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Feilhaber among five players dropped from U.S. Olympic qualifying roster

U.S. national team midfielder Benny Feilhaber was one of five training camp invitees to not be included in the U.S. Olympic qualifying roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Feilhaber, goalkeeper Tally Hall, defender Mike Randolph and midfielders Arturo Alvarez and Robbie Rogers did not make the 20-man roster submitted for the qualifying tournament, sources told SBI on Sunday. West Ham defender Jonathan Spector was added to the roster.

Here is the full U.S. 20-man roster for the tournament, as announced by U.S. Soccer:

GOALKEEPERS: Dominic Cervi (unattached), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS: Jonathan Spector (West Ham), Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

MIDFIELDERS: Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96), Freddy Adu (SL Benfica)

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

So what will the starting lineup look like? Here’s one potential starting XI:






The fact that Alvarez and Rogers were let go will come as a shock to some considering their play on the wings. Given the fact that Zizzo has played well enough to make the Hannover 96 bench for recent matches you wonder if Nowak decided he could get by with Zizzo and Gaven as wingers with Holden and Kljestan both capable of playing there if called upon.

The U.S. Under-23 national team opens Olympic qualifying on Tuesday against Cuba in Tampa before playing Panama on Thursday and Honduras on Sunday.

Share your thoughts on the roster and potential starting lineup below.


  1. Fig,

    So I shouldn’t expect the US to dominate the Cubans in a competitive match. I do expect nothing but totally and utter domination of inferior competition.

    FYI, when the US plays the likes of Argentina, Brazil and Spain their fans expect their teams to show their superior class against us. Anything else would be considered a disappointment.

    What position on the field should Cuba outclass us? Where exactly should I not see us better than them. Why should we not win every ball and dominate the game in every facet.

    The team had a camp to practice and get better, to work out the kinks. Tuesday night is not practice.

  2. Feilhaber’s decision probably had as much to do w/ him than Novak. He has been very bullish about not leaving Derby, and seeing as how he made the bench (at least that’s what the box score said) last game, and Derby are having a firesale of sorts, I’m sure he is eager to earn a spot for next years team. If he played in the tourney he would have almost no chance to break into the Derby squad… Rogers and Alvarez? maybe Novak feels their clubs need them more then the u-23 squad, at least until the semifinals. Or maybe they are going to get a callup in the near future to the senior team, and don’t want to take them away from their clubs for any extended period of time. Or maybe Novak thinks they stink… Ives, Whats the answer?

  3. I think Nowak will employ two forwards formation b/c there’s no point for him to choose 4 forwards (not counting adu as #5)for the roster. the question is who will play along side Jozy?

  4. I’m a bit surprised in all honesty, but I suppose Feilhaber’s lack of match fitness ultimately contributed to the decision.

  5. I’ll second Adam R’s theory above: Orozco was a godsend in the back line, allowing Nowak to move Edu back to CM, and Sacha outperformed BF, not surprising given the fact that BF has had NO quality games since the Copa America.

    I always thought it would be Alvarez or Rogers, not both. That it is neither is the bigger surprise. Coupled with Randolph’s ouster leaves a left side with no natural lefties.

    However, we know Nowak/Bradley are high on Holden, (remember he was the only one called into the Sr. team camp against Mexico). So the starting lineup against Cuba.






    Spector does not come in to camp until the Semis.

    I could also see a 4-4-2 with Findley or Davies in for Zizzo, and Sacha moving to the RM in a diamond midfield. The team as construed will not likely rely on route 1, they will emphasize possession and play a very attractive brand of football.

    However, that Nowak blew out his 2 LM’s is a gamble. If it fails Nowak will be the Ryan of the mens game.

  6. Lost in all this is the fact that Jonathan Spector is somehow an automatic start?? The guy anchors a West Ham defense that has lost 3 straight games by a 4-0 scoreline! Why bother taking a spot away from a guy who has been training with the team for Spector??

  7. I know I posted a couple posts about Gaven before, but truth be told I’ve been excited for these games for 2 weeks (when I got my tickets in the mail)and actually can’t wait for the team to play. Is anyone else going to any of these games? I’m driving over to Tampa on Thursday (I live on the east coast of FL). I’m just excited to have a non-college soccer game in the state of FL for the first time in about 4-5 years.

  8. Fire Nowak!

    Many people have complained about Feilhaber being overhyped for his “one” goal in teh Gold Cup. Take out that goal and he is still our best central midfielder. No, he’s not the fastest, the strongest or the best ball winner, but he does what a central midfielder is supposed to do. He distributes the ball better than any player to wear the US shirt. Yeah, there are times he gives the ball away, but if you are attempting to create something offensively, you are bound to lose it at times. He controls the ball like no one else in the pool. His composure and vision can only be challenged by Adu, but they are different style players, and one should not be dropped for the other. Finally, as far as the comments that he is not fit and hasn’t been playing, considering this is the end of the MLS offseason, that argument is void. Hardley anyone on this squad has played a meaningful match in 4 months. At least Feilhaber has played with the Nats some. Also, dropping Rogers, Alvarez, Noxak proves again, we should deport him.

  9. 1st- for everyone harping on barrett: while he’s no offensive juggernaut, everyone that has been around him during this off-season have said he’s really matured as a player. he’s scoring during friendlies (altho not exactly the top talent of friendlies being colleges and youth nats sides), but he’s also scored at least a couple for the Fire during the offseason. he was leading scorer during the regular season for the fire. YES, he missed some open shots, but tallying 8 goals and 1 assist is pretty average for a MLS forward. He’s improving as a player, and i expect he’ll see some time (not much with Altidore and Adu in the lineup). But i feel some are too hard on him b/c of some youthful foul ups. Not every player developes as fast as Altidore O.o

    2nd- i’ve have/still am a big Feilhaber fan. i dont expect his career with the nats is over by any means. But seriously guys, whatever form he had in the Summer is most likely COMPLETELY different then now. He’s gotten little to no time for Derby. he needs to get 1st team play before he should expect to make any nats roster.

    3rd- someone made a post about keeping 4 forwards is odd, but when they are playing 3 games in 1 week its probably going to be necessary.

    4th- im shocked about 2 players being cut. and they are Alvarez and Rogers. Alvarez seemed solid in the games ive seen him play. But im assuming the coaching staff clearly sees something in the guys they picked, whether it be current form or experience, i dont know. Rogers being cut comes as a big disappointment. i was never a fan of his in the U20’s, but his play this past season has changed that. im eager to see him get some play on the nats, but for now i guess he’ll have to focus on doing well this season to impress.

  10. What was Nowak thinking? A washed-up Eddie Gavin who can’t defend as a winger? And to cut the two natural left wingers in Arturo and Robbie? Gavin is a retread and Arturo and Robbie have lots of potential!

    Is Nowak going to repeat the errors of the past at DC and put Freddy on the left wing?

    I still think they should try Edu at left back – speed, skill, size – try that now and maybe that will carry forward to the MNT in WC qualification. Central midfield is too loaded w/ Bradley, Feilhaber, and Clark for starters.

    Other than the left side, I think we have a strong team to make a statement in Olympic qualifying…but Eddie Gavin????

  11. Does anyone else hope/pray that K. Hill playing fullback is a total revelation for his game?

    I’d like to see him get some game experience… whatever helps him get some minutes for Wolfsburg.

    ::crosses fingers::

  12. Absolutely marvellous cut. The past administration (bruce) tended to be very loyal to players who were not performing or out of form. this is morally fantastic but it leads to losing.

  13. A couple points:

    + Adu is on the record as admitting Nowak was better for his development than he originally thought. Secondly, his playing time situation is not really a drawback. He is getting games and minutes (though not so much as a starter) and is in a battle royale with other great professionals for playing time at a club in European competition. That is a stark contrast from Feilhaber at a club going nowhere.

    + Alvarez may indeed have turned the corner in MLS and he has nearly always been effective at youth levels. But people need to temper their praise a bit. He has done very little over the balance of his pro career. Gaven has quietly been much more productive (even in his bad seasons). Gaven came on fairly strong last season on an awful team. He is getting back to being the player that delighted everyone as an MLS Best XI in New York (as a teeny-bopper). Alvarez still struggled to get starts last season.

    + I agree about Holden. He may be the reason Alvarez got left home. If Alvarez was not going to be happy on the bench and Holden is better suited to play (defense plus well-ruundedness) than leave Arturo home. At least until the later rounds.

  14. All very interesting noise from previous posters but here’s the real deal based on reports from friends (who know the game) who watched many of the training sessions in Bradenton.

    Feilhaber – this one shocked a lot of people but as several posters pointed out , he has not been playing much and seriously out of favor at Derby. His mental attitude is wrong just now, match fitness lacking and it showed big time during this past week. He really didn’t impress and Nowak gets full marks for leaving him out now. I fully expect Benny to take this message and use it positively (if he’s a good pro) and get himself back in contention for future USA squads.

    Alvarez – I was really disappointed at this one more than any other player. I think he’s a lethal threat going forward and can change a game coming off the bench. His biggest weakness has always been his work rate and the fact that he doesn’t offer the team anything on the defensive end of the game. I think it was this last point that cost him his place.

    Rogers – good player, many posters warble on about his speed but you need much more than that at the higher levels. From all accounts he is not fully clear from an injury and couldn’t be risked, he’ll be back in future.

    Hall – not much to say on him, he apparently was good all week but for some reason Cervi is in favor right now.

    Randolph – thank goodness Nowak sorted this one out! This guy is just a liability. I don’t know how many times I saw him humiliated by opponents last year, and then again in pre- season Galaxy games in Hawaii and Asia (did anyone see the game he played against FC Seoul in Korea? The Korean wing man made him look naive and abused him all game long. This guy has no business being in a USA shirt!

    Biggest worry from my friends at Bradenton was that Adu and Altidore did not seem to work very well together, not on the same page, call it waht you will. Hopefully they can work it out.

    Overall, I’m filled with optimism for the next two weeks. Everyone needs to stop bitching about selections and get behind the team, it’s a strong squad of players oozing with ability and able to get the job done and qualify for Beijing 2008!!

  15. I have to believe that Jonathan Spector will start if he is on the roster.

    Some of the other moves, such as Feilhaber not making the roster, do surprise me.

  16. Eugene,

    Using the U20s’ performance last year to determine how dominant the U23s should or shouldn’t be in qualifiers doesn’t make as much sense as you and CD seem to think.

    If things worked that way, the USMNT would have routed most teams in its qualifiers for Germany ’06 after nearly making it to the semis in Korea in ’02.

    Qualifiers aren’t about dominating the opponent. They’re about doing what it takes to qualify against opposition that’ll do anything it can to knock out one of the giants of Concacaf. It’s not easy, and results rarely conform to traditional world rankings.

    If you’re going to use the U20s results to gauge the strength of the U23s, keep in mind the they struggled mightily against South Korea and were knocked out by Austria — not world powers by any stretch of the imagination.

  17. I really hope Zizzo is a starter. I am a very big fanny of him. He is a true winger. Though i have not watched him since the U20 WC, I can only imagine he has gotten much better too. He’s a true winger, something USA needs on the right side.

  18. What I like about these lineups is that nobody includes Orozco. I must be the only one following his game. He doesn’t have the experience with the current group, but a vocal defender can get around that. He’s probably the most fit in the group.

  19. So, does this mean that Convey is coming in? We could use his turnovers, shrinking on set-pieces…and his crossing ability. Well, maybe the latter.

  20. Eugene: Do you intentionally have Holden playing left back in a three-man back line?

    I see a 4-4-2, Wynne, Spector, Orozco, Sturgis in the back, Zizzo, Kljestan, Edu, Holden in midfield, and Adu playing off of Jozy up top.


    Spector’s in. Now we’re talkin.






    *Either Davies or Findley depending on who had a better camp.

    this is actually a pretty exciting lineup considering the cuts that we made. Haven’t had a look at holden much, but I saw him at the PPC and he looked good. I really hope we use this lineup.

    I don’t think that feilhaber was simply outplayed. Like a few people have said already, he is probably making progress at derby and while he looked decent, the U-23’s probably thought that Dax looked good enough not to need feilhaber. Not sure about alvarez though. The upside to this is that he may start to get PT, and he also may be available for the game against poland. This at least might bring some depth to the Senior team, who is losing quite some depth for this game due to olympic qualifying. Which is kind of scary considering poland bet the czechs 2-0 recently (same team who thumped us in WC 06) and they finished ahead of portugal in their group for euro 08. But we’ll see.

  22. I hope this is Novak and Bradley telling Benny to get a club where he plays because contrary to someone’s opinion above he hasn’t shown ANYTHING since last July. Was terrible and ineffective v. Mexico and looks slow and clueless in his rare cameos at Derby. And as for feeling sorry for him? He’s the one chasing the money in the big leagues. I don’t care who plays for the Nats (at whatever level) as long as we win. Name on the front not on the back.

    As for the rest of the roster? I certainly have questions, Barrett being chief among them as a Fire fan. But Nowak certainly has a better view than I do so go get ’em boys just win and shut all these clowns up who ae worried about a whole lot of nothing thus far.

  23. Gaven is a slug. He must be a reborn again soccer player to be selected. Also, math formulas do not win soccer games like in the NFL, but then u23 might play a 1-2-1-3-2-1 at times!

  24. It makes zero sense to not have 1 leftwinger on the team. Freddy aint a leftwinger and stuey is a solid player who can play all across midfield but you shouldnt have to depend on either of those two when you can play artie or robbie rogers. If Nowak decides to play adu at left mid, I believe it will end badly. There is no reason for both Gaven and Barret on the team at the expense of one of Rogers or Alvarez.(Barring injury to Rogers of course).

    And Stuey can put in a good performance on both wings but he is better on the right imho.

  25. Actually, I agree with CD and I don’t think those comments sound unreasonable or naive. Six months ago our U-20s team would have whipped these three opponents. Understandably we don’t have Bradley for these three games, but considering we could have just taken the same U-20s side and strengthened it in a couple key places, I’m also expecting our U-23s team to dominate this week.

    Per Ives’ set-up, I’m not sure if that ends up as a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3, but I highly doubt Nowak is going to play a 4-3-3. I’m also a bit troubled by the lack of naturally left-footed players on this roster, both for a left wing/forward and left back — or at least I’m troubled by the implication that Freddy Adu will be playing the left side instead of attacking mid. I’ve seen Holden play the left for Houston very capably, so I’m confident he would be a good left wing even if he’ll have the tendency to play towards the center and his right foot rather than staying wide left.

    This is the formation I see Nowak playing:






    With Kljestan playing up more and Edu hanging back more, potentially coming back as a 2nd centerback.

  26. Good one fig.

    Happens every time with the clueless/juvenile/ignorant.

    The lack of understanding here in the states, whether the average coach or fan, shows just how far we still have to go.

    Most really just don’t understand the game all that well.

    We are a very young nation with regards to soccer…and it shows.

  27. posted by CD:

    The u23 vs Cuba match should be a nice warm up. Anything but total domination will be viewed as a failure.


    Are you kidding me? Anything but total domination? These aren’t friendlies, sparky. Way to set up completely juvenile and unrealistic expectations for a team that hasn’t played much strong opposition in training and will still be looking to find a rhythm in the opening match.

    Anything but total domination… my god!

    The only thing that matters is qualifying for Beijing. That’s it.

    Your whole insistence that only dominating will be good enough… I don’t know where to start. You’re an idiot.

  28. Here’s my projected starting lineup with the players currently avaliable(no Spector this week).






    I know its just a possible lineup, but I have to disagree with Ives. There is no reason for the USA to play a 4-5-1 in the group stage games. Maybe in the semi, but we shouldn’t have to play a 5 man midfield against any of our group opponents. Having said that I think that a 3-5-2 is more likely under Nowak than a 4-5-1.

    Places where I think I’m most likely to be wrong are Davies at forward. I put him there because from what I’ve seen he has a better touch than Findley, but I think it comes down to which one of them plays better with Jozy. I like Holden and Zizzo, and Holden played well as a left midfielder for Houston last season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Sacha started on either wing instead of the two I have listed. I’m not familiar enough with Orozco to know where to put him. Does he play as a fullback or in the center for his club team? If he is a centerback I could see him starting instead of Ianni.

  29. Things were not good in DC under Nowak. He made major coaching errors all the time and the way he handled Adu (which could be why Freddie’s attitude isn’t great) was a problem. Now America gets to see what we saw in DC and we’ll see how he does.

  30. I gotta say, I’m scratching my head on this one… Chad Barret, Dax McArty, and Eddie Gaven? I’ve seen Eddie play a lot of MLS games and have never been impressed, a couple of scrappy goals… Feilhaber has had great games in matches against the senior teams of Mexico, Ecuador, etc. Many have commented how much of an improvement to the midfield he was when he entered the final 20 minutes of the Mexico game. McArty makes the team and Alverez doesn’t? Someone better tell Steve Morrow he’s got it all wrong…and no Rogers either… only one left footed midfielder? Maybe there are personal reasons for some of theses decisions… I hope Nowak knows what he’s doing…

  31. My opinion mirrors that of many here. But wanted to just get it off my chest.

    I really want to hear the reasons why Gaven and Barrett was chosen over Alvarez and Rogers. Wow. Something drastic must have happened for those two players to be dropped for the latter two. And Dax McCarty? Really?

    I just feel sorry for what is happening to Feilhaber’s career. Yikes.

    I do like what Zizzo brings. Hope he does get the start.

  32. Not only is Benny Feilhaber better than any of the players picked in his stead, but he is a player in dire need of some playing time. This U-23 tournament was exactly what the playing-time starved midfielder needed…

  33. Interesting comments, to say the least. It’s human nature as soccer fans to jump in immediately with knee jerk reactions, but I’m sure some of the reasons for this seemingly mysterious lineup will come to light. Ives may already know more than he has shared with us here and is having a good laugh at everyone going gaga.

    Benny Feilhaber- I’m not a big fan of Feilhaber, mostly because he is so overrated, but this even surprised me a little. Still, he can’t expect to spend all of his time training with what will soon be a Championship team and not playing at all, then expect to just be picked for international teams. Think about it. If your a player competing with him for a spot, you have to be wondering what it is he does that gets him picked all of the time. As a lot of you have said, go play somewhere Benny.

    Freddy Adu- How long before we say the same thing about him?

    Chad Barret- Hard to understand this one. I know Nowak likes hard working disciplined players better than flashy inconsistent ones, but still. Is he suddenly finding the net in camp?

    Robbie Rogers- A couple of people here have suggested he is injured. If he is, then the mystery is solved.

    Eddie Gaven- Puzzling when you consider players like Arturo Alvarez. Then again maybe this is the same type of situation as with Barrett. Gaven has certainly shown he is capable of playing great. Maybe he is playing great in camp. Alvarez, for all of his skill, can still be pretty inconsistent and not very good defensively. Without something going on in camp, though, you would expect Alvarez to be picked over Gaven or Barrett. Alvarez has played forward sometimes for Dallas.

    Dax McCarty- Again, fits that hard working disciplined approach that Nowak likes. He has been inconsistent but he has played some really good games. He could still turn out to be an excellent player and hopefully is doing really well in camp.

    Patrick Ianni- Nobody mentioned him, but this guy scares me. It seems like every time he gets into a big game for Houston he single handedly kills them! (Alright, it’s just two!) This fits into the Feilhaber mentality of being influenced by just a few games, though. Still, if he costs the U.S. big in this tournament, he’ll officially be a jinx!

    Balance of the team- Edu should really be in the midfielders which would make six defenders and six midfielders.

    Peter Nowak- Pepople can say what they like about Nowak, but I think he is a great coach. I would have much preferred him over Bradley. The only real success Bradley had as a coach was in Chicago with Nowak around, and certainly Nowak proved his worth with DC United. Your quite possibly looking at the next coach of the U.S. Wait until there is good reason to attack him.

  34. Not one of us has been at camp or seen what sort of form people are in, yet we’re collectively ready to throw Nowak under the bus? Let’s at least watch the team play once before we overreact.

  35. The u23 vs Cuba match should be a nice warm up. Anything but total domination will be viewed as a failure. I will wait and see to make a judgment on his roster selection.

    Nice to see some games that count this week state side. With the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup kicking off this week also, it should be a good week for domestic soccer. News of the Galaxy tour was starting to really get on my nerves.

  36. Bold moves by Nowak. I am unwilling to judge until I see the results. A failure to qualify should surely find Nowak on the outside looking in at the USSF.

    Disclaimer: I’ve never understood the politics behind Nowak’s appointment as the U23 coach… clearly, he butted heads with Freddy in the past – everyone knows Freddy is a big part of the team we are trying to build for 2010… why did Bradley and the USSF take the risk of putting Nowak in charge of Freddy’s development again?

  37. I like how both Feilhaber lovers and haters focus only on the one goal against Mexico. The lovers all glorify the goal and the haters only say “it’s just one goal”. There is much more to his game. I’ve read more than one game report praising his sophisticated passing out of the midfield. Of course because he hasn’t played in a while all I have to go off of are games from almost a year ago.

    Also, Benny’s goal was a year ago, but also a year ago was Gaven’s horrible showing at Copa America. There were multiple sources who were perplexed by him being even included on the roster. My favorite quote is this: “The problem here is that, if you want energy, Gaven’s hardly the man to provide it, given his lackadaisical style of play and total disregard for anything resembling tackling.”

  38. Relax about the number of forwards. Freddy Adu is not a forward. He is a middlefielder. They are just listing him that way. Check out US Soccer for the video of the team members. Freddy himself says “Im a midfielder”

  39. the only reason i see these kids getting left off is if bradley wanted them in his camp for the poland game. but i still do see why. my god this man is a fool if thats not the case! lord help us.

  40. I don’t know what happened, but that’s really disapointing. Nowak is not a personel kind of guy. I can see Alvarez rubbign him the rith way. I hope he was cut for his performance on the pitch and nothing else.

    As for Benny, I’m still scratching m head.

  41. I am suprised that Alvarez got dropped. He is a very skilled player. Sorry but I completely understand why Benny got dropped. He preferred to ride the pine instead of going to a new team, hust for the money. He needs to play, and if he is not playing we should not encourage that behavior by saying well you can play for us. Even though you aren’t match fit.

  42. “Holden is strong on the left. He plays differently there than he does on the right, preferring to cut inside more often, where he can shoot from outside with his right, but his left is good enough to send good crosses. And for anyone who hasn’t seen a lot of him, he has an absolute rocket for a right foot. We want him shooting from outside fairly often, trust me. His outside shot is on par with DeRosario’s.”

    Thats why I like him on the left as well. He can cross and pass well with his left foot, but that right leg of his is a cannon. I think it’s best used when he is cutting inside and allowed to take shots at goal.

  43. wow! a whole lot of douchebags posting today. You guys like to talk a lot based on a whole lotta nothin’.

    Glad Nowak is making these decisions based on having actually seen these kids in training for the last few months, and not on your idiotic rants about how someone performed in a game that happened a year ago.

    Wait until you see the team play, THEN you can talk. Until then, suck it.

  44. Holden is strong on the left. He plays differently there than he does on the right, preferring to cut inside more often, where he can shoot from outside with his right, but his left is good enough to send good crosses. And for anyone who hasn’t seen a lot of him, he has an absolute rocket for a right foot. We want him shooting from outside fairly often, trust me. His outside shot is on par with DeRosario’s.


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