The Maturation of Ante Razov and the National Team

Discussion in 'USA Men' started by Karl K, Nov 10, 2003.

  1. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    I have watched Ante Razov over the years with the Fire, and have at times been critical of his performances. Other Fire fans have been much harsher than me, and not without foundation, and he's heard the boo-birds on more than one occasion. The knock on him has been, among other things, that he was selfish, moody, reallydidn't connect with his teammates on the field, had no right foot, was more of a poacher than a finisher, and so on.

    Has this season been a transformtational one for Ante?

    I think it has.

    Ever since he came back from his suspension, his play has been nothing short of remarkable. And I am not talking about the scoring -- he could always score in MLS.

    No, it's the other things he's done, the other tasks a complete forward has to accomplish to really take it to the next level. The defense, the application of pressure on defenders, the ball-winning in the final third, the support, the communication with strike partners and wingers, the off-the-ball runs, the work, work, work.

    That's why I don't think Dave Sarachan was blowing smoke when he said this about Ante:

    "I am so proud of Ante. He is really a great pro and he has been so focused in these playoffs. The only thing on his mind is raising the trophy and whatever he can do to help ... He gets paid the money to score goals, but all the little things he has done these last few weeks other than scoring goals - patience, setting the tempo and being a leader - he has been fabulous."

    Are we witnessing the maturation of Ante Razov?

    Ante may not have quite the footspeed to play at the international level, but he clearly brings some interesting things to the table: left-footedness, clever dribbling, a certain kind of fearlessness about shooting from any range (one might argue he should be more selective in this regard), and a real finisher's mentality.

    Now, he's added to those virtues an incredible focus on all the other things a forward needs to do to have a total game.

    So, I don't know if he is an '06 roster candidate, it may be too late. But I would be shocked if he doesn't get called into an upcoming camp, and doesn't get an opportunity to show that he can't translate his now more complete approach to the national team stage.
     
  2. sch2383

    sch2383 New Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    Isn't there some rumored animosity between Razov and Bruce?
     
  3. m vann

    m vann Moderator
    Staff Member

    Colorado Rapids, Celtic FC, & Louisville City
    Sep 10, 2002
    Denver, CO
    Club:
    Celtic FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If there is some riff between Ante and Arena, it might help that Sarachan is one of B.A.'s buddies and he can bridge the gap between them, if there is one. I have noticed a change in Ante and his play has been fabulous the last six weeks. I would like to see him get another shot w/the Nats. If he can't cut it this time, there will be no next time.
     
  4. voros

    voros Member

    Jun 7, 2002
    Parts Unknown
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree with your post in its entirety, the only issue is a lot of Razov's strengths are also Twellman's strengths, and a lot of Twellman's weaknesses are Razov's weaknesses as well.

    Arena and USA coaches in general, have not liked the Razov, Twellman, Shearer, Batistuta type forward. They play a setup where one forward's a target player and the other is fast striker making runs off of him. The end result is that if you're not McBride and you're not blinding fast, you're not quite what they're looking for. This isn't necessarily a criticism of Bruce and the USMNT, it may very well be with the talent we have available and the level of competition we face, this is the most effective way to play things.

    But it leaves guys like Razov and Twellman (and Twellman's teammate Pat Noonan) in a bit of a spot.

    That said, I attended the All-Star game and (presumably) without ever having played together, I thought Razov and Ruiz were combining magnificently together, each making intelligent runs off the other. I'd like to see more of this at the USMNT level. Both the Fire forwards and their next opponents the Revs do this exceptionally well.
     
  5. Thomas Flannigan

    Feb 26, 2001
    Chicago
    Superb post, Karl. Usually you have Mike Segroves or me saying Razov should be on the National Team. If he was a cancer in the locker room the Fire could not be playing as well as they have been playing. I think Coach Arena usually forgives and forgets, like with Friedel and Keller "quitting" the team. For some reason, he does not seem willing to give Razov another chance. He should have been on the World Cup team, as well as the Confederations Cup. But the phone no longer rings. We might not have qualified last time without Razov. We might not qualify this time without him.
     
  6. HartwickFan

    HartwickFan Member

    Jul 31, 1999
    Climax, MI
    Club:
    VfR Wormatia 08 Worms
    Nat'l Team:
    Tuvalu
    Which forward would you have dropped to make room for Razov? Donovan? McBride? Wolff? Mathis? Each of those guys had great moments during the cup and saved our bacon. Maybe Razov would have, as well, but I just can't see taking him over any of those four.
     
  7. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Member+

    Aug 24, 1999
    You are missing one - Joe-Max Moore. I would have swapped Razov for Moore - if Ante were playing as well as he has this year. He wasn't, and it is a non-issue.

    I don't think Razov will be part of the 06 equation, as good of a season as he might be having.
     
  8. MarioKempes

    MarioKempes Member+

    Real Madrid, DC United
    Aug 3, 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    I think the biggest knock on Ante is his lack of speed. In the slow MLS, he is fine. He's got a great left foot and can create some goals.

    A striker at the international level has to either be really fast or extremely skilled, or both, because int'l defenses give you nothing for free. Where Razov can help us is during qualifying, but I wouldn't bring him to Germany.

    I rate Razov pretty high as a striker, and he can create chances on his own when the pace of the game is slowed down. There's no way he can ever be the lone striker. He would work best in a 3-5-2 with good midfield support. Also, his defensive work is not always up to par, which means he is a liability at away games (at the very least). Having said that, I think his work rate and defense have improved recently, and I'm willing to give him a chance during qualifying.
     
  9. Thomas Flannigan

    Feb 26, 2001
    Chicago
    The week Coach Arena named the World Cup team Ante scored 3 goals against the Revs and 5 goals against the Rampage, He was in fine form but was left behind.
    I would have taken 5 forwards or picked him instead of Joe-Max Moore. I would have also taken him to the Confederations Cup instead of Kirovski.
    I don't know exactly what went on but I suspect Ante said something in camp before the Mexico friendly in Denver that Coach Arena will not let go. Other theories are welcome. But this guy is great and better than half the people getting callups.
     
  10. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Personally, I don't buy the idea that BA is the sort who "won't let go" of whatever it is. He is simply too calculating and rational a coach to let any kind of personal feelings or emotions get in the way of good decison making.

    I do think he will not tolerate anyone who is disruptive or poisons the situation. Of course, he's not put into the position where he simply HAS to have Player X, who is a troublemaker. Fortunately, (or unfortunately from another perspective) no one in our pool is THAT good who is THAT bad a character.

    I think Bruce will pick the best mix of players available at any given time to have the best chance against any given opponent. That's not to say he won't make mistakes in talent selection, but rather that he does try to be rational about it.

    So, if Ante has the right attitude, is playing appropriately, and at the level required, I think he will get his shot. Again, considering the level at which he is playing, and the fashion in which he is playing, I just can't see it not happening at some point in the next few camps.

    But I've been wrong before!!
     
  11. HartwickFan

    HartwickFan Member

    Jul 31, 1999
    Climax, MI
    Club:
    VfR Wormatia 08 Worms
    Nat'l Team:
    Tuvalu
    Ah, yes, I forgot about Moore. That seems reasonable to have swapped Razov for Moore, if Razov had his current form.
     
  12. StingRay37

    StingRay37 Member

    Dec 4, 2000
    North Carolina
    Two words, jeff agoos.
     
  13. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Well, this is off topic, but what were his choices for inside left? Was Berhalter REALLY that much better? Bocanegra really wasn't ready, and I recall him being hurt. Vanney? Hurt too, IIRC.

    Really, the cards that were dealt him at that position were not the greatest. He assumed that Jeff's experience and savvy would compensate for his lack of speed.

    It was a gamble, but really the only one he COULD take. It's pretty tough to play a poker hand when you can't ask for any more cards.

    Recall, too, that I said that it doesn't mean BA won't make mistakes. He will. I doubt, though, he will make a similar mistake again, and if he has Bocanegra healthy for '06, he won't have to.
     
  14. JMMUSA8

    JMMUSA8 New Member

    Nov 3, 2001
    Webster
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Bruce is/did make a BAD mistake in not calling in and using Razov and Twellman. Come on Bruce, these guys are proven goalscorers in the MLS. You give them 2 or so games (minute wise) and they fail to put one on the board and its lights out for them, yet you keep that piece of *#*#*#*# Jovan on the team who does absolute *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# and *#*#*#*#s with our team and we always *#*#*#*#ing lose, WHAT THE *#*#*#*# IS WRONG WITH YOU! Twellman and Razov aren't Kreis, they score when they are called upon. Bruce is a *#*#*#*#in idiot if he doesn't see that. So what if they aren't the *#*#*#*#in high skill fairy boys like Donovan and Beasley (who cant *#*#*#*#in cross to save him *#*#*#*#in mommas life), they get the job done anyway. It aggrevates me to *#*#*#*#in hell that bruce can be so ignorant when it comes to his forwards. When the country's best forward all time says that Twellman will surpass him, YOU *#*#*#*#IN LISTEN. Fire that piece of *#*#*#*# they call Bruce Arena. Whats *#*#*#*#in next, putting him *#*#*#*#*# *#*#*#*#in son on the team.
     
  15. Attacking Minded

    Attacking Minded New Member

    Jun 22, 2002
    Karl, Do you think it's a coincidence that Stoichkov left then Razov starts to have a better attitude and become more of a team player? Couple this with Stewerts' comments about the DCU attack. Hmmmmmmm.
     
  16. TravisMinor_23

    TravisMinor_23 New Member

    Oct 16, 2001
    United States
    We'll see how Wolff's form is when he gets back from his injuries, but he certainly didn't play much this year. Donovan and McBride seem to be locks. Outside of that Wolff has been injured, Mathis has been bad, and JMM has been a strange combination of both. I think Razov has earned himself another call, most likely as McBride's backup, while Twellman backs up Donovan. Throw Buddle on as the last forward to get a taste, and hopefully some play against the real minnows....Of course I'd rather see Conor Casey if for no other reason then to perhaps spark some interest in him overseas.
     
  17. Ghost

    Ghost Member+

    Sep 5, 2001
    My concern is the minutes we'll be taking away from the young forwards. Do we want those minutes going to Razov or to Casey, Buddle, Twellman, etc.? My vote is for the youngsters.

    Razov could have been on the team, and if you were going merely on pure scoring ability, yeah, Razov should have been ahead of Moore. But Moore was there for possession and work rate to protect leads (such as he did very well, along with Cobi, against Portugal) and for penalty kicks, if necessary.

    And off topic, Berhalter was a significant improvement over Agoos. But that's a discussion for another thread.
     
  18. lplaksina

    lplaksina Member

    Jan 5, 2002

    Tell us Mrs. Twellman, how do you REALLY feel?
     
  19. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    I agree that the best reason NOT to call in Ante is to get the youngsters bloodied. I think it doesn't take a visionary to see that Edson Buddle, for example, has the label "powerhouse scoring threat" written all over him.

    Ante turned 29 this year; he will be 30 when qualifying starts mid-year next year. It's borderline, but not necessarily too old. He'll be 32 in '06. That may be too old then.

    That being said, I think Ante should be seriously considered as an "arrrow" in the quiver, especially in early qualifying. He's experienced and playing a total game now. He may get only a half dozen caps, if that, from here on in, but they may be meaningful.

    Finally, I think the plodding Berhalter may have had as much trouble with the fleet-footed Portuguese. But as you said, that's a subject for another thread.
     
  20. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    Club:
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    As has been pointed out to you before:

    Sunday, April 14, 2002
    Razov scores five goals vs. Milwaukee Rampage

    Monday, April 22, 2002
    Arena names 23-man roster for World Cup

    Sunday, May 19, 2002
    Razov scores three goals vs. New England Revolution
     
  21. MarioKempes

    MarioKempes Member+

    Real Madrid, DC United
    Aug 3, 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    ###########
     
  22. old boy

    old boy New Member

    Jul 8, 2003
    Maine
    Since McBride, Lewis, Reyna & Razov are essentially the same age, why count on some and not others for 2006?

    McBride & Wolf can't seem to stay healthy and Mathis can't seem to stay fit. With Stewart and Moore possibly out of the picture for age and form reasons others (maybe including Donovan) fighting for playing time in Europe, the door may be open for forwards like Razov, Twellman & Buddle to prove themselves in the lead up to qualifying next spring.
     
  23. kpaulson

    kpaulson New Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Washington DC
    32 is old for a forward (maybe not so much a slow one like Razov, but still...) and maybe not so old for a defensive mid or right back (Reyna).

    Besides, Razov hopefully won't be good enough to make the 06 roster even at his current level (I think he was arguably as good as some of the guys in 02).

    But does that mean he's done with the national team? No way. He's going to come in handy next time we need a result in Mazatenango or San Pedro Sula.
     
  24. SABuffalo786

    SABuffalo786 New Member

    May 18, 2002
    Buffalo, New York

    Here's hoping that you never become USSF president.
     
  25. voros

    voros Member

    Jun 7, 2002
    Parts Unknown
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Razov's nearly two years younger than McBride.

    I think if we plan on relying on McBride to play a major role in 2006, we're setting ourselves up for a potential problem. 34 year old forwards generally don't have a distinguished record in the World Cup.

    If he's ready to go, then he's ready, but I wouldn't bet on him being more than a late attacking sub.

    As stated, McBride's advantage on the nats is that he fits the "target forward" role, but as I've argued before, all sorts of excellent National Teams play without one of those. I think we need to become a lot more flexible in our style of play to match our available personnel and opponents.
     

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