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How Will The U.S. Squad Shake Out For The World Cup?

In the aftermath of the United States’ 2-1 loss in Amsterdam to the Netherlands Wednesday, it’s time to start thinking about which 23 players will be on the plane that leaves Philadelphia on May 29 for South Africa and the 2010 World Cup.

Of course, coach Bob Bradley still has a couple of months before he has to name a final team. During that time, he’ll no doubt watch matches all over the world to help him decide on those last few roster spots.

Not being the patient type, I’m going to take a shot at it today. Now this is who I think he’ll take, not the roster I’d choose if it were up to me.

Just for fun, let’s assume that Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu, Stuart Holden, Charlie Davies and everyone else on the injury list is healthy enough to make the trip. And let’s assume Jermaine Jones is not…


There’s no drama here. Barring an injury, it’s Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Marcus Hahnemann taking up the first three roster spots.


I think Onyewu and Jay DeMerit could start in the middle, pushing Carlos Bocanegra to left back opposite Jonathan Spector. Clarence Goodson, Steve Cherundolo, Heath Pearce and Jonathan Bornstein are the likely bets to grab the reserve slots.

Personally, I’d like to see Edgar Castillo or even Frankie Hejduk make the roster ahead of Bornstein, but I don’t see it happening. I don’t want to be overly critical of Bornstein’s outing against the Dutch, but when you concede a penalty that leads to a goal, get away with a clear hand ball in the box and have the ball deflect off you for another goal – it might be time to sit down for a while.

All of that said, his versatility and ability to play as a midfielder makes him an attractive roster option.


With 11 spots nailed down, let’s cast an eye to the midfield.

Landon Donovan and Dempsey are your starting wingers, while Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark are the likely picks for the central midfield.

I think Bradley will take nine midfielders and three forwards, since Donovan or Dempsey can play up front if necessary.

So the other five midfield spots will go to Holden, Maurice Edu, DaMarcus Beasley, Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kjjestan.

Now, we can debate the midfield all day.

I’d rather have Jose Francisco Torres over Kljestan, for starters. And I’m not sure I wouldn’t want Robbie Rogers or Alejandro Bedoya over the hot-and-cold Beasley, but I’m not married to that.

Actually, I thought Beasley was particularly good against the Dutch. It’s keeping him healthy that seems to be the lingering concern.


Jozy Altidore and Davies are locks. I think Brian Ching is the other choice.

I know he’s not a sexy player. He can’t run like Robbie Findley or score in MLS like Jeff Cunningham.

But he’s an international player with seven years’ worth of experience in a national team shirt, and as a true target man, he provides a skill set that the two projected starters do not.

Of course, if any of our walking wounded aren’t ready, it opens the door for some other guys.

Let’s name them, too.

Last ones off

Torres and Kyle Beckerman are alternatives in the midfield, while the aforementioned Findley and Cunningham – along with perhaps Eddie Johnson – are additional forward options.

As for defenders, Castillo, Hedjuk, Frank Simek and even Jimmy Conrad could be on the waiting list.

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  1. LittleRockAnt

    March 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Oh yeah, I counted 5 turnovers by Bradley in the first half. People are too high on him IMO.

  2. LittleRockAnt

    March 4, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    People were hating on Torres. He was the best player in the first half for the U.S. possibly. This is even without that shot he just missed. We need more players like him on the team. He’s great at keeping possession and brings something that other players don’t. If Bradley doesn’t bring him he’s more of a fool than I thought.

  3. Brickthrower

    March 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm


    Howard, Guzan, Hahnemann – perfect


    Boca, DeMerit, Onyewu, Spector. Subs: Hell yes Hejduk, Cherundolo, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall (though he will definitely be shafted)


    Donovan, Feilhaber, Bradley, Dempsey Subs: Clark, Beckerman, Torres, Holden


    Altidore, Davies Subs: Rogers (He’s smart and I have friends from his high school), Kenny Cooper (You don’t think a big man will help against England, Slovenia, and Algeria?)

    I’m not a big fan of Bornstein. I’m not even holding yesterday against him, he’s simply not best for the position. I’m also not huge into Clark or Sacha. Size and speed. If the US team doesn’t have that, they won’t be competitive. It’s a shame they couldn’t have gotten guys like Marcus Tracy and Jack McInerney ready for some friendly matches.

    • Brickthrower

      March 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm

      Oh and if I were to replace Robbie Rogers, since I don’t actually believe he’ll be in the lineup, I’d throw in Edu or Beasley. Let them shoot it out.

  4. Rafael

    March 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I really think that best thing for Bradley to do for the WC is to go with 7 defenders which would free up a spot in midfeild or forward.

    Bornstein should be dropped. Pearce and Spector can both cover and play either LB and RB. Spector has done LB for West Ham, while Pearce is going to play RB for FC Dallas. With Bornstein gone, you have plenty of options at LB with Bocanegra, Spector, and Pearce.

    Adu or James then has the chance to make the WC team.

  5. Rafael

    March 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    It’s a shame Bradley never tried out Castillo at LB or gave him a chance. I don’t really think Bocanegra should be a starter and much less a captain on this team. He will be our LB if there is no injury.

    The perfect line-up would include Spector at LB and Cherundulo at RB. Having Kljestan on a World Cup team would be a complete joke. Torres deserves that spot hands down.

    It’s a shame that Adu will just miss out on this team. With his current form, he could make an impact. There are just not enough spots. If Bradley does go for 4 FWDS, then Adu should get the fourth spot ahead of the terrible and mediocre Casey, Findley, Cunningham, and Johnson.

  6. Izzy

    March 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    i’m not 100% sure but i think it was torres who got beaten by sneijder that led to huntelaar’s goal, barring that incident, i think torres had a decent game, but i think the US improved when Edu came in for him and provided more of a physical presence against the dutch in central midfield.

  7. ELAC

    March 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Castillo needs a chance to prove himself for the Red, White, and Blue.
    Torres has been given that chance in small opportunities with little or no patience to grow into the “scheme”.
    Given the bromance with Sacha Kjelstan and John Bornstein, I can see Bob excluding both Torres and Castillo.

    BTW, I’m a Chivas USA season ticket holder (since 2007) and it hurts me that both Sacha and Bornstein get USMNT call ups because Bradley drafted both out of college and coached them at CUSA.

    America deserves better players, not coaches’ favorites.

  8. Brandon

    March 4, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Injuries to other players will all but guarantee that Torres will make the squad; unless, of course, he is one of the walking wounded. I also think injuries will mean one of Casey, Findlay, or Johnson will make the squad. Castillo also needs to be considered for LB, but with team captain, Boca-; Bradley favorite, Bornstein; and coming-back-in-form Pearce also vying for the spot, it will be hard for him to make the squad.

  9. Randy Capps

    March 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I would much rather have Torres than Kljestan.

    Bradley just seems to like Sacha a little better…

  10. kevin_amold

    March 4, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Yeah. JFT in. Kljestan out. Sorry Sacha, I like you but you’re not the answer this time.

  11. Brian

    March 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I completely agree with your line-up from top to bottom except for Torres/Kljestan. I think he will end up bringing Torres but after last night who knows. Did Torres really have that bad of a half yesterday? I thought he played pretty decent but maybe I didn’t see everything Bradley did. And I completely agree with moving Bocanegra to left back, after last night Bornstein has to be an option only off the bench if needed. I would also take Heyduk over Pearce. Also I think he will only bring 3 forwards as well but if Davies isn’t healthy in time then we are in serious trouble. Hopefully Dempsey would be able to fill in up top and then Holden on the right.

    • kevin_amold

      March 4, 2010 at 10:57 am

      Brian, I also thought Torres was pretty good. Actually I thought he was our best player in that wretched first half, other than perhaps DeMerit.

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