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.