One thing jumps off the page when you look at Bobbo’s roster for the upcoming matches, and before I reveal the secret, I’ll let you play. Go!
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Étienne), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Eddie Johnson (Fulham)
Okay, time’s up. Aside from a pair of Yanks who play their professional ball in Dallas, this roster is made up exclusively of guys from European clubs. Did you win? I thought so. For USMNT nerds like the redeemingly attractive writers and readers of the greatest blog of our time, this is a pretty exciting development! As a U.S. Soccer community we’re much more accustomed to seeing friendly rosters full of MLS players and not the Euro Yanks who are often too busy with a ridiculously long season and multiple cup competitions. This is the one time of the year when that description better describes the MLS players, and as a result, the best U.S. players (with the notable exception of Landon Donovan) will take the pitch in the red, white, and blue.
On to another exciting development, but one that I will temper with a prediction I made back in March.
“NO, we will never ever see Jermaine Jones play in a U.S. shirt.”
Yes, it may look like I’m finally set to be proven wrong. We could actually see Schalke’s all around central mid show off his wares for Uncle Sam. Maybe he’ll prove to be a great box-to-box option in the American center, providing both creativity and power going forwards in addition to the grit and speed to get back defensively. Or maybe he’ll fall on his face and prove useless as well as injury prone. But most likely, the German-American-German paragon of potential will suffer a fork related injury during the pregame meal and fail to even dress for your favorite national team. Sorry eternal optimists, it’s Jermaine Jones. If he plays I will happily admit being wrong for the first time in my life… Kyle Boller’s a badass NFL quarterback right?
With or without Jones, this should be a great matchup. Poland is another pretty good European team who didn’t make the last World Cup due to the ridiculous difficulty of qualifying through UEFA. In that respect they’re like Turkey and Czech Republic, our pre-World Cup foes. And much like the Bohemians, Poland will also bring a young squad to the States, especially in midfield and at forward. A close match would benefit the team from an experience standpoint and the fans who are owed a good match after the World Cup squad tribute that was the Brazil match at the Meadowlands.
Poland Player to Watch: Goalkeeper Artur Boruc, a.k.a. The Holy Goalie. The former Celtic man is the entrenched keeper for the Poles, but he’s second choice at his new club Fiorentina to longtime GK Sébastien Frey. Why the Viola would sign Boruc if they weren’t going to offload Frey is beyond me and most of the footballing world, but a couple sparkling performances from Poland’s most proven commodity might just earn Boruc an appearance or two in cup competition.
American Player to Watch: Defender Oguchi Onyewu. The man wasn’t 100% this summer in South Africa, but he’s back to full training, and supposedly his old self, in Milan. Like Boruc, he can’t get a sniff of the pitch in Italy, but a good performance with the national team could change that. More importantly, it will help Bob Bradley figure out how big a part Gooch has to play over the course of the next year and a half at least. I’ve got Eric Lichaj as my backup player to watch, but that might just be me. I want to see what the Villa defender can do!
Food Item to Watch: Sausage. The USMNT is playing Poland in Chicago. It’s gonna be a sausage party.
Prediction: Yanks 2 – 0 Poland
I guess I’ll go hang out with the Jermaine Jones eternal optimists now. Go Yanks.
Jon Levy is co-founder and senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find him on Twitter at @TYAC_Jon.