One week from today, the US Men’s National Team will play South Africa in a friendly in Cape Town, and Bob Bradley has yet to release his squad for the match. The friendly comes at a bad time for most players – it is right in the middle of the major European leagues’ seasons plus it is the semifinals of the MLS playoffs. For those two reasons, Bradley will have a limited number of players at his disposal for the match, which is part of the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup.
Undoubtedly, this will be primarily a B-team but Bradley has to include a few “name” players to give the match some legitimacy, as well as try out some potential future starters. South Africa announced their names today (which you can see here).
So what will Bob Bradley do?
Keeper: Tim Howard is the number 1, but with his Everton club facing two critical matches against Arsenal and Sunderland this weekend and next, I doubt Bradley will call him up. Instead, I expect to see Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan to get the call and start in net for the visitors.
Back Line: If Bob Bradley’s smart, I think he will call up Oguchi Onyewu for two reasons – he needs to see if “Gooch” if healthy enough for international play and he knows Milan is probably more than happy to let him get away for a few days. Jonathan Bornstein and Chad Marshall are both out of the MLS playoffs so their experience internationally would make them good additions to a team that would have less than a week to train together. Also in the mix could be Clarence Goodson, who has finished his club season and I see as potentially starting over either MLS player. On the right will probably be Eric Lichaj.
Midfield: I’ll go out on a limb and say Bob Bradley plays a 4-4-2. In that case, DaMarcus Beasley is my guess to hold down the left side and Scandinavian professional Alejandro Bedoya will hold down the right. As much as Bob Bradley would probably like to have his son in the middle, I don’t see him taking Michael away from his Bundesliga team. So my guess is we will see Kyle Beckerman of the recently-defeated Real Salt Lake serving as a holding midfielder with Benny Feilhaber as the fourth midfielder.
Forward: My gut tells me Bob Bradley will want to get Jozy Altiodre some playing time, especially in an international setting, and he will be a starter for this match. Next to him Bradley could go with fellow professional sub Eddie Johnson and I suspect he may have on his bench an MLSer like Robbie Findley (who may be looking to move abroad) or Brian Ching.
Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts.
Update – It looks like Bob Bradley could be leaning towards calling up youngsters Juan Agudelo and Mikkel Diskerud, although that may be to lure the latter away from Norway. We’ll let you know if it becomes official.