ASN Weekly Debate
Which American Will Impact MLS Cup?
MLS Cup is on Saturday and there are plenty of current and future United States national team members involved. Ryan O'Hanlon and Noah Davis discuss which player will change the game.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon PostedNoah Davis: Okay RH, at the risk of sounding ethnocentric or xenophobic or something terrible, which American is going to make the biggest impact on MLS Cup? And you can't say David Beckham, even though his superstardom is the most American thing ever. Ryan O'Hanlon: Can I say Bruce Arena? Because my answer is Bruce Arena for everything. But if it has to be an American player, it has to be Landon Donovan, who contrary to the opinions of some USMNT fans actually exists. Right? Davis: Bruce Arena is a great answer, because Bruce Arena is always a great answer. But he doesn't count. And Donovan is a boring answer (though probably correct). I'll give you two: 1) Omar Gonzalez, because he's either going to have to help A.J. DeLaGarza back into his first game in forever or calm Tommy Meyer in the biggest game he's ever going to play. 2) Brad Davis, because if Houston is going to win, which no one thinks is going to happen, he's going to have to perform some magic. O'Hanlon: Two answers doesn't really seem fair considering your original question, but whatever. OK. It's fine. Anyway, it seems like Gonzalez has a lot riding on this game, beyond the MLS Cup and having to play some kind of older-brother role in the biggest game of the season. The USMNT's defense is still not good and Omar Gonzalez plays defense and therefore a lot of people want him to be a good defender for the USMNT. Yet, I say "seems" because one game, albeit a really big one, isn't going to tilt his USMNT fortunes in one direction or the other, is it? At least, it shouldn't. Davis: My website, my rules. But I agree with you about Gonzalez. His, I don't know, "USMNT candidacy" for lack of a better term, has taken on this very strange quality. He has vociferous backers who seem to believe he's going to fix everything that ails the back four. I'm not convinced. Not close to convinced. But I think this game is perhaps more important than you think in that it's a huge game as you mentioned, but maybe also can prove that he's fully back from the knee injury. But no, no matter what happens on Saturday, I'm not ready to slot him in next to Cameron or Bocanegra or you. O'Hanlon: I guess we can settle on the idea that this game means something, something beyond winning a championship, for Gonzalez—but how much it means, no one really knows. Davis: Don't say we don't come to conclusions. O'Hanlon: ASN is your home for vague not-conclusive conclusions. But anyway (second time I've had to re-wire my brain so far), the game also probably "means" something for a lot of other guys, too, then. There are a lot of former or could-have-been USMNT guys—Clark, Dunivant, Davis, Boswell, Ching—but there's also Will Bruin, who intrigues me because he's named after a bear and who also intrigues me because he's sort of young and scores goals, which is not exactly something that has ever existed in the realm of the USMNT. Davis: So what you've basically just said is that there are a lot of Americans playing in this game, which is another excellent observation. I was thinking about this earlier today: It's funny, because the focus of this MLS Cup is Beckham, obviously and understandably, but I think the real story is probably how much better the league has gotten since he arrived. Specifically, the increased talent across the American pool. We've talked about this before: the top line talent isn't changing that much, but the depth is. O'Hanlon: Definitely, I mean, I think we could name something like 10 guys on these two teams who could possibly play a role for the USMNT at some point. Granted, that's a pretty loose qualification, but probably not one we could've applied in years past. Davis: Okay, new question along those lines: Which player in MLS Cup makes the biggest impact on the USMNT in 2013? O'Hanlon: I'm still gonna say Landon Donovan, mainly because he's Landon Donovan and he's better at soccer than pretty much every other American person—and even if he takes on some weird I'm-not-sure-if-I'm-here-but-I'm-still-here role where you can't count on him for every game, I still think his impact, even if it's a limited one, is way bigger than anyone who plays in this game. Davis: I'm going to say Will Bruin dominates the Gold Cup. If for no other reason than I would love to see [insert Mexican player here]'s reaction to the Dancing Bear. And also because Landon Donovan is, once again, a boring answer. O'Hanlon: Fine, non-boring answer: Jack McBean because his last name is McBean (and he's also huge and really young and somewhat skilled so sure, let's latch our hopes onto this dude). McBean and The Dancing Bear. This must happen. Davis: The McBear train is now leaving the station. Passengers: O'Hanlon. Davis. Arena. O'Hanlon: If you like the quiet car, this train is not for you.
November 30, 2012
November 30, 2012