Monday, August 8, 2005
Only 10 months remain until World Cup 2006, and the race for a place in Bruce Arena's final 23-man World Cup roster has already begun. You might be wondering who will travel to Germany and who will watch on television with the rest of you... well, YA is here to help!

How does it work? We list the guys we think... er... know are going to make that final roster, not the guys we think should go. YA puts the players currently set to make the trip into four separate categories that denote how deeply you should carve our proclamations in stone.

We will also keep an eye to players that are gaining or losing ground on a seat in the plane ride over, as well as a mention for every player with even a remote shot of ending up in the Red, White & Blue next June.

The first edition finds very little to be surprised about, with (so sayeth YA) 14 of the boys either a lock for the final 23 or darned close to being one. Naturally, form and fitness will change things over time, so we will return every month until the squad is announced to chart progress.

What's more, we want your feedback. Think YA is ever brilliant? Think we're a bunch of hacks and you know better? Send in your 23-man list or comments to our http://www.yanks-abroad.com/content.php?mode=contact&action=show§ion=generalmailbox[endlink]. With that, YA invites you to our first World Cup pool party!

Kasey Keller - GK, Seattle Sounders (USA)
Arguably the best keeper in the Western Hemisphere. Sure starter. (CW) The Lord himself won't be between the posts if Kasey is healthy. (JM)
Landon Donovan - M/F, León (Mexico)
The center of gravity for the Americans. When his skills and confidence merge with a desire to win, the Yanks are at their best. (JM)
DaMarcus Beasley - M/F, Puebla (Mexico)
Playing, and more than holding his own, with the world's best at the club level. Developing into a player who is always a danger and concern to the other team. More consistent finishing will complete the package. (JM)
Steve Cherundolo - D, Hannover 96 (Germany)
A natural leader he seems an extension of Arena on the field. Steady, with all the skills and experience needed. (JM) The Hannover 96 mainstay could win the US some extra support with an AWD Arena draw. (GS)
Cory Gibbs - D, Chicago Fire (USA)
Yeoman's work for Feyenoord will put him in a position to start, but in reality, Gibbs probably booked his ticket when he shackled Ruud last year. (GS)
Oguchi Onyewu - D, Charlton Athletic (England)
Hello? World Cup stage? Reservation for one, please. His agent should also spend the next 10 months getting ready for intense action. (GS)
Eddie Johnson - F, Aris (Greece) on loan from Fulham (England)
A few nagging injuries in the summer of 2005 can't keep EJ from making his World Cup debut next summer. (GS) Grown Ass Man. Enough said. (CW)
Eddie Lewis - M, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
He will probably remain a strategic starter, but the Leeds summer signing will surely be counted on to provide attack. (GS)

John O'Brien - D/M, ()
The only thing that can keep Johnny O out of the starting lineup is... well... you know. (GS) His cool, smarts, and team best technical skills make everyone around him better. (JM)
Carlos Bocanegra - D, Rangers (Scotland) on loan from Racing Santander (Spain)
No one at his position to match his EPL experience. Can play well at either center or left back. (JM) Shouldn't beat out Gooch or Gibbs at center back, but is the best option on the left. (CW)
Brian McBride - F, Chicago Fire (USA)
After 2002, he seemed a long-shot for Germany; some massive late season form with Fulham reiterated how well teams tend to play with McHead in the forward trench. (GS)
Claudio Reyna - M, New York Red Bulls (USA)
If Wenger can consider Vieira surplus to requirements before his 30th birthday, then we can start considering Claudio's National Team mortality. (NT)
Pablo Mastroeni - M, Colorado Rapids (USA)
In my opinion, he is possibly the most underrated player in the entire USMNT pool, he shuts down strikers in the middle of the field, much in the way that Makele does for Chelsea. (PK)
Eddie Pope - D, Real Salt Lake (USA)
Despite having lost a step or two since his kneecap injury, The Vicar of Salt Lake will bring veteran class and depth to Germany. (CW)

Tim Howard - GK, Everton (England)
He will spend more time watching and learning under Edwin van der Sar, but the English fixture glut assures he will get enough work to back up Keller. (GS)
Gregg Berhalter - D, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
His exclusion from the Gold Cup squad signals to me that he's past the "audition" stage. The only thing that might keep him out is the emergence of one of the younger defenders over the next year. (NT)
Clint Dempsey - M/F, Fulham (England)
The USMNT's Flavor of the Moment should be at the WC just due to his versatility. Needs to show a little better read on the international game, however. (CW)
Marcus Hahnemann - GK, Everton (England)
If, in fact, he is leading for the #3 keeper job at the end of summer, the Royal One isn't likely to give up the spot on the plane with his sterling club play. (GS)

Josh Wolff - F, Sporting Kansas City (USA)
He's quick, he causes trouble, he just has one slight problem; putting the ball in the back of the net. (PK) Talk about how Wolff doesn't do much usually starts just before he makes a big play, another personal Arena favorite for his effort and heart. (GS)
Steve Ralston - M, New England Revolution (USA)
Not my favorite player of all time, but we need someone on the roster who is decidedly a right-sided midfielder to deliver the crosses for forwards that are generally very good in the air. (NT)
Greg Vanney - D, FC Dallas (USA)
A valuable commodity as a true left back. His crossing from that side has become consistently dangerous. (JM) Strong left foot can come in handy, but then again, there are others just as capable. (PK)
Frankie Hejduk - D, Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
Can't cross to save his life, but has shown up huge in two World Cups. (CW) The ability to run forever and play a little shut down on either wing can't hurt, but Frankie is like da Bruce's hometown: you can always go back to Hejduk. (GS)
Bobby Convey - M, San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
Versatility is key, and it would not surprise me if the kid finally started getting his props at Reading. This is the one to keep an eye on in the early English season. (PK)

Chris Armas - Showed during Gold Cup that he can still do enough to at least be Arena's D-Mid alternate. (GS)

Taylor Twellman - Has gotten the shaft. Balls to the wall Twellman deserves a first-team shot. (CW)

Jonathan Spector - He can play anywhere on defense and centrally in midfield if needed. This decision gets easier and easier if he starts regularly for Charlton. (NT)

Brad Davis - His foot is in the door, let's see what he does with what will probably be limited chances before Germany. (GS)

Jeff Cunningham - Explosiveness and trickery – not the hallmarks of US Soccer, but after 75 minutes of running after Johnson and battling with McBride, Cunningham could offer an excellent change of pace. (NT)

Jay DeMerit - If he improves on last season's breakthrough at Watford, don't be surprised to see Jay thrown into the mix. (CW)

Justin Mapp - A crowded position, a couple more big MLS shows and he could soon get the phone call. (GS)

Benny Feilhaber - The Cucumber could be one to watch if he gets some first team action at Hamburg. (CW)


Conor Casey - To be determined. (CW) Easy math: several candidates will have the chance to make their case while he recovers from injury. (GS)

Robbie Russell - Arena has wanted to cap him for a while now, but the Rosenborg back is actually moving farther away from his debut until he finds a new club. (GS)

Clint Mathis - Yeah, he's begun to move the Real offense and he has that wild card variable goin' for him... but he needs a serious goal run to get back on the radar. (GS)

Richard Mulrooney - Was a possibility until a season-ending ACL tear, and will have precious little time to squeeze his way back into contention after rehab. (GS)


Freddy Adu, Chris Albright, Adin Brown, Brian Ching, Jimmy Conrad, Eddie Gaven, Nate Jaqua, Chris Klein, Chad Marshall, Pat Noonan, Ben Olsen, Peter Philipakos, Santino Quaranta, Matt Reis, Tim Ward, Brian West, Marvell Wynne, Kerry Zavagnin

note: YA's Greg Seltzer, Peter Kratzel, James McCarthy, Neal Thurman and Chad Winger compiled this feature

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