Preview: Who’s Bob Czeching Out?

Ah, such a loaded title to this column in so many ways.

Um, last time didn't go so Koller this time

For those of you who are going to college, in college or graduated college like I did many moons ago, the USMNT road trip to South Africa has just commenced. The car is packed, gas topped, snacks mustered and the USMNT is moving. The team is saddled up and just about to get dialed in on the freeway.

Well, most of the team.

For seven players, their chance at another cap in 2010, barring a spate of injury, ends tomorrow.

What you’ll likely see from Bob Bradley is a mixture of veterans and players on the cusp. The veterans to provide the supporting cast for Bob Bradley to evaluate some of those seven against the best to Czechs have to offer. You need to judge players versus the best quality.

Actually, judging by Saturday’s loss to Turkey, the Czechs might be pulling a Juventus in this one as well; I digress.

Coach USA and his staff will really be grading out two primary things in this one: 1) the aforementioned abilities of the unsettled roster spots and 2) perhaps more critically, how those who’ve been injured–Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Eddie Johnson even–perform under game conditions. This encounter is not about solidifying the starting eleven so much as seeing who gets into it on Turkey Day in Philadelphia and beyond.

I’m guessing that Tim Howard likely gets a breather in this one–could be the next one, but Howard’s from New Jersey, much closer to Philadelphia.

Okay, let’s kickoff our first USMNT preview since March…and let’s get our World Cup road trip started….

As always, we’ll follow the (now-patented) TSG format:

TSG’s “What We’re Looking For”
11 at the Whistle

TSG’s “What We’re Looking For”

Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell are back! But are they fit?...and will they start?

• How’s Gooch?

Duh and “Next!”

• Who’s going where on the backline?

If I’m Bob Bradley here, I want to see the fitness of three guys I will likely rely on in South Africa on June 12th. I’ve got less than three weeks to get a stand-in ready, so my first priority here is checking out my senior staff in that back.

There have been murmurs that Boca and or DeMerit might sit this one out. I obviously can’t comment on medical reports or player fitness, but if they’re good to go, I say Bradley plays them. Get that first real-time look so you know if you need to get someone else ready for June 12th.

If they don’t play, well, there’s your storyline Wednesday morning.

Also, with Chad Marshall still ailing, and the health of Gooch, Boca and JDM still, let’s say, not perfect, it would be very hard to drop Heath Pearce. Essentially, the USMNT’s World Cup backfield should be set. Go with the starters.

•  Am I a winger, a central mid, both, or does it matter?

As TSG mentioned when camp began, it was always extremely likely that DaMarcus Beasley would make the squad. He had been frozen out of the Rangers line-up it appeared by politics more than injury, he played well against Holland, and…well…it’s hard to turn down a guy with speed, who’s left-footed, and been to two World Cups.

That leaves Alejandro Bedoya, Robbie Rogers, Jose Torres, and Sacha Kljestan battling for one or, at most, two spots.

Should be fun to see if any of these get a start or a run-out against the Czech first-team as a sub. Keep your eye out of course for these four.

•  The 4-4-2 might means you, Mr. Gomez….or you Mr. Buddle….but really probably means Robbie Findley.

It’s no secret that for the last year Bob Bradley has preferred a starting speed option up top for the Yanks. Robbie Findley and Jeff Cunningham both were trotted out against challenging competition. Bradley, like all TSG readers that are sick of hearing it from us, knows that Landon Donovan is more effective with a jetsetter in front of him. Coach Sweats also knows that if team’s press the Yanks on defense, then  need a speed option over the top; Jozy Altidore would be essentially pulling down balls in Grand Central Station at rush hour without some speed relief.

You might go so far as to suggest that those two reasons are specifically why Conor Casey didn’t make the camp….and why Herculez Gomez might be so vital.

Is he only a super sub, or only being considered for the role?

TSG wants to see Gomez take a hit and we want to see if the “more-right-footed” Gomez can be effective in front of Donovan.

For Buddle as we mentioned in our camp preview, he’s the guy we’ve been watching. As we wrote way back at the end of March, the Donovan pairing is there. Now we just need to see the speed.

You can bet both of these guys get in the game. As for starting, Bradley likes to make players earn their first start with time served so I’m going to go with Robbie Findley as the Yanks leave the tunnel.

11 At The Whistle

Hahnemann got his 1st cap for the US against T& 1994!

G: Marcus Hahnemann

The skinny: TSG will take a shot here. Turkey is going to be a harder squad for the US. Big T is from New Jersey as we mentioned above and World Cup veteran Marcus Hahnemann hasn’t featured since 2005 for the Yanks.

A well deserved cap for Hahnemann? We hope so.

Note, if Brad Guzan trots out, you know there is no confusion on who the 2nd keeper is.

G: Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra

The skinny: All eyes will be on each of these players the first time they go one-on-one with an attacker.

G: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Landon Donovan

The skinny: I literally have no idea what goes down in the midfield. Does Dempsey move up? I don’t think so. Does Stu Holden start? Not sure about that one either. Do Edu trump Clark? I think we’ll see Rico in here, but that’s a hunch.

Or will Bradley do what he did up in the Netherlands and go with someone (in March it Jose Torres) who is near the firing line and see how they perform against quality competition.

I think Coach USA really wants to see how his forwards, strikers perform so he’ll unleash a solid and tested midfield to start…..but I have no confidence in that either.

STR: Robbie Findley, Jozy Altidore

The skinny: I don’t see Dempsey moving up top just yet–frankly I’m not sure if I truly see him starting up top against England (forthcoming piece here).

I’d like to see Buddle or Gomez get a trot out, but as I mentioned above Bradley rarely throws a start to a new dog.

I think Bob Bradley goes with Robbie Findley and I’m hoping that his injuries have subsided and that his reps in the starting line-up start to bear fruit.

Going back January camp, Findley was a pinball in camp with few defenders knocking him off the ball–he’s got Bob’s confidence and hopefully the work put in translates–it sort of needs to.


• Well instead of disclaimers this time around I’ll just rate my confidence in my line selections above. Can’t wait for the commentary below in this one.

Confidence Factors:

Goalie: 42%

Defense: 56%

Midfield: 13%

Striker: 50%


Oh and I’d just like to note for old times’ sake, that my most memorable college road trip was making a hasty and poor decision late at night to drive all night from Syracuse, NY to Punxsutawney, PA for Groundhog’s Day the following day. Five of us redlined the engine and made the last bus from Groundhog Plaza (yes “bus”) up to the amphitheatre just before sunrise. It’s nothing like the movie.

37 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by 723FootballFilms on 2010/05/24 at 3:23 PM

    Ugh. Findley had his chances. It’s Buddle’s time now. I really want to see what he can do with Jozy.

    Also I’m going to be uber pissed if Bedoya doesn’t make the squad. He’s too talented to not be in South Africa.


  2. Posted by Lindy on 2010/05/24 at 3:32 PM

    You have sent out essentially our squad of starters for this first friendly (except Marcus and the 2nd forward slot was always going to be up in the air) in which the key is to see which candidates step up and fill the holes in our squad. I understand that you want to have enough of the quality starters on the pitch in order to see how the candidates play alongside quality teammates, but the problem becomes that we only have 6 subs. Does BB want to see JoBo at leftback? Does we want to see how Edu plays alongside Jr. (I know I do)? How many of the forward options see the pitch in this friendly (2 maybe 3)? Does Coach Sweats want to see Stu providing service from the right? There’s 5 or 6 subs right there and you haven’t even gotten to the midfield options of Feilhaber, Torres, Bedoya, Beasley, or Kljestan…We are also forced to assume that neither Goodson or Marshall will see time either.

    Yes, BB needs to be able to see some quality play from this friendly but he also needs to evaluate his fringe players by letting them perform on the pitch. Granted, not every player picked for the game squad will see time (it’s not possible with only 6 subs), but you have to make the most of the options you have. Coach BB will line up some lock starters alongside fringe players to see how they perform (see the Dutch game with Torres paired with Jr.). The fans may not like the decision because we will not be fielding our top squad so the quality will decrease but it is the right move by far. Is there any real reason why we need Landon or Deuce to play much of this game? Does Jozy need to be on the pitch in order to see which of the other forward candidates are standing out? I can agree that our defense is built on cohesion and working as a unit and they have not played much together, so we may see the starters for much of the game but I still wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Boca playing in the middle somewhere along the line.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/24 at 3:39 PM

      Well first, I think I’ll be off with this line-up. However:

      1) I would put my money on Robbie Findley starting. In the past two years I don’t recall Bob Bradley giving someone a start for their first cap or first cap “in awhile.”

      2) In my opinion, watching Gooch, DeMerit and Boca in game play at this point is very important. The only one I couldn’t see starting–if fit–would be Boca–with either Bornstein or more likely Pearce getting run out there.

      3) In the midfield, Bradley paired Edu in the March friendly. I think Bob is going to want to take a look at Rico here. This is just a hunch. Edu will likely start vs. Turkey or it will be flopped.

      4) I can see either Landon or Clint not playing…so I agree with you there. But again Bradley–not me, but my thoughts on him–is more apt to give way to players early rather than not start them, but you’re right.

      I could see Beasley starting for one of these guys.

      Like I said above, not very confident on my selections. I’ve typically been on target with most before…but tomorow I expect to fail miserably.


      • Posted by Lindy on 2010/05/24 at 4:46 PM

        1) I don’t have any indication as to which of the strikers will start and to tell you the truth I honestly don’t care that much. As long as the players get some quality time on the pitch to show what they can do, I don’t care which order it is in. Note: I was at the game against El Salvador in Tampa and Robbie Findley seemed lost in the game and completely outclassed. He hasn’t been impressive in MLS lately either…I do agree with the first cap/start idea so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Robbie come out of the tunnel, but Buddle and Gomez deserve quality looks from BB as long as they have impressed at camp (I don’t know of any info that says that any of the forwards have disappointed in camp).

        2) I agree with your point about the defense and I tried to indicate that in my response. Coach may switch people in different positions (Boca in middle, Spector on left) but the objective for the defense in these friendlies in to get them back used to playing with each other. I wouldn’t expect a ton of changes here, but would like to see Pearce get a shot if possible.

        3) I can see your thought process here. Rico was out with an injury in Germany for a while and deserves some time to prove that he still belongs with the emergence of Edu lately. Rico was a pretty big part of our run at the Confed Cup last summer, not flashy but served the team well in deep midfield. Edu has been on form as of later with Rangers and is coming on strong. I agree that both will see time before WC.

        Overall, I just don’t see how starting the superstars (Landon, Deuce, and Jozy) who are locks to be on the pitch in South Africa just to be taken off partway through the game is a good use of the 6 substitutes. You have wasted half of your subs right there and some of the players that deserve some time on the pitch will never even get a wiff of it.


        • I hear you. Coach Bob has to strike some sort of queer balance that prepares the starters for the World Cup, and also giving a fair chance for cusp players to impress. Hard decisions will be made soon. Fo sho.


        • Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/05/24 at 6:57 PM

          I have no idea what bob is going to do. Should be mostly first team with a couple bubble additions. No Demps, no Dono would be okay. Beas and Holden instead w Bedoya relieving. Alti and Buddle w Gomez relieving. Back four as settled as possible, with whichever of the true LBs&RBs is in the lead starting.


    • Posted by Shay on 2010/05/24 at 9:53 PM

      I think we will see out lot of fringe players out there that Bob Bradley wants to evaluate. I think the lineup looks like this:


      Cherundolo Gooch Goodson Bornstein

      Torres Edu Holden Beasley

      Johnson Buddle

      Gooch gets the start t cause he needs the fitness gotta see what hes got.
      Bornstein’s last chance to prove himself(maybe see who the backup CB will be Goodsen/Bornstein)
      Beasley and Johnson have a chance to prove if they have anything to give
      We all want to see what Buddle is capable of
      I think all these players have the most to prove thats why theyll be out there


      • Posted by Shay on 2010/05/24 at 10:38 PM

        *Switch Holden and Torres in this lineup….Any thoughts about this lineup? Am I way off?


  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/24 at 3:50 PM

    Does anybody know if you can take public transport (from NYC) to Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT for tomorrow’s game? I have potentially been offered a ticket…


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/24 at 4:04 PM

      Metro North travels from New York Grand Central Station to New Haven. Connections to Wallingford via Amtrak. Amtrak trains provide daily service from New York Penn Station.

      You’re going to want to go to one of my favorite bars beforehand actually in the Grand Central terminal: Campbell Apartment.

      Done and done.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/24 at 5:13 PM

        Yeah, getting to Hartford is not an issue – it’s getting from the train station to the ground that I had problems finding a solution to.

        Cheers for the response chaps. Back in the day, before Mrs Cross became Mrs Cross, I lived in Boston and she lived in NYC. I know all about Greyhound, Peter Pan, Lucky Star, Fung Wah travels!

        And MatthewSF – I have been to the Campbell Apartment. A very swanky drinking establishment.

        FFF is at Nevada Smith’s in NYC. If I’d known beforehand, I would’ve mosey’d on over with my pea-shooter. Nick Webster’s head would have been 10 points and Eric Wynalda’s 5. I reckin I would’ve got a 4 digit score!


        • Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/05/24 at 6:53 PM

          George: Drop me an e-mail if you’re going to make it. Any other TSG people making it to Hartford?


        • Hey George,

          I’ll be in Hartford, and I’ll have a car. I might be able to pick you up from the train station if the timing works out.

          I need to be inside the stadium by 6:30 PM at the very latest, so if you can be at the station no later than 6:00 PM, this plan might work. I can drop you back after the match too.

          Let me know.



        • Posted by Freegle on 2010/05/24 at 9:36 PM

          These are things that would have never happened as recently as 2004. LOVE IT!

          If there is anyone struggling to get a ticket, one of my buddies has a couple extras as of this evening. It’s better than scalping right? Let me know.

          See you all tomorrow!


        • @ Freegle,

          While i love the fact that people try to help out and get along here, it’s not a recent phenomenon in this community. I’ve been arranging rides, meals, tickets, and places to crash for US matches electronically since 1993.

          Of course, the community of die-hard traveling US Soccer fans was really small then, and we all kinda knew, or knew of, each other.

          At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, all our communication was via email and Usenet newsgroups. Although the Web had been invented in 1991, there were only 250 servers in the world by 1993.

          Now get off my lawn! :)


        • Posted by Freegle on 2010/05/25 at 5:50 AM

          Wait, I didn’t realize we had US matches in 1993… I thought football started here at WC94 (kidding). I guess I was just too young to be involved. Regardless, I’m glad I caught up. Thank God Al Gore invented this interweb place.

          I wouldnt call you a dinosaur, just ahead of your time, a pioneer even!


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/25 at 6:59 AM

          Matt – thank you very much for the offer but I am going to have to decline and watch from the comfort of my sofa. The return journey to NYC is not looking too clever as the last bus / train doesn’t sync up with the final whistle or after.

          But I do really appreciate your generosity.


  4. I would see how close the Metro North could get you there from Grand Central Terminal, I know there are rail lines that extend into Connecticut. Nah, that will only get you as far as Waterbury. Maybe a bus from Port Authority. I’ve used those to get to parts of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Port Authority is hard to navigate though. It’s like they are trying to challenge you to reach your destination.


  5. George, try Peter Pan or Greyhound bus lines from Port Authority, that will get you as far as Hartford. I don’ t know how close to the park though.


  6. Coach or Rail to Union Square in Hartford leaves you roughly 4-5 miles from the venue.


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/05/24 at 4:54 PM

      I believe the Chinatown bus goes from New york to Hartford. Cheap and incredibly dangerous but entertaining as well!


  7. Posted by ETJ on 2010/05/24 at 5:20 PM

    Didn’t Bob say that he wanted to have his 23 almost entirely finalized after the Czech Republic game? Also I read somewhere that he had 17-19 finalized right now? Those two pieces of information make me believe that he will likely play a weaker, more experimental side against Czech Republic with a lot of substitutions. I think the players who’ve already lost a place are Johnson, Rogers, Klejstan, and Marshall. That leaves the bubble (with different levels of bubbleness) players as Pearce, Bedoya, Beasley, Torres, Feilhaber, Buddle, Findley, and Gomez. Look for all of those players to either start or sub during the Czech game IMO. We don’t need to play all our starters together here, we have Turkey and Australia to do that


    • Posted by i like tuesday on 2010/05/24 at 7:00 PM

      There’s a reasonably good chance of seeing Robbie Rogers start at LB. Mark my words.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/24 at 7:34 PM

        I could see him getting a run out there but not starting. Wouldn’t it be something if beasley got another turn there though.


  8. Hahnemann has featured btw, in 2007 against Switzerland, he played the first half and Guzan the second.


  9. Also, I dont expect we see Dempsey or Altidore at all in the Czech game. With them benched it will allow the fringe guys more opportunity to show what they bring to the table. Holden needs a full game under his belt since the broken leg, so he goes the full 90 for me. Up top, I expect Gomez, Buddle, Johnson, and Findley to all get their shot, in any order. Our backlines are the same, but I have Howard in goal, but perhaps Guz or Hahnemann get the start since Timmy has been nursing a minor leg injury. Edu and Clark are also known quantities and i expect both will make the 23. So the question then becomes who of Feilhaber or Torres will mesh with Bradley best in CM. Ofcourse, I expect both of them to make the 23 as well.

    Here is my starting 11:







    • Posted by Shay on 2010/05/24 at 11:10 PM

      I don’t think well see Donovan or Bradley in the lineup. I believe Gooch will be the only one out of the four defenders you mentioned. Bradley has some big decisions to make and needs to see what the fringe players can do. I agree with you on Holden and Buddle but I think E Johnson gets the call over Findley. I posted my projections up a bit higher. Let me know what you think?


      • Shay,
        I agree with Matt’s premise that you need a “mixture of veterans and players on the cusp”. So I think your lineup above might have too many part time players. The players that have impressed in camp will need to show how they fit/compliment some of the starters.

        1) I don’t think you will see Michael Bradley sitting on the bench. When was the last time that happened? Con Fed? Though I wouldn’t mind seeing Feilhaber get some time.

        2) As far as Donovan, I think he probably should start, as evaluating someone like Gomez/Findley depends heavily on how they open up room for and play off of Donovan.

        3) For the same reason as #2 Gomez/Buddle/Findley have to see how they play alongside Altidore. So Altidore starts.

        4) When and where Buddle plays depends a lot on what BB is planning on using him for. Is he a sub for Altidore’s role or able to play alongside Altidore? Don’t know.

        5) I think as others have suggested it might be wise to sit Howard and Dempsey. Also with Boca’s recent surgery I think there still is an outside chance that he could sit.

        6) I think it would be wise to give some backups/guys who haven’t appeared in a while some decent time. That means Rico, Dolo, and more time for Bedoya. I know Bedoya is more of a relief player but maybe starting him will give him time for a true evaluation. I think Holden has clenched a spot so I don’t see starting him. I sure hope we see BB try Dempsey up top for the Turkey game with Holden starting but I agree with Matt that it seems less and less likely.

        With that in mind…

        Possible starting 11:






        DMB comes on in 2nd half at LM. Bedoya off. Donovan switches to RM or Holden comes on.
        Buddle comes on for Altidore/Gomez depending on which role is he is there for. Findley gets some time. EJ is probably already out and Ching is in but we know what he has to offer.
        Maybe Boca comes on for Pearce or Demerit and Feilhaber for MB. Other subs as needed.

        I do really appreciate that in this article that Matt is trying to analyze/appraise what BB would likely do and not just throwing out fantasy choices (like I am doing) but hey we can still hope right? Ultimately BB has seen these guys in camp and knows a heck of a lot more than we do. I do trust that he will make some good decisions.
        Whatever the line-up I am excited for tonight. U-S-A!


        • Posted by Shay on 2010/05/25 at 10:15 AM

          I agree I am excited for whatever lineup he puts out there, I just believe he truly goes with the all out fringe players because he has some major decisions to make. I think the next two games after will be more of seeing who can play with the regulars. We need to see what these players are capable of, and who stands out from the pack.


        • Posted by Shay on 2010/05/25 at 4:19 PM

          BOOM! I nailed it…besides the goalkeeper! haha


  10. Posted by Bob on 2010/05/24 at 8:34 PM

    I really wonder who BB sees as the “bubble” players after a week of camp. He said he brought all 30 to give everyone a shot to show what they can do at this point. My guess is that if guys like Marshall, Findley, and Rogers were players 28-30 (not that I know that for a fact, it is just a guess) then they will only play if they have impressed in camp.

    I understand BB is a creature of habit and that he gives starts to those with time served, but Gomez and Buddle were called into camp bc they were hot and in form for the last 2-3 months. Thus, if they have maintained their hot streaks in camp, it seems BB needs to give them more of the look in this game as opposed to Findley who has not been hot and in form for the past few months and who many have said was player no. 30 called in only bc Davies was not. If you have Altidore/Findley to start, then who comes in at half? Gomez/Buddle? What about Ching? Is he healed? I think we will see something like Buddle/Ching or Altidore/Gomez first, then Findley if BB is still not sure about the other two.

    Hopefully, BB has this thing narrowed down to 25-26 at this point as it is sooooooooo frustrating to see other WC teams already paired down to 23-24.


  11. […] World Cup 2010 « Preview: Who’s Bob Czeching Out? […]


  12. Posted by Bob on 2010/05/25 at 3:44 PM

    With an hour to go, Goff has Buddle/Johnson starting. Also, Holden, Torres,Edu, Beasley. Dolo, Goodson, Oneywu, and JBo. Guzan in goal.


  13. Posted by Bob on 2010/05/25 at 3:49 PM

    Check out this ABE banner in the parking lot of the game tonight!!


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