U.S.-Netherlands match won't reveal much

March, 2, 2010

Just a few thoughts this Tuesday on my end:

1. U.S.-Netherlands. This is a matchup (Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN360) that is extremely attractive for U.S. fans, mainly just to see how the U.S. fares against high-caliber opposition like the Dutch. In World Cup terms though, in some respects it's not hugely helpful for coach Bob Bradley's strategic planning since the Dutch play nothing like any of the U.S. team's group opponents, two of whom will basically park the bus and rely on counterattacking (Algeria and Slovenia). Having said that, what will be interesting is to see is if the U.S. fullbacks can handle the Dutch wingers, especially if the Dutch opt to start both Eljero Elia and Arjen Robben.

2. U.S. roster selection. Looking at Bradley's roster selection, the glaring omission would appear to be Freddy Adu, especially since his club teammate Eddie Johnson was given a call-up. There are two ways of looking at this. One could argue that Adu was left out due to the fact that he has a sore hamstring. Or you could argue that since he was named to Aris' game-day squad on Sunday (he did not play), that it's just further evidence that Bradley doesn't hold him in high regard. I'd argue it's the latter. The other strange decision was to select Frankie Simek. Once upon a time and pre-injury, Simek looked like a fine right back prospect. However, Simek's never been the same since his ankle injury. He'd lost his starting spot to Lewis Buxton (who can be best described as awful), and when Buxton was recently injured, and Simek failed to impress in his stead, Sheffield Wednesday signed Eddie Nolan on loan to fill the spot. I'll also add that I hope that Robbie Findley gets a start for several reasons. It's important to see him in action with a stronger U.S. lineup, and it's important to see how he fares against top-class opposition. Granted he did not impress at all against El Salvador, but until he gets to play with the first-team lineup, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

3. A Maurice Edu sighting. Some dramatic highs and lows this past weekend in Europe. First was Maurice Edu's late winner for Rangers in the heated Rangers-Celtic clash, a goal that will no doubt endear him eternally in the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere. As Edu continues to garner more playing time in the run-in, I expect him to make a real push for a starting spot on the U.S. national team. In my opinion, he's a more complete midfielder than Ricardo Clark.

4. Landon Donovan's miss: On the flip side, Donovan had his first real blip for Everton against Spurs, with a crucial miss which could have salvaged a tie for the Toffees. Donovan's miss of an open goal from 2 yards out, which has been described in some quarters of the English media as the "miss of the season," was indeed horrendous and frankly, there's no excusing it. To his credit, Donovan has been stand-up about it. However, let's keep things in perspective. A lot of players have had brutal misses during the course of their career, and one bad miss doesn't undo the impact Donovan's had during his time in England.

Everton is undeniably a far better team when he's in the lineup -- he gives it speed, creativity and directness on the right flank, which prevents opponents focusing on shutting down Everton's potent left flank of Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines. What's more important for Donovan is to erase the mistake from his mind and ensure it doesn't affect his confidence. For now, he's still highly regarded by Everton management and fans, but of course, that goodwill won't last forever if he continues to make errors like that.

On that note, I also wanted to let you all know that this will be my final blog for ESPN.com as I'm leaving for a new opportunity. It's been a great six years for me here and ESPN has been a fantastic place to be, and tremendous to me throughout. I also wanted to thank my readers for all your support (and criticism) over the years, it's been fun debating with you.

Jen Chang is the U.S. Soccer editor for ESPNsoccernet. He also writes regularly and is a contributer to Soccernet podcasts. He joined ESPN Studio Production in 2004 and earned a Sports Emmy award, before making the move to ESPN.com in 2005.



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