> The US roster for its March friendly against the Netherlands was released today. This friendly will fall on the final FIFA date before the World Cup rosters are released. I am going to analyze these selections and give you my picks for the WC roster.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (7): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Landon Donovan (Everton), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), José Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)
Goalkeepers – No real surprises here. Tim Howard is the undisputed starter, although I’ve heard rumblings in internetland about whether or not Brad Friedel would come out of retirement to backstop the US to another quarterfinal appearance. My guess is he wouldn’t as he has spent that last six years living comfortably in retirement from the national team. Brad Guzan, America’s future starting goalkeeper (we know that because in the US the best goalkeepers lose their hair before they turn twelve), is a no brainer. Marcus Hahnemann is enjoying a good run of form in the EPL with Wolverhampton.
Defenders – With Cherundolo out injured and Wynne retired from international play following his abysmal game against Honduras (just a joke, but also maybe a suggestion?), Frank Simek has a good chance to claim a place on the WC roster. I gotta say, I enjoyed watching Simek play a few years ago and he did have an unfortunate run of injuries, but is he really a WC quality player? If Simek can go, expect to see him on the right and Jonathan Spector on the left, as he has seen time there for West Ham. Bornstein seems to be a regular for Bradley, but the interesting thing this time around is that he may not play on the left. He has shown the ability to play center back over the last year in MLS and internationally. Assuming the great experiment continues, we could see a new combination on the back line. I would personally like to see Jay Demerit get some time as he was an absolute beast at the Confederations Cup last summer. Bocanegra, Goodson, and Pearce round out the selections.
Midfielders – Here we have a mix of proven veterans and untested “rookies”. Actually, every player on the roster has been capped, but some have far less experience than others. I’m intrigued to see Beasley and Edu returning from poor form and injury to make this roster. Both players have shown well for the US in the past, what remains to be seen is if they can find that form once again. Bedoya for me is a great selection. I thought his second half play against Honduras in January was one of the few positives from that match, although I’ve read mixed reviews online of that game. I was in attendance, so maybe my perspective counts a little more. Coach Sweatpants Jr. is another no brainer. What I’d like to see: Can Donovan can reproduce the play that made him Everton’s player of the month? Does Bradley finally give Torres a chance to show what he can do? Does Holden get some time after delaying his Bolton debut with an injury?
Forwards – Always the easiest to write about, as there are rarely more than four. Altidore is our forward no brainer pick. Findley has speed to get behind defenders, but thus far has been unable to replicate that success on the international stage. Johnson is the most interesting pick as he has been in soccer purgatory for the last I-don’t-know-how-long-because-I-stopped-thinking-he-was-a-viable-option-for-the-US. Can Findley show that he has what it takes to succeed in South Africa? Will Johnson (not of RSL) show that he deserves to be involved with the national team again?
My starting lineup would be:
Simek Demerit Bocanegra Spector
Donovan Bradley Torres Beasley
I could also see Pearce filling in on the left with Spector going to the right. I doubt Bornstein will continue to play in the middle as the Netherlands would provide a far more physical and technical challenge than El Salvador.
Edu is a distinct possibility in place of Torres, but I’d like to see Torres in the middle. It really comes down to the question of physicality vs. possession. If Beasley doesn’t start, Donovan could slide to the left and Holden could be on the right. Too bad Hollywood doesn’t make the trip. We could use a molestache in the midfield.
Altidore and Findley are the likely starters up top unless Bradley decides to give Johnson the start. I doubt Donovan goes up top given his form on the outside of midfield for Everton and in the past with the US, but with only three forwards, maybe we’ll see him there.
World Cup – Who goes?
Howard, Guzan, Hahnemann
Onyewu, Bocanegra, Spector, Cherundolo, Demerit, Bornstein, Goodson, Pearce
Bradley, Donovan, Clark, Dempsey, Torres, Holden, Beasley, Kljestan
Altidore, Davies, Ching, Findley
This is only a quick jot of potential candidates. Yes, I know some of them are injured, but based on recent reports, even Davies has a shot at being fit in time or at least being an option pending a deep run during June. Pearce has played well of late, I see Beasley making a comeback, and Kljestan shows flashes of amazingness. Ching will always get criticized but the fact is that he works hard, holds the ball, draws fouls (which are only useful if the US can capitalize on set plays unlike last night against El Shitador), and scores clutch goals at least at the club level. Findley also has great club form which may be able to translate internationally.