ANTHONY MANNINO-The first wish for most US fans has been granted with Bob Bradley getting the axe and some famous German fellow named Jürgen “I love the umlaut” Klinsmann. Next up would be Claudio Renya and Klinsmann’s plans to fix the US youth system actually being follwed, and I would have to add actually working. But still that wish is for the furture and what is now is the beginning of the European football. Finally, it is here and now here are a few wishes that will hopefully happen for the USMNT.
Jozy Altidore continues to score
It is hard to believe that this year will be Jozy Altidore’s fourth year overseas. His career in Europe has been marred with unsuccessful loan spells and a lack of playing time. Altidore has all the physical tools to become a great striker. He is strong, fast, and has a power shot, but at times he can look lost on the pitch.
Moving to Holland to play for Alkmaar seems like the perfect way to jump-start Altidore’s European career. The Eredivisie is a free scoring league, which is the perfect remedy for a striker struggling to find the net. If Altidore stays healthy he should expect nothing less than 10 goals this season. He is already off to a great start scoring in Alkmaar’s first game of the season. However, consistency has been the problem for Altidore and he needs to build off his strong start to the year.
Bradley, Guzan, and Adu find new clubs and playing time
The two young talented American midfielders are in a bit of trouble right now with their current clubs. Both players are seen as unwanted excess goods at their current clubs. Also, Brad Guzan has struggled to find significant playing time with Aston Villa. That looked like it would finally change after fellow American Brad Friedel left the club. Guzan was set to be the starter, until Aston Villa signed Irish keeper Shay Given for the next five years.
The good news for these three players is that when they do get a chance to play they have usually performed well. The past year Adu has seemed to mature and started to reach the promise that was placed on his shoulder as a teenager. A solid season in the Turkish second division and his play in the Gold Cup are good signs that Adu is on the right track. For reasons unknown (perhaps immaturity) Benfica has refused to give Adu a chance, and a change of scenery (Holland I hope) is needed.
Bradley is in a similar situation, and has fallen out of favor with his club Borussia Monchengladbach. The midfielder was not included in M’gladbach’s big win over Bayern Munich this weekend, which does not bode well for Bradley. English clubs have expressed their interest in Bradley and hopefully he will eventually move to greener pastures.
Keeper Brad Guzan is in a better setting than Bradley and Adu. Still, it is not the best position for the American back up keeper. Expect Villa to send Guzan out on a loan.
Young fringe players on the verge of starting, get to start
There are lots of young talented Americans across the board in Europe that are on the verge of consistently starting for their clubs. A few players to name are: Eric Lichaj, Bobby Wood, Conor Doyle, Sebastian Lletget, Joseph Gyau, and Jerome Kiesewetter. The good news is all of these players are very attack minded and could receive first team action with the USMNT if they start getting playing time for their club.
Wood and Doyle are young talented strikers, who were on the bench with their respective clubs at the end of last season. They need to build off that experience and push for a starting spot, and then start scoring lots of goals. Hoffienheim product Joseph Gyau is on the verge of making his club’s the starting roster. The tricky winger could become the star wide man that the USMNT is missing. However, he needs to continue to work hard and push for a starting spot.
The Chandler situation gets solved
Back in March it seemed like Bob Bradley had found a diamond in the rough when Timothy Chandler made his first appearance for the USMNT. The wingback impressed the US with his pace and crossing ability during his first two international caps. The problem is either Chandler or his club, Nuremberg, has rejected his recent call-ups to the USMNT.
The most recent snub was for this week’s game against Mexico when Chandler was replaced in the USMNT roster because of a knee injury. However, a “miraculous recovery” allowed Chandler to play 90 minutes for Nuremburg this past weekend. If he does not want to play because it is the start of his club season, he should say so. The US has never had a problem with a star player refusing to wear the USA kit, so hopefully this madness will stop.
The good news is Chandler reaffirmed his loyalty with the USMNT in an interview over the summer. Maybe the Gold Cup and Mexico friendly is just bad timing for Chandler. US fans do not need to hit the panic button just yet and think Chandler is going to play for Germany. But there will be cause for concern if Chandler is healthy and ignores Klinsmann call in September when the USMNT plays Belgium.
Holden stays healthy
Two horrific tackles have cut Stuart Holden’s past two European seasons short. Last year Holden was having a terrific season until Jonny Evans tackle injured the American midfielder’s knee. The former Houston Dynamo player could be one of the USMNT’s best players, but injuries have robbed him the chance to play significant time for the USMNT the past two years.
Holden should be healthy in September and hopefully it will stay that way. The USMNT needs Holden on the field if the team is to get out of their current funk.