Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
The first thing you should know about U.S. men's national team practices is that they are closed to the media. Well, except for the last 15 minutes, a time period that usually doesn't reveal much about the team besides who is doing well in finishing drills and crossing drills.
On Thursday, we were lucky enough to get to see a bit more of training and there was a little more to see as the squad prepared for Saturday's friendly vs. Turkey. Here are some observations:
Herculez Gomez was partnered up top with Jozy Altidore on their team. The training session wasn't divided up into what could be called a first team and a second team, but the partnerships that were on display seemed to suggest some potential pairings. Gomez and Altidore worked well together and it wouldn't shock me if Gomez got a start (though Clint Dempsey is still more likely to start up top). Gomez impressed in finishing drills and has a blast of a shot.
Among the other interesting pairings was Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit. Onyewu looked fast and confident, showing none of the tentativeness that seemed to creep out at times during Tuesday's match vs. the Czechs. There was no limp to speak of, and on one sequence he raced upfield on the dribble, fended off two challenges and completed a pass. The sequence was impressive and leads me to believe he should have a better game on Saturday than he had on Tuesday.
DeMerit also looked fine in training and you have to wonder how much, if at all, his eye injury will be an issue.
Maurice Edu was deployed at centerback during the late action. After being used there late in the Czech match it is clear he will be called on to provide cover if needed. Does it mean he's already lost the battle with Ricardo Clark for the starting central midfield spot? It's too early to tell.
Jose Torres looked sharp and confident playing alongside Michael Bradley. He definitely brings a calmness on the ball that can help in the middle of the park. Does it mean he's ready to start? Probably not against England, but I could see him getting the call against a team like Algeria.
If anyone didn't have a good practice on Thursday, it was probably Jonathan Spector, who launched some wayward crosses and shots and committed some turnovers. Cherundolo looked sharper in training, but again, we're talking the tail-end of one training session, so don't assume Spector's form is in crisis mode.
Stuart Holden was held out of practice to give him some rest after playing 90 minutes on Tuesday. He's in the mix for a starting role, but could lose out to an in-form DaMarcus Beasley. Brad Guzan was also limited to individual work after going 90.
Dempsey joined the forwards in the finishing drills, and it's fair to say we probably haven't seen the last of him at forward, even with four forwards on the roster.
What do you think of these tidbits? Encouraged by the word on Onyewu? Hoping to see Gomez get a start?
Share your thoughts below.