Your September Questions Answered (Part 3)

Chris Rolfe (ISIphotos.com) 

                                    Photo by ISIphotos.com

Chris Rolfe and Jermaine Jones have never met (that we know of), but they're both key figures in the latest installment of Your Questions Answered.

Rolfe is set to leave the Chicago Fire after the season as a free agent, a move that has plenty of readers asking what went wrong, while Jones' potential arrival to the U.S. national team has USMNT fans anxious to know how he will fit in and when he will arive.

Rolfe and Jones are just a few of the subjects covered in this installment. Other subjects include MLS stadiums, Bob Bradley and Woodstock (don't ask).

Now, onto more of Your Questions Answered: 

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JOSH- Ives, based upon your experience and knowledge, which soccer stadiums are known for being the best in the MLS, top five please?(knowing that Red Bull's will be the crown jewel once completed)

IVES- Here are, for my money, the Top Five stadiums in MLS, taking into account look, location and amenities (not including Red Bull Arena, which will be No. 1 when it opens):

1. Rio Tinto Stadium

2. Home Depot Center

3. BMO Field

4. Pizza Hut Park

5. Toyota Park

Obviously this is only soccer-specific stadiums. If we go with all stadiums, I’d say Qwest Field is probably second or third.

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IAN-Ives, what will be the results of the two remaining US qualifiers (not just winners, give us scores too)?

IVES- I’ll go with Honduras 2, USA 1; USA 2, Costa Rica 0.

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DCD33- Arshavin and Robinho weigh around 140 pounds each, roughly. Would a player that small ever have a chance to develop in a US youth system?

IVES- I think the reasoning behind your question is stuck in stereotypes of a U.S. youth system that has progressed quiet a bit in the past five to ten years. A decade or more ago I might agree with you, but I think this country’s youth soccer system has improved and there are more and more standout prospects of smaller stature as American soccer moves away from over-emphasizing size and strength and increases the emphasis on skill. Players such as Marlon Duran and Michael Stephens are coming up the ranks as smaller players holding their own in the U.S. youth ranks, while new FC Dallas signing and Mexico U.S. Under-17 national team player Bryan Leyva has managed to evolve as a player in the U.S. youth soccer system despite also being small.

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STEVEN Q. URKEL- What will it take for Jeremiah White to get a look with the Nats, beyond the usual pity call-up in January?

IVES- Good question. Considering the dearth of true wingers I have a feeling we will see White in the January camp, which wouldn’t be a pity call-up, but rather a real chance for him to show that he can contribute to the U.S. team. He had a look in 2008 and there must be a reason he didn’t keep getting them.

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ERIC GRIESHEIMER- Ives, When do you think the USMNT will be able to get Jermaine Jones, Castillo in camp/on the feild? When will they be able to tinker with the line up, give Holden, Torres significant playing time?

It looks to me like the Honduras and Costa Rica games will be too important to insert any new players into the line up, even a player of Jones or Castillos quality. Are there Friendlies or other games leading up to the World Cup where Bradley could fine tune his line up?

IVES- Jones doesn’t look likely to be called in this year as he deals with an injury, while Castillo looks more likely to get a call next month. There will be an international fixture date in November where a friendly could be held (assuming the U.S. doesn’t finish in fourth place and has to play a South American team in a World Cup play-in series). I’m sure we’ll get to see some new faces then.

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MIGHTY- Ives, Thanks for the great work!!

What type of impact is Edgar Castillo going to have in out national team?

IVES- It’s tough to say really. He’s got talent, and is a good attacking left back prospect, but the assumptions that he’s going to step in and be Roberto Carlos need to tempered. He has enjoyed success in Mexico, but he’s also had his issues, as evidenced by his unsuccessful stint with Club America. If he can get some national team looks and show that he’s more than a quick attacker with weak defensive skills then he’ll be able to work his way into the shallow left back depth chart, but he needs to do it first, something some U.S. fans are forgetting.

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DOMINICK- Ives, now that Luis has moved on to covering the late-night beat, does this mean you will not get a chance to avenge the FIFA 08 beatdown he applied to you earlier this year?

BTW, love the site.

IVES- Okay, it was 2-0 and I hadn’t played FIFA since 2004. I don’t think I’ll get a rematch now that Luis is busy living the good life as a nightlife writer, partying with rappers and porn stars. He’s come a long way from a kid who spent a month in Germany during the World Cup and never hit the clubs once.

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K- Do you think Freddie Ljunberg will go on loan to Arsenal and do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think this will this be an issue like with Beckham and will this be a trend for all DP's wanting to play the offseason or a way to promote more to come to MLS?

IVES- I doubt Ljungberg goes on loan to Arsenal, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing as long as he came back in time for the start of the 2010 season. It would become an issue if he were going to miss games for Seattle. That said, I’m not so sure he fits in with the current Arsenal squad.

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DA BULL- What's your take on the situation going on in Chicago? Soumare leaves for France after fighting Denis at halftime. Rolfe is leaving for Denmark and said the Fire's contract negotiations were a joke and didn't like the way he was treated. Yet they pay Mapp $220k a year. What gives?

IVES- The situations are all different. The Soumare altercation with Hamlett probably was a product, to some degree, of frustration by Soumare over his transfer situation. Did it help the transfer be completed? It might have helped it along, but I have a feeling the deal happens whether or not Soumare and Hamlett scuffle.

As for Rolfe’s talks with the Fire, it’s clear the Fire didn’t rate him as highly as Rolfe felt he deserved to be rated. They offered Rolfe more than they wound up paying Mapp, 250K per season as opposed to the 220K per season Mapp was signed for. Obviously now, given the way Mapp has fallen off, his re-signing is looking like a flop while letting Rolfe go for free is also looking like a bad move.

Who’s fault is all this? The easy answer is technical director Frank Klopas and Hamlett, but I’ve been hearing for some time now that the team’s managing director, Javier Leon, has been the de facto leader of the Fire front office.

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WALLY- Ives, I never heard any upshot from the second Jozy goal that was disallowed in the El Salvador home qualifier. There was speculation that the call may have been that Jozy was offsides or that Dempsey “fouled” the defender who challenged him when he made the pass to Jozy. Either scenario is completely absurd, but what is stranger is that there has been no clarification about the nature of the call, and no protest or media scrutiny with respect to the insanity of that call. Have you learned anything to enlighten us?

IVES- I haven’t heard anything definitive and after speaking with some people I’d say it’s safe to say we never will. The more likely explanation is that the referee called Dempsey for a foul for sliding in on the eventual pass to Altidore for the goal. If so, it’s an awful call, but the only call that comes close to making sense based on the sequence.

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DAVE- Ives what teams do you feel are the top 5 in the world? Club and international.

IVES- Top Five club teams right now:

FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Inter Milan

Top Five national teams right now:

Brazil, Spain, England, Netherlands, Italy

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SBI FAN- Does John Harkes hate Clint Dempsey? He's always very harsh on Clint when he's commenting one of his games. Is the criticism warranted, or does he single Clint out?

IVES- I’ve heard the criticisms and the truth is that Harkes is always talking about plays that are worthy of criticism, but the fact that he dwells on so many Dempsey plays it winds up sounding like he’s being extra hard on Dempsey. The reality is that Dempsey has had some games where he made several mistakes/bad plays, so if in those games you rip him for those mistakes, it will sound like he’s being singled out.

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DAVID- How do you think the Red Bulls roster will change between the end of this year and the beginning of next year? Will they have a second DP? any ideas on who it will be? Lastly if Williams doesn't get the job with the Red Bulls, after 2 successful interim spells, is he at the top of every other teams wish list for a new coach?

IVES- You have to expect wholesale changes in New York, with half the roster lucky to come back. The Red Bulls will have two first-round draft picks, the No. 2 spot in the MLS allocation order, allocation money for missing the playoffs and a Designated Player slot the team is expected to use. That’s more than enough to make major changes.

Who will the DP be? I have no idea and I don’t think we’ll have a clue until we see who is hired as the team’s general manager.

As for Richie Williams, he deserves a shot at the job, but if he’s not hired for 2010, I can definitely seeing him being a leading candidate for a head job somewhere else.

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JOSH- Do you see Bob Bradley continuing on after WC 2010 or will he step down in order for Gulati to bring in a big name (Guus Hiddink, for example)?

IVES- I think Bradley moves on regardless of what happens in the 2010 World Cup. If the team has a great run, I see him parlaying that into a shot at a job in Europe. If the team has a bad run, he will be replaced.

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DAVID- Who do you see as the powerhouses in MLS next year? With Chicago potentially losing Conde, Rolfe, McBRide, and Blanco. LA potentially losing Donovan and Beckham for part of the year again. Lastly Houston potentially losing Clark and Holden. Who comes out on top next year? Seattle? Columbus?

IVES- It’s way too early to tell who will be powers in 2010 but I’d say Columbus will be there regardless of what happens. Yes, Schelotto could retire, but the Crew showed it can win without him. Who else will be there? If Blanco comes back next season then the Fire is still a power (and no, he’s not definitely back, if he were definitely back in 2010 a contract would have been signed by now). Houston could lose Holden and Clark, but I’d put good money on Dom Kinnear re-loading the roster. One team that COULD be a force in 2010 is the Red Bulls, that’s if the team hires the right head coach and GM to take advantage of all the mechanisms the club will have to bolster the roster.

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BINGERS AT NOON- I heard through a reputable source that you are the mystery baby born at Woodstock. Care to confirm or deny?

IVES- Come on now? You think I’m 40? I’m old, but not that old. I turn 35 next week so no, I was nowhere near upstate New York in 1969.

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AJ- I realize that I may be too fond of Maurice Edu, but based on what I have read of his play in Scotland, is there any difference at all in skill level between him and Jones? I realize both are ahead of Clark, but once all legs are healed, does Jones provide something that Edu doesn't? Other than speaking German of course.

IVES- I’m not sure it’s fair to try and compare Edu to Jones. Let’s think about this rationally. Edu started a handful of matches for Rangers at the end of last season while Jones has a long and successful career playing in the German Bundesliga. Let’s see Edu settle in as a starter for an extended period of time before we go calling him Michael Essien based on a few good starts.

If both are healthy, I’d say Jones is clearly the better player, but Edu does have more upside.

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MANIC MESSIAH- Who is Michael Bradley's ideal partner in the center of midfield?

This might be harder to answer, but when both our central midfielders get caught upfield, is it Michael Bradley needing to choose his moments more carefully, or his partner needing to read his runs better?

IVES- I think Bradley and Feilhaber could work well together but they did struggle with the timing of their runs against El Salvador. Bradley has worked well with Clark in the past because Clark doesn’t really make surging runs forward often (the goal vs. T&T being the exception to the rule). If Bradley and Feilhaber ever develop a good understanding and timing of their runs, they would be the ideal central midfield pairing.

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MODIBO- What do you make of Chris Rolfe's decision to move to Denmark – did he have his Nats future in mind?

And what do you think the prospects are for the Fire next year, since they'll be without him, Soumare, Blanco, and probably Brown and Conde as well?

IVES- I think it was a combination of Rolfe wanting to make significantly more money than Chicago was offering, wanting to play in Europe and not wanting to lock himself into an MLS contract right before the MLS CBA was to expire.

I wrote about the state of the Fire for ESPN recently and the reality is the club stands to lose a handful of key players, with Soumare and Rolfe already gone. If Chicago can keep Blanco and Pappa, to go with Conde (one more year on his deal), Thorrington, Ward and Busch, that’s not a bad nucleus to work with. They’d still be a strong team, but would need to replace several players (and possibly a head coach).

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PATRICK- Ives, any chance you see the USA and Mexico jumping from CONCACAF to CONMEBOL? I think it would help both programs to have to play against better competition to qualify for the World Cup, similar to Australia switching from Oceania to Asia. At this point both programs are all but guaranteed qualifying for the WC every 4 years, so what's the incentive to improve?

This would also trickle down to the club level, swine flu restrictions excluded.

IVES- Ever since Australia made its move to Asia we’ve been hearing this ludicrous theory. I’ve answered this before, but will do so again. THIS WILL NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

Could CONCACAF be better? Yes, but does CONCACAF’s strength relative to CONMEBOL keep Mexico and the United States from wanting to improve? No, that’s crazy talk. If anything, CONCACAF is improving, so there’s still plenty of incentive for Mexico and USA to improve.

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What do you think of these answers? Agree? Disagree?

Share your thoughts below.

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85 Responses to Your September Questions Answered (Part 3)

  1. sonicdeathmonkey says:

    I spit my drink all over my keyboard when you mentioned the possibility of Bradley coaching in Europe. Thanks Ives. ;)

    (SBI-Laugh if you want but while some U.S. fans think Bob Bradley is clueless, Bradley was busy getting a ton of credit and respect from European media for leading the USA to the Confederations Cup final. Luckily for Bradley, his chances of landing in Europe aren’t based on the rumblings and opinions of U.S. fans, particularly the ones who’ve never given him an ounce of credit from day one. If he leads the USA to a strong World Cup, he will have chances in Europe.)

  2. tsingletonvt says:

    Ives,

    Could you please clear up why the Red Bulls will have two DP slots available next year? I am sure that you are correct, but I thought that the DP thing was only for three years and then would be reconsidered after three years. I guess I assumed that when Chivas traded their DP slot for Guevara that they only traded the DP slot for the three years. If I misunderstood, then how long will NYRB hold a second DP slot and how long will Chivas USA be without one?

    Thanks!

    (SBI-I had always heard it was for five years if the league approved the continuation of the DP rule, which is clearly going to happen. It would have ended after three years if MLS had killed the DP rule. That’s my understanding.)

  3. tsingletonvt says:

    I also should have said that I am sure MLS will renew the DP concept, but do you think they will make the concept and its rules permanent or will they put a time limit on the DP rules again?

    Thanks!

  4. kjk_40b says:

    Ives, any idea what the tiebreakers are after points and goal differential in CONCACAF WCQ? I assume goals scored, but not positive.

    I was reading your response about the disallowed goal by Altidore against El Salvador and checked and found that it is possible that we lose out to Honduras based on goal differential if we tie on points. Obviously a lot will change after these next two matches, but it is conceivable.

  5. Nick says:

    Ives I think you’re a little off with the ideal central midfield pairing including Bradley. Right now I say it’s a toss up between him, Jones/Edu even though both are injured, or just a big stick for the opposition to trip over, paired with Feilhaber or Torres. Bradley’s consistency and overall impetus to make a mark on the game (outside of the ref’s ears or opposition shins) has been in steady decline since he fell out of favor with the Borussia M’gladbach manager.

    If you could do me a favor, please ask BB this question following the Honduras and Costa Rica games: “Why is it that lack of playing time with their clubs kept players like Freddy Adu and [others that I can't think of now] on the bench in the beginning of the year, yet your son and Onyewu continue to play despite not getting regular PT with their clubs? Are there players to whom this rule doesn’t apply?”

    While I’m not promoting starting Chad Marshall in place of Gooch for the Honduras match, someone has to call him on his BS response to the Freddy and [others] omissions earlier in the year. I’m also not proclaiming Freddy to be the prodigal son of US Soccer, just wondering why he’s treating players differently.

    (SBI-Nick, let’s see if I follow your logic. Since Michael Bradley, who is coming off of consecutive strong seasons in Europe, has had a bad month he should be passed over “right now” by two players who are injured? Really? Not sure Jones and Edu would get much done “right now” by limping around the pitch. Even if both were healthy, and Bradley was on form, how has Edu show anything remotely close to what Bradley has shown over his past two years in Europe? Here’s a hint. He hasn’t.

    Also, Bradley’s benching came three weeks ago, so using your terminology, he “fell out of favor” three weeks ago. So you’re saying he’s had a “steady decline” over the course of three weeks? Really?

    As for the Bob Bradley/Freddy Adu stuff, Freddy Adu isn’t good enough right now. Period. It’s not just a case of him not getting regular playing time for his club. he’s NEVER gotten playing time on a steady basis in Europe and hasn’t played steadily since 2006 (unless you count his brief stint with RSL). He got a shot in the Gold Cup and was awful.

    Lastly, comparing Adu’s situation to Oguchi Onyewu’s is ridiculous. Onyewu is a proven and established national team starter and was as a leading starter on a Belgian champion before a summer transfer, and who has yet to break through since moving to AC MILAN. Read that again, AC MILAN. The Freddy fans have clamped their jaws on Bradley’s “Freddy needs to play regularly” response and beaten it to death as a so-called example of a double standard. It’s not a case of a double standard, it’s a case of a coach trying to be diplomatic about a player who doesn’t deserve any more looks or playing time than he’s gotten for the national team. Adu needs to go somewhere and play and GROW as a player. That’s the point about the playing time. The idea of playing time isn’t to check off some arbitrary box on a list of requirements to play for the national team. The idea is that Adu is a young player who’s career and skills have stagnated the past two years and who desperately needs to play regularly on the club level before gets serious national team consideration again.

    I appreciate your passion for the national team Nick, but your theories are a tad misguided. At least that’s my opinion.)

  6. Mike says:

    I don’t know why the US would ever join CONMEBOL. Not only would CONMEBOL not want to screw up their own round-robin home and away qualification system, but I don’t really see how we would benefit much more. We’ve got a standing invitation to play in the Copa America most any year we want; we play Brazil and Argentina once or twice each WC cycle, and we usually schedule a CONMEBOL team every year. The only difference would come at WC qualifying, and I doubt that CONMEBOL would even be able to steal a full two bids from CONCACAF (7th place finisher out of 12 in a playoff? Just strange.)

    Right now, we’ve got an open path to the World Cup. Not making the World Cup would be more devastating to US soccer than anything else.

  7. golfstrom says:

    Ives, great set of Q&A, and even greater job putting the smackdown on the delusional questions. Speaking of which…

    “Bradley’s consistency and overall impetus to make a mark on the game (outside of the ref’s ears or opposition shins) has been in steady decline since he fell out of favor with the Borussia M’gladbach manager.”

    Dude, what are you talking about. How you could come to that conclusion after 2 huge games that we won is beyond me. “overall impetus to make a mark on the game”…i mean, please.

  8. RLW2020 says:

    BB coaching in europe.. haven’t heard that yet. could happen? maybe?

    how about Guus or Klinsmann to be the next US coach and BB take over in Chicago. not because i don’t think he can do it but it would be great for the mls to have a coach like that again.

  9. RLW2020 says:

    and why we would not be playing CONMEBOL.. because we are clearly in North America! look at a map.. also we are the big fish here lets stay.

  10. scott47a says:

    Some quick thoughts:

    1) Ives is awesome for doing this (though there is nothing wrong with being over 40, sonny.)

    2) Clint Dempsey deserves a lot of the criticism he gets from Harkes and others. I love Dempsey on our team, but he often showboats, goes down too easy and gets very lazy. If he could make his game more consistent he could pass Donovan as the best American player on the planet, IMO.

    3) In regards to recent comments let me just express my exasperation for the number of people who try and compare Michael Bradley to Freddy Adu. The criticism of M. Bradley and the undying love for Adu, coupled together, boggles the mind.

    (SBI- Hey, not ripping on 40, just not ready to be there just yet. I also agree with your No. 3. Definitely mind-boggling.)

  11. Alex says:

    Australia is clearly not in Asia… Just saying…

    (SBI-Nobody said it was (we’re talking soccer federations), but Australia’s circumstances in Oceania, and Asia’s decision to invite Australia to join, just are nowhere near the same situation with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. As much as some delusional USA fans have dreams of playing qualifiers against Brazil and Argentina, it’s never going to happen.)

  12. Joe Goldstein says:

    In regards to the Harkes thing, he does that to the Red Bulls too. They deserve it this year, but last year when they were playing fairly well, he was pretty negative. Alexi does the same thing anytime the team is mentioned. I suppose getting your walking papers would definitely bring out the worst in you.

    (SBI-It’s tough to take the criticisms or analysis seriously of someone who was fired by the team he’s criticizing. It’s just a tough spot and as you said, while any criticism of the team is pretty much fair this year, it was tough to listen to Harkes’ criticize the team in 2008 when he was fresh off being let go.)

  13. Nate(Sounders) says:

    Quest is Soccer specific. The city wouldn’t appprove its construction otherwise.

    (SBI-I think the Seattle Seahawks would disagree with you calling Qwest Field “soccer-specific).

  14. roysterer says:

    Why would a US fan want the US in CONMEBOL? Do you want to start not qualifying for the World Cup (knock on wood)?

    And you know who’s regional assignment really blows? Israel’s. If it wasn’t for the extreme danger of the Israeli team playing in Arab countries they could be in Asia, and actually get to play in the World Cup sometimes.

  15. Tim says:

    @nate sorry to inform you, but soccer specific means that its primary use is for soccer. I’m not saying that quest wasn’t built with a great deal of soccer considerations, but the turf alone is proof that its main use is throwball.

  16. harry says:

    Rio Tinto has the most beautiful Grass Patterned field it kind of looks like Arsenal’s home ground………obviously the problem with rio tinto is once you get past the Field and the lower bowlwhich looks World Class..the upperdeck and roofing looks kind of like Minor League(i know MLS and its teams arent that rich yet to make it look like Emirates, im just saying). I cant wait to the day all MLS stadiums look World Class. Red bull Arena will be the first.

    Also Ives….whats preventing all the new recent MLS stadiums from being built like Stamford Bridge and tottenhams Home Ground where the Front row behind the goals and sidelines is basically on the field rather than being so far away. Ive always thought watching the fans reactions as a goal happens is the best thing and then the player goes and runs into the crowd with the TV angle on it….it kind of looks dull after a goal and their are no fans in sight to see the stadiums reaction. Its why i always hate when the World Cup final is played in a stadium with a Track around it; where the fans are 3 Miles away.

  17. Brian says:

    Nick you just got mothereffin’ owned by Ives.

  18. harry says:

    wait Ives in a another topic you said Goodsen was showed well in the Gold Cup but freddy was awful? they both had one stinker of a game……..Goodsne got a pass form the Mexico Thrashing and Freddy gets butchered. if it was in reference to Expectations than i guess your right but you usually dont rate Freddy that high so if thats the case i dont get how Goodsen did well and Adu was awful.

    (SBI-What did Freddy do in the Gold Cup? Goodson had multiple good games in the Gold Cup, even scored a goal in the Gold Cup. Also, Goodson’s awful game was a game where A) everybody played poorly and B) most of the damage came after the US was a man down, so trying to put the blame on Goodson for the Mexico game is absurd. As for Freddy Adu, he got the start against Grenada, had a good game vs. a weak opponent (I’m sure you’ll say he was dazzling given your track record), then was flat atrocious against Honduras. It was nobody else’s fault that Adu had a bad game. He lost the ball nearly EVERY time he got it. Was pushed off the ball like a rag doll and still managed to commit his own turnovers with some bad passes (though I’m sure there was at least one sweet move you’ll hang your hat on given your love of the guy). Goodson had a good game vs. Grenada, very good game vs. Panama and a good game vs. Honduras before the bad showing vs. Mexico.

    And I don’t have issues with Adu, I’m just realistic about his performances, which some of his fans (including you) are absolutely not. That’s all well and good, you’re entitled to your opinion, but when you go on and on and on trying to defend a player whose case is as weak as Adu’s you just sound awful doing it. How about giving up and letting the kid get his career in order. He doesn’t need you trying to make lame cases for him. If anything, it makes it worse for him. I’m sure your comment reminded plenty of people just how bad he was against Honduras.)

  19. FC Dallas fan says:

    “One team that COULD be a force in 2010 is the Red Bulls, that’s if the team hires the right head coach and GM to take advantage of all the mechanisms the club will have to bolster the roster.”

    Ives you could say this about ANY MLS team when looking at potential for next year. IF they make the RIGHT moves they COULD be a force. NYRB has no more potential than any other MLS team in fact they have less than most because they are absolute crap and need to completely rebuild and HOPE the pieces they get come together and play well.

    (SBI-Maybe you don’t follow MLS much but teams that finish worst in the league have been shown to have big rebounds far more frequently than you would expect because of the things teams that miss the playoffs get, such as high draft picks and allocations. New York had its worst season ever before this year (and still one of the worst seasons ever) in 1999. That failure helped pave the way for the team having its best season ever. KC had the second worst record in 1999 and came back and won MLS Cup in 2000. Columbus had the fourth fewest points in MLS in 2007 and came back to win MLS Cup in 2008. In 2007 Real Salt Lake had the second-worst record in MLS, in 2008 RSL came within a 1-0 loss of MLS Cup.

    Red Bulls are a bad team and a bad roster, but some pieces are in place and with two first round picks, allocation money from being the worst team in MLS, and a second DP slot, it can certainly come right back in 2010, especially if Red Bull hires the right people (as the MetroStars did before the 2000 season). Of course, they still have to actually do that, and there’s no guarantee they do, but my point remains that the circumstances are in place for New York to have a major turnaround season. I’d bet on them having a major turnaround before I’d bet on San Jose or FC Dallas or Kansas City.

    Point is that in MLS, more than any other pro league in American sports, a team can go from outhouse to penthouse because of the cap and league rules. Red Bulls have a second DP to use, and have the owners ready to use it. No other team has that. Red Bulls have two first-round picks, including the No. 2 overall pick. How many other teams have that? Red Bulls will also have the allure of a new stadium, a real stadium, to attract new players and potentially a quality new head coach and GM. What other team has a stadium opening that’s as impressive as New York’s? Nobody.

    All those reasons are why the Red Bulls, in my opinion, could very well be a team that enjoys a dramatic turnaround in 2010. Yes, any team COULD turn things around, but I’m saying New York have a good chance to, which would be far more shocking in the eyes of some, including apparently you.)

  20. patrick says:

    just to clarify,
    it wasn’t this patrick that asked that question. The us going to conmebol would result in fewer world cups, more losses and thus more ammo for the anti US soccer crowd. It would kill any momentum the US soccer movement has. Lets stay in concacaf and enjoy some success while we experience these growing pains

  21. Portugal! says:

    Is Bryan Leyva part of the US u17 or Mexico’s u17. I’m not sure since you put both.

    Some of my buddies pass me some of his youtube videos and this kid has some skills.

    (SBI-I didn’t put both, I wrote that he plays for Mexico’s U-17s, but he’s grown up playing in the U.S. youth soccer system, NOT youth national team system. There’s a difference.)

  22. DC Josh says:

    CONCACAF is getting stronger as is apparent by the close finish. Honduras is loaded with European-based players, Costa Rica has a lot of talented young players, and Mexico is Mexico. CONMEBOL is the second best Confederation in the world behind UEFA, to compare CONCACAF to CONMEBOL is unfair. Here are the confed. rankings IMO:

    1. UEFA
    2. CONMEBOL
    3. Africa
    4. CONCACAF
    5. Asia
    6. Oceania

    CONCACAF is still mediocre, but I wouldn’t be surprised if two of the teams that qualify make it out of the group stage, barring another group of death for the US.

  23. DC Josh says:

    By the way, Ives, when are you going to bring back another edition of questions for US players. I loved that feature. Don’t let your old age get to you ;)

    (SBI-Working on it.)

  24. steve says:

    chris rolf got stiffed by the fire he ids the type of player we need to keep but we dont oh well best wishes chris who can blame him

  25. Never First says:

    Ives, I understand why you feel some fans are too harsh on Bradley. I think he is the one American who could coach in Europe if he starts off in the 2nd or 3rd division somewhere and establishes himself.

    However, it is not out of line to criticize Bradley. The Egypt match was the first time I have seen the full national team play inspired soccer since Bradley became coach. Was it because of the manager? No. It was because the players got ticked off about being mocked by the media. Just listen to the post-match interviews, and you will hear that. Why is it that Bradley cannot motivate his players against teams like Costa Rica and El Salvador? Yes, he will qualify the U.S. for the World Cup, but in this region, is that really impressive? I have seen nothing in Bradley’s tenure to suggest the national team is any better than it was 4 years ago. That is the mark of a great coach.

    (SBI-I love how me saying that some fans don’t give him credit is the same as me saying Bradley deserves no criticism. Guess what? It isn’t. Bradley can get his share of criticism, as all coaches can, but I do think some people, at times, are a bit misguided with their criticism and some people were clearly never fans of him to begin with and pounced as soon as there were issues to be critical of.

    As for your theories as to why the USMNT played well vs. Egypt, I’d say you might not want to quit your day job to become a psychologist. Michael Bradley has a rant after the match about nobody believing in the team so therefore the team must have played hard because of media and fan criticism and not the coach, right? But when the team has flat performances, THEN it’s Bradley’s fault. Okay, I suppose you can believe any theory you choose but I’d say that your theories regarding motivation are extremely flimsy.

    As for Bradley not qualifying the team in impressive fashion, here’s a few questions. Do you really think CONCACAF is flat awful and the same as it was four or eight years ago? I would argue that it is much tougher. That doesn’t excuse some of the performances by the US this cycle, but what exactly is running away with the qualifying group worth? Last time I checked the USA ran away with the group in 2005 and what did that get the team eight months later at the World Cup? Not much. In 2001 the team struggled to qualify and reached the quarters in 2002. So who knows? Perhaps a tough qualifying round is as good a preperation as any for a U.S. team ahead of the World Cup.

    And please tell me your definition of “inspired soccer”? Was the scoreless tie vs. Argentina in 2008 not really that impressive? Was the Gold Cup final victory over Mexico not “inspired”? Was the 2-0 win vs. Mexico in 2007, when Mexico fielded its strongest possible team and the USA did not, not an inspired performance?

    Is the team better now than it was pre-Bradley? I’d say while the team has had some recently struggles against teams you wouldn’t expect it to struggle against, I would also say that the team has shown FAR more against top competition during Bradley’s tenure than in cycles before him. For that reason alone I would say that the current U.S. team is far more battle-tested against top world competition than any U.S. team before it, and credit for that, at least in part, goes to Bradley.

    I would also ask you this. Why would you think that the progression of a national team occurs on a non-ending cycle and consistent progress is the only sign of success? Last time I checked Bradley had to guide this team through a major transition that saw several of the program’s best players retire. That gets easily forgotten by the folks more concerned with pointing out Bradley’s flaws than giving him credit for transitioning the program to a new generation. Has he made some mistakes along the way? Sure, but he’s also gotten plenty right and something tells me if his name were Fabio Klinsmann and not Bob Bradley he’d get more credit from some people.

    Go ahead and dislike Bradley as a head coach, that’s your perogative and right, but at least provide a better argument for why you think he’s been a bad coach than the one you did. I’ve certainly heard and read some better arguments, and I agree with some points and some criticisms, but the notion that he’s a bad coach or has held the team back isn’t a theory I subscribe to.)

  26. harry says:

    umm Ives what you say about me for Adu..you kind of do worse for Ching… Like blaming Chings turnovers and invisableness vs Mexico on the other US players and lack of Mid-field play. and speaking of outside of the one Back-heel pass from ching in the Semi’s, Ching lost the ball just as much as Freddy Adu did in that Gold Cup……of coarse you never mentioned those in your play-by-play…but i did see alot of Freddy is playig terrible one-liners.

    (SBI-Harry, you hate Ching and love Adu. Your comments bear that out, so of course you’re going to point out any compliment made about Ching and any criticism of Adu. I did happen to think that part of the reason Ching struggled was because the midfield was played off the pitch and he’s not someone who’s going to do things on his own. That’s not me being a Ching lover, that’s me analyzing the game based on what I see, and not on my preferences. Harry, your fascination with Adu is overboard, and up until I called you out about it, 99 percent of your comments were Adu-related. All I will ask you one last time is to please provide more to the conversations on this website than your defenses of Adu and your conspiracy theories about the national team and MLS.

    You also never answered my question about how old you are. I’m sticking with 17 as a guess. Care to tell us?)

  27. Michael F. - SBI Mafia Original says:

    Ives, 40 is not old. It’s the new 30.

    (SBI-Okay Hova.)

  28. Mark says:

    1. Kartik Krishnayar is also a big Bob Bradley supporter. Personally I don’t think he’s good enough to be successful in Europe but there are plenty of worse coaches there.

    2. I think Sacha Kljestan could be a good partner for Michael Bradley when he regains his form. What do you think?

    (SBI-I would be curious to see how Bradley would do in a different country. I’ll say this, and it gets easily forgotten, but he had great relationships with Hristo Stoitchkov and Youri Djorkaeff, to of the most accomplished players to ever play in MLS, and both of them would vouch for Bradley being able to coach in Europe.

    As for Kljestan, I do think they could be a good tandem, but I think Kljestan needs to focus on his club form. He’s still young and has time to develop.)

  29. Portugal! says:

    I’m with Ives on this one, Bradley could hang the rest of the European coaches. I’ve read interviews with coaches who have gone abroad form the Americas and they all say the same, the only difference is the quality in the players. The practices, training, tactics, ect are all very similar, but the quality in players is much higher.

  30. TimR says:

    Ives – thank you for injecting a little bit of perspective regarding both Bradleys. Michael Bradley seems to get absolutely no credit (among many US fans) for a fairly long string of successful European seasons. That coupled with his youth (yes, he’s still young) would have US fans drooling over his potential if he didn’t have the same last name as the coach.

    (SBI-Agreed Tim. If I had told some of Bradley’s sharpest critics to think back to say three years ago and I told them there’d be an American midfielder who scored 16 goals in the Dutch league and then moved to Germany and spends a season as a starter in the Bundesliga, and that player then scores two goals in a World Cup qualifying win vs. Mexico, all by the age of 21, they would have told me that player is their hero. Michael Bradley? All it took was a few shaky qualifiers and a benching by his club coach in a one-month span to have folks turn on him faster than Usain Bolt. It’s pretty ridiculous, but again, fans will be fans, and people will believe what they want.)

  31. fischy says:

    Can someone instruct on the capitalization rules employed by Harry of the post:

    harry | September 17, 2009 at 07:29 PM

    Truly an amazing post. Very maverick-y…or, should that be Maverick-y?

  32. kfly says:

    “You also never answered my question about how old you are. I’m sticking with 17 as a guess. Care to tell us?”

    Ouch. Today, I learned not to piss of Ives, or else he can and will publicly insult me. Too bad Harry didn’t know this before he decided to comment…

    As for our central midfield:

    I don’t think Bradley is a good fit there at all. He’s a great player, but I want to see a purely defensive midfielder (Jones/Edu) and a creative attacking midfielder (Feilhaber/Torres). Bradley is neither; he is a combination of both, and has weaknesses (along with many strengths) on both sides of the ball. I would just feel more comfortable with an enforcer like Jones playing alongside someone who can get forward, run the offense, and then get back and defend, as well (something both Torres and Feilhaber are excellent at). Maybe after Jones retires, we could see a Bradley-Feilhaber combo, because they work very well together, but for now I’d really rather have Jones alongside a creative guy (which, again, MB is not).

    (SBI-KFLY, the whole thing with Harry has been an on-going thing and Harry has done some things and said some things in the past that have led me to question how old he is. It’s an honest question, and one he hasn’t bothered to answer.)

  33. Brian S. says:

    Ives, any chance we see Jose Francisco Torres in the lineup any time soon? He came on against El Salvador and really made an impact, nearly scoring. Given the US’ struggles with keeping possession in the midfield, he seems like he would be a more natural fit in there than someon like, say Rico Clark. I would say a midfield of Donovan and Dempsey on the wings with Bradley and Torres might have some punch, with Feilhaber coming on for either of those 2 central midfielders if we need a boost late.

  34. BlueWhiteLion says:

    Fabio Klinsmann??? Where the CRAP did you pull that name out from, lol!!!

    PS. Something must have been in your food, Ives. Deserved or not, you definitely seemed on a rampage in some answers.

    Did you read Wahl’s interview with BB? I had never heard him go on at length like that. Was very interesting. Definitely a deep thinker, set in his perspective. Sounded a bit like a rambling Rainman, too. Certain phrases repeated a lot. I wonder how his thinking/speaking style affects his ability to focus the team.

    As for me, I have no clue what I am talking about. Goodnight.

  35. Rocco says:

    I think Bradley will fit in Europe much better than he does into Freddy Adu’s warm-up pants.

    Seriously, Ives, thanks for the entertaining Whack-A-Mole commentary against the nutty Bradley(s) bashing.

  36. andrew in tampa says:

    About MB- I think he has had a solid club career so far, but I think his contributions to the Nats is overrated. He’s not a great tackler. Doesn’t read the game great defensively. he has a knaack for the goal but is a questionable ball striker. Look at all the terrible shots from outside the box instead of passing.
    I’m not saying he doesn’t belong on the USMNT, I just don’t think he deserves to start every game, and I think there are games when he is definitely spent and should be subbed when his dad subs someone else.
    If and when we get a new head coach i will be happy to reevaluate my assessment- even admit i was wrong. But right now I just don’t think he is as good as he is being given credit for.

  37. Adam says:

    Theoritical question for you Ives. If you took your top 5 clubs and pit them against the top 5 national squads (ignoring the obvious redundencies of players) – how does it shake out?

  38. Me says:

    anyone object to this…

    Altidore Davies

    Donovan Bradley Dempsey

    Jones

    Castillos Boca/Demerit Gooch Spector

    Howard

    I leabve boca as an alt cuz boc has looked terrible (to me) lately…not as terrible as Bornstein though

  39. davidaubudavid says:

    “I don’t think Bradley is a good fit there at all. He’s a great player, but I want to see a purely defensive midfielder (Jones/Edu) and a creative attacking midfielder (Feilhaber/Torres). Bradley is neither; he is a combination of both, and has weaknesses (along with many strengths) on both sides of the ball.”

    I do not understand this. Why would you not want one central midfielder who is good at both defending and attacking than wasting two spots for roughly the same talent?

    Lets look at this on a point scale. I will say (granted this is my own perspective) that out of 10 bradley is a 6 at defending and also a 6 at attacking. Now lets say feilhaber is a 8 at attacking and a 2 at defending while jones is the reverse with a 8 at defense and a 2 on offense. So if you put two bradley equivalent players together you get an overall 12 on offense and 12 on defense. If you put jones and feilhaber together you get a 10 on both offense and defense.

    Another way to look at it is that you get two players decent in the attack. Maybe neither are as good as an all out attacking player (feilhaber) is but at the same time you have two options, two people for the other team to defend and two people to help play off of one another.

    Why would you want to buy a refrigerator and freezer separately when you could get the combo?

    ps. I do not honestly believe feilhaber is an all out attacking player. I believe it is more of his mentality/ given role than what his overall skill shows. I was just using him as an example since that is how most of us see him. I think he could be great both defensively and offensively given the opportunities and time to play it with bradley.

  40. harry says:

    Ives, all you have done is show a double standard and say i have been going way over-board on Adu,..which in the last few months i barley talk about him…because as of right now he stinks just like Beasley uless he gets back into form. I brought up ching for a reason to see what you would say..and you said excalty what i thought you would say “I hate Ching and Love Adu” which i used the Mexico game to show chings self-inflcited turnovers similar to Adu in the Gold-Cup and you did not point them out in your review at all. Also speaking of the Gold Cup i dont even think i even mentioned that Adu was good. I only mentioned he is playing that poor because he hadent play in over a year. I know i was only estactic about his 27-yead Chip Vs Grenada that almost went in. Which i think you also was estatic about it.

    (SBI-Harry, Ching’s form isn’t great, I’ll be the first to admit that, but you trying to use his performance vs. Mexico as an example of how he’s as bad as Adu is weak. Ching’s still someone who is useful to the national team right now. Adu isn’t. That will hopefully change with time for Adu, but right now that’s the case. I’m done with this subject Harry. Move on.)

  41. jayrig5 says:

    I’m not going to go all psychological and try to determine player motivation for various matches. But I will say that if you want to pick the Egypt game as a turning point for the USA under Bradley, then it is fair to say that he was helped by finally being forced to do something different with the lineup. If Boca hadn’t been hurt, Demerit and Onyewu wouldn’t have gotten the time together that they did. If Cherundolo hadn’t been hurt, Spector never would have played. (And, lets remember, Bradley went with Marvell Wynne against Costa Rica, if Wynne hadn’t been completely awful we may have seen him for the entirety of South Africa.) Charlie Davies only played after Ching got hurt, and then only started after Conor Casey looked awfully slow and Bradley was forced to use Donovan and Dempsey on the wings when it became apparent that Beasley was a completely ineffective option. (Finally apparent to Bradley, that is. Beasley should have been nowhere near the field considering his level of match fitness.) So. Spector, Davies, Demerit. Three of the biggest finds of the year, if you think about who’s made the biggest strides toward a starting role. None of them would have started if everyone had been healthy, and it’s likely few would have gotten any minutes at all. That’s where I give Bradley no credit, because injuries forced him to field a lineup featuring names many had been calling for. And then that “many” were proven right. (That was, probably, grammatically terrible. My apologies harry, I know you’re a harsh critic on these matters.)

  42. Marquis de la Ponte Burnside says:

    Is ACES Lame?

  43. Socrates says:

    Ives – the extended commentary is fantastic. Thanks. Now that you’ve taken on “Adu-is-good,” “M. Bradley-plays-due-to-nepotism” and “Bob-Bradley-is-terrible” perhaps you can address a few other myths:
    USMNT-should-only-start-guys-playing-regularly-for-top-European-clubs,”
    “all-the-good-players-will-leave-MLS-next-month-for-Europe,” and
    “people’s-comments-on-soccer-websites-helped-the-US-at-Confed-Cup.”

  44. Jeremy says:

    Hey Ives- I’ll be 35 in a couple weeks too. (in case you wanted to send me a card)

    With Bob Bradley possibilites in Europe- would it be a Danish, Austrian type league club side or an Albania, Estonia, Macedonia level national team? Or are both equal possiblities?

    (SBI-Why in the world would Bradley go coach one of those national teams? It’s just a theory of mine but I’d think he’d be looking to coach at a lower level in the UK somewhere. I know Bradley loves a challenge and the next challenge for him, and one not undertaken by an American head coach yet, is to go to Europe and find some success there as a head coach. His children are grown now so I could see him going for it.)

  45. indypaul says:

    Can someone explain to me why MLS lets players leave on a “FREE” transfer?

    If Chicago were never going to meet Rolfe’s salary demands, why didn’t they sell him to Europe and earn some transfer money?

    I understand under current salary cap restrictions, they are limited in their ability to meet player salary demands. At least sell the players and get some money for them.

  46. MVK says:

    @ harry w/ the thing about stadiums:

    check out the renderings for the Wizards new one in KS, just waiting on the state to vote on it now but from what I have heard from my family involved in KS politics, it should be passed. downthebyline.com put up some pic from the season ticket holder open practice/info session before the Chivas vs Club American game

  47. Steve says:

    Is Special One TV back on the air with new episodes?

  48. Chris de RBNY says:

    “As much as some delusional USA fans have dreams of playing qualifiers against Brazil and Argentina, it’s never going to happen.”

    Hope you’re right. If we lose the next two games . . .

  49. teddo1 says:

    Ives, you’ve been hinting at it, but which teams do you think are going to be a surprise in South Africa? Can you see a team like Russia or Paraguay making the top 8? You mentioned Ivory Coast a little while ago.

  50. Stephen L says:

    Hi Ives: Concerning Michael Bradley, why does he have an automatic starting spot in the US central midfield? What has he really done for the Nats since the Mexico game in February? – aside from making silly fouls, getting yellow cards (and suspensions), making poorly timed runs forward that leave huge gaps in the center of field, poor passing and distribution. I realize that BB’s hands are tied with injuries to Edu and Jones, but why not start Rico as a DM and Benny as an attacking mid? Both played really well over the summer, but were never paired together until MB was suspended, leaving BB with no other option.

    I believe that MB’s best position for the Nats is an outside midfielder. His best year in Europe was at Herenveen where they played a 4-3-3 and he was used as a winger, making late runs into the box and scoring a ton of goals. When Edu, Jones, Clark, MB, and Benny are all healty and available, what will BB do?

    This is not a rant against BB and MB. I just think that right now, MB isn’t talented enough or experienced enough to play as a center-mid for the Nats, but offers enough athletic ability and skills to help at a different position.

    What do you think?

    Stephen

    (SBI-I disagree with most of your assessments of Bradley. His play the past handful of matches have been below his usual level, but for you to basically ignore his performance in the Confederations Cup (as well as his game vs. T&T in Nashville) when going on your “He’s done nothing since Mexico” rant leaves me wondering how closely and honestly you’ve been watching and judging him. As for his “automatic” selection, I would imagine that Bob Bradley, like any other coach, selects his best players, and doesn’t shake things up based on a player having a few subpar games (particularly when others are also performing below par). He’s better than Feilhaber and Clark and a dip in form hasn’t changed that. Feilhaber has played well lately (though most of his impressive showings have come as a sub) so a Bradley-Feilhaber pairing may be the preferred choice going forward, but I haven’t seen a case made for why Bradley needs to be benched, at least not a good one. The “He hasn’t been benched in two years, it’s time” and “there are better options in central midfield” arguments don’t really carry ring true right now in my opinion. I know some conspiracy theorists insist that Bob Bradley chooses his son over better players, but I’m pretty sure that if Bob Bradley had better options to his son he would use them. And if there were better options, I’d be saying so, but there aren’t better options, only different options.)

  51. Frank Borghi says:

    Getting an opportunity to play up front instead on the right side might have played a role in Rolfe leaving the Fire. Chris is a high quality finisher (e.g., his recent goal against RSL) and most comfortable and effective in a 2nd striker role. He hasn’t had that opportunity on a steady basis since Osorio moved him out right a few years ago.

  52. David says:

    Hi Ives,

    Thanks for answering a couple of my questions. I am optimistic about what next year holds for RBNY.

    With regard to the discussion on Bradley above I think in general his stint as coach has been a success. Just this year they have made it to 2 finals and are on top of their qualifying group but in general I think most critics, myself included, think the team has the talent to play better than they do. It seems that when the style of team doesn’t live up to its talent then the coach is the one who gets the blame. That may be unfair. Perhaps we all think better of the players than we should. Perhaps the problem is more the time they get to train together. In general it just seems like his mentality is more concervative then neccesary versus regional opponents. While it has proved effective I can’t imagine the players wanted to play a counter attacking game against T&T, but who know. I guess only Bradley and the players.

    (SBI-There’s definitely a lot of over-valuing of the talent on the U.S. roster. Some fans are unrealistic about just how good this team is and where it stacks up globally, or even within the region. Is Bradley a conservative coach by nature? I’m not sure I agree with that. I think Bradley is a coach that will use the systems and lineups that give his team the best chance to win, whether that means using an attractive style or more conservative style is relative to the talent at his disposal. As for the T&T game, if you think that the answer to winning on the road against a team with dangerous attacking weapons is to throw numbers at them and attack, I’d say that would be a foolish approach. Attacking at home and defending and countering on the road against teams with dangerous attacking players and suspect defenses isn’t what I would consider an overly-conservative philosophy. I’d consider it a sensible one.)

  53. ZizouFan says:

    Ives, Keep in mind that when you say things like: “Come on now? You think I’m 40? I’m old, but not that old,” you are alienating your over-40 fan base. I loved you man, at least until that comment. Signed 46-year old former Ives fan.

    (SBI-It’s a joke ZizouFan, relax.)

  54. David says:

    Perhaps you are right about the T&T game. Maybe as fans we blame the teams flat performance to much on tactics instead of thy players just not executing. I wonder in situations like the T&T game with such a quick turnaround and so many players traveling from Europe that it might be worthwhile to rotate the squad more. Not wholesale changes on every position but maybe some fresh legs at each part of the field. Start Dolo on the right and shift Spector Left. Obviously Onyewu was fresh replacing Marshell. Clark replaced Feilhaber. Maybe it would have been worthwhile to put Holden in for Dempsey and start Dempsey up top for Davies since Davies was carrying a little injury anyway. I guess hindsight is always better.

    Part of me hopes that come next summer the missing piece is just that they need more time together than the qualifiers allow and they will gel like they did at the Confed Cup. I assume it is hard for all of them to come in and leave their club tactics behind and adopt the Nats style.

  55. BlueWhiteLion says:

    Ives: ” I would imagine that Bob Bradley, like any other coach, selects his best players, and doesn’t shake things up based on a player having a few subpar games (particularly when others are also performing below par). ”

    Just working off memory, which may be faulty since I am also over 40 (Solidarity, Zizoufan!), Bradley, in an interview with Wahl, spoke a lot of what it takes to elevate players to the next level. He implied it takes time for them to adjust, or even to see if they can adjust, not just individually, but as a team. Also, how do they respond “after a loss.” This gave me a bit of insight into why he seems to hang on to “his guys” as some like to spout off about. He sees something in “a guy” and his mindset doesn’t flush them after one or two poor performances. He wants to see if the skill set he sees in them matures to the next level. He wants to give them the opportunity to grow.

    As others have pointed out aptly, BB has run more guys through than probably any recent coach. YOu can’t say he has “his favorites” and is blind to others. But what you can see is that with time, he sees what he thinks could be a good team, and works with them to bring them up as a group. He seems to be a systems thinker.

    However, at some point, as with DMB and Sacha, or Davies’ or HOlden’s insertions, he does let players go after strings of aweful performance and elevates others.

    He just doesn’t play herky jerky with them. While I don’t always agree with his method (seeing as I don’t even coach youth, my opinion doesn’t hold a candle to his wisdom), I understand more why he does what he does. And overall, I am behind him.

    What i DON’T get is guys who are professionals not being able to make accurate passes consistently, even when under a bit of pressure (like Clark, for the most part). That just baffles me. How do you coach them out of that? I am not asking for Messi’s individual skills and instinct, or the sick accuracy of Beckham. I just want passes that pretty much go to YOUR guy, and not 5 yards to the right, straight to the opponent.

  56. indypaul says:

    Come on Ives.

    Had Feilhaber or Torres been given the chances MB has been given, they would be ahead of him. They are the players we want to develop for their technical ability that MB does not have.

    His recent form at Gladbach begs the question, has he peaked? Why did he have a bust up with his Manager at Gladbach? Because his Manager is not drinking the MB Koolaid?

    If there was another Manager in charge of the National Team, would MB had been given so many chances? I am not sure.

    The criticism that he gives up stupid fouls at dumb times is valid. If you watch some of he goals that have been scored against us, they have been in the space that MB should have been defending. You guys never point it out.

    To this day, the 3rd goal in CR, no one seems to ever point to the fact that MB just watched the guy go by him in the box. Everyone just blames Bocanegra.

    We have technical talent that can hold the ball in the midfield, our Manager is not using it, or developing it to our advantage. Instead, he is building the team around his Son.

    (SBI-Indypaul, nice job filling one comment with every nonsensical argument against Michael Bradley’s role with the national team. I can’t even begin to address all of it without spending all Friday writing 2000 words on why you are misguided (though I’ve touched on some of that nonsense in recent comments). What I will say is that regarding Costa Rica’s third goal, if you watched the game objectively and carefully you would have known that Bradley ran clear across the field and from box to box on the full sprint to try and close down Costa Rica and had nothing left when he wound up matched up against a fast and shifty player who had just come into the match. Bradley did what he could on that play short of scything the guy down and giving up a PK and drawing a red. Bradley passed the attacker off and nobody (including Bocanegra) stepped up. If you only watch that play at the point they’re in the penalty area, then yes, Bradley looks like he just gave up on the play, but watching the play in its full context shows pretty clearly what Bradley did on that play and why he had nothing left to keep up with the guy.)

  57. Seriously? says:

    Ives, now that you’re something of a celebrity and that means people now see you as someone to get advice on life from, could you tell me if I should lose faith in our civilization, because reading comments sections like these makes me lose some faith in humanity. It’s bothersome to see how many people are unable to simply read what’s actually written (typed) without twisting it to mean something that was not said. It seems like, if someone likes player A, and they read words that may be critical of something small about player A, well then the writer is obviously totally biased against player A and has no credibility whatsoever. Similarly, if someone hates player B, and reads something about player B that is not all negative, then the writer has no idea what he’s talking about. I know that it’s not the majority of people, and it’s probably a case that such posts are the ones that stick out more so they might seem more common than they are, but man such posts are really annoying, and I love seeing you respond and point out when people are completely distorting what you say.

    So what do you think? Should I give up on my fellow human beings?

    PS.

    BTW, I hate seeing Ching play for the national team, and if you don’t agree with me 100% then you’re obviously defective in many ways.

    (SBI-Thanks for the laugh.Not everyone is going to agree on everything, there are always different ways to see things, but I do agree that it seems as if some people get irrational about debating their points of view on things, be it soccer or politics. Maybe it’s all just angst over the state of the economy, maybe we’re just an angrier nation. Who knows. What I do know is that debating soccer should be fun, not a series of angry arguments.

    Oh, and I wish I was a celebrity, then I could go on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.”)

  58. ChelseaMatt says:

    Ives:

    Michael Bradley hasn’t looked good of late and is not getting minutes on his team. Is there any possibility of Bob benching his son for a game and going with a Feilhaber/Edu pairing or a Feilhaber/Clark pairing in a game in which Bradley is available — i.e. he hasn’t red or yellow carded himself out of contention?

    I think we know the answer. While Bradley has been a major player for this team, he probably shouldn’t be an automatic selection given his recent form.

    (SBI- When there are two better options in central midfield than Michael Bradley, they will play. Bradley has been an automatic selection because he has continued to be the best option, even with his form not being at its best. Now, if he continues to sit for his club team, and he comes to the next qualifying camp and isn’t sharp, and there are other players who look like better options, Bradley will sit and Bradley should sit. However, making a change for the sake of a change, doesn’t make much sense to me, particularly not at this crucial point in qualifying, and not in central midfield when the next match is AT Honduras and against players like Wilson Palacios and Rambo Leon.)

  59. jpc says:

    I don’t get the MB hate that people throw out here, he’s the best CM we have. I agree w/ Ives that if his last name wasn’t Bradley, he wouldn’t have any haters

    W/ that said, he needs to be partnered w/ a player like Feilhaber or Torres, who are best suited to be point guards for the offense. Having those guys play w/ Bradley allows Bradley to be the X-factor that he is. When he plays w/ Clark he has to be in that point man, and he’s not great at it (he’s good, just not as good as Feilhaber).

    I understand that Bradley play’s a counterattacking style against “better” teams and on the road. But that just leads to playing more defense, which is never a good thing.

    I’m not sure what to say if we don’t have the faith enough in our players to go to T&T and play a possession game. It doesn’t mean that we push everyone forward and get caught out of position. It just means we don’t attempt to play long balls constantly, or play the ball through midfield w/ players that aren’t suited to do it under pressure. This type of play leads to getting caught out of position.

    Say what you want about the Honduras game result (2-1). But w/ Feilhaber in the midfield, we dominated possession, didn’t turn the ball over on our half of the field constantly like we usually do, and we create a ton of great chances on goal. If we finished anything in that game, the score would’ve been 7or8-1

    (SBI-Fair points throughout, but I’ll question your last graph regarding the Honduras game. What you may not have noticed about that game is the biggest difference-making development in that game was Wilson Palacios running out of gas. Palacios hadn’t trained following the murder of his brother and it wasn’t clear whether he’d even play, but he did and for the first 35-40 minutes he was an absolute beast, dominating the central midfield like the world-class player he is, but he flat ran out of gas. Playing on emotion and lacking fitness was always going to lead to him burning out and he did, which is why he covered a fraction of the ground he did in the first half. Conversely, Feilhaber found much more room to maneuver than he might have found in the first half if he had started. Please don’t take it as me saying Feilhaber didn’t play well in that game, he certainly did, but I think context in necessary when looking at that game.

    For me, Feilhaber-Bradley is a combination I want to see more of. I think Feilhaber can be a solid starter, but it needs to be pointed out that most of his better performances have come as a sub and his track record as a starter over the past four months hasn’t been nearly as good as some would have you believe. He’s had his moments, but I don’t think he’s had a standout game as a starter yet. That said, I do think he needs to play more because he has the components to be a good starter and partner with Bradley in the middle.)

  60. BlueWhiteLion says:

    i remember when MB first started playing, people were posting how impressed they were with him (and Benny). He showed a lot of potential, just young. Then with his stint at Heernveen everybody was going gaga. The point is he has always had potential and he earned his playing time. He is not THE number one world class option at halfback, but he IS pretty darn good. We should expect mistakes from him from time to time. Yes, he is sitting now at MGb, but sitting there doesn’t necessarily translate to sitting with the MNT. It may be an indicator. people react differently in different environments. Do not forget that Gladback pursued and paid decent money for him and has shown incredible faith in him (like taking pk’s, and starting all those games). Sitting NOW does not mean he’s and idiot and a waste, it means he is facing a challenge. I have never, ever considered “daddy Bradley” to be a nepotist. Not one time. He plays his son because his son is a good player and one of the best we have. Ives, I think, made a good point: who would you replace him with? Xavi? Pirlo? lol. ANy US guy you cna think of will have his own faults to. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. That’s just how it goes.

  61. Kojack says:

    look, if the kids last name was not Bradley, he wouldn’t be getting the benefit of the doubt. Plain and simple. He’s had a lot of off games, that would get other guys knocked out of the line up.

    (SBI-Right, good thing Bob Bradley’s name recognition had pull in the Dutch League and had pull in the Bundesliga last season so Michael Bradley could start in those leagues. Apparently Moenchengladbach started Bradley in every game of its relegation battle because the Bradley name had too much power. Maybe Dutch League goalkeepers let Michael score so as not to upset Bob Bradley.

    The more accurate assertion is that if Michael Bradley weren’t such a good player, he might be pulled for a handful of subpar performances. What U.S. player hasn’t had a stretch of subpar games? Should they all have been pulled? Perhaps anybody involved in the Azteca game should sit for a few months? This isn’t a video game Kojack. Maybe on FIFA you can tinker and play Honduras in Honduras three times with three different formations and lineups to see which one works, but that’s not reality. Bob Bradley plays the players he thinks are his best options. You can certainly disagree with the options, but saying his decisions are based on anything other than that isn’t the talk of a rational person.)

  62. scott47a says:

    From now on all posters should have to announce their age first. I’ll start:

    43

    I think the people who are critical of Bradley the Elder for being too rigid and opposing forget about the players he has moved out of the system in the past few years — guys like Hejduk and Mastroeni and now Beasley. He is not opposed to change, he just doesn’t do it on a whim because some guy has fans in Dallas excited or whatever. I, for one, appreciate his measured approach to running the squad.

    (SBI (34)-Loving the age-check idea. Too bad there’s no way to verify it.)

  63. Deuce says:

    futue question (reminder to myself really), realistically, if howard gets severely injured before 2010, are we more likely to see friedel come out of international retirement to start or are we more likely to see his back up guzan start in 2010.

    i.e. wouldn’t freidel want to come back if guaranteed to start in a world cup and needed to by his country.

    i.e. or does bradley and his country go with the boy who has been working and earning his spot on the team, but is still a back up goal keeper.

    (SBI-Jeez Deuce, had to be “severely” injured? Couldn’t just be injured? I think Friedel would be hard-pressed to pass up another World Cup if Howard went down. I think he’d get a call and I bet he’d accept. Also, the whole “earning his spot” thing is a weak notion. You earn your spot by being good enough. It’s not a “Go to 20 camps and you qualify to go to the World Cup” deal.)

  64. Deuce says:

    true dat!
    thanks ives.

  65. paul lorinczi says:

    I for one want to see more opportunities given to Torres.

    I am still scratching my head over him being yanked from the CR game. Then, he was pretty much benched since.

    He is one of the only technical players we have right now and would provide some of the possession we sorely need.

    Why is he not being developed more?

    (SBI-I agree with everything you said Paul except for the last line. A national team’s job isn’t to develop players, but to play players who are good enough to be playing for the team. Obviously it’s a subjective call whether the U.S. coaches think he is ready for more minutes. That said, they must rate him to call him in and to take him to international tournaments at his age, and the fact that he got into an El Salvador game that hadn’t been decided yet tells me he’s in the plans. He’s still young and should get his chances, but there are still only a certain number of places in the lineup.)

  66. StephenInProv says:

    “(SBI-Laugh if you want but while some U.S. fans think Bob Bradley is clueless, Bradley was busy getting a ton of credit and respect from European media for leading the USA to the Confederations Cup final. Luckily for Bradley, his chances of landing in Europe aren’t based on the rumblings and opinions of U.S. fans, particularly the ones who’ve never given him an ounce of credit from day one. If he leads the USA to a strong World Cup, he will have chances in Europe.)”

    Well played, Mr. Ives.

  67. Brian-Indy says:

    Wow I am going to go out on a limb and say its a full moon or something tonight because there are a ton of idiots posting on here today. The Bradley vs. Adu ranting is about as misguided as anyhing I’ve read. Jesus people relax a little, Bradley is a great player but obviously makes mistakes and Adu is still a young prodigy who will get his chance but he is not ready…he can’t even get any time on the field at his new club. Also MB is not a winger, he is a center mid. I would have loved to see him play along side Reyna I think that could have been a great tandem in the middle. Ives I love the bantering back and forth today because some of these people have no idea what they are talking about. Work today has flown buy, thanks!

  68. BlueWhiteLion says:

    look, if the kids last name was not Bradley, he wouldn’t be getting the benefit of the doubt. Plain and simple. He’s had a lot of off games, that would get other guys knocked out of the line up.

    Posted by: Kojack

    with all due respect, that is an ignorant assertion. It is ignorant because Bradley the player is recognized on the club level of being a player of worth: transfer fees, playing time, high pressure go to guy–all these things say he is not a scrub. It is ignorant because if you see BB’s style of coaching, he brings along players as a team and–especially at the higher level games, does not make rash lineup changes an sticks with guys who have proven themselves but are going through a rough patch–even if the rough patch is a couple of games. Eventually he does pull them (DMB). MB has not been the “crap player” some have made him out to be. He has proven himself, he has made both defensive and offensive positive impact on a pretty consistent basis, so in BB’s way, you just don’t drop a kid. It has NOTHING to do with the last name. That’s plain reactionary and idiotic to charge BB with that. Now if MB played like Jay Heaps and BB was putting “Heaps Bradley” as striker in the Confederations Cup final, then, yes, you could charge nepotism. And finally, who are you going to replace MB with that is so superior that he himself has no faults, in any game, who never gets a yellow, never misses a defensive assignment and scores 1.3 goals a game? No one. MB fills a role, and though I might sub him here and there, BB is consistent with his style NOT to sub him. He does the same with other players.

    Okay, my rant is done.

  69. StephenInProv says:

    (38)

    Mr. Ives,

    Whatever side of the bed you got up on this morning, please continue as such.

  70. ZizouFan says:

    Mine was a joke too SBI, I am relaxed and I’m still reading. You’re feisty today. I like it.

    (SBI- Whatever you say old man. LOL)

  71. Strider says:

    Indypaul, Anyone can go on a free transfer, the biggest one this year was Michael Owen to Man U. It just means that your contract ran out and you were available. In Rolfe’s case, Chicago did not make an offer he was willing to accept and his contract ends (usually Dec 31). So, as a free player he can much more easily obtain a contract in Europe since they only have to pay his salary and no contract purchase from another club.

  72. BlueWhiteLion says:

    PS. 45 . . .

    . . . I also think we need to substantiate our devotion to soccer to back up our claims: I busted my nose last week in an adult rec game. The blood was glorious, both inside and outside the nose. So there.

  73. ZizouFan says:

    Ives,

    At 46, I may be old, but I’m definitely not a man. You’re two for two and the day is still young. LOL back at ya. I’m beginning to understand why you have so much time to spend on this website:) Still love ya man.

    (SBI-Listen m’am, I’m on the site so much because it’s my job. Glad you enjoy it though, readers like you make it fun.)

  74. gunner04 says:

    Yeah Ives, careful, you might be isolating your 17 year old fanbase too. Im kidding of course, and this 19 year old thinks the work you do is fantastic.

  75. SJ says:

    Ives, your comment about NYRB made me ask, “What is the current Allocation order?” It seems like such a mystery to me–how the order is/was established, how it works, where is it published and who lands on it…

  76. Jeff says:

    >> Quest is Soccer specific. The city
    >> wouldn’t appprove its construction
    >> otherwise.

    > (SBI-I think the Seattle Seahawks would
    > disagree with you calling Qwest Field
    > “soccer-specific).

    Whatever, Ives. See the video with the history: link to sounderatheart.com

    There’s no question that Qwest is as much a soccer stadium as it is a football stadium and it always has been. Credit the ambition and forethought of the people of Seattle for that if not everything that Sounders fans claim.

  77. Stephen,

    I understand how the transfer rules work.

    I don’t understand how MLS lets players go for free when they know they will leave on a free at the end of their contracts. They are leaving money on the table.

    For a business that is crying annual losses, they are not playing the business game at the global level – transfer fees.

  78. BS Soccer says:

    Ives, you know I have been critical of you in the past and have not posted in a while but one advantage you might have over everyone else is that you see a lot of games live. I think being at a game and not being handcuffed to the view on TV allows you to see the value of players more. We can’t see what happens off the ball and the work some players do. I have noticed that when I am at games vs. watching them on TV.

    I think that is something that happens to MB. He does go from box to box and he really is our only midfielder that can do this. To have a player like this, it is an advantage to the US and he should be on the field.

    I 100% agree with you that Feilhaber has not had an excellent match when he starts. He has been much more effective and useful coming off the bench in the last 20-30 minutes. We need to figure out how that Feilhaber can show up for an entire match. I hope that Feilhaber and Bradley can mesh because I think if they are both in form it gives us a nice dynamic and right now, with players that have played recently or are eligible to play, our best pairing. I think part of the problem from their latest pairing was that roles were not defined. With Feilhaber on the field, MB needs to be a little more conversative and defensive, and if they get forward together then our outside backs have to hold or at least one of them depending on what our opponent does. There has to be balance and there wasn’t, I don’t think it is just MB and Feilhabers fault, but the players together need to communicate and BB needs to define roles before the match. And for all we know, he could have, and players might not have done their job.

    ooo and 24.

  79. ZizouFan says:

    Ouch. That last one cut deep. “M’am”? All of a sudden I’m feeling 64 instead of 46. I was just having fun with you. I think your website is brilliant and voted for it about 40 times last spring in the sports blog contest. It gets updated so often, I wonder if you sleep. And I visit so often, my husband gets cranky. Enjoy your weekend full of soccer Ives and keep up the good work.

    (SBI-Okay, so M’am may have been too much. How about lady?)

  80. Joe says:

    nice vid of jermaine jones
    link to youtube.com

  81. jjraines says:

    why can’t I post

  82. jimmygreaves says:

    “But right now I just don’t think he is as good as he is being given credit for. -andrew in tampa”

    Andrew- Let’s say you are 100% accurate. Early on Bradley’s temperment was suspect and he was always a red card waiting to happen but he seems to have tempered that a bit. Who then has proven to be consistently better than Bradley? Look up Bradley’s stats for the US.

    Benny is potentially better but he has just gotten back into regular playing time for his club in a European league which is not as good as either of the leagues where Bradley has been a regular at a very young age. Bradley’s upside is tremendous and I would argue he may well have a bigger upside than Benny. However I believe the ultimate long term ideal midfield partnership is Benny and Bradley. So, until Benny catches up, you play Bradley as much as possible

    I promise you this if Bradley’s last name were Smith or Galarcep you don’t feel the way you do.

  83. Joamiq says:

    25

    Greatest “Your Questions Answered” of all time!

    Sad part is that what it took for Ives to get even more interactive than usual was the comments section hemorrhaging idiocy…

  84. jerylmarin says:

    revolution society depend comments positive partially related next

  85. Sergio Napa says:

    “CONMEBOL is the second best Confederation in the world behind UEFA.”

    That’s very arguable. While CONMEBOL and UEFA are 8-8 in World Cups, in all other World tournaments (Confeds Cup, u-17, u-20, u-23, CWC, etc.) CONMEBOL has more titles than UEFA.

    UEFA has more money, without a doubt, but it doesn’t mean they have the best football.