There are some individuals, that, if fit, Bob Bradley will automatically take to South Africa this summer. Tim Howard. Landon Donovan. Carlos Bocanegra. Snuffles, Bob’s stuffed lamb with the nose bitten off. There are plenty though, for whom every match, every ball, and every twitch of a muscle is an opportunity to flex their World Cup credentials. These are their stories. (Dun-dun)
Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are safe, we can assume that much. For the final spot, Bob seems to be leaning towards new DC United signing Troy Perkins, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marcus Hahnemann in the mix up, as an experienced keeper in a top-level league. I can’t remember Perkins being called out as “at fault” for any of the Honduras goals, but shipping three goals to anyone is never a plus for a keeper. Hahnemann has come into a difficult situation at Wolves and won the starting job, recently keeping a clean sheet against Liverpool.
Bocanegra, Onyewu, Spector, Cherundolo, and DeMerit are safe here. Jonathan Bornstein may have done enough to seal his place by now. Of course, Honduras will be happy to take him if we won’t. A year ago, Heath Pearce had the left back spot gift-wrapped, but a poor hex campaign put paid to his starting prospects. Jimmy Conrad will be hoping his silly red card against Honduras won’t be factoring into Bradley’s decision. If it does, back-to-back reigning MLS defender of the year Chad Marshall or Bradley favorite Clarence Goodson could benefit. A good start to his MLS season might even bring fan favorite Frankie Hejduk back into the picture. Another option is Edgar Castillo, who could make the squad at the expense of Marvell Wynne.
Arguably the Yanks’ deepest outfield area, Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley Jr., Holden, and Clark can be assured of their places. The inclusions of Maurice Edu and Benny Feilhaber would surprise nobody, while Jose Francisco Torres could go if he’s not in Bob’s doghouse like he was last summer. DaMarcus Beasley will be desperately trying to reclaim his form and his status as Landon’s sidekick. The MLS-based trio of Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, and Robbie Rogers will also be angling for a place on the bench, especially if Dempsey or Charlie Davies are unable to make the trip. Freddy Adu, however, will need a miraculous season and a bus crash if he is to be there. Jermaine Jones has been nominated as a possible player, but if he even manages to recover from his injuries, he’s never been a part of the US set-up at any level.
Jozy Altidore will be going, as will Charlie Davies, if he’s fit. Brian Ching is almost a certainty, and Conor Casey is reasonably assured of a spot. Jeff Cunningham will be trying to convert his MLS scoring title into more caps, but it may be too late for him, just as it may be too early for Robbie Findley. Cunningham’s former teammate Kenny Cooper may be frozen too far out to repair his national team cred, while Eddie Johnson is surely known as “he-who-must-not-be-named” around the Bradley household.
Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Troy Perkins, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Maurice Edu, Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies, Brian Ching, Conor Casey.