While surfing around on ESPN Soccernet tonight, I stumbled across this article by Ives Galarcep. Galarcep names seven players he feels are deserving of an international call-up by U.S. coach Bob Bradley.
What better time to give some youngsters a chance than right now? With the maximum nine points from their first three games in this round of qualifying, the U.S. is, for all intents and purposes, assured a berth in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Calling young players into training camps is all well and good, but it's a poor substitute for actually giving them a cap in a meaningful game. I'm not suggesting that Bradley call up an unprepared player for World Cup play, like Sven Goran-Eriksson did with Theo Walcott in 2006.
But I do think that with qualification for the final round of qualifying essentially assured, he should give young players a chance to develop their skills on the international level.
Without any further Adu, here are several players that need to be given a chance in the next round of fixtures.
Anybody who saw him against the Netherlands in the Olympics will agree that he is ready to take the next step. He was the best player on the pitch, and that includes the highly-touted Dutch winger Ryan Babel.
Adu could add a creative element to the midfield that the U.S. has never had. People like to label him a "failure," or at least "unsuccessful" because of his stint at D.C. United. But he was never played in his natural position there.
Against the Dutch, he was free to push forward and create for teammates. He ran right at a very experienced and decorated defense and sliced through them with ease to set up chances and eventually Sacha Kljestan's goal.
Michael Bradley is currently one of the best options for the U.S. in midfield. Adding Adu to the mix would allow Bradley to operate from deeper in the midfield, which would play to his strengths. Bradley is dangerous offensively, but he doesn't have the vision of Adu. The two would complement each other nicely.
Brian Ching needs to go. He's not the replacement for Brian McBride that everybody thought he was going to be. I know he scored in their last game against Trinidad & Tobago, but all he had to do was nod home into an open net. More telling is the fact that he missed an absolute sitter in front of the net earlier in the game.
McBride wouldn't have let that chance go begging, and odds are neither would Cooper.
Cooper is like Brian McBride meets the Incredible Hulk. He's got three inches on the American legend and is a lot stronger as well. He's like Oguchi Onyewu with an incredible set of offensive skills. He's not afraid to mix it up in the middle, with the strength to keep defenders off the ball.
He's one of the most feared strikers in MLS, and is only 23 right now, meaning he'll get even better.
He spent time with the Manchester United reserves, so he has some experience abroad. His goalscoring record in MLS is very good, comparable to that of Brian Ching. The U.S. also needs a big striker to be more competitive against European squads. Why Bradley continues to ignore him in favor of Ching's poor National Team form is beyond me.
Altidore is wildly inconsistent at times when playing on the domestic and international level, but when he's at his best, he can feast on defenses. He's got speed and knows how to finish as well.
Altidore is a striker built more in the mold of Eddie Johnson, only better. Both rely on their speed to hassle defenders rather than their strength. Johnson, like Brian Ching, has also performed poorly internationally. It's time to give a youngster a chance to prove himself.
If Bradley doesn't call Altidore up for this round of qualifiers, you can probably expect to see him at some point before the next World Cup. His experience in La Liga will hopefully make it impossible for Bradley to ignore him
Bornstein is a player who has already made 12 caps for the U.S. National Team but hasn't featured for a little while.
Bornstein is a better option in the back than Heath Pearce or the aging duo of Eddie Lewis and Frankie Hejduk. I love Hejduk, he's one of the fittest players in the world and his work rate is second to none, but he's 34-years old now and has lost a step. Bornstein is only 23 and is arguably the best defender in MLS.
He's also not afraid to get forward into the attack (like Hejduk). On his best days, he's a poor man's Sergio Ramos. Currently, the only real offensive option in the back line is Oguchi Onyewu on set pieces and throw-ins.
Throw Bornstein into the mix and you not only improve the U.S. defense, you add another dimension to the attack for a team that finds itself struggling to score goals against top-notch competition.
Another defender with 12 caps already under his belt, Spector also hasn't featured for a while.
Spector began his career as a striker on the U.S. U-17 National Team. During a match at a tournament in Ireland, he was put into a match as a defender to add some height to the back line. He performed quite well and the rest, as they say, is history.
He has spent his entire professional career in the English Premier League, which would bring toughness to the back line. A defender with that kind of experience would be a welcome sight alongside Oguchi Onyewu. The U.S. would no longer be so vulnerable to set pieces, which is currently their biggest weakness.
Zizzo could function as either a striker or attacking midfielder, depending on the team's needs and Bradley's tactics.
He is currently plying his trade in the German Bundesliga at Hanover 96. He is quick and good with the ball at his feet. Any team would love a player who is loath to give up possession in the middle of an attack.
Zizzo was also part of the U-20 team that made a succesful run to the quarterfinals of the 2007 U-20 World Cup. He got his first cap earlier this year in a friendly against Sweden. It's time to see what he can offer the U.S. attack.
Szetela made a few successful appearances for the U-20 National Team but has only been given a very short look at the senior level.
My reason for wanting to see Szetela on the team is simple. It's not because of his talent, it's because he was a childhood friend of Giuseppe Rossi.
Rossi has repeatedly stated that he wishes to play for the Italian National Team but has not been capped at the senior level yet, meaning he is still technically eligible to play for the U.S.
When a player of Rossi's caliber is still technically available, the U.S. should be making every effort to get him in the fold. I don't care if they have to trick him into playing; something needs to be done. If you can get one of his good friends turning out for the Stars and Stripes regularly, it might work. Probably not, but it can't hurt to try.
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