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USA: Striker Wanted

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Another day, it happens the same way. Team USA was handed its second loss of Copa America last night, this time at the hands of Paraguay.

It’s almost comical to watch at this point. The US clearly had more opportunities to win this game, and yet time and time again, these chances were flubbed by the terrible finishing of Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman, among others. It is pretty near impossible to win with strikers who are pass first, shoot second.

While Eddie Johnson has world class speed, once he actually touches the ball, he seems to lose all skill and poise, and either passes the ball backwards, or just plain blows a golden chance to score. It’s even sadder to see because we all see the skills he displays when he plays for his MLS team, Kansas City. Is the international game too fast for him to catch up to? Perhaps. But the only way to fix that is to keep playing. But he is killing this team right now. At 23, he still has plenty of time to make the adjustment and translate his skills from MLS to international play. But it needs to happen soon.

Taylor Twellman is a different story. He can’t seem to finish for this team, and his overall game seems to hinder the attack. His cleats are always top of the line and cool looking, so he does get style points. Too bad those don’t count for anything. In Copa, and in the Gold Cup, he had many opportunities to do something with the ball, only to either flail at it or get off a weak shot. He’s another that is terrible for the national team, yet tearing it up in MLS.

To me, that has to raise a few questions, namely, just what is the quality level of MLS? It is certainly not Premier League quality, even though you’ll have a hard time convincing Alexi Lalas of that. Is it the skill of Johnson and Twellman that allows them to score in MLS or are they just the product of shoddy defense and sometimes, luck?

Hopefully we get an answer to that question in the near future. I’d love to see both guys succeed, because their success translates to success for the national team. But right now, they are just liabilities out there, and it can’t stay that way if the US plans to compete for world glory.

It’s funny. This might not have been an issue if the US had convinced Giuseppe Rossi to not go to Italy and instead play for America. I understand that it was up to the player, but imagine how much better the national team would be if it had a go to forward it could count on. Johnson and Twellman can make us forget about Rossi, they have the talent to do so. Here’s hoping they can do it for us.

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Comments (11)

  1. No one really expected USA to do anything meaningful anyway.

  2. I agree wit him, USA will never seriously challange da likes of Brazil, Mexico or Argentina even if they had pele as striker, theres just not enuf depth

  3. A man,

    Before the lineup was released, a lot of people expected us to do something. Then the lineup came out and it was like….crap.

    Chumbs,

    I disagree with you there. It may take a while, but eventually we will compete with the top countries of the world. We certainly have Mexico’s number right now.

  4. Where is Kenny Cooper???

  5. I would suggest some accountability for the national team players in general. Twellman has consistently shown that he is inneffective at this level. Tell him he has a year off, from the Nat team, afetr that we will look at him again. Johnson seems scared to death out there. Time for him to grow up! Anyways, how hard did US Soccer try to get Rossi? Hate to say it but this is what you get when we hire a good MLS coach, instead of a quality International level coach.

  6. @shotcowboystyle:

    I think Kenny Cooper has a bright future, but to answer your question, he broke his shin in an MLS game a couple of weeks ago.

    @chumbs:
    I’m not really sure where your coming from. The United States already beat Brazil in the past, with the best performance I have ever seen from a goalie by Kasey Keller. And didn’t the United States tie Italy with only 9 men in the World Cup. If I remember correctly, Italy are world champions. I’m not sure how much better it gets.

    @Brian:
    You already know my opinion of Taylor Twellman, so we won’t get into that. It seems like Eddie Johnson severely lacks in confidence. He is one of the fastest players around, but you never see it when it matters. I think Brian Ching would be an improvement over those two. He has a great ability to hold up the ball and play the role of a target man. Also, Altidore is moving up the ranks, and at age 18, I think he has a very bright future.

  7. They do well in MLS because of shoddy defense and generally poor standard. Simple. It is sweeping remark from me, but for all the hype surrounding Beckham, if change has to happen, then it will over a longer period of time.

    Atleast I am sure guys around me, here in Texas, wouldn’t give up their love for football for futbol. Hell, people don’t give a damn about baseball here!

  8. Kenny Cooper is nursing a broken leg. As much as I want MLS to continue to grow, our young guys need to get to Europe to play. Our more consistent, talented players are those who have been (or have recently gone) abroad–Beasley, Bocanegra, Convey, Dempsey, McBride, Keller, Friedel, Howard, etc.

    Those that are streaky…or just sub-standard players are those who have never gone abroad, or who came whimpering back with their tail between their legs (I’m looking at you Landy-Cakes!).

    After that performance against Poland, Adu might start living up to his potential. But he needs to go abroad at the end of this season.

  9. a little harsh me thinks ? US was always going to be sending its B slash C team after palying in the gold cup and beating mexico and winning it. plus at the same time competeing in the under 18 ( or is it 20 ) world cup in canada – you know the one england didnt make ! i guess their strikers are there as they just killed poland 6-1. the same poland that just beat brazil. keep knocking the US and MLS in fear

  10. matt,

    first off i’m not english. I’m American. so knocing the us and mls in fear is something i just wouldnt do. but i’m also a realist. we shouldnt have entered copa if we were gonna send a bs squad, plain and simple.