120612_dempseybradley_isi_pkp_mnt_20071017_1794 Pius Koller/isiphotos.com
ASN Weekly Debate

Would You Rather Have Bradley or Dempsey?

You have one shot, one opportunity to win a United States national team game. Are you taking Roma's rising star or the Tottenham spark plug? Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon try to come to a conclusion.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
December 14, 2012
7:13 AM
Noah Davis: Okay kid, you have one game to win: Are you taking Michael Bradley or Clint Dempsey?

Ryan O'Hanlon: One game: Dempsey. One season: Bradley. Does that count as an answer?

Davis: I suppose, although it's remarkably unsatisfyin'. Give me your one game reasoning.

O'Hanlon: In one game, a guy like Dempsey, who can score or create a goal out of nowhere—not that Bradley can't, but he's still less of a magician than Deuce—would seem to be more valuable. And in one game, the calming, always-really-good presence of Bradley could get overrun by some freak goal, injury, or any other random thing that can happen in one soccer game. Over the season, though, Bradley's way more valuable. It's economics, basically.

Davis: Would that be micro or macro?

O'Hanlon: I don't know. I'm not an economist, man.

Davis: I can see your point, but I don't agree. Dempsey does have a little more magic in those feet than Bradley, but I'm not sure how much better he makes everyone else around him. Bradley, on the other hand, has become such a steadying presence in the middle of the United States XI. Russia scores five or six if he's not there. Plus, he has this weird, wonderful ability to score goals. Ugly goals sometimes, but they all count the same.

O'Hanlon: Bradley makes everyone around him better, more better (betterer?) than Dempsey does. And he influences the shapes of games way more than Dempsey. And and he just has a way more consistent impact. In this completey unrealistic buy-this-dude-for-one-game scenario, I'd take Deuce because he has a better chance of deciding the final score, and therefore the game, by himself and more directly than Bradley could. Every other situation—that doesn't involve rap battles, fishing, or fish-rap battles—I'd take Bradley.

Davis: Bradley would just glare at the fish and they would jump out of the water.

O'Hanlon: If we're talking fish-glare catching, I'm pretty sure Jermaine Jones has that locked down.

Davis: Well, he's got some time to perfect it with the four-game suspension. Anyway, it's fair to say Dempsey has a better chance of scoring. But Bradley is a much bigger value-add (non-value-takeaway?) on the other end. Say that in this made-up situation we are concocting on the fly, there is a 50 percent chance Dempsey scores and there's a 25 percent chance Bradley does. Fine. But there's a 75 percent chance Bradley helps prevent a goal from being scored and a 25 percent chance Dempsey does. Or something like that. The numbers won't add up. But the point is that winning is not just about who scores the most goals. It's about who prevents the fewest as well. And Bradley is much, much, much better at that than Dempsey.

O'Hanlon: My brain feels ill. Also: "a good offense is the best defense," pal. But yes, Michael Bradley is a better soccer player than Clint Dempsey. "Soccer player" meaning someone who does all the different things one is supposed to do on a soccer field. He's the most-complete American soccer player ever, I think, which is maybe not saying all that much, but John O' Brien *pours out a bottle of Heineken* was pretty good once upon a time.

Check out pictures of Dempsey and Donovan through the years.

Davis: Is your point that I was right and you were totally wrong? Or do you have some other tangent about how complete players don't win soccer games, strikers do?

O'Hanlon: I guess my point here is that I used to really miss John O'Brien, but I don't anymore. But my other point is that in this fictional scenario—where we don't even know who the 10 other players on the field are—I'd take the volatile dude who could pull something out of barely anything over the steady presence… but only in this exact, unknown scenario would I do that.

Davis: What if the fictional scenario were a match in San Pedro Sula in, I don't know, seven and a half weeks?

O'Hanlon: One: that would suck. Two: I'd take Bradley because this is no longer the same scenario. He'd calm things down, and the U.S. is presumably a better team than Honduras, so he'd be able to control the game, hopefully.

Davis: Interesting. See, I might go the opposite way, especially if Jurgen Klinsmann is trying to win. I think a Michael Bradley-less U.S. can handle the Honduran attack, but I wonder if they would score against the bunkered in Catrachos. (Conor Casey isn't walking through those doors.) I think you bring Dempsey down there, put him up top, and let him poke around, act all crazy, and score. And no, I didn't write that just to disagree with you. Well, not entirely, anyway.

O'Hanlon: Well, you know how all the Dutch players hate each other and refuse to pass to guys who they don't like and generally just always underperform? Maybe the U.S. will eventually get to that point. Bradley and Dempsey will be archenemies, and we'll at once have "made it" but also "not made it" because our two best players can't play together. Maybe that was the point of all of this. It's inevitable, really.

Davis: That seems... unlikely. But we're agreed, then: The correct answer is Jermaine Jones.

O'Hanlon: Yep. Instead of reading this, reader, you should've just read last week's debate. But we hate you, so: sorry.

Post a comment