Making Impressive Progress
As I looked over the roster for the upcomming friendly with Sweden one thing really stood out.
The clubs our Americans are playing at have become an unmeasurable amount better in a very short time.
I know that may seem obvious but it is truly quite remarkable the increasing quality the Yanks abroad are now experiencing every day of their respective European seasons. The effect this will have on the USMNT, maybe not in this run of friendlies or this year, but in 2010, will be clearly visable.
Let’s take a look at the past two World Cup rosters for the United States.
Agoos, Jeff D 05/02/68 127/4 San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Armas, Chris M 08/27/72 45/2 Chicago Fire (MLS)
Beasley, DaMarcus M 05/24/82 9/1 Chicago Fire (MLS)
Berhalter, Gregg D 08/01/73 25/0 Crystal Palace (England)
Donovan, Landon F 03/04/82 20/4 San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Friedel, Brad GK 05/18/71 74/0 Blackburn Rovers (England)
Hejduk, Frankie M 08/05/74 38/5 Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Jones, Cobi M 06/16/70 153/14 Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Keller, Kasey GK 11/29/69 58/0 Tottenham Hotspur (England)
Lewis, Eddie M 05/17/74 38/3 Fulham (England)
Llamosa, Carlos D 06/30/69 26/0 New England Revolution (MLS)
Mastroeni, Pablo M 08/26/76 8/0 Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Mathis, Clint M/F 11/25/76 19/8 MetroStars (MLS)
McBride, Brian F 06/19/72 58/18 Columbus Crew (MLS)
Meola, Tony GK 02/21/69 98/0 Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
Moore, Joe-Max F 02/23/71 95/24 Everton (England)
O’Brien, John M 08/29/77 13/1 Ajax (The Netherlands)
Pope, Eddie D 12/24/73 48/5 D.C. United (MLS)
Regis, David D 12/02/68 25/0 FC Metz (France)
Reyna, Claudio M 07/20/73 86/8 Sunderland (England)
Sanneh, Tony D/M 06/01/71 29/1 FC Nuremberg (Germany)
Stewart, Earnie M/F 03/28/69 77/15 NAC Breda (The Netherlands)
Wolff, Josh F 02/25/77 16/4 Chicago Fire (MLS)
2 Albright, Chris * D 6′1” 185 01/14/79 19/1 Philadelphia, Pa. Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
17 Beasley, DaMarcus M 5′8″ 145 05/24/82 55/12 Ft. Wayne, Ind. PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
12 Berhalter, Gregg ^ D 6′1” 175 08/01/73 44/0 Tenalfy, N.J. 1860 Munich (GER)
3 Bocanegra, Carlos D 6′0″ 170 05/25/79 39/6 Alto Loma, Calif. Fulham FC (England)
6 Cherundolo, Steve D 5′6″ 145 02/19/79 33/1 San Diego, Calif. Hannover 96 (Germany)
11 Ching, Brian F 6′1″ 195 05/24/78 17/3 Haleiwa, Hawaii Houston Dynamo (MLS)
13 Conrad, Jimmy D 6′2″ 185 02/12/77 13/0 Temple City, Calif. Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
15 Convey, Bobby M 5′8″ 150 05/27/83 36/1 Philadelphia, Pa. Reading FC (England)
8 Dempsey, Clint M 6’1” 170 03/09/83 19/4 Nacogdoches, Texas New England Revolution (MLS)
21 Donovan, Landon M 5′8″ 148 03/04/82 78/25 Redlands, Calif. Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
19 Hahnemann, Marcus GK 6’3” 220 06/15/72 6/0 Seattle, Wash. Reading FC (England)
1 Howard, Tim GK 6’3” 210 03/06/79 15/0 North Brunswick, N.J. Everton FC (England)
9 Johnson, Eddie F 6’0” 180 03/31/84 15/9 Palm Coast, Fla. Kansas City Wizards(MLS)
18 Keller, Kasey GK 6′2″ 190 11/29/69 91/0 Lacey, Wash. Bor. M’gladbach (Germany)
7 Lewis, Eddie D 5′10″ 155 05/17/74 68/8 Cerritos, Calif. Leeds United (England)
4 Mastroeni, Pablo M 5′10″ 170 08/29/76 46/0 Phoenix, Ariz. Colorado Rapids (MLS)
20 McBride, Brian F 6′1″ 170 06/19/72 90/29 Arlington Heights, Ill. Fulham FC (England)
5 O’Brien, John M 5’9” 150 08/29/77 29/3 Playa del Rey, Calif. Chivas USA (MLS)
14 Olsen, Ben M 5’8” 140 05/03/77 33/6 Middletown, Pa. D.C. United (MLS)
22 Onyewu, Oguchi D 6’4” 210 05/13/82 12/1 Olney, Md. Standard de Liege (Belgium)
23 Pope, Eddie D 6’1” 180 12/24/73 78/8 High Point, N.C. Real Salt Lake (MLS)
10 Reyna, Claudio M 5’9″ 160 07/20/73 108/8 Springfield, N.J. Manchester City (England)
16 Wolff, Josh F 5′8″ 160 02/25/77 45/9 Stone Mountain, Ga. Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
Niether of these rosters come close to impressing you with their individual club resumes. Obviously the 2002 cup remained to be a resounding sucess. Before the 2006 cup, the roster was claimed to be by far our best ever, yet the jump from the 2002 to the 2006 roster in terms of clubs is not very impressive for a time period where the American player and soccer in this country was to be making large headways and gaining international respect. I’m not saying that didn’t happen, but the rennaisance of the American player right now is far, far more impressive than anything between 2002 and 2006.
The impressive progress took its first baby steps in that time period though, with Demarcus Beasley scoring goals in the Champions League for a very strong PSV squad as well as Brain McBride becomming basically the focal point of the English Premiership side Fulham. This gave tremendous hope to the chances that the group of players in Germany could truly make a run at it. But in retrospect, the pure excitement of the 2002 result as well as the international respect being paid to the USA prior to Germany overshadowed the fact that these baby steps in terms of the advancing of the American player. They were important in the fact that they got their foot in the door, but it was not significant enough to truly turn the United States into a perennial World Cup challenger.
The real improvement has come very recentley. It started prior to Germany, but at a different level, the youth level. Players such as Benny Feilhaber began impressing scouts at youth world cups and earning their way in, at a young age more importantly. Others like Michael Bradley began transfering from MLS to abroad. Some were simply discovered by European clubs at a young age such as Johann Smith of Bolton or Jonothan Spector. The young players going abroad in the early stages of their carears, is what is really starting to show the true improvement, and the scary thing is we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The true fruits of the youth movement will be shown in 2010 and beyond.
In simply the time since Germany 2006, Clint Dempsey, Gabe Ferrari, Eric Lichaj, Freddy Adu, Sal Zizzo, Kamani Hill, and Charlie Davies have made moves abroad, and that is only to name some. In the upcomming weeks Danny Szetela is also looking to finalize his move to Italy in yet another case of a young American heading abroad to further improve himself.
On top of the youth, Yanks who were already abroad continue to improve, such as Carlos Bocanegra, or make moves to better situations like Demarcus Beasley, Heathe Pearce, and Benny Feilhaber. Even Landy Cakes has been recentley quoted as being interested in a Premiership move in the future.
The day to day training and intensity these players will be a part of will do wonders to prepare them for World Cup play and simply make them better players. Better players make better teams, and better teams win more. The United States is on their way to becoming one of those teams that wins more.
Give some of these younger guys and others moving abroad time to settle in at their clubs and really prepare to see the growth. The greatest part is alot of these guys should be hitting their stride by 2010, a stride American soccer fans have yet to ever feast their eyes on.
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