23 TICKETS TO GERMANY
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RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Less than six months remain until the World Cup, and it is time once again to check where everyone stands on the US ladder.

Assuming John O'Brien ends up being available this summer (no small feat), December's edition claims that 16 of the 23 roster places are all but sewn up. At the same time, competition is fierce for the seven spots in question.

Chris Albright returns to the sweet side of the bubble, replacing injured Bruce Arena favorite Chris Armas. No less than four players - Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Bobby Convey and Pablo Mastroeni - gain that little extra bit of support that pushes them to lock status.

As always, we want your feedback. Feel free to send in your 23-man list or comments to our http://www.yanks-abroad.com/content.php?mode=contact&action=show§ion=generalmailbox[endlink].

PACK YOUR BAGS, BOYS
Kasey Keller - GK, Seattle Sounders (USA)
New contract, UEFA Cup berth in sight and a World Cup in his club backyard. On the Chinese calendar, 2006 is the year of the Keller. (GS)
Landon Donovan - M/F, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
He's been itching for another 1v1 against Italy for 4 years now. (MF)
DaMarcus Beasley - M/F, Puebla (Mexico)
Quoth the Spinners: "You're bound to lose control when the rubberband man starts to jam." (GS)
Claudio Reyna - M, New York Red Bulls (USA)
The game in Scotland reiterated that we still need him in central midfield. (AG)
Brian McBride - F, Chicago Fire (USA)
Fulham are showing signs of life, and McBride has been one of their steadiest players. (NT)
Carlos Bocanegra - D, Rangers (Scotland) on loan from Racing Santander (Spain)
Has impressed in return to the center for Fulham... Cookie finally figured it out. (CW) In the middle or out left, he shows up when it counts. (MF)
Marcus Hahnemann - GK, Everton (England)
With T-Ho not playing, Marcus is as close to a lock as a backup keeper can be. (NT)
Eddie Lewis - M, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
Still the best option Bruce has at left back. (AG) He definitely goes, but may have to battle with Bobby Convey for the starting left midfield role. (PK)
Oguchi Onyewu - D, Sheffield Wednesday (England)
Will be counted on to Borgetti Jan Koller on June 12th. (CW) The Italians are going to fall down just thinking about this guy. (MF)
Steve Cherundolo - D, Hannover 96 (Germany)
A bit unheralded for my tastes, I'd imagine he's been waiting about three and a half years for this tourney. (GS)
Bobby Convey - M, San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
He's been a little less productive over the past month, but still an integral part of a team that's dominated the Championship. (NT)
Pablo Mastroeni - M, Colorado Rapids (USA)
It is extremely baffling that he hasn't gotten more consideration from European teams playing in a 4-5-1 setup. (PK) You want Armas facing Nedved or Pirlo? Didn't think so. (CW)

NEARLY A LOCK
Cory Gibbs - D, Chicago Fire (USA)
Assuming he stays healthy in the second half of the Eredivisie season, he should be a lock based on his experience against top European strikers. (NT)
Gregg Berhalter - D, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
I had him as a lock, but a recent run of poor play has me a little worried. For Gregg's sake, you have to hope BA doesn't have access to the game tapes. (NT)
John O'Brien - D/M, CD Chivas (USA)
If healthy, he's a lock the level of ClauMarcus McDonovan. (MF) He will begin dropping on this list if he isn't ready when the Eredivisie starts back up in January. (GS)
Tim Howard - GK, Everton (England)
FIFA rules require a third keeper. Otherwise Tim stays home. (CW)

FAIRLY SAFE BET
Eddie Johnson - F, Aris (Greece) on loan from Fulham (England)
He could be the key that unlocks the door to the second round, if only that darn toe would heal. (PK) It will be interesting to see how a relatively untested striker does against Alessandro Nesta. (AG)
Josh Wolff - F, Sporting Kansas City (USA)
Hard to picture him being much of a factor in the World Cup but unless someone asserts themselves, he might back in to the spot. (NT)

IN A BATTLE
Clint Dempsey - M/F, Fulham (England)
Given the lack of punch up front, its hard to see him not on the squad next June. (PK)
Frankie Hejduk - D, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
Death, taxes and Hejduk on this roster. Too versatile to be left out of Bruce's system. (MF) Lack of waves in Germany should keep Dude focused and on edge. (GS)
Steve Ralston - M, New England Revolution (USA)
Who else is going to start on the right? (NT)
Jonathan Spector - D, Birmingham City (England)
Can play all four defensive spots, but needs to pick up his game from recent slump at Charlton. (CW)
- F, () on loan from ()
Being able to play four different positions at a comparable level is going to get you on a lot of tournament squads. (GS)
MOVING UP THE LADDER

Heath Pearce - The only natural left-footed left back we have. The January camp and friendlies will prove he belongs. (CW)

Freddy Adu – Getting invited to camp is a start. (AG)

Ben Olsen - Having assumed the inside track on the honorary sentimental Arena choice with Armas hurt, his opportunity to make a pitch comes in January. (GS)

Chris Rolfe - Hard to believe how far this guy has come in just one year. (PK)

Cobi Jones - He's baaaaaaaaackkkkk! The ageless one dominated in the MLS playoffs and still knows how to kill off a game. (CW)

SLIPPING OUT OF FRAME

Eddie Gaven - Has shown nothing since before the World Youth Championships in Holland and will need a huge first half of MLS in 2006 to have a chance. (CW)

Chris Armas - You know Arena would love to have a reason to take him, but the injury makes that a real longshot scenario. (GS)

BUBBLE BATTLERS

Brian Carroll, Conor Casey, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark, Jimmy Conrad, Todd Dunivant, Benny Feilhaber, Herculez Gomez, Kevin Hartman, Nate Jaqua, Chris Klein, Chad Marshall, Justin Mapp, Kyle Martino, Eddie Pope, Santino Quaranta, Matt Reis, Taylor Twellman, Brian West, Kerry Zavagnin

note: YA's Mark Flannery, Aaron Gidding, Peter Kratzel, Greg Seltzer, Neal Thurman and Chad Winger compiled this feature
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Conor O'Brien could finally make his Austrian debut for Wiener Neustadt on Saturday.
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