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Here is Who Should Really Make the Gold Cup Team


Photo by C.A.M. Stephans

By now you have probably heard the Bob Bradley deadline of May 23 to announce his call-ups for the U.S. National Team. This is a critical call-up, as not only will these players play in the 2011 Gold Cup but also in the friendly versus Spain.  As such, Bob Bradley will likely go the opposite of Camp Cupcake and take a veteran lineup to Foxborough.

But should he?  What should be the goals of the US Men’s National Team, June 2011 edition?  I’d argue the following should be the goals of Bob Bradley’s squad, in this order:

  1. Win the Gold Cup and punch the ticket to the Confederations Cup
  2. Begin finding the players for the 2014 World Cup
  3. Not embarrass the country in the Spain match

In order to do this, Bob Bradley should bring a mix of veterans and up-and-comers, and in the process take a few gambles with this team.  Here are my suggestions by position for Coach Bradley, as well as a few predictions of who he will actually bring.  Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section:

Keepers He Should Bring: Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, and Bill Hamid

Keepers He Will Bring: Howard, Hahnemannn, and David Yeldell

Until he proves otherwise, Tim Howard is the #1 keeper for this team and that will not change during the World Cup. The #2 keeper should be someone with experience who can step in during an emergency, so Hahnemann fits that profile as he transitions from Europe to MLS.  Brad Guzan is seemingly on the outs with Bradley plus scheduled his wedding for the end of this month.  Bradley could go with David Yeldell to continue the German connection but could again give Dominic Cervi a chance to earn a place on the team, despite the fact he can’t even get a start for his club team.  One day Howard will be too old to play for this team, and the US needs to begin planning for that now.  The final spot should go to a young stud who should begin to be groomed to be the next Tim Howard; the two MLS candidates right now are Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid, with Hamid getting the call due to having a better season so far.

Defenders He Should Bring: (starters) Tim Chandler, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, (bench) Steve Cherundolo, Zak Whitbread, Tim Ream, Jonathan Bornstein, Chad Marshall

Defenders He Will Bring: (starters) Cherundolo, Goodson, Onyewu, Bocanegra, (bench) Chandler, Bornstein, Ream, Whitbread, Eric Lichaj

The backline is up in the air, but you can bet Bradley will go conservative here.  The U.S.’s biggest problem has been conceding early goals, so Bradley will likely thwart this by throwing out a veteran lineup.  My thought is that the Gold Cup is put up or shut up time for two U.S. defenders – Tim Chandler and Gooch.  Gooch is coming back from injury and it’s time to see if he can be an international starting defender before 2014 qualification.  Tim Chandler took the soccer scene by storm with a good showing against Paraguay; now’s a good time to see if he can maintain the hype.

Midfielders He Should Bring: (4-2-3-1) Michael Bradley, Jonathan Spector, Landon Donovan, Mikkel Diskerud, Clint Dempsey, (bench) Benny Feilhaber, Brek Shea, Alejandro Bedoya

Midfielders He Will Bring: (4-4-2) Donovan, Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Dempsey, (bench) Edu, Feilhaber, Bedoya, Jonathan Spector

I have always been a believer in the U.S. playing with 5 midfielders, with Bradley and Spector alternating between making advancing runs and playing back in the holding role.  Donovan and Dempsey are locks to start but the U.S. needs someone with vision and talent to make the right pass to get the wings and forward the ball in scoring chances.  Although young, Diskerud has shown flashes of this ability and he should get a chance now.  If nothing else, a call-up binds him to the U.S.  On the bench, Brek Shea has shown the ability to be a world class midfielder, with FC Dallas’ recent good run of form showing how good Shea can be.  Bradley, however, will probably fall back into the comfortable 4-4-2 and keep his standards in the midfield.  The bench for Bradley will also be experienced, with players we’ve seen before who have specific talents for specific scenarios.

Forwards He Should Bring: Teal Bunbury, Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski

Forwards He Will Bring: Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Herculez Gomez

Let’s be ambitious.  If Bradley plays a 4-2-3-1, he needs a lone striker type, something Altidore is not.  He is talented enough to make the team, but he needs a second forward up front with him.  Agudelo could be that guy, but he is in danger of over-exposure and over-use this year.  Let’s see if Bunbury is as good internationally or better than Agudelo.  In the same vein, let’s give Chris Wondolowski one more chance.  The guy can score in MLS, so let’s see if he can do the same for the national team.

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  1. gkleiban

    May 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    “Brek Shea has shown the ability to be a world class midfielder”

    My god!
    That right there has discredited all of your opinions on all things soccer.
    I’m embarrassed for you.

  2. David

    May 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I do like Altidore, but he should not be a starting forward at the Gold Cup. He’s looked terrible his last few appearances and he’s not even playing hardly at all. Since we have a crowded midfield, I really think Bradley should consider moving Dempsey up front. Maybe have him playing along side Buddle and sub in Agudelo the second half. I think Charlie Davies should be considered based on his form, but who knows now with his hamstring injury.

  3. tom

    May 20, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Thank God you are not selecting the team for the Gold Cup

  4. andy

    May 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    altidore sucks, even my non soccer freinds noticed he has a terrible 1st touch, control and shot at the wc

    • Abram

      May 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      but until someone else proves their worth in an actual competition (Bunbury or Buddle in particular) he is the top US striker. Jozy is not as bad as people think he is, nor does he have the potential that people think he has. He is, and will always be, a pretty good, but never great forward.

      • Robert Hay

        May 20, 2011 at 7:40 am

        Abram – I agree that people are too quick to dismiss Altidore. He is a world class talent, but he is not a traditional #9/lone striker type, which I think people want him to be. He plays better paired up with another forward, so he can roam sideline to the middle and create space for himself.

        • Dave C

          May 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

          @Robert Hay
          While I have a soft spot for Altidore (I’m a Hull City fan, and think with better management he could have done a lot better with us), to describe him as a “world class talent” is way over the top.

          I think Abram pretty much nailed it – Altidore isn’t as bad as some people think he is, but he doesn’t have the potential some people think he has either.

  5. dan

    May 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with almost all your picks. I don’t see Bradley not choosing Chandler though, he is our best wing defender by far, so far.

    Sadly Bradley probably will chose the same old and boring 4-4-2 and this is yet another reason why the man must go! He is too conservative to launch a team to the upper echelon that the USA needs to be in.

    If we don’t win the Gold Cup, Bradley HAS to be fired. It’s expected for us to win it now.

    • Abram

      May 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      Give the guy a break, when he plays 4-5-1 people say he’s a fool, when he plays 4-4-2 people say he’s boring. What do we want from him? Though I do agree that he needs to win the Gold Cup.

  6. SJQuakesFan

    May 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Wondo should be given another chance. When he played his first cap, he was played as a lone striker. He can’t work up front by himself, his role is much more as a second striker. That being said, put him behind a much more active striker (I.e. Charlie Davies, Juan Agudelo) and they will be able to work of each other. Also, another player that’s being overlooked by Bradley is Ike Opara. He an athletic and agile defender. He practically shut out against Vancouver. Opara is very underrated.

    I am not just saying this because I’m a Quakes fan, but that I because I really believe.

    • Alan

      May 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      I couldn’t agree more about Opara. Back when Robert Hay did the salary article, he said Opara was the most overpaid. He, along with Wondo, are proving to be their most consistent assets.

  7. The original Tom

    May 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t follow the national team closely until World Cup qualifying starts. I’m bummed Donovan will be missing when Colorado hosts the Galaxy on June 18th. I wish the Gold cup was winter, or was only every 4 years at the same time as the Euros.

    By the way, the CONCACAF Champion’s League draw is out.

    • Charles

      May 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      I saw that. Sounders if they get past the play-in game get to play in Monterrey’s group again. Brutal.

      Colorado’s group was deemed to be one of the easier groups with LA’s group said to be the strongest.

      Please Sounder’s don’t make me suffer through games you should have won but didn’t like last year. Thank you.

  8. Tuttle

    May 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    If Bradley plays a 4-2-3-1, he needs a lone striker type, something Altidore is not.

    I think what we need to play a 4-2-3-1 well is a speedy wingback or two. Whoever is playing trequartista should be able to pair with Joze when needed, but without full sideline support from the wingbacks we cripple our very good crossover strikers like Dempsey.

    Boca and Cherundelo are good defensive wingbacks but they ain’t Phillip Lahm or Patrice Evra. For the 4-2-3-1 we need to start getting younger, quicker players some time. I’d start Chandler and Whitebread on the sides with Gooch and Goodson in the middle.

    For the rest; Bradley and Jones as the holding midfielders, Dempsey and Edu as the wide middies, Donovan as the trequartista and Agudelo as the #9.

  9. ExtraMedium

    May 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Edu should be a 1st choice Mid. Adu (I’m serious). And Justin Braun.

    LOL! Via MLS’ official website:

    American Exports: Parkhurst winning relegation battle
    Victory on Wednesday lifts American defender, FC Nordsjælland further from drop zone

    • Robert Hay

      May 19, 2011 at 11:54 am

      I thought long and hard about Adu, but he needs to show a little more before we can put him ahead of, well, the next Freddy Adus in MLS. As for Edu, we know what he can do and I feel it can be replicated by more versatile players. Braun, eh, he needs more time. I wouldn’t put him ahead of Altidore, Agudelo, Bunbury, Gomez, Buddle, healthy Findley, or Wondo right now, maybe in a few years.

      • Abram

        May 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

        I have a feeling that Bradley will bring in four forwards. Altidore and Agudelo are locks, Bunbury should be there as should Gomez. I think the US is a little deeper at striker than we think we are. There are still no stars, but there is a lot of good talent (Altidore, Agudelo, Bunbury, Wondo, Gomez, Braun, maybe even Will Bruin).

    • Charles

      May 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      What do you think that Adu does if he comes back to MLS ?

      Rocks it like Bunbury, Agudelo and Wondo ?
      I am skeptical.

      Or are you thinking midfield ? Which to me is very overcrowded. You too probably with Edu being your choice.

      • Charles

        May 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm

        Oh yeah and for pete sake quit Trolling over at Sounder at Heart.

  10. Hack

    May 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

    No Charlie Davies?

  11. Charles

    May 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Not saying I disagree with Wondo and Bunbury, but it is very hard to overlook Agudelo’s potential. He really looks like he could be the real deal.

    I have posted before that the US national team is deep and been flamed to death. But I believe the US is deep. Maybe we don’t have Messi out there, but when you consider many guys like Zakuani (without a broken leg) aren’t even in the conversation…..

    ….There are a LOT of seriously talent trying to make these teams now.

    • Alan

      May 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      Bunbury and Altidore should be subs in the first game. Wondo and Agudelo should start. I am going to be at the first game against Canada in Detroit. I can’t wait!!!

    • Abram

      May 19, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Zakuani is capped for the Congo. I don’t think he’s cap-tied, but he does not have citizenship in the US, though I wish he did.

  12. Alan

    May 19, 2011 at 8:19 am

    When Wondo played for the national team the first time, he barely got a touch on the ball. That wasn’t really his fault as the ball rarely got past midfield. He definitely deserves a second chance. Bunbury deserves another chance too. Jermaine Jones should be included in the midfield in my opinion. I definitely agree with the rest of your picks though.

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