Monday, June 8, 2009

Off to South Africa, Round One

With two more World Cup qualifying games finished over the weekend, the United States can look to its next set of matches—the Confederations Cup.

Bob Bradley has announced his 23-man squad that he will take to South Africa to compete against Italy, Brazil, and Egypt. Like the three game stretch last summer when the Americans played friendlies against England, Spain, and Argentina, the team will challenge itself and go up against some of the best competition in the world.

Here is a look at the squad by position.

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Luis Robles

Robles is certainly a surprise. He was recently called into training camp as the team prepared for the past weekend’s qualifiers. He is the latest name to compete for the third goalkeeper spot, along with Marcus Hahnemann, Matt Pickens, and Dominic Cervi.

Robles, most likely, won’t play though. Expect Howard to play every minute of the

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Danny Califf, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce, Jonathan Spector, Marvell Wynne

Onyewu and Bocangera are mainstays in the center of the defense, and they have formed a good playing relationship with Howard.

After good showings in Saturday’s game against Honduras, along with poor recent performances from others, Bornstein and Spector should reprise their starting roles at left and right back, respectively.

DeMerit played well replacing Bocanegra because of injury in the Honduras game. He needs to be ready in case Bocanegra has any lingering problems.

Wynne is the surprise of this group. He had an extremely rough outing against Costa Rica, and it’s somewhat curious as to how he got himself on this roster. Depth at the outside fullback spots is weak, so Wynne could just be filling out the roster. He will have a bigger role on the Gold Cup team rather than the squad for the Confederations Cup.

Midfielders: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, José Francisco Torres

This group brings the most questions to the table. Of the seven, only Bradley is a sure thing to start.

Who starts in the middle with him?

Right now it’s looking like either Clark or Feilhaber.

Both had good showings against Costa Rica. Working in Feilhaber’s favor is that he is a creative midfielder that is good on the ball, which can create more offense, while Clark is more defensive-minded, which is similar to the way Bradley plays.

Kljestan looked to have the other starting center midfield role when he scored a hat trick against Sweden, but failed to solidify his spot in the games afterward because of poor play for both the national team and his club team, Chivas USA.

Many U.S.A. fans are clamoring for Adu to get more playing time. He has yet to get many extended chances to show what he can do for both club and country.

Beasley looks like a man out of chances.

Injuries have caused him to lose a step of his blistering speed. He hardly ever dresses for Rangers, let alone play or sit on the bench. He was dropped from left-midfielder to left-back, which proved to be a failed and horrific experiment. Beasley’s once bright future now looks grim, and he is leaving everyone to wonder what his next move is, hoping he can find himself.

Also, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, both listed as forwards, could see time at midfield, either in the center or on the wings.

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Conor Casey, Charlie Davies, Dempsey, Donovan

Donovan was a no-brainer and Altidore has played well enough for the national team to merit a starting forward spot, especially with Brian Ching injured.

Much like the midfield, the question is who will start alongside Altidore?

Will it be Dempsey, one of the team’s more talented players but one who has struggled to be active in the attack on the wing lately? Or will Dempsey remain at midfield?

Davies has great speed and has put together some inspiring performances off the bench for the national team in recent qualifiers and the Olympics.

Casey is a good, physical holding forward who does a good job finding open space and playing in the air, something that is missing without Ching. He looked a bit uncomfortable in Saturday’s match, but it is understandable because he had just been put on the roster and hadn’t had much time to train with the team.

The biggest competition for starting roles will come at center midfield and forward.

The key will be where Clint Dempsey plays.

Dempsey will definitely start, but it could be at either center mid, right mid, or forward. Where he plays will determine who fills in the rest of the personnel.

The Americans kick-off their Confederations Cup run June 15 against defending World Cup champions Italy.

Photo Credits.
Tim Howard: AP Photo/ Paul Connors
Oguchi Onyewu: AP Photo/ Chris Carlson
Benny Feilhaber: AP Photo/ Nam Y. Huh
Clint Dempsey: AP Photo/ Eduardo Verdugo

1 comment:

  1. Dempsey better start....thats my dude...and hes a creator...not afraid to challenge least from what i remember