Greetings. There is so much to talk about. Before we review the summer that was– and we will do so thoroughly– let’s talk about the road ahead– and I don’t just mean the August 12 trip to the Azteca, where the U.S. has never won, and which after the 5-0 embarrassment of a US “B TEAM” in East Rutherford, New Jersey a week ago, is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind. After the second tournament of the summer for the USMNT and the second runner-up effort– it’s time to assess exactly where Manager Bob Bradley’s outfit stands as we round the corner into the homestretch of World Cup Qualifying before South Africa 2010. Assuming the Yanks qualify– which is a nearly safe assumption at this point– the roster is coming into focus and the goal on this blog will be to update a “power ranking” system monthly as the World Cup approaches. There are five qualifying matches left, and a few friendlies next year. The “impact matches” will be the qualifiers– that is to say– only the qualifiers, in all likelihood, will have a bearing on who Bradley selects to don the “Don’t Tread on Me” shirt next summer. Barring injuries, there are at least 13 spots that appear to be genuine “locks”, leaving ten spots up for grabs and a player pool of around 15-20 players vying for those positions. Again, it is extremely unlikely that 2010 friendlies will have any impact on the squad Bradley takes to South Africa next summer. That means the qualifiers and club form are the only “cards” left to play for those whose position is not yet secure.
With the tournament a year away, I thought TYAC would join the masses, put together four collective soccer armchair “experts” (if you could call a group of dudes who have been drinking beers together, braving 5:30AM wake up calls for Beijing together, road-tripping to Nashville together and altogether pouring their fragile hearts into a National Team since a hot day in Barbados last summer a group of “experts”) and rank the players 1-23. For a related list of rankings made monthly, much like ours will be, I recommend Ives Galercep’s blog Soccer By Ives and his August list.
It worked about like you thought it did– myself, TYAC contributing writer Jon Levy, Intramural center back force, Liverpool super fan and probably the best soccer mind among us who only doesn’t contribute b/c he hates “writing shit” and another fine soccer mind, former terror on the high school pitches of upstate New York and Blankcheckster City fan Justin Clar each ranked the players 1-23. We tallied 23 points for first, 22 for second, and so on to 1 point for 23rd, then added the rankings up and put together the August master list.
Because the college football coaches are cowards who make too much money to be cowards– we are all for visibility, and by each player’s name in parentheticals I’ve listed their highest, and lowest rank and the name of the voter who awarded the high and low, so they can do their best to defend their assigned ranking. Without further adieu, I present the Yanks are Coming’s August 2009 version of the US Men’s National World Cup 2010 Team:
1. Tim Howard (Everton), Goalkeeper. 92 votes (Unanimous # 1)
2. Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Midfielder, 85 votes (Blackmon # 2/ Levy # 4)
3. Oguchi Oneywu (AC Milan), Center Back, 84 votes (Levy/Crowley # 2, Clar # 4)
4. Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Midfield/Forward, 83 votes (Levy/Clar # 3, Blackmon/Crowley # 4)
5. Carlos Bocanegra (FC Rennes), 77 votes (unanimous 5)
6. Jon Spector, side back (West Ham United), 59 votes (Levy # 6, Clar # 12)
7. Michael Bradley, aka “Junior” aka “MB90” holding mid (Borussia Munchengladbach), 56 votes (Blackmon # 6, Crowley # 21)
7. Josmer Altidore, forward (Villareal/Hull City ??), 56 votes, (Clar # 6, Levy # 16)
9. Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers), defensive mid, 55 votes, (Crowley # 6, Clar # 13)
10. Stevie “Walter” Cherundolo (Hannover 96), side back, 54 votes, (Levy # 7, Blackmon # 18)
11. Benny Feilhaber, attacking mid (AGF Aarhus-Denmark), 46 votes, (Levy # 9, Clar # 11)
11. Frankie “The Dude” Hejduk, side back (Columbus Crew), 46 votes (Levy # 8, Blackmon # 15)
13. Charlie Davies (Sochaux), forward, 45 votes, (Blackmon # 7, Crowley # 17)
14. Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Goalkeeper, 44 votes (Clar # 8, Blackmon # 11)
14. Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), forward, 44 votes (Clar/Crowley # 10, Blackmon # 18)
16. Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), holding mid, 38 votes (Blackmon # 11, Levy # 19)
17. Jay DeMerit (Watford), center back, 37 votes (Clar # 13, Levy # 16)
18. Sacha Klejstan (Chivas USA), attacking mid, 29 votes (Crowley # 7, Clar– not invited)
19. Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), defensive mid, 27 votes (Blackmon # 16, Crowley # 20)
20. Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca), attacking mid, 14 votes (Levy # 18, Blackmon # 21)
21. Danny Califf (Midtjylland-Denmark), center back, 12 votes (Blackmon # 18, Crowley not invited)
22. DeMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), midfielder, 7 votes (Levy # 20, Blackmon/Crowley uninvited)
23. Troy Perkins (Valerenga, Norway), goalkeeper, 3 votes (Levy/Crowley/Clar # 23, Blackmon uninvited)
Also receiving votes: Stuart Holden MF (Houston Dynamo), 6; Freddy Adu AMF (Benfica), 4; Brian McBride F (Chicago Fire), 2; Marcus Haehnemann GK (Wolverhampton), 1 vote.
That’s our current list. Keep an eye on Aston Villa’s Eric Lichaj, an under the radar side back who is coming off an immense performance against none other than Our Lady Juve in the Peace Cup Final, and who may have the DeMarcus Beasley 2002 fortune of being the guy who plays his way from nowhere onto the roster.