Looking Ahead Part 2 of 2: The US Player Pool

Thanks to Michael Haley for his contributions

The results of the 2006 World Cup in Germany clearly demonstrated that while our national team remains talented, the player pool is not as deep nor as experienced as the pool was in the 2000-2003 time period. While this statement may make me unpopular with many of our most passionate fans, it is a reality that in my mind cannot be overlooked. This is best evidenced by our semifinal run at the 2000 Summer Olympics with an under 23 team, which was followed up with non-qualification for the 2004 Summer games. The glorious group that led the USA Youth World Championship team to glory in 1999 has graduated to the senior national team and the group that has followed has been less accomplished, but yet still has some talent.

Having recently watched the USA-Germany Quarterfinal game from the last World Cup again, it is amazing to compare the number of viable attacking options Bruce Arena had on the bench in Korea four years ago that he did not have in Germany this time around. The player pool particularly when it comes to attacking players needs to be replenished and re-energized and that is something that MLS, much to the chagrin of the new Bruce Arena will have a direct and active hand in.

Our Goalkeeping situation is in the air for qualifying and beyond. We have had a glorious run with three keepers about the same age. Tony Meola was fantastic in 1994 World Cup after learning on the job in 1990. Kasey Keller was solid throughout a rough qualifying campaign for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and superb in the easy qualification for 2006. (with the exception of one very costly mistake versus Mexico in a qualifier held at Foxboro in 1997) Brad Friedel started all 5 USA games in the 2002 World Cup and was considered at the time to be one of the top 3 keepers in the world, and almost single handedly was responsible for the USA advancing beyond the group stage.

Tim Howard was widely assumed to be the USA keeper of the future many years ago, but due to his extensive club schedule in England with Manchester United, and now to his loan to Everton where he will be a full time starter as once was at Man U, his participation, much like Brad Friedel’s before him will be limited. Howard’s ability to fly stateside and participate in qualifiers and friendlies is unlikely except in the most rare, and critical circumstances. That leaves Chivas USA keeper Brad Guzan, now 21 and possibly some other MLS keepers such as New England’s Matt Reis and LA’s Kevin Hartman to carry the load during qualifying.

The backline looks solid moving forward. Eddie Pope will likely be phased out over the next four years at his center back position, but could still play a role in qualifying. Oguchi Onyewu, who will be better at 27 than he is currently at 23, will anchor the line with several options inside and outside. They include Cory Gibbs whose injury after being named to the roster for Germany 2006 was one of many ominous signs of trouble leading into the World Cup, Jonathan Spector whose injury problems have precluded him from being more active with the national team, DC United’s Bobby Boswell now 23, Heath Pierce now 21 and playing in Europe as well as Chad Marshall who is now 21 playing in MLS. Liverpool’s Zac Whitbread who has lived less than 2 years of his life in the USA is eligible for a call up and that too should happen soon. Whitbread is tall and a force in the air on set pieces. Expect Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo to continue to play important roles as well. Onyewu is an interesting option to captain the squad, but it appears like the timid Landon Donovan will instead get that nod.

Defensive midfield has been a problem for the USA National Team for years. Mike Sorber, Chad Deering, Brain Maisonieuve, Chris Armas, John O’Brien, and Pablo Mastroeni among others have played the position since the 1994 World Cup with varying degrees of success. Many in US Soccer believe a potential star in this position is Nathan Sturgis, who is now 18 and playing a key role for the US Youth International teams. Sturgis is also a member of MLS’ LA Galaxy where he looks to get more and more playing time as the year wears on. Mastroeni himself should continue to play a key role during qualifying, but he will be 33 when the next World Cup roles around. Perhaps Brian McBride who will be 38 in 2010 but still is fit, tall and excellent in the air and with the ball at his feet can play this position in the future, ala Lothar Matthaus who dropped back into a “libero” position later in his international career for Germany after much success as an attacking midfield/forward player? McBride is a tough player and though he lacks the pace to continue to play up top, maybe we can find a role like this for him.

Our midfield looks crowded but little accomplished. DeMarcus Beasley proved in this World Cup that he lacks consistency and in many ways to be a true superstar. Despite his lumps, Beasley does have the talent and the work ethic to be a key factor going forward. Landon Donovan will likely be the captain of the team which is unfortunate because Donovan has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that is incapable of leadership, grit and fighting through adversity. It has been pointed out to me by several readers, that Donovan the golden boy of American soccer did not flop in Germany but merely was homesick. My retort is that if Donovan is unwilling to stick it out and toughen up under typical circumstances for a non-European international in a Euro league, he is completely incapable of being an impact player on the world stage. Donovan, sadly proved in this World Cup that taking the easy road has disastrous results. If Donovan wants to play chess as Eric Wynalda stated last week on ESPN or go do photo shoots for glamorous magazines back home in Southern California, best of luck to him. We need fully committed tough leaders on our side, and Donovan seems to lack the guts and determination required to be a success. Hopefully Germany 2006 will wake Donovan up and reveal to him that he must once and for all leave his comfort zone for the betterment of US Soccer.

Bobby Convey and Clint Dempsey showed in this World Cup why they belong in any future plans for the national team. While Eddie Lewis is unlikely to be on the 2010 roster when he is 34, he is the best left sides crosser of the ball we have and should still see some time during qualifying. Freddy Adu has received much hype worldwide but unless he works harder he is destined to a Landon Donovan type career stuck in MLS and outclassed at an international level. Adu is left sided player and quite frankly the USA has an abundance of left sided midfielders, although without a playmaker in the middle Adu or Beasley may be used inside. Eddie Gaven is smallish playmaker whose game has not improved much in 3 seasons of MLS. Yet Gaven is only 20 and should be an option for qualifying and the 2010 World Cup. Michael Bradley who attended the US pre World Cup camp and is the son of Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley is another option on the right side of the midfield. Santino Quaranta we sometimes forget is still only 21 because he has failed to live up to his billing thus far on DC United, but he has already logged several appearances for the national team and should get another look.

The attack looks typically weak for the future. Eddie Johnson is currently just 22 but hasn’t played well on the international level for almost t
wo years now. Nonetheless, should Johnson return to form and stay fit he is the most viable attacking option the national team has going forward. Kenny Cooper has been impressive since coming to MLS this year but has never played for any US youth national team. Cooper played for Manchester United’s reserve team in England scoring 8 goals in 20 matches two seasons ago. Cooper is eligible by virtue of his father to play for England or the USA, but the Baltimore native is unlikely to ever get a call up to the English national team. Conor Casey has battled injuries the last year or two playing in Germany, but he will only be 28 in 2010 and is likely to see substantial playing time during the qualifiers. Chris Rolfe has been impressive in MLS, and at 23 he will be in his prime in the next few years. Rolfe however is a bit on the smallish side and may need to play in the midfield. Mike Magee has been playing for the New York MLS Franchise since he was 18, but now approaching his 22nd birthday he has yet to really make his impact felt on his club consistently. Similarly the development of DC United’s Aleko Eskandarian seems to have stalled in the last year or two, even though he still is a viable option for the future. Taylor Twellman was a much talked about omission from Bruce Arena’s roister for Germany 2006. Arena probably felt that Twellman, who was pegged as a superstar a few years ago is soft because he declined the option to play in Germany several years ago to play in MLS. Nonetheless, expect Twellman to start plenty of games in qualifying, though he will be 30 in 2010, an age by which the USA’s all time leading goal scorer Eric Wynalda had dropped out of the regular player pool for the national team.

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93 Responses to Looking Ahead Part 2 of 2: The US Player Pool

  1. Anonymous says:

    You are much too negative. Landon Donovan is still a stud who probably will have a great career. No he won’t be Ronaldo or Owen, but still a solid attacking player, probably the best America has ever had.

  2. What a Mess! says:

    Landon Donovan knows he let the team and the nation down. I read he is so humiliated by his play he is reusing to go to the ESPY awards in two weeks where he is the nominee for best male soccer athlete.

  3. Sams Army says:

    The negativity on this website is just remarkable. We were a couple of blown calls away from playing Australia in the Round of 16 and the Ukraine in the Quarterfinals. Both of those nations are behind us in Soccer pedigree, both having not been to the World Cup in a long long time. Instead due to the officials, Italy was put in the easy draw.

    Arena made mostly the right moves in this World Cup and it’s not his fault that players had mental lapses such as Reyna and Oneywu. For those down on Landon Donovan I point to the great set up for Reyna that should have tied the game versus the Czechs and that he was easily the best field player on either team against the now semifinal bound Italy. Beasley set up a goal and had another called back on a highly questionable call. The 4-5-1 everyone is bitching about actually worked because in the final two games we were pushing the ball down the flanks at ease, before the officials took over in the final 3rd.

    The sky isn’t falling. We are in fact one of the best soccer nations right now and a few unlucky or perhaps outright blatent calls are not going to cloud my view of what has been a very successful 8 year run for Bruce Arena with US Soccer.

    I hope the USSF realizes one bad week filled with sending offs and dubious penalty calls and goals taken back do not undo 8 years of hard work and accomplishment.

  4. The Three Lions says:

    Aren’t you guys usually pretty solid with the youth squads, but typically players don’t develop to a world class level because of your league? I am just asking because i’m not really sure but that’s allways the impression I had of American Football.

    Any thoughts on England’s match up today?

  5. Federico says:

    Why are you so down on Freddy Adu already. He’s only 17 and without a doubt he’ll improve after going to Europe. Unlike Donovan, he wants to play in Europe and I am confident he will make the most out of his opportunity over there.

  6. Der Kaiser says:

    “We are in fact one of the best soccer nations right now and a few unlucky or perhaps outright blatent calls are not going to cloud my view of what has been a very successful 8 year run for Bruce Arena with US Soccer.”

    I am now convinced you are about 12 years old. Only a child could be that naive.

  7. Tim L says:

    Sams Army must be a Gator fan!

  8. Hat Trick Peter Crouch says:

    I noticed you have left off Watford’s dynamic Jay DeMerit. He is a late bloomer but certainly a quality player that can help the otherwise poor form of the USA.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Who cares? When if ever had the USA won a match of European soil?

  10. The Three Lions says:

    Zac Whitebread I am told is eligible to play for England as well as USA.

  11. Hernandez says:

    Do not forget about pat noonan who is an excellent crosser and finisher in mls. he will help usa in the next qualifying.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Are you writing off John O’Brien completely?

  13. Hernandez says:

    Sturgis is a nice player. i have seen him play.

  14. Rafael says:

    If O’Brien can return to fitness he should be the captain and be moved into the playmaking midfield role. Donovan has demonstrated he is incapable of leadership or good on the ball skills. Jonathan Spector should be a key in the qualifiers for 2010 as will Taylor Twellman. I’d expect to see Spector push to become a starter on the backline, and Twellman who is the only american attacker who brings pace and skill in the air to be the best option up front. Eddie Johnson has essentially bombed after a quick start to his career.

  15. Hat Trick Peter Crouch says:

    Is Whitbread really American? That’s a drag if so.

  16. Sams Army says:

    I am not 12 years old, and I probably know more about US Soccer than anyone on this website having traveled in following the team for years now. Our overall Soccer program is at its highest level in years having won the Gold Cup last year and peaked at #4 in the FIFA Rankings. Those rankings don’t lie as they scientifically figured and cleary found that we are among the best soccer playing nations because of our success in friendlies and other events.

    We have more skilled players and experienced international players than we have ever had currently. Landon Donovan is the most explosive American player ever, the first national team player that is comfortable with the ball at his feet and as an attacker who finishes chances. Our back line is anchored by Gooch who will be a huge star in Europe in the next few years. The EPL clubs have been lining up to sign him, so despite the negativity on this site which claimed he had a bad world cup, the scouts who know best feel the opposite. Kasey Keller is a goalkeeper the great Romario stated he was honored to be on the field with. You never heard that praise for the greedy Brad Friedel who quit on the national team.

    Freddy Adu is going to be fine so long as he plays for us. His recent talk about playing for Ghana is disturbing, but considering he turned them down once I would be shocked if he recanted especially considering he would have less of a future as a Ghanian player seeing they have only made one world cup, and Brazil just humiliated them.

    Chris Rolfe could be one of the great attacking players we’ve had. He has a knack for goal and a great finishing touch. Keep an eye on Mike Magee. He’s getting better and better and will be a solid finisher for us in due time.

    Bruce Arena needs to be given the opportunity to finish the job he started. One week filled with bogus sending offs and referee whistles shouldn’t damper what has been 8 great years that have moved us into the international elite of the game.

  17. Colin says:

    Your manager is correct. You must get more players in Europe and out of your stinking minor league. The Yanks have speed and hustle but limited skill and technical ability due to the dummed down standards in your league. Mexican players have some of the same troubles, but they have the advantage of passionate fans and knowledgeable trainers which the USA lacks. A player like a Clint Dempsey or Eddie Johnson would do well here. Spped is important in the EPL, more so than it is in Germany or Italy where the game is more physical. You have to put your players in the right European leagues. Our leagues here in England are more suited to the American mindset. DeMerit, Convey and Lewis have all doe quite well in our championship league and now DeMerit and Convey have moed to the EPL. You have a bright future if you get your lads over here.

  18. A Whiny Yank Goes Down says:

    Who are these terrible lads?

  19. The Future of US Soccer says:

    Hi I’m Landon “Hollywood” Donovan. Want to hit street with me???

  20. Kartik says:

    Sams- you have now proven yourself to be a total idiot.

    Here goes:

    Our overall Soccer program is at its highest level in years having won the Gold Cup last year and peaked at #4 in the FIFA Rankings. Those rankings don’t lie as they scientifically figured and cleary found that we are among the best soccer playing nations because of our success in friendlies and other events.

    FIFA is thankful idiots like you actually believe those rankings that consistently kept the Czech Republic ranked in the top 5 worldwide despite not qualifying for the 1998 or 2002 World Cups.

    Landon Donovan is the most explosive American player ever, the first national team player that is comfortable with the ball at his feet and as an attacker who finishes chances.

    I assume you never watched soccer prior to 2002, because I can think of several national team players including Eric Wynalda, Joe Max-Moore, Burce Murray and yes Brian McBride who were better finishers than Donovan. Actually Clint Mathis was as well before he went bad.

    Kasey Keller is a goalkeeper the great Romario stated he was honored to be on the field with. You never heard that praise for the greedy Brad Friedel who quit on the national team.

    That was a special night and Preki finished the deal with a great goal. However the two greatest tournament runs for the USA at major competetions, 1995 Copa and 2002 World Cup both featured Friedel in net.

    Freddy Adu is going to be fine so long as he plays for us. His recent talk about playing for Ghana is disturbing, but considering he turned them down once I would be shocked if he recanted especially considering he would have less of a future as a Ghanian player seeing they have only made one world cup, and Brazil just humiliated them.

    I am disturbed as well by his comments, but after all Ghana just humiliated us, so can you blame him? I doubt he’ll play for Ghana though. He’s too indoctribated in the US youth system and teams, but he’s getting impatient waiting for a call up.

    Chris Rolfe could be one of the great attacking players we’ve had. He has a knack for goal and a great finishing touch. Keep an eye on Mike Magee. He’s getting better and better and will be a solid finisher for us in due time.

    Tearing up the MLS means nothing to me. Let us see them do something on a higher level before we annoit them as great ones.

  21. Kartik says:

    Good Article by Jeff Rusnak on the need for more Latino players on the US MNT:

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/columnists/sfl-rusnak02jul02,0,5428351.column?coll=sfla-sports-col

  22. Torres says:

    A good read. I have some thougts on most of these guys. I’ll post my thinking later on in the day.

  23. USA06 says:

    Sams,

    You say:
    “I probably know more about US Soccer than anyone on this website.”

    Then why don’t you stop whining about the refs and give us some real insight as to why the team failed to reach the second round?

    You say:
    “Chris Rolfe could be one of the great attacking players we’ve had. He has a knack for goal and a great finishing touch. Keep an eye on Mike Magee. He’s getting better and better and will be a solid finisher for us in due time.”

    Great – those players have already been identified as prospects for the National Team. You seem to be agreeing with this article which you claim to be disagreeing with. Why don’t YOU tell us what the USA 2010 roster will look like?

    “[FIFA Rankings] don’t lie as they scientifically figured and cleary found that we are among the best soccer playing nations because of our success in friendlies and other events.”

    Unfortunately, success in world soccer is not based on “friendlies and other events”. If you can sleep well at night having USA ranked #5 and the Gold Cup Champion that’s swell – I will only be satisfied when USA gets out of the group phase of the World Cup with regularity.

    If you think the FIFA ranking is “scientific” you must never have heard of the BCS.

    You’re not as much a total itiot as your posts would suggest. There are two things I can agree with.

    “We [currently] have more skilled players and experienced international players than we have ever had.”

    “Our back line is anchored by Gooch who will be a huge star in Europe in the next few years.”

    I don’t think anyone ever said otherwise.

  24. USA06 says:

    The timing of the Rusnak article is interesting.

    With only a few Americans left at Wimbleton, tennis is also looking to inner-city and ethnic diversity answers to it’s talent shortage

  25. Torres says:

    Good point USA 06 about Tennis seeking similar innner city youth to revitilize the american game.

  26. Torres says:

    Sams Army, calling the USA among the elite of the international game would be enough to get you laughed out of any pub in England. What are you high on buddy?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Where would you rank MLS among worldwide leagues. Is it in the top tier, second tier or bottom tier?

  28. Rafael says:

    MLS is not as bad as people think. Who scored the goal for USA. Dempsey. He plays in MLS. All the Euro boys let down the USA like Reyna, Oneywu and most of all Keller.

  29. Rafael says:

    Conor Casey has been injured alot and not gotten a great look from Arena. That should change in the next few years and I expect him to be a starter for the USA in 2010.

  30. Rafael says:

    If John O’Brien recovers from his nagging injuries he should wear the #10, play central midfield and act as captain.

  31. Anonymous says:

    YANKS WILL NOT MAKE THE 2010 FIELD. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.

  32. Xavier says:

    John O’Brien is the most talented player that America has ever produced. He is also a total waste with constant nagging injuries some of which are minor but which he proves he doesn’t have the grit or the confidence to get over. His career despite flashes is going to go down in the “what if” category.

  33. Xavier says:

    By the way I saw an interview with Bora that stated that he flet the USA’s failure was due to O’Brien’s injury and Costa Rica’s failure was due to being in a tough group. Mexico’s failure he claimed was due to Blanco’s absence. He’ll never run down the nations he coached which is why I love him so. His loyalty to Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA is something special and he probably should be CONCACAF commissioner or something.

  34. Kartik says:

    I saw the same interview. Classic Bora!

  35. Tim L says:

    MLS is obviously a subpar league based simply on the fact that Donovan has come back and dominated in his first few games returning after being so outclassed in Germany.

  36. Federico says:

    MLS has gotten a bad rap thanks to Arena trying to shift blame for his poor job of preparing the squad. MLS is the single most important reason the USA makes every World Cup and is competetive in matches and competetions around the world. The league was right to strike back at Arena for his irresponsible and damaging comments.

  37. Federico says:

    MLS has gotten a bad rap thanks to Arena trying to shift blame for his poor job of preparing the squad. MLS is the single most important reason the USA makes every World Cup and is competetive in matches and competetions around the world. The league was right to strike back at Arena for his irresponsible and damaging comments.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I was impressed by Taylor Twellman in the MLS game this weekend. If we had had him on our team we would have certainly advanced.

  39. DC United Fan says:

    Eskendarian is playing well this season and is probably a good supporting/bench player ala Josh Wolff for the future on the national team.

  40. DC United fan says:

    You forgot Josh Gros, a sure bet national team player!

  41. Bend it Like Becks says:

    Kenny Cooper is a nice prospect, and I am a fan of his. Tall and athletic, he was a star with our reserves at Man United. He also did a credible job at Oldham when he was loaned out. His contract came up and we choose to part ways with him rather than resign him and loan him to another EPL or Championship side. Our decision was purely business but I am pleased to see Kenny is playing well in your domestic league and is a prospect for your national team. I believe he is probably better than the attackers you have currently other than Brian McBride. I hope to see Kenny in South Africa 2010!

  42. Anonymous says:

    eddie gaven rock star

  43. Rafael says:

    I should mention that Sturgis has been moved into a starting role with the Galaxy which is very good sign for his long term development. I think he will turn out to be a regular for the US senior team in a few years.

  44. Xavier says:

    Eddie Gaven’s development has been slower than many had hoped but he still has a bright future. But I would not call him a rock star just yet.

  45. Sams Army says:

    This whole thread and people’s misconceptions about the state of US Soccer are so frustrating. I’m working on a detailed response to all the nonsense on here and will post it later.

  46. Check My Machine says:

    Will Clint Mathis return to the player pool under a new coach?

  47. Kartik says:

    Clint Mathis, American Gazza will probably never get another National Team Cap. It’s a shame because he clearly was one of the most talented players we have ever produced but was a major headcase and had no idea how to stay fit and avoid the fast food joints. He may have been the first player to score a world cup goal sporting a mohawk, though!

  48. USA06 says:

    Sams,

    If you mention the referees once in your next post then it is clear that it is only you with the misconceptions.

    Can’t wait………..

  49. Anonymous says:

    Twellman would have helped us a great deal, and unlike other guys we took to germany he wouldn’t have quit on the field.

  50. Sams Army says:

    Kartik, USA 06 and others:

    Have you ever traveled abroad to watch the USA in places like Mexico City or San Jose, Costa Rica?

    I have.

    Have you guys ever attended an under 20 or under 23 game?

    I have.

    Do you guys realize how strong Bruce Arena’s reputation is abroad?

    I do.

    More in a little bit. I’m calling out you and your negativity.

  51. Kartik says:

    Sams- I cannot wait for your expert anaylsis.

  52. Gregg says:

    Sams Army,

    After reading your posts I’m amazed that you can form the opinions of this team that you do.

    Your view of reality is so delusional you need to be in a mental institution.

  53. Gregg says:

    Sams Army,

    The fact that you even reference the FIFA rankings as being meaningful, means you need serious help probably on the University level.

  54. USA06 says:

    “Do you guys realize how strong Bruce Arena’s reputation is abroad?”

    Yeah, I can’t wait to see how many offers the Bruce gets to coach abroad…………

  55. USA06 says:

    “I’m calling out you and your negativity.”

    USA failed in their stated goal to reach the second round – hard to be positive about that.

  56. USA06 says:

    From Gabriele Marcotti of SI.com

    CONCACAF stinks.

    TRUTH. The numbers are awful: One win in 12 games, eight losses. Statistically, the confederation is only marginally worse than Asia (which also managed only one victory but had one fewer defeat), but there are some key differences. Asia will be strengthened by Australia next time around and, between the Socceroos, Japan, South Korea and Iran, there are at least four teams that can plausibly hope to advance to the second round at most World Cups. These are all nations whose top players play in top leagues. All CONCACAF has to offer is Mexico (a perennial World Cup underachiever) and, potentially, the U.S.

    Perhaps it’s time to rethink things a bit. Maybe it’s time to merge CONCACAF with South America so that the U.S., Mexico and others can get some regular competition against top teams. Of course, that won’t happen. The men who run CONCACAF would much rather be big fish in their fetid little pond than take a bold step that would greatly help the game in their region.

    Sams, I challange you to find any mainstream writer who agrees with your rosy assessment of Team USA. I have found quite a few respected writers who echo the sentiments of the smart fans here.

  57. Federico says:

    Sams, I also am awaiting your posting. Please give us some comedy this July 4th!

  58. Federico says:

    USA 06,

    That is some really pathetic evidence about CONCACAF. In the 2002 World Cup CONCACAF teams won 5 games with one less particpant, so based on WC performance the region is regressing rapidly. A merger with COMEBOL I think we would all agree would raise the level of play, but would it cost the USA or Mexico a World Cup birth every now and then? Probably.

  59. Sams Army says:

    usa06, the idea of CONCACAF merging with the South American federation is crazy. We don’t play Copa America because it would adversely affect the MLS season every other year and also goes on at a similar time than the Gold Cup. Are you proposing that we do away with the Gold Cup which has been a glorious tournament for the smaller nations of Central America and the Caribbean and a great event for the USA?

    As our victory over Italy which was denied by the referee indicates we are among the world elite right now. Look at how the German defense cracked against Italy, while we held firm with 9 players. We actually won the game but were denied on a bogus off-sides involving McBride who wasn’t involved in the play.

    Our players are more skilled than ever before and Bruce Arena is the one who has brought us to this point. Do you want to replace Arena with a guy like Klinsmann that failed despite having all the advantages of playing at home? Germany was given every break, every call, a weak draw and still were outperformed by an opponent we nearly beat a man down!

    The criticism of Landon Donovan as well is over the top. Donovan is one of the best young players in the world and he showed his greatness against Italy, the probably world champions taking guys strong on the ball and attacking the goal. We haven’t been given the credit we deserve for the result versus Italy because of the horrible call a few days later versus Ghana and our subsequent elimination from the World Cup. No Donovan didn’t score any goals this world cup, but he didn’t play badly either.

    Kartik, you have made statements like we should play in Copa America and that the MLS and USSF need to grow apart and that we need to schedule more European friendlies, but do you really believe we’d be at this point, among the top 10 teams on the planet without MLS and without the strong performance we have had in CONCACAF?

    Look at our future. When I think about guys like Rolfe, Adu, Sturgis, Gaven and Magee joining Gooch, Gibbs, Cherundolo, Spector, Johnson, Twellman and Casey, I realize we have never had more talent and with the World Cup next time outside of Europe we have to be considered one of the top teams with a chance of going the distance.

    The people on this website think they are experts. But the commentators on Television paid to give their opinions firmly believed before the World Cup that we could go as far as the semifinals and that Kasey Keller who you run down was among the world’s best goalkeepers and that Landon Donovan was one of the best players anywhere in the world. Kartik keeps making statements about Donovan quitting in Germany and coming back to MLS, but honestly if the manager there didn’t want to play him for whatever reason, was it going to help him to sit on the bench and be frustrated. Donovan’s development would have been stifled right there and then but by coming back to MLS he has played a lot and had a major impact.

  60. Federico says:

    ” As our victory over Italy which was denied by the referee indicates we are among the world elite right now. “

    Your credibility is in the gutter.

  61. Kartik says:

    Sams, your rambling post is nothing but the talking points from Arena and Donovan’s agents. I’m not going to dignify it or further frustrate our loyal readers who are objective fans with a response.

  62. Kartik says:

    Sams, no squad outside of MLS or the USSF wants Arena. He has no job options which is why he hasn’t moved on yet.

    Let the Klinsmann rumors begin!

  63. USA06 says:

    Sams,

    I can’t believe you can’t make any statement that doesn’t blame the refereeing (4 or 5 times in this post alone).

    You’re all by yourself with your view that everything was the refs’ fault.

  64. Der Kaiser says:

    When I look up Best Goalkeepers on Yahoo, I’m directed to the International Federation for Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) located in Germany. They sound like knowledgable fellows. They happen to have a ranking of World’s Best GoalKeepers. I could reprint their top ten going back to 1996 but I’m not going to waste the space. Safe to say, nowhere does Kasey Keller’s name appear ANYWHERE. I do notice they recognized Brad Friedel in 2002 with a #6 ranking. I didn’t check closely but I’m sure they have some fancy formula for their ranking – you know, scientific.

    Check out the site, stat freaks’ delight.

    http://www.iffhs.de

  65. Anonymous says:

    Nowhere, ANYWHERE!

  66. Federico says:

    Only a total fool would actually believe Keller was better than Friedel. The points some have made that Keller put country above club are valid, but Keller has never been able to last at any club very long, be it a mid table club or a second division club while Friedel has excelled and has made only 2 stops since leaving the MLS 9 years ago- both top flight clubs, Liverpool and Blackburn. Besides Freidel is the only keeper in the history of the World Cup to save PKs in group play. EVER!

  67. USA Fan says:

    Obviously our team did not live up to its pre tournament billing but let’s keep in mind we are the only nation to score a goal on Italy and had another called back while a man down.

    We were in a tough group and the officials did not help. I guarentee we would have beaten Ghana if not for the bad pk call. We had the momentum going into the half and were controling the pace of play. Claudio Reyna got hurt and thus had a very bad giveaway leading to the goal for Ghana. Keller didn’t help by sitting on his line forever and letting the Ghanian attacker pick any spot to shoot, but that’s a whole different issue. But once Olsen came in we were playing inspired and we would have won and advanced. I have no doubt about that.

    Arena got our team to recover from a disasterous opening game and deserves to stay on as coach. Firing him would set the program back 4-6 years.

    While I agree with Sams Army on the refs and Arena I DO NOT agree with her or him on Landon Donovan. Donovan embaressed himself in this World Cup and he will need nothing short of a killer run in WC qualifying to restore my confidence in him. He was terrible and even worse he acted like the games didn’t matter. He lacked intensity and focus. He is nothing but a pretty boy who happens to be lightning fast wearing sneakers who is scared to get hurt.

  68. Xavier says:

    You guys keep attacking Landon though he admits he’s not the best American player. Donovan unlike the guy he claims is the best is fit enough to play more than one or two game a year!


    apparently people have trouble identifying people from the US …
    Landon Donovan said John O’Brien was the best American footballer in the world.
    O’Brien has been seriously injured and just signed in the US. He might not even get a world cup roster spot, but if he makes it back to the form he had with AJAX, then there is your answer

  69. Sams Army says:

    O’Brien’s injury didn’t help our cause one bit. It’s funny how people forget about that when calling our team a failure.

  70. Sams Army says:

    USA fan,

    Donovan is not to blame. Everyone is so upset with him because they view him through a microscope and have unrealistic expectations for him. He is one of the best players in the world, but he is not Zidane or Beckham yet. Give him time, he’ll be there.

  71. Hernandez says:

    LaVolpe has left and Mexico is saved! Soon the same for Arena.

    I like the suggestion of usa06 to merge the two federations. a merged federation could rival uefa for prestige and reputation. it would also make both mexico and usa more competetive and respected worldwide.

  72. USA06 says:

    Sams Army said…
    O’Brien’s injury didn’t help our cause one bit. It’s funny how people forget about that when calling our team a failure.

    Arena is the one who selected an unfit O’Breien – A MISTAKE!

    Sams Army said…
    [Donovan] is one of the best players in the world, but he is not Zidane or Beckham yet.

    Please show me any publication or writer who supports your claim about Donovan. It is an erroneous opinion unsupported by facts.

  73. USA06 says:

    “But the commentators on Television paid to give their opinions firmly believed before the World Cup that we could go as far as the semifinals and that Kasey Keller who you run down was among the world’s best goalkeepers and that Landon Donovan was one of the best players anywhere in the world.”

    Please tell me what reporter made these claims. What show did you see this on?

  74. USA06 says:

    Sorry for the confusion but the Marcotti column included the comment about merging CONCACAF with CONMEBOL.

    It is a move I’ve supported for years, but it was Marcotti who brought it up in his article.

  75. USA06 says:

    USA Fan said…

    “I guarantee we would have beaten Ghana if not for the bad pk call.”

    Yeah and someone here guaranteed England would win the World Cup.

    You must be drinking from the same water cooler as Sams.

    How about this instead: “I guarantee we would have beaten Ghana if USA had scored more than one goal.”

  76. Kartik says:

    I’m also hearing from some rumor mills that not only was O’Brien not fully fit, but that he wanted to play Center Midfield or on the left side not D midfield and did not embrace the position Arena was going to play him at. Thus O’Brien was completely disgarded the last two matches. It’s just a rumor but if true it explains a lot.

  77. Kartik says:


    I guarantee we would have beaten Ghana if not for the bad pk call.

    Let me remind the crazies on the site that we had less shots on goal in this world cup than any other team in the last two world cups! That is the bottom line. Let’s say the horrible call isn’t made and we draw 1-1. So what? Ghana only needed a draw to advance anyway. The pk for them just turned out to be a clincher.

  78. Kartik says:

    “But the commentators on Television paid to give their opinions firmly believed before the World Cup that we could go as far as the semifinals and that Kasey Keller who you run down was among the world’s best goalkeepers and that Landon Donovan was one of the best players anywhere in the world.”

    Like USA 06 I eagerly await your response. What serious commentator would utter Landon Donovan’s name in the list of top world footballers? The Keller comments I do remember hearing from some clown on the ESPN set (Alexi Lalas I think) are equally laughable. Keller can’t even get himself a decent long term gig with a top flight club, but according to Lalas he was the best in the world. Better than Cech, Kahn, Ricardo, Lehmann, Coupet, Van Der Sar, FRIEDEL, HOWARD, etc, etc.

  79. USA06 says:

    Sams Army,

    Maybe you are just misunderstood. Fot the sake of clarity, when you say Landon Donovan is one of the best players in the world do you mean:

    Top 10?
    Top 25?
    Top 50?
    Top 100?

    Thanks for a reply.

  80. Der Kaiser says:

    As I see it, the problem with Sams Army and USA Fan’s point about referee’s calls is based on the fallacy that a different call would have resulted in subsequent events occurring exactly as they did originally. The more widely held belief is that changing any one moment in history could result in altered outcomes for subsequent actions thus precluding any knowledge of the eventual outcome.

    Lorenz is credited with this notion of the “Butterfly Effect”

  81. Sams Army says:

    All the commentators on the pre World Cup shows said Donovan was among the best players in the world including many of the newspapers previews. Eric Wynalda who is now acting like a spoiled baby predicted we would go to the semifinals on the same show and Alexi Lalas said Kasey Keller was the best goalie in the world.

    They are paid big bucks to give their opinions unlike you morons on this website who act like Donovan sucks, our talent bites, and Arena should be fired.

    The officials screwed up this World Cup for us. The way we played against Italy, better than anyone else has played against them alone demonstrates how talented we are and how we can play even under tough circumstances.

    The players who let us down in this world cup were Reyna who showed zilch, Convey who despite nice runs was a poor distributor of the ball, Pope who had to get a dumb yellow card, Mastroeni with the dumb challenge and Bocanegra with the bad ball back to Oneywu even though it should not have been a PK.

    Kasey Keller could not have saved one of the shots that went in, and Donovan hustled his ass off the whole tournament. No he didn’t score goals but considering the refs conspired to put us behind early in every game he didn’t get the opportunity to shine under normal conditions like he did vs Portugal and Mexico in the 2002 World Cup. Because the other teams jumped out to early referee aided leads, including Italy who got a free kick on a bull shit call Donovan was usually double and triple marked.

    We had some bad luck this World Cup, but we are an elite program, no doubt about it.

  82. USA06 says:

    Incredible.

    You just don’t get it.

  83. Sams Army says:

    Donovan is one of the top 25 players in the world. Few if any players have his combination of on the ball skills, finishing ability and pace. Donovan has the potential to be among the world’s top 10 players really soon. Look at all the goals he’s scored just this week suffering from jet lag and all the critics like you guys. He has single handidly brought his team back into the playoff race!

  84. Kartik says:

    Donovan is one of the top 25 players in the world. Few if any players have his combination of on the ball skills, finishing ability and pace. Donovan has the potential to be among the world’s top 10 players really soon. Look at all the goals he’s scored just this week suffering from jet lag and all the critics like you guys. He has single handidly brought his team back into the playoff race!

    You’re basing his “greatness” on what he does in MLS. Sams Army you are proving that either you know zilch about the game or are employed by the USSF and/or MLS. for the fiftieth time Donovan was a bust in the German club scene and a bust in the only World Cup he’s played in Europe. They think the kid is a total joke on the other side of the Atlantic, being hyped up by an American soccer community desperate for some sort of star, particularly one who thinks he has Hollywood looks…..and they are probably right.

    They are paid big bucks to give their opinions unlike you morons on this website who act like Donovan sucks, our talent bites, and Arena should be fired.

    Look studio shows for most sports on ESPN or ABC they get the sexy names who couldn’t argue themselves out of a paper bag. Wynalda is good but also emotional and sometimes says irrational things based on that emotion. The other commentators employed by that network with the exception of Tommy Smith (who isn’t very high on your golden boy Landon) are outright homers who will glorify any US player to make it look like we are stronger than we are.


    WE HAD LESS SHOTS ON GOAL THAN ANY OTHER TEAM IN THE LAST TWO WORLD CUPS. THAT DEMONSTRATES POoR TACTICS, POOR HUSTLE, POOR EFFORT AND WORST OF ALL POOR ATTACKING PLAYERS. NO OTHER TEAM IN THE WORLD CUP INCLUDING OVERMATCHED SIDES LIKE TOGO, SERBIA AND IRAN HAD SO MANY BAD GIVEWAYS AT THE BACK AND POOR DECISIONS ON THE BALL BY SEASONED INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS. WE WERE ONE OF THE WORST TEAMS IN THIS WORLD CUP AND CONSIDERING OUR TALENT LEVEL THAT IS A TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE REALITY.

    Like usa06 I’m done responding to your insanity Sams Army.

  85. Sams Army says:

    usao6 it is obvious you cannot refute my points so you have just quit.

    Kartik, lumping us in with Togo and Iran is so damn insulting I cannot believe you would be so damn foolish. Obviously you are just on a negative tear which forgets that we beat the eventual finalists if not for some awful calls. Could Iran or Togo stay on the same field as Italy. No way!

  86. Anonymous says:

    I agree with sams army.

    we are so dominant that we could defeat france or italy.

    donovan is the world’s best player, arena the best coach and MLS the best league.

  87. Gregg says:

    Sam’s Army,

    I am calling you out.

    Are you Fighting Ibis from the Florida College Sports Blog?

    You have the same delusional thoughts about University of Miami as the USA and you have the same writing style.

  88. Rafael says:

    Donovan had a bad week or two. France’s top players like Henry and Trezeguet absolutly bombed on the 2002 World Cup when Zidane was missing similar to O’Brien, the USA’s best player and midfield maestro missing from this year’s cup. It is possible a healthy USA can bounce back in 2010 with O’Brien fit and Donovan more confident and ready to accept a more attacking oriented role under a new manager.

  89. Hernandez says:

    USA needs to fire arena and hire klinsmann as soon as the world cup is ended.

  90. Sams Army says:

    Gregg, I have not a clue about who Fighting Ibis may be and I do not live in Florida.

    Another point about a potential CONCACAF/CONMEBOL merger: We beat Italy and Ghana if not for the refs. Mexico was unlucky to not beat Argentina and missed a pk to draw with Portugal. T&T held England without a goal for 83 minutes and Costa Rica scored more goals on Germany then anyone else in the World Cup. So if CONCACAF is as bad as people on this website claim and needs to be merged with another federation, please explain the results I have mentioned above. CONCACAF does not get the respect it deserves but our worst representative in 2002 World Cup had 4 points in group play! Can Europe or South America claim that?

  91. Tim L says:

    What are the different confederations and how are they governed?

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