By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
For FOX Deportes
Things have turned quiet for the US Men’s National Team in the last month, as a win and a draw in the first two games of 2014 World Cup Qualifications have came and went with America’s side still searching for consistency from their top players. USA tumbled from 28 to 36 in FIFA’s latest world ranking table. Jurgen Klinsmann’s still trying to sort out the hand that Bob Bradley left him before getting up from the poker game.
You’ve got to love where US Soccer is in the summer of 2012. Insert sarcasm here.
What’s more interesting is that we’re less than four weeks away from the USMNT taking their talents across the Rio Grande to Estadio Azteca to face Mexico (No. 18 ranking in FIFA) on August 15th. Mexico’s most recent big win was an impressive 4-2 triumph over Brazil, and its officially put the world on notice that El Tri is ready to make major strides for the 2014 World Cup. The biggest question for Klinsmann and the US side is a simple one…can they keep up?
Two players who will factor in the decision are stars Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. One has officially found himself on a new team, while the other continues to be the feature in a rumor mill that seemingly will never end. Let’s look at this one at a time.
Michael Bradley joins AS Roma from Chievo Verona for a transfer fee of $4.6 million plus a 50 percent share in Romanian youngster Adrian Stoian. Bradley joined the Italian heavyweight club officially on Sunday and agreed to a four-year deal with Roma. Bradley has already logistically make the shift in his schedule to join Roma and begin preparations for training camp.
The 24-year old U.S. men’s national team midfielder has been ascending the European league circuit nicely over the past few years. From his initial stop at Borussia Moenchengladbach, to another at SC Heerenveen and a loan spell with Aston Villa, this move to Roma could help Bradley ascend to the status of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the American pantheon of footballing stars. Of course, the signing of Bradley is just the first part. The man still has to produce on the field.
Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and David Pizarro currently own the landscape in the midfield for The Yellow-Reds. Bradley’s biggest impact could be the fact that he can be a glue guy for a team full of talented players. Play up front? Got it. Play in the back? Done. Facilitate out wide? Lets go.
AfewwordsfromBradley on the challenge of breaking through the starting XI:
“If you’re going to play at the highest possible level, to become the best player you can possible be, then you have to be ready to take these kind of challenges. To have the mentality and determination and commitment that says ‘Listen, no matter what, I’m going to go there, I’m going to fight every day, I’m going to show every person there that I’m a guy that has to be on the field in important moments,’ that’s a challenge. But it’s an exciting challenge and the rewards can be big, so I’ve always enjoyed these kinds of challenges, and this one is certainly no different.”
Enjoying the challenge is one thing for Bradley, for Clint Dempsey the challenge could be to start thinking about leaving his true mark on the international landscape. Trophies? Club titles? Could it be true?
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers seems to think Dempsey could be a missing link to the accolades they desire. Sourcesacrossthepond are saying that Liverpool have agreed to a £10million fee for versatile Fulham forward Dempsey. Per Rodgers, ”Clint is a player we’ve inquired about” as ”he’s a very talented player,” adding that managing director Ian Ayre has been in contact with Fulham ”to see what the position is. That is where we’re at.”
Dempsey’s now 29 years old and just finished off the greatest campaign by an American footballer playing in Europe. His 17 goals placed him 4th on the league’s scoring table in the Premier League, and now he’s being courted by one of the big six clubs in England.
For many, this is unfathomable. An American possibly playing on the world’s biggest stage, and not just playing, but possibly being a star entity and making a sincere difference in the balance of wins and losses, trophies and qualifications, legacies and history.
Will it happen? Fulham seems quite reluctant to let the prodigy from Nacogdoches, Texas out of their grasp. As they should. The Cottagers finished 9th on the table this season, largely due to the strong play of Dempsey, and Fulham seems focused on trying to build on their success for next year in hopes of making a run for the supporters who come to fill up Craven Cottage on a regular basis.
As for me, I’m selfish. I love my American footballers. I want to see Dempsey ball out. Play on the world’s biggest stage, and prove to everyone across the globe that the Americans can ball too. Football gods, don’t take this away from us. Dempsey’s time is now, and he’s still enough in his prime to be a major player, not a bit one.
Only if the football gods cared about what I think.