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:
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!
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or @TYAC_Jon.