sabato 6 settembre 2014

Carlos Bocanegra is retiring: as the best USMNT centre-back ever?

USMNT regular and 2010 World Cup team captain Carlos Bocanegra announced Tuesday that he is retiring at the end of this season becoming the latest United States international to announce formal retirement. “The timing is right for me,” he told. The 35-year-old made his international debut in 2001 under Bruce Arena and amassed as many as 110 caps for the United States anchoring USMNT’s  backline for two consecutive World Cups. A Southern California native, Bocanegra is an UCLA product. He entered into MLS circles in 2000, earning the MLS Defender of the Year award both in 2002 and 2003. After this first MLS gig, Bocanegra went overseas playing English Premier League side Fulham in 2004. He also played with Rennes in France and Rangers in SPL before moving on to the Spain to play with Racing Santander before returning in USA and joining Chivas USA. CUSA’s team captain this season under coach Wilmer Cabrera, Bocanegra registered 30 appearances  in a season and a half with the team, before concussion symptoms sidelined him. One of the best defenders United States program has ever produced, Bocanegra is a fine leader and a strong centre-back. He has been also a factor on the other half of the field as he netted 14 goals in 110 games, the most made by an American defender, due to his set pieces efficiency. He was one of the best players of his generation, as Chivas President Nelson Rodriguez pointed out. The former Alta Loma High standout player was also one of the best centre-back in USMNT history. The question is if Bocanegra is the greatest. While he still deserves a spot in the list of the best American defenders, I don’t know if you can rate him a higher level than Marcelo Balboa. A big defender, 13 goals scored in a less competitive USMNT side, Balboa was a real force for USA and he collected 127 appearances, fourth all-time leader. Although he never proved himself in Europe, maybe is the National Soccer Hall of Famer Balboa to deserve the title of best defender USA have ever had.

venerdì 5 settembre 2014

Ben Olsen, Chris Rolfe, Chris Pontius

DC United confirmed on Thursday that midfielder Chris Rolfe will miss six weeks following surgery to repair his injured arm. It is a huge loss for Ben Olsen’s side as Rolfe became a key part of DC United since he joined the team last April 2 following a trade the Chicago Fire. Rolfe produced six goals and six assists in 21 regular-season games for the resurgent team. Olsen uses a fairly straight forward 4-4-2 formation in which Rolfe was lined up in a left wide slot where he meet a kind of comfort zone. In fact, as starting left flange, Rolfe completely exploited his ability to cut inside and play with the forwards. To obviate Rolfe’s forced absence, DC United recently brought on Ghanaian midfielder/defender Samuel Inkoom. The 25-year old International is suited  to play outside both on defence and on midfield so he will provide depth at the wider spots. Obviously, the chance he will fill the void left by Rolfe is a long shot. The very likely options to replace Rolfe are Lewis Neal and Chris Pontius. Although when Pontius will make his comeback remains to be seen, rumors are that the midfielder could be cleared fit very soon. Barring any setbacks, a healthy Pontius will boost team’s offensive flair and also provide the needed depth at the wings. Whoever Olsen will pick, should he be able enough to ride out, DC United’s manager would have showed once again to deserve the rumored contract extension. DC United’s wild ride has a lot to do with Olsen’s ability to make his side growing despite the adversities. DCU have continued to progress despite they lost a lot of key players. This team seemed to evolve as the season went on. They are strong mentally and played with character and energy. Olsen is grown in the coaching role since he took the job in 2010. Olsen’s growth was the team’s growth.  Combine that with the probable return of Chris Korb and Pontius and United will be even more dangerous.