Following the Americans' defeat in Azteca to fierce rivals Mexico, the United States Men's National Team looks to secure its entry to the 2010 World Cup with their four remaining World Cup Qualifiers. This coming Saturday, the US will welcome El Salvador to Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah for the first of two qualifiers the US will play in Septmeber. The following Wednesday, the Yanks will travel to Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago where they will try to capture three points from the "Soca Warriors" away from home.Time is on the US's side with full week to prepare for the two games as opposed to only a day or two as was the case with the Mexico game. The starting 11 will likely include mostly European based players who have to travel from overseas and need time to recover from jet lag.Late goals from Jozy Altidore and Frankie Hedjuk helped the US salvage a tie in front of 30,500 urine bag throwing Salvadorans last March in San Salvador.El Salvador is coming off an away defeat to Trinidad and Tobago 1-0. The Americans should look out for Rudis Corrales who's scored 14 goals in 63 appearances for his country and former DC United winger Eliseo Quintanilla who scored against the Americans early in the first half the last time the two teams faced off. Head coach Bob Bradley called in 24 to Salt Lake City for the national team camp.Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England)
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Chad Marshall (Columbus), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Houston), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca, Mexico)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Conor Casey (Colorado), Brian Ching (Houston), Charlie Davies (Sochaux, France), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake)Here is my starting 11 for Saturday's game against El Salvador. I'm assuming how the El Salvador game goes will affect the lineup for T&T.Goalie: Tim HowardNo surprise here. "Timmaaay" has been rock solid for the U.S. since he took the reigns from Kasey Keller after the 2006 World Cup. Although Brad Guzan doesn't start for Aston Villa, he played well for his club in the pre-season and is capable back up for the U.S.Center Back: Carlos BocanegraAfter a tough game in Mexico where the U.S. captain found himself out of position at left back and exposed by the Mexican wingers, I think Bob Bradley should place Boca back in the middle of the defense, especially with Oguchi Onyweu out because of yellow card accumulation. Playing Bocanegra in the middle plays to the intelligent defenders' strengths even though he does play left back for his club.Center Back: Jay DeMeritThe Wisconsin native and captain of his club team Watford, Jay DeMerit proved his worth to the US in the Confederations Cup where he earned praise for his super human efforts in the upset over Spain and Egypt. The former University of Illinois-Chicago standout will cover for the absent Onyweu and continue to solidify his role in the team.Left Back: Jonathan BorensteinIt would be fair to wonder if the US will ever find stability at the left back position, but if the Chicago Bears can get a quarterback anything can happen I guess. A Éric Abidal is not walking through the door anytime soon so we should probably work with what we have.Borenstein hasn't proven himself the out and out starter, but he's the only natural left back in Bradley's roster. He offers more going forward than Bocanegra. I think Edgar Castillo and Heath Pearce still have a shot at the job before the 2010 World Cup. The sooner someone steps up and wins the position, the better for the US.Right Back: Jonathan SpectorNot that I have a thing for both of the US full backs being named Jonathan, but Jonathan Spector has been seeing the field for West Ham recently in arguably the best league in the world, the English Premier League. Many were convinced that Spector's play at the Confederations Cup won him the right back job, but Bradley started the more experienced Steve Cherundolo against Mexico in Azteca. Earlier this summer in South Africa, Spector displayed his dangerous crosses from the right flank, two of which found Clint Dempsey for goals.Right Midfield: Clint DempseyThe winner of the Bronze Ball, awarded to the third best player at the Confederations Cup, Clint Dempsey looks to carry his national team exploits into the upcoming qualifiers. When he's at his best, he can do things no other US player can do. Dempsey didn't have a great game in Mexico, but he'll have opportunity to make up for it against El Salvador and T&T.Left Midfield: Landon DonovanLandon Donovan is playing the best soccer of his career with the LA Galaxy and the US. His disappointing performance in Azteca was attributed to him having contracted Swine Flu, but he was quickly back to his good form in MLS. Donovan's best position with the national team is on the right side of midfield because the U.S. needs him to touch the ball as much as possible being the team's best creator.Center Midfield: Michael BradleyCoach Bob Bradley's son, Michael, has proven himself as a starter on the national team and with his German club, Borissa Mochengladbach. However, Bradley was left out of this weekend's team because of a disagreement with his coach over his recent play with his club. Unlike his father's cool, calculated demeanor, Michael's hot head has got him in trouble before as was the case when he earned himself a suspension after screaming at a referee after a game in the tunnel.I would like to see Bradley adopt a more defensive minded roll which will allow him to focus on what he does best: Putting pressure on the opposing team's midfield and obtaining possession. Bradley's fire is what makes him the midfielder we need on the field as long as it doesn't earn him a red card. Bradley starting position will be called into question once Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones get healthy.Center Midfield: Benny FeilhaberInstead of going with Bob Bradley's usual pairing of Ricardo Clark with Michael Bradley I propose utilizing Benny Feilhaber's offensive attributes in the center of the midfield. Feilhaber showed some class in the Confederations Cup setting up a number of goals for the US. The Brazilian born, UCLA product has displayed a creative element that the US team frequently lacks.Forward: Charlie DaviesNo American player is hotter than Charlie Davies who has already scored twice for his French club Sochaux and earned a penalty kick that resulted in the game winning goal over the weekend. Not to mention Davies got on the scorer's sheet in the Mexico game by curling the ball cleverly around Memo Ochoa. Davies' speed cannot be understated and if he times his runs right he'll be able to find the net.Forward: Jozy AltidoreMany US fans were upset over Jozy Altidore not starting the Mexico game, but now that the 19-year-old has gotten some games under his belt at his new English club, Hull City, hopefully he'll be in the starting 11. Altidore's first touch in a Hull kit was a over-the-head flick to that set up a game winning goal. Jozy started a few days later in a Carling Cup match scoring on a long range free kick that whistled into the goal. The US has two of the most promising young strikers in Europe in Altidore and Davies and they need to be on the pitch.
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