SEL Has Footballitis (Part II)
Continuied from Thursday... Click Here to read Part I.
I think this is where The Bruce is going to have to make the toughest decisions. If we play out of a traditional 4-4-2, we're going to have two central midfielders, and two outside midfielders. Really, the only position that is solidified is Demarcus Beasley (DMB) at outside left mid. His form for PSV Eindhoven has been excellent, and he is one of the fastest players on the planet. His left foot is golden, and his ability to take on defenders 1 on 1, his ability to put a good service into the box, and his ability to finish make him the surest thing for the USA. Landon Donovan is going to be on the field, but I think that discussion trends towards "where will he best suit us?"
The other three positions (center mid, center mid, right mid) are where it gets REALLY interesting. Names that are going to be thrown around are Reyna, Donovan, O'Brien, Dempsey, Mastroeni, and Ralston... plus a few more. If Captain America (Claudio Reyna... not Matt Seitz) is healthy, he will be in the center of the field for us. A veteran, Reyna is the best American player from his generation, yet he can still certainly play and be one of the best players on the pitch. If he is healthy, he undoubtedly will don the #10 jersey and the captains armband.
John O'Brien. The former Ajax standout and current ADO Den Haag player is, in my humble opinion, easily the best soccer player on the U.S. Men's team. Unfortunately, he is more injury prone than Vince Carter and Ken Griffey Jr. combined. When O'Brien is healthy, he makes more things happen than anybody else on our team. He is more creative, has better vision, and better playmaking ability than any single other player... and it's not even close. Many of us should remember his goal against Portugal, and really his fine play throughout Japan/Korea '02. Please get healthy J.O.B., we need you.
One thing I think we might consider trying would be to move Landon Donovan to right-mid. Chelsea has just done this with their all-star Steven Gerrard, and they've had great results. It will give Donovan more room to be creative, and take some of the pressure off of him that will certainly be applied by the American media (kind of), and the pressure of him having to prove himself in Germany (since his first stint there was such a disaster). If we're rolling 4 deep in the midfield, I would LOVE to see DMB left, Landon (and his power alleys) right, with J.O.B. and Captain America in the middle. If we roll 5 deep, throw Clint Dempsey into the mix, and we have a bigtime, almost world-class midfield.
It looks like we'll be running with two up top. The obvious choice is Brian McBride... he's experienced, he is an animal in the air, he can hold the ball well, and he can (on occasion) finish. When McHead is playing well, we always have a chance to score.
Besides McHead, the peoples choice has to be Eddie Johnson. Eddie burst onto the scene scoring a goal in his first game for the USMNT, and followed that by scoring a hat-trick against Panama (in 17 minutes). He's shown he can finish, but he's still VERY young and untested. He hasn't gone up against some of the best defenders in the world, plus he's coming off a year long turf toe injury that finally appears healed. Questions about his health, and about how he'll perform under pressure linger, but I'd still love to see him.
The recent solid play of Taylor Twellman have him pretty much guaranteed a spot on the team of 23 heading to Germany. He's been able to score bunches in the MLS, but has finished poorly in international competitions. Josh Wolff is also an option, though I'm not as high on him.
This is interesting. Clint Dempsey made a soccer rap video. Take a look at that and tell me what you think. Personally, I'm not a big rap fan, so I can't really comment on the music... but I've been told it's not bad. The video itself is interesting as well. Clint Dempsey is from Nacadoches, TX, and was raised in a very poor area and grew up in a trailor park. So from that viewpoint, there is some legitimacy in the video. Again, I'd like to know what other people think... maybe it's just Nike trying to market their product to a different demographic.
So Says This American Game
This might also be Nike trying to push their products down their throat, but it's cool nonetheless. It sounds like a poem the D-Shark would read, something you would hear on Def Poetry Jam. It's called "So says this American Game". I think it's awesome, and it has me more excited for the World Cup and the future of American soccer.