BRENT LATHAM - Wednesday, May 12, 2010
That moment U.S. fans had been waiting for with increasing intensity over the last six months finally arrived Tuesday.

The long wait to see who had recovered from injury enough to make the American 30-man provisional roster, and who would miss out, is finally over.

Believe it or not, there's really not too much to say about Bob Bradley's provisional 30-man list. Having selected his deck a long time ago, the coach played the hand he was dealt.

That hasn't stopped some from blasting Bradley, but at this point the outrage is far past the useful stage, and has reached the point of dementia.

We could debate long and hard why so many fans want Charlie Davies on this roster - the quickest explanation is that his recovery would have made a great story - but it's been clear for weeks now that news of Davies' return was mostly an invention of an overly optimistic U.S. soccer media that wanted to believe just as much as fans did.

Maybe it was a way for an overlooked sport to get some more attention. This was a big story, but it only worked if Davies would recover. But the signs have been ambiguous all along, and more attention should have been paid to that.

The recovery didn't happen, and it's not fair to blame Bradley for not choosing a player that was never medically cleared to return to the field.

At any rate, it would have been much easier to judge the coach on his stance towards Jermaine Jones. Logic dictated the German-American would be back at some point this season, and where he would fit in was set to be the best litmus test for how Bradley handles his team and lineup.

It has been interesting all along how much focus has been put on Davies' very doubtful recovery, while Jones - clearly a more pedigreed player - was virtually ignored for six months then written off well ahead of schedule, despite being closer to recovery all along.

At any rate, Jones never got healthy either, so we'll never know what Bradley might have done in midfield, at least for now.

The other knocks on this roster just don't work. Those who mention Freddy Adu really just don't get it. Edgar Castillo was probably never going anyway, but he took himself out of the conversation with a bad half-season at Tigres followed by injury.

Though no one mentions it, Castillo is really just the Mexican league twin of Jonathan Bornstein, so it's really a toss up.

The other major absences are Frankie Hejduk and Jimmy Conrad, so despite some small issues, it's clear Bradley gets a passing grade for now.

The coach also did the right thing by selecting 30 players - there was no reason to take less when it's unclear where help might be needed.

A few of Bradley's borderline selections show that there was even some wiggle room in the 30 after all. Robbie Rogers and Chad Marshall for example, simply can't go to the World Cup, when they've proven against inferior regional competition time and time again that they aren't ready for this level.

It's a shame the team isn't a little deeper at this point, and for my part I would have liked to see Omar Gonzalez instead of Marshall, but that's nitpicking as neither would likely have a role to play in South Africa.

As for Rogers, the left flank is covered by Landon Donovan, with DaMarcus Beasley and Alejandro Bedoya likely battling for one spot behind him, which means Rogers has little chance of getting on the plane.

So, no shocks for now, but there will be some surprises on May 30th.

Who are the final 23? Rogers is out. Marshall is likely out, though he could feasibly take a spot from Clarence Goodson. Either way, that's 28.

A few other spots pick themselves. In defense, there's no need for two second-string left backs. Heath Pearce can play midfield, but that will hardly be useful with the midfield depth the U.S. already has. We know Jonathan Bornstein is going, so Pearce is out, which gets us to 27.

On to midfield, where Alejandro Bedoya and DaMarcus Beasley are likely battling for one spot on the left. Most fans seem to hate the idea of taking the veteran Beasley to a third World Cup, but I like it.

Answer me this: if you have to sub in a left flank player for 25 minutes and you need a goal against, say, Slovenia, who would you rather have on the field, Beasley or Bodoya? If you answered Bedoya, your response is based in blind hope rather than track record. So we're down to 26.

There are six forwards on the provisional roster, and Bradley will take four of them. This is the position at which the most will be sorted at the two-week camp and the pair of friendlies. Altidore is in, and Ching will likely be in if he can prove his fitness.

Choosing among Buddle, Johnson, Gomez, and Findley will depend on the showing of each. My inkling is that Robbie Findley doesn't have much to show right now. Then it gets a little more difficult.

Eddie Johnson has experience, and I think he nudges out one of the other two in that late 15 minute sub role. Buddle is playing with such confidence right now, and teams well with Donovan, so I think he makes the roster as well.

That leaves, Gomez, who has had almost a month of down time lately, as the odd man out, though a goal or two in the friendlies would get him Johnson's spot. And we're at 24.

The final cut will be the one that most upsets American fans. It will come from midfield, and it will come down to Sasha Klejstan and Jose Francisco Torres.

The uproar will come when Bradley leaves Torres behind. Despite his tepid play over the last year, Klejstan is a player Bradley has long been familiar with, and is the type of late game offensive substitute the coach likes to use.

So there's your final 23, barring further injury. If you thought Tuesday was controversial, just wait until the end of the month.
Wednesday October 5, 2011 3:04 pm
I went to tons of links before this, what was I tihnikng?
Friday May 14, 2010 3:48 pm
Of all of the offensive fringe players, not one has the up-side of Rogers. He is very very fast, has the best left footed cross on the entire team, is actually a natural right footer who can shoot from way out, can also play the right wing and when feeling up to it, is willing to take players on. Neither Bedoya (nice touches for interplay but not enough speed), Beasley (touch of stone, won't take people on, only runs onto through balls) nor Torres bring as much to the table as Rogers. I say, Bradley takes him. Sasha, Beasley, Bedoya stay. As for Marshall, only injuries have kept him out. He has the best on the ball skill of any of the centerbacks, including Bocanegra and Gooch. You may recall he handles Carlos Costly rather nicely in WC qualifying. Unless Bradley and he have a personality conflict, i say he should go as well. Therefore, Goodson gets cut.
Thursday May 13, 2010 3:00 pm
You know the more i think about it... this is my preffered starting 11

Dempsey Donovan

Bradley Torres Holden


Pierce Demerritt Spencer

Gooch (TBD)

Matt in Tampa
Thursday May 13, 2010 12:35 pm
good stuff...as always.
Your selections seem to be a mix between what Bob will do and what you think Bob should do. It's tough to tell, but there's a couple of areas where i disagree with you ...or the Bob. Make sure to pass this on to Bob.(ha).

With respect to the selection of Bedoya or Beasley, you suggested we should look at their track record. Question: Which track record? DMB, bless his soul, hasn't had a track record in over a year...and the year before that it's been weak. The track record over the last year goes to Bedoya simply be/c he's been actually PLAYING. I'm not hyping Bedoya..only saying "I'd" take him before DMB.

Also, unless i'm missing it, I find it amazing that no journalist is question the perception of Gooch as a starting center back. He tore his freak'n patella. He hasn't PLAYED a match since OCTOBER. You can risk a spot with a forward be/c if they play and screw up, it's less likely to lead to a goal-against. At the WC level, the smallest of defensive mistake..the slightest of hesitation..or the lack of top fitness equals goals against. The forwards and middies are so good at the WC level that little mistakes are turned into 1-0 losses. I think the only one questioning (quietly) Gooch's form and fitness is The Bob.

If Bob was absolutely confident in Gooch's ability right now, you wouldn't see Marshal called into camp.
Thursday May 13, 2010 12:28 pm
Get real! Why all the hate for Sasha? In Jan. 2009, he scored a hat trick vs Sweden, a game in which the darling Davies did little and was subbed out at the half.

In the first WC qualifier vs Mexico, Sasha paired with Bradley in midfield and the pair owned the midfield. No one doubts Sasha has faltered since then, (the game vs El Salvadore was a real stinker) but worthless? Every athlete has ups and downs.

I've watched Torres play in several Mexican league games. He holds the ball well, seldom gives it up, and can make nifty passes, but he is a weak tackler, something the US might not be able to live with in the middle of the field. Another concern is that he is often not used for the full 90 minutes, is he carrying an injury or not fit? Other than Howard, he had the only good performance vs CostaRica last June.

Few if any of us will t the privilege to see what goes on in the upcoming camp. Probably 18 spots are already settled, but who gets the last 5 spots will be determined in that camp and in the 2 friendlies that follow.

People have such selective memories and try to rewrite history to support their own thoughts.
Thursday May 13, 2010 11:16 am
Agree that Altidore does not score goals. Would love to see him get some competition in camp. He needs to wake up. Maybe that head-butt knocked some sence into him... I play Dempsy at forward in a 4-4-2.

I must say, I am surprized Beckerman didn't get into camp, with all the play he had recieved. I take him over Sacha hands down. The presumed c-mid tandem of Edu / Bradley seem to be lacking a bit in creative flair but strong on defence and holding...I guess that's why Brad is keeping Benny around for sub in flair.

Good luck boyz!
Thursday May 13, 2010 9:33 am
Brent, Im right along with you, your logic on dropping the 7 players is correct, yet unfortunate.

Rodgers and Marshall right off the bat, no way they should make the roster unless they play out of there shoes. Still probably wouldn't bring 'em.

Pearce is out, Bornstein is Bradley's Butt Buddy. Both are a toss up, but I give Pearce a better edge as he doesn't make bone headed mistakes every game. Yet again, Bornstein is Bradley's boy

Bradley will take Beasley over Bedoya unfortunately. I see your point in the veteranship of Beasley and if he's picked, Im cool with it, however, Bedoya has excitement and eagerness, I think that unless things change, our play will be kinda dull and will need a spark off the bench, Bedoya has that spark and unpredictability where as Beasley is very predictable, and will easily be taken off the ball.

Findley is out, Gomez is out unfortunately, Johnson has alittle more international experiences although, I wouldn't mind Gomez taking the spot from him if he plays well. Ching is in also if he proves he's healthy, unfortunately. Buddle stays because of the Landycakes connection.

I also agree that the last spot goes down to Torres and Klejstan. God I pray your wrong and Torres goes. But I know that Bradley likes his boys and if Klejstan makes one decent pass during the warm up friendlies, he's in.
Thursday May 13, 2010 3:42 am
Wow this was interesting....you chose sasha over torres and also left out gomez....damn either way the us is going to lose sorry check out the team Algeria is taking....all they're players are playing in quality teams. No offense but our team has no creativity to break down defense...especially no sasha
Wednesday May 12, 2010 10:48 pm
First of all, we need not less than 8 defenders (even if Edu declared he is ready to play as a CD it is not very promising if you remember Olympics). Gooch definitely is not in good shape, Boca and JDM both are sick too often, Cherundulo & Spector have a long history to get a serious injury in critical time. Also, Cherundulo picks cards almost every game. Bornstein, even he is a BB darling, will mostly play tourist in SA, so do not cut Pearce. And of course Goodson is much better than Marshall. So, in defense Id cut only Marshall.

Sasha - is Bornstein of midfield, so I cut him, and Rogers. We need to cut one more midfielder. Id choose Benny, but BB, probably not. So (if only DMB will not be completely dead) it will be Bedoya. Two cameo appearances will not enough to surpass any other contenders.

And BB will go with 3 forwards (+ Dempsey). Jozy is a rock. If you see his play for Hull, he could grow to one of the best forward in the world. He does not score too much, but he generates a lot of free kicks (and this is where we score most often). Buddle could deputize for Davis (I agree, that BB did not have a chance to take Charley). Findly is definitely out. So EJ (who is injured), Ching and Gomez will compete for the last spot.
Louis Z.
Wednesday May 12, 2010 8:55 pm
After reading your article, I get the impression that BB is going with experience rather than performance. Somehow he translates that as a commodity, take Borstein and Klejstan, doing so so in MLS yet they get call ups time and time again, while Buddle/Gomez/Bedoya have to out perform to get a chance. lets see how this get played out but I don't have my hopes up for this WC.
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