Featured / US

Any more international call-ups for the Union?

Photo: Paul Rudderow

With the recent news that Keon Daniel has been called up for Trinidad and Tobago, who on the Philadelphia Union might be worthy of being called up for the United States?

Since 2007, Daniel  has an impressive 46 appearances and eight goals for his country. He fully deserves to be in uniform for his country—his play for the Union this season has been assured and dependable and, depending on where he is played, even excellent, at times. The best thing about Daniel is his versatility—he can be deployed in numerous positions on the field, from wing-back, to anywhere in the midfield, and even forward if necessary. His skill on set pieces seems to be underrated by the Union; why he isn’t taking corners—one of his corners against Columbus resulted in Veljko Paunovic’s goal. It was only the second headed goal of the season (Daniel has the other) and only the second Union goal from a corner kick.

Who on the Union is deserving of a tap from new USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann? Klinsmann’s 24 player roster for the upcoming friendlies against Costa Rica and Belgium featured no one from the Union. Conspicuously absent was Freddy Adu. It is difficult to read too much into Adu not being selected—he just joined the Union and it seems very likely that both he and the Union would agree that leaving the team now would not help him settling in. And, it just might be too early to tell what Klinsmann thinks of the midfielder.

Options from the Union roster

In addition to Adu at the senior level, Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo and both Farfans have experience with junior US squads. And everyone hopes that Danny Mwanga (who has yet to declare his national team allegiance) will someday play for the US. But, at present, Sheanon Williams, who already has international experience with the US U-17 and U-20 teams, is the best candidate on the Union for a senior national team spot.

So far as the chances of McInerney, Okugo and the Farfans making the US team that will battle for qualification for the 2012 Olympics in March of 2012, don’t count them out.

Why Williams deserves a senior USMNT spot now

Many of the USMNT’s backline regulars can be considered out of the running for a place at the 2014 World Cup—they’re simply too old—and Klinsmann will be giving plenty of young players a chance to prove they deserve a spot as the US prepares for World Cup qualification beginning in June of 2012.

To give a few examples from among the old guard, Jonathan Spector has been up and down over the last few years and never found a permanent place in either left or right back. Steve Cherundolo is apparently a warrior and leader for Hannover, but he is 32 and may or may not be able to keep up form over the next few years. Of some of the newer faces, Eric Lichaj has looked both good and bad at times in the back. Edgar Castillo was run around by Mexico in the last friendly, but he will continue to get more looks on the outside. Tim Ream continues to get the call and Michael Orozco Fiscal has been rewarded for his fine duty against Mexico with another call up. Zach Lloyd of FC Dallas is going to get a look and we will find out what he can do on international duty in the upcoming friendlies. Nevertheless, Williams is more deserving than Lloyd.

It is likely that Klinsmann will incorporate some German soccer influence into the USMNT. There has already been a formation change—the 4-2-3-1 was used against Mexico, and that is what Germany has used over the last few years. Another characteristic of the German game is strong wing-back play. There aren’t too many better at wing-back than Philipp Lahm, and Williams shares many of his qualities.

Backs that get up and down the field and involve themselves in the attack are crucial and the Union are at their most threatening when Williams is making runs either down the sideline or diagonally across the field in support of the attack. Those diagonal runs are very characteristic of what Lahm does for both Germany and Bayern Munich, and were tactics used under Klinsmann during the 2006 World Cup. Such dynamic play from the outside backs was largely absent against Mexico. While Cherundolo got up the field, unless Landon Donovan was on his side of the field he had no play to make or would be pushed off of the ball. On the other side, Castillo appeared to be unable to ever involve himself in the attack without being beaten back on defense.

Give Sheanon a look

Williams already has the natural style of the kind of outside threat that Klinsmann should be looking for. He never stops working on the field. When he makes a forward run, he is no slouch in returning to defense. He does not give up size for speed, he has both. And because he can throw the ball a mile in from the sidelines, he forces the opposition to defend deep in situations where they might otherwise be looking to cheat forward.

Right now the outside back positions are wide open on the USMNT. In the short term, if Cherundolo is fit, he will take one of the those positions for now, but his days are numbered. That still leaves one of the outside spots with no clear cut owner.

And that is why our guy Sheanon should get the chance to make it his own.


  1. I do no believe that Williams deserves a call up and quite frankly believe that he is overrated here by the PSP faithful…he is not the best right back in the league let alone the US player pool.

    • jazz singer says:

      are you a union fan. you never have anything good to say about them

      • So much a Union fan that I have a tattoo of the crest on my arm. Second year season ticket holder taboot(soon to be third year) and planning on be a lifetime season ticket holder. I am in fact a UNION fan more so than a Mondragon fan, Le Toux fan or Williams fan. I could care less who plays for the Union as long as they perform when they do. You will never see me with a players jersey but you will see me wearing my jersey during the philly ING half marathon in sept. From my point of view Im just realistic about our team and not gonna sugar coat anything regarding our team or our players just because they are our team or our players…

  2. It would probably be better for us if none of our players got called up. Especially a defender like Williams. As much as it would be a good thing for him, right now we need all of our best players to get back on top of the Eastern Conference. I have one thing on my mind, MLS Cup. International friendlies can wait.

    It already hurts us that Daniel has been called up for T&T, so he’ll be out for what, 2 of our next matches? I understand he is needed for his country, but it hurts us overall. He’s been a key player for us in the midfield this year

  3. would love to see Williams on the USMNT.. he has the skill and the creativity.

  4. Soccerdad1150 says:

    Good stuff Josh, agreed!

  5. Good read! I would love to see Williams get a look…maybe camp cupcake in Jan. By the way, Bradley uses the 4-2-3-1 on a few occassions before Klinsmann – credit where credit is due.

  6. Williams isn’t good enough. We are actually good at RB now that we have Chandler and Lichaj. Cherundolo is the captain for Hannover in the Bundesliga, Chandler is also on the rise in the Bundesliga, and Lichaj is the backup for Aston Villa in the EPL. Love Sheanon but only Freddy Adu has the skills to be called up for America right now. If Mwanga could get his swag back and became a citizen, he has the potential as well. Love Sheanon but don’t see it.

  7. Not good enough? Clearly you havent realized that Williams is only 21 and has SO much more room to grow and improve. His limits are sky high. I can’t wait to see him get called up and prove to all of you that you were mistaken.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *