fridges and pretty much everything else. If you were taking a hairpin bend when your Toyota Corolla conked out, don’t bet on the local emergency room: they’re computerized, too. And, if you’ve only got $27.43 in your purse, better make it last. The ATM won’t be working, and anyway whatever you had in your account just vanished with the computer screen.


So it wipes out your bank accounts. What’s in there? I mean, really. The average American household is carrying $121,953 in personal debt. What would be so bad if something goofy happened and all the meters got reset to zero? And Joe Schmoe’s credit card debt is as nothing compared to what the government’s signed him up for: USA Today recently calculated that the average American household is on the hook for $546,668 in federal debt—i.e., not including state and municipal. The Atlantic crunched the numbers further and reckoned that, to pay off the federal/personal debt over half a century at three per cent, the average household would have to write an annual cheque for $25,971. U.S. median household income is 50 grand, before taxes—and that $26,000 cheque assumes no further increase in federal or personal liabilities.


Besides, in a society that’s all but eliminated the concept of moral hazard, who isn’t entitled to government largesse? The North American auto industry pays its workers so much that it’s unable to make a car at a price anyone’s prepared to pay for it. So naturally it’s been delivered into the corporate control of the very same unions who demanded those salaries. Under the hilarious Canadian bailout, “social justice” requires that auto workers who make $70 per hour be subsidized by taxpayers making less than a third thereof. If it’s unreasonable to expect a guy on 70 bucks an hour to make provision for lean times, why should anyone else? The advanced Western democracy has, in effect, jumped the bounds of temporal and spatial reality: America lives beyond the means of its 300 million citizens to pay for it, so passes the check to its children and grandchildren. Most of the rest of the West does likewise, but demographically has no kids to stick it to.

Professor Glenn Reynolds, America’s Instapundit, noted that USA Today figure of $668,621 federal/personal debt per household and observed tersely: “Debts that can’t be repaid won’t be repaid.” Or to extend the old saw: if you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you have a problem. If you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank has a problem. If everyone owes a million dollars, civilizational survival has a problem. When I first heard about EMP a few years back, the big worry was that in a split-second it would vaporize trillions of dollars of wealth. From the perspective of 2009, vaporizing trillions of dollars of debt has something to commend it.
Go read the whole thing.