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US Depth Chart: Bradley’s 23 Decisions


The USMNT just finished a grueling stretch of seven competitive matches in twenty five days. As we enter July and the CONCACAF Gold Cup lets asses where the player pool is just a year out from the World Cup. Bob Bradley will be the coach for the next year and very likely beyond for another cycle. Knowing this let’s asses the player pool. The inclusion of some players like Jimmy Conrad and Kenny Cooper are based on my expectations for the Gold Cup.

Numbers in parenthesis is the estimated number of players at a given position that Bradley will choose. These estimates are based on the new tactical setup by Bradley employed the last three matches.

Goalkeeper (3):

The top two are set: Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. The battle for the third keeper spot will be between veteran Marcus Hahnemann and Luis Robles and possibly Troy Perkins.

1-     Howard

2-     Guzan

3-     Hahnemann

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Luis Robles, Troy Perkins

Right Back (2):

Jonathan Spector is a versatile player that has loudly stated his claim to be the starting right back going forward. Bob Bradley has selected Steve Cherundolo for the Gold Cup, and Dolo must once again prove his worth. It is tough however to write off the one American player who has consistently started for the same club in Europe over the last seven years. Frankie Hejduk brings leadership and heart, and is always needed in any locker room. Spector can play any position on the back line or even holding midfielder so even if he’s beaten out here expect him to start somewhere.

1-     Spector

2-     Hejduk

3-     Cherdundolo

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Marvell Wynne,

Center Back (4):

Jay DeMerit proved to be a revelation of this tournament. His keen positioning sense combined with crisp tacking ability make him preferable to Carlos Bocanegra, whose instincts are that of a left back, or holding midfielder. Ogugchi Onyewu was stellar in this tournament. Jimmy Conrad gets a look in the Gold Cup. Danny Califf has slipped down the depth chart while Michael Parkhurst is also in the mix.


2- DeMerit

3- Conrad

4- Bocanegra

5- Califf

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Michael Parkhurst, Clarence Goodson, Chad Marshall

Left Back (2):

Jonathan Bornstein is the logical choice at left back should Edgar Castillo not choose to play for the US. Closing speed and an ability to both run the flanks and cross the ball is a must at this position and Bornstein is hands down the best  left back in the player pool in all three categories.  But Bob Bradley wants to keep his captain Carlos Bocanegra who is a natural left back on the field. I’ll admit I don’t like Bocanegra at all and think he’s a reckless and careless player. Heath Pearce has slipped fast and may not even be in consideration next year at this time. I prefer Bornstein but it is likely that if DeMerit continues to impress in the middle, Bocanegra will start ahead of Bornstein here.

1-     Bornstein

2-     Bocanegra

3-     Pearce

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Michael Orozco


Defensive Midfielder (3):

Rico Clark has made huge strides showing more composure and better judgment than in the past. However this position is stacked for the US and Clark may be the odd man out. Jermaine Jones must be in the mix because players of his pedigree and European club experience don’t grow on trees. Mo Edu however in my mind elevated himself with his late season play for Rangers and the composure he has shown in previous national team call ups.

I like Kyle Beckerman and think he’s tactically very flexible and useful. I’m pleased Bradley has called him up for the Gold Cup.

1-     Edu

2-     Jones

3-     Clark

Worth Keeping Tabs On:  Pablo Mastreoni, Kyle Beckerman

Wait Until 2014: Danny Szetela

Central Midfield (2):

Michael Bradley is elevating his game to a new level, unseen by an American central midfielder since John O’Brien injuries destroyed his career. Benny Feilhaber’s technical skill and football savvy make him a logical late game replacement. Left footed Jose Torres was ignored by Bradley in the Confederations Cup but showed in desperation mode against El Salvador how valuable he can be. Freddy Adu has the Gold Cup to impress otherwise he must be written off for the cycle. Quite frankly Adu may not be good enough to play for the US. Torres’ decision to play for the US means that two similar players of similar ages are in the US pool: one plays for a good club the other doesn’t play for any club. Even though the two have been linked together in mnay fans minds as poster children for what Bradley does wrong, they are in fact in competition for one spot. Torres at this point is the clear choice of the two.

1-     Bradley

2-     Feilhaber

3-     Torres

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Sacha Kljestan, Stuart Holden

Wait Until 2014: Charles Renken

Attacking Midfield: (3)

Bradley’s new tactical setup adopted in this Gold Cup is preferable to the empty bucket. The fullbacks and strikers can attack up the flanks while the two attacking mids roam freely.  Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are locks here. Jose Torres can provide cover. Santino Quaranta has worked his way back into the pool and needs to be strongly considered. DaMarcus Beasley is in a tail spin but his previous national team success and club success means he cannot be written off. Benny Feilhaber can push into an attacking position as well if need be. Davy Arnaud can also be considered. Out of the mix once again is Freddy Adu, unless he dominates the Gold Cup.

1-     Donovan

2-     Dempsey

3-     Torres

4-     Feilhaber

5-     Beasley

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Chris Rolfe, Davy Arnaud, John Thorrington, Jeremiah White, Santino Quaranta

Wait Until 2014: Freddy Adu, Sal Zizzo, Robbie Rogers

Striker (4)

Brian Ching is still the most useful striker in the USMNT pool and works well with Landon Donovan. But Jozy Altidore’s sheer strength gives defenders trouble and Charlie Davies speed gives Bradley a quick option up front. (Bradley kept calling Eddie Johnson into camp for a reason- he needed a fast forward to play off the target striker- now that he has finally let Davies loose he will continue to play) The top three strikers are set, and Kenny Cooper my personal favorite has a lot of ground to makeup if he is going to make the World Cup squad. Conor Casey played himself out of serious consideration in the Confederations Cup.

1-     Altidore

2-     Ching

3-     Davies

Worth Keeping Tabs On: Kenny Cooper

Wait Until 2014: Eddie Johnson

So here is our 23 based on today’s projections. Remember the twenty third spot must be taken by a third keeper.
























Probably the single thing I want to see change the most for the USMNT before the next World Cup is a new kit. Nike has consistently made the US shirt worse and worse since 1998. I thought I had seen everything with those tops with the number inside a circle, but then the pinstrip jersey set a new low. But when that was replaced by this current kit at least year’s Mexico game I longed for the light blue pinstripes. This is probably a topic for another day but I figured I’d throw it in here.

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  1. 109goals145gamesDAEI

    January 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I agree with Angel.

    Its a mystery why the huge Latino community in the USA doesn’t get proper representation on Bradley’s teams.

    His son is a terrible midfielder. He coughs up the ball much too much. There are several much better players in the MLS.
    His son’s best friend clark is a weak link too. Other teams routinely exploit these two in midfield. As well as Bornstein? Is he the best LB we have in this country?

    I’m not Latino, but until the USA gets a coach that is able to produce another Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Hugo Perez, etc…..we are never, ever, ever going to win any international competitions. Period!!!

    We need a coach who can bridge the cultural soccer divide in this country to produce a world cup contender not ignore half the soccer playing population of the US like Bradley has.
    He’s what you label either a Xenophobe or a Covert Racist.

  2. Potomitan

    July 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I say bring back the 1994 kit with navy blue instead. Unique and very representative of the flag. USA USA USA!!!

  3. Eric

    June 30, 2009 at 11:36 am

    the 1998 kits were the best. The red strip was even better.

  4. erp

    June 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Jozy Altidore is one of THE keys to our success next year. I know he’s nowhere near as mature as Ching, nor is does he have the ball control that Ching has. But Jozy uses his size and strength to make up for those problems. When someone passes the ball to him, there’s ALWAYS at least one defender glued to his back. He creates an offensive presence that I’ve never seen on a US squad. It’s something akin to the way Luca Toni changes the Italian offense.

    So… over the next year Jozy must work on his touch. And BB has got to give him every possible minute that he can before SA next year.

  5. Fire Bob Bradley

    June 30, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Torres should be starting
    Bocanegra should be dropped forever
    I still like Frankie
    I think Ching playing in a World Cup is a joke
    Do you realize we lost Sunday because of Bradley’s subs.
    Bunker Bob and Crony Bob ride high.

  6. adam

    June 30, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Agree on the kits.

    Agree on the depth chart too except putting Edu over Jones is idiotic. Jones is the captain of Schalke! What American captains a team in Europe, especially one always in continental football?

  7. Brad

    June 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    The kit has to go. It’s not very appealing.

  8. kj

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I don’t understand all the talk about inconsistent kits. In this decade, the US’s primary kit has been, as far as I can tell:

    White shirt
    Navy shorts
    White socks

    As well it should be. The 2006 World Cup kit was excellent.

    I don’t quite understand why FIFA keeps making them wear other combinations in FIFA tournaments; they wore all-white in all five games of the Confederations Cup.

    Most other countries change every two years, much like the US. They keep the same basic premise (see white/navy/white above) but change the detailing.

  9. Jesse

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm


    He included both Hjeduk and Spector in the 23.


    I like the new kit more than any other in a while, maybe ever. We have had some bad kits in the past.

    Also, I hope you are wrong about Beasley. His “past success” was so long ago, and he will be 28 next year. Not exactly past his “prime,” but I think our game has passed him bye. At this point he is too much of a liability. I suppose that he is probably the last player you chose (and last on the list) for a reason, so hopefully Adu or even more cover at central midfield like Holden. I just think Beasley’s game is rather lacking without the pace he once had, since his decision making, and technical ability are so lacking.

  10. Jack

    June 29, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I like your line-up and like you I’m not sure Bocanegra is all that. On the kilts though I think the current shirt is not that bad a little understated but I like that.

  11. Angel

    June 29, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Kartik – I do believe that will be a good battle also. Kartik I have a question to you and maybe you can ask Dolhome or Jaime Tracker sorry if I got the names mispell., anyway can any of these reporter from ESPN, Sport Fox, GoalTV etc. can they all ask direct question to Bob Bradley and or invistage what really happen in Costa Rica with Torres. I have a feeling that something happen between him and Donovan and that is why he got bench. Plus all these report have to more like you and question his formation, his roster for any of the USMNT games like the Gold Cup, His Stactics and game plans. Some time we have to be more aggrasive with the US National Team Coach like in Mexico. We have to give him some pressure or else this team will be to soft. I believe Bob Bradley is a good coach but he is not capable of taking this team to another level. Plus I don’t like him favoritism with other players. Like I say it maybe feel like he is a racist when it come to Latino players.

  12. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Angel- The Robles vs Marcus battle will be a good one to watch over the next year. I think Robles decided to play for the USA instead of Puerto Rico so he could play in a World Cup. He’d be way ahead of Josh Saunders at P.R’s #1.

  13. Angel

    June 29, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    My team for the world Cup 2010 is

    Goal keepers: Howard, Guzan, Robles

    Defenders: Spector, Bocanegra, Oguchie, DeMerit, Orozco, Cherendulo, Pearce, Bornstein, Simek.

    Midfielders: Donovan, Adu, Torres, Jones, Bradley, Feilhaber, Clark, Beasley, Edu, Zizzo, *Beasley (if he gets in shape)

    Fowards: Altidore, Davis, Dempsey, Cooper, Ching, Tracy






    I probably have more in my list but it is nice that we can make a good cut from this list.

  14. Angel

    June 29, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    why is the reason for us to predict who is Bradley is going to call for the World Cup since he doesn’t know how to use his player. He doesn’t know what are they capable and what are their forte nor their ability. Look what happen with Adu & Torres they were bench through out the whole tournament. for me Bob Bradley been a racist and Idiot with guys with the Latinos Last name, I don’t blame Torres, Orozco, Arturo Alverez and now even Vidal or El Gringo Padilla or other guys with Mexican or other latin decended that don’t want to play for USA. And this is because when they play for the USA one game and if maybe they make one mistake, that is going to hunt them down for a long time and get them bench for always. there has been time when other has make the same mistake (Ricardo Clark, Sasha Klejstan, D. Beasley, Dempsey, M. Bradley, Mastroeni, Heyduk and even Feilhaber) all these guys have one thing in common and that is they all had made a big mistake in the big games and not get bench, or Either got red card or lost a ball that had went to become goals. That is my point. SO NO MORE LATINOS UNTIL THEY GET THE RESPECT.

  15. Dave

    June 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    06 away jersey is by far my favorite.

    wonder how a red/white/blue kit would look.

  16. Eric in Baltimore

    June 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I wish the team would keep it simple in regard to the kits.

    Navy Top
    White Shorts
    White Socks

    White Top
    Navy Shorts
    Navy Socks

    Third (do we really need one?)
    Red Top
    Blue Shorts
    White Socks

  17. Kevin_Amold

    June 29, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I love the current kit. It’s simple and effective in my opinion. Guess I’m the only one.

  18. Brian

    June 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    You also don’t have any right backs in your final 23?

  19. Brian

    June 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I own one of the Don’t Tread on Me Red jersey’s from the one game before the 06 world cup. For me this is the best jersey created for the team in the last 20 + years…but I have to agree that Nike just hasn’t done the job in creating something authentic for the USA program, the jerseys just keep getting worse and worse. They need to let the fans design a jersey.

  20. Jason

    June 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    That 4-0 victory was against Mexico.

  21. Jason

    June 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Bring back the Denim!!

    Seriously, I always liked the Blue kit used in the 1998 World Cup. That one had the red and white band across the torso. I would like to see a white version of that. One thing is for certain, the kit will continually change, because you have to sell shirts. Secretly, I also liked the light blue kit the US wore in the 4-0 thumping in a 1995 friendly.

  22. Brian

    June 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Unlike most countries, the US has never had an easily recognizable kit. Instead, it changes substantially on a regular basis with no connection to the past design. While I don’t think the current kit looks bad, it does seem like Nike just tweaked the old 2003-05 Manchester United third kit.

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