A Few More Thoughts on the National Team

This one will be quicker, I promise.

Under Jurgen Klinsmann, even a loss can be exciting.  Today I want to look at who should be getting a call up in November.  For the international break that runs November 11-15, the United States is slated to play two matches in Europe.  One of these games is suspected to be against France and the other is yet to be decided.  I’d like a match against a team like Serbia, a team that it not clearly out and out better than us.  Probably the two most exciting bits of news are the possible inclusion of Joe Benny Corona (21) and Fabian Johnson (23).

Recently Joe Benny Corona Crespin, who plays for recently promoted Mexican side Club Tijuana, was called up for a u22 Mexican National Team squad.  The attacking midfielder who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in San Diego was quoted as saying something like, My preference has always been to play for Mexico.

So things looked dim for the chances of this creative forward thinking player ever suiting up for the Yanks.  That is, until a story came out last night that Corona is “ready to commit to his home country as soon as he receives a national team call-up“.  Realistically, Corona isn’t going to challenge Pablo Barrera or Gio Dos Santos any time soon.  We shouldn’t feel as though we are getting Mexico’s rejects, however.  Corona turned to El Tri at his parents bequest when he hadn’t received any formal interest from the United States.  To a certain degree, accepting the u22 call-up from Mexico was a bit of a power play to make it appear as though he was in high demand and force the hand of Klinsmann’s selection committee, similar to the statements made recently by Omar Gonzalez.

And I hope it works.  Corona offers us a young attacking midfielder who can play on either wing or centrally.  He can operate as the play-maker or even as a second striker tucked in behind.  The facts that he can play a multitude of positions and is coming into his own in the Mexican Primera Division, easily a more competitive league than MLS as a whole, are major incentives to snatch this kid up.  At 21 years old, Corona could play a huge factor in the 2012 Olympics and grow to become a mainstay of the US team for the better part of a decade.

Fabian Johnson had his national team switch approved by FIFA to play for the United States in the last set of friendlies, along side Hoffenheim teammate Daniel Williams, but a neck injury kept him out of the side.   I would look for Johnson to be included and starting one or both of the matches.  Why not give Johnson a baptism by fire and have him start his first match with the United States against the likes of France?  Johnson can play in both defense and midfield and prefers to play on the left side.

The earnest considerations for the November squad can really only be figured out once the MLS playoffs get under way.  If FC Dallas make it to the semifinals, the week before the friendlies, then perhaps Brek Shea will get a break.  Or if Los Angeles Galaxy make it to the final, then they will have played the week before and then will play again the week after the friendlies.  Bruce Arena would not be keen to tire out his star player or risk an injury to Captain America.  Also sitting out of the friendlies with Landon Donovan would be LA central defender Omar Gonzalez.  Which scenario is better for the young Gonzalez; the call-up to the national team or the chance to win a domestic title?

Most of the tinkering with positions will depend on the layout of the MLS postseason.  Donovan, Ream, Agudelo, Shea, Beckerman and Adu are all in the playoff picture with their club teams.  In Mexico, DaMarcus Beasley’s Puebla, Edgar Castillo’s America and Herculez Gomez’s Tecos are all far away from playoff qualification which would potentially free them up for a call from Klinsmann.  However, Michael Orozco Fiscal’s team San Luis is on the bubble and Jose Francisco Torres’s Pachuca is in the thick of playoff positions so they will probably get overlooked in November.

I think this set of friendlies is just begging for European based players.  Since both matches will be played in Europe and potentially without Shea and Donovan on the wings or Agudelo deputizing out wide or up top, I’m excited to see some youngsters get the call.  Mikkel Diskerud (21) could get the call.  He currently plays for Stabaek in Norway primarily as a central midfielder.  Who I’m really excited to see in the Red, White and Blue is Molde FK’s winger sensation Josh Gatt (20).  He hasn’t gotten a single cap for the senior team yet, and his solid performances in Norway deserve some recognition.

Perhaps Robbie Findley (26) who now plays for Nottingham Forest in the English Championship gets a look behind Jozy Altidore.  Alejandro Bedoya (24) may very well operate on the wings for the US.  Maybe Jared Jeffrey (21) an American from Dallas playing at Mainz 05 gets an invitation to the camp.  David Yelldell (30) could easily be called in to deputize for Tim Howard.  Zak Whitbread (27) of Norwich City could get a look in place of Tim Ream, or that could go to Alfredo Morales (21) who plays for Hertha Berlin.  It might be a good idea to consider capping or at least bringing Isaac Acuna (22) into the fold.  He plays as a back-up midfielder for Club America in Mexico and has been called up for the u22 squad by Mexico.  Acuna may not want to to play for the United States over Mexico, but he’s a good option if Corona isn’t available.

Gale Agbossoumonde (19) finally got cleared to start playing for Eintracht Frankfurt’s u23 side last week.  However, I’d like to see him settle down with his club and get regular training; there’s still time to acclimate him with the squad of players who are going to make the trek to London 2012.  Midfielder Fabian Hurzeler (18) was recently promoted to Bayern Munich’s u23 side for the season.  He may be a little young to jump into the full national team side, but it may be a good idea to express formal interest in Hurzeler, who has captained the US youth sides in the past, to prevent him from running off starry eyed to Germany’s camp.

As always, I am very excited about the prospects the US has coming along down the line.  The timing of the next set of international friendlies, coupled with the fact that they will be played in Europe, presents a selection problem for all domestic-based North American-based players whose teams qualify for their respective playoffs.  We should use this as an opportunity to vet some more German-American players and, in the game that’s not against France, give some younger players a chance to prove themselves.


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