an eye to the future

i made a decision today, and that decision is to quit being upset with USSF and sunil gulati for bringing back bob bradley.

talents like omar salgado need to be nurtured into our next national team stars.

my problems with bob as the USMNT manager are well documented, though he’s done an admirable job at the last two major tournaments. however, being the smartest retard in our group this past summer isn’t exactly something to be trumpeting either, and his true colors shown through in  the round of 16 versus ghana.

but as the saying goes, there’s no sense in crying over spilt milk (spilt beer, however, is perfectly acceptable to cry over).

so moving forward, i’m not going to bitch about bob being given another world cup cycle at the helm of our stagnant national team. i’m going to ignore the fact that we haven’t learned our lessons from this in the past (bruce arena in 2006 ring a bell?), or the fact that there were some high profile tacticians we should have hired instead (martin o’neill and jurgen klinsmann). there’s nothing i can do about it, so moving on is really the only option i’ve got.

instead, i’ll shift my thoughts to my other concern about our national team… how do we get better?

obviously, the yanks need some fresh blood in the squad and some young talent needs to be brought into the fold to develop on the international level. we’ve got  too many players in our pool right now that have probably reached their ceiling for potential or will never reach it due to one reason or another (the first name that comes to mind: jonathan spector).

while bradley does have a track record of calling in and giving players their national team bows, actually bringing along new talents and turning them into regulars is a bit of a different story. that needs to change: we’re a country of 300 million people, and among them are a number of fantastic footballers on the rise. who is going to be our first, true #10 on the pitch? who is going to be a real #9? (if jozy altidore is standing, someone try to make him sit back down).

so which players would i like to see more of this cycle? i thought you would never ask.

jermaine jones (m – schalke)
ok, so this first one i’m cheating pn a bit for several reasons. first off, jermaine has hardly ever lived in this country and wasn’t even born here. secondly, he’s been on everyone’s radar for quite a while, and would have made the world cup squad had he not been recovering from an a year long injury nightmare. either way, jones’ 3 call-ups to the german national team are reason alone to justify that the 28 year old should be a regular starter. his performance against poland for his first USMNT cap earned him universal praise (well, as “universal” of praise as an american player can actually get). however, let’s keep in mind that at his age he is not exactly a long-term solution. however, tutelage can’t be overrated either.



lichaj has been testing his mettle at aston villa for several years.

eric lichaj (d – aston villa)
in the few opportunities that i’ve had to see the youngster play for the villans, he has been fairly impressive. though, he hasn’t exactly lit the field on fire either. but that’s the point with a quality defender, right? and while earning his first cap against columbia, he he also proved that he has the ability to get into the attack a bit too. the fact that martin o’neill rated him highly enough to bring him into a squad rich with defending talent should also say something about his abilities. at this point, i would much rather have lichaj as cherundulo’s heir apparent at right back than spector.

omar salgado (f – c.d. guadalajara)
at the opposite end of the age spectrum is 16-year-old salgado,  formerly of chivas de guadalajara. the tall forward signed a contract with MLS back in july on the same day he made his debut for the u-20 national team. oh, and he scored a goal that day too. more of a diamond in the rough at the moment, omar is a player with tremendous upside.

robbie rogers (m – columbus crew)
flair. honestly, we need more of it. rogers has a bit of it stashed away in his boots. see where this is going? rogers is definitely still a work in progress, but he has also shown flashes of brilliance during the few matches he saw in the run up to south africa. i would imagine that, given time, he could develop into a prominent figure on the wing for the yanks in years to come.

justin braun (f – chivas usa)
size is something our country tends to lack in the front. we’ve got a slew of developing wide players in the team or coming through, but nobody of a larger stature to sling it in to in the air. and while braun was playing sunday league ball two years ago (does this mean there is hope for me!?!?!), his rapid development in l.a. should be further nurtured at the national team level. if we can ever convince jozy to actually work to get open as a target man, i could see a tall player like braun being the perfect end outlet on balls altidore could work out to the wings. or maybe he’ll be the next kenny cooper.

stuart holden (m – bolton wanderers)
if a guy can make me start to like bolton, then there’s gotta be something special about him. stu has been a favorite of mine since his houston dynamo days, and his inclusion in this summer’s squad was likely a move to give him more experience for this next cycle. calm and collected on the ball and also an excellent distributer, holden is a big part of bolton’s revival under owen coyle. let’s be serious here: any player holding down a starting spot in the EPL should be a shoe in for our national team. in fact, i’m making that a rule from here on out.

josé francisco torres (m – pachuca)
i’m not getting off his train yet, despite a poor single showing at the world cup this summer. i’m convinced that this is a player that needs more opportunities in a US shirt. just like rogers, torres offers a flair and creativity that is often lacking in our national side.

some other boys to consider, that i have less clearly defined thoughts about:

  • omar gonzalez (d – l.a. galaxy)
  • ale bedoya (m – örebro)
  • robbie findley (f – real salt lake)
  • gale agbossoumonde (d – miami f.c.)
  • danny mwanga (f – philadelphia union)

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