The CONCACAF Gold Cup is less than four months away now and the clock is ticking on American players hoping to do enough to earn a place on the Gold Cup roster.
There hasn't been much shake-up in the squad we're projecting in February from the roster we named in January, with just two new names on the squad. With MLS still in its off-season, the time is now for European and Mexican-based players to work their way past their MLS brethren.
We also have the inclusion of some new names to the mix, including German-born defender/midfielder Timothy Chandler. The Nuremberg player has yet to play for the United States, but has expressed interest in playing for the USA.
So who is on this month's version of the squad? Here is February's projected U.S. Gold Cup Roster:
PROJECTED 2011 Gold Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Sean Johnson
DEFENDERS– Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Spector, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream, Zach Loyd
MIDFIELDERS– Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Stuart Holden, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya
FORWARDS– Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle, Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury
Here are some thoughts on the picks:
GOALKEEPER- Wondering why Brad Guzan isn't on the squad? Sources tell SBI Guzan will skip the Gold Cup because he's getting married. That leaves Bob Bradley with a serious issue because he'll need a reliable and experienced back-up to Tim Howard. Whether Hahnemann would accept an invite remains to be seen, and if he wouldn't, Bradley could turn to Luis Robles, who is playing regularly in Germany and played in the 2009 Gold Cup. Nick Rimando is another option, though Bradley might be inclined to look for a foreign-based No. 2 goalkeeper rather than pulling a starter off an MLS team.
DEFENDERS– So why is Zach Loyd on the list over Jonathan Bornstein. Aside from an impressive performance against Chile, Loyd will be a regular starter for FC Dallas at right back after the club traded away Heath Pearce. If he continues to develop he should be in the mix.
Jonathan Bornstein's inconsistent playing time, and lack of action at fullback, makes his position tenuous. Pearce is a player who could work his way back into the mix now that he will be playing left back for Chivas USA.
Bobby Convey can't be ignored as a left back either, particularly if he plays as well in 2011 for San Jose as he did in 2010.
Jonathan Spector has enjoyed success at a variety of positions for West Ham and wouldn't be a surprise as a roster inclusion, though the growth of the likes of Eric Lichaj and Timothy Chandler could hurt his chances.
At centerback, Omar Gonzalez is on the fringes, but would miss out behind the aforementioned group. Ike Opara remains an interesting prospect who could definitely play his way onto the radar. George John also merits mentioning.
MIDFIELDERS- Ricardo Clark is replaced by Sacha Kljestan. The injured Clark had been impressing as a centerback for Eintracht, but being sidelined by a fractured cheekbone costs him a bit while Kljestan gives the squad more of an attacking option in midfield.
Timothy Chandler has to be taken seriously as a candidate, and if he does commit to playing. Originally a forward, Chandler has enjoyed success as an attacking right back/midfielder. Benny Feilhaber is someone who can't be forgotten either, and once he's back in action next month he could definitely play his way into the squad.
Mikkel Diskerud is an exciting prospect, but should probably be considered a longshot.
FORWARDS- Danny Mwanga is a player who could move past a Bunbury or Agudelo if he is able to secure American citizenship between now and this summer (and you can't help but wonder if Bob Bradley would rather leave Agudelo behind rather than giving him two tournaments to play this summer). Chandler has played more as a right-sided player for Nuremberg lately, but given the need for forwards you have to think he could get a look from Bradley up top.
Chris Wondolowski should merit another look, but there are several young and exciting prospects who look more likely to establish roles with the national team. Herculez Gomez is starting to see more playing time for Pachuca, and while the goals haven't come yet, he's someone to keep an eye on.
What do you think of the squad? Which players do you think should be on the squad? Which players do you NOT want to see make the team?
Share your thoughts below.