10 June 2005

Finishing the Hexagonal

There is a tendency to not want to state the obvious in sports. History is filled with too many examples of the obvious not happening, and the ridiculously improbably happening, that some commentators view that their in some mystic curse in writing anything definitive. So kudos to MLS's Tino Palace for having the courage to write the obvious and non-controversial: "the United States and Mexico are in [World Cup 2006] after wins Wednesday in CONCACAF play."

This is more than just trivial self back slapping. The US is going to qualify, and we are only at the half-point of the hexagonal. As Palace goes on to say:

The interesting thing to watch then becomes what The Bruce decides to do roster-wise with those remaining contests, and the domino effect it will have on Major League Soccer. Will he use those meaningless matches in the fall to build continuity, or will he use them to break in some new faces and see if he can find a diamond in the rough for the last few roster spots. Either way, it should have a profound effect on the MLS standings as long as players are still forced to miss league matches to play in World Cup qualifiers.
Okay. Got that? Now go to Soccer Fever and read this discussion from May 20 of some of Bruce Arena's comments.

What can we conclude? The team you saw in Panama is not your 2006 USMNT. There are going to be changes. Potentially at CM, probably along the back line as well. Evan at Soccer Fever takes a shot a Cobi Jones in the Bruce Arena article. Let me add some heresy of my own. DCU alum and anchor of US defenses in the past Eddie Pope might not be the one to go to Germany. The friendly against England was brutal for Pope. I love the guy, and he has played his heart out for his MLS and USMNT teams for years, but time moves on. The last thing I want is for Eddie Pope to look like the Jeff Agoos we saw in South Korea. (Update 10:30AM -- Let me clarify. I think Eddie wouldn't want to feel like Agoos more than anyone, which would mean leaving him at home. I think he would get that. )