GOLD CUP ROSTER PREDICTION
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BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, May 9, 2011
With the Gold Cup roster expected to be named in just a few weeks, it is becoming clearer what the US National Team will be like now that most European seasons are winding down and the MLS is fully underway.

So now is as good a time as ever to offer up a prediction as to who will make the team and who won't for the 23 coveted roster spots.

1) Tim Howard Just one word: obvious

2) Brad Guzan His loan to Hull City gave him some much needed playing time and preserved his number two status. There were some reports that his upcoming wedding was going to prevent him from playing in the tournament but he should be with the team this summer.

3) David Yelldell As a starting keeper getting valuable minutes in Europe, he has a good chance to be the number 3 keeper this cycle with a shot to maybe take the #2 spot

4) Oguchi Onyewu He struggled in his last few appearances but his presence and experience are needed. His ball distribution remains a weakness but he will continue to see important minutes for the USMNT.

5) Carlos Bocanegra Is the USMNT captain and can be the team's starter at either left back or central defender.

6) Steve Cherundolo Coming off a great season for Hannover and is aging like fine wine. At some point this cycle he may get replaced at right back but it won't be by this summer.

7) Clarence Goodson maybe the best US central defender right now and his move to Brondby has been one of the better moves recently for a USMNT player.

8) Timothy Chandler The newcomer of the year for the USMNT will be a welcome addition but it's unclear if he will be primarily used as a right back or right wing.

9) Tim Ream Will likely be consistently involved with the USMNT for the foreseeable future as the number of young central defenders in the player pool is thin. His play in MLS has been great and his passing out of the back gives the US team more options.

10) Eric Lichaj While the strong seasons of Cherundolo and Chandler in Germany make it tough for Lichaj to get time at right back, his emergence at left back for Leeds makes him an obvious pick. He may also see time on the right as backup to Cherundolo if Chandler moves to the midfield.

11) Jermaine Jones has done very well for Blackburn so far this season and he is likely to start in key games for BobBradley

12) Michael Bradley while his loan to Aston Villa has not worked out well, Michael is still important to the USMNT and his performances in the last two friendlies were solid.

13) Landon Donovan Obviously still a huge part of the team and his play in MLS has improved in recent weeks.

14) Clint Dempsey Is having yet another stellar season for Fulham but it is very interesting to see where Bob Bradley will continue to play him. It is very likely that Dempsey could move to forward thereby reducing the need for four pure forwards on the roster.

15) Maurice Edu While he struggled a little bit in the last two friendlies and his play for the Rangers in recent months has been uneven, Edu is still a very important piece of the puzzle for the USMNT even if he comes off the bench.

16) Benny Feilhaber It will be interesting to see how Feilhaber's move to MLS will help him in the coming months but the level of play is higher than the Danish second division. Feilhaber's career with the USMNT has been wildly inconsistent with extreme ups and downs. Still, he has sometimes brought a great spark when coming off the bench.

17) Alejandro Bedoya Has been off to a very strong start for Orebro and while he was considered a bubble player just a few weeks ago, he has probably done enough to force Bob Bradley's hand be included on the Gold Cup team

18) Sacha Kljestan After many years, Kljestan still remains a mystery to the USMNT. His performances for club and country have been uneven but his coaches still believe in him and he does see important minutes for Anderlecht.

19) Jonathan Spector A move to the midfield for West Ham has seen Spector get more playing time for West Ham but it's tough to standout at club struggling on so many levels. Spector's problem is that he has not put in a good performance for the USMNT since 2009 Confederations Cup but his versatility makes him an important backup option at many different positions.

20) Mix Diskerud Is on the very edge of the bubble but can probably make it as the last player on the team. He will be in midseason and should be at peak fitness in time for the Gold Cup. He can gain valuable experience in the group stages of the Gold Cup but probably won't see the field in the later stages.

21) Jozy Altidore He has not been producing as much for the USMNT has he should be and his play for Bursaspor has been uneven. In the last series of friendlies, he struggled when playing as a lone striker but a partnership with Juan Agudelo or Teal Bunbury is exciting.

22) Juan Agudelo He makes the team and is one of the brightest young American players around. All of his performances for the USMNT so far have been successful.

23) Teal Bunbury It's unfortunate that he missed the last two friendlies with an injury, but Bunbury's first two USMNT caps and his play in MLS make him a safe bet to make the team. His energetic partnership with Agudelo has been very fun to watch.

A few notes on the key omissions

Edson Buddle has never quite found his way for Ingolstadt but he still gets time with the club which has improved ever since his arrival.

Jay DeMerit looked soild at times in the last two friendlies but his presence on the USMNT does not make the team younger. One established central defender willl have to make way for a younger Ream and the best bet is DeMerit.

Charlie Davies is a popular choice to make the team but he is probably best staying with DC and continuing to play. He has done well in his comeback but with Dempsey's ability to move forward, the need to take a fourth striker is unnecessary and Altidore, Bunbury, and Agudelo are ahead of Davies at the moment. Even if Bradley were to take a fourth striker, Davies would be in a battle with Gomez, and Buddle.

Herculez Gomez continues to be one the streakiest players in the USMNT pool and taking him is simply a gamble because you never know if he is going to be hot or cold.

Jonathan Bornstein continues to get frequent callups to the USMNT despite erratic play for club and country. This speaks largely due to the lack of options that are at left back than it does for Bornstein's positive play. He still remains in contention as a backup left back but Eric Lichaj's recent play on the left for Leeds pushes Bornstein out.

Jose Francisco Torreshas played better in recent months for Pachuca but it's tough to see him cracking into the team at its deepest position.

Marcus Hahnemann Is still a good keeper, but at 38 years old, it's time to break in younger players.
joe shoulders
Saturday June 4, 2011 8:28 pm
Josť Francisco Torres ... "it's tough to see him cracking into the team at its deepest position." - I do not understand this comment. Torres is a very intelligent and experienced (despite his young age) midfielder that has proven himself to be a player that is composed on the ball and clearly deserves another look. Bradley is either blind or he just has zero respect for the Mexican League. It's incomprehensible that BB has left him off. On Freddy Adu, he clearly deserves a look because Adu has abilities that no other US player has. Hopefully, he will show these abilities and prove to all that he's the talent we all know he can be. I'm rooting for him.
cudevil
Tuesday May 17, 2011 7:44 pm
I agree with the calls for Whitbread. In all likelihood, he'll be starting in the Prem next season, and with Gooch's form being inconsistent at best, we aren't exactly deep in central defense.
muchadu
Monday May 16, 2011 2:26 pm
Freddy Adu just had another good game, assisting on his teams first goal,playing 90 and helping his team beat the league leader! His team may not be in second division for long, but the first division Turkish league along with Jozy's team. Hope coach bradley is taking notice. Excuse my last post about most of the USMT players playing in the MLS. I meant alot of them have gotten their start in the MLS.
muchadu
Saturday May 14, 2011 1:04 pm
Jim,
You have some good points, but I dont think you giving him a fair shot. Freddy was very young in europe and made mistakes any teenager would have. Like so many others ya seem to love to hate him. If its like NASA recruiting community college students what the heck is the MLS? Surely its also a junior college with a couple of past their prime european stars sprinkled in. Most of our team are MLS players!! Im fine with agreeing to disagree. But when our team keeps losing to top twenty national teams and everyone cant figure it out, its gonna be because we need QUALITY in the Midfield and from killer strikers to put the ball in the back of the net! Check out our upcoming game against the best team in the world to see what an offense really looks like. I hope Im wrong and we beat Spain!
Jim
Saturday May 14, 2011 11:10 am
Muchadu about nothing,
You need a history lesson and I will give it to you. Freddy played only a handful of games for Benfica but eventually the coaches came to the conclusion that he wasn't very good. The coaches then reached the same conclusion at Monaco where he barely got off the bench the whole season. He then went to Belenenses who were having a terrible season and Freddy wasn't seen as good enough there. He then went to Aris in Greece where the coach played him a little bit at first but then benched him because he was bad. Now he's in the second division of Turkey after four straight moves downward. Again, this is a terrible league that the national team shouldn't even touch. It's like NASA recruting elite scientists at a community college.

Again, you watch too many youtube videos and that is the worst way to judge a player. Freddy's videos consist of a couple of games many years ago against teenagers. They are also only highlight clips. They don't show you how bad he is the other 89 minutes of the game. He isn't fast, he can't play defense, he can't move into space. He tries to dribble into tight spaces instead of making good passes and keeping possession. For every one cool step-over there are 19 times when he losses possession for his team. He has no right foot and just about everywhere he has gone there are reports that he likes to party way more than play soccer.
muchadu
Saturday May 14, 2011 2:56 am
jim,
Nepotism is a dirty word and when the coach's son never sees the bench it becomes pretty obvious whats going on. Ive never been into video games but I have watched most of the USMT games over the past few years and although M. Bradley is a solid player, the Dutch league isnt one of the top leagues in the world either. Freddy has played for Benifca and Monaco. He is finally getting playing time and Altidore although he is in the turkish first division is doing nothing.There are alot of Adu haters, but he is ON OUR TEAM! U should give up the playstation and jump on UTube. When your there check out Freddy highlights and check what venue and games he is showing some real offensive skills in and get back to me. The USMT is never breaking into the top ten or advancing far into a World Cup until they find real offensively skilled mids and forwards. Unless of course your excited about beating algeria and losing to ghana all the time. J. Jones although he is probably past his prime, is the type of quality player we need more of.
Jim
Friday May 13, 2011 9:48 pm
Wait, didn't Bradley score over 20 goals in the Dutch league one season? pretty sure i saw him score a pretty crucial goal in the World Cup too. always performs against Mexico. But let's dump him for wonderboy in the Turkish 2nd division.
Jim
Friday May 13, 2011 8:13 pm
Muchadu,

Adu isn't a proven offensive threat at the top level. He's had a nice season in an irrelevant league. All the other players you listed have strengths and weaknesses - i'd rather not go through each one. Nevertheless, our author did not include Adu in a possible gold cup roster. I would imagine he feels the same as I do and would present similar reasons. You make it sound like Adu is the obvious pick, the heir apparent to Pele, and a player who has a proven track record of performance. I think you need to watch a little more soccer, and stop playing FIFA on your playstation.
muchadu
Friday May 13, 2011 5:00 pm
Jim,
Wow after seeing the USMT start mids like Kjlesan, Clark,Beasley,Bedoya,Feilhaber and forwards like Buddle, Gomez, Johnson and yes Altidore, you dont think someone who has proven ball handling skills like Adu would help our offense out a lot! Have you seen Bradley be an offensive threat as a midfielder. Like the top ten teams in the world, we need a someone who can literally run at opponents with the ball(no this is not Dempseys skillset) and pick up fouls, make touch passes and sometimes score. If you are relying on Donovan to do this its not happening. He is a good winger lets face it, thats it! J. Jones is the only proven mid who can thread good passess(see EPL). We gotta have another offensively minded mid who has the skill to wreak havoc in opposing defenses. Do ya have anyone in mind, who can do that better than Freddy? Yes Agudelo and Davies can do well, but from the forward positions not midfield.
Jim
Friday May 13, 2011 12:51 pm
Wow, if only the real debate about Freddy Adu was as intense as this one....

I have a hard time being optimistic about Adu and I think a lot of people are having a tough time wrapping their minds around just how low a level the Turkish 2nd division is. It would be the lowest level the US national team has ever reached for a player in decades.

Freddy doesn't have a skillset that would help the US team. His creativity is disguised by the fact he is playing against defenders that are fundamentally flawed at the basics of the sport. These players don't close down on players with the ball and they don't mark properly.

Freddy can do some tricks with the ball but his overall game is lacking. It's the same reason that the Harlem Globetrotters aren't in the NBA. They're not good enough. Freddy should just continue to beat up on his own version of the Washington Generals in the Turkish 2nd division and leave the US national team to real players.
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