Nashville is the venue for the today’s World Cup Qualifier between the United States, high flying side at home and Francisco Maturana’s Soca Warriors. The last time these two teams met on US soil, last September in Chicago, Maturana got his tactics all wrong and T&T was smoked.
Quite frankly, I see the same exact thing happening today. The U.S. attack seems to be most effective against less technically gifted teams on American soil. These types results have done much to skew perceptions of the United States among some supporters, making what should have been fairly predictable struggles on the road in CONCACAF seem like cause of great alarm.
Jonathan Bornstein likely replaces Heath Pearce at left back today. But Bornstein is unlikely to be an upgrade over Pearce long term especially if DaMarcus Beasley remains at left midfielder in the bucket formation. Again, in a home game against an outclassed opponent, Bornstein is likely to look solid, but he will exposed or more probably torn to shreds in the next US road qualifier in Costa Rica.
Jonathan Spector is not left footed but is versatile enough to play left back or defensive/central midfielder. Spector would be a massive upgrade over Pearce/Bornstein or Sacha Kljestan at either position. Mo Edu also represents an upgrade over Sacha Kljestan whom as I described on Dave Denhom’s show on 710 ESPN Radio is not an international quality player at this point. Kljestan can look good against B sides or lesser CONCACAF opponents at home, but taking a player who has never played outside of MLS and has little international experience at the clubs level on the road into tough settings can be disastrous. (A key distinction between Kljestan and Brian Ching whose entire career has been spent in USL and MLS is that Ching has played in tough road games with the Quakes and Dynamo in Central America as well as playing in Seattle at a time when USL-1’s Pacific Northwest derbys were like lower league derbys in England full with fans especially in Portland who bordered on hooliganism- I say that in a good way. Kljestan’s lone derby matches have been relatively tranquil superclassico in LA.)
So in all likely hood a US victory today will simply mask the problems which have been revealed every time the US has traveled since second round of CONCACAF qualifying. But beginning in May the away opponents are no longer Barbados, Cuba or El Salvador. They are Costa Rica, Mexico and Honduras. The causes for concern are numerous and the solutions while seeming obvious to many of us aren’t that simply implemented by Coach Bradley or the USSF.
CONCACAF Qualifying as always will provide the US with problems away from home. This is no surprise, but what is disappointing is that after years of being bogged down by sides with inferior quality, the US still hasn’t learned to play up to the required standard away from home.
- Gregg Berhlater is being released by 1860 Munich and will sign with MLS soon according to Steve Goff of the Washington Post. Berhalter has never played in US since leaving the University of North Carolina to embark on a European club career in 1994. Berhalter holds a special place in my heart. He’s the only active player in the history of Crystal Palace FC to play in a World Cup (2002). Selhurst Park was my introduction to the world of English football over 20 years ago. Berhalter also put the infamous ball on goal that Torsten Frings knocked out with his hand in World Cup 2002 quarterfinals. The ball appeared to be over the goalline meaning it was either a US goal or a PK. Scottish Referee Hugh Dallas however said “play on,” and the US was eliminated.
- The Borough Boys will be announcing their intent to join USL-1 with a team based in New York City in 2010, today. But their parade may be rained on with the rumor that Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world is intrigued about reviving the New York Cosmos in MLS. Slim is a Pumas fan, but that club isn’t for sale and without the top clubs in the FMF being on the auction block, he evidently thinks investing in MLS is the next best thing. Slim would be willing to buy the Cosmos name and would seek a rivalry with both the Red Bulls and the new USL-1 team in Queens.
- Jeff Parke has signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Parke who was suspended from MLS last season for use of performance enhancing drugs seems to be “parking himself” (pun intended) at the USL-1 club until a suitable suitor in Europe arrives.
- Speculation out of Europe indicates that former Metrostars and current Portugal coach Carlos Quieroz may take the reigns of the new Philly club in MLS when it begins play next year. Queiroz who was Sir Alex Ferguson’s #2 at Man United has found international management to be stressful. He in fact may be sacked after this set of qualifiers concludes today. Quieroz, a friend of Sunil Gulati and Alan Rothenberg’s who of course authored the “O-Report” for US Soccer years ago could shape the new Chester based team into a winner quickly with MLS salary cap and rules promoting parity.
- The Cleveland City Stars who are attempting to make the jump from USL-2 to USL-1 successfully (a leap which I believe is darn near impossible without completely turning over your squad) has signed Troy Roberts, late of the LA Galaxy.