BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, June 8, 2010
As the United States prepares this week to take on England in their opening game of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, forward Robbie Findley will look to use his speed to bolster the US offense.
Throughout the early part of 2010, many were wondering who would lead the US attack following the injuries to Charlie Davies and Brian Ching along with the continued struggles of Conor Casey, Kenny Cooper and Eddie Johnson.
When Findley was included in the initial 30 man provisional roster, it was considered a surprise and when he made the final 23, it shocked many observers of the team.
However a strong game against Turkey in the second pre-World Cup friendly proved he could play at a high international level, and while he struggled with his finishing in the third game against Australia, he was a part of numerous dangerous chances.
"It felt good," Findley said about his recent time with the US team. "Whenever you can go out and play with confidence, it would have been nice to get a goal too, but I was effective in different ways."
Entering this year, Findley's experience with the US national team had been limited. He was capped in a friendly against Switzerland in 2007 and was not on coach Bob Bradley's radar again for nearly two years until a World Cup qualifier in 2009 against El Salvador where he was an unused substitute.
Come 2010, Bradley would play Findley in two winter friendlies that featured mostly reserve players.
In March, Findley would then get his first game with the top American team in a friendly against Holland in Amsterdam. While he didn't play as well as he wanted to in that game, he feels he learned from the experience.
"It started with the Holland game," Findley discussed. "I wasn't as comfortable as I wanted to be. I watched game tape and my teammates told me just do what got you here, go out, be aggressive, go after players and all the rest will come. I went with that as my main focus in the Turkey game. I'm very confident."
Findley, 24, is also winning the support of many of his American teammates who were familiar with him until recently.
"It's important for Robbie to show what he can do," US right-back Steve Cherundolo said of Findley. "So I think especially in the second half of the Turkey game, everybody got to see why he's effective. [He] not only runs forward and plays but chasing down forwards towards our own goals, which is very [important]."
One of the many topics players have been asked about in South Africa has been the controversial ball FIFA has selected to use in this year's tournament. Most players have been critical and Findley finds himself in the growing majority of opinion.
"Personally I don't like the ball that much," Findley admitted. "It just moves differently than balls in the past. When it's all said and done, that's the ball that was selected. At the end of the day, there are going to be no excuses. It is what it is for right now and we [have to] deal with it."
Either way, this week Findley will find himself to be the focus of more attention than he has ever received before as the Phoenix, Arizona native could find himself in the starting lineup in one of the most anticipated US national team games in history.
The former four-time All-PAC 10 player from Oregon State is honored by the support he has received from US fans and is excited that so many of them have made the long journey to the African continent to support the team which he believes could provide a major difference.
"I haven't been a part of too many national team games," Findley concluded. "But in the ones I have been a part of, there has been a lot of US fans to come out and support us. Just from the ones I've been a part of, it's definitely a good feeling. It helps us when we're out on the field. It definitely gives us that extra push and helps with morale."