116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Case for Chris Albright

Let us pause for a moment to consider the cautionary tale of Jeff Agoos. In Agoos, the U.S. had a seasoned left back, one who had been through the MLS wars with D.C. United, had passed through the fire of World Cup qualifying play and whose experience was sure to overcome his weaknesses on the grandest stage. In 2002, Agoos traveled with the U.S. team to Korea, only to have one of the more disastrous World Cup campaigns in recent memory. He was outrun frequently, was found guilty of losing his man in key moments and scored an own goal against Portugal.
Fast forward to 2006, and let us witness the potential for history to repeat itself. Anyone who saw Frankie Hejduk a.) lose and b.) get outrun by Teafore Bennett in the Jamaica-USA friendly on Tuesday could have easily had flashbacks to the worst of Agoos' performances. Like Agoos before him, Hejduk has been a good soldier for the Yanks, and is now showing the signs of a dip in form. Fortunately for Bruce Arena, and unlike in 2002, there is a younger alternative capable of doing more for the Stars and Stripes, and that individual is Chris Albright.
While watching the Los Angeles Galaxy-Chivas USA game Saturday night, I was impressed with Albright's ability to get forward and make sound passes. This, combined with the danger his heading ability presents in dead ball situations (Albright is a converted striker), allows him to present an element to the national team that Hejduk (a more by-the-book defender) does not. Albright has also been solid defensively for both club and country, and while he may lack Hejduk's experience, he has been a solid contributor and the more consistent of the two. Granted, neither Albright nor Hejduk may even see very much playing time in Germany, with Steve Cherundolo having practically nailed down the starting spot at right back, but as a fan I can say that I feel more comfortable with Albright back there over Hejduk. Whether or not Bruce Arena feels the same way remains to be seen.


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