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
U.S. Positional Rankings: Williams jumps right into vital role
by Ridge Mahoney, January 14th, 2013 7PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  men's national team

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

The German Bundesliga players championed by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann during his tenure have drawn mixed reviews, yet the consensus on one of them is mostly favorable.

Since Danny Williams debuted against Honduras in October, 2011, his pace and strength and poise have stamped him as a player who will be hard to keep out of the lineup. The rest of the field consists of mostly MLS players at various stages of their careers as well as a player searching for a stable club situation and his place on the field.

Jermaine Jones plays an attacking role in the absence of a better attacking option, a la Michael Bradley, yet he’s also served as the holding player in several games. He’s been included among the attacking midfielders in this series of rankings, which are based on national team appearances, future prospects, and other factors such as club performance.

Soccer America's Top 6 U.S. Holding Midfielders
1. Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), 11 caps.
2. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), 23.
3. Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), 34.
4. Maurice Edu (Stoke City), 42.
5. Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), 5.
6T. Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), 0.
6T. Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes), 2.

Williams has been tried out wide but his confidence and consistency in the middle is one reason Klinsmann has tinkered with his formations. When Williams has played with Jones and Bradley, the U.S. has lacked width, yet the coach sees him as a vital complement to a pair of more experienced players. The fact that Williams can step in for either one of them, either as a sub or a starter, gives the coach a young (22) but talented option. He played the last four games of 2011 and seven more last year.

Beckerman played six of Klinsmann’s first seven games in charge during 2011, and despite his perceived role as a coach’s favorite made just five appearances (two starts) last year. He always produces aggressiveness and workrate, and while his unforced errors and questionable decisions can be costly, his energy can push the team through languid spells. In the last World Cup cycle, he played just one Hexagonal game as a but saw a lot of time in the Gold Cup; will the formula be similar in 2013?

Clark’s return to MLS last summer helped steer Houston into its second straight MLS Cup; just as notably, in 16 regular-season playoff games he incurred zero cards. In his previous stint with Houston (2006-09), he didn’t pick up a lot of cautions but was red-carded three times, including the infamous kick to a prostrate Carlos Ruiz during the 2007 season that earned him a nine-game suspension.

Clark played the two January friendlies last year against Venezuela and Panama -- and scored the only goal of the first game -- but since then hasn’t been called up. He’s definitely on the bubble in a crowded midfield pool, and fans won’t forget his shaky outings at the 2010 World Cup. Clark still has his wheels, however, and perhaps his temperament has cooled enough to handle the international level.

Edu is stranded on the bench at Stoke and seems stranded without a position for the U.S., having played centerback as well as center mid. In his last three appearances, he replaced Graham Zusi twice and Williams once; in his last start he played 72 minutes in midfield against Jamaica. He started and played the full 90 at centerback in the historic Azteca win.

So who knows?

New York’s annual playoff fizzle didn’t diminish the contributions of McCarty, who stabilized the center for much of the season and also got the job done at right mid. He captained the USA in his only start but that was two years ago against Chile. He may lack a few of the physical tools for this level but he sees the game well and never slacks off.

In his 63 games for United since turning pro in 2011 Kitchen’s has shown the same intensity and poise he did while helping Akron win an NCAA title as a freshman and anchoring the middle for the U.S. U-23s. He’s strong enough defensively to have played in the back for United as a rookie and is coming off a very solid second pro season. Oh, and he's only 20.

Cronin earned two caps as a rookie with Toronto FC in 2009 and since being traded has blossomed into a key component of San Jose’s fluid, potent midfield. Aggressive and quick with good feet, he committed 37 fouls last year yet also logged six assists, showing he can use the ball as well as challenge for it.



3 comments
  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: January 14, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.
    WHAT? Dax over Kitchen? You have to be kidding. Dax has squandered his chances with MNT. Even with his club, he runs around alot but isn't particularly efficient. In contrast, Kitchen passes the ball to the wings, keeping it pretty well and is always in position to intercept passes in the center of the field. Kitchen hasn't gotten Klinsman's attention yet, but I think it is just a matter of time. What's the word on Osvaldo Alonso, I wonder...
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: January 15, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.
    The so-called top 6 hlding MFs should raise a red flag about the quality pool of players for the MNT.
  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: January 22, 2013 at 10:53 p.m.
    Why aren't Bradley and Jones on this list? At least then the quality of this group would go up.

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Michael Bradley: USA prepared 'to tilt the bar in our favor' early against Honduras    
As they train in San Jose for a crucial Hexagonal match against Honduras on Friday, the ...
Next move for Real Salt Lake is the most crucial in a decade    
The history of RSL is one of remarkable stability -- just three head coaches since starting ...
U.S. roster announcement: Bruce Arena's return marked by a singleness of purpose    
Multiply the left-back debate with a few more positions each with several candidates and you'll have ...
Quakes encouraged but not giddy after impressive opener    
Four seasons without playoffs has left the fervent fans in San Jose discouraged, but a ray ...
MLS 1-22: Ranking the teams on the eve of a new season    
Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 ...
Random thoughts as the MLS season draws near    
The 2017 MLS season starts next Friday, March 3, more than a month earlier than the ...
Walker Zimmerman joins the U.S. centerback pool with solid performance    
Two FC Dallas centerbacks were summoned to the first U.S, camp of 2017 and after Matt ...
Rare USA golazo inspires some hope    
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in ...
Greg Garza, soccer wanderer, finds place to start anew, again    
A long voyage to several continents has led U.S. international Greg Garza to the MLS startup ...
With first Arena game out of the way, U.S. players can re-focus on task at hand    
The message going forward for the U.S, team after it opened 2017 by tying Serbia 0-0 ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives