Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Thinking About the U.S. Squad for the World Cup

Ives Galarcep has a look and here is his list of the players who could be called into camp:

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando

Defenders: Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Frankie Hejduk

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Jose Francisco Torres, Benny Feilhaber, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Freddy Adu

Strikers: Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies, Brian Ching, Conor Casey, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez

Now far be it from me to dispute Galarcep's selections, which are not outside the realm of the possible.

Here is my list and rationale:

Goalkeepers (in camp): Howard, Hahnemann, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando

The diminutive Real Salt Lake netminder has no hope (barring injury) of needing his passport in June, but he has shown that he is a quality keeper. I know that the big dispute will be weather Hahnemann or Guzan end up as the number two, and I would have to pick Hahnemann. The journeyman keeper has slimmed down, won a starting spot with Wolverhampton, helped Wolves stay in the Premier league this year and put up lots and lots of good games. Guzan, still quite young, could be a good keeper in the future, but not yet.

Goalkeepers (on the plane): Howard, Hahnemann, Guzan

Defenders (in camp): Bocanegra, Onyewu, DeMerit, Spector, Bornstein, Pearce, Cherundolo, Goodson, Omar Gonzalez.

Do I think Gonzalez goes to South Africa? No, but he has demonstrated in the past two years that the young Maryland product has a future as a U.S. center back. If push came to shove, I think Bob Bradley would be more likely to add Maurice Edu as a defender than take Gonzalez, but the boost for the young man would be good. I do think that Bradley, given his embarrassment of riches in the midfield, might take fewer defenders, which helps the like the Edu a great deal. If Bradley takes only seven defenders, the most likely victim is Clarence Goodson. With Boca, Gooch, DeMerit as likely centerbacks, the flexibility of Spector and Bornstein (both of whom can play in any of the positions in the back) and the crossing ability, vision and industry of Pearce, I think that Bradley takes these seven.

Defenders (on the plane): Bocanegra, Onyewu, DeMerit, Spector, Bornstein, Pearce, Cherundolo.

Midfielders (in camp): Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Holden, Clark, Edu, Torres, Feilhaber, Bedoya, Beasley, Sasha Kljestan.

For me the question marks are Holden and Clark. Both have been injured and with just one more game left for Holden's Bolton and Clark's Eintracht Frankfurt, you have to wonder about their fitness. (Of course, the same could be said for Onyewu as well). Galarcep thought Adu could get a call, but I think Bradley is more likely to call Kljestan into camp for a look. Galarcep worries about Beasley's lack of playing time, but if healthy, I think Beasley goes because Bob Bradley knows what he gets with the wiry midfielder and Beasley's pace makes him a impact sub threat. The biggest surprise has to be Alejandro Bedoya, who I think makes the squad in the end. The young man makes a great impact substitute in an attacking role if necessary. With so many question marks about the strikers, I can see Braldey taking ten midfielders because of the flexibility. If Dempsey is staring up top, look for midfield of Edu, Bradley, Donovan and Beasley, with Bedoya, Torres or Feilhaber off the bench.

Midfielders (on the plane): Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Holden, Clark, Edu, Torres, Feilhaber, Beasley, Bedoya

Strikers (in camp): Altidore, Davies, Ching, Casey, Buddle, Gomez

I would hate to be Bob Bradley right now. You can bet that Altidore is going, but after that, there are question marks galore. Will Davies be healthy and ready? Will Ching be back from injury? How do you ignore the scorching hot form of Buddle and Gomez? Will Bradley choose to play without his classic target striker and speed striker? Can the late addition of Buddle and/or Gomez affect the attacking Chemistry? What to do, what to do? Of this list, the only one with little hope is Casey, but there is a case to be made for him if Ching is not fit. Bradley has two things working in his favor: Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey. The versatility of those two men makes some of the injury worries go away. Another on the fence matter (there is some kind of simpatico working between Donovan and Buddle, between the MLS assist leader and the MLS goal scoring leader)

Strikers (on the plane): Altidore, Ching, Davies (if healthy), Buddle (if Davies is not healthy)

So there you have it, my camp call in and my 23 man final roster:

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