Wednesday, October 10, 2012

KC set for the big stage..... once again.

Afternoon all

Hope all is well

So as we take a break from MLS this week our sole attention will be on the United States Mens National Team as this play 2 World Cup qualifying games. The 1st, down in Antigua and Barbuda (beIN Sport 6pm CT) on Friday evening. After that its here in Kansas City at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park where the USMNT host Guatemala (ESPN2 6pm CT).

Here is the latest USMNT roster for the 2 upcoming games -

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander/Spain), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover/Germany), Maurice Edu (Stoke City/England), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland/Denmark)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04/Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/Germany), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur/England), Herculez Gomez (Santos Laguna/Mexico), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)

Obviously there is no Landon Donovan or Brek Shea who will both miss out through injury. However, i'm surprised that Jurgen Klinsman didn't opt to bring in 2 replacements. Many people are stunned that Jozy Altidore was snubbed. But was he really 'snubbed'? Could this now be Klinsman saying, 'you've done well, but I expect more from you' perhaps triggering a bit of anger and determination into Altidore's mind set. I must say, either way, i'm surprised at the timing of this but expect Altidore to be involved in the next set of USMNT games. 
No Chris Wondolowski; a player with 25 goals (and counting) in MLS this season. This is not a disrespect of MLS by Klinsman as some have suggested because he's got 5 others in that squad and thats not counting the recently injured Brek Shea from FC Dallas and Landon Donovan of LA Galaxy. I'm stunned that Wondolowski isn't even in the roster as an option, however, he's never really done it on the international stage has he..... Its very similar to a situation back in England a few years back. For those of you who follow the EPL, you'll be familiar with the name Kevin Phillips, who time and time again would score countless amounts of goals but could never quite find the same form at international level. He would often finish a season within the 20-25 goals per season range. A bad season would be between 9-15; he was that good at scoring goals. With Wondolowski over the past 3 years he's notched 18 in 28, 16 in 30 and this season so far its 25 in 30, but in 8 national team caps (ironically the same amount Phillips finished on for England), he's yet to score. So I get not selecting Wondo, but on the same page, how on earth do you ignore someone with 25 league goals this season. 
On a similar subject, some players that did make the roster that were perhaps surprising to a few were forwards Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes) and Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders). Johnson arrived back in MLS through the allocation process and ended up at expansion side Montreal Impact who later traded Johnson to the Sounders for the pairing of Mike Fucito and Lemar Neagle. Many thought that Montreal got the better deal as Johnson had recently had a torrid time in European football. He left Kansas City (after scoring 15 goals in 1 MLS season) in 2007 for Fulham of the EPL after rejecting another EPL offer from Derby County. But after a poor spell with only 2 goals in 4 years in English football (including loan spells with Cardiff, Preston North End and Greek side, Aris), he returned to MLS after being deemed 'not fit' by representatives of Mexican Premier League club Puebla, where Johnson was on trial. How wrong they were..... It seems the Eddie Johnson of old is most certainly back in the swing of things. Over the weekend in front of a 66,000 crowd, Seattle Sounders beat rivals Portland Timbers 3-0, with Johnson claiming the 2nd and his 15th of the season in MLS. Johnson hasn't scored in a US Jersey since 2008, but instantly you can see why Klinsman has opted to use him. Also at the age of 28, perhaps this is his last chance to impress at the international stage. 
On the other end of the scale, 30 year old journey man forward Alan Gordon was selected to be the national fold for a 2nd time running. He didn't play last time out, but perhaps that may change over the next few days and he could make his USA debut. After an uneventful 6 year spell with LA Galaxy, he had short spells with Chivas USA and Toronto FC before making the move back to California with San Jose Earthquakes. During his time in MLS he's never really been considered a goal scorer, heck, he'd not really been considered a starter for most of the teams he's played for; until now. This season he's notched 13 goals in 23 starts (his best MLS season to date), playing alongside Chris Wondolowski and Stephen Lenhart, the 3 headed monster from San Jose has struck fear into the hearts of many MLS defenses. With 48 goals between them so far this season(San Jose have scored 69 all season), they're undoubtedly the most potent forward line in MLS this season; and they like to leave it late don't they! 8 of Gordon's goals have come when he's started, but 4 of them (including 3 in a row) have come from the bench. Alan Gordon has been in inspired form this season and it really wouldn't surprise me to see him involved, maybe even start on Friday night vs Antigua and Barbuda. The service from either flank, which you would expect to be occupied by Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi would be something Gordon would relish. Some say this is an experiment and I kind of agree. I do question the timing of this 'experiment' if that is indeed the case, but which ever way you look at it, its always exciting when new strikers come on board, because lets face it, we all love goals! 
So the last thing is...... if you can't wait to discuss the USMNT until Friday. Tune into 610 Sports Radio on Thursday evening from 6pm, where Steve Brisendine and I will firstly talk about Sporting KC, before featuring the USMNT and their upcoming games. We'll talk about all the above and if you fancy your say, call in on 913-576-7610 or tweet me @calwilliamsskc. See you all soon.