A little more than two months stands between the U.S. national team and its World Cup destiny, less than 10 weeks before 23 Americans will be chosen to represent the United States in sport's biggest event.
The World Cup roster picture is pretty clear for the most part, but some plotlines continue to develop as we draw ever closer to Bob Bradley's deadline to pick his roster.
There have been no international matches since I last picked a 23 for 2010, but there has been plenty of club action to help give us a picture of how things are developing.
Marcus Hahnemann, Maurice Edu and Alejandro Bedoya are among the players to enjoy strong months, while DaMarcus Beasley's battle for playing time at Rangers and Stuart Holden's recovery from a broken leg have been other storylines to watch.
Here is SBI's 23 for 2010 for April:
SBI 23 for 2010 (April 2010 edition)
GOALKEEPERS– Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan
DEFENDERS– Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson
MIDFIELDERS– Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Maurice Edu, DaMarcus Beasley, Alejandro Bedoya
FORWARDS- Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies, Conor Casey
Left off last team-Heath Pearce, Brian Ching
New additions– Charlie Davies, Conor Casey
Some thoughts on this month's selections:
The same three goalkeepers are locked in, but Marcus Hahnemann's play for Wolverhampton makes him a pretty strong selection as the No. 2 goalkeeper ahead of Brad Guzan.
Bob Bradley will have a decision to make regarding how many defenders he wants to take. Does he go with the standard eight, or does he go with seven to make room for his midfielders? This time around we go with seven, though Frank Simek is probably the next choice over Heath Pearce in my book.
Oguchi Onyewu still hasn't returned to action for AC Milan, but until we hear about an actual set-back in his recovery, he should be back in time to be fit for the World Cup. Whether or not he'll get some games for Milan in the meantime remains to be seen, but Onyewu goes to the World Cup if healthy regardless.
Alejandro Bedoya and DaMarcus Beasley would seem to be playing for the same position, but the versatility of both players will leave them in for now. Beasley's hold is shaky though as he continues to struggle for consistent playing time. If he's playing and fit, Beasley will go.
Central midfield could wind up being the area where a surprising player is left out of the 23-man roster. Will Bradley bring five central midfielders to South Africa in Michael Bradley, Edu, Clark, Feilhaber and Torres, or will he be forced to leave one of them off in favor of another defender? This time around, we'll keep the central midfield Fab Five intact.
Forward is the position everyone wants to talk about. We've tried to be cautious with our projection of Charlie Davies, but we're going to include him this month as moves ever closer to returning to the field for FC Sochaux. While it still remains uncertain how much of his ability will still be there once he does come back, I'm banking on him being good enough to make this 23.
Brian Ching's hamstring injury makes things even more wide-open on the back-end of the forward pool. Ching looked like a safe bet, and could still make it back in time, but for now we will leave him off for Conor Casey. I was very tempted to include red-hot Herculez Gomez instead of Casey, but we need to see Gomez keep up his recent stellar form for another month before he'll get the nod. Casey isn't a sexy pick, but he'll be chosen for his ability to provide a holding forward option off the bench. If Ching is healthy by early May he will be a good bet to still be included, but Bradley might have to start thinking seriously about the injury risk for Ching, who has endured his share of injuries over the past month.
What do you think of this group? Which player is missing that you would include? Which inclusion do you think was a mistake?
Share your thoughts below.