Monday, December 3, 2007

Captain Olympics

While I was waiting to interview the U23 coach, I asked a U.S. soccer official if Nowak had named a captain for the U23 squad yet. Apparently, he has not. Unlike the days when Claudio Reyna was inevitably the captain every time he played, Bob Bradley has rotated the responsibility. Nowak is likewise taking a wait-and-see tack.

My pick for the armband would be Sacha Kljestan. The Chivas USA midfielder has got all the requisite attributes of talent and the intangibles like leadership skills and common sense. He communicates well with his teammates and he knows the Bradley system backwards and forwards.

Though Jesse Marsch is not the captain of Chivas USA, he's mentored Kljestan in many ways, and a better role model for hard work, dedication and team play can't be found. Most of all, Marsch is a great example of someone who can be a coach's assistant on the field, leading by their actions.

I'm not saying Kljestan is a Marsch-mini (especially since in raw talent, he leaves his mentor behind), but he's picked up enough from him that I think his maturity reflects that.

Kljestan has senior team experience, played in college and with other youth national teams - there basically isn't anyone on the roster who can't relate to him in some way. That's important, because it's good for a captain to know where others are coming from.

Nowak made it clear, though, that this training camp will be where players will prove themselves. Sacha, or whoever is named captain, will have to earn it. The games are crucial too, because that's the real test of performance under pressure. I may think Sacha is the pick on paper, but someone else could step up to stake their own claim to that honor.

6 comments:

Dominghosa said...

Why no mention of our Sueno MLS boy, Jorge Flores, doing good for the US U-20 team?

A.C. said...

Because he was in Argentina, and we're in LA?

CresceNet said...
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AC said...

AC, I'm not sure I like the idea of Sasha being captain. I don't think it's given he would be sure starter. he might have all the traits you mentioned but he's a long shot for a USMNT spot and sub in my mind for the U23. Bradley, Spector or Edu. I even think Adu did a fine job in captaining the U20's.

A.C. said...

I'm partial to a midfielder taking on that responsibility. Adu was a good U20 captain, but I'd say he needs a break from that responsibility at the U23 level. Edu has hardly been with the team, though he has good upside.

A.C. said...

Besides, only Edu is in this camp - my guess is that Nowak will rotate the captain's honor, much like Bob Bradley does now.