Talking U.S. performance and Oguchi Onyewu

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 01: Oguchi Onyewu defender of US national soccer team handles the soccer ball during training on June 1, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa. US will face England for their World Cup opener on June 12. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

I’m never the person who thinks I know more than the manager. The world has enough of these presumptuous smarties. Just go read any of the forums.

I can usually see the plan. I may not always 100 percent agree. But, again, I don’t assume I know more than the man who spends his life fretting over these matters (the manager).  And I am reasonable enough to understand that a lot of ingredients go into the goulash. That is, managers must consider a number of factors – sometimes a number of disparate ones – when they work out lineups. It’s not just as simple as how Tommy Tackler or Peter Passer are doing at the moment. It’s how Tommy fits into the longer range plan and how Peter works with the players around him, etc.   

But sometimes a situation comes along that escapes me, one that I just don’t understand. Still, I’ll give U.S. manager Bob Bradley the benefit of the doubt on this Oguchi Onyewu matter. I’m not sure I understand the objective here, although I assume there is one.  (I may get some time soon with Bradley specifically to speak about this. So maybe the answers will be forthcoming.)

Onweyu isn’t playing at AC Milan. So I’m not sure I understand the point to starting him twice for the national team. These games are about building depth and experimenting with personnel, formations, combinations, etc.  Going forward, would Onyewu continue to be a U.S. starting center back if he can’t get any time at Milan? I doubt it, but who knows?

But if he isn’t, then shouldn’t these games be about testing others? I know that Bradley sees these guys all the time, so he knows what they can and can’t do. But form does matter, as we know. And players react differently in different combinations and under different expectations, so I assume there’s some value in seeing these varied center back combinations at work.

And isn’t it sending mixed messages to start Onweyu twice? U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman reminded me the other day that different situations may require different approaches. I get that. But I still don’t know if I understand the choice to start Onyewu here. (Then again I’m just a little bit smarter than my border collie – so I suppose it’s no huge surprise that I don’t understand something.)

Again, I assume there is a longer range objective. Perhaps the man’s confidence is down and Bradley wanted to aggressive pursue a re-supply. Or maybe Bradley wanted to “show” the big fellow, hoping to help facilitate a loan or outright winter sale. (Which looks like the only way forward for Onweyu; I never thought he would get time at Milan, and last year’s big injury only worsened the chances.)

While you’re thinking about all that and about how last night’s events unfolded, my ratings and quick analysis at SI.com’s soccer site are here.

And just for fun, here are Soccer America's ratings from last night.

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