Which United States Forwards Will Be Starting in 2014?
One of the major criticisms leveled against the US Men’s National Team in the 2010 World Cup was that the forwards couldn’t score goals. Maybe some of the problems were tactical and there were injuries as well, but when the 2014 World Cup in Brazil rolls around, we should at least see some changes in personnel.
The evaluation process will continue in South Africa, where Bob Bradley has brought along a group of youngsters for the match against Bafana Bafana.
Getting their first caps will be Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury, both of whom made their debut in MLS this season. The more experienced Robbie Findley is along for the ride as well.
Altidore, already a big name, should continue to develop, but have we already seen the best of Clint Dempsey? Will Edson Buddle earn a larger role? Will Charlie Davies eventually make his way back?
Here’s hoping that Bradley finds the right formula up front. Goals can’t come from midfielders all the time.
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Only 17 years old, Agudelo has already made his mark on the U-17 and U-20 teams. Coming out of the New York Red Bull Academy, he impressed in two appearances in the playoffs with the senior Red Bulls, filling in for an injured Thierry Henry.
Bradley is making the right move by bringing the Colombian-born striker into the fold at an early age.
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Less than a year ago, Bunbury was saying that he wanted to play for his native Canada, but since then Bob Bradley has changed his mind. I'm guessing he said something about how great it is playing in the World Cup.
Playing in a friendly won't commit him to the United States, but Bradley and company should do their best not to chase the 20-year-old away.
He's had a good rookie season with the Kansas City Wizards, scoring five goals in 25 games.
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Edson Buddle is a big star in MLS, but he hasn't seen too much international football yet. His clout with the National Team comes in large part from the two goals he scored against Australia in the friendly just prior to the World Cup.
Playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy with Landon Donovan can only help his case as national teams are often in need of players who already know how to work together. His 42 goals in 87 appearances with LA can't hurt either.
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His statistics in the 2010 World Cup weren't great—one shot on goal and a pair of yellow cards—but the second yellow was given during the extremely controversial game against Slovenia, and maybe we shouldn't get into that now.
Findley is another MLS mainstay, but he'll be a complementary player at best. Some were surprised by the role Bradley gave him during the World Cup, and he'll need to work just as hard as the newcomers to keep a consistent spot in the roster.
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Gomez is in the "one more shot at a World-Cup" category. Also not an obvious pick for the 2010 roster, he moved to the Mexican Primera Division last year and found some success. He is now trying to earn a starting spot with his club Pachuca.
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According to Davies' club team—Sochaux of France's League 1—he is finally fit again after the disastrous car accident last year. Bradley may approach him with caution, and he'll certainly let Davies build up playing time with Sochaux first. But at least by the time the Gold Cup comes around, we should see the promising striker reintegrated into the US side.
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Johnson has had his ups and downs with the National Team, but Bradley gave him a serious look in the recent U.S. friendly against Colombia. His contract is owned by Fulham, but he hasn't spent much time there. If he can find some stability and playing time in Europe, Bradley may be compelled to call on him again.
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Clint Dempsey has been a rare American success in the English Premier League playing with Fulham (not that Fulham is great, but still).
He could just as easily play in the midfield on the wings, but given the shortage of pure strikers, Bradley has used him up top lately. He may be eclipsed by younger players in terms of speed, but barring any downward turn in his abilities, he should still be supplying experience and aggressiveness in 2014.
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It's easy to forget how young Altidore is. Having just turned 21, he already has some World Cup experience under his belt and his best days are yet to come...Right?
The Spanish club Villareal wasted little time bringing him over from the Red Bulls in 2008, but since then he's struggled to find playing time in the Primera Division.
Right now, he may be Bradley's most important work in progress. If he can get Altidore to reach his potential within the context of the National Team, then the rest of this list might not matter so much.
Plenty Of Attacking Midfielders
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Positions aren't necessarily static, and Bradley has shown a willingness to move people around on the field as he sees fit. Because of the team's lack of true strikers, this happens frequently up top.
Some of the younger options from midfield include Brek Shea and Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber, now with a little World Cup experience, will get some opportunities to score goals for the Yanks.