Cubs

Team USA selects final 23-man World Cup Roster

Team USA selects final 23-man World Cup Roster

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

By Justin O'NeilCSNChicago.com

Following last nights 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, U.S. Head Coach Bob Bradley named his final 23-man squad for the World Cup.

Forward was the position with the most intrigue and questions being asked going into the national teams pre-World Cup camp. Star Charlie Davies was not selected after not fully recovering from his near fatal October car accident. Jozy Altidore was the only striker assured of his position, and Bradley made the surprise move of selecting four forwards to travel to South Africa. Bradleys selection of L.A. Galaxys Edson Buddle, Real Salt Lakes Robbie Findley and Mexican League top-scorer Herculez Gomez showed he was looking to pick players who have been in form recently and scoring goals.

Among the most notable cuts was Brian Ching, who has been a staple on Bradleys team for the past few years because of his ability to hold the ball at the striker position. Ching injured his hamstring last month in MLS action, and the injury may have impacted Bradleys decision.

The strength of the U.S. is in the midfield, with all nine midfielders selected having a strong possibility of seeing significant playing time at the World Cup. Former Fire star DaMarcus Beasley had a strong camp and played well last night against the Czechs, completing a strong turnaround after struggling with injuries and form for the past year. The team will rely on Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey to attack from the wings, and has the added option of playing either at striker, with Dempsey being the one more likely to move up top.

The defense is supposed to be one of the strengths of the squad, but the shaky defending last night raised some questions. Last night was Oguchi Onyewus first match since tearing his patella tendon in October. Onyewu played well over the 65 minutes he saw, but showed his jumping ability is not fully back after being beaten for a header on the Czechs first goal. Defenders Heath Pearce and Chad Marshall, who were culpable in the sloppy defense against the Czech Republic, were left off the final squad.

The core of the squad is about the same as towards the end of World Cup qualifying, with the absence of Davies the biggest difference. Fans have a reason to be optimistic, as the strong play of defender Clarence Goodson, midfielders Stuart Holden and Beasley, and the striking trio of Buddle, Findley, and Gomez being pleasant surprises.
The other players cut were Alejandro Bedoya, Eddie Johnson, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers.

Seventeen members of the squad play in Europe, including eight in England, three in Germany, two in Scotland, and one in each the Danish, French, Italian, and Norwegian leagues. The MLS has four representatives on the team and the Mexican League has two.

The 23-man squad will play their final game in the U.S. on Saturday against Turkey in Philadelphia.

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann, and Tim Howard.

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit,
Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu, and Jonathan Spector.

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, and Jose Torres.

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley, and Herculez Gomez.

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

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USA Today

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Joe Maddon needed Mike Montgomery to get through at least six innings given the circumstances presenting the Cubs' manager before Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Not only were the Cubs short a man in the bullpen (thanks to Brandon Morrow’s pants-related back injury), but Maddon had to use four relievers — including Pedro Strop for two innings — after Tyler Chatwood managed only five innings in Game 1 earlier in the afternoon. 

So when Montgomery — who had only thrown over 100 pitches once in the last two and a half seasons before Tuesday — saw his pitch count sit at 40 after two innings, and then 63 after three, he knew he needed to regroup to avoid creating a mess for the Cubs’ bullpen. 

What followed was a start that, statistically, wasn’t the most impressive of the five Montgomery’s made since re-joining the Cubs’ rotation earlier this year. But it was an important start in that the 28-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet didn’t give in to a good Dodgers lineup. And holding that bunch to one run over six innings was exactly what the Cubs needed in what turned out to be a 2-1 extra-inning win. 

“Especially when you don’t have have your best stuff, you always gotta — that’s when you really learn how to pitch,” Montgomery said. 

It’s also the kind of start that could be a major point in Montgomery’s favor when Maddon is presented with a decision to make on his starting rotation whenever Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list. Knowing that Montgomery can grind his way through six innings when his team needs it the most without his best stuff only can add to the confidence the Cubs have in him. 

Montgomery didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, issuing more walks (four) than he had in his previous four starts (three). He threw 48 pitches between the second and third innings, and only 25 of those pitches were strikes. Of the nine times the Dodgers reached base against Montgomery, six were the result of fastballs either leading to a walk or a hit. 

Even though the Dodgers were able to bother Montgomery a bit on his fastball, Maddon said that’s the pitch of his that’s impressed him the most over the last few weeks. 

“He never got rushed,” Maddon said. “In the past he would seem to get rushed when things weren’t going well, when he spot-started. Overall, fastball command is better — even though he was off a little bit tonight, the fastball command still exceeds what I’ve seen in the past couple of years on a more consistent basis. The changeup, really, good pitch. He got out of some jams but I think the fact that he knows where his fastball is going now is the difference-maker for him.”

Darvish will throw a simulated game on Wednesday after throwing two bullpen sessions last week. Maddon still doesn’t have a timetable for the $126 million right-hander’s return, and said he’s not entertaining what to do with his rotation until Darvish comes off the disabled list. But Maddon did mention Montgomery’s relative lack of an innings load — the most he’s thrown in a season in 130 2/3, which he did in 2017 — as a reason to perhaps not rush him into a permanent starting role the rest of the season. Going to a six-man rotation is a possibility, too, Maddon said. 

But the over-arching point is this: Montgomery will remain in the Cubs’ rotation as long as he keeps earning it. That can be the product of strong outings in which he has good stuff, or games like Tuesday in which he shows the Cubs the kind of resiliency most starters need to get through a full season. 

“I pitch well, good things happen,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always thought that. Opportunities, you just gotta make the most of them.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

For the second time in 1998, Sosa went back-to-back games with multiple home runs. After going yard twice on June 19 of that season, Slammin' Sammy again sent two balls into the bleachers on June 20.

He singlehandedly beat the Phillies that night, driving in 5 runs in a 9-4 Cubs victory.

But that wasn't the most impressive feat of the day from Sosa. His second homer was actually measured at a whopping 500 feet! It was the longest of the season, but not the longest of his career. On June 24, 2003, Sosa hit a homer at Wrigley measured at 511 feet.

The back-to-back big games raised Sosa's season OPS to 1.083 with a ridiculous .685 slugging percentage. He began June 1998 with a .608 slugging percentage.

Fun fact: Kerry Wood struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings on June 20, 1998 to pick up his 7th big-league victory. As Wood marched to the National League Rookie of the Year that season, he finished with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in only 166.2 innings for a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate.