Now that we have officially qualified for the World Cup, it is time for the first installment of Bradley’s Babes: 23 for 2010–our attempt to answer the question, “Who should we take along?” But instead of taking the standard approach–doing our best to guess who Bob will take to South Africa–we decided to focus on who we would like him to take.
Before we get started, a couple of notes specifically pertaining to this list: We are going to assume the worst-case scenario becomes reality–Oguchi Onyewu and Charlie Davies are out for the World Cup. Of course we don’t want this to happen–we aren’t even suggesting it is the most likely outcome–but there are two reasons we decided to approach it this way: prepare for the worst, but hope for the best; and it’s just more interesting (everyone knows Davies and Onyewu are locks, if healthy and match fit). It should also be noted that we are trying to take into account what will happen over the next year. For example, Castillo and Jones might not be ready to go into action with the Yanks today, but by next summer, we think they will be.
Without further ado, here is Bradley’s Babes, edition one:
Tim Howard – A sure thing.
Brad Guzan – Still the clear number two in the pecking order.
Kasey Keller – He’s had a great year in MLS. He’s a proven World Cup veteran. It is close, but I would take him over any of the contenders for the #3 goalkeeper spot.
FRINGE – Anyone willing to step up. Third-string is still wide open. Troy Perkins is probably the closest to taking this spot.
Carlos Bocanegra – Can play center back or left back. No doubt he will be in South Africa.
Jay DeMerit – After his great showing in the Confederations Cup, he has emerged as the clear #3 center back. Now if he could only recover from his eye injury…
Jonathan Spector – I believe he is our best right back. If he’s ever given a chance, he might just prove he’s our best left back, too.
Steve Cherundolo – For some reason, people started writing him off during his extended injury. He has quickly proven that he is still steady and capable.
Chad Marshall – Has shown well when given the chance. Should be in South Africa, even if Onyewu returns.
Jimmy Conrad – He has not been given enough looks. Showed very well in the Gold Cup.
Edgar Castillo – Because of the recent onslaught of Bornstein-love, Castillo might not see starting opportunities any time soon. I have a feeling that he might just prove to be the best natural left back in the system.
Clarence Goodson – Since Bocanegra and Spector can both play left back, and I’m not a big fan of Bornstein or Pearce, I’ll use the final spot on another center back. Goodson, for the most part, showed well in the Gold Cup.
FRINGE – Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce. It wouldn’t take much for either of these players to displace Goodson on the roster, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with either playing in a World Cup game right now. Maybe they’ll change my mind in the first half of 2010.
Landon Donovan – Does anything need to be said?
Clint Dempsey – Hasn’t shown too well this year, but still clearly one of our most talented players.
Michael Bradley – I sometimes question whether he should have his position locked down. He’s still a no-brainer as far as the World Cup roster goes.
Jose Francisco Torres – He consistently shows well as a substitute and definitely deserves more minutes.
Jermaine Jones – Once he recovers from injury, he should be an immediate contributor.
Benny Feilhaber – Does very well as a substitute. Can’t seem to show as much as a starter. There’s still hope.
Robbie Rogers – He might be our best natural winger. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Maurice Edu – It’s an absolute shame that his injury halted his rapid rise in Glasgow.
Stuart Holden – Since both Donovan and Dempsey could be categorized as forwards, we’re going to go ahead and take a ninth midfielder–Stuart Holden. He’s been solid in his recent National Team performances. We could always use another player capable of playing on the wings.
FRINGE – Freddy Adu, Ricardo Clark. Ricardo Clark is probably our most surprising exclusion from this list. If Edu’s injury drags on too much longer, we’ll probably have to go ahead and put Clark in his place. Adu has a lot of potential, but he’s still not getting enough playing time. A starting role in the second half the of the season would probably be enough for us to give him the nod, but even that is no guarantee with the strength of our midfield.
Jozy Altidore – After his showing against Costa Rica, there is no doubt that this kid should be a starter. If he could finish a little more consistently, he would be an absolute monster.
Kenny Cooper – Hopefully he will solidify a starting role in Munich in the second half of the season. This would also likely solidify his starting role next to Jozy (in Davies’ absence).
Brian Ching – I disagree with the assertion that we need a target forward in our starting line-up. Regardless, I think Ching is still the best we’ve got. You hate his woeful finishing, but he does everything else pretty well.
FRINGE – Conor Casey, Eddie Johnson, Jeff Cunningham, Robbie Findley. Any of these players could potentially take a roster spot with a strong start in 2010. I’m willing to take Conor Casey or Brian Ching–not both. It could go either way. Eddie Johnson seemed completely out of the race a year ago, and he’s not very close at the moment, but if he can get some regular playing time at Fulham, he’s got a chance to steal the final roster spot (probably at the expense of Rogers or Holden). His speed is an asset, and if he can find a decent finishing touch, he could go a long way to ease the pain of the loss of Davies. Cunningham had an amazing MLS season, but his age is still a concern. Findley should get a look in upcoming friendlies–I’d be interested to see what he can do on the international stage.
Now that we’ve set our roster, let’s take a look at our prefered line-up:
————————Jozy Altidore———-Kenny Cooper——————
Jose Francisco Torres————————————–Clint Dempsey
Jonathan Spector——————————————Steve Cherundolo
———————-Carlos Bocanegra——–Jay DeMerit——————–
We feel there is plenty of room for improvement at Kenny Cooper’s position and he could easily be displaced. Chad Marshall is a good alternate candidate for DeMerit’s spot. We also feel there’s a lot of potential shifting that could occur with our attacking midfielders; Torres could switch places with Donovan or move to the opposite wing in order to bring Dempsey to the center.
**Jones and Castillo could potentially fill starting roles by next summer, but we feel slightly uncomfortable putting them in before they’ve played a single game for the Nats. If Jones proved to be a good option, we’d put him in as a defensive midfielder with Bradley playing slightly forward. Castillo on the left would lead us to start Spector over Cherundolo on the right.