U.S. Men's National Team

MMCB: Americans set for Dutch Test

Stuart Holden (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

The U.S. national team's upcoming friendly vs. the Netherlands is less than three days away now and we will soon learn just how far certain players have come in their progression as players with just three months to go before the World Cup.

Don't be fooled. Wednesday's match is about the performances of American players who haven't been regular starters, not about some statement the team itself needs to make against the Dutch. A good team performance is still one of the goals for the Americans, but the notion that this friendly's result will have grand meaning and earn some respect for the United States is a stale premise, particularly when the team is missing several key players.

That's where the value in this match lies, in seeing how players who haven't been starters respond to the opportunities Bob Bradley will give them. We all know who the U.S. team's top players are, who the proven veterans are, but the next generation of talent needs to be battle tested and we needed to see how they'll react when facing top international talent like the Dutch possesses.

Players such as Maurice Edu and Stuart Holden will have their chance to show that they're more than just stop-gap options for injured players, but capable starters who can deliver when given the opportunity. Jonathan Bornstein will have the chance to silence the remaining critics who still aren't sold on him as the top left back option. DaMarcus Beasley will have the chance to show that he's worthy of being brought back into the fold.

That is what will ultimately be the true measure of Wednesday's match, how the aforementioned players perform in what will essentially be their best chance to show they are ready for an important role at the World Cup.

There are signs that suggest some players are ready for the opportunity. Edu has re-established himself with Glasgow Rangers while Holden has impressed in recent starts for Bolton. Both should be given the chance to start vs. the Netherlands and how they do will go a long way toward determining whether or not Wednesday's match is a success for the United States.

If players such as Holden, Edu and Beasley step up and make the most of this chance, the United States should deliver a worthy performance against a difficult foe. More importantly, it will show U.S. coach Bob Bradley and U.S. fans that the team is deeper than we realized and better equipped to deal with potential injuries to key players.

And if they crumble against the Dutch? If none of the aforementioned players steps up it will serve as a harsh reminder that the United States still doesn't have the depth to offset injuries to players such as Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu. A bad loss won't necessarily mean the United States is doomed for the 2010 World Cup, but it will certainly mean that American fans need to start praying that injured regulars Dempsey, Onyewu and Charlie Davies can recover in time to not just play in the World Cup, but carry a heavy load.

  • Josh D

    But if all you’re doing is preparing Pawns in case of a massive crisis, does it really prepare Beckerman (as an example) for the World Cup if he plays against a B team El Salvidor.

    Under your notion of let’s keep as many people fit as possible for the national team, would it not have been better to bleed in more youths for a bigger pool of “what-if” players? Why not get everyone prepared? Beckerman has been in and out of the national team for a few years, he already knows the drill. He’s off the conveyor belt of a US national team player. Might as well get someone else on it ready to go for that injury crisis.

    Weakness is a perception because they don’t have a cap. It’s like saying a child is weaker because the others have already gone through puberty (metaphorically speaking). That kid who has gone through puberty is seen as the better player because he’s faster and stronger. So he gets put on a travel team where he receives better coaching so he gets put on continually better teams with better coaching. Whereas the other guy who lagged behind in puberty gets stuck in a muddy hole. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Much like: Player A is better because he has more caps. It’s a game of experience and confidence. You have to give the experience.


  • seanie blue

    What a load of B.S. this article is! Onyewu is a write-off for this summer. So what about Demerit and Bocanegra in the middle? Cam they deal with the Dutch in the air? Every goal coming from the right by the Dutch will show that they target Bornstein and run right past him; he’s got speed but not international class instincts. Who will Edu and Holden be feeding the ball to? Eddie Johnson? That’s USL-level soccer he’s playing in Greece! If the USA goes down 5-0, why can’t we do what the Ivory Coast has done, and bring in a Hiddink for a few months? If that’s good enough for Drogba, it’s good enough for Donovan. It’s amazing that the media will not put pressure on Bradley senior and Gulati. Why? Is American soccer that fragile that bringing in somebody with skill is too threatening? Jesus. Bring in Kevin Keegan and let him fire these guys up; Bradley cannot do it, and his credibility completely washed away in the last year of squeaking past Central American small fry. We need two goals. If we lose 3-2, fine. But if we get blanked until the 89th minute when Eddie Johnson sprints out for a consolation marker in a 4-1 drubbing, then this game matters a lot more than Ives thinks. This is the biggest game for the American team in several years, much bigger than the Confed B.S., which nobody but the Americans cared about. How many Spanish players went to S.A. to go to Kruger park and snap shots of elephants and lions? We lost 3 games down there. Bradley has nothing to show for the past two years in critical contests; what will he show us now?


  • Josh D

    Pontius is just a name to represent youth. I grew tired of writing some of them out and putting “etc.” : )

    Saying for the future is merely to say they are in a group labeled the most skilled of their generation so in 4 years at age 26ish, they will be hitting their prime and we will rely on that generation. A generation I feel is currently in the shadows of a few guys who need to step aside.


  • JT

    Some disagreements about the above formations: Not to focus strickly on Donovan, but Donovan seems to play best when he has a forward directly in front of him to play off of. Also, in a 4-3-3 formation, I think a player like Freddy Adu (not necessarily Fredd) would fit in best in the right forward position. Similar to Messi’s role with Barca in that formation. Holden plays best when he is in the midfield, distributing, keeping position, and making crosses. Holden at Right forward in the 4-3-3 formation does not make sense to me.


  • So which is it. . . ?

    “Can we put to rest the idea that certain formations are inherently either attacking or defensive? I see this theory posited all the time on SBI threads.”


  • Dennis

    Interesting comments in response to Josh D. I guess more guys here are BB supporters than are BB bashers.

    I watched the second half of Pachuca’s loss this weekend and it is clear that Torres has a nice first touch, can hold the ball under pressure and can make great passes. But, it was equally clear that he is a weak tackler, his off-ball positioning needs work and he does not help the defense like Edu, Feilhaber, Bradley, Clark and Holden do. That said, those are correctable faults and I suspect he will correct them, but probably not in time to be a factor in S.A.

    Beasley has disappointed while wearing the US uniform for the past 18 months or so. One good game will not bring him into the fold, it will take a combination of what BB’s opinion is of Beasley’s mental readiness and Beasley actually playing well (and uninjured) for Rangers going into May.

    This really is a make or break situation for EJ and Findley, I expect only one to be in SA. I am not so sure the single game performance will be the deciding factor, but more how BB thinks either will affect team chemistry iin SA, that and of course, if one of them can light up the scoreboard consistently, he might get a trip.

    For Holland, there are a variety of starting lineups BB could try. Most of them use Howard, Donavon, Altidore, Bradley, Bocanegra, Spector as the core group to build around.

    If the goal is to see which forward Findley of EJ pairs better with Altidore, or to see which midfileders work together well, then it probably makes sense not to experiment in the back too much. That likely means Spector and Bocanegra on the wings and DeMerit and Goodson in the middle (I do not think the two of them have paired recently in the middle and need to see how they work things out).
    After that, if the goal is to start solid and not give up too much, Edu and Bradley in the middle with Donavon and Holden on the outside. Torres is a good attacking option and if Donavon is pushed to a forward position, expect Torres to get that spot. Of Course, Beasley is a possibility instead of Holden.

    At froward, expect Altidore and ? to start. ? = EJ, Findley or Donavon

    Who was left off? Adu, Cooper, Sasha, Rogers, Ching, Casey I suspect that that means BB has already decided the S.A fate of those guys, I think mostly no, except for Ching, but future developments might change things for a few of them.


  • kenny_b

    I’m not entirely sure how Torres play with Pachuca translates into “we know what he has to offer” for USMNT.

    Torres needs a run with the starters also to see how he meshes with the team too.


  • Erik

    Uh oh, the knives are going to come out for you now… You bashed Bornstein, how dare you. Maybe you will be called an a-hole and have comments deleted about you.


  • kenny_b

    I just don’t see Donovan starting up top at forward. That seems very unlikely to me. He is needed to create opportunities and to link up midfield with the forwards.

    Taking him out of the midfield puts too much stress on the other midfielder to create and hold possession.


  • Not Ives

    No Freidel? opens up a spot. Isn’t he at least our 2nd best GK? 22 and 23 I think should be decided on current form … could BB add or subtract from his roster if injuries reccur for a starter or someone doesn’t heal to 100 percent? That is why I like Freidel as the 2 and maybe another ST? or Castillo? Or Herculez Gomez who should earn a shot on name alone but also seems to be in superb form. … got any clips IVES?


  • Micah King

    Hey Erik whats up ? Rogers need EXP against stronger teams too. I think he would have came out better doing MLS for two seasons after college then going to Europe. I have met Rogers and I am friends with him on facebook he is an chill person. I hope he can make 2014. :)


  • Hush

    I can’t wait for wednesday, this will test a lot of players on the pool and see where their at.

    I would have loved to have seen Castillo get a call up against the dutch. I think most Americans already know what Bornestein is all about. I think Castillo should have been given a shot against a techinicall squad like the Dutch. Castillo plays in a much more creative league with a lot of players who have great footwork & movement on the ball making it harder to defend than in the MLS. I think BB blew it on this one for not calling a guy who is very similar on defense to that of Bornstein, but with much better quality in going forward and avoiding pressure.

    Castillo for 2010!:)


  • Erik

    I bet he’s one of the players in the mix. And I think you are right that he needs higher level opposition. I honestly think if he just passes the ball a slight bit quicker he will be golden.


  • ThaDeuce

    I simply disagree with you.

    “Under your notion of let’s keep as many people fit as possible for the national team, would it not have been better to bleed in more youths for a bigger pool of “what-if” players? Why not get everyone prepared?”

    I did not say that notion at all. We have a pecking order. Sasha and Beckerman are on it, Pontious is not. They deserved to play. The game was as much a tryout as practice for them…Pontious is not ready yet, judged by his playing in the camps.


  • ThaDeuce

    I’m getting tired of arguing the same points…I don’t think you really respond to what I am saying, just merely arguing in principle.


  • montana matt

    Right, perennial Champions League and Serie A title contenders Sampdoria.


  • montana matt

    I guess this formation might work defensively, but who would provide service from the left with this formation? Edu, and Boca? I guess my problem is less with the formation and more with the personnel supergrandefilms plugs into it. Besides the defenders, Jozy, and Bradley Jr. everyone else is being played out of position in his squad.


  • ThaDeuce

    Friedel is retired from USMNT. There is a limit to when he can add or subtract alternates, i bet FIFA website has the dates.


  • golfstrom

    “Additionally, I really do think we have a special player in Torres. I think he can capably fill the same role which Reyna filled under Arena, and which Xavi fills for Barca”

    Did you really just compare Torres to Reyna and Xavi? The delusion toward Torres is reaching new heights. Torres = good young player, but news flash: Xavi >> Reyna >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Torres


  • Joshedd


    Pure BS.

    Leave out the goalkeepers, who are fine and aren’t really worth discussing (though I’d rather have Friedel and Guzan than Howard).

    This team has two indispensable players, Donovan and Dempsey, in that order. Bradley comes in next just a bit below that.

    After them, every single US player is basically okay to average to crap and more or less replaceable. The standard is I’m talking about is international World Cup level, which after all is the point.

    Charlie is a great story but anyone counting on him needs to stop smoking illegal substances.

    DMB and Boca are veteran World Cup guys but both aren’t what they were and maybe are past their expiration date. Dolo is very experienced but mediocre. Spector is a slightly above average utility back. Demerit is an over-achiever who could well be exposed in the World Cup. Onyewu, at his best, was borderline and was bought by Milan because he was a bargain and they thought they could develop him, which they may well do. But, even if the rehab goes real well, the Onyewu you’ll see in SA will be just average.

    Torres looks promising but is seemingly frail and the Mexican league is not a good recommendation. There is a reason why very few of those guys do well in Europe. Holden was great for Houston but he is just getting his feet wet in the EPL and it remains to be seen whether there is anything there other than good hair. Benny is an inconsistent, never match fit and good for at most, 20-30 minutes. Jozy is mostly just potential and is probably a year or two away.

    The rest of the guys you can put on a table at a yard sale and maybe you’d get a quarter for the lot.

    Still, together they can make noise and they did at the Confederations Cup but that lineup hasn’t been together since then. 2009 was not a year for experimentation as most of the 24 games were must wins or games where Bradley could not get his first string together. So it seems those last tow or three games after the roster is announced will tell the story.

    This is a ragtag bunch and any coach who can take them as far as Bradley has is a good one.


  • war

    I hope you guys dont text as long as you write here…

    Fact 1) Our Defense is notoriously slow, and the Netherlands probably know it.

    Fact 2) Jozy is our only forward who can play outside of CONCACAF and perform well. We need a forward who can pair with Altidore and score away from home against non-CONCACAF teams(what the whole world cup is…). 4-5-1 is a joke and hardly works for anyone.

    Fact 3) For people who talk about pierce playing in MLS and he’s good, etc. He played in Europe for years and came back after he fell out with his team.

    Fact 4) Onyewu, Dempsey, and Davies are coming back so the immediate need for cover is not neccessary so Findley should be staying home.

    Fact 5)It is unreasonable to pick a squad with so many out injured or coming back (Onyewu, Demps, Davies, Clark, Cherundolo, etc). Either he’ll name injured players on the squad which is a bit stupid(although they should be there), or he will fill it up with losers that shouldn’t be on the plane and then replace them later, which in itself is a stupid reason to pick now.

    Fact 6) If Bornstein or Findley play, they’re gonna get found out real fast. Albeit, our forwards and D will be found out, but these 2 will be far off the pace.


  • ThaDeuce

    yeah, I think a lot of people were mad at Bradley that he started him at that time…Calling in old favors, sticking too much to old hats, favoritism, that sort of thing… However this time he is showing some sparks and ought to get a look. We can judge on this performance what to do in May.


  • Jeremy

    This game is for Edu, for cementing a starting 11 spot in central midfield. Playing for Rangers has to count for more than whatever Feilhaber does these days.

    It’s also for Holden to get a spot as Dempsey’s backup, ahead of Kljestan and Rogers.


  • Jon from Chicago

    Well if there is one thing I’ve gathered thru all of these comments is this…

    Theres a group here that will support B.Bradley no matter what he does. Usually the same group that will shout “We went to the FINALS in the Confed Cup, what do you want from the guy?!!”

    Theres a group here that because their choice for a new “fix” to the team wasn’t chosen, the rest of us are fools. These people usually shout “I can’t believe “Player X” wasn’t called up from the third tier of the Albanian League. Hasn’t anyone seen how hes playing!? B.Bradley is a fool.”

    And most importantly the ones that will support playing the SAME GODDAMN players over and over again with out giving players a chance to do something for the team. (Torres, Castillo=NO Bornstien,Sasha=Yes for sure) These people will support J.Bornstien even if he has a hat trick of own goals.

    Finally, Yes Edu had a magical game against the Rangers. High emotional game with a great performance says alot, but how quick does that cover Torres’s goal last week. So he gets the start? eh….as usual, Torres back to begging for 20 mins to show what ya got, maybe El Tri would have been better huh?


  • seriously

    torres also plays in the mexican primera, which is not a good place to play if you want to get minutes under bob


  • ThaDeuce

    Wow Ives, I hope Bornstein knows you are betting your reputation on his performance against the Dutch. He could stand to make a lot of money! : )

    (SBI-How am I betting my rep on him? I said he’ll have his chance against the Dutch to show how far he’s come. I didn’t say he’s going to lock down the Dutch wingers and play like the best left back in the world.)


  • Nolan

    Jozy is horrible. He’s only scored one goal in like 20 epl games! Why not try Torres up front? Where is Kenny Cooper?!


  • Jon from Chicago

    Well, I fought this thinking but its becoming more and more of a truth. Sad part is I’ll take the Mexican Primera over MLS when it comes to skill and i’m die hard Chicago Fire…


  • Jon from Chicago

    Torres wouldn’t work up front for many reasons. One thing we would miss is his ball holding skills in the mid…


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