wherein DF travels to Deutschland for the 2006 world cup to follow the US men's national soccer team

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Rostermania

With the US roster announcement in the books, all the hand-wringing over who will be on the team can be replaced by hand-wringing over who is on the team. I have to admit that I was floored by the choice of Ching/Conrad over Twellman/Albright. In a sense it was cool that there was some surprise in an event that's suspenseful only in the sense that the Academy Awards are (where everyone in the know pretty much knows how it will turn out).

But do these selections make sense? The Albright versus Conrad question has become largely moot in light of Hejduk's subtraction from the roster in light of Frankie's knee issue. Of more concern in my view is Ching over Twellman. True that TT did not start well with the USMNT, but it's hard to imagine a player doing more than he did in the runup to the WC. Three goals against Norway, a goal and two assists against Japan, and an assist against Poland. Ching had one goal against Guatemala. They both looked pretty overmatched against Germany, which indicates larger problems but doesn't really help to distinguish the players.

So that data set weighs in favor of TT, but then MLS early season form suggests Ching is hotter now. Brian is on five goals in four games (though none in recent contests), while Taylor has been a bit cold, with one or so goals and generally not looking sharp. This weighs in favor of Brian, but I really don't think scoring four on the Rapids suggests similar success against any team in the World Cup. (Then again, TT's hat trick against a Norway U23 side must be taken with a grain of salt.)

At the end of the day, though, I think Bruce wasn't thrilled with either player, but erred on the side of size and chose the player who can compete better against physical defenses like the ones we'll be facing in the first round (and, we hope, thereafter). And if we're going to be really dependent on a target forward in a single-striker formation, then it makes sense to have a backup to McBride in the likely event that he can't go 90 in any given match. I'm skeptical, but on the other hand, if Bruce thinks Ching is a better choice than Twellman, I'll go with that. If there's one thing Il Bruce has earned over the past eight or so years, it's the confidence of all USMNT fans. In Bruce We Trust. Onward to Germany.

2 Comments:

Blogger mirarchi said...

Good analysis. I agree with you that in the end, Bruce probably wanted Ching because of his size, and how he will match up against the big defenses we're likely to face. And in addition to being a bit long in the tooth, and therefore perhaps not quite a 90-minute player (at least in the WC), McBride also has quite an injury history. So it makes sense that Bruce would want a target forward backup.

Also, Ching came through with a couple of clutch goals for us in qualifying. In particular, he scored the late game goal against Jamaica that salvaged a draw. So as between the player who opens it up on the Norwegian U23's and other minnows in friendlies, and the player who doesn't score in friendlies but scores key goals in WC qualies, I can see Bruce opting for the latter.

I do feel bad for Twellman, though. Like you said, it's hard to imagine him doing more than he did in recent friendlies to earn a spot on the final roster. All the news stories I've read about player reaction to the WC roster say that Twellman was unavailable for comment or that Twellman declined to comment. The guy has got to be pissed.

Like you said, though, Bruce has earned our trust, and in light of that, I'm confident that Ching was the right pick.

As for Conrad, I could see him not getting any minutes at all in the WC, given how deep we are at center back. I think Gooch and Pope will start there for us, and Gibbs will be first off the bench (provided he's not used as a left back). I suppose Conrad could be next off the bench, although I think I would go with Bocanegra, if only because, playing in the premiership, he has much more experience marking world-class strikers.

10:42 AM, May 05, 2006

 
Blogger Chris said...

Actually, Ching has scored six goals in five games -- he scored again last weekend against the Rapids. If only the Dynamo could play them every week they'd end up undefeated.

9:47 PM, May 05, 2006

 

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