TSG’s Azteca Roster: Being Klinsmann

Few remember that three years ago, it was a trip to Azteca that was the coming out party for Stu Holden on the USMNT “A” team…

TSG usually goes the route of trying to predict what the head coach, manager, or front office of some club will do. We remove (attempt to remove) personal biases and frankly it’s more important in our minds to initiate conversation with our audience on the observations seen to date.

With that said, we’ll take a mini-hiatus from that typical disposition and give you a list of what squad the collective we would call in to face the El Tri at their lofty and notoriously treacherous home adobo.

Jurgen Klinsmann is supposed to wait all the way until this weekend to announce the roster. The game is August 15th.


» The Azteca is an extremely difficult place to play at get a rhythm for obvious reasons. Therefore, a disposition to first team players as much as possible.

» Much like the Italy win, a US win will grab headlines and vault the USMNT program forward, even as Mexico are (perhaps) missing players at the Olympics. The US program could really use an outright win against a program that has seemingly leap-frogged them in CONCACAF.

» Per the previous point, will Mexico still be missing players? Will notorious Yank killer Gio Dos Santos be on hand to once again run “the Swivel” against the men from the north?

» We’ll pick players with Klinsmann’s Guatemala game plan in place. Manage early pressure, work for possession later in the halves.


Israel Castro tied it up past in in-flight Tim Howard in 2009.

G: Tim Howard, Nick Rimando, Dan Kennedy (over Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid)

The skinny: Tim Howard needs to be at the Azteca…for backline organization, to atone for the summer of 2009 when it wasn’t Howard’s strongest match. Nick Rimando again a capable understudy–especially as Mexico lacks pure aerial dominance, Big Nick’s height won’t come in to question.

TSG drops Brad Guzan who will be much better served being fully committed to his club competition at Aston Villa for the #1 role against Shay Given. Guzan has seen central America, an enlightening is not needed.

Enlightening (re: playing at Aztecz) is however needed for one of the other three names who all merit consideration. For TSG’s worth, Dan Kennedy is extremely underrated, athletically and mentality-wise. Both Hamid and Sean Johnson proved they need more seasoning and–concurrently–both are needed by their clubs who are in the playoff hunt. Chivas USA is probably out of it.

Junkyard Jay DeMerit deserves to be working for the US again.

DEF: Carlos Bocanegra, Geoff Cameron (Clarence Goodson), Fabian Johnson, Steve Cherundolo,  Jay DeMerit, Edgar Castillo, (Eric Lichaj)

The skinny: The normal cast of characters for the most part. Oguchi Onyewu is replaced with his former World Cup battery mate Jay DeMerit who “merits” inclusion based upon his Chelsea showing and strong season. Surely DeMerit’s improved positioning will be preferred to Onyewu’s gaffes in that area.

We give Clarence Goodson a call because if Geoff Cameron is doing the Stoke thing, there needs to be someone familiar with Klinsmann’s game plan starting with Bocanegra

Eric Lichaj is a debatable inclusion at this point. Much like his club teammate Brad Guzan, Lichaj stands much to gain from being in camp and competing for starters minutes on Aston Villa’s right flank.

MID: Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Dax McCarty, Brek Shea

The skinny: Klinnsman likely goes with the same 3-man midfield that started against Guatemala. Maurice Edu is a chase player, looking to get the ball to the foot of Michael Bradley who either pings it up field or hits Jermaine Jones for some possession who is looking to slip a pass to a withdrawn Clint Dempsey.

Quite an eye for talent Bob Bradley had….plucking Dax McCarty for a US call-up on the way to World Cup 2010.

We’re fine with that midfield. The final two selections won’t happen, but they’re our picks. Dax McCarty continues to be underrated in MLS. He’s got an engine. He’s fearless and his forward pass completion rate is tops in MLS.

Brek Shea– say what you will about the “outstanding issues” in Dallas–just needed a break. He’s got a long stride and some height. Two things that could come in very useful at the Azteca; plus he tore apart their defense the last time the two teams played last year at about this time in Philadelphia.

FWD: Clint Dempsey (Chris Pontius), Herculez Gomez, Landon Donovan, Terrence Boyd, Chris Wondolowski, Eddie Johnson

The skinny: No Jozy Altidore.

Many reasons for this including what is now known to be coming into the June camp in extremely poor form. Let Jozy’s club AZ Alkmaar get him into shape. The US needs someone up top who does the dirty work.

If Clint Dempsey doesn’t make it, Chris Pontius deputizes. The DC United forward is finally starting to round back into that shape that had pundits donning the label “special” just a few years ago.

Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie would go. And he will. Best time to bring Johnson in….when he’s in the right frame of mind and in a good mood essentially. Johnson has never lacked the tools; he’s just never put them together. Until now.

59 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2012/08/06 at 8:50 PM

    Still waiting a bit on Eddie Johnson. He’s had some hot streaks before. Similarly, Terrence Boyd. Not sure five forwards are needed.

    Would like to see a right-sided flank option to bring off the bench. Say…Josh Gatt.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/06 at 8:57 PM

      Think Gatt is still in and out of line-up with injuries. I think you need to come around on Terrence Boyd DTH. He has the engine and has shown some finishing.

      Agree on five forwards and agree on Eddie Johnson


      • Posted by Union on 2012/08/06 at 9:55 PM

        Agreed on Boyd.

        Quick question though. Do we have evidence that suggests Jozy was out of shape and off form for the June camp? And if so, does the evidence suggest that this was Jozy’s fault? Or was it a simple case of a guy coming off an injury and not having played much in recent weeks? I’m not a Jozy fan. But I am curious what the story is.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/06 at 10:06 PM

          Listen to the March to the Match podcast tomorrow. elides yours truly getting ambushed, there’s a blurb on Altidore’s “in-to-camp” fitness level.


  2. Posted by Connor Walsh on 2012/08/06 at 9:00 PM

    My own predictions are far off the mark compared to yours. I figure the US will take a mostly “B”/younger side to prepare them, possibly, for what the future holds in WCQ. I figure the only non-MLS players we see are those from Mexico (Castillo, Torres, Gomez, Corona, Beasley), the European guys already in season (Goodson, Parkhurst, O’Brien), and those couple without a club currently (Bocanegra, Edu).

    What are your thoughts on a call up for Conor O’Brien here? I wouldn’t mind it at all. Younger (23) more attack minded midfielder who is helping Sonderjyske to a surprising start in the Danish league.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/06 at 9:01 PM

      These aren’t predictions. They are who TSG would call. Maybe drop one forward.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/06 at 9:03 PM

      It’d be interesting. Can’t see Klinsmann not wanting to compete at the Azteca. Think Conor O’Brien is a nice player from the little I’ve seen. In the pecking order? Not sure yet. More a Jan camp addition, no?


      • Posted by Connor Walsh on 2012/08/06 at 9:08 PM

        Good point about Klinsmann wanting to make a statement at the Azteca. My thinking for going with more of a “B” squad come from the fact that I would think most European clubs would be less than excited about sending players 3000 miles for a weekend rivalry match, sure to be rife with physical play, and risk a key player coming back injured just before the beginning of the season.

        O’Brien is an intriguing player from the highlights I’ve seen. Just something about getting the last name “O’Brien” back in the US midfield that gets me going maybe haha.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/06 at 9:09 PM

          Haha — agree on the Euro players. Difficult timing//just remember last time most clubs released players (Onyewu, Dolo, Boca, Bradley, etc.)


      • Posted by dth on 2012/08/07 at 7:09 AM

        Also intrigued by O’Brien. Apparently a deep-lying playmaker of sorts?


  3. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/08/06 at 9:11 PM

    Ok I like the make-up but Edu has a naggy injury and not many reps lately, & club situation still unsettled, same with Bocanegra but with his vast experience he might get a flyer (in fact I think he can play Scot 3rd division and still get on the roster). Brek Shea doesn’t merit a call-up but it would be a wise shrewd move by JK to get him & boost his confidence.
    Cameron should stay at Stoke unless he doesnt get his working papers on Wednesday.
    Will we see Robbie Rogers? Pontius & Johnson would be nice.
    Think JK limits Mexican-American players to limit the vitriol they would face ? *exception Herc, I think he has the stones & charisma that this transgression is overlooked ( Had to say “stones” is was Mob week on A & E)


  4. Posted by Union on 2012/08/06 at 9:53 PM

    It will be interesting to see what Jurgen tries to do. He is hyper competitive by nature which leads me to believe he’ll bring as many of his first choice players as possible. With the exception of his January camp, he has called in, or attempted to call, the majority of his A team players for most camps.

    This game comes at a terrible time because the US is playing Jamaica less than a month after the Mexico game and they can’t afford to be off form. At the same time, getting some of these European players released is going to be tough.

    My prediction is that a A- team will be called in. It won’t be a full strength squad, but you’ll see a lot of first choice players.


  5. For the most part I like the names, but struggling to see how they fit into a team.

    I’d almost like to see a 4-3-3 with Shea-Dempsey-Pontius across the top (keeping in mind this is a friendly). I still think Donovan needs to be in midfield in order to have someone in there just attacking; somebody infusing urgency. I think it’s odd that out of all those CM we don’t really have anyone who excels at breaking up plays and winning the ball. I would love for Jones to be that guy but JK doesn’t seem to see him that way.

    And after putting my orange tinted glasses on, I will point out that since the Dynamo have switched to a 4-3-3, Brad Davis has pinched in playing center mid. It wouldn’t be an awful idea to trot him out next to Bradley and see how that works out.


  6. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just play with TSG’s roster since we can’t predict JK or the player’s club’s decisions:

    I believe we see the strongest possible defensive side possible. The US is in no place to experiment on the backline, not with Mexico wanting to cement their dominance again in CONCACAF. Howard between the sticks, Johnson and Cherundolo on the outside, Boca and Cameron in the middle. I think Cameron’s composure and passing out of the back would be invaluable at the Azteca.

    I’d also like to see Bradley, Jones and Edu in the midfield. Their size and engines could be disruptive but I wouldn’t anticipate a pure 4-3-3. Maybe more of a 4-5-1 with Landon and Clint on the wings pushing forward when appropriate. If there were one place to initiate a young’un, it could be up top. It would be fun to see what kind of fits Boyd gave Mexico’s central defenders.

    Shea and Gomez as subs if we’re chasing the game, Beckerman and DeMerit if they’re chasing us.


  7. It will be some time before FIFA and the US MNT sort through whether or not Ozzie Alonso can play for Uncle Sam’s Army, but assuming that was all sorted (he’s at least an American citizen now) do you guys think he’d warrant a call up based on his form?


  8. Posted by john on 2012/08/07 at 6:55 AM

    why did you leave out timothy chandler? shea has been cr@p all year leave him out – he would look like a lost child out there at the azteca…remember its an extremely difficult place to play – not the place for an out of form player.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/07 at 7:20 AM

      Do you think Chandler shows up for this game right before the start of the club season? He’s dodged call ups for far less than that. I’d be very surprised to see him get called in and even more surprised if he showed up.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/07 at 8:48 AM

        To me, if you’re Jurgen, you don’t call in Chandler again unless it cap-ties him. He’s explored the US; there’s really nothing more to learn. So an audition — given that he has the skill — isn’t necessary.

        The next step should be a game that cap ties.


        • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/07 at 11:13 AM

          I’d bring Chandler, just to get him some experience on the road in CONCACAF. We’re going to need the guy at some point — if not this round, in the hex.


  9. Posted by Bryson on 2012/08/07 at 8:38 AM

    Here would be my team, not taking into consideration club commitments:
    GK: Howard, that kid from Portugal (just to mix up the #2 spot)
    DEF: Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Cameron, Goodson, F. Johnson, Lichaj
    MID: Bradley, Edu, Torres, J. Jones, D Williams
    FWD/Winger: Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore, Gomez, Pontius, Wondo


    Lichaj Goodson Bocanegra F. Johnson

    Bradley Jones

    Donovan Dempsey



    • Posted by Spank on 2012/08/07 at 10:57 AM

      I actually really like this line up. Maybe Altidore could be swapped for Boyd or Herc and you can’t really say this line up didn’t work because it’s never been done with these players.


      • Posted by chris on 2012/08/08 at 7:12 AM

        Totally agree about possibly swapping altidore for herc. I’d be really excited about this lineup.


  10. Posted by Bryson on 2012/08/07 at 8:39 AM

    yeah that didnt really work. Its a 4-3-3 basically with Edu a little deeper and Donovan and Dempsey wide.


  11. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/07 at 9:12 AM

    One other key thing to think about is that the rise of Fabian Johnson has made the need for Brek Shea less important.

    JK really likes to push Johnson high on the left…and it works better with a tucked in forward ahead of him. Chris Pontius is the perfect player for that role.


    • Posted by Eric on 2012/08/07 at 10:08 AM

      I think Pontius is a great fit for a few places in JK’s system. I’m also of the opinion that he could play Dempsey’s spot as well.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/07 at 12:48 PM

      A lop-sided back four or do you think Cherundolo will push forward too with Edu dropping back a little (a WW if you like)?

      Who plays offensively on Mexico’s right hand side?


      • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/07 at 1:12 PM

        That’s Pablo Barrera, late of West Ham and Zaragoza, now back in Mexico playing for Cruz Azul. He’s the guy who tore through the left side of the US defense last summer in the Gold Cup final. Still, it’s probably an easier matchup than Guardado on the other side of the pitch.

        I’d imagine it’ll be pretty unbalanced. Cherundolo gets forward so much less than he did even a year ago.


  12. Posted by Gbearfield on 2012/08/07 at 12:23 PM

    I know he has been injured some as of late but would selfishly really love to see Gatt with the senior team. Just want to see where he fits and how close he might actually be. Also excited/nervous to see pontius. Let’s see if it’s an mls thing or something actually special al la Donovan


    • Gbear,

      When Donovan was 20 he was named best young player of the 2002 World Cup. That is a list that includes guys like Pele on it. It is fashionable to rag on Landycakes but the next time Pontius, who is very promising, does anything remotely like what Donovan has done, you let me know.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/07 at 2:24 PM

        Somebody’s being naughty and stretching the truth.

        The first time FIFA awarded the Best Young Player Award was in 2006. FACT.

        For prior World Cups, FIFA conducted an internet survey. I.e. players were not selected by FIFA’s Technical Study Group.


        • However they did it he is still on the list. And like I said, the next time Pontius does anything that merits him getting anywhere near a list like that let me know.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/08 at 9:22 PM

            It’s the equivalent of TSG picking The Beatles. And the Internet Poll picks Britney Spears. But hey, Spears is on the list. Great logic you have there.


            • Not really.

              Your list is imaginary.

              The list with Donovan on it exists.

              Granted it is on the internet but then so is TSG.which means there is some sort of equivalency there..

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/09 at 4:22 AM

              TSG = Technical Study Group.

      • Posted by dth on 2012/08/07 at 3:19 PM

        Donovan was likely better at 20 than Pontius is now.


        • Posted by dth on 2012/08/07 at 3:20 PM

          Not that there’s anything wrong with that, precisely, but it does show what a gap we have in development.


        • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/07 at 4:35 PM

          It might be worth noting that Pontius’s 2012 strike rate is .56 against Donovan’s .35 in 2002 (for a team that finished second in the western conference). I imagine you’d agree that the issue with our Pontiuses is that they don’t emerge until their mid-20s, at which point the peak physical years are numbered and moves to top European leagues become more difficult. I.e., we have a lag as well as a gap in development. [-> Need for a real development league.]


        • Posted by Brian on 2012/08/08 at 2:52 PM

          Donovan was likely better at 20 than Pontius will ever be.


    • I like Pontius and he is promising but he is 25 and might best be compared to Clint Dempsey, another comparatively late bloomer. He should hope he will be lucky enough to have half the career either Dempsey or Donovan have had. Donovan started very young and did not really slow down.

      Bayer Leverkusen signed Donovan at 16. Ex Bayer Leverkusen sporting director cum general manager Michael Reschke spotted him at a European youth tournament and promptly signed him to a six yr contract. He moved to Germany in the winter of 1999 and began plying his trade in the reserves. At the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, he dazzled audiences with his performance and took home the Golden Ball (Player of the Tournament).

      Back in Germany Donovan wanted out. He claimed the sole reason he sought a move was a lack of first team opportunities at Leverkusen. In 2000, when Donovan became a professional player at Leverkusen the club was very close to winning its first ever League crown and employed youth players during the season. Donovan was competing for a spot in the midfield with Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto, Emerson and Bernd Schneider.

      Loaned back to San Jose he scored 32 goals in 87 appearances while winning 2 MLS cups, a U.S. Open Cup, and the 2003 MLS Cup MVP .
      I would ease up on the Donovan comparisons.


    • GBF

      I like Gatt and he would appear to have a very bright future. However, the unrealistic expectations surrounding him occasionally approach Adudinho levels.
      He plays in Norway , a league that is ranked 28th in Europe, one slot below the Scottish Premier league and fourteen slots below Boyd’s Austrian Bundesliga. Yes Molde plays in the Champion’s league but that just means they play teams like Basel and Ventspils. You get extra credit if you can tell me what country those teams come from w/o looking them up first
      He has not been called into a senior USMNT camp and he is just about three years or so away from playing high school ball in Detroit. It is good that he has Solsjkaer for a manager but it seems to me it is in his best interest to have a standout year for Molde and then get a move to a bigger club.
      At that age the best US attackers I ever saw were Donovan, DMB and Reyna and, from what little I’ve seen, Gatt is not currently in their class.
      If you are going to bring in a wild card attacker for Azteca, Pontius, Cooper or EJ make more sense depending on what the need is.


  13. Posted by Sean on 2012/08/07 at 1:50 PM

    I’d bet on this.

    Howard, Rimando
    Bocanegra, Goodson, Cherundolo, Chandler, Ream, Lichaj, Demerit, Castillo
    Johnson, Bradley, Jones, Williams, Beckerman, Shea, Torres
    Pontius, Wondolowski, Gomez, Corona, Donovan, Boyd

    I don’t see a need for a third GK for what is essentially a fly in, play, and leave. I think Cameron wins his appeal, and stays with Stoke who begin their season that week. Ream may make a reappearance, I believe he was close,to the summer roster, but had some personal things to do. Chandler is coming back, so he says. I see a few from Liga MX making this roster, its basically at home for them. Forwards, not Dempsey, who missed camp this past week for “fitness” issues. Boyd is the only man from oversees.


  14. I don’t have a great answer so I’ll go with what we know from this past year with JK. He wants players that are playing consistently, at high level (fitness) and as any other coach he has his core players we’ve seen in most of his games. So barring any issues with the European clubs, I’d expect most from the 5 game tourney and not many surprises. He does not plan to be embarrased and lets face it, we don’t have a 2nd team right now that is ready to play this type of game. I do think some players from that January team can play at this level but this is not a game to find out.

    It makes more sense to bring in the latino players like Gomez, Torres, Castillo, Corona (and could Alfredo Morales get a look from Germany?) against players they play against on a regular basis. Could Beasley get another look? Possibly.


  15. GK- Howard, Guzan, Hamid

    Defenders- Lichaj, Cherundolo, Cameron, Goodson, Demerit, Bocanegra, Johnson, Castillo

    Midfielders- Jones, Bradley, Edu, Torres, Gatt (if healthy), Dempsey, Donovan, Corona, Pontius

    Forwards- Boyd, Herculez, Eddie Johnson

    thats what i’d like to see. clubs will be releasing players to play on this int’l fixture date so i’d include guzan and lichaj, being in azteca, whether starting or on the bench, is an experience that is crucial.


  16. Posted by 2tone on 2012/08/07 at 9:46 PM

    I will be shocked if Pontius is not on the roster. Really I don’t see a need to bring in Wondo. Klinsmann does not see him as a bonafide super sub considering he trotted Wondo out only for the last 20 minutes of one game against Brasil. I also don’t think Edu will be called up either. Cameron should be left to get settled with Stoke City.

    This would be my 20 player roster. I also don’t see a need for 3 GK’s.

    GK: Howard, insert another GK.
    Defense: Chandler, Johnson, Lichaj, Boca, Demerit, Ream, Goodson
    Middies: Williams, Jones, Bradley, Torres, Ngyuen,( The USMNT really needs an actual creative player)
    FWDS: E. Johnson, Dempsey, Donovan, Gomez, Boyd, Pontius

    Mexico released the players they are calling in from Europe for this friendly i.e. Ochoa, Hernandez, Gio, Moreno, Rodriguez, Guardado. Thats basically most of their heavy hitters. I would expect Klinsmann to do the same.

    I would rather see more attacking players brought in for this friendly. Bradley, Jones, Torres, and Williams can handle CM and CDM positions respectively.


    • Posted by 2tone on 2012/08/07 at 9:50 PM

      oops forgot about Dolo. Replace Lichaj with Dolo.


      • Posted by Sean on 2012/08/08 at 5:15 AM

        I’d expect Lichaj to be called upon as a left back, and Johnson to get pushed to the midfield/wing where he will fill a need for us.


        • Johnson is a better left back than Lichaj. Why do you want to swap them out?


          • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/09 at 3:38 PM

            Because Johnson is the only left midfielder we have that is ready to perform at this level. I’d rather see Lichaj at left back and Johnson at left mid than see Johnson at the back with Shea/Torres ahead of him.


            • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/09 at 5:41 PM

              I think the challenge there is Lichaj’s left foot is awful. Not as awful as Tim Chandler, but not good.

              So, in a 4-3-3 (or 4-4-2) you’re pulling Fabian Johnson way wide. If it’s a 4-4-2, it makes more sense certainly, however you’re now asking Lichaj to be excellent 1 vs 1 or for Fabian to track back unmercifully.

              One of the secret advantage of inverted wingers these days is that they cut to the center of the pitch, making recovery on defense to the spine (when vacated by the CDM) or even over the fullback a shorter vector.

              Just my two cents. :>

  17. Posted by steve-o on 2012/08/08 at 8:14 AM

    I agree that Jurgen will bring an A- team, but I wouldn’t mind losing with a B team to try out some players – maybe it’s too late in the cycle to do this? And what do you guys think about Connor Lade? Too early for him? Then we could push Fabian to mid, because we could really use some more wingers on this roster.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/09 at 7:15 PM

      Waaayyyy tooo early. Personally I’m not sure he’ll ever be of USMNT quality, but he’s a nice story.

      I’m not sure why everyone’s so enthusiastic about moving Fabian Johnson to wing anyway. All we heard every day for a couple of years now is, oh, our left backs suck and how great it would be to have a real left back and on and on. And now we’ve got a real left back everyone wants to move him.


      • I’m not sure where Hoffenheim are going to play him but I do recall Fabian saying before JK capped him that he felt his best position was in midfield more towards the right hand, central side of things.

        He is one of the most fundamentally sound and tactically intelligent players we have. And of course, that is exactly what you want in a left back that will increasingly serve as one of our primary overlapping threats, what with Dolo slowing down. And Fabian is better on the ball than Eric. JK values that. You did notice how he played Torres at left back?

        If Hoffenheim continues to play Fabian at left back then it seems to me he will have a shot at being one of the better left backs in the BL. Not to mention that one of JK’s priorities should be to stabilize the back line so moving Johnson out of there seems counter productive.

        If Lichaj, who currently seems to be the first backup at left, right and center back for Villa becomes a regular at left back for Villa, then maybe there is a case to be made. However, Fabian is a better all around soccer player and better left back than Eric so , right now, it is no contest.

        The US has a lot more options for the left side of midfield (including Lichaj) than for the left back situation.


        • Posted by Sean on 2012/08/11 at 11:31 AM

          This is all very true. However, he has a few defensive inadequacies, IE his mis-timed tackle that set up Marco Pappas free kick. He is a midfielder, and an attacking one at that. He started at Hoffenheim last season at right wing/midfield where he led the BL in assists before the winter break and his subsequent move to LB. He played against Slovenia at left midfield, and set up two goals, one by drawing a penalty. Lichaj is quick, and good in the tackle in 1 v 1 situations. All I’m suggesting is that if we continue with Johnson at LB, we lose some of the quality he can bring in the attacking third. That said, if the USMNT staff thinks he is the best option based on what they say, who can argue. They see things that we do not.


          • Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 12:44 PM

            But the question isn’t “How can we maximize Fabian Johnson’s impact and ability?” but “How can we use Fabian Johnson’s impact and ability to maximize his positive contribution to the team?” So while putting Johnson + Random LB might maximize Johnson’s skills, it probably represents an offensive downgrade relative to, say, Pontius + Johnson (or whatever).


            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/11 at 8:20 PM


              I should have added that about Cole. You are right, he started out mostly known for his offense but his defense has matured over time to where he is very much a complete all around left back.

              And, of course, he managed to overcome the enormous handicap of having been moved to left back from midfield. In fact, I remember when he and Wayne Bridge, that other notorious Chelsea left back were occasionlally played together with England. I can’t remember which one moved to midfield or if they interchanged.

          • If you have a solid consistent starter at left back, then whoever plays in front of him will have a better chance of developing a solid understanding with him. Right now the list for left back is far shorter than the list for left midfield. Qualifying is upon us and I see no need to f**k around with it any more than necessary.

            I am assuming Johnson has won the LB role at Hoffenhiem. If he starts there all season he will be much further along on the learning curve to be a top flight left back than the two other likely candidates for the job, Chandler and Lichaj.

            “He is a midfielder, and an attacking one at that.”

            Are you suggesting that is a hindrance in becoming a full back? Hearing this sort of mythology is getting old. Is there something magical about playing midfield that automatically precludes midfielders from playing fullback? Shifting from midfield to fullback sometimes even in midgame is practically a time honored tradition in the European game ( Michael Essien, Darren Fletcher). In the recent Euro’s Lowe played Bender, a midfielder, at right back against Demark and he scored. Did you realize Claudio Reyna spent much of his time with Rangers as their starting right back? In the modern game, many left backs are primarily offensive oriented. Roberto Carlos was hardly what I would a defensive stalwart and Ashley Cole is primarily known for his attacking abilities. If you are a good all-around soccer player you should be able to play either full back slot competently.


            • Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 6:13 PM

              One small quibble–really so minor. But while Cole might be known for his attacking prowess, he’s a really good defensive fullback also. He and Rooney are the only world-class Englishmen at this point in time.

  18. Posted by Jared on 2012/08/09 at 9:10 AM

    In Chicken Little news, John Anthony Brooks was called into German U20 camp per Brian Sciaretta.


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