TSG Holds Court On Yanks Abroad With “The Hitman” Brian Sciaretta (Part I of II)

(This intro written just about one year ago.)


The first time I met Brian Scriaretta was at the USA-Chile Camp Cupcake closer match in January 2011.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to the guy in the press box and our opposite roots of reaching that press box came out in our first conversation.

Brian, “So are you on this Twitter thing? I just started man.”

Matt, “Yeah, it’s really good at finding out half-truths, ridiculous commentary and having clichés RT’d.”

Brian, “Whoa, you have like (some number in the 2000s) followers! I’ve got like 200.”

Matt, “There are folks with like 80,000. Most of mine are stunningly beautiful women who have zero followers and offer work-at-home kits anyway and want me to click on links.”

After out technology chat, Brian proceeded to regal me with the tales of US players abroad that I had never heard of. Jonathan Brooks, Sean Cunningham and more.

To be honest, I felt like trying to sneak a few keystrokes into the Googlilator when he was talking so I didn’t sound like I worked at Bleacher Report.

Targeted by The Hitman…

At the time, Brian was going on about this guy, Tim Something …. Timmy Chandler–for those that don’t know Brian got the first interview with the now somewhat famous US Men’s (half) National Teamer.

I learned about a few other players in Germany whose names sounded like serial killers and questioning whether Teal Bunbury, fresh off his exciting play in South Africa and January Camp, had filed his one-time switch.

Brian has a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge of young US players in his head and at his fingers and he goes about providing info and interviews of players who will become popular two years from now. If I’m ESPN, I would hire the guy just because he’d hockey stick my SEO (search engine optimization.)

Brian is so good at tracking down US players (the nether reaches of Peru) that TSG coined the nickname “The Hitman” for him because, well, “he’ll find you.”

Now… Part I of II, TSG’s finally sits down with American soccer media’s Hitman. We’ve been trying to put this back-and-forth together for a year, but Brian’s been busy tracking down the next American Soccer Yeti and I, well, haven’t.


TSG: In your opinion, who are the top 5 players abroad that US fans should be excited about in terms of solid club play and contributions to the national team?

Fabian, #1

The Hitman: The first and foremost is Fabian Johnson. I honestly believe that this guy will be an enormous boost to the US team for years to come. He has a great attitude and is all business when he’s on the field. Just look at how he played last season. Up through the winter break he was in the midfield and was second in the Bundesliga in assists. Then he moved to left back and was one of the best left backs in the Bundesliga. I think for the national team his future will be in the midfield.

I also think a lot of Americans really need to be keeping a close eye on Sonderjyske midfielder Conor O’Brien who is playing very well in the Danish Superliga. His plays as a central midfielder that sits deep but makes plays. He also is solid defensively as well. With Jose Torres still very inconsistent for the US national team, Conor O’Brien may be a player flying under the radar.

In terms of up and coming players we will talk more about Brooks and Gatt shortly but they are the top two on my list of up and coming American players.As far as teenagers who I think is how you define up and coming, I rate the Liverpool duo of Villyan Bijev and Marc Pelosi highly. In the United States I also think Luis Gil and Jose Villarreal are looking good. Jerome Kiesewetter just signed an impressive professional contract.

TSG: So your top five….

The Hitman: So in terms of top 5 teenage American prospects here is my top five:

John Anthony Brooks
Luis Gil
Marc Pelosi
Junior Flores
Will Packwood

Honorable mention: Cody Cropper, Jerome Kiesewetter, Villyan Bijev, Ventura Alvarado, Adam Henely (if he plays for the US), Jose Villareal, Sean Cunningham,

In terms of those in their early 20’s, Jose Villarreal, Kelyn Rowe, Josh Gatt, Andrew Wenger, and Nick DeLeon are all playing well right now.

Brooks was here … so was Red.

TSG: A player like a John Anthony Brooks or Josh Gatt….is it reasonable to hype them so much when their development could stall before they are at an elite level? How soon can either contribute to the national team?

The Hitman: There is no stopping the hype but I think both are at a level where they can handle it. They play in professional environments in Europe where there is always a lot of pressure. A few press clippings all the way back in the States isn’t going to affect them too much. I think the hype does more harm than good for players who are still in the USA – like Freddy Adu when he was a teenager, or Jozy Altidore before he left for Spain.

I think both Brooks and Gatt along with Joe Gyau, Will Packwood, Marc Pelosi, Jerome Kiesewetter, Villyan Bijev, Ventura Alvarado, Julian Green, and Cody Cropper are all the best young pro prospects playing outside of MLS.

Will all of them make it? No. But the more good prospects you have, the better.

Brooks I think could be the top prospect out of all them. He’s such an imposing force with his 6’5 size. He struggled a bit last year since he was still growing and lost a little coordination, but his upside is huge. For such a big guy, he can pass very well. There is a reason why Bayern Munich offered him a three-year big pro contract last year. He ended up signing a four-year deal with Hertha because it offered a better chance at playing time. But Brooks is a top prospect, no question about it. He may in fact be the best young American CB prospect I’ve ever seen.

Gatt will probably get capped before Brooks. He’s older and has more first team experience. His elite speed on the wings is more of a need to the US national team at the moment. Brooks has guys like Ream, Cameron, Goodson, Bocanegra, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, George John and a struggling Gooch ahead of him now.

TSG: Who are the top two or three players that could play for the US national team but will likely choose not too? Are you aware of the US efforts in reaching out to them? And if so, why do you think they failed?


The Hitman: There are a bunch of very good American citizens who likely won’t play for the US national team. Miguel Ponce is way up there and he will play for Mexico. Stuttgart left back Gotoku Sakai is the cream of the crop and has the likely chance of being another Rossi, Subotic, or Hangeland but the US never really had a chance.. He was born in New York but will play for Japan.

Thomas Delaney will likely stay with Denmark but US Soccer has spoken with him.

He has been a standout with FC Copenhagen and has played in the Champions League. He appreciated speaking with Caleb Porter about playing for the US U23 team but declined.

There are some interesting cases that the US can win.

They are well aware of Mainz and German U-19 forward Shawn Parker and have spoken with him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him play for the US in the years ahead. The same goes for Fabian Hurzeler who is still affiliated with Germany even if he played in a US U20 camp in January of 2011.

Players like Ventura Alvarado of Club America and Julian Green at Bayern Munich’s U-19 team I think will play for the US if asked.

Henley flying on the flank…

The most interesting case is Blackburn’s right back Adam Henley who I think would be a huge pickup for the US team. He has actively been involved with Wales his whole career but the US has spoken with him. He now considers himself to be undecided. His mom recently wrote me after I wrote an article on him and she said that Adam is keeping everyone in suspense – including her!

I saw him play for Blackburn last year as the youngest player in the EPL and he went a full 90 in a win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. He is very impressive.

TSG: You’re a big proponent of Seb Hines — however he’s really never played above the Championship level in England and–though the US lacks depth at centerback–is it wise to try to get every potential American player into the system or should only select ones be focused on?

Seb Hines, another CB prospect

The Hitman: The thing with Hines is that you have to understand his past. As a teenager with England’s youth national teams, he was a top prospect. It was widely reported that he was wanted by Chelsea when he was 19. His problem was that around that time he kept getting injured and could never settle down his career. In the second half of last season, he was healthy for an extended time and was beginning to show people why he was considered so talented as a young player.

He’s still young at 24.

He’s younger than Ream, Cameron, John, and every other US national team central defender other than Omar.

But I don’t think that Klinsmann should be done looking at central defenders right now. Bocanegra is still solid but he’s getting older. Gooch is struggling. Ream, Gonzalez, and Cameron are generally expected to be the next in line but they aren’t really proven. Hines’ resume stacks up and he certainly should be in the mix. The US can’t really pass on anyone right now in central defense.

TSG: You are one of the best reporters–if not the best–in terms of gaining information German-American that can or may play for the States. In fact, most people don’t know that it was likely your find of Timothy Chandler that the led to the US outreach. Why and how can you keep such good tabs?

The Hitman: It’s fascinating to see the reaches of American players across the globe. So many of them have such great personal stories. It’s not that I single out German-Americans but it just so happens that there are so many of them. I try to track down all American professional players whether they are born and raised in the United States or if they never even been the USA, like Danny Williams.

Generally I find out just by reading press clippings and going through team rosters all the way through the youth levels. When you look at how many of these types of players are on the US national team, the US U-23 team, and the US U-20 team, it deserves attention. They have had a big impact on US soccer. What’s interesting is that most of them are extremely proud to play for the United States. When you speak to them, it’s obvious they aren’t just saying it, they mean it.

TSG: What do you think happens with Timothy Chandler. Explain to folks why he is keeping his options open.

Chandler needs to stop prancing around his allegiance…

The Hitman: I think Chandler will stick with the United States. Unlike most people, I don’t believe he’s holding out for Germany. I just think that he’s not all that into international soccer at this stage in his career.

I also think he needs to get some maturity and just be honest. You’re either on the team or you aren’t. Look at the dedication from Steve Cherundolo who is 10 years older than Chandler. Cherundolo will fly anywhere for the US team and he also has to deal with the rigors of the Bundesliga.

Chandler has now walked out on the team twice ahead of meaningful games. I think his motivation is that Nurnberg convinced him to take a break in the off-seasons. I would like to believe Klinsmann has told Chandler that it’s a team sport and his US national teammates need to know they can count on Chandler to show up. There could be locker room issues with Chandler if others don’t think he shares everyone else’s commitment.

But if I were to guess, I think Chandler is going to be worked back into the US team but it won’t be easy. He’s probably not the most popular guy among other players or the fans.

I still think he is exceptionally talented. His level of athleticism is very rare even among Bundesliga players.

“You go to Europe!”

TSG: And continuing…. what type of reputation does USSF, Klinsmann have in Germany. Is it “eh,” “leery” or just plain negative? Or none of the above?

The Hitman: I will go with “eh.” He still has a lot of respect as a World Cup champion and former head coach of the national team but that only goes so far with clubs. In the end of the day, the German Federation and German clubs are going to do what is in their best interest. Klinsmann and his charisma aren’t ever going to change that.

TSG: What about agents of players — given that Klinsmann is doing a lot of the placing and calling around in Europe (Brek Shea to Arsenal for training, Beckerman to Kaiserslautern) is there any conflict with the agents of these players.

The Hitman: Agents have a huge influence and so does Klinsmann, but generally I think both want what is best for the players. I don’t think Klinsmann is going to work against what a player or his agent don’t want.

In Part II, TSG fields YOUR questions below and we’ll submit them to Brian this week for review next week.

77 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/08/20 at 10:48 PM

    This is the ultimate hypebeast article. I love it.


    • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/08/20 at 10:53 PM

      Also good to get some clean-cut clarity on the Chandler situation, Everyone and their mums were worried that he was pulling a dirtbag move.


  2. Posted by Nelson on 2012/08/20 at 10:49 PM

    Is language a barrier for many hyphenated Americans (eg Timmy Chandler)? And is it a factor in isolating them from the USMNT?

    At the Paraguay game in Nashville he didn’t notice the fans singing happy birthday til his teammates pointed it out to him.


  3. Posted by scweeb on 2012/08/20 at 11:28 PM

    If he could pick a line up for wq with players not yet looked at or capped who would they be? Also should we also be putting more pressure for jk to be looking at more of these players?


  4. Posted by Scipio on 2012/08/21 at 6:05 AM

    This is why I read TSG. Great piece.


  5. Posted by Jared on 2012/08/21 at 6:18 AM

    I hope in part 2 you asked him about the John Anthony Brooks call up to the German U-20 camp. A lot of the comments I read at that time were that it was too early for him to decide where his future lies in terms of the national team. I think he’s the key for the continuation of US soccer’s plans considering how poor the U23 defense was in Olympic qualifying.

    Hines needs to be brought into the setup. If we’re using Edu as a center back (where he was admittedly better than expected against Mexico but on another night we would be talking about the amount of times he was beaten if Chicharito finished his half dozen chances) then we shouldn’t be turning our noses up to a 24 year old in the Championship. I’d rather see Hines get a shot at this point than Ream or John (not that we need to worry about John as he’s playing himself out of contention quickly).


  6. Posted by KMac on 2012/08/21 at 7:18 AM

    Awesome piece. This is why I still shop here for great insights! Congrats Matthew on keeping this going. I know it is not your “full time” job? I sense you were busy with the day job an fam recently? Thanks for the quality reads!


  7. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/21 at 7:34 AM

    Great article. Question for The Hitman… If Fabian isn’t the LB of the future who is?

    I keep hearing everyone saying that Fabian would be an excelent MF, which I don’t disagree with but who plays left back.

    Right now we have a decent set of LMF/LF in Dempsey and Shea (and please god never Torres again). I even think Donovan could flip if needed. And if we go 4-3-3 you could even go with Herc out wide. Thats 4 solid options.

    At LB option number two is…. Castillo? Pearce? Who else is even up and coming? I will take Fabian and Shea (probably the weakest of the options) over Castillo and Fabian every day of the week.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/21 at 7:54 AM

      Absolutely agree with this. See no need to unsolve a solved problem (especially one that vexed us for so long).


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/21 at 8:19 AM

        Unless the answer is Lichaj with Johnson in front of him then leave Johnson at left back. I’m not convinced that would be a better option but it’s the only option I can think of that comes close to leaving Johnson at left back. I’m also not convinced that Klinsmann has Lichaj in his plans and is quite happy to use Lichaj’s battle for playing time as an excuse to not call him in.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/21 at 10:49 AM

          That could work. I have assumed that Lichaj is the heir apparent to Dolo. Lichaj at LB assumes that Chandler rejoins the USMNT. I don’t see (granted I haven’t seen much) Gatt as a viable RB option.

          That said a fairly youg team of for post 2014:

          F Johnson – Altidore/Boyd – Gatt
          ——Bradley – Holden
          Lichaj – Cameron – Omar – Chandler


        • Posted by Roman Lewandowski on 2012/08/21 at 4:55 PM

          You’re probably right, Jared, but it’s really frustrating. Absolutely no way you can argue Lichaj isn’t one of our top three fullbacks, whether he starts at his club or not. He’s a whole level of class above Orozco-Fiscal, Castillo, and any fullback from MLS.


        • Posted by Dave on 2012/08/23 at 8:04 PM

          Options at Outside Back (If all are healthy and willing to represent US)
          Right Back: 1) Dolo, 2) Chandler, 3) Lichaj, 4) Henley, (Loyd, Williams, Etc…)
          Left Back: 1) Johnson, 2) Lichaj, 3) Chandler, 4) Henley, 5) Castillo

          Options at Center Back:
          1) Boca, 2) Cameron, 3) Goodson, 4) Hines, 5) Gonzalez, 6) Ream, 7) MLSers

          Options at CDM:
          1) Bradley, 2) Jones, 3) Edu, 4) Williams, 5) Beckerman, 6) Torres

          The depth of the USMNT has finally begun to be deep enough that the coach will actually have choices to make on who to bring into a camp…and there will be times when we fans will be upset that this player or that wasnt called in or used. Much improved from when I began following them as a youth and you knew who was going to start every game….and who was going to be the subs (Pope, Agoos, Wanalda, Jones, etc…)


  8. Posted by 2tone on 2012/08/21 at 7:49 AM

    I disagree about Johnson. I don’t think his future is at midfield for the USMNT, and it seems Klinsmann is pretty happy with him at LB.

    Also Villarreal is 18 not in his early 20’s.

    Good article. To me the U.S. U-20’s could get a couple of boons in Hurzeler and Green.

    We will just have to wait and see about Chandler.


  9. Posted by dth on 2012/08/21 at 7:55 AM

    I don’t get why people say Jose Torres has been inconsistent. Torres has been incredibly consistent–at being bad.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/21 at 8:26 AM

      I think people say that because they see the skill he has with passing and want him to be better than he is. I know I was in that boat until his past couple of appearances including time in the center of midfield where he promptly disappeared both offensively and defensively.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/08/21 at 9:07 AM

      Agree. I think there is a timidity about Torres that is precisely not what you want from his role (if central). Now you don’t want outright aggression either, but he needs to, as they say, express himself — his game.

      Torres will be 25-years-old. He’s not first on his club’s team sheet. He’s getting into that Jozy age where you define who you are as a player.

      Luckily for US fans it’s 2012 and 2013 that will make him and the World Cup is not until 2014.

      So I can see why Klinsmann gives/gave him chances. How many more? Unsure.


      • Seems like Klinsmann (for good or bad, not sure) gives a player more than several chances. If he sees something he likes in a player – whether it be individual attributes, fitting in the system, or a combination of both – it seems as though he knows that he needs the TSG “full body of work” to judge. Fair enough. Torres has had his chance to build a portfolio, I think it’s someone else’s turn.


        • Posted by dth on 2012/08/21 at 10:37 AM

          Klinsmann gives some players more than several chances–Torres, Castillo, Orozco-Fiscal, Shea, etc.

          But he’s never given Kljestan or Feilhaber a second shot. For that matter, he’s never given Kljestan a first shot at his natural position.

          Klinsmann’s personnel choices are basically just weird. I’ve kind of given up looking for the logic in them.


          • dth,

            I’m not sure why you think you’ll find any logic in Klinsmann’s personnel choices.
            It is obvious that you two view these players from different prisms, you two think differently from each other and he actually gets to meet them and talk to them and get a feel for how they are responding to whatever is happening, while you don’t have that opportunity.

            The four players you mentioned did not get much chance to build up a body of USMNT work prior to JK. Of course, every player is different. So it only makes sense to give them a shot until they prove, to JK not you, that they no longer deserve an opportunity. It certainly paid off with Castillo, Fiscal and Shea in the Mexico game.

            Benny and Sacha have more of a track record than the other players you mentioned.
            In fact, the combined total of caps for Torres, Castillo, Shea and O’ Fiscal is 42 vs 39 for Benny and 35 for Sacha.

            It may be that the brief time Sacha and Benny have had with JK confirmed all of his worst fears about them. After all JK has lived in LA for a long time and I find it hard to believe he did not see a lot of Sacha at Chivas. As for Benny he has overpromised and under delivered since about the middle of 2007. There is a much longer body of evidence to examine with him. People having been saying the same thing about Benny that you just said for years

            What is Sacha’s “natural” position? Attacking midfield? He wasn’t playing there for Anderlecht. So why should JK move Sacha there when there seems to be a very long list of perfectly suitable American candidates already playing there for their clubs? If he moves back there for Anderlecht and has some success then fine, give the man a shot. First let’s see if Sacha can get off the bench at Anderlecht.

            It they play well for their clubs it would not surprise me if either Benny or Sacha got called up. Nor would it surprise me if both of them never played for the US again.


            • Posted by Roman Lewandowski on 2012/08/21 at 4:56 PM

              How do you explain Lichaj? Whatever Kyle Beckerman did for Klinsmann, Lichaj did the opposite of that.

            • Roman,

              What is to explain? Why are you in such a rush to see Lichaj?

              In the six games where Lichaj was presumably “entitled “ to be called up, beginning with the Scotland game, the US has gone 3- 1-2.

              They have given up 7 goals though 4 of them were in one game, the Brazil loss. Otherwise they gave up one goal in three games, two wins and a tie. Throw out the Brazil game and the defense has been okay. And most of all, we won a home WC Qualifier and tied an Away one.

              Right now the starters at fullback for the US are Dolo and Fabian. The primary backups appear to be Castillo, O’Fiscal, Parkhurst and maybe Beitashour. And thanks to the Hitman we now know that Chandler may still be an option. Fullback does not appear to be in crisis at the moment

              My guess about the reason for JK’s exclusion of Eric is he had a good read on the situation at Villa. He perhaps left Lichaj to focus on what appears to be a tough battle to win a starter job. Lambert, the new manager brought in Lowton specifically to play right back so you know Eric had some work to do.

              In the long run, my guess would be Lichaj getting as established as possible at Villa might be more important than his participation in these games.

            • Posted by dth on 2012/08/21 at 9:36 PM

              Sacha’s natural position would be as a #8. And just as, say, a Michael Bradley improved so too does a Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan was really good in the Gold Cup. Any reference to the relative form of Kljestan and Torres is decisively won by Kljestan, as demonstrated by the fact that Kljestan is the starter for the Belgian champions and plays in the Champions League, and Torres struggles to start for a midtable Mexican club.

              Obviously Klinsmann thinks differently about this. This is the point of my post. However, I’m saying that Klinsmann is entirely illogical to be thinking this way. I think this was the first game, among Torres’s 19 caps, in which he won a game he’s started. It’s a ridiculous example of favoritism.

            • dth,

              “However, I’m saying that Klinsmann is entirely illogical to be thinking this way. I think this was the first game, among Torres’s 19 caps, in which he won a game he’s started. It’s a ridiculous example of favoritism.”

              One man’s favoritism is another man’s performing his due diligence. Torres is widely acknowledged to have exceptional ball skills. I agree with that but I also think of him as a man without a real position, a “tweener”. Like Bradley before him, it seems JK is struggling to find a way to utilize JFT’s skills.

              My guess as to why JK is doing this experimentation with JFT instead of doing it with Sacha is he feels JFT is better suited for whatever it is JK has in mind. And I notice JK is mostly using exhibition games to do this which makes sense. I don’t have a real problem with that but it is getting close to cut bait time.

              And I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if he gives up on JFT he will replace him with Zusi, not Sacha.

              Cliché alert.

              So because JK does not see things your way he is being illogical?

              Okay but having an opinion different from you is his prerogative. I mean I can’t understand how Seal would want to leave Heidi Klum but different strokes for different folks. We don’t know how it looks behind closed doors.

              Everything you cited Sacha for doing well for the USMNT is pre-JK. I thought the idea was everyone started with a more or less clean slate with JK.

              Ale Bedoya also had a fine Gold Cup performance which, by the way, may have had something to do with Sacha’s performance in those games. Bedoya was Sacha’s wingman, with Sacha being in the middle of the “3” in the 4-2-3-1. And I notice Bedoya hasn’t been called up either.

              That makes sense because he sank out of sight when he moved to Rangers.

              Sacha, on the other hand has done well for Anderlecht but not at the #8 but rather as one of two back four “screeners” so to speak. JK made it very clear this was where he was looking at Sacha and that he thought the US had better options. As for your MB90 reference, of course Sacha has improved as a player but not enough to overhaul Mikey. I’m pretty sure Mikey is a better all around player.

              And JK did have Sacha in camp but chose not to play him in the Belgium game and only gave him a few minutes in the Italy game. My assumption would be JK did not like what he saw in practice. Now it may be that JK should have given Sacha more chances but it is a buyer’s market and it was up to Sacha to impress JK with his total awesomeness once he actually was there live and in person. It seems Sacha fell a bit short.

              It may have been harsh but I see nothing illogical about JK’s treatment of Sacha.

            • Posted by dth on 2012/08/22 at 11:24 AM

              I don’t have a problem with Klinsmann excluding Kljestan (and displacing Bradley is a wonderful exercise in reading things into what I didn’t write. A #6/#8/#8 formation has been what we’ve been rolling with for a while.), but I do think it’s ridiculous to welcome Torres back time after time while excluding Kljestan. Klinsmann’s been willing to toss Torres in at freaking left back in a world cup qualifying game, so that theory is out too.

              Look, you can’t escape the realities that:
              1) the team has won like once in a dozen or so tries when Torres starts
              2) Torres has consistently played poorly.
              3) Torres does not perform well for his club team.

              So by every conceivable criterion you could have, Torres shouldn’t be a candidate for inclusion…unless there’s favoritism. You call it “struggling to find a way to utilize its skills,” but that’s just a fancy way of calling it favoritism. Maybe it’s the alleged skills instead of the player, I don’t particularly care. I do care that a player who has consistently performed poorly for two different national team coaches and not distinguished himself for a midtable Mexican team continually gets chances, even chances shunted out in ridiculous positions on the field that he’s likely never played before and will never play again, while players who are playing well and who could provide something the team lacks are passed over.

              Anyway, I think that’s about it for this debate. It’s clear we see things very differently.

            • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/08/22 at 11:27 AM

              I think Seal was quoted as not being able to live with Heidi Klum when she didn’t back Michael Costello as the best designer on Project Runway. His exact quote was ” I feel verklempt” which can descibe my emotions everytime I see danny williams put on the right wing, bedoya looked better yesterday against Celtic.

            • dth,

              Well we can agree to disagree.

              I would say Bradley and JK were/are seduced by JFT’s skill set the same way most US fans were/are seduced by Adu’s skill set. In operant conditioning if you intermittently reinforce a behavior (in this case by having a flash of brilliance every once in a while) you extend the duration of that behavior, in this case that behavior being handing out caps to JFT.

              By the way, for what it is worth, you are wrong about Torres never having played left back. He even did so in WC qualifying. In October of 2008, Paco subbed out our left back, Heath Pearce (so what’s up with Heath lately?) late in the US’ 6-1 win drubbing of Cuba at RFK Stadium to clinch a berth in the Final Round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

              As we have noted, I don’t find Torres’ situation all that offensive mostly because I’m not convinced Sacha, Benny or Adu would have done a better job than Paco. In fact, I’m not convinced JK has really told us what he expects from Paco.

              That said, you pay a price for making a mistake on a player. In this case it might be, as you said, that someone else might have done a better job. But this is why they give JK and others the big bucks. If JFT turns out to be a bust that goes on the debit side of his account to counter all the good he might have done. He’ll pay for it eventually.

          • Posted by evan on 2012/08/23 at 4:06 PM

            IMHO Sacha, Benny, and Adu are all better than Torres. and Holden too if he ever gets back. not so sure about Zusi, haven’t seen enuff of him yet…


            • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/23 at 9:37 PM


              They may well be better, evan, but the question is do they fit the team better than Torres does?

              Does this current edition of the team, managed by JK, play better with Torres there or with one of these guys playing? I don’t think the evidence supports the Five Guys you mentioned.

              I’m a USMNT fan and I don’t really care who is in there as long as the team does well. If they win or play well, I really don’t understand these people who are incensed that Rico Clark, for example, would be given another cap.

              Torres started off great but has since tailed off. Still, the team overall has done well.

              Klinsmann has started Torres in five games, and the results were three wins, Scotland, Barbuda and Antigua and Mexico, a loss, Brazil and two ties, Mexico and Canada. They are 3-1-2, 11 points out of a possible 18, not bad actually.

              Sacha has a 17 minute anonymous cameo against Italy and it seems, did not impress.

              Benny had some time against Venezuela and, as usual, had a few nice touches but overall, was disappointing and did nothing to convince me Bradley was wrong to use him, towards the end, strictly as a second half sub. And we haven’t seen him since.

              Adu has yet to feature for JK. I notice he is not dominating MLS like you might have thought he would so his lack of USMNT action is no surprise.

              And Stu has to prove he can play.

              Out of the guys you mentioned, Zusi is the one who, based on what he is doing right now, you can make a case he should be ahead of Torres for the US.

            • I’ll be to the point… I don’t like Sacha’s game (just don’t, not a knock on him personally… just don’t like his skill set), Benny is an older Torres so why go there when he’s as much questioned about his defense?, and Adu doesn’t play an entire game (never goes 110%). Lets move on.

              I love hearing about all these other players in Europe (mostly) that we may have future ties to.

              schmutzdeck, Any way we can get something like this from someone that watches the Mexican leagues or does the Hitman know about those players as well? I hear there are tons of Mexican-American players in the Mexican youth leagues. I’d love to hear about some of them. Suck to hear about Miguel Ponce. Love it when you come over to Texags website to provide some knowledge! aka randyram.

            • Adrian,

              Like you I would love someone like the Hitman focusing on Mexico, Central and South America.

              I find good articles on the MLS site, like this one on TJ’s keeper who apparently is eligible for the US:


              It is the American Export section.

  10. Posted by gouldinho on 2012/08/21 at 9:05 AM

    What about Brian Cobi Span? Where does he fit in?


  11. It’s not often that I find something on the interweb that’s both informative and original. Very refreshing to find material like this, TSG. Looking forward to part II.


  12. Posted by Roman Lewandowski on 2012/08/21 at 9:16 AM

    What is your take on John Anthony Brooks’s immediate future? I’ve seen rumors that he accepted a Germany U-20 call-up. Should Klinsmann cap him very soon? Is this realistic?

    Also, can we reasonably expect Chandler to play in the Jamaica WCQ games, or is that too soon?


    • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/08/21 at 10:12 AM

      No way Chandler plays vs Jamaica. Earliest, earliest we’ll see him is next summer…when he has a chance to prove that he’s interested in being a USMNT’r by spending some weeks with the full team. (Next year is Gold Cup as well if I remember)


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/21 at 12:07 PM

        I am fine with the next cap tying game. I would have been pissed if he was called into play Mexico and then out for Jamaica with some phantom injury.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/21 at 12:23 PM

          I’d be shocked to see him show up for the Jamaica games. I’m sure his excuse will be that his club needs him to train with them as it’s early in the Bundesliga season. I’m with Pancho, it’s going to be a while until he’s brought back in.


  13. Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/08/21 at 10:11 AM

    For Brian. What’s your fascination with Michael Parkhurst? Seems like he’s always on your final 23 rosters…and I just don’t see it. Clearly his involvement with the USMNT do not justify any such opinion, (Nor his Olympic gaffes last time around). Parkhurst to me, is the Bobby Convey of this age group….solid enough…but not international quality


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/21 at 12:06 PM

      Its the fact that he can play three postions if need be. That in and of itself makes him a super valuable player to have on the bench (so we don’t see Paco Torres at LB again). So when you have one spot left for D, do you take a guy that can only play one position or a guy that is slightly worse that can fill in at all three?


      • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/21 at 12:17 PM

        You mean he’s equally adept at being burned repeatedly by anyone coming at him faster than walking speed? I’d rather see Lichaj brought in to do that at a higher level that we’ve seen him play with the national team.


        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/21 at 3:20 PM

          I am assuming Lichaj is on the roster. To me the question of Parkhurst is one of general roster selection. I am not necessarily saying that he is the best option. Parkhurst is to The Hitman as Spector was to Bradley

          I am going to assume a 4-3-2-1 for this exercise but the math is similar no matter what formation you use.

          You have a starting 11
          Two back up keepers makes 13
          Two back up CB makes 15
          Two back up DM makes 17
          One extra striker makes 18
          One extra players for the 2 band for 19
          One offensive sub for chasing the game/extra striker for 20
          Ideally one outside back (that can either cover both sides or can be used on one side with a starter flipping) – this is where Lichaj is 21

          To get to 18 you drop one GK, one CB and probably either your back up striker or your “chasing the game guy”

          That gives you two wild cards. Ideally you want those wild cards to be people that fill multiple positions. You want a swiss army knife type player for defense and one for MF knowing that you have the extra offensive guy as “chase the game guy.” Someone that can fill in for people out on cards, people out with knocks etc.


      • As Jared noted Lichaj is also noted for versatility at Villa. Supposedly he can play anywhere along the back line and in midfield as well.

        However, I don’t think Parkhurst has had a lot of time with the US yet and it remains to be seen where Lichaj winds up with Villa. He could be one of the starting fullbakcs or he could be ther version of John OShea. This will be ongoing for a while.

        I had no problem with Paco at LB other than him getting hurt.


        • Posted by Roman Lewandowski on 2012/08/21 at 4:58 PM

          Klinsman–PLEASE call up Lichaj! I’m not anticipating that he’ll be on the roster for the Jamaica friendlies, but I’ll keep hoping.


          • Posted by Roman Lewandowski on 2012/08/21 at 4:59 PM

            Wow, bad typing. I know they are WCQ matches, not friendlies. And I know it’s ‘Klinsmann.’


            • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/08/21 at 6:35 PM

              I assume he will. My guess is that he didn’t call him up for Mexico because missing a week of practice helps make sure that he doesn’t have a starting job. A season in the EPL is much better experience then one game at Azteca. I know he didn’t start last week but IMO Klinsman was just trying to give him the best shot.

  14. Posted by charliefiction83 on 2012/08/21 at 2:45 PM

    (1) What is the most likely outcome in this latest Tony Taylor saga? Would he really consider filing a one-time switch to Panama?

    (2) Does he get any sense from Kjlestan or Lichaj as to why they seem to be consistently overlooked by Klinsmann?


  15. For Brian:

    (1) What’s the most likely outcome in the Tony Taylor saga? Will he actually consider filing his one-time switch with Panama?

    (2) Speaking with Lichaj and Kljestan, do you get any sense as to what Klinsmann expects from their performances that might warrant more regular call-ups?


  16. Posted by Bob on 2012/08/21 at 5:48 PM

    How good is Tony Taylor and why would he represent Panama?

    It is clear that Terrance Boyd feels close to his American roots, does Chandler feel the same way? How close was Chandler to his American father?


  17. Posted by Tim on 2012/08/21 at 8:40 PM

    Great read. Can’t wait for part 2. Here’s a question for Brian…

    Do you see any of these guys becoming stars on a global level? I mean Clint & Landon are good, but we’ve never had an American starting (in the field) of a world power.


  18. My question is, how do you see the US’s top to bottom switch to a 4-3-3 possession style impacting call-ups of young potential USMNTers abroad? Is that style more prevalent in european development and do you think it would create a situation where more young european based players enter the usmnt fold than state-side based players, at least until a decade or so down the line when we finally have it more dialed in?

    Also, do you see a bigger upside to culling potential USMNT players from Europe or Mexico? (obviously both would be the right answer, but mexico would see I think a lot more eligible players getting more playing time in a fairly tough league I would think. Curious your thoughts.)


  19. […] of Sciaretta, he was interviewed by The Shin Guardian about various young American players in […]


  20. Posted by Kyle on 2012/08/22 at 6:49 AM

    What is Scriaretta’s twitter handle? Does he have anything to add on Boyd?


  21. Posted by Will on 2012/08/22 at 9:35 AM

    Conor O’Brien has been making a lot of noise in Denmark as of late. I expect him to be called up to the USMNT in the next 9 months. Also, be on the lookout for him moving to a bigger club


  22. Posted by Eric on 2012/08/22 at 11:46 AM

    This may not get answered but I’ve been wondering about the current status of a few of the former U-17 standouts. Namely, what happened to Stephan Jerome and Carlos Martinez? Martinez had sighned with Energie Cottbus but I haven’t been able to find anything on him more recent than late 2010. Did he retire or something?


    • Posted by Eric on 2012/08/22 at 11:55 AM

      Nevermind. Just found both of them.

      Martinez is playing for Rot-Weiß Erfurt in Germany’s third divisioni and Jerome is with Nyköpings BIS in Sweden’s second divison.


  23. Posted by Kevin O' on 2012/08/22 at 1:59 PM

    TSG: Awesome, wonderful, stuff!

    Brian, just curious how much you know of Ben Lederman, the first American to sign with Barca’s La Masia academy? Do you view this as a one in a million happening or a forthcoming trend with the elite clubs (especially at the tender age of 11)? Keep up the good work!


  24. Posted by patrickhattrick on 2012/08/23 at 10:47 AM

    One thing that I realized is that the next generation of US goalkeepers, something that has traditionally been a strong point in the past(Friedel, Howard, Keller, Hahnemann, and Guzan all played/are playing in Europe, most in England), seems fairly unimpressive. At 33, Howard may not be around after 2014, while Guzan, 27, is not seeing much time for Aston Villa. Klinsmann brought Johnson and Rimando, 2 MLS keepers, to back up Howard at Azteca. Is there any promising talent that I don’t know about, or is USA set for a dropoff in goalkeeper talent?


    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/23 at 11:30 AM

      Perhaps a small one, but I still feel fairly confident with Hamid, Johnson, Meara, and even Tally Hall or Dan Kennedy in an older age bracket. MacMath is still young, but I haven’t been terribly impressed by him so far in his professional career.


      • Posted by Eric on 2012/08/23 at 11:50 AM

        Agreed on Hamid and Johnson, I think those two have big futures ahead of them. I like MacMath and think he has good potential but yeah, right now he is very prone to mistakes. I think part of it is because he simply hasn’t gotten as much match experience as Hamid or Johnson. If you recall, Johnson had some huge blunders with Chicago his first season too. It’s all about experience and decision making. All three have the athleticism to become great keepers.


        • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/23 at 1:25 PM

          I suspect things will get moving for Bill Hamid before too long. His presence, ability to read the game, and confidence have really developed within the past 12-18 months, and his shot-stopping and distribution have always been excellent. He’s still a bit weak in the air, and he needs to get control of his penchant for picking up red cards. But I think he’s been one of the top 3-4 GKs in the league since, let’s say, the beginning of June.


          • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/08/23 at 2:13 PM

            I prefer Sean Johnson or Dan Kennedy but if look abroad what about Cody Cropper, Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Steve Clark? What about Dieog Restrepo?


            • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/23 at 5:52 PM

              I’ll plead ignorance on CPS and Restrepo, not having seen either of them play recently. If CPS does well this month and next, I think it’s a no-brainer to call him for the Russia game. Kennedy and Clark are actually older than Guzan, which hardly rules him out for future USMNT use, but it’s a different conversation (plus Clark’s playing at a significantly lower level of competition than Kennedy, Tally Hall, and the rest). Cropper’s considerably younger — at the point Hamid and Johnson were like three years ago (but in England).

            • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/08/23 at 8:37 PM

              I like Guzan but he has to play. I think he was impressive when he started with Villa last year. We have to get a him a Shay Given voodoo doll, call MIss Cleo, or have Tonya Harding’s crew on call.

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/08/24 at 7:23 AM

      Why did Guzan go back to Aston Villa? That’s like a bad relationship- he just keeps going back despite the lies.


  25. Posted by dude on 2012/08/23 at 12:46 PM

    Wow, what a comprehensive article. Keep it up.


  26. Posted by dth on 2012/08/23 at 6:14 PM

    OT, but if Liverpool pip Arsenal for Nuri Sahin, it’s a huge embarrassment for the latter and a big coup for the former. Not sure people realize how good Sahin can be.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/24 at 7:27 AM

      That doesn’t solve Liverpool’s problems though. He’s not going to score them the goals they need to move into Champions League contention. Sahin made a terrible mistake leaving Dortmund when he did especially to go to Madrid. Hopefully he is able to get his career back on track because I hate seeing good players get swallowed up by Madrid.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/08/24 at 8:01 AM

        I think “solving problems” can be the wrong frame for improving a team. For example, let’s say you tie every game 3-3. Most reasonable people would say that the problem here is your defense. But, if the offense gets better, and you start winning games 4-3…well, you haven’t solved the problem, but you are better.

        Liverpool have so little quality relative to their expectations that adding another player, even in a position where they’re relatively strong, is a very good thing.

        Re: getting his career back on track–I think it’s just the standard Real-Madrid-have-too-many-playthings deal. It seems like every year some club picks up some discarded player for cheap from them. So I have faith in Sahin.


  27. Posted by dth on 2012/08/23 at 6:50 PM

    Jose Villarreal starting for Galaxy in their CCL opener. Big show of faith.


    • Posted by Kay20 on 2012/08/25 at 1:22 AM

      He did okay. Huge show of faith for the kid. He’s confident, he definitely has skills, but he isn’t looking for his teammates yet. That is understandable as he’s played less than 5 games. Would have liked to see a little more hustle, but that’s okay, for his first outings, no major mistakes.


  28. Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2012/08/23 at 10:20 PM

    Brian, I agree that Johnson’s future is up field….the LD for the next generation. I’m also very high on Pelosi. He appears to have that LD/Holden mental toughness and drive to succeed. I’d like to see him groomed for left back. Isn’t it time we prioritized a higher skill set, soccer IQ and defending abilities for our back line, especially the flank backs. We will never be able to compete with the best teams until we have defenders that are truly comfortable on the ball and can make a quality pass under pressure. What are your thoughts regarding Pelosi as a future LB.


  29. Posted by Sarah on 2012/08/26 at 10:52 AM

    I hope you can show a little foresight into the formation the future USMNT’s should use to best utilize the upcoming players. There are several instances of some of the current players having to play out of their natural position just so JK can have the best players on the field. What positions will have the strongest depth of talent and which will have the least? What style of play should we use the get the best out of these future players?


  30. Posted by Damon on 2012/08/29 at 6:14 AM

    This is easily the best article I’ve ever seen on the site. Where is part 2?


  31. Posted by jackson19 on 2012/09/03 at 5:33 AM

    What happened to part 2???


  32. Posted by david on 2012/09/21 at 3:45 PM

    seriously where is part 2?


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