Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Davies falls short in comeback bid & other roster thoughts

The biggest news in US Soccer today was the fact that Charlie Davies didn't make the training camp 30 man roster, much less the World Cup roster.  While it is rightfully the major headline, it comes as no real surprise that he won't be going to South Africa.  7 months after his body was broken in that fatal car accident, I'm just shocked that he has recovered so quickly that he is able to train at all.  Bob Bradley must've really wanted to bring Davies but he knew that we are extremely weak at the striker position and must have all the able-bodied options available off the bench.

Perhaps Bradley didn't want the distraction or perhaps Sochaux really didn't release Davies to practice but I wish that Davies would have been told up front that he was not making the team but still allowed to come to camp as a reward.  Ultimately, I admire Davies' positive attitude throughout this comeback and my view of him is reinforced by his selfless encouragement and congratulations to the chosen 30 today on twitter.

Freddy Adu was also not chosen and many fans seem to be critical of his omission.  For the life of me, I just can't understand why he is so revered when he has barely played at any of his club teams the past 3 years.  Though anointed as the savior of US Soccer since he was 14, Adu has simply not produced even in training to the point that team managers in Europe are unwilling to play him in matches.  Given his immature and sometimes petulant attitude, in addition to his lack of form, he should in no way be considered for the senior team now.  However, he is still young and his soccer prime is still ahead of him.  There is still hope.  Maybe he should follow Brian McBride around for a year and learn some professionalism and maturity.

The 30 man preliminary roster released today was just about as expected.  I still wish Frankie Hejduk would find a spot but he'll have to take solace in the fact that he played a huge role in helping us beat mexico in Feb 09.  I'm sure he'll be useful in some capacity to US Soccer in the future.  Really love that Heydude.

I'll list the players that I think are going to SA for sure.  Then we can break down the camp battles.  Howard, Hahnemann and Guzan are the GKs.  Onyewu, Bocanegra, DeMerit are the CBs that are in.  Fullbacks Spector, Cherundolo and Bornstein are likely in.  Midfielders Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Holden, Edu, Clark, Feilhaber and Torres should be in.  Jozy is in.  That's 18 of the 23.  We still need 5 more.

1) Def battles: Goodson vs Marshall for the final CB spot.  I don't see how Goodson, who has been productive in Europe, will be overlooked.  That's 1.

2) Def vs Mid: With Bradley favorite Bornstein likely in, Pearce could also already be in as the 8th defender.  But if Bornstein isn't considered the starter at LB, then there's no real reason to bring 2 backup LBs.  Pearce then is battling for a spot vs a midfielder.  (Pearce has been playing at midfield in the MLS this year so that's another plus for him.)  I'm changing my mind from a few days ago to say that he's out.

3) Mid battles: Bedoya, Beasley, and Rogers are the wingers that could be battling for either 1-2 spots.  We already have 8 in.  So if Dempsey's mainly used as a forward, then that opens another slot.  Again, if Pearce is left behind (meaning Bradley only takes 7 defenders), then that opens another slot.  Bedoya and Beasley are the choices here.  Rogers hasn't had the dizzying display of MLS form needed to displace the other two.  That's 2 and 3.

4) Mid battle that's not really a battle: Kljestan vs no one.  No one wins (and by "no one", I mean everyone - seriously, did you see him at the Confed Cup?).  I think he's a Bradley favorite.  But would he really supplant Feilhaber or Torres?  Would he ever be deployed on the wings?  How about as a striker?  The answer is highly unlikely.  So he's not going.  At least I hope not.

5) Striker battles: Ching, Findley, Johnson, Gomez, Buddle.  If Dempsey plays up top as expected, then there could only be room for 2 of these five.  Findley has speed but is not in form in the MLS and did nothing vs the Netherlands.  He's out.  Ching is in if he is match fit.  So it comes down to Gomez, Buddle and EJ for the last spot.  I hope Bradley has not already made up his mind here.  Let the camp battle begin!  I like Gomez's speed as a better replacement for Davies.  I think EJ has exhausted his opportunities and scoring in the Greek League is not necessarily better than Buddle's MLS performance.  So I think Bradley will take Buddle.  That's 4 and 5.

So basically from my prediction yesterday, I'm replacing FB Hejduk with LM Beasley in the final 23.  I guess Beasley can play LB if we really, really need it.  Now that I've said it, I'm thinking there's no way a defensive-minded Coach won't take 8 defenders.  And if multiple strikers, like Gomez, impress in camp, Bob Bradley very well could leave Beasley or Bedoya at home, since he's comfortable with Dempsey moving back to the wing.  Oh well, that's what blogging is all about.

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