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ASN 100 Q&A

Jon Arnold Opines on the Top 100 U.S. Soccer Players

The always-affable Jon Arnold does more than host cheeky podcasts for American Soccer Now—he's also one of the panelists who helps pick and prioritize the quarterly ASN 100. Here's more from Jon.
BY John Godfrey Posted
December 19, 2015
1:55 PM
JOHN GODFREY: Do you like the new ASN 100?
JON ARNOLD: I don't hate the job we did.  
Godfrey: Good. Because it's a massive time-sink do put this damn thing together. When you look at the Top Ten, what do you feel?
Arnold: Unsure. Like, I think the supporters probably aren't entirely sure what to make of this pool. The U.S. is in a very transitional time, maybe less so because 2016 brings meaningful matches with the Centenario. Still, I think you see a group that isn't achieving much in Europe, but also includes some players you feel confident about. 
Godfrey: You have Fabian Johnson as your No. 1-ranked  player. Why?
Arnold: I love local soccer. I really do, and my readers will know that. That said, you score against Bayern Munich, and it's going to get my attention. Johnson is the most versatile player the U.S. has at its disposal and he's the player in the best form right now. That's why he has to be atop the ASN 100. 
Godfrey: Who is the most overrated player on this list?

Arnold: Look, there's plenty for U.S. fans to be excited about when it comes to Darlington Nagbe, but No. 6 is pretty rarefied air for a guy who has played for the national team twice. I think he could be a very good piece of the puzzle, but until I see where he fits into the team (and see him sustain the type of success he had in the latter half of the season with Portland), I'm not ready for that. Full disclosure: I didn't have him that much farther down, putting him at 11, but esteemed panelists are clearly more convinced than I am.
I was tempted to say Tim Howard. He's also too high for me, but is doing very well at Everton.

Godfrey: Wait, Tim Howard is too high at No. 4?

Arnold: Yeah, I mean, look. Goalkeepers are tough to rate because it's already one of the toughest positions to evaluate and there are so few minutes to go around. I think Guzan is just as good or better than Howard, so it's a tough sell for me that he's really the fourth-most-important player for the U.S. right now. Even if something happens to Guzan, there are 'keepers around.

Godfrey: Technically, the list is about pure talent rather than importance. I don't think U.S. depth at the goalkeeper position should be held against Howard or Guzan—or Luis Robles for that matter.
Arnold: While we're here, I feel like you, John Godfrey, must be ranking Eric Lichaj in your top 10, because I know you love him and he is also too high on this list. 

Godfrey: Nice call. I have "The Rash" at No. 10. What can I say—I love his game and he should be in Klinsi's mix. Steve Cherundolo is gone. Timothy Chandler is an enigma. Right back needs help. And just look at the photo above—so rash-y!
So who here needs to be ranked higher?
Arnold: There's some sort of "tough-to-classify Defenders Row" there between 70-80 where Cameron Carter-Vickers, Nat Borchers, Matt Polster, Chad Marshall, and Tony Beltran are hanging out. I've got most of those guys higher just because I think they're very good players who might not be in the picture right now (at least not for the full team in the case of CCV and Polster) but really could contribute. Jurgen Klinsmann's philosophy on a lot of things confuses me, but perhaps nothing more than his thoughts on center backs.

Let's get the Beard into the January camp to impart some old-man wisdom onto these young guys like CCV, Polster (who can play all over the place) and even others like Matts Miazga and Hedges, who have surpassed him but surely can take a thing or two from a savvy veteran.
Godfrey: Name one player who failed to make the list and argue on his behalf. 
Arnold: Maybe I'm trending dangerously into Brian Sciaretta, "Listen, there's this guy in Laos," territory, but John Requejo of the U.S. U-20s is absolutely one of the best 100 Americans we have out there right now. I get to see him in Tijuana pretty regularly. He's Mr. Consistency for Xolos U-20 team, the only youth player to play every minute of this season for them (one that saw them finish runner-up of Liga MX's U-20 division). He's quick, smart, and also way more defensively solid with a player running at him than a lot of kids his age.
Godfrey: Click on the "Age" filter and select "Youngest." This re-sorts the ASN 100 list from youngest to oldest. Do you like what you see?
Arnold: No. This reminds me of the cruel progression of time and the fact that I think I'm now older than half the ASN 100.

Godfrey: I'm more than a decade older than all of them—you'll get used to it. 
Now click "Oldest" and tell us your thoughts.
Arnold: Ah, much better.

There are some guys there the team depends on, but also others who are being (or have been) phased out. I do think this summer will be the perfect departure point for some of the guys on the wrong end of the list, and I'm interested to see who does bid goodbye. A couple retirements are needed. These young, unproven guys need to either prove themselves or prove they can't cut it, and ideally you do that before the Hex, which is going to be pretty unforgiving. Keep trotting the 2014 World Cup squad out there, and you might not live to see 2018.

Follow Jon Arnold on Twitter—he's a quality soccer person.

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