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US Confederations Cup Squad: Thoughts on the Tournament and the Selections


The United States participated in two Confederations Cups under Bruce Arena. The 1999 tournament saw the United States reach the semifinals with a mixture of young experimental squad featuring the likes of Benny Olsen and CJ Brown and some veterans Arena reached back to call up such as John Harkes and Marcelo Balboa to provide leadership.  It was the last major tournament either American legend would play for the national team and their leadership helped the US to defeat Germany and hold Mexico scoreless at Azteca in the semifinals for over 100 minutes.

The experience fro the tournament served the United States very well going forward that World Cup cycle. The same can be said for the 2003 tournament where the United States did not far well but a blended squad of youngsters and veterans allowed Coach Arena to experiment and evaluate players.

However for this Confederations Cup, Coach Bob Bradley has called more or less the same squad he always calls for qualifiers and perceived big friendlies. Several players that are already proven to lack to metal to cut it at a high international level are being brought to South Africa. These are not players that are being tested as Arena did in his two Confederations Cups but simply more of the same status quo selections.

This Confederations Cup takes on added significance because it is being televised live on ESPN. In 1999 for example, I had to wait for highlight of the US-New Zealand game to be shown during a pregame show for ABC’s telecast of the MLS match between the Metrostars and Miami Fusion. ESPN is promoting the tournament with all the hubris and gusto with which they promote any tournament the US participates in these days.

So the stakes are high and in typical Bob Bradley style he’s picked a squad to try and achieve either minimal results (ie. draws) or a stalemate now rather than looking towards deepening the player pool to help us next year when the big tournament in South Africa rolls around.

Here is the squad Bradley has chosen:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Luis Robles (Kaiserslautern)
Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Danny Califf (Midtjylland ), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca)
Jozy Altidore (Xerez), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Charlie Davies (Hammarby), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)

Further thoughts on the actual squad:

Of the many players I’ve editorialized in favor of Bradley looking at, he’s added just two, Conor Casey and Luis Robles.

This squad furthers my fear that Bradley is not really looking as hard as he needs to the deepen the player pool. The backline is embarrassingly bad in every match off of US soil- even against the likes of Guatemala and Cuba on the road we had too many defensive breakdowns. Yet we see no Frank Simek who was a key player in the Gold Cup Final of 2007 and has only gotten better since that day without a cap. We see no Danny Szetela perhaps the best two way young American midfielder in Europe. We see no Marco Vidal who was tremendous in the Mexican League this year. We see no Jimmy Conrad who has effectively been written off as a national team player by Bradley despite nothing but solid lunch pail like performances when called upon. We still see no Michael Parkhurst, a player of impeccable quality up front who reads the game faster than Carlos Bocanegra, the team captain does.

This also would have been the opportunity to take a flier on Marcus Tracy or Jeremiah White in the attack. Both have done well in Scandinavia and could potentially enhance the US attack. Kenny Cooper is once again missing but like so many others I’ve stopped looking for his name every time a squad is released. We’ve had this situation before with the likes of Roy Lassiter under Steve Sampson and Jason Kreis under Bruce Arena. But in Cooper’s case I believe his game is better built for the international level than any current US pool forward.

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  1. miguel

    June 14, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    how many of the US squad are of latin-american heritage? Mexicans?

  2. orly

    June 8, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I’m impressed that you could determine that Frank Simek’s “only gotten better” since 2007 despite the fact that he’s barely played in the last 18 months due to injury.

  3. Angel

    June 8, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Everyone here are hitting it right in the head. The USSF need a president with huevos (balls) to know about soccer (football) and really stand to this DON president of the MLS and work together to get the schedule fix to the FIFA. and to hired a coach that know how to scout new talent from either MLS or aboard. We need a coach that has ball to sit any player that is playing bad on the field and don’t take crap from premadona ala Donovan, Dempsey, Beasley etc. There are new kids with talent coming up from the U21 all the way down to U17 only cause they are young doesn’t mean they can be on a big stage as World Cup. Samples (Maradona, Pele, Messi, Tevez, Rooney and mamy more) all this have in common that they played no cause of their age but for their talent. I’m so tired about this age limit with have settle in the USA. please not even on the NBA have this problem. Garnett, Koby, Lebron, etc all play under 20 in the big stage and why not our soccer players, why we have to depend on Big NAMES. The USSF have to start getting a new system for scouting players overseas aboard and here in our own country and keep the eyes wide open and give the Opportunity to have this kids grow and not cut their style of playing, give them the freedom to be creative and freestyle.

  4. Travis H.

    June 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    whine about the selections all you want but until the USSF grows the balls to hire a real coach with real tactics we will continue to underwhelm.

  5. Jason

    June 8, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Until they get the midfield worked out, I don’t see many good things from the US Men’s soccer team.

  6. adam

    June 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Kartik, I would strongly point out that the 1999 team while a high water mark for the US all time with the win over Germany only had to win that one game to advance. Being placed in a group with the impotent New Zealand guaranteed three points coming into the tournament and thus allowed the US to focus on one game in the entire tournament to advance. We lost to Brazil and Mexico. This tournament’s draw has been less kind and thus comparing the ultimate “failure” of 2009 to the “success” of 1999 is a bit unfair. Beating Germany was a high but struggling to beat NZ and losing to Mexico and Brazil was not.

  7. Dustin

    June 8, 2009 at 9:22 am

    My hope is that Il Traditore Rossi gets his head knock off by Onyewu.

  8. Chris B

    June 8, 2009 at 2:16 am

    2:15 am…please excuse my poor spelling.

  9. Chris B

    June 8, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Isn’t that what the Gold Cup is this year? A place to test unproven players? I would rather have Bradley play the old guard in SAF and bleed younger players where their confidence aka Marvelle Wynn won’t get crushed. Really?Kartik…2003 really?….we played boring football and were sent home quickly and boy all that european experiece helped us become proven wimnner on that Continnent.

  10. GJ

    June 7, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Also, I so want them to win atleast one game but I am scared that they will not even score a goal.

  11. GJ

    June 7, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I guess he did not call pablo in.

  12. Ture

    June 7, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    I agree with Hannah on Kljestan and with Kartik on Bradley’s squad selections. More of the same. So what are the odds on us getting one point in the Confederations Cup and one point in the world cup? Probably too much to ask quite honestly.

  13. Hannah

    June 7, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    At least he didn’t call up Eddie Johnson. I really didn’t like Bardley subbing Sacha Kljestan for Torres the other night. I don’t think Kljestan is national team caliber yet.

  14. Max

    June 7, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I agree with your points Kartik, but you’re a complete fool if you expected any different. Bradley is so over his head in this job it’s sickening. He’ll only call certain players he’s comfortable with even if they are substandard or not going to play because he knows they won’t rock the boat and get on good with the first team selections. He coaches scared not only with his bad defensive minded tactics but with his unwillingness to select players who may push the lazy starters into doing more. This team with this manager is headed for a World Cup worse than 1998 and maybe even as bad as 1990 if we don’t make a change soon.

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