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RICH FIDLER - Wednesday, July 22, 2009
US Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley will lead his team against Honduars for the third time in less than two months on Thursday evening as the US looks to advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup finals.

Defender Michael Parkhurst, who had left the squad to return to FC Nordsjælland in Denmark for their season opener, has traveled back across the Atlantic to join his teammates in Chicago. Parkhurst was brought back after defender Jimmy Conrad was ruled out of the game following a severe concussion in the thrilling 2-1 victory over Panama on Saturday.

Bradley will have only 19 players to select from on his roster Thursday evening. Aside from Conrad his entire starting eleven against Panama will be available, including goal scorer Kyle Beckerman, who knotted the score of the quarterfinal match at one, thanks to a stunning second half strike.

The defense should see Clarence Goodson replace Conrad in the middle, and pair alongside Columbus Crew's Chad Marshall. They will likely be flanked by Jay Heaps and Heath Pearce in defense, though Bradley could replace Heaps with experimental Brad Evans on the right side of the defense.

The midfield should stay similar to that seen on Saturday in Philadelphia, with Robbie Rogers and Stuart Holden on the outside, and Beckerman and Logan Pause roaming the middle of the field.

Bradley also had to call in local Chicago Fire goalkeeper John Busch to play back-up for the team's certain Thursday starter, Valerenga's Troy Perkins, after releasing Luis Robles back to his 2. Bundesliga club FC Kaiserslautern.

In the first of their two previous meetings, the Americans overcame a early first half deficit to defeat Honduras at Soldier Field in World Cup Qualifying, 2-1. That squad was heavily laced with European based players. Landon Donovan scored just before the half on a penalty kick, and Carlos Bocanegra headed home the winner in the 68th minute.

The Gold Cup semi-final match up will be a repeat of the group play affair that took place at RFK in Washington, DC just two weeks ago. That game was scoreless until the Americans broke away to a 2-0 victory thanks to a pair of quick strikes from the MLS-based duo of Santino Quaranta and Brian Ching late in the second half.

Ching, the Houston Dynamo striker, should once again start alongside an elusive Davy Arnaud, with Kenny Cooper and Quaranta available off the bench should the Red, White and Blue need an offensive boost.

The other semifinal match-up will see rival Mexico take on Costa Rica in the late game at Soldier Field. Both teams will look to advance to the final and face the Americans or Hondurans on Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
Thursday July 23, 2009 4:15 pm
I agree with Robert as for bringing in Rico Clark at defensive midfield. Games are won and lost at that position and I agree Pause scares me back there. I also agree with Mark as for Robbie Rogers, he has not taken on the defense like he is capable of doing and has not looked comfortable out there. I would rather see him come off the bench and use his speed down the wings. His crossing have been weak, too.
Thursday July 23, 2009 9:35 am
Well I for one am less worried about Robbie Rogers playing at outside left MF than I am about whether our DMF Logan Pause can truly carry the burden given him. I'm somewhat surprised that Bradley hasn't pulled in Ricardo Clark to play as the ball winner in MF. I hope Parkhurst plays as well as he did last summer for the Olympic team, his outing during this cup has been well below his past play.

With so many of our better touch players, Davies, Feilhaber, Cherundolo all gone... this is going to be far from a sure thing. I tend to like seeing Rogers play as it seems likely that we will have to play a crossing game to target Strikers, Ching or Cooper and that means we'll have to have someone to take on players one on one and get a cross off... this is something Rogers can do quite well. But only if he gets the ball in the first place, and that is why I'm still a bit wary of our being able to win the ball in the middle and work it outside.

I hope I'm mistaken, but this is far from our best central defense or DMF players and I don't expect a repeat of the score from our last meeting with the Hondurans.
Wednesday July 22, 2009 5:46 pm
Can Jay Heaps get it done at right back? I'm not sure, but I'd rather give him the chance than Brad Evans. Brad is a good kid, but not against a determined Honduras side in a semi-final. At least not yet. I'm worried we will see Michael Parkhurst with Marshall rather than Goodson. Parkhurst tried to force too many passes into the midfield, risking turnovers in the defensive third. Costly and Martinez would love that! I like Arnaud ... he has a good work-rate, is willing to do the dirty work, and is much faster than Cooper. If it were me, I'd play Holden on the left of midfield, and try Quaranta on the right. I don't think Rogers is strong enough on the ball for this match. It's one thing to take folks on one-on-one, but you actually have to win some of those matchups to make everything work. He turns the ball over far too easily for me.

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