Goodbye, Charlie, And Other World Cup Roster Thoughts

Submitted by Brian on May 11th, 2010 at 3:16 PM

The obvious headline: Charlie Davies has missed the World Cup squad, which is unfortunate for both him and the team because it means the looming presence of Conor Casey and Eddie Johnson hit the 30-man provisional squad. An off the cuff assessment of the roster. Locks in bold, panic relative to the scale of "can we get out of the group"?


Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Brad Guzan

This is the opposite of Thunderdome: three men enter, three men leave. Howard will start every US game unless he gets a Tourette's-induced red.

Projected starter: Howard.
Panic level: Minimal.


Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson, Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall

The Nats will probably choose at least two of the non-locks. One, sadly, will be a dedicated left back. This means the Hero of Honduras, Jonathan Bornstein, is a lock. I didn't put him in bold because I don't want him to play, but he's basically in bold. With Spector and Bocanegra carrying tons of experience at left back in high-level leagues, it probably won't matter. If it's Bocanegra there the US isn't going to get much offense out of that spot, but that should free Spector up to be a cross-bombing winger type of defender.

Non-locks on the plane: Bornstein, Goodson. Marshall's been injured and the Nats will be looking for a central defender with some recent playing time as a backup.
Projected starters: Bocanegra, Onyewu, DeMerit, Spector. No matter who goes out with injury or card accumulation, Cherundolo draws into the lineup next; Spector flips to the left and Bocanegra draws inside.
Panic level: Call it a three. Onyewu's travelling with Milan and is fully healthy but has got to be rusty after his injury layoff. And DeMerit is a fine one-on-one defender but a guy who gives up possession really easily; I'd be more comfortable with the more composed Bocanegra in the middle and someone functional at left back. You could see Spector/Bocanegra/Onyewu/DeMerit against high-pressure teams without threatening forwards.


Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Francisco Torres, Alejandro Bedoya, DaMarcus Beasley, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers

Holden has resumed playing for Bolton and is healthy after the unnecessary Nigel De Jong tackle that broke a bone in his foot. He's the only right-sided midfielder other than Dempsey who's seen meaningful caps and will be an obvious late sub if and when the Nats replicate the late Dempsey-to-striker move that was so successful at the Confederations Cup.

The rest of the locks are obvious: Donovan and Dempsey are the highest-profile players the US has, Bradley has been locked into the starting lineup when not on card accumulation suspensions, and Clark and Edu are flexible ball-winners who play in either impressive Euro leagues (Clark, who just got a three-year extension from his Bundesliga team) or impressive teams (Edu, at Rangers).

From there you've got a (slightly? mostly?) rejuvenated Beasley, a couple of attacking midfielders who might help the US hold the ball if they could ever win it if they play without double destroyers, and fringe wingers.

Non-locks on the plane: Beasley, Feilhaber, Bedoya. Beasley can be a late defensive sub for Donovan if the US is trying to kill a lead and they need some speed. Feilhaber is the best and most trusted of the AM types; Bedoya is a winger playing well and the US has virtually none on the roster.
Projected starters: Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Edu. The fourth guy could be anyone, and if the US goes with five midfielders or sucks Dempsey up to forward Holden will almost certainly get the nod on the right.
Panic level: Also a three. Dempsey and Donovan are on fire, and Edu's re-emergence should create an athletic, reasonably proficient midfield.


Jozy Altidore, Conor Casey, Brian Ching, Edson Buddle, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez

With Davies out, you have your choice between lumbering old hands with target forward reps (Ching, Casey), guys with no national team track record but crazy recent success (Buddle, Gomez), and Eddie Johnson. Yes, they have to pick three more of these guys.

Non-locks on the plane: Ching, Gomez, Casey. Ching and Casey are Bradley favorites and Ching has always had great chemistry with Donovan. Since Donovan's the most important guy on the team, anything that makes him more effective takes priority. Gomez just finished lighting up a much better league than MLS, which Buddle is lighting up. But the again Buddle is playing with Donovan. I'd rather see Buddle; Bradley will probably go with Casey.
Projected Starters: Altidore, Ching.
Panic level: does this thing go up to 11?



May 11th, 2010 at 3:37 PM ^

...make the cut, Robbie Findlay did.  Looks like you went off of the erroneous list posted by Ives.

See the US Soccer release and the detailed roster.

Findlay's pace is light years different than Casey's, so maybe he's an upgrade?  He's certainly not a target forward at 5'9".

I have always liked Casey simply because he played for FSV Mainz 05 helping them get promoted from the 2. Bundesliga -- and I used to live in Mainz when I was in high school.


May 11th, 2010 at 3:43 PM ^

I was definitely a little bummed when Davies name did not appear on the pre-lim...having said that, I really hope Buddle travels to South Africa. His success has been MLS limited - which is quite unfortunate - but in my opinion there's more upside with him than any of the other uninspiring candidates (and Donovan has great chemistry with him). One month...can it really just be one month away?


May 11th, 2010 at 3:44 PM ^

So, I see you can get 5/1 odds on the Americans beating England in the first game.

2.8 to 1 on a draw

These seems like good bets. Any thoughts, soccer folks. England, btw, is -188 (bet 188 to win 100)

Also, its come to my attention that there's no way Brazil doesnt beat North Korea, that would make the -1250 (1,250 to win 100) the easist 8-percent ROI ever, amirite!?!?!?

Here's hoping we see more of your soccer takes on this site as we get closer to the event.


May 11th, 2010 at 5:44 PM ^

America's only hope is that Capello refuses to play Crouch-aldinho.  Otherwise that 7 foot skeleton is going to score a hat trick within the first thirty minutes and be doing the robot all over our faces for the rest of the game.


May 11th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

Have you seen Spector play this year? Especially on the left? He has been traffic cone awful and is likely being run out of West Ham. He should still go and can likely be useful on the right if his confidence isn't totally shot, but I'd take Boca or Bornstein before him on the left, maybe even Pearce, and I think he's the worst defender to see regular time for the USNT in recent memory.

And as I said in the other thread, I think central defense, especially if Boca has to push out wide, is far more worthy of panic than the forwards.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:14 PM ^

No doubt he's playing out of position. I just wonder how being roasted week in and week out has affected his confidence. (And it's not entirely his fault, West Ham should have better cover out there, and would likely had they not had to pay out millions of pounds in fines the last few years for the Tevez/Maschereno thing.) But his performance in the EPL demonstrates that he's not a viable option on the left and that the US needs cover there in the form of Bornstein or Pearce.

I think it's close between he and 'dolo on the right. If they push Boca wide, then I'd favor 'dolo because he's a bit more of an offensive threat and Gooch/Demerit/Boca is plenty big to deal with set pieces. If Bornstein or Pearce is on the left, then Spector's height means he should play.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:31 PM ^

I think it is a push between him and Dolo for now.  I really hope they play Boca on the right, since I don't want to see Bornstein out there.  I think it is more beneficial to have Boca play right and have Gooch and Demerit play the middle.  Demerit is fearless when defending balls in the air where Boca is tentative.

Musket Rebellion

May 11th, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

I too would like to see Torres and Buddle get the call, whichever way it shakes out, the strikers are going to be limited after Jozy. Hopefully Dempsey makes an impact and the loss of Davies will be limited. Still sad for him though.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:04 PM ^

has been playing consistently for a good Mexican team, which is something (I'm not sure what, but it's something), so I'd tend to see him as a likely member of the squad.

They love the 4-4-2 so much, that I think the first couple games will start with two more natural forwards, probably Jozy and Buddle. And if it's not working up top, then you'll see Feilhaber or someone like that come on for Buddle, and shift to a 4-5-1 with Dempsey more attacking, or 4-4-2 but with Altidore in a more advanced role than Dempsey.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:19 PM ^

I think you are right about starting with the 4-4-2.  I'm not sure if BB will ever go to the 4-5-1.  Has he ever used that formation in the past? 

Our midfield tends to take on more of a diamond shape, so I can see Feilhaber coming in for Bradley and playing amore attacking central midfielder. 


May 11th, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

the potential problem with most people's preferred starting 11.

Who is the holding midfielder? Is it Edu, is it Bradley, is it both? Bradley is quite possibly our best outfield player (blasphemy I know), so I don't know that keeping him holding is beneficial for the team, and quite frankly I don't think he'd stay put anyway. But Edu is sort of a tweener also, and I really think he has to be designated as the holder. The danger is they both get caught forward on a play because they like to do that, then Lampard gets behind them so the CBs have to rush out to take him on, and Rooney blows by Spector to take the pass wide of the CBs and rips it past Howard.

Also less likelihood of the inevitable MB second yellow, or red card, if he's not holding.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

I guess we will just have to see what happens.  I would prefer Edu to be holding, based on the point you make about Bradley's knack for getting carded.  Hopefully whatever we put out can contain the combination of Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney.  They scare me.


On the American Soccer Show, the host said, "if you don't notice Bradley, then he is doing a good job because he is not getting red cards."  Spoken like a wise man.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

I think Edu has to have the primary holding responsibility, just because he's more disciplined than Bradley. MB's very talented but he runs himself out of position way too often.

Hopefully, if MB's free to push up a little more, then we won't see the big gaps develop between defense and attack that hampered the USNT in the first few games of the Confed Cup last year. But at least against England, I think both are going to have to play pretty deep to protect a shaky back line.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

Players that should be left off final roster:

Bornstein, Kljestan, Findlay

Like Brian said, Bornstein will make the team since BB loves him that also goes for Ching. 

I would also like to see Torres make the team since he has been playing well for Pachuca recently.  There should be a strong case for Buddle based on his recent form and his chemistry with Donovan. 


May 11th, 2010 at 4:18 PM ^

In the overall scheme of things, I think this decision by Bradley to leave Davies off the early camp list is really interesting. It's clear that there are many folks on the 30-man list who just have no shot at making the team. The easy thing to do, even if CD wasn't going to make the regular team, was to invite him, reward him for his hard work and dedication, and then let the camp workouts show that he's not ready.

Instead he risks alienating the team by not rewarding the hard work of a guy who is almost universally loved by his teammates, all so Sacha can get a sniff at camp again. Why? In a way, for a guy who has a reputation for avoiding making bold decisions, and sticking with players when it was imprudent, this actually seems like progress from Bradley as a coach - he really is looking unemotionally at the team.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

I feel the same way.  I thought CD should have been a lock for the 30 man. 

BB has not only alienated the team, but possibly the nation.  If the way I feel is indicative of the whole, then BB has alienated the nation. 

This step may seem like progress from BB, but in other ways he is too loyal to certain players.


May 11th, 2010 at 4:57 PM ^

Too bad we'll be saddled with a guy that's all potential, and no production.  And his teammates and manager at Hull thought he didn't train hard enough either.  I wouldn't mind the Dempsey upfront move all the time.

Yinka Double Dare

May 11th, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

<blockquote>This is the opposite of Thunderdome: three men enter, three men leave. Howard will start every US game unless he gets a Tourette's-induced red.</blockquote>

Or in the unlikely event that the US has clinched a spot in the second round by winning their first two group matches.  I bet Guzan gets a start in that situation.

I would be pretty surprised if Paco Torres isn't on the plane.  He went to the Confed Cup as part of the team.  I'd prefer to see him over Beasley, as I just can't shake how bad he was last year.  I see no reason to think he's better now, to be honest.

It's really a shame Jermaine Jones wasn't able to get healthy and play this year.  If he and Chuck D were available and full-strength, I think this team really was a legit threat to go deep into the tournament.  Jones would have allowed us to potentially use Edu at center back more easily with a legit holding midfielder in Jones, and Edu with his regular midfield play would have been great for getting possession going from the back instead of the usual "blast it downfield and hope we get there first" method our back line seems to use.  Instead we had awful injury luck this year. 


May 11th, 2010 at 6:21 PM ^

Not sure how Ronaldinho doesn't end up on Brazil's squad.  He would be our best player but he can't even make it on the 23 man squad for Brazil.

Gotta admit, I like watching the old timeres who we know and love, playing this year in South Africa.  Especially sad to never see Ronaldo, Beckham, and van Nistelrooy in the WC again.


May 11th, 2010 at 8:51 PM ^

What do you guys think the starting XI's will be?


My bet is:

-------Jozy------ Dempsey---------


Boca-----Onyewu---DeMerit----- Dolo


I bet with all the success they had with Dempsey at striker that they just move him up there for the tourney and stick Holden out wide. Sub in Paco Torres, Gomez, and Feihaber for offensive subs.


What do you guys think?


May 11th, 2010 at 10:13 PM ^

i am really anti spector ... this west ham expirence the last yr has destroyed him imo ... rooney will eat his lunch while Lampard keeps the c. defense busy

give me Cherundolo/Bocanegra/Onyewu/DeMerit


May 11th, 2010 at 11:23 PM ^

but Boca isn't exactly stellar at fullback. He's alright, but for a guy who offers very little going forward, he still has made his share of defensive mistakes.  And Dolo is fine but not great.  A (healthy) Ashley Cole would roll any of these guys, it's probably the position on the team with the biggest talent deficit compared to world class players.  

I guess my viewpoint is that Gooch could very well not be healthy, in which case Boca is at CB and we're gonna have to deal with the fullbacks we have.

I don't love Spector, but I think he'd do fine against Slovenia/Algeria, and he offers a whole lot more than Bornstein.  And England, well....most teams in the world get worked by Lampard/Rooney, I think we're gonna have to accept that, and hope Timmy has a heluva day.


May 12th, 2010 at 9:00 AM ^

If Gooch can't go, I think we're well and truly fucked. That means Boca and Demerit in the middle, which means both almost no distribution from the back that isn't just long balls (distribution is where Demerit is very, very limited -- he just isn't good at all with the ball at his feet) and playing either Bornstein or Spector on the left, both of whom would be outclassed by the speedy wingers of England and Algeria. Boca's not fast on the left, but he's positionally smart. I

f Gooch can't go, the US might have to start either Marshall or Goodson in the middle, or push Edu back, keep Boca on the left, and hope for the best. The other option is being overrun from the flanks, which is what happened both against Italy and Brazil in the Confed Cup.


May 12th, 2010 at 11:25 AM ^

but John Terry is now in doubt for the WC.

Do we love this because he's a top flight defender, or is it a mixed blessing because he was going to be a divisive figure within the England team who's generally overrated as a player?