The obvious headline: Charlie Davies has missed the World Cup squad, which is unfortunate for both him and the team because it means the looming presence of Conor Casey and Eddie Johnson hit the 30-man provisional squad. An off the cuff assessment of the roster. Locks in bold, panic relative to the scale of "can we get out of the group"?
Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan
This is the opposite of Thunderdome: three men enter, three men leave. Howard will start every US game unless he gets a Tourette's-induced red.
Projected starter: Howard.
Panic level: Minimal.
Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall
The Nats will probably choose at least two of the non-locks. One, sadly, will be a dedicated left back. This means the Hero of Honduras, Jonathan Bornstein, is a lock. I didn't put him in bold because I don't want him to play, but he's basically in bold. With Spector and Bocanegra carrying tons of experience at left back in high-level leagues, it probably won't matter. If it's Bocanegra there the US isn't going to get much offense out of that spot, but that should free Spector up to be a cross-bombing winger type of defender.
Non-locks on the plane: Bornstein, Goodson. Marshall's been injured and the Nats will be looking for a central defender with some recent playing time as a backup.
Projected starters: Bocanegra, Onyewu, DeMerit, Spector. No matter who goes out with injury or card accumulation, Cherundolo draws into the lineup next; Spector flips to the left and Bocanegra draws inside.
Panic level: Call it a three. Onyewu's travelling with Milan and is fully healthy but has got to be rusty after his injury layoff. And DeMerit is a fine one-on-one defender but a guy who gives up possession really easily; I'd be more comfortable with the more composed Bocanegra in the middle and someone functional at left back. You could see Spector/Bocanegra/Onyewu/DeMerit against high-pressure teams without threatening forwards.
Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers
Holden has resumed playing for Bolton and is healthy after the unnecessary Nigel De Jong tackle that broke a bone in his foot. He's the only right-sided midfielder other than Dempsey who's seen meaningful caps and will be an obvious late sub if and when the Nats replicate the late Dempsey-to-striker move that was so successful at the Confederations Cup.
The rest of the locks are obvious: Donovan and Dempsey are the highest-profile players the US has, Bradley has been locked into the starting lineup when not on card accumulation suspensions, and Clark and Edu are flexible ball-winners who play in either impressive Euro leagues (Clark, who just got a three-year extension from his Bundesliga team) or impressive teams (Edu, at Rangers).
From there you've got a (slightly? mostly?) rejuvenated Beasley, a couple of attacking midfielders who might help the US hold the ball if they could ever win it if they play without double destroyers, and fringe wingers.
Non-locks on the plane: Beasley, Feilhaber, Bedoya. Beasley can be a late defensive sub for Donovan if the US is trying to kill a lead and they need some speed. Feilhaber is the best and most trusted of the AM types; Bedoya is a winger playing well and the US has virtually none on the roster.
Projected starters: Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Edu. The fourth guy could be anyone, and if the US goes with five midfielders or sucks Dempsey up to forward Holden will almost certainly get the nod on the right.
Panic level: Also a three. Dempsey and Donovan are on fire, and Edu's re-emergence should create an athletic, reasonably proficient midfield.
Jozy Altidore, Conor Casey, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez
With Davies out, you have your choice between lumbering old hands with target forward reps (Ching, Casey), guys with no national team track record but crazy recent success (Buddle, Gomez), and Eddie Johnson. Yes, they have to pick three more of these guys.
Non-locks on the plane: Ching, Gomez, Casey. Ching and Casey are Bradley favorites and Ching has always had great chemistry with Donovan. Since Donovan's the most important guy on the team, anything that makes him more effective takes priority. Gomez just finished lighting up a much better league than MLS, which Buddle is lighting up. But the again Buddle is playing with Donovan. I'd rather see Buddle; Bradley will probably go with Casey.
Projected Starters: Altidore, Ching.
Panic level: does this thing go up to 11?
Notes: 191-96-2 All Time, Last year was a 1-2 series loss, Michigan
taking the last game. Game has been rained out and will not be made up.
Wednesday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
|Stats||Audio (MGo)||BTN.com ($)|
Notes: The first of 4 games streamed this week, and a 5th to start next week .
My guess is Miller with the start.
Due to the limited 8 week conference schedule in the Big Ten, every year, one team is dropped off the conference schedule. There they stay for a two year conference hiatus, before returning for the next 18 years or otherwise depending on things working out in your hypothetical expansion rumor of the week.
This year, it's Michigan State's turn to rotate off the conference regular season slate. To keep the rivalry fresh, the two teams will tango in a mid-week home-and-home series opening Tuesday in East Lansing.
The Spartans had quite high hopes coming out of the first two seasons, even being a fringe ranked team, but they have suffered a near humiliating collapse over the last two weeks, falling from first place in conference to last. They're still a dangerous team, especially if Michigan were to face them on the weekend, but like any other team in the mid-week, nothing is a sure bet.
This series is absolutely meaningless from a conference tournament point of view, but no game against the Spartans will ever be taken lightly in these parts. So with that, we'll move to the slightly abbreviated team preview after the jump.
Why was I so feared, and you so loved? What was it? I was no less honorable. I wanted to do good. What betrayed me? My mind? My heart? Why do I condemn myself so? I swear, on the lives of my children: Give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin, no more.
If you have followed this series, you are now familiar with the message: light but focused recruiting plus really bad attrition equaled a defense with some really great players and some suicidal kittens.
Here's a question: based on recruiting and retention from 2006 to the present, how good will Michigan's defense be this year?
This diary will look at the talent on Michigan's roster in 2010 versus that of 2009, plus that of two rivals in that time, to try to get an idea of what kind of team we will be looking at this coming season.
In the first, we met the family.
In the second, we saw that family destroyed.
Today, I bring you Part III.
You know, the one that's chronologically incompatible with the other two, with the substantially lower production values, that rehashes old characters and plotlines from the previous flicks in order to squeeze more cachet out of the franchise.
In the third (and final?) installment of the Decimated Defense Trilogy, I will look to the future, comparing Michigan's 2010 defensive roster and attrition numbers against those of last year, and also against 2009 and 2010 for two relevant rivals: Ohio State and Michigan State.
Still interested? [ED: YES YOU ARE.]
Here's a few updates on the recruiting trail within the past couple days.
5'11, 185 lbs.
Evans and Aiken are higher on Michigan than Randall, at this point, but all three plan to trip to Michigan eventually. I spoke with Jonathan recently about Michigan, and here's what he had to say.
"Me and Spiffy were both excited about Michigan. I watch Michigan all the time on TV, and I think it would be great to play in that maize and blue. I'm probably going to wait until signing day, just to make sure everything's right. Curt and I want to go to the same school, too, so that's a good opportunity for us."
Jonathan actually brought up MGoBlog, and our very own Magnus.
"I read MGoBlog all the time, actually. You can relay the message, someone had thought I was related to Kumar Aiken, and I'm not. I read the post about my strengths and weaknesses, too. That was pretty cool."
The post he was referring to was on the front page, but originally here. Michigan has a really good shot at both Evans and Aiken. We might have to wait it out, but there is definitely high interest on both sides.
6'4, 260 lbs.
Ogemaw Heights, Michigan
Anthony has narrowed down his list to a top six, which consists of Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State, UCLA, Cincinnati, and Penn State.
As I've said before, Anthony has told me he will commit when he feels it's right. He's similar to Brennen Beyer, that he is a Michigan fan, but just wants to make sure everything is right. I would be shocked if Anthony doesn't end up picking Michigan. There isn't a set timetable on his decision, so presumably it could happen at any time. He will be in Ann Arbor on May 21st, for the Big House BBQ. I don't think it will happen then, but you never know.
6'5, 220 lbs.
Michigan's recently promoted coach, Adam Braithwaite was in school last week to evaluate Deion. Barnes received his offer at the spring game with the Stokes' and Top Prospects family. I outlined Deion in my defensive line post, and it seems like Michigan will be recruiting Barnes heavily.
He already has great size for only being a junior, with a frame that will be able to put on a good amount of weight. Barnes seems to play things quiet, but he has real interest in Michigan as well. It sounds like he's still waiting for more schools to offer before really narrowing things down. He currently has offers from Michigan, Louisville, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Virginia Tech Nike Camp
There were some big names at the Virginia Tech Nike Camp this past weekend. Among the most relevant for Michigan fans was Kris Frost. His teammate, QB Christian Lemay, also gets high praise in the article. Lemay recently committed to Georgia, so the answer to the question you were about to ask is no. Frost recently told me that Michigan is still his favorite, and that he would love to don the Maize and Blue. That remains true.
Demetrius Hart - No introduction, or picture needed here. I think everyone is well aware who he is. The Orlando Sentinel has an article up that quotes Demetrius saying Michigan is his leader, surprise! You'll notice in the article he says he wants to commit on the 22nd, but it might not work out. He and his family are still trying to work out a schedule to get his Dad up to Ann Arbor as well. If they can't make it work, the trip up to Michigan won't happen. Panic not, because this doesn't mean he won't still commit any time soon, or at a different venue. We'll see how it goes.
If you recall, I spoke with both Demetrius, and his mom about everything. Michigan will get his commitment, but he still plans on taking all of his visits. This sounds about right for the roller coaster of emotions that Michigan fans have been on so far.
Plant High School - ESPN will broadcast the Plant opener against Bradenton Manatee on August 27th. What this means for you? James Wilder is an animal, and you'll get to see him play, if nothing else. Also, his teammate OL Tony Posada holds a Michigan offer, and has mutual interest.
What a dump…
Michigan took it on the chin this weekend, dropping two games to open the series at Minnesota, but they battled back to win a close game three and keep pace with the Big Ten Joneses. Recaps, thoughts, and the opening stanza to a MICHIGAN STATE HATE mid-week series after the jump. And no, no pretty pictures as baseball can't be pretty in the Metrodome.
Just a little bit of change since last week, but ESPN did tweak their ratings a bit. Action since last rankings:
5-3-10 Iowa gains commitment from Austin Blythe.
Now that Iowa has jumped into the fray, Penn State and Purdue are the only Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) programs that don't have any commitments.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 10 Commits|
ESPN now deems DE Chase Farris worthy of being on the ESPN150 watch list.
|#2 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
Nothing new for the Irish.
|#3 Michigan - 4 Commits|
Brennen Beyer goes back on the ESPN150 watchlist.
|#4 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
|#5 Indiana - 8 Commits|
Teams are going to start passing the Hoosiers once they get more commits.
|#6 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
ESPN finally acknowledges that Calvin Phillips isn't committed to the Gophers (which he hasn't been for at least a couple months now).
|#7 Wisconsin - 2 Commits|
No change for Wisconsin.
|#8 Iowa - 3 Commits|
Iowa picks up a decent offensive lineman. They're right on the heels of Minnesota and Wisconsin, passing Northwestern and Illinois.
|#9 Northwestern - 2 Commits|
Both of NU's commits are unranked to the services.
|#10 Illinois - 2 Commits|
Still just two for the Illini.