Dual citizenship, discussions about players being raised in one country, then playing for another have been running rampant the last several days. Some like the new FIFA rule change, some don’t. For some the thought of Guiseppe Rossi playing for Italy after being born in the States, causes their blood to boil. Some take it with a grain of salt and move on. No matter your feeling on these issues, it’s hard not to wonder what could be.
Bob Bradley’s decision making and tactics have come under fire with increasing intensity. I’m one of the supporters of the USMNT that is seriously unhappy with how the team and USSF are being run currently. But poor tactics aside, surely much of this has to be the talent at Bradley’s fingertips. While the player pool is deeper than anytime in the history of the beautiful game here at home, the overall technical skill on the team leaves much to be desired. We have several solid players, but no one apart from Donovan who can take a game over, who is a true menace with the ball at their feet. It almost seems like we have a quantity over quality situation here.
Many including myself aren’t exactly thrilled with our usage of the bucket formation. Perhaps Bradley feels he has no other choice than to play in that setup, given his choices for the squad. I’m sure he would also be quick to note that both holding midfielders are two – way components. Imagine if a few things had gone differently for our National Team.
Let’s say Guiseppe Rossi had decided to accept Bruce Arena’s invitation to join the US squad. Suddenly the argument on whether Donovan should be playing up top or in the midfield, wouldn’t be as much of a devisive issue. With Rossi partnering up top alongside Jozy Altidore, Landon would be free to roam the midfield. As good as he is on the left, it would be nice to see him in a central attacking role.
Let’s imagine Freddy Adu actually receiving playing time at AS Monaco or some other European club. Let’s say this gives Bob Bradley more confidence in putting him on the pitch. Let’s say that Bradley takes notice to the fact that Jose Francisco Torres is playing well for an excellent world – class team, in Pachuca. This would allow him to place Torres and Adu on the left and right wing respectively. This gives us speed and technical quality not only on the wings, (which we need desperately) but also a conductor of the attack in the middle.
We don’t have to stretch our imaginations too far to see Jermaine Jones playing as a tough nosed defensive midfielder. Jermaine would be our grit in the middle and he could serve as an important pivot point in the middle, linking with Donovan and the wingers from his deeper position.
Now imagine, Jay DeMerit getting some respect and stronger consideration at center back. Again you don’t have to try to hard here because his ability was on display against Italy, where he was more calm than Bocanegra. Imagine Neven Subotic keeping with his original intentions of wanting to play for the US. Imagine him bringing some closure to our continuing search for answers at left back. Imagine him showing some respect for the youth system which nurtured and cultivated his natural ability.
So with all this imaginative thinking, our lineup could look something like this:
Spector Onyewu DeMerit Subotic
Sure a lot of these players aren’t proven commodities yet. But doesn’t it look so much more dangerous than what’s been rolled out lately?
Bunkering down in defense isn’t going to work at the highest levels of international soccer. It certainly hasn’t led the USMNT to win much beyond CONCACAF. I’m not suggesting that we play as free – flowing as teams like Spain. But certainly we need to focus more on the attack. Donovan, Adu and Torres make more for a deadly attacking triangle in midfield. Altidore would be the physical, target striker, with Rossi bringing speed and flair. Subotic is probably better than any option we currently have at left back.
Of course what ifs and imagination get us nowhere, but it’s interesting to see how differnt things could be.
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