Topic: US National Team
Some random thoughts on sports, Larry King News & Notes style…
The Freddy Adu trade:
If nothing else, my team just got a little less exciting for the moment. As much as Freddy had his down spells, he would also have moments that would make you think "maybe he deserved all the hype." In MLS, where you can wrap up a playoff spot with 2/3 of the season left to play, I liked having a player on the team who made the game worth watching all by himself. I'm also a little bummed that he won't be referred to as "the former DC United man" when he plays in Europe.
That being said, this has the potential to be a great trade or a terrible trade. The DCenters says that waiting and seeing is a cheap answer, but it's my answer anyway. There are just too many unknown variables at this point.
If Freddy leaves in June, this could be a great trade – we will have essentially traded some cash and a bit of quality in our backup keeper for an allocation. That's a good deal. However, the other variable in this equation is the quality of the player that we sign using that allocation. If we sign another Christian Gomez, we fleeced them. If we sign another Lucio Filomino, they fleeced us. I hope that DC is acting on a bit of insider information on both of these counts.
The ongoing US National Team coach hunt:
I wanted two things in a coach: 1) Success at the highest levels of competition, and 2) A working knowledge of American soccer and its players. There was only one candidate who had both of those qualifications, and he removed himself from consideration last week. So, looking through the remaining candidates, here is my order of preference:
- Gus Hiddink (head coach, Russia, formerly of PSV Eindhoven and Australia) – He has won everywhere he goes (although Russia isn't going great guns right now), and he definitely got the maximum out of the Australian team. He had an American player in Damarcus Beasley at PSV. Unfortunately, he is under contract with Russia for two more years, so I doubt he's available.
- Gerard Houlier (head coach, Lyon) – I'll confess: I have only seen Lyon play a few times, and the coaching decisions didn't make any impression on me. However, what he's done at Lyon is remarkable: they've won 5 straight league titles and are 14 points clear in their quest for a sixth. They're also playing very well in the Champions League, and should have knocked out AC Milan last year. He also has a good record of developing young players.
- Carlos Queiroz (Manchester United assistant coach, head coach of the Metrostars in 1996) – He's got experience in MLS and has experience as an assistant at the highest levels. That's close. I've never seen him coach, but I've read a lot of good things about his personality and his intelligence.
- Sigi Schmid (head coach, Columbus Crew, formerly of the LA Galaxy and the US U-20s) – He's extremely underrated. He had a team that was rebuilding this year, and then they got hit with a hurricane of injuries – that's why Columbus sucked so hard this year. It wasn't Sigi's fault. He never should have been canned as LA's coach in the first place. Also, when he was with the U-20's he coached a lot of the guys who are candidates to make the team in 2010.
- Bob Bradley (head coach, Chivas USA, formerly of the Metrostars and Fire, present interim coach) – From what I can tell, he's a good coach and a smart guy. His record of success is interrupted only by his time with the (then) Metrostars, but from what I remember he never had a quality striker and a quality defender on that team at the same time. We'll know a lot more about him in the next couple months.
- Frank Yallop (head coach, LA Galaxy, formerly of San Jose and Canada) – Landon Donovan likes him and has played well under him. That's an asset if you think that will translate to the national team, but it's a liability if you think someone needs to motivate Donovan to play at a higher level. I think it's probably an asset, but I'm not convinced. My main problem with Yallop is his complete and total failure to get Canada anywhere close to qualification for the '06 World Cup.
- Jose Peckerman (Argentina head coach during '06 World Cup, Argentine U-20s coach before that) – I aired my problems with Peckerman in a previous blog. Still, Ryan's right: three Youth World Cups is pretty good. Let me point this out, though: he doesn't speak English. Also, it took the goal of the tournament to beat Mexico in extra time, so I think we should put the quality of the '06 Argentina team in perspective.
- Peter Nowak (head coach, DC United) – My problems with Peter go beyond his handling of Freddy Adu (which, now is a good time to point out, was never very good). My problem is that he is so incredibly rigid. I'm a big fan of the 3-5-2, but is it really the right situation against every team in every game? Also, it takes him a very long time to change his mind. It took a full year for him to realize that Christian Gomez is the linchpin of this team and doesn't need to always be subbed out in the 65th minute. He was the last person in DC to realize that Boswell and Erpen should both be in the back line. He never did admit what nobody wants to admit: Jaime Moreno's skills are deteriorating. Add that to some other bizarre decisions (why the right-footed Josh Gros on the left and the left-footed Freddy Adu on the right? Neither had a cutback goal all year) and substitutions, and I just don't have a whole lot of confidence in this guy.
- Sven Goran-Erikkson – This guy is an egomaniac and a crappy coach. He got the absolute minimum out of that English team and created problems along the way. I don't see a whole lot of positives in this guy.
For now, I'm willing to give Bob Bradley the benefit of the doubt. He seems like a good guy, and I'm willing to be convinced. Also, I kind of have to root for a guy who was no-one's first choice.