Team USA: The Winners

After a roller-coaster run through another FIFA tournament, it’s time to take a look who gained and lost from the American performances. In this first edition, we’ll take a look at who came out of the Confederations Cup a winner.

The Winners:

Oguchi Onyewu – with Onyewu out of contract at Standard Liege, the man-mountain is available to any team in the world for free. Some fleeting reports had Onyewu signing with Turkish giants Fenerbahce, but nothing has come of that since the initial report.
Onyewu’s play against some of the world’s best strikers only solidified his position as one of the world’s elite center halves, and should significantly boost his transfer prospects the coming year.
Who should we look for to sign Onyewu? French giants Marseille, Lyon, and Bordeaux will all likely be in contact, as Onyewu speaks fluent French and would like to play Champions League football. There will certainly be a few mid-table English sides poking around as well, especially clubs like Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton, and Fulham. Lastly, don’t be terribly shocked if Jose Mourinho makes a play to bring Gooch to Inter Milan. Mourinho is a noted admirer of Gooch’s play, and getting a “free” center back of Gooch’s level would certainly be of help to an Inter side that struggled in the middle of defense last year.

Charlie Davies – another player looking to move, another set of great performances. A few French squads have been salivating over the speedster for some time now, and now that Charlie wants out of Hammarby, he’ll almost definitely get a move away before the summer window closes.
Davies’ speed and striking ability are both qualities that can take him to the highest level, but he still needs to refine his individual skills before making the leap to the top. That being the case, look for some mid-table French sides and top-level Belgian and Dutch sides to make some plays for Davies. French side Sochaux was the club thought to be in hottest pursuit of Davies in the winter window, though this summer has seen more rumors floated about Davies’ potential destinations.
Lastly – the darkhorse league for Charlie: Bundesliga. There are rumored to be a few mid-table German sides looking to bring Davies in.

Jonathan Spector – Not only did Spector cement himself as one of the best defenders on the team, and worthy of a starting spot in every game he’s available, but he was arguably one of the best two or three players – overall – in the final against Brazil.
West Ham coach Gianfranco Zola had to be watching with glee, as he made the decision last year to back Spector as part of his plans for West Ham’s future. With no reason for Spector to transfer, it’s highly likely he can and will secure the right side of defense for the Hammers this season as they look to qualify for European competition.

Landon Donovan – despite my own penchant for harshly criticizing Donovan, it’s not lost on me that Donovan had one of his best tournaments as a Nat. His efforts against Spain (despite the lack of finishing, but I digress…) were nothing short of spectacular.
It shouldn’t be shocking, then, to learn that Donovan is also a potential transfer candidate. Again, you ask? Well, despite his failed attempt to stay on at Bayern Munich (which, let’s face it, was because of MLS’ massively inflated price tag on Donovan), Donovan could be looking to make a final, permanent move to Europe this offseason. Why? He’s free. That’s right, Donovan’s contract with MLS is up and he hasn’t signed any extension or new contract, meaning he could walk away from the MLS to any club for free.
Who would be interested in Landon? Hopefully quite a few Spanish clubs will give him a look – he’s suited to that style of play and speaks the language fluently, meaning his transition their would be smoother than others. Don’t be shocked, again, if some of the more American-friendly English sides take a look – Fulham, AstonVilla, and Everton would all probably love to get Donovan’s speed for free.

Jay DeMerit – The injury to Carlos Bocanegra gave Jay DeMerit a chance – and he ran with it. The BBC named him to their “Tournament XI”, raving about his play in every match.
Given that DeMerit is going to turn 30 this year, it’s not likely he’ll make a major splash in the transfer market. He’s emotionally attached to his current club, Watford, because they gave him a chance at top-flight soccer when he was trying to find his way in the sport. He scored one of the most famous goals in club history,  scoring the first goal in the Championship Playoff, securing Watford’s promotion to the Premier League for the 06/07 season.
However, don’t be surprised if a few of the newly promoted sides take a long look at bringing DeMerit in to help shore up a defensive line.

Coach Bob Bradley – Let’s face it, two awful defeats in the national spotlight and some poor decisions had Bradley clearly on the hot seat. The USA’s surprising showing against Egypt alone probably saved him, but beating Spain pretty much assured all US fans that he’ll be here through 2010 and beyond, whether we like him or not.
Whether I, or anyone else, want to criticize Bradley for his poor decisions throughout the tournament – the team got results, and they saved Bradley’s job.

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4 Responses

  1. Other (though smaller) winners:
    Jozy Altidore: His confidence has to have taken a huge boost considering he just butted heads with some of the worlds best centerbacks. Not only did he show that his size and strength were more than enough for the Spanish backs he also banged with Brazil’s massive back line of Luisao and Lucio. Not only did he hold his own physically but he showed that he has the pace to beat big backs and the size to out muscle smaller backs. This versatility is going to give him a very long career. He also scored what may be considered one of the most important U.S. goals since Preki beat Brazil. Though, he isn’t as much of a winner as some of the others throughout this tournament, because we already knew a lot of what to expect from him, confidence is of the utmost importance, especially to young players.

    Benny Feilhaber:
    Also a tad less of a winner than some of those that you had mentioned because of his main use as a sub, but when he came on he significantly changed each game he was in. His poise, skill, and instincts on the ball were above any other midfielder on the U.S. team and his tackling was much better than I expected out of him (he made a couple of goalsaving tackles in the Brazil game.) Michael Bradley’s red card really opened a door for him to make his case for more playing time. I’m not sure what Bradley saw (because Feilhaber was one of the first subs) but I thought he was fantastic during the Brazil final and didn’t deserve to be yanked for Kljestan.

    • Good stuff Bryce.

      I didn’t want to include Jozy and Benny as outright winners, simply because there were some mixed reviews on their performances.

      In my eyes, they played well and probably better than I could have hoped.

      However, I don’t think the national perception is the same as mine (hence why I begrudgingly list Coach Bradley as a “winner”).

  2. I think little Bradley played well for the most part, too. In the first 2 games, when everything looked bleak, he and Donovan were the only players who stuck out to me. Unfortunately, no one is thinking about him now because of that terrible red card against Spain. Too bad. He has a good tournament, and a class goal against Egypt.

  3. That should read he “had* a good tournament”.

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