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ASN Weekly Debate

Has the United States Turned the Corner?

The Americans are on a three-match winning streak, including a destruction of a solid Panama squad. Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon debate whether the form is temporary or here to stay.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
June 14, 2013
12:00 PM
Noah Davis: Hey Ryan. Are you eating ice cream for lunch? Also, the United States men's national team won three games in a row(!) and some peeps are saying the team turned a proverbial corner. Si o no, amigo?

Ryan O'Hanlon: There is no cheap ice cream here—and it's only 9:30—so, no. I am not. And yay! The team looked pretty great against Panama, I admit, but it was a soccer game against Panama, which is not a corner-to-be-turned-on.

Davis: I was trying to think of a soccer version of turning the corner, but I failed. That's because I'm dumb (although good at self-promotion). But anyway, I was shocked to see that Panama was ranked 43rd in FIFA's useless-but-it-is-what-we-have rankings. Still, it's not like the U.S. dominated someone good, you know, like Germany. In short: Corner turned.

O'Hanlon: What corner are we talking about, exactly?

Davis:The Stability Corner. And this has gone off the rails more quickly than normal. Look, of course it's not fair to say everything is fine. It's not. It never will be in international soccer. But I do think the team needed two weeks to play and train together. And they got/are getting that, and it's showing on the field. So maybe the corner hasn't been turned, but the team did take *cue Simmons* The Mini-Leap.

O'Hanlon: There's a bigger conversation about "how we talk about sports" and, in the American soccer world, the answer to that is "generally terribly." We don't need to have that conversation but: the progression of this team isn't necessarily a linear thing, I don't think? It never is, really, and it seems like looking at it this way is more just for our sanity/comfort/ease/whatever. The team played well against Panama, and they might not play well against Honduras. I'm not sure how much one affects the other. This is also the Liverpool fan in me speaking.

Davis: It's not linear, but I think that's my point. While improvement happens slowly over time, it's hard to see because teams play so infrequently. But then the U.S. plays, and looks good, in three straight matches, and there's a noticeable jump in quality.

O'Hanlon: That's fair, and I agree. So, talking about why the team looked good—rather than What It Means—is more interesting/worthwhile, I think. Two observations: Geoff Cameron is a very good soccer player, as is Fabian Johnson.

Davis: I enjoy watching Geoff Cameron play soccer much more than I enjoy Geoff Cameron's haircut. I thought it was impressive how he slotted in next to Michael Bradley almost seamlessly. Team America: All we have is defensive midfielders. I would be happier with Fabian Johnson if he could kick with his right foot. For that matter, I'm pretty convinced Bradley is the only player on the team with even a half-decent off-foot.

O'Hanlon: Eddie Johnson scored with his! But he didn't do much else. And Michael Bradley is the only player on the team who can do a lot of things. He's so great—and seemed even greater with "Jeff" behind him. I would like to see the two of them continue to play together, but I'm not sure that'll happen.

Davis: Yeah, it's tough. I will, begrudgingly, admit that Jermaine Jones is really growing on me. But also, it's pretty cool/nice/fun that two "key" players—Jones and Graham Zusi—missed the match and Klinsmann had players on his bench to fill the roles. Where did this depth come from all of a sudden? Also, that says something good about Major League Soccer, I think.

O'Hanlon: Everyone who played was a former MLS-er other than The Guy With No Right Foot, yeah? Also, I think something like eight/nine guys played college soccer at one point, which is also pretty cool. Davis: Maybe Johnson would have a right foot if he went to Holy Cross.

O'Hanlon: "148" pounds. Also, "5-10." Neither of those things are remotely true. And where are my senior-year stats? I actually did things then! Whatever. Do you think Alejando Bedoya reads these? If so, haha.

Davis: If you're five-foot-10, I'm Omar Gonzalez. Seque! Are we, meaning you, satisfied with the paring of Gonzalez and Matt Besler? Or do you want to see more experimentation?

O'Hanlon: I think it works, possibly, with Geoff Cameron in front of them. But if Geoff Cameron isn't playing in the midfield, he should still be on the field. I know Gonzalez is the one everyone talks about, but I actually think Besler is kind of better. Therefore, I would not be opposed to seeing a Cameron-Besler pairing.

Davis: Basically, you just want to see Cameron on the field.

O'Hanlon: I do, yes. Cameron-Besler is intriguing, too, though.

Davis: It is. At six-foot-three, Cameron is bigger than people think, which means you're not losing much on the height side of things. And—hey, Eddie Johnson—he's a better passer than Gonzalez. I'm all in. Get them to Brazil.

O'Hanlon: Brazil! Hey! Despite my anti-corner-turning, I'm confident in saying, (barring the end of the world) they're going!

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon do this every week. They try not to agree but they are both just so smart.

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