This Wednesday, the U.S. takes on Switzerland at St. Jakob Park in Basel. U.S. coach Bob Bradley has taken this opportunity to blood a few young players into the senior squad.
The squad features seven uncapped players, an two with only a single cap to their names.
Maurice Edu (Toronto FC, MLS) is a strong midfielder who normally plays in a holding roll. Despite Toronto FC being second to last on the league table, Edu has been a bright spot for the expansion team in his first professional season. Edu is just less than two years removed from leading Maryland to an NCAA national championship. I’m a big fan of Edu, and I think he could be an important peace come Olympic qualifying.
Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake, MLS) is another member of that 2005 national championship team. Seitz was the starting keeper for the U-20s at the World Cup this summer, and he is a frontrunner to be member of the 2008 Olympic squad should the U.S. qualify. This isn’t his first call into camp, as he was prepared to replace Tim Howard in the match against Brazil before Howard decided to stay on the field.
Danny Szetela (Racing Santander, Spain) started for the U-20s as well, and was able to turn a strong World Cup into a contract with La Liga side Racing Santander. Szetela is capable of playing across the midfield but is most comfortable in the center.
Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV, Germany) spends most of his time with Hamburg’s reserve side, but the 18 year old is on the cusp of a regular roster spot with the first team. A late addition to the U-20s following Johann Smith’s injury, Zimmerman is a future prospect for the U.S. in a variety of attacking positions.
Steve Purdy (1860 Munich, Germany) signed on with Munich’s other team in January after starting 80 of 82 career games for the University of California Golden Bears. He is looking for his first cap and should be in the mix for Olympic qualification.
Tally Hall (Esbjerg fB, Denmark) is in his first full professional season in the Danish Superliga, and the goalkeeper is in his first U.S. senior squad training camp. Probably will not get his first cap, but he is one for the future.
Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake, MLS) also qualifies to play for Trinidad and Tobago through his parents, who imigrated to the U.S. He has previously been called into U-23 T&T camps, but has not been capped for the full squad, making him available to the U.S. Will most likely get his first cap against Switzerland.
Freddy Adu (Benfica, Portugal) and Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96, Germany) have both recieved caps. Adu is the youngest player ever to be capped for the U.S., being just 16 years old when he came on for Eddie Johnson against Canada in January 2006. Zizzo received his first cap earlier this year against Switzerland. Both played on the U-20 team.
Eddie Lewis (Derby County, England) and Marcus Hahnemann (Reading, England) are two premiership starters who are making their first appearances in a national team training camp since the 2006 World Cup.
Expect the U.S. to play in their traditional 4-4-2, though a 4-3-3 is also likely. A back four of Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock, Germany), Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham, England), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard LeÃge, Beligum), and Steve Cherundulo (Hannover 96, Germany) is expected, with Bob Bradley giving Pearce another shot to make his case for the left back spot.
If in a 4-4-2, expect Michael Bradley (Heereveen, Holland) and Benny Feilhaber (Derby County, England) to retain their spots in the midfield. Bradley could start Feilhaber on the right and Damarcus Beasley (Rangers, Scotland) on the left, and hand Edu or Szetela a start in the middle, but will most likely play Beasley on the right and Lewis on the left, leaving Feilhaber in the center. Another option is Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England) in a midfield spot instead of Lewis, which would make Adu the favorite to partner Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution, MLS) up top. Most likely it will be Lewis, Bradley, Feilhaber, Beasley in the midfield and Dempsey and Twellman up top.
If Bradley decides to go with a 4-3-3 against the stingy swiss defense, a midfield of Bradley and Feilhaber along with another youngster is likely. Szetela, Edu or Adu could play here (provided Adu plays in the attacking role), or Dempsey as well. Up top, Beasley and Dempsey would most likely play behind Twellman, but if Dempsey slips into the midfield, Adu could find himself in a forward position.