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The SBI Show: Episode 129 (Recapping USA-Mexico, previewing MLS Week Five, and more)

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Photo by Michael Janosz/


The U.S. Men’s National Team dominated Mexico for the better part of 45 minutes on Wednesday night, then watched a 2-0 lead disappear into the Arizona night. There were some questions answered for Jurgen Klinsmann, but also some new questions raised.

Episode 129 of The SBI Show takes a look back at the 2-2 tie between the USA and Mexico, as we discuss the American players who impressed, and those who struggled.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also look ahead to MLS Week 5, which is rivalry week in Major League Soccer. Portland-Seattle, Houston-FC Dallas and LA Galaxy-Chivas USA are just a few of the interesting match-ups on the schedule.

Give Episode 129 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:

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What did you think of the show? Agree with our take on the match? Which USMNT players impressed you the most? Who would you start at centerback next to Matt Besler?

Share your thoughts below.




  1. I must ask this last question and then I will get back to reading and not commenting. Okay, Bradley gave a tv interview immediately after the game, one question was about Green and he had good things to say.

    Okay, here is my question, you said you “actually” asked Bradley about Green yourself. Well, when/where did you do it? Was it in the locker room or did you meet with him somewhere afterwards?

    • I’ve spoken to Michael Bradley (quite a long time ago), Even back then he had already perfected a way of responding to questions about other players that was respectful of them, sort of answered your question, but left you to later wonder what he said that you didn’t already know. (Wonder where he got that talent?)

      I suspect he is more blunt face-to-face with other players when it is called for.

      • Dennis— I love this comment. I was about to dismiss it as a “hey I met that guy” but it was much better and very well observed. Cool stuff.

        It’s so hard to figure out what the guy must actually be like to meet the dude around his peers in a more relaxed setting. The most “real” thing I am aware of is the old “crossbar challenge” clip from youtube with him Freddy Adu from back in the day (seriously– back when MIke had hair). Seeing him in that is like seeing a kid in AYSO– he is more free-spirited than Adu in the clip (I’m trying very hard to avoid Adu jokes or easy career metaphors, but the clip makes it very difficult). I’d post a link, and it’s easy to find, but I already ran afoul of management earlier — check it out if you already haven’t.

        Otherwise… thanks for the anecdote. Another piece of whatever puzzle we are dealing with here.

      • Dennis,

        Your Mikey v Adu clip

        The only USMNT player who gives interviews that sound as if he is letting you in on something “inside” is Landon, and that insight is usually about Landon. He can be brutally honest about himself.
        As others have pointed out the US soccer media is still in a transition phase.
        Ives’ strength is that he seems to be reasonably independent of outside influence and does not seem tied to a particular agenda.
        The ex NATS commentators mostly seem to be interested in the time honored tactic of winning a regular job by saying something outlandish and controversial. That is easier to sell than subtle, insightful observations.
        Lalas has assumed the role of the anti JK and has learned the fine art of being just enough of a contrarian to be noticed but to still be an establishment figure. His playing career and his understanding of the game were above average but hardly exceptional. Watching him match wits with Michael Ballack in the studio is painfully embarrassing.
        For me the most interesting expert commentator on the USMNT besides Darke, is Steve McMahon, who has the credentials, seems to neutral about how the USMNT does and does not seem worried about being brutally candid.

  2. Your podcast is mostly very good. However, you could give more constructive criticism. The way you bad-mouth good players is annoying. I know who a good player is. I have been around for a long time. You haven’t got the experience I do. So, stop telling people how bad so-and-so is, and how good another so-and-so is. Try to be more open-minded. Your ideas who is good and who is not do not agree with many other experts.

    • I’m curious if you have any specific examples to mention?
      Of all the so called “experts” following the usmnt, I’m not too impressed with the depth of analysis from most. I’d rate Ives higher than most.
      -Lalas sounds like a jealous bitter JK hater who just wants to create controversy.
      -Twellman isnt much better, less demonstrative, but still weak as an analyst.
      -Carlyle is ok sometimes, but then when I read his player ratings I wonder which game he was watching
      – Bennett is better, but he doesn’t comment as often as others
      – The writers at MLS site seem to have a better handle on what’s going on
      – The guys on espn boot room do not go deep with the usmnt… at all…
      – Wahl probably has better insight, but is more of a reporter than an analyst.

      Nobody agrees with anything about this team, which is a bad sign, but I’d take Ives and Ian Darke over most.

      • Good break down and I agree with your opinions. I wish SBI would get a writer like Matt Doyle or the guy from the shin guardian for some good tactical analysis

      • Largely agree with your breakdown– well done. I used to regard Wahl as the gold standard for US reporting, but as you have identified it seems his focus has shifted more to reporting/interviewing, having handed off much of the analysis and match breakdown to Strauss (who I’m finding to be consistently competent, if unadventurous). It seems Wahl may be looking to further establish himself as a TV brand in the coming period. I continue to like him, but I’ve turned to others for analysis.

        You didn’t mention the NBC/ProSoccerTalk platform but I don’t see it as much of an omission. Not terrible, just not that interesting, and rarely original or shocking. They could really do more… I hope they have plans here to back up their implied bet on MLS/EPL if the WC provides the surge in interest that they almost certainly expect.

        Ives has the best site by a mile. I used to regard it as a low-tech throwback to 2004, but most of this is actually an advantage once you get familiar with it. It’s obvious why the best comment forum is SBI. Keep that going, Ives.

      • You are right, the best comment forum is here Ali Dia, it is a hoot. So, what do you think of Julian Green? Will he be a starter in Brazil? And, did you hear what Michael Bradley said about him?

      • Sure, I saw the comments. Can’t say I found it to be all that remarkable but seemed positive enough. I don’t know much about Green still but he made it to the first checkpoint well enough. I will keep the channel on for round two, absolutely.

        Right now I am reminded of the time I went to see the second “Matrix” movie at the opening midnight show and some guy in the row in front of me loudly exclaimed “This is so much better than the first one!” during the opening credits. It was funny enough and I’m glad I laughed, because it ended the best thing that happened in an otherwise disappointing experience.

        I’m hoping Green turns out great — at this point most of us have taken the “red pill” and I’d love to see a world class talent wearing the colors, whether it be now or over a longer term. But “Freddy Adu Reloaded” is not a film I want to see so much. So I think it’s a good thing to let it grow organically and enjoy it as it comes.

        Ultimately I don’t hate people who are excited or hyped up on the kid… it’s good to be positive… the World Cup comes once every four years and I would rather spend the entire group stage standing next to some delusionally enthusiastic, loudmouth homer who screams the national anthem through a star-spangled kazoo and compares Green to Jesus, than spend a single second with a pessimistic wet blanket who talks about where we go next after we lose.

      • Yea I was mostly looking at the ones directly responsible for usmnt coverage.. and here’s where I see a major missed opportunity:
        With the rise in coverage the last 4-5 years, starting with Fox Soccer , then espn, BeIN, NBC, bootroom and online streaming there’s been more progress the last 5 years than the previous 50 combined.
        What’s missing? There’s no Peter Gammons, Ron Jaworski, Buster Olney, Kirk Herbstreit expert type who you always wanna hear what they have to say.
        I like Wynalda and Barton more than all the others but Fox has no usmnt coverage.

      • Well observed. There are some growing pains issues, too. Some of us have watched the entirety of the cable TV growth spurt of soccer here in the mainstream U.S. For me, my very first non World Cup, English language exposure to cable soccer was the weekly, Sunday night “Fox Sports World” segment. I remember the first time I watched– a promising teenager from Coventry City danced his way to the endline and made a goal almost all by himself. That kid grew up eventually and now plays ten minutes down the road from me in Carson… and still calls himself Robbie Keane. Needless to say,I was hooked and still am.

        Eventually we will lose the glorious figures of this late adolesence period.. Ray Hudson will deservedly survive as a cult figure and he wll hopefully have some company. But what of the other figures who used to matter… Jeremy St. Louis? Bobby McMahon? J.P Dellacamera? Bob Ley is now an “elder statesman Max Bretos and Rob Stone have found homes in other habitats, but they all used to be part of the furniture in our little community. Growing up also means saying goodbye.

        We will find our true national experts, and I hope we get guys who last for decades like Gammons rather than a short term cramdown of some loudmouth poseur who recently retired from CONCACAF somewhere. But there is no need to rush. If we did, we’d just get some doofus…. or maybe just more Lalas.

      • +1
        Succinct. Efficient. Walken reference. This has it all. Makes me a little ashamed actually…

      • It’s irrelevant who the experts are. What’s relevant is that constructive criticism is in order. I prefer giving credit where credit is due. Generally I like this podcast the best among the soccer commentaries. I don’t want to name names. But I would leave it up to Klinsmann and other coaches to say who should be on the team. Now that Berti Vogts is an adviser, I will trust his judgment. I watched him when he played in Germany way back when, both as a league player and in the world cup.

    • Explain “bad-mouthing” good players. If a player isn’t playing well, or is struggling, I’ll say so. If I think someone is better, I’ll say so. Agree or disagree, but spare me the “I have been around a long time and have more experience than you” bit. I’ve covered the game 17 years and while I’m not delusional enough to think I’m always right, I definitely have the foundation in covering the game to have opinions worth listening to. Plenty of people agree, including many with much more experience than you.

      I’m definitely open-minded, and have changed my mind on players many a time. There was a time I wasn’t that sold on Kyle Beckerman, but now see him as a viable option. I once though Omar Gonzalez was the answer next to Matt Besler, now I concede it looks much less like an answer.

      Am I confident in my opinions? Yes. Do I stand by my opinions and defend them unabashedly? Yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to listen to different opinions. What makes me laugh is people who have differing opinions and want to tell me how “wrong” I am. Just because we have different opinions doesn’t make me “wrong” or you “right”.

      As for whether or not “many other experts” agree with me. There are plenty of opinions in this game, and among people who cover American soccer. If you’re only interested in hearing opinions you agree with then go find those people and only read them. You talk about me not being open-minded, but it sounds more like you’re not willing to listen to opinions you disagree with.

      • Did you see the post game on-field tv interview Michael Bradley gave and what he said about Julian Green?

      • No Gary, I was actually at the game, and I actually asked Bradley about Green myself, and wrote an entire column about Green for Maybe you should read that before going on about how anybody here has it out for Green.

      • So, what Bradley said about Green on national tv. immediately after the game was very much different than what he said about Green to you?

        Okay, if you say so.

      • Who cares what Bradley said, it means absolutely nothing. Do you really think he’s going to say, “he’s awful, I have no idea what he is doing here”.

        Even to this day Bradley and Jozy say Adu is one of the most talented players they’ve played with in the US. That doesn’t mean we should take Adu to the World Cup.

      • John,this is exactly why I love this blog and I can’t wait as the USMNT moves towards May and then to Brazil WITH JULIAN GREEN.

  3. Garrett you are so white, JAvaughn watson, AcOsta, c’mon man. I also disagree about edu looking good, I thought he was out of position far too often.

    • I thought the wide attackers Mexico used in the second half against our FBs and outside mids was successful enough to draw Beckerman and Edu out of position. Both the FBs and the outside mids must do a better job or you need for both the central mids to drop back. The one major point I saw was that neither Bradly, Beckerman, nor Edu recognized what to do about the wings being overwhelmed and they continued to play vertical from one another when I thought the situation called for Bradley to drop back horizontal so he or Beckerman/Edu could move out wide to help the wide defense.

      I think, without Bradley dropping back to cover the middle defensively the US got stretched both vertically and horizontally which opened too much space for Mexico. If there are 2 defensive mids then one assisting the wide defenders can work, Of course, doing that would slow down the US attack, but we were up 2-0 so smart defending would have been OK.

      There will be a tension for the CMs between defending and attacking whenever the wings/FBs are getting beat out wide for which there is no solution except better defending by the wide players.

      • +1 Dennis

        this is what I saw. At the end of the game thread I said the same thing about Bradley needing to flatten out with Beckerman to adjust but the adjustments came too late and actually at the expense of Beckerman. Edu came in and changed things a bit with his coverage abilities

  4. I love how people keep on saying Johannsson isn’t suited for a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. Uhm that’s the role he plays for AZ, and it seems he plays the role quite well.

  5. As a reader of the blog I was puzzled why everyone here. except for only a few, are really down on Julian Green. I found out why in the last show, episode 128. When Garrett said he thought Julian might score a goal he was immediately answered: “He can’t, that would be the end of SBI, the internets would go crazy”

    It will be vey interesting to watch what will happens here as the USMNT moves forward in May and on to Brazil, WITH JULIAN GREEN:

    • Explain how that statement was somehow a shot at Green? The comment was a joke about the hype surrounding the kid, and how people had been going crazy about him. Does that mean I don’t think he has potential?

      Is it really a bad thing to tell people to take it easy with hyping the kid? Even Green’s dad agreed with that statement, tweeting out a column I wrote about this very thing.

      Green clearly has potential, and could make the World Cup team, but people hoping he walks on water should probably calm down.

      • You saying that a goal by Green would be the end of SBI was a joke? I am so sorry, I took it as a moment of truth, you know, that someone drinking does quite often.

        And since you have continued the meme, he doesn’t play division 1 football, in fact you said his play in this match was the longest play he has ever experienced as a “professional”, well forgive me if I took that as you taking a shot at Green.

        But, what will you have to say after the 3 send-offs. I can’t wait to hear.

      • Me stating that his minutes against Mexico were the most he’s ever had in a professional environment is FACT, not a “shot”. Fourth Division German soccer isn’t 1st division professional soccer. Does that mean Green isn’t a good player or prospect? No, but it’s still the reality of his experience.

      • LOL, you adding environment is a change from what you said. But no matter, maybe you just do not understand what the word professional means.

        Julian Green has played many full 90 minute games, but of course, as you so derogatorily term them, 4th division, none the less, he has played them. And here is where the term, and your misunderstanding of it, professional comes in.

        Julian Green is being paid $700,000.00/year for that. That Ives, is a professional athlete. And nothing you can do or say will change that.

      • Gary, who said he wasn’t a professional? You can be a pro athlete and not have top level experience. I get you’re some serious Julian Green fan who can’t handle anything that isn’t glowing praise for the kid, but now you’re just being silly. I wrote a column off that game that was pretty complimentary, yet you want to harp on about some comment that only YOU took as a shot at Green.

        If you’re just interested in trolling, I suggest you find somewhere else to do it. You’re the only person trying to suggest I’m somehow against Green.

      • I think I’m with you on this Ives. It’s ridiculous to analyze every single word you say in every sentence. Especially on a Podcast! All you were try to construe is that Green is very Green, lol. Give him some time to develop before we anoint him the next Pele!

  6. Sorry GARRETT! I was just kidding with you about Ives putting you in your place all the time. You guys are awesome and I always look forward to the podcast.

    • But Joey, Brad’s wife was right. Arrogant and condescending covers it. As an example, just here, and what is Garrett, 5’2″, and Ives talks about beating him up.

      Poor Ives, and his blog followers, whatever are they to do? Yes, Julian Green is their worst nightmare. However, one must ask, why do they not want the USMNT to improve?

      Well, I have already answered that question. As I said, it will be great fun to keep following this blog as the USMNT moves on WITH JULIAN GREEN. I can’t wait to see what happens here.


      As I said, I am really looking forward to the USMNT

  7. Beckerman is OK in the World elite level, maybe with proper tatics Beckerman could work, but Edu still has better soccer IQ and faster recover.

  8. At this point I’m pretty convinced that the only reason OG is a professional player is to watch goals from the best seat in the house.

  9. Dempsey isn’t a forward or playmaker, Dempsey more like Maxi Rodriguez-type, while Donovan is far superior in that role playmaker or withdraw forward, and Dempsey seem more lazy now (Spurs ruined Dempsey!). Another I love to see play withdraw forward is Aron in that role.

    Only wish to Boyd start a game and get at least 60 minutes, and Beasley return to midfield (switch role with Johnson), and maybe Ream as leftback.

    • Agree.

      I did not think Dempsey had a good game. In was obvious he has lost a half step. He’s 31, and the 2009-2012 Clint Dempsey is gone. He was not as active. I disagree with Ives…you have to look at his 2012 form and compare it to now. He’s not going to magically get better in the next in the next 69 days.

      With respect to the CB position, Cameron will not play CB; JK will not move him from RB. Goodson did not have a good game, and he’s not a replacement to Gonzo. Gonzo’s position will be filled by either Brooks or Orozco. Brooks get criticized for when he was paired with Gooch. I think Brooks will come on strong during the May/June camp and make a good play for the starting CB spot.

  10. 3 Goalkeepers:
    1-Howard, 2-Guzan, 3-Rimando

    8 Defenders:
    1-Besler, 2-Gonzalez, 3-Fabian, 4-Cameron, 5-DMB, 6-Brooks
    7-Chandler or Yedlin
    8-Parkhurst or Goodson
    out: Gooch, Ream, Spector, Lichaj, Evans, Beltran

    8 Midfielders:
    1-Jones, 2-Bradley, 3-Donovan, 4-Zusi, 5-Dempsey, 6-Mix, 7-Green
    8-Beckerman or Williams or Edu or Brek or Bedoya
    out: Davis, Castillo

    4 Forwards:
    1-Altidore, 2-Johansson, 3-EJ
    4-Boyd or Wondo
    out: Agudelo

    Cameron’s versatility let us bring just 7 defenders thus allowing for 2 additional mids, 1 defensive mid (Beckerman or Williams or Adu) and 1 attacking mid (Brek or Bedoya…, edge goes to the natural left-footer Shea)

      • To solidify the back line Fabian has to be the LB, that opens up LM vacancy… Davis vs Mexico and Kljestan vs Ukraine played themselves out of the 23 list.
        Donovan can start as LM but is more effective on the right… Green and Shea need to step up…. two LM spots up for grabs…

        I think RM is set with Donovan, Zusi…. bedoya would make it “three’s a crowd”… Dempsey can always drift to the right.

        it is wrong to say Zusi & Bedoya can play LM with any effectiveness…

  11. ——————Howard

    • To round out the 30-man preliminary roster:

      GK Guzan, Rimando
      D Beasley, Brooks, Evans, Gonzalez, Goodson
      M Beckerman, Bedoya, Davis, Diskerud, Edu, Green, Shea, Williams
      F Boyd, Johannsson, Johnson, Wondolowski

      • shea out. davis out. edu out. wondo?? im still on the fence there and thats because i prefer herc.

  12. Exactly Ives, everyone should temper their expectations on Beckerman based on his positive performance against Mexico because Ghana, Portugal and Germany represent another level of competition and then some.

    • Right again Ives, Gonzalez has been prone to a mental lapse in defensive effort or positioning. If you re-watch the highlights you’ll notice Goodson instinctively moves toward the Mexican striker and sacrifices his body to block shot attempts. Whereas, Gonzalez remains stationary and watches the play allowing runs on his blindside.


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