By Josh Ouellette
Oh, Jurgen. Sometimes the moves you make with the national team baffle us all. Just like you did with a few inclusions and exclusions on the initial 40-man roster for the upcoming Copa America Centenario.
Still no Benny Feilhaber or Brek Shea, the ever uber-talented yet so far inconsistent Ventura Alvarado is back, and out of nowhere you remember Eric Lichaj is an American?
I really can’t be mad. Because at the end of the day you have helped the U.S. Men’s National Team grab more dual nationals than it knows what to do with, and why shouldn’t the children of our overseas service men and women play for the stars and stripes?
I love John Brooks, Aron Johannsson, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams, and Timmy Chandler. And don’t they all sound so American anyways?
I really can’t wait for everyone commenting “why soccer?” about this column to be screaming for younger dual-nationals like Alfredo Morales, Julian Green, Christian Pulisic (even though he was born in America and never really wavered… Croatia wanted him bad), and Jerome Kiesewetter when World Cup fever strikes and they are in their prime and turning heads in six years at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (or America when the sheer amount of labor, housing, religious, and even temperature disputes cause FIFA to say “enough” and move the World Cup to the only ready-to-host location).
And the most important thing Jurgen Klinsmann has done for the USMNT is cap-tie these younglings of the future. Case in point: Emerson Hyndman was born in Dallas, Texas, but the Fulham (Clint Dempsey’s former team) starlet also holds a Portuguese passport and thanks to Klinsmann he’s cap-tied to play in an American jersey. And not that Hyndman wanted anything but to don the red, white, and blue, but at the same time, one never knows what might happen at the international level. Same goes for the likes of the aforementioned Green, Morales, and Johannsson, all of whom are going to be a crucial part of the U.S. attack in the coming years, and some of whom were on a see-saw with their nationality decisions.
Klinsmann has done a lot to improve and progress the beautiful game in America. While he may not love his star players choosing the MLS and leave possible opportunities to play in bigger European leagues on the table, and he and its commissioner Don Garber may not exactly be buddies, Klinsmann has proven that if American players are successful in the MLS he’s willing to give them a shot.
Unless your name happens to be Feilhaber or Shea, both of whom should at least be on the Copa America 40-man roster, but I digress.
A few days ago he proved this with his inclusion of Columbus Crew SC star winger Ethan Finlay, rising FC Dallas fullback Kellyn Acosta, and D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum in the 40-man roster, just to highlight a few.
Sure, Klinsmann lined up a move for the highly regarded youngster Jordan Morris to play at the top level in Germany for his former club after winning the NCAA title for Stanford, but he also didn’t force Morris to play in a top league to secure a national team spot like other international managers do, and was happy for him when he chose to sign with his hometown Seattle Sounders FC.
But his penchant to continually include MLS stars like Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski, Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, and Brad Evans in his side proves he isn’t a league-ist.
While Klinsmann’s job future may lie in the hands of what happens at the Copa America in June because of the recent trend of poor results for the USMNT… I don’t think it can be ignored that he has placed U.S. Soccer in a much better situation than Bob Bradley did before him.
Only time and perspective have helped me love Klinsmann and the great work he’s done to build our nation’s team. I was one of the mob members with a torch and pitchfork calling for his head when he left Landon Donovan off the 2014 World Cup roster, and I have no problem admitting I would’ve—at the time—punched him square in the jaw for doing so. And while I will only forgive that omission if he leads America to a World Cup final, I can’t help but love what he’s done before and since that moment.
Speaking of, more information on the Copa America Centenario can be found at www.ca2016.com. There will be three games played at the Rose Bowl starting with Brazil vs. Ecuador on June 4th. It will be a great chance to see some of the best footballers in the world on a big stage.
Catching up with the Galaxy: Gyasis Zardes—fresh off the news of his name being on the 40-man roster—sent a fine through ball pass to Giovani dos Santos on Sunday night to set up the latter’s brilliant chip finish and earn the 1-1 draw for LA versus a scary-good Sporting Kansas City squad led by Besler, Feilhaber, and Zusi.
Ashley Cole was sent off in the second half for a pair of yellow cards in the span of 20 seconds, both of which were weak-sauce calls from referee Chris Penso. The first was for time-wasting, okay boo-hoo, but the second was for a tackle where Cole won the ball by a couple steps and collided into the SKC player on the continuation of his slide. And while the Galaxy held firm for the remaining 20-plus minutes with only 10 men… It’s really going to hurt this weekend when LA hosts the New England Revolution on ESPN on Mother’s Day without Cole.
The result was a good one for the Galaxy considering two things.
One, the midfield looked lost at times without Steven Gerrard or Nigel de Jong holding down the middle and directing traffic. Baggio Husidic and Mike Magee filled in nicely, but the duo looked confused at times as to who was supposed to be where and doing what. It almost helped when Cole was sent off because everyone sat back and those questions didn’t need answering anymore. Getting de Jong back this week from his suspension should help while Gerrard will likely still be out after picking up an injury in training during the week before the SKC game.
And two, Brian Rowe was on form all night long. The goal Rowe conceded to Brad Davis was unstoppable as the lefty bent one in from about 16 yards out. The ball broke right inside the post just outside of Rowe’s diving arms. Before and after the former UCLA keeper was on point with how he handled seven corners and numerous Sporting KC attacks. Dan Kennedy was supposed to be the man in the posts this year, and this is no knock on the MLS vet, but Rowe has been excellent since taking over and still earning a point with only 10 men in front of him for the final 20-ish minutes should boost his confidence.
Big congrats to Leicester City for winning the Premier League. Truly a dream season for the Foxes at King Power Stadium, and as a West Ham fan Tottenham not winning the title is just icing on the cake. Not that anyone is faithful to this column yet, but for those who remember and any who want to click the “older entries” button, I kicked things off talking about how big of a feat Leicester City pulling this off really is. At least that’s how I see things, but then again… I’m just joshing around.
Josh Ouellette is a self-proclaimed lover of the Beautiful Game who feverously supports West Ham United (Premier League) and the LA Galaxy (MLS). His thoughts and opinions are his own and if you have any thoughts on his opinions he can be reached via Twitter (@JoshoYouKnow).
Leave a Reply