Holden's injury hurts possibility of experimentation in U.S. midfield
Five thoughts coming off the weekend action around the world:
The current first string, even before Holden's injury, would appear to be Michael Bradley (a backup at Aston Villa) and Jermaine Jones (a starter for Blackburn). However, that leaves both Maurice Edu (a starter for Rangers) and Holden (a starter for Bolton) on the bench if Bob Bradley sticks to his usual 4-4-2. The coach has experimented lately with a five-man midfield, but even allowing for the extra spot, Michael Bradley would still be in position to start ahead of at least one of the three players ensconced as key starters at their clubs. That's not to say that the younger Bradley shouldn't be a starter, but given his father's own long-mandated criteria that players need to be playing consistently at the club level to be considered for the national team, one is left wondering when exactly we'll see Bob Bradley at least experiment with a lineup featuring Edu, Jones and Holden as the starting midfield.
First, there was a
Of course, the other player to keep an eye on is Red Bulls youngster Juan Agudelo, who
Although a cautious approach is usually wise with young players, there's much to admire about Agudelo and a skill set that suggests he's a legitimate impact player. He's very active and has far more sophisticated technical ability than other previously ballyhooed U.S. forward prospects (such as Eddie Johnson and Altidore). More important, Agudelo has a fearless approach with the willingness to be direct and run at defenders -- an all-too-rare trait for U.S. forwards in general. It remains to be seen if Agudelo can develop into a pure goal scorer, but his pace, skill and creativity suggest that he'll still contribute at the international level even if he doesn't.
In five Premier League games (four starts), Suarez has contributed two goals and three assists, hit the post twice and impressed with his movement, elusiveness and creativity. Even more important is the fact that Suarez has displayed a hunger and apparent willingness to fight for the shirt. That's in stark contrast to Torres, who admitted that he'd found it hard to get motivated in his last few months at Liverpool after losing faith; he told the Spanish sports daily
The former Benfica defender has shown exemplary composure on the ball. Based on early impressions, he appears to be Chelsea's finest signing in years. He still has room to