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TGIF: The day ahead on SBI

Good morning folks. I have two words for you as Friday begins at SBI:

Sleep Deprivation.

Combine covering early morning Olympic games with a mid-week trip to Guatemala and you get a week where 11 hours of sleep has to be enough (I don’t count the seven or eight sleep hours on the four flights I took this week because, let’s face it, sleeping on planes is terrible).

So why do I love these kind of sleep-deprived stretches? I love them because it means there are events to cover and plenty to talk about in the soccer world. How can you sleep when the Olympic gold medal match looms, and when the weekend’s European soccer slate offers so many great match-ups?

So what can you expect on SBI today? I have some MLS trade talk, the return of the Weekend soccer on TV feature, some Supporter’s Views from last week and maybe even some answers from the recent Q&A.

For now, I know many of you are still discussing the USA-Guatemala match. We had the poll last night on what you thought about the match, now I want to do a poll on a topic I know many of you are concerned about, the poor performances of some of the U.S. team’s top players.

With this in mind, here is the question. Which poor indivual performance vs. Guatemala has you the most concerned going forward?

Check back in later for more updates and feel free to share your thoughts on any of today’s soccer news, or the pool question, in the comments section below.


  1. I clicked on dempsey, but then I realized he is the one who had the most stressful season last year and will probably have a bit of a dip his second year. I think the other thing with dempsey is that he still doesn’t really seem to play his best position. what is his position anyway? its like a murauding gerrard role or somethin?

  2. As much as I am angry at Cherundolo for that needless second yellow that left us a man down (a position that we can not afford to be in), I am really disappointed by Donovan’s play. And I say this as a Donovan and Galaxy fan. I barely remember seeing Donovan on the field, let alone making important plays. From watching the Galaxy, I know that he often gets in a mood where he doesn’t try unless things are gift wrapped, which is what I saw against Guatemala. We really need the fiery Donovan, the one who fights to get the ball and make plays and goals. There is plenty of work needed on this team, but the I fear the most when our talented players aren’t out their pushing themselves to win.

  3. Dempsey without a doubt. He should be igniting the lackluster offense. He has always been the creative spark. The spark is gone. What has happened to him? Not playing at Fulham isn’t going to help. As for the rest. Lewis is done. Convey is back and Beasley is healing – we are ok at that position. Pearce was never the solution. Waiting for Spector to return. Dolo was just stupid – for now going to assume it was a one-time mistake. I have just given up on donovan.

  4. I watched the whole game and Donovan didn’t do anything. For our “star” player to not make any difference in the game, that makes me worried. If Donovan can’t show up against a physical Guatemalan team, no wonder he couldn’t make it in Germany and he definitely wouldn’t make it in the EPL.

  5. He wasn’t an option, but my vote goes to Bradley the Elder for the line up. Flip Dempsey and Donovan, then swap one of our DMFs for ANYONE to link to the offensive third (though I recognize that many of our possible #10s were not available, and I use possible generously).

  6. Doctor K, why don’t you tell us how many times Bradley was dispossessed? I can’t recall that many moments actually. He had some passes go astray but he wasn’t dispossessed against Guatemala. You’re thinking of other games like the Argentina game.

  7. I’m an ok 37 yr old soccer player, a fairly knowledgeable student of the game, and a passionate fan. However, I don’t understand and can’t stand the vagueness in analyzing forwards. We hear ‘poor form’, I’m looking for more specifics. I seem to value aggressive, fast, decisive, surprising forward play, with dynamic passing combinations, and an array of outside shooting, feints, and several runs at goal. Kills me to see us combine well 80% of the way up the field, then just shoot long randomly. Try combining the rest of the way. Or try one v one at least a couple of times. Dempsey’s lazy dog routine works great if it sets him up for a handful of quick bursts. What if a forward were told he’d only be playing for 60 minutes, so go all out? Challenge every defender. Chase every backpass?

  8. Re: Pierce holding his side. I remember him getting slammed into a corner sideboard, when he was prone after crossing the ball in the first half. Probably Pando. Damn, what a d***head he was. After the final whistle, the camera seemed to get Donovan calling over to him. I wonder what he had to say to him.

  9. Eddie, you’re cool. Experience always pays off. I love when players come in and comment here. Dempsey worried me because it escapes me as to why he’s played as a forward. I would like to see Kljestan play more often. Edu, Adu and Altidore are also musts in this team. Altidore is a good supersub at this point. That leaves a short list of forwards, however. Ching will do for now although Donovan can certainly play that role too. If EJ can return to form that should be our tandem.

  10. Bob Bradley. For the same reason the English are concerned about Capello. The game plan is stale and neither are making doing anything different than their predecessors. Time for some new blood, mixed with proven players, and a trial by fire. Want Adu, Cooper, Edu, etc. to get big game experience? Well, they have to be called upon and given the opportunity, because the same faces disappointing over and over again is, well, disappointing.

  11. Relative to Pearce, one of the things that I was struck by was how unaltering the US defense was. It was clear midway through the 1st half that that side was going to be weighted and that Pearce wasn’t up to the task of handling the pressure. Recognizing that Lewis was not as helpful as Beasley, why didn’t Gooch or Bocanegra pinch over and try to close the gaps (or get on Lewis’ case). I don’t recall the central defense being overwhelmed with numbers that would have force them to stay as central as they did.

    There didn’t seem to be any recognition (or at least attempts to correct a deficiency) by the players on the field. Maybe watching a replay would show that they were dutifully busy marking more potent threats – but that wasn’t the first impression.

  12. Marc – good points, I’m all for giving pearce a few other chances. He has been good up until this game. Also our options are just next to none for left back.

    Bornstein is an option, but has no muscle when anyone comes at him.

    As for Cherundolo, I just wish Simek was back from injury, even though Bob Bradley probably still wouldnt play him. But he def deserves a shot.

    As not quite a Ching hater, maybe a disliker of him. I had no problem with his game on weds, he did what he had to do and what was asked of him.

    Thanks for the coverage Ives, and def like the poll questions.

  13. bradley was awesome.bradley,bocanegra and howard were the best of the US.

    beasley and edu were valuable substitutions late in the game.

    bob bradley always seems to make good subs

    decisions.I will definitely give him props for that.

    donovan was good on the ball.but he didnt get involved enough.the more he touches the ball the better the US becomes.

    Ive lost confidence in dempsey.he doesnt know what to do with the ball.he doesnt seem to have any confidence.

    I dont think he should be a starter anymore.we got guys in the MLS who are in better form than him.

    holden or rogers would be an upgrade from dempsey.

  14. Dempsey seems to be the biggest concern. On the others you know there strengths and weakness and you deal with it. Dempsey does not seem to be making progressand since his playing time at club looks to be limited and with no other scoring threats that is the biggest concern.

  15. Dude, Pearce was HEAVING!!! That kid looked done, I’m surprised he didn’t get subbed. I think he’s the thinking man’s choice for worried performance.

    Dempsey does need to get dangerous again. He was amazing for Fulham during the first half of last season, and then he disappeared. But his lack of goals isn’t a concern for me, to be honest. He’ll get it back, and he’s doing other good things on the field.

  16. You know, Marc. I agree that Pearce looked winded much sooner than you would think. Late in the game, he was holding his back. I wonder if he had a knock that was unreported and was making him work harder than normal.

  17. I think Pearce is out of shape. he looked winded early in the game. Combined with the lack of support from Lewis, the US had a weak left side. I think that given Pearce’s string of strong performances, he deserves at least another game or two before people turn on him.

    TO me Dempsey has been consistently poor. His form is troubling and it looks like he is not a first team choice at Fulham.

  18. I voted Dempsey because I feel he’s the most talented player on the team and the US needs him to be successful if they stand a chance of making any noise going forward. Dempsey will be around for the next two World Cups and I really feel that if him, Donovan, Adu and Jozy are in form and have chemistry, we really could be a dangerous team to play against. But Dempsey is key. I hope he finds his form at Fulham and that it translates to the National Team.

  19. Cheers at you, George.

    Lots of good opinions and analysis on the site…also lots of people just yelling. A curious, and growing facet of the internet.

    Now, was Heath Pearce bad, did he look bad because of a slow Lewis, or both? That’s a poll and discussion I’d like to see.

  20. @mig22

    Sorry about that. The SBI mafia has grown so large that sometimes I don’t think anyone reads anyone else’s post.

    I wonder if we are all just “yelling” out loud or making statements that serve to reinforce our egos.

    Thanks for reading my post it makes me feel like this is a real soccer community were people want to have real discussions and debates.

  21. Those of you who say Bradley played poorly are truly stupid. No other way to say it. He didn’t play great but did so much work in midfield. He definitely outplayed Mastroeni. And I’m cool with the Edu love but does anyone bother to point out that by the time Edu came in Guatemala had subbed out their starting central midfielders?

    For you Michael Bradley haters, just admit that no matter what he does you’re going to bitch about him. It’s pathetic.

  22. To those questioning Ching’s contributions, I saw a lot of smart play on is part, particularly late in the game. Moved the ball forward, held and protected it well, made smart, crisp passes to preserve the lead. Not a hat trick, but in the slugfest this was, a welcome leveling effect on the game.

  23. I don’t worry about Dempsey unless Bradley keeps playing him up top. He spent last year at Fulham learning his trade as a true, two-way player on the right side.

    Do you remember when everybody blasted DMB for not creating offense. All the while, he was developing his skills in Europe as a two-way player. Now, we view him as nearly indispensable in that role on the left. I think Dempsey is the same and merely needs a bit of time and mostly, to play in the position where he excels. Even his offensive talents are best served when he is angling towards the goal from the right sideline.

    When the team has a couple of credible striker options IN THE LINEUP, Dempsey will get back to what he does best.

  24. We had no linkage to the the attack because Dempsey who should be coming back to pick up the ball and distribute did nothing. Bradley was invisible for long stretches of the game. If Bradley wants to be the starting holding midfielder he needs to impose his presence on the game and I don’t think he did that. I hope Edu will improve at Rangers and supplant Bradley at that role because it is pretty clear Edu has eclipsed Ricardo Clark who cannot get a sniff of the USMNT since Edu came into form.

    I like Dempsey, but he was ineffective and quiet out there (besides a stupid yellow) and then he cried when he was subbed out. Grow up Dempsey!! I hate to think that his playing time at Fulham will be limited this year because of all the new signings, but physically he doesn’t look like he takes care of himself, which will lead him to get fatigued as the season wears on.

  25. Michael Bradley.

    Because all of the other guys (except Donovan, who I don’t worry about) can be benched. And we know that Michael Bradley will never be benched during the tenure of this coach, no matter how badly he plays.

  26. Dempsey’s slump seems a bit like Beasley’s during 2006. In my opinion, he’s suffering from tough form and lack of confidence but the team is not dealing with a fundamental question of whether he’s ‘got it’ or not.

    Echoing Teddie Boy Eddie, at left back, Pearce’s performance gets more to the doubts of whether he’s ‘got it’ and where we don’t have a lot of options, that’s more critical than a skilled players experiencing ebbs and flows of performance.

  27. I voted for Cherundolo because he’s been the go-to guy at the right back spot for years. If he’s suddenly slipping, that will pose some problems for the US.

    I mark Pearce’s poor play to having Eddie Lewis in front of him. Lewis is past his sell-by date and we have ample left-sided players who are better and younger (Adu, Beasley, Convey, Holden).

    Dempsey and Donovan are being played out of position; but even given that they had poor showings. But I have more faith in their abilities to get back to their best.

  28. Finally got around to watching the full match last night. One thing’s for sure, already knowing the US won, watching the game is a lot less stressful. That being said, I thought the US played an ok game considering that it was a concacaf qualifier.

    Donovan played a very composed, consistent game. He didn’t do anything flashy and that was what this game called for. This was never going to be a normal game. I was very disappointed with Cherundolo. He is a pro and has to have more composure. Dempsey was ok, but again, the conditions did not play up to his strengths. He did look to be tiring when Bradley took him out of the game. I thought M. Bradley played a very composed game as well. Not trying to do too much, because we all know, in Guate, that leads to lunging tackles and possible reds. As everyone has commented, Boca was class, and not just for his goal. Solid. Pearce was the most worrisome for me, but injecting Beasley seemed to really help him on his side.

    The Guate team was pathetic. Loco impressed, but Pando was shameful. How can he live with himself with that display of dramatics.

  29. @Tyler

    “Are we truly stocked with a bunch of midfielders and strikers who cannot create their own shot?”

    and then….

    “As for Clint Dempsey, I just don’t know what he was doing Wednesday. 3 different shots outside of the 18.”

    Well, what is it? Do you want them to take shots or create plays for others?

  30. While Dempsey has been pretty poor for about a year now, the US has other options in midfield. He is not a forward; don’t we know this by now. It would be great for the team if he returned to his form from a couple of years ago, but I don’t think it’s as crucial as the glaring problems we have at the wings in the back.

    I’m not sold on any options for either the right or left and would be worried about playing any other team with an effective, speedy winger.

  31. Maybe I’m getting this wrong here, but the US attack during the run of play has been deplorable against any “real” opponents. Are we truly stocked with a bunch of midfielders and strikers who cannot create their own shot? More importantly, are we stocked with a bunch of players who do not make the right runs (or at times any runs) off the ball?

    While our set-piece play has been excellent in 2008, we look like a team trying not to lose against the big boys, of which Guatemala aparently qualifies. As much as people can be concerned about Freddy Adu’s and Jozy Altidore’s defense, they are both dynamic players who require gameplan changes. A little creativity injected into the lineup will make everyone stronger.

    As for Clint Dempsey, I just don’t know what he was doing Wednesday. 3 different shots outside of the 18. Does he not trust his teammates? Does he have no chemistry with Brian Ching? Why are we still calling Brian Ching?

    While I feel the Men’s Senior Team has made strides since 2006, if we intend to be successful in the tournaments to come, we cannot simply wait for someone to commit a bad foul in their defensive zone so we get a free kick. Adu and Altidore have to be part of that new solution.

  32. Gotta be Dempsey.

    ‘dolo will bounce back. We knew Pearce was a weakness. Landycakes will step it up against Cuba (because its an easier opponent), Lewis isn’t the first choice anyway.


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