Tickle v. Tackle 8

  • US U-20's drop six on Poland. Six goals! By a US side in an international competition! And it's not the women! There were some real gems as well - maybe they could teach the senior side a thing or two about finishing?
  • Speaking of quality goals, there were some beautiful "bulges in the ol' onion bag" in the Uruguay-Spain match as well. The U-20 tournament that at first looked to be ready to disappoint from a US fan's perspective, is shaping up to be really enjoyable. Too bad ESPN hates soccer and relegates it to ESPN-U, which is in exactly how many households?
  • Copa America has seen the return of two United veterans to their respective national teams when both seemed to have passed their sell-by dates for international play. Jaime Moreno, at 33 years young, played better for Bolivia than he has for United this season, netting two goals for a side unfortunate to go out at the group stage. Here's hoping his revival is a sign of things to come for the Black-and-Red. Maybe he just needs to get the #9 shirt back? Similarly, Ben Olsen has looked pretty solid as part of the US midfield, bringing his trademark bite and energy to a young midfield that's a bit shy of grit. That's no surprise to United fans, but his performances may have earned him a supporting role in the qualifying campaign for 2010, when many thought that Germany '06 was his last hurrah with the US Nats. The Bearded One has just crossed the threshold to his 30's and since he has adapted his game to compensate for the speed lost to numerous ankle injuries, he could serve Bob Bradley well for another couple of years at least.
  • The expansion of MLS youth sides is proceeding apace and their future role in providing players for the senior squads has been clarified. This is a win-win all around. Better (and more) youth setups across the country will provide more opportunities for youngsters and the connection to the senior squads will improve club (and fan) culture as teams bring in their own "home-grown" players to fill up the roster, rather than plucking kids out of the smorgasbord that is draft day.
  • Kasey Keller is done for the US. While you could argue the relative merits of Keller vs. Friedel over the past few years (and I like Friedel - if not his accent - in the interests of full disclosure), no one can doubt what Kasey brought to this team for well over a decade of service. But you can see from the Copa America and the Gold Cup that he just doesn't have it anymore. It's time for a new crop of great American keepers. Hahnemann as well maybe only has a few more good years in him, so it's time for the likes of Howard, Cannon, and Reis to answer the bell, and time to start bringing Perkins, Guzan, and the other MLS standouts into the fold.
  • Quick, someone stop Alexi before he trades again! To be fair, he probably did get the better of this one, sending Nate Jaqua to the Dynamo for Kelly Gray and a draft pick. Does Kinnear have a thing for reclamation project forwards? First he brings in Ngwenya, who has settled quickly with Houston and is contributing already, now he's going to give it a go with Jaqua. Cirque du LA land one of the more versatile MLS players in Gray, a forward/midfielder in college and a defender/midfielder as a pro. I was really impressed by Gray's play in the Dynamo midfield during the Gold Cup absences of DeRosario and Clark. The only question is - how long will LA hold on to him before the trade trigger finger gets itchy?
  • Just when you think Jonathan Bornstein is starting to look good, he goes and gives the game away against Paraguay. Now, the US really should have done better with the chances they had and run away with that game, so picking a single scapeGoat (get it?) is tough on the kid, but Bornstein's howler pretty much dumped the US out of the Copa. Those Paraguay jerseys are pretty similar to Bornstein's Chivas, so maybe he just thought he was playing a teammate in on goal?
  • Danny Szetela to Europe? I know he's scored some nice goals in the U-20's, but what else has he done besides being born with a Euro passport? Has he really proven himself at club level? Nope. Does he seem like a bit of a silver spooner who could use a dose of reality by getting thrown in with the professional sharks at a good European side? Yep. Might be a good move for him. Shake him up a bit and show him the kind of effort he needs to make if he wants to be a professional.
  • 3 and out in another major tournament for the US. I know this was a "B" side we sent to the Copa America, but they had their chances and didn't take them. I think we've firmly established ourselves as a decent international side. To make the step up from "decent" to "good", we need to find consistent finishers and quickly.

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