Adu, Altidore, Bocanegra, Ching, Hejduk, Spector, USMNT

The Triumphant Return?

To the true international stage for the U.S. Men’s National Team? To this blog for one Jon Levy? Hopefully both.

No longer too cool for this blog, I’m ready to weigh in on the Confederations Cup at the very least… and assert how quality a Yankette pick Lady Gaga would be. Just because she didn’t give Neil the time of day when he was off in New York “being artistic” is no reason to keep punishing her. It’s time to let the musical genius behind “Poker Face” off the hook.

The Confederations Cup:

This tournament will act as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup in a number of ways, but here’s hoping we avoid the old Italy/Brazil/Egypt group in 2010, something tells me we’re in the clear on that one. Sadly the Yanks can’t say that for the next week when they will be dealing with the two traditional power houses and the back-to-back African champions. The draw does present the U.S. with a chance to answer some questions though. What should be the preferred formations against an attacking and highly skilled squad like Brazil, or a world class technical and defensive squad like Italy? What does our back four look like against non-CONCACAF foes without California dudes Frankie Hejduk and Stevie Cherundolo at the corners? Why is it cold in Africa in June?

The sideback question is a good one. The ageless Frankie Hejduk was playing so well before his injury that he had practically locked up one of the spots. And Hannover captain Steven Cherundolo is a fixture in the team when he’s not on the shelf. But the shelf is the problem, and we better get used to it, NOW. Neither player is available for this tournament, and there’s a good chance that at least one of the aforementioned speedy defenders will be unavailable for the World Cup. So Bob Bradley is left with a dilemma. The American back four is supposed to be a strength of the team. This tournament will help us identify which defenders are strong enough to play on the biggest stage against the best competition.

Gooch and Boca are fixtures in the middle, but the lack of experienced wing defenders may force Bocanegra to the wing. It certainly seems to me that Bob Bradley has confidence in Danny Califf’s ability to play central defender. Also, his tats are awesome. Either way, Jonathan Spector can expect to get a real look at right back in this tournament. If he can build on his performance against Honduras and his end of season form at West Ham, the former Manchester United youngster can make sure he’s on the plane to South Africa again next summer. As for the Jonathan Bornstein’s and Jay Demerit’s of the world, speed and grit better both be on display, because I have a feeling a healthy Mo Edu might be preferred to either of them at one of the sideback spots. Remember he did play right back in last summer’s Olympics.

The Confederations Cup will also be very important for the U.S. forwards. The last two World Cup qualifiers have silenced the Brian Ching haters. Without the big Hawaiian doing the dirty work up front the Yanks have been limited in attack, but the smug satisfaction of Ching supporters doesn’t put goals on the scoreboard. Hopefully the next three to five games show us a Jozy Altidore who can get free and create chances on his own, or at least work with Landon and Clint better than he has in the last couple games. Jozy is the future of the U.S. striker spot, but he needs to develop further in the next year if he’s going to win that Golden Boot in 2010. Hehe.

And lastly on the player personell front, the tournament could be a big boost to Freddy Adu’s chances at being involved in 2010. Unfortunately for him, the same can be said for Jose Francisco Torres. So Adu needs to impress, if he ever gets on the field. More likely the Gold Cup later in the summer will be Freddy’s chance to shine.

Ok, so how bout a prediction before the U.S. and Italy kickoff their Confederations Cup campaigns against each other. This is gonna be a “safe” one, but it’s how I see it playing out. We tie Italy in a game that doesn’t lack for fouls and cards (sound enough like 2006 for ya). We then lose to Brazil, shocker. And finally we manage to score on a set piece or two against Egypt and win the game. We go through on goal differential and have the pleasure of facing Spain. Nice little run if it goes down like that!

Ok, Go Yanks! Megan Fox is hot! America!

Daniel Seco