After Charlie Davies injury another possibility no one wants to consider is that the USMNT could be without defensive stalwart Oguchi Onyewu when the World Cup kicks-off next June. In fact, the US is facing question marks all the way up the middle with the exception of Timmy Howard between the sticks.
ESPN had a story today entitled “Onyewu plans a speedy recovery from knee injury” in which Gooch stated,
I know my body and I know how hard I work to recover and how my body heals. I think I can be back in four months, realistically.
Well, USMNT doesn’t need Gooch back, the team needs him better. With the official recovery time-line at 6 months, that seems out almost out of the question. So the best case scenario is Gooch at the WC in summer of 2008 form which is good, but not great. And let’s not forget that the recent knee injuries in the USMNT player pool (Jones and Edu), though different, haven’t resulted in textbook recoveries.
Moving up the pitch, Jay DeMerit continues to be out with an eye injury. His recovery time is slated for a much shorter duration, but we are talking about an eye here. It’d be very surprising if he didn’t make it to South Africa, but he is most likely in the midst of about a six month layoff right now.
In the central mid-field the US could be perceived as down its two most able holding mid-fielders in Twitter-fiend Maurice Edu and International Man of Mystery Jermaine Jones. And third on depth chart, Rico Clark (with a minor knock of his own), has been nothing more than serviceable as a starter in the WC qualifiers.
Junior seems cemented in whatever position he is supposed to be playing at the other midfield spot, but has struggled to develop any consistency with a mid-field mate and disappears for large stretches to the point that the defense just starts bypassing him.
Perhaps the biggest (and most obvious) hole sits at striker with CD9 being out, however, TSG discussed that already. But what about Altidore?
Jozy is the default #1 striker, but will he be ready to carry the load? Although he is coming of a strong performance last month versus Costa Rica, his inconsistent minutes for Hull makes that debatable.
Eight months out of the World Cup the US is full of question marks up the center of the formation. I guess it will be fun watching Bob-O trying to figure it all out, but it won’t be so much fun watching a collection of individuals struggle as a team come next June if he just doesn’t have the players.
Of the six spots up the middle of the field (keeper excluded) for the USMNT clinching victory over Honduras in October, it isn’t a stretch to think that not one could be starting in the same place come the World Cup finals just eight months later. (In case you’re wondering, the starters were Onyewu, Bocanegra, Clark, Bradley, Casey and Davies. Okay, it might take hell to freeze over for Junior to not be on the pitch, but it doesn’t mean he deserves it.)
It is starting to feel like the upcoming friendlies won’t do much for the US hopes in June, but hopefully by early 2010 the US will have more clarity as to who will and won’t be available in top form for the World Cup Finals and the team building can begin in earnest.