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Eddie Johnson’s Recall and Other National Team Thoughts (UPDATED)

ej dives Eddie Johnsons Recall and Other National Team Thoughts (UPDATED) EJ Taken Down vs Argentina in Copa America/Getty Images

MONDAY UPDATE:

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.

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FRIDAY’S ORIGINAL POST BELOW

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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)


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 →

30 Responses to Eddie Johnson’s Recall and Other National Team Thoughts (UPDATED)

  1. J.V.R. says:

    Eddie Johnson! WTF?????????????

  2. eplnfl says:

    One of our best lineups ever!

  3. I was surprised byt the EJ inclusion. It is good to see spector and Demerit receiving consideration.

  4. eplnfl says:

    ok, why you ask, all the guys with Chicago connections. I’m a homer!

  5. Thomas Skull says:

    Best lineup ever? What about the 2002 World Cup?

  6. Thomas Skull says:

    I mean who is a Claudio Reyna or John O’Brien on this team?

  7. Justin R says:

    I am happy to see Demerit back on the list. EJ has not done enough to earn his spot back.

  8. Juan says:

    Good to see Pablo Mastroeni back on the US team.

  9. TTB says:

    From a squad of 22, only five play in MLS. Three of those five are over 30 years old.

    Either MLS is a subpar league, or Bradley is a eurosnob.

    I opt for the later. I think Bradley unlike Arena is totally taken by where a guy plays. He only looks at MLS guys in January while giving journeyman Americans in europe like Califf and now EJ every chance to prove themselves.

    It seems with Big Bob a guy suddenly becomes national team worthy when they leave MLS. That’s why he sent lil’ mickey abroad even though he’d be a MUCH more consistent and developed player had he stayed with the Metrostars.

  10. Either MLS is a subpar league, or Bradley is a eurosnob.

    I opt for the later. I think Bradley unlike Arena is totally taken by where a guy plays. He only looks at MLS guys in January while giving journeyman Americans in europe like Califf and now EJ every chance to prove themselves.

    You could call Arena an “MLS/Anglo snob” by the same token.

    Bradley has done something very different than Arena in calling in players regularly who play in Scandinavia. As our friend Jamie Trecker once said (paraphrase) he applauds Bradley for selecting players who had the courage to test themselves in better leagues.

    Arena on the other hand lost track of a bunch of these guys. Keep in mind he NEVER capped Jay DeMerit who was playing regularly on American TV if you get Setanta in the CCC.

    I think Arena is one of the best things that ever happened to the US setup. But he did outlive his stay as manager and his player selection reflected a comfort with certain individuals and leagues. As a pure motivator and club manager I would still take Arena over Bradley, but by a small margin. No doubt however these are the two best manager the US has EVER produced. I’d throw Bob Gansler, Dave Sarachan and the late Mooch Myernick near the top as well. The late Tom Fitzgerald also on that list. Dom Kinnear could join the group eventually. Coping without DeRo this season for me is the biggest test of his young managerial career.

    While Bradley has some of the same biases he’s also got a clear tactical plan for what he wants the team to look like. Not to say Arena didn’t initially but long term the US team became a bit of a hodge poge, a bit of a mess under Arena.

  11. I mean who is a Claudio Reyna or John O’Brien on this team?

    A gaping hole no doubt. We still haven’t really replaced either guy. Michael Bradley may be the O’Brien replacement if he can become more consistent holding the ball and not giving it away when pressured.

    As far as Reyna is concerned, the only American with half his skill in midfield right now is Torres. I also like Kyle Beckerman also an under the radar player but it’s obvious Bradley isn’t calling him in anytime soon.

  12. Shell says:

    Even those of you who love the league must at least concede that training in Europe is much more competitive than in MLS.

    Claudio Reyna could not believe what a joke the Red Bulls training was after having come home from Man City.

    Several players who are American like Danny Califf, Clarence Goodson, and Hunter Freeman have improved literally overnight by leaving MLS.

    Others like Charlie Davies and Heath Pearce were national team ready after college because they skipped MLS and went right to Europe. Seriously, these two never would have come close to developing their skill level so fast if they had opted for the MLS Superdraft.

    MLS is a nice little American league that can stimulate interest in football more than the cheaply run, foreign owned USL. But when it comes to our national team being competitive the sooner our guys get out of the league or avoid MLS entirely, the better.

    MLS is a third rate league in world football. The results in real matches against foreign competition and the fewer and fewer number of current national team players in the league don’t lie.

  13. PZ says:

    Shelly, I don’t think anyone is saying MLS is all that. Is it better than it was in ’96? Heck yeah! Is it on par with the top leagues in Europe? Not by a long shot. However, for all it’s faults, MLS is our league. However, to say it’s not developing talent is crazy. Prior to MLS, how many American players made a living from the sport in Europe, or anywhere else? Let’s see, Cobi, Harkes, Balboa…and a couple of others. All those players making a living w/ pro teams at any level in Europe are there because of MLS. Can things be improved in the coaching of players? Sure. There’s a ton of things which can be improved. However, you can’t change everything over night. It’s only been 14 years since we had nothing, nadda, ziltch. If you were a decent player, you either played indoor for a few months a year (and ran youth camps the rest of the year) or you got a normal 9-5 job. Now at least there are options.

  14. Lance MSK says:

    Look Bradley has to win. Gulati and the public demand it. He must pick the best players availible.

    He cannot risk taking too many MLS guys who don’t know how to react in the presure situations of critical internationals.

    Garber and Co. don’t have this problem. They can tell some of you psychopats that MLS is a top tier league and is world class soccer and you wouldn’t now the difference. Obviously you cannot tell the difference. MLS’ failures in CONCACAF year in and year out speak for themselves.

    Watching an MLS game is to witness countless bad giveaways, defensive breakdowns and bad first touches. The technical skill in the league is shocking. The tactics are even worse. The officiating, still even worse. That some would compare MLS to the Mexican League: Shep Messing and Greg Lalas have on that informercial of theirs is laughable. I watch a single FMF game and say “wow” when compared to MLS.

    I support the US and MLS. But wanting the US to win makes me a realist. MLS is developing fewer and fewer talented Americans. At one time the league could be counted on the produce a Bocanegra, a Demspey, a Beasley. But now player growth is eventually stopped and unless guys move overseas quickly they rarely reach their potential. Justin Mapp, Chris Rolfe, Kyle Beckerman, Taylor Twellman, Stuart Holden, Arturo Alvarez, Chad Barrett, and so many others I could list here are examples of the recent decline in MLS as a meaningful place to develop good young American talent.

    Bradley is doing the right thing. So many of our guys never understand the competition, the speed of international soccer and what it takes to be a true professional until they leave MLS and go to Europe.

    You can whine and complain all you want about eurosnobbery but as one who tries to support MLS, this is something that is sadly very true.

  15. Jeff says:

    I’m actually insulted by Bradley. He never picked Goodson while in Dallas and the second he signs in Europe he’s called in.

    He called in Corrales while in Europe but now that he’s in MLS he’ll never get a look.

    How the hell is Charlie Davies a national team caliber player? If he’d have played in MLS he’d be buried on some depth chart and would NEVER get a look.

    He stopped calling Eddie Lewis in also the second he moved back to MLS.

    Unless a guy played for Chivas or Chicago they don’t stand a chance if they are currently in MLS.

    MLS is a better league than the following places Americans play:

    - Norway
    -Sweden
    -Denmark
    -France
    - The English Championship
    - Spanish Segunda
    - Mexican League

    If Torres played in MLS he wouldn’t even by on the radar.

    Bob Bradley is not just a eurosnob. He’s the ultimate eurosnob pandering to a boss in Gulati whose bitter and being fired by MLS and wants the USSF to be more “european.”

    It disgusts me.

  16. Jeff says:

    Another one. Nate Jaqua had never been called in by Bradley. While in Austria he was called in twice, and then now he returns to MLS and has not been called in since. All his previous caps were under Arena.

  17. EJ Sux says:

    ” 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. ”

    ————————————————————————————————–
    Kartik, you are one of the top commentators on soccer in this country in my opinion but you are just plain way way off base on this one. You and Bradley both. I don’t get why this guy who sux as my handle indicates gets so many chances. I’m tired of hearing about how hard he works. He has no technical skill and no finishing skill. I’m glad he runs hard, shows well in training and finds space in the defense, but that doesn’t make a striker worth playing!

  18. EJ Sux says:

    Jeff Dover,

    Anybody who seriously believes MLS is a better league than the Mexican First Division needs to have their head examined. If you say Superliga, I’ll give you a long list of CONCACAF matches where MLS teams were humbled.

    Mexico’s league in my opinion is the best in the Americas. Filled with the best South Americans not in Europe it’s so watchable and enjoyable.

    Did you say MLS is better than Ligue Un?

    You are nuts, man. Totally nuts.

    The English First Division/Championship?

    Again nuts.

    Maybe you work for MLS. That would explain an irrational Bradley/Gulati bashing comment.

  19. EJ Sux says:

    Lance MSK……a majority of the “MLS is great crowd” are psychopats! Great line.

  20. Jeff says:

    What about Jaqua, EJ Sux?………………….he scored a goal a game in Austria and is largely ineffective in MLS. Yet Bradley, the eurosnob was impressed by his exploits in a league worse than USL-2 and called him in to play against England AND Spain!

    • Jeff, this is exactly why I said what I did in response to Ric’s complaint the other day about comparing leagues.

      It’s MLS people who constantly seem to want to justify the quality of the league or relevance of the league who make absurd assertions of MLS being better than this league or that league. It’s Greg Lalas who said MLS was a top 10 worldwide league on GOAL.com last year and his brother Alexi who said the Dynamo would finish mid table in the EPL which I would assume everyone here knows was just a laughable statement.

      We have Garber constantly trying to compare MLS favorably to the FMF when in fact the gap is so wide I cannot even have a discussion without being frustrated. Yes MLS, is comparable to some of the leagues you mentioned. MLS is better than the Coca Cola Championship (sorry EJ Sux) and better than Austria from top to bottom but is nowhere, and I mean nowhere close to the Mexican League in any way shape or form. In fact I wrote a piece last year about how the Mexican League is was in fact more competitive from top to bottom historically than MLS.

      How many times do MLS teams have to be smoked in real competitive matches by Mexican competition (sorry, Superliga does not count) for people to finally stop this stupid, and I mean stupid discussion. It just makes you look silly and immature, quite frankly. Watch MLS because it is our league in the US. Not because it’s better than product X,Y, or Z. Also I love how some MLS fans use the logic that we must support it because it is our league and yet the same posters have trashed MLS lately one or two of you (you know who you are) even stating on another site you were pulling for Cruz Azul to beat the Islanders. Shame on you!

      Torres would be one of the best players in MLS instantly if he were in the league. And it may happen one of these days. For now, can we all agree to support our national team?

  21. Brian Zygo says:

    I suspect that having coached in the MLS, Bradley tends to rely on more Euro based players when the MLS is not observing the break. He’ll bring in the guys from the MLS that he really can’t field a team without, and then rely on the players based in the leagues that observe the FIFA break.

  22. Lance MSK says:

    Brian Zygo may have a point but all the more reason to decry MLS current structure and managment. If Bradley’s selection policy for world cup qualifiers is being dictated by MLS unwillingness to take breaks during FIFA mandated blackout dates, MLS is an even worse league with bigger issues and problems than we thought.

    I assume MLS will scale down its schedule during the World Cup next year. I also assume MLS will be willing to re-arrange games during this year’s confederations cup which is going to be massive.

  23. Dennis says:

    EJ’s call-up is surprising. At Cardiff, he is behind a player who has been scoring at an enormous rate, so it is easy to see why he is not getting much time there. Fulham could use a goal-scorer, that they loaned him out is an indictment of some sort. EJ probably is better athletically than Andy Johnson, but is not as clever; he is different than Zamora, can’t hold the ball as well, but could probably finish better. He does bring some speed and athleticism to the table and he is a bit more seasoned than Altidore. EJ just started to fulfill his promise in Toronto and then moved to Fulham.

    Looking at the roster, I am not surprised that there are few MLS players; defensively, it is all about tactical cohesion, concentration and proven ability to handle players 1v1. The defenders chosen, with the exception of Specter are competent at all 3 and strong in at least 1 (Specter seems to lack concentration and could be more tactically aware, his last game for West Ham was, to be polite, not his best.) I think Bocenegra is too slow and that will get exposed when the US plays better opponents than CONCACAF has to offer. For now he manages to cope by being smart, his savvy might prolong his Nats career longer, particularly if Wynne and some other quick players are back with him. Up front, I am not impressed with the choices, but going back 7 years, the only really strong forward was McBride, Donavon gets his chances by being quick against weaker opposition, Twellman manages to play well from time to time and you cannot question his courage, but he has failed to deliver outside MLS.

    Anyone who claims the MLS is on par with the Mexican league, or ligue Un, or …, you have just not been paying attention. The MLS teams struggle to get even a tie against Mexican opponents. Stern John ripped through MLS, and was only a decent striker in the premiership. Altidore and Adu were treated like stars in the MLS yet struggle to get in games in Europe, but they are still just babies, we’ll see in 3 or 4 years. Edu who was a star in MLS is just beginning to get playing time at Rangers. Donavon did OK in his last stint in Germany, but was not invited to stay. Beasley was a very good MLS player and did well in Holland, but is struggling in Scotland. Bradley, still only 21, did well for the Metros, became a star in Holland and is a team leader on a weak Bundesliga team, he is one player who did not miss a beat when he went to europe and he has continued to improve.

    For players to improve, they must play with and against competition that challenges them and they must be held accountable for their performance. Right now, that level of competition is not found in the MLS. Furthermore, when was the last time an MLS player was reviled in the press for having a bad game. A defender in the Premiership who commits a blunder that leads to a goal (or even a realistic opportunity for the opposition) will have the opportunity to view that gaffe multiple times in the evening TV news, will see his talent, courage, commitment and intellect berated the following day in the press and will count himself fortunate if it is only his soccer talent that is disparaged. There is no where near the pressure to deal with in the MLS as is the norm elsewhere. That pressure may not always be a good thing, but it does separate those who can deal with it from those who cannot.

  24. AVR says:

    Bradley’s hands are tied totally by MLS idiotic scheduling.

    The problem is the league doesn’t develop the kind of players who can react under pressure situations like they do in Mexico or Europe. Sadly in MLS results don’t matter as much and guys don’t ever have to really be held accountable when they make mistakes in the press or even on the pitch. Half the league makes the playoffs and since parity reigns you can drop a ton of points and still win the conference.

    While MLS helped get the US team to a certain point, the league’s quality has not kept up with the development of the American player in general. MLS has improved but the American player has improved more rapidly and needs to get overseas quicker. Just my two cents.

  25. Lawerence says:

    I don’t think Bradley has a choice. MLS just isn’t developing players like it used to. Additionally, we need guys who can turn around and play consistently. Too often MLS guys are inconsistent.

    About the training techniques mentioned above the lack of consistency is a problem.

    Stern John is a good example. Also how about Mammadou Diallo, Damani Ralph and Carlos Ruiz? These guys similarly ripped through MLS and either struggled in Europe or never made it to Europe.

    John scored almost a goal a game in MLS. 47 goals in 55 games.

    Juan Pablo Angel scored a goal once every four games on average for Villa and has scored 37 goals in 52 games in MLS and the Open Cup.

  26. EJ sucks 2 says:

    Cooper and Jozy haven’t proven themselves because they haven’t been given enough chances. Give them a chance. If they had as many games as EJ, I guarantee they would have scored as many or more goals. I think when we finally play Egypt, Italy and Brazil in the summer, Bradley will realize that his strict defensive strategy that includes sub par “tactical” strikers won’t work. He needs a forward that will spice things and create some tension. EJ won’t do that or at least no longer has the confidence to do it.
    Bradley’s strategy works now against concacaf teams, but it won’t pose a big threat to the big dogs around the world. Remember in 02 WC, we did well because we took a chance with some young and unproven kids (donovan and beasley). There are two more that deserve a chance too.

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