Thoughts on the Copa

Following Mexico’s 2-0 victory over Brazil last night (a match I had to endure with Mexican fans at a local watering hole) it is obvious that teams like the USA and Brazil who are sending essentially U-23 teams (or in the USA’s case a U-25 team with just a few exceptions) aren’t serious contenders to win Copa America. So what do we need the US National Team to accomplish at the event if they are not going to be serious title chasers?

1- The central midfield combination of Benny Feilhaber and Ricardo Clark had as much to do with the USA’s Gold Cup title as anything. They are both on the Copa roster and can continue to hone their partnership in the middle.
2- Herculez Gomez and Kyle Beckerman were rewarded for excellent MLS form with long overdue national team call ups. Given the poor finishing of the US forwards, both have a chance to cement a spot in the player pool.
3- Can Taylor Twellman and Eddie Johnson snap out of their national team funk?
4- Should Heath Pearce start over Jonathan Bornstein at left back?
5- Will Jay DeMerit and Jimmy Conrad form an effective central defensive partnership?
6- It’ll be interesting to see if Eddie Gaven has any sort of national team future. Much like Freddy Adu he has grown much slower than expected, and I would personally like to see him play in all three group games just so we know if he can hack it.
7- Does Ben Olsen still have a national team future? I believe he does, because a utility player like Olsen who can play anywhere in midfield is always useful in WC qualifying.
8- I’m hoping Danny Califf proves his excellent form since moving abroad isn’t a fluke. Califf never seemed to really develop in MLS with the Galaxy but has played superbly since moving to Denmark. Unfortunately moving abroad meant he fell off of Bruce Arena’s radar.
9- Most importantly I hope following the Gold Cup Championship we don’t embarrass ourselves in the Copa America under the strain

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6 Responses to Thoughts on the Copa

  1. Zizou06 says:

    Last night’s game was a shocker to me. I think Mexico has declined in quality. But yesterday they showed they could play with the best, even if it isn’t Brazil’s A Squad.

    It will be interesting to see how the U.S. does in serious, non-CONCACAF competition. This is as serious as it gets!

    Yes, Italy might be first in the world rankings (and that, I feel, is purely on their World Cup performance alone), and France might be second (same as Italy, though I hate to admit it), but Argentina might be the best team in the world right now. Of course, that is up to tons of debate.

    We have shown that we can take down the giants in the past. But, honestly, I think this is the biggest match the U.S. has had since they played Germany in 2002.

  2. Zizou06 says:

    I am just looking at the rosters of both teams tonight. Honestly, if they U.S. pulls off a draw, I would be extremely surprised.

  3. ussoccerfan16 says:

    Lots of good points here by Kartik. Just because the US squad is missing its top 8-9 players doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be gained from this tournement. With the U-20 World Championships running simaltaneously, this tournment is huge for Taylor Twellman and Eddie Johnson. After this U-20 cycle is completed, I expect guys like Altidore, Smith, and Ferrari to get a shot with the senior team. That means that some of the more experienced attacking players in the pool may be pushed out in order to give these younger players a shot. With Ching, Donovan, and Dempsey absent, Johnson and Twellman have a huge opportunity to show that they can produce against marquee international competition. With some very talented U-20s waiting in the wings, they each need to have an exceptional tournement or otherwise face a very uncertain future with the National Team.

    Also looking forwardx to getting a good look at Pearce against yop competition. I haven’t seen much of Pearce at all, but based on Bornstein’s play at the Gold Cup and the little I have seen of Pearce, I think he can make a case for himself as the first choice left back with a good performance in the Copa.

    I also am looking forward to seeing what Jay DeMerit can do. I think he’s looked solid defensively the times I’ve seen him for Watford and for the US. However, he wants he gets the ball, he seems play the Watford long-midfield-bypassing ball a little too frequently. If he can vary his distribution more, he may be able to crack the starting 11 for the US when qualifying begins.

    Also nice to see both Clark and Feilhaber in the pool. I thought the US played their best soccer of the Gold Cup in the 2nd half against Mexico and that was largely due to these two. I’d like to see them paired in the central midfield as much as possible and see if they can continue to strike a good balance in there and get comfortable along side eachother.

  4. ussoccerfan16 says:

    Although I really like Ben Olsen, appreciate what he brings to the table, and believe that he’s been a key player for the US, I don’t expect Bradley to rely on Olsen too heavily in qualifying for 2010. The US has alot of depth wide on the left with Beasley, Mapp, Convey (when he gets healthy), and, possibly, Adu or Bornstein. In the middle there’s Fielhaber, Bradley, Clark, Mastroeni, Beckerman, and maybe Danny Szetela or Dax McCarthy (I think Dax is Ben Olsen 2.0). The only place where Ben may be able to help is wide right where the Us is very thin. I’m hoping that Klejstan, Gaven, or Nguyen show well in this tournement out wide. Of course, there’s also Donovan or Dempsey, and maybe one of the 20s like Smith, Zizzo, or McCarthy.
    I like Olsen, but I hope that some of the younger players progress enough that Bradley doesn’t have to turn to too many role players from the Arena era.

  5. football detective says:

    Olsen is important because of his versatility.

    He can play wide or in a more defensive role. I think he may get a shot at right back eventually.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Pulling Olsen for GAVIN tonight is what opened the floodgates for Argentina.

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