Thursday, June 25, 2009

U.S. Gold Cup Roster

With the success of the U.S. at the Confederations Cup, the U.S. has selected a team of relatively young players to compete in the Gold Cup.

GOALKEEPERS: Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Troy Perkins (IK Start), Luis Robles (FC Kaiserslautern)
DEFENDERS: Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Jay Heaps (New England Revolution), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaellands), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock)
MIDFIELDERS: Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United).

Well, it is not just young players, but a number of players who previously had seen a few looks for the U.S. MNT, but for one reason or another, weren't getting called into camp.

Veteran players Heath Pearce (23 caps), Jimmy Conrad(24), Steve Cherundolo (51) and Brian Ching (36) lead this team in number of caps. Only Freddy Adu (13) and Santino Quaranta (11) have double digit caps. It is good to see Quaranta on the roster given his fall from grace and recent well documented personal and professional renaissance.

The back line will probably include Cherundolo and Pearce at the full back positions with a mix of Conrad, Chad Marshall and Michael Parkhurst in the middle. I would lean to Conrad and Parkhurst. That back line will have to rely on knowledge and positioning to play since speed will not be in abundance there.

The midfield is interesting. I think at holding midfielder, Bob Bradley has to look to Kyle Beckerman for experience, work rate and distribution skills. But if Bradley needs an absolute monster defensive midfielder, he will probably go with Logan Pause, whose performance on the star studded Chicago Fire is ofen over looked. Sandwiched between the back line stars of Wilman Conde and Boukary Somare and the midfield that included Blanco and Marco Pappa, Logan Pause does not garner a lot of kudos for his work, but he is fantastic as a holding midfielder. Out on teh wings, I think Robbie Rogers is a pretty solid choice for the left wing, but I think that the right would be a toss up between Stuart Holden and Santino Quaranta (who played on the 2005 Gold Cup team). Both young men have had stellar seasons for their club and Bradley might have an embarrassment of riches on the right. In the hole is probably going to be Freddy Adu, but Stuart Holden has stepped up in that position for Houston and could prove effective. The problem is that Bob Bradley likes his midfielders to be true box to box players and Freddy Adu has never proven to be that guy. Unless Adu starts showing that work rate, he is going to fall off the radar pretty quick. This is Adu's chance to show that he deserves to be in the national team mix.

Up top, Brian Ching is practically a lock and will probably wear the capatain's arm band. He drives defenses crazy with his ability to hold the ball. The question becomes who to play off of him. Adu could work, but doesn't have a great deal of pace. Kenny Cooper would be a fan favorite and he is much better going at players than Ching. However, I will place lots of money on a Ching/Charlies Davies match up (although not for the first game). Just looking at Davies performances against Egypt and Spain, he has proven to be a nuisance for defenses and his work rate against both teams appeals to Bradley. Combine that with Davies speed, strength and willingness to mix it up, I think the Ching-Davies pairing is going to be pretty likely.

In goal, it will be Busch and Perkins and pick 'em. Both players are in mid-season form for their clubs. I lean to Perkins for his height and command of the box, but if you need a shot stopper, Busch is solid as well.

So if I were picking the line up for the first match against Grenada on July 4, it would probably look like this (going with the younger players in this game against what is essentially a semi-pro/amateur team outside of Shalrie Joseph).





Against Honduras on July 8





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