Olympic Qualifying Breakdown – Who’s Your Best XI?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Cuba

Thursday, March 13, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Panama

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Honduras

Roster was released – as I am sure you have seen – over the weekend and some notable omissions include Gold Cup hero turned Derby County wantaway Benny Feilhaber, last summer’s U-20 standout Robbie Rogers, and FC Dallas’ creative midfielder Arturo Alvarez. Michael Bradley of Heerenveen was left out due to club obligations. Heerenveen is still in the fight for the Dutch Eredivisie title and/or European contention with Ajax and PSV and Bradley is no doubt a huge part of that. The goal is to finish in the top two of their group, beat their opponent in the semifinal and make it to the finals which guarantees them a spot at this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

GK (2): Dominic Cervi (out of contract), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders (6): Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

Midfielders (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)

Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg)

With this roster, I would certainly expect Piotr Nowak to go with Jozy Altidore as the lone forward, putting Freddy Adu right in behind them as they did at the U-20 World Cup. Zizzo has got to go on one of the wings as I remember his dismantling of the Brazilian defense in Canada as well. Expect either Eddie Gaven or Stuart Holden to patrol the other wing. I, for one, can’t understand the necessity of carrying a Chad Barrett over an Arturo Alvarez, who is versatile and serviceable on either of the wings, in the middle, or up top as striker. Then again, I also can’t understand the choice of 5 strikers when the tactic should be tailor-made for Jozy. Robbie Rogers has apparently been fighting an injury which makes his absence a bit understandable. I am just hoping that due to the lack of a Zizzo-like left winger, we don’t see Freddy Adu put out there. He needs be tucked in behind Altidore where he can dictate the run of play and roam freely. What I really like about this group, though, is the attacking presence in the back. At the Olympic level, I think this crop of fullbacks – with only one appearing regularly for the senior national team – could make a play for the weakest spot on the field for our Nats. Wynne, Freeman, and Spector should do well (Spector won’t be joining them until after the Group Stages though so Freeman and Wynne will be left to prove themselves).

The XI see being used:

————–Altidore—————-

Holden———Adu————-Zizzo

———-Edu——–Kljestan——–

Freeman—Ianni—Sturgis—-Wynne

—————Seitz——————

First game is Tuesday at 8:00pm EST on Fox Soccer Channel. What’s your take on the Starting XI?

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One Response

  1. Beat to the punch…good work, Breton. Here’s my take, starting with a relevant quote from a totally irrelevant article:

    “By lining up with only 1 striker against Barnsley, Grant has continually showed us his lack of faith in the squad…”

    I got that here, by the way, and it refers to Chelsea’s little, ah, hiccup against Barnsley.

    Anyway, that’s just a really time-consuming way of saying I don’t like one-forward set-ups, no matter the forward. And that is not to say you’re wrong, of course, only that I’d play two forwards…’cause I’m just that way.

    So, my line-up (and, to be honest, I’m throwing people out there as much as anything).

    F: Altidore, Findley
    M: Holden (left), Edu (center), Adu (center), Kljestan (right)
    D: Freeman, Ianni, Sturgis, Wynne
    GK: Seitz

    Not vastly different, no. And I agree that this line-up exposes our defense – e.g. the place on the field though generally to be weak – a little bit. At the same time, who does it expose it to? Cuba, Honduras, and Panama, teams I believe that back four can handle. My basic theory on all this is you play the game you want often as you can in order to learn how to do it when it counts.

    That said, if the D looks shaky in the opening rounds and we make it to the semis where we NEED that win, I’d go a little conservative to pick up a lone result. Otherwise, though, get us used to playing our game.

    One last thing to acknowledge: I think the line-up you have – e.g. the talk about Adu having a free role up top – approximates what I’m after; I just don’t like how much requires Edu and Kljestan to play deeper when I don’t think they need to.

    Looking very forward to qualifying, though. My guess is we’ll see your line-up before mine. And I’m OK with that.

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