Blog

2014 MLS Shockers

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

WRITTEN: 7/18/14

 

We’re a little over the halfway point of the 2014 MLS season and there have been plenty of shocking results along the way.  Some teams have fallen from grace while others have flown away from the ashes and found new life in the playoff picture. Rather than focus on those who are having struggles though, I am instead going to focus on the three teams that I feel have shocked us with their play this year and give you my thoughts on whether they can hold on or not.

 

Number 3: Chivas USA

I know Chivas USA is currently out of the playoffs right now, but you’d be lying if you said you weren’t expecting more of the same from them after witnessing a winless streak that lasted from mid-March to nearly mid-May. However a switch seems to have flipped as of late and the Goats now find themselves only three points out of the Western Conference playoff picture with a game in hand against fifth place FC Dallas.

Chivas USA hasn’t exactly been blowing away competition, but they have shown the grit and determination that is needed to make a playoff push over these last few months.  Their recent 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps could end up being a huge road marker for the squad as Vancouver is right there on the bubble with them.

How do I think this will turn out?  Call me crazy, but I think I am becoming a believer that these guys could actually make the playoffs this year and turn some heads.  There have even been rumors that USMNT star Jermaine Jones has contemplated joining the team and regardless of the outcome, none of the publicity is bad for the mindset of the Goats.  They should be fun to watch down the stretch.

 

Number 2: Toronto FC

This was a tough one, because I could have just as easily included New England Revolution in my Top Three, but given the fact Toronto is in a position to make the playoffs for the first time ever? I had to go with the Canadian side.

I know many people will argue that the Reds stacked their team during the offseason with names like Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, but let’s be honest, this team has struggled so much since their inception that it takes a lot more than two superstars to right the ship.

Their road hasn’t been one of the more consistent ones this year, but they have been in every match and their play is a vast improvement from what we are used to seeing. As I said, it will take a lot more than a couple superstars, but Jermain Defoe’s ridiculous work ethic doesn’t look like it’s coming to an end any time soon and if Jonathan Osorio can get even better with his services, he and Defoe could become a potent 1-2 punch.

I am still not sure I see Toronto making the playoffs this season unless they can find a little more consistency week in and week out. With The New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union hot on their tail, there will be no time for relaxation in these last few months.  That said, I do believe this is only the start for Toronto FC and they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. New York City FC cross-border rivalry anyone?

 

Toronto FC Shirt on CLEARANCE for $12.95 here! 

 

 

Number 1: D.C. United

After a 2013 season that saw only three wins for the storied MLS club, D.C. has seen a HUGE improvement in 2014 kicking it with reigning Champions, Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Although United did snag former Sounders star, Eddie Johnson during the offseason, it’s actually been Argentine, Fabian Espindola who has been the standout this season with seven goals and eight assists so far. They didn’t let a rough 0-2 start to their season worry them and have been consistently solid ever since.

I have little doubt that D.C. United will make the playoffs this year. Barring any ridiculous meltdown, they have shown to be an above average squad. Wins against Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC are very promising and I don’t think it’s crazy to think that they might in fact be a realistic contender to represent the Eastern Conference in the MLS Cup. As for beating the Western representative?  Well that’s for another day.

 

DC United "The District" Shirt  

 

What do you guys think? 

Posted in Chivas USA, DC UNITED, Football, Futbol, MLS, Soccer, Toronto FC

Red, White and Blue Collar

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

 

 

The conversations about the USMNT haven’t stopped even though it’s been nearly a week since the 2014 World Cup ended. For those of us who love seeing the progression of the sport here in the USA, this is a good thing. It’s nice to see people show genuine interest in what Klinsmann and the boys should do to prepare for their 2018 Russia Campaign.

Although the World Cup ended with mostly the favorites in the mix for the title, it doesn’t take away from the fact that teams like Costa Rica, Mexico and of course, The USA left their mark on the 2014 tournament and provided a much better than expected outing for CONCACAF. 

Although I am a huge soccer fan, I don’t have all the answers to why CONCACAF had a breakout year in relative terms.  However, the few things I did notice – at least to my eye – had to do with a more straight forward, blue collar take on the game. It wasn’t always about flash (although there were some spectacular moments from each team) or about star players, but more about teams who gritted out each match. And I don’t mean “gritted out” in the sense of “hung on by their fingertips”, I mean they came out to play hard working soccer and it seemed to work quite alright for them.

It’s understandable for most people to come to the conclusion that adding some flash to that blue collar style might be the answer to an even more successful outing in 2018. That said, I can’t help, but wonder what would happen if instead, we added more blue collar style players? You know the type? Mike Magee, Jack Jewsbury, Conor Casey (who has had some success in a USA kit), Lamar Neagle, you get the picture.  Now I do understand that those players I just mentioned – with the exception of Lamar Neagle – will all be in their mid-30’s by the time 2018 rolls around and they are unlikely to ever see an appearance with the USMNT for the remainder of their careers, but I do feel players with their style could have a place in future World Cup tournaments. 

Of course when you think Seattle Sounders, you think, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, but take a look at a good portion of goals scored by either of those two and more than likely you will see Lamar Neagle played some part in the buildup and it is worth mentioning that he has also come through with his own clutch goals on a number of occasions.  Mike Magee’s record speaks for itself and I think it’s safe to say that he might be one of the more missed guys in Los Angeles and now one of the more beloved guys in Chicago. Both Jack Jewsbury and Conor Casey will forever impress me with their work ethic and how they continue to contribute to their squads even when they are all, but forgotten about by analysts and experts.

We’ve seen Brazil abandon their “Samba Style” and we’ve seen a unit like Germany dominate. Although Germany does possess some flash, the secret to their success – in my opinion – rests in the fact that they are 100% a hard working team. Every part of Die Mannschaft is running on all cylinders throughout each match and although not all their goals may be highlight reel worthy, they score a bunch of them. I understand that each player on the team is at a higher skill level than the MLS players I mentioned above, but I feel like the blue print is similar. I know it’s called “The Beautiful Game” for a reason, but I feel like I am starting to see a grittier beauty become much more effective over time. 

The MLS still has a ways to go before it gains worldly respect, but it played one of its bigger parts in this year’s World Cup and I imagine it is likely that this trend will continue.  Personally I think it would be exciting to see a guy like Lamar Neagle get a chance to at least show his stuff in a tournament like The CONCACAF Gold Cup and see what happens from there.  I am doubtful guys like him are even a tiny blip on the radar right now, but I am optimistic the result would be a satisfying one if we gave hard working players a chance to prove themselves a little more often.

Which lesser known players would you like to see get a shot?

Posted in 2018, Chicago Fire, CONCACAF, Conor Casey, Football, Futbol, Gold Cup, Jack Jewsbury, Lamar Neagle, Mike Magee, MLS, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Russia, Seattle Sounders, Soccer, USA, USMNT, World Cup

Where is the Competition At?

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

If soccer fandom in the United States was looked at the same as growing up was, we would be in that awkward early teen stage. Crazy things start happening, confusion sets in and you really don’t quite know what to do with yourself. Every four years we come together to support the same country, but when the World Cup is over and all the dust settles, there is this odd bucket of mixed feelings.  Even the biggest Team USA fans end up talking down the MLS regardless of its extraordinary growth since 2009 and rather than get disappointed about losing our young American stars to Europe, we actually welcome it. 

I tend to be on the opposite side of the fence.  Don’t get me wrong, I love European football and trust me, I understand that the talent level playing for top European Teams is heads and tails above the rest, but we’ve all heard the term “buying a championship” and is a league with that mentality really what is best to grow young players?

The first thing I tend to hear from soccer fans here is that the MLS will never be a serious league unless it does away with the salary cap.  The way most fans see it is that if a brand new team like New York City FC can flash dollar signs at the world’s biggest names, we might be able to steal some players from heavyweights like Chelsea FC or Real Madrid simply because we could offer a higher payday. 

I see it a little differently however.  So yeah, a team like New York City FC with ownership from both the New York Yankees and Manchester City could have the change lying around to theoretically land a name as big as Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic, but what happens to the Colorado Rapids? What happens to Real Salt Lake or the Columbus Crew? Seattle has deep enough pockets where they could give it a go against a team like New York City, but is that what we want to see? Complete domination by maybe three teams if we’re lucky?

La Liga had three teams this year who challenged for the league title. Once you get past Barcelona in third place, Athletic Bilbao was a full 17 points behind in fourth place. The difference between third and fourth place was nearly a 20 point drop. Bundesliga was even worse, Bayern Munich had won the title well before the season was nearing a close and their closest competition (Borussia Dortmund) was nearly 20 points behind in second place. Third and fourth place Schalke 04 and Bayern Leverkusen finished 26 and 29 points off the leader. Both Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco relaxed at the top of Ligue 1 for the majority of 2013-14 and even in the relatively competitive Premier League, the drop from fifth to sixth place and lower was substantial. The race to stay above relegation ends up becoming the main event for teams like Sunderland, Hull City and West Bromwich Albion, as their fans know that their small market team will never be able to compete with the diamonds and gold at the top.

Is that what we want? Do we want to get excited about staying out of dead last?

The New York Red Bulls finished last year’s MLS Season with 59 points. That was enough to win them the MLS Supporter’s Shield. Following them was Sporting Kansas City with 58 points, Portland Timbers with 57 points, Real Salt Lake with 56, LA Galaxy with 53, Seattle Sounders with 52, and then New England, Houston, Colorado and San Jose all with 51 points. Nine teams within eight points of each other. Even FC Dallas who finished second to last in the Western Conference still had 44 points. Besides Toronto, D.C. United and Chivas USA having rough seasons, every team in the MLS last season had over 40 points. 

I know my opinion isn’t the most popular one, but I have seen too many young Americans go to Europe only to be benched and in some cases it could be argued that it had little to do with the player’s talent and more to do with their place of birth. And I totally get that, why shouldn’t Europeans trust what has worked best for them over the last century? Why shouldn’t we take a little more pride in what we can offer here? Maybe not the highest talent pool in the world, but quite possibly the most competitive top division league in the world.  

As I said, I don’t believe taking away the salary cap is the solution. That won’t help us grow our young Americans, it will only help us challenge Europe in snagging their players.  However, with young stars like DeAndre Yedlin making waves out of Academy programs, perhaps the MLS can offer a modified version of the Designated Player rule for Homegrown players.  If the league makes it financially enticing and possible to both grow and then keep young stars, that is where I believe we can start to make a stand as a soccer nation. Do I believe the MLS will ever be surrounded by the pageantry that European Leagues are surrounded by? No, I don’t.  We have multiple interests in this country. Even a soccer fanatic like me still loves the NFL, NHL and MLB. We have to find an American way to grow soccer here rather than try to copy what Europe does.

Although my thoughts may simply be pipe dreams, I do believe soccer can be successful here and I do believe that we can win the World Cup with players who primarily play on American soil, but we need to do it our way. Go back in history and you will see we have always found a way to be athletically superior in this country. With love for soccer at an all-time high, now feels like a good time to figure it out.

 

 

Posted in DeAndre Yedlin, Football, Futbol, Homegrown, MLS, Soccer, USA, USMNT, WC2014, World Cup

I Still Believe

Posted on July 04, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

 I sit here writing this at nearly 2am on the morning of the 4th of July.  I am not your  stereotypical patriot, at least not in the way that the rest of the world sees Americans. I  don’t like bacon, I’ve never shot a gun before, I rarely listen to country music and the  last truck I owned was made in Japan. I am the product of immigrants, not my great,  great grandparents, I mean as immediate as my own mother. Sure I love the NFL, I  enjoy spending the day at the ballpark with a beer and I do love myself some apple  pie, but I am not your typical American….then again, what is typical in this great  country?

 So yeah back where I started, it’s America’s Birthday and although nearly half of my  blood says I can cheer on “Les Bleus” without being called a bandwagoner and the other half includes three lions and well….a CONCACAF team that didn’t make the tournament…..we’ll just leave it at that, I instead sit here thinking “how nice would it have been to see MY team play a day after MY country celebrated its independence?”. What would those headlines have read?

I don’t need to say it again, you all know what happened. Our hopes, no matter how unrealistic they might have been were crushed and it hurt. It’s easy to say it’s “just a game”, but we know better than that. When a “game” unites a nation, the complexity of the situation can’t be simply defined in an overused phrase we tell tee-ball teams.  It’s not just a game, it’s a movement. 

 

 There are many people like me in this beautiful land. The haters and political pundits  can say what they will about heritage and the sport not being “ours”, but no matter  how loud they seem at times, the fact we Americans - with paths that start from every  corner of the globe - sing whether we win or whether we lose is starting to drown out    their mean spirited opinions and in many cases  they've ended up joining  us in song when all is said and  done.           

The dream may have ended quicker than we wanted it to this year, but the memories we were gifted by 23 men in red, white and blue in their spirited attempt at glory will stick with us forever. A kid who grew up in the rain of Seattle worked his way through his beloved Sounders’ organization all the way to the world’s biggest stage before he was even old enough to order a drink. The German born son of an American Serviceman from Chicago shocked even himself when he helped his teammates slay a demon from the past. A Captain gave us hope just 29 seconds into battle before being bruised and bloodied only to give us hope once again, through the pain nearly a week later. A Coach who wore much different colors once upon a time developed stars and stripes right before our eyes.      

This year was different. For those of us who didn't make the trip to Brazil, we joined fellow fans in stadiums, warehouses, offices, pubs, shopping malls and living rooms in cheering on our team and we did it in masses, filling every establishment from Seattle to Fresno to Kansas City to Chicago to Miami. We knew how tall the mountain was, but we’d be damned if we didn't join the ascent.

You see, we know the USA doesn’t dominate soccer and thank God for that, because when we do reach the top and we WILL reach the top, the view will be that much sweeter.

Some of our families call it “football” and some call it “soccer”. Some of our roots run deep in American soil, while others are just getting started, but at the end of the day we all sing along to the same anthem and we shout the same words “I believe that we will win!”

I still believe. 

Posted in Aron Johannsson, Brad Evans, Brazil, Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, Football, Futbol, John Anthony Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Julian Green, Klinsmann, Kyle Beckerman, Landon Donovan, Matt Besler, Mikkel Diskerud, Soccer, USA, USMNT, WC2014, World Cup

What To Do About Suarez....

Posted on June 24, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 2 Comments

 

What a day in the World Cup, right? I mean it seems that every large sporting event these days ends up being overshadowed for a small (or sometimes large) portion of it due to an unfortunate event. Of course what happened today though wasn’t anything new for Uruguayan striker, Luis Suarez.  As most of you know, one of the hottest goal scorers in the Premier League this season marred his home country’s Round of 16 berth with his third (alleged) biting incident of his career. That’s right…THIRD.

Don’t get me wrong; although there is so much wrong with the story and with Suarez’s actions, the memes going around the internet, as well as the headlines are hilarious. Not to mention, I am constantly reminded of the Austin Powers scene where Dr. Evil warns that Mini Me is a biter and every time I think of Dr. Evil saying this about Suarez instead, I laugh. Thank God I am the only one in my office; otherwise I would look completely insane.

Putting all the humor associated with the incident aside though, this is actually quite serious and what FIFA ends up deciding could have a huge impact on the 2014 World Cup (at the time this is being written, no decision has been made), but the big question is…what is the right punishment?

I have heard rumors that he could face a six month suspension from both National and Club play.  Although some are calling for a lifetime ban, I do suppose that six months would send quite the message to the repeat offender. However, on the other hand you have some people asking “What’s the big deal?”, a bite isn’t as damaging as the majority of tackles right?  I mean it’s embarrassingly immature and bizarre beyond all belief, but it’s not like he went “Walking Dead” on anyone….well not yet I guess. Does the absence of severe or possibility of severe injury justify a lighter punishment?

 

ORDER OUR "And a Nice Chiellini" SUAREZ SHIRT!  

 

Here is how I see it. I think at the very least, FIFA needs to suspend Suarez for the remainder of the tournament. The severity of physical damage may be relatively low, but the psychological advantage of having the nibbler out on the pitch is actually pretty high. I mean just imagine if you are defending a corner and you have Suarez to your left or your right. I don’t care how much of a professional you are, it is simply in our DNA. Nobody wants to get bitten by another human being!  No matter how likely or unlikely it is that Suarez would actually do it again, trust me….all that would be going through your head is “**** is this guy going to bite me or???” His antics have proven to be successful in messing with his opponents and when they get to be this level of “WTF”, there is a point where you say enough is enough. Especially after the THIRD time!

That all said, the last thing FIFA wants to do is boot out the little mosquito. Whether you like seeing him score or not, he does do it frequently and he may very well be one of the most talented strikers in the game, but now that this is BIG news around the world, I feel like FIFA would be doing a disservice to the beautiful game and would lose another large chunk of integrity after what has been an already miserable spell for them over the last few years if they didn’t punish him is some shape or form. If Uruguay were to go far through the knockout stages with Suarez in their lineup for every match, it would end up turning their National Team into a villain because of one guy and God forbid they win; people would mostly remember that “the biter” won the World Cup in 2014 rather than Uruguay winning it as a country.

This isn’t Suarez’s first offense and as a 27 year old man with children, I would think he knows better by now not to bite someone (safe to say his poor kids will not be getting any playdates anytime soon). There is no excuse for what he did and the quicker FIFA can take care of this in an appropriate way, the quicker we can move on with this tournament that has managed to be one of the best ever.

Before that happens though, I want to know what you all think is appropriate punishment for Suarez.

Posted in Bite, Biter, Chiallini, FIFA, Football, Futbol, Hannibal, Italy, Soccer, Suarez, Uruguay, World Cup

Final Thoughts Before USA Starts Their 2014 World Cup

Posted on June 14, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

 

It’s an odd year for the USMNT isn’t it?  Love for the beautiful game is at an all-time high here in the United States and although the majority of us know that getting out of our group alone is a daunting task, we still have that belief deep down that we can not only get out of the group, but that we can challenge for the World Cup.

Yes, that’s right when we chant “I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win”, that isn’t a glass half full face that we put on knowing full well we don’t stand a chance. It’s a battle cry that says “we are the Yanks and we mean business, whether we’re ranked #1 or #100”. That’s how we are and how we’ve always been.

Still though, it is absolutely crazy to me that after all the years that I have followed and loved US Soccer (and I am talking back to when I was a little kid), I have never seen so much excitement for the USMNT only to see it met with a load of negativity from the German coach who steers the ship.  “It’s not realistic for the USA to win the World Cup”….those are the words from our coach. After one of the best campaigns in US Soccer history and a newfound energy from supporters around the country, the man responsible for a good portion of it still backs those statements made months ago.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, so I will save the Nationality issue for another day. However, every day that goes by I still question exactly what Klinsmann is trying to gain with such comments.  Is this a way of taking the pressure off his squad? Many of them are newbies to the World Cup, so perhaps he feels if the pressure is off that his men will go back to their roots and just enjoy playing soccer without worries. Maybe that’s not it though; maybe he thinks that it will light a fire under the boys.  If you look back to his “squabble” with Clint Dempsey a while back, it did seem to light a fire under Deuce that has continued to burn pretty bright. It could be either of those things or it could just be the obvious….Klinsmann is simply being realistic. 

I come from a European family and my family members who moved here from Europe tend to have this same sort of attitude. It’s bizarre to me, because although I grew up with them and was raised by them, the fact that I am American has always trumped this outlook and regardless of the situation or how much the odds are stacked against me or the team I support, I never lose hope. I am not saying it’s a bad thing to be realistic, it’s just insane that after the last five to ten years, where the sport has seen its greatest growth spurt in America, that we end up with this odd cloud hanging over us. I don’t know if it’s a dark one or how much rain it’s loaded with, but it’s a cloud nonetheless. Every time I start to get excited for the USMNT, I can see Klinsmann in the back of my mind, shaking his head saying “nope, nooooope, not going to happen” and it kills me.

When it all comes down to it though, I KNOW that I am obsessing over Klinsmann way too much. Truth is, he has assembled an exciting team that has given us a lot to cheer about even if he himself is not quite ready to go all in. And in the end does it even matter what he says to the media anyways? It only really matters how it affects the players and from what I have seen, they still believe they can win and are proud as ever to represent the Red, White and Blue. 

Today was the first full day of World Cup matches and the Netherlands pulled off a spectacular 5-1 win over reigning World Champions, Spain. That’s all it takes. One game that jacks the goal differential way up and sends a group in a spin.  No matter how daunting the task may be, the number of variables that could inevitably make the path easier or harder for the USA remains to be seen and all the analyzing in the world will more than likely end up being useless, including my own. 

What I do know though, is that we are a crazy bunch here in the US. We are the best at some sports and huge underdogs in others, but it’s hard to find one that we don’t participate in. Winning the World Cup is probably one of the hardest things to do in the world of sports and looking back at the history of it, you’ll be hard pressed to find a true dark horse who ended up winning it all, but we are different, we are Americans.

Throughout history we have won battle after battle mostly because we forgot that we weren't supposed to.

I believe that we will win. 

 

Shop our USA Collection 

Posted in Brazil, Football, Futbol, Klinsmann, Soccer, USA, USMNT, WC2014, World Cup

The New Faces of the USMNT

Posted on June 04, 2014 by Brandon Enyeart | 0 Comments

How much do these warm up matches really tell us heading in to the World Cup? I am not sure I have a great answer to that. Much like the NFL Preseason and MLB Spring Training, the matches are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  If you win it’s “just a friendly” and if you lose, it doesn’t take long for the dissing to start.  However, you can also argue the point that if it wasn't for the NFL’s preseason games, Russell Wilson would have never been named starting Quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks and there’s a good chance they never would have won the Super Bowl.

Although the USMNT does have its fair share of veterans, the difference makers in 2014 could very well be the World Cup "newbies" on the squad and these "friendlies" do at least give us some idea of what the young players are capable of.  When Jurgen Klinsmann made the choice to leave Landon Donovan off the squad, he was clearly looking toward a new era of US Soccer and really, who could blame him? The sport itself is in a new era in this country with attendance at an all-time high and a league that has gone from sub-zero to (relatively) a success story in the last five years. Soccer as a body has changed in the US and so the faces that represent it have to as well.

I know that I may sound like I am contradicting a past article I wrote (Does Klinsmann Believe in the USA?), but I assure you that I am not. I still have my opinions about Klinsmann in general and the fact that his “The USA can’t win the FIFA World Cup” statement just resurfaced on the airwaves and social media (thanks New York Times) as I write this doesn't help ease my fears that Klinsmann doesn’t take this squad as seriously as this country finally does. However, although I don’t agree with his 23 man roster 100%, I do applaud the fact we will see brand new faces in Brazil…..well at least most of them.

 

 

Let’s start with John Anthony Brooks: 

Personally I feel like defending is something that players get better and better at with age. Positioning isn't learned over night and although we have seen speed kill with youngsters like DeAndre Yedlin, we've also seen a reliance on speed work against young defenders very quickly. Defending has a lot to do with what's between the ears and to me it appears as though John Brooks already has some of those smarts at the young age of 21.

In the second tune up match against Turkey, I was repeatedly impressed with his defending. Not only with the standard defending we expect to see, but also the multiple times he made up for mistakes made by other teammates.  Now I understand that he was brought in as a sub and it’s anybody's guess how he would play for a full 90 minutes or how he would deal with the attack from much more talented players from Portugal or Germany, but it still blows my mind that around the web people don’t seem to think he will see a minute of play time in Brazil. Are you kidding me?  I feel like Brooks – at the very least – deserves a chance to show what he can do off the bench. We know our weakness is our back line and Matt Besler (whom Brooks subbed in for against Turkey) was confused at best for the majority of the first half. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of our defenders work as hard as Brooks did this past Sunday, I hope that doesn't get overlooked.

 

Now for some Fabian Johnson:

The give and go to Michael Bradley which resulted in a spectacular opening goal against Turkey for Fabian Johnson may have us all a little more excited than we should be, but the truth is, Fabian Johnson has been showing signs of excellence for the past few years now with Hoffenheim (although now signed with Borussia Monchengladbach for the 2014-15 season) in Bundesliga and although the defender/winger did make some defensive mistakes in the match against Turkey, his versatility going forward could provide very useful to the squad depending on how he is used, whether that be as a defender or a winger.

Johnson’s ball movement is what has impressed me the most lately and I kind of get the feeling Michael Bradley likes working with him, as the two of them arguably have the best touch on the team along with Clint Dempsey. American fans have watched Brazil’s “Samba Style”, Spain’s magnetic possession play and brilliant finishing for years in hopes that they might one day see just a little bit of that with the Yanks. Although that may never end up being USA’s style of soccer, guys like Fabian Johnson are certainly the answer to bringing just a dash of it to the states. 

I am not sure if anyone is all that positive who our starting XI will be against Ghana, but I do hope Johnson gets to see significant time on the pitch in Brazil.

 

Moving on to Aron Johannsson:

I have watched plenty of videos of Aron Johannsson on YouTube and the majority of them are pretty fantastic. Although it’s been said that he has had a ball hogging tendency in the past, his natural goal scoring ability tends to make people forget about that part of his young career. 

What have we really learned about him in the matches leading up to the World Cup though? I don’t think he’s had enough time on the pitch to really have an opinion either way.There was a lot of hype surrounding the Icelandic-American when he first dawned the Red, White and Blue and I think there is still a chance he could almost meet the hype. He hasn't disappointed or impressed me yet and I assume that will remain the same in Brazil if he gets any time on the pitch at all. That said, I am certainly keeping an open mind with Johannsson. 

 

 

Which leads me to Julian Green…:

You know, I kind of feel for Klinsmann here. Back when the Seattle Sounders signed Clint Dempsey and I told my friends with limited soccer knowledge of his brilliance, I ended up defending myself for the remainder of the 2013 season, as well as the offseason against comments such as “this guy is really getting paid the big bucks!?” or “Wow! Your boy Dempsey is worthless, we should pay (insert any other Sounder player here) that money instead, at least they score!” So yeah, I can see what Klinsmann is going through with Julian Green. He has seen something in this kid and so has Pep Guardiola, yet none of us seem to get it.

In the matches that I have seen him in, Green flat out looks like a kid at the big boys table. Not only does he turn over the ball repeatedly, but he also lacks touch and is quick to flop in hopes of a getting a call, but rarely ever does.

It seems insane however to doubt someone like Klinsmann - no matter how much he frustrates me at times - when Green also has the support of a manager like Guardiola. Surely two football minds like them can’t be THAT wrong....right?

Still, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Julian Green took the place of any of the players who were cut for this World Cup. But as I was saying before about feeling for Klinsmann on this one, I did end up being right about Dempsey (even if I did silently start to doubt myself) and who’s to say that once Green really settles in that Klinsmann won’t end up being the one saying “I told you so”?

 

Every single one of us is going to question these new faces individually (I am definitely no exception), but I think that in general we can agree that a fresh start for the USMNT was long overdue and I do get the feeling that this team will leave everything on the pitch for better or for worse.  I feel like we have watched a very careful style of soccer from the USA over the last few years and it’s given us a few great moments, but it’s been anything, but explosive.  2014’s squad has all the potential to be explosive; it’s just a matter of how they end up exploding.  We may very well end up scoring more goals as a team than we ever have in the World Cup, but there is also the likelihood that we could get scored on even more.  It’s going to be beyond stressful for us fans, but also exciting as hell to start a new chapter in American Soccer…..now if only we can get Klinsmann to stop publicly doubting us.

Posted in Aron Johannsson, Brazil, Bundesliga, Fabian Johnson, Football, Futbol, John Brooks, Julian Green, Klinsmann, Matt Besler, Pep Guardiola, Soccer, USA, USMNT, WC2014, World Cup