After a little bit of a wait Bob Bradley released the U.S.’ Gold Cup roster and there were a few surprises included. With that in mind here are five or thoughts about the U.S. roster and how it affects their chances in the championship.
1. The return of Freddy Adu
It’s been a while since Adu figured into the U.S. plans but a good season at Rizespor has put the midfielder back on the map. He’s played some as forward with Rizespor – whose promotion hopes took a hit Monday with their 4-0 loss in the promotion playoffs – scoring four goals and providing a creative spark. He’ll likely be employed either as an advanced central midfielder in a 4-5-1 or winger and has the skills that many have wanted in a U.S. player.
Bradley said: “Typically playing in the second division in Turkey doesn’t bring you back into the scene,” Bradley said. “He’s shown us soccer qualities that will help our team.”
2. Robbie Rogers over Mixx Diskerud and Alejandro Bedoya
While Adu likely took Diskerud’s place, Rogers being picked over both midfielders is a bit of a head scratcher. Rogers – who can play both wing spots but is much better on the left – has never shined for the national team and has struggled against good competition. Couple that with Bedoya and Diskerud both having good seasons it makes the selection somewhat curious. Of the two Bedoya is the biggest mystery. He’s a Bradley type of player and the coach has shown a lot of faith in him. Having Rogers as a left footed option on the bench is nice but there were other more deserving options – Brad Davis comes to mind – for that spot.
Bradley said: “Robbie has the ability to run at people, get behind people, capable of playing on both flanks.”
3. Tim Chandler decides to sit out
Following the wishes of Nurnberg the young defender/winger decided to sit out of the Gold Cup to rest for next season. Chandler burst on the scene with outstanding efforts against Paraguay and Argentina and was tipped to be a contributor this summer. His exclusion means that Eric Lichaj – who struggled at Leeds and Aston Villa this year – and Jonathan Spector will have to pick up any slack left by aging full backs Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra. The underlying issue is that Chandler is not tied to the U.S. and can still represent Germany if he chooses.
Bradley said: “We’ve had a number of discussions with Timothy and the club. At the end of this season, his first real season playing at this level, we felt it didn’t make sense for him. He has carried a few little injuries of late, he has told us physically and mentally this season has been a hard one. The time wasn’t right.”
4. Does three forwards mean commitment to a 4-5-1?
With only three forwards on the roster does it mean the U.S. is committed to a five man midfield? Without Stuart Holden in March the U.S. struggled to find any rhythm playing Maurice Edu as an advance center mid and looked much better in the 4-4-2 with Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore up top. While Bradley can surely move Clint Dempsey up top, the roster lends itself to a 4-5-1 formation with a player like Dempsey, Bennie Feilhaber or Freddy Adu in front of holding midfield comprised of Jones, Bradley or Edu. The main question is can they be successful in the formation? Altidore’s struggled as a lone striker and taking Dempsey or Donovan off the wings means a big step down at those positions.
Bradley said: “Jozy is a young forward. His club form hasn’t been what he would want or what any of us would want. Jozy has certainly shown that he is an important player for our team.”
5. How do the surprises affect the team’s chances?
Honestly, the surprise inclusions and exclusions will matter more to the team’s depth than anything else. The starting lineup is not likely to see many changes and the core group many expected to lead the team is still there. It does however diminish a proven and veteran presence off the bench. Looking at the rosters top to bottom, I think Mexico’s is better 1-23 than the U.S.
Full U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (UANL Tigres), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Eric Lichaj (Leeds), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Freddy Adu (Rizespor), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)