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Posts Tagged ‘WC 2010 Squads’

UPDATE:  Bob Bradley has really made some significant changes for this game.  Edu starts instead of Clark.  Gomez get’s the nod of upfront.  Bocanegra moves to the middle, Cherundolo to the left, and Bornstein comes in at Right Back.  His mindset seems to be, “I know if we lose it probably means my job,  if this all backfires then so what anyway.”

Maybe not that extreme but he is putting a lot of faith in Bornstein along the back.  Please god keep his defending instincts calm and collected today.

VIVA AMERICA!!

Less than 24 hours remain until the Americans decide their World Cup fate against the Algerians.

To state the obvious, the US is focused on avoiding one of those early goals which have plagued them since qualification.  The trend has been especially disconcerting against teams to which they consider themselves superior; Honduras, El Salvador, Slovenia.

Players have said plenty about respecting Algeria but I think this team thinks things will be easy against teams ranked lower than them.  An absurd mindset, these teams might be ranked lower but they have gone to South Africa with a belief that they can win and a cockiness that comes from being professionals.  They fear few teams, definitely not including the US.  When the US starts slowly and thinks that by just playing 90 minutes they will be rewarded with a victory, they leave themselves wide open for one of those awesome kicks to the teeth.  Of course, then they get in gear, start to play with more abandon, and hit their potential.

The positive going into this game vs Algeria is that their back is already against the wall and this is when the often play best.  My hope is that they will channel that 2nd half from the Slovenia game into a full 90 minute performance.  Of course they must maintain discipline at the same time and not get caught up in frantic, unorganized play..

Algeria will provide a quality test.  They surely feel as if they could very well be on 2+ points right now, with a serious shot at advancing.  As it stands, a win tomorrow could still see them advance if things fall in their favor and they score enough.  Even though it’s a long shot, they will come to play and have shown in the previous two matches that they are a team which can’t be overlooked.

Moving on to what we can expect from the US…

Up Front

Robbie Findley must sit out tomorrow’s game after receiving his 2nd yellow card last week.  None of the replacements (Dempsey, Gomez, Buddle) bring the same kind of speed that Findlay offers but all are legitimate options to start up front.

Clint Dempsey has shown an attraction to goal throughout his career, regardless of club or country or position.  Bob Bradley has moved him upfront before when the team is in need of goals, but I think he is more comfortable with his alternate striker options than his alternate wide midfield options.

Herculez Gomez has shown a preternatural ability to score when inserted into the game.  Twice since his callup to this team he has come on as a substitute and scored.  Last Friday his sheer appearance in the game allowed the space for Bradley Jr. to tie the game.  Put simply, the man is involved in goals.  His finishing ability is among the best on this team and he is probably the most complimentary to Altidore.

Edson Buddle is the third option for Bob Bradley and would form a very tall, physical strike force alongside Jozy Altidore.  He has been finishing effectively this season and two forwards of that size and strength would make things very difficult on the Algerian defense which is not as physical as the Slovenians.

I think Bradley will go with Buddle to start but if the US finds a goal hard to come by, Gomez will be introduced somewhere around minute 60.

There is some news now that Altidore missed training today because he was sick, he is expected to play though.

Midfield

The main question mark still seems to be who will partner with Michael Bradley.  I think Ricardo Clark will get the start as he is the most defensively sound and has been BB’s preference.  He provides excellent cover for his partner’s forward runs.

If the US is finding goals difficult to come by, you could see Maurice Edu get a late entrance.  He has shown the ability to pop up and score very important goals at the club level and was oh so close to replicating for his country.

Benny Feilhaber or Stuart Holden would probably get the start on the flank opposite Donovan if Dempsey were to start as a withdrawn striker.  Holden offers some more pace and width but Feilhaber brings a level of experience which is probably more valuable.  I love Holden but inserting him into a game like this is asking a lot.

Jose Torres probably missed his chance with his uncharacteristically sloppy performance vs Slovenia.  He is young though and should at least be able to learn from this.

Defense

There have been some calls for Oguchi Onyewu to be replaced.  I see where people are coming from as he has been at least somewhat involved in all 3 conceded goals so far.

The first option for Bradley would be to straight swap him for Clarence Goodson.  An interesting prospect as Goodson is excellent on set pieces and the Donovan has been providing great service.  However, being a central defender in a game like this requires a level of calm and composure gained only with experience.  It would take a lot of faith from BB to see this happen.

The other option is to move Bocanegra into the middle where his speed isn’t as big of a liability.  This would mean putting Spector on his unnatural side or starting Jonathan Bornstein.  Spector seems to have been worn out by the long European season while Bornstein has a love for committing bad fouls, and nothing would be worse than giving up a PK tomorrow.

I think Onyewu will once again start, let’s all hope that he has gotten better with each game.

Overall

The US has to like being in a position where they control their own destiny.  A win and they accomplish their first goal, advance to the knockout round.

They must respect Algeria and what they did to get here.  Just being here is a credit to their quality and two good performances have them playing with a level of confidence that will surely make things harder than they think.

The US however is coming off a very positive draw last week and has a lot of confidence in their own ability to score.  They must, however, stay disciplined and use their advantage in fitness and will to build this game in the image they have visualized.

Et al

Apparently a few of the Algerians have packed their bags and brought them to Pretoria so they can leave right after the game.  Obviously the Algerian Federation president is not happy about that.  A good sign for the American’s but they still have to play the game.

John O’Brien (for the NYTimes) gives his own insight into the unique nature of the final group games.

Phil Ball examines to Spain’s in game response to their early loss.

Ben Lyttleton at SI.com on what we have learned up to this point.

An EPLTalk contributor chronicles the English’s penchant for underestimating opponents; can also be applied (at a lesser degree) to the Americans.

Obviously there are some other games tomorow too..

England and Slovenia will be interesting, especially as England needs to win to ensure advancement.  At least if they fail to make the 2nd round they can be assured they will still be overshadowed by the French disaster.  Little consolation though, we all know they will get roundly ripped and push the French out of everyone’s mind if they fail to advance.

The Group D finale in the afternoon is very messy.

Everyone will be looking to win as that is the only way they can hope to advance.  Germany and Ghana specifically know that a win will put them in the round of 16, no questions asked.

Serbia advances with a win or a tie and a Ghana win.

Australia needs a lot of help to advance but must at least get a win.

Essentially, it will be a very interesting afternoon of games.

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So there it is, the final roster of 23 players has been announced by Bob Bradley.  It should be noted that FIFA allows substitution of a player on this roster up to 24 hours in advance of a team’s first game in case of an injury and before each game, the roster is narrowed to 18 players.

In case you don’t like clicking…

GK: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

DEF: Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay Demerit, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson

MID: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Jose Torres, Damarcus Beasley, Benny Feilhaber

FWD: Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley

Jere Longman from the NYTimes points out that it is a squad with only 8 players who have previously appeared in a WC.  This could be seen as a negative but it should be noted that key pieces like Bocanegra, Onyewu, Cherundolo, Dempsey, Donovan, and Bradley Jr all have at least 1 WC under their belt.

The biggest surprise has to be Robbie Findley over Brian Ching/Eddie Johnson.  Kid didn’t even get a look last night and has done nothing to impress in any of his national team appearances to this point.  Obviously BB and co see something, probably speed but hopefully more, that warranted his inclusion.  I thought Ching did well last night while EJ brings both WC and international club level experience.  Both have seemed out of their depth at the highest level though, but I doubt that Findley or Buddle will fair any better.

He also must have complete faith in the health of Bocanegra and Demerit as 9 Midfielders and only 7 Defenders is an interesting skew.  Maurice Edu got burned once last night but I guess BB still believes he can be called in as an emergency CB.

This pattern of versatility continued with the inclusion of Jonathan Bornstein who can play up and down the left side and Stuart Holden who is comfortable in the middle or out wide in the midfield.  Feilhaber has also been employed out wide on the right, and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod out there if Dempsey is indeed employed upfront.

It should be noted that after getting a heavy dose of MLS players experience, he included only 4 on the final roster (one being Landon Donovan).  Robbie Rogers and Sacha Kljestan were both left off.

Some good level-headed reaction from Graig Garbino at No Short Corners.

Last Night

Not too much should be read into last night’s loss to the Czech Republic as it was clearly a chance for the staff to get one last look at some fringe players before today’s announcement.

Clarence Goodson is a clear weapon in the air and prior to the last 15 minutes, was very solid in the back.  He was called out by BB during a post game interview with ESPN and was rewarded with his ticket today.

I thought Brian Ching played quite well, held the ball nicely and distributed well.  Also played an excellent little flick to set up Herculez Gomez.

Maurice Edu and Jose Torres partnered well in the midfield.  Torres probably won’t start but can obviously provide an offensive spark if they find themselves in that kind of situation.  Good vision and crisp, accurate passing.  Edu patroled the middle well, winning balls back and distributing nicely.  He’s not afraid to play the ball back but it would be nice to see those guys show some faith in him by moving the ball fwd along the ground rather than over the top every time.

Onyewu looked decent in the middle but showed some obvious tentativeness, although he would disagree with me.  It will be interesting to see how he progresses through the next two friendlies and if BB trusts him come June 12th as England will certainly be dangerous going forward.

The Steve Cherundolo showed that the right hand side back there will have some depth but Jonathon Bornstein seems to get stuck out of position too often for my taste.  I would imagine his role will be more of a defensive reinforcement during the chance they get the lead.  He does seem to be susceptible to too many awkward fouls though and chances are, that will be deadly.

Upfront I thought Herculez Gomez did the best, although in a one on one with the defender he shoulda done a little better.  He did excellent to finish the chance that came his way and was rightly rewarded with a spot.  Beasley also showed a level of energy which was nice to see out of him and will bring some experience to the squad.

Stuart Holden started off well but faded towards the final third.  He admitted this much, but it was nice to see him last for a full 90 minutes.  I expect big things from him in South Africa.

Some player ratings from Goal.com and a look at specific players who impressed.

Up Next

Next up for the US is a friendly vs Turkey from Lincoln Financial field in Philly this Saturday.  Set your DVR if it’s going to be nice out as the game is 2:30 EST, ESPN2 this time.

A more in-depth look at what to watch for will come later this week but hopefully BB will test some of the other injury questions along the back line; Jay Demerit and Carlos Bocanegra specifically.

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As you might have noticed, earlier this week Bob Bradley announced his preliminary 30-man squad for the upcoming World Cup.

As all the news outlets picked up on, Charlie Davies name does not appear on the list. Bob Bradley has stated that his staff didn’t decide completely until Monday and they felt it was better for him to concentrate on his rehab at this time.  Additionally, it seems that Davies’ French club, FC Sochaux, had a major role in this decision, something which has upset Charlie greatly.

I see where the club is coming from; Charlie’s future remains bright and getting back to 100% is an important step in his development. However, the 30 man squad is very non-committal and would have at least allowed the American staff to see him train up close before making the decision.

You would have hoped that Bob Bradley might have talked to FC Sochaux a little further and tried to at least get him into the preliminary squad.  Maybe even allow them to give him a fitness test prior to the May friendlies.

Sochaux also had a lot to gain if Davies went to the World Cup, as a good performance could see a significant increase in his value.  Maybe they are protecting him more than he could himself.

As far as the rest of the roster goes, no real surprises. It is good to see that they included Oguchi Onyewu who has been rehabbing his knee since the end of qualifying.

Freddy Adu was left off, which was not really a surprise, but as he is probably the name most Americans associate with the sport, I thought it was worth pointing out.  He turns 21 on June 2nd, so he is still very young.  His development should continue and he now has 4 years to make the World Cup roster at the more realistic age of 25.  If he doesn’t make that team, then we can start to discuss “bust” factor.

Of the 30 named, my guess for the 7 which are left at home are:

Robbie Findley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Chad Marshall, Alejandro Bedoya, and then two of these three…Herculez Gomez, Eddie Johnson, and Edson Buddle.

It is pure conjecture as there is a lot to happen between now and then.

Additionally, while Davies absence hurts the overall depth of the US  forwards it isn’t the end of the world.  Clint Dempsey is the natural choice to move up front and partner with Jozy Altidore.  The midfield is much deeper and Dempsey is a more natural striker, opening up the right side for someone  like Stuart Holden or Jose Torres or Benny Feilhaber.  I prefer Holden for his energy/pace and the fact that he can actually provide dangerous balls into the box.  Whether BB is creative enough to make this kind of change, that is to be seen.  Will he rely on a young midfielder or will he use someone unproven on the international stage up front?

Other 30s…

A few other 30 man rosters and notable exclusions:

Brazil; Ronaldinho, Adriano, Pato

France; Benzema, Viera, Nasri

Italy; Toni, Totti, Del Piero

Argentina; Cambiasso, Zanetti

England; No huge surprises really

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In what was a major soccer weekend in the UK as the Premier League came down to the wire, there was also some relevant news in regards to the US and their squad for next month.

A few brief notes to start the week off, admitedly a bit belatedly…

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5/11) at 2PM EST on ESPN News Bob Bradley will hold a press conference and announce his provisional 30 man roster for the upcoming training camp.  The final 23 man roster will likely come out of this list and it could end up being in the 28 man range rather than taking all 30 spots.  There are a ton of instances of random people theorizing who they think will be included tomorrow, it is a futile exercise…Bob Bradley will choose who Bob Bradley and co want to choose.

USSoccer.com has an excellent blog post running down some of the positive US related news from the European weekend.  Positive injury news includes…

  • Stuart Holden returning from his broken leg suffered in the Netherlands friendly in February to play the final 30 minutes of Bolton’s season.
  • Oguchi Onyewu traveling as part of the 23 man squad to Genoa for AC Milan’s penultimate fixture.  He did not however make the final 18 available for duty.

More Charlie Davies (are you really surprised?) in the form of an excellent interview from The Shin Guardian.  His is obviously the name that everyone will be watching for during tomorrow’s press conference as his inclusion means the chance remains that he ends up in the final 23.  I still admire the kid’s continued positive outlook on his chances despite the continued negative press and repeated interviews.  I do worry that he states he has worked to hard to come up short; if he gets to the final 30 but is not deemed fit or sharp enough to make the final 23, what is that going to do to his psyche?  I think he’s a strong kid but that would take away the main goal at the end of all this rehab, would he be able to maintain the mental fortitude needed to come back this fall and continue his development with Sochaux during a full European season with the next World Cup 3+ years away?

Continuing with the US theme, here is that next video from the “Road To South Africa” documentary….this one focuses on last August’s trip to the Azteca.  The first person video is awesome.

Foreign Flavor

To end with some news from outside the continent, b/c after all, this is the World Cup…

Spain released their 30-man roster today.  It includes the injured midfield trio of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Cesc Fabregas…along with Liverpool frontman Fernando Torres.

I am obviously a sucker for video montages or hype-commercials…here is the latest from the BBC…

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