With no national team in the World Cup and without a wild outsider laying claim to the U.S. presidential chair, many American soccer fans have let the United States men’s national team slip to the back of their minds.
And while that’s understandable, new boss Carlos Cordeiro needs his recruiters working hard in two areas: finding the top man to be U.S. technical director, and making sure the next Jonathan Gonzalez isn’t largely ignored while he decides to switch allegiances to Mexico.
He may not have a ton of convincing to do, thanks to current staffers, but there are a least a couple dozen short phone calls he should make on behalf of the men’s national team.
“Hey, I’m the new president. We’re going to hire some new soccer people and a USMNT manager, but I want you to know we know and care about you.”
Kyle Scott stands as one of three reminders just this month. The Chelsea 20-year-old center midfielder, born in Bath, represented England at U-16 level and Republic of Ireland at U-17 before switching to the U.S. for U-18 and U-20 duty.
He is, barring some unknown FIFA bylaws, another prospect who could fall between the cracks™.
Eight days ago, Bundesliga.com listed 10 young league talents who could “soon join the USA national team,” including teenagers like Bayern Munich youth Timothy Tillman, Malik Tillman, and Jalen Hawkins, as well as established players like Borussia Dortmund’s Jeremy Toljan (23).
Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep moved four Mexican-American prospects into the hopper when he wrote about three LA Galaxy prospects and NC State right back Manny Perez.
I was critical of U.S. Soccer for implementing a number of significant measures last month in the run-up to the presidential election, things that might have been better with approval from the new president, but it’s worth noting that not a single one of these players needed to wait for a recruitment push from Tab Ramos or any number of influential people in the USSF set-up.
To be clear: playing in a German youth set-up doesn’t make a player superior to stateside prospects, and there are any number of perceived European academy washouts playing NCAA Soccer who won’t go on to sniff an MLS Draft slot, let alone a battle between Hoffenheim and Mainz.
But Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann were both very successful at convincing players, future stars and let-downs alike, to choose their American heritage. Whether Bruce Arena or Tim Howard thinks these players are American-blooded enough to succeed is irrelevant in my opinion, let the field sort that out.
But Cordeiro could go a long way toward currying favor with his new populace by finding the next Klinsmann-level super recruiter to make sure that the player pool is as deep as possible.
After back-to-back defeats to Watford and Chelsea in the Premier League there has been fresh speculation that manager Arsene Wenger (his contract runs out in the summer) is coming towards the end of his Arsenal career after 21 years in charge. The Gunners are now 12 points behind leaders Chelsea with 14 games to go.
As for Hull, they’re in fine form under new manager Marco Silva after taking seven points from their opening four games under the Portuguese manager.
In team news Arsenal make one change from the team which lost at Chelsea as Kieran Gibbs replaces Nacho Monreal at left back.
Hull are without star striker Abel Hernandez and captain Michael Dawson through injury, while Lazar Markovic and Oumar Niasse start in place of Evandro and Hernandez.
Chelsea: C – The Blues brought back Ake and kept hold of Begovic and Diego Costa, plus they sold Oscar for an astronomical fee. Conte didn’t get the experienced striker he wanted as cover for Costa but that was the only stumbling block. Overall the squad was trimmed significantly and the Costa situation was handled. For now…
Hull: D – Hard to know how this will go for Hull. They sold Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass for big money and Marco Silva has brought in plenty of unfamiliar faces. Evandro, Niasse and Omar Elabdellaoui have already made a big impact, while Ranocchia and N’Diaye have quality pedigree. Did the Tigers really need to sell Snodgrass, their top scorer, now?
Liverpool: C – Jurgen Klopp should have moved for a central defender in the window but there was a lack of quality out there in January. No incomings at all tells us that Klopp is happy with his squad. They are in the top four mix and have trimmed their squad accordingly.
Manchester City: C – Another big club which didn’t really do anything. Gabriel Jesus finally joined but that deal was done in the summer. Surely Pep Guardiola had to buy some new defenders in January? If he had done, they could have kicked on and mounted a title challenge. Now it’s all about the top four or bust.
Manchester United: C – See above. United didn’t really need much in January and managed to move on some of their fringe players such as Memphis and Schneiderlin for big money. Job done. Like City and Liverpool, their long-term target remains a top-class center back.
Middlesbrough: F – A really bad window for Boro. They brought in Gestede, Bamford and Guedioura who are all solid players but they needed extra quality in attack. You can understand why manager Aitor Karanka looks so frustrated at the Riverside. Deals for Snodgrass, Bojan and Jese Rordiguez fell through to compound their misery.
Sunderland: F – It turned in to a bit of a nightmare window for the Black Cats. It’s obvious David Moyes didn’t have much money to spend and he’s lent on his old clubs to bring in Gibson, Oviedo and Lescott. Losing Van Aanholt was a blow and Sunderland really need to spend big on strikers to help Jermain Defoe. A potentially fatal decision not to strengthen this month with relegation looming.
Swansea City: B – Really good window for the Swans who have have added four key starters in Olsson, Carroll, Narsingh and Ayew. Three wins in four games in January also helps with Paul Clement‘s new-look squad. Keeping hold of key players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente was also key.
Tottenham Hotspur: C – Another meh window for a big club. Spurs have had a few defensive injuries but they have cover. With an expensive new stadium to pay for this was always going to be a quiet window.
West Bromwich Albion: C – Jake Livermore was a surprise buy considering all of the midfielders the Baggies already have. Another striker was high on their list to replace Berahino but they couldn’t quite get Jay Rodriguez.
Out: Oscar (Shanghai SIPG), John Mikel Obi (Tianjin TEDA), Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough), Dion Conroy (Swindon Town), Marco Van Ginkel (PSV Eindhoven, loan), Jay Dasilva (Charlton, loan), Isaiah Brown (Huddersfield Town, loan), Fankaty Dabo (Swindon Town, loan), Charlie Colkett (Swindon Town, loan), Fikayo Tomori (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan), Mukhtar Ali (Vitesse Arnhem, loan)
Out: Tom Carroll (Swansea City), Anton Walkes (Atlanta United, loan), Ryan Loft (Stevenage, loan), Shayon Harrison (Yeovil Town, loan), Connor Ogilvie (Stevenage, loan), Luke Amos (Southend United, loan).
Remember that report that John Terry could be headed to Bournemouth on loan? The longtime Chelsea man is going to stay at Stamford Bridge, according to Sky Sports. With several, like Nathan Ake, being recalled from loan, it seems Antonio Conte is taking no risks with his depth as Chelsea looks prepared to compete for the FA Cup as well as the Premier League.