- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On May 19, 2010
- 0 Comments
- 2010 World Cup, Bob Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, World Cup 2010
With the start of the US Men’s National team World Cup camp this week there have been loads of talk about injuries and position battles as well as the all important discussion of who will be cut from camp.
After the first couple days of camp I came up with some questions of my own, some more or less go into the World Cup itself while others deal with the back and forth nature of who Bob Bradley will take.
1. Is Landon Donovan ready to become the real leader here?
One thing is certain, the past 12 months or so for Donovan have been pretty damn good. He earned a MLS MVP, nearly won another MLS Cup, earned a massive new contract with the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer, then scored probably one of the best loan deals in US soccer history to Everton. Oh and let’s not forget his LA side is currently in first place thanks in large part to his league-leading nine assists.
So is Donovan ready to lead on the big stage for real? He’s had chances twice before but he was more of a kid the first time around in 2002 and in 2006 he was faced with probably more mental issues from being in Germany than anything else.
This year should be different though for Donovan. He’s older, wiser and playing probably the best soccer in his career. At the Confederation’s Cup last year in South Africa we got a glimpse of how good Donovan can be as a leader when he helped lead the US to a second place finish in that tournament.
2. Just how much will injuries play a part of this?
Injuries to say the least are a bitch in any sport, especially soccer and especially the World Cup. One injury can make a world of difference. With nearly half of the US defense mending some sort of injury the worry will be a constant thing going into the first game with England. Thankfully for the US side their Group C opener opponent has just as many question marks with injuries as we do.
I’d say as long as Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu and Tim Howard work out their injuries like I believe they can the defense will be fine, for the most part at least.
3. Can the US get past the mental issues?
Soccer is as mental of a sport as any out there. You have to deal with the other team, the refs, the fans, the environment that you’re playing in and more. Keeping a cool head isn’t easy. Bradley has to get that through to his bunch right now and especially to guys like Ricardo Clark, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
Its good to be amped up in big games but Bradley will need to find a way to keep these guys amped but within reason. Frustrations are just a part of the game and cooler heads usually prevail. The biggest is worry for me going into games right now isn’t injuries but keeping those cooler heads. Yellow cards add up and can be tough to overcome and a good discipline team usually does well in these tournaments.
Aside from the discipline the US also needs to get over their complex in these tournaments. Last year’s Confederation’s Cup probably did a good job of getting over some of those issues as the US team finally stopped playing the country on the other side of the field and just focused on beating who they were playing. For too long the US has had a mental issue when facing top teams in the world, now it should be a thing of the past.
4. Is Altidore ready to shine?
With the issues at striker one thing is clear, Altidore needs to be the guy to step up and lead the scoring for the US in this tournament. But is he ready for that spotlight? His final game with Hull showed he still has a lot of maturing to do. But as tough as the English Premiere League is the World Cup is that much tougher.
I see Altidore doing well in this tournament as long as his head is on straight. Another factor comes down to who he is paired with up top. That will go a long way in how well he does or doesn’t in this tournament.
Note: I’m hoping to ramp up my World Cup discussions here. If you’re interested in writing some items about the World Cup for WVHooligan just shoot me an email.