Off-Season Progress Report: Mime’s A-Wastin’

For good or ill, here’s the plan for this and future editions of the Off-Season Progress Report. Every Friday, I’ll list all the player moves, trials, and rumors (with a snowball’s chance in Hell of coming together…and some that don’t) that appeared on my screen over the previous week. This feature will continue until – I believe – March 3, when Major League Soccer’s (MLS) teams must have their rosters down to 28 players, as required by league rules.

One category, the trialists, is a little more complicated than the others. To begin, I’m assuming that anyone drafted between the SuperDraft and supplemental draft – all identified here – is, effectively, on trial. I imagine some draftees have gone home already, but ignore them until the final cut comes along…and I may not acknowledge it then (too much to know, frankly). As for all other trialists, I can only name those whose names I’ve seen and I’m confident I’ll miss a couple players per team….all while blaming your team for failing to get out the good word. Given the gap, however, I welcome any and all additions to the record; drop ‘em in the comments field or send to me an email (jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com).

OK, that’s that. All the movement I saw (or cared about) appears after the jump. Current rosters for all teams are embedded under each team’s name. Continue reading

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First Talk of the Sweden Friendly + Who I’d Play (Ready the Wild Hair!)

While we’re all obsessing over players we barely know (OK, maybe only I am), the little matter of this Saturday’s international friendly between the U.S. Men’s team (viva los Yanquis!) has slipped under the radar.

Fortunately, a couple outlets are pulling it back on-screen today. Sure, there was always USSoccer.com, but that’s a given. An offering from January 14 nailed down a 26-man pool of eligible/present players. And, yeah, there’s the Yanquis’ team blog, but that’s, oh, 80% bum-fluff.

Given that, I was pleased to see the talking-point-friendly article by Nick Green in The Daily Breeze. I’m mainly referring there to mention of players I’d like to see – guys like Dasan Robinson, Marvell Wynne, and Ramiro Corrales – that gets me thinking. Add in the fact that Sweden will likely bring, um, something other than their best team – as revealed in USSoccerplayers.com’s Sweden primer – and this is what I’d trot out by way of a (highly experimental) roster – and let’s do a 4-4-2:

GK: Steve Cronin (what the hell? I’ve never seen him play…and they did invite him)

D (right-to-left): Wynne, Jimmy Conrad, Michael Parkhurst, Ramiro Corrales (is he even left-footed?)

M (right-to-left): Justin Mapp (yeah, I know, I know), Maurice Edu, Kyle Beckerman, Brad Davis (one of my bigger man-crushes, by the way)

F: Taylor Twellman, Josmer Altidore (give it a whirl).

And substitutions would be used liberally – e.g. Drew Moor in for Wynne (I like the idea of a defender with a good cross working the right with Mapp cutting inside); Chris Rolfe in as a scheming mid behind the forwards (kick back Beckerman, pull Edu); or see how Pat Noonan does wide right, etc.

Anyway, you get the idea: when playing Scandinavian B-teams, have fun with the roster and hope for a repeat of 2007’s opener against a similarly consituted Danish side. Surprise me, Bob.

An Initial 21 for Switzerland

Bradley released his initial roster to train in Europe for the October 17th friendly coming up against Switzerland. As expected, we get to see some new faces – whether or not they actually dress for the game is a different story.

Goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann (Reading [ENG]), Tally Hall (Esbjerg [NOR]), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Even Hahnemann’s recent 7 goal drubbing (in his defense, several of those goals were deflections and/or ridiculous) couldn’t keep him out. Despite his age, he deserves his shot and even though it might not have staying power, I am happy he’ll be in Switzerland. Expect him to be your number one with Seitz in back up. The 22 year old Tally Hall has yet to play at the senior level in Norway, but his inclusion doesn’t really surprise me. My question: if you’re going for youth, why not throw in Quentin Westberg who has shone in his chances with Troyes.

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham [ENG]), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover [GER]), Dan Califf (Aalborg [DEN]), Jay Demerit (Watford [ENG]), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege [BEL]), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock [GER]), Steve Purdy (1860 Munich [GER])

Heath Pearce is enjoying learning the hard way in the Bundesliga but has shown real well to have a good chance to get into this line up. You’ll probably still see ‘Dolo, Boca, Gooch, and Demerit start. Steve Purdy has been lining up for 1860 Munich’s second team and is a big defender (6’4″, 190) that most likely won’t see time, but his first training camp will be an eye opener.

Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Benfica [POR]), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers [SCO]), Michael Bradley (Heerenveen [HOL]), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg SV [GER]), Eddie Lewis (Derby [ENG]), Danny Szetela (Racing Santander [ESP])

Eddie Lewis is back in there after making the jump from Leeds United to Derby County in the EPL with renewed vigor. Between Kenny Miller and Lewis, they’ve been Derby’s only lifelines. Feilhaber has found his way into the first team, playing in the 1-0 loss to Reading this past weekend. Maurice Edu’s presence in this roster has been a long-time coming as his play – though erratic at times – has NOT been typical of a rookie. I look forward to seeing him get a chance.

Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Fulham [ENG]), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV [GER]), Sal Zizzo (Hannover [GER]).

Clint Dempsey has become a fan favorite at Craven Cottage and not given back his starting position since Hamuer Bouazza’s busted shoulder a month and a half ago. Zimmerman keeps scoring goals for HSV’s second team and is hoping to eventually get his chance, but for those scared of a Kamani Hill-like outcome it seems like this kid is ready for a couple sub appearances. Zizzo has yet to break into the first team at Hannover, but ‘Dolo says his progress is coming along. Findley is everyone’s question-mark, but his speed could complement Dempsey up top – although I think you’ll find Adu in that position. Many wanted to see Altidore but Bradley was right to leave him off for MLS Playoff duties (which you’ll notice that every MLS player included is part of team already statistically eliminated from the playoff race).

Overall, it’ll be an interesting look at the breadth of American talent. See how far it runs deep. Biggest surprises? Possible line-ups?