Monday, November 17, 2008

U.S. Squad Set For Guatamala Match

U.S. MNT Coach Bob Bradley selected a 20 man roster in advance of the Wednesday night qualifier against Guatamala.

The match has no significance for the Americans, but Guatamala has to win and get help from the Cubans to have a shot at qualifying. A draw by Trinidad & Tobago or better over the Cubans and the Guatamalans are eliminated.

Here is the roster, with comments:

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract). Guzan is likely to get the start, but Perkins wouldn't be a bad selection either. Perkins is coming off a great season for Valerenga, including winning the Norwegian league title and being names player of the year by his club.

DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution). All in all, not a bad crew here for a game with little meaning. Were it not for Columbus Crew being in the MLS cup final, I would have expected to see Chad Marshall in this list and I hope that he gets called into camp in January. I am glad to see Franklin and Parkhurst in this mix.

MIDFIELDERS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire). An interesting mix here, and a little on the short side of the list. Only five and really on two truly defensive midfielders. Yes, Kljestan checks back a lot, but only Clark and Mastroeni are real holding midfielder types.

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire). I am routinely baffled by the inclusion of Rolfe, who is streaky and inconsistent. Arnaud played very well this year and earned a camp spot, but I am not sure he had done enough to get a start. Ditto for Casey.

Given this list of players, are we doing to see something different from Bob Bradley? Something that will confuse and confound the Guatamalans and the rest of CONCACAF? A version of a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 perhaps?

If a 4-3-3, look for this line up:





A 4-2-3-1 might look like this:






The problem is that a 4-2-3-1 is a formation you play to not lose rather than win. It sacrifices the talents of your best asset on this team, strenth and speed in the strikers. Ching is the best target forward in this bunch and why not let Jozy and Cooper play off of him, given Cooper the head that he has previously wanted to show, i.e. going back to collect the ball and bring it forward. He and Jozy both have the strenght, speed and skill to go at players and both can play well in the air.

Bradley should slip the leash on his young attackers, Altidore, Adu, Kljestan, Cooper and let Mastroeni orchestrate. If that back line gets beat, and the left side is the weak side since I don't think that Bornstein has the necessary pace, so be it. The idea here is to blood some of the young potential players and see how they react. Given that Franklin has made his first year a career of covering mistakes by other defenders, it would be refrehsing to pair him with a defender like Parkhurst who doesn't make a lot of those mistakes.

Looking forward to Wednesday to see this team in action.

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