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Article:SSR Interviews: USMNT Soccer Talk With Joshua Mayers

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From my blog, Stupid Sideline Reporters.


It’s been over 48 hours since the US’ 3-2 loss to Brazil in the FIFA Confederations Cup championship game. So I figured a good way to have someone else do the writing for me for a lazy post I should interview a good friend of this blog, Seattle Times writer, soccer aficionado, and fellow Seattle-area resident Josh (from The Beautiful Game) on several topics discussing the US Men’s National Team. Questions from me are in bold, and his answers are directly below.

US Soccer

1.) We’ll start with Sunday’s game itself. Did you think that the US would hang onto the 2-0 lead against Brazil before the 2nd half kicked off?

I thought it was a 50-50 shot. I really believed the USMNT would probably need one more goal at some point in the second half to pull it out. That realism/pessimism kept me from feeling too devastated from the loss because I knew the lead was FAR from safe — especially considering that Brazil had probably outplayed the U.S. in the first half anyways. Afterward, some of my bandwagon fans were freaking out about the apparent ‘choke job’ but I knew at halftime that it was still a toss-up.

2.) Would you consider any “moral victories” for the US (if you believe in that sort of thing)?

Being a sports fan in Seattle, I almost have to believe in moral victories (we don’t get many winners up here). And yes, I believe there is encouragement to take from how the USMNT played in the final three games of the tournament. While the American roster isn’t stacked with elite world-class talent, there is enough to compete and there is enough to win at the highest level of play.

3.) What’s your confidence in Bob Bradley as we head towards more WCQ and presumably the 2010 WC?

I’m really not a fan of Bradley. The guy came into the Confederations Cup tournament playing a one-forward lineup for god’s sake. WTF, right? Didn’t we fire Arena because of that? With Bradley, I don’t like his substitutions. I don’t like his apparent loyalty to Chivas USA players — at least it appears that way (why else would Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan play 30 minutes in the final?). I don’t like how he jerks players around (Freddy Adu, Jose Francisco Torres). I don’t like how he has the emotion of a sea urchin. I am not confident in him and, unfortunately, it appears we’re stuck with him through the World Cup.

4.) Most outstanding US player in the Confederations Cup? Most disappointing?

It’s hard for me to pick one player that stood out. I thought Tim Howard and Oguchi Onyewu were phenomenal in the back. And two guys I’ve been a bit critical of in the past — Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey — were very productive in leading an attack that scored eight goals. I’ll go with Gooch [Onyewu] though as my pick. He was a rock in every sense of the word, particularly since the forwards/midfielders couldn’t hold onto the ball to save their life and the backline was under constant attack. Hopefully a nice payday is coming his way in a move to a top-flight European club.

It was disappointing to see the death, of sorts, of DaMarcus Beasley. So he’s  the pick. While I didn’t expect game-changing ability from DMB, I certainly didn’t expect to see such horrible play from the veteran. He’s had some great moments for the USMNT, but the door is slamming shut on his national-team career now. Also, Sacha Kljestan was absolutely horrible (but I didn’t expect much from him) and Conor Casey was a stiff, so those guys deserve a public lashing too.

5.) Do you see Demarcus Beasley having any future on this team after his recent poor performances?

As I said in the previous question, I think USMNT fans shouldn’t expect any meaningful production from Beasley anymore. If anything, maybe a late offensive substitute in the 2010 World Cup would be the last realistic contribution for him at this level, but he still has a lot of work to do to reach that kind of form. If he’s anywhere on the field, he has to be an offensive-minded left winger. No more of this left back nonsense.

6.) Do you see Freddy Adu or Jose Francisco Torres getting some meaningful playing time? It seemed like they were intentionally ignored in the Confederations Cup.

I was very, very, very disappointed not to Torres on the Gold Cup roster. I thought he and Adu would have a great opportunity next month to earn playing time at the A-level by leading the team at the B-level. Obviously, I think their playing styles aren’t in favor with the coach (that same guy who played a one-forward lineup to start the Confed. Cup tournament). My guess is the trusts between the players and Bradley are beyond repair and they won’t see significant playing time under this regime.

7.) Finally, these last three games have had bloggers and journalists proclaim (yet again) that US soccer may have finally turned the corner into an emerging power. Has it turned the corner for you? If not then when do you think that will happen?

The proverbial ‘corner’ is different for every person and, for me, the corner is being able to compete with the world’s best. Right now, I am confident the USMNT could give a game — and, yes, potentially win — against any country in the world. So for me the corner is turned. That means I think we should raise our expectations accordingly. Not dominating CONCACAF W.C. qualifying is not acceptable. Not making it out of the W.C. group stage is not acceptable. This team is good enough for its fans to be critical, but that said I was very impressed and proud to be a fan of the team that last three games of the Confederations Cup.

You can visit Josh’s blog here or on the link provided in the blogroll, where you should actually scroll for good reads. Also, you can peak at his Seattle Times archives here. Thanks to him for taking the time to respond to these hard-hitting questions with solid answers I generally agree with.

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