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.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.