In an interesting new feature, ESPNSoccernet, has created a USA World Cup roster power rankings. The roster ranks players 1-32, with the 23-man squad consisting of eight defenders, eight midfielders, four forwards, and three keepers.
It's hard to argue with the majority of the picks, which are fairly obvious (e.g., Tim Howard as #1 and Landon Donovan as #2, etc.), but a few picks I find questionable. The big ones that stand out are Dan Califf, Connor Casey, and DaMarcus Beasley making the roster. Similarly, I would alter the rankings of some of the players who are on the fringe of the team.
First, it's quite understandable why Beasley is listed as making the cut. Bob Bradley loves him and has shown him a lot of loyalty. However, even Bradley realizes right now that injuries and lack of playing time have made Beasley a shell of his former self. However, if he were to stay healthy for a full season and see some minutes, his inclusion would not be surprising.
Dan Califf is currently listed as the fourth center back (behind Gooch, Bocanegra, and DeMerit). I have never been impressed by Califf and would switch him with Chad Marshall, currently last on the Soccernet list.
Connor Casey, bye bye. No South Africa for you, plain and simple. There's only room for one villainous looking bald guy on the US roster and that spot goes to Marcus Hahnemann. In Casey's place you could add one of four players: Freddy Adu, Stuart Holden, Jose Francisco Torres, or Robbie Rogers. As a matter of fact, to make room for two of the four players I just listed, I'd also drop one of the three right backs listed by Soccernet (three right backs, seriously?). Spector and Cherundolo keep their places, and Frankie Hejduk gets the ax (with thanks for some admirable service in Cherundolo's absence).
If picking right now, I would add Stuart Holden, who adds versatility and a good shot, and Robbie Rogers, one of the few true wingers in the US player pool. Rogers has blistering pace and has shown continuous improvement in his decision making, so he gets the nod over Torres, who must have hit on one of Bob Bradley's daughters or something. Adu can bring that creativity the US is often lacking, but he desperately needs playing time at Benfica or elsewhere. That and I think my girlfriend could probably knock Adu off the ball.
So as of mid-July, here's my take on the US roster (listed by position in order of locks):
Goalkeeper: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann
Defender: Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Bornstein, Chad Marshall
Midfielder: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Robbie Rogers, Maurice Edu
Forward: Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Charlie Davies, Freddy Adu
My roster has a few weaknesses. I'm only carrying one true left back, Jonathan Bornstein, who I would not even start assuming Bocanegra will play there. That in turn leaves three center backs, but Maurice Edu can fill in in case of emergency. I really want to see Freddy get some playing time and make the roster, but I can easily replace him with Beasley (if he gets playing time), Torres, or maybe some other up and comer who breaks out in the next year. That leaves only three listed forwards, but keep in mind that Dempsey is regularly pushed up top by Bradley and that Donovan can also play forward. I'm also assuming Jermaine Jones (who I know little about) is as good as advertised and immediately becomes an important player on the team.
What do you think? Can Adu play himself back into the team? Am I missing someone you think will make it (Sacha Kljestan) or is there someone up and coming who will come out of no where (Sal Zizzo, Chris Pontius, Marcus Tracy)?