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

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

US triumvirate

Soccernet has a good article about what it sees as the three rising stars of the USMNT: Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey, and Oguchi Onyewu. I think Bobby Convey might be a little ticked to be left off the list, especially since he's looking as likely to start as any of these guys. The writer gets the situation basically dead-on, pointing out that each of these players have it in them to explode on the World Cup and transfer to a big European team, but that each of them have an achilles' heel (EJ's current scoring slump; Clint's mercurial nature; Gooch's questionable skills on the ball). It's nice to finally see the US getting some serious press instead of ignent fluff pieces about how a non-soccer nation's team is really quite respectable.


Blogger mirarchi said...

That article was a good read. And I agree that it's great to see the nats getting so much good press. Du Nord has a great collection of links to recent articles on the the team. I don't remember nearly as much being written about them in the runup to the '02 WC, so it's definitely a sign of progress.

I guess I'm in a somewhat pessimistic mood these days, but I don't think any of those three are going to have the breakout WC that we all hope for. I think the biggest problem with Deuce and EJ is a mental one. Their decisionmaking is still a bit off -- as Arena and Mooch have pointed out repeatedly, Deuce just needs to be smarter about when to take people on or try something daring and dangerous, and when to play it safe. And, of course, Deuce has a volatile personality. I've also seen him get taken out of games with physical play (I'm thinking our our England friendly in particular). I worry that Dempsey just isn't hard enough to take what's going to be thrown at him by all three teams that we'll be facing in the first round.

EJ's problem, it seems to me, is that he just doesn't play with the necessary intensity for all 90 minutes, or sometimes for even any of the 90 minutes.

I'm afraid that the WC isn't the place for a young talented player to straighten out their mental game. What I loved about Beasley and Donovan last WC was that not only were they talented as hell, but they had no fear and played balls-out for the full time they were on the field. I wish I could feel confident that EJ and Dempsey have similar attitudes.

As far as Gooch goes, as strong as he is, and as big as he is, he still seems to make a couple of bad mistakes each game -- getting caught out of position, losing his mark, fouling in dangerous territory. Unless he really steps up his game, I don't expect him to have a breakout WC.

That said, the one player on the US roster who I think is well-positioned to explode on the world stage is Convey. He has looked great lately, and I think Bruce should start him on the left, moving Beasley either to the right or to the bench. We'll see...

10:59 AM, June 06, 2006

Blogger DF said...

Dude, where's the love? I have to admit the analytical side of me shares your pessimism, but on the other hand I felt the pessimism before WC02 as well and we all know how that turned out.

11:13 AM, June 06, 2006

Blogger mirarchi said...

As much as I hope I'm wrong, I just have a bad feeling about this World Cup. I don't think Beasley and Donovan are as dangerous as they were in '02. Back then, they were young, brash, and fearless -- they would take guys on one-on-one, and beat them. Donovan was a forward, and would actually score goals. I can't remember the last time Beasley beat someone on the dribble, and Donovan as an a-mid just isn't as good as Donovan as a striker, in my opinion.

On the whole, I just don't think we're a stronger team than we were in '02 -- if anything, we're a bit weaker. And, unfortunately, we're in a tougher group.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not optimistic... :-/

3:10 PM, June 06, 2006


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