Things to be discussed
The newest round of USMNT friendlies have kicked off. Unlike the previous ones, the team had a chance to work in training for nearly a month before beginning. With a squad mostly consisting of MLS players, these January camps are usually spots where players try to break through for some call ups with a more “A” like squad.
While Geoff Cameron showed well and will almost undoubtedly earn a few more call ups if he shows well against Panama, the players who made it on the pitch for the game that climatically ended when Rico “freaking” Clark heroically headed in the game-winner in the 97th minute showed fairly well.
Still, regardless of Jurgen Klinsmann being undefeated in 2012 (bright-side), I’m left to ponder post-match discussions about five players.
1. Jermaine Jones
Jones was the best player on the pitch. Better than anyone on Venezuela, better than anyone from the US; however, if he had not been the best player, he may have never received another call up again. Many match ratings for him mentioned his “distribution,” but I can think of at least two times where he sent beautiful defender splitting through balls to no one in particular. There’s also the yellow-card, and I won’t even discuss the captaincy.
Jones is growing more comfortable in the US fold, and on Saturday he actually looked like the player that we thought we were getting in ’11. The thing is he was playing against inferior competition after breaking back into the top XI for a Champion Leagues side who plays its league matches in one of the three best leagues in the world. I’ll be interested in seeing what he brings when he is not the best player on the pitch.
2. Teal Bunbury
Is there a chance that we may have overrated Teal Bunbury? It could be that he doesn’t belong as the sole forward in a 4-5-1. It could also be that we were a tad too excited about stealing a player from Canada. Bunbury seemed to have trouble staying on his feet, and other than one self-created shot from the top of the 18 he was pretty quiet.
I’d like to see him play more with someone else. He, like pretty much every US forward that has been trotted out since Brian McBride and Brian Ching, is no good at being a lone target forward.
3. Rico “freaking” Clark
Hopefully this goal does not make him the next Robbie Rogers. Rogers got call up after call up once he scored against Mexico in Klinsmann’s coaching debut. Clark is lacking playing time with his club right now, so he really shouldn’t have been included in this squad. Yet he was able to get the game-winner and did not look out of place on the night.
He, I believe, was the third most capped player on the pitch –behind Feilhaber and Jones, but he did not look like it. Klinsmann’s system does not suit Clark, even if Clark does play in a holding role. I’ll be curious as to how he’s used (if at all) going forward.
4. Benny Feilhaber
Speaking of Feilhaber, he looked very good in the hole behind Bunbury; however, he probably would look better playing deeper in the midfield. He is not a forward, but other than Jose Torres he is the only USMNT player that could possibly be that true #10 –or as true of a #10 as the US system has produced since Claudio Renya.
If any one player, who had fallen off the face of the Earth, possibly earned some senior team time, it was Feilhaber. I’d expect to see him called in a lot over the next few camps.
5. Chris Wondolowski
Wow. After his Gold Cup no show, I really didn’t expect Wondo to ever show up again in the National Team fold. There’s lots of talk about the US needing a striker “who knows how to be in the right place,” well Wondo was in the right place for the entire time he was on the field.
Curiously, I don’t think he has too many more National Team camps in his nearly 30 year-old legs –as I’m sure Agudelo, Boyd, and unnamed-stiker-x, will start getting Wondo’s minutes– but if he has another outing against Panama like he did against Venezuela it would not be odd to see him playing often in World Cup Qualifying.