Jun 20, 2014; Sao Paulo, BRAZIL; Detailed view of the US Soccer logo during USA team training at Sao Paulo FC. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Current Houston Dynamo Players Viewed as USMNT Prospects

As soon as the United States was eliminated from the World Cup, people started wondering what the roster would look like leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. I was one of those people so as I searched around the internet for a list of possible prospects. 

It came as a surprise to see certain Houston Dynamo players listed over and over again as potential members of the 2018 team. The players most frequently mentioned were: Will Bruin, Kofi Sarkodie, A.J. Cochran, and Tally Hall. There seems to be a number of people outside of Houston that believe these players are still capable of making a splash and becoming 2018 World Cup candidates for the United States.

I will take the time to analyze the pros and (mostly) cons of each player and their chances of being in contention for a spot. Four years is a very long time, and by the time Russia comes along  these players may be world beaters and playing at a much higher lever than they currently are. I suggest you take all of this with a grain of salt, and just view as a current standing and not as an indication on whether they’ll make it or not.

Will Bruin: 

As soon as Jozy Altidore went down during the Ghana game, everybody was left wondering who would be the new target man for the United States for the upcoming games. Clint Dempsey is more of a play-maker than a pure striker.

Will Bruin is a pure striker. He will rarely create chances for others, but given the opportunity he scores  goals. I know that in Houston we tend to criticize him for the number of scoring opportunities he misses, but he has the physical attributes that were required in Brazil.

He’s a striker that can hold the ball and has the physique to keep defenders at bay, thus buying others enough time to make a run. This is exactly what the United States needed. However, we need to be honest with ourselves; while he has all the qualities of a goalscorer and pure striker, his percentage of goals made when compared to shots taken isn’t that good.

Jun 11, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin (12) shoots the ball during the second half against the Laredo Heat at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 11, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin (12) shoots the ball during the second half against the Laredo Heat at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

He would have frustrated the whole nation at the World Cup in the same way that he has frustrated our city. There is one unknown, however: what if Will Bruin isn’t at fault? It is possible that Bruin just doesn’t fit into the Dynamo mold. Houston has never had a golden boot winner during its existence and generally the Dynamo forwards, even Brian Ching, are not among the league leaders in goals scored.

It is possible that Dominic Kinnear as a coach for the Houston Dynamo does not set up the team in such a way that benefits a pure striker. If that’s the case, then it should be a testament to Will Bruin that he holds the record for most goals scored by an Houston Dynamo player in a single season with 12.

All of those are what if’s and scenarios that we cannot predict at this moment, so just using the evidence that is currently present I don’t believe Will Bruin would be a good fit for the United States Men’s National Team, this year or in 2018. For those of you wondering, he’ll be 28 by the time the 2018 World Cup arrives.

Kofi Sarkodie: 

Jun 11, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo defender Kofi Sarkodie (8) battles for the ball during the first half against the Laredo Heat at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

At only 23 years old, he’s already making a name for himself in Major League Soccer. He has the speed to outrun almost any player and get into position to either defend or set up and offensive play. His offensive traits are enviable by MLS standards, and something any coach would love to have access to.

When the 2018 World Cup arrives, he’ll be at the prime of his career at the age of 27. There is probably no better age to be at the time of the World Cup as an outfield player. Theoretically, he will have four more years of playing time under his belt, and have the experience to compliment his speed.

However, there’s one trait that’s a burden to him, and that’s his height. People will argue that both DeMarcus Beasley and DeAndre Yedlin are shorter than him by an inch and they made it to Brazil. The thing is that Kofi Sarkodie fills almost the exact same role that Beasley and Yedlin filled. They’re all short, fast, and offensive-minded defenders.

As was shown during the World Cup, there is only enough room for one such player in the starting line-up. Yedlin only came on as a sub, and has already started establishing himself as a viable starter. Unless Sarkodie improves drastically or Yedlin drops in form, he’ll only be competing for a spot on the squad and not a starting role. However, if that’s the case, what will prevent Klinsmann or whomever is the coach at the time to not take a younger player to earn some experience off the bench or a player that offers something a little bit different?

However, as far as Houston Dynamo players are concerned, Kofi Sarkodie is the best candidate currently on the roster to be included in the 2018 World Cup. It should also be noted that Kofi played in the U-17 World Cup for the United States and played some games for the U-20 team.

A.J. Cochran: 

Jun 24, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo defender A.J. Cochran (16) controls the ball during the first half against the FC Dallas at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

He’s an unproven commodity which is why I’m guessing he’s listed as a prospect. He hasn’t played horribly for the Houston Dynamo, but he’s not somebody to brag about either.

He’s 6’3″ which means he would be perfect to defend in the air. The only problem is that as many Houston Dynamo have already experienced, he’s prone to rookie mistakes.

We can only hope that those rookie mistakes will soon disappear as he gains more experience as a professional. Every other quality is there, and at only 21 he has the time to develop those qualities.

Even if he doesn’t make it to the 2018 World Cup, he will be at a decent age for the 2022 World Cup. He has more than enough time to make a name for himself.

He’s an unknown quantity still and nothing can really be said about his future, just his current state, which means almost nothing when a player has his whole career ahead of him. For all we know he may blossom in the next couple of seasons and be shipped to Europe, where he becomes the next Geoff Cameron.

My final verdict is that it’s way too soon to tell.

Tally Hall:

Tally Hall is a great Major League Soccer goalkeeper. That’s about as far as he’s going to get. He’s capable of being a goalie at another league at the same level as Major League Soccer, but there’s no chance he will ever become as great as past U.S. goalkeepers.

Jul 4, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall (1) makes a save during the first half against the New York Red Bulls at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

That’s not meant as an insult of his abilities, because the quality of U.S. goalkeepers has been world class for as long as we can remember. Hall is a good goalkeeper. He’ll never struggle to find a starting job. Hall is probably one of the best shot-stoppers currently playing in Major League Soccer.

It’s every other quality that’s keeping him from greatness. He has absolutely no ball distribution skills, which is something that a team like the United States needs in a goalie. His ball clearing ability is also sub-par, and would be liability at any major tournament like the World Cup, Copa America, or Confederations Cup.

Let’s take off our orange-tinted glasses for a second. Is Tally Hall better than Brad Guzan? Absolutely not. That’s who he would be in contention with for the starting job. As a back-up goalkeeper it would be smarter for the national team coach to just take somebody younger, so that he can get some experience for the 2022 World Cup, when Brad Guzan would be too old.

Even if Brad Guzan drops drastically in quality, Tally Hall isn’t better than a young goalkeeper that’s currently playing for the Mexican League champions Club Leon, William Yarbrough. Yarbrough was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, but his family had moved there from Texas.

Yarbrough is of American descent and would be eligible to play for the United States and Mexico. If the U.S. wants a quality goalkeeper for years to come, he’s the perfect choice at only 25 years old. As a goalkeeper he has many years left in him, and hasn’t even reached his prime. That in itself is a scary thought. He’s already seen as one of the best goalkeepers in CONCACAF, and hasn’t even reached the peak age for a goalkeeper.

That in itself puts into perspective how small of a chance Tally Hall has to ever being selected for a World Cup roster.


Tags: Houston Dynamo United States Soccer World Cup

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