South Africa 2010 is still almost a year ago, but most national team managers have a somewhat decent idea of those players who will be included in the twenty thee-man roster.
Bob Bradley is known for being generally conservative with his squad choices, choosing to go with what he knows will work adequately, rather than experimenting with unknown quantities.
He does deserve credit for breaking with that philosophy and keeping DaMarcus Beasley off the pitch after horrendous outings against Costa Rica and Brazil in his last two starts.
Despite this change is personnel, Bradley's first choice eleven, are the eleven players whom started the Confederations Cup final against Brazil, save for maybe Brian Ching who was injured.
Of the twenty three men on the United States' roster at the Confederations Cup, sixteen are more than likely guaranteed a spot on next year's World Cup roster, barring injury or a severe dip in form. That leaves only seven or so spots open for players new to the scene like Stuart Holden or Kyle Beckerman.
Based on the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup rosters and form, as well as other intangibles such as injuries and players swapping international allegiances, this is my prediction for the USA's World Cup roster next year:
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Troy Perkins, Marcus Hahnemann
Tim Howard is hands down the finest goalkeeper the US have. There is no question that he will be first-choice next summer. Troy Perkins played well in the Gold Cup, and Marcus Hahnemann will be Wolves starting keeper this season in the Barclays Premier League. Although the latter will turn 38-years-old, during next year's World Cup, he will no doubt have been playing week in and week out, and will provide veteran experience should both other keepers go down injured.
Unless Brad Friedel gets injured or Aston Villa loan him out, Brad Guzan will probably not be selected as he will not be playing regularly for the villains. Coach Bradley has told the players that they must be playing regularly in order to be selected, and that will not happen the way things currently stand in Birmingham.
He made only eight appearances last year for Aston Villa.
Defenders: Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo, Jay Demerit, Danny Califf, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Bornstein
Bradley's looked set on starting Spector, Onyewu, Demerit, and Bocanegra across the back, but Edgar Castillo's decision to use the new FIFA rule regarding switching international teams means that the US now have a solid left-back option.
Heath Pearce, a regular for most of the last year and a half, is now the fourth-choice pick behind Castillo, Bornstein, and Bocanegra, who Bradley prefers to use in the middle. He was released by Hansa Rostock in June and is currently without a club.
Jay Demerit partnered well with Onyewu in the back during the Confederations Cup, and Califf and Cherundolo are both regulars for their European club sides, Midtjylland (Denmark) and Hannover 96 (Germany) respectively.
Midfielders: Clint Dempsey, Ricardo Clark, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Jose Francisco Torres, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber
Jermaine Jones, like Edgar Castillo, is using the new FIFA regulation to switch from the German national side to the United States. Jones is a regular for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, and his experience will be a huge bonus for the US midfield.
Maurice Edu injured his knee while playing with Rangers in the Scottish Premier League and missed all of the summer tournaments for the United States. If he continues to play regularly for Rangers after his rehabilitation, expect him to make a push for a starting spot.
Ricardo Clark and Stuart Holden both play for Houston Dynamo in MLS, and are two of the top midfielders in that league. Holden was extremely impressive during the Gold Cup.
Torres is a regular for Pachuca, one of the top teams in Mexican Primera Division. Still only 21-years-old, his vision and passing ability in the middle are already drawing comparisons to Claudio Reyna
DaMarcus Beasley's insistence to stay with compatriot Edu at Rangers will more than likely lead to him not being selected for the World Cup. Beasley seems to not be a part of Walter Smith's plans at Ibrox, and was lacking confidence during the Confederations Cup.
Until he regains his confidence, which will only come by playing regularly, don't expect him to be selected by Bob Bradley.
Freddy Adu will be left off as well, unless he starts playing regularly at Benfica. He was loaned to French side AS Monaco last season but only made nine league appearances. He will no doubt be speaking with manager Jorge Jesus during this preseason to make sure he still has a future at Estadio da Luz.
Forwards: Brian Ching, Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies
Brian Ching as of right now is the first choice striker for Bradley. His experience and instincts in the box are unmatched by anyone else wearing the red, white, and blue.
Villarreal have a new manager, and Jozy Altidore will be looking to break into the side in order to gain some much needed match experience. Altidore was loaned out to Second Division side Xerez for the second half of last season.
Charlie Davies came from seemingly out of nowhere to provide a much needed spark to the US offense in the Confederations Cup. His transfer from Hammarby to FC Sochaux in France will be a great chance for him to show his abilities in a league with a higher level of play.
Conor Casey and Kenny Cooper still have an outsiders chance at making the squad, but will need to finish this MLS season strongly, as well as start next season red hot in order to be considered.
Last year, Cooper was chased by Cardiff City and Rosenborg, and may consider a transfer to Europe to maximize his chances. According to rumors, Rosenborg are still interested.