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Revisiting the Chris Wondolowski argument, now in a bigger and better context

Jul 22, 2013, 5:10 PM EDT

United States v Costa Rica - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

The book on Chris Wondolowski has usually read like this: sensational striker in league play who may be stretched to make an impact internationally.

It’s really not an awful thing to pin on someone; nobody is accusing the man of drowning kittens here. Taylor Twellman and Jason Kries were other examples of terrific strikers in Major League Soccer who probably reached their top level in league soccer.

Only, with Wondolowski, a few fans and a selected bunch from the chattering class got caught up in the moment and lost some larger context recently. The Earthquakes’ forward did hit six goals in three matches – but the quality of competition was league level. Given international caliber service and backed by international level teammates, Wondolowski is certainly capable of doing the business against overmatched regional small fries.

But it always looked like typical sports overreaction, this flawed tendency to make big, sweeping judgments from every match. (Or, in this case, the false bottom of a short series of them.)

So a week ago, some people were already handing him a ticket to Brazil. Very prematurely so. I wrote as much six days ago.

Now here we are today with two more samples to study. Wondolowski went 77 minutes last week against Costa Rica and then 60 on Sunday against El Salvador. Total goals: zero.

(MORE: What we learned about the United States vs. El Salvador)

He wasn’t awful, not by any stretch. “Wondo” is just not the difference maker that Landon Donovan is. He’s not the athlete that Eddie Johnson is. He doesn’t have the ability to create on his own the way some others in the U.S. player pool can. Wondolowski’s game gets somewhat limited at international level.

Here’s what MLSSoccer.com’s player ratings had to say: “One simple assist pass aside, Wondo was often either stranding himself from the offense or slowing it down. It didn’t help his cause that Eddie Johnson replaced him with such a strong display.”

The New York Times was more harsh still in its ratings. “Never seemed to find a place in the quick-moving U.S. attack.”  Jeff Carlisle at ESPN FC did like the striker’s link-up play, offering that is “was miles better than it was against Costa Rica, as he set up Corona’s goal and sprung Donovan with a telling through ball.” But he also noted the struggle “with some of El Salvador’s physical antics.”

It’s not over; two matches remain. The problem is Johnson, the Seattle Sounders’ striker scored immediately upon coming on Sunday. He seems certain to start in Wednesday’s semifinal, which means the San Jose man’s minutes will dwindle fast.

As I also wrote last week, roster spots are always a zero-sum game; for every roster winner there is a roster loser, in other words. Wondolowski may or may not make the final 23 for Brazil, but you have to circle the man you want knocked aside.

Jurgen Klinsmann pattern of player selection says that Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson are all ahead of Wondolowski in the forward depth  pool. (Depending on how you want to count Dempsey, that is.) Landon Donovan is, too; we can probably all agree on that.

Today, Joe Corona looks more likely to make the roster than Wondolowski, even if he is  playing a slightly different position. Either way, it’s a roster spot, and that’s one more obstacle in a very good forward’s path to Brazil.

  1. birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Your assessment of Wondolowski is totally missed the mark. Apparently it has not occurred to you that it is not the speed that counts as much as the deeper understanding of the game. Juergen Klinsmann knows better than many other soccer players and coaches that soccer is a game where the whole team plays. If the team does not play together, it is as if they have one man less on the field. There are still players on the USMNT who want to put themselves first rather than pass to the player who is most likely to score. Wondolowski is not required to score. He is required to be a team member, and if the opportunity arises he should score. He wants to win first. Just because he is in front doesn’t mean that he just stands there and waits. He defends when necessary. Even if he doesn’t score he makes the most intelligent passes and as Klinsmann says he is a giver. He is unselfish as opposed to so many other players on the team. This current team with Wondo included is a much better team that what is so often called the A team. I have watched soccer in Germany since my early childhood, and I am only a woman, but I do know the game. The current A-team is not going far. But the team with Wondo will fare very well even if he doesn’t score every game.

    • tridecagon - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      I don’t think SD is insulting Wondo here. But if you feel so strongly that he should be on the team… it’s just like he said.

      You have to answer the question, who sits out?

      • birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:31 PM

        The person on the bench ought to be Herculez Gomez. But since we are talking about whom I like and whom I don’t like. Here are my likes. I like Kyle Beckerman over Bradley, and we’ll see how he plays during the all-star game. I like Mix Diskerud who would not play well with Stuart Holden in there. I really like Clarence Goodson. I really like Beasley where he is although he somtimes comes too far forward. Generally the right side is weak. Donovan is clearly a strong player.

        Now to the weaknesses. I am not a Torres fan. I like Parkhurst so-so. The defense is weak. Goodson and Beasley can’t do it all by themselves.

        I can do without Edgar Castillo. I am not so sure that Eddie Johnson is really a team player. Since he scored the goal within seconds of replacing Wondo, he must surely be the best there is. I don’t agree. I have watched him in MLS play and there were many drought spells for him. And he is not as much a team player as he is a show-off. I would like to see the US team win the grand prize, but they have to share the ball to do that

      • jay1934 - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        I don’t think Gomez has been that great in any of the games he’s played. He should sit out.

      • gra42 - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        I don’t understand anyone using either Dempsey or Donovan at forward. They both have the skills, but in the past Dempsey has been very effective in the atacking midfield role. Donovan on the wing I think, with other players like Altidore finally coming through up top, we need a solid midfield to link play against the better opponents. If either Dempsey or LD have to play forward, give it to Dempsey and let Landon do what he does best from the wing. As far as Wondo goes, he is really, as pointed out above, a target forward who knows where the ball will be, but given the freedom to drop off, I think he reads the game and links play up top as well as anyone we have from the mids or forwards. If Charlie Davies or someone in that mold ever finds the form he showed before his injury, we’d have nothing to talk about, but… For me, what will make it all moot is what JK sees in Zusi and Diskerud. Are they so good that they have to see the field and push Donovan and Dempsey into forward roles? I’m not sold on Beckerman or Torres at all. I think Holden is a change-up player who’d work best as a sub. Corona ditto.
        Mostly I agree with Birgit about Wondo’s vision. I saw him play several times with the Dynamo, and I thought he looked like an American Zidane, and better than the actual Dyanamo midfield at settling and controlling the pace of the game through his passing. He didn’t give the ball up, and almost every touch he made caught the defense out in their third regardless of their ability to athletically wall him off from the goal. I really do think that if he had grown up in a country in Europe, or maybe Argentina, his tendencies would have marked him out as a midfielder.

      • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:30 PM

        Another ridiculous comment. Wondo’s style of play is nothing like Zidane’s. Zidane was amazing with the ball at his feet, amazing touch/control, etc. Wondo is good at one-timing balls into the net from within six yards. Not to take anything away from Wondo, but Zidane’s style encompassed so much more and I fail to see the similarities.

      • Paulino Alcántara - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        “I like Kyle Beckerman over Bradley”. Much of what @birgitcalhoun read like nonsense but I completely stopped after I read that.

      • Paulino Alcántara - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        ” I saw him play several times with the Dynamo, and I thought he looked like an American Zidane”. Wow @gra42, you’re actually making @birgitcalhoun sound completely off his rocker by virtue of association with your completely moronic comparison.

    • mdac1012 - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      My God! I can’t believe we are talking about Wondo on the World Cup roster again! With that said, I don’t care where you have watched soccer or for how long, if you think this team is better than the main squad and that Beckerman is better than Bradley, then you have absolutely no clue as to what you are watching!

      The comparison of Beckerman to Bradley is so off base, to address it any further would be an insult to the intelligence of every reader on this site. As far as this team is concerned, the only original member of this roster that should be and will be a shoe in for the WC roster is Landon Donovan. Every other player on the original roster for this tournament fall under the category of “maybe” and “it depends.”

      • birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:31 PM

        I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I don’t expect my dream team to play; so this is all hypothetical anyway. And when teams get chosen they should get chosen for their compatibility.

        I have watched Landon Donovan since he played for the San Jose team, I think they were the Clash at the time. Donovan had his hair died blond. At that time I counted him among the wannabees. He became more serious when he showed his black hair. He was really disliked in this area for going to LA. Anyhow, I like the way he plays now. Is it that soccer players want a good target that they die their hair a light color? Or do they want to have a really recognizable hairdo? I think it’s more likely for name-recognition. A dark-skinned blond player is easy to see. Most players do that to sell themselves. So I wouldn’t be so sure about playing ability just because they can be picked easily on TV.

        Wondo has never been pretentious. He has always shown a humble quality. But when this season came about, the whole team played differently. They didn’t play with the joy they showed last year. Is that because they were jealous of Wondo’s new contract as a designated palyer? Is it because of so many injuries, or is it because Frank Yallop had finally messed up the team sufficiently to make them lose? Let’s not forget that he coached a losing Galaxy and even Donovan couldn’t pull that cart out of the morass until they got a better coach and a huge number of better players. Donovan would never have been recognized if he hadn’t had the experience with the San Jose team. And guess who was the real coach on that team at the time. It was Dominic Kinnear now of the Houston Dynamo. He is a real coach who can win time-after-time. Klinsmann had a huge job when he took on the USMNT because so many players had to be reshaped into useable material.

      • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:52 PM

        @birgitcalhoun

        what was the point of that rant? no justification you have will ever convince anyone here that beckerman is better than bradley. I’m also not sure what the purpose of that paragraph about dying one’s hair blond was. please feel free to explain.

      • gra42 - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        I agree strongly about the Beckerman/Bradley comparison. But I think Wondo is lost on a 4-4-2 system where his only responsibility is to net the ball. I’d like to see what he could do in a 4-3-3. I watched him play 2-3 Dyanamo games when it counted near or in the playoffs (it’s been a few years) and his passing left the defense guessing every time, the way that he found other players and put them in dangerous situations was more impressive than the Dyanamo mids on the field with him. If we didn’t already have DeRo playing attacking mid at the time,.. On the other hand, I’d like to see what he can do next to an Altidore threatening the way that he finally is. If a defense doesn’t physically shove Wondo off the ball, he will cut that defense up every time, any team.

      • mknow406a - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:56 AM

        Except Donovan actually won the Golden Ball at the U-17 FIFA World Cup and was signed to a six-year deal by a little team called Bayer 04 Leverkusen… He was LOANED to San Jose only when it became apparent after two seasons that he could not live that far from home, The hope was that he would mature and make the move back to Europe in a couple of seasons. Given that he was ALREADY rated, both within the national set-up and (signed) globally at that point, I am not sure how it can be said that he would not have been ‘recognized’ without San Jose….

      • underthecletes - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        @birgitcalhoun

        Sorry man, but you lost me at “Kyle Beckerman over Bradley”. Bradley is arguably the best player the US has.

  2. dws110 - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    I can’t wait until the Gold Cup is over so we can all stop talking about Wondo with the USMNT again. Those were happier times.

  3. jay1934 - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    I also don’t like Torres. he hasn’t shown a lot. I do like Corona, Beckerman, and Wondolowski.

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 6:57 PM

      Yes, I agree.

  4. bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Any comment that states that Beckerman is better than Bradley should be automatically discarded.

    • bizzmeister - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      Totally agree, I was cracking up when I saw that LOL.

    • charliej11 - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      They will filter a swear word and not Beckerman is better than Bradley ?

      I love Beckerman, but come on.

  5. bizzmeister - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Im sorry guys, most of the guys on the gold cup roster are not going to make the cut. I mean like almost everyone. Wondo I think, is a great sub to use towards the end of the game. Definitely would not start him over Gomez.

    My prediction for the lineup come WC 2014

    Gomez Donovan

    Dempsey Holden
    Jones Bradley

    Beasley Goodson Gonzalez Cherundolo

    Howard
    ——————————————————————–

    SUBS: Wondo , Altidore, Shea, Torres , Chandler , Fabian Johnson , Besler, Zusi, Guzan, Cameron, Lichaj, D. Williams ( MAYBE E. Johnson )

    Off the top of my head right now. The way I see it, those guys up there is what will take us the distance. But like anything else, we’ll see what happens come next year. Either way, im excited.

    • boscoesworld - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM

      I like Goodson but Besler starts in front of him every day with JK! Altidore will most surely start in front of a player who is not even a lock for the team, meaning Gomez. Fabian Johnson WILL be starting on the left side at either back or mid. I like Shea but he is borderline to make the team and Torres should be a he%l NO.

    • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      At this point, Altidore and F. Johnson and probably Besler are must-starts. You’re also required to have 3 GK on the WC roster, so you’d have to cut one more and most likely add Rimando. Here’s mine:

      Altidore
      F. Johnson Dempsey Donovan
      Bradley Cameron
      Beasley Besler Gonzalez Cherundolo
      Howard

      Guzan, Rimando, Goodson, Chandler, Jones, Holden, Corona, Zusi, E. Johnson, Gomez

      • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:40 PM

        last 2 spots are still up for grabs (as are a few of the others) so I’ll just wait to predict them

    • dstnce1500 - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:52 PM

      Cherundulo?? He’s been out so long with injuries…injuring himself again just recently in preseason…that he will be doubtful for even a call-up for the Sept & Oct qualifiers. And based on JK’s methodical, multi-month player evaluations … and the fact that there will be few international opportunities in early 2014 & Steve’s age …. I think Cherundulo’s MNT ship has sailed, unfortunately.

      Also, Steve will have to get based Fabian Johnson to get back on the line. Fabian’s in the Starting XI somewhere no matter what.

      And Gomez over Altidore?? I’m a fan of Gomez, & a fan of his work rate, but Altidore will start (unless he has a horrible EPL season) and JK will want Dempsey & Donovan on the pitch at the same time. So, based on current results (& given the fact that we have about 10 months until a prelim roster has to be submitted), the Starting XI will most likely be:

      Dempsey Altidore
      Donovan Bradley Jones Zusi
      Johnson Besler Gonzalez Goodson
      Howard

      Subs: Guzan, Rimando, Beasley, Parkhurst, Beckermann, Holden, Corona, Bedoya, Shea, Diskerud, E. Johnson, Gomez

      • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:59 PM

        I understand that Cherundolo is a big if, but I think that if he’s healthy he’s the #1 RB. The depth chart on that position is probably Cherundolo > Chandler (another if) > Evans > Parkhurst > Lichaj. Like you were saying though, if we eventually move F. Johnson into that position, he probably becomes the #1.

    • gra42 - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      Goodson has no chance of beating out Besler, doubt Cherundalo will make the trip. The days of aging defenders in the W.C. are gone. Cameron will be on the squad as backup to Omar or Besler or even alongside. If nothing else, he’s a better holding midfielder than Jones, and he’s gotten results there for club and country. I don’t think that JK had forgotten how Cam and Omar obliterated the Mexican attack in Mexico City through communication, physical domination and super fast decision making without any cheap fouls. Fabian Johnson, along with a fit Donovan, is the most game-changing player we have right now and would start for just about any international squad. He’s the player most responsible for leaving the “bucket” in the past. Like Cameron, he’s another defender we have who’s good enough to confuse the soccer journos into writing that he plays “winger” or holding mid.

  6. capsfan19 - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    I applaud stephen’s article. Seriously he was almost a no show (i was at the game yesterday so no i didnt miss a beat).
    As weak as el salvadors d was when squaring up against our offense wondo couldnt get it together. Maybe it was a bad game who knows.
    It’s true he scored those goals against porous defenses and was set up by sensational passes. But im not sold on him.
    Think of it this way, how comfortable would you feel if he played against a team like mexico? Ghana? Japan? Not even soccer powerhouses but teams that have certainly established themselves as tough teams. (Mexico’s weak form of late is irrelavent because they have a great team)
    Sure maybe wondo is a great team player, fine and dandy, but if he cant hold up and square off against tougher competition (which id like to see him get another shot at) then he isnt worth the hype.
    Because we’re really weak depth wise at his position (jozy, eddie, herc, him… And uhh who else would be considered even close to be able to play up to their level?) we could certainly use him in the roster for world up qualifiers.
    Im not sold. Jozy is our man, he’s grown so much from playing in europe. He’ll be fun to watch this coming season with tougher competition, he’s shown he can score big goals for our country and tough teams, and that he has matured alot as an athlete.
    Unless shown otherwise i think wondo has reached his ceiling. He is a great soccer player, real lethal in the box, but not one id feel comfortable with against the world’s more adept teams.

    • gra42 - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      Wondo is a hold the ball up and lay it off forward, and his passing in the attacking third is better than any we’ve had up top that I can think of, including our midfielders. Give him just one chance to play with Altidore and then let’s see what happens. Somewhere there’s a 4/3/3 or a 4/5/1 with his name on it.

      • wfjackson3 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:02 AM

        The problem is you don’t play two strikers in either the 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, so I am not sure where you would slot Wondo in. And if Wondo is a hold up play striker, why would you partner him with another hold up play striker? Lastly, Wondo isn’t big enough to handle hold up play responsibility in the international game. He gets dispossessed too easily.

  7. joshev07 - Jul 22, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    @birgitcalhoun

    Beckerman better than Bradley? This article made a point regarding perspective when evaluating a player’s performance and you think Beckerman is better than Bradley? He’s played decently against some very poor competition but that in no way makes him better than Bradley who has played well against much better teams. This team has represented itself very well but it is still the B team and rightfully so. As far as the Wondolowski issue, I want my forwards scoring goals. I want them to have the confidence to demand the ball and insist that they can put the ball in the back of the net, and then do so. That sometimes comes off as selfishness in the game of soccer but it is a quality that forwards need to have.That type of forward has been what the US team has lacked on a regular basis. Wondolowski has shown some flare but against poor competition and he has not had enough of a presence on the field. The jury is still out but the clock is ticking.

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      We’ll see. at the all-star game. Bradley has a nickname in Italy. I go with the one that has the hair. Let’s not forget that when Bradley plays he doesn’t want any help. But that attitude also makes it easier for a team to defend against. Bradley won’t share the center spot.

      • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        You are wrong. I say that in the most objective way possible. I could probably be a lot meaner than I’m being right now, but Bradley is an automatic starter barring injury. I really don’t know if you’re joking or if you’re serious, but if you’re serious, please refrain from posting again.

      • gra42 - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:40 PM

        He shouldn’t have to. The push to make him adjust will come from the defense when guys like Johnson or Cameron step forward with the ball and connect reliably, it won’t come from the other mids; you’re right there. You can bet that he’ll turn and show for it wherever they need him to, and farther up the field than he’s had to be. That’s what he and the rest of the center was lacking in the past with the USNT.

  8. player169 - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    SD, I think this article is ridiculous. The guy doesn’t score in two games and suddenly that is proof that everyone was overreacting. I don’t think so.

    I think that all it proves is that Wondo has no business starting for the National team. IF he makes the the WC team it will be as a sub to be used at the end of the game where a goal is needed and the crosses from the wings are proving effective verse the opponent. I would argue that Gomez sits above Wondo right now. I don’t think any educated soccer spectator would that Wondo makes the WC team and starts any game (like he has in the Gold Cup). If there is anyone capable of judging a strikers strengths and weaknesses…I think it is Klinsman.

    As quick as you say everyone was to write him in to the final 23, you seem itching to write him out of the final 23 based on two games where he didn’t score. All the talking heads to include me and writers such as yourself aren’t going to have a say in the decision…so maybe this was a waste of a comment…whatever…

    • Steve Davis - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      No. Sorry. You’re wrong … or perhaps just late to the party. Read what I wrote last week … THAT is the really bigger context. It’s about everything he’s done in a national team shirt EXCEPT the three games vs. weak opposition. Besides, what you said his role should be … isn’t that EXACTLY what I’m saying? That he’ll have a limited role if one at all?

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      That would be ok as far as I am concerned. He and the Earthquakes have a record of scoring late.

      • birgitcalhoun - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:46 PM

        Yes, and when you compare his playing to anybody else, he hadn’t played as much as half a game during all the games he played. He had very little real game playing time. when Klinsmann called him up for the previous 11 games.

    • bennyboo - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:13 PM

      I don’t know. I don’t think that’s what he was trying to communicate. The message I got before was that we shouldn’t look too much into Wondo’s performances against weak teams, which I agree with. Now against tougher competition is when Wondo needs to step up, but he hasn’t yet done so. It also speaks volumes that E. Johnson was able to come on and make an immediate impact….and I’m not just talking about his goal. He was a constant threat for the ES defense despite the goal. Not sure how many more chances Wondo will have. I could see him making the final team but I could easily see him not making it as well, and even when he was scoring I never saw him as more than a situational player.

      • birgitcalhoun - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        Johnson has already been part of the final team, sort of. Have you seen him play more than once? I am not against him; but it’s interesting how the discussion gets skewed as soon as somebody comes on and scores just seconds into the game. Coaches will adjust to that and they will put two men on him next time. That’s what happened to Wondo. The nature of soccer is when you put two men on one good player, he may not score, but the rest of the team has more freedom because there is essentially one less player on the field.

      • bennyboo - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        I have seen him play before, and I remember him playing very well through the last round of June qualifiers. I’m not the one making rash judgments on this site based off of one game. You, however, do seem to be one of those people based on your assessment that Beckerman is better than Bradley. Please note that I’m not only discussing Johnson’s goal but also his overall performance. He offers a variety of weapons whereas Wondo is one-dimensional and has thus far proved that he is unable to perform against good teams. He has been absent the last two games. It’s fine to not score goals every game, but he has barely even been involved.

  9. player169 - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Not late to the party. Responded to your article last week saying that Wondo made sense as a super sub…right or not. If you said “That he’ll have a limited role if one at all” EXACTLY in either article then maybe a clear and concise statement like that wouldn’t leave any room for interpretation.

    • joshev07 - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      The problem is who do you out leave out if you include Wondo? Great, maybe he’s a super sub at some point, but if he’s behind Gomez, who else is behind him? He has not done enough to put himself in the forefront. A few goals against weak opposition is not enough at this point. This is the problem with the Gold Cup, the weak competition skews our view on player’s ability. It even makes some people think Beckerman is better than Bradley. Sorry I can’t let that one go.

      • merseysideoc - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        I honestly wouldn’t even classify Wondo as a “super sub” as there’s nothing super about him. We shouldn’t forget EJ & Boyd are in the mix & I would argue they sit in front of Wondo. For the Gold Cup, I think JK has the personnel to win it & this is the zenith of Wondo’s international game. Brasil in all reality, is an unattainable goal unless of course Herr Klinsy loses the plot & books Wondo’s ticket.

        I agree though, it’s really baffling to even consider Jar Jar Becks a far better player than Bradley. Jar Jar’s continuous use of the backpass to his defenders is so commonplace that it’s a miracle he knows how to distribute the ball in attack. He lacks pace & is often times caught of position to the point that his teammates have to step in & cover for his lack, Bradley being one of those players. A few flash in the pan performances in the Gold Cup should not be the basis for making his WC 2014 Brasil case. Akin to Wondo, the buck stops at CONCACAF for Jar Jar.

        Simply put, players like Wondo & Jar Jar are playing an MLS-level type of football. For domestic & to an extent, CONCACAF competition, it works. But beyond that, we’ve got to have internationally experienced strikers up top putting in some graft.

  10. harnaik - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Steve,

    First of all congratulations on hiring Liviu Bird as a writer for this site. His tactical analysis of the US team has been must read for a while; he’s exactly what this site needs and I’m glad he’s getting more exposure.

    Second I totally agree with you on Wondo. He’s a homeless man’s Chicharito, and we already have a deluxe poacher in Dempsey who brings so much more to the table. Gonzalez is obviously ahead of Wondo in the WC order, and I’d also rather have someone like Eddie Johnson, who presents a physical aerial attacking threat, and potential wing play, on the WC roster over Wondo. Boyd vs. Wondo for a final striker spot presents a tougher call, but even there I would go with Boyd based on potential.

    Finally, I have a question: given the USMNT’s surfeit of defensive mids, and JK’s concerns over depth at CB, why not try Beckerman at CB? He’s a good tackler and seems to have good defensive positioning and awareness. Maybe give him a shot at CB during a friendly or two; then he and Cameron could be our backups at CB behind Besler and Gonzales, rather than Goodson and [PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER BUT CERTAIN TO CAUSE HEARTBURN TO US FANS]. Do you know if Beckerman has ever played CB in his MLS career?

    Thanks and keep up the good work,

    Harnaik

    • charliej11 - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Ditto on the hire of Liviu.

  11. merseysideoc - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    This article was actually spot on. In all honesty, it was hardly surprising that the US fanboys (including a couple of Fox Soccer commentators) were jumping aboard the Wondo Bandwagon based upon his performances against clearly lesser opposition. For quite some time, the popular fanboy myth that Wondo’s success in the MLS automatically translates to international success has pervaded message board after message board. Anyone with a shred of common sense will tell you his performance in the MLS & his international performance is really apples to oranges.

    No one is dissing Wondo; rather, we are assessing not only his performances, but his skill level. He is & has been punching above his weight against quality opponents who can stifle his attacking ability & mark up well on him defensively. El Salvador (via Henriquez) had Wondo’s number all night. Imagine how he’d fare, as someone mentioned earlier, against major international opposition. MLS-wise, he’s a big fish in a little pond. Internationally, he’s a guppy in a big pond.

    From what I’ve seen, Wondo’s sitting behind Eddie Johnson. EJ, not Wondo, is a prime example of someone who has managed to translate his MLS success into international play. Yes, he had failed stints across the pond earlier in his career, but that experience, regardless of how bad or good, goes a long way. He’s seemingly resurrected his career & there is a new vigor in his play.

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Let’s see how things go during the all-star game. That game will show some things that may or may not be expected. But the opponent will be a mediocre Italian team, but Italian nevertheless and mostly geared towards the defense. Wondo will play and also Beckerman. That’s why I am looking forward to it.

  12. joanismylover - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Why don’t we wait until the Gold Cup is over for this? I agree with the poster who said that the implication of this (and past articles) is that Wondo has to score in every game he plays or else he gets a 4.5 rating.

    The fundamental problems of comment bait pieces like this (guilty!) is that they eschew tactical understanding in favor of the politics of personality.

    The result against El Salvador was never in doubt when Wondo was on the field. He did not score because he did not get service. He was in good spots. There’s not one instance where he wiffed a chance or skied it etc. But the team scored twice when he was out there, and Donovan wiffed two chances created by Wondo – one a through ball and another a cross over the face of the goal.

    I agree that EJ looked superb. But that is because the game had opened wide up at that point, with ES going to a 4-3-3 in the second half. It was run and gun in the second half, and even Steve Davis knows that type of match favors the physical over the guy who reads the game and finds the open slots.

    If we’re trying to break a compact team down, or are bombarding a team’s box with long balls and knockdowns, Wondo is as good a choice as any. He’s not going to replace Altidore, the presumptive starter. But after that, the pure forward pool is thin.

    Here’s another thing – why is Gomez a lock? Nobody ever answers that question. He’s older than Wondo, never scored at the consistent rate Wondo has for club, and Wondo now has as many international goals (in less games) than him. Oh yeah, and apparently he has a bum knee that keeps him out of games at times and now requires surgery.

    Why isn’t there an article that talks about Gomez and how he’s out?

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Great comment. I totally agree.

  13. mrstev - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Get a grip people. First we want to judge Wondo on two games where he scored lots of goals…now we want to judge him only on two games where he has not scored!
    Let’s compare Wondo and Herc in the group phase of competition:
    Gomez – 0 goals
    Wondo – 5 goals

    Further, if I had a nickel for every game Altidore started and played the full 90 without a goal (even against inferior competition), I’d be a rich man.

    ps- damn you Steve, I take the bait every time!

    • birgitcalhoun - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      Again, great comment. I think we are getting somewhere.

  14. charliej11 - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    When you look at who is going to make it and you are talking about Wondo, you are talking non-starters, so who can come in as a sub and make a difference.

    Wondo has scored a LOT of late goals. EJ is very explosive ( obviously after that header ). Others have their good qualities. I love Gomez ( ex Sounder ), but I don’t know what he brings that isn’t already in the game when he subs in.

    We will see who JK likes.

  15. soccertaxi - Jul 24, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    I’m a major Wondo fan, and I think he is the best at what he does in San Jose. However, the style that Klinsmann seems to be sticking with, is not necessarily the style that Wondo does best in. He does have his moments, and players like Donovan and Beckerman seem to know how to get Wondo in the right place. I would say he is a good weapon to have on the sub bench.
    I also like Eddie Johnson, but really, that was a lucky goal. He was pretty toothless against a bare bones Quakes team last week, and I didn’t see much to be impressed with. But like everyone is saying, we’ll see…

  16. lyleoross - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I love the comments that begin with, Davis doesn’t say what’s wrong with Wondo, he simply votes based on two games with no goals. Davis summed up exactly what he thinks is wrong with Wondo, and by what Wondo has done, Davis is right. The question becomes, which is Wondo, the mythical guy who can do more than what we’ve seen, create opportunities instead of capitalize on those delivered, or is he simply a very good finisher when delivered to?

    One of my complaints about LD is that he’s never show as much creativity as I thought was necessary to drive the team forward. At least part of that was the style of play followed by Bob Bradley. It didn’t put into place pieces that would free up LD to be more creative. However, when we compare LD to Dempsey, in Dempsey, we see a player that is creative no matter what you put around him, good or bad. LD needs the system to be right for him to show his best.

    Wondo right now is surrounded by a system and players that should allow him to play creatively, and yet what we’ve seen is very little of that. Yep, if you create for him, he looks really good, but for the US to be competitive in Brazil we have to have players that can create, and the ones who can create even under harsh conditions are the ones who we should rely on. By my measure we have two of those guys, Dempsey and Bradley.

    LD is playing well, but by my measure, he’s never been creative unless he is surrounded by a system and players that allow him to be so. That said, when the system is right, he is very creative, and very dominant. But as we saw in the last World Cup, unless the system is in place and working, LD just isn’t up to the same level of play as Bradley and Dempsey.

    BTW – Beckerman has the same problem as Wondo, if the system and players are in place, he looks good, but you put him under pressure, and you’re going to lose a good bit of that. Bradley looks cool under fire.

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