Caleb Porter & The US U-23’s Open Olympic Qualifying With Cuba

Caleb Porter, hoping for the US to stick out in the CONCACAF crowd...

Editor’s Note: No in-depth preview here today.

Jay Bell will be covering the Olympic qualifying semi’s and final at Livestrong Park in Kansas City for TSG.

The United States Under-23 Men’s National Team opens Group A play in the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament against Cuba at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, March 22, at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Can't really call this post "Orange Slices" "bits" it is...

Broadcast: The match is televised live on the Universal Sports Network, Mun2 and

• Digits

13 players on the roster have played in at least one World Cup at the youth level, and four players – Adu, Jared Jeffrey, Shea and Sheanon Williams – have appeared in both the U-17 and U-20 tournaments.

4 Players who were coached by Caleb Porter at Akron (Teal Bunbury, Perry Kitchen, Kofi Sarkodie, Zarek Valentin)
4 Goals scored by Freddy Adu during the USA’s 2008 Olympic Qualifying
8 Players who have earned a cap with the U.S. senior team

Last Time at LP for the U-23‘s: March 20th, 2008

In the semifinal on March 20 against Canada, midfielder Freddy Adu scored a pair of goals and Sacha Kljestan added a third as the U.S. cruised to a 3-0 win and a spot in the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The U.S. lineup that: 1-Chris Seitz; 2-Marvell Wynne, 3-Michael Orozco, 17-Jonathan Spector, 5-Nathan Sturgis; 16-Sacha Kljestan (14-Robbie Findley, 88) , 6-Maurice Edu (capt.), 10-Dax McCarty, 7-Stuart Holden; 11-Freddy Adu (20-Eddie Gaven, 82) 12-Jozy Altidore (9-Charlie Davies, 75)

11 At The Whistle

A possible deployment. *Disclaimer, review of U-23 has been infrequent here at TSG to date.

40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/22 at 1:07 PM

    Thank you CONCACAF for doing something right and hosting streams of all the games on your website.

    It’s finally here- I’ve been looking forward to this Olympic run for the last few years!!! Time to get a medal and showcase some young talent to bigger clubs! I really want to see the US be agressive and take it to these teams. Like a boss!!


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/22 at 1:27 PM

      I’ve read elsewhere that it should be available streaming Universal Sports site as well.


  2. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/22 at 1:26 PM

    I hate to see Gyau not in the lineup after watching him destroy the Mexican defense in that match. That was an impressive performance from a player that I hadn’t seen much of yet. I was hoping we might see a 4-3-3 with Gyau and Shea on opposite wings.

    Not loving Agudelo as the striker. I’m sure he’ll play but I’d rather see Boyd get the start, he’s playing and scoring regularly for Dortmund U-23’s. I can’t remember the last time that I actually enjoyed watching Neymar wannabe Agudelo. Hope he’s at least changed the haircut.


    • Posted by dude on 2012/03/22 at 1:59 PM

      Second the Gyau-Shea pairing. I’d like to rip Cuba to shreads so we can use the rotation system against a poorly organized Canada.

      Not sure what your issue is with Juan, he’s a very young player who seems to have found his form again, at least with the Olympic squad.


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/22 at 5:12 PM

        It’s not that I have a problem with him but I am concerned that Agudelo has become too cocky. His attitude and comments with NY are not what you want to hear from a younger player who has yet to really prove himself. I’m just concerned that we are seeing another young American striker begin to go down the road that Eddie Johnson and Jozy went down where they expect to play rather than do the work to play.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/22 at 5:11 PM

      Boyd just played Tuesday for Dortmund’s reserves, and of course followed that appearance with a transatlantic flight. I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of him this tournament.


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/22 at 5:13 PM

        Did not know that. It appears that he’s playing a little too regularly then for the reserves at least when it comes to this match.


        • Posted by Union on 2012/03/22 at 5:23 PM

          Yea I’d like to see Boyd too, but he’s played a lot of minutes in the past few days and literally just arrived in Nashville (he got in yesterday). I don’t know if you’ll see him in the game today, hopefully it won’t be necessary as Cuba is the weakest of the teams the US will face. Gyau is somewhat of a mystery. But I don’t think you can take Adu out of the game and don’t forget the kind of spark he provided against Mexico. Gyau will come on for Shea, I imagine. Make no mistake, Gyau is probably the most talented player on the squad in terms of raw skills. And I personally feel he’s a better player than Shea. But Brek’s physicality against these smaller CONCACAF teams can’t be taken lightly. Not to mention the fact that so far, he has dominated against U-23 competition.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/22 at 5:53 PM

        Also a little goofy to be insisting on a player whose scoring record…is on the fourth division of German play. It’s a recipe for being disappointed a year or so from now.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/22 at 5:58 PM

          I’d rather have a guy that scores goals at some level while also coming closer to playing for the top team in Germany than a guy that barely scores in MLS and was not getting playing time because of a guy who was from League 1 in England. Agudelo hasn’t exactly lit it up at any level.


          • Posted by dth on 2012/03/22 at 6:57 PM

            Goals are overrated, especially when they’re from the German fourth division.

            Anyway, Agudelo’s got 3 goals in 2 US u-23 caps. You happy now?


            • Posted by Union on 2012/03/22 at 7:02 PM

              Dth, love the Devil’s advocate approach. But if you’re saying there isn’t an argument to be made that Gyau/Boyd > Agudelo (which I believe is the argument), you’re crazy. Definitely a difference between U-23 for Hoffenheim/Dortmund and playing on the senior Hoffenheim/Dortmund teams, but there is no reason to NOT be excited over the Gyau’s of our player pool.

              That being said, Agudelo is having a great game tonight. And frankly, so long as a US team plays with this level of skill, I don’t care who is on the field (though its worth noting how awful Cuba is). kind of sad actually.

            • Posted by dth on 2012/03/22 at 7:59 PM

              There’s plenty of reason not to be excited over both. Most prospects fail to make the jump to full team let alone star or superstar status; therefore I can very confidently predict that all three players will likely fail to meet those standards.

              Gyau, for example, has tunnel vision and iffy crosses + shots.

            • Posted by Union on 2012/03/22 at 10:23 PM

              Disagree. Pointing out flaws in U-23 prospects isn’t reason enough to shrug off excitement about said prospect. Gyau and Boyd are both deserving of excitement. Every single U-23 player has discernible flaws, otherwise they would be capping w/ the senior team. Fans definitely need to sober to the reality of the US player pool at times, but lets not go overboard.

  3. Posted by dude on 2012/03/22 at 2:06 PM

    As much as I want to see Shea and Gyau on the wings and Adu playing the #10 role, Porter’s tactical judgement is clearly superior to mine. Don’t believe me? Check out this surprisingly in depth article. Spoiler alert, he had his eureka moment sitting in on a Barca training session.


  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/22 at 4:15 PM

    Comments on Sarkodie-Williams:

    A lot of buzz today that Sheanon Williams is a better back than Kofi Sarkodie and should possibly start.

    Let’s forget for a second that Williams hasn’t been in camp and just arrived. Let’s also forget

    Sarkodie is a more offensive player than Williams. Given the US system of pressing up the pitch and attempting to box in the opposition–and in this case weaker opposition–the role of the rightback is more tuned to Sarkodie’s skillset. If the US dictates play–a change from past regimes–then US will both possess the ball more, but also need someone who can possess the ball under duress and create linking and opportunities.

    When you add to this that Sarkodie will be covered for ably by Ike Opara and the attacking threats at the group stage at minimum are not of the highest class caliber, then Sarkodie now first in the depth chart (after Gatt presumably) makes sense.

    The situation–and Porter’s (& Klinsmann’s for that matter)’s formation is a close cousin or even brother of how Brazil played in World Cup 2010. Ironically enough it was Michel Bastos–a midifelder by trade with more attacking verse who was deployed at leftback for Brazil.
    A great read on that team here:


    • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/22 at 7:03 PM

      Kind of of topic but on a previous post regarding Jurgen’s tactics, I made reference to Dunga’s brazil, kind of an offset 4-1-2-1-2 diamond. If you look at all the role’s of the Brazil players in the Zonal Marking article, it’s essentially what Jurgen has the MNT doing. Role’s almost correlate directly, especially the position of Robinho/Shea and Ramires/Williams, not so much Bradley.


  5. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/22 at 5:17 PM

    Starting line-up is the same one we have above. Nice….


  6. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/22 at 6:48 PM

    Well, this game is over. 2-0 up with a Cuban sent off. Not sure what the Cuban defenders were doing on the Agudelo goal but good to see him and Shea combine for a goal.


  7. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/22 at 7:29 PM



  8. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/22 at 8:09 PM

    Some impressions:

    -I was very underwhelmed by Sarkodie and Valentin. I’d like to see Williams.

    -I definitely want to see Boyd over Bunbury. Bunbury gets pushed off the ball so easily and is not direct at all.

    -Blown away by Gyau dribbling at and past people. First time I have seen him in action.

    -Freddy and Brek really looked good but lets see them throughout the tournament against better competition.

    – I thought Mix was the best player on the field. And Okugo had a really nice cameo.

    -Thought Opara and Kitchen were solid in defense but again tough to take definitive conclusions from just this game.

    -Just realized I forgot about Corona. I thought he disappeared from the game at times but man was his finishing clinical. That was great to see.

    -Interesting the emphasis on working the ball up the left side of the field with Klinsmann and Porter.


    • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/22 at 11:38 PM

      “-Just realized I forgot about Corona. I thought he disappeared from the game at times but man was his finishing clinical. That was great to see.’

      I’m always amused when people talk about disappearing as if it was necessarily a flaw.

      Is every player supposed to look like a chicken with his head cut off and be obviously doing “something”, every second of the game? It is after all an eleven man game with only one ball.

      Mixx and Adu coordinated the US offense while Shea and Agudelo kept pushing the Cuban defense.

      And Joe? He was disappearing from the consciousness of the Cuban defense so that he could be around and open to take advantage of his teammate’s efforts.

      When you score a hat trick you can disappear all you want.


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/23 at 6:08 AM

        “I’m always amused when people talk about disappearing as if it was necessarily a flaw.”

        Here we go again Martin- you’re the one saying that I viewed it as a flaw. I didn’t. I thought Corona had a great game. It’s just that he wasnt involved on much of the buildup as the ball was worked up the opposite flank most of the time. It was easy to forget about him…. and then BAM! goal. Even the goals he scored were almost so casual. The last goal he started walking away before it even went in!


        • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/23 at 7:19 AM

          If you didn’t think it was a flaw then you would not have mentioned it.

          Or you would have said something like ” Corona has that Scholes-like knack of popping up at just the right place to score almost unmolested and making it look easy.”.

          Sometimes, it is easier to score if you are not so directly and obviously involved in the buildup. Defenders “forget” about you.

          This is the most I’ve seen of Corona and that knack of being in the right place at the right time and the way he seems to be unhurried about everything he does is something special.

          If he can translate that to the senior level then the US may have something there.

          Of course Cuba’s performance was so bad it’s hard to know how seriously to take this game.


          • Posted by crow on 2012/03/23 at 8:18 AM

            I love how your psychic powers enable you to know what anyone who ever comments on this site is thinking Martin. I know my thoughts more than you unless you are a reaper who is indoctrinating me. Your new name Martin is now Harbinger if that is the case. You must use it every time you are replying to someone’s post.

            I didn’t say or think anything negative about Corona during the entire game. I just remember thinking after Corona got his hat trick how he hadn’t stuck out at times which can be a good or bad thing as you mentioned. I vehemently argue that I did view Corona’s anonymous play as a positive.

            I thought Freddy Adu had a solid game bit at times he stuck out for needlessly complicating things by being too flashy. Corona kept it simple and it worked.


            • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/23 at 1:29 PM

              “I thought Freddy Adu had a solid game bit at times he stuck out for needlessly complicating things by being too flashy.”

              I’m not sure Freddy can help himself. That is how he plays. One thing you cannot deny though is that with all that flash, at least he usually takes on his man and goes forward, something not everyone does. And in this game it usually had a positive outcome.

              Harbinger doesn’t really do it for me. All I do is read a great deal and, in your case, I pay attention to what you write.No great spirtual powers involved there, Crow.

  9. Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/03/23 at 5:03 AM

    My thoughts (nit picks as it is hard to be too critical when they win like they did):

    – The team dominated the game and played a very pretty style of soccer
    – The first goal by Corona was taken very nicely. He took his time in a situation where not a lot of young players would.
    – Mix was amazing but his corners left a lot to be desired.
    – Valentin looked bad at LB
    – Shea looked to pass too much in the final third
    – Still not sure what the best line-up is. Really like Gayu but not sure he plays over Freddy or Shea. Can’t really slide Adu inside the way Corona and Mix played.


    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/23 at 6:04 AM

      Good point- I forgot how bad Mix’s corners were. Absolutely terrible actually. He still had an excellent game but that should take down his “rating.”


      • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/23 at 7:12 AM

        Yeah, why not have Freddy take the corners from both sides? He usually excels at set-piece delivery.


    • Posted by mbw on 2012/03/23 at 9:27 AM

      And mine:

      – Gyau still looks like a one-trick pony to me — but it’s a neat trick.
      – Porter seems to have figured out how to use Adu to maximum effect.
      – What do other people see that I don’t that Amobi Okugo can’t crack the starting lineup for club or country? (Which is not a knock on Jeffrey, who did well.)
      – I’m worried Perry Kitchen will be in over his head in the later stages of the tournament.


  10. Posted by dth on 2012/03/23 at 12:34 PM

    Gatt with a goal–making good use of his time, it looks like.


  11. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/23 at 1:13 PM

    I agree with your and dth’s observations about Gyau being a one-trick pony. Last night was the first time I saw him in action but he did just seem to be able to run at people (very, very fast though). I wasn’t real impressed with his passing/crossing or his one shot but man I can take that with the way the guy runs. It was incredible to watch and I’m going to enjoy watching him the next several years. It almost reminds me of a guy in basketball who can only go to his right but does it so well that he will beat you if you give him an inch. Or some 3 pt specialist like Kyle Korver. You know all he does is shoot the “3” but if you slip up and give him some space he will torch you. I think Gyau with his speed alone (even if the scouting report is out on him) will be a super-sub later in games when defenders are tired. And if he adds anything to his game he is going to absolutely lethal.

    As for Okugo- dth and I have been preaching the gospel on Amobi Okugo for some time on this site. To be fair, Nowak actually did use him a good bit before the knee injury last year but now has seemed to have lost faith in him for some reason. I don’t get it especially with Brian Caroll (who I like) not looking as good- especially in week 2. With Gomez and Caroll in the picture I don’t know if he will see any time in the near future.

    I find it interesting how good Freddy Adu and Okugo look under Porter so far. I’m anxious to see Williams and McInerney. I’d break the bank to get Porter as a coach, even for a few years. It’s a shame to see these guys rot under Nowak when you see how good they can play when playing under a competent coach.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/23 at 2:41 PM

      Not sure why everyone is down on Gayu. Yes he doesn’t show a complete game yet. That said, he does one thing really well. I mean amazingly well. It almost seemed unfair. Against both Mexico and Cuba it seemed like he could get by anyone anytime 1v1. He needs to add somethings but to even suggest that he is Robbie Findley 2.0 would be a travesty.

      I think he could be an off the bench speed guy for the senior team right now. Who else are we bringing off the bench for that role? Buddle?


      • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/23 at 5:01 PM

        If he can develop a 20yd curler in a short amount of time ala Ashley Young that’d make him a pretty tough cover


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/23 at 5:33 PM

        I loved watching Gyau and his speed alone is amazing- and dribbling past players. I think he is one of the most impressive prospects in awhile for the USA. I hope he continues to develop his game (he is only what 19) and I think he can be an incredible player.

        I just tend to fall into the trap of getting too excited for certain players so I’m trying to be more level-headed.


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/03/24 at 6:14 AM

          I hear you on the falling for the overhyped players. I think we have all been there.

          This maybe total rationalization but I look at Gayu and Gatt differently than other prospects. If you take someone like Boss, we say that he has some overall skills and if he can continue to improve all of them then he could be very good. He lacks a definitive “world class” skill sans size. Gayu and Gatt both seem to have “world class” speed with the ball at their feet. That in and of itself is not enough but I look at that as very different than the Boss scenario.

          I won’t pretend to know anything about German youth soccer, but my general sports experience is that when someone has a dominating skill they often rely on that skill and don’t develop others until they get to a level where there 1 skill isn’t enough. Think a pitcher that can just throw a 95 fastball by everyone in high school that doesn’t develop a curve until college/minors. The WR that is a poor route runner in high school because he just runs past the CB until he shows up on a SEC campus.

          If Gayu and Gatt don’t improve then they will not be the next USMNT star. That said, if you look at even someone like Bale who at 18 was a LB “free kick specialist” for Southampton. Now he is one of the top MF in the world. Please don’t take this as saying Gatt or Gayu are the next Bale, its simply that players improve at different paces as they age and those two have shown one world class skill alread.


          • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/24 at 8:35 AM

            Gatt has been shifted between right wing and right back at Molde. Unlike many, I view this as a good thing for his development as a player and, at his age, I would like to see him moved around even more.

            I am less familiar with Gyau’s situation but hopefully he is receiving enough coaching so that he does not wind up as the next Findley.. It is worth noting though that even if you are just half way decent with the rest of your abilities, great speed is the one thing is the one thing that will get you on the field right away. We’ve seen it with the likes of Walcott, Findley, Davies, EJ etc.. People forget that Bornstein may still be one of the fastest players in the USMNT player pool.

            I have seen calls for Gyau to replace Shea. This is ridiculous as they have different strengths as players. At the moment Shea is more productive than Gyau.

            Both are great prospects but both have much to learn before they can be regarded as legitimate first team USMNT regulars.


    • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/23 at 2:54 PM

      “I find it interesting how good Freddy Adu and Okugo look under Porter so far. I’m anxious to see Williams and McInerney. I’d break the bank to get Porter as a coach, even for a few years. It’s a shame to see these guys rot under Nowak when you see how good they can play when playing under a competent coach.”

      Adu has always starred at the Under- whatever level. The competition the Under 23’s face is of uneven and uncertain quality. Under 23 stars can suddenly become rather pedestrian when they move to the senior level.

      Under 23 teams are pretty transient phenomenon. Among the world powers, if you are any good you usually are a fixture with the senior side and don’t get to spend a lot of time with the Under 23’s. At this point they are mostly a vehicle to get to the Olympics, which has a great deal of meaning for some like Mixx.

      As for Porter, he has done a fine job and is very trendy right now but he does not have much of a track record in managing professionals.

      If you are a Union fan you might want more of a sample size before you break the bank for him.

      He also benefits more than a little from having the strongest, deepest group of young American players I’ve ever seen.


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/23 at 5:40 PM

        I started hearing about Caleb Porter during Akron’s 2nd national championship run and everything I’ve heard (including interviews) and “seen” on the field I have liked alot. I’d be willing to take a “flyer” on him despite the fact he hasn’t coached in MLS before. I like his philosophies on how soccer should be played.

        Almost any coach would be an improvement over Nowak.

        I like the fact that Porter has given Adu the armband. I think that Adu needs a coach to let him do his thing while also handing him responsibility so he can regulate himself.


        • Posted by Martin on 2012/03/23 at 7:21 PM

          “I like the fact that Porter has given Adu the armband. I think that Adu needs a coach to let him do his thing while also handing him responsibility so he can regulate himself.”

          Sure. This is exactly what most everyone has been saying for a long time. If you want the best out of Adu, you have to more or less build a team around him. While that is not exactly true in this case, as good and as deep as this group is, this is probably about as close as Freddy will get to that.

          Unfortunately, Freddy will have to ratchet it up quite a bit if he expects to have the same thing happen to him with the senior USMNT.


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