The temptation to hyperbole is certainly stalking the room, but I'll choose a more measured response to the USA's MLS + Euro-scrub grab bag team beating South Africa in South Africa. It is only one game against a slightly weakened opponent after all. If anything, we saw further confirmation of Bob's ongoing commitment to two holding mids, danger and creativity coming from the flanks, disciplined defense in two banks of four, and little in the way of dictating the match. Not much there to sink your teeth into. Still, I've got some thoughts on the players involved...
* Can we see the back of Findley already? If he had another trick to pair with the speed, say finishing or dogged pursuit of defenders or crossing, then maybe I'd have a little more time for him. At best he's a late-game sub to run at tired defenders...which is exactly where Kreis has him at RSL. I've seen enough. Next!
* Bunbury is a more interesting prospect. Big, fast, and can get his shot off — much more of a solitary forward type in the Altidore vein and has played the role successfully with the Wiz (gonna take a while to get on board with the whole "Sporting KC" poseurism). I was impressed by his effort as well. Definite January camp material.
* The pair of Agudelo and Diskerud earned call backs for January as well. Hard to believe the kid only got time at the end of the year for Red Bull, but he looked pretty fearless, if somewhat overwhelmed by what he'd done as he wheeled away to celebrate the goal. Diskerud has that Dempsey-style daring on the ball that so few of our players have, and that alone should put him in the mix (no pun intended) going forward. The assist was icing.
* Lichaj was a touch too reckless, but I'd rather he be that than too tentative. Heir apparent to Dolo. Good on both sides of the ball, though I'd like to see more discipline defensively, which should come with seasoning. Like his Villa teammate Guzan (who also did what he needed to do and proved he belongs), both need more playing time. Houllier has been bringing younger players into the mix in his short time thus far at Villa; here's hoping both benefit from that policy, and soon.
* Ream was a bit hit and miss for me positionally and in challenges, but his passing was certainly assured, particularly in comparison to the likes of the awful Spector and the mixed bag presented by Rogers. We know Rogers can dribble and use both feet well. That's wonderful. Now if he had a bit more effort and consistency, we might have a player on our hands. Back into the oven with Robbie, he's not quite done. Spector needs a serious change of club scenery before he gets another call.
* Pause and Carroll were what they are, steady central mids of slightly less than international caliber. It's nice to know we have tremendous depth there, but they're probably C-team material at best.
* Gaven and Bedoya, but particularly the former, had some good moments, and both are solid fringe players, haunting the outskirts of a 23 man roster. Goodson is probably a little closer to the starting 11 than either of them. In fact, I'd start him now over Gooch, pending the latter's getting more minutes of first-team action. Of course, doing so means Bocanegra in the middle, which means Bornstein on the left. Still not sold on Jonny, but maybe playing in Mexico will round him as a player.
* Borchers is a reasonable option if we're facing an aerial attack and should get another look at the annual January camp. Not sure about Agbossoumonde, who didn't get much time, but it can't hurt to have young center backs lying around.
Did I miss anybody? I guess the overall impression would be that there were interesting prospects here, but that's mostly what they were — works in progress — with the notable exceptions of Goodson and Guzan, who are both deserving of bench spots and maybe more with the first team. I'd put Gaven, Bunbury, and Bedoya on my shortlist 23 with a chance to make the 18, and Lichaj would be in that same boat if only we weren't so thin at fullback. As it stands, our relative weakness there puts him solidly on the bench and probably keeps Bornstein flirting with a starting spot, particularly given how poor Spector has been. Agudelo, Ream, and Diskerud merit some thought, but aren't threats to be in a first-choice 23 yet.