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Your September Questions Answered (Part 4)

Bob Bradley 1 (ISIphotos.com)

                                                                              Photo by ISIphotos.com

The U.S. national team's World Cup qualifiers are still two weeks away, but fans can't stop talking about the national team.

The latest installment of Your Questions Answers is loaded with questions about the national team, including prospects Jermaine Jones and Edgar Castillo, as well as head coach Bob Bradley.

Here are some more of your September Questions Answered:

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FRED-If you had the power to fire Bob Bradley right now, would you do it? Who would be his replacement?

IVES– Fire the coach who just led the team to a Confederations Cup final and has it in first place in its World Cup qualifying group? Nope, I’m not in that crowd.

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TOM FROM SYRACUSE– If Philadelphia make one big signing for their inaugural season, who do you think it could or should be? Is there any chance of Viera or someone of that caliber?

IVES– Not sure about Viera going to Philly. Peter Nowak will have a decision to make. Will he scan the Eastern European market for a player who not have the high-profile but can dominate in MLS? Or will he go with some name recognition? I just don’t see Nowak bringing in a guy who’s a marquee name. I see him landing someone with a slightly lower profile, but who can have a major impact. I’m also not convinced Philly has the money to spend on a high-profile player.

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MNMIKE– What's your take on the current situation involving top English clubs signing teenagers from France?

IVES– There are clear rules that teams are supposed to follow with regard to recruiting young talent and as long as that is being followed I don’t see the problem. Yes, there might be clubs that are breaking the rules, but at the heart of it, I don’t think it’s wrong for bigger clubs to scout and recruit top talent from other countries.

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BAQUITO ALYESKA– With Edu and Jones getting healthy, what do you think is the path forward (BB's tendencies notwithstanding) for the USMNT central midfield players/tactics?

IVES– I think Bob Bradley will have some tough decisions to make, but if everyone is on their game I’d say the Jermaine Jones-Michael Bradley tandem would make the most sense, with Benny Feilhaber-Maurice Edu being my second choice tandem when healthy. I wouldn’t write off Ricardo Clark either, especially if he makes the move to Europe this winter.

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PATRIOT71-Under the assumption that we do qualify for the WC '10, can you see any scenario where BB is not the head coach for the USMNT next summer?

IVES– No. Not really. If Bob Bradley was a wild one like Diego Maradona, and capable of a coke binge or unfortunte public tirade, then maybe you could have him be fired, but Bradley's as straight-laced as they come. If the U.S. team qualifies he will be given a chance to build his World Cup team next summer.

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FDV- Do you think that Shawn Michaels will ever win another world championship?

IVES- I’m not a big wrestling guy (Where’s Luis Arroyave when you need him?) but I can say that it’s time for some new blood in the wrestling game and continuing to trot out re-treads is boring. Then again, it’s entertainment so as long as fans keep buying tickets to see Michaels you’ll keep seeing him.

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TIMOTHY- Do you ever see Eddie Gaven stepping up and living up to his potential? He is a starter for a top MLS team, but by now he should be starting for the national team.

IVES- I would say Gaven was a victim of unrealistic expectations at an early age. He’s certainly talented, and showed so much at such an early age that fans expected the growth to continue at an unsustainable pace. He’s developed into a smart and effective MLS player but I’m not sure he will ever be a difference-making international player.

The knock on him has long been that he lacked that fire and extra gear to dominate. I’m not sure that’s fair. I’ve seen him show much more fire than earlier in his career, and earlier in his career he still managed to play very well even being a laid-back personality. Will that be enough to ever return to the national team scene? I’m not so sure.

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TERRY IN EVANSTON- Is it crazy for an MLS GM to use the salary cap to sign 18 players to contracts in the 90,000-120,000 dollar range while keeping 6 guys on the developmental contracts? Or would that just be to crazy to accept?

IVES- it’s pretty close to impossible to assemble that kind of team because you’re not finding 18 players who are worthy of that amount to put on your team. Even an expansion team would struggle to find that many players who are worth those salaries to put on one team. Lastly, who would be your difference-making players? Who will be your reliable goal-scorers? What about your stud center back? You’re not finding those players for 120K. So I suppose the answer is yes, it would be crazy for a GM to even consider this method, because it would be tough to pull off, and would probably yield a mediocre team even if you pulled it off.

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DELIBELLY- How many MLS players do you think will be in the starting eleven for the US when World Cup 2010 kicks off? Which ones? (Keeping in mind some MLS'ers may leave during the winter transfer window).

Do you think the development of MLS is lagging behind the development of the US team, and if so, what's the explanation for the divergence?

IVES- Assuming the USA makes the World Cup (anti-jinx disclaimer), I’d say there would be, at most, two. Landon Donovan is one (I think a winter loan is more likely than an actual sale). The second one could be anybody from Stuart Holden to Frankie Hejduk to Jonathan Bornstein.

I wouldn’t say it’s a question of MLS lagging behind, but rather the evolution of the USA pool and improvement of its players. With more players in Europe, and more players developing in good leagues with good teams, it’s that much tougher for MLS to crack the lineup. I would consider that progress. If the starting lineup was dominated by players who had never played in MLS then I’d be more inclined to say there’s a problem.

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DAVID- Do you think the US needs to give some other players a look in deadball situations instead of Donovan? I am admittedly a new fan but I have never seen him take a free kick and get a goal with the Nats thus I don't assume any team has to defend against that. He takes all free kicks, all penalties, and all corners. i am sure other guys are capable. It just seems another phase of the game were th
e Nats lack creativity and options.

IVES- The team practices set pieces on a regular basis and I have a feeling if there were players who were better with set pieces we would see them. I’ve seen Clint Dempsey take some at Fulham and hasn’t looked too bad, but I’m not sure anybody else stands out. I do agree though that Donovan has wasted plenty of corners and free kicks with poor attempts, so it wouldn’t hurt to have another option come along. Just not sure who that will be.

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SP-after the first few weeks of the european football seasons, what are your predictions for the premier league, la liga, serie a, bundesliga, champions league, and europa league winners?

IVES- Here are my picks: Chelsea in the EPL, Barcelona in La Liga, Juventus in Serie A, Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and Barcelona in the Champions League. Can’t predict the Europa League without knowing which teams drop into the competition from the Champions League.

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JOE K- Why don't the red bulls sign dilly duka?

IVES- Duka didn’t meet the criteria to be a homegrown player based on MLS rules, so the Red Bulls couldn’t sign him. There was talk about that rule being changed, but as of now I wouldn’t bet on Duka being allowed to sign straight to the Red Bulls.

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FRANKIE- Have you ever met a girl that you tried to date, but a year to make love she wanted you to wait?

IVES- Yes, let me tell you a story about my situation, I was talkin to this girl from the U.S. nation. (Man, that takes me back to the days of seeing Biz Markie perform in a park right in front of where I lived in Passaic, New Jersey circa 1988.)

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BRIAN-INDY- What do you drive a pimped out Escalade or a Chevy Malibu? Maybe something in between like a Jeep Wrangler?

Also, you really need to have a live podcast after US games, just to discuss what happened and take questions from a few people. I think it would be very popular with the Mafia out there…Thanks

IVES- I drive a black 09 Nissan Altima (No SBI MAFIA license plate though). As for a podcast, I definiltely want to do a podcast, it's just a matter of finding the time to set it up. I may just start with a simple audio podcast and hopefully transition to taking calls and becoming a proper show. Hopefully that can start before the end of the year.

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STL SOCCER FAN- Castillo has been described by you and others as a great left back at getting forward but that his defense lacks. At this point it's fair to say that he is better than Bornstein at defense, and much quicker than Boca. Some people mention that you need to "transition" a player into the position, but the game isn't a must win for us, and the chances we lose because of him is slim. So what do you think are the chances that he starts the Honduras game?

IVES- I would say zero percent. I’m not even sure he will be called in for the upcoming qualifiers. There is no rush to throw Castillo into the pool. You still need to be careful about how you transition a young player into the national team pool. It shouldn’t be assumed he will walk right in and get a chance like that without ever having been with the team before, or without ever having played with any of the players before.

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Comments

  1. Raffi N, fan4usa, leon, the2isleuce, r. Benjamin,

    I’m curious as to how long all of you have been watching the US play?

    I’ve been watching them closely since 1990 and, while they could be more consistent, when this group is on, they still have the patented US flaws, lack of ball control,lack of skill, lack of depth, but they are as dangerous as any US team has ever been. They also have the potential to do as well in the World Cup as any team since the 2002 team. Now,if a top flight coach, Capello, Hiddink, Mourinho and the like, became available I’d hire them in a heartbeat. But,they aren’t available and short of that elite group, I remain uncertain a new coach would make much of a difference for 2010.

    I don’t have the exact figure at hand but Bradley has been in charge for 50 some odd games and I believe his record is on the order of 33 wins, 14 losses and whatever is left over number of draws. Not too bad. They are also just about assured of WC qualification, which is the only really meaningful thing a US coach does.

    Since he has taken over they have had their share of stinkers but they have also had some dominant performances against good sides of the kind I never saw under Arena (except for their run in the 2002 World Cup). And when Bradley had a chance at a World Cup-like tournament he got to the final and the team played well. Whether this is repeated remains to be seen.

    Whenever anyone says that Bradley, or any coach, has nothing to do with the good things about the team but everything to do with the bad things then you know the logic is twisted. Even if that were true, it would still mean Bradley is lucky which is no bad thing.

    When you say Bradley had nothing to do the good things( Demerit,Altidore,Davies,etc,) I’m curious as to how you know that for a fact. Injuries happen and if the replacement player steps up and plays better than the injured one, you call that having good depth, which is something a good coach develops. You act as if these guys just showed up one day and said “I can play better than Brian Ching/Danny Califf put me in coach” and Bradley put them in because he was too hung over to be able to tell the difference. It doesn’t happen that way.

    Why do you think, aside from the aforementioned elite group, a new coach would make a difference?

    Aside from goal keepers, who can keep you from losing but won’t necessarily win the game for you (we’ve always had excellent keepers), we have no proven top flight players. No players playing regularly on top flight teams. No players who will even get a sniff at European player of the year or World player of the year. Not a single one. Don’t tell me that Grella, Pittman and Adu fall in that category. Donovan has talent but has yet to prove that he can consistently deliver it on the highest level on a consistent basis. I rate him highly but I’m not sure if he could get more than a few games with, say, Manchester United.

    By comparison,Brazil and Spain, two recent opponents, have rosters full of top flight players. Just compare the resumes of the US player pool against the resumes of the Brazil and Spain player pools and then tell me we belong on a field with them under any circumstances. The fact that we beat one and played the other well, in large part because the players believed they could, tells me Bradley is a capable coach.

    As for this notion we should dominate CONCACAF, well guess what, they and the rest of the world are getting better all the time. If you followed their player pools closely you would see that teams like Honduras for example, have excellent players such as Suazo. Player development in America is not Bradley’s responsibility.

    Who were two recent hot foreign candidates for the US job over Bradley? Klinsmann ( fired by Bayern) and Carlos Queiroz ( has Portugal, with a better talent pool than the US and maybe the best player in the world nearly out of the World Cup qualifiers). So be careful what you wish for. Once you get past the coaching superstars, it becomes a bit of a crapshoot. It’s usually a bad idea to fire someone unless you have a proven, better replacement.

    Do yourselves and SBI a favor and watch other national teams and research their histories a bit. Then watch some DVD’s of old US teams going back to 1990. You might find it illuminating.

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  2. As for the managerial question, I would hate to fire Bob, someone who cares about the team and has a strong (vested) interest in it, and replace him with someone who may not be as passionate about US success. Guillt and the galaxy anyone?

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  3. Questioning Bob Bradley is warranted. I do not think now is the time to fire him, but I would grade him a C+, not anything better.

    Even Ives’ defense of Bradley did not get too deep into the questions. And really that is the only way to fully give him a thumbs up (results and tougher opponents) sure.

    But he’s not getting the fullest of Dempsey.

    His player selections are very questionable. As mentioned his most “enlightened” moves were forced.

    His subs and their timing are adequate at best.

    His “loyalty” to players is very questionable.

    We question Bob Bradley because there are real reasons to. Yes we lost to Brazil 2x. But in both cases a firm look at Bradley’s decisions (his COACHING) warrant a firm look.

    Ask yourself this. The player pool is better now than 05. But is the team really any better?

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  4. Mike G.,

    I’m not one for having unrealistic expectations of the national team either, and you’re right about the U.S. not having “one bonafide world class player”, but that is because they have two. If given the right situation (which obviously hasn’t been easy to find), Donovan could shine with a great number of world class teams, and Howard is one of the most athletically gifted keepers in the world and continues to learn his craft and improve. I’m with you when it comes to Coach Bob, but IMO he most certainly has some “bonafide world class” players to put on the pitch.

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  5. just because Ives downgrades Clark(as you can see an Injured Edu was put inhead of him) dosent mean Clark should not be the starter. Fact is he did MORE than Braldey last game. If Clark is not even worthy than what does that say about M. Bradley’s recent form?

    (SBI-It’s not about downgrading anybody Harry. it’s about believing Edu to be the better player when healthy.)

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  6. here will be my lineup aganist honduras. tell me what you think.
    altidore——-johnson
    donovan–bradley—beckermanorjones-dempsey
    castillo—onyewu—demerit—–cherundolo
    howard
    subs:davies,holden,felhaiber,bocanegra,
    beackerman,spector,guzan

    Posted by: erik saaavedra

    BocaNegra is our Captain. EJ over Davies? EJ over Buddle doesn’t make sense at this point. Beckerman over Holden? Feilhaber? Clark? Rolfe? Klejstan? Rogers? Quaranta? Arnaud? even MLS Bobby?

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  7. Bob Bradley = Willem Defoe

    Posted by: Tom From Syracuse

    TFS–I see where you’re comin’ from but I have always thought BB was the love child of Paul Newman and Robert Duvall.

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  8. why doesnt bradley call jones, castillo, eddie johnson instead of ching or casey. and beckerman aganist honduras. why does bradley keep on calling clark if he sucks i rather see edu. here will be my lineup aganist honduras. tell me what you think.

    altidore——-johnson

    donovan–bradley—beckermanorjones-dempsey

    castillo—onyewu—demerit—–cherundolo

    howard

    subs:davies,holden,felhaiber,bocanegra,

    beackerman,spector,guzan

    Reply
  9. “On Bradley’s credibility being raised due to Confederations Cup performance: US lost 3 games, and won 2”

    The games we lost were to Brazil, twice (one of which we led at the half by 2-0), and Italy. No shame in that.

    BTW – I like that Ives is answering the questions in smaller chunks but in a more timely fashion. Now only if he’d get to (and answer) mine!

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  10. The “fire Bob Bradley” set is beyond annoying. What could possibly merit him being canned? I bet you guys are the same types who go to football games and start calling for the back-up QB after one bad throw.

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  11. Leon, I would also point out that teams in the region have gotten much stronger. Look at Honduras — they have Suazo, who was voted the best foreign player in Serie A two years ago, along with Palacios, who is an automatic starter at Tottenham, along with some other top shelf talent. More Concacaf talent is playing abroad, and we are still in first place in the group. I’m not sure what more you could ask for. We are 5-1-2, and our only “bad” loss is to Costa Rica in Saprissa. I think Bradley’s preferred playing style is too negative to really be enjoyable, and it sucks for him that his kid is one of our best players, but I think when you look objectively at the results, we are not doing badly. Even Brazil and Argentina lose in qualifying every once in a while.

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  12. NY Times is reporting the 10/10 WCQ in Honduras may be moved. One possible venue could be the USA.

    If that’s the case, what’s the chance we can leverage this game onto regular TV?

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  13. The US player pool does not have one bonafide world class player. Bradley has this team where they need to be. Leading CONCACAF and competing with top Euro teams. Until we have several players starting regularly for top clubs, the US fan should temper there expectations.

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  14. Ives,love the website keep up the good work.

    After the 2010 WC run, regardless if the US qualifys/does well in SA or not, What direction should the USMNT take for the 2014 run? Stick with the current situation (BB) or move in a new direction of coaching and hire a coach from outside the US soccer family?

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  15. Andolini, I think people have legitimate concerns given our lack of progress against CONCACAF. At some point one would hope that we could begin to dominate this region. I think we should. Instead we are getting some poor results, and not playing well even when we do get results.
    I’m fine with BB staying based on his record, but the bigger concern for me is poor midfield play. I don’t think that situation is helped by our coach being the father of one of the puzzle pieces.

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  16. I think most of the hate against Bob Bradley is that his name is Bob Bradley and not Roberto Bradliskovich who dominated all the European leagues in the same season at the same time.

    (SBI-Fabio Klinsmann Kosh, Fabio Klinsmann.)

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  17. hey Ives, what’s the scoop on this rumored return of the Cosmos as a travelling all-star team?
    and which side do you take on the “should the Cosmos come back” question???

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  18. You know, I don’t understand the animosity against Bob Bradley. We do not have the talent to be a top 5 team, so we are not going to play on an even level with Brazil, Argentina, Spain, or England. That being said, the talent level is increasing, and I think we will get there, probably within the next 15 years. I think some of the people commenting here are too young to remember how crappy the Nats used to be and what a thrill it was to even qualify for Italia 90, where we were one of the worst teams — we got smoked by Czechoslovakia (which used to be a country) 5-1. Bob Bradley is not our problem. We are making progress under him. Calm down.

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  19. I think Castillo should be called-up for the last two qualifiers, I don’t know if I play him necessarily, but I definitely call him in. After this last round of qualifiers (assuming we land one of the last three spots and qualify directly for WC 2010) we won’t get many opportunities to evaluate squad depth and round out the roster. It would be a good chance to get a decent look at him in a camp against the other first teamers.

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  20. Great Q&A, thanks. Building on one of the questions…4 current MLSers, other than LD, most likely to make USMNT in WC2010 (if they qualify): Holden, Ching, Bornstein (sadly) and Marshall. IMO, these could be the only MLSers on the team. Starting: probably only LD, barring injuries, with Holden pushing hard and Bornstein maybe a necessity if Spector doesn’t shift to the left and Castillo doesn’t turn out to be the answer.

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  21. On Bradley’s credibility being raised due to Confederations Cup performance: US lost 3 games, and won 2. The win against Egypt was dramatic, but expected and against Spain incredible – but likely a ‘one off’ win.

    I don’t think now is the time to fire him, but he is not bringing the US to a level that we can consistently beat good teams. His record against world class teams is very poor; One win against Spain, and one draw to Argentina (in a friendly) are the only two results I can remember.

    Let’s hope for the best in 2010, and look forward to having someone else take us even further by 2014.

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  22. Good choice on the license plate Ives. I’m not so sure driving around in New Jersey with the word “Mafia” on your car would be a wise move. 😉

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  23. IMO Donovan is better suited to be sitting at the top of the box for free kicks and corners. His speed could help run down the balls that are knocked out of the box, he can volley with either foot from the top of the box, and could provide good secondary service back into the box.

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  24. Ives’s remarks on Bradley are interesting to me. Painting with a bit of a broad brush and based solely on his remarks towards Osorio as well, it seems like Ives places perhaps too much (IMHO) emphasis on limited runs of seemingly abnormal result(s).

    Here I am speaking of the Red Bulls run to MLS cup after a mediocre-poor season and now the Confederations cup w/the Nats. I think the body of evidence is much larger than that in each case. I think Ives was too slow to call for Osorio’s ouster and that clearly he wasn’t getting everything he could out of that miserable bunch. I would put the same question forward about the Nats and Badley.

    I would ask Ives — do you think Bob is getting the most out of this team? Or close enough to the most that another coach could not significantly improve the situation?

    I don’t see much improvement and he has been fairly pushed into most of the decisions that have worked out well (Demerit, Altidore + Davies, etc.)

    I dunno. I am not a hater — I wouldn’t fire Bob just to fire him, but I don’t know about supporting him too strongly based on the Confed Cup alone. Plus, the problems that have existed during his tenure don’t seem to be getting much better — letting up early goals, ability to hold leads through level-headed possession, creativity/movement in run of play, etc.

    I wouldn’t just switch coaches but I wouldn’t evaluate him so favorably based on being narrowly top of the group and having a wonderful, but definitely luck enhanced and abnormal, run at the Confed Cup. I think if Sunil and Co. think we aren’t getting the most out of the team, they should make a move. Certainly, it shouldn’t be already ruled out based on current performance.

    (SBI-I said both the recent Confed Cup performance and the place in qualifying. While the Confed Cup tournament was a short tournament, qualifying is a year-long cycle and he’s managed to have the group in first place (in a cycle where teams are stronger as a whole than in years past). I’ve written enough times why I think some criticism of Bradley is overboard, so in this instance I chose to answer the question as plainly as possible.

    As for the mention of Osorio, I’m not really sure how my comments and opinions about him can now be tied to any other coach I offer an opinion on (I’ve offered plenty of opinions on just about every coach in MLS so to handpick my stance on Osorio to make a point is a bit misleading). Their situations are not at all the same, Bradley’s and Osorio’s. I’m sure someone could try and and make a comparison but it would be a reach.

    The U.S. team has underperformed in recent weeks, but has still gotten the results. As we saw in 2005, a strong qualifying run doesn’t equate to World Cup success, just as in 2001, a struggle to qualify doesn’t mean a team can’t have a good World Cup run.)

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  25. If he is in the starting 11 I think Holden should take corners and free kicks. Does it now for Houston and has even made Kinnear split time between him and Davis (one of the best in MLS). Also, if in the game wouldn’t Bennie have the skill set to take some?

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