South Africa 2010 World Cup Roster: Bradley Names Preliminary USA Squad

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South Africa 2010 World Cup Roster: Bradley Names Preliminary USA Squad
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Coach Bob Bradley has announced his preliminary 30-man squad for the upcoming World Cup without any major surprises, the most notable exclusion being the unfortunate failure of striker Charlie Davies to recover from injury in time.

However, the squad named sets up an interesting battle for the final 23 places.

The squad will convene to train at Princeton University beginning May 15, and will depart for South Africa on May 30. The final 23-man roster is due to FIFA on June 1.

The 30-man squad named is composed of:

GOALKEEPERS (3)

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton)

DEFENDERS (9)

Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (12)

DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), José Torres (Pachuca)

FORWARDS (6)

Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)

 

Usually, a 23-man team is composed of two players for every outfield position and three goalkeepers.

Therefore, Team USA, playing a traditional 4-4-2 formation, will most likely take three goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders, and four forwards to South Africa.

The only question, then, is which players will make the final cut?

Below are my picks to be locks for the final squad.

 

LOCKS

Goalkeepers

Bradley needs three goalkeepers, so there will be no changes to the goalkeepers unless one is injured. The three goalkeepers going to South Africa are:

Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

Bradley will most likely start Tim Howard, with Bradley Guzan and Marcus Hahnemann competing for the backup spot. Hahnemann will most likely edge Guzan because of his form and consistent play with Wolves, while Guzan will have to settle for third string.

 

Defenders

Of the nine defenders selected, only one is likely to be cut from the final 23-man squad. The certainties to be on the plane, if they prove their fitness, are:

Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector

I emphasize fitness because Onyewu, a key member of the squad, has only just returned from a knee injury, which has kept him out of the Milan squad since October.

If Onyewu is fit, expect him to start. Otherwise, Bradley may give Jay DeMerit or Jonathan Spector the nod to partner Bocanegra in the center of defense, with Bornstein starting at left back.

 

Midfielders

Of the 12 midfielders, only eight are likely to go to South Africa, meaning four will miss out on the final 23-man squad.  

Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden, José Torres,

Clint Dempsey’s inclusion as a midfielder means Bradley is likely to start him and Donavan on the wings, while Michael Bradley plays the central “box-to-box” midfielder role, attacking and defending with equal prowess.

 

Forwards

Bradley has selected six forwards, four of whom he will most likely take to South Africa.

The most notable exclusion here is that of Charlie Davies, whose recovery from a horrific car accident suffered in October has fallen short. Davies looked to be on the verge of a miracle comeback after fracturing his right leg, left elbow, and several areas of his face.

Sadly, he has not recovered in time and has not been named in the squad. However, Bradley has strong striking options in:

Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson

With these players certainties for the final roster, there is only room for one more defender and forward and two more midfielders. Let’s take a look at the key battles for places in the final squad.

 

Key Battles

Defense

Clarence Goodson vs. Chad Marshall

These are the two likely to be competing for the final spot in defense, and I think Bradley will give Marshall the nod. He is younger and has more experience in the national setup, with a long history in the youth teams and 11 caps to Goodson’s two.

A trip to the World Cup with the national team will give Marshall invaluable experience even if he does not play, and will prepare him for future tournaments.

Expect Marshall to be in the final squad.

 

Midfield

Benny Feilhaber vs. Sacha Kljestan vs. DaMarcus Beasley vs. Robbie Rogers

All four are attack-minded midfielders, so Bradley will look to take just two to South Africa after selecting both Donavan and Dempsey, who are both likely to start.

Feilhaber was a key member of Bradley’s Confederations Cup squad that went all the way to the finals, while Kljestan was a consistent starter in World Cup qualifying.

DaMarcus Beasley has been a fixture in the international squad for almost a decade now, but his form has dipped severely recently, and Robbie Rogers is a young option that Bradley may look to groom for the future.

I think Kljestan and Feilhaber are the best options, with their consistent form at the international level recently important to Bradley’s team setup.

Beasley has seen Bradley’s trust in him waver as he lost his spot in the international setup, and Rogers is too inexperienced for this massive tournament. Look for Bradley to go with Kljestan and Feilhaber as alternatives to Holden or Torres in the middle.

 

Forward

Edson Buddle vs. Herculez Gomez

This is the battle everyone has been discussing in recent weeks.

Buddle’s red-hot goalscoring form with the Galaxy has cooled, but nine goals in just eight games has seen his stock rise considerably, with many considering him the best option for the national team next to Jozy Altidore.

Herculez Gomez, on the other hand, had an amazing season with Mexican club Puebla FC, scoring 10 goals since his move in January, tying the lead for most goals scored but with a better goals to minutes played ratio.

Both strikers are in prolific form, and both are relatively untested at the international level.

Buddle has not been called up since 2003 while Gomez has only two caps, both from the 2007 Copa America campaign.

Therefore, what it comes down to is who will fit better with the team, and I think Edson Buddle must be selected on this criteria.

His recent goalscoring form has come with the help of Galaxy teammate Landon Donavan, who is an undisputed starter in the national team.

This means that if Bradley selects Buddle, the two can hopefully continue their prolific partnership in the World Cup. With that note, Buddle is the obvious choice between the two, unfortunately for Gomez.

 

Therefore, the final 23-man roster reads:

GOALKEEPERS (3)

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton)

DEFENDERS (8)

Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (8)

Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), José Torres (Pachuca)

FORWARDS (4)

Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)

 

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