Predicting The USA World Cup Roster

As we get closer and closer to the 2010 World Cup in the S.A. a lot of things have to start coming together. I have to call the airline and make sure I’m not sitting in a middle seat for 18 hours. I’ve got to pay a lot of money to get a ton of shots so I don’t get some god-awful disease over in Africa. And perhaps just as importantly to the readers of the most important blog of our time, Bobbo Bradley has to name his initial/provisional World Cup roster, and soon. Like by Tuesday soon.

We’ve already seen a couple rosters announced and the requisite surprise moves have been present and accounted for. The biggest so far have been Germany’s decision to go young on defense and Bert van Marwijk’s bright idea to leave the constantly prolific (and currently healthy) Ruud van Nistelrooy out of the Dutch side heading to the tourney. If you thought the ego trips and rampant teammate hate between the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, and Nigel de Jong were a problem during Euro ’08, just wait and see what happens when the big swingin’ dick’s not in camp to be the alpha male of his dysfunctional pride. Forget the goals that Ruudy is always guaranteed to score, the Dutch team may have just lost themselves the World Cup due to an out of control dressing room.

Elsewhere more surprises are bound to go down, especially with the collective hearts and minds of Brazil focused on the staring contest taking place between Dunga and Ronaldinho. Dunga never selects Dinho and has hinted that he could be left off the WC roster as well, meanwhile Brazil’s most creative offensive player keeps referring to himself in the third person while letting the media know that “Ronaldinho will win the World Cup this summer.” I can’t decide if The Buck-Toothed One is a jackleg or a hero, but I’m entertained.

And in England, how can Fabio Capello ignore the recent form and heroics of Scott Parker who’s playing the best soccer of his life and recently struck a thunderbolt from outside the box against Wigan to keep West Ham up!? Could he be a surprise addition to the England squad?! Jesus, I better get to the Yanks before I get all riled about things that aren’t going to happen.

Position by position, here are the homeboys sitting on the bubble and waiting for that Bobbo phone call:

Goalkeepers

Troy Perkins – Troy is back with D.C. United after a couple years in Norway. He’s filled in for Howard and Guzan before, most notably at the Gold Cup last summer. Troy makes outstanding and athletic saves from time to time, but he also allows plenty of goals, partially due to poor positioning.

Marcus Hahnemann – Marcus is in his 108th season of English Premier League goalkeeping. He won the starting job at Wolves and managed to help keep the newly promoted club from plummeting back down to the Coca-Cola Championship. He also likes beer a lot.

Brad Friedel – He’s awesome. He just finished his second season at Aston Villa where he’s thankfully mentoring American #2 Brad Friedel whilst starting every Premier League match for the Villians. Brad is retired from international play and will not be coming out of retirement to sit on the bench in South Africa.

Nick Rimando – He won’t be on the team, but he has a start under his belt for the Yanks and served as the rookie starting keeper for the Miami Fusion when I was a senior in high school down there.

Who Bobbo Will Select: Marcus Hahnemann

Who Bobbo Should Select: Marcus Hahnemann. And we start off on the same page!

Defenders

Clarence Goodson – The slight IK Start center back brings height and grit for his size to the table. He also seems to be the right position most of the time. He is prone to falling asleep at the wheel and allowing a mental lapse to turn into a goal like it did against speedy El Salvador. Clarence is a danger in the opposition box on set pieces.

Chad Marshall – The Columbus Crew center back isn’t as good in the air but has slightly better defensive awareness than Goodson. He; however, is also prone to mental lapses, falling asleep at the wheel, etc. We saw some of this in the Gold Cup final, which was largely a good tournament for both Marshall and Goodson.

Edgar Castillo – Neil Blackmon’s favorite left back, Edgar has one cap for the States in which he was utilized in a midfield role. Maybe if Bobbo saw how awesome Neil made Castillo in PES 2008 he’d give this guy more of a look!

Frankie Hejduk – He’s my favorite right back, and maybe my favorite player period. Sadly it looks like Frankie’s international career is over. He misplayed a ball and took a couple risks he shouldn’t have during our friendly tour of Europe, and he’s been conspicuously absent from the team ever since. I still maintain that at the very least Hejduk can provide an oft needed spark as a substitute.

Who Bobbo Will Select: Clarence Goodson. Bradley loves this kid, and he’ll use his set piece goalscoring ability to justify bringing him along at center back cover rather than perhaps the more technically sound Chad Marshall.

Who Bobbo Should Select: I’m apt to say Frankie Hejduk, and I will. Gooch, Jay, Boca, Spector, and even Bornstein (as far as Bob’s concerned) can all play center back. That’s four and half dudes worth of cover for two spots. Frankie at least ads something to the attack with his quickness… and awesome flowing locks. If Bradley insists on bringing another center back, I’d vote Marshall over Goodson.

Midfielders

José Francisco Torres – Gringo’s roster spot is all but assured. He brings something new to the Yanks’ play, it’d just be nice if he didn’t look out of sorts in the “offensive system” last time he got a run out. If JFT is left off the plane Puck will be unhappy. This is an understatement.

DaMarcus Beasley – The team’s resident diamond dealer can’t buy a start with Rangers and can barely make it onto the field. Meanwhile Maurice Edu has cemented his place in the hearts of Glaswegians and (presumably) on the U.S. World Cup squad. Run DMB looked great in the second half against the Dutch though, and I expect him to get serious consideration for a spot on the bench in Africa.

Sacha Kljestan – Like Beasley, Kljestan has rebounded from a spat of putrid play last summer and he should be in the forefront of the manager’s mind after his steal and subsequent game winner in Tampa against El Salvador.

Freddy Adu – Adu responded to being exiled out of the team during the Gold Cup by switching club teams, and he’s now thriving at Aris in Greece. He kind of looks a little like the guy ESPN sold us on back in the early 2000s. A little.

Jermaine Jones – The athletic German will never be fit and will never put on a pair of spikes for the U.S. Which is a shame. I’ve seen the guy play a little for Schalke 04, he’s pretty good!

Alejandro Bedoya – The next attacking midfielder that we can all salivate over due to his combination of skill, speed, and other stuff that I haven’t seen yet. His time will come, butt it’s not now, and there’s going to be a lot of proving himself along the way, just ask the above mentioned former anointed ones.

Who Bobbo Will Select: Bobbo will carry one less forward because Dempsey can play up top, so he’ll bring three of these cats – José Francisco Torres, DaMarcus Beasley, and Sacha Kljestan.

Who Bobbo Should Select: José Francisco Torres, DaMarcus Beasley, and Sacha Kljestan. Bobbo wins! At least I think he’ll choose wisely.

Forwards

Note: I’m assuming that Jozy Altidore is on the roster, but he’s the only forward that I can assume that about given how much Bob juggles these guys.

Charlie Davies – If he can prove to Bobbo that he’s healthy enough he’ll get a look in the upcoming friendlies. If he comes through those and looks good, he’s not only on the plane, he’s starting.

Conor Casey – The man we’ve dubbed Mallrats (“You will NEVER, EVER date my daughter!”) is generally big for nothing and tends to tries to get to cute with the ball all too often. He’s skilled enough and physical enough to be pretty great if he could put it all together though.

Kenny Cooper – Injuries have derailed Kenny’s World Cup bid more than once in the past couple years, but he’s a big body that uses his frame and strength to be a bully in the box.

Brian Ching – After a scare in the MLS opening weekend Ching is back healthy and playing, ready to keep showing Bobbo he’s ready to play his ass off in the World Cup. If Chinger is left off the roster I may cry.

Eddie Johnson – Similar story to Adu’s. After establishing that he has the worst striker’s first touch in the history of professional soccer Eddie has found form overseas where he and Freddy often combine to create Greek goals for Aris.

Who Bobbo Will Select: Charlie Davies, Conor Casey and Brian Ching. He’ll struggle to find ways to get Casey onto the plane, but there may not be room with the team carrying so many midfielders. Conor made actual contributions, though few and far between, during World Cup qualifying, namely a couple pivotal goals to help secure qualification. He deserves to go to Africa, so Bobbo will probably have to suck it up and toss him an aisle seat on the plane.

Who Bobbo Should Select: Charlie Davies, Conor Casey and Brian Ching. Obviously I feel bad if Casey didn’t make the team, but there’s probably a place for him on this team.

So loyal readers, it’s your turn. Where did I go wrong? Where will Bob go wrong? Let me know… but don’t hate too much on Frankie Hejduk in your comments, he might just pull a Jay & Silent Bob and show up at your door with Danny Califf in a trench coat and backwards cap.

Jon Levy is a senior writer and managing editor for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at jon@yanksarecoming.com or @TYAC_Jon.

Filed Under: May 2010

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  • taylor

    conor casey absolutely cannot go. i know he scored that brace and it was pretty nice, but what has he done since? he can’t even score anywhere but the spot in MLS. his miss in the costa rica game was unbelievably bad. he was completely wide open with no pressure from behind at all. he could have set that up like a PK. i could have scored that goal. he’s a scrub. if he goes, i’m giving up. buddle should go in his place provided he gets invited at all and has a good performance in the friendlies. also, i think bedoya should go over kljestan. kljestan hasn’t impressed me all that much consistently, and we need consistency in SA. and he’s not in form at all right now. bedoya looked good in his short time on the field against the dutch, and he’s putting in some good performances consistently with orebro right now. other than that, i totally agree with everything else

  • Jon

    I agree that Casey plays like garbage most the time (at least when he’s in a USA shirt), but I think he earned his way onto the subs bench with those key goals. If Casey stays at home I’d like to see Kenny Cooper get a look.

    And to welcome Bedoya and Buddle onto the pitch with the team in South Africa and expect them to contribute right away might be a stretch considering they haven’t plyed much with the national team. We have to remember that Charlie Davies was an anomaly.

  • taylor

    valid points. but personally, i believe form is very important. in form players mixed with the traditionally consistent contributors is what you want for a World Cup. casey has had bright spots, but not of late, and that for me is just too much of a risk at the biggest stage on the planet. yes, buddle and bedoya are not experienced with the national team, but current runs of good form should not be ignored over previous runs of form from “Bradley favorites” who would only get the invite just because they were once good. if you’re playing well with your club, there’s no reason to believe you won’t continue that on the pitch with national team. if you can’t produce for your club at all, why should we believe he will all of a sudden get his act together and produce against far superior opposition?

  • Donald Trump

    Excellent post. If you were on my show, I wouldn’t say, “You’re fired!”

  • Jon

    I think it’s one thing if Benny Feilhaber or Freddy Adu gets hot for their club, since these guys have already played a lot for the national team, but are far from “Bradley favorites.” But if you’re looking to choose between a Bedoya who had a decent run out against Holland and is great of late for club, versus Beasley for instance who played great in Amsterdam but seems to be black balled recently in Glasgow, I’d go with the guy that’s been playing with this national team for eight years and has assists and goals in WC qualifying.

  • Puck

    Enough with the Bedoya love. No one knew this kids name before the 20 minutes he played when we got our shit pushed in against the Dutch.

    I am not saying we should take Beasley over Bedoya, but lets stop with the reactionary praise. All the soccer “experts” standing by the water cooler in offices around the country talk about this guy like he is the best midfielder in our system. For Christ Sake, enough already.

  • Daniel Seco

    Who are these “experts” you speak of, Puck?

  • Puck

    You know exactly who I am taking about. The jacklegs who have no clue about soccer until the four letter networks starts to pump up viewership for a big international game.

    They can’t name 5 players on the national team, but they think they known everything there is to know about the game because they read a 500 word article on soccernet. These are the same assholes that talked a bunch of shit after we lost to Brazil in the group stages of the Confed Cup, then talked about how “proud they are” of the boys when they lost to the same team in the finals. (I am looking at you Colin Cowherd).

    Does that help Dan?

  • Will

    Regardless of whether it’s the right strategic call, I’m not sure I see BoBrad selecting Beasley over Adu. One recent performance aside, Beas has clearly lost a decent percentage of the pace that once made him so valuable up the wing, and his dearth of first-team play (or any play, for that matter) over the last few months makes him seem like an awfully big question mark to serve as a useful part of the midfield. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see Bradley leave him off solely for that reason.

  • taylor

    good point puck. i know so many people, friends of mine and ESPN analysts, who were talking so much shit last summer, saying we should just give up and not even go to the World Cup because we suck, and then all of a sudden for the Spain game they show up like they are just die hard fans and have been all along. nothing makes me angrier. but in response to jon’s response of my post, i am not an advocate for bedoya over beasley. i was really impressed with beasley against Holland, and he has obviously shown that his lack of playing time at Rangers hasn’t affected his performance for the national team. i just think that if it’s between bedoya or kljestan, bedoya is in much better form and he has a wider array of talents than kljestan. and he’s a total workhorse. all the media in sweden is talking about how he doesn’t stop running all game long, and i love that. and uh, i knew who bedoya was long before he came on for us at Holland, i followed him while he was at Boston College, so i’m not just some bandwagon fan, thank you very much

  • Jon

    Good points all around Taylor. I’m a Kljestan fan, so I’m not swayed away from him, but the fact that Bedoya “doesn’t stop running all game long” is pretty attractive given that fact that we have some players (Conor Casey) who tend to take light jogs on the pitch (after coming on as a late game sub no less!).

  • Raf

    Good article Tron. Bedoya = new toy that we’ve become enamored with for no apparent reason. Let me spell it out for you. HE’S NOT THAT GOOD YET! HE’S A 4-LETTER NETWORK POSTER CHILD. To say Kljestan is not “in-form” is stupid; watch a Chivas game. Kljestan kicks ass, he should go, and there really shouldn’t be that much of a discussion about it.

    As far as defense goes, you can’t bring Hejduk as much as it sucks. Remember his last game? I wrote an article about it. He was given the Captain’s armband, and it was clear he couldn’t keep up anymore. I think that was our farewell to the dude. It sucks, I love the guy, but I think we all know he’s done. Personally, I think it should be Marshall cuz Goodson sucks.

    Forward – BRING BUDDLE! Mallrats blows, I’m assuming Chinger is a given, and I know Buddle hasn’t played at all, but I’ve watched him play some this season and he’s legitimately good. And he’ll be taking feeds from Lando and he’s already proven his ability to finish those. I’m just saying…..

    Puck – I love the “experts.” Did you know that Eto’o’ is a black Italian striker? I learned that this weekend.

  • Tim

    As for forwards, I think it comes to down to who’s on that hot streak. Right now, it’s Buddle. And yea, at least he’s been getting in some good USMNT practice with Lando feeding him balls with the Galaxy

  • Amy

    I apologize if this is a repost.

    Good job with this Jon. For comical value, I enjoyed your discussion of goalkeepers. For serious value, let’s assume Chuck D is healthy. That means training camp will dictate two spots, in my opinion. One mid, and one forward.

    At forward, I think you have to take Buddle. He has a repore with Donovan, great pace and is Chuck D lite. Write Conor Casey a thank you card for the El Salvador game, and move on. He’s not scoring in MLS.

    As far as the mid– I’d say take Sacha. He’s proven, and has played in the big moment. That said, Bedoya has a great engine and certainly being unknown isn’t always a bad thing. He could be the spark plug that no one expected a great deal out of who helps with a deep tourney run– see Beasley, 2002.

    That said, these are the last two spots. Keep that in mind before anyone panics. Especially because in Buddle’s case, if he sees the field this June, we’ll be losing. And that will be about as much fun as talking to all the experts I meet @ Beckett’s in Berkeley watching MLS on Thursday nights. And talking to them, well– that isn’t fun at all.

    By the way– someone tell Shane Victorino Brian Ching called. He wants his nickname back.

  • Jon

    Hejduk may have lost a step, but let’s put our defenders in perspective here. He’s still faster than any one of them except for Cherundolo and Bornstein, and Jonny B’s a nightmare… and sadly he’s pretty much guaranteed to be on the squad, possibly even starting if B.B. favoritism runs rampant.

  • Will

    Raf – don’t be racist. Mario Balotelli thinks you could use a little sensitivity training. Well, either that, or he wants to take a blatant dive and then blame it on “people like you.”

  • Daniel Seco

    Haha, Will should be the comment czar.

  • Nicole

    why dont you want to sit in the middle seat on the plane? you make the most amount of friends that way – didn’t any world traveling friends ever tell you that?

  • Jon

    See what the pundits at CNNSI (Grant Wahl, Jen Chang, et al) had to say on the roster before it comes out!

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/soccer/05/10/us.wc23/index.html

    Spoiler: We’ve got a couple Hejduk calls and brace yourself Puck, Bedoyamania’s runnin’ wild.

  • Tim

    I’m surprised Davis brought up McBride. Is there really a chance in hell he would “ride in to the rescue” if needed?

  • Amy

    Probably not Tim, but Chang apparently loves Castillo almost as much as Neil does– b/c he brings him too.

  • Will

    Interesting to see Herculez Gomez’s name batted around a couple times in that article. Not that he’s a top-flight option up front, but certainly a guy who’s been in excellent form in Mexico and one who furnishes a skill-set similar to Davies (though not quite as good when Charlie’s healthy) in nearly the same size package. If Davies isn’t ready to go, I wonder if Gomez might not be a bad guy to carry, especially if only seven defenders end up being selected.

    Of course, there’s virtually no way Bradley takes only seven on the back line, so all this is probably moot.

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