USMNT Roster: Chad Marshall Star-Crossed, DeAndre Yedlin at a Crossroads

A couple more thoughts on the USMNT selection‘s impact on your Seattle Sounders.

It’s a fortunate bummer that Chad Marshall was not called into camp. Sigi Schmid, when asked about Marshall’s chances for the World Cup roster, said, “I think Marshall is a good enough center back in comparison to the center backs with the national team that he deserves consideration. Unfortunately the train is pretty far away from the station at this point.” Coach was right on both counts. Chad Marshall is playing exceptional soccer right now and has been a decorated centerback in MLS for a decade. Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are not “better” than Marshall now, but Marshall never caught the notice of USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Maybe we’re smitten because we’re Sounders fans and Marshall is our best centerback in, oh, forever, but former USMNT coach Bob Bradley was mighty high on Marshall in 2010. Marshall was fresh off back-to-back MLS Defender of the Year and Best XI selections, and he was one of Bradley’ very last cuts at the pre-World Cup camp. Now he’ll never play in a World Cup. But honestly, I am greedy. I never wanted Klinsmann to call Marshall in, especially because Seattle already has more players rostered for the pre-World Cup camp than any other MLS team.

The Seattle-World Cup connection is strong this year. One would think this dynamic would have helped Marshall’s cause. The worst kept secret in US Soccer is the Sigi/Jurgen connection. These two soccer lifers, and German-Americans, clearly respect each other and, often, seem to be in cahoots. Many things attract potential players to Seattle: the singularly great crowds and ambition and professionalism of the club. But I wonder if, indirectly, this connection contributes to the Sounders successfully attracting players. Eddie Johnson rehabbed his career with Sigi and almost punched his ticket to Brazil here. Brad Evans stormed onto the national team under Sigi’s watch, as is Deandre  Yedlin now. You have to wonder if Klinsmann only found Dempsey’s controversial return to the states palatable because he’d be working with Sigi. That’s all just speculation. It is a fact that for the first time in franchise history, Seattle will have active Sounders wearing the stars and stripes at the World Cup.

*****

The oddest story from Sunday’s dressing-down at the hands of the New England Revolution was Yedlin’s removal from the pitch in the 60th minute. Any suspense regarding the decision, was it merely a tactical change or an out-right benching, was quickly answered by Sigi in a postgame interview. When asked why Yedlin was removed in the second half, Schmid curtly replied, “Because he was playing poorly.”

It is never pleasant to be benched, especially when the perception is that you’re the player responsible for a loss. New England battered Yedlin’s right side and countered most successfully when he was pushed up and terribly out of position. Was he distracted by the roster announcement and not focused on the game? Yedlin’s head could be all sorts of places right now, ashamed of the game in Foxboro, proud of his selection to camp. That’s a complicated cocktail of emotions. Learning to manage the highs and lows is key to becoming a professional.

Though a budding star, Yedlin has learning to do. He is improving his 1v1 defending and can be solid on the backline, but he distinguishes himself with his speed and attacking prowess. But when he faces an opponent who can match his pace, Fabian Castillo, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Fagundez, his deficiencies get exposed. Yedlin is still grasping the spacing and discipline required of his position. And he is inconsistent. He played like a man on fire against Portland, as responsible as Dempsey for that result. Then he plays like a wet blanket against the Revs. Don’t get me wrong, I love Yedlin. He is great now and will get better. He’s young and learning, and these things will happen. Though I’d be be shocked if Yedlin makes the 23-man roster for Brazil, the USMNT camp should be great for him. He’ll work with seasoned veterans, face some healthy competition from players older and wiser than himself, and see what it takes to be a professional.

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