The first U.S. national team match of the new year on foreign soil pits the Americans against Poland in a match that will be much tougher than some Americans realize.
This is not the same Poland team the Americans beat twice in a span of a year. Poland is coming off a very strong European qualifying campaign and should actually be considered the favorite going into Wednesday’s match.
Now that the U.S. roster has been revealed we can start to consider what the starting lineup may look like. Here is my guess on the starting XI Bob Bradley may trot out in Krakow.
USA Projected Starting XI vs. Poland
Bocanegra might come as a surprise considering he isn’t starting for Fulham, but I can’t see him going from regular captain to bench (and yes, I realize that actually happened at Fulham). Bocanegra’s lack of playing time could open the door for Jay DeMerit or Jonathan Spector to get into the XI though it should be noted that DeMerit only recently regained his starting job while Spector still doesn’t have one for West Ham (his two-match stint in the Hammers starting XI aside).
Will Bradley go with the Fulham forward tandem of Johnson and Dempsey? I would say so. Brian Ching seems unlikely to start considering Houston’s busy upcoming schedule. And yes, I know the same could be said of Ricardo Clark, but he doesn’t have Ching’s injury history and Houston has midfielders it can use in his place. The Dynamo doesn’t have forwards to replace Ching.
Heath Pearce should get the call. He has worked his way back into the mix at Hansa Rostock and I think he’s ready to stake a strong claim to the starting left back spot during this busy 2008 national team calendar.
I know there was a lot of complaining about the inclusion of Josh Wolff on the roster but the fact is he has played well enough to make it into the 1860 Munich starting lineup. That said, I can see him getting a starting nod, though minutes against Poland seem assured.
Oh, and about Eddie Lewis. Yes, he’s old and no he doesn’t seem likely to be around for the 2010 World Cup, but the fact remains that he starts in the EPL (insert your Derby joke here), is playing at a good level and is at a position where the best two U.S. options are both hurt or recovering from injury. There really is no point to call up some inexperienced player who is a few years away from being ready for this type of match when you have a player like Lewis who is ready and willing to do the job.
What starting lineup would you like to see against Poland? Share your thoughts and suggestions below.