Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Chances to step up a product of Gold Cup absences
by Ridge Mahoney, July 3rd, 2009 5:45PM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Nightmare though it may be for MLS coaches, the Concacaf Gold Cup is a rich vein of opportunity for players and fans.

Dozens of players must pick up the slack to cover for their teammates called away for international duty, but it's not just the direct replacements who are compelled to measure up. Collective effort can be just as critical as individual performance.

So for this weekend's games here are five unheralded players who fans and observers should watch as their teams compensate for significant losses.

Matt Besler (Kansas City) - The rookie has been playing outside back though his MLS future will probably be as a central defender. Rauwshan McKenzie is replacing Jimmy Conrad in the middle and as his name implies, he's a bit raw. So is Besler, yet how they handle Brian Mullan and the other Dynamo attackers who came their way will determine what the Wizards get out of this important home match.

Ned Grabavoy (Real Salt Lake) - Will Johnson is with Canada, Kyle Beckerman is with the USA, and Javier Morales is limping, so this ex-Quake  midfielder will be handed a big test against his former team in a vital home game. San Jose's midfield is hardly stellar but it can function well as a unit, so Grabavoy's ability to hang tough in the middle and support his attacking teammates is a key element.

Nick LaBrocca (Colorado) - He might well line up on the left side as the direct replacement for Colin Clark, but that spot could be filled by Jacob Peterson or Mehdi Ballouchy. His slick ball skills and pace can also spark an attack missing Omar Cummings, so he may take advantage of a Fire midfield lacking Logan Pause as the Rapids host a team that mirrors its 5-3-6 record.

Eric Brunner (Columbus) - Rather quietly he's tackled strongly and sharply alongside Chad Marshall in the middle of the Crew's defense, so whether he's paired with Danny O'Rourke or somebody else for a home match with D.C. United, his team will need the poise and experience he's gained over the past two months to get a victory that would move it atop the Eastern Conference.

Brek Shea (FC Dallas) - Attacking by committee is the best way to make up for the absence of Kenny Cooper, yet this tall (6-foot-3) teenager has already proven to MLS defenses that he can be a handful. Cooper has scored "only" seven of FCD's paltry total of 18 goals, thus others need to get it done as well, so if the U.S. under-20 international is working the box, tussling with defenders and winning stuff in the air, FCD should get scoring chances against the New York Red Bulls, the league's worst road team (0-9-1).



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Downsizing works for the Red Bulls    
It only seems like only yesterday that the New York Red Bulls fired Mike Petke, prompting ...
The Omar Factor    
Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez got his first start since the World Cup in a 2-0 defeat ...
Forward thinking jumbles USA puzzle    
Goals by Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo illustrate the range of choices and decisions being faced ...
Experience counts for a lot, but youth will decide Women's World Cup    
Change comes slowly in women's soccer. Jill Ellis was no Jurgen Klinsmann in picking her 23-player ...
Agudelo's journey takes him back to the national team    
The youngest player ever to score for the USA is hoping the friendly against Mexico Wednesday ...
MLS gets its wish, and it's ugly -- parity    
So, let's have a show of hands. Who says their favorite MLS team is playing well? ...
Projecting Klinsmann's USA roster for Mexico game    
The next friendly for the USA is against its bitterest rival and with a roster announcement ...
Philadelphia's troubles extend far beyond who's in goal    
A sputtering attack and susceptibility on set plays have dragged the Union into last place.
Making a Strong case for soccer    
As lead soccer announcer for Fox Sports, John Strong has quickly moved onto the national stage ...
Jeff Plush on the NWSL: women's league plays long ball    
It might not sound like much but the National Women's Soccer League, which begins its third ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives