Wednesday, April 14, 2010

US Soccer Daily: A First Stab at the Preliminary 30

US Soccer Daily has first stab at a preliminary 30 man roster for the World Cup: Goalkeepers (4): Tim Howard (Everton), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (DC United). There is not much surprise here. Yes, Perkins has a Goals Against Average of 3.0 so far with DC, but the back line in front of him is playing like crap. In reality, Perkins may be called into camp but won't be on the plane to South Africa--Hahnemann is playing too well right now. Short of Brad Freidel announcing he will come out of international retirement it will be Howard, Guzan and Hahnemann. Possible fringe candidates would be Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids) and maybe Jon Busch.

Defenders (9): Jonathan Spector (West Ham), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennes), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew). Gooch remains a health question mark, but I think he will be going to South Africa. Otherwise I think this will be the list. Of this list, I think Marshall may be the biggest question mark. Of young American backs playing right now, Omar Gonzalez has made the best case for consideration--he has been strong, solid and dependable for Bruce Arena's L.A. Galaxy, but with a big list of centerbacks available, Gonzalez is a remote longshot. One other possible L.A. Galaxy defender would be Sean Franklin. Franklin usually plays right back but has been getting forward for the Galaxy.

Midfielders (11): Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Michael Bradley (Borussia Monchengladbach), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Ricardo Clark (Frankfurt), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake). Stuart Holden's leg injury is the only concern on this list. The remaining problem that we are looking at is the lack of a playmaker. I know that Bob Bradley plays a bucket 4-4-2 with lots of emphasis on wing play by Donovan and Dempsey, but I am not sure that throwing a curveball at opponents with a good playmaker in the middle might drive opponents nuts. If Bradley were to put Edu into a solid holding role and let Donovan do the playmaking, you might see something different. But now might not be the time that Bradley will experiment with something new.

Forwards (6): Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Charlie Davies (Sochaux), Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Herculez Gomez (Puebla), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy). At this time last year, the biggest question mark for the U.S. was left back, now the biggest question mark is who else is going to play striker with Jozy Altidore. Ching will probably be healthy and will likely go and he does things that Bob Bradley likes, holds the ball up well, gets others involved in the play and is a danger on set pieces. Casey's first touch is crap so he doesn't hold well and doesn't make the runs off the ball that Bradley needs to open holes for Donovan and Dempsey. A Davies/Altidore pairing would be ideal as they both have pace, strength, movement and can operate together or separately enough to make opponents back lines worry. But given that both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey can play up top, Bradley may only take three strikers and if Ching is healthy, Casey won't need his passport. But Gomez has been on fire in a tough league, is fully match fit, is completely on fire (and confidence is important) and provides some of the things that Davies does (only with a little less pace and strength). The problem with both Gomez and Buddle is that they would be so new to the mix that it could create as many problems as it solves. Both Ching and Casey are known quantities on the international level. The funny thing is after MLS opening weekend, someone asked if Buddle would be considered, I said only if he were scoring a hat trick every week. But Buddle has scored all five Galaxy goals this season and is doing that thing that all strikers need to do--get into a position to score. With a 1.67 goals per game average and several chances above that, Buddle is making a case. In the end though, it may be for naught, but you never know.

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