Don’t get me wrong, I am still pissed as hell at the US, but let me clarify some things here.
I am well aware that many if not most of our players are simply not good enough to allow for us to compete with truly good teams. Trust me, I get it. This brings me to my next point.
What infuriates me most is that Bradley’s US team appears to be an accountability-free zone. It takes months and months of outright terrible play for a guy like Mastroeni to get replaced. We’re seeing the same mistake getting made right now with Dempsey and obviously with Beasley. Of course, on paper, Dempsey and Beasley should start every match, but Dempsey and Beasley haven’t put in a truly good performance for the USA in many months. Even if the player beneath them in the depth chart (Adu or Torres) isn’t as good as the starter is, you have to make a change (or at least make the players think you will) if the level of play out of the starters doesn’t improve.
Of course Freddy and Torres aren’t panaceas, I am not suggesting they are. But they are talented enough to at least provide a challenge and a threat to Dempsey’s and/or Beasley’s spot in the lineup. Just like Spector and Demerit should’ve been challenging our defensive starters for a long time now. By sticking by his favorites, no matter what the situation either pre-match or during a match, I think Bradley has bred complacency amongst many players in our team.
In the old days, with our past generation of players like Reyna, Ramos, Stewart, Dooley etc., I think a very cemented starting XI was okay because those players didn’t fall prey to complacency. It just wasn’t in their character. That isn’t to say our current players are lazy bastards. They just have a different (and more common) temperament. Our current players need to be challenged. They need to fear that if they don’t perform that they will sit or maybe even miss out on a selection or two.
None of what I said above is new, or even very controversial. Simply put, I think many of our players no longer fear for their spot on the US team. Really, only Howard and MAYBE Donovan can afford to feel that way. Bradley needs to realize treating our usual starting XI as mortal locks only hurts them, and will utterly destroy what ability he has to push better performances out of his players.