Once again, old man river has been called up. Yes, we’re still thin at right back, but after Marvell Wynne’s recent Olympic showing, he seems the obvious choice for this position (behind Steve Cherundolo, of course). I don’t care if Frankie has the greatest intangible qualities (i.e. heart, leadership, blah blah blah) in the world–they simply don’t make up for his (lack of) ball handling, poor passing, and reckless tackling. Just as I did with our “Missing Persons Report: Kenny Cooper,” I’ve chosen to repost our June 13th article on the USMNT’s most talented surfer…
I’ll admit it. Even though injuries have taken away our best back-ups for Steve Cherundolo and a Frankie Hejduk call-up makes more sense now than it has since 2000, I still say this 33-year-old’s inclusion is a mistake. Yes, I am biased. But it’s not without reason! Frankie Hejduk has three things going for him: 1. He is our most physically fit player and a great runner; 2. He is pretty good at going forward; 3. He is experienced, both for club and country.
Now lets take a look at some of the things Frankie has going against him: 1. He goes to ground too often. It is the only way he’s willing to challenge for a ball; 2. On top of this, he’s really bad at tackling. He’s reckless, subscribing to the “I got the ball, who cares if I swept his legs!” school. This only contributes to our terrible habit of handing out free kicks in dangerous territory; 3. He whines every time a call goes against him, no matter how ridiculous his challenge is; 4. He’s got the worst first touch on the team; 5. He can’t pass. He’s one of few (perhaps the only) American internationals you’ll see pass the ball out of bounds on a regular basis; 5a. Most of his crosses are off target, either sailing long or deflecting off of the first defender; and 6. I have nothing against veteran leadership, but he’s not getting any younger. Writing off a bad performance as a “learning experience” is no longer an option.
To make matters worse, commentators and sportswriters completely ignore his embarrassing play. If he gives up a dangerous free kick with a reckless challenge, they applaud his tenacity. If he passes the ball out of bounds, they commend the hustle it took to get to the ball in the first place. If he throws in a useless cross, they praise his speed getting forward. Let’s face it, guys–other than an encyclopedic knowledge of inspirational Bob Marley quotations, all Hejduk has going for him is his legs. And if that’s all it takes to play right back for the US, I say we go ahead and cap Seabiscuit.
Potential replacement: Marvell Wynne. He’s young, fast, a decent defender, and is now coming off a good Olympic showing.