Photo by ISI Photos
If you are still absorbing the ramifications of Bob Bradley’s 30-man player pool for the U.S. national team’s upcoming friendlies, you might want to consider some of the factors that went into this group being selected, as well as what exactly the pool is.
For starters, there is not going to be some mega-camp where all these players will converge. This group will never actually be together. It is simply a list from which Bradley will call 22-player squads in for each of the three upcoming international friendlies against England, Spain and Argentina. Not every player is even assured of making the roster for any of these games, while some may never get beyond simply participating in practices leading up to the games.
So how did Bradley choose this group? Along with the obvious aspect of choosing the best players and players he feels are on good form, Bradley also took into consideration the schedules of MLS teams as well as the committments some of these players have on other national teams (in other words, the Olympic Team). This might explain why certain teams (like Houston and New England) might not have had certain players called in.
Here’s a closer look at the pool:
GOALKEEPERS– Dominic Cervi (Out of Contract), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
With Howard standing a very good chance of starting all three matches (at the very least I see him starting vs. England and Argentina), the friendlies will allow Bradley to get a closer look at Guzan, who has struggled this year, while Peter Nowak will be able to evaluate Cervi and Seitz, two goalkeepers vying for Olympic goalkeeper spots.
DEFENDERS– Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Dan Califf (FC Midtjylland), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
No real surprises in this group. Hejduk makes the list because he’s actually having a pretty strong year for Columbus and he still brings plenty to the table, particularly at a right back position that isn’t exactly deep. Orozco is a pleasant surprise who has earned the look after establishing himself in the Mexican First Division.
MIDFIELDERS– Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Eddie Lewis (Derby County), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)
Surprises galore here, with Feilhaber, Lewis and Mastroeni drawing some head scratching. As I stated before, not every player in the pool will be called in for a match. There should be a pretty good battle between Edu and Clark to start alongside Michael Bradley in central midfield. I think Lewis definitely merits the call after spending all season as a starter at Derby (and yes, spare me the Derby jokes). He’s still playing at a high level and I see him getting at least one start in the friendlies.) The Pablo Mastroeni call was also very surprising but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bradley doesn’t want to get a closer look at him to see just where he is form wise (I am also sure Mastroeni is drooling at another chance to face Argentina, his native country). Also, a source tells me Danny Szetela was set to be included in the pool before suffering a groin sprain with Brescia.
FORWARDS- Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Out of Contract), Eddie Johnson (Fulham FC), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich)
Kenny Cooper finally gets a call, which is deserved after starting the MLS season so well. He and Rogers have played their way into the mix and it will be interesting to see if Rogers gets a real chance in one of the friendlies. Nate Jaqua’s selection shocked some people but the guy scored five goals in 10 matches in the Austrian First Division. That merits consideration. I am also curious to see how much of a look Eddie Johnson gets. Bradley hasn’t lost faith in him but this series of friendlies should serve to paint a clearer picture of whether Johnson is really ready to contribute this summer.