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Four months from now, the U.S. men's national team will face England in the World Cup opener, and as fast as that match is approaching, there is still plenty to be settled with regard to the American squad that will be there.
The U.S. team's loss to Honduras last month helped drop the stock of several fringe World Cup candidates, but a bevy of injuries makes it tough to gauge just who will be ready when the team boards the plane for South Africa.
Charlie Davies remains a mystery, though a recent elbow surgery means he should be done with surgical procedures and can now focus on making a return to action. He is still considered a longshot to play, but can no longer simply be ruled out.
Question marks persist on defense, where depth has clearly become an issue. That lack of reliable depth is why we will make a change to our approach for selecting the defender pool for the World Cup roster.
Here is the group of 23 players we see the U.S. national team taking to the 2010 World Cup as of right now:
SBI 23 for 2010 (February 2010 edition)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann
DEFENDERS– Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson
MIDFIELDERS– Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Maurice Edu, Robbie Rogers
FORWARDS– Charlie Davies, Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Robbie Findley
Left off last team-Edgar Castillo, Conor Casey
New additions– Maurice Edu, Brian Ching
Here is a closer look at the positions:
GOALKEEPERS– The trio stays the same and there is no reason to believe that trio won't be in South Africa. Marcus Hahnemann is playing at a very high level as starter for Wolves and leaves me wondering whether he won't push Guzan aside for the No. 2 role of he keeps it up. We will have to wait until the MLS season to get a sense of who else might be a candidate to jump in if there is an injury. As of now, Troy Perkins remains that player.
DEFENDERS– You might find it crazy to have just seven defenders on this roster, but there are three things to consider. First, the fringe candidates have been very shaky, making their inclusions highly questionable. Edgar Castillo hasn't really gotten his chance, but he is not a strong left back defensively so you wonder if he can break through in a group that already has three players capable of playing left back in Bornstein, Bocanegra and Spector.
Second, having seven defenders shouldn't be an issue if Maurice Edu is brought in. He has seen time in central defense (he looked good there on the U.S. Olympic team) and could be used there if needed. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the United States has used just six defenders in each of the past two World Cups. Both in 2002 (Steve Cherundolo and David Regis) and 2006 (Chris Albright and Gregg Berhalter), the United States had two defenders out of eight on the roster who didn't play a single minute.
It should be noted that Bruce Arena was the coach for both those teams, and Bob Bradley could prefer to have some depth among his defenders, but if Edu is on the roster, and if say someone like DaMarcus Beasley plays himself onto the squad, we can see Bradley taking just seven defenders.
We're not completely writing off Castillo just yet, but he, Frank Simek, Conrad and Marshall all need to play very well in the coming months on the club to justify being that eighth defender.
MIDFIELDERS– There were no players removed from last month's group, while Edu has been added. Dempsey and Clark are both out injured, but both should be back in action in March.
DaMarcus Beasley remains sidelined for Rangers, which keeps him off the list and keeps Robbie Rogers on for now. It will be interesting to see what Rogers can do vs. El Salvador. That friendly should also afford Sacha Kljestan another opportunity to force his name back into the conversation.
Don't forget about Alejandro Bedoya. He's a darkhorse, but someone to definitely keep tabs on. If Beasley can't regain his health/form, Bedoya could wind up swooping in and grabbing the spot from Rogers.
Freddy Adu has gotten some minutes for Greek club Aris and can't be completely written off, but for now he remains a longshot. If he settles into a starting role for Aris, and starts to produce regularly, he still has a shot.
Jermaine Jones looks like a lost cause at this point. He still hasn't returned to action, and now that his inclusion in the upcoming friendly vs. the Netherlands looking unlikely, it would appear that a once-promising candidate is now a serious long-shot. Of course, if he returns to Schalke and plays very well to close out the Bundesliga season, Bob Bradley could have a very tough decision to make.
FORWARDS– Brian Ching has battle injury issues on-and-off since last spring, but when he's healthy he's a better option than Conor Casey. We should expect one of them to make the roster and we'll include Ching for now. He should have a chance vs. El Salvador to show just where he is form-wise.
We'll continue giving Robbie Findley the nod over Jeff Cunningham, though it's close. As it stands, we can see both going if Charlie Davies can't make it back. Eddie Johnson has to be considered a candidate to challenge those two, assuming he can keep getting minutes for Aris.
We haven't forgotten about Kenny Cooper, but he needs to impress at Plymouth to have a real chance of forcing his way back onto the radar.
What do you think of this squad? Which player is missing that you would have on the team? Which player is on the squad that you wish weren't on it?
Share your thoughts below.
Ching, Findley, Rogers? I like Rogers but I still don’t see him playing with this group yet, Findley has no experience yet, Ching has just been horrible lately. I like Beasley, Adu, Johnson, and you forgot Kenny Cooper! If I had to take out one more player off the list it must be Goodson even though I like him alot but if i want these four to get in(Beasley, Adu, Johnson, Cooper) then Goodson would be the only fourth man I see that I might let go
After the MLS season Quaranta had surgery to repair an issue with his foot/toe. While he’s a decent role player, and while I personally like his play/style…I think he’s to far down the player pool to make the 23 man squad even if he does recover in time.
There has to be a better player out there than Robbie Rogers. Could be Castillo. Could be Adu. Could be some kid in college now. But there has to be a better player. Too weak, in every way.
Simek is a right back and, to as far as I can tell has always been one. He is competing with Cherundolo and Spector. Should Spector move to the left full time (not as likely as moving Boca to the LB slot) then maybe you have a case, especially given Dolo’s injuries. At their best, Dolo and Spector are superior to Simek on the right.
If indeed it comes down to the choice between him and JB, Simek hasn’t played for the US since 2007 and, while he looked okay when he did (classic long ball player), he is far from a proven, outstanding international fullback. Putting Simek on the right and Spector on the left most likely works out to be a wash and not really worth the effort.
JB has his issues but is, at least, a known quantity.
So you want to give a spot on the 23 to a glorified cheerleader?
If these guys need Charlie Davies to boost their spirits, then they don’t belong on a World Cup roster.
After Howard, Donovan and Dempsey, every other US player is basically a journeyman and all of the 23 better be ready to contribute significant minutes, especially when you consider how red card prone the US is.
If you need proof of the folly of bringing half fit players to the World Cup look at England in 2002 (Beckham) and 2006 (Rooney) and the US (JOB) in 2006. Davies is a geat story but if he can’t carry his weight he doesn’t deserve to go to SA.
Watch the various Adu is Greece highlights and tell me this: those things he did, the goal and the assists, could Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Torres, Feilhaber, Rogers, DMB and Holden, could they have done them, or at least achieved the same result, had they been playing for Aris in those games? Those are the guys Freddy will have to beat out to get to the World Cup.
I believe the answer is yes and more to the point, I believe those guys have more to offer the US in terms of the rest of their game than Adu does.
If Freddy was Michael Owen or Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer (sp?) then maybe you’d have something. But Freddy isn’t. The Greek league is fine at the top but the level below them is not that great and based on those highlights, no one in Greece believes in defense.
If Freddy and EJ are still doing this a month or two from now, then maybe you have something but for right now they haven’t proven anything yet.
I just watched the assist again. I get your point but assuming Adu can get that small amount of space in any league in the world which I think he could.. that ball is delivered no matter who he’s playing against.. and as good as I’ve seen Clint and Landon play I’ve never seen them delivert that. type of ball.. Landon hits a good through ball and cross Clint is deft at being in tight spaces and finding Zamora but neither create from zilch 40 away. Maybe Torres and maaybe Feilhaber. Holden no.
Point remains he’s an x-factor and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
Fair enough, I buy that. I think he’s marginally more useful than Casey, but if someone wants to argue Casey is the better target option at the moment, I can’t really argue too hard against that. We don’t need to play with a target striker, of course (if Charlie recovers and is in form, obviously he and Jozy should start), but I do think it’s a very good idea to have one on the roster.
He showed well for the nats, than had an average game or two with the nats and then had an average end of the mls season. not good enough to be in the conversation..
I think Bornstein’s getting better. I predict he’ll start for us at left back at the WC, play well and move to Europe afterwards.
Agreed. Donovan just gives us too much from the mid-field to move him up front. He’s also so much better running at the goal from mid-field than playing back go the close up.
It wouldn’t work because we have more of a counterattacking than possession style, and rely on making lots of defensive stops. We are not barcelona or arsenal (and even they play 4 at the back), we do not hold the ball for 60 minutes, and our defense is always tested.
chad barrett “has better skills” than brian ching? negative.
you get the award for dumbest idea on this string (c. barrett on wc team). Congrats!
So instead of the US version of “the office” it’s the US version of Everton..?
At his best, Ching is a useful target striker. Holds the balls up well, passes well. But he hasn’t been at his best for a while, and was not looking good at the tail end of last season and qualifiers. If he gets back to his best, I say he should make it. But unless he shows a big improvement, he should stay home.
Grella is off the table for 2010 but it’s not because he’s “not good”, his team is fighting for promotion and his manager has safer options to choose from than a raw talent Yank.
He’s going to be a key member of the 2014 squad and a big-time player.
Ives you have included injured/ not playing Edu, while excluding injured/not playing Beasley. Could you explain?
I can see their current injured status excluding them both.
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No- I am not sure what his knee injury was/is. But trying
to rehab a shattered leg on top of a knee injury makes his task much, much
harder. Add to the fact he crushed his elbow and…… well you get the
I just hope he can get to Sochaux by late fall/ early
winter in playing shape. I truly wish him all the best because what a shame to
have his talent snuffed out. His pass to Donovan at the Confederations Cup was
the best pass/assist since Eddie Lewiss cross at 2002 WC inmeaningful
national team action.(just my opinion here of course)
Plus- I want him to be happy and
fulfilled with his soccer career and not looking back at this with remorse his
It’s called basically, a 3-5-2. With the right players and properly done, the idea is to flood the midfield, choking off attacks before they can get started.
The US used it against Mexico in the 2002 World Cup to great effect and it’s a fairly conventional tactic. I’m not sure the current crop of US defenders would do well with it or not. Liverpool used to play it and their back three were basically 3 centerbacks. The two wide midfielders were basically fullbacks pushed up.
People get all caught up in the numerology of the formations but the truth is,it’s a dynamic game and these formation numbers (4-4-2, 4-4-3. 3-5-2. 4-2-3-1), are just guidelines. Things change during the course of the game. The most important thing is to have talented, smart, disciplined players. The formations are just a script that they will have to interpret depending on what happens. US fans love to micromanage a game but football is about as immune to that as any sport. That’s why good players can make a “tactical genius” out of an idiot and bad players can make a “moron” out of a good tactical coach.
The current 4-4-2 that Bradley uses, seems best suited to the talents that he has available to him. Given that the USMNT seems to have little practice time together, they keep the tactical stuff fairly simple and vanilla. This is what most national teams do. This suits our player pool who are for the most part, hard working, unsophisticated journeymen. It’s a litle different for a Brazil, Spain, Holland or Argentina. Those guys have great depth and sophistication in their player pool. You can throw different formations and ideas at them fairly quickly and chances are many of them have already done something similar at the club level.
The people on this blog are arguing about whether Mike Grella,a late game sub for a Leeds team that is at maybe a MLS or slightly higher level, should be called up for the World Cup. Brazil, on the other hand, are wondering about how to fit an injured or out of form Kaka back in or whether they should just call Ronaldinho back into the picture.
Kaka or Ronaldinho? Bradley should have such problems.
US fans really need to stop smoking so much illegal stuff when they look at our team and get real.
What you are really saying is,if Ching is in form and playing well, he is preferable to Casey.
As best as I can tell, Ching was below his personal standards for all of 2009. He was certainly invisible against Mexico. Whether that is injury or something else who knows.
That is what you call hyperbole.
First of all the team that Aris was playing that day was hardly top class. Second of all, Donovan, Dempsey, Torres, Feilhaber, maybe even Holden are all capable of doing that.
Do you really want to see what fast wingers will do to Boca and Spector on the outside? Especially Boca.
missing subotic as a talent enough to be on the u20 roster 16 months months before he was a starter in the bundesliga is like ur stock broker telling u to dump Microsoft stock in 93′. you would have to think that’s enough to fire someone for.
As much as we don’t want to hear this.. It’s good that we do.
Davies injuries are real deal. Recovering enough to go full speed and full impact is a big step further than going 70%.
I sure hope I’m wrong and I believe Charlie is a gamer beyond belief but..
btw what exactly was his knee injury?