Just a few months ago, United States Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley felt compelled to start Ricardo Clark at center mid in the World Cup's Round of 16. The decision was seen as one that nearly cost him his job. Part of the problem, though, was that Bradley's options were limited. Although Maurice Edu was eventually brought on, and Benny Feilhaber's addition to the lineup helped improve the USA's play that day, it was a lineup that hadn't been used much prior to the Ghana match.
About six months later, Clark might not even be among the USA's top five center mids. As Daily Soccer Fix's Steve Davis points out, we are seeing a host of quality emerge in the middle of the field for the U.S.
In the fall, you would have called Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones the top central midfielders available to Bob Bradley’s national team. And those were two pretty reasonable choices, although Jones’ relationship with his Bundesliga club was turning sour, and that’s never a good thing. The depth soon fell off after that.
But the calendar turned, there was a little development here, a little switcheroo there and … voila! You can’t swing a corner flag around a U.S. national team practice now without hitting an in-form center mid.
Stu Holden, who barely even got on the field during the World Cup, suddenly looks like a clear starter for the USMNT as he continues to impress at Bolton. Mikkel Diskerud hadn't even suited up for the U.S. until late 2010 and now is emerging as another legitimate starting option as soon as this year's Gold Cup. Dax McCarty has been largely praised as the USMNT's best player against Chile and also deserves consideration. Even Jonathan Spector seems to be a legitimate option since moving from right back at West Ham.
The best part of all of this for U.S. fans? Jones (29) and Feilhaber (26) are the only two players among this group older than 25.