23 TICKETS TO SOUTH AFRICA
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Jonathan Daniel/Getty
Altidore is going to his first Cup
The last games before the official roster announcement is made have been played. That can only mean that it's time for us to hand out our 23 Tickets for the last time.

Before we do, let's look back on our first edition following the debacle in Germany and see how we progressed over the last four years.

Of the 23 we chose back in July 2006, 14 have made it to our final cut for the 2010 event. Yes, we laid an egg on our guesses of Bobby Convey and Cory Gibbs being locks, but of the remaining choices, four of them should still be named as alternates this time around.

Back to the present, we've put Charlie Davies back on the plane as his miraculous recovery from his tragic car accident in October continues, while DaMarcus Beasley goes from not even a battler to his third World Cup to complete his phoenix act.

Meanwhile, Kenny Cooper's ill-advised move to England costs him dearly and Jermaine Jones, despite still being injured, pips Ricardo Clark to a spot in the midfield.

If you agree, disagree or somewhere in between, use our comment feature at the bottom of the page to share your thoughts with us and your fellow YA readers.

PACK YOUR BAGS, BOYS
Jozy Altidore - F, Sunderland (England)
The USA's best pure forward. (BS) Near last minute goal versus Holland showcased quick strike ability. (AB)
Carlos Bocanegra - D, Rangers (Scotland) on loan from Racing Santander (Spain)
Unquestionable leader of the US team. (JK) His club situation hasn't affect his status for the US. (RF)
Landon Donovan - M/F, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
He's at the prime of his career and has shown his best play this last year. (JK) Hopefully his fire at Everton will also last through July. (DS)
Tim Howard - GK, Everton (England)
The only better option is Brad Friedel and he's not coming back. (EZ) His decisions between the sticks are sometimes questionable. (MA)
Clint Dempsey - M/F, Fulham (England)
He's still one of the most creative players we have. (AV) As a wing, he tends to disappear for stretches until he strikes brilliantly. How would he look up top? (JVW)
Oguchi Onyewu - D, Sheffield Wednesday (England)
Will make a mockery of Peter Crouch on June 12th. (AB) Assuming no recovery setbacks, he's on the plane. (DS)
Michael Bradley - M, Roma (Italy)
He easily makes this team no matter who the coach is. (BS) Red card in waiting. Book it. (CW)

NEARLY A LOCK
Brad Guzan - GK, Aston Villa (England)
The Aston Villa back-up is used to the role. (RF) Personally, I'd start him in front of Howard. (MA)
Jay DeMerit - D, Watford (England)
Captaining an English club as an American is no easy task. (AV) The player that came out of nowhere to play in the EPL will continue his dream career and make the World Cup team. (BS)
Jonathan Spector - D, Birmingham City (England)
Recent performances tell us he's above 'Dolo. (RF) Will be looking for a start come June. (AV)

FAIRLY SAFE BET
Steve Cherundolo - D, Hannover 96 (Germany)
If Bradley wants the best defending right back, he will start. (JVW) Can he please play left back? (IH)
Maurice Edu - M, Stoke City (England)
Showed against Holland and against Celtic that he can play. (BS) One of our deepest position, but he's quality. (AV)
Jonathan Bornstein - D/M, Atlante (Mexico)
Has been awful for the US for the past 2 years. Bradley will wish he never capped this guy, let alone bring him to South Africa. (CW) Clearly blackmailing the coach. (JVW)
Jose Francisco Torres - M, Tigres UANL (Mexico)
Composure on the ball is unmatched on squad. (RF) Nice skillful alternative for US in midfield. (TK)

IN A BATTLE
Marcus Hahnemann - GK, Everton (England)
Doesn't really matter, but I don't know who else deserve it in his place. (IH) He's always been in the shadows and is destined to remain there. (EZ)
Stuart Holden - M, Bolton Wanderers (England)
Health is working against him, but if healthy, he is going. (IH) Just when he was coming into his own, ouch. (EZ)
Benny Feilhaber - M, New England Revolution (USA)
Seemed like a lock a few months ago, but has to get healthy. (IH) Always one of our most clutch tournament performers. (DS)
Jermaine Jones - M, Schalke 04 (Germany)
There is definitely room for him on the roster. (MA) Needs to get healthy, but appearance in Amsterdam bodes well. (TK)
DaMarcus Beasley - M/F, Puebla (Mexico)
I'll admit it. I was wrong about DaMarcus. (CW) Bease is back and back big! (AB)
Clarence Goodson - D, Brøndby (Denmark)
Impressive with his opportunities in the Gold Cup and recent friendlies. (JK) Late call ups are a good sign. (TK)
- F, () on loan from ()
Our best hold up forward, brings the best out of our midfielders. (JK) We're short on decent strikers... (MA)

WORK TO DO
Charlie Davies - F, Randers FC (Denmark)
I think I see the USMNT version of Willis Reed coming to life. (AB) Rebuilt like the 6 Million Dollar Man... could be priceless. (JVW)
Heath Pearce - D/M, CD Chivas (USA)
Has played much better since joining MLS. And can actually defend. (CW) Has shown that he's not completely lost it, but is that enough? (DS)
MOVING UP

Alejandro Bedoya - Such a versatile young player who showed some spark against the Dutch. (AB)

Robbie Findley - He's just not ready to step in for Davies. Give him some time . (EZ)

Frank Simek - Being named to the roster for Holland was telling. If Cherundolo or Spector go down, Frank could get the call. (CW)

MOVING DOWN

Conor Casey - Despite flashes of brilliance, Casey is a two-trick pony. (EZ)

Ricardo Clark - Has to start getting minutes, but I haven't forgotten his Confederations Cup performance yet. (IH)

Kenny Cooper - His move to England wasn't the smartest thing to do at this stage. (MA)

OTHER BUBBLE BATTLERS

Freddy Adu, Kyle Beckerman, Edgar Castillo, Eddie Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Chad Marshall, Michael Parkhurst, Robbie Rogers

note: note: Michael Adubato, Arch Bell, Rich Fidler, Isaac Heath, Bri-Mathias Hodge, Trafton Kenney, John Kretlow, Nick Leyden, Ryan Noel, Brian Sciaretta, David Smith, Andrew Vorce, Jon Van Wagenen, Chad Winger, Edgar Zuniga compiled this feature.
dave-indy
Friday March 12, 2010 11:39 am
Gaven should be in the mix, what happened there? I think he's comparable to Holden, maybe more creative but slower, and certainly better than Clark, Beckerman, Klejstan. I know this is apples & oranges, but how many damn DM's does a team need?!

As for Bornstein....wow you are right, there must be blackmail occurring. Isn't it obvious - Bocanegra! Maybe not left-footed (?) but used to it, and much better than the alternatives. Spector is the backup....please somebody whack Bornstein's knee!
brian
Friday March 12, 2010 10:46 am
final 23: gk-howard guzan hahnemann cb-oneywu bocanegra demerit sb-cherundolo spector pearce/bornstein(i hope not) mid-bradley m.edu clark feilhaber jones torres holden donovan f.adu dempsey beasley fw-altidore davies ching

FIRST, DAVIES AND JERMAINE JONES WILL HAVE ROSTER SPOTS WAITING FOR THEM IF HEALTHY! there is still 3 MONTHS TILL WC.

SECOND, goodson not needed when bocanegra/edu/spector can play CB.

THIRD, freddy adu needs to be on the TEAM(not as a starter)! his CREATIVITY SKILL(only US player that can take MUTLIPLE DEFENDERS ON) TECHNIQUE AND PLAYMAKING SKILLS will be needed. especially when score is tied or losing.
dude
Friday March 12, 2010 12:45 am
There is no way that Jones makes it to the world cup. He hasn't played a single game for anyone in a long long time, and Clark has served us well (even though I prefer Edu to start). Clark is our defensive option off the bench or if Bradley gets suspended.
Robert Kiernan
Thursday March 11, 2010 7:55 pm
If Torres is to be effective, he needs to be seen more as an attacking left midfielder...he just doesn't play the long ball game that Coach Bradley demands from his DMF's... I feel that Feilhaber is unlikely to fully recover in time, cartilage is in short supply in the ankle...it is only found around the ends of a bone, hence bone on bone problems... Dempsey will still have ligament damage in his knee, so there is no way that he can play as our wide midfielder on the right...it's Striker or nothing... Holden was looking very strong out there on the right, but a broken leg is not just a minor injury...I hope he heals quickly. I don't think I'm going to drink the Kool-aid over Charlie Davies, I wish he was able to be healthy and able to play just as he did last year...but it is simply a dangerous thing to EXPECT him to be able to play...well if at all.

Jonathan Bornstein has NO right to be on the 23 man roster, after two take downs for PK's and a virtual assist to El Salvador last year in a WC Qualifier no less... he shouldn't be on the bench let alone being considered as a starter at LB. Either Bocanegra, slow as he is or maybe even Edu should be considered for that spot.

Oh and while Friedel won't rejoin the Nats... he clearly is having the season of his life and IS our best GK... there is a reason Guzan get so little playing time...and it Brad Friedel!
mmee
Thursday March 11, 2010 6:12 pm
From the top down, the first real problem is Bornstein, who most fans would probably rather see run out as forward than left back at this point.

Coach is a strange, strange man sometimes, for good and bad, but what is he thinking here? Pearce or Boca have to be a better LB on both sides of the ball. Or play 3 backs even. Anything not to play that kid this cycle.

Torres needs minutes. I'm not saying I don't like him. He needs to mix in the friendlies in case of any scenario where the ball needs to go through him during the WC. For a guy who's in the 23, he has practically no minutes with the nats.

Cooper, Casey, EJ or Findley? Can we just skip it? Take 4 GKs[!]

Adu and Kljestan need to miss the bus.

Bradley needs to find a formation that works with our shallow talent pool this cycle
2cool
Thursday March 11, 2010 5:40 pm
I liked the way Boss lined the team up. But if we are going conventional, I like Cherundolo better than Spector. Spector does alright in the back, man marking but Dolo flows so much better into the attack without hesitation and great service. Have you seen how timid Spector moves up into the attack? You don't get points kicking the ball into people because you can't manuever around them. What I especiallly appreciated in Boss' lineup was the absence of Bornstein. What happened to our great hopes from Mexico for playing left back? To be honest, this team just doesn't look dangerous. Maybe it's the coach, we need more flow into the attack and play the corners to get in behind the defenses. Just one man's opinion.
SealBeachSandy
Thursday March 11, 2010 4:42 pm
I am very surprised at this but there seems to be some debate on this board that Friedel should play ahead of Howard. I can't believe anyone would ever suggest such a thing. You don't make the trip to El Salvador, Trinidad, Mexico, Costa Rica etc. and then get replaced. Howard is better than Friedel. If you don't believe me, watch some FA Cup Soccer. Friedel is not the goalie he used to be. In the round of 16 he let in some very bad goals --- he was beat like a post on a simple corner.

What Brad did in 02 was absolutely unreal. Still the best world cup performance of all time by a goalie for the US. But, we made the mistake last year of letting an older goalie whose time had probably passed play and it hurt us. We can't make that same mistake again. Howard plays. There is no discussion.

The comment at the top about "questionable decisions" be Howard just lacks any back up. The goalie is the QB of the back line. Our back line is one of our greatest strengths. Are we going to change QBs now? You must be kidding.
Mark
Thursday March 11, 2010 3:35 pm
Keepers:
Howard, Guzan, Hahnemann

Defense:
Spector, Onyewu, DeMerit, Bocanegra
Cherundolo, Goodson, Pearce

Midfield:
Dempsey, Edu, Bradley, Donovan
Holden, Torres, Feilhaber, Jones, Beasley

Forwards:
Altidore, Davies
Casey, Adu
RallyMonkey
Thursday March 11, 2010 1:59 pm
Just for the heck of it, and assuming good health for all mentioned, and using BB's version of 4-4-2 as the template:

Forward

Jozy
Dempsey
Davies

Center Mid

Bradley
Edu
Clark
Feilhaber or Torres (to me, they're the same player)

Outside Mid:

Donovan
Beaz
Holden
Bedoya

Central D:

Boca
Gooch
DeMerit
Goodson

Outside D:

JB
Pearce
Specs
Cherundolo

Three keepers

That's 22 -

Who's #23? If Davies can't go, then Ching his replacement at forward. If Davies can, then Ching is out altogether.

So, who's #23? Could be the loser in the Torres/Benny battle. Or, Sacha. But, if he's still hot, I'm going w/ Gomez. We need depth at forward, I'd take him over Findley, Cunningham, Johnson, Casey.

Also, we've got question marks at outside mid - will Holden be 90 minutes fit? will Beaz get injured? will Bedoya be a wash out? Herc could provide cover there & allow us to leave Demps up top.

Also, also, I'd consider Cherundolo as cover at right mid. Dude has ball skills. If injury disaster struck, I could see

-------------------Demps---------Jozy

----LD-------------------------------------------Stevie----
--------------------CM------------CM

LB----------------CB-----------------CB------------------Spector
BigDinLA
Thursday March 11, 2010 1:24 pm
I agree with most of the roster. I do pray Bornstein pulls a hammy or something. If all healthy this is the lineup I would love to see. I know it is not our standard formation, but I really think it would play to the talents of this squad.

Howard
Spector Gooch Demerit Boca

Edu Fielhaber Bradley

Dempsey Donovan

Davies

I really think this would really allow us to play through the middle and spread teams out. With Edu and Bradley back there we have plenty of defense and Bradley can play both ways.
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A big question for U.S. fans heading into the World Cup is surely on Jozy Altidore and just what is plaguing the young striker at Sunderland.
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