US Soccer: The Stars Appear to Be Aligning for US Men's National Team

Jim NguyenCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18:  Clint Dempsey (L) of Fulham celebrates scoring with Paul Konchesky during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Fulham and Juventus at Craven Cottage on March 18, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Phil Cole/Getty Images

You'll have to forgive US soccer fans if they've been a bit pessimistic over the last few months.

A ridiculous amount of injuries to perhaps as many as half the starting lineup began piling up starting in October of last year.

It seemed that the fortuitous draw the United States had been given in December with their group stage opponents would be rendered useless by injuries to players who were thought likely to be key contributors to the U.S. cause in South Africa in June.

If this past week's news on the injury front is of any indication, fans of the U.S. team can once again begin to become hopeful of their team's chances this summer.

Clint Dempsey has not only recovered from a knee injury, but he scored an unbelievable chip goal this week to propel Fulham to the quarterfinals of the Europa Cup. If you haven't seen it yet, this is must watch TV right here .

Yes, the Deuce is loose—again.

Landon Donovan is coming off of a remarkable loan stint with Everton, where he proved to himself and the world that he is capable of playing at the highest levels in soccer. His improved play and confidence can only help the Americans' chances in South Africa.

Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu , starters on this team if healthy, are both set to begin training with their club teams this week. Amazingly, Davies is on track to play for his club team again this season, an unthinkable level of progress given the severity of his car accident injuries. "Gooch" appears likely to get some key minutes in the run-up to the World Cup, as teammate Alessandro Nesta is out injured.

Another key player on the team is midfielder Benny Feilhaber , who will be rejoining AGF Aarhus to begin training following his rehab stint in Brazil.

Ricardo Clark has recovered from his injury and is attempting to break into the starting lineup with Bundesliga outfit, Eintracht Frankfurt. He has not gotten any first team minutes, however, and that may open the door for others at the crowded central midfield position for the American squad.

Stuart Holden has just revealed on Twitter that he is out of his cast and is moving forward with his rehabilitation. He may be fit enough to begin playing again as soon as mid-April.

And the biggest potential surprise of all? Jermaine Jones apparently is training again on his own and is doing some work with the soccer ball. If he plays for Schalke this season at all, he will probably be boarding the plane due to his defensive strengths and overall skill set at the defensive midfielder position.

We've also just learned today that MLS has averted a strike, which means that Donovan, and possible candidates for the team such as Brian Ching , Robbie Findley , Robbie Rogers , and Conor Casey will not be impacted by a strike between next week and the beginning of summer.

Depth has always been an issue for this U.S. side, and it appears that after misfortune at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, the tide is turning in a positive direction for the team and its supporters.

Are the stars aligning for a successful World Cup for the U.S.?


Questions will likely remain as players continue to get fit and into form ahead of Bob Bradley's decision in early May on the 30 players he will select on a provisional basis. He makes his final decisions by June 1st, the date on which FIFA requires national teams to choose their final 23 roster players.

The next month will be crucial to determining who makes Bradley's final cut, but one thing is clear: U.S. fans have reason to be hopeful again that their team might have most of its key players in time for the World Cup.