23 Americans to South Africa

In the next few days, USMNT Coach Bob Bradley will begin showing his cards and send out invitations to 28-30 players to join his camp in Princeton later this month.  Before those invitations go out, it is time for all the fans, pundits and blowhards to pipe in with our opinions on which 23 lucky souls should be on the plane to South Africa. 

So, without further ado, and with no Freddy Adu…here is my list:

Forwards – 4
Jozy Altidore
Brian Ching
Herculez Gomez
Edson Buddle

There is no thinner portion of the US team, made unfortunately thinner by the absence of Charlie Davies.  As dramatic as it would be to see Davies take the field next month, a mere eight months after his horrific car accident, it is just not going to happen.  Davies’ first competitive game, and his first test to see whether he has the ability to sprint, stop on a dime and pick out the right target, cannot be against England.  Sorry, but Charlie will have to wait until Brazil 14 to play in his first World Cup.

As for Gomez and Buddle, they get the slots in a slim field because they are doing the one thing that no other US forward is doing right now – scoring goals.  They may not be the best, but they are the best right now.

Midfield – 9
Michael Bradley
Maurice Edu
Landon Donovan
Clint Dempsey
Ricardo Clark
Stuart Holden
Jose Torres
Benny Feilhaber
Alejandro Bedoya

All of the sudden, the injured seem healthy, the substitutes are all starting, and our midfield seems surprisingly strong.  With Bradley, Donovan and Dempsey sure starters, the competition for that fourth slot in the midfield seems intense.  Edu has recovered from his injuries to become a critical player for Rangers.  Clark has recovered and is now starting and impressing for Frankfurt.  Torres has had an outstanding season for Pachuca.  Holden was doing great for Bolton before his injury and is back in full training.  If Holden impresses in the camp, he could slot in on the wing allowing Donovan or Dempsey to move into a forward slot.  Bedoya probably does not get in any game day roster, but as a rising star, going to South Africa would be a great experience.  Bob Bradley has a lot of tools in his midfield, and a lot of options on how to deploy them.

Defense – 7
Oguchi Onyewu
Carlos Bocanegra
Jonathan Spector
Clarence Goodson
Jonathan Bornstein
Jay DeMerit
Steve Cherundolo

With Gooch back in training with AC Milan, this all becomes a little easier than it was a couple of months ago.  It would be nice for Gooch to have a run out in AC Milan’s last couple of games, but at least he will show up in Princeton fit.  This allows Bradley to put in his preferred back line of Bocanegra, DeMerit, Gooch and Spector/Cherundolo.  At the moment, I would go with Cherundolo who seems to be playing better than Spector, but in either case, Bradley looks to have all the options for which he could have hoped.  The potential wildcard in all of this?  Goodson, who has had a rocking season in Norway and looked like the only American worth a damn in the January friendly against Honduras.

Goalkeeper – 3
Tim Howard
Marcus Hahnemann
Brad Guzan

Howard is the guaranteed starter, and barring something tragic, Hahnemann and Guzan will enjoy a pleasant seat at the festivities.  That being said, Hahnemann has been outstanding for Wolves this season – in fact a large measure of credit for the way Wolves has avoided relegation is down to Hahnemann’s work between the pipes.  He has been calm when needed, acrobatic when needed and positioned himself particularly well.  If Hahnemann’s affection for heavy metal music was the cause of his great form, Bradley would have the rest of the team listening to Slipknot all the time.

I can’t imagine any of these 23 not being invited to Princeton.  We will see who their competition is in the coming week.

13 Responses to 23 Americans to South Africa

  1. Geoff says:

    I say make Landon Donovan a striker for the World Cup and give his midfield position to somebody else. It seems like we are unusually strong in the midfield and drastically weak up front in comparison, this kind of move would only make sense given Donovan’s break out speed and sharp accuracy.

    I know, I know. Moving Donovan out of the midfield is practically blasphemous, but what other choices do we have? Gomez and Buddle are scoring goals right now, but I honestly don’t want to risk the World Cup on them. It’s not like they are storied players with years of success, each is just a breakout for this season, of which for Buddle has consisted of 5 games. Likewise Ching is recovering from an injury and still isn’t in top form.

    Also while Ching and Gomez would probably work well with Jozy, Buddle would not. Jozy is a strong striker able to muscle his way around, to complement him best we need a faster striker next to him. Buddle is a strong striker as well and he’s not the fastest.

    Finally, Jozy needs a calm, mature head up top with him. While any of the four players would probably work well in that position (maybe Buddle not so much) I can think of nobody better to harness Jozy’s raw talent than Donovan.

    So yeah, lets not toy around with Donovan in the midfield. Yes he’s brilliant there and can directly affect the game, but then so can Dempsey, Edu, Bradley and any number of the other midfield players you’ve mentioned. What Donovan is that all those others aren’t, however, is an equally fantastic striker… something we desperately need.

  2. joejoe says:

    Donovan doesn’t have the size/height to be a up front. I think Gomez showed that when someone delivered the ball while in stride, He could put in in the net. However, I get the feeling that Gomez wont be getting an invitation to camp. Hope I’m wrong.

    • Geoff says:

      And Davies is/was? I think you’re mistaken in believing that strikers must be strong, powerful opponents. A strong striker combined with a small speedy striker is probably the deadliest combo.

      • joejoe says:

        I do think you need strength and size to be successful up front. I mean in one of the big leagues. I don’t know why so many people are so in love with Davies. Ok, so he scored a goal in Mexico. The game was lost. If he were healthy I would include him. But I agree he’s not ready now. I want Donovan in the middle, feeding balls to Gomez and Jozy. From that position he can move up front if needed. Yes Gomez up front from the start. Just give him the responsibility, and he’ll deliver.

        • Geoff says:

          Except your conveniently forgetting Lionel Messi, quite possibly one of the best strikers in the world right now who also happens to be a fast small striker at only 5 foot 7 inches.

          Having two strong, but slow strikers up top is suicide. Many defenders these days are trained to be fast and if you don’t have somebody who can wiggle in and out of a backline then you might as well just go home.

          • joejoe says:

            Don’t forget that Messi plays for one of the greatest teams ever. When he plays for his Argentina, he actually looks human. No doubt speed is very important. Gomez and Altidore have enough speed, skill, and strength to play up front. Donovan is a proven mid fielder. Leave him there.

  3. jack says:

    I like your 23. I’m not sure Ching will make it due to his injury, if he doesn’t I see Conor Casey getting his spot. I agree with your assessment on Davies although if by some miracle he does make the trip I think it will be Buddle or Gomez who is dropped instead of Ching or Casey.

    I like your midfielders but based on the latest press and the 5 or 10 minutes he had against the Netherlands I wonder if Bedoya won’t be able to wiggle his way into some playing time at the WC. I think he will.

    I think your right about Bornstein making the squad. I guess he brings some versatility with his ability to play centrally but I sure thought Heath Pearce was playing very good the last few times I saw him play. I’d prefer he made the squad over Bornstein.

    Check out my website for a Bracket calculator for your picks.

  4. Seybold says:

    I hope Holden looks good. If so Bradley can slot Dempsey or Donovan into a free role behind Altidore, solving the 2nd striker problem, and we can play Bradley Jr. and whoever in the middle. Hopefully Edu will be in good form, he’d give Bradley Jr cover to join the attack where he’s best.

    I like Donovan more than Dempsey, but I think Dempsey would be the better choice as a 2nd forward because he often scores there. If nothing else having him up there would likely keep opponents a little less likely to commit central midfielders to attack.

    Dempsey’s play at Fulham has been interesting. In domestic play they use 4-3-3, and he starts on the right. In Europe he doesn’t start in their 4-4-2 and comes on as a sub as a 2nd striker, and does a great job scoring and pressing the opponents center backs. His coach Roy Hodgson is reluctant to play him on the right in a 4-4-2–it’s not his best role, as we’ve seen for the USA. Hopefully Bob Bradley has been watching.

  5. Charles says:

    I am not sure if Buddle fits in with Landon ? 😉

    In all seriousness, with as poor as most of the MLSers have performed in trying to get to onto the World Cup squad, no one would hold out much hope for someone playing in the US to save our World Cup team.
    Wouldn’t it be ironic to see Landon and Buddle teaming up to win games for the US.

    Consider after Davies almost killed himself, then Donavan has 5 assists to Buddle after only 6 games….my dream scenerio seems a lot more plausible.

    • Flex Buffchest says:

      MLSers performing poorly in World Cup? Umm, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Brian McBride, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, and Maurice Edu all started in MLS and have done great in their respected World Cups. And guys like Stuart Holden, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, and Conor Casey are all being looked at for the USMNT. Just because Cunningham or Finley didn’t have breakthrough games when they were tested doesn’t mean all MLS players have done poorly for the US.

  6. Rafael says:

    The is a pretty accuare list except I would have added Heath Pearce and Demarcus Beasley. Pearce hands down is a better LB than Bornstein. Bardley has his favorites, otherwise Bornstein in reality, desrves to stay home. I would prefer taking Beasley over Feilhaber, since Feilhaber’s form has dropped in recent weeks. However, I ultimately see Beasley, Torres, and Bedoya fighting for the last two spots.

    I think the right thing to do is for Bradley to take 7 defenders, but I see that there is the possibility that Bradley prefers to be more traditional and defensive by taking 8 defenders, which would mean adding Pearce and dropping a MD.

  7. joejoe says:

    Why not Beasley? He looked great on the last friendly. Held and moved the ball well. Enough to cause trouble for defenses. I would take him over Buddle or Michael Bradley. Of course, MB is going to the WC, but I predict a red card. The dude is a hacker.

  8. patriot71 says:

    Personally, I do not want Dempsey to see the light of day at midfield. Keep him up top with Altidore but we can’t risk having him on the wing.

    If you doubt my logic, just go back and watch his midfield performance durign the Confed Cup. He doesn’t drop back to help defend and he gives the ball up at horrible times outside of our own box. He’s a trainwreck waiting to happen in the midfield.

    What Dempsey does bring to our squad is as an opportunistic player up top when he gets his feet (or head) on the ball. He definitely has his talents up top but he’s way too big of a risk in the midfield.

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