Suddenly feeling okay about the US of A

Despite a dreadful performance against Honduras, in which no one impressed, while many hurt their World Cup squad chances, I am starting to feel pretty good about the US squad. Why?

First, the injury news. A week ago we were all on the verge of despair when Dempsey went down – we were looking at potentially missing four starters (Dempsey, Davies, Onyewu, and Jones). Now things are looking up. I still have some worries about Dempsey, but initial fears of knee surgery were overblown and hopefully Clint will only be out a few months.

And then On Monday, Ives had the blockbuster story on Charlie Davies recovery, which he gushed about Davies recovery and the possibility of him joining Sochaux as early as April. Ives also reported that it looks like Onyewu is just a few weeks away from being able to rejoin AC Milan and participate in training. This is also way ahead of schedule and is simply great news. The fact that the gushing report comes from Ives, a veteran soccer journalist who has been around the block, is a great sign. It is one thing for Davies and Onyewu to say they will be back soon, and another for a reporter to actually observe this to be true.

I had basically dismissed the prospect of Davies making it to the World Cup – and I worried greatly about Onyewu – not just because I doubted that he would be fit, but also because it seemed highly improbable that he would get any playing time either in training or in games before the World Cup. This meant that even if Davies was healthy it would be hard for Bradley to bring a guy who hadn’t played a competitively in nine months. This is a gamble Arena took with John O’brien in 06. I worried not because I didn’t think these players were “committed” to getting fit, but because it is very easy to have setbacks. Think Maurice Edu, whose knee injury in late May was supposed to keep him only to the beginning of the season. He came back just a few weeks ago. Tottenham’s Luka Modric had a stress fracture in his leg and was supposed to be out just 6 weeks, he was out three months. Ditto to Jermaine Jones. Soccer players are like well oiled machines, if things don’t go perfectly setbacks are likely.

Second, the January moves for USMNT players all look really good.

The Donovan move to Everton is the most high profile and LD has fit into Moyes’ plans nicely. Stuart Holden landing at Bolton is also the perfect place for him, as he will likely get playing time and a chance to prove himself, while improving his sharpness in the best league in the world.

I am really really excited by the Ricardo Clark move to Frankfurt. I think the Bundesliga is a perfect fit for him – it is a good, athletic, fast paced league that also has a generally positive view of American players. It also is not the most technically demanding league which is not Clark’s strong suite. His arrival has been greeted as an important signing, judging by the German media coverage – he has been dubbed a midfield “bad boy” and a “Rambo,” much of which has to do with his youtube classic drop kick of Carlos Ruiz. I think he will fit well there.

Finally, the moves by Eddie Johnson and Freddy Adu give both fresh chances to impress. EJ should get playing time and if he puts together a good run of performances and grows in confidence he could quite easily be going to South Africa. For Adu, this isn’t really about making the World Cup, it is about having career.

Third, MLS labor negotiations look like they will be resolved.
The heated rhetoric has subsided and reports indicate that the season will go on as planned. A lockout would have been a disaster, as MLS based players that are needed to fill out the World Cup squad would have been idle.

There are no doubt some things to fret over, namely at striker, left back, and Bocanegra’s lack of PT. But things are starting to take shape for South Africa.

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