Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ipso de facto captain

Freddy Adu is the captain of the U20 squad that takes the field today in the Youth World Cup. Jen Chang and I debated this a bit, but I think it's good for Freddy to take on that responsibility.

However, I pointed out that though Freddy has one cap (late minutes in a friendly versus Canada, back in the Bruce Arena era), it's Michael Bradley that has by far the most USMNT experience on this team.

"I'm looking for Michael to step up," I told Jen. "He has to. It strains credibility that he can play with the big guns and then not bring it to the youth teams."

The only issue would be his lack of familiarity with the U20 players. Yet Michael actually has quite a bit of experience with more than a few of them, going back to residency days. He also played with Robbie Rogers while both were in Holland.

Bradley scored in the U20 team's final warm-up match versus New Zealand, a 4-0 romp than unfortunately cost the team my top striker pick, Johan Smith, who suffered a bad ankle sprain.

Preston Zimmerman is a pretty good replacement, and indicates to me that Thomas Rongen has decided on a plan and a system. Replacing Johan with Quavas Kirk would have added a different element of surprise and versatility to the field, but I think Rongen feels what the team has been doing is working. Adding a two-way player like Kirk would change the set-up slightly, and other players have probably looked comfortable enough in their current roles that Rongen probably doesn't want to reconfigure or shake things up so close to the tournament.

Plus, tournament play, especially on the FieldTurf, could aggravate Kirk's foot injury.

Anyway, besides those other tidbits, my point was that I'm looking for Michael Bradley to be one of the central leaders of the U20 team today. The fact that he scored (closed door match, so no telling the quality of the strike, but let's assume it was decent) indicates the confidence to do so. Michael may not be the captain, but as the most-capped player in the group, he is definitely setting an example.


Matt L said...

Highlights of the NZ game are on

I wish Adu would bid us the same. I figure him as a cancer on a team, but what do I know.

Peter said...

A.C. the us soccer website has video highlights of the New Zealand game. They arent the best quality, but it's better then nothing.

Jon said...


Anonymous said...

Get off Bradley's nuts. He's not that good. He's a ballwinner. Big whoop. Adu is a skillful playmaker, which is just as important to a team. Adu is the most important part of team because things run through him. szetela, dax and even sturgis can play bradley's position just as well without much if any dropoff. the bradley hype is getting old very quickly.

A.C. said...

I was less about hyping Bradley and more about him living up to the hype. I did check out the New Zealand highlights.

Frankly, I expected more than what I saw from Bradley today. Szetela did what I was looking for Bradley to do - not only win balls, but follow up on plays moving forward.

Adu was double-and-triple teamed, but the whole squad has to step it up if the team is going to make a run in this tournament.

Hopefully, the jitters are gone now.

Anonymous said...

The team would play better without Bradley in the lineup imo. I think his inclusion messed up the cohesion they had the month or so leading up to the u20 world cup.

A.C. said...

Would Messi mess with the cohesion of the Argentina squad? I just think good players find a way to make positive contributions. As I've written before, the U20 tournament stands as the place for Michael to make his national team mark away from the shadow of his father.

Lack of familiarity was always going to be an obstacle, but I still maintain that quality should come through and help the team rise above that.

Anonymous said...

You just compared a world class playmaker to Michael Bradley, hehe. Messi isn't going to mess any team up because he is so dominant already. Bradley wasn't just bad, he was awful. Losing Johann Smith, and including Bradley in the starting lineup, really put a US team that has looked very good coming into the u20 tourney into a position where they have to get results against Poland and Brazil. Both are not going to happen.