Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Golden boys on both sides

Mexico's young players are known as the "Golden Generation". Chief among these guys is Barcelona's Gio Dos Santos. There's also Carlos Vela and Cesar Villaluz.

The U.S. has its own trio of young guns, though. Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley.

I called Thomas Rongen, the U.S. U20 coach who had all these players under his charge at the Youth World Cup this past summer, for his take.

Do you think Freddy and Jozy, in particular, are ready to contribute?

We’ve seen Freddy and Jozy play a big role with the Olympic team, so too some other players who have played well with the Under-20 team, some really exceptional players have moved on to the senior level. I’m pleased to see that Bob has continued to look at younger players and given them an opportunity to be the core group for the next World Cup.

Can you compare them to Gio and Carlos Vela? Any similarities?

They’re a little different. Barcelona plays with three up front. Dos Santos usually plays on one of the two sides. He has a good dribble on the ball. He’s similar to Freddy there. Vela is more of a typical goalscorer. He’s kind of like Jozy there. There are some similarities there. I would like to see how they get utilized by Hugo Sanchez on this team. Systematically, Barcelona plays completely differently than most national teams, so it will be interesting to see if Gio plays up top, if he plays wide, if they are starters or guys that are brought in to increase the pace and represent their country late in games. It will be interesting to see where Sanchez is in terms of where he sees young players, whereas Bob has already done that with Freddy in South Africa.

Does it give Freddy and Jozy an edge - that they've already had senior team experience?

Not necessarily. Experience is big, obviously. It’s important that those players have played with the team to get an understanding of what that level is like, but more so to blend with the group philosophy, both on and off the field. It helps them to fit in, which I think they will. Every time they’ve been challenged on a different level – I think of the Switzerland game - they've learned. They’ll get their number called eventually. It will help them at all levels.

Do Jozy and Freddy understand each other well on the field from their U20 experience?

Yeah. I’d add Michael Bradley to that group – Michael has played with the u20s as well. All three are Bradenton products as well. They’ve played some important youth national team games through the years. Michael is emerging as a proven goalscorer, and could be a provider for Freddy and Jozy as well. If you look at the Brazil game, Freddy had an assist on all of the goals, you hope that that will continue on the next level. But both national teams, they don’t play a lot of games together. These guys come in on Monday and play a game on Wednesday. You’ve got to rely on the player’s understanding of the game in general. At the end of the day, that’s what those guys will use.


Anonymous said...

"Bradley has emerged as a proven goalscorer" No sh** man...really!!?


I hope all the young guns play in this "amistoso"