Team USA: The Losers

In the second part of my two-part write-up, we’ll be looking at who came out of the Confederations Cup looking worse than they went in.

The Losers:

Sacha Kljestan – The young midfielder got a great chance to make his presence felt when Rico Clark was suspended for the game against Brazil. With decent athleticism and supposed offensive gifts, many USA fans felt it would be Kljestan’s time to shine.
Unfortunately, it couldn’t have been worse. He spent the game chasing plays aimlessly, committing countless turnovers, etc. – all culminating in a dodgy red card. Whether you agreed with the call or not, it was a poor decision by Kljestan to make that reckless challenge.
In the middle of a disappointing season for Chivas USA, Kljestan’s prospects for moving overseas look slim, just 6 months after nearly making the move to Scotland to play for Celtic.

Jonathan Bornstein – Part his own fault and part bad luck. Bornstein’s performances left a lot to be desired, as the diminutive left-back struggled to adapt to the quick, physical play of the Brazilians and Italians. He looked largely out of place in both games and was clearly out of his depth.
It didn’t help Bornstein’s case that Bocanegra came down injured just before the start of the tournament. This led to DeMerit’s emergence as a legitimate starter and moved Bocanegra over to left-back. Being that Bocanegra is the unquestioned team captain, it’s not likely we’ll see Bornstein supplant him in the future.

Brian Ching – it’s hard to discern what Coach Bradley will do from here on out, seeing as Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore have emerged as a quality pairing with good chemistry. Ching has struggled to impact games as the team’s lone target forward in past months (though there are countless others who will argue the opposite), and the team leaders have come forward to Coach Bradley to express their desire to play a 4-4-2, rather than a 4-5-1. Unfortunately for Ching, he doesn’t play well with Altidore in a 4-4-2 setting, and has no business playing alongside the speedy Charlie Davies, thus leaving him sitting cold.
It may turn out to be a huge blessing for the team, as Charlie Davies’ emergence most certainly wouldn’t have happened had Ching been healthy. Bradley’s clear preference for the lumbering Hawaiian would have precluded any other striker from getting a chance – possibly even Altidore.
For Ching, it’s certainly not a blessing as his untimely injury could very well have cost him his spot as the USA’s starting forward.

Demarcus Beasley – The demise of the once-ballyhooed winger has been tough to watch. American fans have had high hopes for Beasley ever since his emergence at the 2002 World Cup, and he looked destined to fulfill those expectations after a strong first season with Rangers. Unfortunately, poor form and ill-timed injuries have ruined Beasley’s last few years and his performances with the Nats have gotten progressively worse.
Now, after Coach Bradley has moved him all over the pitch to try to keep him playing, it appears as though Beasley might see a long, deserved absence from the national side.
This couldn’t come at a worse time for Beasley, too, as he’s not seeing the field for Rangers and is looking for a move away from the Old Firm side. Someone will take a chance on resurrecting Beasley, but it will likely be a club in a smaller European league like Belgium, Turkey, or Holland.

Any Right-Back – Quite frankly, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that has followed him since his youth days, but Jonathan Spector’s performance could very well have locked up the starting spot on the right side for many years to come.
Steve Cherundolo’s injury came at a terrible time, as Bradley was not even calling Spector into camp during his time as a starter. A few writers had even said they saw “future captain” qualities in Cherundolo – not a sentiment I shared. Now, it’s going to be very tough for the tiny right wingback to force his way back into the starting lineup anytime soon.

Freddy Adu and Jose Torres – It’s a fairly clear indicator about how Bob Bradley views these two young talents when he elects to use players like Jonathan Bornstein, Conor Casey, and Sacha Kljestan as subs before them. As much as American fans are clamoring to see their young starlets get more time, it appears Bradley is just as adamant that they won’t see the field.
With Adu looking for more time at Monaco and Torres looking at a possible move to Deportivo (Spain), hopefully the year leading up to the World Cup will be good to them.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave you own winners and losers in the comments sections below. I’ll hopefully be back with more later on today.

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10 Responses

  1. Other Losers:
    Our Red and Yellow Card tally:
    Throughout the tournament I feel I watched the majority of the games. Why is it that tackles U.S. players made were deemed yellow or red card offenses when that same tackle in another game is just a foul or at worst a yellow? Is it just unlucky that we didn’t have the same refs as some of the other games? Or is it a preconceived notion among officials that Americans tackle dirty? Case in point: Bradley’s red against Spain. Yes, he was cleats up, and yes that is considered a red cardable offense in the rules. But, it wasn’t a particularly nasty challenge, there was no intent to injure nor was it vindictive in any way. If you accept that cleats up is automatically a red then why in the very next game played (Brazil v. South Africa) did a significantly worse tackle by a Brazilian (his cleat was halfway up the South African players calf) only get booked as a yellow. Until this changes we may have trouble making it through a World Cup Qualifying group considering it is very difficult to win with 10 men for the majority of a match.

    Connor Casey:
    Despite being the third sub off the bench he loses because he might be the thing that Bob Bradley catches the most crap for. Assuming Bobby doesn’t want to have people calling for his job over subbing decisions this might exclude Connor from many important US games. So I guess if Connor is considered a loser than the USMNT will be a winner because there were so many other subs I’d rather see used.

    • Good stuff again.

      I agree on the cards, but I’m just not sure how we change that perception or issue.

      The USA certainly isn’t seen as a dirty team, so it’s interesting that we got punished so harshly for moderate challenges.

      If we were more of a soccer nation, there would be some sort of public outcry.

      Could you imagine if an English team had gotten those same cards? The world might be at war right now.

  2. Yea, that’s what I was thinking. If Brazil or Italy had gotten the same reds and harsh yellows we got during the course of the tournament all of the countries papers and newscasts would be crying foul on the tourney officials. Unfortunately the U.S. media doesn’t care much about soccer and ESPN and Sportscenter are just now trying to jump on the bandwagon that has been the most popular sport for 100’s of years. (If you notice I’ve seen a ton more updates on the ticker showing soccer signings and scores. This may be because there are almost no other sports going right now but I hope it’s the start of a trend towards soccer popularity in the United States.)

  3. I think we’ve proven that we DON’T need a “target striker” like Ching. The days of wishing for a new McBride are over. Speed is our new thing. Davies/Altidore will be a very formidable pairing in a few years. They are only showing flashes of what they will truly be capable of down the road, after they get consistent playing time in good European leagues.

    I personally like Chingy, and he obviously benefits our old style of play, but now we don’t HAVE to play that way. We have shown that we can actually counterattack now, rather than just throw the ball up to Ching and have him hold it and wait for support or try to win a free kick. If Bradley chooses him next year over CD or JA, then I will begin calling for his head again (ok, I never stopped. But I will do it more often!).

  4. Though I agree Ching may not deserve the spot in our starting eleven, he could still be a great asset to us as a player of the bench. What if in that Brazil game we could have subbed him in and used his ability to hold the ball, keep possession, and slow the game down to stifle the charging Brazilian attack? I think it could have worked to our advantage and maybe been the difference.

    …plus it hopefully means no more Connor Casey

    • Yeah, I agree. I guess I didn’t make that very clear. But he would definitely be a good asset to come off the bench and kill a game off, and has shown that he is capable of being a suitable starter if Davies or Altidore goes down.

      And good riddance to Conor Casey. He looked decent against Honduras, but…

      …it’s Honduras. Everyone should look good against them. No offense, but they should not be a hinder in a HOME qualifier. That being said, I’ll gladly accept a draw down there in the away qualifier.

    • Personally, I’m not a fan of the whole “Target Striker” concept for the USA. Yes, Brian McBride was a reasonably successful player for us, but it’s like we’ve decided that the only strikers we can have are McBride-style players. It’s the exact reason that Ching gets called up, because he the best “target” guy, rather than the best “option”.

      In fact, I’d say there are quite a few better options for the US than Ching.

      Unfortunately, I think too many people have written about how well he holds the ball up and how well he plays with Donovan.
      I just don’t see those things from him. I see a lot of falling down, hoping for fouls. I see a complete lack of skill or ability to turn and be a striker.

      He’s basically a striker that posts up and hopes to get run over and fouled.

      • The whole “target striker” thing should have died after McBride retired. I agree with you 100% there.

        And now, if we’re going to have a target striker, why don’t we use Cooper? Yes, Ching is more experienced, but how does one gain experience? By playing! It’s not Cooper’s fault that Dallas wouldn’t sell him last winter, and it’s not his fault he is essentially a UMSNT reject now. He’s done everything he can in MLS, and yet he gets snubbed for the likes of Ching, Eddie Johnson, and Josh Wolff (and thank GOD the latter two don’t get called up anymore!).

  5. Nice blog. It is appreciated. Keep it up the good work.

    • Much appreciated Su! Tell your friends!

      Feel free to leave your own analysis whenever you please!

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