Sunday, January 15, 2012

The National Team, Men and Boys

Adu had some moments.
The U.S. Men's National Team opened up 2012 with some very interesting talking points. Certain call ups, certain omissions, scrimmages and of course the obvious questions that accompany such things. First up would be the scrimmage between the full team and the Under 23's. 

The senior squad paid a lesson to the U23 Olympic team with a 4-0 dismantling of their younger brothers. Certainly an interesting scoreline as the constant struggle of the senior team to score is well documented. By no means is the answer suddenly clear, this was a scrimmage after all. Still, with Chris Wondolowski finding the back of the net, along with Feilhaber and the Sporting Kansas City duo of Bunbury and Graham Zusi, four players scoring encouraging. 

Also of note and pointed out to me by the always fun Alexi Lalas, Jeff Parke was on the field for the senior team. Parke the 60th pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft... my immediate twitter counter to this was simple: the number one pick from that same draft is also on the field right now. Freddy Adu was selected first in the 2004 SuperDraft and now, eight years later, he's playing for the U23 squad. Oh the irony...

The value in the matchups was not lost on Klinsmann. After the match he stated simply, "Now, we can read the players a bit better... We knew about their personal capabilities, but not in the context of the team..."

Well context has been given and both Klinsmann and Porter are now able to better identify their needs which is a very good thing. Fans should be encouraged though from the Olympic end as Porter is clearly interesting in testing and evaluating his player pool, as well as working closely with Klinsmann. This is a very good thing for the program as a whole. Porter's comments are especially encouraging, "We learned that the way we trained has begun to take shape. We worked a lot on attacking and possession as well as ball circulation and movement," said Porter of his teams progress.

Andrew Wenger and Kelyn Rowe were on the field only days after being selected in the MLS SuperDraft. Wenger, the number one pick to Montreal, was burned several times by Brek Shea and Chris Wondolowski. Chalk that up to learning curves and be encouraged that such a player is already under the tutelage of the national team. Rowe showed flashes in the attack and was calm on the ball, but there is work to be done. 

Jones was a late addition to the squad.

Lastly on Jermaine Jones. Several have questioned the wisdom of adding a player that has been suspended for violent conduct as a late addition to the squad. Hogwash I say. Jones screwed up for Schalke and will pay his suspension in matches accordingly. However, it is the job of any national team coach to ensure that his players are ready to go with the best possible training at any given time. Jurgen Klinsmann, recognizing that a talented player in his pool would not be having games, took steps to ensure he'd be training and playing when he otherwise would not be.  It is not Klinsmann's job to punish Jones for something he did half a world a way. His job is to make sure the red, white and blue are in top form, so credit him for making the right choice... though hopefully he popped Jermaine on the back of the head. 

1 comment:

  1. I might just be because I'm a Sporting homer, but I have a good feeling about Zusi. I know that the goal he scored was just in a scrimmage, but I also listened to Vermes on the MLS Extra Time podcast talking about how Zusi out performed every other player on all of the athletic testing that the USMNT coaching staff puts the squad through.

    I really do think Graham can bring something to the table for the USMNT. Great set piece taker, can shoot from long, long range, etc.