On The Plane To South Africa: April Edition
With only about five weeks before Bob Bradley selects his final squad, the roster situation should be getting clearer the U.S ahead of it's World Cup camp which begins on May 15.
But it's not.
Injuries and lack of playing time have raised several question marks about a handful of key players for the U.S.
In other words, get ready for some surprises in May, U.S. fans.
Here's a look at the twenty-three possible selections Bob Bradley will take with him to South Africa (as of today):
Goalkeeper (3): Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann
Last month, I gave Guzan the nod in his battle with Hahnemann for the number #2 role behind Tim Howard. This month, I have to go with form and playing time over Bradley's loyalty to Guzan. Hahnemann should probably be the #2 heading into camp.
Defenders (7): Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Spector, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson
On the bubble: Heath Pearce, Jimmy Conrad
This list remains essentially the same from last month.
Apparently "Gooch" is in full training now with AC Milan, so there is hope he will get playing time with the first team before the season ends.
Jay DeMerit picked up a stomach strain, and will be out a week or two.
There's not a lot to be excited about in terms of center back depth after Onyewu, Bocanegra, DeMerit and Goodson, but Jimmy Conrad might be on the short list of backups there.
Midfielders (9): Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley , Stuart Holden, Maurice Edu, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Alejandro Bedoya
On the bubble: Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan
It appears Jermaine Jones's ship has sailed, so he has to be removed from contention for a spot.
Ricardo Clark is starting today for Frankfurt, so it would seem that he will make the plane, but probably not as a starter.
Stuart Holden is apparently close to returning to playing for Bolton, and if he makes an appearance or two, should be just fine heading into May.
DaMarcus Beasley, where are you? It's inexplicable how he had a great run of form about two months ago, and then his manager at Rangers stopped playing him at all. But, Bradley will still likely call him into the camp to see what he's got.
Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez
On the bubble: Charlie Davies, Conor Casey, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson
It's anyone's guess as to who Bradley will select as his forwards in June, and we should expect some surprises between now and potentially the first game vs. England.
Everything rests on the fitness and playing status of Charlie Davies. The Sochaux president said Thursday that Davies will not be playing for the club this year. Davies, however, quickly said that his training is going well and that he believes he will play for Sochaux and be a part of the U.S. World Cup team.
Bob Bradley will likely bring Davies in to take a good long look at him in May, but the manager must be preparing for the likelihood that Davies will not be ready in time.
Because of that, if he were to choose his team now, he probably would not take Davies to South Africa.
There are reports that Brian Ching is on track to recover from a hamstring injury, so he should be able to make the trip.
Herculez Gomez has quickness and an ability to finish both inside the penalty box and also possesses a long range shot. I give him the nod over Edson Buddle at this point since he brings some of the qualities that Davies has.
In any case, prepare for some drama as Bradley will continue to tweak all the way up to the June 1st deadline, when he must submit his 23-man roster.
The provisional 30-man roster which will be announced by May 11 will give some indication of how he is leaning, plus there are two friendlies on May 25 and May 29 (vs. Czech Republic and vs. Turkey, respectively).
Which injured players will demonstrate their fitness, or lack thereof? Will Charlie Davies make it all the way back? Who will distinguish themselves in the midfield?
We're going to find out in a matter of weeks.
Do you agree or disagree with this list? Register your thoughts and comments below.
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