So we now know the 23 Bob Bradley will take to South Africa. They are:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla, Mexico).
Mostly expected. The unexpected wasn’t a total wash, either. Bob did good.
One reason I’m happy about this. Well, there are a few. But first off, Brian Ching’s not on it. Thank God. Look, I know Bradley takes a lot of stick for failing to adapt, sticking to his guns when it seems to make nearly no sense, shoehorning players into incompatible schemes, etc. But it seems he’s finally learning. Brian Ching is 32, he’s got international experience, and he’s safe. He’s not good, but he’s safe. On the surface, he appears to be everything that outwardly represents the U.S. coach.
But he’s not going to South Africa. And Edson Buddle is.
Buddle, you’ll remember, is the anti-Ching, a spry forward who can hold possession and will amaze with a silky strike now and again. I suspect that this move makes more sense than Ching with Charlie Davies still figuring out his club situation, since Buddle is much more like Davis than Ching. Plus, Buddle’s ceiling is set at some indiscernible height right now. Ching reached his four years ago, and he still didn’t get any caps in Germany. Buddle has nine goals in MLS. Ching has a balky hamstring. TOUGH CHOICE, BOBBO.
Is this all posturing, since neither was likely to play absolute key roles? Possibly. But it’s not like the Yanks are blessed with a dearth of available options at striker. Should Buddle get an early cap in the group stage, who’s to say he doesn’t surprise? What are our options? You either move somebody, or you play somebody from the Findley/Gomez/Buddle triumvirate.
Whether that’s positive or negative, er, we’ll have to see. The positive, of course, is the untapped potential, and the “Well, he COULD BE THE GUY,” mindset. Oh, and none of the three is Brian Ching. The negative is obvious. But he’s a first-choice guy when compared to Findley and Gomez, if you ask me. Speaking of…
With all apologies to Findley, who is easily number 23 and kind of a token selection, Gomez is perhaps the real shocker in today’s announcement. Gomez nodded in a goal – easy as it was – in the Yanks’ 4-2 tune-up loss to the Czechs last night, which couldn’t have hurt his cause. But his sublime touches and acrobatic prowess is what really excites here. He’s perhaps the most “different” striker from Jozy, which means that a tandem pairing can reap unique rewards. Whether he’s ready? He’s about as ready as any of these untested forwards. Unless you pull up Dempsey from midfield…
- Amazingly enough, Jozy Altidore is the youngest call-up at 20. We learned this with Freddy Adu, but we still have a hard time allowing it to stick: youth breeds mistake-prone football. The fact that Altidore’s stint with Hull is being picked apart as much as it is, is a testament to the 24-hour news cycle, not necessarily the quality of his play. He’s playing like a 20-year-old on pace to have a world class career by his mid-20’s. Mistakes? Plenty. His lack of real desire on the training pitch has to change. But anyone denying his god-given gift at the top is delusional. As Landon goes, America goes. But without a productive Jozy, none of that matters.
- Other than Ching, cuts were: defenders Chad Marshall and Heath Pearce; midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers; and forward Eddie Johnson -Eddie Johnson, we hardly knew ye. Your speed is dazzling, your skill on ball is hideous. I remember when we talked about Eddie as the next great American hope at striker. Now I’m just hoping he doesn’t strike out with his next club.
- A whopping 17 of these called-up players are in European clubs. Just four are MLS players. MLS is starting to serve is opening purpose – a feeder system for talented Americans. We had to get there before we could get to the next step – making the league stand on its own as a force. Winning more regional cups would be nice. Primera Division de Mexico, MLS is gunning for you next.
- DaMarcus Beasley’s inclusion, while not a total shock, says something to me about his form. If you took a straw poll of U.S. fans questioning the likelihood of Beasley’s inclusion in this list after last year’s Confederations Cup, I dare say the overwhelming majority (100 percent?) would have left him out. Bradley probably would’ve too. Even while still being scorned by Rangers brass, Beasley has apparently come around again. I’ll say this: if he can hold down outside mid, I like Dempsey in a forward role. Ballsy? You betcha.
I had something ready on the Czech friendly from last night, but Goal.com posted a pretty apt summary of the winners and losers from that contest. Stu Holden and Beasley (whoa!) both impressed. Does Bobbo have a red phone somewhere I can dial? I’ve got some advice to doll out…