Thursday, July 5, 2007

U.S. thoughts

As I prepare for an evening of testing out a new recipe on the grill (beer-battered chicken breasts... mmmm) and U.S.-Colombia followed by Argentina-Paraguay, I wanted to put this here to get some feedback from U.S. fans.

Tonight's result matters, but very little. It matters because it's an official match in an official tournament but it matters very little beyond that because no result will get the U.S. (or Colombia for that matter) to the next round.

The U.S. took an experimental squad to Copa America and have lost by a combined 7-2 in its first two games and were promptly eliminated from quarterfinal contention.

My questions, then, are these:

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament?

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?

(just a reminder, we approve the comments before they appear on the blog, and we usually approve like 98.45 percent of the comments)


Anonymous said...

I am very dissapointed by the entire Copa America experience. I was opened minded in the beginning but I just can't take anything positive away from this both as a soccer fan and US fan.

I hope the US is invited back but I doubt it, not when we made a mockery out of the 2nd most prestigous tournament in the world.

The Gold Cup proved nothing new, so yes that is diminished. If they are fortunate to get another invitation I would hope they reconsider the strategy and I also hope in the future they treat their precious Confederations cup with the respect it deserves.

briguy said...

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?

Nope. Not a whit. Two different tournaments, two different teams, two entirely different situations.

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?

Again, nope. It's easy to second guess his Copa roster, but I was one who actually liked the fact that he took what amounts to the MNT develpmental squad. In the scheme of things (which is always already slanted in terms of World Cup play), the Copa means little to US Soccer. This was a great opportunity to get some young players some more caps, and to develop the program.

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament?

This one's tough to answer right now. My guess (and hope) is that many on this squad will benefit greatly from having participated in camp, played in a top flight competition abroad, and having lost badly. The depth issue will come to the foreground when some of these players find their way onto to future squads, having added a little to their international mettle.

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?

To the first part, I say yes. The MNT is a draw for several South American countries, and the profile of the program is fairly strong and should continue to be so. As for deserving...meh. I'm happy if they go, and I'm happy if those strong MLS players instead remain stateside and improve our country's professional league. I'm ambivalent on that last question.

Keep up the good work. Go RBNY tonight!

Tony M said...

It has no effect at all. Once he decided to take a young squad it become simply exhibitions to create depth. Assuming he has learned a few things about his team and can now do a better job with qualifying, then I'm happy.

Anonymous said...

1. no
2. no
3. unchanged
4. yes

considering this was at best the 3rd USMNT squad, this does nothing to take away from what was accomplished in the gold cup. regarding why i think the US will always be invited . . . $$$$$. when the USMNT is invited, that means more tv revenue money.


Anonymous said...

Winning the Gold Cup was the ultimate goal and it was accomplished. Best of all it was done by beating a full strength Mexico team.

Bob was honest about his goal in Copa America we all knew that. So the results are not surprising. He's done a good job so far now we will see how qualifying goes.

I would feel more confident about the team now. First you know who can or cannot handle the pressure. We have learned that Feilhaber is going to be better than Reyna was. Bornstein is close to becoming a European player. EJ in my opinion has now learned how he can be effective for the national team. Olsen should still be in the picture, he's not the greates technincal player but damn he brings it every minute of every game. Competition was just created for playing time with the preformance of DeMerit.

Why wouldn't they invite them again. Colombia has been worse so far.

What I have seem in general is beter technical ability from the U.S. They are actually learning how to hold the ball. There was times during both Argentina and PAraguay matches that they actually moved and held the ball very well.

Gene said...

1. I think it had no effect b/c I really did not feel all that much pride and joy we won the Gold Cup. In all fairness, sside from Mexico, there are really no competitive teams in the conference.

2. Not sure because I am not certain whether the decision to send a developmental squad to Copa America was Bob's or the federation's. I suspect it was the federation stupidly playing the FIFA rankings / seeding position games.

I honestly don't buy the argument that we could not get our best players released. If Leo Messi and Crespo can get released by their clubs, you'd think our players could, too. At least, we should have tried.

3. About the same. I suspect that at the senior level, our depth does not lie much beyond the starting 11 (if that). Putting aside Alexi Lalas' silly comments regarding the MLS and the Premiership, our MLS players are still learning how to move the ball quickly under pressure without turning it over.

The only bright and hopeful spot is the performance of the U-20.

4. I really hope so.

I think we deserve a future invite no less than other teams who chose, for one reason or another, not to bring their best players to the tournament. Obviously, a B-team from Brazil is better than our B-team. Still, I don't think the federation should be using a double-standard on this issue.
Our punishment is the beating our guys are taking out there.

I am all for developing young players in tought international games. I was one of those people demanding we accept this invite. But once we did, the tournament should have been used to develop our BEST players.

IMHO, if you want to give young players some caps, send them to the Gold Cup or to the international friendlies (like the one against Sweden in August). Then, if they work our, they can play in tougher competitions.

Anonymous said...

What have the regular players miss out on learning a whole lot as they don't know how good they really are. They could have been exposed to more different styles of play. The US could have learned to further test its players to play their best.

If the Copa America doesn't invite the US for a while I can't blame them. It was very insulting to bring such an uncompetitive squad to such a competitive tournament. If Copa America doesn't invite us next time around where will the US test its inexperience players? A friendly? Thats were they should have been tested in the first place. Its seems the only country that cares about getting to the Confed Cup is the US. A decidely lesser competitive tournament then Copa America. So what good is going to Copa in the end? Wuill will learn what food not to eat? Maybe we will learn that one of the stadiums has poor drainage or has a few bumps on the east or west side. Will the Confed squad be the WC 2010 squad made up a year in advance?

My point is the US should focus on pushing its regulars to play their best soccer. If you can't bring you regulars b/c of club obligations fine. But bring a strong squad so you can make a serious run at the trophy being played for. This would also show some respect to fans who support and give you the time of day. It also would show respect to your opponents who had enough respect for you to take you seriously and prepare for you.

I suspect Copa America will eventually invite the US again but with a stipulation if they think the squad is weak they may withdraw the invite an give it to a team like Costa Rica or Panama or Spain. Full national team competition is to compete not to develop leave that to exhibitions. The US regulars have only been tested by Mexico and that is only going to get you but so far in the World Cup but we should have learned that in 06

J said...

Gene, the clubs didn't have to release US players for the Copa - it's not our regional tournament. It is Messi and Crespo's, so their teams do have to release them.

Chris said...

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?

No. It was a different team.

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?

No, but I would have liked to see different players (i.e. not Eddie Gaven)

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament?

Less confident, but this was more like a B- squad. The U-20 squad lifted my hopes in any case.

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?

Yea, I think we'll be invited again even though we don't deserve it.

Anonymous said...

1) No. Still very satisfied. We have shown we own our region (outside of playing in Mexico) for 10 years. You are always satisfied with winning, even if it just re-affirms what we knew. USA Soccer needs whatever it can get.

1) No. I've never been sold on him,so I reserve my judgement. But I have trouble understanding what 3 games really mean to these young guy's development? If he wants to get these young guys involved, play more friendlies. The US not only needs experience, they need some respect and success on the World level to gain some sort of actual confidence...not this CONCACAF pseudo-confidence.

3) Hard to tell at this time. I feel good about a couple of the young guys, but aren't there always young guys waiting in the wings? Don't we have a U-20 team with class results right now? It means nothing right now, and I'm not sold it will mean anything significant 3 years down the road.

4) Yeh we'll get invited when we win against top competition consistently. The better question is when will we be invited? 10 years? 20 years?
Do we deserve to be invited? After this showing and poor decision-making on the part of the coaching staff and Federation? We have done this tournament a dis-service and don't deserve much of anything from the South American countries, no matter the "moral" victories we might have had against Paraguay.

After every flame-out the US has, we (as in the fans and media) make excuses. "Oh well, we are young, it will pay off in the next World Cup though." We have blamed coaching, injuries, timing, location, fans, and anything else under the sun. Bc soccer is not a one of the top 3 sports, the media and fans alike, continue to give it a pass to try to get people to warm up to it.
Hold these guys to some standards. We were embarassed with a third-class team in a first-class tournament.
Imagine if our First Team pulled the upset, or even just earned a draw with Argentina. That would do more for US Soccer, and the players themselves than what took place. Instead we left to our imaginations again, hoping 2010 will be different, when in all reality we wont make it past the Quarters, if that, with our way of thinking now.

Anonymous said...

I'm frustrated because our young guys can't seem to do simple things like control a ball with one touch, work into space, or make backpasses. Granted they're inexperienced, but these are simple things!

Its hard to compare the two tournaments and my view of Bob hasn't diminished. I just hope these games were an anomaly and that players will get their collective noses down and prove that they can play up to the potential we know some of them have.

But no more Bornstein.

Anonymous said...

1) Yes. The losses take the joy out of the celebration. While knowing that we are going to the Confederations provides great pride, I hate to see our squad lose.

2) I like Bradley. I like what he has done for the team thus far. Having said that, I think he'll admit that he made an error in taking such an inexperienced squad to the Copa America. Then again, i don't think he had much of a choice given the fact that this was an "optional" tournament for Concacaf players and getting Lando and other released would have been a huge issue.

3) Our depth is TERRIBLE. The US MNT was great for the Gold Cup, but in order to make an impact at the World Cup, we need to address serious gaps in our ranks. While our midfield appears solid and deep, I see very few impact players up front and even fewer in the back providing support for Howard. I would like to see some of the under 20 young-guns namely Adu, Szetela, and Josi)incorporated into training sessions and as 30 minute subs in future friendlies. I think it is paramount that we get them to compete at that level. Furthermore, some leagues (like the EPL) require players to have a certain # of games with their respective MNT before they can be approved to play at the EPL level. Not sure if the under 20 teams count, so players like Adu and Szetela need to hurry up and make the jump abroad if they are going to mature.

4) Yes. We will be invited back, however, i think they will require us to field a more competitive team next time.

Anonymous said...

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?

No, not at all. I was particularly proud of the play in the final.

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?

I didn't agree with some of the players selected (such as Eddie Gavin). However, up until the last game, I would say no. However, I was extremely disappointed in the lineup he put out there in the last game as well as the substitutes. I thought that he could have put a young lineup out there that would have been good preparation for 2010 and still given us a chance to win.

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament? I feel good about our midfield and defense. However we still don't have world class strikers developed.

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?

I'm not sure. I know that we had roster constraints, but I still think that we could have fielded a better team. We really embarrassed ourselves and I know that the organizers really were unhappy.

lic said...

The result for tonight match should have mattered.

The USSF should have taken this tournament a bit more serious. If the USSF wants to be seeded in an upcoming World Cup, then this tournament (and this game against Colombia) should matter.

I remember when Mexico got seeded for the 2006 WC and just remember the outcry from many US papers and reporters about how it was unfair that Mexico was seeded and the US was not. They looked at it from the standpoint that they should have been seeded because of head to head results. Seeding is a bit more complex than head to head scores. It takes into consideration international tournaments and coefficients are assigned to different type of tournaments.

I have to check the seeding system, but I think that the US does not have a chance a good chance anymore (after their poor showing in the World Cup and now in Copa America).

Coach said...

I would have liked the US to send the varsity instead of the JV team, but the combination of Gold Cup/World U20/MLS/ Euro pre-season calendar wouldn't allow it. This is the reason the Bruce kept saying no. He didn't want to be embarassed.
BUT, sending the JV to Copa let Bradley see where the puppies are to be able to play in 2010.

The Gold Cup win by the varsity isn't tainted because the jv got their butts handed to them. Bradley played with the hand dealt him. A sub here or there didn't work out, but I won't second guess a coach until I get to see practices. If COMNEBOL's ticked, don't invite US next time. But they will.

Siva said...

First off, great questions, Luis - the hallmark of a good journalist.

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?

There was no joy or pride in winning the Gold Cup - we struggled a bit in the semis, got a bit lucky, then won the final not too convincingly.

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?

Yes. Despite what the American media write and analysts say, opponents have been less than flattering to the US, both in terms of the squad and in terms of style. E.g., Argentinian players saying things like "they defended with 10 men throughout" and after the victory, "it's only the US" (as a measure of their humility!).

I don't envy Bradley's position -- having to not take players away from their MLS clubs for too long, having to negotiate with the U20 choices, etc., but the squad we sent is an insult to the Copa. And when the squad is weak, it is natural to play an ultra-conservative defensive gameplan. Ugh.

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament?

Less, much less. Other than Beasley, Dempsey, Donovan, and Howard, we don't seem to have international-quality players at any position. Ching, Onyewu, Bornstein, Clark, Feilhaber and Bradley have all played ok, but made their share of bad games, bad plays and mistakes. Twellman, Johnson, Spector, DeMerit, Moor, et al have been less than impressive, even in patches.

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?

No and no. The second no is not because I think our best national team doesn't belong there (they definitely do), but because of the quality of the squad we sent there.

Siva said...

and yes, COMNEBOL is miffed: see the AP story at

Chris said...

I'm not dissapointed. The kids gave an admirable effort and earned the respect of the teams over there. The future is bright.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that matters with the USMNT is whether Donovan is playing or not, because he's pretty much the entire team.

Bob Bradley's only real contribution so far has been to give his son undeserved playing time.

Eddie Johnson has absolutely no clue out there.

Mapp gave very little effort, and should have been subbed off before halftime as an example of what unacceptable effort is.

Except for Califf and Clark who both fought and played hard, the rest of players were a bunch of little boys running around trying to play against men.

I just want to see our 'boys' or 'lads' go out and play like MEN, and stop looking like a bunch of little boys. Get stuck in, fight, COMPETE. Who cares if you give up the ball trying to make a forward pass or if you lose the ball trying to dribble someone, at least show some BALLS and be aggressive. I'm tired of passive play that goes negative.

I swear the US has to pass the ball all the way back to their defenders before going forward. Why is that?

I realize that wasn't our "A-Team", but when we put on those type of players and have that type of effort, we've regressed.

Bradley should show a tape of Ben Olsen playing and competing, and tell everyone of his players "that is the way you play the game and give a winning effort. If you don't get it, you're on the bench or off the team"

Just some random frustrated thoughts.

BTW, how's Claudia working out for the NYRB? Thought so.

Anonymous said...

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win? No. I am still proud of beating Mexico and of going through the tournament undefeated.

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley? Yes, a bit. I think he should have been able to field a slightly better team for the COPA, even with the constraints from the European clubs.

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament? The depth looks better, and the level of play by the US continues to improve. We now get many more chances than we did a few years ago. But we are awful at finishing and our set plays are subpar.

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments? They will punish us and rightfully so. We will be invited back, but after a while.

Anonymous said...

Their general secretary still seems to want the US at Copa America:

" He said the Americans "opted to send a team with some players who aren't their regulars. That doesn't please us," Deluca told the AP.

However, he said the organization hopes for continued U.S. participation in the tournament."

Anonymous said...

Does anyone actually believe that CONMEBOL wants invited teams to actually beat up on their teams. I'm sure they may be a bit disappointed USA didn't take their best teams but I am also sure they are glad they are not going to see a Mexico-Brasil-USA-Argentina semifinal. Which means an embarrasment for the other teams and CONMEBOL.

Kurt said...

Doesn't much matter to me. I can see that our B team can't compete with the top soccer powers. However, it was great to get to see such players like Jay DeMerit finally get some playing time.

L.B. said...

It's good to see so many of our regulars chime in as well as some new readers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Anyway, keep 'em coming.

Matt L said...

* Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?

Yes, I find myself disappointed. While I was happy when the team won the Gold Cup, the Copa America is clearly a higher caliber event that would have provided a more stern measure of our players, team, coach, and federation. The performance leaves me questioning the value of our Gold Cup victory.

* Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?

This is hard to answer because I do not understand the inner-workings of the US Soccer Federation. Was Bob alone in selecting the team? If so, then yes, he is diminished in my view. I am not referrring to the top-euro players and Donovan not showing up, but his selection of a couple of the players makes me doubt his ability to select talent. If this team was forced upon him, then no - his tactics were sound, the team created chances, and he managed most of the games well except for a mis-queue or two in terms of substitutions (specifically Gaven).

* Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament?

Tough question. I feel better about a couple players, but worse overall about the state of US Soccer.

* Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?

The US will get invited back - but maybe not for the next tourney. Based on our performance and team selection, the US does not deserve to be invited back right away. However, based on our standing as a top Concacaf team and ability to generate TV revenue, we will be invited back.

Brian said...

Luis, hook me up with that recipe!

Who cares? We lost three games. Qualifying doesn't start for a year. The WC is three years away. Does anyone actually remember what happened in July 1999 or July 2003?

mosler said...

Do these results diminish your joy/pride/satisfaction with the Gold Cup win?
No way. To come back from a goal down against Mexico and win on a golazo like Benny's...that victory stands by itself.

Do these results diminish your view of Bob Bradley?
Nope. He and USSoccer announced the plan months ago and they followed through.

Do you feel more confident about the depth of the squad or less confident about it now than you did before the tournament?
More. I thought all 3 games were going to look like the Colombia match but I was pleasantly surprised that the US was able to play some nice soccer in the first two matches.

Do you think the U.S. will get invited again to Copa America? Do you think the U.S. deserves to be invited to future Copa America tournaments?
They'll be asked back. Eduardo Deluca said as much a few days ago. The question lies with US Soccer and if they accept the invite again after going through it this time.

Anonymous said...

US Soccer should really consider how their approach to Copa America has divided the their small fanbase. US Soccer has to get use to the expections of its fanbase and deal with the fact that fans many fans want to see their team compete at every event not just the World Cup.

USSF and MLS may have done serious damage to their efforts to attract spanish speaking, Eurosnubs, and other old world soccer fans living in the US. Both organizations have tried to spread the word about the growing quality of soccer here. Its kind of hard for these people to grow attach to a team that finishes dead last with only 2 goals one coming from a PK. If they had some a quality squad come from MLS it could have done wonders to attract attention from those communities both in TV ratings and some fan attendance.

How can these fans take the team seriously when it only wants to win against Mexico and prepare for the World Cup? When do plan to play well and win something meaningful outside of the US? As for meaningful competition against strong teams outside of US soil will have only beaten Mexico and Portugal thats really it since 2002.

Squad development is good and they did a bit of that but I really believe they should have balanced the roster a bit more and tried to bring more regulars from MLS and Europe so that we could see how good ourregulars really are. Playing well in friendlies is just to unrelievable as a measuring stick against highly competitive.

Anonymous said...

1. Nothing can diminish the joy/pride/satisfaction of beating Mexico in the Gold Cup - or anytime!

2. The Copa results do not diminish my view of Bob Bradley. In fact, you could argue it was brave of Bob to take this less experienced team. Could he have leaned on more teams to allow them to send their best players? Perhaps, but he realized it was more important to those players (and the national team down the line) for them to get established with their clubs. Bob is building for the future and if it means we have to take our lumps in the Copa, so be it.

3. I am slightly more confident about the depth of the squad. I think we've seen that certain players in our midfield can play at the international level - Feilhaber, Bradley, Clark. Our defense is a bit deeper with the likes of DeMerit and Simek. As for the forwards, maybe not so much!

4. The US will be invited back and deserve to be invited back. That being said, I think CONMEBOL and CONCACAF need to sit down and figure out a way to organize the Copa and the Gold Cup so that they do not compete with each other. I also think the addition of more CONCACAF teams could make the Copa an even better tournament. The additions of teams like an improving Canada, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Honduras could take the tournament to a higher level. Ultimately, it is the South American's tournament and they should do what is in their best interest. This is just one Yankee's opinion!

-Ned's FC

Eric PZ said...

I could care less about the Copa results. Bottom line is that Bradley accomplished his goals and got to look at some youngsters in that type of environment. He's just increased the size of the player pool he has to chose from. He shouldn't be worried about his job or the teams performance. Everyone knew what was going on the second the squad was released so why is everyone upset now?

But on to more important 'bout sharing that recipe? ;)

Anonymous said...

As a fan of futbol, I didn't find the soccer brilliant a fan of the USMNT, I think it was a good experience. I think it allowed Bradley to gauge the depth of American talent at this point in time. He now knows who he can cross off the list for a while (or forever), which is useful. He also knows who he can work on developing further. I think those were the objectives for the US and they were largely accomplished.

Those who are not ready...Gaven, Beckerman, Klaestjan, Wynne, Boswell, Gomez.

Those who require further exploration...Davies, Nguyen, Guzan, Califf, Pearce, Mapp.

Those who are now firmly on the 23 man roster for 2010 (at this point) but need a lot more seasoning...Bornstein, Demerit, Feilhaber, Clarke, Conrad.

Guys on their way out (chances they won't be on the squad on 2010)but can still serve...Keller and Olson.

Guys we've had enough off...Twellman and Johnson.

On the issue of winning in Copa America. I don't think Bradley intended to lose with these guys. We knew Argentina was an uphill climb because they brought all their guys, but I bet he expected more competitive results against Paraguay and Colombia and the play let him down (i.e. not many of the players on the squad rose to the occassion - which is something we wanted to know).

Finally, I would also be unhappy with the US if I were the President of the South American Federation, but when his own members set the standard by not bringing their best (it is practically a tradition with Brazil to send the B team), then I wouldn't be surprised if your invitees succumb to the same temptation...(Mexico was without five of its starters from the Gold Cup - though that turned out to be a blessing).


mamacita chilena said...

I wasn't able to watch the Gold Cup win (I live in Chile and they never show USMNT games here, even the Copa games involving the US were shown late at night). So while I was excited about the win after following the game online, I didn't get that same rush you get after watching your team play spectacularly. Since I wasn't as emotionally involved in the Gold Cup, I don't think the Copa America results effected my opinion of that win one way or another.

My view of Bob Bradley remains intact. I think he did what he could with the team he brought. There were a few players that I wouldn't have given as much playing time(EJ, Gaven) but we won't all agree with any coach every single time.

I have to say that as far as confidence goes, I feel less confident in our ability to finish. I was really hoping to see an emerging star with the PASSION and desire to put the ball in the back of the net, but I just didn't see that in anyone. Our best hopes remain in Donovan and Dempsey.

I believe the US will be invited back just from comments the CONMEBOl people have made, but I'm not so sure we deserve to.