2010 Starting XI Taking Shape

It’s hard to believe, but the World Cup is only a year and a half away.  That means it’s time for a little speculation.  Here are some thoughts on how the roster is taking shape and what we expect to see in South Africa:

After the Sweden match, Sacha Kljestan has taken the lead in the race to be Michael Bradley’s central-midfield partner, in most American fans’ eyes.  But after Wednesday’s showing against Mexico, he only confirmed my worries about his play.  He’s a decent attacking player, but he gives the ball away far too often.  I think Torres will prove to be a better option.  Bradley’s a good ball winner.  Torres can actually hold and distribute.

As far as the left back situation goes, Pearce is losing his luster.  In a defense that has performed very well for the US, he has been mediocre, at best.  If he doesn’t start securing more playing time, I think we’ll have to swing Bocanegra out left.

Here’s what I’m thinking for 2010:

—————-Altidore————————-

Beasley————-Donovan—-Dempsey
——————-Torres————————-
——————-Bradley———————–
Bocanegra———————–Cherundolo
—————Onyewu—Marshall————
———————Howard———————

If Simek manages to stay healthy or Spector plays consisently (and on defense), either could challenge on the left.  Put simply, Bocanegra, Onyewu, and Cherundolo will start–it’s up to a center back or left back to step up and fill out our back line.

As far as Bradley-style lineups go, this one looks pretty solid.  But obviously, if I were running things, it would look more like this:

——————-Altidore—Cooper————————
Beasley————-Donovan——————-Dempsey
————————Bradley———————————
yadda yadda yadda…

Cooper’s not there yet, but his pairing with Altidore showed some real promise.  I think another year of development (and perhaps a move to a bigger club) will be enough for him to secure the #2 slot in the US’ forward depth chart.
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