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With three points in the bag after last week’s 1-0 road win against Guatemala, the U.S. men’s national team heads into the next set of World Cup qualifiers knowing that two wins could all but lock up advancement into the Hexagonal round.
A trip to Cuba followed by a home date in Chicago against Trinidad & Tobago are up next and U.S. coach Bob Bradley will have some tough decisions to make regarding player selection. Steve Cherundolo is set to serve a suspension while Pablo Mastroeni is dealing with an injury that could keep him out. You also have some players who could be in the midsts of transfers.
So what will the 18-man gameday roster look like that Bob Bradley trots out against Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago (18 players will dress but more will be called in to camp) ? Here is one potential group:
POTENTIAL USA ROSTER vs. Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago
GOALKEEPER– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan
DEFENDERS– Frankie Hejduk, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Bornstein, Marvell Wynne
MIDFIELDERS– Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Eddie Lewis
FORWARDS– Brian Ching, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Kenny Cooper
I could see Bradley calling in this group. Why? Well, the combination of Heath Pearce’s recent struggles coupled with a potential transfer from Hansa Rostock could lead Bob Bradley to leave him in Germany and give Jonathan Bornstein a look. I also think Wynne showed enough in the Olympics for Bradley to call him in as Frank Hejduk’s back-up at right back.
Freddy Adu is the glaring absence. Why no Freddy ? He’s in the midst of a new move to Monaco and I can see Bradley wanting to leave him in France to settle in. If he decides the time is right to bring Adu in, you might not see
Eddie Lewis Sacha Kljestan. I could also see Bobby Convey getting a look ahead of Lewis if Lewis isn’t healthy (though as someone rightly pointed out, it has been a long time since Convey got a look. The 2-2 tie vs. Mexico in February to be exact).
At forward, if Altidore is healthy I can’t see him not getting the call. Given Clint Dempsey’s recent struggles Bradley need some fresh blood to look at. Kenny Cooper is the player everyone wants to see but I see him getting the nod because of Eddie Johnson’s recent loan move to Cardiff City. If Bradley decides he wants to use Johnson against a T&T team he has had success against in the pass, then fans will have to keep waiting for Cooper to make a national team appearance. That said, if the Americans beat Cuba, I can definitely see Cooper getting the mid-week call against Trinidad & Tobago.
It should also be noted that you could and will likely see changes to the 18-man rosters for the two games, especially if the U.S. team beats Cuba.
So who do you think should get the call? Feel free to share your thoughts on the potential roster below, and remember that more than 18 players will be called into camp, but only 18 will be in uniform on game days). But first, it’s time for a poll on whose absence would bother you the most: