One thing I learned from Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw between the United States and Mexico: a promising but small forward – Julian Green – is not going to help patch up the central defense for the U.S.
Watching Omar Gonzalez trudge around near the goal, suffering from Gooch’s Syndrome, I could not help but think there is more of that ahead in the Group of Death in June.
Yes, the Puebla club – in Mexico, oddly enough -- did not release DaMarcus Beasley for the Mexico match. Beasley adds a lot at left back, including courage, experience and offensive range, but the U.S. is still vulnerable in front of its fine keepers. No Balboas or Popes in sight. Steve Cherundolo just retired as a right back. Trouble ahead.
Wednesday’s match was also a reminder that Michael Bradley is the core of the team, as he pretty much was in 2010. He was able to attack from midfield against Mexico, which is not the Mexico of a generation ago.
The theme of the night on ESPN was who is going to make the 23-player squad -- a seat on the plane.
Junge Meister Green showed nice pace and speed and willingness to attack when he came into his first U.S. match in the 59th minute. He is now officially a Yank, while playing in the Bayern organization.
Green is 5-8, 160 pounds, nearly infiltrated the box on a challenging dribble, but is not yet a Neymar or a Messi. So far he has played 3 minutes for the Bayern varsity.
Coach Jürgen Klinsmann, with a contract through 2018, may feel he has the luxury of bringing Green along this time to prepare for the future. But if the U.S. hopes to get out of its hideous group this time, it will need every seasoned player who might poke in a goal -- Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski.
Things happen in a World Cup. Injuries. Cards. Forwards out of gas at 60-70 minutes.
Klinsmann is fearless and has improved this squad. German fans thought he was a bit of a moonbeam in 2006 but he is not afraid to publicly challenge the Donovans and Dempseys. Show me. Get better. This week he dropped his long-time assistant Martin Vásquez because of conflicts. My guess is Klinsmann will let Bayern prepare Julian Green for 2018. They both have time.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)