ASN Weekly Debate

Should the United States Worry about Injuries?

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon wonder whether the rash of injuries to American stars will hurt the team in the long run. Two debaters enter; one debater leaves the clear winner.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
October 11, 2013
12:00 PM
Noah Davis: Hey Ryan. I heard it rained in California yesterday. Were you worried that 2012 was coming true? While we're on the subject of the apocalypse, should we be worried that Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and pretty much everyone else on the United States team is either injured, not in the best club situation, or both?

Ryan O'Hanlon: The apocalypse is coming. But do not fear. Everything is breaking perfectly for Our One True Savior, Josh Gatt, to rise up and save us all.

Davis: He's so fast he can outrun the end of the world.

O'Hanlon: Right, the vapor trail he leaves behind will snatch up all of the true believers and save them as well.

Davis: I'm not sure how this is relevant, but sure.

O'Hanlon: It means that a lot of the US's best players are struggling and/or are in club situations where they seem likely to continue to struggle. Josh Gatt is always relevant.

Davis: You are impossible. I hope you're the first one who gets swallowed up by the earth. All fissures start in California.

O'Hanlon: I've survived two earthquakes. Therefore, I pretty clearly can conquer anything nature throws at me. However—this is a good segue—I'm not sure the US can "weather" a continued lack of playing time, lack of form, and lack of whatever else from Altidore, Dempsey, and Bradley.

Davis: Really? It's October.

O'Hanlon: Hence, the word "continued." So many things will happen before the World Cup—good and bad—so getting caught up in this is probably foolish. But still, it's worth noting, at least. Michael Bradley is hurt. His team is undefeated without him. Clint Dempsey hasn't played well in a really long time. And Jozy's already onto his second coach, who, like his first coach, might still be a better player than almost all of his teammates.

Davis: You sound panicked, which is so unlike you. I guess I can sort of see your point, but again we are 245 days away from the World Cup. That's a pretty long time. And I would much rather have players miss now than miss next April. I'm not going to worry about this until at least January.

O'Hanlon: I just sound panicked because I stated a bunch of "facts" in a row. I'm not worried, but I think it highlights two things: how, for all the progress the team has made, they're still pretty reliant on a very small group of guys; and how little of what happens between now and Brazil the manager of the United States can actually have any control over.

Davis: Isn't every team reliant on its best players?

O'Hanlon: Oh, sure. Yet, we talk about the depth the team's developed over the past year, especially with the Gold Cup, but the drop-off here is still a pretty big one!

Davis: You basically just said that the best players are the best players. Also, I'd argue that we wouldn't have included Altidore in this best players conversation a year ago, and now we are. (His ASN profile confirms that as he's gone from eighth to third.) So it's depth and raising the talent level of the starters, too.

O'Hanlon: Sure, but you could also argue that Clint Dempsey's dropped off since then, so it goes both ways.  The team had a great year! But so much of a national team's success depends on a bunch of circumstances—many of which are outside the manager's control—lining up in the right way. And that's especially true with this team. Yes, it matters who's playing centerback, and if Brad Evans is the correct choice at right back—but if those three guys aren't playing well next summer, then those smaller conversations are almost non-starters.

Davis: Key phrase: "Next summer." It's going to rain at least three or four more times in California before then. It's not like Bradley lost a leg. He sprained his ankle. Is there any reason to think he or the rest of the guys you mentioned won't bounce back?

Subquestion: Is it hard getting to thoroughly dominated in an argument?

O'Hanlon: I'll give you three; I'm moving if it reaches four. They're all very good at soccer, so that fact hopefully sorts everything out. I wouldn't worry about Bradley's health... it's more of a question of "Will he get consistent playing time?" This happens in all sports. You get hurt—and you lose your spot. Altidore's team is terrible—and you never know what's gonna happen when a new manager comes in. And Dempsey's situation is sort of strange, isn't it? He's got another month in MLS, then he'll presumably go to Europe, but not until January, and then switch back to MLS for the few months before the World Cup.

Subanswer: I'm winning.

Davis: This is like Australia-American Samoa. Bradley's not going to stay at Roma if he's not playing. Altidore is still going to play week in, week out against some of the best competition in the world. Dempsey will be fine, just like you will get better at debating.

O'Hanlon: You should be a motivational g-chatter. I'm feeling a little down about the NFL's policy about concussions and the inability of the American government to function. Can you tell me how both of those things are going to work out perfectly in the end, too?

Davis: It's probably too complex for you to handle. It will be fine, though. It starts with the U.S. winning the 2014 World Cup.

O'Hanlon: There's a better chance of that happening than either of those other things getting solved. So, I guess, you win?

Davis: Per usual.

O'Hanlon: I'll pray to Josh Gatt with hope for improvement.

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon used to do this every week.

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