Unsolicited Advice: Requests for USMNT selection
AMSTERDAM — Being the boss comes with responsibilities, as U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley can confirm.
So while he is in Chicago preparing for friendlies with Poland and Colombia, I am here to make several unsolicited and faux-modest selection requests.
Let's walk through my polite demands, player by player:
Simply put, the Aston Villa back-up should start both games. Guzan needs the games and the growth. Tim Howard's No. 1 shirt is more than secure, so the friendlies are competitively meaningless for the Everton stopper. It’s a mystery why Howard should be here at all given the way his club has struggled out of the blocks.
I'll tell you what I do not want to see at all: the skipper lined up at left back. It would be impossible to fault rocket-fast starters Saint-Étienne for doing so, but this is not the ultra-tactical Ligue 1.
It will be games two and three of a new World Cup cycle. There’s no reason to use veterans to fill positions that are going to be problematic as the U.S. moves towards Brazil 2014.
Let's see the IK Start man go the distance against Colombia. This is a prime opportunity for him to face the type of attack he rarely sees.
I want to see how he handles the quick one-touch moves and the ball under Latin-style pressure.
From the "I surely must sound like a broken record by now" file: Hand Benny the keys!
Feilhaber is not a defensive midfielder and he is not a wide player. He is a No. 10, a string puller. I don't care if it's a 4-4-2 diamond or a three-man midfield or a five-man set. I don't care if there are one or two strikers; just give him defensive support at his back and at least three runners to pick out up front.
Let him work those cheeky passes from a station where they can actually do real harm. This request has now officially reached the begging phase.
Yes, I lobbied for him in the middle during the World Cup. Yes, I'm aware he is performing well in the middle for Bolton.
Nevertheless, I want to see more of Holden out on the right flank. With the possible exception of Landon Donovan, he is the Nats’ best crosser of the ball.
When guys like Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Brek Shea and even Michael Bradley may be raiding the box, it really pays to have someone who can consistently play dangerous balls from the wing.
Besides, with Jermaine Jones now around, Bradley has plenty of other options in the center of the park for the Red, White and Blue.
I'd like to see Deuce used only sparingly on this trip home. It's early in a long Premier League campaign, and like Howard, his place in the US starting line-up is secure under any number of possible formations.
Nothing to see here, folks, move along.
It would have been great to see him given a little time on the left side against hard-edged Poland, but Shea will be busy trying to help FC Dallas break the MLS record for most games unbeaten on Saturday.
He will join up with camp ahead of the Colombia match, in which I'd love to see him given the final 20-30 minutes to play as a target striker.
Part and parcel of this request is someone will be allowed to run off of the 6-foot-3-inch Texas native and his knockdowns. It could be Altidore, Eddie Johnson or even Alejandro Bedoya in relief of central playmaker Feilhaber.