Klinsmann's Men: The ÜSMNT Thread - Just get us to Brazil

soxfan121

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Cameron on for Jones in the 74th - Brad Davis for Zusi, also. 
 
ETA: Terrible game from Jones, who had all the touch of a bricklayer. Eddie Johnson has also been a vortex of suck, standing in the middle of the pitch a lot of the time (he's supposed to be wide right).
 

soxfan121

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Castillo on for Eddie Johnson in the 87th...moving Fabian up to midfield. 
 
US has looked much better in the second half. 
 

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Thoughts from yesterday:
 
-Zusi appears to be the real deal at this point.  Had a couple of great runs, and his cross to Dempsey should have been buried and was a great ball.  I thought that losing Brek Shea would hurt this team, but Zusi has stepped in over the last 6 months and been very solid.
-Altidore continues to look great.  I don't know if he's finally just understanding the game better, but he looks so composed on the ball now.  Besides his goal, his offsides strike as well as the late ball that he brought down and took back to the left were great chances.
-Gonzalez continues to have no idea how to distribute or get a good clearance.  Not exposed against Honduras, but against better competition, they will punish him for those mistakes.
-We still need a better option than Eddie Johnson.  I'm looking at you Landon.  Get your act together in the next 6 months.
-Michael Bradley is a straight-up stud at this point.  Tremendous development curve over the last 3+ years.
 

DJnVa

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I don't know if it's Altidore understanding the game better or simply getting some service.
 
This team looks like they are right on the cusp of being dangerous in Brazil...
 

BigRed07

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In my opinion this team being dangerous or not dangerous revolves pretty dramatically around whether Fabian Johnson plays as the LM/LW. Reasonable people may disagree but I think he is our best player outside of Dempsey and Bradley--and maybe Jozy, though I think he has been a big part in making Jozy effective. It's not that he's wasted as LB just that our attacking is pretty anemic when you have EJ and Zusi on the wings. Zusi can provide good service and is useful to have around, I just wish he was a 21 year old prospect rather than about-to-turn-27 year old who probably won't develop much more. And EJ is sort of a prolonged lightning in a bottle situation.
 

cromulence

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BigRed07 said:
In my opinion this team being dangerous or not dangerous revolves pretty dramatically around whether Fabian Johnson plays as the LM/LW. Reasonable people may disagree but I think he is our best player outside of Dempsey and Bradley--and maybe Jozy, though I think he has been a big part in making Jozy effective. It's not that he's wasted as LB just that our attacking is pretty anemic when you have EJ and Zusi on the wings. Zusi can provide good service and is useful to have around, I just wish he was a 21 year old prospect rather than about-to-turn-27 year old who probably won't develop much more. And EJ is sort of a prolonged lightning in a bottle situation.
 
I agree that he's been crucial and is a big part of the team going forward, but keep in mind that (hopefully) it won't end up being EJ and Zusi on the wings - some dude named Landon will be in the mix.
 

soxfan121

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DrewDawg said:
This team looks like they are right on the cusp of being dangerous in Brazil...
 
I got the exact opposite impression after last night's game. The US demonstrated no touch, no creativity, got frustrated by Honduras' tactics and while they got a good result, it was a poor game overall. 
 
Having watched Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay and Japan earlier this week, I came away from the US-Honduras match thinking the US (forget Honduras) was the least skilled, least creative, least talented of these teams. Getting a victory in Jamaica is nice but that's not a game we should hope to win, it's a game we should win. Same goes for home v. Honduras - and that game was in doubt for much longer than it should have been. A friendly win against Germany's "C" team is also nice but not really cause for celebration.
 
If the USMNT plays like it did last night in Brazil, they'll finish at the bottom of a group and go home. This is not a "dangerous" team. There are elements there for continued growth and good results but the talent gap is fricking huge. Fabian Johnson is a nice player who couldn't make even Germany's "D" team; Jermaine Jones is a "core" player for the US and he wouldn't even get a second's (as in one) thought in Germany's squad. 
 
Bradley is on the cusp of being a world class player; Altidore might be getting there too. Dempsey is a good player but wouldn't make most of the top national squads elsewhere and there's literally no one else on the roster (ok, maybe Howard) who would even get a call-up to the camps. 
 
Anyone has a puncher's chance to be "dangerous" but the USMNT is not among the top 20 national squads in the world and thinking otherwise is to wear red, white and blue tinted glasses. 
 

DJnVa

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Well, I said "on the cusp of", not that they are actually dangerous yet.
 
Another take:  http://www.cbssports.com/general/blog/eye-on-sports/22469032/klinsmanns-usmnt-looks-capable-of-making-world-cup-noise
 
And again, the article talks about how the USMNT can get there.  Not that they are there. And yeah, the talent gap is huge.  That's not news.
 
And my wording was chosen for a reason.  They have pieces that can be dangerous and they need to get a good draw and put it together.  Can other teams say the same?  Sure.  But this is the USMNT's thread, and I feel better about them now than heading into other WCs.
 

Easy Ed Cota

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The field looked too quick for them. Balls were flying out of bounds. They couldn't complete consecutive passes, but neither could Honduras. Despite that they had plenty of good opportunities, which they didn't capitalize on until the Dempsey-Zusi-F.Johnson-Altidore goal. 
 
Definitely not their best effort, but outside of Jermaine Jones, the top players looked good.
 

soxfan121

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DrewDawg said:
Well, I said "on the cusp of", not that they are actually dangerous yet.
 
Another take:  http://www.cbssports.com/general/blog/eye-on-sports/22469032/klinsmanns-usmnt-looks-capable-of-making-world-cup-noise
 
And again, the article talks about how the USMNT can get there.  Not that they are there. And yeah, the talent gap is huge.  That's not news.
 
And my wording was chosen for a reason.  They have pieces that can be dangerous and they need to get a good draw and put it together.  Can other teams say the same?  Sure.  But this is the USMNT's thread, and I feel better about them now than heading into other WCs.
 
It was not my intention to crap on your take. I simply wanted to provide a different perspective, informed by what I thought was a poor showing last night and by all the Confederations Cup matches I've watched off my DVR at 3 AM. 
 
I'm glad you feel good. I hope we all feel the same when the games start next June in Brazil. 
 

cromulence

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soxfan121 said:
I got the exact opposite impression after last night's game. The US demonstrated no touch, no creativity, got frustrated by Honduras' tactics and while they got a good result, it was a poor game overall. 
 
Having watched Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay and Japan earlier this week, I came away from the US-Honduras match thinking the US (forget Honduras) was the least skilled, least creative, least talented of these teams. Getting a victory in Jamaica is nice but that's not a game we should hope to win, it's a game we should win. Same goes for home v. Honduras - and that game was in doubt for much longer than it should have been. A friendly win against Germany's "C" team is also nice but not really cause for celebration.
 
If the USMNT plays like it did last night in Brazil, they'll finish at the bottom of a group and go home. This is not a "dangerous" team. There are elements there for continued growth and good results but the talent gap is fricking huge. Fabian Johnson is a nice player who couldn't make even Germany's "D" team; Jermaine Jones is a "core" player for the US and he wouldn't even get a second's (as in one) thought in Germany's squad. 
 
Bradley is on the cusp of being a world class player; Altidore might be getting there too. Dempsey is a good player but wouldn't make most of the top national squads elsewhere and there's literally no one else on the roster (ok, maybe Howard) who would even get a call-up to the camps. 
 
Anyone has a puncher's chance to be "dangerous" but the USMNT is not among the top 20 national squads in the world and thinking otherwise is to wear red, white and blue tinted glasses. 
 
I think by dangerous he meant we could be one of the "weaker" teams that a top team might not really want to play. Certainly not a favorite but also capable of pulling off a surprising result or two. I don't think anyone here thinks we're on Germany, Spain, Italy, or Brazil's level, but all that negativity was fun, so thanks. You're also extremely harsh in judging some of our players, particularly Dempsey. So now we judge our players based on whether they'd have a spot on the most elite teams? Doesn't really seem fair to me. There are some GREAT players who can't crack Spain's first team - it's not exactly an embarrassment.
 
The one thing I'm seeing that I like is that most goals are coming in the run of play and not from set pieces, which is typically our bread and butter. If nothing else it's a step towards the team we'd like to eventually be - the great teams don't need a free kick or corner to score on you. And while last night's game was frustrating, I think your expectations are out of whack - saying there was no creativity is straight up bullshit. The goal came on a quick series of passes, an excellent dummy by Zusi, great run and pass by Johnson, and a really nice finish by Jozy (watch it again, not as easy as he made it look). That's a nice fuckin goal, nothing to sneer at. 
 
Another thing I'm liking is that it seems Klinsmann harping on playing out from the back isn't just talk - there's been a noticeable shift in that department. And yes, Besler and especially Gonzalez have had shaky moments as a result, but it's a step in the right direction. Constantly booting long balls and hoping for the best isn't a winning strategy.
 

soxfan121

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cromulence said:
I think by dangerous he meant we could be one of the "weaker" teams that a top team might not really want to play. Certainly not a favorite but also capable of pulling off a surprising result or two. I don't think anyone here thinks we're on Germany, Spain, Italy, or Brazil's level, but all that negativity was fun, so thanks. You're also extremely harsh in judging some of our players, particularly Dempsey. So now we judge our players based on whether they'd have a spot on the most elite teams? Doesn't really seem fair to me. There are some GREAT players who can't crack Spain's first team - it's not exactly an embarrassment.
 
The one thing I'm seeing that I like is that most goals are coming in the run of play and not from set pieces, which is typically our bread and butter. If nothing else it's a step towards the team we'd like to eventually be - the great teams don't need a free kick or corner to score on you. And while last night's game was frustrating, I think your expectations are out of whack - saying there was no creativity is straight up bullshit. The goal came on a quick series of passes, an excellent dummy by Zusi, great run and pass by Johnson, and a really nice finish by Jozy (watch it again, not as easy as he made it look). That's a nice fuckin goal, nothing to sneer at. 
 
Another thing I'm liking is that it seems Klinsmann harping on playing out from the back isn't just talk - there's been a noticeable shift in that department. And yes, Besler and especially Gonzalez have had shaky moments as a result, but it's a step in the right direction. Constantly booting long balls and hoping for the best isn't a winning strategy.
 
1. I think the USMNT has been at the level of "pull off a surprising result or two" for a generation. Are we not hoping for more? Based on Klinsmann's public statements, he certainly thinks we should be capable of more. Wanting to be better than "hope for a weak group, pull off a surprise" is not asking too much. 
 
2. I know you're a Spurs man, so I'll chalk up your prickly reaction to my fair assessment of Dempsey to that. Dempsey has been, and remains, a huge key piece for the USMNT and a "money" player. I've long been a Dempsey-over-Donovan man myself. That said, he's aging out of his prime and 2014 is likely his last WC as a key part of the team. And he's not a CL player - that's just a sad fact. I think he's a good, not great player. 
 
3. One or two good sets of passing does not equal creativity. I watched all 90 minutes and compared to the Confed Cup teams I've watched this week, the USMNT is above Tahiti. Yes, the goal looks great on the highlights. Yes, the other 89 minutes matter when assessing the performance. 
 
Frankly, a little self-criticism coming off this stretch is necessary. I really want the USMNT to have a chance at winning a WC in my lifetime. Right now, I think there have been some small steps in improvement under Klinsmann. This stretch of play has been good to see. But if the USMNT plays like they did for 90 minutes last night, they'll be out at the group stage. If they play the way they did against Panama, they could "surprise" and advance a bit. Expecting more than that is not "out of whack". 
 
And if Bradley continues his upward trajectory and Altidore proves this season/national team performance is just the surface of his true ability, the USMNT could be much more than a "surprise" team into the future. 
 
4. If Gonzalez doesn't improve significantly (and I think he can), it won't matter how good Bradley, Altidore, Dempsey & Donovan are in 2014. The CB slots continue to scare the crap out of me. 
 

cromulence

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I'm mostly with you - I just think we have different expectations. I don't think this generation will win a World Cup - none of these guys. I think it'll take at least 10-15 years for that to be a real possibility. So I'm more willing to get excited about playing from the back and more subtle improvements in ability/tactics. For me the hope is that this generation can make some noise in the knockout stage and keep the sport growing in the US, which it undoubtedly is. That's the path to having one of the best teams in the world - getting more young American athletes to actually stick with the sport instead of bailing for football/basketball/baseball (I think the NFL's concussion problem might help in this regard).
 
I think if you're expecting these guys to suddenly play like Spain you're just gonna be frustrated. Klinsmann definitely has his faults and I'd love to see Vasquez gone, but they can only work with the players they're given, and the players can't all work themselves into being among the very best in the world. They can change the way they play, and I feel like they have. It's not perfect, but it's better.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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soxfan121 said:
Getting a victory in Jamaica is nice but that's not a game we should hope to win, it's a game we should win.
 
Let's not get ahead of ourselves.  That was the first competitive win at the Office for the U.S.  I'd like a little history of success at a venue before we pronounce it a "should".
 

nvalvo

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DrewDawg said:
Well, I said "on the cusp of", not that they are actually dangerous yet.
 
Another take:  http://www.cbssports.com/general/blog/eye-on-sports/22469032/klinsmanns-usmnt-looks-capable-of-making-world-cup-noise
 
And again, the article talks about how the USMNT can get there.  Not that they are there. And yeah, the talent gap is huge.  That's not news.
 
And my wording was chosen for a reason.  They have pieces that can be dangerous and they need to get a good draw and put it together.  Can other teams say the same?  Sure.  But this is the USMNT's thread, and I feel better about them now than heading into other WCs.
 
I looked at the article you linked. I think it's pretty crazy, particularly this line:
 
...after three years of fits and starts, his team finally looks ready to make some legitimate noise in Brazil -- and possibly even match or exceed (if U.S. fans dare to dream) the famed 2002 quarterfinal run under Bruce Arena.
 
We'd have to get a pretty lucky Round of 16 draw to match that. I suppose they're as capable as anyone of a cinderella run, but I think the defense really needs to gel for that to even be a real possibility. 
 
That said, I'm not as dour about this club as SF121 — in particular, I think that Altidore, Howard and Bradley are legitimate internationals, guys who would play minutes on a lot of good national teams. Not the best, mind you, but good ones. Let me put it this way: if you look through the list of players who have fairly recent midfield caps for England, say, you'd take *some* of them over Bradley. (That wouldn't be the case for Spain or Germany or Italy or Brazil, naturally.)
 
Altidore, though, really might be something. He's big and strong, obviously — all of which helps — but his current run of form seems to me to reflect a new level of composure and awareness that is really, really promising. 
 

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soxfan121 said:
  I watched all 90 minutes and compared to the Confed Cup teams I've watched this week, the USMNT is above Tahiti.  
 
 
You know Mexico is in that tournament as well, right? What is the argument for placing Mexico above the US right now?  
 

soxfan121

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Mr. Wednesday said:
Let's not get ahead of ourselves.  That was the first competitive win at the Office for the U.S.  I'd like a little history of success at a venue before we pronounce it a "should".
 
Given the population pool for each, it is not unreasonable to think that IF the US is at the next level, they should beat Jamaica. That we still hope for wins there is not a plus in the  level-up category. 
 
Gunfighter 09 said:
You know Mexico is in that tournament as well, right? What is the argument for placing Mexico above the US right now?  
 
Is the game in Azteca? Or LA? 
 
Right now, Mexico is on bad run. Do you think the US is higher up than the 2012 Olympic champions? Do you think the US should beat Mexico or HOPE to beat them?
 

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soxfan121 said:
Given the population pool for each, it is not unreasonable to think that IF the US is at the next level, they should beat Jamaica. That we still hope for wins there is not a plus in the  level-up category. 
 
 
Is the game in Azteca? Or LA? 
 
Right now, Mexico is on bad run. Do you think the US is higher up than the 2012 Olympic champions? Do you think the US should beat Mexico or HOPE to beat them?
 
First of all, no one cares about who won the Olympics. Second, why do you keep moving the goalposts? If we beat Mexico in September we'll have almost certainly topped them in the Hex, beat them at home, and drew at Azteca. Hard to say at that point that they're clearly better than us.
 

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soxfan121 said:
Given the population pool for each, it is not unreasonable to think that IF the US is at the next level, they should beat Jamaica. That we still hope for wins there is not a plus in the  level-up category. 
 
 
Is the game in Azteca? Or LA? 
 
Right now, Mexico is on bad run. Do you think the US is higher up than the 2012 Olympic champions? Do you think the US should beat Mexico or HOPE to beat them?
 
The population pool doesn't matter. It is the biggest fallacy in all international athletics. Going down that route, China should be the best at everything! What matters is how many people are interested and invested in a sport. Jamaica beats us at sprinting, because they have more sprinters per capita, while sprinting is maybe 9th or 10th most popular sport here. Soccer is 4th or 5th here, and likely 1st or 2nd there.
 
The Honduras qualifier got 14 posts in this thread; NBA Finals game 6 probably had 14 pages
 
Winning WCQ on the road is really hard. We had never one in Jamaica before, even though Jamaica has been to like one WC while we've been to 6 in a row. Almost everyone wins at home, so nicking a road point is valuable, a road win is quadruply valuable, since they also don't get a point. 
 

soxfan121

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Infield Infidel said:
The population pool doesn't matter. It is the biggest fallacy in all international athletics. Going down that route, China should be the best at everything! What matters is how many people are interested and invested in a sport. Jamaica beats us at sprinting, because they have more sprinters per capita, while sprinting is maybe 9th or 10th most popular sport here. Soccer is 4th or 5th here, and likely 1st or 2nd there.
 
The Honduras qualifier got 14 posts in this thread; NBA Finals game 6 probably had 14 pages
 
Winning WCQ on the road is really hard. We had never one in Jamaica before, even though Jamaica has been to like one WC while we've been to 6 in a row. Almost everyone wins at home, so nicking a road point is valuable, a road win is quadruply valuable, since they also don't get a point. 
 
This is fair. Especially since all 14 posts were either yours or mine. 
 
I stand corrected on the stupidity of referencing the population pool. That's me being a US-centric elitist, assuming that the US should beat up on tiny countries like Jamaica, while ignoring the relevant facts. 
 
 
cromulence said:
First of all, no one cares about who won the Olympics. Second, why do you keep moving the goalposts? If we beat Mexico in September we'll have almost certainly topped them in the Hex, beat them at home, and drew at Azteca. Hard to say at that point that they're clearly better than us.
 
Yep, no one should care about the Olympics. We didn't qualify. Same for the Confed Cup, I suppose. You can't lose if you don't play.
 
The argument for placing Mexico above the US right now is that Mexico took the field against Brazil and Italy - because they beat the US to qualify for the tournament. "Mexico is on a bad run right now". What part of that is "moving goalposts"? The US might win the Hex and almost certainly will qualify to play in the World Cup tournament, regardless of whether they win or draw or lose to Mexico. 
 
What is your argument RIGHT NOW for the US being better than Mexico? That the US didn't lose to Brazil and Italy? That Mexico has drawn a bunch of times in WC qualifying? That Mexico won an international tournament that "no one cares about" less than 12 months ago? 
 
I should PM Bosoxen and let him argue this. I'm a US fan and want the US to do better. That doesn't mean I assume victories that haven't happened or assume tournament victories mean nothing or put an overemphasis on the last month of matches. Sad truth is that Mexico has been ahead of the USMNT - mostly because soccer is #1 and "4th or 5th" here. A draw at Azteca doesn't change that, Mexico getting beat by Brazil doesn't change that, Mexico playing like crap in the Hex (and still getting points and being in line to qualify for the WC) doesn't change that. 
 

Infield Infidel

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Olympics matter, but mainly for development since it's U-23, and it's during the season for some leagues so some players are held out by their clubs. It's apples to oranges. Also, US players are notoriously late-developing.
 
To qualify for Confed, Mexico beat us in the 2011 Gold Cup; two years can be an eternity. We have a different manager, and Mexico might be firing their manager soon. 
 
The upcoming Gold Cup will be a good litmus test for the region. 
 

cromulence

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Infield Infidel said:
Olympics matter, but mainly for development since it's U-23, and it's during the season for some leagues so some players are held out by their clubs. It's apples to oranges. Also, US players are notoriously late-developing.
 
That's what I meant. Had nothing to do with our lack of involvement, it's just a simple fact that the global football community doesn't care all that much about the Olympics. It's a fun distraction.
 
I never said we're better than Mexico. I said it's possible, and if things continue the way they have been, it wouldn't be a crazy thing to say at all. Again, how would you say they're clearly better than us if we beat them at home, draw in Azteca, and trounce them in the Hex? Obviously it wouldn't mean we're drastically superior but I just don't see how you could still claim they're so much better than us. Like he said, the Gold Cup is the reason they're playing (and are already out of) the Confed Cup, and that was one game two years ago where they beat us.
 
Of course, I'm probably guaranteeing them coming to Columbus and beating us in September with all this, but oh well.
 

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soxfan121 said:
What is your argument RIGHT NOW for the US being better than Mexico? 
 
I think it would be what's already been posted above--it's likely that by September the U.S. will have had better results against common opposition in live-fire games and a superior H2H record over a roughly 12-month stretch. Mexico was better in from summer '11 through summer '12; the U.S. has been better since then. Because the U.S.'s run of superiority is happening "RIGHT NOW", the U.S. is better RIGHT NOW.
 
You'd actually have a better argument if you took that part out and tried to rely on the perceived pedigrees of the guys in the two teams. Current results are your weakest point.
 

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cromulence said:
I'm mostly with you - I just think we have different expectations. I don't think this generation will win a World Cup - none of these guys. I think it'll take at least 10-15 years for that to be a real possibility. So I'm more willing to get excited about playing from the back and more subtle improvements in ability/tactics. For me the hope is that this generation can make some noise in the knockout stage and keep the sport growing in the US, which it undoubtedly is. That's the path to having one of the best teams in the world - getting more young American athletes to actually stick with the sport instead of bailing for football/basketball/baseball (I think the NFL's concussion problem might help in this regard).
 
I think if you're expecting these guys to suddenly play like Spain you're just gonna be frustrated. Klinsmann definitely has his faults and I'd love to see Vasquez gone, but they can only work with the players they're given, and the players can't all work themselves into being among the very best in the world. They can change the way they play, and I feel like they have. It's not perfect, but it's better.
 
I don't think the NFL's gonna matter much at all. The little, skillful guys who win big games and World Cups are never going near the NFL. It's really about developing talent that comes to the pros with proper technique rather than being the biggest, fastest set of muscles in travel and college ball and we're a long way off doing that. Possibly more than 10-15 years away, since we've been at the level of plucky underdogs who are big and can run all day and can get out of the group with a good draw for 20 years now.
 

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Spacemans Bong said:
I don't think the NFL's gonna matter much at all. The little, skillful guys who win big games and World Cups are never going near the NFL. It's really about developing talent that comes to the pros with proper technique rather than being the biggest, fastest set of muscles in travel and college ball and we're a long way off doing that. Possibly more than 10-15 years away, since we've been at the level of plucky underdogs who are big and can run all day and can get out of the group with a good draw for 20 years now.
 
I see your point, but I wouldn't be so sure that it's universally true. What do you consider Darren Sproles? I'd say he's a little guy, a world-class athlete, and who the hell knows what would've happened if he'd played soccer his whole life? And that's exactly the kind of guy (small running back/kick returner type) whose parents would freak out the most since he's getting hit by bigger guys all the time. Also, who's to say that some of the bigger guys (I'm talking linebacker types, or the bigger DBs and wide receivers, not linemen) couldn't play center back?
 
You're probably right that 10-15 is optimistic. I was hesitant to say it'd be longer cause SoxFan seemed so depressed that it's not gonna happen in 2014 that saying it'll be 30+ years seemed harsh. And I'd like to believe it'll be quicker than that, though my head tells me it probably won't be.
 

OCST

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soxfan121 said:
  
 
I should PM Bosoxen and let him argue this. I'm a US fan and want the US to do better. That doesn't mean I assume victories that haven't happened or assume tournament victories mean nothing or put an overemphasis on the last month of matches. Sad truth is that Mexico has been ahead of the USMNT - mostly because soccer is #1 and "4th or 5th" here. A draw at Azteca doesn't change that, Mexico getting beat by Brazil doesn't change that, Mexico playing like crap in the Hex (and still getting points and being in line to qualify for the WC) doesn't change that. 
 
I'm not going to speak for Bosoxen, but judging by his posts #68 and 70 in this thread, http://sonsofsamhorn.net/topic/71007-international-football-non-usmnt/page-2, and his use of language like "unmitigated fucking disaster," it doesn't seem like he thinks Mexico's just having a bad run right now.  Their fans seem disgusted, as if there are deep, fundamental problems, and I don't blame them.
 
Historically, USA can't hold a candle to Mexico, but there is a compelling argument that, based on the body of work of the two teams over the last year, and the current trendlines, USA is better right now.  I agree with Joe D.  
 
Here's a question: head-to-head on a neutral field somewhere, right now (let's say, for argument's sake, Japan): would you favor USA over Mexico?  I think I would.
 

Bosoxen

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I think the question of, "Who is better," comes down to, "What do you consider 'better'?" If the question is, "Who has the most talent," the answer to that question is pretty easy. Mexico isn't lacking for players the way the US is. Yes, they have questions like who should play the right wing, but those are questions created because of poor tactics and even worse personnel decisions by the manager (seriously, why has he not been shot out of a cannon into the sun yet?). However, if the question is, "Who is playing better right now," the answer is, without a doubt in my mind, the US. Their recent run of play is better than Mexico's and it's not even close. No offense, but that pill is very hard to swallow because Mexico has the talent to wipe the floor with CONCACAF. But they're in such bad shape right now that they drew at home against Jamaica. So yeah, I'd definitely have to favor US over Mexico (though I'd bet on the draw, instead).
 
What's frustrating is that you can still see glimpses of what Mexico can be. They had Brazil on the ropes for a good portion of that game yesterday, despite being completely unable to attack from the right wing. But then the clean sheet rears its ugly head again and you remember that they have only scored non-PK goals in two non-friendly games out of eight this calendar year. That's fucking pathetic and completely inexcusable.
 
Sorry for the rant. I know this is the USMNT thread so I apologize for the sidetrack.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Spacemans Bong said:
I don't think the NFL's gonna matter much at all. The little, skillful guys who win big games and World Cups are never going near the NFL.
 
I couldn't disagree more.  Most DBs, most RBs, some LBs, and some WRs have the body type and athleticism to be great soccer players.  Obviously, that's no guarantee they wouldn't end up having two left feet with the ball, but there are a lot of prospects that we lose to football.
 
Even some of the taller guys, particularly the MLB types, might have been great as center halves.
 
You'd have a better argument with the NBA, where only the shorter guards would be likely soccer prospects---though we still lose guys to basketball, it's just the guys who end up being really good college players but don't quite have the height to make it in the NBA.
 
I think the "little, skillful guys who win big games and World Cups" is a myth, or perhaps better stated, is a peculiarity of Spain.  The spine of most of the world class teams is made of guys in the 6' to 6'2 range.
 

Cellar-Door

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Using the ever popular Germany comp.
Lahmm is short, but Mertesacker is 6'6" Boateng is6'3"
Khedira is 6'2" Muller 6'1" Podolski 5'10" Scweinstager 5'10" Ozil 5'11" Klose 5'11"
 

nvalvo

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Mr. Wednesday said:
I couldn't disagree more.  Most DBs, most RBs, some LBs, and some WRs have the body type and athleticism to be great soccer players.  Obviously, that's no guarantee they wouldn't end up having two left feet with the ball, but there are a lot of prospects that we lose to football.
 
Even some of the taller guys, particularly the MLB types, might have been great as center halves.
 
You'd have a better argument with the NBA, where only the shorter guards would be likely soccer prospects---though we still lose guys to basketball, it's just the guys who end up being really good college players but don't quite have the height to make it in the NBA.
 
I think the "little, skillful guys who win big games and World Cups" is a myth, or perhaps better stated, is a peculiarity of Spain.  The spine of most of the world class teams is made of guys in the 6' to 6'2 range.
 
Spain and a few other places: 5'4" Lorenzo Insigne says hi!
 
 

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I mention Spain not because they have one or two guys like that, but because they've won tournaments with a lineup that is small by international standards---Iniesta and Xavi and so on.  There are lots of teams that have a few undersized individuals (Messi would be another great example), but they're usually surrounded by guys in the low six foot range, trending higher in central defense.
 

Section30

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I think the US has reached a tipping point in the last 8 years or so. We have finally developed some respected stars that can play at a fairly high level in world soccer. The main reason I have for optimism is the improvement in the experienced pool of international players the US has currently.
Look at the Yanks Abroad string by Titans Bastard and you see Americans competing in almost every league in the world. Ten years ago you would hear from soccer snobs that Americans can only play kickball. Today Bradley, Dempsey and Altidore are showing that they can compete against the best. The difference for the US is the other supporting players that have improved and have raised the level of US soccer to the point where Klinsmann can try different different tactical approaches. 
The best analogy I can think of is the current Red Sox where they have assembled several "pretty good but not great" players around the core of top players. When Zusi goes out and Klinsmann can plug in comparable player and get positive results then I can see a good future for the US.
Did the US manager have a plug in player 8-10 years ago? All of the international experience is starting to pay off.
 
:clarity
 

dirtynine

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What I'm most interested in is whether our home-grown development system has improved in the last 15 years.  We developed Dempsey and Jozy (and I'd be mentioning Charlie Davies in this list too if not for fate), but other Americans (like Donovan) spent formative time in Europe, and of course a large swath of the team is naturalized and developed as natives in other cultures (Mexico, Germany, etc.).  I'm sure the existence of MLS and especially the move to academies has improved the situation, but I still question what the ceiling is of a soccer player developed by the US system.  Once we can consistently produce world-class players here at home, the team has a chance to win the WC. I fear that we're not even within a generation of that, unfortunately. 
 

Snakebauer007

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dirtynine said:
What I'm most interested in is whether our home-grown development system has improved in the last 15 years.  We developed Dempsey and Jozy (and I'd be mentioning Charlie Davies in this list too if not for fate), but other Americans (like Donovan) spent formative time in Europe, and of course a large swath of the team is naturalized and developed as natives in other cultures (Mexico, Germany, etc.).  I'm sure the existence of MLS and especially the move to academies has improved the situation, but I still question what the ceiling is of a soccer player developed by the US system.  Once we can consistently produce world-class players here at home, the team has a chance to win the WC. I fear that we're not even within a generation of that, unfortunately. 
I still don't think we have had a single world class player, developed anywhere, long ways to go for sure
 

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A big problem is still pay-for-play.  Unless you live in an MLS city and show precocious talent, your parents still have to foot the bill for you to play against top talent and develop.  Contrast that with almost everywhere in Europe or South America where clubs have massive player development systems, usually a city bus ride from 80% of the population.  We aren't going to develop the talent that our population and level of interest would suggest until a 9-YO with freaky skills can get a free ride with trained coaches whether he's in Oxnard or Omaha or Silver Spring or Brownsville.
 

DJnVa

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nvalvo said:
I looked at the article you linked. I think it's pretty crazy, particularly this line:
 
 
We'd have to get a pretty lucky Round of 16 draw to match that. I suppose they're as capable as anyone of a cinderella run, but I think the defense really needs to gel for that to even be a real possibility. 
 
Yes.  Exactly.  That's kinda what the article said: "We could POSSIBLY match that." Possibly doesn't mean definitely it means "capable of happening".
 

Titans Bastard

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DLew On Roids said:
A big problem is still pay-for-play.  Unless you live in an MLS city and show precocious talent, your parents still have to foot the bill for you to play against top talent and develop.  Contrast that with almost everywhere in Europe or South America where clubs have massive player development systems, usually a city bus ride from 80% of the population.  We aren't going to develop the talent that our population and level of interest would suggest until a 9-YO with freaky skills can get a free ride with trained coaches whether he's in Oxnard or Omaha or Silver Spring or Brownsville.
Pay-for-play is a big problem. In addition to locking some people out, it encourages win-at-all costs trophyball, which are the only "returns" on their investment that many unsavvy parents can recognize. When the pressure to win is greater than the pressure to develop, coaches start to make bad developmental decisions - relying on kick-and-chase with early maturers is very effective for a while even if it teaches kids little. Clubs are also reluctant to ditch longtime players who have fallen behind because their parents have invested so much money.

The even larger problem, I think, is that we just don't have enough coaches who can teach the game well, particularly the tactical/mental side. There's a reason that so many US players can be slow of thought. Similarly, we also struggle to identify players who excel in this aspect of the game at at early age and tend to direct our best resources at the wrong players.
 

mgoblue2

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Re: when can people realistically expect a WC, I'm sure the question is whether the US can just contend but it takes a lot of things to go right to come close to winning a WC. I think that unless there is a dramatic shift in talent distribution across American sports, we won't have the right mix of athletes and development to contend for a while. There are good athletes out there now but the style of play now isn't that close to world class and that will take some time too. Once soccer becomes a top 3 sport here (very possible in the future due to NBC Prem rights and whatnot), it may not be too far away. It will likely take time however.
 

Titans Bastard

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U-20s got smacked by Spain 4-1 in the first match of the U-20 WC.  Luis Gil scored a consolation goal after we went down 4-0.
 
The US came out in a 4-2-3-1, played a high line, and pressed.  Suffice to say, this was not effective against Spain.  In particular, the tactical choice to use Benji Joya instead of Mikey Lopez alongside Wil Trapp was suspect.  Joya is not a defensive-minded player and Trapp alone can't provide enough protection to an already-weak back four.
 
Javan Torre started at CB due to Shane O'Neill's suspension and, as predicted, was terrible.  We really need to do better a job with identifying talent.  Torre was a benchwarmer at UCLA last season -- come on.
 
 
We play against France at 11am ET today.