Bob Bradley is gone from the US national team, and with his ouster and impending replacement, the national team figures to undergo change. Certainly this team will be different now that Bradley is gone, with some new faces coming in and some old faces gone.
Who stands to gain from the move? Who may find it difficult to maintain his spot on the team or get back onto the team?
* Maurice Edu. The one spot where the U.S. has true depth is at central midfield. Bradley seemingly has alternated with central midfielders throughout his tenure. Michael Bradley has been the lone automatic starter but at times the same label was given to Ricardo Clark and Jermaine Jones. Edu, however, might be the team's best central midfielder yet his time in the position was limited at best. Edu was solid when he came on during the World Cup but Bradley turned to Clark in the decisive match against Ghana, and Edu was all but passed over by Jones when he debuted for the team in 2010. Edu has his best chance now of locking down a spot on the First XI, a spot that should have been his awhile back.
* Chad Marshall/Heath Pearce/Todd Dunivant/Omar Gonzalez: The US defense is and has been miserable, but that does not mean there aren't any good American defenders. In Marshall, Pearce, Dunivant and Gonzalez, Bradley had four top MLS defenders at his disposal but rarely called on them. I have to believe that a Marshall-Gonzalez pairing flanked by either Dunivant or Pearce on the left would have done better than Goodson-Bocanegra and Bornstein did. Marshall has been the best defender in MLS over the last 5-6 years yet who gets called ahead of him? Tim Ream, who has not even done a fraction of what Marshall has in MLS. And who had a poor showing in the Gold Cup, bad enough to relegate him to the bench? Tim Ream.
* Mexico-based Americans: Jose Francisco Torres, Edgar Castillo, Herculez Gomez... all talents the U.S. can utilize yet none were effectively used by Bradley. Torres and Castillo have seemingly fallen off the map, and while the players haven't logged many minutes with their respective club teams in recent seasons, they were never given a clear chance of winning a spot on the US when they were at the top of their club games. A new set of eyes might feel it's worth a chance to give players who compete in a league that's better than MLS a shot of winning a spot on the national team. There is one obvious exception to this which I'll get into below.
* Jonathan Bornstein: Few could figure out why Bornstein was constantly given playing time when his play with the U.S. did not warrant it. Yes, the left back position is one of need but there have been other options throughout Bradley's tenure but few have gotten so much attention at that position as Bornstein. The former Chivas USA star had his moments with the team but overall his play has been shoddy, highlighted by his disastrous performance in the Gold Cup final last month.
* Sacha Kljestan: Another former Bradley player at Chivas USA, Kljestan also received more play with the US than warranted. Perhaps it was the potential Kljestan showed when Bradley drafted him fifth overall in 2006, or the potential he showed under Bradley that season or in 2007, but with the play Kljestan received it was as if he was being groomed to take over the position on a full-time basis.
* Oguchi Onyewu: "Gooch" was the defender of the future, the rock that would lead the U.S. into the next two World Cups. Then he got hurt. And then he struggled to find his form. Yet Bradley still insisted on keeping the mammoth physical specimen around as he took up a spot on the World Cup team although he was clearly not ready to play, and then took up a spot in the Gold Cup 2011 squad when again he was not ready for action. Onyewu will be fortunate to get another call to the team in 2011.
* Michael Bradley: It's tough to be the coach's son. A lot of the anger and darts tossed Bob Bradley's way hit Michael as well. Michael was in a no-win situation. No matter how well he played, it was never good enough. Michael has scored in some very important games - against Mexico in a 2009 World Cup qualifier (both goals in a 2-0 win); versus Slovenia in the World Cup and against Mexico in the Gold Cup final last month. Yet his goals were never good enough to appease his critics, who wanted both him and his father gone. Now, Michael may very well retain his spot on the team but where he comes up short is in the mental part of the match. His father was sacked, and I have to believe that will affect him. Perhaps not in the long run as much, but he needs to impress the incoming national team coach instantly, and if he's not in the right frame of mind right off the bat, his chance to do so could be done with.
Agree? Disagree? Anyone I left off of either list?