U.S. World Cup Roster: Battle for the Ball
By Mark Vincent Lincir
Everybody knows that the United States National Team can defend. The team should field an entirely European based backline in a few weeks in the opener on June 12th against England. It will feature Tim Howard of Everton, Carlos Bocanegra of Rennes, Jay DeMerit of Watford, Oguchi Onyewu of AC Milan and Jonathan Spector of West Ham.
The defense is solid. The midfield is pretty much set, whether you agree with it or not probably featuring Michael Bradley (Gladbach) and Maurice Edu (Rangers) in the middle with Landon (Galaxy) and Clint (Fulham) on either side. I still think the team can do without Bradley and insert Feilhaber to have at least one person on the field that can hold the ball under pressure…but what do I know?
Photo from fOTOGLIF
The real concerns are up front for the Americans. During this upcoming camp, in which Coach Bob Bradley will have 30 players to assess for 23 spots…the real story will be to see who sets themselves apart from the rest up top in the striker position(s).
None of the strikers called into camp are scoring goals in top flight European competition. Give credit to Herculez Gomez of Puebla for his incredible season in Mexico…but it’s not the same as putting up a dozen goals in Serie A or the EPL. Other than that, you have a handful of MLS strikers and EJ, who has put in a few in Greece and Jozy Altidore, who is basically facing a make-it, or break-it summer.
If Altidore is a bust this summer in SA, everybody will shy away from him and he’ll come back to MLS…his coach at Hull recently questioned his training habits and that’s never a good thing. Edson Buddle is having a career year with the Galaxy, but his ability to score at the International level is largely unproven.
Findley is still raw and could see himself headed to Europe with a great tournament, Ching is coming off of injury and seems to have stalled in his development as an aerial animal. I’m not a huge fan of putting Dempsey up top because it’s too easy to close him down and deny him the ball up there.
It’ll come down to who can score goals given the one or two opportunities a half the United States will create against solid competition. A bad miss here and a miss there sends you home after the first three games. Coach Bob will have to take a close look the next couple of weeks at which striker does the most with the little he will be given to work with.
I didn’t think Charlie Davies was ever seriously in the mix. Give the kid credit for his miraculous comeback, but the longevity of his playing career his more important than coming back this summer. He will play in a World Cup…just not this summer. So who will step up to be the striker that puts the ball in then back of the net and gives the U.S. a chance to advance into the second round? It better be somebody off this list, because three 0-0 ties doesn’t get you thru anymore.