The World Cup field is set (though Ireland may yet have something to say about that), and the U.S. acquired another pair of losses in Europe over this latest international break. After dominating Slovakia everywhere except the final third, it was 1-0 Slovaks. And then, with an 80% second-tier squad, Team America proceeded to get spanked by Denmark 3-1.
I’ve often called for Coach Bob Bradley to trust his depth and play other guys beyond his chosen core group of 7-8 surefire starters, but performances like these illustrate that without guys like Donovan, Gooch, Dempsey, and yes Jermaine Jones, Team America looks very average. The midfield was completely overrun versus the Danes, with Michael Bradley (who starts every game he’s eligible) attempting to run the show. Not a good sign. A couple of upward trends from these games included Jeff Cunningham’s workrate and finishing ability, Jonathan Bornstein’s continued play and Jon Spector showcasing his versatility.
So without further adieu, here’s The 23 – the players Beemsville would bring to South Africa if we were in charge:
Goalkeepers – 3: Tim Howard (Everton, England), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), and Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England)
Defenders – 7: Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, Germany), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, MLS), Edgar Castillo (Pumas, Mexico)
Midfielders -9 : Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy, MLS), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England) Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca, Mexico), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus, Denmark), Maurcie Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04, Germany), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew, MLS)
Forwards – 4: Jozy Altidore (Hull City, England), Kenny Cooper (1860 Munich, Germany), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas, MLS), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo, MLS)
The only changes from last month are Ching for Casey as the final forward (he works harder) and Hahnemann into the third goalkeeper spot, based on his recall. I assumed he was done, but he looks fit and ready from the video clips. I’m tempted to move Robbie Findley or Freddy Adu, or hell, Edson Buddle for that 4th forward in lieu of Ching or Cooper… Man, will we miss Charlie Davies next summer. I’m more convinced than ever that bringing crazy ol’ Jeff Cunninham along is a must.
I continue to omit Rico Clark in favor of Mo Edu, even though Clark was probably the best midfielder against the Danes. Spector’s versatility makes it easier to bring along Castillo. Taking into account injuries and form, here’s my starting lineup as of today:
Cherundolo Spector Bocanegera Bornstein
Holden Bradley JF Torres Donovan