Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grading the youngsters

I had thought about going through each US player who saw significant playing time in the Olympics and judging him on whether his stock rose or fell in terms of his prospects with the senior team.

But I can't think of many players who improved their standings with performances in this tournament. I guess that's one aspect of a complete team collapse and failure - there's not much positive to go around.

Now, I do think there were some players who showed they could play at a higher level. However, even those performances were tainted with moments of stupidity, ignorance or (insert your demeaning adjective here).

For instance, I thought Michael Orozco did well in his first two games, especially considering he's a central defender by trade and not a left back. But how good can you feel about his overall performance given his red card against Nigeria?

Stuart Holden was another who showed good signs early on, especially with his goal against Japan and his early play against the Netherlands. But then he botched a two-on-one attempt against the Dutch that would have sealed the game and finished off his horrid half by giving away a foul that led to the equalizer.

I don't think we learned anything new about Marvell Wynne (lots of speed but that's about it), Sacha Kljestan (can disappear for long stretches), Freddy Adu (selfish), Michael Bradley (prone to yellow cards) and Michael Parkhurst (not a commanding presence in central defense).

Robbie Rogers did nothing to increase his own stock. Jozy Altidore scored a goal but his injury kept him from contributing more. Maurice Edu played out of position and I thought he had a poor game against the Netherlands, but it's tough to judge him as a possible central midfield candidate for the senior side on what he did at central defense for the Olympic team.

I don't think Brian McBride was that effective but I also think that's because the lack of service was poor throughout the tournament. And besides, he's been there and done that for the US and his international days have been over save for this brief period.

Anyway, do you think any player helped his cause? Are things really that bad or am I just being too pessimistic?


B-Rob said...

To add to your list:

Nowak: I don't think he raised his stock any with this performance (obviously). I think the decision to pull Adu from the Netherlands game was a bit strange given that he pulled one of the few players on the team that can hold onto the ball and draw fouls to kill off time.

soy said...

i think you're being a tad bit pessimistic (although i do agree that there was plenty negative to dish out).

i was VERY impressed with marvell wynne. not only did he have the speed but he played some of the smartest ball out there.

Bill said...

I think it was the US lack of depth that showed in the 3rd game and inexperience. They can only learn by going through tournaments like this.

Nowak: He can only do so much from the sideline. Adu keep on attacking in the Dutch game. A lot of the blame is on inexperience. To me he had a good game plan in all games and in all situations in the game.

Ralph Wallace said...

After living in America for a while and seeing how everybody played soccer I was looking forward to watching your young players. I have to say that I was extremely disappointed. Seemed all about size and power rather than skill to me.

Can you add a link to my blog on your page? Cheers.

adam said...

I think Charlie Daniels will definitely been seen more.

I agree 100% with you on Wynne. . . but DAMN what speed he has. That's game breaker speed right there. And he's got plenty of time to work on the details. He'll be our right back in 2010.

I think you are a little rough on Klestjan. Considering how Bradley's been playing the empty bucket formation, it's exciting to see a central mid with such creative ballsy vision.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I disagree, I don't think we'll see Charlie Daniels ever again on the USMNT, mostly because he doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

Wynne was my man of the match is game 1. Set up the goal, but played tremendous defense for 90minutes. I think Adu "disappeared" far more than Klejstan, and sacha will move to Europe. I don't think you give Rogers enough credit. He was one of our biggest offensive threat in the first two games, at least in terms of penetration and service, and I think that overall Guzan showed that he is ready to taste a little EPL action. Unfortunate situation this morning, and I hate to continue seeing us drop from major tournies, but we did a lot right

d.s. said...

unlike most commentators on this post and the previous one (Truth or daring...), I am much more positive about Adu and Kljestan - I thought they both played quite well, and should indeed be the type of player we should seek to develop more of.

unlike others, I came away unimpressed by Wynne and Altidore - Wynne has a lot of speed, but his forays into attack were kinda random - "dribble upfield and cross when you can't dribble any more".. his marking is extremely poor (how many times did Holland's left-sided winger Drenthe find himself wide open at the far post for a cross from the right flank? That was Wynne's responsibility - the fact that Drenthe couldn't shoot into the ocean from the beach was the only thing that saved Wynne's blushes.

I certainly don't see Wynne as the US right back in 2010, his athleticism notwithstanding. Jonathan Spector has much more experience at a much higher level of football, and who knows, Cherundolo might still be around :-)

On a more general note, we just don't seem to have sufficiently many players that are technically excellent, and tactically and physically consistent. (Prime example: Brad Davis, who plays for the Houston Dynamo - very technically gifted player - good enough to pull a Ronaldinho-style "elastico" in the MLS Cup final against the Revs - just plain inconsistent in his performances... Alvarez, who now plays with the Quakes, Josh Wolff of yesteryears, and of course, Kljestan and Adu...). After Reyna, the only technically gifted player with any amount of consistency has been Donovan, and no wonder he is our best ever.

Just too bad that Shalrie Joseph and Dwayne De Rosario aren't American - now that's a central midfield pairing I'd like to see!

I'll stop my rambling there.

papa bear said...

I think you are being a bit pessimistic. If that free kick doesn't go in no one is talking about Holden's gaffe as he played excellent.
I don't think Adu being occasionally selfish taints the bulk of his performace. I also don't think he needed to do much to prove that he belongs on the senior team because he does.
Wynne still needs to work on some technical aspects of his game going forward but he did show some creative instincts moving forward like that Thierry Henry pass to myself he pulled against Nigeria. Anytime he was beaten he immediately recovered and 9/10 took the ball and brought it up field. You can't ask for more from a fullback. I think people are being a bit too picky on him in those terms. There are hundreds of fullbacks being paid twice as much as him in bigger leagues who play worse.'s what happens when you play a forward/winger as a left mid and in the case of the Nigeria game, left back. Relying on Rogers to provide staunch defense on the left is just dumb. He is a player you unleash on the left and let him bomb the opponents goal all day. They failed.

There are others but it wasn't a horrible showing. 1 unlucky free kick and a positively MORONIC red card by Orozco and it's game over.
The biggest negative was Nowak. He has little tactical awareness and his squad selection was abysmal just as they were in the qualifying games.

Anonymous said...

This is just in, Chivas USA signs Orozco!

John said...

Wynne was one of the better player for the US, IMO. He's fast and smooth.

Klestjan plays a very aggressive unpredictable style, which sometimes US players that have been Bradentoned lack.

Bradley was the same as always, doesn't stand out as particularly good or bad. He's a solid player, which is why I don't like to criticize the player Bradley for the special treatment he receives from coach Bradley.

Edu and Parkhurst were solid, IMO. Considering Edu doesn't have a lot of experience at center back, to step in at that level was pretty impressive.

McBride, I respect, but he's a very limited player at that level, it showed.

Robbie Rogers looked like a JV player. He gave the ball away almost every time he touched it.

Adu, if you give him the freedom to do the things he does well, which is float around and find space and then run at players, he's fantastic.

Stuart Holden was great. He's skilled and tough.