23 TICKETS TO SOUTH AFRICA
PREVIEWS
EXTRA TIME
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The long wait until World Cup 2010 has already begun for Red, White & Blue supporters, but YA has no intention of waiting to handicap the field for the South Africa sweepstakes.

With coach (fill in the blank)'s roster deadline only 41 months away, we felt it best to start rating everyone's roster chances as soon as possible. Of course, we will continue to update our airplane manifest as the tournament approaches.

Much change afoot in our third 2010 edition: we've seen a couple of locks downgraded, while Ricardo Clark makes his first appearance at the expense of Pablo Mastroeni. Meanwhile, Kenny Cooper and Brad Guzan work their way back into the 23 ahead of Jemal Johnson and Quentin Westberg.

Our race definitely appears to be opening up a bit, with hot competition foreseen at several positions. All in all, a 23 Tickets-record 41 players had a place on somebody's ballot - all the more interesting because this edition was compiled from an all-time low of six staff voters.

As always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated in the http://www.yanks-abroad.com/content.php?mode=contact&action=show§ion=generalYA mailbag[endlink].

PACK YOUR BAGS, BOYS
Tim Howard - GK, Everton (England)
It's going to take a Herculean run of form over a LONG period of time for anybody to take the #1 spot from Tim at this point. He's been the 2010 starter since 2002. (AA)
Oguchi Onyewu - D, Sheffield Wednesday (England)
Skills, poise, power, height, you couldn't ask for more in a central defender. (EP) Now a player AND a leader, don't be shocked if PSV Eindhoven get involved when Alex leaves. (GS)
Bobby Convey - M, San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
Just don't be satisfied with being in the EPL Bobby, make it yours. (RF) Has all the heart, desire and determination of a true champion. (EP)
Clint Dempsey - M/F, Fulham (England)
I'd give him at least a few more shots in the center before pegging him as a right winger. He could be the go-to, playmaker-that-can-dribble-through-a-wall kind of guy we were missing so much in Germany. (AA)

NEARLY A LOCK
Freddy Adu - M/F, Philadelphia Union (USA)
It depends on where he goes and how much he plays in the next 24 months. (RF) Freddy taking a leadership role with the US Under-20's makes me believe he is maturing and will be able to take his game to the next level. (JE)
Jonathan Spector - D, Birmingham City (England)
Unfortunate injury or 2010 would be this kid's second World Cup. (RF) If he can find a way to reverse his run of injuries and stay in the top flight, he'll definitely be there. (AA)
Heath Pearce - D/M, CD Chivas (USA)
Perhaps the most improved player in the US pool over the last year. (JE) Dennis Leary used to talk about how it's so freaking hard nowadays to find 'coffee-flavored coffee'. Finally, we have a left back-flavored left back. (AA)
Landon Donovan - M/F, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
Wonder what Klinsi thinks about Landon's hatred of everything German? (RF) Guessing on his 'Nats future is like guessing on whether you'll be forced to do the electric slide at a party: it entirely depends on who the DJ is. (AA)

FAIRLY SAFE BET
Carlos Bocanegra - D, Rangers (Scotland) on loan from Racing Santander (Spain)
Charlie B. is adding skills to his resume with some productive D-mid time at Fulham, which leads me to believe he could be a useful 2010 bench guy with the ability to play well in three defensive positions. (GS)
DaMarcus Beasley - M/F, Puebla (Mexico)
All recent injury debate aside, the talent exists. We just need a top coach to bring it out again. (EP) He's finally back in the lineup. Let's see how well he keeps the place... I say he does. (GS)
Steve Cherundolo - D, Hannover 96 (Germany)
Still our only legitimate option at right back, and a damn good one at that. When are people going to stop complaining about his size? Somehow, it hasn't stopped him playing solid ball with Hannover AND the US. (AA)
Michael Bradley - M, Roma (Italy)
Has improved tremendously since his time with the MetroStars. He's a mature player at his age. (JE) And just a year ago, some NY fans were complaining about him starting. (RF)
Cory Gibbs - D, Chicago Fire (USA)
He hasn't let major injuries derail his career before, so I don't see why he should start now. Unless he suffers another deadline-day nightmare, he'll be in Africa. (AA)
Benny Feilhaber - M, New England Revolution (USA)
Just think about what four more years at the top level can do for his game. (EP) HSV fans say the last two games were the most organized the team has looked in the back half all season... any questions? (GS)
Marcus Hahnemann - GK, Everton (England)
Probably not going to be our #1 keeper in South Africa, but has earned and will continue to earn his spot for sure. (EP)

IN A BATTLE
Jay DeMerit - D, Watford (England)
Look, people, he's not starting in the Premiership just to sell shirts! When will you all get this into your thick skulls?! (CW)
Kenny Cooper - F, Portland Timbers (USA)
Turned a lot of heads in MLS this year. Has a midfielder's touch with a central defender's body. Plus, uh, he can score. (AA)

WORK TO DO
Marvell Wynne - D, Toronto FC (Canada)
The most gifted athlete to ever come through the US soccer system. Wynne is rapidly adding ball control and an offensive side to his game. (JE)
Taylor Twellman - F, New England Revolution (USA)
Passion, positivity, determination, team-spirit. Taylor was unlucky to miss this cycle. (EP) The leading goalscorer in MLS over the past four years, Twellman has proven he can produce. (JE)
Conor Casey - F, Colorado Rapids (USA)
We'll need his top flight experience in South Africa. Let's see how he recovers from the knee injury, but hopes are high. (EP)
Eddie Johnson - F, Aris (Greece) on loan from Fulham (England)
He was playing out of his mind post-WC in Kansas City, but was snake bitten in front of goal. Sure, he's got some personality issues to work out, but I see no reason to count him out. (AA)
Ricardo Clark - M, Stabęk (Norway)
Where Mastroeni used an axe during Germany 2006, we need someone who can wield a scalpel. (EP) Like fellow Furman alumnus Clint Dempsey, Clark plays with an edge. (JE)
Brad Guzan - GK, Aston Villa (England)
Back in the lineup, back in the frame. (GS) The third goaltending spot is up for grabs. Being the Chivas keeper will raise his profile and temper his nerves. (EP)
MOVING UP

Justin Mapp - A new midfield general is rising in the midwest. (EP) This baby buzzard has the potential to circle defenders at will and he may just now be coming out of his shell. (GS)

Jonathan Bornstein - Exactly the kind of versatile player needed on the WC squad. Has played amazingly so far in 2006 and clearly has Bob Bradley's vote of confidence. (JE)

Josmer Altidore - A starting forward on a Bruce Arena squad at the age of 16? Maybe adidas ESP does have extra-sensory perception. (EP)

Quentin Westberg - Sure, he dropped out of the YA 23 this time, but his stock is on the rise. Buy now! (GS) Suddenly thrust into the limelight, Ligue 1 action will considerably speed up his development. (EP)

Jose Burciaga, Jr. - If he improves his defensive ability at least a tiny bit, it's going to be very, very hard not to cap him. (AA)

Nate Jaqua - He has height, technical ability and an instinct to shoot. More caps for the 'Nats are in his future. (EP)

Chris Seitz - The best college goalkeeper in over 10 years. Enough said. (JE)

Josh Grenier - Not many thought Koblenz would tough it out in 2.Bundesliga. Not many thought Josh would tough it out there either. So far, the doubters have been proven wrong on both fronts. (EP)

Kyle Beckerman - Becoming a true ball controlling midfielder and finally beginning to get noticed. (JE)

Dax McCarty - Has looked solid distributing the ball out of the midfield for the U-20s, but there may just be too many players ahead of him to make it this cycle. (EP)

Chris Rolfe - A great soccer mind combined with great skill on the ball. Rolfe could add a unique element to the US team. (JE)

MOVING DOWN

Lee Nguyen - Don't fret, this lull is temporary. Ronald Koeman prefers veterans and PSV are winning, so a shot at Eredivisie glory is not yet available. (GS)

Edson Buddle - Once a bright prospect for the US, wasn't even named to the roster for the Red Bulls playoff game against DC United. (JE)

Jemal Johnson - He isn't playing badly, but the goals have dried up; probably because he hasn't played this much in a long while, hence the recent rest given. (GS)

Eddie Gaven - What happened? (JE) If he can recover from a bad run of form, he'll be in the mix. (AA)

OTHER BUBBLE BATTLERS

Chris Albright, Davy Arnaud, David Arvizu, Bobby Boswell, Adin Brown, Chad Barrett, Danny Califf, Joe Cannon, Brian Ching, Jimmy Conrad, Charlie Davies, Todd Dunivant, Alecko Eskandarian, Rodrigo Hidalgo, Nate Jaqua, Kasey Keller, Quavas Kirk, Sacha Kljestan, Joe Lapira, Kyle Martino, Chad Marshall, Pablo Mastroeni, Kyle Nakazawa, Pat Noonan, Troy Perkins, Santino Quaranta, Danny O'Rourke, Eddie Robinson, Robbie Rogers, Ofori Sarkodie, Matt Reis, Frankie Simek, Nathan Sturgis, Jonathan Villanueva, Tim Ward, Brian West, Zak Whitbread, Jeremiah White, Josh Wolff, Preston Zimmerman

note: Yanks Abroad's Alex Abnos, Jason Endres, Rich Fidler, Eugene Peysakh, Greg Seltzer and Chad Winger compiled this feature
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