Good morning….welcome to our El Salvador – USA preview
We’re less than 110 days to World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
I had this exchange with Soccer Mom on Sunday.
Matthew: “Mom, you watching the US play this week?”
Mom: “When are they playing? I have to make sure it doesn’t interrupt my Olympics.”
Matthew: “Wednesday, 7pm your time.”
Mom: “Ok. Who are they playing? Are they any good? Is that Landon playing?”
Matthew: “El Salvador…they’re ok, not great…not going to the World Cup….and the US is bringing a “B” team so to speak.”
Mom: “Well, why would I watch it? Should I still watch it Matthew?”
Well, Mom, everyone…here’s why:
There are no fewer than 8 players in this February 24th squad that are in consideration for the roster for WC 2010 and possibly as many as thirteen in the discussion.
The short list: Jonathan Bornstein, Chad Marshall, Clarence Goodson, Robbie Rogers, Brian Ching, Conor Casey, Jeff Cunningham, Robbie Findley
The long list includes: Sacha Kljestan, Kyle Beckerman, Troy Perkins, and stretching it here, Heath Pearce and Chris Pontius.
This is a big game…for them all.
Omar Gonzalez and Michael Orozco are out of that discussion already as they’re not traveling.
Without further adu, we jump into our preview with all eyes on the World Cup baker’s dozen.
As always, we’ll follow the following format:
TSG’s “What We’re Looking For”
11 at the Whistle
TSG’s “What We’re Looking For”
» Getting close to closing time: Who’s going? Goodson or Marshall…
After a series of injuries and an uneven game against Honduras, Chad Marshall has left the door wide open in competition for the true centerback back-up spot in South Africa. Sure both Boca (if DeMerit starts) and Spector can fill in, but the USMNT is going to need a true center back back-up and these two are the States best prospects with Jimmy Conrad likely dealt out of the picture.
Goodson has possessed a penchant to win headers, but also fall asleep in positioning on defense. Marshall is tying to return to the form that made him a candidate for some senior team starting time way back in September.
Key match-up here.
» Is Kyle Beckerman, beyond Sacha Kljestan, in play for a World Cup roster spot?
Incredulous a few months ago.
Quick, name a back-up ball-winning tackler who’s to Rico Clark. You could go with Maurice Edu…only he’s started two club games in the last eight months. Can’t go with Jermaine Jones.
Situation: The USMNT is up 2-0 in the 78th minute against England and Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley are both gased….who do you bring off the bench to provide defense?
That’s right USMNT folks, Kyle Beckerman may bethisclose–well actually t h i s c l os e–to being in consideration for a plane ticket to South Africa. We’re not in that court, but remember Bob Bradley + MLS = Every possibility.
Oh, and you heard it here first: If healthy and fit, might Stu Holden get the nod in the middle against Netherlands on the 3rd? Possible? We think so.
» The Striker Spot?
We don’t need to add anymore here. Each USMNT game brings promise, disappointment, a shot at improvement an hope.
» Who’s our sleeper? The guy who goes starting line-up or makes a move in the pecking order?
We’re cheating. We go 66% Chris Pontius, 33% Geoff Cameron. Yours?
11 At the Whistle:
G: Troy Perkins
The skinny: Troy Perkins has the 4th keeper spot locked up — one problem…Team USA is only taking three. After shaky performances lately by Guzan an Hahnemann in the EPL, coupled with daily sessions with Bradley’s staff, does Perkins have a shot?
DEF: Jonathan Bornstein, Chad Marshall, Clarence Goodson, Geoff Cameron
The skinny: The first three from the left are set (Borny, Marshall and Goody), the right side? More of a problem. I’m hard pressed to see Marvell Wynne back in there after he showed he just wasn’t ready against the Honduras junior varsity squad.
I’m going to put Cameron in that position. He’s likely played a lot of right half in camp–we havent been able to attend as we said–but I think he’s got a shot there.
MID: Brad Davis, Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers
The skinny: I wanted to stick Dax in here, I really did. If Kljestan slides out wide, I think you’ll see it.
However with the USMNT central midfield in some disarray right now, I would be getting as many observations as possible on the 2010 form of one Mr. Sacha “Victoria’s Secret” Kljestan.
I’ve liked everything I’ve seen lately about Brad Davis and he seems a player somewhat in the mold of Stu Holden…decent ability to get up the pitch and create a little offense, engine to get back and play hardcore defense.
STR: Brian Ching, Robbie Findley
The skinny: Hard to predict here.
TSG is going with Brian Ching, fresh off his long vacation…can we hold up the ball?
We’re also going with Robbie Findley who’s had a few more weeks of direction from Coach Bob and now needs to show he can get it done against a squad that didn’t make the World Cup he’s angling for.
We’re going to mention this next point a few times over the next months. The USMNT is going to face some study defenders from the likes of England, Slovenia, Algeria and possibly Serbia. They’re going to need some sturdy attackers, like Ching, Findley and Casey…where does that leave JC?
• Dax hubs the middle, Kljestan out wide, Rogers goes lefty and Brad Evans to the pine
• A striker combination different than the one above
Like we said, difficult to predict here. I think in respect to Cunningham, if he’s still in play, than you need to see him against the Netherlands for sure. That observation will make the difference