USMNT – Juergen’s Run; or, it’s a long way to Tippeligaen

Posted on February 5, 2013 12:46 am

I don’t know how you go about proving that, on a worldwide basis, club really trumps country.  But having two weeks of training for the bottom 1/3 of the roster, while having 48 hours to prepare for a World Cup qualifier, must say something.

Some of what it says is, the US captain’s armband is a meaningless piece of cheap cloth.  By the way, I’m sure there are lots of reasons to pony up nine pickles a month to sneak behind the Worldwide Leader’s paywall, but insights like “Kyle Beckerman Could Start Against Honduras” probably aren’t among them.

How did Beckerman go from captain of one of the most lackluster sides ever to wear the colors to out of the roster entirely?  ….Well, okay, maybe we don’t need to pull too many detectives to work on this.  But I think Beckerman, as well as a few other familiar names, is a victim of a surprise youth movement.  There are six players on the roster over thirty – oh, here’s the roster, by the way, it’s the least I could do – and that’s counting Clint Dempsey, who technically doesn’t hit thirty until March.  The others are Herc, Jermaine, Brad Davis, Bocanegra, and Tim Howard.

Some people who are also thirty: Clarence Goodson, Chris Wondolowski, Oguchi Onyewu, and Beckerman.    (But not Eddie Johnson, I keep forgetting.)

And Steve Cherundolo, who is 33 with serious city mileage.  I realize he wasn’t called in because he was hurt.  Maybe some of our more sensitive readers should leave the room at this point…look, I’m gonna vote for him when it comes Hall of Fame time, sure, but, when a 33 year old outside back starts coming down with knee injuries, you don’t make long-term plans around him.  Especially since that Cherundolo has a non-trivial history of injuries already – the 2002 World Cup and the 2011 Gold Cup storm to mind.

A worse case than Cherundolo might be Stu Holden, who, best case scenario, has a few injury-free months and works his way back onto the squad by the end of qualifying or in time for next summer or…well, and he plays a position where we’re pretty deep.  I think the lesson here is, if you want to play for the US, don’t ever get hurt ever under any circumstances.

Hm, but what about Diskerud, Bedoya and Josh Nafta? They’re all under thirty, how come they weren’t given a call?  As far as we know, they weren’t injured.

Well, maybe they suck.  Or more fairly, maybe we’ve been overrating their level of competition.  I think we need to be careful about lumping Scandinavian teams in with “Europe.”

“But, Dan…they are in Europe.  Right up on top there, the crinkly bits.”

No, I mean, the Scandinavian leagues are feeder leagues, just like MLS is.  While that doesn’t speak to MLS that it’s a feeder to a feeder, MLS isn’t where Klinsmann’s team is coming from these days.  We can talk about whether Klinsmann overrates the Bundesliga, especially some of its lesser teams (or worse, its reserve sides), but we can’t fairly accuse him of that while extolling Danish league play to the northern lights.

So what about Feilhaber?  Well, maybe he’s awful.  Behold the difference between club and country perspectives – on a club level, I think Feilhaber might be exactly what Kansas City needs to make a serious run at multiple trophies, provided Vermes uses him properly/keeps him focused/etc.  For the USMNT – when both Bob Bradley and Juergen Klinsmann agree on a guy, that’s pretty telling.  Klinsmann said that Feilhaber was better off being a drug dealer – sorry, a “pusher” – and at this point you have to wonder whether Feilhaber fits in Klinsmann’s mold at all.

Klinsmann also said he didn’t call in Goodson because it was preseason in Denmark.  If Clarence’s job is in danger for missing a week or so of preseason, then he’s probably not at national team quality – not even this national team.

Which brings us to the real winners of the January camp – Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez.  Gonzo and the Beez.  The hope and future of an American backline which has been foundering since the days of Lalas and Balboa.  Cometh the hour, cometh the men.  In all seriousness, if two players actually have emerged from a January training camp, that’s two more than usually do.

With everyone else responsible for the Canada sloppery punished – barring Klinsmann himself, of course – I’m cautiously optimistic.  It’s a fool’s errand trying to predict this beat-anybody, lose-to-anybody US team, but if we get a point right off the bat in perhaps the second toughest road game, that’s a good omen.  I think we do it.  If not, well, don’t panic until we drop points at home.  (Then really panic.)

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