Davy Arnaud has been a consistent performer for the Kasnas City Wizards since entering MLS in 2002. Playing along the likes of Josh Wolff, Preki, Kerry Zavagnin and Chris Klein (all former US national teamers) in the KC midfield and attack, Arnaud developed versatility unique to most American attacking midfielders.
Arnaud’s quality was on full display as he calmly took a good setup from Stuart Holden and shot perfectly past the Haitian keeper with his weaker foot. The composure and quality Arnaud showed on the goal led several pundits to make a case for Arnaud’s continued inclusion in the national team. The goal was no doubt impressive,. but Arnaud’s case doesn’t simply rest on that one moment of brilliance.
Arnaud is a lot less flashy than most MLS midfielders. But unlike most American players, he’s not a journeyman either, having played his entire professional career with just one club, the Kansas City Wizards.
Tactical flexibility is the key to being a successful international reserve. We’ve seen too many American players in the past lack the ability to be placed in different positions as a sub late in games. But Arnaud with his experience playing in different roles fits the utility label that provides key depth in a World Cup, or in qualifying.
At the end of the Confederations Cup final in South Africa, Bob Bradley was left without good options on his bench. Sacha Kljestan has been poor for the national team since a subpar effort in Columbus against Mexico. Jose Torres was wiped out from a long season with Pachuca. Conor Casey doesn’t do much running off the ball.
Bruce Arena always had ready reserves in a pinch. Ben Olsen when healthy could fit into several different roles. Chris Klein was also pretty useful. Going further back, Joe Max Moore and Earnie Stewart could play any attacking position with a lot of class and gusto.
Arnaud can play just about anywhere for the US as a sub. Bradley has the option of playing up front paired with Brian Ching against Panama. He can also play him out wide on the right side, in the center of midfield or even quite possibly tucked behind Stuart Holden (or Landon Donovan for the full US “A” team).
Arnaud is probably not one of the 23 best US players. But he could be one of the twenty three most useful players to fill out a squad in a major qualifier or tournament.