Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eddie, Brad, Rico and other American heroes

Back from a weekend with the family in the Texas Hill Country away from Internet, away from TV and away from Eddie Robinson's first cap and first goal as a US MNT member in the 2-0 win over Sweden. I finally got a chance to watch the game today thanks to my good friends at Fox Soccer Channel, and I cannot tell you how great it felt to finally, finally see some action from one of my teams. And here are my, admittedly Dynamo-oriented, thoughts:

Eddie Robinson. What can you say? First cap, first goal. And numerous, numerous times making Sweden attackers and midfielders pay for roaming into his area. Eddie commits the occasional stupid foul, but the way I see it, these fouls have some method behind them in that no one, NO ONE goes into his area without knowing for a fact that they are in for some punishment and hard work. The boy never stops banging into these guys, winning balls, making forwards and midfielders think twice. You saw right there, especially in the first half, why he has become an indispensable component of the two-time champs. This brings up the Nutmegged poll there to the right. It was Mister3d himself that camew up with the Eddie Robinson on a set piece header option. And please note that it was the only choice NOT selected by our 15 voters. So while Mister3d himself did not vote for ER, nor did he get the header thing right, he DID get the Eddie on a set piece correct, and for that we give him the Nutmegged Pick of the Month award. A gratis paleta sandia is heading to you!

Brad Davis. If he misplayed a set piece, I'm not sure I caught it. Every free kick, all three corners, right where he wanted them to be. (OK, one free kick in the second half went into the wall, but he recovered the rebound and sent it in anyway.) Awesome, awesome performance Bradley. Your country clearly will do well by calling on you and your left foot for more national duty to come.

Rico Clark. Easily lost amid Dynamo's playoff run last year was how much more potent the champs would have been with this guy in the midfield. Rico's speed, his physicality, his presence, were all on display against Sweden. I can't wait to see the Georgia alum back in Orange this year. I think his best years are still ahead of him, and that, my friends, is scary.

Landon Donovan. 25 years old. Are you kidding me? Are we really at a spot now where we have to mention Donovan as the best US MNT player ever? Certainly No. 1 in goals scored and assists. Easily the leader on the field the other night. He was constantly distributing, constantly putting guys in the flow of the game (what flow there was). And still only 25. Still, he just doesn't seem to exude that "best player on the field" sort of aura. He never has, which is why Bretos and Sullivan all game long were continuing the discussion of how the US needs a better striker presence. So here's the question, is Donovan really the best US player of all time, or has he just been in the right place at the right time regarding the development of the US MNT? He's a stud though, no doubt about that.

Brad Guzan. The second best keeper in MLS last year showed again why he's so damn good. Without him and his pinpoint perfect positioning, I think the US would have gone into halftime down 2-1 at least. I still don't get why Celtic wants him with the Holy Goalie locked up for years, or why he'd want to go over there (money notwithstanding) to ride the pine behind Boruc. Brad, you need to play, man.

Everyone else. Hate to spread the love to a candystriper, but Drew Moor was fabulous up the right side. Ramiro Corrales, come home to the US. An orange jersey is awaiting you. Twellman, stop whining everytime someone breathes on you in the box. Push them out of the way for once in your life. Make some space, score a goal and shut the heck up.


Nellie said...

Yes, he's the best player.

And to me, he "exudes best player" when he's on the field. Who says a striker has to be the best player? Donovan is not a striker, never was. He's played multiple positions throughout his career, leads in goals and assists. And was able to orchestrate the attach (such as it was) vs. Sweden from a right midfield position.

He defended very well, got his teammates involved, encouraged the newbies out there....what more is the best player supposed to do?

He's only 25 and still learning his role as a leader.

Martek said...

Actually Nellie. I think you're right about that. He's certainly the most multitalented player the US has ever produced, or at least that I've ever seen. I know that some still see him as soft and the constant scorn and ridicule he seems to draw (Landycakes?!?!?) kind of mystifies me. At the very least, I think Donovan can be seen as the first player of the new, constantly-present-on-the-world-scene era of US Soccer. He certainly embodies this era, and the players to come after, I firmly believe, will look back to this time as the time when the US finally got it right. And the poster boy for this time, definitely Landon Donovan.