New category here at TSG…we’ll call it CRI (Conjecture, Rumor, Innuendo)
Nick Rimando on Twitter late Thursday:
• Hans Backe has come out today and said that Juan Agudelo will be traveling for the Gold Cup
• Peter Vermes acknowledged a Teal Bunbury call-in as well.
Revised projection below…
Update 05/18, What We May Have Learned:
• Charlie Davies’s injury closes his Gold Cup campaign in 2011.
• Jay DeMerit is back in the fold now that he’s healthy. Ask yourself this question. You have a choice of Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Clarence Goodson and Tim Ream tracking either Javier Chicharito or Simeon Jackson (Canada) around all night. Who do you want on the backline? Precisely.
• Ricardo Clark is likely out; Maurice Edu and probably Sacha Kljestan are in. The latter two names can be very focused on the Gold Cup run without any club matches to worry about.
• Similarly, Herculez Gomez or Edson Buddle makes it. Teal Bunbury’s been quiet of late and wasn’t able to get into the March camp. Is it possible that Bunbury won’t be called in for matches against Canada and at LIVESTRONG park? I’m still a fence sitter here.
• I’ve noted a column below called “Tweeners” that we’ve used before at TSG. Perhaps the most interesting wrinkle from the last camp series was Bob Bradley generating offense from the back with an overlapping or going-forward Timmy Chandler and Eric Lichaj. Should Bradley like to institute this you may see a striker dropped and Bradley just got 4-2-3-1 on occasion or push Clint Dempsey up as is customary.
Our last guess before we see the roster:
G: (3) Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann
DEF: (7) Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Ream, Jonathan Bornstein, Clarence Goodson
TWEENERS: (2) Timmy Chandler, Jonathan Spector
MID: (7) Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Alejandro Bedoya
FW: (4) Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Herculez Gomez, Teal Bunbury
BUBBILY: Eric Lichaj, Benny Feilhaber
The skinny: 05/19:
Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo are a go.
That leaves Eric Lichaj on the bubble and I’ve now moved Benny Feilhaber there. Feilhaber is coming off some injuries and just getting into the flow with New England. I’m taking a flyer on Feilhaber on the bubble if only because of the history of those injuries. Why not try someone new–now that Stu Holden is out–in the “tucked-in” midfielder role.
Benny as well plays in MLS and he’d be taking away Feilhaber from his team just as he is getting used to his new teammates.
3rd entry 4th entry in what is sure be a long-running journal all the way to Brazil 2014.
Here is our first entry in October 2010. January 2011 was our next scribbling. And our last, post-Argentina, post-Paraguay journal here.
This one, digging Gold…Gold Cup that is. We’ll skip our best eleven (to draw out suspense) and move right to the player position battles that, when I began writing this, I thought were pretty well set.
Obviously a much different situation here than the 2009 Gold Cup. The summer of 2009 perhaps Bradley’s best coaching term after his team’s dreadful bookend performances against Italy and Brazil in the Confederation’s Cup group stage. If you recall, Bradley nearly went Cinderella with “A” team down in South Africa, eventually getting undone by Fabiano and Brazil at the Confederation Cup.
Immediately after that was the Gold Cup where Bradley cobbled together a “B” team that saw Charlie Davies cement his “A” team spot, unearthed Stu Holden as a more than viable midfield option and–through injury to Jimmy Conrad–gave Clarence Goodson the opening to jumpstart his national team career. (Goodson’s 7.5 sub rating appearance revs his US team candidacy)
A 5-0 Finals shelling by Mexico was erroneously poorly received in the press, but had Mexico playing their near best eleven.
Bradley took 7 defenders, 8 middies and 5 forwards to the 2009 tournament, including none other than Freddy Adu, who didn’t last through camp.
This year, a different story and much closer to 2007 when Bob Bradley assumed the helmsman role. 2011’s Gold Cup winner gets important ticket punch to the World Cup dress rehearsal, the Confederation’s Cup in Brazil 2013.
That and the important step of getting the 2014 World Cup journey off on the right foot.
Interesting footnote here is that the 2011 Gold Cup roster could have as many as 12 players on it who made the 2007 roster.
|June 7, 2011||U.S. Men vs. Canada||8 p.m. ET||Ford Field
|June 11, 2011||U.S. Men vs. Panama||8 p.m. ET||Raymond James Stadium
|June 14, 2011||U.S. Men vs. Guadeloupe||9 p.m. ET||LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
Kansas City, Kan.
The Depth Charts:
Goalie: (1) Tim Howard (S), (2) Marcus Hahnemann (3) Brad Guzan
The skinny: As always, Tim Howard–he of the Everton Toffees not the MLS anywhere in the near term–mans the pipes. Marcus Hahnemann has moved up to primary back-up, even if he likes to a wear a baseball cap sometimes. The third spot is the only that is not inked yet.
Brad Guzan has his nuptials and David Yeldell has been in for one camp. Dominic Cervi’s club status continues to be topsy-turvy.
Wait, does anyone else think that maybe, just maybe, Brad Guzan was sending just a small message to Bob Bradley that he sick of just sitting around on the national team level. I mean, why not schedule your wedding for end of May? Just an idea. Likely way offbase….but conspiracy theorists unite.
Stateside, the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson has underwhelmed this year and finds himself off the map while Nick Rimando will likely be needed full term for Real Salt Lake.
Your likely three? Again the triumvirate of Howard, Hahnemann and Guzan. If Guzan can’t make a game or so due to his wedding that may be acceptable. Should Guzan be left out completely, I expect David Yeldell to get the nod.
Starters: Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra
Bench: Timmy Chandler, Tim Ream, Jonathan Bornstein, Eric Lichaj
Fence sitters: Omar Gonzalez, Chad Marshall
The skinny: Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra were two of the top five Yanks in minutes played in 2010 World Cup qualifying. They start as does Steve Cherundolo–who free from nagging injuries–and playing at dominant level since mid-2010.
Clarence Goodson makes his return to the Yanks and flip-flops into Jay DeMerit’s spot.
DeMerit’s got a dreaded groin injury–just about the last thing you want a central defender to have. With the image of an Oguchi Onyewu rushed back to early to service in 2010, DeMerit is allowed to recuperate and play for Canada…that is the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Tim Ream is best candidate to supplant any of the starters, but Bob Bradley won’t go with him in Game 1 against Canada (though I could see Ream getting the start against Spain in a “let’s see how you do when we turn up the heat kid” sort of way).
For the bench, the dynamic Charlie-in-a-bottle Timmy Chandler mans the right with “fan favorite” Jonathan Bornstein on the left. TSG fave Eric Lichaj sneaks into the final spot in the role of “John Spector O’Shea.” Lichaj can play out on the left or right and my guess is Bradley gave him a little run centrally against Paraguay to see how we could handle that spot. Not a natural, but not terrible either.
With Lichaj’s flexibility so goes Omar Gonzalez who stands as the last player left on the playground. Injuries and the Galaxy’s good fortune as the 2010 MLS season ebbed did in Gonzalez this go around.
Starters: Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey
Bench: Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Jonathan Spector, Alejandro Bedoya
Fence sitters: Ricardo Clark, Sacha Kljestan, Mix Diskerud, Dax McCarty
As for the starters, that’s the easy part here.
We’re going to assume that Bob Bradley goes 4-4-2 (or really 4-2-2-2). Bradley seems to favor the 4-4-2 against CONCACAF opponents.
That puts the regulars in their customary positions, being Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. The fourth in this case we’ll go with Jermaine Jones as Senior Bradley bets he can dictate the tempo a little more to what-is-tough-to-argue inferior group stage set of opponents.
On that role of Michael Bradley: Even with Mo Edu, Jonathan Spector, Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan getting more 2011 club minutes in central midfield, Bradley’s role (whether you like it or not) is the lone constant for the Yanks in central midfield. There is something to be said for the consistency that comes with a player never being injured and Junior has at least that going for him (courtesy TSG commenter DTH for that one.)
As for the back-ups and spot starters, that’s the tightest and most interesting discussion of the USMNT Summer 2011.
Coach Sweats extends his trust again to Benny Feilhaber who now flies the flag of MLS with his selection. Mo Edu would otherwise start if it were a 4-5-1. Those two are locks and if you recall the pixels of ESPN, they were also Bob Bradley’s favorite post-halftime crew to create a spark off the bench at World Cup 2010.
A controversial selection perhaps, Jonathan Spector has proven his best fit is the midfield….at least at the club level.
Ironically, Spector–a former forward who was converted to fullback at the Manchester United academy–is probably the best fit for the advanced role Mo Edu partook in against Argentina. Spector’s strength from his time with West Ham is making advancing runs ahead of the ball for West Ham. In fact he’s excellent at it, making highlights all season for either goals or near-misses after Hammer skipper Avram Grant moved him to the midfield.
For me, Spector is the most interesting selection for Bob Bradley.
It’s clear that while positionally disciplined, Spector does not possess the corner defense speed to adequately, against top level international sides, hold his own on the corner. Will Bradley continue to favor dutiful workers (Robbie Findley as well) who merely adhere to the game plan but don’t possess the innate physical prowess to thrive at the global level? Will Bradley move Spector to the midfield or continue to shoehorn him in at the back? A few weeks will tell.
Rounding out the midfielder Bradley has a choice between Sacha Kljestan, who is sporting a sharper haircut and sharper defense these days or the lone true winger in Alejandro Bedoya, a big body who can run at people off the corner and make a cross. The very poor man’s Antonio Valencia. (Shh, it was just fun to write).
With Benny Feilhaber back in action, he makes Kljestan redundant. Add in Bedoya’s surging form right now and we think that Bradley chooses Bedoya in a squeaker of a selection.
Ricardo Clark–scouted recently by Bradley–finds himself just on the edge as Mo Edu is younger and, in turn, makes him redundant.
Mix Diskerud is not quite there yet.
The one caveat we’ll put here is Spector. If you believe him a defender alone, then Lichaj could get dropped while Kljestan or Clark added upfield. Entirely possible.
Starters: Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez
Bench: Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury
Fence sitter: Edson Buddle
Elephant in the room! Sorry, but no Charlie Davies. No how, no way. First, unless you’re seeing Davies for the first time with DC United, some things are apparent.
First, the speed is not there. Davies isn’t nearly beating his defenders as often as he did with the US national team during World Cup qualifying. Add in that we’re talking about MLS defenders here and that question about his pace grows larger.
Secondly, Davies hasn’t necessarily been reluctant, but he’s hardly encouraged authoring and receiving contact. I’ve seen Davies attempt to gain the corner without engaging the defender’s hip more often now than in 2009 when we would size up his defender and select how he would beat them.
Beyond questions of his production (three of his six goals are from the spot), Davies is just not international caliber yet.
Jozy Altidore of course if first on the depth chart. Bob Bradley will again ask the hulking striker to play target man though Jozy is much more tuned to drift outside than inside. (At some point, Bradley will have to acquiesce that his near four year plan here is not bearing fruit).
Juan Agudelo is next up. He of more caps than any other striker over the last 6 months. Amazing but with his current sub role and youth, Bradley keeps him on the bench to start Game 1.
Herculez Gomez then gets the call and the start.
Bob Bradley has always trusted Gomez and knows he’s going to get a hard worker who can occasionally conjure up some magic. Teal Bunbury takes the final spot. Hey Bob, if you’re looking for your best target striker of this list, that would be Bunbury.
Speaking of target men, Edson Buddle once again finds himself not making a big enough statement to make his case.
And there you have it, maybe….