THE WISH LIST
Benny struggled in England
Once again the holiday season has arrived and I am sure most of you avid YA readers will be trying your best to make this a happy time despite the current situation going on around the world.
2008 was a great year for the US national team and for several of the boys who ply their trade in foreign lands. The increased level in competitive friendly matches against the likes of England, Argentina and Spain was a good move by the US Soccer Federation in developing the squad.
Also, the squad's relative ease in qualifying for the hexagonal showed that once again US soccer is the top dog in the CONCACAF region.
At club level, defender Oguchi Onyewu winning his first league title with Belgian side Standard Liege, national team captain Carlos Bocanegra's outstanding play at Rennes, midfielder Michael Bradley's goal surge with former club SC Heerenveen and Landon Donovan's third venture to Europe by signing a loan deal with German power Bayern Munich were some of the highlights we read about during the year.
It is no doubt that we will be expecting many from the national team and our favorite players as 2009 approaches ever so closer.
So while I will most likely never get that Audi R8 I see so many people driving around, I can put forward my wish list for the United States Soccer Federation, Coach Bob Bradley and some of our players who are currently in Europe and those seeking a move to the old country.
I hope that you will end the one striker system and revert back to two strikers. Next year starts the final round of qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup and we are going to need our best out there on the field. In the previous matches it has been proven that having two strikers up top is much better that the lone striker you seem to always start with in matches.
And while we are on the subject of strikers, you really need to find someone that can fill the role relinquished by Chicago Fire hitman Brian McBride. Not only was he a classy player for the national team, he also exemplified fearlessness and great strength when it came to challenge defenders in the air.
I hear there is a player at FC Dallas named Kenny Cooper who could possibly fit the bill and then some. It wouldn't hurt to give a further look at Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey who could also be a prospect.
In addition to this, I hope you will send a full strength squad to the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa next year. I, like so many other supporters, was not too pleased with the squad you sent to Venezuela for the 2007 Copa America, but I believe we can let this slide if you take a squad that can send a strong message to the other confederations about our status in the world game.
US National Team
I hope that you will have a smooth passage to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. I think we all know it won't be easy, but gone are the days when we would be surprised that you would qualify. Now, we expect you to qualify.
It is important that you get off to a good start and the first match at home against rivals Mexico would be a great way to set the pace in the hexagonal. Road wins will be important, so if possible, I hope that you can steal three points in Mexico City. That would be the icing on the cake for what is to be a grueling period.
I hope that you will find a suitable club during the January transfer window or the next summer. You have certainly redeemed yourself after that dark period with Newcastle United. Your game has also improved, so staying at the defending Belgian champions for an extra season and a half was not so bad.
Now it is time to take up an offer from one of the bigger clubs and show the rest of Europe how much of a beast you are in the back line. Real Madrid and an aging AC Milan need some serious help, so you should give a listen to their offers if they ever get in touch with your agent or your club.
You definitely deserve to be playing in the UEFA Champion's League regularly and if you make the right move, you will be in there next season.
I hope your third time in Germany will workout for you. You are at a great club in Bayern Munich and being coached by one of the world's best coaches in Jurgen Klinsmann. While you have him and most of us in your corner, you know it's not going to be an easy task ahead of you.
You are trying to get the nod ahead of Klinsmann's preferred strike force of Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose, which is a very tall order. Hopefully, you can link up well with anyone of them as well as Lukas Podolski, if he stays.
You also have time against you. Your loan is only for three months, which leaves little time to fanny about. Hopefully, you can make a strong impression on Klinsmann, Beckenbauer and company in order to get a permanent contract.
I am hoping you return back to action 100% healthy.
After what looked like a promising start to your career with the national team and a move to Derby County your stock plummeted. A lack of playing time with the Rams, relegation from the Premier League and an ankle injury have been obstacles for you lately.
Hopefully, the move to Danish side AGF Aarhus will work out for you. You need to have a good performance with the club to get back into the picture for the national team before the World Cup and I think coach Bradley would give you a second chance.
I hope you have a successful start with your new club. You were a vital member of the New England Revolution over the past years and they will miss you greatly. However, you know it is time to prove yourself in Europe and a move to FC Nordsjaelland is without a doubt a good move on your part.
They have had success with another American, Rostock left-back Heath Pearce, so they have all the confidence that you will be successful as well.
If you can do the job at Nordsjaelland, then it is possible that your career could take you to one of the bigger leagues in Europe.
I hope that you can find a club in the January transfer window opens. You were an essential part of the Columbus Crew squad that won the MLS Cup this season and was a steady presence in the back line and you deserved to win the 2008 MLS Defender of the Year award.
Now you deserve to carry your talents over to the shores of Europe. You have just completed a trial with Mainz 05 and reports say they have been impressed with you.
Hopefully they will follow through with a contract. If not, then there will be a host of other clubs that will take a chance on you.
US National Team supporters
I hope you all will continue to support the national team like you did this year. Without a doubt 2008 was a great year for the squad and without your cheering, chanting and singing from the stands, they may have not put in a greater effort.
For next year the mission is simple. We need you all to get out to the stadiums during the hexagonal matches. Let us get started in a strong way by filling up the Columbus Crew Stadium on February 11 against Mexico.
You all know that this is one of the most important matches on the schedule and to see that stadium filled in a sea of red, white and blue will charge up the boys and push them harder to get the three points. But, we should not just limit the support to the Mexico match. Every match will be difficult and the support from the stands in going to be greatly needed.
Once the national team has achieved qualification for the 2010 World Cup, let us talk about what we can do to support them in South Africa. I am thinking a road trip is in order. What do you all think?
I hope that all of you will be successful in your trials and careers wherever you may play. No one can quite understand what you all have to go through in order to be taken seriously by clubs abroad.
I also hope that when you do have the chance of playing abroad that you will not forget the guys who first set out to make a name for American players in Europe. If it was not for John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Kasey Keller and host of players, many of clubs would certainly not be looking to America for talent.
They set a standard for you guys and now you can raise the bar for the youth players who have dreams of playing abroad.
Hopefully, you will not let them down.
I hope you all will have a happy holiday and I hope you all will continue supporting the US National team and our boys who are trying to make a name for themselves in leagues around the world.