Eddie Johnson’s Recall and Other National Team Thoughts (UPDATED)
EJ Taken Down vs Argentina in Copa America/Getty Images
Most of the national team has arrived here in Miami for Training Camp. I’m personally very excited about having Jonathan Spector back in the fold for the US. depth on the back line is a definite concern going forward. Brad Guzan made his Premier League debut yesterday versus Liverpool. Let’s say it wasn’t an idea circumstance to begin a career: Down 4-0 with your starting keeper Brad Freidel red carded and facing Steven Gerrard on a PK. But following Gerrad’s PK make Guzan solidified himself and made some saves. Still with Tim Howard suspended for the next match I wish Bob Bradley had called Kasey Keller into the team.
- I watched Jose Francisco Torres play 90 outstanding minutes for Pachuca this weekend against likely relegation bound Necaxa. Enrique Meza started him on the left wing, but Torres was impressive in how he was able to move inside and even push to right at times as play dictated.
- The dropping of Jonathan Bornstein indicates that Heath Pearce has once again solidified himself as the first choice left back for Coach Bradley.
- Michael Bradley has been on a tear in Germany even though Gladbach may be relegated.
- Good to see Pablo Mastroeni back after yet another suspension.
- DaMarcus Beasley has worked his way back into Rangers Starting XI and Mo Edu continues to see some action for the Scottish giants.
- Eddie Johnson’s recall could be vital. The striking options for the US are thin. Honestly, as much as we love his work rate Brian Ching cannot start in a World Cup. Kenny Cooper nor Jozy Altidore have yet shown that they have the quality and consistency to contribute on the international level, and arguably both don’t fit Bradley system the way Johnson does. EJ has been in a horrible funk for the past year, but he’s one of the all time leading US scorers in qualifying and does work off the ball that neither Cooper nor Altidore will do. Trust me on this, having seen all of the forwards in question in person in a US shirt multiple times. He finds space in the defense in a manner that few if any other American attacking players do. Much of the game is tactical. It’s not simply about finishing and flashiness. I believe that Coach Bradley, determined long ago Johnson was his best bet up front and has given the Floridian ever opportunity to work his way back into the mix. Is Bradley happy with Johnson’s failures at Fulham and Cardiff? No. But the manager feels he cannot write off EJ either which to me is very telling.
- Why no Kenny Cooper you ask? Bradley is always coy about player selections and why some guys keep getting picked despite not playing regularly. But from what I can gather, and again speculation tends to mount when the coach doesn’t say anything definitive even when asked (including by me at past training sessions and press conferences) Cooper’s lack of discipline in keeping to a tactical formation is a problem for Coach Bradley. Under Bob Bradley the US has tended to keep its shape better going forward than during the later Arena years. I suspect Bradley feels bringing Cooper in disrupts this completely as time and time again the Hoops attacker tends to ad lib on the pitch pushing wide and deep into midfield and allowing the entire US attacking corps to bunch up. Bradley is more tactically astute than just about any American manager I’ve covered. While Bruce Arena may have preferred to throw his best XI on the pitch and let them play, Bradley rightly believes in keeping some sort of tactical discipline, and plays players based on who fits his formation and style. The bottom line is this: Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching fit Bob Bradley’s system better than Kenny Cooper or Taylor Twellman does.
- We’ll have a new podcast released late tonight featuring a b0na-fide legend of world football.
FRIDAY’S ORIGINAL POST BELOW
Manager Bob Bradley has named his 22 for next week’s qualifier versus El Salvador. I’m headed out the door for a day of College Basketball both of the NCAA and NIT variety, but feel free to discuss the recalls of several English based players who either were hurt recently or simply not performing to standard.
ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup Qualifying Caps/WCQ Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 4/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton: 8/6 SO), Marcus Hahnemann (Reading: 1/1 SO)
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 17/2), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland: 3/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford: 1/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 15/1), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 13/1), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 8/0), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United: 2/1)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco: 5/1), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers: 22/6), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 7/4), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers: 3/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 7/0), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids: 12/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 2/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Xerez C.D.: 4/1), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 13/6), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC: 13/4), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 26/9), Eddie Johnson (Cardiff City: 9/8)