Post Casey Analysis of Striker Dilemma for 2006

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by DMunited, Jul 10, 2005.

  1. DMunited

    DMunited New Member

    Jun 19, 2001
    Austin TX
    Though many (including myself) have been critical of Casey's performance on the national team, it's pretty clear that the Bruce was grooming him for a place on the 06 team even if only as a back up to McBride. Conor’s ACL tear pretty much rules him out of the WC team and opens up a forward spot on the roster.

    So who replaces him?

    Here is my breakdown:

    The Vet: McBride

    Proven goal scorer at the highest levels. Good finisher, great in the air, good in possession. He is a lock for the team but his increasing age and decreasing speed make his spot as a starter uncertain. A lot depends on how he does at Fulham this season.

    Square Pegs: Donovan, Beasley, Dempsey

    These players are locks for 06 (virtual lock in Dempsey’s case) but don’t really play as a “striker”. It’s not their natural position for any of them, but Bruce has shown a willingness to experiment with all of them as support strikers. I think most of us feel Beasley is not suited to such a role, but Dovovan and Dempsey are certainly possibilities worth discussing.

    MLS Vets/National Team fringes: Wolf, Noonan, Twellman, Mathis, Ching

    These are guys who have shown consistency in MLS and have been called up pretty consistently to the nat’s but whose performance has been “uneven” or who have obvious draw backs (Ching’s finishing, Noonan’s speed, Wolf’s final ball, Mathis’s current barren patch and general umm…Mathisness) Ching seems the most likely, but the guy I would like to see here get a run is Twellman. He’s a poacher, but more importantly he’s a finisher. He doesn’t bring any outstanding individual traits to the table, but I think he could be the guy to capitalize on the chances created buy our players who do have those traits.

    MLS Starlets: Buddle, Jaqua, Eskandarian, Gaven, Adu.

    These are guys who have lots of talent, and have shown tantalizing glimpses of it in MLS but haven’t yet been given a real run with the national team. Jaqua seems to be the flavor of the month and Buddle has a lot backers, but also a lot of baggage. Gaven and Adu have oddles of talent but also fall into the “Sqaure Peg” category.

    Overseas unknowns: Cooper, Jemal Johnson

    Not having seen either I can’t comment on them. But when has that ever stopped a big soccer discussion?

    Formation change: 4-2-3-1?

    Personally I think a formation like this





    Gets all of our best players on the field and gives us defensive depth, sufficient attacking power up front, and width through Dolo, and JOB.

    What do people think we should do? What do you think Bruce will do? And are there any realistic options I’ve left out?

    And yes, it’s slow sunday afternoon and I’m bored.
  2. Mr Martin

    Mr Martin Member+

    Jun 12, 2002
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: Post Casey Analysis of Striker Delima for 2006

    It's a shame Casey got hurt, as he would have continued to get call-ups in the remaining qualifiers. But I never really thought he would end up on the final WC06 roster, since he hasn't shown an ability to finish internationally. So, while it certainly reduces the Nat Team's depth (a short-term dilemma), it isn't too much of a WC06 dilemma.

    I will be perfectly happy going into the WC06 with the following 4 strikers:

    * Johnson and Donovan as primary starters. They have speed, are active and mobile, and both are proven finishers, something most of the remaining strikers have yet to prove. With Dempsey's development and O'Brien's improving health (knock on wood), Donovan serves a much more valuable role as a striker than in midfield.

    * McBride. He is the classy veteran, a workhorse, and the only other proven international finisher we have. He will play a lot either as a regular 2nd half sub or an occasional starter.

    * Wolff. Deep bench player, but works hard, moves, and creates, and has a WC under his belt. Not such a good finisher, but no one else is better.

    I'm not sure the Nat team needs a 5th striker. Ching and Noonan would be the next ones who are seemingly on Arena's radar. But if the team takes a 5th striker along, he may just be a spectator.
  3. AShotByBalboa

    AShotByBalboa Member

    May 3, 2003
    Re: Post Casey Analysis of Striker Delima for 2006

    What has Dempsey done at a high level? I agree, he has potential, but he needs to produce a lot in the next year in order to start on this squad. EJ is the same. You can't argue his potential, but he has yet to produce against a high-quality opponent. Those goals againts a Caribbean team aren't a good indicator as to how he's play against WC finals level competition. McBride, while old, is still playing at a high level and has scored goals in TWO World Cups. If the WC started tomorrow, we'd have to start McBride.

    Wild cards to consider: Mathis has played in a World Cup and scored. Wolff has produced in a World Cup. Fielhaber might have a season abroad under his belt.

    While Donovan and Beasely were new last WC and did extremely well, both had successful experiences on the youth international level. I'm uncertain how EJ will do since he hasn't faced the best competition. Right now, I would start McBride up top with Landon and Bease behind him, in sort of a Chelsea X-Mas tree formation.

    I see EJ as the future, but to me, he has more to prove in order to unseat McHead.

    Ching is not the answer, nor Noonan - I think Eskandarian, Gaven, or Adu have much more upside as players who could break out like Donovan in 2002 or, on a lower level, Hedjuk in 1998.

    But who knows what Bruce will do. He'll probably line up Albright and Convey up front supported by Agoos and Armas.
  4. DMunited

    DMunited New Member

    Jun 19, 2001
    Austin TX
    Just to clarify, its wasn't so much that Casy was lock for the actual 06 team (though he probably had a very realistic chance) as much as he was a lock for call ups and starts for WC 06 preperation. The question now is "Who gets those chances to impress that would have gone to Casey?"
  5. todd_knode

    todd_knode New Member

    Jun 30, 2005
    San Diego via DC
    Johnson needs to get healthy and him and Dempsey need to produce in the next qualifiers. If they do they'll be going to Germany.
    I still like Ching more than Casey. But Ching is hurt at the moment right?
  6. DonCorleone

    DonCorleone New Member

    Jun 21, 2005
    NY state.
    I swear the God, i haven't seen him score for US national team.
  7. Delta Blues

    Delta Blues New Member

    Jun 25, 1999
    King Willieville
    Ching is our backup target forward barring further injury. He's better than Casey both players health being equal.

    Johnson, McBride, Ching. Those three are locks for 2006 IMO. I have no clue who'll be our other forward. This could be a spot where Buddle, J. Johnson, Twellman and maybe a couple others are considered. IMO it's a blessing for our attacking options that Casey is hurt. This means Bruce will not have to call up a useless player with hopes of him breaking through at the target forward position. Now maybe he can experiment a bit with the creative/quick forward position, but logic says he'll probably just stick with Wolff, which may not be a horrible thing really. Donovan is also almost certain to get time up top, which alleviates some of the pressure.

    As it looks now the real challenge is going to be where Claudio, Lewis and JOB fit into the lineup.
  8. Scotty

    Scotty Member+

    Dec 15, 1999
    Eh, that's probably because it's never happened.
  9. okcomputer

    okcomputer Member

    Jun 25, 2003
    I dont think Bruce views Dempsey as a starter right now especially when Reyna is back on the scene. I think we will see BMB and GAM up top. They work very well together.
  10. russ

    russ Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    GREAT POST.Rep coming.

    The only trouble with that 4-5-1 is we tried that in Azteca and sucked.We only stopped sucking when Donovan pushed up to forward.

    If Bruce is totally committed to a two-forward setup,Ching is the obvious replacement for BMB.
  11. elbita

    elbita New Member

    May 4, 2005
    at the rate donovan is scoring/assisting these days, i'm hesitant to move him.
    OTOH, i'm always wishing he'd move LD up top IF the center of midfield is taken care of by some combination of dempsey/o'brien/reyna/whatever.

    we're getting to the point where there are about 14 guys that i'd like to see starting, and too many of them are midfielders. if JOB plays in center of midfield, somebody i like will be sitting (dempsey, lewis, ?). if JOB plays left back, we gain a ton of skill in the back, probably lose something in the middle, but perhaps get a dempsey or lewis on the field.

    i'm sorry for his sake that casey got hurt, but i'm looking forward to some more non-casey experimentation with mids and forwards. i'd like to see some non-wolff options too. i don't mind if he's on the roster for the WC, but i wouldn't mind a bit if someone overtakes him either. if he can come up with another assist in the eighth minute of a knock-out game, i'll sing his praises and gladly eat crow.

    i kind of like that 4-2-3-1 posted somewhere around here, with JOB at left back, reyna and mastroeni d-mids, DMB/LD/lewis or dempsey, + EJ.
    that front four seems like it could be really dangerous, plus some good passing from dolo, JOB, and reyna thrown in.

    i like the idea of both jaqua and buddle; not sure i'd like the reality at the top level.

    sure we'll see approximately 37 different lineups btw now and next summer, including in the world cup.
  12. Steel Keeper

    Steel Keeper Member

    Jun 5, 2005
    Please, Johnson is as much a lock for Germany as almost anyone else. Indeed he doesn't have all that much experience but he's just going through a nagging injury right now. There isn't a chance in hell a healthy GAM gets left off the WC roster. We simply don't have enough depth at forward. EJ has more potential than anyone other American striker. It's not just potential too, he has performed well, even in games in which he hasn't scored. According to Sams Army rankings he is the highest ranked U.S. player of all-time. Obviously the fact that he has less than 10 caps helps but has yet to play poorly for the USMNT. Even if he plays poorly over the next few months he's still the top forward.

    Dempsey has a little work to do. He doesn't have a natural position in Arena's system and he's stuck behind Donovan, Pablo, Reyna and JOB at a few others. If he can play either the right flank or striker well than he will make the trip overseas.
  13. chad

    chad Member+

    Jun 24, 1999
    Manhattan Beach
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Dempsey has to be given a shot at forward in the Gold Cup to see if it is another role he can fill/back-up.
  14. Captain10

    Captain10 Member

    Jul 26, 2000
    Marietta, GA
    Corinthians Sao Paulo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'd rather have Dempsey and his fighting spirit on the field than an even-slower-than-2002 Reyna who constantly slows the game down.

    With fewer than 10 caps, Dempsey has been more productive than Reyna has been in the last 6 years.
  15. jri

    jri Red Card

    Sep 28, 2000
    Yeah, Claudio really sux at the 2002 Cup being named to the all-tournament team :rolleyes:

    Look, we hear what you are saying, but let's not overdo the case..
  16. geordienation

    geordienation Moderator

    Apr 21, 2001
    Newcastle United FC
    It's the Gold Cup. Hell, why not play Dempsey up there? I think it's a long shot but it couldn't be much worse than the production we've seen otherwise.

    As far as the GAM goes, he still needs protection. When we lost in Mexico, one of the reasons was that EJ is inexperienced working on an island at the top of a 4-5-1. Can he do it? Maybe. But look at when he's scored:

    vs. Panama (3 goals) -- partnered with McBride
    vs. Jamaica (1) -- partnered with McBride

    vs. T&T (1) -- partnered with McBride
    vs. Honduras (1) -- partnered with Ching
    vs. Mexico (0) --- alone on top
    vs. Guatemala (1) -- partnered with Ching

    Now, I don't know how he would work with Wolff. From what I've seen of Wolff, he does make good runs and can stretch a defense. Is that enough? EJ works well with "target" players. Maybe he just needs a running mate or mabye he needs someone to feed off of.
  17. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Sporting Kansas City
  18. jaradvary

    jaradvary New Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    below libe slope
    I respectfully disagree with your opinion concerning Casey's role at the Gold Cup. I think that Casey has been in a group of forwards who could claim a roster spot only if they prove themselves spectacularly, in EJ's fashion. But far from being a lock for starts, Casey hasn't had a run of repeated call-ups since last may, when he flashed a bit of potential. And Bruce didn't use him in any of the fall or spring World Cup qualifiers, and in the meantime we've seen the emergence of EJ, and the resurgence of McBride. In that context, I think Casey's Gold Cup was a last chance to show something worthy of selection for future qualifiers. Of course, he tore his ACL, and that is the end of it. But it seems like Casey wasn't likely to be in Bruce's plans for long in any case. In training Casey wasn't able to beat out Noonan or Wolff for a spot on the "A" team; instead, he started with the experimental "B" team against Cuba. And in that game, he played poorly before leaving the game with his injury.

    So who will replace Casey in Bruce's audition process? EJ is our only pure finisher, and is indespensible; his spot isn't in doubt. McBride is also going to Germany, barring injury or drastic drop in form, because he provides qualities that none of our other forwards have. If the World Cup was tomorrow, and everyone was healthy, McBride would probably be EJ's strike partner. However McBride isn't indispensible in the way that EJ is. Another American striker could overtake him for the spot as EJ's running mate during the next year.

    In Seattle right now we have Noonan, who has exclusively been a midfielder for the national team in the past, and as a forward against Canada didn't finish his clear-cut chance. Bruce even complained about that in his post-game interview, when pressed to say something critical of the team (the interview can be found at, in podcast format). I think Noonan's future with the national team – if he has one – is as an attacking or flank midfielder, because he is refreshingly willing to attack defenders on the dribble. But he'll get at least one more start at forward in the Gold Cup, and he could prove me wrong if he starts scoring goals.

    His partner against Canada, Josh Wolff, is the closest thing we've got to a 'lock' for the third forward spot at the World Cup. He's recieved a call-up by Arena for every game since the England friendly. Most importantly, he seems to have a very good rapport with Beasley and Donovan; they connect fluidly and often, and when any of the three score a goal, they always celebrate together. Wolff is becoming the new third leg of the triumvirate of US Soccer, replacing Convey, it seems. Why Wolff? In Wolff, we have yet another forward who can't score, but he has a few redeeming qualities. Wolff plays similarly to Robinho (when he plays in Parreira's Quartet) in that he is a shadow striker who combines more with the attacking midfielders than he does with the main striker. What Wolff does well is make creative passes in the final third. He also makes good runs and gets into good attacking positions. In that respect he complements Donovan well, because Donovan always looks to pass when he is outside of the box, but both players need to play alongside a real finisher to maximize their effectiveness. I think the national team cannot really afford the luxury of starting a forward who doesn't contribute with goals. But I think Wolff will see a lot of time in the World Cup as a substitute, coming into games around the 60th minute when the team has to push for a late goal. Unless, of course, someone else comes on really strong and snatches that role.

    Dempsey might do just that in Seattle. I expect to see Dempsey line up as a forward against Costa Rica. He will probably lurk around the box, looking to poach a goal, as he does so well. He might be well suited to play forward for the national team, and could be the new partner to EJ we've all been waiting for. The only problem is that Dempsey will be developing as a central midfielder and not as a forward at his club team, because the Revolution have 2 class forwards already.
  19. ursula

    ursula Member

    Feb 21, 1999
    Republic of Cascadia
    I see no dilemma for 06 with Casey hurt.

    The pecking order is muddled whgat with several midfielder/forward hybrids muddying the picture but that's not a problem; it just makes things interesting.

    Pure forwards

    Johnson and McBride are virtual locks.

    Wolff is in good position but isn't really standing out, leaving the door open for someone.

    Ching is the last here and he has to get healthy.

    Twellman is on the outside looking in, regardless of how much some folks here want him. he has more of a chance than the next guys but that chance is like 10%.

    Buddle, Jaqua, Eskandarian, Cooper, and Jemal Johnson are on the outside and I doubt that they are getting much consideration at this point.


    Donovan is a lock.

    Noonan and Dempsey are receiving strong consideration. It remains to be seen if Clint is considered in this mix or if he's just gonna be a mid in 06.

    Quaranta is the latest to barge into this. Let's see how the rest of the GC goes with him.

    Beasley is making the team as a mid and if he's listed as a forward it will be in addition to two other forwards.

    Mathis is out of the picture now.

    So is Adu.
  20. freisland

    freisland Member+

    Jan 31, 2001
    Captain Hyperbole strikes again, the lame, bitter, redheaded step child of magnificent 7, CH, as the Cap is called, was once bitten on the ankle by little Jocko Reyna and has seethed with Reyna-phobia (and hyrdo-phobia) ever since. Foaming at the mouth, he flicks spittle on who dare suggest Reyna did not single handedly keep the team from winning the Cup in JK. If only Dempsey had played, CH intones. I mean, with him on the field we tied Jamaica at home!!
  21. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    And with Claudio on the field, we needed Cobi Jones to rescue a tie at Panama. :)

    Anyway, to return to subject, fully agreed that Gold Cup was Casey's last realistic hope at cracking the '06 team, rather than part of an ongoing grooming process. But I don't think this is much of a debate. It's EJ and the old warrior McBride up top, with Wolff & Ching in reserve and Donovan available as a helluva good emergency backup plan, via a tactical switch.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see somebody else step up -- any of the New England guys, EJ's longlost twin, whomever. Certainly Bruce should be working like hell to upgrade. But I'm happy enough with that arrangement, although to be sure we'd better be praying for EJ's health.
  22. DMunited

    DMunited New Member

    Jun 19, 2001
    Austin TX
    The Dilemma is this: Most people see McBride and EJ as the number one strike pairing right now. But McBride is 33 now and will be 34 next year. Soccer players around that age are vulnerable to sudden and drastic drops in ability, not to mention injuries. McBride has shown very well this year, but who knows what he'll be like next year.

    The dilemma is: If McBride isn't ready to go, who replaces him? I personally don't think any one in the current pool (Wolf, Ching, Noonan) brings as much as McBride does. So do we bring new strikers into the pool? Or do you we put an A- list "non-striker" from the existing pool into that role?

    If McBride is as good next year as he was this year, than then there is probably no debate. But Area would be a fool not to plan for contingencies
  23. El Jefecito

    El Jefecito New Member

    Oct 1, 2004
    Monroe, LA
    I agree however Ching and Twellman have the same seeming ability to be in the right place at the right time to score those "garbage" goals, and at the national team level, Ching at least, has shown he can finish which has been a rare quality for the Nats except Donovan.
  24. Rahbiefowlah

    Rahbiefowlah Member+

    Oct 22, 2001
    Las Vegas
    I too like the fact that we have so many hybrid players. But I also think that we are developing players who fall categorically into player-types specific to the way we play, or the way our soccer culture is developing (Or perhaps just Arena's selection pattern). We have post-up forwards like McBride, Ching and Casey. We have slashers like Johnson, Beasley, Dempsey and Quaranta. (By slasher, I suppose I mean a player whose effectiveness is in his timing and angle-taking and quickness, and not necessarily technical ability-- although they may be good technically, maybe it's not their winning hand. I hope more of these players begin to score goals consistently like EJ.) We have passing midfielders, who are of a certain technical quality and can bring tempo to the game, and dictate it, like Donovan, O'Brien, Mastroeni.

    I wonder how Bruce categorizes his player pool, or if he does. He seems to anticipate using all 23 men. He is very flexible tactically, once he has the players he wants.

    For Arena, is losing Casey the loss of a good "target forward" or is it the loss of Casey himself and the ways Arena can use him?

    I guess it goes back to the debate that I seem to remember before Japan/Korea, whether or not Arena fits players into his system, or molds his system around what his players can do.
  25. jaradvary

    jaradvary New Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    below libe slope
    Quaranta is in the Donovan mold, actually; he's an excellent passer.

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