Choosing a World Cup roster is one thing; TSG gave you our current selections and justifications for that last Monday.
But another way to look at both the roster and style of play is to evaluate how the USMNT could perform without certain players. In essence, who are the most “indispensable” players heading into World Cup 2010 right now with less than 90 days of training remaining.
Some of our answers below may surprise you.
Characteristics and elements to consider when making these suggestion are things like: 1) how deep is that player’s position? or 2) how much do they possess the ball? or 3) are they a leader? or 4) are they a veteran?
We teased the list a bit way back in October when we said that Charlie Davies was right up there at the top of an unreplacable list. Well, we now know that hasn’t changed. So how does that list look right now, 90 days until the US leaves the tunnel to play England in South Africa.
1) Tim Howard
The skinny: Big T, the most indispensable player here in March heading into World Cup 2010?
You better believe. Sure, the USMNT has Brad Guzan and Marcus Hahnemann in goal…they also could call on Big Bird Friedel in a pinch. That being said, Howard is indispensable for a few reasons.
First, you know he’s turning away one goal from the other team every game. Secondly–and this our key–with a defense in front of him that has been shaken up more than your Sunday morning bloody mary, Howard has been the single constant communicate and marshalling the line in front of him. In short, the one constant to the back four in front of him? Howard himself.
Third, the other team. Yes, the other team. You think other teams would be gunning just a big harder if it were a new name between the pipes coming in there just 90 days before the World Cup? Most definitely
And finally fourth, name another vocal leader for the USMNT on the pitch during those critical 90+ minutes? Waiting….
That’s right, Big T, the USMNT’s more indispensable with World Cup 2010 right around the corner.
2) Jozy Altidore
The skinny: Can you really argue with this suggestion? Should a pairing of Conor Casey and Brian Ching start up top against England June 12th? Name another United States “striker” in the truest sense of the form that is guaranteed to go to South Africa.
3) Charlie Davies
The skinny: The USMNT desperately misses you Chuck Deezy, severely. Let’s ask some of your comrades their thoughts:
Landon: “I can’t get through the mess in front of me in the attack, everywhere I look someone is collapsing on me.”
Bornstein: “They just keep coming at me in waves over on the left flank. I don’t know what to do, but reach out and grab. When Landon and Davies were ready to fly the other way in front of me, there was like 100% less traffic coming my way.”
(Editor’s note: Don’t do it JB! Don’t do it!”)
Jozy Altidore: “So I’m posting up this Capdevilla guy and now who do I pass to. Who’s going forward? Anybody? Get Bedoya in here!”
Bob Bradley: “You can only spend so many hours with Findley in the tape room and on the pitch. It’s not something that happens over night. Doesn’t the American public understand this?”
Make it to World Cup 2010, CD9. Just for the hope!
4) Landon Donovan
The skinny: Landon down at number four. Yes, remember, we are not talking most valuable. We are talking most indispensable. Two factors contributed to us dropping Donovan to fourth.
First, his disappearance when he doesn’t get service, number one.
And, the presence of others (Deuce, DMB and even Bedoya) who might be able to slot in there–though perhaps not as smoothly–in his absence.
5) Clint Dempsey
The skinny: Clint Dempsey scores goals. In general, the USMNT does not. The winner of the game is the one that scores more goals.
Clint may be daydreaming about the offense being built around him from time-to-time. But he’s got the experience and know-how to be in the right place, and history shows that he knows what to do once there. Who else on the USMNT has that on it’s resume?
6) Carlos Bocanegra
The skinny: Huh? The guy who may not start for the USMNT if TSG had our druthers is the sixth most indispensable? Yup.
While Boca–the captain–is starting to see the surface area of his abilities shrink precipitously, he’s still valuable across three of the four backline positions. Chances are still not 100% that Oguchi Onyewu is going to be dancing around the pitch on June 12th. Cue Clarence Goodson in the middle? Spector? Neither are up to that task yet.
Continually, while Boca’s skillset is not ideal for the left back role, there is really no one that Bob Bradley can clearly trust over there. While Boca will struggle mightily to contribute anything on offense, his versatility, pitch smarts and experience boosts him up to the sixth spot on our list. Too much has to go right for Boca not to be a starter and conversely too much will go wrong if he’s not right now.
7) Stu Holden
The skinny: Too high? Consider this. Holden, can play anywhere in the midfield. Holden’s motor covers for plenty of defensive snafus down the right flank. Holden is good for at least one or two scoring opportunity crosses a game. Holden is completely a dynamic player able to figure out the method to playing whichever team and adapt his game for the US success. He’s like the Joe Dumars of the USMNT.
We don’t think it’s too high.
8a) Oguchi Onyewu
8b) Jay DeMerit
The skinny: The Heckyll to the other’s Jeckyll, whoever is out Boca steps into his role. That being said as a team, indispensable. See Spain, June 2009, Confederation’s Cup. The USMNT will be better for it if this team is together for the 3+ games in June.
10) Michael Bradley
The skinny: …or rather the short of it? I think plenty of players can step into Mikey Bradley’s spot. and perform adequately or just as well. Sure Bradley is a dynamic midfielder, but in his pop’s system he’s a square peg in round role. The aforementioned Holden would perform gamely as would a combination of Maurice Edu and Ricardo Clark…or even Edu and a miraculously returned Jermaine Jones.
So why Bradley? Bradley is like the 3rd starter on a baseball team who gives you 200+ innings a season. He’s not going to winning many pitching duels for you, but a prolonged absence and your team is going to feel it.
Mike Bradley, who played the 3rd most minutes for the USMNT in the World Cup qualifying run is a constant. He’s indispensable in subtraction.