Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Man United poses intriguing challenge for young Americans
by Ridge Mahoney, July 27th, 2011 1:36AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS ALL-STAR GAME]It’s been a heady couple of days building up to the MLS All-Star Game, with Coach Hans Backe -- a perfect 2-0 against Manchester United during his stint as a Manchester City assistant -- talking about tactics and film study, and a few players referring to the 5-2 pasting inflicted by Man United in last summer's midsummer classic. Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler is also undefeated, having played in a 1-0 defeat of United last year in a friendly.

All of that makes for lots of Web hits and breathless preview material, but little of it is relevant. If MLS and its marketing arm, SUM, really wanted the All-Star Game to be competitive, it would put up a pot of a few million dollars for the winning team.

Lacking that incentive, watching how the young American All-Stars budding for places in the national team – Sean Franklin, Tim Ream, Juan Agudelo, Tally Hall, etc. – fare against top-class foreign players, even in a friendly setting, is what I’ll be watching. Regardless of how fit and motivated are the United players, they are clever, and will be quick to spot errors in positioning and technical flaws that they can exploit.

That’s why the absence of lanky, speedy FC Dallas winger Brek Shea, who is committed instead to play a Concacaf Champions League match in San Salvador against Alianza, is especially disappointing. If anybody needs a fresh crack at proving himself against good international players, regardless of the setting, it is him.

Many were the cries for his inclusion to the national team last year, so strongly did some believe he would soon fill a void on the national team of a left-sided mid with pace, confidence, and a knack for slashing open the opposition. It’s a facet of attacking play the USA has sorely missed since DaMarcus Beasleywent off the radar after the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup and though Shea’s traits are different than those of Beasley, or other young candidates such as Alejandro Bedoya, he certainly has a good base of skills on which to build.

Shea debuted for the USA last October against Colombia and labored through a miserable first half before being substituted. He came back two months later to play against Canada and hasn’t been selected since.

One could argue that Shea’s game will grow by playing in the Concacaf games, and at his age and moderate base of professional experience, he’ll certainly derive some benefit for a tough away encounter in Central America. But I’d like to see him working the flank against United, maybe nicking the ball past Nani or running at Rafael, or cutting inside to challenge Rio Ferdinand. Since United’s backups could start in MLS, Shea would gain valuable experience against just about any of them.

At the other end, the more that Ream and Franklin see up-close of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Ryan Giggs, Federico Macheda or Park Ji-Sung -- not to mention Javier Hernandez, who has rejoined United after taking a long break following the Gold Cup – the better off they’ll be in the long run. No matter which players line up on the United back line, they won’t be too lenient in dealing with the brightest young light of the U.S. team, Juan Agudelo, so he’ll need to be on his game as well.

Another regrettable absentee is Omar Gonzalez, who is wearing a protective plastic mask as his broken nose heals. (He and Hernandez could well be battling each other for the next decade.) Like Shea, he struggled through a rough U.S. debut when handed a far tougher assignment against Brazil a month after the 2010 World Cup.

The All-Star Game is a high-powered, hyperbole-swollen exhibition, and there’s nothing wrong with that when it gives young American players an opportunity to play with and against some truly outstanding talents.



0 comments
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 27, 2011 at 4:20 p.m.
    ...most MLS players don't understand the nuances of the game, have little ability to read the game instinctively and fail to play with simplicity and efficacy...it doesn't matter who is on the All-Star roster, except for a few exceptions, the quality of these players is the same.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Sam Allardyce    
"Unfortunately, it was an error of judgement on my behalf. I've paid the consequences. Entrapment has ...
MLS Expansion: Jones gives thumbs-up to Martino hiring    
It didn't take long for Trinidad & Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones to tell the world he's ...
MLS Week 30: Results & Standings    
Montreal and D.C. United put themselves in line to claim playoff berths in the Eastern Conference ...
CCL: FC Dallas tie complicates path    
FC Dallas had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Guatemala's Suchitepequez at home in their ...
Video Pick (TBT): When Oscar Pareja dazzled on the field    
Of MLS's 20 head coaches, 16 are former MLS players -- so on this Thursday we're ...
What They're Saying: Hope Solo    
"Yesterday, I underwent shoulder replacement surgery to address an injury I've been dealing with for some ...
This week in women's college soccer    
The hottest team in the country is No. 6 South Carolina, which has run off 10 ...
Klinsmann puts stop to England talk, quickly    
Not for the first time, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been linked to a ...
TV Report: Fox Sports to air U-17 Women's World Cup    
Fox Sports will broadcast all 32 games from the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan ...
NWSL: Heath and Long head MVP finalists    
Tobin Heath and Allie Long, teammates on the regular-season champion Portland Thorns and the U.S. national ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives