We all know that the World Cup is just about the most amazing sporting event that happens. The idea that this happens only once every four years makes the World Cup highly anticipated. We also know that for the United States, the World Cup is a competition that we have not faired as well as we do in other sports.
Here's the deal, the United States has a great opportunity this year to do some damage in the tournament due to a great draw and a group of players experienced playing against top competition. Oh, and we also showed up at the Confederations Cup.
The problem is that Bob Bradley needs to get the right people on the field to give us the best shot at taking advantage of this opportunity. Over the next few slides, I'm going to explain who should make it to South Africa and why. Oh, and this is the best list possible, so Bob Bradley needs to go ahead and take a look at it.
Easy. These guys are the easiest choices that Bradley will likely ever have to make as a head coach for the US.
Tim Howard (Everton) - Top goalie, good form, there really is no question this is going to be our starter and the guy we all feel comfortable with.
Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton) - Opta Sports named the Wolves 'keeper as the EPL's best. Hahnemann will only play if something happens to Howard, but it's nice to have him as the backup or backup backup.
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) - It would be nice to have Brad Freidel on this team, but the other Brad is a pretty good goalie as well. He might get a chance to move onto a new team if the US plays well in this tournament.
I'm highly opinionated when it comes to the rest of the selections on this team, so be ready to hear some pretty bold statements. The defenders are where Bob Bradley is going to run into his first set of decisions. I hope that Bradley decides to go with players who are playing with good form and dropping the guys who have shown that they do not belong on the national team. These are the guys that I think should be the starting backs for us come June.
Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes) - Captain, my captain, Bocanegra is a lock for this team and I could see him as our best (only) option at the dreaded left back spot.
Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96) - He's the captain at Hannover and I feel like that is enough to have the guy make the US team - expect to see Cherundolo battling it out for the starting right back spot.
Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan) - The start of our many injury problems. Onyewu made huge news when he made the move to AC Milan, only to get hurt just after Charlie Davies' accident. Onyewu seems to be back and hopefully he can have his strength to start at one of our middle back spots.
Jay DeMerit (Watford) - I'm a huge Jay DeMerit fan. I feel that the Watford captain showed off his strength in the center-back spot at the Confederations Cup last year, and his aggression is going to be much needed in International play. I think DeMerit should start alongside Onyewu.
Due to the amount of injuries we've seen over the past year, we Americans know exactly how important a good backup is. This World Cup we have the luxury of having good options coming off the bench.
Jonathan Spector (West Ham United) - The one time Manchester United boy is another one of my favorite defenders. He's another big, strong, aggressive player who plays great at the center-back or right-back position. I would like to see him as the first defender off the bench, and see him and DeMerit as 1A and 1B.
Heath Pearce (FC Dallas) - I finally put an MLS guy on the team with Pearce. I feel that the FC Dallas guy has done enough to make this team. He also has potential to be an offensive threat if we are ever playing from behind and need some offensive mentality (shout out to FIFA 2010)
Edgar Castillo (UNAL) - The American born Mexican player might be smaller than the other guys included on this list, but he has shown that he can play on some big name Mexican teams (Pumas, America).
Clarence Goodson (Start) - I'm a fan of letting guys play if they've shown they can play well when given the chance. Goodson has done just that with his solid performances against both El Salvador and the Netherlands
The starting midfielders for the United States are pretty much locked up, and is definitely our biggest strength. Our most well known players will start for us in the midfield and Bob Bradley has the luxury of having these positions set.
Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) - Donovan proved over the last few months that he belongs in a better league than the MLS. He showed great movement with and without the ball and was adored by Everton fans. I expect Landon to improve his stock at this World Cup and would like to see Bradley play him along the sides and attack the wings the same way he did at Everton.
Clint Dempsey (Fulham) - Another American, another star at Fulham. Dempsey is approaching cult-like status at Fulham with his clutch goals. I expect to see him take over the captaincy at Fulham in the near future, and expect him to do great things during the World Cup. We might also see Dempsey play up front some due to our Striker situation.
Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach) - Michael needs to have a great World Cup run and change teams just for the sheer fact that I never want to try to write his current team's name again. The coach's son is an up and comer who's aggression is his best and worst asset. He'll go toe to toe with the best, but we can't afford him missing games due to cards.
Maurice Edu (Rangers) - The former number 1 pick has come back strong from his leg injury and played exceptionally at Rangers the last few months. I expect to see Edu starting in the middle for us and completing our midfield for the next two World Cups.
As noted on the previous slide, we sometimes lose a player for a game or two due to biased refer------ I mean, card suspensions. Because of this, we need to have a player who can take the place of one of our superb midfielders. We also need a player who can jump in and provide a spark for our team when we're behind. Good thing for us, we have some good backups at the midfield spot as well.
Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt) - Clark will most likely be our first midfielder subbed on due to his ability to play the important center midfielder spot. He has also had a good run of form over the past few International games and has finally seen the pitch at his new team.
Stuart Holden (Bolton) - I cannot begin to explain how upset I was at the tackle that broke Holden's leg...... so I won't try. Holden seems to be making a full return and will hopefully see action in Bolton's last games. I've been high on Holden ever since his great performance at the Gold Cup last year, and has definitely played his way onto this team.
Benny Feilhaber (AGF) - I'm so glad that AGF shortens their team's name, or I would request Feilhaber also switches teams after this World Cup. Feilhaber is most recognized for his incredible Gold Cup 2007 volley against Mexico to win the match. Feilhaber is a player that can come in and truly change the match with his pace and ball control.
José Francisco Torres (Pachuca) - I was calling for Torres to make the team a couple months ago and have not backed up from that desire. Torres has excelled at Pachuca and is another player who can come in and use his creativity to make something happen.
Oh, Charlie Davies, why did you have to go and give America a collective heart attack back in October? This is the most highly debated position on the United States' roster, and with just under a month until we suit up against Englad, expect that anything is still possible.
Jozy Altidore (Villarreal) - The one striker that the United States thought they didn't have to worry about. Well, they still don't have to worry about him making the team, even after his ridiculous headbutt that ended his Premier League debut season early. Let's hope Altidore learns from his mistakes and continues to grow and earn himself a legitimate chance at Villarreal or the opportunity somewhere else.
Hercules Gomez (Puebla) - This is a huge choice and I'm putting myself out there with this pick, but I truly feel that Gomez has done enough to not only make the team but start as well. Here's the thing, if we have a guy who lead the league in scoring in the Mexican First Division, why are we debating whether he should make the team or not. I mean sure, there are questions due to his inconsistency over the past few years, and his goal-scoring mainly coming off the bench. BUT the guy lead a foreign league in scoring - and he can play striker for a team that is looking for someone who can score goals! I'm completely in shock as to how we would leave someone like this off the team in place for the never-reliable Conor Casey or the ever-aging Brian Ching. Gomez has the speed and creativity to complement Altidore's size and position, in the same way that Charlie Davies has done in the past.
Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy) - Originally I was skeptical of Buddle and his recent goalscoring form, but I would be hypocritical to say we should include Gomez and not Buddle. I really am growing to liking Buddle with every game the Galaxy play. He plays great with Landon Donovan and the chemistry there will be huge for a a guy that hasn't had a lot of experience on the national team. The reason I choose Gomez to start over Buddle is because Edson plays too much like Altidore does. Both guys are bigger, stronger and play by getting into position against the defender. I like to see an attack that has one guy get position to dump off to a speedster running off of him. Once again, I do not understand how we can be debating leaving a guy off of the team that is on-fire scoring goals in a league that also has the players he would be replaced with (Ching, Casey). Those same players are not near the same form that Buddle is in. I see no reason to leave Edson Buddle off of this team, especially for a Brian Ching or Conor Casey.
Charlie Davies (Sochaux) - To include Charlie Davies or to not include Charlie Davies, that.. is the question. I think that Bob Bradley should definitely include Davies in his preliminary squad, and give Davies the chance to see what he can do compared to the other guys. He has done too much for this team to just simply leave him off and not give him a chance. I think that Davies is going to suprise everyone and be in a good enough form compared to his teammates, and Bob will have to include him on this team. That could just be wishful thinking, but I hope that Charlie will make this World Cup team and play in South Africa.
Alright, so who did I leave off? Well, if you guys know your soccer, you know that I left off a pretty big name - and in my opinion, with good reason. I'm going to try and address the biggest names that I left off of my roster and why? Oh and be warned, this is where I might offend some people.
Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) - It might seem that I am biased against the MLS, and like I anyone else, I might be. But, leaving Bornstein off of my list has nothing to do with him playing in the MLS. The reason I left Bornstein off is because quite frankly, I think he is a huge liability as a defender and causes more mistakes than he does good for the team. If anyone actually goes back and watches the USA - Netherlands game, you will see just how bad Bornstein played. Besides scoring an incredible goal in the 'Charlie Davies appreciation game', Bornstein has looked terrible and constantly gets beat when playing against real competition. I'm sorry, but Bradley needs to cut ties with this guy at least for the summer. Before you go and defend Bornstein, please go back and watch the guy play in any International game - he does not belong on this team.
DeMarcus Beasley (Rangers) - This is another guy that I can't stand see play for us. His time has past as a US International and can't even find playing time at Rangers. Just because the guy was a good player for us in 2002, does not give him the right to make the team in 2010. Once again, go watch the Netherlands game and suffer through his constant dribbling into defenders and looking completey off the entire game. I'm sorry DeMarcus, you used to be my hero at PSV, but you do not belong on this team.
Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro) - If the roster could fit 24 people, I would include Bedoya. I feel that he just misses the cut due to our depth at midfield. I don't see him missing World Cup 2014, but at this point he does not belong on this team.
Freddy Adu (Aris) - Absolutely not.
Eddie Johnson (Aris) - See DeMarcus Beasley. I used to be huge on this guy, but he just hasn't done enough to make this team. He's doing well in his short time at Aris, but let's be honest, he does not belong on this team.
Conor Casey/Brian Ching - I have never been a fan of Casey and am tired of seeing Brian Ching. Both guys are included on the US team and will end up scoring a goal just when everyone is calling for Bradley to quit including them on the team. Neither of these guys have any creativity with the ball and are not International players. I don't see either of these two being an effective choice up front against the best defenders in the world. As I discuessed on the last slide, I would be in disbelief if Bradley chooses to take one of these guys over Hercules Gomez or Edson Buddle. I'm sorry Conor and Brian, but neither of you belong on this team.
Let's hope that Bob Bradley listens to my ideas and includes the guys on the team that have played well for their club teams and shown up for games against international competition. Oh, and let's hope that these girls show up to South Africa too.
Let me know what you guys think, and GO USA!