NOAH DAVIS – With all due respect to my former Goal.com colleague Luis Bueno, I disagree with his take that the United States’ year-end friendlies are meaningless.
As Bueno accurately notes, the post-World Cup period is one of the few times when a national team can afford to sit back, relax, reflect, and not take the pitch. The Stars and Stripes had exactly one match after the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. (A 2-0 defeat of El Salvador in Washington D.C.) This year, however, they have already battled Brazil and will take on Poland, Colombia, and South Africa before 2010 ends.
Yes, the Americans could have taken a couple months off after South Africa. But why?
Unlike previous cycles, the US possesses enough talent to let players who need or deserve a rest – Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo – get a break while still fielding a competitive squad. The key here is making sure there’s enough quality to help the new guys showcase their talents.
Calling a side that contains mostly untested players or older guys who will not make the A squad won’t help development. (Think the 2009 Gold Cup roster.) But let’s see what Kevin Alston, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, etc. can do when they are surrounded by some of the best players in the country. You can’t tell me the experience against Brazil wasn’t invaluable for the Los Angeles Galaxy centerback. Lining up next to Jay DeMerit or Oguchi Onyewu against Poland and Colombia will only speed his progress.
(If you want, take issue with the friendly in South Africa, which is lots of travel for one match. But that fixture is about one thing: money. The federation needs cash as much as it needs a talent infusion.)
One final thought: Did the USSF schedule multiple friendlies in anticipation of helping a new manager get comfortable with his team?