Friday, July 21, 2006
The YA mail bag is bulging with comments and questions about our inaugural 2010 23 Tickets squad. I decided it was my turn to wade the waters, so let's jump right in...

Giuseppe Rossi

We've had several readers wonder how Manchester United's New Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi could be left off the list. Eugene Peysakh kicked off his note with 'Another dark horse you should consider is Giuseppe Rossi...' and then proceeded to eloquently describe why that was so.

Let's get this one out of the way once and for all, since it is often the subject of your emails. YA decided from the beginning that we would not cover any American-born player that wanted to play his international soccer with another nation.

If Rossi suddenly decides that he wants to suit up for the Red, White & Blue, I doubt it would take long for his name to appear in YA news items, Press Box Reports and, naturally, our 23 Tickets feature.

That being said, the kid clearly only has eyes for Italy. We will not cover Azzurri abroad, nor will we vote for them in 23 Tickets.

Who's the boss?

We had more than one reader point out correctly that our list could change drastically when the new US coach is found. Shaw Wilson offered: 'I hope we get a Dutch coach who can instill a 4-3-3 for us. I think that formation really speaks to our talent pool for 2010. I see a lot of good two-way central players, but more so, I see a lot of good attacking guys who aren't really forwards (Donovan, Beasley, Convey, Adu, etc.). They would seem to fit well as Dutch wingers with a Johnson in the middle.'

Well said, Shaw. I have been calling for the US to adopt at least a part-time 4-3-3 set for a couple of years. Brian McBride has all the capabilities of a typical Dutch #9 forward, and we've also been a bit spoiled for traffic directors in midfield.

Moving forward, I think your point about players like Adu and Convey rings very true. Aside from the choices you mentioned, we may as well include guys like Clint Dempsey, Justin Mapp and Lee Nguyen in that crowded winger category.

As nice as it sounds to land a Dutch coach, I don't know that anyone we'd want is available at the moment. Co Adriaanse is currently trying to spend Porto's money, Leo Beenhakker made the jump from Trinidad & Tobago to Poland, the preferred but pricey Guus Hiddink is tied to Russia for two years, Frank Rijkaard is chugging along on the Barcelona express and Marco van Basten is not going to move his kids across the globe.

So unless you can figure out a way to convince Johan Cruijff to take up the challenge, we are basically left with the inexperienced and as of yet underachieving Danny Blind and Ruud Gullit – no thanks.

The only wildly farfetched option of possible quality I see is Van Basten's Oranje #2 Johnny van't Schip. He has very little head coaching experience at the top level, but works extremely well with young players and unsurprisingly operates quite similar to his boss (aka Ajax tactics with a low key managerial style).

The problem with Van't Schip is he doesn't seem to believe his Holland job is finished after their young side crashed out of World Cup in the round of 16.

Freddy Adu

We've had a few people concerned that Freddinho will not develop to the level that we all like to imagine he can. Jonathan Schwartz wrote in: 'I am not convinced that he will be part of the team, although his marketing potential and media darling status may get him there regardless of performance.'

'He has not embraced the left sided midfield role and seems to long to play in the center or at striker... Not only is attitude a concern, but the rumors of him jumping to a big European club like Chelsea would be a disaster for him.

I hope Adu lives up to the hype and is a great player by 2010... I still need to be convinced.'

I think you will be convinced in time, Jonathan. I also think talk of a supposed attitude problem with Adu is overwrought critique. For my money, Freddy is far more engaging and personable than anyone should expect of a kid his age.

Not only is it unreasonable to expect his personality to shine it's brightest at all times, but I'd say Freddy is gradually growing into the kind of player who can be a real threat from several positions.

I find these little "controversies" a very natural part of becoming a man. Part of growing up as D.C. United star is asserting yourself to stake your claim in the soccer world, and perhaps Peter Nowak is forcing Adu to eat his metaphorical soccer broccoli.

You can also probably ease off on worrying whether Freddy will make the big jump too soon. The Chelseas of this world can't get their mitts on him until next summer, at the earliest.

That's a long way off, and I'm sure any glamour suitor realizes that he would probably need to be loaned out to Ajax first (seriously, can we just get him 18 months of Total Football? Pretty please?).

Either way, his performance/production are improving and I frankly worry little about him becoming a "great" player. Unlike you and some of the other fans, I feel Adu will be ready to come correct in South Africa.

Keep the original handy!

Brian Childs wanted to make sure we didn't try to lose the initial 2010 23 Tickets roster, writing: 'First of all, I love it that you guys already came out with this list for the 2010 World Cup... Anyhow, the main reason for the email is to convince you to publish this article in 2010 along side the actual final roster. I would love to see how close you were.'

Don't worry, Brian. We are just as curious to see how we do as you are. I'd be perfectly happy if we end up hitting on 20 of the guys (although I think Chad Barrett and Ricardo Clark are two guys who have a really great shot to travel... ahem... (mumbles) not that some of my colleagues would notice.

Nevertheless, I hereby vow that YA will do this comparison when the time comes (for the record, we called 20 of the 2006 boys when we started that edition last summer).

More players of promise

Charles Snyder asked about a pair of regulars from last year's US Under-20 side: 'two more players who really impressed me during the WYC were Sammy Ochoa and Nathan Sturgis. Didn't see you mention either of them, you think they got a shot?'

Good question, Charles. I considered putting Sturgis on my personal bubble battlers list, but opted to go for Ofori Sarkodie instead. The Under-17 captain is smart, strong and intense.

That being said, Sturgis does look quite promising and I was a little surprised nobody tabbed him – but, then again, the position is the deepest we have heading into the future.

Ochoa is a player some of us are not completely sold on (though, to be fair, I've only seen him play twice since last summer). If he can improve his tactical awareness and refrain from holding the ball too long, it's not unreasonable to suggest he could nose his way into the frame at some point.

Randy Moore wondered about a certain DC United back that has a penchant for scoring against big United Kingdom clubs: 'Nice list... need more "D"... would look to include Bobby Boswell of DC United. Strong middle presence can handle physical play without losing cool.'

He certainly has good spirit and some tools to work with, Randy. As with Sturgis, though, he may simply have not made ballots because of the depth we have in defense.

Boswell is, however, worth watching.

Julio Hernandez wanted to ask about Galaxy forward Herculez Gomez: 'He's been a great pair with Donovan and has the skills to compete. I just hope the next coach gives him a chance to prove himself.'

It would be nice to see Herculez get a viewing at some point, and we had him on the fringes of our 2006 list a few times, but I'd say he needs to be able to get his MLS looks at goal much more consistently to warrant a call-up.

Honestly, there are few things in today's world of sports more difficult than playing forward at the highest level of international tournament soccer.

2010 veterans?

A few folks wondered about some of the guys absent from our list that will be 30-something when South Africa rolls around.

Greg Gallina said: 'I've got a question about FC Dallas' Richie Mulrooney. He was playing great last year until his knee injury and was even invited to the camp last January. He looks as if he might get back to form. I know he'll be 30 this year, but is there any chance for him in 2010?'

It would certainly be a great story, no doubt about that. I felt Mulrooney was on a path to make the squad when he got injured last year, and it would definitely be nice to see him get the chance to play in South Africa.

However, I truly believe Benny Feilhaber and Ricardo Clark will lock down the holding midfielder spots over the next four years. Of course, Mulrooney also plays a pretty mean right back, so I doubt we've seen the last of him in a US shirt.

Moving on, Randall Colquitt suggested that Jimmy Conrad has earned a mention, writing: '(He)played solidly, if not spectacularly. Deserves consideration.'

I have to hand to Jimmy; he played his heart out in Germany and showed very well for himself. I honestly would not be surprised if a mid-level European side rang him up soon.

Still, he will be 33 in 2010 and the competition will be miiiiiiiighty tough by then. US Soccer practically has promising center backs coming out of its ears (Marshall, Sarkodie, Spector, Sturgis, etc.) as well as an sturdy set of young veterans (Califf, DeMerit, Gibbs, Onyewu, etc.).

Finally, Matt Salo wrote in: 'Loved the South Africa preview piece! But what about Brian Ching? Did he fall between the cracks?'

Don't get me wrong, I think Brian Ching is an excellent competitor – but that probably counted more with Bruce Arena than it will with the next coach.

The Chinger simply makes plays too slowly to excel at the World Cup level, and I can't imagine that it would be much better when he's 32 years old.

Meanwhile, jackrabbits like Josmer Altidore, Eddie Johnson, Quavas Kirk, Chris Rolfe and Joe Zewe could well have grown into cultured attackers – in other words, I wasn't overly shocked to see that nobody voted for him.

Well, that's it for the mailbag this time around. Be sure to keep sending in those http://www.yanks-abroad.com/content.php?mode=contact&action=show§ion=generalcomments and questions[endlink]. We at YA always look forward to your feedback – even when you call us rotten barstewards!

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