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Grading the US Roster post World Cup

donovan%20and%20arena.0 Grading the US Roster post World Cup

Arena and Donovan: A Failed Partnership in Germany/YahooSports




GRADING BY MICHAEL HALEY WITH ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY KARTIK KRISHNAIYER

1 Howard - DNP
Kartik’s Thoughts: Could he have made the critical save that sparked this team? Keller surely didn’t.

2 Albright – DNP

Kartik’s Thoughts: This team sorely missed Frankie Hedjuk’s hustle and his German experience from his Bundesligia days. His torn ACL was the first bad sign for the team’s prospects in Germany.

3 Bocanegra (2 starts, 180min) Review – Average. After not being used in the Czech debacle, did well in defending against a tough Italy attack with only one foul committed. Was a good option on set pieces and corners. Played fairly well v. Ghana again contributing in the attack but his misplay of the ball into the middle of the field approaching halftime was costly.

Kartik’s Thoughts: A solid cup with the exception of the misplay at the back that cost us the Ghana game.

4 Mastroeni (2 starts, 89min) Review – Poor. Was completely outclassed and looked lost in Czech game. Was substituted out for the mighty O’Brien. Truth is Mia Hamm would have been a better option. Held his own and even had a shot in first half v. Italy, that is until he flew into one of the most boneheaded tackles in the history of US Soccer. (Note to ref – boneheaded is not the same as bone crunching). Seconds from the half and miles away from the goal, Pablo’s cup was over.

Kartik’s Thoughts: Pablo couldn’t be truly effective because Reyna occupies much of the same space as he does on the pitch. This goes back to coaching and tactics. Played very well against Italy until the bonehead play that got him sent off. I’ll say he was average, but Pablo should bounce back after his suspension and contribute again during qualifying for South Africa 2010.


5 O’Brien (1 sub, 45min) Review – Poor. The review could be much worse but he did play 45 mostly vanilla minutes v. Czech and I’m saving the venom for someone special.

Kartik’s Thought: What a total waste of immense talent this guy has turned out to be. Perhaps the Czech game was his last in a USA uniform. In 1998, I predicted this guy would be first great American player in Europe. Shows how much or little I know!

6 Cherundolo (3 starts, 195min) Review – Average. After a disastrous debut v. Czech Republic being exposed trying to move up field, rebounded and was decent in later games. Played well v. Italy although never able to contribute to attack with service from right flank with any regularity. Substituted twice for Johnson without much drop-off in defense suggests USA may have been better off with an extra forward from the start.

Kartik’s Thought: Well said. Cherundolo at the very least proved he’s gritty enough to bounce back from a bad performance and play with some fire.

7 Lewis (2 starts, 163min) Review – Average. Another player with a sub-par opening performance who rebounded somewhat after being returned to his natural position of left midfield. Basically exposed at left back in the first game, he returned v. Ghana at left mid to show good energy and contribute some good runs. Exhibited that while capable of being an aggressive back against teams like T&T or Panama, miles away from the level it takes to succeed against teams like Czech Republic.

Kartik’s thought: Eddie Lewis is one of the better attacking midfielders in the recent history of storied club Leeds United. It’s a shame Arena felt the need to make him learn a new position which he was ill suited to play.

8 Dempsey (2 starts, 151min) Review – Good. After not playing in the Czech game, was effective v. Italy with a shot and some good moves that led to fouls and free kicks for USA. Hard work paid off v. Ghana with a great strike on the full run on a nice ball from Beasley. One of the few USA players to show a willingness to “take-on” players one-on-one. This resulted in fouls suffered and USA free kicks. Clearly USA’s best attacking option. Did a good job of tracking back and defending. Committed some tough fouls without getting booked. Overall solid effort.

Kartik’s Thoughts: If you recall before the World Cup, I felt that Dempsey could be our best player. He was, but it’s a shame he started the cup on the bench in favor of a left footed player playing wide on the right side. Another classic Arena blunder to leave someone as attacking minded and vocal as Dempsey on the bench to start the World Cup.

9 Johnson (2 sub, 75min) Review – Average. Showed spark with two shots coming off bench v. Czech. Strangely absent as sub v. Ghana. Stood around and had less impact than the referee. Never in the flow of game.

Kartik’s Thoughts: A striker with pace like Johnson is critical to have up top if you are going to have success against slow but physical teams like the Czech Republic. Johnson played well but in 75 minutes of cup action where the USA was behind and desperate he never really got a chance to show his stuff. Perhaps he is still not fully fit.

10 Reyna (3 starts, 219min) Review – Good. Along with Dempsey, the only player that contributed. One of the only bright spots v. Czech, he worked hard in the midfield without much support and almost scored with good shot from distance. Continued to be the engine v. Italy again creating chances and defending well. Terrible misplay led to goal which was beginning of end – for USA and the Captain. Good but not good enough.

Kartik’s Thoughts: Reyna exhibited little vocal leadership as the captain. That being said he once again showed his skill level is high and he never quit unlike some other “stars” on this team.

11 Ching – DNP

Kartik’s thoughts: Did Ching’s selection really get Hawaii behind team USA?

12 Berhalter – DNP

Kartik’s Thoughts: Corey Gibbs injury took a potentialy valuable reserve away from this team and replaced him with someone nobody wanted to see on the World Cup roster.

13 Conrad (1 start, 1 sub, 129min) Review – Good. Like Olsen, played solid emergency minutes. Was able to maintain position and mark men effectively. A physical defender in MLS, was able to keep pace and position v. speedy Ghana forwards. Displayed more sense than experienced defenders like Pope.

Kartik’s Thoughts: A pleasant surpise and a feather in the cap for MLS who has developed Conrad.

14 Olsen (1 sub, 51 min) Review – Good. Played well in emergency minutes v. Ghana after the injury to Reyna. Well enough to wonder why he wasn’t an option earlier. Displayed veteran savvy breaking up counters with fouls, without getting booked. Held ball enough to get fouled himself. Gritty effort.
Kartik’s Thoughts: Ditto. Olsen played very well. His experience with DC United, MLS’s only showcase club showed as Olsen was fantastic. Good to see he is finally healthy as well.

15 Convey (2 starts, 1 sub, 158min) Review – Average. Failed to really get involved v. Czech but created a few chance v. Italy. Not able to attack defenders on the dribble reflective of the entire defensive posture of USA throughout the tournament.
Kartik’s Thoughts: While Convey showed some flashes, he’s still somewhat raw, but since he is a starter on a club heading to the EPL, the future is bright for him.

16 Wolff (1 sub, 14min) Review – Average. Managed to get off shot and suffer a few fouls in limited action. Hard to understand why, with USA needing goals, he wasn’t used more.

Kartik’s Thoughts: Why didn’t Arena just bring one forward to Germany if that is all he was going to use? Wolff’s pace and good finishing ability was wasted as he played a total 14 minutes.

17 Beasley (2 starts, 1 sub, 209min) Review – Poor. Overall, a hugely disappointing effort from one of the teams top players. Lack of effort suggests fatigue from a demanding club season including Champions League play. Reluctance to attack defenders limited his play from out-of-position right wing. Returned to left wing he produced exactly 0 shots but did center the sweet cross to Dempsey for the only goal in the run of play. Ironically, it was probably the only time in the whole tournament that he tried to push the ball passed defenders.

Kartik’s Thoughts: While I am unhappy with Beasley’s attitude and his general performance he was still capable of the spectacular moment, like the goal called back versus Italy and the brilliant ball into space for Dempsey. Beasley had a subpar cup, but he wasn’t the worst American player either.

18 Keller (3 starts, 270min) Review – Average. Great shot-stopper was only able to get big save v. Italy which earned team only point. Not to blame considering overexposure due to lacking defense and giveaways in defensive third. Nevertheless, a big save on any of the goals may have turned the tide for USA. Distribution was weak, rarely led to counters and was responsible for first goal v. Czech.

Kartik’s Take: The USA needs to move past Kasey Keller once and for all. Keller is an average keeper which isn’t good enough for a team with so many defensive problems. It’s hard to understand why Steve Sampson and Bruce Arena had Keller playing ahead Brad Friedel all those years. (thankfully Friedel played in the last World Cup though) Keller’s not vocal enough to organize his back line and his distribution was awful.

19 Hahneman – DNP

Kartik’s Thoughts: Hahneman is aging but if Tim Howard slips and Brad Guzan does not develop, he could be our keeper at the next World Cup.

20 McBride (3 starts, 256min) Review – Good. Can’t fault effort from a player who had little support. Unable to convert chance v. Ghana (one of few in the three games). Forced to track back and play defense too much.

Kartik’s thoughts: an overmatched warrior. Tracked back to play defense too often but played hard and placed a perfect ball at Landon Donovan’s feet for what should have been a fairly routine finish against Ghana but Donovan managed to make a mess of it.

21 Donovan (3 starts, 270min) Review – Outclassed. Passing up the shot (to Olsen!) toward the end of the Ghana game was symbolic of entire loss of mojo which characterized this performance. Along with Onweyu, the key to this team’s success. Lack of effort and overall ineffectiveness make him directly responsible for this team’s failure. Donovan is clearly the guinea pig for MLS – he has shown that while the league is okay for developing young talent, the level of play has caused this star to regress. He looked slow, out of shape and weak. Worst of all – he looked like he didn’t care. Interesting to see how he rebounds from this. My guess is his career will closely resemble Paul Gasgoine’s – spending more time thinking he’s good enough than actually showing it.

Kartik’s Take: Landon Donovan is immature and not ready for prime time. He should not be automatically given the captain’s armband now that Reyna has retired from the national team. Donovan mouthed off in the press prior to the World Cup how he wanted to prove to the German fans how he was truly a World Class player, not the weak young american portrayed in the German media. Donovan seemed uncomfortable with the ball at his feet and didn’t want to shoot on goal either. If he is unwilling to do the things he is suppossed to, why is he even on the pitch? Donovan’s game against Ghana was among the worst efforts of his career, and this was with everything possible on the line? As a leader of the team with several opportunities to even the match he flat out choked. The Ghanian midfield made Donovan look like an outclassed little kid. Landon Donovan is a great dissapointment for all fans of US Soccer, and he needs to test his game overseas and grow up quickly before being taken seriously as leader of our national team. MLS has produced lots of attacking players who play well in the league like Roy Lassiter, and Jason Kreis who haven’t produced on the national team level. Let’s hope Donovan’s regression doesn’t lead him into Jason Kreis territory.

22 Onweyu (3 starts, 270min) Review – Poor. Along with Donovan, the key to this team’s success. Repeated mistakes make him directly responsible for the team’s failure. From the first yellow card in the 5th minute, followed shortly after by Koller’s goal, in which he was in no-mans-land, this was a trial by fire for Gooch. Sounds like Goose, which reminds me of Agoos – a solid player who scored an own goal in 2002 – one of the few blemishes of that WC. Hopefully better things to come from this raw player

.Kartik’s Thoughts: “Gooch” wasn’t ready to compete against this skill level but still did a good job at times and seemed to learn as the cup progressed. While the PK against Ghana was a bad call, a more seasoned international player would learn how to not get trapped in that situation and sell the play better to the referee. Will get better, much like Bobby Convey.

23 Pope (2 starts, 136min) Review – Poor. Step slow throughout his limited play suggests he’s past his prime. Inability to help the inexperienced Onweyu and not adjusting to the referee, was an uncharacteristic display for a player with over 80 caps.

Kartik’s Thoughts: The once outstanding Pope showed signs of age and immaturity in this cup. Pope has been one of the great players in US Soccer History both in MLS and for the National Team, and it’s a shame his run will end this way. Perhaps Jonathan Spector plays this position in the upcoming years?

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

54 Responses to Grading the US Roster post World Cup

  1. Colin says:

    Lads, the whole usa is down on Landon aren’t you?

    It’s no small reason why Donovan has never been considered quality enough to survive in Europe.

    Donovan is a typical American who has no idea about the speed and physical nature of the international game. I do not follow your minor league, but Donovan’s gaudy statistics over there do not impress anybody on this side of the pond.

    Dempsey looks like a quality attacking player. He will get an offer soon from a European side.

    Convey and Lewis are both quality players. It is a shame your simple tactics and poor managment does not figure how to properly use two excellent strikers of the ball.

    DeMarcus Beasley is a top player with PSV. He was in poor form towards the end of the campaign, but is a great talent who is always demonstrates excellent fitness.

    Eddie Johnson was given a big offer by Benfica which was rejected by his American club. He is a rising star who again drowned due to your simple, defensive minded tactical formation.

    Claudio Reyna is not a distributor or passer. He’s a simple player who hasn’t distinguished himself very much over here to be perfectly honest.

    Oneywu is rumored to be heading to Boro. He’ll be a better player for you in the next cup once he’s been tested in the EPL and Europe, where Boro always seems to do well.

    John O’Brien is the American I have probably seen the most in his days as a top Dutch player. His fitness has however long been a problem. He is an excellent passer, and is great on the ball. Losing him destoryed your cup. Clearly you did not even have a somewhat adequete replacement for a player of his skill level. If he is lost for you on a permanent basis you have a big hold to cover. I believe he is only 26 or 27 so he may still recover his fitness.

  2. Federico says:

    Mexico about to kick off!

    LaVolpe better have some good attack in store today!

    Good article. I’ll post thoughts later.

  3. Sams Army says:

    Interesting thoughts. You’ve written another Clancy novel here so let me digest the thoughts and comment later.

  4. Federico says:

    LaVolpe like Arena has a problem putting his best players on the field. Where was Bravo????? We were fortunate the ref blew a call late in regulation or we never would have even made extra time.

    After taking the attack to Argentina early we were shell shocked and just were hanging on for dear life until finally put out of our misery. LaVolpe as failed much like every coach before him.

    Let me read this post over before commenting on the player grades.

  5. Sams Army says:

    I disagree on several of these grades.

    Kartik, to claim the team missed Frankie Hedjuk is insane. He was an annoyance his whole career on the national team and couldn’t stick to a position.

    You guys totally over rate Claudio Reyna who had a bad cup. He was responsible directly for 3 opponents goals himself.

    Do you know how useless both Eddie Johnson and Brian McBride were in this world cup?

    I challenge you to find a better goal keeper than Kasey Keller anywhere in the world right now. Some are equal but few if any are better.

    Landon Donovan played his heart out against Italy and showed strong play early in the game versus the Czechs. He set up Reyna’s shot that hit off the post and also juked past a defender twice in the 2nd half of the Ghana game. He is without a doubt our best player and it isn’t his fault that rest of the team didn’t provide him with adequete opportunities to shine.

    Eric Wynalda has made an ass out of himself for saying Arena and Donovan should go play chess somewhere and that Arena was classless for not shaking the coach of Ghana’s hands. That same coach had said the previous night that we weren’t very good and he was preparing his boys for Brazil. That jerk is a typical Serb!

    What happened is that we were screwed not getting a seed despite being ranked #5 in the FIFA World Rankings and now everyone wants to blame Donovan and Arena the two things we have going for us.

  6. USA06 says:

    Sams,

    Apparently you watched USA with your rose colored glasses on!

    To blame their performance on FIFA for not giving them a seed and the referees for a couple of blown calls shows a lack of insight.

    Unfortunately they played so piss poor that the wouldn’t have advanced v. Portugal, Iran, and Angola either. So quit the crying.

  7. Sams Army says:

    USA 06,

    How did Mexico get a seed and not us?

    Without the crazy calls, like the second yellow on pope and the pk we’d be playing Brazil. I guarentee we would have gotten 4 pts either a win vs Italy and a draw vs Ghana or vise versa if not for all the craziness.

    I’m sure Landon Donovan is responsible for the Iraq War also, along with Arena.

  8. DC United Fan says:

    Glad you guys gave Ben Olsen a good score. It was good to see him get into a World Cup game and make an impact. On the other hand it was sad to see Eddie Pope, a once great player regress beyond recognition.

  9. USA06 says:

    Sams,

    This discussion is about player’s performances – who did well and who didn’t. Bitching about the seeding and refereeing is another debate altogether.

    Here’s your evaluation so far.

    Donovan – Great just misunderstood.
    Keller – World Class with a WC record 0-4-1 in five appearances with 10 goals allowed.
    Reyna – sucked and was responsible for entire mess.

    In other threads you claim Reyna is the greatest US player ever. What gives? Can you identify which players were responsible for the poor performance and which players played well despite the form?

    We all know Arena did a great job in your eyes so the finger can’t be pointed there……….

  10. Steve Sampson says:

    At least I had an excuse. That A%^hole criticizing everyone on TV was an inmate trying to run the asulym while I was coaching!

  11. Eric Whine-Alda says:

    They all stunk. They are all useless. Let me suit up again!

  12. Gregg says:

    Sam’s Army,

    Are you kidding me about Kasey Keller?

    He is such a joke. Maybe top 5 in the U.S. Never played on a major club team. Currently , not even top 50 in the world.

    Expect him to be playing for Oakland FC (whatever they’ll be called) in the MLS in a year or two.

  13. Xavier says:

    Mastroeni (2 starts, 89min) Review – Poor.

    I totally disagree. Pablo made one bonehead play but was our best player in the first half against Italy before being sent off and played better than most in first half against the Czech Republic.

    5 O’Brien (1 sub, 45min) Review – Poor

    Lack of fitness have a way of robbing the most special players of their ability to compete. Very sad.

    10 Reyna (3 starts, 219min) Review – Good.

    You are joking, correct?

    17 Beasley (2 starts, 1 sub, 209min) Review – Poor.

    Beasley was awful, just awful versus the Czechs. He was the worst player on the pitch for either team. But I thought he bounced back nicely scoring a nulified goal against Italy and setting up the goal vs Ghana.

    21 Donovan (3 starts, 270min) Review – Outclassed.

    This we should all be able to agree on.

  14. Rafael says:

    Some very good points. Let’s hope Landon doesn’t hold his head in shame based on these criticisms.

  15. Michael Haley says:

    Reyna was was of the best players for USA but that is not saying much considering the overall performance of the team. His good grade was based on the standard curve.

  16. It should read says:

    Reyna was one of the best players for USA, but that is not saying much considering the overall performance of the team.

    His good grade was based on the standard curve.

  17. John Doyle says:

    Gregg,

    That is so funny, I recently refered to the possible expansion team as Oakland AC to a friend.

    I live out here and thought it would be a clever tie in to Oakland A’s.

  18. Der Kaiser says:

    Colin,

    Great analysis from your perspective!

  19. Hernandez says:

    everyone is down on donovan.

    oneyuwu deserves better. he is young, and made some mistakes he paid for but also showed a talent that usa needs to compete with physical european teams in the future. he will be good into the future.

  20. Hernandez says:

    why is oakland getting an mls team. didn’t the earthquakes flop?

  21. USA06 says:

    The Earthquakes were relocated because of the lack of an adequate facility to play in.

    The Oakland A’s owner has expressed an interest in trying to build a complex that would include a soccer specific stadium along with a new ballpark.

    MLS has agreed that if they build it, they will come (back).

  22. Rafael says:

    My one disagreement with your analysis is on Mastroeni. I believe he played well until being sent off for what was a yellow card offense at most.

    Oneyuwu showed flashes but his mistakes were costly. It’s amzing that the USA made more mistakes at the back and had more bad giveaways than any other nation competeting in Germany. that shows that the overall skill level of this team was low and that the composure was lacking.

  23. USA06 says:

    Well said, Rafael.

    FIFA apparently agrees with the referee and not you. They have reviewed the tackle and suspended Mastroeni for three additional games.

    In my view, the timing of the tackle is enough to justify his rating.

  24. USA in 2010 says:

    We had an awful world cup, but this is a squad in transition. Landon Donovan learned he isn’t at the level he needs to be yet and I certainly hope he spends the next few years retooling his game. We have some young guns like Adu and Gavin ready to step up for us and our dependence on a coach who brought us to new heights but now has become stale and married to certain players was a big problem.

    A new coach means new ideas and new thinking. Look for us to develop a few more attacking options in the next couple years and to also schedule more friendlies abroad……oh and playing in Copa America wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    The USSF knoew they failed this time and will change things, we hope.

    Eddie Lewis was miscast in defensive role and that was actually the most costly coaching mistake of all. Lewis running up field cost us the quick first goal versus the Czechs and we were chasing the game and the world cup afterwards.

  25. Hat Trick Peter Crouch says:

    Just what I wanted to discuss the day ENGLAND advanced to the semi-finals……yes the Semifinals, with Deco and Ronaldo out of Portugal we have passage right through…..I wanted to discuss a bunch of inferior yanks who demonstrated on the pitch in this world cup how inferior they continue to be to the rest of the world. You have so few quality players on your side what’s to discuss. You were outplayed, outhustled and outclassed by the superior Ghanians and Czechs. What more anaylsis do you need need? The Ghana coach was so unconcerned about the Yanks he was already preparing his side for Brazil, realizing he had won passage to the knock out stage already by virtue of facing you. That should say all that needs to be said about the Yanks. See you in four years……maybe!

  26. Hat Trick Peter Crouch says:

    The Yanks have little talent but in fairness to you guys I’ll point out the few good players you have had, who are not goalkeepers.

    American Players who have ever been any good:

    1- John Harkes. He was a solid player in the early 90s for Shefield Wednesday.

    2- Eric Wynalda. FC Saarbrucken. Solid finisher

    3- Cobi Jones. High work rate

    4- Earnie Stewart. Really not an American but played for your national team. Superb career at NAC Breda

    5- Frankie Hedjuk. Solid agressive player with Leverkusen

    6- Anthony Sanneh. A leader at Hertha Berlin. Excellent distributor of the ball and a dangerous player on the flank

    7- Joe Max Moore. Had a good run with Everton and was a top player in your domestic league

    8- Clint Mathis. Did alright in Europe but a dangerous player who never met his potential

    9- John O’Brien. Injuries have done him in.

    10- Claudio Reyna. Plays well in spells but never consistent. Skillful but certainly not one better holding midfielders in the EPL.

    11- DeMarcus Beasley. PSV attacker. Has been of form lately and that showed in the World Cup

    That’s it! The rest of your players are undistinguished from an international perspective and play for minor clubs.

  27. Yellow Card says:

    England is so going down. Portugal is far superior as they proved today. Pack your bags Peter Crouch

  28. Alexi Lalas says:

    Landon Donovan is the best American player.

  29. D.C. United Cry Baby says:

    Harkes is a joke.

  30. Federico says:

    The USSF needs to make several changes in how they schedule friendlies and when they schedule them in the wake of this World Cup train wreck.

  31. Tim L says:

    As a casual soccer watcher I had heard nothing but “Donovan and Beasley, Donovan is the greatest” coming into thtis world cup. It led me to believe as someone who doesn’t watch MLS or the European leagues or really much of anything soccer related between the world cups that Landon Donovan was the first truly “great” american player on the world scene. In that context I could not be more upset and unhappy with his performance which showed precious few glimpses of potneital and far too many mental lapses and physcial limitations to be even an average attacker at this level. What a rude awakining this must be for the kid!

  32. An unhappy fan says:

    The hype surrounding Landon Donovan was out of hand. Part of it is his youngish and good look that could appeal to non-soccer fans and sell them on the USA team. The way Mia Hamm did for Women’s soccer for a time, and all these Tennis Players. Donovan however proved to be a total fround.

  33. an unhappy fan says:

    fraud I mean!

  34. Sams Army says:

    No doubt that some of our guys need experience in Europe to improve. If Boro still wants Gooch that’ll be a big step up in class for him to face EPL type attackers. Cory Gibbs move to Charlton, a mid table EPL side means he will have to fight like heck to get into the lineup and improve. Look for Clint Dempsey to get some offers from Euro clubs and perhaps Freddy Adu will be playing in Europe next year also.

    The sky isn’t falling. The state of American soccer has never been better. If we had decent refs, we’d be playing Brazil tomorrow or Australia right now. That’s the bottom line.

  35. The Three Lions says:

    You guys are missing the point.

    I could beat up on you yanks, but I’m not. You without question did not meet your goals this world cup, while my side hasn’t played well we are still alive and well getting ready to face Portugal behind the solid play of Gerrard, Beckham, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and the improving Rooney. We are hoping for passage to the semifinals.

    For me the reason your side had an early trip back stateside was due to a few factors. First was the tough group you were placed in. Ghana is Africa’s best side and Italy is Italy. You should have drawn with the Czechs but you lost that game for a few reasons. You just don’t have tested leaders and your goalkeeping situation stinks.

    In 2002 Brad Friedel was one of probably the three best keepers in the world. He is a consistent leader who organizes his defense. I’ve watched him with Rovers in person probably about ten times and he is one of the better keepers on the planet. You have traded him for a journeyman in Kasey Keller who played for Milwall and Leiscster City, lower table and lower division sides without much success. He couldn’t even break second team with Spurs and has been known to lack leadership and fire. Technically speaking he is a decent keeper but at a world cup level he just isn’t someone I would start over a keeper of Friedel’s caliber. Freidel was the best keeper at World Cup 2002 and has long been among the top few keepers here in the EPL. Keller has never been anywhere in that discussion, and in fact I am not even sure where he plays club football these days.

    Your fiery leaders of the past, like Friedel, Cobi Jones and the consumate European player Ernie Stewart have all moved on and you have been left with a bunch of untested younger american players who were not ready to take a leadership role in a world cup. they will grow from this experience and will be formidable side four years from now. Hope you take this experience and place it in the memory bank so that you can return to the success you experienced in 2002 with a nice run in 2010.

  36. USA06 says:

    “You have traded him for a journeyman in Kasey Keller….”

    Unfortunately for USA, it was Freidel’s choice to retire from international soccer to concentrate on his club career. It is this exclusive focus which has allowed him to excel in a difficult league on a consistent basis.

    Keller has traveled the globe searching for steady club duty and then been the first to fly back to the states to participate in qualifying. His play reflects that of a keeper-for-hire, solid but not spectalular.

  37. USA 06 says:

    “If we had decent refs, we’d be playing Brazil tomorrow or Australia right now. That’s the bottom line.”

    Sams,

    You make some great points and then ruin it all with dumbass remarks like that.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree about the loss of Hedjuk being a horrible sign that this team would buckle. Hedjuk provided energy spurts in each of the past two world cups that helped the USA through rough patches. This time nobody filled the void created by his untimely injury.

  39. The Three Lions says:

    Friedel quit the USA National Team because he was tired of being shuffled with Keller as the first choice keeper. At least that is what the football media here claims. If the story is different stateside please enlighten us because from the perspective of the UK and Euro Football media that was a fatal decision by your manager, Arena to shuffle a world class keeper with a totally inferior one. That is one big part of the difference between the USA chasing a world title in 2002 and making an early, disgraceful exit now in 2006.

  40. Sams Army says:

    Arena didn’t care for Friedel’s attitude of putting club above country. Even if he was the greatest goalie ever he wasn’t a team oriented player. It was all about him. Keller as pointed out above would put country first and that’s part of the reason he’s never been on the glamourous clubs Friedel and Howard have been on. Howard isn’t the first choice keeper right now because he was more concerned about playing time at Man U than on helping his country qualify for the World Cup. Same goes for Friedel. He didn’t play in many of the 2002 Qualifyers and showed up for the World Cup and acted like he owned the job. That’s not the right attitude.

  41. Federico says:

    Keller is a completely inferior keeper when compared to Friedel. They are different in not only ability and leadership but Friedel is also much more decisive. His mindset instills confidence in his back line and his side. Sams Army is crazy if eh thinks a side like Liverpool or Blackburn would even think about paying a transfer fee for a keeper like Keller. Both major clubs in England spent big bucks for Freidel.

  42. Zizou 06 says:

    Well, all of you limeys said that I was crazy to think that Portugal will beat England a few weeks ago. I guess we will see now.

  43. USA06 says:

    “If the story is different stateside please enlighten us because from the perspective of the UK and Euro Football media that was a fatal decision by your manager, Arena …”

    The fact is Freidel was the first choice keeper for the entire 2002 World Cup for USA. He then chose to step down after a terrific cup.

    He probably wouldn’t have minded playing in another World Cup but wasn’t interested in traveling to play in qualifiers.

    Blackburn has been the exclusive beneficiary of his good form.

  44. Kartik says:

    Interesting Friedel vs Keller debate. My recollection fits yours 3 lions, I believe Arena would not assure Friedel that he’s be the first choice keeper and thus Friedel “retired” from the national team. I guess he felt after the 2002 World Cup where he was a hero and his outstanding form at blackburn, which had him named the EPL’s best keeper in 2003/04 season, why should he compete with someone like Keller whom you pointed out seems to bounce around from mediocre club to mediocre club. But Keller as USA 06 pointed out has always been superbly committed to playing with the national team, more so than Friedel so that must have weighed into Arena’s decision.

    For the record I have long believed that Friedel is a far superior keeper to Keller but that Keller was more pivitol in the growth of American soccer because of his commitment to flying the world over to play in qualifiers and meaningless friendlies. Friedel was the heir apparent when Tony Meola temporarily retired from the national team after the 1994 World Cup, but Keller then playing for Milwall made a point of fighting hard to get back in the national team picture ( he had been ignored by Bora) and he impressed Steve Sampson enough and had some special games like his shutdown effort versus Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup, that Sampson didn’t even consider Friedel.

  45. Kartik says:

    Did anybody see Rece Davis’ interview with Bruce Arena today???????????????

    He won’t be held accountable for anything it seems. It’s MLS fault, it’s the fault of the refs and it’s the fault of Eric Wynalda. Arena claims we are not ready to compete in Soccer’s upper echelon yet and that we need more players playing for top teams in europe, which I agree is a good point. (But Arena has been anxious to give half the MLS a tryout for the national team while ignoring several guys in good form overseas) Arena implied it is his intention to stay on as coach of the US National Team meaning Sunil Gulati, his close friend either had to lower the hammer on him or accept excuses and mediocrity.

    The ball is now in the court of Sunil Gulati and the USSF.

  46. Xavier says:

    I saw it. Arena made a total ass out of himself. If he really cares about Soccer in this country and wants a pat on the back for being an important force in its development he’ll step aside for the good of the program right now.

  47. Sams Army says:

    I saw the interview. As always Arena made several good points and from my perspective he made it clear that the failure in this world cup was part of a larger problem. We don’t have enough of our top players competeting abroad in top leagues of for top teams in those leagues. MLS has been great to build from but the league develops players that never improve beyond a certain point.

    All of this having been discussed forgets that we were a few bad whistles away from advancing, and thus I believe Arena deserves to keep his job at least through the 2010 World Cup so he can implement the changes he feels need to be made following this World Cup experience.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Beasley’s grade is totally unwarrented. While he looked flat and out of position in the first game, he completed more passes and had fewer bad giveways than any field player in the final two matches. He also set up the Dempsey goal and scored a nullified goal of his own. to group him with the listless, embarassing Donovan and the totally out of whack Eddie Pope is bordering on criminal.

  49. Kartik says:

    All of this having been discussed forgets that we were a few bad whistles away from advancing, and thus I believe Arena deserves to keep his job at least through the 2010 World Cup so he can implement the changes he feels need to be made following this World Cup experience.

    Sams, I am sure when you take a step back from the emotion of this world cup and you’ll realize that having less shots on goal than any other team in the past two world cups and less shots on goal than any single game the USA played in 2002 World Cup is the reason we lost.

  50. Kartik says:

    We don’t have enough of our top players competeting abroad in top leagues of for top teams in those leagues. MLS has been great to build from but the league develops players that never improve beyond a certain point.

    Sams, some of us realized this BEFORE the World Cup. Landon Donovan proved to lack the true grit and drive needed to succeed on the big stage and Bruce Arena is guilty of giving half the MLS a national team tryout while ignoring Americans who exceled in European leagues. We have plenty of American talent playing in Europe that Arena has turned a blind eye towards, and I am not just speaking of Jay DeMerit who is his greatest oversight. (DeMerit by the way plays left back for Watford, a position Arena asked Eddie Lewis to learn from scratch and a position he seemed to forget Carlos Bocanegra was comfortable playing since he seemed to always push Bocanegra inside during qualifying.)

  51. Federico says:

    Kartik- it has become too easy to beat up on MLS. I totally disagree with you and the critics of MLS. It is a young league that developed great talent that has made the USA a consistent World Cup participant. Prior to MLS the USA player pool had no depth and little hope of sustaining itself long term. The USA I dare to say may not even be qualifying for World Cups if not for MLS.

    Where does Clint Dempsey to star of this World Cup for the USA play?

    MLS

    Where did Bobby Convey who showed flashes of future stardom develop?

    MLS

    Where does Cornell Glen, Trinidad’s best player outside of Dwight Yorke in this Cup play?

    MLS

    Where does Eddie Johnson who is the USA best goal scoring threat play?

    MLS

    Sure MLS doesn’t have quality of a Euro league but knocking both MLS and the Mexican League has become too fashionable. Arena has to find a place to pass the buck and he has pushed it onto MLS since it’s something that will win him sympathy from fans like you who are looking to blame somebody or something.

  52. Sams Army says:

    We would have put up a better fight versus Brazil today than did Ghana. We may have even one considering Brazil wasn’t going forward in numbers and seemed weak at the back.

  53. John Harke's Wife says:

    Wynalda, who played in Germany from 1992-1996 and spent six years in MLS, put the blame for the U.S. failures squarely on Arena.

    “He can take a team to a certain level, but he has no idea where the next level is,” Wynalda said. “How much does he know about playing in Europe, other than having a hot dog and a beer in the stands? Hearsay? Does he talk to the players? That’s justification to know? Has he ever coached there and have that pressure? No. Sorry, I’m just pointing out the obvious.”

  54. Kartik says:

    We would have put up a better fight versus Brazil today than did Ghana. We may have even one considering Brazil wasn’t going forward in numbers and seemed weak at the back.

    Sams, you are one funny guy! One, you get it, pun intended! You must have meant won! Considering we had less shots on goal than any team in the world cup how exactly would we have beaten Brazil?

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