Friday, May 16, 2008

Speak to me in a language I can hear

US national team coach Bob Bradley called in thirty-three players, from which he will select rosters for games in England, Spain and against Argentina. He'll select 22 from this list for the England match, and that will be announced next week.

Here's the roster:

Goalkeepers: Dominic Cervi (Out of Contract), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham), Dan Califf (FC Midtjylland), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United).

Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Michael Bradley (Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Eddie Lewis (Derby County), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado).

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Out of Contract), Eddie Johnson (Fulham), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Josh Wolff (1860 Munich).

A little bit of a breakdown:

- Uncapped players: Cervi, Perkins, Seitz, Orozco, Rogers. Michael Orozco showed what he's capable of during both the Olympic qualifiers and over his career with San Luis. For Orozco to participate in the England match, though, he will need to overcome an injury that has kept him from playing for several weeks and San Luis needs to be eliminated from the Mexican league playoffs. Yes, the fixture dates fall on the international calendar but it's unlikely that Orozco will be pried away from his club team if San Luis is playing in the semifinals. The Mexican league finals will be done by the end of May so Orozco would be free to play against Spain and/or Argentina as well as the World Cup qualifiers. Robbie Rogers has shown excellent form in league as well and made himself impossible to ignore.

- One-through-ten: Players who have between one and 10 caps: Guzan; DeMerit; Adu, Edu, Gaven, Kljestan; Altidore, Cooper, Jaqua. Eddie Gaven has his detractors but he's shown good form in league, has played under Bradley before with both the US and the MetroStars and is still just 21 years old. He's not an MLS MVP candidate but it's not like he's not playing well for Columbus. Sacha Kljestan has probably taken the biggest leap from this group in terms of where he was entering 2008 and where he is now. He helped the US U-23s get into the Olympics and has played well for a struggling Chivas USA side in league.

- Goalscoring glory: If this season is any indication, Kenny Cooper should have passed up Brian Ching on the depth chart. Cooper has done well for FC Dallas (five goals in seven games) while Ching has struggled (one goal in seven games). The difference, however, is that Ching has played important games for the US while Cooper hasn't. That may change during these upcoming games but Cooper could force Bradley's hand and get more playing time if he can carry his league form over to the US national team. Aside from them, you have your known commodities (Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff) and the guys whom we haven't seen much for the US senior side (Altidore, Jaqua, Rogers). The expectation is for Altidore to have nailed down a starting spot by 2010 and if he does he will need to continue showing well, both in the three upcoming friendlies and the qualifiers.

- Midfield questions: Three players seemingly have a lot to prove in this upcoming camp. DaMarcus Beasley has missed a lot of time this year due to injury. He's finally recovered and healthy but his match sharpness is likely not there. The only good thing about his injury is that it did not keep him from playing in meaningful games. He's obviously played in many important games for the US but how he looks and plays now after his severe injury remains to be seen. Benny Feilhaber had a turbulent calendar year, from May 2007 to May 2008. At this time a year ago, Feilhaber was a bright up-and-coming talent. He went on to score a magnificent goal in the Gold Cup, played well in Copa America, moved to England, failed to impress on the club level and failed to win a spot on the Olympic qualifying team. Questions about his attitude have arisen but he has a chance now to further his US career. Pablo Mastroeni was at one point one of the best central midfield options for the US, but has since seen the rise of players like Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley. How much does Mastroeni have in the tank? Bob Bradley is not one to give up on experienced players (see Frankie Hejduk) and frankly the US needs as much depth in every position across the board. Qualifying will test the US significantly and having a capable guy like Mastroeni around can only help, if in fact he is still a capable guy.


Anonymous said...

how come he's not calling anyone of the sangre amexicana group, the ones playing in mexico? did i miss anyone there?

L.B. said...

Apparently Jose Francisco Torres is still undecided as to his international future. Castillo is with Mexico. Ochoa has been called into the Under-23 group. Guadarrama and Hernandez aren't NT material and Padilla just plain stinks. So Orozco is the only one who makes it, for now.

FC Uptown said...

The US will be overmatched against England, Spain and Argentina - going to be tough for any of the forwards to impress in these games - Coop, Ching, Altidore, any of them. Of course, when the US plays in the qualifiers against easy teams whoever plays then will look world class.

UFshocker said...

So L.B., let's say the U.S. plays a 4-4-2, out of these players, who would you pencil in as starters?

L.B. said...

Well... let's see.

Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Spector, Heath Pearce; Sacha Kljestan, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Eddie Lewis; Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey.

- I'm not a big believer in Onyewu.
- Sacha is playing well on the right for Chivas, and there's no clear-cut right-sided midfielder on the squad
- Landon's best position is up top; same with Dempsey
- Having said that, drop Sacha, plug Landon in the midfield and start Jozy Altidore and the offense seemingly improves
- Clark gets the ever-so-slight nod over Edu

ufshocker said...

Well L.B., here's what I came up with:

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard.

Defenders: Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce.

Midfielders: Londan Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Anyone but Eddie Lewis

Forwards: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore

- I'm not sold on Gooch as well, and I'm not sure I trust Bocanegra either. I'm still ill over that Ghana world cup game. Boca's decision to kick the ball back into play and inside the U.S.'s penalty area, where Gooch gave up a penalty, was sooooooo dumb. I really need to get over it.

BUT - there's no way Bradley seperates the tandem.

- I'm with you with on Clark/Edu. They're basically the same. I just have more affection for Edu, but I'm sure Clark gets the nod on experience.

- I put Donovan in the midfield to spice up the attack. I thought about Dempsey at RM and Donovan up front, but Dempsey has obviously been groomed to play forward.

- I cringe at putting old-man Eddie Lewis at LM. I know it's the right thing to do, but can Beasley please hurry up.

- I don't know which game Jozy will play in, probably the last one in NY, but I'd love to see him start against England. I remember England baptizing Dempsey into the world of internationl soccer in Chicago. It could only build Jozy's character.

Anonymous said...

Love the Pumpkins reference.

winner said...

This is a nice blog. I like it!