A Few Head-scratchers in Klinsmann’s Latest Roster

The roster released today by US Soccer today for the friendlies against France on November 11 and Slovenia on the 15.  Many of the players called in are familiar faces, though a couple are rather confusing.  21 year old Alfredo Morales is only player receiving his first call up this month.
Goalkeepers (2): Tim Howard, Bill Hamid;
Defenders (7): Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Timmy Chandler, Clarence Goodson, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Alfredo Morales;
Midfielders (9): Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Clint Dempsey, Brek Shea, Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Robbie Rogers;
Forwards (4): Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle

There are two glaring mistakes in this selection.  First is the inclusion of Edson Buddle as a striker.  I can understand Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury being temporarily overlooked because of the MLS playoffs, but Buddle is not the answer to our vacancy at second striker.  To best articulate my disdain for Buddle, I’m going to quote myself.  From the match against Ecuador at Red Bull Arena:

The easiest point to take away from the match is that Edson Buddle (30) is simply not good enough.  He’s not a poacher, he’s not big enough to be the target man, he can’t hold the ball well enough to be the lone striker.  He doesn’t have the technical ability to be a false nine.  And he doesn’t have the strong strike to take advantage of the chances his teammates fashion for him.  However, he is good enough to be a scorcher in the MLS which was a fantastic fit for his skill set.

And from the match against Mexico in August:

It appeared that the only chances the United States were on track to fashion for themselves would be on counter attacking breaks.  But sadly those didn’t even come as every time the ball was played up to Edson Buddle he tried unsuccessfully to turn into his defender instead of playing the way he was facing or spraying a ball out wide to the wings.  With a smarter center forward, the U.S. could have created many more chances in the early part of the game.

To put it bluntly, Edson Buddle is not good enough for the international game and has no place in the United States squad.

The other misguided inclusion was that of Michael Orozco Fiscal.  I had predicted that he’d be overlooked because of the Mexican League playoffs.  However, San Luis only have the slightest hope of claiming the final Liguilla spot in this weekend’s final game of the Apertura.  Beyond that, Orozco’s attendance at the training camp means that Tim Ream is going to sit this international date out.  But trading one ineffective player for another is not much progress.  Omar Gonzalez is still involved in the MLS playoffs, so his absence is understandable.  But FC Dallas’s George John, who was eliminated from playoff contention, is a positionally sound and physically strong central defender.  Those are two qualities you can not attribute to Orozco, who looked lost in the match against Mexico.

Aside from Orozco, the back four look strong.  Oguchi Onyewu paired with Carlos Bocanegra (Clarence Goodson deputizing) is a solid central defense, while Timmy Chandler and Steve Cherundolo consistently provides attacking support and defensive cover.  Alfredo Morales is a promising prospect for German club Hertha Berlin’s defense.

The goalkeeper selection is pretty much set in stone, with Tim Howard slated to be the starter until he retires.  Bill Hamid still has the upper hand over Sean Johnson to be pegged as the next great American goalkeeper.

In midfield, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones and Brek Shea are all solid picks.  If Jones plays deep, Bradley is free to operate farther up the field where he can receive and pass short quick passes to slice apart the opposition and I’m excited to see Williams and Johnson in action for the Yanks.

My only doubts in midfield are Robbie Rogers and Kyle Beckerman.  Beckerman, by any measure, looked out of his depth in the match against Ecuador.  He did, however, produce strong performances in other games under Klinsmann so it’s not much of a stretch to see him getting a second chance.  Once Stuart Holden ever gets healthy, though, Beckerman should be looking to plan vacations during the FIFA international breaks.

Robbie Rogers is somewhat of an enigma for me.  Somehow he shows flashes of brilliance on the international stage, as he did during his substitute appearance against Mexico in August, while failing to impress me at his club.  Perhaps due to the lack of other quality options at a wide position, Rogers gets the call up.  It seems he has beaten out Alejandro Bedoya and -kind of-Freddy Adu, who can play out wide sometimes, for the role of back-up outside midfielder.  I’d look to see Rogers introduced late if not against France then definitely against Slovenia for an injection of pace and hard work.

Up top, I like the inclusion of DaMarcus Beasley who is experiencing a renaissance of sorts in Mexico for Puebla FC.  Hopefully Landon Donovan can produce the performance we’ve been waiting for since the World Cup.  I’m waiting to see if Jozy Altidore can continue his goal scoring form that saw him make headlines in Holland with AZ Alkmaar.

Beyond the glaring omissions of Omar Gonzalez or George John in defense, I would have liked to see a couple different players get a call into the action this time around.  Most European-based youth players have received an invitation to the joint u21/u23 training camp, so that accounts for Josh Gatt and Mikkel Diskerud.  If Klinsmann is going to call in terrible strikers, why not give Herculez Gomez another look?

While it is not the ideal roster I would choose for this set of friendlies, it will produce a solid starting lineup for the United States Mens’ National Team.  Kickoff on November 11 at the Stade de France is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN3, Univision and Univision.com.

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