The Gold Cup is over. While the final was certainly a disappointment, it’s important to recognize the purpose of this edition of the tournament–it was an opportunity to evaluate our fringe players, hopefully identifying who should (and should not) be considered for the 2010 roster. Here’s our take:
HELPED THEIR CAUSES:
Troy Perkins (G) – It would probably be more accurate to say that he benefited from Luis Robles hurting his cause. Yes, he had problems with distribution at times. Yes, he let in 5 against Mexico. But right now, he looks like the front-runner for our #3 GK spot.
Heath Pearce (D) – He seemingly had fallen out of the left back race before the Gold Cup. He played pretty well, for the most part. Could potentially sneak in as a back-up left back. Finding a club that will play him is a must.
Chad Marshall (D) – He looked composed for the US. He has passed Califf in the pecking order and should definitely be considered for the 2010 roster.
Jimmy Conrad (D) – I was always a little confused why his name wasn’t in the center back conversation. He’s pretty good, and he showed it in this tournament.
Clarence Goodson (D) – Too bad for him, two other centerbacks equalled his performance. Regardless, he has proven himself as a reliable back-up.
Steve Cherundolo (D) – Limited playing time, but he showed why he was a lock at right back before he got hurt and Spector took his chance to impress in the Confederations Cup.
Stuart Holden (M) – Showed flashes of the creativity that the US midfield is sorely lacking. At times, he looked like a genius. Other times, he was giving the ball away and crossing wildly. The potential is obvious.
Kyle Beckerman (M) – Gives the ball away more than you’d like, but he showed good composure on the ball, impressive workrate, and the ability to shoot from distance. Too bad there are so many players sitting ahead of him on the depth chart.
Benny Feilhaber (M) – Very limited playing time, but he showed what a player of his quality can do (and should do) when put into a game against weaker CONCACAF opponents. He is clearly a front-runner for one of those center mid slots.
Robbie Rogers (M) – Started out very well, ended very poorly. Not many people were talking about him as a potential World Cup team member before the tournament, but competent natural wingers are hard for us to come by these days.
Charlie Davies (F) – Similar to Benny Feilhaber, he highlighted the gulf in class between the first team and second team in his limited time on the field.
HURT THEIR CAUSES:
Luis Robles (G) – Put in an absolute shocker against Haiti. Perkins isn’t so far ahead of him that he’s out of the race, but he’s definitely got some catching up to do.
Jay Heaps (D) – Was this guy ever really in contention for a roster spot? I’m glad that this MLS vet got the opportunity to represent his country, but he should never suit up for the US again.
Michael Parkhurst (D)– I’ve never been a big fan of this guy. And with Marshall, Goodson, and Conrad all putting in good performances, it’s hard to see how he will even come close to cracking the 23-man roster.
Colin Clark (M) – Looked pretty bad against Haiti. Seems like a non-factor at this point.
Jon Busch (G) – Was not given the opportunity to help or hurt his cause.
Freddy Adu (M) – Not as good as you would have liked, but not bad, either. Needs playing time if he wants to make it to South Africa.
Santino Quaranta (M) – Not a bad showing. Helped the US past Honduras. I just don’t see him making a case for a roster spot. That said, he is still only 24 years old (wow.), so it’s hard to call him a lost cause.
Sam Cronin (M) – Not quite there.
Brad Evans (M)– Meh.
Brian Ching (F)– Thought about putting him under “Helped Their Causes,” but what did he really show us? He showed us what we already knew: he can hold the ball well, distribute well, and draw fouls, but he can’t take his goal-scoring opportunities. He’s probably the starter right now, but you’d hope Davies and Altidore would be the clear favorites with one more year of development.
Davy Arnaud (F) – Looked alright at times, but I can’t imagine this guy making the roster. His last two matches were pretty bad, and I’d be surprised if he got too many more looks (if any).
Kenny Cooper (F)– Failed to make the most of his opportunities to impress. He may very well be our #4 true striker at the moment (I’m excluding Landon from this list), but if he fails to improve significantly over the next year, and no one else steps up, I can’t imagine he’ll be coming along for the ride–we’ll probably only take Ching, Davies, and Altidore.
Let’s summarize by breaking this down into four categories:
Locks (if the roster were chosen today): Troy Perkins, Chad Marshall, Steve Cherundolo, Benny Feilhaber, Charlie Davies, Brian Ching
Legitimate Contenders: Heath Pearce, Jimmy Conrad, Clarence Goodson, Stuart Holden, Freddy Adu, Robbie Rogers
Long Shots: Luis Robles, Michael Parkhurst, Kyle Beckerman, Kenny Cooper
No Shots: Jon Busch, Jay Heaps, Logan Pause, Sam Cronin (for 2010), Brad Evans, Colin Clark, Santino Quaranta, Davy Arnaud