Tuesday, February 06, 2007

US Men, who needs to perform?

With just 24-hours till the great US-Mexico rivalry reunites in Arizona, it is time to figure out what US players need to show the most if they want to continue wearing the read, white and blue.

It is true that every time a good player steps out on the pitch, he has something to prove, however, some guys have a little less pressure then others. Below is my look at where each of the 20 men on the US roster stand in the pressure cooker.

Heavy pressure
Jonathan Bornstein (D) - He had an amazing d├ębut against Denmark and looked great last year for Chivas, but with so few caps and an interim coach, he needs to prove he really does have it in when it is really needed

Landon Donovan (M) - It is hard to imagine a US team without Donovan, however, with his last good international game coming back in Sept. 2005, it is time to ask if this is really the person around who the team should be built. Good news for him, if there is one team that can excite him, it is Mexico.

Eddie Johnson (F) - Two years ago, I would have never thought Eddie would be in this position, but time can change a lot. He has looked bored in all but World Cup international play and seems unable to get past whatever block is on him. With the offense needing a big reboot, if Eddie doesn't make something happen, it might be time to look elsewhere (see Cooper, Kenny)

Justin Mapp (M) - He has been good in domestic play and made some marks versus Denmark, but with just two caps and a flood of midfield players, Mapp needs to show.

Brian Carroll (M) - Much like Mapp, he is new, but not too new, so he needs to prove that this is a place he deserves to be.

Ricardo Clark (M) - He could almost be Carroll's twin.

Medium pressure
Joe Cannon (GK) - With Matt Reis looking a little less then the best against Denmark, Cannon has a chance to become the MLS based goalkeeper of choice. Now, will he see action?

Chris Albright (D) - He is close to a mainstay with the team, but he has not looked dominating and has had trouble controlling the backline in his last few matches. With younger talent pushing up, he needs to show what his experience has to offer.

Bobby Boswell (D) - Yes, he only has two caps, but his play in those two as well as his play with DC have placed him right were he needs to be. If he can have a good showing tomorrow, he might just have an open invitation to future camps.

Jimmy Conrad (D) - The team wants Conrad to be the leader, much in the style of Reyna. Mexico is a fine way to prove that you have what you need.

Bobby Convey (M) - Looked good last summer and into the fall, but then came the injury. I'm sure he is fine, but no better test then a hard played game.

Chris Rolfe (F) - With no real expectations, he doesn't really have to worry about letting folks down, however, unless he makes some noise, he's not going to get noticed.

Taylor Twellman (F) - The only thing saving him from being in the 'heavy' category his is improved play at the end of 2006 and his hernia surgery. He still needs to prove that he is not just a domestic league player, but with less training time then the others, even a so-so performance will be seen in a good light.

Josh Gros (M) - Another player who doesn't really have a lot expected of him. Little pressure, but also an opening. If he can get some interceptions and setup a few plays, he will earn a smile.

Eddie Robinson (D) - See Gros, however, with Cuauhtemoc Blanco on the pitch for Mexico, Robinson could become an instant hero if he causes Blanco's tamper to explode resulting in a red card.

Low pressure
Pablo Mastroeni (M) - I went back and forth on this one. He has not been in the best of form, but he has been good enough. With his ability to track back, it will be hard to replace him.

Tim Howard (GK) - There are some good goalkeepers available, but Howard is tops till he proves he should not be.

Carlos Bocanegra (D) - If he is healthy and available, he is in the lineup.

Clint Dempsey (M) - As the current star of US soccer, he could crap in Bob Bradley's salad tonight and still be called in tomorrow. He has proved he can play in the big games, now he just needs to prove he can do it even if he is a bit jet lagged.

Talking about Bradley, he's under more then a bit of pressure himself. I hope that the outcome of this game will not decide his future, but one cannot say for sure. New Mexican coach Hugo Sanchez knows he has a big opening to regain the crown of CONCACAF and he wants to use it. Sanchez has other games that he will use to test out players for the summer cups, what is most important to him are the headlines Thursday morning. If Bradley is a good coach, he will use this against them.



Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

I love the line about Dempsey and salad, Mike. Too perfect.

Good approach to the topic as well. I took a different tack (aka - complete fantasy world), but figured there's still enough between our posts to make it worth comparing notes.

Looking forward to the big, big game tomorrow...though not without some butterflies.

6:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home