Post-Tranfer Depression and the Cuba Match

September 3, 2008
Wait, Ching is Hawaiin right? Or am I making that up. Eh whatever.

Wait, Ching is Hawaiin right? Or am I making that up. Eh whatever.

Now that it’s all over, what are we supposed to do? I feel empty inside.  Where do I turn? What can I entertain myself with next?  My barren soccer womb aches with sadness.

Well the good news is, that in 4 days time, the USMNT takes on Cuba in their next WCQ.  The unfortunate thing about this upcoming game however, is that we’re likely to see another uninspiring lineup from Bob Bradley which could very well feature Frankie Hejduk at starting Right Back (whyyyyyy god whhhyyy).

As we look forward to that Cuba, I would expect we will see a very similar lineup to last game, with Edu stepping in for Mastroeni, and Hejduk coming in for Cherundolo.  Hopefully, Wynne will replace Hejduk at some point and he will showcase his speed that we saw flashes of during the Olympics.  I also hope that Beasley will play a larger part this time around, but that will depend on his fitness, as he missed the last Rangers match (on the optimistic side, that should make him very fresh for Saturday!). Let’s break down our setup.


Even though the lineup lacks the Cooper connection, something that I wouldn’t mind seeing is Landon Donovan up top, playing as a striker.  Dempsey has been poor lately, both for club and country, and I think it’s time to mix things up with him.  I say we should deploy Dempsey on the right wing and let him run forward with the ball, and let Landon play forward.  Donovan has been strong for the Galaxy at the position, and with our weak striker pool right now, I’d rather see Donovan using his pace and vision as opposed to the same old EJ.  I think we can count on Brian Ching getting the start again, as he is the only true target man on the roster, and we all know Bob Bradley is attached to the notion of forward play.

Obviously, I’m 90% convinced Bradley will go with Dempsey and Ching up top again; it’s merely my opinion that Landon would fare better as a forward given our current squad.  Plus, I don’t think we’d lose anything from putting someone else at right wing.  It’s no secret that Donovan doesn’t bring much to the position (which isn’t his fault).


I also hope that we get to see good minutes given to a Bradley/Edu combo in the central midfield.  This tandem could very well be a USMNT mainstay for a good while to come, so it’s important that these two work together.  A potential problem with this however, is that both of them are very similar midfielders.  As much as we would love Mikey to be a playmaker and offensive dynamo, he just isnt that tricky or creative, and is much more the tireless worker.  In addition, Mo Edu isn’t a defensive midfielder by his own admission.  Granted, he can play the position and play it well (his versatility is certainly a strength), but the boy loves to get forward and score goals too.  In essence, they both are box-to-box midfielders, and I’m not sure that’s the best chemical reaction we want in our midfield generals.  To make matters worse, Ricardo Clark is a pretty traditional box-to-box midfielder too and I’m not too eager on seeing him feature for us ( I can’t see him having a strong place in the USMNT of the future).  We are midfield heavy, and while Clark is strong, he will never be more than a sub and role player for the team.

NOTE:  I don’t think Michael Bradley’s transfer to ‘gladbach will affect his inclusion in these qualifiers, but I suppose it is possible.


Gooch and Boca are back to start in central defense, with Heath Pearce and Frankie Hejduk most likely lining up on the left and right.  It goes without saying that our defensive line should be capable of containing the Cuba attack, but one thing both our outside defenders lack is pace.  So if we’re going to be in danger during this game, I think it’s going to come from the flanks.  If Wynne can get in the match, his speed will help a great deal, but in all, I don’t think its unreasonable to expect a shutout from our backline.

My Thoughts: At the end of the day, as much as we want to see certain lineups and tweaks, the only thing that truly matters is that we win.  Or at least that’s what all the pundits and professional analysts will say.  And while they’re right to some degree, where does it end?  The longer we wait to give big minutes to our upcoming stars, the fewer games they’ll have to adjust and mesh before the big show in 2010.  If we wait until late 2009 to really include the likes of Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore and Kenny Cooper (optimistic, I know) I think it’s going to be too late for them to really take control of the team.  It’s never going to be that one day, during one game, Freddy/Jozy and company will all the sudden be ready to start and beat Brazil.  They’re gonna need to fail and learn to play together first and just playing big minutes with u-20 and u-23 teams doesn’t count.  So, fine, I’m not MAD that they didn’t get called up for these qualifiers, but I am wondering WHEN will their time come? WHEN will Bob Bradley, Nowak, and Sunil decide to really make our youngsters the heart of the Senior Team? Because in my opinion, it has to happen for our program to jump to the next level.  Just my two cents. Blah.

What do you all think as we look to these upcoming games?  You think Bob Bradley will try anything different?  Do you WANT him to?




  1. Learn more about Cuba, sports, find reports from the Cuban media about these events, in English and Spanish, at the eight-year-old CubaNews list.

    Thanks for your note.

    Walter Lippmann
    Los Angeles, California
    and as often as possible,
    in Havana, Cuba

  2. I don’t expect Bradley to do anything different with the lineup, minus the inclusion of Edu for Mastro and Hejduk for the red-carded ‘Dolo. Bradley is simply too cautious to make adjustments on the road in a so-called “hostile environment.” He will stick with what works for him and play it safe. I predict a 1-0 US win off a set-piece header by Gooch.

  3. Hawaiian.

  4. Or even Hawai’ian.

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