The Revolution and the US Open Cup

So in the midst of all the world cup excitetment the US Open Cup continues, and the Revolution are set to enter this tournament away against the Richmond Kickers (USLPRO), in this fifth round match up. The Revs are entering into this match losing two games straight games. The Revs, and the rest of MLS is on a World Cup break, which gives the team two weeks off until their next league game. This puts the Revs in a perfect situations to pounce on a much weaker USLPRO side. However, Heaps has mentioned that he plans on using a blended line up that will consist of starters and bench players. Many people have argued this as a poor decision by Heaps and Co. By using a blended line Heaps allows many of the starters to benefit from, and enjoy the lengthy break. However, with a younger team fatigue should not be factor for many of the starters. Luckily, despite Kelyn Rowe’s hamstring concerrns, the Revolution has been more or less healthy. Another way to look at this is a match like this can really test this teams depth. With players like Barnes, Alston, Imbongo, and Neumann this team has a great deal of talent that isn’t seeing much playing time. The Revs also benefit from a superb back up keeper in Brad Knighton, who many argue should be the full time starter. In a perfect world the Revs will easily beat the Kickers, with this “blended” lineup. However, if the Revs make it to the sixth round of the USOC they would face the winner of the Rochester Rhinos versus DCU match. DCU who knocked the Revs out last year, and also went on to win the USOC despite s horrid MLS season, would host the Revolution if they were to win.
 
The Kickers are currently in second place in USLPRO with a 7-1-6 record. The Kickers beat the New York Greek Americans in match where the electricity was more change off of the pitch, as the game was delayed for 3 hours after a heavy rain and lightning storm. While on paper the Kickers are not on the same level as the Revolution, and if you just look at the last matchday of the US Open Cup, you will see that none of these “top of the pyramid” teams are predestined to win. Just ask Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake, and the New York Red Bulls, all of whom were beaten by NASL teams. While the thought of a blended roster may cause alarm for some Revolution supporters, this team does have a solid line up, and has many players sitting on the bench that are waiting for their time to impress on the pitch.
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I-95/ Colonial Cup… I don’t care what you call it.

So the New England Revolution are reaching critical mass as it pertains to the I-95 Cup. Sure it isn’t the Cascadia cup, it isn’t the Rocky Mountain Cup, but gosh darn it lets act like this thing is real. For those not in the loop the I-95 cup consists of the New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, New York Red Bulls, and D.C. United.

The current standings are as followed:

DC = 9

Revs = 3

Philly = 3

NYRB = 3

Not that impressive  with a three way tie for third but let’s looks at the schedule shall we? The Revs 3 of the next 4 matches are against i-95 teams (DC, NYRB, and Philly). Another factor in this is the Revs will be playing all of these three games at home, where the Revs has not allowed a single goal.

While the i-95 Cup may be at  present “fictious,” it is a fun barometer of where your team stands amongst, shall we say geographical rivals. I expect the Revs, who are on an unprecidented offensive run, to take control in the I-95 Cup.

30 Man Pre Brazil Roster

So the easiest place to start  with this roster is to start with the keepers, there should be zero debate about the three keepers JK will  be taking with him to Stanford,  and further more to Brazil. These keepers are:

Timothy Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

All three have had stellar form for their club and regular picks of Jurgen.

So  now that the keepers are decided we are left with 27  players remaining. Currently the back line should be all the concern of the fans. Players like Besler and Gonzalez who were in form a year ago, are now playing consistently inconsistent. While there is little debate these players will be on the 30 man roster and potential starters in Brazil. There are still many players fighting their way into the ranks of the US back line, Tim Ream (Bolton) has had a phenomenal year in the Championship, and was recently awarded played of the year for his club. More importantly than this Ream is capable of playing anywhere in the back line. Players like Ream I place a high value on because of their versatility. Ream will get a chance to prove himself at Stanford, and will also, in my eyes, redeem himself to all the Tim Ream haters out there as he potentially makes his way on the roster in Brazil. Similar to Ream, Geoff Cameron is a versatile player who can play RB, CB, and even CDM (where I personally love him paired with Bradley)  The left and right backs are just as enigmatic as the CB. JK seems to favor converted midfielders in these roles, and honestly there have been mixed results in doing this. JK seems to favor Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders) at RB and DeMarcus Beasley  (Puebla FC) in these roles. While if fit both players make the 30 man roster this should not be considered the ideal RB, LB combo, In a perfect world Timothy Chandler (FC Nuremberg) will regain match fitness and make the trip to Stanford amd take over as the number one RB as he should. Fellow German – American Fabian Jonhson (Hoffenheim) is my ideal LB, who can easily move up the pitch as the game progressess; F. Johnson has a very impressive skill set and can be used from LB to LW successfully. One more “must have” player on this back line is John Brooks (Hertha Berlin). I cannot say enough good things about Brooks. I think he will be great in 2014 and a complete monser in 2018. Other players “othe bubble” who will see the squad are Deandre Yedlin; who very well maybe the future but had a lot to show to prove it, Clarence Goodson is also a name on the lips of the US faithful, but honestly, he  just  an older and slower version of Gonzalez and Brooks. Goodson was able to play extremely well in last years Gold Cup, but was more than farmore sluggish in his minutes more recently versus the Ukraine. Goodson makes it to Stanford howeverm unless JK is solely looking for WC experience (which Goodson has not logged a minute, but made the trip) he will not be going to Brazil. Parkhurst’s recent return to MLS was done for Parkhurst to inscrease his odds of getting to Brazil. His current form in MLS will get him to the camp, but sadly for Parkhurst there might just be btter options for the team.

Cameron/Evans, Yedlin, Goodson, Besler, Gonzalez/Brooks, F. Johnson/Beasley/Parkhurst

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The midfield is up for grabs, and everyone is going to have a variation of these position, I am no different, My midfield looks like this:

Donovan, Bradley/Mikkel, Beckerman/Jones, Zusi/Bedoya

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes). Mikkel Diskerud (Rosenborg), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake). These names should be on everyone lips in terms of who will be making the roster. My list includes players like Brek Shea in my midfield roster, who understandably is a very polorizing figure. He sees little playing time for his team Stoke City, and had a highly publicized and unsuccessful loan to  Barnsley. Shea is a player I just love, he has a certain swagger on the field that just  makes it hard for me to leave him off the 30 man roster, and also to be honest to keep him out of Brazil. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy). for me is going to be in the mix for the any USMNT success. He is still one of the best products of American Soccer, and will remain one. While Donovan might not be the player he as in 2010, i still expect him to play a vital role.

Honestly, Bedoya is a very underratted talent in the USMNT pool. Bedoya plans high quality soccer in a high quality league. I believe that Bedoya’s talents would be an asset to any MLS team and would be revered by more than just the hardcore USMNT fans.

Jermaine Jones is another polarizing figuring  to fans of US Soccer. Jones, undeniably is a talented defensive midfielder (perhaps outside of Bradley the mosy talented,)  however,  he is also a liability and all but certain to see a yellow card or two. This should be a huge concern, despite this, JK seems to favor Jones, and even has considered him a part of the USMNT “spine.” If I were to bet on it Jones will certainly see Brazil, but that does not me I have to like, but frankly I don’t hate it either. Jones is a good player, and has a lot of  international exerperience under his belt; which sh be should highly considered in JK’s final decision making. I also see Jones getting a start primarily against teams like Portugal and Germany. I think Beckerman will get the sansen start against the less physical Ghana,

Many people include the likes of Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), and Danny Williams (Reading) on the bubble of the midfield, but to be frank these players are lesser options than the ones listed above. I just cannot see, at this current time making it to Brazil, certain additions to the Stanford camp.

For the first time in perhaps the history of the program the US has a plethora of potential forwards.

Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johansen (AZ Alkmaar), Julian Green (Bayern II), Terrance Boyd (SK Rapid Wien) Eddie Johnson (DC United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Dempsey is best utilized playing underneath the main striker, which creates a conundrum for Johansen, who is currently on a at tear for his club.

Let me just get this out if the way, for better or for worse, Julian Green will make the roster for Stanford and beyond. He is a young talent, that does not walk through the doors of the USMNT everyday, While his first showing was short for the US, and did highlight some flaws,  he did show a fearless nature to take on defenders, andcould serve to be a great situational player off the bench.

Now if you know a thing or two about me I do not like Chris Wondolowki, however, give Eddie Johnson’s draught at DC, as of this moment I am far more confident with Wondo coming off the bench at this time over E. Johnson. I am hoping that EJ returns to form, and he can be seen as more reliable, but time is running out.

Players in BOLD I predict are going to Brazil

MLS can compete with the best of them.

Like any writer lacking a topic I took to the internet… Twitter to be percise. Thankfully my followers were paying attention, and thanks to @therealkj22 I was give a topic; Write about how MLS teams could compete with other leagues. With very little hesitant I took my stance, and concluded that MLS teams can compete with other top flight leagues and teams.

Yes, the league that was much maligned universally at it’s conception has now grown into a contender. I think it is important that I am saying that MLS teams can COMPETE, I am not saying they have the ability to give Liverpool, and Chelsea a run for this years cup. Quite the contrary, I think some of the top teams in the BPL (Chelsea, Arsenal, Man U, Man City, and to my chagrin Liverpool) are much better teams, and would steadily beat up on most MLS team. But is this not what these teams are doing now? Teams like Sunderland and Fulham are most likely looked upon as a simple task, or an afterthought when the schedules are released, to these top teams, not only in their country but top teams in the world.

MLS is not a retirement team anymore, ask Becks or Henry who was quoted as saying “it’s [MLS] not that easy… and that you have to preform.” Over the last decade, hell even just the last few years MLS has proven it can a force on the global front. MLS unlike say the BPL is a league that is based of parity. On any given year in the BPL instead, you will have your bottom dwellers, the teams in the middle of the table, and more or less the same six same teams leading the way, with very little movement outside a Cinderella story or a promotion/relegation. This is simply not the case in MLS where, any on given Saturday any one team can win. Just look at reigning Supporters Shield winners New York, who went winless for weeks at the start of the season.

Now leads get back to the word COMPETE, as it is the 100,000,000 dollar word of this article. I view competeing, in its simplest form, by having the ability to stand more than a puncher’s chance while on the pitch. Look at Villa they have been competing every year in the modern BPL, but they are not exactly setting the league ablaze. You would be hard pressed at this point it would be hard to defend that an in form team like the Seattle Sounders could not compete with the likes of a Norwich, or a very much out of form Fulham. Even teams like Columbus, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, and defending champions Sprting Kansas City have world class talent. And no I am not forgetting, but I am not going to stroke Arena’s ego by adding them to this list, anyone who is paying attention is aware of what they are capable of.

In short, leagues like the BPL, Liga BBVA, and Bundesliga are soccer monoliths, and financial juggernauts. Quite frankly MLS has the there hands tied in this sense. Despite this MLS has found a few teams willing to open their wallets, and will continue to grow on the national stage.