Tonight’s match in Tampa will be Bob Bradley’s last chance to assess several of his team’s fringe players prior to selecting the squad that will fly to South Africa. El Salvador is no joke, but at this point they should be a better measuring stick for the Yanks B/C team than the starting unit. Yeah yeah, on any given day El Salvador could handle the U.S. starting roster, but this is still a better match for the U.S. reserves than say, Netherlands next week. That being said, here’s what I’m looking for out of this match, staring with the starting lineup.
Defenders: Bornstein, Marshall, Goodson, Wynn
Midfielders: Rogers, Kljestan, Beckerman, McCarty
Forwards: Ching, Cunningham
First off, the basics. If the team can go ahead and avoid an early red card in this match that’d be greeeaaat. Also, the 4-4-2 formation should be elementary at this point. To quote Pro Evolution Soccer for my now obsolete Playstation2, “They’re sticking with the most basic and common formation known to modern football,” and they’ll be doing it in South Africa, so there’s no room to get creative in a warm-up game like this. If Bradley is assessing how a player fits into the system, he’s go to see that player in the system.
In goal Troy Perkins has had plenty of opportunities and still hasn’t proven to be better than Wolves veteran Marcus Hahnemann. Can we please just bring Hahney and give Rimando a shot on Wednesday night? Perkins hasn’t been horrible, and most of the goals he’s allowed haven’t been his fault, but he hasn’t proven himself to be worthy of a roster spot for this World Cup. Simply put, Bradley might as well give Rimando a look for the future.
On defense, I see Goodson and Marshall as being the best center halves on this roster. Throw ‘em out there together. Give Bornstein another chance to make his case for a starting berth, and since none of our three best right backs are on this roster, might as well throw the speedy Marvell Wynne on the pitch.
Midfielders Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, and Kyle Beckerman are all on the World Cup bubble and warrant another opportunity to showcase their skills. Kljestan may play wide for his club, but he’s had his only real successes in a US shirt when playing center attacking mid. Bradley should start him there with Beckerman playing his familiar holding position. Robbie starts out wide to the left, and I more or less just threw Dax McCarty a bone there with the other starting spot because he has sweet hair. That could be Eddie Gaven or a couple of the other middies on the roster, but none of these dudes are going to the World Cup.
As far as the forwards go, I hope Brian Ching was omitted from the roster for the last friendly solely to keep him fresh. He should start, as he should be a possible starter at the WC if the rapidly improving Chuck D isn’t ready to rock. I don’t think the combo of Conor Casey and Chinger would work together, so maybe Ching and Cunningham will provide a nice contrast? Casey can come on in the second half and show how not-as-good-as-Brian-Ching he is.
What about you, faithful Yanks Are Coming reader? Who should start? Who are you excited to see? Are you coming to our awesome Yanks/American Outlaws tailgate in Tampa?!
Jon Levy is a managing editor and senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.