Thursday, February 25, 2010

U.S. MNT Hopefuls Make Their Case

Last night, a mostly MLS centric U.S. MNT took the soggy pitch against El Salvador and some people made a good case for a spot on the World Cup Roster, others remain on the bubble and a few did themselves no favors.

Clarence Goodson--solid centerback performance. The goal was not his fault. Whether Goodson makes the World Cup Roster depends heavily on injuries and form. With Onyewu getting healthy and Jonathan Bornstein playing well and having the flexibility play both in the middle and on the left, Goodson might not make the cut. But the fact that Bob Bradley called him in special for this game must mean something. If Goodson is also playing next week against the Netherlands, it would be a good sign.

Heath Pearce--he was very good on offense and not heavily tested defensively, his service form the left was top notch most of the night. Pearce is sometimes suspect at the back and seeing him against the Netherlands would be a good test to see if he can make the World Cup squad.

Brian Ching--yes, he is getting older. Yes, he is not exactly a track star. Yes, he has been injured. But last night Brian Ching showed why, when healthy, he will get a call up. Ching played only one half, but scored a goal, and had something like six shots on target, and was a terror in the middle. Service to him was kind of weak, but if he is healthy, you will see him in South Africa.

Conor Casey--Casey played pretty well at times in the first half. Casey's problem remains his first touch. To make the World Cup squad, he has to control the ball first time, every time or many of the world class centerbacks are going to slaughter him. Casey was dangerous at times in the penalty area, but he has to rely on service that wasn't there.

Sasha Kljestan--he had lots of good looks on goal, which means he is getting in the right positions at the right time. Kljestan was finding the holes in the defense. Were it not for the El Salvador keeper playing out of his mind last night, I do think Kljestan would have had at least a brace if not a hat trick. On the negative side, Kljestan was not holding the ball well and was not distributing the ball with any skill or cutting edge. The latter is more likely to cost him than the former will get him on plane to South Africe.

Kyle Beckerman--the dreadlocked one played well in the holding role. The problem is that Beckerman faces is that there are a lot of other players on the possible list that it is hard to see him on the plane to South Africa. But Beckerman was a killer in midfield last night, he was all over the field disrupting the play, covering for the wingers as they attacke forward and making good distributions from midfield. I would like to see Beckerman on the plane to South Africa, but his place is not in his hands anymore--if Maurice Edu and Rico Clark are healthy, they will be there.

Robbie Findlay--he played about 65 minutes, was dangerous at times, showed lost of pace and looked like he was regularly getting in right positions. The problem is that Findlay was not closing out his chances. Findlay might have a nose for goal, but he can't follow with the rest of his body.

Robbie Rogers--he has lots of pace, a natural left foot and absolutely horrible crossing skills on the fly. He was not holding the ball, was losing the plot in the midfield and wasted quality chances. He had three very solid looks on goal and blew all of them (well at least two of them--one hit the post). He is still young and a high quality MLS players, but I am not sure that he is ready for the step up to the international game. Maybe a transfer to Scandanavia or the Netherlands would do wonders for his game.

Eddie Gaven--even though only in early 20's Gaven is a seven year MLS veteran. But that is his top level. He also had some good chances on goal, but defensively was quite weak. In his full half on the pitch, he seemed to disappear for long stretches. I like Gaven, but unless he can make over his game (maybe as a right back), he is not the attacking force we need on the right flank.

Troy Perkins--the only one who was healthy but not playing. Perkins is playing to get on the roster as the third keeper with Marcus Hahnemann. His move back to the MLS for family reasons this year may have cost him his roster spot this year. I do think he is a quality keeper (and it is hard to forget that three years ago he was forced to work part time as a mortgage broker since he was getting paid peanuts by DC United and now is one of the highest paid players at DCU). The problem is that keeper is one of the deepest positions for the U.S. and with only three keeper spots, it is a big question if he makes the squad. I am not sure Bradley is sold on Perkins since the wee keeper Nick Rimando played last night. Who knows.

While it was nice to see the U.S. win last night, given the massive amount of posession the Americans they should have done much better. While a number of the players on the pitch last night won't see the National Team for a few years at best, it is disappointing that more players didn't make a better case for themselves.

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