Monday, April 26, 2010

YA Squads: Then & Now

One of the most interesting developments in US soccer over this World Cup cycle is the migration of American talent to Europe. The number of yanks abroad has been steadily increasing, as are the contributions to their teams:

World Cup Squad Breakdowns

1998 16 6
2002 11 12
2006 11 12

Even though the breakdown was the same for 2002 and 2006, it's clear that the amount of YA talent increased dramatically. That's continued to happen, and now as the 2010 World Cup approaches, it's possible that only five or fewer MLS players could make the roster. Quite a reversal from 1998. I wonder when the high point will be, since I'm sure most of us believe MLS will continue to increase in quality and therefore bring the numbers back down eventually. We should probably still have a clear YA advantage in 2014 as well. I'd really like to see how a foreign coach would handle things.

Below is what a 23 man top YA squad looked like before the 2002/2006 cups and today. I posted on this four years ago, and I thought it was time to revisit it to pick the 2010 team. I'm picking players mostly based on their status with the national team, and I'm not taking injuries into account. I'll also pick players like Brad Friedel who are retired from the USA, but are still YA's.

2002 YA Squad

Starters: Friedel, Regis, Vanney, Berhalter, Sanneh, Lewis, O'Brien, Reyna, Stewart, Kirovski, Moore

Bench: Keller, Walker, Hejduk, Cherundolo, Gibson, Thorrington, Palomares, Lawson, Enochs, J.Beasley, Mason, Casey

Very little to choose from, and virtually no depth. It's a real stretch to even get to 23 players, not to mention that many of the first xi barely played for their clubs.

2006 YA Squad

Starters: Friedel, Bocanegra, Gibbs, Onyewu, Cherundolo, Lewis, O'Brien, Reyna, Beasley, Casey, McBride

Bench: Keller, Howard, Berhalter, Califf, Pearce, Spector, Bradley, Corrales, Feilhaber, Convey, J. Johnson, Nguyen

Much better. Solid defensively, but weak up top. Maybe a 4-5-1 with Convey starting in place of Casey would've been more realistic at the time.

2010 YA Squad

Starters: Howard, Bocanegra, DeMerit, Onyewu, Spector, Bradley, Clark, Dempsey, Holden, Davies, Altidore

Bench: Friedel, Guzan, Goodson, Cherundolo, Edu, Torres, Beasley, Feilhaber, Adu, Cooper, Johnson, Gomez

No doubt an improvement in attacking talent, though there may be a depth issue on defense. I was pretty generous in picking Adu for the final spot (I still believe!) over Bedoya, but I don't think there's much arguing against the rest of the spots. You could possibly argue for another defender (Castillo/Parkhurst/Simek) over Cooper or Johnson, but those two have been a bigger part of the USMNT in the past year. Aside from those three and Friedel, this could be the World Cup squad.

I've also decided to leave off Jermaine Jones, since he's done nothing since his announcement.


Comments on "YA Squads: Then & Now"


Blogger DM said ... (7:40 AM, April 26, 2010) : 

Generous, indeed. Bedoya has been earning regular minutes with Orebro and finding good form, too. I really have to say that at this point in time, taking Adu over Bedoya is a hard sell.


Blogger mga said ... (8:41 AM, April 26, 2010) : 

Okay, Greece is a better league than Sweden but that's about all Adu has going for him. Bedoya's team is currently in second place, he is getting regular minutes and is scoring a goal here and there. I can't recall the last time that Bradley took at look at Adu, although I'm sure that you know! I think you should switch out Adu for Bedoya. Let's hear the Adu argument, scary! :)


Blogger scaryice said ... (4:31 PM, April 26, 2010) : 

Adu was at the Gold Cup last year, though he left after two games. He was also on the Confederations Cup roster, and played a few games in WCQ. He's been a part of important matches, while Bedoya only has two sub appearances in friendlies. That's my main reason.

And it's not like Gomez, where you can easily see he's leading the league in something (and also, it's a lot easier to actually see Gomez in action).

If Bedoya makes the 30 man preliminary roster, then I think a switch would be warranted.


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