State of the US (National Team)

USA Coach Bob Bradley is interviewed after the FIFA Final Draw for the FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on December 4, 2009. Photo via Newscom

In our last State of the US, the final World Cup roster had yet to be finalized. The 23 are now known, but Bob Bradley still has a few decisions to make before Saturday’s opening match against England.

Pressing Issues

Who partners with Jozy Altidore (at striker) and Michael Bradley (at center midfield)? FFG’s choices would be Edson Buddle and Jose Torres. Buddle gets the call despite Herculez Gomez and Robbie Findley impressing, with the latter two better suited as subs. Gomez holds the ability to make an impact in limited playing time and Findley can use his speed against worn-out defenses. Torres has looked the sharpest of all the CMs (Bradley included, in our mind), but the manager may well turn to veteran Ricardo Clark.

Oh, and Oguchi Onyewu still isn’t fully-fit, a problem with England likely to deploy tall-man Peter Crouch (if only as a substitute).

Injury Concerns

Clark limped off the field on Saturday clutching his hamstring and Altidore picked up a minor ankle sprain last week. Jozy did train yesterday (today was an off day) and should be ready by Saturday.

Current Starting XI

Changes from May

Striker: The in-form Buddle allows Dempsey to move to his preferred left midfield, where, interestingly enough, Donovan lined up for much of 2009. We feel Bradley has Donovan on the right to help shutdown England left back Ashley Cole, though the wingers on England’s right flank (not to mention capable right back Glen Johnson) shouldn’t be taken lightly either.

Center midfield: FFG really thought Maurice Edu would be defensive center mid, but he received the least playing time in the three friendlies. Assuming Bradley used last Saturday’s 1st half as a rollout for his starters, Clark is the choice.

Outside midfield: May option Alejandro Bedoya ended up not making the cut, and Dempsey has looked much better in the midfield than as a striker. He and Donovan will continue to drive the US attack from the wings.

Left back: Still all Carlos Bocanegra

Right back: Steve Cherundolo starts over Jonathan Spector, as Spector could not get over his poor performances at the end of his club’s campaign.

Center back: Onyewu remains the best center back on the roster, but Goodson has shown enough to deserve a call if Gooch is not quite ready.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Buddle will become the second-most celebrated Edson of all-time (anyone know the first?), somehow sneaking a goal past England defender extraordinaire John Terry; Torres jumpstarts the attack in a surprise second match start and impresses Europe’s big clubs in the process; Findley and Gomez feature as super subs, picking up a goal apiece in the group stage; and the alliterative Donovan and Dempsey prove superior to England’s feared winger/fullback combos.

A 2-1 win over the English propels the Yanks to new heights, topping their group on the way to a semi-final appearance.

Ugly American

Clarence Goodson can’t cope with the pressure of the moment, or the skill of Rooney and his striking partner, gifting Wazza a goal through an egregious gaffe. Mistakes at the back are magnified by the strikers’ lack of quality: Findley and Buddle look as if they’re playing with a rock instead of the most aerodynamic ball of all-time, while Gomez is unable to replicate his previous magic. England dominates the out of sorts gringos 3-0, setting the stage for a demoralizing loss to Algeria. Clark, piling on the misery, picks up a red card against Slovenia.

And Bradley still doesn’t play Torres.

The US exits the tournament without winning a match.

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. AG says:

    Until now, it never occurred to me that Torres might be a decent partner for Altidore. With his great awareness and ability to dish the ball on a dime to attacking teammates, he as forward might be a good thing for the US. And, should the opposing team’s defense be worn down and tired, Torres can either come off, being replaced by Findley, or move to the middle bringing off Clark and being replaced by Findley up top.

    • Blake Owen says:

      FFG was not implying that Torres should play as a striker. I hope that’s not the way the post came across.

      El Gringo is a center mid through and through. He’s five foot nothing (Wikipedia lists him at 5′ 5″) and not particularly fast. He plays his best soccer as the deep-lying distributor, though I think he could also function as an attacking center mid.

      But you’re certainly right that the US could benefit from strikers with better passing skills. Ours just happen to line up at outside midfield.

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