U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT looking for answers against Czech Republic

USMNTTeamJog (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com


Whether it's a fringe player looking to cement a spot on the final 23-man roster, or a starter looking to silence his critics, the U.S. men's national team's friendly against the Czech Republic (8pm, ESPN) should provide answers for head coach Bob Bradley.

With Bradley selecting his World Cup team on Wednesday, the match at Rentschler Field will prove pivotal for bubble players such a Alejandro Bedoya, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez. A solid performance against the Czechs could go a long way in helping a player book his ticket to South Africa.

"This past week we've had training to see how we were on our running," said Jose Francisco Torres. "Everybody has enjoyed seeing each other again, but now we have an important game. Everyone is focused on that."

While everyone is in World Cup mode, it is likely that some regulars will be rested in order to make room for the numerous players fighting for the final six or seven spots up for grabs.

One regular who won't be rested is Oguchi Onyewu, who has not played in a match since injuring his patellar tendon on Oct. 14. Onyewu stated during the pre-World Cup camp in Princeton, NJ that he's fully fit and healthy, but questions remain about how his form is after the lengthy layoff.

"I'm up to par and up to game fitness right now," said Onyewu. "All that's left to see is game situations and hopefully within the next couple of friendlies I'll be able to get the cobwebs off and put to rest all uneasiness that everybody might have."

Centerbacks Carlos Bocanegra and Jay DeMerit are also coming off recent injuries, but both might be given the night off due to their status with the team. Tim Howard might also be rested as he was healing a thigh strain during training camp.

If Howard does not dress, Brad Guzan and Marcus Hahnemann will likely split time against Czech Republic. Just exactly who is Howard's backup is uncertain, but the answer could come with a strong showing.

Of all the positions, forward is the one with the most question marks. Jozy Altidore and Brian Ching, if healthy, are locks to travel to South Africa, leaving Gomez, Buddle, Robbie Findley and Eddie Johnson to battle it out for the final one to two spots.

Gomez and Buddle are the more in form strikers out of that group, with both enjoying stellar seasons before joining the national team. Word around the team is that Gomez has enjoyed a solid camp, while Buddle has struggled a bit, especially with fitness. Buddle, however, feels up to the challenge if his number is called.

"If I get my chance, I'm just going to run with it and play hard and walk off the field knowing I gave it my all," said Buddle.

For Buddle and other hopefuls, the Czech Republic match is likely to make or break their World Cup spots. That pressure might not come close to what they will feel in South Africa if they make it, but it might be as close as one could get in a friendly.


What do you think of tonight's game? What are you keeping an eye on? Do you see Onyewu performing well? How will Buddle and Gomez do?

Share your thoughts below.

  • jb

    You must be a newbie to our national team. Like him or not, Ching has the most experience of any of our strikers. He HAS scored goals for the USMNT, IS quite effective in the air, and makes the players around him better. No, he’s not going to blow past defenders or dazzle with 1v1 moves, but what striker for us is? The situation is this: Our only legitimate dangerous striker is a 20 yr old who scored only a single goal in his first EPL season. I love Jozy’s potential and am praying for him to break out this summer, but so far he has been inconsistant.


  • madmax

    From the amount of Beasley is brilliant stories floating about, Bedoya is already toast.

    The best non-news from camp is that Ching is great, and Kljestan is god stories have not been circulated.


  • Warren

    Brian did make some nice passes tonight, but if it comes down to Gomez or Ching, it’s got to be Gomez.

    Between buddle, ching and johnson it’s closer, for myself I’d lean to buddle, though on clicking with teammates Ching had slight edge tonight.


  • Warren

    wrong. as Gomez showed with his spin move and shot – saved by cech – or his headed goal.

    If it’s down to gomez or ching getting on the plane, the other guy punched his ticket tonight


  • Warren

    you mean years of being played out of position on mediocre teams by clearly mediocre coaches.

    after winning mls cup as a striker – just brilliant to move the guy to the wing.

    When playing back in his spot for a top mexican side, well the result is 1st ever U citizen topping a foreign league in scoring. and you think he should stay home?


  • Warren

    Still in the game tonight Bornie was embarrassing himself and whil Kljestan made a few nice passes. he was also late coming back to help on the 2nd, 3rd and probably 4th goal too.


  • madmax

    They may be looking for answers but they created more questions. Where are some good FBs? Gooch is a long way off.


  • Rory

    Thank you. I just wish I’d made the prediction in the other thread. Someone there said 3-1 and was brutally ripped. I wonder what that guy is thinking today!


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