Tim Howard - backup in 06, clear #1 now.
Marcus Hahnemann - great EPL season earns the '06 #3 possibly the #2 this time.
Brad Guzan - Playing behind Friedel at Aston Villa has hurt him.
Carlos Bocanegra - backup in '06, UCLA alumni is El Captain now.
Oguchi Onyewu - starter in '06, but still recovering from knee injury.
Steve Cherundolo - starter in '06, last hurrah for the vice captain of Hannover 96.
Jay DeMerit - improbable rise from soccer-less future in Wisconsin to pinnacle of career this June.
Jonathan Spector - groomed in the English system, hurt in '06, finally gets his chance.
Clarence Goodson - impressive play in Norway earned him a spot.
Jonathan Bornstein - drafted out of UCLA by Bradley to MLS.
Landon Donovan - greatest US player of all time gets the chance to prove that he can handle the pressure, unlike in '06.
Clint Dempsey - proven in the EPL, he's a vital part of US success this time.
Michael Bradley - Young and already internationally proven in Holland, now Germany.
Maurice Edu - starts for the Rangers, scored gamewinner in derby vs Celtic.
Stuart Holden - recently transferred to EPL, just recovered from broken leg.
Benny Feilhaber - Brazilian-born, UCLA alum has had up and down career in Europe thus far.
Ricardo Clark - recently transferred to Germany, recovering from leg injury.
Jose Francisco Torres - decision to to play for US instead of Mexico has paid off.
Josmer Altidore - 20 year old will start perhaps for the next 3 World Cups, but is still learning how to be a professional in Europe.
Herculez Gomez - former MLSer led Mexican league in scoring this season.
Edson Buddle - Leads MLS in scoring after rampant start.
Robbie Findley - Scored RSL's only goal in championship match en route to winning 2009 MLS Cup.
From my last prediction, I was wrong on 3 counts. Though I knew Hejduk probably wouldn't be selected, I held out hope anyway. Nope, I guess Bob is comfortable with just 7 defenders, even though many, especially CBs, are banged up.
Secondly, Bedoya was axed instead of Buddle, making me wish I stuck to my gut after the Czech game last night.
But the real surprise for me was Brian Ching's omission. That's especially sad now since Ching will never be able to say he played in the World Cup, having not stepped on the field in Germany. Its interesting that in 2006, he was an announcement day shocker pick over Taylor Twellman who achieved almost a cult following with his domestic success and tenacious playing style. But we realized then that Ching was simply a backup for Brian McBride's target man style, so I didn't have huge hopes for him to be in contention in 2010.
However, his contribution to the US' qualification this time should never be forgotten. Essentially, Ching was the link between McBride to when Altidore was ready to feature in the starting 11. And though Findley was THE surprise pick today and Ching the surprise omission, it really was Buddle who beat out Ching as the backup target forward, not Findley. Bradley did allude to the fact that one of the reasons he was omitted was that hamstring injury. I wonder if Buddle would have still beat Ching out had this not been the case.
Since Gomez is clearly a 2nd half sub if goals are needed, I'm guessing Findley is the 5th and last forward on the team. Bradley has likely decided that Findley is the emergency speed option off the bench much like when Sven surprisingly picked Walcott in 2006. Findley didn't even play last night vs Czech Rep so his role was already secure in Bob's mind. The more I think about it, we really do lack speed in Davies' absence.
It is extremely noteworthy that Bradley took 3 internationally untried and unproven options at forward. It speaks to the fact that we still haven't found a striker to play alongside the McBride/Altidore role since the last World Cup, (the pre-injury Davies aside). Think about this, every single defender and midfielder on this year's squad contributed heavily in this qualifying cycle since 2006. Bob only chose 3 virtual question marks (you could argue Bornstein is also a major question mark in a completely different way, as in, huh?, why is he even on the team?) and they all play the same position. (Side note of no real value: interestingly, Findley, Gomez and Buddle all played for the LA Galaxy at one point in the careers.)
Ultimately, none of the 4 strikers from the last World Cup, including campers Ching and Johnson, are returning this year. Now that is forward thinking, isn't it?
Otherwise, the roster is about as we expected all along. Howard, Hahnemann, Cherundolo, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Donovan and Dempsey are the only WC veterans returning this year but at least 5 are surefire starters.
Projected starting lineup:
Holden - Bradley - Edu - Donovan
The 7 Cuts:
Pearce - too bad for a guy who was productive in Europe for awhile and had decent performances especially a couple years ago vs teams like Brazil. Unfortunately, his final showing vs Czech Republic just confirmed to us all that he is not international material.
Marshall - 5th CB had no chance, even before his injury.
Kljestan - I said all along he had no chance. Probably just picked to come to camp because he's a Bradley favorite. I never liked the fact that his defense and playing intensity are just lacking.
Rogers - Never had a chance. Probably shouldn't have come to camp.
Bedoya - Conversely, he would have made the roster had Beasley not recovered from the stupor that got him kicked off the national side after last summer.
Johnson - same old EJ. Physically has all the tools, mentally just not there. And he's got the first touch of a brick.
Ching - He's been a warrior for the US in this cycle. His work rate was admirable and I thought he deserved a spot. But the fact is that he isn't going to come in and score late in the 2nd half. He needs to start to be truly productive and he wasn't going to start.