Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Who Should Make the USA World Cup Squad?

Excellent find by ArmenoRicanFutbol on the ESPN power rankings for USA players and the World Cup roster. As currently ranked by ESPN, the players are ranked as follows (with higher ranked listed first):

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

Defender: Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Spector, Frankie Hejduk, Steve Cherundolo, Danny Califf, Jonathan Bornstein

Midfielder: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, DeMarcus Beasley

Forward: Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Brian Ching, Charlie Davies, Conor Casey

ArmenoRicanFutbol already took a run at this, and there aren't many areas of disagreement between us. The goalkeeper situation seems mostly settled, other than Troy Perkins maybe making a run at Hahnemann's spot. Honestly, if it ends up mattering who the third goalkeeper is, it's probably a bad omen for the USA's chances.

Defensively, Gooch, Bocanegra, DeMerit, Spector and Cherundolo will all be there. Bornstein will be probably be on the side, since he is the only true left back the US have, but frankly I'd rather he wasn't if there were any other available options. Bornstein's ESPN description is classic; it says "questions remain about his defensive ability." As a defender that's not great. I'm also unimpressed with Califf. I am impressed with how despite his age, Hejduk continues to be resilient and make good decisions from the right back spot. I'll take him over Marshall by a nose. That would leave only seven defenders, but if all goes well, only four or five of them will be playing anyway, with Bornstein and Hejduk providing emergency depth. There are many fewer solid options here than elsewhere on the squad.

In the midfield, Beasley made the ESPN poker rankings cut, I assume not because ESPN thinks he should, but because of Bob Bradley's obvious affinity for him. Beasley shouldn't get anywhere near this team unless it's in a time machine. Otherwise the squad looks good, assuming Jermaine Jones' play matches his reputation. The dropping of Califf and Beasley permits the adding of Rogers and Holden, for reasons described in the other post. Couldn't agree more with those two selections.

Up front, Conor Casey is preposterously on the ESPN squad, which describes him as "not to everyone's tastes." They sadly left out the conclusion of that sentence, "because he's slow and has no touch." He is strong though. If someone is needed to wrestle an ox or something, we'll call Conor Casey. In his place I'll put Freddy, just because I think he could bring something to a game off the bench that no one else on the squad could provide. Hopefully another year of progress (and playing time, please, I'm begging) will do Freddy good.

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