World Soccer Source

Soccer and Football News and Commentary on World Soccer, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), Major League Soccer (MLS), World Football, and American Soccer. All articles, opinions, and commentary by Colin Reese. Twitter: @COLINREESE. Facebook: WorldSoccerSource

Italy: 23 For the 2014 World Cup

April 23rd, 2014

 

Mario Balotelli (left) and Stephan El Shaarawy (right) form a strong striker partnership up top. (Source: Claudio Villa/Getty Images Europe)

Mario Balotelli (left) and Stephan El Shaarawy (right) form a strong striker partnership up top. (Source: Claudio Villa/Getty Images Europe)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

While many of these players are likely call-ups for Italian national team coach, Cesare Prandelli, this is a thought exercise in picking 23 Italian internationals that can field the strongest Italian national team.

 

Prandelli is a master coach who brings out the best in Italy’s striker Mario Balotelli, a player that many coaches have labeled “uncoachable.” Prandelli has had no problems coaching Balotelli, and in fact, Prandelli has allowed Balotelli to flourish and take over games, which demonstrates how skilled Prandelli is at identifying talent and maximizing it.

 

Some of the players listed below are down the pecking order for Prandelli due to club form or somewhat recent returns from injuries.

 

Nevertheless, World Soccer Source backs this 23-man Italy roster with the obvious caveat that Italy has way too many world-class footballers than can fit on the national team. An omission of a player doesn’t mean that this writer doesn’t hold that player in high esteem.

 

Below is World Soccer Source’s Preferred 23-man Azzurri roster:

MLS Players That Should Be USMNT Regulars

April 23rd, 2014

 

Chris Klute, the Best American Left Back. (Photo: Garrett Ellwood / Colorado Rapids)

Chris Klute, the Best American Left Back. (Photo: Garrett Ellwood / Colorado Rapids)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

This list of MLS Players That Should Be USMNT Regulars is in no particular order, and it excludes Maurice Edu who has more or less been a United States Men’s National Team regular under Jürgen Klinsmann.

 

Listing these players all in one place highlights the amount of quality American players that have been almost totally overlooked by Klinsmann for national team duty despite the problems the United States has displayed not only in the defense but in the ability to keep possession and score goals.

 

At a time when there are a higher number of quality American players than in the past, the United States Men’s National Team is not capitalizing on this phenomenon.

 

Winning is important, but a strong win, draw, and loss record can be deceptive if the competition isn’t that strong.

 

With the 2014 USA World Cup squad mostly decided, should Klinsmann have incorporated more of the new or younger players into the national team? You be the judge, but the credentials of the players listed are impressive and well-known.

 

Below is the list of MLS players that have been either frozen out or underused by Jürgen Klinsmann:

World Cup: Three USMNT Formation Options

April 21st, 2014

 

Clint Dempsey (8). (Photo: ISIPhotos.com)

Clint Dempsey (8) will be key to any USMNT formation. (Photo: ISIPhotos.com)

 

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Jürgen Klinsmann has stated that the United States Men’s National Team will need more than one tactical formation for the World Cup, which means a defensive formation, an attacking formation, and a combination of the two.

 

World Soccer Source proposes three formation options, and this writer is including Mix Diskerud or Joe Corona or both on the roster for the purpose of this exercise.

 

It’s possible that neither will make the roster and that Klinsmann will always start a line of three attacking midfielders consisting of Graham Zusi/Alejandro Bedoya, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan.

 

There’s no way to know who will make the roster, but the underlying principal below is the amount of defensive midfielder and strikers included in the Starting XI.

 

The amount of defensive midfielders and strikers is the element that changes in the three formations outlined below.

 

The following formations are a 4-3-2-1, a 4-2-3-1, and a 4-1-3-2:

How the USA Can Improve Before the World Cup

April 18th, 2014

 

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. (Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Europe)

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. (Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Europe)

 

By: Colin Reese

 

Jürgen Klinsmann has realized some tactical problems with the United States Men’s National Team, and he made adjustments to correct those problems in the USMNT’s friendly against Mexico.

 

By using DeAndre Yedlin at right back for the second stateside game in a row, Klinsmann has somewhat implicitly given some indication that he’s considering not starting Brad Evans in the World Cup.

 

Furthermore, Klinsmann publicly discussed having the option of using Geoff Cameron or John Brooks at center back, which presumably means that he’s concerned with Omar Gonzalez’s play as opposed to Matt Besler’s play.

 

Finally, Klinsmann also publicly stated that he felt that Clint Dempsey was stranded up top in the attack and having to drop back too deep into the midfield to collect the ball, which then left him too far back in the midfield. The coach went on to say that he instructed Dempsey to not drop back as much because he was changing the formation to give Michael Bradley more freedom to get forward more.

 

These are all good signs, and the fact that Klinsmann fired or demoted Martín Vasquez was even better news for USA fans.

 

Clearly, Klinsmann is working on improving the USMNT.

 

Nevertheless, some work remains to be done to improve the defense and increasing the USA’s ball possession and overall technical skill.

 

The incorporation of Julian Green was nothing short of Klinsmann adding a back-up wing option for Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. Regardless of how it was presented to the media and the public, Green was brought into the fold for exactly that purpose, and it’s possible that he could start with Donovan and Dempsey.

 

Nevertheless, the defense still needs to be improved, which Klinsmann appears to be actively working on, and Klinsmann is looking to add or actually play some more creative playmakers, which is evident in his recent incorporation of Luis Gil and in his scouting and testing of Mix Diskerud and Joe Corona over the last year and half or so.

 

Below are four things the USMNT needs to improve before the World Cup, and World Soccer Source would argue that Klinsmann is already working on these things:

World Cup: The Boldest USA XI

April 18th, 2014

 

The USMNT should start Joe Corona as a Number 10. (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images )

The USMNT should start Joe Corona as a Number 10. (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images )

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Recently, World Soccer Source has been limiting opinion pieces on the World Cup roster and on the Starting XI to only focusing on players with a high chance of being selected by Jürgen Klinsmann.

 

Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, and Juan Agudelo may or may not be likely roster selections, but fair or unfair, it certainly appears as if Benny Feilhaber is on the outside looking in.

 

Previously, World Soccer Source projected a likely 30-man USA provisional roster for the World Cup, a possible USA Starting XI, and a Best USA XI for the World Cup, but this USA XI will be the boldest USA XI possible with only likely roster call-ups.

 

While this USA XI is described as bold, it isn’t reckless. No one proposed for this line-up is some unknown or unproven player that observers haven’t seen play. These are all professional footballers that have all been praised by American experts and pundits. This isn’t a group of players that are all hype.

 

This USA XI differs from the previous one in that Geoff Cameron has been moved up to play as the defensive midfielder, so that he is more involved with the USA’s passing and with the battle for the midfield.

 

Below is that Bold USA XI (4-2-3-1):

 

GOALKEEPER: Tim HOWARD  (Everton)

 

Tim Howard is the USA Number 1 for now, although Brad Guzan is just as good. Howard keeps the USMNT in big games by saving shots that he has no right to be able to save.

 

 

RIGHT BACK: DeAndre YEDLIN  (Seattle Sounders)

 

The Future is now. The USA must start DeAndre Yedlin in the World Cup if it wants to have a right back with the speed and skill to keep pace with opposing attackers. Yedlin’s defending is better than advertised, and Yedlin’s attacking ability is a major plus for the USMNT, as it allows the United States to not only have width but also to put the opposition on its heels.

 

 

CENTER BACK: Maurice EDU  (Philadelphia Union)

 

Looking at the attackers in Group G, it makes sense to use a fast and quick center back with strong defensive skills. Edu is more of a defensive midfielder or central midfielder than a center back, but Edu has quality experience at this position. This is a change that the USA needs to make, especially with Geoff Cameron needed to partner with Michael Bradley in the midfield.

 

 

CENTER BACK: Michael OROZCO  (Puebla)

 

Michael Orozco should really be a starting center back for the United States. No other American center back except John Brooks starts as a center back in a league better than MLS, and Orozco has the complete package of defensive skills, speed, quickness, technical ability, and clean tackling. Orozco is a better and more experienced center back than Brooks.

 

 

LEFT BACK: Fabian JOHNSON  (Hoffenheim)

 

With Chris Klute and Greg Garza never incorporated into the national team, Fabian Johnson needs to start at left back for the U.S. to have a fast and skilled two-way left back. Johnson is a better player and defender than DaMarcus Beasley.

 

 

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Geoff CAMERON  (Stoke City)

 

Of all the defensive midfielders available to Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States, Geoff Cameron is the best one in a system where Michael Bradley is deployed as a box-to-box midfielder. Cameron is more technical and better defensively than both Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu, and unlike Beckerman, he has the quickness and speed needed.

 

 

CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Michael BRADLEY  (Toronto FC)

 

Michael Bradley as the box-to-box midfielder is a no-brainer. Bradley is the key piece to the USMNT along with Clint Dempsey, and as a Number 8, Bradley has more freedom to influence the game in the attack and defensively.

 

 

RIGHT WING: Landon DONOVAN  (LA Galaxy)

 

Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan are the best American players ever, and Donovan has earned the right to start at this spot; his speed and quickness are still there. Donovan plays his best with players like Clint Dempsey, and throwing Joe Corona in as the Number 10 should allow Donovan to play the way that he wants to play even more.

 

 

NUMBER 10: Joe CORONA  (Tijuana)

 

Joe Corona could be omitted from the World Cup roster, but he really shouldn’t. Corona is a technical and creative player that can play on either wing or as the Number 10, and like Dempsey and Donovan thrived with Feilhaber in the past, so too should they thrive with a playmaker of Corona’s caliber. Corona has proven himself on the club and international level against very good competition by any standard.

 

 

LEFT WING: Clint DEMPSEY  (Seattle Sounders)

 

Clint Dempsey has played some of his best soccer out left where he has the freedom to roam and go where the game takes him. Dempsey is certainly a gifted attacker and goalscorer, but both he and Donovan could use someone like Corona to give them a real playmaker to combine with to put them in better positions to score goals.

 

 

STRIKER: Juan AGUDELO  (Stoke City/Utrecht)

 

Like Joe Corona, Juan Agudelo might be omitted from the USA World Cup roster, but he really deserves to be on it. Looking at both Jozy Altidore and Aron Jóhannsson, Agudelo is a more dangerous and effective striker at the international level. If Agudelo has proven anything on the international level, it’s that he makes the American attack more dangerous and he threatens the goal more than other American strikers. A creative, fast, quick, and audacious striker in a 6’2” frame in many ways combines the strengths of Altidore with Jóhannsson’s. Starting Agudelo over both Altidore and Jóhannsson is a controversial pick, but it is an inspired and courageous pick.

 

 

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World Cup Preview: The Best XI

April 17th, 2014

 

Arturo Vidal. (Photo: Massimo Pinca / AP)

Arturo Vidal. (Photo: Massimo Pinca / AP)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Here is World Soccer Source’s Best Pre-World Cup XI, which has Neymar listed where a Number 10 would normally play, but Neymar is really a wing or second striker.

 

With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo also taking part in the 2014 World Cup, Neymar was listed as the central attacking midfielder in place of a true Number 10 such as Oscar, Andrés Iniesta, Mario Götze, or even Javier Pastore.

 

The players included in the following Pre-World Cup Best XI provide enough passing and creativity to be able to sacrifice a player such as Iniesta, Oscar, Götze, or Pastore from the XI.

 

Below is the pre-World Cup Best XI:

 

GOALKEEPER: Manuel NEUER

Country: Germany

Club: Bayern Munich

 

 

RIGHT BACK: MAICON

Country: Brazil

Club: Roma

 

 

CENTER BACK: Raphaël VARANE

Country: France

Club: Real Madrid

 

 

CENTER BACK: THIAGO SILVA

Country: Brazil

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

 

 

LEFT BACK: MARCELO

Country: Brazil

Club: Real Madrid

 

 

RIGHT WING: Lionel MESSI

Country: Argentina

Club: Barcelona

 

 

CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Paul POGBA

Country: France

Club: Juventus

 

 

CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Arturo VIDAL

Country: Chile

Club: Juventus

 

 

LEFT WING: Cristiano RONALDO

Country: Portugal

Club: Real Madrid

 

 

STRIKER: Mario BALOTELLI

Country: Italy

Club: Milan

 

 

SECOND STRIKER: NEYMAR

Country: Brazil

Club: Barcelona

 

 

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World Soccer Source’s Preferred World Cup USA XI

April 17th, 2014

 

Joe Corona. (Photo: AP Photo)

Joe Corona. (Photo: AP Photo)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Using only players with a realistic chance of making the United States Men’s National Team roster, which World Soccer Source will assume contains Mix Diskerud and Joe Corona and not Benny Feilhaber, here is this writer’s preferred USA XI for the 2014 World Cup.

 

One of the caveats is that World Soccer Source is operating under the tactical assumption that having Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, and Clint Dempsey in front of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley will prevent Jones and Bradley from making attacking forays at the same time as they will have players with whom to link up, which should encourage them to look to play passes to those more attack-minded players.

 

World Soccer Source did not put Landon Donovan in its USA XI, but World Soccer Source backs the use of Donovan as the right wing with either Corona or Diskerud as the central attacking midfielder.

 

USA XI (4-2-3-1)

 

Tim HOWARD; DeAndre YEDLIN, Michael OROZCO, Geoff CAMERON, Fabian JOHNSON; Jermaine JONES, Michael BRADLEY; Joe CORONA, Mix DISKERUD, Clint DEMPSEY; Jozy ALTIDORE

 

Image-1-5

 

 

Rationale

 

World Soccer Source’s USA XI is limited to players with a likely chance of being selected to the World Cup roster by Jürgen Klinsmann, which eliminates Benny Feilhaber, based on Klinsmann’s past preferences.

 

Landon Donovan is not in this Starting XI, but either Diskerud or Corona could be deployed in the Number 10 role with Donovan playing on the right wing.

 

A Donovan-Corona/Diskerud-Dempsey line of three attacking midfielders would be well-received and applauded by World Soccer Source.

 

The thinking behind keeping Donovan out of the line-up is to let the younger Diskerud and Corona start with Dempsey because Corona and Diskerud are perhaps more more likely to play quick passing combinations and play final balls for Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey.

 

Here is a USA XI with Donovan starting on the right wing:

 

Image-1-7

 

 

At this point, it seems necessary to start DeAndre Yedlin at right back with Fabian Johnson at left back. This is no better option, unless Klinsmann is going to call up Chris Klute and Greg Garza to the roster and toss them into the fire of the World Cup by getting them ready in the three games leading up to the World Cup.

 

Using Brad Evans, Michael Parkhurst, or DaMarcus Beasley doesn’t put the USA in the best position to use the best two-way outside backs available to the United States. Using Yedlin and Johnson gives the USMNT fast outside backs with good technical ability plus the tools needed to keep pace with World Cup attackers and force them wide.

 

Geoff Cameron is needed in the center of the defense over Omar Gonzalez. Cameron is a better defender and player because his marking, tackling, and technical skill are better than Gonzalez’s, in addition to being a much, much faster, quicker, and more agile player. Cameron is also a tireless runner in a tall and athletic frame, and he’s as strong in the air as with the ball at his feet. His two-footed ability will be very useful in tight spaces in the back with limited time afforded on the ball against World Cup attackers.

 

World Soccer Source selected Michael Orozco over Matt Besler who has become a favorite of Jürgen Klinsmann, the American soccer media, and the American soccer fan base. As a personal opinion, this author commends Besler but finds Orozco to be a better and more athletic defender with more quickness. Besler is fast, but Orozco is a also fast while being quicker and more agile and mobile. Besler is also fairly one-footed compared to Orozco. Orozco isn’t a guarantee of elite World Cup defending but he is a center back who has excelled in Mexico for several years, and no observer really doubts his defending, skill, or quickness.

 

Jozy Altidore was selected over Aron Jóhannsson who is a more technical player than Altidore, but Altidore is also technical, plus he stretches the defense and is an incredible athlete. Altidore’s technical ability has skyrocketed from his early days with the USMNT. With Juan Agudelo a fringe roster pick, World Soccer Source backs Altidore, but Agudelo is the most talented and the most dangerous American striker in the pool.

 

The Michael Bradley-Jermaine Jones defensive midfield partnership concerns people (with good reason), so here is a similar USA XI with Maurice Edu taking Jermaine Jones’ spot.

 

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Projecting the USA Provisional World Cup Roster

April 16th, 2014

 

Clint Dempsey (left) and Jozy Altidore (right). (Photo: AP)

Clint Dempsey (left) and Jozy Altidore (right). (Photo: AP)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Several weeks ago, World Soccer Source proposed a 30-man USA Provisional World Cup roster, which is the roster national teams are allowed to select before cutting their World Cup roster down to 23 players, but this article will focus on Jürgen Klinsmann’s likely camp selections, which differ greatly from World Soccer Source’s preferences.

 

Differing opinions about players, coaches, and tactics are the nature of soccer and any sport.

 

Klinsmann is allowed to select 30 players for his pre-World Cup roster, and this writer will list 30 players for simplicity’s sake.

 

Without any excess information, below are 30 American players that Klinsmann could call up to the pre-World Cup camp based on his previous preferences:

 

GOALKEEPERS

 

Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Nick RIMANDO

 

DEFENDERS

 

Geoff CAMERON, Matt BESLER, Omar GONZALEZ, Clarence GOODSON, Michael OROZCO, John BROOKS, Fabian JOHNSON, DaMarcus BEASLEY, Michael PARKHURST, DeAndre YEDLIN

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

Michael BRADLEY, Jermaine JONES, Landon DONOVAN, Graham ZUSI, Alejandro BEDOYA, Julian GREEN, Maurice EDU, Kyle BECKERMAN, Mix DISKERUD, Joe CORONA, Luis GIL

 

FORWARDS

 

Clint DEMPSEY, Jozy ALTIDORE, Juan AGUDELO, Aron JÓHANNSSON, Eddie JOHNSON, Terrence BOYD

 

 

 

 

Who does World Soccer Source think should be selected to the 30-man USA pre-World Cup roster right now?

 

Based on the belief that many of the best American players have been underused or untapped by Jürgen Klinsmann, despite these players proving themselves on the club or international level, World Soccer Source favors the following 30-man pre-World Cup roster:

 

GOALKEEPERS

 

Tim HOWARD, Brad GUZAN, Nick RIMANDO

 

DEFENDERS

 

Geoff CAMERON, Michael OROZCO, Shane O’NEILL, Chris SCHULER, Andrew FARRELL, John BROOKS, Fabian JOHNSON, DeAndre YEDLIN, Chris KLUTE, Kofi SARKODIE, Greg GARZA

 

MIDFIELDERS

 

Clint DEMPSEY, Michael BRADLEY, Landon DONOVAN, Benny FEILHABER, Jermaine JONES, Joe CORONA, Mix DISKERUD, Maurice EDU, Benji JOYA, Julian GREEN, Dillon POWERS

 

FORWARDS

 

Jozy ALTIDORE, Juan AGUDELO, Aron JÓHANNSSON, Eddie JOHNSON, Terrence BOYD

 

 

8 Realistic Midfield Selections for the USA World Cup Roster

April 15th, 2014
Jozy Altidore, Joe Corona, Michael Bradley, and Aron Jóhannsson. (Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Joe Corona (left center) and Michael Bradley (right center). (Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

World Soccer Source backs eight midfielders for the World Cup roster, and these eight midfielders are limited to players with a reasonable chance of being selected by Jürgen Klinsmann, which likely excludes Benny Feilhaber.

 

Given his skill, form, and experience, Feilhaber is still a possible though unlikely selection for the 2014 World Cup.

 

With the caveat that Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu are both midfielders and center backs and with the caveat that Cameron is listed as a defender, here are the eight USMNT midfielders that World Soccer Source backs for the World Cup supported by explanations.

 

Below are three defensive midfielders and five attacking midfielders:

Seleção: Who Will Make the World Cup Roster?

April 14th, 2014

 

Neymar will be Brazil's biggest star in the World Cup (Photo: Getty Images)

Neymar will be Brazil’s biggest star in the World Cup (Photo: Getty Images)

 

By: COLIN REESE

 

Unlike Dunga or Mano Menezes, a Brazilian coach of Felipão’s success and knowledge can be trusted to pick the very best Brazilian roster available to him.

 

World Soccer Source has previously proposed 23-man Seleção rosters that mostly mirror Felipão’s picks with a few exceptions that are this writer’s personal preferences, but the roster prediction below is an attempt to guess the actual Seleção for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

 

The main position that is a question mark is the Number 9 or first striker position, as only Fred (when healthy) appears to be the clear-cut first-choice Number 9 for Felipão and Brazil.

 

Furthermore, it is unclear whether or not any of the following three players will make the roster: Ronaldinho, Kaká, and Robinho. Robinho was actually included on the Panini strickers for the 2014 Brazil World Cup roster.

 

On a final note, Lucas is another player that may or may not be included on the World Cup roster.

 

Most of Felipão’s player preferences are well-known by anyone who follows the Seleção, but there are still some uncertainties.

 

Below is World Soccer Source’s best guess at the 23-man Seleção World Cup roster:

 

GOALKEEPERS (3):  Júlio CÉSAR (Toronto FC), VICTOR (Atlético Mineiro), JEFFERSON (Botafogo)

 

CENTER BACKS (4):  THIAGO SILVA (Paris Saint-Germain), DAVID LUIZ (Chelsea), DANTE (Bayern Munich), DEDÉ (Cruzeiro)

 

RIGHT BACKS (2):  DANIEL ALVES (Barcelona), MAICON (Roma)

 

LEFT BACKS (2):  MARCELO (Real Madrid), ADRIANO (Barcelona)

 

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS (2):  LUIZ GUSTAVO (Wolfsburg), FERNANDINHO (Manchester City)

 

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS (2):  PAULINHO (Tottenham), RAMIRES (Chelsea)

 

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS (5):  NEYMAR (Barcelona), OSCAR (Chelsea), BERNARD (Shakhtar Donetsk), WILLIAN (Chelsea), ROBINHO (Milan)/LUCAS (Paris Saint-Germain)

 

FORWARDS (3):  FRED (Fluminense), HULK (Zenit St. Petersburg), JÔ (Atlético Mineiro)

 

 

Below are several dark horse selections:

 

RONALDINHO (Atlético Mineiro)

KAKÁ (Milan)

PATO (São Paulo)

MAXWELL (Paris Saint-Germain)

LEANDRO DAMIÃO (Santos)

 

 

 

World Soccer Source

Soccer and Football News and Commentary on World Soccer, the United States Men's National Team (USMNT), Major League Soccer (MLS), World Football, and American Soccer. All articles, opinions, and commentary by Colin Reese. Twitter: @COLINREESE. Facebook: WorldSoccerSource