Wow, next up, seeding for 2010 and a whole bunch of “friendlies.” Are you already chomping at the bit?
As we look back at the USMNT and World Cup Qualification, fans I’m sure will remember the journey most for the final two memorable games that bookended the tragic injury of a player that teammates and fans alike find it so easy to root for .
So now, a look back:
• Maurice Edu, Jay DeMerit, Clint Dempsey, Conor Casey, Charlie Davies, Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu.
Frankie Hedjuk, Brian Ching and Steve Cherundolo.
I’m sure I’m missing some but this is a sampling of the key injuries that the U.S. dealt with over the past two years on their road to South Africa. That’s right, I’m including Landon Donovan who picked up a nasty virus and wasn’t at his peak for the Mexico game.
More recently, the US went through its critical last four games with two Confederation Cup starters shelved (DeMerit and Dempsey) and with sideline time to other key contributors (Casey, Davies & Gooch).
Bob Bradley detractors, please remove another arrow from your quiver.
• What started out as a Chivas-led contingent from the MLS eventually wound up being primarily Dynamo-based with three consistent contributors from the Houston team: Holden, Rico and Ching.
• Cups of coffee?:
How about Michael Parkhurst and John Thorrington starting against Guatemala. What about second half substitutions of Davy Arnaud and Eddie Johnson during the trials. Drew Moor got a start. Brek Shea made a cameo on the bench.
• The USMNT bid a thankful and fond farewell to midfielder (and red carder extraordinaire, couldn’t resist) Pablo Mastroeni who started and factored early on, but then was replaced by the triumvirate of Benny Feilhaber, Mikey Bradley and Rico Clark.
• Chris Rolfe and Freddy Adu were given considerable time up the pitch to make their case…and even some minutes were doled out to Chad Barrett. You can be sure with the Charlie Davies’ injury, both Rolfe (Denmark (in Jan 2010) and Adu (Portugal) will try and make their case again.
• The USMNT saw the return of both Frankie Hedjuk and, of course, ‘Dolo later in the process after giving way to wing bids from new competitors DaMarcus Beasley (playing the back for the first time), Marvell Wynne and Heath Pearce.
• Inside of those wings, saw play from Michael Orozco, Danny Califf and Michael Parkhurst.
• Sasha Kljestan and Danny Szetala laid some claim to the midfield, while the former’s trajectory was like a roller coaster the latter’s was a freefall.
• USMNT fans witnessed the return of Benny Feilhaber, the emergence of Stu Holden and an unlikely brace to play for the Cup from Conor Casey.
• The US scored 42 goals in 18 matches for a 2.3 average. What the stats don’t tell you is that average is actually 1.75–that is if you subtract the opening 8-0 drubbing of Barbados and the 6-1 October 2008 win against Cuba in D.C.
• The core of Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra minutes played count ranged in the 1300s. That’s 12% more pitch time than any other player, including the Gooch and Big T.
• Leading scorer…well that would be a man from the northeast actually….of England. Hull City’s Jozy Altidore, helped on by a T&T hat trick, led with 6. Picking up the slack behind him were Junior, Donovan and Dempsey with 5 a piece. Amazingly, Chuck Deezy only had 2, but we remember that lead in the Azteca CD9.
• But the standings that matter the most? The final round: 10 played, 6 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws and one hard fought Cup invitation.
Throw in a Gold Cup final and a Confederation’s Cup final and well that’s a pretty impressive take for Coach USA. Not seeing a lot of arrows.
However, don’t let us say it. Let the Brits.